NZ Green Party
Australia gets real on carbon emissions

Big congratulations go out to our Aussie Green cousins for their very successful negotiations with the Gillard govt to introduce a price on carbon! As Australian Greens Leader, Bob Brown said at the press conference, the Greens have already delivered on their biggest election promise.

The Australian carbon price just announced will be introduced on 1 July 2012 starting at A$23 a tonne rising 2.5 per cent a year. It will be paid by around 500 of the biggest polluters and will be replaced by an emissions trading scheme from 1 July 2015.

That’s about NZ$29/ton compared to John Key’s $12.50, and unlike here, the full package of initiatives can be expected to have a meaningful effect on Australian emissions and the transformation of their economy away from fossil fuels.

As Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said Sunday:

With the establishment of an expert Climate Change Authority, the lifting of the 2050 target to 80%, the five year scheme caps updated each and every year from 2015, and a price floor introduced at the same time, I am confident that this package can deliver real, science-based pollution cuts.

The groundbreaking support for renewable energy, energy efficiency and landscape carbon, the contracts for closure of coal fired power plants and the limits on the use of international offsets ensure that pollution cuts which were pushed into the distant future under the government’s original plans will start now.

Indeed, the summary list of key points from the Sydney Morning Herald is impressive:

- Carbon price to start on July 1, 2012 starting at $23 a tonne rising at 2.5 per cent a year.
- It will be paid by around 500 biggest polluters.
- It will be replaced by an emissions trading from July 1, 2015.
- Price ceiling and floor to apply when trading starts.
- There will be two rounds of tax cuts and increases in allowances, payments and benefits.
- The tax free threshold will almost triple to $18,200 from July 1, 2012, and then increase to $19,400 from July 1, 2015.
- Every taxpayer with income below $80,000 to get tax cut from July 1, 2012.
- Costs for the average household will rise by $9.90 a week.
- Average household assistance, under the “clean energy supplement”, will be $10.10 a week.
- $9.2 billion will be allocated over the first three years for industry assistance.
- Most exposed industries such as steel, aluminium, zinc, pulp and paper makers will get free permits representing 94.5 per cent of industry average carbon costs.
- $300 million has set aside help the steel industry move to a clean energy future.
- $1.3 billion has been set aside for a Coal Sector Jobs Package, targeted at mines that are most affected by the carbon price.
- A $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation will be established to invest in new technology.
- $3.2 billion has been allocated to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
- Closure of 2000megawatts of dirtiest power generators by 2020
- Agriculture is not subject to carbon price, farmers to benefit from carbon farming.
- Small grants will be made for community-based energy efficiency programs.
- Transport fuel excluded, but heavy transport to start paying carbon tax in 2014.
- Climate Change Authority to advise on pollution caps and meeting emissions targets.

It is almost surreal to imagine an equivalent approach in New Zealand, and that’s unfortunate for more reasons than one. As Co-leader Russel Norman points out, the Aussie carbon price poses a risk to the NZ economy.

If we continue with a weak carbon price, we’ll fall behind Australia economically as their businesses become more carbon efficient under the new scheme,” Dr Norman said.

The support now being offered to clean technology in Australia, both in the carbon price and the $10 billion for clean energy announced today, means we risk losing some of our best and brightest clean technology companies to Australia. Instead, we’d be left with subsidised polluting industries.

We’re already spending about $1 billion a year subsidising carbon pollution, and as the price of carbon goes up, that bill will go up too. We can’t afford to carry polluters while driving away our clean tech entrepreneurs.


The race is on to innovate and move to a low-carbon economy. By setting a higher and firmer price on carbon, Australia will have an edge over New Zealand in the new low-carbon economy.

A higher price on carbon will stimulate thousands of smart green jobs in Australia, while New Zealand will be left behind with an economy choked by greenhouse gases.

The Key govt has long argued that NZ needs to align our emissions reduction schemes with Australia. Of course, they didn’t reckon on there being Greens involved across the ditch to ensure a realistic approach was implemented.

