Lomborg: If we emit more, we’ll warm more

Bjorn Lomborg, to make up for losing his $4million funding from the Australian government has just published a paper on the impact of current climate proposals. Possibly he’s also trying to improve his h-index, but given the Impact Factor of the Journal in which he’s published, it could take a while.

A suitable sub-title for Bjorn’s paper is probably: if you assume the worst, the worst will happen. The bottom line from his paper appears to be that in the most optimistic scenario, we will only reduce warming – relative to RCP8.5 – by 0.17oC. He appears to be selling this as an illustration of just how ineffective the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) will be.

So, does he have a point? Well, no, and Joe Romm has largely pointed out why. Lomborg has essentially ignored China. China has pledged to peak its emissions by 2030, and yet Lomborg assumes that China’s emissions continue increasing until 2100 (his Figure 9). Furthermore, the difference between his most optimistic and his most pessimistic scenario is very small. Also, he assumes that in almost all cases the most optimistic scenario beyond 2030 is increasing emissions.

In fact, some of his assumptions just seem utterly bizarre. Somehow he thinks we will reduce emissions until 2030, and then start increasing them again. Well, sure, if we do that then the difference between RCP8.5, and what we actually do, might be small, but that’s almost certainly not the intent. It’s well known that warming depends largely on total emissions. The goal of emission reductions is to reduce total emissions, not simply emissions until 2030. If he assumes that the most optimistic scenario is increased emissions beyond 2030 so that, overall, we’ll ultimately emit about as much – by 2100 – as RCP8.5, then of course we’ll warm about as much as RCP8.5.

However, there’s no reason why the most optimistic scenario is increasing emissions beyond 2030; in fact, I’d argue that that’s not an optimistic scenario, by definition. This post suggests we could keep cumulative emissions to about 1400 GtC by 2100 (and warming of around 2.8oC). There are others not quite as optimistic, but still suggest considerably less warming than RP8.5.

So, the bottom line seems to be that Lomborg has assumed that we’ll start increasing emissions beyond 2030 so that total emissions will be similar to that for RCP8.5, and hence that the emission reductions planned to 2030 are going to be ineffective. Well, sure, if we do increase emissions beyond 2030, then they certainly will be ineffective. However, this is certainly not the intent and even if they’re not going to be as effective as some might like, they’re almost certainly not going to be as ineffective as Lomborg suggests.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Climate change, Climate sensitivity, ClimateBall, Global warming, IPCC, Science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

154 Responses to Lomborg: If we emit more, we’ll warm more

  1. verytallguy says:

    The build up to Paris is being very predictable.

    Lomborg being wrong is about as surprising as Judith Curry uncritically supporting him.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/11/09/lomborg-impact-of-current-climate-proposals/

    What’s the next non-shock in store? Matt Ridley lecturing the UN on risk assessment? James Delingpole being a complete tool? Can’t wait.

  2. vtg,
    Oh, there’s a surprise. I love how Judith thinks that he’s assessing the INDC commitments, as opposed to simply making stuff up.

  3. I am sure that the mitigation sceptics who claim that RCP8.5 is unrealistic are fiercely attacking Bjorn Lomborg.

  4. Victor,
    Indeed, I thought of mentioning that.

  5. However, there’s no reason why the most optimistic scenario is increasing emissions beyond 2030

    Indeed.
    Since emissions were flat from 2013 to 2014, we may already have decreasing emissions.

    And that’s without feckless governments getting involved.
    Anyone less anxious now?

  6. TE,

    Since emissions were flat from 2013 to 2014, we may already have decreasing emissions.

    Wonder what will happen in 2015.

    And that’s without feckless governments getting involved.

    No involvement at all? Nothing? Really? Where do you live?

  7. Wonder what will happen in 2015?

    I do.

    But I can think of more reasons that CO2 should decrease ( technology, shrinking populations, ageing populations, global economic slowdown, falling rates of emission in China ) than reasons why CO2 emissions should increase ( continued development in India and Africa ).

    No involvement at all?

    Governments have pledged to decrease emissions in the future.

    That doesn’t explain the past very well.

  8. TE,
    I know I’ve asked you this before and I don’t expect a different better answer this time, but if we want to increase global energy use (in order to improve the lives of those currently in poverty) how do we do so without increasing emissions?

    Governments have pledged to decrease emissions in the future.

    That doesn’t explain the past very well.

    This isn’t what I meant.

  9. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    What’s the next non-shock in store? Matt Ridley lecturing the UN on risk assessment? James Delingpole being a complete tool? Can’t wait.

    Looking beyond Paris:
    Donald Trump will win the US election in 2016, and immediately appoint Christopher Monckton as chief science advisor and Sarah Palin as head of the EPA.

    You read it here first.

  10. if we want to increase global energy use (in order to improve the lives of those currently in poverty) how do we do so without increasing emissions?

    That’s a good point.

    But in addition to reducing human suffering, the economic development of developing nations does improve their efficiency ( infrastructure ) which decreases future energy use. That’s in addition the benefit of reducing population growth.

    But you may be right that developing nations ( including Asian and African nations above ) will return us to CO2 emissions growth. But that development is a good thing.

  11. development is a good thing.

    True.

    will return us to CO2 emissions growth.

    This might not be a good thing.

  12. BBD says:

    Same old rubbish from TE, for the nth time.

    Invisible hands got us into this mess. Only a fool believes they will also get us out.

  13. RickA says:

    ATTP:

    You asked TE:

    “I know I’ve asked you this before and I don’t expect a different better answer this time, but if we want to increase global energy use (in order to improve the lives of those currently in poverty) how do we do so without increasing emissions?”

    I would answer – Nuclear energy!

    It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (baseload power – not intermittent) and can be implemented with existing technology.

  14. I would answer – Nuclear energy!

    It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (baseload power – not intermittent) and can be implemented with existing technology.

    Yes, I realise that it is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, baseload, and can be implemented with existing technology, but I’m asking how this would actually be done.

  15. BBD says:

    RickA

    Nuclear isn’t geopolitically practical for global decarbonisation, nor does anyone seriously think that can enough plant could be built to decarbonise the energy supply fast enough on its own.

    This is only about the thousandth time I’ve seen an attempt to disrupt commentary by making this contentious but essentially ridiculous argument. It succeeds in being disruptive because the mere mention of nuclear can produce a violently negative reaction in some commenters.

    So it either represents a genuine ignorance of the realities of the nuclear industry and its capacity to drive decarbonisation, or a deliberate attempt to make mischief in the comments section.

  16. RickA says:

    ATTP:

    You ask how this would actually be done.

    It require deregulation.

    However, in principal, every power plant has a useful lifetime.

    Simply replace coal power plants with newly built nuclear as the coal power plants reach their end-of-life.

    The utilities would build N instead of C and over time, (at least in the USA) we would provide more energy without emissions.

    BBD:

    You say nuclear isn’t geopolitically practical. I don’t see why not – nuclear is already in place in many countries and being built in many more. Nuclear is just as practical (actually even more so) than producing all energy with wind and/or solar and takes up a lot less space.

    I cannot help it if the only genuinely practical solution creates a violently negative reaction in some commenters – we still have to talk about nuclear if we want to shift to non-carbon producing energy production.

  17. RickA says:

    I meant “requires deregulation”.

  18. Rick,
    Again, you make it sound trivial, when it very obviously is not. Some of the reasons for this may be rather stupid, but that doesn’t change that we’re not going to suddenly simplify the building of nuclear power plants. Also, to provide sufficient energy and keep warming below 2C would require building something like 3000-4000. We’re currently building something like 70. I’m very pro nuclear in general and think it will play a crucial role in future energy generation, but I do not think that it is going to be some simple process that will allow us to provide more and more energy without also increasing our emissions (which is where this started).

  19. Kevin O'Neill says:

    RickA – the question was – “…in order to improve the lives of those currently in poverty..”

    The answer doesn’t involve deregulation – since most of those in poverty live in Africa and Asia. It also doesn’t involve replacing coal-fired plants because most of those in poverty in those locales are not currently served by coal-fired plants.

    To build nuclear you need an existing grid or you need to build a grid. For most of those in poverty that isn’t likely to happen. Renewable for these people seems the best bet – much like cell phones have made telephone line infrastructure irrelevant throughout much of the 3rd world.

  20. RickA says:

    I didn’t mean to make it sound simple or trivial – because it will be politically very difficult to roll out nuclear.

    But it could be done just as easily as a carbon tax (which is also very difficult politically).

    And a carbon tax will not provide more power (although it does provide an incentive to build more nuclear).

    And nuclear does provide a way to provide more and more energy without emissions.

    Just build more plants.

    It would take about 300 in the USA alone – but if we wanted to build 300 nuclear plants we could easily do it. It is not a technology problem – just a political problem.

    Wind and solar do not provide more power without more emissions – because you have to also build more back-up power for when it is not windy or sunny.

    The only other option is to invent some new cheaper form of energy than coal, oil or natural gas – and we have not done that yet.

    Fusion would be ideal – but we haven’t finished the inventing yet.

    I will shut-up now and leave the thread alone.

  21. BBD says:

    RickA

    It require deregulation.

    Actually, a globally expanded nuclear industry would require intense independent scrutiny – so some sort of world nuclear regulatory authority with considerable powers would be required.

    Not something that chimes with libertarian fantasies, I’m afraid.

  22. Rick A – even in UK, with very pro nuclear Conservative Govt, they do not expect nuclear to be more than 20% of electricity generation by late 2020s and 30% for renewables by 2020. It is not a binary decision. Denmark and Germany are heading for nearly 100% low carbon by 2050 without nuclear by combining wind, solar, biomass and modest storage. Each country has its own context and decisions. Stanford Univ. has a plan for 100% renewables for USA by 2100. It’s complex. No easy answers. Thinking is great substitute for fixed views and slogans from whatever quarter.

  23. BBD says:

    The best chance we have of decarbonising fast enough is to opt for a pragmatic, inclusive energy mix worldwide. Trying to push renewables off the table is as stupid and dangerous as trying to push nuclear off the table. And in each case it is invariably done for ideological reasons.

  24. Oh, and did I mention the little matter if (a) nuclear proliferation and (b) scaling solar and wind is easy at many scales and low tech whereas nuclear so far at least requires high scale and high tech so tooooo late to save the planet. It’s not dogma, it’s pragmatism.

