It’s in the graun, so it must be true. However, just for once I’m going to agree with them. So, quick summary: Minnesota has a social cost of carbon, ish, and a Commission to quantify and establish a range of environmental costs associated with each method of electricity generation; and requires utilities to use the costs when evaluating and selecting resource options” in some sense or another. They were sued to update the value they used, from a rather low one set in 1997, to the current federal government’s Social Cost of Carbon. That was always going to be pretty hard to defend against; they weren’t asking for some huge value plucked out of thin air by some wild-eyed eco-freak, but just to use the value set by the feds (there was other stuff too but I’ll ignore that). The full report is here.
Naturally, various companies objected, including down-on-its-luck Peabody. And so, a court case, and voluminous court papers.
Peabody argued that only half of the CO2 in the atmosphere is due to fossil fuel emissions. The remainder comes from natural processes.41 According to Peabody, the claim that all increases in atmospheric CO2 are from human causes is simply unfounded.42
41 and 42 are “Ex. 207 at 6 (Lindzen Direct)” and “Ex. 207 at 6 (Lindzen Direct); Ex. 213 at 29 (Lindzen Surrebuttal)”. That’s simply astonishing. You have to be really dumb – or really clever-clever and think you’re talking to dumb people – to say that. Barry Bickmore has a post about Dick Lindzen, Prager U., and the Art of Lying Well but this isn’t lying well, it is lying badly. All – indeed, more than all – of the recent increase in CO2 is human caused. Why start off with a statement that clearly establishes that you’re lying?
Peabody argued that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)49 simply assumed global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions is greater than warming caused by natural variability, and therefore attributes the warming observed since the 1970s to anthropogenic causes.50
50 is, yes you guessed, Lindzen again. And this claim is, again, easily refutable drivel. I think old L has spent too long in the denialist echo chamber being lauded for everything he says. He has lost touch with reality, and hasn’t had his arguments sharpened by contact with genuine opponents. There are shades of “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong.
According to Peabody, global atmospheric temperatures are measured by surface thermometers, weather balloons (radiosondes), and satellites.54 Peabody claimed all three methods of measuring atmospheric temperatures show no warming since 1998.55
55 is, ha ha got you, its Spencer. But again, while it plays well in the denialosphere, its not going to survive real examination. This gem is also Spencer:
Peabody placed significant weight on the failure of the IPCC’s climate models to explain the hiatus in warming after 1998 except by the introduction of ad hoc mechanisms, such as aerosols.60 Peabody contended the IPCC’s climate models have no utility if they cannot reliably predict temperature change from CO2 emissions.
I’ve seen denialists say that: you’re obliged to explain all temperature change on CO2, you’re not allowed to use aerosols. Their fan base laps it up but can they possibly expect anyone else to believe it?
Interestingly, By driving current global GDP with carbon emissions, Peabody calculated that “at present, each ton of carbon used produces about $6,700 of global GDP”. I don’t have a strong feeling for whether that is true or not. But suppose it is; then a carbon tax of 1% of the benefits to account for the costs seems entirely reasonable, on their numbers, so what are they complaining about?
There’s a note – para 49 – “The Commission and the Minnesota Court of Appeals recognize the IPCC as a source of expertise on climate change” which is an additional problem for the denialists. Courts and governments and so on are inevitably going to recognise the IPCC as such, and aren’t going to fall for the black-helicopters nonsense. There’s also – para 51 – “In 2007, the United States Supreme Court observed that “[t]he harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized. The Government’s own objective assessment of the relevant science and a strong consensus among qualified experts indicate that global warming threatens <whatevs>… In making its observations regarding climate change, the United States Supreme Court favorably cited the IPCC”. Peabody are arguing directly counter to that. They can do so, of course, but in doing so credibly they would need to address the stuff they disagree with. Again, this is so redolent of the “there is no prior art (that I can be bothered to look up)” that renders so many denialist sites worthless.
And so we end up, inevitably, with
The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody Energy has failed to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, the warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial.
Then we move onto the IAMs, which I mostly skipped (limitations: para 143); fans of the long discussion on discount rates we had in the comments a post or so back will be delighted to know they used 2.5, 3 and 5%; with 3% as the central estimate; see para 120. The table in para 137 shows that this matters, a lot. Both sides argued discount rates back and forth – because they do matter – but in the end, meh, you’ve got to use something. There’s also some rather half-hearted arguing about ECS but again; a few comments from a few blokes aren’t going to dent IPCC.
Oh, joy, I nearly missed:
Peabody disagreed with the CEO’s claim that 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists concur that humans are causing climate change.681 Peabody contended that science is based on evidence, not agreement, and that consensus should not be given any weight. Peabody provided examples of scientists, including Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein, and several contemporary scientists, who made significant breakthroughs in science despite being at odds with a majority consensus.
Para 13: IAMs are appropriate in this case and
The Administrative Law Judge concludes that, based on unreported and underreported health and environmental impacts, along with the IWG’s acknowledgement that the FSCC is not based on the most current research, the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the FSCC understates the full environmental cost of CO2.
On ECS, Peabody gets comprehensively stuffed:
…Peabody failed to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that an ECS value of 1 or 1.5 degrees centigrade is correct and that an ECS of more than 2 degrees centigrade is “extremely unlikely.”… the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the ECS doubling ranges as reported by the IPCC in the IPCC AR4 (2.0-4.5 °C) and the IPCC AR5 (1.5-4.5 °C) are more accurate ECS ranges than the range advanced by Peabody because the IPCC ranges are representative of a comprehensive, peer-reviewed body of scientific study based on multiple lines of evidence.
and in the end the judge
recommends that the Commission adopt the Federal Social Cost of Carbon as reasonable and the best available measure to determine the environmental cost of CO2, establishing a range of values including the 2.5 percent, 3.0 percent, and 5 percent discount rates…