Expect the excuses as to why we can’t match the Aussies to begin flowing any time now.

125 thoughts on “Australia gets real on carbon emissions

  1. From our Australian correspondent…

    I am in Cairns and the story all day today was the Australian government’s
    announcement of their carbon tax and carbon emissions trading scheme. It actually
    seems quite gutless to me, but the Ausies now reckon they are world leaders. 5%
    reduction by 2020 – woo hoo – but most of this is to come from purchasing offshore
    credits. The carbon tax is on the top 500 most polluting companies only. The govt
    says it does intend that some coal mines (those with big methane emissions) and some
    coal power plants (the brown coal ones) will be shut down, and will pay them to do
    so. The govt is going to pay huge amounts to the affected companies as “support”
    and petrol and all fuels except heavy machinery are exempt. Foresters can continue
    milling the native forest.

    That said, there is a new fund and agency for “clean energy”.

    So it might not be so much the actual $23 per tonne (94% of the credits paid for by
    the govt) that puts some economic pressure to reduce carbon emissions – it might
    actually be the fact that something has been put forward at all, and that could
    become the trigger or signal for change.

    I’m watching a bit of TV and “green” or “energy efficiency” has figured in several
    commercials during an hour.

    It’s actually social change that changes the economy.

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  2. Given that Australia is 80% coal powered electricity, and it is non-nuclear, how does it plan to keep the lights on over the next decade or two?

    It is mathematically impossible to power Australia on renewables within this timescale.

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  3. @Andy 8:58 AM

    Yep, Australia face a much bigger challenge re coal than we do. I understand they are only talking about shutting down the dirtiest coal plants by 2020, not all of them.

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  4. Australia has a substantial solar resource which it could use to make up a lot of the expected deficit, but it has no energy storage infrastructure to assist it in matching that power to the load.

    IMHO Australia is a candidate for some nuclear power bridging, preferably using their Thorium reserves rather than Uranium. This helps to reduce the waste stream to a manageable level and there is a lot more Thorium. Some of the more innovative storage tech needs to be applied there as well. Simply generating to produce H2 (this would be local) and then burning that in fuel cells in the off hours would probably serve them well as such a reserve capacity at the local level would assist when other failures occur.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  5. @bjchip

    I agree that Thorium looks to be a very promising technology if the public can be convinced that this is both a safe and a clean form of nuclear energy. Thorium is a very abundant mineral and we have potentially hundreds if not thousands of years of supplies.

    @toad. I am not sure what you mean by “dirtiest” of coal plants. If we are referring to black carbon (soot) as dirty, then scrubbers can be installed.

    However, if you are referring to CO2 as “dirty”, then they would be merely shutting down their biggest energy generators.

    Note that the UK had similar aspirations to Australia (80% reductions of CO2 by 2050) and a similarly optimistic view of renewables. It has had to back-peddle recently and accept that nuclear plants will have to be deployed to provide the generating capacity.

    The issue with Australia is that it doesn’t have France a few km away to provide nuclear baseload when the going gets tough.

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  6. I haven’t read the details of the scheme, but I’ve noticed that the Australian Railway Association has put out a press release (PDF) complaining that it penalises railways, particularly because of the blanket exemption of carbon tax on petrol. It’s suggesting that, at least until other factors cause electricity generation to be more carbon-efficient than burning fossils in a car, or until diesel locomotives used for longer distance commutes magically become more efficient that the costs can be reduced through non-carbon-related means, the scheme encourages even more people to go out and drive their cars to work.

    Locally for me at least, it fits right in with the seeming obsession of building new freeways and toll roads and plastic low-density suburbs that rely on lengthy driving commutes. Under the political circumstances it’d make sense to funnel the tax income into public transport subsidies, which apparently isn’t happening (yet) if this press release has come out.