  25. BBD – it’s called the IAEA based in Vienna. They did not succeed in stopping Abdul Khan stealing centrifuge designs from Anglo-Dutch company Urenco, to facilitate the Pakistan bomb. They do a great job but are powerless if a country like Pakistan or North Koran decides to go for it. Nuclear is probably / unfortunately part of the mix, but not a strategic long-term solution. Look at US and Iran!

  26. Deregulous nuclear powder for the win!

  27. Top twenty emitters in descending order. Those with falling emissions in bold ( year of peak ):

    China(2013)
    United States(2005)
    EU28(1990)
    India
    Russia(1990)
    Japan
    Korea
    Int. Shipping
    Canada(2005)
    Brazil
    Indonesia
    Saudi Arabia
    Mexico(2012)
    Int. Aviation
    Iran(2005)
    Australia(2011)
    Turkey(2012)
    South Africa(2005)
    Ukraine(1990)
    Taiwan(2010)

  28. Given that China has promised to peak their emissions in 2030, not 2013, I’ll take your list with the pinch of salt it probably deserves. Maybe you should read about South Africa.

  29. TE – China expecting to peak its emissions around 2030 …
    http://www.carbonbrief.org/climate-pledge-puts-china-on-course-to-peak-emissions-as-early-as-2027
    Not bothered checking the rest of your list, since one black swan, and all that.

  30. Phil says:

    While researching Nuclear Power , I came across Derek Abbott who seems to me (at least) to make some good points. Does anyone more knowledgeable about this area than me have a view on the linked article ?
    My conclusion from it was similiar to BBD – that Nuclear could play a role, but probably not the major role in de-carbonisation

  31. Oh, but I noticed Canada. They are fortunate to have a large hydropower component (I remember a lifetime ago doing a consultancy at one of their enterprises), so being low carbon is easier for them. And post POTUS decision, they can’t export the dirty stuff to USA. Boohoo. Yippeee!!!

  32. MikeH says:

    I know that Joe Romm points this out in his article but the brazenness with which Lomborg removes China’s pledge to peak emissions from consideration is astonishing.

    This is from the abstract
    >All climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, implemented from the early 2000s to 2030 and sustained through the century will likely reduce global temperature rise about 0.17°C in 2100.

    And this from the text
    >China’s INDC has made two significant promises (China INDC, 2015). One is a promise to peak its emissions around 2030. That is a promise, which will only start having a policy impact around and after 2030, which falls outside the 2030 time limit for policy promises set in this article.

    This is an paper that has been written for the conservative climate denying press to trumpet in the lead up to Paris. Any connection to the truth is entirely coincidental.

    Here for example
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/paris-pledges-wishful-thinking-not-optimism-bjorn-lomborg/story-e6frg6xf-1227602438341?sv=aad98d819f7f446ed20ba16639f8de3d

  33. Magma says:

    This approach could open up many promising new research avenues for a bright lad like Bjorn. He’s free to use some of these that I don’t have time to investigate:

    Increasing alcohol intake fails to slow progression of cirrhosis in middle-aged alcoholics.
    All-candy diet ineffective in controlling serum glucose levels in type 2 diabetics.
    Change to lard-based baked and fried foods does not reduce BMI of morbidly obese test subjects.

  34. Steven,
    Yes, that could be impressive, but noone said “it’s impossible” and I don’t think it somehow shows that it’s won’t be difficult to implement enough nuclear globally for it to be the main player in reducing emissions. Again, I’m all for it, but I’m also all for whatever else might work and think that there isn’t some kind of one-size-fits all solution.

  35. MikeH,

    All climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, implemented from the early 2000s to 2030 and sustained through the century will likely reduce global temperature rise about 0.17°C in 2100.

    Yes, that seems fundamentally dishonest, since he clearly does not sustain them till 2100. He typically assumes emissions start rising again in 2100. What he presume he’s actually saying is that the emission reductions to 2030 are sustained, but that;s obvious, since once we haven’t emitted something in a given time period, we can’t go back in time and emit it later.

  36. BBD says:

    Richard Erskine

    BBD – it’s called the IAEA based in Vienna.

    Yes, thank you, I know about the IAEA.

    (b) scaling solar and wind is easy at many scales

    Except at the all-important *large* scale, when the cost of storage and grid interconnection becomes extremely high. In the case of SPV, the absence of a utility-scale storage technology is a serious technological issue.

    As our host (and I) have already said, the best energy policy is the least proscriptive. Use whatever works best wherever you are and ditch the anti-nuclear or anti-renewables ideological cant in favour of pragmatism.

  37. BBD says:

    Top twenty emitters in descending order. Those with falling emissions in bold ( year of peak ):

    Atmospheric CO2 concentration to date:

  38. Paul S says:

    Top twenty emitters in descending order. Those with falling emissions in bold ( year of peak ):

    Basic source is probably this table: http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2ts1990-2013&sort=des9

    Strange thing with all that bold formatting is that if you add up the emissions numbers from each of those nations the sum has increased year-on-year from 2010-2013, averaging 2% pa.

  39. Ken Fabian says:

    The biggest political impediment to nuclear is failure to commit to serious emissions reductions targets – and most prominent foot dragging is by political parties that profess to prefer nuclear. Until they actually commit to the fundamental goal of preventing dangerous climate change, with appropriate conviction, nuclear’s main role will more often than not be as a rhetorical device for undermining the standing of those proposing other means to reduce emissions.

  40. Ken,
    It’s certainly my impression that some vocal supporters of nuclear spend more of their time criticising other alternatives, than actually promoting nuclear.

  41. BBD says:

    Paul S

    Thanks for that. I noticed that TE lacked the common courtesy to reply when Richard Erskine asked him for the source of his table. But then, TE is peddling misinformation, so reticence over sources that do not withstand scrutiny is to be expected.

  42. tlsmith says:

    I had a quick scan of Lomborg’s paper and he does indeed look at the impact of current climate proposals – fair enough, and they do indeed appear to be small.

    This is what is proposed and this is what it will achieve seems to me worth considering. For example,
    “The impact of the US Clean Power Plan (USCPP) is a reduction in temperature rise by 0.013°C by 2100.”
    I read that, and if it is correct, it strikes me, as yes, it is indeed ineffective (that figure is calculated as assuming no increases in emissions from 2030).

    You appear to disagree and I don’t quite understand why. Obviously if China has effectively implimented climate policies then China could make a big contribution to a reduction in the temperature rise, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the current climate proposals for the US and EU will have essentially negligible impact on the temperature rise (assuming Lomborg’s numbers are correct) and at some cost.

  43. snarkrates says:

    Actually, my reservations about nukes have nothing to do with the inherent safety of nuclear reactors. The chief reservation I have is that there is a force far more powerful than any failsafe: human stupidity. Every nuclear accident I know of was brought on by astoundingly creative stupidity. The Chernobyl operators had to defeat–what was it–something like 7 failsafes before they got the core to melt.
    My personal favorite was the Japanese factory workers who were running behind in mixing up solutions of enriched uranium. One noticed that the mixer would hold larger batches of solution if they just filled it up past the line that said “don’t fill above this line”. The additional solution served as an effective moderator, and the solution started to go critical with a burst of gammas and neutrons. This heated up the solution, which then expanded and went subcritical, cooled, went critical, etc. In effect, they had made a pulsed reactor. Cool! Unfortunately, the operators died before their creativity could be recognized.
    There is also the question of waste. The Swedes are the only ones close to a workable solution.

    Finally, there is the issue of becoming dependent on yet another centralized cabal of energy companies–a special interest that could again attempt to retard progress toward a fully sustainable energy economy. The fossil fuel companies have retarded progress for 40 years. We can’t afford to lose another 40 to the nukes.

    That is not to say I don’t realize that reliance on nukes is unavoidable, as are a lot of other unpalatable actions, such as geoengineering . Thanks to the Koch suckers, we no longer have good options.

  44. The CO2 country data, which indicate declines in many of the top emitters, are from the EDGAR database.

    China’s 2013 peak is indicated by the preliminary IEA reports, reported by Bloomberg and tp.

  45. tlsmith,
    Well, it depends on what you mean. If you want to know the impact of what we will do between now and 2030, then that will almost certainly be small. It’s only 15 years. The issue with Lomborg’s analysis is that he then assumes that we increase emissions after 2030 and then does a comparison with RCP8.5 and deems the impact to be small by 2100. Well, why would we reduce emissions till 2030 and then start increasing them again? Also, why does he say “All climate policies by the US, China, the EU and the rest of the world, implemented from the early 2000s to 2030 and sustained through the century” if he assumes that emissions increase after 2030. That seems to be a rather disingenuous interpretation of “sustained until 2100”.

    TE,
    Why does China say that they will only peak their emissions in 2030? What do you know that they don’t?

  46. izen says:

    @-tlsmith
    “The impact of the US Clean Power Plan (USCPP) is a reduction in temperature rise by 0.013°C by 2100.”
    I read that, and if it is correct, it strikes me, as yes, it is indeed ineffective.”

    It is recognised that the reduction in emissions proposals of all nations are grossly inadequate as a means of curtailing emissions to significantly reduce the temperature rise.

    Political optimists hope that if an initial pledge to reduce emissions is made, that will form the basis for more stringent controls as time goes by.

    Pessimists think that the emission reductions pledged represent the most that is politically possible, not what is scientifically required. And that the autonomy of Nation States will have to be abrogated to enable a global body to impose emissions controls.

    As to the cost of reducing emissions significantly, that seems to be a moveable feast. On this thread there is one poster arguing that significant emission reductions are already underway with continued economic growth and no incurred cost. While others are arguing that even the physically inadequate pledges of reduction made will impose a serious curtailment on economic growth.

  47. TE – if you go to end of the Bloomberg article you reference, you will see the 2030 date for capping China’s emissions that ATTP quoted.

    It is not a straight line in any one country. China, despite a blip, is still growing faster than its Carbon intensity is decreasing and the difference between these equals the rate of carbon emissions (currently still a +ve number). I hope that clears up your confusion.

