Just to add to what’s wrong with The Sage’s climate change proposal

Let’s then look at an example. Take a low-cost airline. They are major emitters. As it stands we know of no viable alternative fuel on which they can rely. That may happen, but prudence will require any auditor to dismiss that claim for now. Accounts have to be audited on the basis of facts, not make-believe. Offset is, then, their only option.


At $US 4 cents per kWh hydrogen is cost competitive. Current solar costs in Abu Dhabi are around 1.5 cents per kWh. Meaning that electrolysis to hydrogen then formulation up to jet fuel works economically.

Oh, the auditor’s assumption is complete bollocks then, isn’t it? And so will any system that depends upon a auditors assumptions about the costs of any particular technological change.

Complete cockrot in fact.

19 thoughts on “Just to add to what’s wrong with The Sage’s climate change proposal”

  1. There’s a fair energy input to get from H2 to kerosene, so we definitely aren’t there yet.

    As for H2, I just wonder if JCB haven’t just made an awful mistake.

  2. To get to kerosene you will need to add carbon. On Mars, you could do that from the atmosphere, but on Earth the CO2 in the air is vanishingly low.
    So the synthesis uses coal.
    I understand the Germans did quite a bit of this, a while back.

    It’s probably easier to reformulate natural gas and keave the hydogen where it belongs: to the crooks, shysters and extremely gullible.

  3. I understand the Germans did quite a bit of this, a while back.

    And, more recently, the RSA, back when they could still do technology (and were subject to oil embargo).

  4. Just preserving the comment from David here lest he deletes it. A long one but worth reading….

    What we have above is a shining example of why the various commentators took you to task. No doubt getting blocked for their efforts.

    The sheer number of errors, terrible logic and lack of understanding is just unbelievable. I’ll try and deal with them in order.

    “Very clearly the ‘net’ in net-zero recognises that there will be offsetting. In other words, offsetting will happen and I have always recognised that fact, within constraints.”

    Why should there be constraints? Surely the objective should be for net carbon neutrality, not individual carbon neutrality.

    “Sustainable cost accounting suggests that a provision is required within the accounts of the large companies to which it would apply for the cost of eliminating carbon from their activities. I stress, that means carbon elimination from their scope 1, 2 and 3 activities, or in other words from their own activities”

    Three things here. Firstly, why only large companies? Accounting has to be fair and equitable across the board. My guess is you only want to deal with large companies because of the backlash you would receive for your rules bankrupting all of the smaller ones. And the inability to explain why your own business can never be carbon neutral. Rules don’t apply to you do they!

    Secondly, scope 3 emissions. Defined as the emissions a company is associated with but is INDIRECTLY responsible for. Apart from the fact that it is impossible to measure these remotely accurately, you never answer why a company should be responsible for these rather than the user of that company’s product.

    Thirdly, if you include scope 3, you will invariably double count a very large part of total emissions.

    “In other words, given that we know business has to be net-zero carbon in the future because it is becoming a legal obligation for countries to be so and it therefore follows that businesses must be as well”

    It doesn’t follow at all. It follows that the total of ALL companies, households, government activity etc must be net zero. It does NOT follow that individual companies must be.

    “the provision in question is that which reflects the current best estimate of the cost of meeting this goal of eliminating carbon from the processes of the business which it has no choice but do if it is to still be a going concern i.e. it wishes to perpetuate the business that it has.”

    More stupidity here. The provision (were it to exist, which I doubt it could given the massive and gross estimates involved) does not have to be of eliminating carbon from the processes of business. It could just s well be from offsetting emissions from the cost of business. The same exact goal is met. At which point no large provision has to be put on the balance sheet – just the ongoing cost of offset.

    “as a consequence of that decision having been taken now the full estimated costs of closure of that activity must be included in the accounts at the time that that decision is made and not at the time when they are incurred.”

    And again. You don’t put all future profits on the balance sheet. Nor would you need to put a totally unknown future cost of eliminating emissions on the balance sheet either. It is truly laughable. How can you even estimate what a business will look like in 10 years time, or over it’s total lifespan, then add in a near un-quantifiable amount of scope 3 emissions then pretend that the answer you get is in any way relevant?

    The only sensible way to deal with emissions is what is currently being done – in a manner akin to a profit and loss account.

    “Good estimates of the carbon produced in all aspects of scopes 1, 2 and 3, although the material issues to be addressed will in most businesses be glaringly obvious.”

    Much easier said than done, especially for scope 3.

    “Realistic plans to eliminate these emissions by adapting the existing business model or, where that is not possible, abandoning it;”

    Totally ignoring the point of offset. That and no acknowledgement that many industrial processes simply can never be zero emissions.