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  7. At least the Australian Government seem to be getting a couple of things right.
    The have excluded agriculture from the scheme
    They are proposing to give most people a tax cut.
    The rest of the scheme liiks pretty stupid though.
    If you are a high polluter you get about 95% of your permits free.
    If you are a moderate polluter you get 66% free.
    That doesn’t seem likely to change anyone’s behaviour.

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  8. There seem to be some fairly major power stations facing closure (Hazelwood)

    Time to stock up on candles for the Victorians. They may end up being the most aptly named people in Australia

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  9. What a con but hardly surprising the Greens like it. Protect the environment, oh please give me a break. Lenin, Marx, Mao and the rest of the socialist tossers will be looking up from hell with a smile on their faces today. Perhaps the only good thing coming from all this will be the Greens only get a whiff of power before the voters show them the door.

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  10. Another comment re: the so-called “weak” carbon price.
    Hasn’t the market-driven price for CO2 completely tanked world-wide? The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) founded by Al Gore closed a while back.
    European prices have plummeted. The whole system is wide-open to fraud (trading in thin air is very hard to audit)

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  11. Well, at least we understand why you are only a side-show bob. Your post is a self-indictment, demonstrating only how pig ignorant you are about what Greens stand for.

    I should apologize for that…

    …to the pigs.

    If and when you post instead of hurling you might get answers.

    I am not expecting anything like that to happen soon. You’ve already nailed your colors to the mast.

    BJ

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  12. Andy

    The thing is that Coal is THE worst of all possible fuels in terms of CO2 at this point. The only competitor is the shale product that releases (leaks) methane into the atmosphere as a by-product of its production.

    Any other fuel is cleaner.

    CO2 is a problem, but the Methane is no less a problem. Until we started fracking the planet it wasn’t being released.

    The soot is not good, but in the southern hemisphere it is more likely to fall in the sea than on the ice. It is the CO2 (and its equivalents from the CH4) that causes warming.

    BJ

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  13. Andy I think that is why they formulated it as a tax, not a market. The market thing only works when everyone participates. The tax just works.

    BJ

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  14. Prime Minister John Key denied today that this made it inevitable the half-price discount in New Zealand’s ETS would be removed.

    “What it shows is that New Zealand’s system is pretty good value. Australia’s estimates are that [the carbon price costs] are about $500 a household, New Zealand is running at about $160 a household,” he said.

    Good value? That can’t be determined just by the cost! What about the benefit – remember emissions reductions? Sheesh, frog was almost right about Key making excuses, but instead he’s claiming the lameness of our ETS to be a feature!

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  15. Andy – you cannot use mathematics (on its own) to “prove” that Australia can’t produce enough electricity from renewables in a given timescale. There is no question that Australia has enough renewable energy available to harness, so it is more of a question as to how quickly they can build the plant to harness that energy. Essentially the problem becomes one of economics rather than mathematics. If they didn’t have to worry about paying for it, they could import enough plant to meet their needs with plenty to spare.

    Unlike the high-density countries (most of Europe, Japan, Singapore, etc), Australia has plenty of land suitable for solar power, plus plenty of coast suitable for wave power or wind farms. What they lack is high mountain ranges with plenty of water, so pumped hydro storage could be marginal. The solutions exist – solar thermal power stations can generate at night, and electricity can be stored in a gravel battery. (A gravel battery is a pair of insulated buildings, each full of gravel, which stores energy in the form of heat or cold, coupled to heat pumps which stored energy by pumping heat from cold to hot, and harness the stored energy by operating in reverse.)

    I don’t object to nuclear power for the high-density countries, if it is done safely and sensibly, but I don’t believe Australia needs to go down that route.

    Trevor.

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  16. Andy – the “dirtiest” power plants are those using the lowest grade of coal, which produces more CO2 per MegaWatt-Hour than higher grade coal. Lignite is at the bottom of the coal quality list.

    Trevor.

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  17. Trevor – “you cannot use mathematics alone”.

    Roger Pielke Jr, in his book The Climate Fix, (which I recommend for anyone interested in climate or energy policy) did some sensitivity analysis on renewables for Australia

    He calculated that Au would have to deploy 12,665 Cloncurry equivalent solar stations by 2020, which equates to 24 per week.

