Sigh

The grownups have finally won and everyone in the UK, from those in cold homes to those on polluted streets and in flooded towns, will benefit. The most important aspect of the UK government’s new clean growth strategy is its unequivocal statement that tackling climate change and a prosperous economy are one and the same thing.

Well, no, not really:

But the biggest worry is the very limited support for carbon capture and storage, the technology that takes emissions from fossil fuels and buries them under the ground.

“The technology”? We don’t have a technology which does this. We’re even pretty sure that we’ll never have a technology which does this. It’s not the grown ups who go about wishing for the sunbeam and cucumber storage technology.

I wonder why we don’t do this

The entire world could be powered by one deep-sea wind farm stretching across the North Atlantic.

Building a renewable energy project the size of India across the ocean would allow the entire world to get access to sustainable energy and fulfil its needs, according to a major new study.

There are likely to be very significant hurdles to building such a major project, especially one that would require international cooperation and incredible levels of investment. But it would also allow people to get access to vast amounts of energy: at least more efficiently than onshore wind power.

The two researchers found that if a wind farm were built across three million square kilometres of the ocean it would account for roughly the equivalent of all energy used today.

I mean, there must be some reason why we don’t, mustn’t there?

The thing is, all of this is true

Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister, has drawn criticism for suggesting climate change “is probably doing good” and claiming that “far more people die in cold snaps”.

Addressing the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate sceptic thinktank, on Monday evening, Mr Abbott said policies to tackle climate change was like primitive people trying to “appease the volcano gods”.

“There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.

It’s actually what the science says too.

The science goes on to say that it doesn’t stay like this as emissions and temperatures rise which is what the problem is. It’s not that unusual for a bit to be a good thing, a lot not so much, any drinker can tell you that.

“At least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

That’s also true, although the influence of what is being done on that future when the effects, in aggregate, are predicted to be bad is probably good.

Reacting to the speech on Twitter, Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said: “I know Donald Trump has lowered the bar for idiocy but…..”

But Ed, he’s actually right here.

The problem with climate change related damages payments

To claim that countries emit is to make the same category error. Britain, or the United States, does not make carbon or any other kind of emissions. The people in those places might, this is true, in fact it is true that they do.

But the people and the country are not the same thing. To insist that they are is to be very much more statist than the world actually is.

There is a subset to this problem too. If it is the people emitting then it is the people who should be paying whatever damages are being claimed.

Say that the average US lifestyle involves 20 tonnes a year of emissions. That’s not right but it’s about so. We also know what those damages will be from the Stern Review — $80 per tonne CO2-e. Thus, the claim is that each American should be paying out $1,600 a year in damages — and that simply is not going to happen.

We cannot just charge it to their government either, as the government has no money, it only has what it can take in tax from the populace. And it simply is never going to be true that Americans will pay some $500 billion a year (300 odd million people at $1,600 a year) to foreigners.

It might, just about, be true that they will agree to pay a carbon tax of that amount, the revenue raised to be used to reduce their other taxes. And as the Stern Review points out, that does solve our climate change problem.

But no, they just will not, whatever all right thinking people tell them, pay that amount in costs and damages. Won’t happen. Not even worth dreaming that it will.

It does always slightly puzzle me that people try to insist upon such damages. Are there people out there quite so insulated from reality that they really do think the US would pay $500 billion a year? Sirsly?

Poor old AC Grayling, well behind the curve

We need to make democracy work in the fight to save the planet
AC Grayling
For centuries, humans have championed the democratic political system. But can it facilitate the radical change needed to stop the potentially annihilating effects of climate change?

And everyone’s got to be re-educated into saving the planet and so on.

What’s completely missing is what we’ve also heard this morning. Assume that you do buy the whole story. We’ve still already turned the corner.

To put it into a bit of jargon. The entire IPCC structure tells us that, using the older SRES, we need to get the economy off the A1FI track and onto the A1T track. Once we’ve done that we’re done, we’ve solved our problem. As best we can see what with the spreaqd of renewables, the drop in solar price, fracking for gas and all that, w are on the A1T, not A1FI. Therefore, we’re done.

It is actually accurate to state that we’ve already solved climate change.

While I disagree with the conclusion the analysis is as I’ve been saying

Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong, a new study has found.

Wrong isn’t quite the right word. Actions taken have changed things.

An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook.

Near everyone uses Business as Usual (BAU) predictions of emissions and thus temperatures. Near everyone uses, as their BAU, either A1FI from the SRES or RCP 8.5 from the newer set.

We’re not, ever, going to get anywhere close to those emissions levels, Precisely because we’ve gone off and done all this stuff with renewables.

No, leave aside whether they’re reliable, cheap, whatever, we’re simply not, ever, going to have the sort of energy mix assumed by either of those BAUs. The use of them is, in reality, lying now, for we really do know they’re never going to come to pass. Even just the simple existence of fracking for gas means we’re never going to get to them. For their basic underlying assumption is a largely coal fired world.