    “A best estimate of the cost of these actions that then comprises the provision;”

    You are layering estimates on estimates. Then are going to bankrupt companies based on the outcome of this guesswork. Sounds like a terribly sound accounting principle.

    “It has therefore to be verifiable”

    Made me laugh so hard. You now want to verify the guesswork that goes int scope 3. How might you be doing that?

    “That need for verifiability will extend to carbon offsetting.”

    Like maybe a carbon trading scheme, for example? Like the EU already has?

    “Evidence that the technology planned for use in offset actually exists;”

    Ah. So you want to put the future (unknown) costs on the balance sheet but no possible future advances?

    “The offset cost is plausible not just at present but given the likely demand for offset when that is to be claimed;”

    Mind boggling. You want to account for a future unknown amount of emissions and somehow the company has to accurately predict that their offsetting in the future has to offset them.

    “If the supply of offset opportunities is to be rationed by a government”

    Here we go. More state control.

    “I could, no doubt, elaborate further”

    Please don’t. What you have said is dumb enough already.

    “Let’s be clear though: there is no viable or scaleable carbon capture and storage system anywhere as yet, let alone for airline emissions.”

    Airline emissions account for 2% of global emissions. Pretty sure there are scaleable capture and storage systems which can offset that. Like trees for example.

    “Forests seem to be the favourite for this. But when considering this remember that any claim to offset has to create additional forest.”

    I think the next few paragraphs are some of the funniest I have ever read. You literally don’t have a clue.

    All plants consume C02. Not just new ones. You don’t need to plant additional forests unless you need to increase the amount of offsetting. In addition, mature forest offsets far more carbon in steady state than new plantings.

    “Buying up existing forest to prevent it being cut down is not offset if there is no threat to cut it down. So, the offset has to come from new planting.”

    Really. So. Dumb.

    “How is that possible when saplings are what are planted?”

    In your mind, trees just stop breathing when they hit a certain age?

    “Which then gives rise to the reasonable question as to how long offset might be available?”

    As long as trees are.

    “I suggest in the case of rationing priority they might come very close to the bottom when it comes to need. Any auditor would need to consider that.”

    Why on earth would an auditor need to consider that? You do know what an auditor is, don’t you?

    “So, assuming we have a diligent auditor, what can they say about the offset plan? I would suggest that they could at best say it unproven, uncosted and highly likely to be unreliable”

    Just as unproven, uncosted and unreliable as any emissions data spanning far into the future. Which blows a huge hole in your idea anyway.

    “The resources to do the offset, both financial and physical are already under the control of the organisation, directly or contracted.”

    Why do the resources to offset have to be under the control of the organisation? At best it would be highly inefficient. Car companies would have to have forestry divisions for example, rather than companies specializing. It would be far better for a company to buy it’s offset from another company specializing in that area. Or better still, a market of securitized emissions tokens with a liquid market price. Which is exactly what the EU has done.

    “First, offsetting is not an acceptable accounting practise.”

    It is, you know.

    “We do not, for example, show the turnover of a company net of the cost of making those sales. We do instead show the total value of those sales, and then the cost of making them, with the consequent gross profit margin being disclosed as the difference between the two.”

    Again with the stupidity. Turnover, cost of sales and gross and net profit are different albeit related things. All are reported separately so we can get to detail like net proft, EBITDA etc.

    “What would always be wholly unacceptable is that one is offset against the other without us ever having the ability to appraise them both. The idea that a net figure is available”

    You’ve clearly never been anywhere near any real world climate/ESG accounting or reporting. Gross, net and offset emissions are recorded separately.

    “Eliminating carbon requires product process reengineering.”

    The effect of which is simply to reduce gross emissions.

    “require is the data to appraise whether or not a company is actually capable of becoming net zero carbon without offset given the difficulty that the offset process is are very likely to impose.”

    Again. No explanation why an individual company need be net zero, and basically dismissing offsetting – which is the only way net zero is possible. Without forcing every company in the world out of business and sending us back to being hunter gatherers.

    “To summarise then, I do not think offset an appropriate basis for claiming that a company might be net-zero carbon because of all the estimates that must be made to achieve that goal”

    But it’s perfectly acceptable to estimate totally unknown emissions far into the future and place all of them onto the balance sheet. Right? Because estimating emissions in the future is somehow going to be more reliable than estimating offsetting? SO stupid.

    Just so, so stupid.