    The only thing the planet cares about is the total concentration and what level that peaks at, and that in turn is the area under the annual emissions curve (less the short-term carbon cycle reduction this). And as BBD pointed out, the Keeling Curve is showing a CO2 concentration in the atmosphere that shows no sign of flattening (actually if anything, it is getting somewhat faster than the notional 2 ppm per annum that many people mention). This rate in turn is entirely consistent with the aggregate of human industrial and other carbon producing activities (a fairly easy calculation … you could try Professor Mackay’s book available free on-line for help with this … “Sustainable Energy without the hot air”).

  48. Willard says:

    > I read that, and if it is correct, it strikes me, as yes, it is indeed ineffective (that figure is calculated as assuming no increases in emissions from 2030).

    There are at least two tricks at work here.

    The first is the projection of a regional effort (yes, Virginia, the US of A is still just a region) on the global scale.

    The second is the injection of an unspecified criteria of ineffectiveness based on the sheer intuitive power of that projection.

  49. Izen – I sat through a recording of a very interesting talk that the UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond gave to none other than the AEI (who have been accused of promoting denial of global warming). It was basically a challenge to the US … take the lead, of get left behind because the “economy of the future will be a low carbon [one]”

    I recommend taking the time to view this because he is taking the argument to the heart of US business to say that addressing global warming is good for business, not just good for the planet.

    He believes the market can create solutions, but only if there is a price on carbon “we don’t let people dump waste on the street”. He said that while the world has not set a price, countries like China have started to, and in US, companies like Google, Walmart, and others are creating internal carbon pricing to drive change.

    I found the talk a source for optimism, from a UK Government that has caused damage the renewables market in UK in last few months, by rapid unplanned changes in tariffs, etc.

    https://www.aei.org/events/energy-and-climate-policy-remarks-from-the-right-honorable-philip-hammond-mp-uk-foreign-secretary/

  50. “Yes, that could be impressive, but noone said “it’s impossible” and I don’t think it somehow shows that it’s won’t be difficult to implement enough nuclear globally for it to be the main player in reducing emissions. Again, I’m all for it, but I’m also all for whatever else might work and think that there isn’t some kind of one-size-fits all solution.”

    yes it was called impractical, un safe… go figure

    glad to see you agree there isnt a one sized fits all solution…

    so…. solar cant be the main player
    geothermal cant be the main player
    wind cant be the main player
    nuclear cant be the main player

    there is no main player.

    Question: since we agree that all are needed and that there is no one sized solution..
    why is nuclear opposed… I’m not asking why it isnt accepted as the main player…im asking why people who see the looming catastrophe are so anti science when it comes to nuclear

  51. why is nuclear opposed… I’m not asking why it isnt accepted as the main player…im asking why people who see the looming catastrophe are so anti science when it comes to nuclear

    It’s not opposed by me. I have no idea why some oppose it so strongly. My impression is that the power of those who oppose nuclear is not nearly as great as some would have us believe.

  52. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Any thoughts on the following study, which “skeptics” are arguing returns similar results as Lomborg’s analysis?:

    Several large emitting countries have submitted proposals for post-2020 mitigation targets as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) ahead of the COP21 negotiations. INDCs specify actions through 2030, and we assume these levels of commitment
    remain in place through the horizon of the study

    http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/2015%20Energy%20%26%20Climate%20Outlook.pdf

  53. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    ==> “im asking why people who see the looming catastrophe are so anti science when it comes to nuclear”

    When did you change your mind about arguing by asking questions? 🙂

    Looking at countries that get a large % of their energy from nuclear power, it seems to me that there’s a notable association with highly centralized energy policies and federal funding (with the possible exception of Finland?). Given the long-term time horizon for return on investment with nuclear energy and a long track record of problems with cost overruns and logistical and construction setbacks in building nuclear plants, even with a major reduction in regulatory requirements (something that would likely meet a lot of resistance, perhaps from across the political spectrum), it seems that large increases in the % of energy we get from nuclear would require highly centralized policies and federal funding.

    Do you see some other realistic pathway towards more nuclear energy? If not, what are you currently doing to get your libertarian ideological soulmates on board with centralizing policies and allocating the necessary funds?

  54. Joshua,
    I think this link pretty much explains it.

    For example, it says

    ssuming the proposed cuts are extended through 2100 but not deepened further, they result in about 0.2°C less warming by the end of the century compared with our 2014 estimates.

    So, the 0.2C is relative to their 2014 estimate, not relative to RCP8.5. Their 2015 estimate is

    Global mean surface temperature increase ranges from 1.9–2.6°C by 2050 (relative to the 1860–1880 mean), and 3.1–5.2°C (central estimate 3.7°C) by 2100.

    which is about a degree below RCP8.5. So, the MIT is not saying the the only impact of the INDCs will be about 0.2C below RCP8.5, they’re – I think – showing the difference between the pre-INDC pledges and the post INDC pledges.

  55. verytallguy says:

    AT,

    TE,
    Why does China say that they will only peak their emissions in 2030? What do you know that they don’t?

    I think this could be usefully genericised (is that a word?) as a catch all for deniers:

    “Why does [authoritative source] say [something utterly different to your opinion]? What do you know that they don’t?”

  56. verytallguy says:

    Steven,

    im asking why people who see the looming catastrophe are so anti science when it comes to nuclear

    I think there are very sound rational and emotional reasons for the rejection of nuclear power.

    Rationally:
    – it’s not meeting the stated design intent. Design for 1 meltdown/million years operation/reactor yet we have suffered 5 (3xFuku, Chernobyl, TMI) in c. 60 years.
    – we were told it could cope with natural disasters, but a predictable tsunami overwhelmed reactors designs to withstand tsunamis.
    – there is no solution in sight for waste storage
    – fuel cycle may not be sustainable (uranium mining particularly)
    – it’s bloody expensive and persistently overruns budgets

    Emotionally
    – we were lied to repeatedly over accidents (Fukushima, Chernobyl, Windscale)
    – dangers are invisible and undetectable to humans
    – dangers persist for unimaginable timescales
    – we saw reactors we told were safe exploding on the TV

    Now, I’m in favour, but I can readily see why others aren’t.

  57. Joshua,
    Figure 18 in the link you provided explains most of the difference. The MIT analysis projects CO2 concentrations to about 700ppm by 2100. RCP8.5 is more like 950ppm. So Lomborg is assuming that beyond 2030, emissions will continue along a high emission pathway so we end up emitting about as much as RCP8.5. The MIT analysis is suggesting something more like an RCP6 pathway.

  58. snarkrates says:

    Steven, I do not oppose nukes. I have reservations–which I noted above. They are (to repeat):
    1)We haven’t solved the “stupid problem”.
    2)We haven’t solved the waste problem.
    3)We really don’t want to replace a cadre of fossil fuel oligarchs with a cadre of uranium/thorium oligarchs.

    That said, nukes are probably inevitable, so we had better be working on solutions to the above.

  59. Magma says:

    One noticed that the mixer would hold larger batches of solution if they just filled it up past the line that said “don’t fill above this line”. – snarkrates

    Human stupidity, yes, but particularly in the often very hierarchical Japanese work environment I would assign it higher up the chain than the untrained technicians who paid the price for their error. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokaimura_nuclear_accident

  60. KR says:

    BBD – “In the case of SPV, the absence of a utility-scale storage technology is a serious technological issue.”

    Actually, most of the proposals I’ve seen over the last 5 years or so indicate that (a) geographically widespread sourcing hugely reduces the need for storage, as supplies spread over more than one weather pattern see much less frequent weather impacts (Archer et al 2007, Supplying Baseload Power and Reducing Transmission Requirements by Interconnecting Wind Farms), and (b) that it looks to be far less expensive to somewhat overbuild generation capacity than try to construct large scale energy storage. Those may not be as significant as issues for renewable power as previously expected.

    That said, there is no single ‘silver bullet’, and I am in favor of doing a bit of _everything_ (renewables, nuclear, efficiency, etc) with the exact mix depending on local conditions.

  61. anoilman says:

    The build up to Paris is quite predictable, we’ve seen it before;

  62. BBD says:

    KR

    Much, much nonsense promulgated about SPV especially in extratropical regions. I think you will find Mackay (2013) both interesting and sobering.

  63. Why does China say that they will only peak their emissions in 2030? What do you know that they don’t?

    China’s emissions are falling because their population is ageing and working age population is shrinking in addition to the very high debt levels used to fuel past growth. This is sensitive for the government to admit ( slowing economies are rarely popular ).

    But I would ask, what do you know that the IEA doesn’t?

  64. TE,
    Show me where the IEA says “China’s emissions have peaked”. Showing me two data points that show no trend is particularly pathetic.

  65. anoilman says:

    Richard Erskine ( @EssaysConcern ) says:
    “Oh, but I noticed Canada. They are fortunate to have a large hydropower component (I remember a lifetime ago doing a consultancy at one of their enterprises), so being low carbon is easier for them. And post POTUS decision, they can’t export the dirty stuff to USA. Boohoo. Yippeee!!!”

    The dirty stuff was headed for Europe or South America. The first rail shipment of tar sands fuel went to Spain. I believe that Europe has excess capacity in its refineries.

    Not sure if you noticed, but Canada is big really big. Moving power around is expensive, and reduces efficiency.

    We have hydro in the mountains, and tar sands in the prairies, so unless you want to flood the prairies, you got coal, and its dirty twin, natural gas. (I’d like to thank Steven Mosher for backing me up, that Natural Gas has a high carbon foot print.) I’d like to point out that the reason the tar sands are dirty is because we burn coal, oil, and natural gas to mine and upgrade it to Dilbit. Its entirely possible to use renewables to power upgrading instead.

    Most talk about power seems to revolve around paying our electricity bills, but for much of the colder climates we’re getting heat directly from fossil fuels, and replacing that with renewables will be difficult to say the least.

    Since looking into this, I’ve become pro-nuclear. My concerns about it still stand, the lack of insurance\perpetual subsidy. Its never been viable. We also can’t convert to nuclear since, we’ll run out. Its got to be fast breeders.
    http://www.withouthotair.com/

  66. TE,
    Are you actually for real? All you have is that China’s emissions dropped between one year and the next. There are many reasons for this. It does not mean that China’s emissions have peaked. This really seems particularly silly, even for you.

  67. It is not a straight line in any one country. China, despite a blip, is still growing faster than its Carbon intensity is decreasing and the difference between these equals the rate of carbon emissions (currently still a +ve number).

