Posts Tagged ‘co2’

Well, not real money. But Atmoz is discussing about when it will be reached with commenters. My bet is march 2018, though if you use woodfortrees to visualize, straight extrapolation seems to predict before 2015 already, for the northern hemisphere winter peak. Most seem to bet around 2014-2016.

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The Green Nuclear kind, be sure to read the comments in German.

G8 Climate Scorecards: CO2 Per Capita

To summarize, in WWF:s climate score cards, France is scoring pretty badly. Everybody knows that France has about 80% nuclear power in electricity production, much more than the neighbouring Britain and Germany which use mostly coal. So, since WWF and Allianz don’t like it, they substitute it as if it was natural gas.

WWF does not consider nuclear power to be a viable policy option. The indicators “emissions per capita”, “emissions per GDP” and “CO2 per kWh electricity” for all countries have therefore been adjusted as if the generation of electricity from nuclear power had produced 350 gCO2/kWh (emission factor for natural gas). Without the adjustment, the original indicators for France would have been much lower, e.g. 86 gCO2/kWh

Of course these score cards are widely published everywhere without reference to the footnotes . There are some other weird things about them too…

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Tamino examines a certain paper:

It’s certainly not true that their analysis shows “natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major contributor to variability and perhaps recent trends in global temperature.” It shows no such thing; their analysis removes all the effect of trends.

A thing to remember when you encounter McLean, de Freitas and Carter, being used as evidence that CO2 has no effect on temperature trends.


Bob Carter presents a press release:

The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions.


The next natural question is, why on Earth did they write such crap? I have a hunch that it is also analyzed thoroughly on some blog somewhere, but I’ll leave finding that to the reader.


James Haughton commenting at Deltoid:

I think we should consider this paper not as a scientific publication but as part of a debating strategy. Certainly Carter (don’t know about the others) is smart enough to know that “Global warming stopped in 1998” is going to stop working as an excuse as soon as the next El Nino hits; which is likely to be this year. So he needs a fallback position. Therefore, he’s going to go from denying El Nino exists to claiming that all Global Warming is solely due to El Nino, which will enable him to get past the “hotter than 1998” problem.


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Finland is enacting laws that lead to building some more wind power. Like some professionals in the Finnish wind power association, Suomen tuulivoimayhdistys, have told me, perhaps the most important thing about wind power is that you have to be smart about what and where you build.

The wastelands of dead windmills in the California deserts are a result of subsidizing the building of very immature technology, with little concern for actual electricity production.

Wind power can be useful for energy production and CO2 emissions reduction, but it must be built with operation in mind. Finland and the whole Nordpool market operates with a power generation mix that includes possibilities of reducing CO2 emissions by just injecting wind power to the market when there is wind.

If Finland is serious about deploying large amounts of wind power, offshore is the way. The winter sea ice is a hard problem. Lighthouses have washed away in the fifties because of moving thick sea ice. It is even possible that  wind power in icy sea conditions is simply not profitable in the near term, even with high subsidies. It also might be that because of the very high cost of the foundations per mill, the optimal unit size is far bigger than in warmer waters. This all would require a methodical approach with multi-year testing programs of different foundations and possibly different turbine paradigms. (Sort of how the current wind turbines enjoy the methodical research programs and various large prototypes of the nineties.) So a decade perhaps from start to deployment, at rapid pace, starting immediately.

The other thing, like the major parties have been saying, is nuclear power. In an energy mix, this can push out the fossils out, approaching from the bottom instead of the top like wind power. If current trends continue, there will be a few more nukes soon. If I recall correctly Mauri Pekkarinen, the trade and industry minister from the center party commented how the next nuclear power plants would replace, roughly one each, electricity imports (from Russia), old nukes (that have to be retired in the future decades), and fossil fuel plants. Perhaps that is not entirely correct and gives little possibility for energy conservation or renewables, but I actually view it as a rough and dim picture of a not worst possible future.

So, in summary: be careful about how you encourage and where you build big wind – otherwise it’s just a nuisance – and also, build some nukes (keep the regulatory body in good control of them).

I am a fan of wind power – correctly built wind power. And so are the people at Tuulivoimayhdistys – they are professionals after all. Lawmakers should listen to them very carefully, when deciding what kind of subsidies to make.

I’ve seen some talk how in USA the Democrats that currently hold power are proposing methods of CO2 cuts completely based on renewables. This seems unrealistic to me. Too bad the Republicans, when they were in power, did nothing to make CO2 cuts. Now they can just complain about the methods.

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Technical viewpoint

Reduce Coal Electricity Production as Quickly as Possible.

Practically all other issues like transport fuels are secondary. They are harder and smaller problems. Nevermind taking CO2 from ambient air. Let’s first do the biggest and easiest job. This is looking at the next few decades.

To get rid of coal, do all of the following simultaneously:

  • Do less things that consume electricity
  • Improve energy efficiency
  • Build nuclear plants
  • Build wind plants where applicable
  • Build solar plants where applicable

Regional viewpoint

CO2 production of regions, modified from "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air"CO2 production of regions, modified from “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air

Although the graph above could suggest that North America, Oceania and Europe should be the first to do reductions to keep it more equal per capita, in the current freely moving global economy that is not all clear – in many cases the emissions would just be transferred to other locations.

Legal viewpoint

First a primer on why there exist laws in the first place.

Practically, the only aim of publicly traded corporations is based on producing maximum profit for the shareholders. (Corporations are not good or bad, they are just mechanisms.) People as well choose the least effort with maximum personal benefits. On average, humans are no martyrs.