    And His reply:

    Thank you for writing more than 1600 words, which I very much suspect most people will not read, which is what I would recommend. There are a number of reasons for doing so.
    The first is that you very clearly identify yourself as a climate change sceptic. You may not have noticed, but your day is over.
    The second is that you also reveal yourself to be familiar with this blog although you claim to have never commented before, providing clear evidence of trolling activity.
    Third, it would seem that abuse is your stock in trade. It is deeply unappealing.
    Fourth, and this one cannot be avoided, many of the claims you make are very wrong. Let’s start with the simplest, which is that you claim I know nothing of audit. As a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales who audited for more years than I care to remember, that is most definitely untrue, as are so many of the things that you say.
    But, to show respect on this one occasion when you will have access to comment here (because I will be blocking you precisely because that is an editorial freedom that I enjoy) let me answer the first three questions that you asked.
    The first was why this should only apply to large companies. I would have thought that the reason is obvious. In the first instance it is because we have very different accounting regimes for large companies from all other concerns, precisely because they have the greatest impact on society. And we also know they create the vast majority of emissions. Therefore, if we deal with them we will have addressed most of our concern. I would suggest that this was not very hard to figure out.
    Second, why scope 3 emissions? Precisely because if we do not consider the scope 3 emissions of companies all the activities of consumers are ignored, but the emissions that we all make are only possible because the market provides us with a limited range of choice as to the behaviour that we can follow, which at present all have large scales of carbon emission inherent within them. What you would like is that these are pretended to be an externality to business, for which they are not responsible. However, all serious commentators from Mark Carney onwards now agree that this is an impossible position for business to hold. iI their actions enable the emissions of consumers, and that is indisputable, then their scope 3 emissions must be taken into account, and that requires that all businesses must do so.
    Third, you accuse me of double counting. This is such a basic error to make on your part. Of course it would be true that I would double count scope 3 emissions if I was preparing a macroeconomic estimate. You will, however, note that this is not what sustainable cost accounting is all about. It prepares a microeconomic estimate for an individual concern. In that case, your logic is profoundly wrong. If I was to apply your logic to financial accounting then, for example, almost no mining company would ever record turnover because almost none of them ever make a direct sale to an end consumer, which is where their customer chain ends. You would suggest that to avoid double counting their turnover should not be included in their books and records. That is so obviously ridiculous that I cannot imagine why you would wish to propose it, and yet you are with regard to scope 3 emissions. Just as in accounting the output of one company is, in very many cases, the input of another, so is that true with regards to scope 3 emissions, but that does not mean that the company making the emission in the first instance can avoid responsibility for eliminating it from the supply chain that they facilitate: that is exactly what their duty is. So of course every large entity must account for its scope 3 emissions.
    Those were the first three questions you asked, and each of them was so ludicrous that I cannot be bothered to address the rest. You came here with a prejudice based upon misinformation, to try to deny that we have a problem in tackling climate change and proposed solutions which are utterly ridiculous, as I have demonstrated. Please do not call again.

    And others please note, if you offer similar ridiculous comment you too will be deleted.

  5. VP – priceless, truly priceless. My incontinence pads have been overwhelmed!

    To finish off, Pilgrim Slight Return offers Murphy support, and a virtual hand job

    Pilgrim Slight Return says:
    November 2 2021 at 4:51 pm
    I have to agree wholeheartedly with you

  6. When our descendants are studying the madness of the early twenty-first century, that post by Murphy and the comment quoted by V_P will be seen as prime examples of the “Bishops arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” style theology of the CAGW pseudo religion.

  7. My scope 1 emissions are my supplier’s scope 3 emissions. Though “they” are currently arguing that we should be paying China’s emissions because we buy the tat China makes. So, clearly, I should be paying for the emissions of the fuel I buy from BP, not BP. That is the argument isn’t it? I’m trying to keep up.

    I believe Lord Spudcup tried to justify double counting by insisting it was like VAT, where “everybody pays”. But then got trapped trying to argue against reality.

  8. @Tim

    Whilst there is little CO2 in air, so hard to extract, getting it from sea water is much more practical. Doubably so if desalination is also a goal.

  9. Zubrin points out that one needs to add methane to liquid H2 to prevent, or at least minimise, boil-off.

    Given that present day aircraft run on jet fuel and it’d take a considerable effort to rebuild the global air fleet, I do think AndyF’s proposal to extract CO2 and H2 from the ocean surface and synthesise jet fuel is superior to trying run everything on liquid H2. One imagines hugh oil refineries powered by nukes quaffing up the seawater and pumping out the synfuels.

    Of course one could use simple, brute-force, 19th century tech to grind up peridotite or basalt, and dump the dust on the ocean surface to react with the CO2. In effect, the thousand odd years it takes to equilibrate an increase in CO2 and deposit it in the depths would be artificially skipped.