    Multiple sources through 2014 indicate China decline:

    Greenpeace demonstrates this chart of IEA data through the first months of 2015:

  68. anoilman says:

    Turbulent Lucifer: I’m pretty sure the financial troubles for the last few years have slowed things up for China’s economy.
    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21662544-fear-about-chinas-economy-can-be-overdone-investors-are-right-be-nervous-great-fall

    Just looking at your own graph for global emissions, its interesting to see the financial crisis precipitated lower global emissions.

  69. Yes, China’s economy is slowing – Eddie told you that was inevitable, for decades to come, because of demographics:

    That’s why we can be confident that China’s CO2 emissions have peaked.

  70. verytallguy says:

    TE

    we can be confident that China’s CO2 emissions have peaked.

    Can you please point to a single citation which claims this, other than you.

    Please note that “have recently dropped” is not the same as “have peaked”

    thanks

  71. BBD says:

    TE

    What about the actual atmospheric data?

    You always blank those but they give the lie to your nonsense.

  72. anoilman says:

    Turbulent Lucifer: You know… you claim this is because of the population… I seriously doubt that. That concept certainly doesn’t apply anywhere else in the world. In the mean time, I look forward to the actual release of data on what is going in China, and not rely on idle wishful thinking.

    China has invested heavily in Western Emissions Controls for new coal power plants while they’ve been swapping out their old coal power plants. This means their coal power generation is becoming more efficient, and cleaner, but this does not mean its heading to zero or anything;
    http://cornerstonemag.net/upgrading-the-efficiency-of-the-worlds-coal-fleet-to-reduce-co2-emissions/

    The other thing they’ve done, is invest heavily in renewables.
    http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=6&pid=29&aid=12&cid=CH,&syid=2008&eyid=2012&unit=BKWH

    But they have been adding IDLE coal power plants wholesale, which are just waiting to power up;
    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/8/12/energy-markets/how-china-adding-one-idle-coal-plant-every-week

  73. What about the actual atmospheric data?

    Flat emissions are consistent with increasing, though decelerating, rates of accumulation.

  74. Joseph says:

    Eddie, have you seen the news that China emissions were more than we thought? I will try to find that link if you need it.

  75. BBD says:

    Flat emissions are consistent with increasing, though decelerating, rates of accumulation.

    But that’s not what the atmospheric data show, TE.

  76. BBD says:

    TE

    Will you please answer VTG’s question now.

  77. Ken Fabian says:

    ATTP – ” My impression is that the power of those who oppose nuclear is not nearly as great as some would have us believe.”

    That is my view as well. I think it’s less about the strength of opposition and more about the weakness of support. Opposing and obstructing serious climate action has been deeply embedded in the Conservative political agenda in many nations and the absolutely essential long term commitment needed to get this most serious of low emissions solution working is essentially incompatible with that anti-climate action politicking.

  78. anoilman says:

    BBD, Joseph: Current data for China has not been released yet; (This is dated Sept 2015)
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=22952

    I think VTG’s question is the correct one. One can’t blindly stupidly look at numbers and reach conclusions. One needs to understand what one is looking at. Peak or just a speed bump on the way up.

    Oh! EIA backing me;
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=22972

    “Economic deceleration, industry restructuring, and new energy and environmental policies have slowed the growth of coal consumption in China and are also driving more centralized and cleaner uses of coal.”

    later…

    “Even with weaker economic growth, coal consumption could continue to grow until sufficient alternatives can economically serve China’s energy needs.”

    Poor confused Turbulent Lucifer… caught once again blindly looking at numbers he doesn’t understand.

  79. bill shockley says:

    Don’t the carbon cycle models rely on accurate reporting of FF use? For instance, if China’s emissions are significantly greater than reported, that means either the global sink is stronger than surmised, or “other” sources are weaker.

  80. bill shockley says:

    anoilman said:
    Since looking into this, I’ve become pro-nuclear. My concerns about it still stand, the lack of insurance\perpetual subsidy. Its never been viable. We also can’t convert to nuclear since, we’ll run out. Its got to be fast breeders.
    http://www.withouthotair.com/

    I’m not sure about the subsidies/insurance part of your statement, but I don’t think the link you provided supports your claim that nuclear is not an option. It may not be sustainable for 1000 years, but we only need it to work for 50 – 100 years until some other option, like fastbreeders or whatever become viable. Current nuclear waste then becomes fuel. China has “fast neutron reactors” penciled in for 1400 GW in 2100.

    Look at the cost structure of nuclear power (very low fuel price sensitivity) and how nuclear competes in a $30/tonneC scenario. Nuclear can have a very big hand in getting us over the 21st Century speedbump.

  81. Joshua

    “When did you change your mind about arguing by asking questions? :-)”

    1. I’m not arguing. Like others I am perplexed why people haven’t gotten
    behind hansen on this.

    “Looking at countries that get a large % of their energy from nuclear power, it seems to me that there’s a notable association with highly centralized energy policies and federal funding (with the possible exception of Finland?). Given the long-term time horizon for return on investment with nuclear energy and a long track record of problems with cost overruns and logistical and construction setbacks in building nuclear plants, even with a major reduction in regulatory requirements (something that would likely meet a lot of resistance, perhaps from across the political spectrum), it seems that large increases in the % of energy we get from nuclear would require highly centralized policies and federal funding.”

    1. That’s weird since all the proposed actions on climate require centralized policies.
    2. Point to the requirement for centralized policies doesnt explain anything.

    Do you see some other realistic pathway towards more nuclear energy? If not, what are you currently doing to get your libertarian ideological soulmates on board with centralizing policies and allocating the necessary funds?

    1. I would say that if we believe in a looming catastrophe ( hansen says 2C is a disaster )
    then regulatory relief for solar, wind, geo thermal, hydro, nuclear would be a good
    step. Yes, we have to make trade offs. people who oppose these trade offs are no morally
    better than fossil fuel proponents.
    2. what are we doing? Telling the truth about nuclear doesnt happen over night
    Start here
    http://www.wsj.com/video/a-rational-view-of-nuclear-power/8E32D9D0-CEE8-4504-BD35-1207DB9C37DC.html
    Since then we’ve been invited to review some of the changes they are proposing in japan.
    Other work continues most of it out of the limelight of the press. one on one with key
    decision makers or advise to governments. Please note. see see how asking phony questions
    doesnt work.

  82. “China has invested heavily in Western Emissions Controls for new coal power plants while they’ve been swapping out their old coal power plants. This means their coal power generation is becoming more efficient, and cleaner, but this does not mean its heading to zero or anything;”

    there is a difference between investing in scrubbers and actually turning them on.

    http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/air-quality/map.php

    Also the other day watching while one city turned on their district heating ( coal based ) you could see the p2.5 spike to 700 or so.

    As Eli is happy to point out there is a certain amount of belief in luck amongst some lukewarming types.

    This belief in luck or optimism is not restricted to luke warmer types. people who think that China
    wont present a major problem or that india wont present a major problem are also whistling past the graveyard.

  83. Rationally:
    – it’s not meeting the stated design intent. Design for 1 meltdown/million years operation/reactor yet we have suffered 5 (3xFuku, Chernobyl, TMI) in c. 60 years.
    ####################
    you misunderstand and misrepresent the design intent. Probablistic saftey factors are estimates. Just like GCMS estimate. as with all estimates of rare events it is very hard
    to get them right. You do the best you can.. That said the actual fatalities involved are small
    here is some reading. Further you are confusing the Design intent of Modern designs ( 1 in a million) with the
    design of older systems. BAD.. dont do this when you are making a rational appeal

    “Concerning possible accidents, up to the early 1970s, some extreme assumptions were made about the possible chain of consequences. These gave rise to a genre of dramatic fiction (eg The China Syndrome) in the public domain and also some solid conservative engineering including containment structures (at least in Western reactor designs) in the industry itself. Licensing regulations were framed accordingly.
    It was not until the late 1970s that detailed analyses and large-scale testing, followed by the 1979 meltdown of the Three Mile Island reactor, began to make clear that even the worst possible accident in a conventional western nuclear power plant or its fuel would not be likely to cause dramatic public harm. The industry still works hard to minimize the probability of a meltdown accident, but it is now clear that no-one need fear a potential public health catastrophe simply because a fuel meltdown happens. Fukushima has made that clear, with a triple meltdown causing no fatalities or serious radiation doses to anyone, while over two hundred people continued working on the site to mitigate the accident’s effects.
    The decades-long test and analysis program showed that less radioactivity escapes from molten fuel than initially assumed, and that most of this radioactive material is not readily mobilized beyond the immediate internal structure. Thus, even if the containment structure that surrounds all modern nuclear plants were ruptured, as it has been with at least one of the Fukushima reactors, it is still very effective in preventing escape of most radioactivity.
    It is the laws of physics and the properties of materials that mitigate disaster, as much as the required actions by safety equipment or personnel. In fact, licensing approval for new plants now requires that the effects of any core-melt accident must be confined to the plant itself, without the need to evacuate nearby residents.
    A mandated safety indicator is the calculated probable frequency of degraded core or core melt accidents. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) specifies that reactor designs must meet a 1 in 10,000 year core damage frequency, but modern designs exceed this. US utility requirements are 1 in 100,000 years, the best currently operating plants are about 1 in 1 million and those likely to be built in the next decade are almost 1 in 10 million. While this calculated core damage frequency has been one of the main metrics to assess reactor safety, European safety authorities prefer a deterministic approach, focusing on actual provision of back-up hardware, though they also undertake probabilistic safety analysis (PSA) for core damage frequency.
    Even months after the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident in 1979 it was assumed that there had been no core melt because there were no indications of severe radioactive release even inside the containment. It turned out that in fact about half the core had melted. Until 2011 this remained the only core melt in a reactor conforming to NRC safety criteria, and the effects were contained as designed, without radiological harm to anyone.* Greifswald 5 in East Germany had a partial core melt in November 1989, due to malfunctioning valves (root cause: shoddy manufacture) and was never restarted. At Fukushima in 2011 (a different reactor design with penetrations in the bottom of the pressure vessel) the three reactor cores evidently largely melted in the first two or three days, but this was not confirmed for about ten weeks. It is still not certain how much of the core material was not contained by the pressure vessels and ended up in the bottom of the drywell containments, though certainly there was considerable release of radionuclides to the atmosphere early on, and later to cooling water**.”

