Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions?

That’s what the Graun says.

Timmy says Complete and total bollocks here. Or, if you prefer a more measured version he says Fossil Fuel Companies Do Not Cause Carbon Emissions, We Consumers Do.

Timmy is right. The Graun is wrong.

The Graun says

Climate change experts said the data set was the most ambitious effort so far to hold individual carbon producers, rather than governments, to account.

But it isn’t. Its an attempt to shift the blame off us lot so we can all relax and spew out yet more CO2 and say “oh no, its not our fault, look, the Graun says its all the fault of those nasty fossil fuel companies over there”.

[Update: the paper is Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010 (as you expect from the pile-of-poo referencing standards of a newspaper, the Graun doesn’t provide a link: they want you to read their words, not the original source). It says (my bold) The purpose of this analysis is to understand those historic emissions as a factual matter, to invite consideration of their possible relevance to public policy, and to lay the possible groundwork for apportioning responsibility for climate change to the entities that provided the hydrocarbon products to the global economy. And later While not disputing the logic of the UNFCCC, the analysis presented here suggests a somewhat different, and perhaps useful, way to consider responsibility for climate change

So its clear to me that the Graun has no distorted their words: “Dick” Heede really is talking bollocks; he hasn’t been misrepresented.]

Refs

* It won’t be long before the victims of climate change make the west pay, Chris Huhne.

The Warsaw Communiqué

carbon-tax-now Another round in the carbon wars. If you make money by producing coal, then the chances are that you’d like to keep doing so. Hence The Warsaw Communiqué (full PDF). I think its good that the World Coal folks feel the need to do some PR and push the idea of “clean coal”; they must be a little bit worried that someone is going to try to lean on them, so they’ll get their words in. But, many of their words are silly. Not that many of them are wrong; just pointless.

They start playing nicely:

Recognising international consensus on the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, in conformity with the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

so while they don’t say they accept the science themselves, they do at least know that other people do. Its downhill from there, though:

Recognising the need to address the problem of energy poverty

That’s not wrong, of course, its just a lead in to:

Recalling that the International Energy Agency has estimated that half of the on-grid electricity needed to provide “sustainable energy access for all” will come from coal

And now they’ve got to where they want to be: burning lots of coal. Now it gets more confusing:

We therefore bring to the attention of policy-makers the fact that high-efficiency low-emissions coal combustion technologies are commercially available…

It isn’t clear to me what they’re referring to here. Nor is it clear why they think their coal-burning customers are so stupid as to continue to burn coal inefficiently. Unless of course the cost of upgrading their tech would be more than the cost of the extra coal they’re burning, in which case its perfectly obvious. And won’t be solved by these words.

And this efficiency is apparently a

necessary milestone towards the deployment of carbon capture utilisation and storage technologies once demonstrated and commercialised.

But CCS isn’t commercial, and won’t be, at anything believeable as a carbon price. These people aren’t stupid (or if they are, they’ve got plenty of clever people available to think for them) so they know that.

So, its all a bit of a waste of time, except for the PR element. The bits that make sense (increasing efficiency) will happen anyway. The bits that don’t (CCS) won’t.

h/t David Hone who really likes CCS. So does Myles Allen.

Stop making sense

Speaking of not making sense, Lord Donoughue, who appears to be someone’s pet septic in the Lords, asked the govt about the potential impact on the United Kingdom and global economies of any future extensive glaciation. This is an utter waste of everyone’s time. Because, of course, all that happens is that this gets bounced to the appropriate science institute – in the case BAS – who tell the noble but stupid Lord exactly what they could have learnt for themselves. I won’t spoil the excitement by telling you what the answer is.

Refs

* Krugman part 2: you can get pretty far just by regulating coal if you prefer an alternative view, via Brian.

MacKay and Stone: Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Shale Gas Extraction and Use

shale A report for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. MacKay is Sustainable Energy – without the hot air person, and a rather infrequently updated blog. He’s a pretty sensible chap and the new report is a challenge to all the folk who go around unthinkingly saying that shale gas emissions mean that its worse than coal (and for the people who think at least a bit, but rely on Howarth, they provide some reasons why Howarth may be wrong). At least, if you don’t agree, you’d better have a good reason.

More on global temperature spectra and trends

From Moyhu. Interesting stuff: removing ENSO a-la F+R then looking at FFTs and noise fitting.

Why CCS implies over regulation

carbon-tax-now I follow David Hone, though not the details. He’s really keen on CCS, and has (I think) a strong commercial interest in it succeeding. But there is no real answer to “its not commercially viable” – and I think it remains non-viable even at plausible CO2-price levels ($80 / tonne is Sternish, no?). So, inevitably, sigh, the talk turns to regulation (um. Does that ring any bells?).

The latest is Can a technology specific policy exist in a carbon market? I didn’t have the patience to read it all. Just reading a little bit of it is enough to convince me that this is not the right way to go. What is described there (in all seriousness, as far as I can tell) is the way to create yet more heaps of market-distorting environment-distorting regulations and yet more parasitic bureacratic classes.

Carbon Tax Now!