These are both reasons why there are no anarchistic societies around – societies with rules and laws turned out to be more efficient. When you are not in constant danger of being taken advantage of by anyone (be it a corporation, mob or a person) who wishes to do so, you can spend your energy on actually beneficial work. If there are common decisions that these are the laws (concepts of ownership, murder etc), everyone’s life is easier. This is basically the difference between anarchy and a legal society. Legal societies accept the limiting of freedoms. For example, I do not have the freedom to murder my neighbour or take his car, even if I wanted it, and I view that it is a good thing that this is the same for everyone.

So, stock owned corporations and sufficiently large groups of humans can mostly only steer themselves through laws that affect everyone on the field. If a company CEO strays from maximizing profit, the company will get into a competetive disadvantage and the stock owners either sue him, fire him or move elsewhere. A person doing ethical decisions when most others act unethically is just making a personal sacrifice. It is not generally justified or reasonable to expect a large proportion of people to suddenly voluntarily change their ways to ones with less immediate benefit for themselves, when there are still so many not doing it. Nor is it that likely. Hence education and individual voluntary action are usually inherently very limited means of doing any measurable changes.

And then on to more specifics regarding CO2.

So, justified solutions would be level playing fields where the CO2 emissions have similar prices for everyone. From the people’s point of view, this  could be individual CO2 quotas, or quotas given to nations according to the population size. Or alternatively varying concepts of taxes on personal CO2 production, given back to all people (so the average producer would have zero change from the no-tax situation). From the industry’s point of view, the leveling could be CO2 taxes on products according to the amount of CO2 emitted during production – not related to where it is produced so that the international playing field is level.

For example, in China most people are very poor and produce little CO2 per capita. Does this mean per capita quota laws should be made so that China was able to produce export steel with more inefficient processes generating more CO2, resulting in the shutdown of more efficient steel plants in the west? My opinion is no. Hence, only per capita CO2 emissions regulation does not make that much sense.

I will post more about this in the future, as this post is just a short overview.

Free market viewpoint

Completely centrally led  economies are very inefficient failures. Private industry in many cases is much less corrupt and more motivated and efficient. But only if they have incentive to be. Hence, if there was a price for CO2 emissions, it is conceivable that much more sensible places where they can be reduced could suddenly be found, than with any complex regulations mandating direct methods of reducing CO2 emissions. This is exactly what markets are good at, doing the maximum with minimum cost. There would actually be competition and multiple privately developed solutions for each problem field, and the best and most cost effective would be chosen automatically, with those people who know the best with the hands on experience, and not some politicians.

I see many otherwise free market advocating people saying that there should be no price for CO2, instead the government should do some R&D and then give solutions to the industry. I think that is naive. Why would companies move to less CO2 producing technologies, if there was no cost in producing CO2? How would people in the government even know which R&D programs to do? And these projects would be funded from taxes anyway and thus paid by the consumers and companies. And they would be adopted only if they were otherwise significantly cheaper than the old methods, and probably in most cases they would not be. There probably just is no free lunch, unless someone invents something totally game changing very soon.

The CFC:s are a good example of that. The companies were lobbying against their banning, but when it was evident and imminent, they simply stopped complaining and developed working alternatives.  You get exactly what you order. A significant amount of people don’t even care to treat waste water if there no laws mandating it, which is evidently a bad thing in many places around the world, leaving the people downstream with no clean drinking water.

It is important for governments to do long term basic research and even investments, but if CO2 emissions had a price, it would be profitable for companies to research and invest in less CO2 producing technology themselves.

Take for example nuclear power. If there are CO2 taxes, that makes nuclear power more profitable than coal and it will automatically replace it. Also, somewhat similar for solar power. It is most of the time not wise to mandate very inefficient feelgood solar plants in cloudy areas. That is just theater. (On the other hand, it is sometimes worth supporting industry that is in its infancy and not immediately useful, but has potential in the further future. But feelgood projects are the wrong way.) But if the solar plants are built on profit and cost/benefit mechanisms alone, then they are probably built in more sensible places.

Cap and trade is problematic in many ways. Those who had already upgraded to more efficient industries by the reference year (on which the cap is based on), suffer more as they can’t do cheap cuts anymore. Or the governments can deal the quotas completely arbitrarily, making the playing field between industries very uneven. A CO2 tax might be better in this way. I am no economist or tax expert so other people have probably more intelligent things to say about this.

Who should do what in politics?

Governments should consult the best experts and build together some schemes of putting a price on CO2 emissions, beyond the Kyoto cap and trade, which can be seen as a first draft policy. Lessons should be learned.

Most of the CO2 producers (by tons and by tons per capita, at least, for justice reasons) should be in these schemes. Places like Africa don’t matter, they matter little in the absolute and the relative sense too. Also those with high over time integrated total emissions should be spearheading the effort. The schemes could be designed to also affect those who are selfishly staying outside, for example with added CO2 import taxes when importing from a country that is not in the CO2 tax scheme (or possibly even, but to a lesser amount as it is more problematic, export CO2 benefits, if exporting to a country which does not have the scheme) to keep the products competitive on equal grounds.

Many government R&D projects should be funded, but not too uncritically, as they tend to bloat. Some overly complicated legal barriers, for example with nuclear research and power plant building should be removed (not completely left without oversight of course). Private research and development could be stimulated. Possibly even with things like prizes – though a price on CO2 already would stimulate the industry hugely.

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Continuing on the theme of science, policy and think tank input, Nexus 6 has an extremely good concise reference to the subject.

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