    Of course, no one is suggesting that Australia only use solar, but someone actually has to provide the public with some numbers like this to prove the viability of these schemes. It is not enough to say that “we’ll put a tax in place and it’ll just happen”

    Since Australia is planning to shut down some of its biggest power stations soon, and no immediate plans for replacements, then it is facing blackouts just like South Africa did some years ago.

    The SA case is interesting, because they are now building the world’s largest coal fired power station, whose annual emissions are about 50% of the whole of NZ, financed by you and I via the IMF.

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  18. Trevor – regarding your comment re: Lignite.
    Can these stations be powered by other forms of coal? I am not familiar with the Australian market.

    If you want to reduce CO2 emissions, then the easiest short term solution is to use a form of coal that emits less CO2. Better still, use natural gas, which has far less CO2 emissions than coal.

    Is this not a sensible approach?

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  19. bjchip
    Methane was being produced long before we started burning fossil fuels.
    All ruminants release methane. The 80 million buffalo in the US were replaced by 80 million cattle.
    Termites are similar insects release methane. Rice paddies release methane. Swamps release methane.
    The satellite images of methane in the upper atmosphere demonstrate that concentrations are lowest over Australia and NZ and highest over the tropical rain forests and South China.
    PResently, methane levels are falling – and we have no idea why.
    But methane is no a human by product.

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  20. Owen,
    You raise some interesting observations re Methane, a pet topic of mine.
    Ruminant methane is a part of the natural carbon cycle. CO2 gets absorbed into grass via photosynthesis, which gets eaten by cows. The cows emit methane which decomposes back into CO2 and water in a period of around 8-12 years, thus completing the cycle.

    The IPCC AR4 report shows methane levels are globally plateauing.

    The only justification for concern over methane is the concept of “global warming potential” which calculates the warming potential of methane as around 21 times that of CO2.

    However, this is based on one equation only, and seems to make some very dubious assumptions.

    We, in NZ, are basing our entire agricultural ETS on this one equation, so I hope those peddling it are familiar with the concepts of radiative efficiency, radiative forcing, half life, and the spectral absorption bands of CH4.

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  21. Owen

    Methane release by reason of fracking is a new thing. I wasn’t clear enough in that post, but I am referring from the start of it, to the shale oil and gas being pulled out of the ground through fracking.

    Which entails a waste/loss of between 12 and 30% of gas into the atmosphere.

    It is possibly the most destructive thing we’ve ever conceived of since Global Thermonuclear War.

    BJ

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  22. @bjchip

    Funny, I hear that the shale gas revolution will save us, as it is cheap, plentiful, and located in countries that are easily accessible. To suggest it is as destructive as thermonuclear war seems a little excessive.

    As I pointed out in my post, methane has a short half life in the atmosphere and decomposes readily into CO2. The CO2 emissions from shale gas are low relative to coal.

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  23. Maybe local Greens can choose to be fast followers of the Australian carbon price, and play back rhetoric used by Key to the Oz parliament if he dissents.

    And reintroduce the theme of a broader range of taxes, water, carbon, CGT etc to build a more sustainable economy for this century.

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  24. Andy

    While CH4 is 200 times less abundant than CO2, it is about 20 times more efficient than CO2 to trap outgoing longwave radiation, on a 50 years timescale ….

    …The mean atmospheric lifetime of CH4 is estimated to be 8.4 years on average [IPCC, 2001].

    http://www.carboscope.eu/?q=methane_budget

    That isn’t “short”, and it is long enough given that the warming potential of the gas is 20 times that of CO2.

    To suggest it is as destructive as thermonuclear war seems a little excessive.

    Unfortunately, the fracking process releases large amounts of methane and it also has nasty consequences for fresh water supplies in places it is misused. The consequences of burning the natural gas and oils found there are no worse than burning the the natural gas and oils obtained from more conventional sources. The consequences of the fracking however, add on the release of a lot more methane… that we CANNOT afford.