The Carbon Bubble: All we have to do is decide to not commit civilizational suicide – and the markets crash?

That’s over at P3. But I’ve seen it elsewhere. The idea is that because we’ll need to keep unburnt oil in the ground to hit (or rather, to not hit) a 2 oC commitment, a pile of oil companies are wildly overvalued, leading to… well, who cares what it leads to, because it doesn’t matter.

Via AS I find Tol saying

As soon as the “market” expects that new regulation will seriously devalue an asset, its price drops. Bubbles only arise if the “market” is misinformed. The “market” is by no means infallible when it comes to pricing risk, but an expectation of “not much climate policy any time soon” strikes me entirely realistic

which is pretty well what I was going to say, so I won’t bother re-say it (note, BTW, that I’m of course not saying that I think sticking within 2 oC wouldn’t be a good idea. I think it would be an excellent idea. I’m just dubious about its plausibility). He continues with some econ-type stuff about how even if it were true it wouldn’t have the effects claimed, which seems plausible too, but I’m less interested in that. The Economist says about the same.

P3’s writeup says:

There’s a huge amount of evidence that… mainline financial analysts around the world are taking the argument on-board, and in a big way.

That’s hard to make sense of. If true, why aren’t the stock prices of oil companies tumbling? But I boldly plough on, to the report itself (Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets). And don’t find much. Perhaps I missed it; its quite long and I only skimmed it.

Refs

* David Appell is even harsher than me.
* Brian is still pushing it at Eli’s; pointer is to ‘Carbon bubble’ threatens stock markets, say MPs.

Methane again

All over the world (my path: Timmy -> Torygraph -> google -> Nude scientist -> JOGMEC press release -> JOGMEC) there is excitement about “Japan cracks seabed ‘ice gas’ in dramatic leap for global energy”. Which is indeed interesting, but not quite as dramatic as suggested. Because as the pic of the flare makes clear, this is a very small flow. If you read the press release, is clear this is still experimental:

Methane hydrate (*1) receives attention as one of the unconventional gas resources in the future. During the period from FY2001 to FY2008, which is Phase 1 of the “Japan’s Methane Hydrate R&D Program” (*2) (Program), seismic surveys and exploitation drillings were conducted at the eastern Nankai trough, off the coast from Shizuoka-pref. to Wakayama-pref., as the model area, where a considerable amount of methane hydrate deposits is confirmed (*3).In Phase 2 of the Program starting from FY2009, aiming to develop a technology to extract natural gas through dissociation of methane hydrate, this is the first offshore test ever conducted (*4).The first offshore production test is planned over a span of two years.

In February and March last year, the preparatory works including drilling a production well and two monitoring wells were conducted. From
June to July, the pressured core samples were acquired from methane hydrate layers. In this operation, a flow test through dissociation of methane hydrate is conducted after the preparatory works including drilling and installing equipments for the flow test.

Preparatory drilling started: February 15, 2012
Came back to Shimizu Port: March 26, 2012
Operation to acquire pressured core samples: from June 29 to July 7, 2012
Started the operation at the test site: January 28, 2013
Started the flow test and confirmed gas production: March 12, 2013

Ending the flow test, retrieving test equipments: until end of March
Retrieving remained equipments from the site: August, 2013

Although the first offshore production test is not a commercial production and is an experimental operation as an activity in research, it will be a big progress in research and development of methane hydrate as a resource since precious data including dissociation behavior of methane hydrate under the sea floor, impact to the surrounding environment, and so on, would be obtained once this test ends in success. Based on accomplishment of the production test, it is also planned to proceed with the second offshore production test scheduled in Phase 2 and establishing the technological platform toward future commercial production in Phase 3 which is scheduled from FY2016 until FY2018.

So, an important step but not yet commercial or even close (NS says “could start as early as 2018”).

Sweetly, JOGMEC cares about your safety:

Since this is a flow test of flammables, please do not approach to the site because of the safety reason.

Refs

* Arctic Methane Emergency Group?

CAFE Standards are Extremely Inefficient

Or so says Marginal Revolution (via Timmy). I repeat it here to wind up all the people who continually tell me how wonderful fuel efficiency standards are. Prediction: no-one will change their minds.

a gas tax provides immediate, direct incentives for drivers to reduce gasoline use, while the efficiency standards must squeeze the reduction out of new vehicles only. The new standards also encourage more driving, not less.

Context: people keep telling me, whenever the subject comes up “but look how fuel efficiency has increased over the last 2-3 decades, it must be due to fuel efficiency standards” (see comments here for the latest repeats). I invariably reply: “but fuel prices have also increased a lot, how do you disentangle the effects?” And they repeat “Oh, yeah, maybe, but fuel efficiency standards are a really good idea because… obviously” (I may have slightly simplified the discussion, you understand).

This new study also provides something new to the discussion, which I’m sure a moments thought would have provided earlier (so clearly, no-one has been thinking :-): that new efficiency standards only help on new vehicles, which is a small proportion of the fleet, initially; whereas fuel taxes work for everyone.