    But perhaps it’d be simplest to do nothing.

  10. Well, yes Philip. Fortunately the earth appears to have gained a large proportion of the radioactive materials when the solar system was formed.

    So in addition to a nice magnetic field to stop the atmosphere being blown away by the solar wind, the melted down natural reactor that is the core lets the CO2 be dragged down by the subduction zones and then pumped up again by the volcanoes.

    But the climate panickers feel that the time taken for the overall CO2 concentration in the ocean to match that of the atmosphere (about 1000 years) allows the earth to overheat and we’ll all boil. I must admit to considerable scepticism about this.

    Still, if you take them seriously it’s entertaining to try and find solutions that might actually work. What I don’t think will work is windmills and solar panels.

    However I do feel that nukes would do it. Thus I feel that the Russians were right to subsidise their nuclear industry when communism collapsed. But of course the Russkies did this so they could run their country with nukes while they export all the gas and oil they can pump up to the West.

  11. Bloke in North Korea (Germany Province)

    It would be interesting to see how a fully laden hydrogen powered airliner that developed a fault immediately after take off and needed to land would dump its fuel. Not a problem with jet fuel, which you can pretty much stand in a barrel of and drop lit matches in with negligible risk of suffering adverse effects.

    Essentially any fire on a hydrogen powered aircraft would mean close to 100% risk of death for everyone. While fire is already the pilot’s worst nightmare, 100% does not compare favourably with the current situation.

    But of course, carbons are the only things that matter and hang any assessment of all costs and benefits. Like covids are the only things that matters now. If we blow up a few thousand people every year to save the planet, I guess we have made them permanently zero carbon.

  12. The ecoloons have it in mind to kill billions, partly intentionally with their fascistic nonsense, and partly unintentionally with their technological fairy tales. A few thousand airline passengers every year wouldn’t even constitute a rounding error.

  13. @BiNK
    “…fully laden hydrogen powered airliner…”
    Relax, ain’t gonna happen, not possible.
    Four known ways to store hydrogen:
    1. Gas, under pressure. Big heavy spherical tanks made of steel with lining (to stop the steel being made brittle). Won’t fit in wings, that by their nature, tend to be thin and plank-like.
    Put in fueslage, and no room for cargo or passengers. Also: steel tanks very very heavy. Not going very far. Don’t stand at the fence by upwind end of the runway.
    2. Liquid, cryogenic. Big heavy dewar flasks, multiple steel containers with lining and insulation. Liquid boils off in a few hours, especially if heated by airflow (fuel is used to cool engine auxilliaries). Also, look up para/ortho. Same arguments about weight, and inability to put huge spherical tanks in thin flat wings.
    3. Interstitial, in e.g. palladium. You heat it up to 400 degrees or so to accept and release the hydrogen. This actually works. Trouble is, with 20 tons of palladium in the aircraft, who would dare let it out of the vault?
    4. Chemically bound to carbon. Commonly called ‘kerosene’.

    A few small aircraft may be jazzed-up (a or i?) for a short-range or zero-range PR stunt, but it’s wholly impractical, except possibly for Air Farce One, where something the size of a Jumbo needs only to carry one imbecile, so plenty of room for huge and heavy tanks. The rest of the entourage can follow in real aircraft, out of camera shot.

    Finally, ever been at an airport, boarded an aircraft, and NOT smelt the stench of Avtur? If non-volatile kerosene leaks into the cabin so easily, just imagine the leaks with the much smaller molecular size of hydrogen, and with its almost total range of concentrations for detonations, just imagine all the static-sparking fun that will result in more blowing up airliners than the PLO ever achieved.
    But probably, that’s the intention. Kill enough peasants and the survivors will stop flying and stay in their hovels.

    Oh, one more thing about hydrogen. It’s the opposite of politicians, and has a very low density. This means that to store any amount of it, the tanks must be HUGE. This means your hydrogen plane, if it ever takes off, will have the range of almost enough to divert to the alternate, before it has actually gone anywhere. A bit like the battery-powered PR stunts.

    But good for some graft I suppose, politicians will give money to anyone it seems. Airbus are keen.

  14. If it wasn’t a religion we could do sensible things. Like use hydrocarbon fuel from oil for planes, where the alternatives don’t work, And make it up elsewhere, like nuclear for everything else. But it is a religion and sacrifices must be made even if they don’t seem to have any effect. And personal transport is second on the list after air travel, whether ICE or electric. Because it is the prosperity and comfort of ordinary plebs that must be eliminated.

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