  84. manicbeancounter says:

    Turbulent Eddie says at November 11, 2015 at 4:49 pm that climate emissions in China may have peaked already. China’s INDC Submission says they will peak by 2030, maybe at around 50% greater than in 2010 at about 17 GtCO2e. Bjorn Lomborg has emissions peaking at 22-25 GtCO2e. Joe Romm’s / ClimateInteractive’s graph for the “No Action” scenario has China’s emissions peaking at 43 GtCO2e in 2090. Half the difference between the global “No Action” and INDC scenarios is due to incorrect emissions forecasts for China. Lomborg is nearer to the truth than Climate Interactive, thus Joe Romm, thus ATTP.

  85. Dean B says:

    @Richard Erskine…”Oh, but I noticed Canada. …. And post POTUS decision, they can’t export the dirty stuff to USA. Boohoo. Yippeee!!!”

    I’m not sure you have your facts correct. Canada will continue to export “the dirty stuff” to the USA. Increased rail traffic has already picked up 100,000’s of barrels and will continue to expand. The rail traffic is more inefficient than pipelines of course and will generate more GHG along the way (you know big diesel locomotives and stuff). Not to mention environment and safety will be jeopardized as rail transport is proven to be prone to more accidents and spills than pipelines. Are you familiar with the Lac Megantic disaster? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-Mégantic_rail_disaster

    I’m not sure your Yippeeeee!!! is warranted.

    But you can continue to believe stopping Keystone XL was good…I’m sure you will believe it was a huge symbolic victory. And President Obama can go to Paris at the end of the month claiming to be a great global warming crusader at having saved the world by stopping Keystone XL. It seems like a rather hollow victory to me.

  86. No doubt in line with Lomborg’s intent much of this discussion seems to be putting the cart before the horse. The horse that the world’s nations have professed to care about (see UNFCCC Copenhagen Accord and Cancun declarations) is to limit average surface warming to 2ºC at a maximum and to act to achieve this aim in line with science and equity. Even allowing for ‘only’ a 1 in 3 chance of exceeding 2ºC the total remaining global carbon quota is only about 850 GtCO2.

    If we were serious then collective global policy would agree and enforce equitable national shares of this quota in line with capacity and responsibility so that this imperative would push massive and immediate change in energy systems. Without putting a thoroughbred #KeepItInTheGround horse of “substantial and sustained” decarbonisation in train, it is very hard indeed to see how the cart of energy mix (conservation, efficiency, nuclear, renewables etc) will be in any way commensurate with limiting anywhere close to the allowable future cumulative emissions for 2ºC.

    I was initially skeptical of the INDCs but at least the process has pushed nations to say *something* at least, which does enable some analysis relative to what is required. We very much could do without the shoddy, self-serving pseudo-analysis from Lomborg that only promotes hopelessness and delay. Real analysis that pushes and even embarrasses nations toward doing what is necessary is critical, so we should make sure we highlight those far more strongly than the diversionary misdirections that will no doubt be coming thick and fast over the next few weeks up to and beyond Paris.

  87. Joshua says:

    ==> “1. I’m not arguing.”

    That’s what they all say. “I’m just asking questions.”

    ==> “1. That’s weird since all the proposed actions on climate require centralized policies.”

    But not all proposed centralized policies that require heavy federal funding are putatively supported by “skeptics”/libertarians by virtue of being centralized and dependent on federal funding. The point being that many “skeptics/libertarians” pay lip service to nuclear even as they rail on about the statism and authoritarianism of centralized policies that require heavy federal funding. So saying that “all the propose actions on climate require centralized policies” just, essentially, repeats my point. “All” includes nuclear.

    ==> “2. Point to the requirement for centralized policies doesnt explain anything.”

    Of course not. That’s not relevant to my point. The requirement does highlight the exploitative way that many “skeptics”/libertarians use nuclear advocacy as a cover for their identity-aggression. .
    How does “telling the truth” about nuclear convince “skeptics”/libertarians to go along with the centralization and federal funding that will be required to advance nuclear significantly? Or do you think that (1) centralization and federal funding won’t be necessary or, (2) the ideological opposition to centralization and federal funding, that is the norm for “skeptics”/libertarians, will not be an obstacle? If number 2, please elaborate.

    So, you managed to respond without actually answering. I guess I wasn’t clear enough with my questions. I hope that I’ve clarified so that you can respond on point.

  88. Joshua says:

    And Steven –

    Please note how providing phony answers doesn’t work.

  89. bill shockley says:

    Dean B,

    It’s important for the world not to invest in more FF infrastructure. The Keystone pipeline would increase the capacity and lower the price of tar sands oil. Significantly. It’s more than symbolic.

    McKibben quoting Hansen
    if the pipeline went through, and the world burnt through the oil located in the Alberta tar sands, it would be “game over” for the planet.

  90. bill shockley says:

    Joshua asks:
    Or do you think that (1) centralization and federal funding won’t be necessary

    Hansen thinks a carbon tax would be sufficient. The market would decide whether nuclear is the right choice and in what amount.

    Centralization could be avoided through publicly owned utilities. That’s what they have in Burlington Vermont.

    I don’t know how it would all work out in India and China where Hansen says nuclear makes the most sense and would be of greatest benefit.

  91. anoilman says:

    bill shockley: That link was merely what I consider a reasonable look at the raw issues around looking at renewables. It ain’t pretty.

    The issues around nuclear is that they are not feasible without subsidy. That subsidy is universally a cap on insurance.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Liability-for-Nuclear-Damage/

    The implication is pretty straight forward in the event of an accident, governments and tax payers are on the line for paying for the clean up.

    Worse still Bill… 🙂 I think they should be state operated. The profit motive doesn’t help here, ’cause its subsidized already, expensive already, and we gotta pay if they screw up.

    BBD had terse words with me over saying that, but that’s my opinion. I also really dislike government control, and I’d rather see this in private hands, but in not if I have to pay them to do it.

  92. bill shockley says:

    anoilman, so how did they do insurance in France, or Scandinavia, where it has run for decades at competitive cost?

  93. bill shockley says:

    anoilman, I read your link @World Nuclear Association. Doesn’t look like a big problem. They’re an advocacy group. I would think you would have something better.

    Basically, history and nuclear science both argue in favor of the safety of nuclear and commercial insurance companies like the business proposition. It doesn’t add much to cost. I don’t see a problem.

  94. Joshua says:

    bill –

    ==> “Hansen thinks a carbon tax would be sufficient. The market would decide whether nuclear is the right choice and in what amount.”

    Obviously, many of those advocating for nuclear (as opposed to other options) oppose a carbon tax. One problem with their advocacy, IMO, is that it isn’t practical if it doesn’t realistically address funding obstacles

    ==> “Centralization could be avoided through publicly owned utilities. That’s what they have in Burlington Vermont.”

    How would we get there w/o a centralized approach – such as a carbon tax, for example?

  95. anoilman says:

    bill shockley… Why not look into nuclear power insurance yourself?

    That’s just a link I grabbed, and in fact the first time I’d seen it. Its not a new issue, and I find different sources saying the same thing every time. Over and over.

    France… They pioneered much of the laws on limiting insurance..
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Convention_on_Third_Party_Liability_in_the_Field_of_Nuclear_Energy

    Name another industry or single point of failure that can run up as much damage as a nuke? Do you really think Japan had sufficient insurance?
    http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-fukushima-nuclear-cleanup-20150311-story.html
    Nope.. tax payers are paying out of pocket for cleaning up in Japan. (Insurance cap is about 10 billion USD, so not enough.)
    https://www.oecd-nea.org/law/fukushima/7089-fukushima-compensation-system-pp.pdf
    This isn’t special, new or secret.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_nuclear_power_plants#Insurance

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it needs subsidy;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power
    “In addition, because the potential liability from a nuclear accident is so great, the full cost of liability insurance is generally limited/capped by the government, which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded constituted a significant subsidy.”

    Here’s Greenpeace standing side by side with Cato Institute saying its not right.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price%E2%80%93Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act#Criticisms

  96. bill shockley says:

    anoilman, thanks. I will study more, consulting the proper links and get back to you. Hopefully I will find out why several countries in Europe, particularly France, where 70% of electric generation was converted to nuclear in the space of 15 years, were able to operate nuclear plants at competitive prices for decades, apparently without the aid of subsidies.

    Relying on Fukushima as an example of why subsidies are necessary is not convincing. It is a step removed from citing Chernobyl, where the reasons are only a little more obvious.

    From a common sense perspective of what is required, nuclear energyis insurance. Pay now when you can afford it or pay much, much more later when you can’t. Required means you find a way.

    But likewise, as in my conversation with Joshua, I add the caveat that the market should decide, within a level playing field environment of a tax on carbon. Polluter pays!

  97. The mention of Three Mile Island brought to mind something Dick Thornburgh (Governor of Penns, during TMI crisis) said on the radio a few years ago, which I made a note of a note:

    “… the problem was we had some people telling us more than they knew and other people telling us less than they knew …” [Today, BBC Radio 4, 14th March 2011]

    Luckily, he had a Harold Denton in a crisis.

    Looking back at the climate crisis in some years time, I wonder how we might articulate the same sentiment?

  98. Yes, this does seem like remarkably similar to what we’re hearing, publicly, about climate science

    we had some people telling us more than they knew and other people telling us less than they knew

  99. bill shockley says:

    Joshua, we have to circle back around and try and remember what it is we don’t like about centralization. Naomi Klein, whom I respect as eminently intelligent and informed, is an opponent of nuclear because it would have to be centralized. She hates the corporate autocracy and I’m with her on that. But a revenue neutral carbon tax would take from the rich and the corporate and give to the poor and the not-wealthy. I believe you could find a way to choose nuclear and to fund nuclear where it’s the people’s choice and the people’s property. You need a large enough “insurance pool” to make the probabilities of risk work out in the minds of those who are at risk:the users and their neighbors. If it’s necessary, we can find a way.

  100. There seems to be a working assumption that 100% renewables is too difficult to do (or moonshine), at least for a country like the UK with a relatively high population density and latitude. Prof. Keith Barnham argues that it is feasible … in his book (where he questions a number of David Mackay’s assumptions):

    “The Burning Answer: A user’s guide to the solar revolution”, Keith Barnham

    The book is reviewed by David Elliott (of the Open University) at
    http://blog.environmentalresearchweb.org/2014/05/24/burning-answer/

    Prof. Barnham bases the book in part on the Germany Kombikraftwerk experiment, and his own published research.