Refs

* Case Overview, CAFE Standards (107th Congress).
* Attack of the Martian Tree Spiders!
* Scientific Meta-Literacy – via P3

Thinking beyond pipelines?

There is a nice article by DM at Planet3.0 on the Keystone XL pipeline. I almost didn’t bother read it, ‘cos I’m a bit bored by all that, but I’m glad I did because he gets it quite right in an illuminating way:

The anti-keystone movement, or more generally the entire anti-tar-sands movement, is trying to reduce our GHG emissions by attacking the supply side of the equation. Essentially the strategy boils down to getting governments and corporations to turn their backs and walk away from huge sums of money…

So what is the alternative?

What if instead fighting a never-ending battle against a specific project (like the Keystone XL pipeline) we could focus on reducing demand for fossil fuels. What if instead of asking governments and corporations to walk away from profits we made it so there simply was no demand (or at least reduced demand) for their products and thus no profits to be made in digging up and selling the bitumen buried under the forest in Northern Alberta….

There are many ways to go about achieving this goal, perhaps the two most obvious being some form carbon pricing (a carbon tax or cap-and-trade) and efficiency regulations.

I’m all in favour of Carbon Taxes as you know, against cap-n-trade, and not keen on efficiency regulations.

Etc.

In other news: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/International Climate Science Coalition closed as redirect to Tom Harris, which is moderately funny.

Eli is talking about some bloke called Gallileo (probably a relative of Galileo Galilei) and his troubles with the Church. He misses the point, which is an interesting angle I think you’ll find, that the Church at the time was quite receptive to GG’s ideas; but GG tried to push them too fast. Vague, possibly not entirely historically accurate summary: the Church was uneasily aware of, say, Copernicus’ work (the Church had some of the best astronomers around, and certainly weren’t ignorant). They were aware they might have to reassess their geocentrism. What they couldn’t do was flip-flop. Because they claim to possess Eternal Truth. So it was OK to have gone from “the Earth is flat / square” (not feeling bound by biblical verses about the four corners of the Earth. “Oh yes, those were just metaphorical you know”.) And heliocentrism could have come in too (the few verses that implied geocentrism were weak, and could have been waved away, as they ultimately were). But they couldn’t afford to switch to heliocentrism before they were sure of it, because switching back again if wrong would have been intolerable.

Refs

* Keystone XL decision will define Barack Obama’s legacy on climate change – John Abraham in the Graun.

Funding and politics hobble CCS technology, seen as the best hope for cleaning up coal?

Or so says Richard Van Noorden, in Nurture.

But that’s not right. What hobbles CCS is that its uneconomic: so why would you do it?

I’m being a bit unfair: at least according to the article, CCS would be economic at the same subsidy cost as feed-in tariffs for wind and solar. But the great thing about solar, for example, is that it becomes economic at the individual-roof scale with current subsidy. No planning permission, quick and simple installation, buildable in small chunks, individual voters see a profit (and the others who haven’t got it and don’t see a profit because they’re funding it don’t really see their economic loss). Far more appealing that spending countless millions on a CCS plant that probably wouldn’t work :-).

Apparently, CCS was supposed to get its subsidy from the carbon trading scheme. But now its stuffed, because the price has collapsed. This tells you one of two things: either the scheme was stupid in the first place (my opinion). Or that the scheme has been successful: we’ve decided how much CO2 to emit (number of permits) and the permit price being low is a sign that its not hard to get down to that kind of level, so we don’t need to do expensive things like CCS. If that sounds familiar, its because I’ve said it before.

Perhaps we could encourage fracking, instead?

Refs

* Time for carbon taxes?
* Changes in Arctic sea ice result in increasing light transmittance and absorption

CCS news

I’ve been sniffy about CCS before (its just not economic) but as about the only way to get CO2 out of the atmosphere whilst letting us continue burning fossil fuels in our merry thoughtless way it inevitably appeals to the BAU crowd. David Hone reports on a A CCS project for Canada which is at base dependent on a $15/t (t CO2? t C? Not sure. The report he cites actually just says “$15” but that makes no sense; from context, I think they mean t CO2) tax on CO2 emissions. Interestingly, the threshold for being taxed isn’t absolute, just Approximately 100 entities with annual emissions exceeding 100,000 tCO2e (ktCO2e), are required by the legislation to reduce their emission intensity by 12% from average 2003-2005 levels but if you fall into that category (and it looks like tar sands do) then maybe CCS looks attractive.

I don’t have figures to hand, so I’ll ask Mr Google. He says that the Global CCS Institute says The cost of mitigating, or avoiding, CO2 emissions for a coal power plant fitted with current CCS technology ranges from US$23-92 per tonne of CO2. That’s a massive range (and given this is the CCS inst, I’d be tempted to think their numbers are low if anything), but the range exceeds $15, so, err, why are Shell bothering? At that price, they should just pay up. Unless… the entire thing is just PR? They know full well this isn’t economic, but tar sands have such a bad env image they’re willing to cough up a bit to make it look better?

Refs

* New Study Reiterates Affordability of Stratospheric Aerosol Systems – of course, that’s just affordability