    The consequences of a planet 5+ degrees warmer(which is where the gases from the fracking will take us) by reason of greenhouse gases, to our civilization, will indistinguishable from the effects of a global thermonuclear war, except for being wetter.

    …and Andy, I am probably as familiar as anyone is with those things.

    BJ

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  25. The trouble is, side show bob is right: this is a con, as are all emissions trading and carbon tax schemes. Its a wealth transfer scheme to take wealth away from everyday folk.

    It [the carbon charges] will be paid by around 500 of the biggest polluters…

    That is pure, unadulterated greenwash. The biggest polluters wont pay $1. Everyday citizens will pay the charge. And for almost all the things that matter, there is no choice between suppliers; you cant vote with your wallet, and almost nobody want to vote with their lifestyle but going crazily out on a limb.

    Awaiting a flurry of red ticks from those who believe the lies.

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  26. @bjchip

    You are suggesting that methane emissions will cause the planet to warm by 5 deg C?

    Do you have a reference to this? This is at the top end of IPCC projections.
    Methane emissions globally are static, or at least were at the time of writing of IPCC AR4

    Regarding your quote about the 20 times warming potential, you are merely quoting the figure that is based on one equation. Just out of interest, have you analysed and reviewed this equation?

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  27. Incidently, the Greens seem to be against any form of energy other than solar or wind. The environmental impacts of the latter particularly are fairly large. Is this something that is to be ignored?

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  28. Andy – unfortunately the better coals not only have lower emissions, they also have higher price tags as they are more suitable for other applications as well, and are becoming less abundant.

    Rather than looking for better coal, I think an option worth exploring is burning wood (or possibly charcoal) in the existing coal-fired plants, either totally wood, or more likely a wood-coal mixture. Wood has zero net CO2 emissions and is a renewable resource if carefully managed.

    Trevor.

    PS: Pielke’s mathematics can be found here:
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5000/australia_climate_policy_draft.pdf

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  29. Pielke said:
    “One quad (at 33% efficiency) of energy implies 3,333 Cloncurry plants.”
    (where a “quad” is a quadrillion BTUs per year – about 11GW),

    But he gives no justification for any efficiency factor. The 10MW output of Cloncurry already takes its efficiency into consideration (doesn’t it) so why an additional factor of 3?

    His analysis also doesn’t mention the savings which come from not having to build, maintain and fuel the additional coal-fired power stations that would otherwise be required. A significant amount of Australia’s GDP must go into digging up enough coal to feed its power stations.

    Trevor.

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  30. The strawman appears quickly.

    No.

    I expect the additional methane release and CO2 emission from the shale gas to put us up perhaps another half to 1 degree over the span of intransigent idiocy that compromises current climate policies. The other 4 degrees are expectable results of what we are currently doing without any shale oil and gas.

    The prospects of change before things get out of hand are basically Buckley’s and that is a matter of human nature. We aren’t good at multi-generational accountability or morality.

    Look at the debts we rack up and pass on to our kids.

    This is more of the same ethical shortcoming, but it has a more serious consequence. Going broke is a survivable societal issue. Inconvenient, uncomfortable and often a cause of revolution. This one however, involves a halving (or worse) of human population and the destruction of most of our infrastructure… and it gets more inevitable every single day.

    Even after the denial is over, the problem will be governments which can appear to do something while doing nothing… because the cost can be deferred, and the cost is going to make the government that REALLY takes it on unelectably unpopular.

    As I said, we aren’t good at this at all. Greens play it straight, and aren’t elected all that often as a consequence.

    BJ

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  31. Incidently, the Greens seem to be against any form of energy other than solar or wind.

    Well no, we’re reasonable on the topic of nukes, have a warm place in the basement for geothermal, fiddle with wave generators, build biomass converters and support tidal plants and the occasional additional hydroelectric plant… which isn’t the whole list… I personally favor satellite solar power.