    Kombikraftwerk is based on simulations for the whole of Germany in medium and long-term and also by doing actual experiments using real combined plants (nice little video herein) …
    http://www.kombikraftwerk.de/mediathek/english.html

    The report of their results is an interesting read …
    http://www.kombikraftwerk.de/fileadmin/Kombikraftwerk_2/English/Kombikraftwerk2_Information_Paper_Simulation.pdf

    I am still getting my head around this but key points are …

    – a combination of solar, wind, bioenergy and storage, acting in an integrated manner is key

    – addressing intermittency of wind and solar at national level requires that the bioenergy is significant component of capacity (incl. power-to-gas)

    – a balance is needed between local and centralised energy (e.g. local CHP)

    – smart real-time management is needed (the solution includes a lot of IT) to balance the network in real-time

    – 100% renewables is achievable without nuclear (and with current coal phased out, in case someone points out the obvious)

    – Electrification of transport is part of the plan.

    Barnham points out that the UK’s new nuclear will only deliver 1.6GW by 2023 (although ultimately the goal is 20% of electricity generation), but we could build up to 37GW of PV and 58GW of wind (on way to 104GW wind power needed) by the same time, based on German growth projection and using the Kombikraftwerk model.

    Is it realistic? If not, why would a sophisticated industrial giant like Germany be doing this?

    I am on a steep learning curve on this, but its seems that it looks doable if the incentives are in place to do this, with strong leadership and an integrated vision and plan. In Germany there seems to be support across political lines.

    In the UK we have had so many changes in energy policy and a lack of an integrated vision and consistent plan that I wonder if politically we have the wherewithal to pull something like Kombikraftwerk off in the UK. Maybe we will get there via a hodgepodge of messy compromises, as is our way.

  101. Manic,
    I shouldn’t post your comment, but I will do so anyway. Here’s a few points to consider (or, more likely, ignore).

    1. That Lomborg’s result is close to RCP8.5. Since he used a standard climate model, his assumptions must be that by 2100 we will have emitted almost as much as RCP8.5. Hence the tiny difference between what he gets when he includes the INDCs and RCP8.5 is because he’s assumed we’ll increase our emissions beyond 2030.

    2. Lomborg assumes that Chinese emissions (excluding land use) continue rising beyond 2030, despite China promising to peak their emissions by about 2030, or maybe even earlier.

    3. He assumes that the EU will increase their emissions beyond 2030.

    4. He assumes that the most optimistic scenario for the US is the emissions will remain flat beyond 2030.

    I also can’t find where you get that China’s emissions will peak at 43GtCO2-eq in 2090 under no action.

  102. BBD says:

    Richard Erskine

    WRT the quantification of real-world constraints on SPV, please see MacKay (2013).

    As to Barnham’s assumption that hydro is relatively low cost… well, shall we say polite bafflement? 🙂

  103. verytallguy says:

    Steven Mosher,

    your reply very nicely exemplifies why nuclear isn’t trusted.

    You provide a spiel of correct facts which completely fail to address the issue actually raised: that nuclear power plants have not proved as safe and reliable as originally conceived.

    Less than 500 commercial nuclear reactors have ever been operated. 5 have melted down. That’s 1%.

    If it had been announced at the start of nuclear commercialisation that there was a 1% chance of each reactor melting down, no-one would have let the programme go ahead.

    There’s an entirely rational thought process which goes:
    1) They said it was very safe
    2) They’ve been proved wrong – this shows they can’t predict safety very well
    3) They say they’ve changed new designs, and those new designs are safe
    4) But we already know they can’t actually predict safety
    5) Therefore I’m against nuclear power.

    You might not like it or agree with it. But irrational it isn’t.

  104. “You provide a spiel of correct facts which completely fail to address the issue actually raised: that nuclear power plants have not proved as safe and reliable as originally conceived.”

    wrong.

    The accidents may have happened more frequently than expected but the harm is less.

    There’s an entirely rational thought process which goes:
    1) They said it was going to cool in the 70s
    2) They’ve been proved wrong – this shows they can’t predict climate very well
    3) They say they’ve improved climate science,
    4) But we already know they can’t actually predict the pause
    5) Therefore I’m against climate science

    like you said.. irrational it aint

    thank you for playing

  105. They said it was going to cool in the 70s

    No, they didn’t.

  106. BBD – Hydro is one part of the argument (have you read his book – I am midway) … Kombikraftwerk – Have you had a chance to study this? I think it deserves a hearing.

    Stephen Mosher – many accidents happen due to the ‘cock up theory of history’ which means that some important real world issues do not get modelled in Probabilistic Risk Assessment (a mirrored design without mirrored procedures; a key fob that obscures a warning light; etc.). I remember Feynman’s at the Challenger enquiry challenging the estimates of failure, based no doubt similar PRA calculations – I think a fair to say that Feynman was highly sceptical.

    Modelling possible accidents requires a lot of imagination and forethought, including difficult to quantify events/ factors, but is often being done by those with a vested interest in sticking to easily quantifiable events/ factors. Including the risk of a below par quality supply chain is unlikely to be included.

    Globally, the issues preventing significant nuclear expansion are wider than safety (skills issues, funding issues, public trust, nuclear weapons proliferation, safety issues, governance, quality assurance, decommissioning) and these outweigh the benefits (high energy density, baseload) in my view.

  107. verytallguy says:

    Steven

    thank you for playing

    You’re most welcome. I hope you enjoyed it. Please carry on.

  108. BBD says:

    Richard Erskine

    BBD – Hydro is one part of the argument (have you read his book – I am midway)

    When quantified, it turns out that we would need 130 Dinorwigs just to back up the proposed 33GW UK wind fleet (averaging 10GW output). SPV won’t do it in the winter or at night. The energy density of biomass is extremely low necessitating an impractically large footprint.

    Kombikraftwerk – Have you had a chance to study this? I think it deserves a hearing.

    It’s pie-in-the-sky. Just like the 100% nuclear nonsense.

  109. BBD –
    [Kombikraftwerk] “It’s pie in the sky” … has Mackay or anyone published a considered analysis to back up this statement? Is Germany as deluded as you seem to think? Have you found a bug in their simulations and/or tests?

  110. Willard says:

    > No, they didn’t.

    Moshpit shows yet again that from false premises one can infer anything.

  111. BBD says:

    Richard Erskine

    [Kombikraftwerk] “It’s pie in the sky” … has Mackay or anyone published a considered analysis to back up this statement?

    I’ve just explained, with references, why this is so.

    MacKay – Without Hot Air
    MacKay (2013)

  112. BBD says:

    Is Germany as deluded as you seem to think?

    The decision to abandon nuclear was taken for ideological, not rational reasons.

  113. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    I like this “they said” game…

    There’s an entirely rational thought process which goes:
    1) They said the climate would change if we increase the atmospheric concentration of GHGs
    2) They’ve been proved correct – this shows they can predict climate fairly well
    3) They said that climate change will be dangerous for biophysical systems that humans use
    4) They also said that stopping climate change will be very difficult
    5) Therefore, I’m against they.

    There are all kinds of stupid people that annoy me but what annoys me most is a lazy argument.
    – Christopher Hitchens

  114. They said it was going to cool in the 70s

    No, they didn’t.

    Perhaps they should have if they didn’t, because, of course, there were 30 year cooling trends in the 1970s:

    Of course, like a good stock market crash, the frenzy peaked just as the cooling was ending. Humans are funny that way.

  115. Pete Best says:

    Blooming hack – loads of energy opinion here but the only thing that is known is that we need every non fossil fuel source of energy we can lands our hands on to be able have a chance of mitigating our current energy requirements. Its all needed and in WW2 urgency.

  116. BBD says:

    TE

    Will you please answer VTG’s question now.

    * * *

    Most of the readers here are aware that actual scientific opinion in the ’70s was that more CO2 would result in more warming.

  117. anoilman says:

    The SOD has an excellent series of articles on Renewables on grids, and its not painting a pretty picture. A big part of his beef has been that there’s a lot of fan boyz wailing that its not an issue, while the grid operators are saying otherwise. In any case he goes into great detail about how much it all costs.
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/10/20/renewables-xiv-minimized-cost-of-99-9-renewable-study/

    Richard Erskine, just a thought, but Germany already pays some of the highest rates for electricity in the world. I take that as a hopeful sign since Germany seems to have a strong economy, and nay sayers always say, high prices will (fill in statement of anger and hate here).

  118. Blooming hack – loads of energy opinion here but the only thing that is known is that we need every non fossil fuel source of energy we can lands our hands on to be able have a chance of mitigating our current energy requirements. Its all needed and in WW2 urgency.

    In the US, electricity use is actually declining ( regardless of source ).
    And per capita vehicle miles driven are still declining:

    I suspect these trends are occurring in the rest of the developed world as well.

    Efficiency is not as sexy as a new plant of some kind, but it seems to be effective and would seem to be without opposition.

  119. So, VTG wrote Can you please point to a single citation which claims this, other than you.

    Perhaps not, but we know the past projections of China’s emissions which had them continuing at the same rate are wrong because they didn’t include the recent decline.

    The line is, when the facts change one changes one’s opinion.

    Q: Given the demographic, economic, and technological backdrop, why would you predict a resumption of China’s old rates of CO2 emission? or of any other developed nation?

  120. anoilman says:

    As the engineer in the conversation, might I point out that the likely solution to cleaning up the grid will be a combination of technologies, including some fossil fuels (gas plants, they take the edge off peaks). Solutions also vary from location to location, and its not a one size fits all issue.

    One should also look deeper into the numbers. For instance, we’re burning coal to manufacture solar cells, so… there comes a point where installing them is in fact dirty. It depends on where you install them (Orkney Islands?), and where the silicon ingots were processed (deepest dirtiest China?). Canadian (hydro) solar panels running a desert (sunny) are obviously clean.

    The grid is currently designed around fossil fuels, and its actually not that well integrated. Building more power lines will be incredibly pricey (and depending on length inefficient), which also throws some cold water on the idea that we just need to build out a small section of a desert to power the world.

    Lastly the big cost that everyone is watching closely is… storage. (I’m an Ambri fan myself.) I tend to view existing coal as back storage etc, while we work our way through all this. Much of the existing natural storage is already tapped out.