So, that part of the analysis is correct. This isn’t:

But yesterday he said: “We’re in the midst of an energy revolution and it’s happening faster than we thought, which makes it much more credible for governments to tighten the offer they put on the table at Paris.”

No, that’s not what to do at all. Instead, say, great, it’ll be cheaper to hit the target we need to thus great, we’ve done it. That’s the time to declare victory and go home.

Err, no

Yesterday brought news from the UK that offshore wind prices have fallen by half in the past two years and are now – for the first time – lower than nuclear and gas.

That’s for the fast spin up gas to cover the gaps in wind and solar, not for baseload. That cost should actually be added to the costs of renewables, not gas.

Technology needs to advance further for this revolution to maintain momentum. The fossil fuel and nuclear industries are increasingly struggling to compete in terms of cost but they argue they are a more stable supplier of electricity when there is no wind and no sun. But that does not have to be the case. It can change if the government and business sector do more to develop and promote battery technology so that solar and wind energy can be stored and distributed at night and between breezes.

And won’t things be better if we only knew how to do what we don’t know how to do?

This cheap wind power

Of course, wind power is variable, unlike the steady power provided by nuclear, so there are costs to the energy system of integrating all those new turbines. But experts say those costs are relatively negligible, especially if coupled with flexible and smart technologies such as batteries, which the government is backing with hundreds of millions of pounds.

Deploying a technology we don’t even have yet is going to have relatively negligible costs?

Hopeless

The persistent myth that green energy is expensive has been shredded by the revelation that windfarms will be built around Britain’s coast far more cheaply than new nuclear reactors.

New power stations in the UK today are usually only built with the certainty provided by subsidies paid through energy bills,

What we want to know is what is the cost of not subsidised power so that we’ve a baseline…..

That everything is subsidised shows just how badly this sector has been cocked up by government. It also shows how right Nick Stern was way back when. Don’t try to manage the process, just slap on the carbon tax and see what happens. No, not even because climate change is a big worry but because the idiots are going to do something so at least make sure they do something that will work if climate change is that problem.

They’re cocking this up nicely then, aren’t they?

The UK’s offshore wind sector could power a £17.5bn investment inthe UK economy over the next four years after faster than expected cost-cutting slashed subsidies for the technology by half.

The Government’s latest auction for support contracts, released on Monday, shows that offshore wind costs have halved in recent years to under £58 for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced, even lower than the estimates given by experts in the run-up to the results.

So, it’s cheaper than it was.

The Government estimates that the capacity delivered in this auction will cost consumers, who support the contracts via their energy bills, up to £528m a year less than it would have in the absence of competition.

Note that’s the reduction in he extra cost, not a calculation of the extra cost itself. What we’re interested in is that extra cost of course.

The success of offshore wind has raised uncomfortable questions over the value of nuclear power generation, which will cost consumers far more.

EDF Energy defended its plans to build the Hinkley Point C new nuclear power plant at a cost of £92.50/MWh to consumers, saying ahead of the auction result that its next project is likely to show falling costs too.

I wouldn’t want to defend Hinkley Point but are these exactly the same costs? Do, for example, those offshore costs include the connection to the grid costs?

A recent report from Renewable UK found that 48pc of the expenditure in planning, building and running our offshore projects is going to UK companies, within a breath of its long-term target to source 50pc of its work in Britain by 2020. The economic benefit is five percentage points higher than in 2015 when 43pc of spending was in UK plc.

And that’s bollocks of course. 100% of the subsidy is being sucked out of UK households. Only 48% of the spending will go toward them (all spending in GDP does eventually reach households). The economic benefit is negative therefore….

What a morass of bad economic thought….before we even get to, well, what would be the cost of the same power from gas plants?

I continue to love this wibble

But it goes beyond simply discussing climate change. After Harvey and Irma we also have a moral duty to talk about the economic system that has brought us to this point. That is, we can no longer talk about climate change without talking about capitalism, which has laid waste to our planet and now impedes humanity’s effort to deal with the climate crisis it engendered.

Back in the days when people actually bothered to read the climate science we had the SRES. Which showed that the outcome from a future with globalised capitalism was better, in every respect – yea, including climate change – than one with localised socialist wibble.

Gosh!

ExxonMobil has knowingly misled the public for decades about the danger climate change poses to a warming world and the oil giant’s long-term viability, according to a peer-reviewed study.

There’s peer reviewed and peer reviewed of course.

“Using social science methods, we found a gaping, systematic discrepancy between what Exxon said about climate change in private and academic circles, and what is said to the public.”

Hmm.

As early as 1979, when climate change barely registered as an issue for the public, Exxon was sounding internal alarms.