    What we don’t support is burning all the carbon that has been sequestered by the planet over 300 million years in 300… years.

    That’s just stupid. It is what we as a species are doing, but it doesn’t get smarter just because it is popular with the business sector.

    BJ

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  32. dbuckley, if ETS and a carbon charge is a wealth transfer, to whom is the transfer? You imply the people pay (when in fact households are usually compensated)

    Any net transfer to government is simply a broadening of the tax base, and otherwise the switch is simply to a market price mechanism to limit use of the scarce resource. Not doing so now would result in a more abrupt adjustment when the resource supply becomes limited. It’s called planning.

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  33. Just out of interest, have you analysed and reviewed this equation?

    The black body radiation of the planet is mediated through the windows that allow the longwave radiation out. H20 blocks part of the window, CO2 another part and CH4 yet another. Increasing the latter is bad because the H20 is a feedback (it recovers from a doubling back to a stable level in about 15 days). CO2 takes most of a century and CH4 is bad for a decade.

    The equations make sense. One can see the windows pictorially as well.

    http://www.iitap.iastate.edu/gccourse/forcing/images/image7.gif

    BJ

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  34. BJ, I am referring specifically to the equation that calculates the GWP of methane as 21.

    Have you read and understood this? Just asking, because I am having some difficulties with it.

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  35. @SPC the carbon taxes are a wealth transfer to developing nations. IPCC WG3 co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer made this statement before Cancun.

    “The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated”

    Carbon pricing in developed nations will not result in carbon dioxide emission reductions. It will merely move the centres of production to developing nations (China and India in particular), who will more than likely use more polluting practices.

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  36. I can’t see the Australian plan likely to produce any reductions in emissions. These things are always a case of take with one hand and give with the other and spin it like we care about the environment. If you compensate those least able to cope with the increased costs, then that group of people won’t have to cut down. Only those in the middle area (just about able to afford increases but might think about it) are likely to cut consumption.

    I don’t think we’ll see any reductions in carbon emissions that will be due to carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes but would like to be surprised. No government takes the environment seriously because their paymasters don’t and because the voters continue to be bombarded with consumption messages – if economic growth will suffer under any scheme then it will be scaled back or abandoned.

    Now we read comments about how nuclear can take over or how renewables can take over. Sheesh! Get real folks; we HAVE to cut back on our consumption. Nature is yelling at us to do so. It will happen one way or another – unfortunately, we don’t have the intelligence to realise that doing so voluntarily and while we are still in relatively stable societies will be a lot easier than being forced to do so because of environmental degradation and resource depletion.

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  37. I don’t get it.
    Many of this blog are convinced that Peak Oil is already here and oil is running out, and so we won’t be able to drive or fly in the near future.
    So surely this solves the AGW problem?

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  38. I haven’t looked at their model, but Shindell et al. 2009 (Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions, Science 326, p. 716-) calculate the GWP of methane to be higher than 21 – mainly because of interactions with atmospheric aerosols. So at least there are other equations available.

    Howarth et al. (2011) (Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations, Climatic Change 106:679–690
    DOI 10.1007/s10584-011-0061-5) calculated greenhouse footpprints for shale gas and conclude:

    “The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.”

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  39. Owen,

    Not only does peak oil not mean no oil (and carbon emissions are long lived in the atmosphere) it also means that we will be extracting poorer quality (read: higher emissions) hydrocarbons to keep things going a bit longer and using more environmentally destructive means to get it.

    The AGW predicament screams out for zero emissions tomorrow, not a slow reduction over decades. Not everyone is like you and quite happy to have future generations live with the consequences of 4+ degrees of warming (if they’re lucky) over the next century or even with the very real consequences we’re experiencing now.

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  40. @Tony,
    The only thing “screaming” about emissions reductions are the climate activists and their computer models. Where do you get this 4 degree figure from? The planet has warmed about 0.8 degC in the last 150 years, and none at all in the last decade.