    You should take a close look at how the existing power plants are costed out as compared to renewables. Existing power plants are costed based on continuous (ish… they fail too) use and including renewables on the grid ruins their business model. So… if you build a nuclear power plant and shut it off 50% of the time (Solar, its sunny during the day?)… you just doubled the price of its electricity. That’s not a small problem.

    None of this is going to be cheap to resolve either.

  121. BBD says:

    TE

    Getting tired of your bullshit.

    I suspect these trends are occurring in the rest of the developed world as well.

    I don’t care what you ‘suspect’. Nor does anyone else here. We have facts, and the number one fact is the Keeling curve. It is a global index which flatly contradicts your cherry-picks. As you can see perfectly well for yourself.

  122. anoilman says:

    Turbulant Eddie… You have no evidence that past projections for China’s emmissions are wrong. You certainly haven’t provided any evidence to back that position. The EIA says very clearly that China’s emmissions are expected to increase.

    But you need to look at what China is doing to better understand what is happening. Perhaps you should read what the EIA is saying for a change;
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=22972

    “Economic deceleration, industry restructuring, and new energy and environmental policies have slowed the growth of coal consumption in China and are also driving more centralized and cleaner uses of coal.”

    later…

    “Even with weaker economic growth, coal consumption could continue to grow until sufficient alternatives can economically serve China’s energy needs.”

  123. anoilman/ BBD –

    Is there not a risk that the discussion is based on trying to do a like-for-like swap of renewables into a current model rather than rethinking the model. On storage – if domestic power is generated and stored ‘locally’ there is potentially less impact on the network. In Denmark they use a lot of CHP at local level and for heating homes that is a substantial reservoir of energy. As we electrify transport, ditto cars.

    BBD you seem to want to ‘diss’ Kombikraftwerk, you seem not to acknowledge they have actually done work on this and modelled the system for the whole of Germany, using data on historic wind and solar intermittency, etc., so simply referring to Mackay (who I do not diss) is not helpful.

    anoilman – you mention German electricity prices today. Thought you might be interested in Keith Barnham’s analysis of impact of solar on the German electricity market (see link to SGR page, and his presentation is included there – I went to this talk and found it intriguing – still trying to digest his book [but have an open mind])…
    http://www.sgr.org.uk/events/messages-paris-conference-forgotten-dimensions-climate-change
    Today is today.

    Are we really saying there is a law of physics that prevents a ‘free’ resource being engineered in a way that overcomes current issues re. pricing. #defeatist #whatsthealternative

  124. pbjamm says:

    TE : “Perhaps they should have if they didn’t, because, of course, there were 30 year cooling trends in the 1970s”

    You should really brush up on your anti-evidence rhetoric. The “They said it was going to cool in the 70s” myth does not refer to a cooling trend from the 40s->70s but the supposed Ice Age that would follow. Get your non-facts straight mate.

    On top of that the cooling was pretty obviously less than 30 years, from that chart it looks like 20ish from late 40s to late 60s then started to warm again. Unless you are arguing that anything less than a peak is cooling regardless of the actual observable trend.

  125. anoilman says:

    Perhaps TE should wear the cone of shame?

  126. BBD says:

    Richard

    Is there not a risk that the discussion is based on trying to do a like-for-like swap of renewables into a current model rather than rethinking the model. On storage – if domestic power is generated and stored ‘locally’ there is potentially less impact on the network. In Denmark they use a lot of CHP at local level and for heating homes that is a substantial reservoir of energy. As we electrify transport, ditto cars.

    How? Can you cost the infrastructure for CHP for eg. Greater Manchester? I see practical issues whenever the idea of decentralising a previously national grid is mooted. My main problem with much of what is said about future power is that it is just too vague to be of much value.

    BBD you seem to want to ‘diss’ Kombikraftwerk, you seem not to acknowledge they have actually done work on this and modelled the system for the whole of Germany, using data on historic wind and solar intermittency, etc., so simply referring to Mackay (who I do not diss) is not helpful.

    No, I’m only trying to point out that the Kombi model is perhaps less convincing than you perceive it to be. Any close reading of MacKay’s publications shows that intermittency and slew are major issues for wind and solar (and that the latter is hugely affected by seasonality in mid- high latitudes). This requires very substantial storage capacity and probably also grid interconnection to ensure reliability of supply at a national level. MacKay quantifies and illustrates in a way that I can follow.

    The Kombi model is utterly opaque to me. It just looks good. Also, I’m not sure if you know this, but the Kombi model isn’t the fruit of independent academic or government research. It is the product of an industry group comprised of Germany’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, Germany’s biggest SPV manufacturer and a big player in the German biomass business. So that’s Enercon GmbH, SolarWorld and Schmack Biogas all collaborating to peddle their own wares. I have limited confidence in industry groups whose findings are that the solution is to spend huge amounts of money on their members’ products.

    Taken together with the quantification provided by MacKay, this inclines me towards scepticism of the Kombi model.

  127. I judge you foster the right kind of scepticism, so good on you, and I will keep on learning and maybe we will meet again on this topic. But given that everyone is saying that academia and industry need to collaborate on finding solutions, lets not scepticism move towards cynicism of industry. In the end, industry has to be part of the solution.

  128. BBD says:

    I judge you foster the right kind of scepticism, so good on you, and I will keep on learning and maybe we will meet again on this topic.

    Thank you, Richard. I don’t know if you’ve seen this essay by James Hansen, but if not, it needs to go on the teetering stack of stuff to read 🙂

  129. Frank says:

    ATTP: Here is an alternative perspective. If you look at the Kaya identity, you’ll realize the change in global CO2 emissions will be driven mostly by CO2/GDP and GDP/person, not INDC’s. The number of people on the planet is likely to reach a plateau and not change much in the foreseeable future. CO2/GDP is the product of two terms CO2/energy and energy/GDP (efficiency).

    For the majority of the people on the planet, GDP/person is painfully low. Raising per capita GDP is the only important issue for them. (That is why China has followed an environmentally suicidal course for the past few decades.) Either these countries will remain in poverty (an unacceptable option) or CO2 emissions will increase. To a first approximation, improving CO2/energy costs money that these countries don’t have and improving efficiency requires skills they don’t have. Intermittency isn’t a big issue when modest amounts of wind and solar generation are added to a grid when the demand for electricity is stable, but it is an expensive problem to deal with RELIABLY when demand is growing. (As dispatchable generation is being retired in some developed countries, intermittency is becoming an issue.)

    Now that half of China has a reasonable per capita GDP and their per capita emission of CO2 is equal to that of the EU, perhaps they will become interested CO2/GDP. By promising only to reach a plateau in emissions by 2030 (given their static population and falling GDP growth rate), China still isn’t actually promising to do much in terms of CO2/GDP.

    If you look at the US, emissions have risen slightly over the past half century and emissions per capital have dropped slightly. For a variety of reasons, the US has done a great job of slowly improving its CO2/GDP ratio. However, some of this improvement is due to the movement of manufacturing jobs overseas, which probably hurts global CO2 emissions. Some it is due to fracking.

    For developed countries, the simplest way to reduce CO2 emissions is to drive their economies into recession by spending too much on improving CO2/energy. Look at the drop in emissions caused by the Great Recession.

    Do we have any good examples of growing GDP without growing emissions? In Switzerland, base demand is provided by nuclear and variable by hydro.

  130. anoilman says:

    Richard Erskine\BBD: Interestingly, the SOD said that he had a hard time finding analysis of renewables that wasn’t tainted with wishy washy material from front groups. The Kombikraftwerk model requires a hook up to the rest of the grid. At least that’s how I read it. There are fossil fuels on the rest of the grid at this time, so its not 100% renewable.

    The latest article at SOD is taking a more detailed look at a similar analysis of what it will all cost, and what the deficiencies are. Its also peer reviewed;
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775312014759
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/10/20/renewables-xiv-minimized-cost-of-99-9-renewable-study/

    I’m not defeatist on this material, but I have to say that the answers are not clear or in front of us yet. Most of what I have read is that 20-30% renewable ingress into the market space is sustainable. After that, you start seeing rising costs and/or problems with reliability.

    I think that for a defeatist kind of answer, you need to talk to the denial crew. 🙂

    Cost will certainly be something people are eyeing, and it will also guide many decisions going forward. I would be remiss not to point out that the costs of going 100% renewable right now would be horribly expensive, as in, get your pitchforks and go talk to the people in charge expensive.

  131. Ken Fabian says:

    My view is the rise of intermittent renewable energy sources that are periodically the lowest cost generation will see existing fossil fuel plant forced into intermittency in response, ultimately to become interim backup on their way to closure. I like to think of it as a de-facto carbon price imposed by open electricity markets; intermittency requires the same financial return to be obtained from a shrinking share of usage. The value of energy outside the sunny/windy periods will go up. For fossil fuel plant to be financially viable it will have to price higher in those periods. I suppose it’s a de-facto carbon price that will inadvertently impact nuclear as well and reduce it’s cost effectiveness.

    I think it gives a different perspective to the value of storage; it’s not enough to rely on any direct comparison to average daily prices, it’s utility is in dealing with those peak time of use prices. The value and attractiveness of storage will grow, especially for homes and businesses that have invested in rooftop PV and even more strongly wherever time of use costing is applied. As the costs of grid services as battery and backup to those who self supply grow the market for storage will grow. Attempts to selectively charge the PV owners a premium for that service, in order to compensate for the unwelcome impacts of market shifts PV introduces into obsolete grids and business models will probably backfire.

    Rather than fight it, the shift of use of existing fossil fuel plant into the interim role of intermittent backup needs to be accommodated. We may even face the unappetising prospect of having to prop up financially unviable fossil fuel plant for the sake of reliable supply until storage catches up but financial assistance should embody incentives to maximise the time offline not time online.

  132. Frank,
    I’m not sure what your alternative perspective is. That reducing emissions while continuing to grow economically is difficult? I don’t disagree if that is what you’re suggesting.

  133. opluso says:

    It is rather obvious that Lomberg has a low confidence in the ability of governments and international organizations to impose a selected course for the long term. Perhaps if he shifted his focus from political retreats to technological advances he would become more optimistic. Or perhaps not.