“The most widely held theory is that… the increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to fossil fuel combustion,” an internal memo from that year read.

A peer-reviewed study by Exxon scientists 17 years later concluded that “the body of evidence… now points towards a discernable human influence on global climate”.

At the same time, however, the company was spending tens of millions of dollars to place editorials in the New York Times and other influential newspapers that delivered a very different message.

“Let’s face it: The science of climate change is too uncertain to mandate a plan of action that could plunge economies into turmoil,” Exxon said in 1997, as the Bill Clinton administration faced overwhelming opposition in Congress to US ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

It’s entirely possible that all three statements are true you know. That climate change is true, happening, and also that overturning the entire global economy isn’t a good idea….

Or as is true more generally, that something needs to be done does not mean that it is this thing which needs to be done.

Electric cars do require an entire societal redesign

Electric car owners have been warned that if they attempt to boil a kettle while charging their car it will blow the fuse.

The National Grid expressed concerns that an average size 3.5kW battery charger would take 19 hours to fully charge a car battery, even when it is 25 per cent full.

A “thought piece” document obtained by the Financial Times warned that a more powerful 11kW device would still take six hours to charge a car battery and during that time, the use of everyday items such as kettles and ovens would blow the fuse.

“The average household is supplied with single phase electricity and is fitted with a main fuse of 60-80 amps,” the National Grid said.

“If one were to use an above average power charger, say 11kW, this would require 48 amps. When using such a charger it would mean that you could not use other high demand electrical items…  without tripping the house’s main fuse.”

The expense of the changes should be added to the costs of electric cars of course…..it’s not at all obvious that they therefore are cheaper that petrol, even when emissions are taken into account.

Not much point then really, is there?

Green taxes which are blamed for adding up to £150 to every power bill will not be cut as the result of a government review of rising energy bills announced today.

Dieter Helm, an Oxford academic and critic of wind and solar power, has been hired to lead the official review of energy bills – but has been told he cannot suggest any “detailed” changes to green taxes.

And as I’ve been saying all along it would have been cheaper to simply slap a carbon tax on and be done with it.

So we’re more than paying for climate change then

Interesting:

The Office for Budget Responsibility said that cost of the subsidies, which are levied on household and business energy bills, is expected to rise from £4.6billion in 2015-16 to £13.5billion in 2021-22.

Add the effect of the fuel duty escalator (as Ken Clarke said, to pay for our Rio commitments) and we’re paying that £30 billion a year. Or, that $80 per tonne on 500 million tpa of CO2-e as a carbon tax that would be the Stern Review solution to climate change.

As Stern said, a carbon tax would be the cheapest way of dealing with it…..

Sigh

The Government will also commit to banning the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 in a bid to encourage people to switch to electric and hybrid vehicles.

No, not the way to do it. That’s to have government picking technologies again.

Instead, if this is what you really want to do, then set the emissions standards. Make them really tough, perhaps so tough that an ICE can’t meet them. But leave open the possibility that someone makes an ICE that does meet them.

How to make green energy work

Under the arrangements suppliers will be able to switch consumer’s appliances – like TVs and washing machines – on or off during times of high or low demand.

The scheme is designed to save billions in electricity bills, but it is likely to raise further questions on privacy and data security for households who choose to move to such contracts to reduce their bills.

Such tariffs will lead to householders paying more for watching television, charging gadgets and running the dishwasher during morning and evening “rush hours”.

To choose to sign up to the scheme consumers must first have a smart meter installed, which transmit information about when a household uses most energy to suppliers, giving them the power to increase bills at busy times.

They’re going to have to reduce data protection laws to make it work of course:

But Ofgem has said it will relax licensing and data sharing rules in order to let tech firms introduce the new gas and electric tariffs, which will have more control over appliances in people’s homes than traditional arrangements.

I will g.u.a.r.a.n.t.e.e you that the people who will complain most bitterly about the data relaxation will be those who normally sxcream that we must have the 100% renewables. Not willing to understand that the two necessarily come as a package.

Interesting

It is a polar record Pen Hadow wishes were impossible to achieve. The explorer, who was the first person to walk solo across the pack ice from Canada to the North Pole in 2003, will now try to highlight climate change by becoming the first to sail there in a yacht.

Wonder if he’ll get trapped in the ice as so many previous attempts have….

Seems logical

Governments may be seriously underestimating the risks of crop disasters occurring in major farming regions around the world, a study by British researchers has found.

The newly published research, by Met Office scientists, used advanced climate modelling to show that extreme weather events could devastate food production if they occurred in several key areas at the same time. Such an outcome could trigger widespread famine.

If all the major growing areas failed at the same time then yes, serious problems.

Give it two days and some idiot will be telling us this means we must become more self sufficient in food. You know, thereby concentrating the risks of a disaster.