    Nevertheless, his paper does consider more optimistic scenarios. He just does not consider them plausible. As I noted at Climate, Etc., Lomberg actually says:

    “In the supplementary information, I also contrast the results with two unrealistically optimistic scenarios, one assuming ever higher reductions with the optimistic reduction rate extended throughout the century and one assuming a complete cessation of emission increases.”

    And from the Supp:

    “Figure S3. Annual global emissions, RCP8.5, the optimistic global INDC policy, optimistic extended global INDC assuming constant emission reduction rate forever, and a constant cap of global emissions at 2016 level.

    These two extra scenarios will lead to a significant further temperature reduction by 2100, as seen in Figure S4. The temperature increase by 2100 if the INDC emission reduction rate is extended forever will be 0.65C lower and 0.47C lower than the optimistic global INDC policy. Keeping global emissions constant at 2016 levels reduce the temperature increase in year 2100 by 1.16C.”

  134. opluso,

    Nevertheless, his paper does consider more optimistic scenarios. He just does not consider them plausible.

    Yes, I have now become aware of that. However, those are the scenarios that many others regard as plausible, but still not enough to prevent significant future warming. Also, what he did in the main paper appears inconsistent with what he says he did (in the abstract for example) which is rather disingenuous (to be polite).

    Ultimately, though, the main point is that the reason that he found little difference between what he calls the INDCs and RCP8.5 is because he assumed that we would increase emissions beyond 2030 so that total emissions by 2100 would be similar to those projected by RCP8.5. Hence the difference in warming is small. This is indeed what would probably happen if we did increase emissions beyond 2030.

    To suggest that this is going to be because the INDCs are ineffective is rather silly. The INDCs only go to 2030. That is only 15 years away. If all we ever do as far as emission reductions is concerned is done between now and 2030, and then we give up, of course the impact will be small. There isn’t much one can do if you only aim to reduce emissions for 15 years.

    The INDCs will get us to 2030. What we do beyond 2030 will be crucial. Assuming that we’ll simply give up and start increasing our emissions again is – IMO – a rather unrealistic assumption.

  135. verytallguy says:

    Assuming that we’ll simply give up and start increasing our emissions again is – IMO – a rather unrealistic assumption.

    I’m not sure if it’s realistic or not. The point is that it’s disingenuous. It’s a bit like saying “there’s no point applying the brakes for the next second because we’ll crash into a wall in ten seconds anyway if that’s all we do. Let’s fit airbags”.

    The point isn’t that by following the INDCs (or something like them) we’ll avoid crashing into a brick wall, it’s that we will be *unable* to avoid crashing into the wall unless we follow them.

    Or – “the INDCs are necessary but not sufficient”

    Or – “Lomborg is committing a logical fallacy.”

    Or – “Lomborg is [mod – redacted]

  136. I’m not sure if it’s realistic or not. The point is that it’s disingenuous.

    Yes, that’s probably a better way of saying it.

  137. ATTP I think you were misreading Ken Fabian’s comments (I believe). I don’t think he was talking about total capacity (and therefore growth).

    PV is having a disruptive effective on the price of electricity in Germany, both peak and average wholesale (see the Keith Barnham presentation on the SGR link I gave earlier), which is far beyond what might imagine given its total energy contribution.

    McKinsey has talked about the disruptive role of solar
    http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/energy_resources_materials/the_disruptive_potential_of_solar_power

    Whatever the maximum capacity achievable by renewables (and I just don’t buy this 30% or so as a fundamental limit – I believe that it is an artefact of current markets, installed base, and infrastructure [it can’t be that hard to model this] – all of which is up for grabs]

    I thought Ken’s comments were an interesting perspective on how fossil fuels might address the transition from the current state to some future state, with a changing role at each stage of the transition, increasingly marginalised.

  138. Richard,
    I don’t think I’ve responded to Ken’s most recent comment.

  139. vtg –

    Please remind me never to take a lift with Lomberg, who seems to want to play “chicken” with planet Earth.

    Maybe a better analogy for our predicament is a large tanker heading for some cliffs which are far off but the tanker takes a long time to stop or turn, and there are smaller rocks quite close under water, as well as larger visible ones along the way. We are already likely to hit the smaller rocks, but if we break hard now we may avoid the larger ones. If we wait too long, we plough through all the rocks and hit the cliffs (RCP8.5). It’s not binary (like the live or die car analogy), and it is never too late to start breaking, but please make it soon!

  140. BBD says:

    Richard

    Whatever the maximum capacity achievable by renewables (and I just don’t buy this 30% or so as a fundamental limit

    I think this is a misunderstanding; nobody’s saying that 30% renewables is a fundamental limit. Rather that 30% – 40% of the global energy supply from renewables is what might realistically be achieved by mid-century. The constraint on renewables penetration into the energy mix in developed regions is that additional backup is typically required once renewables achieve >10%. Up to that point, existing spare capacity in conventional plant can be used to compenstate for intermittency and slew in wind and solar. Beyond it, you need more. Then comes the difficult bit: do you build more FF plant (typically gas-fired) as backup or do you start the big, very expensive hydro projects for wind? Utility-scale battery storage for SPV is still at the R&D stage, so there’s uncertainty about how soon it will become available.

  141. Ken Fabian says:

    Some more thoughts on a renewable rich electricity market where prices are variable –
    Whether preset time of use rates or ultimately constantly variable pricing tied to short term wholesale market rates it will see usage itself shift in response. I don’t think we should assume that existing usage patterns are something that a new energy mix has no choice but to accommodate.

    With smart systems optimising usage can occur with little human management and I think such systems could be a prerequisite to acceptance of that kind of constantly variable pricing; even a relatively small amount of storage in combination with smart systems allows avoidance of usage when prices (demand vs supply) are highest. Pricing likely to be predictable (an outside subscriber forecasting service?) and, who knows, perhaps my home can top up batteries ahead of weather driven price spikes at lowest price or sell stored power in excess of requirements – even running storage way down during absences – when the price is highest. Perhaps I could engage in contracts for use by outside parties for use of a varying roportion of the storage capacity I have installed in my home, perhaps with supply guarantees. And who knows? Perhaps businesses with periodic high energy usage may become opportunistic in scheduling those activities during predicted sunny/windy periods of very low prices and shift industrial usage patterns.

    At the large scale I see hydro, even without significant pumped storage, become much more lucrative investment because it can take advantage of price variability; in an intermittent rich mix it may forgo most of it’s role for so called ‘baseload’ generation.

    I think it’s a bit disingenous to make an ‘acceptable’ whole of transition costing a prerequisite to committing to a low emissions transition. I think the transition is, by necessity, going to be staged – no whole of transition costing will even be possible but I’m not convinced that it’s necessary. At some points we may even need to jump in without certainty that a future solution is there for anticipated stages further on – and lack of storage at scale may be one. Yet I think we’ve seen astonishing progress in storage despite it being an almost forgotten afterthought whilst wind and solar got the attention and I remain optimistic the solutions will get developed.

    Optimistic as I am about our ability to innovate and solve problems the politics and influence of vested interests in impeding such a transition remain a deep concern. It’s hard to be optimistic that policy can be relied on to aid rather than hinder.

  142. I appreciate it is challenging. But 2030 is a point along a transition, not an end point. But we need some consistency in policy to help industry do its bit. In UK we have chopped and change policy and as someone said at the ECC Ctte this week, that leads to gaming the system.

    Whatever you may think of the vision, at least Germany has one, and many different forces are at work to implement it: academia, R&D, industry, communities, … That’s what is needed.

    Perhaps because of COP21, The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond has been out and about talking about climate change. Was in UAE and praising their leadership in the region.

    He then was at the AEI (a conservative think tank in USA) where he gave a very interesting talk.
    Video and transcription:

    https://www.aei.org/events/energy-and-climate-policy-remarks-from-the-right-honorable-
    philip-hammond-mp-uk-foreign-secretary/

    http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/2434379/philip-hammond-a-conservative- response-to-climate-change

    This was a very upbeat speech, that I would never have expected from the current Tory government. He challenged US business to take a positive lead in creating a low carbon future. He said that jobs in UK in low-carbon had grown 30% in 3 years up to 2013 was worth £45billion at that point.

    He championed use of a carbon price and mentioned that some countries like China already using one internally and a number of US companies (like Google and Walmart) starting to use a carbon price internally to drive change. He said that not charging for CO2 in atmosphere was like “letting people dump their rubbish in the street”.

    He talked about large scale energy storage and said … “if we take these actions … renewables will become the energy of choice: clean, competitive and secure”, but he also supported nuclear.

    He said that … “taking action is the right thing to do, the conservative thing to day”.

    Or his talk in brief “come on guys, get with the programme”.

  143. bill shockley says:

    Credible segue: Citizens Climate Lobby is trying to jump-start the programme… Their great champion and fan James Hansen is only one of several heady members of their advisory board

    I’m real impressed with the writing and coverage on their blog. Here’s a great example of how they’re trying to influence policy by funding new academic studies to bolster their foundational REMI economic fee-and-dividend model with more detailed regional (and sector) impact studies.

    Remember the recent Republican resolution that climate change is real even if you’re not a Democrat? Guess who was instrumental in bringing that about?

    CCL’s founder and his story explain a lot about the character of the CCL organization.

    If you’ve got 45 minutes, listen to a recorded example of their live, weekly “Intro Call”. Conveys a lot of the logic and feel of the group. You’ve just got to send them your name and email to gain access to the recording.

    At the local chapter meeting I attended, I found them serious and disciplined while still being friendly and without being pushy.

  144. guthrie says:

    BBD – I have very definitely seen people saying that 30% renewables is a limit, beyond which we have a messed up and undependable electricity supply. Sure, they aren’t the sort of people who are actually making policy at a government level, but there’s a vocal enough lot of people all over the internet and media with that idea. Many of them hate windmills of course.

  145. BBD says:

    guthrie

    BBD – I have very definitely seen people saying that 30% renewables is a limit, beyond which we have a messed up and undependable electricity supply.

    There’s a hell of a lot of incomprehension and noise, I do agree. I’ve seen people arguing that renewables become cheaper at higher levels of penetration when in fact the increased backup requirement drives the correctly accounted cost *up* very significantly.

    Many of them hate windmills of course.

    Indeed they do, and it is absolutely imperative not to provide them with ammunition by making incorrect claims about renewables.

  146. oneuniverse says:

    Lomborg responded to Romm, FWIW, although I missed it at the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s