    All real world observations are tracking way below IPCC projections.

    I expect the usual rhetoric will ensue…..

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  41. Furthermore, anyone arguing that we have to cut back our consumption is missing the obvious point. We will be cutting back our consumption whether we like it or not. Greece is close to default. Italy is close behind. Behind them are Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the USA

    It’s all unraveling very fast. The ChCh Press at the weekend glibly reported that we could be facing Great Depression II, yet this only made the “overseas” section.

    We are living in a bubble that is about to burst.

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  42. Pollution makes the Earth hotter, the greenhouse effect becomes uncontrollable.
    Let us decides to move to plant a thousand trees in our homes

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  43. Andy – much of the carbon use in western economies is domestic, tradeable production has already transferred to lower labour cost economies, so carbon pricing will reduce the domestic use of carbon but have little adverse impact on the balance of world trade.

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  44. Andy, models maybe factoring in impacts such as the methane released by the perma frost melting in the Arctic areas, this is associated with past global warming. Tipping point …

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  45. Andy, we’ve just had our warmest decade on record and 2010 was nominally the hottest year on record, though statistically tied for first place. So I don’t know where you get your information about no warming in the last decade; probably from some selected dataset. There was a recent comparison of datasets (I think released by NASA) that showed all of the main datasets agreeing with each other.

    The 4 degrees of warming notion comes from The Hadley Centre. Of course, you can choose to believe only the nice warm fuzzy stories or you can try to find out the reality of the situation.

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  46. Fundamentally Andy, we’re doin nuttin.

    That’s to say, the optimistic view, that with Kyoto and the follow on efforts we would bring our emissions under control and start reducing them so as to keep it under 2 degrees of warming….

    … that went out the window a couple of years ago.

    The not so optimistic view, that we would start doing something before 2015 so as to keep the rise under 3 degrees of warming … that followed the optimistic view into the dark.

    The pessimistic view, which is that we aren’t going to start until Mother Nature breaks out the can of Whup-Ass on us, that’s about where I am now, but under that scenario we’re going to be dead lucky to keep the warming to 4 degrees…

    …as there are a fair number of potential feedbacks that could take the process right away from our control in that range… at +5 we’ll see 30 meters or so of sea level rise within 500 years… and a lot of people starving to death within the century. We’ll see it but we won’t be able to do a damned thing about it… and by the next millennium or so, 75 meters, which is to say, no ice at either pole.

    Which will increase the potential arable land somewhat as Antarctica rebounds but
    I don’t think our children will thank us.

    If we saw anything but the same denialists on Faux news and the same idiots in Congress we might have some hope, but I see what I see, and it isn’t fair to our kids, but it isn’t good and I can’t make it stop.

    One and only one possible escape clause, and that is Cheap Access To Space. NASA just used the Shuttle for the last time and has no plans worthy of its past.

    BJ

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  47. Owen – Peak Oil will drive people to burn more coal, not less, and burning coal releases more CO2 for the same heat output as burning any hydrocarbon. My understanding is that when coal is used for electricity generation it is less efficient than hydrocarbons in a combined cycle power plant.

    So Peak Oil will not prevent AGW.

    Trevor.

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  48. The point of an ETS or a carbon tax is to make releasing fossil carbon as CO2 less attractive than other options. It isn’t aimed at reducing consumption, except where a better option is efficiency or insulation improvements. Rather it is about favouring renewable generation over fossil-fuelled generation, and using renewable materials rather than fossil materials.

    For example, aluminium production requires carbon anodes which are oxidised during the smelting process releasing CO2, so the aluminium smelters get taxed if these anodes are made from fossil carbon (coal or oil, etc), but they wouldn’t pay this tax if the anodes were made from biomass such as trees or crop waste.

    Natural gas wells produce a lot of CO2 as well as the methane. The ETS or carbon tax encourages the gas field operators to reinject that CO2 back into their gas fields, where it should remain for a very long time unless they have done something very stupid.

    Trevor.

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  49. @Tony,
    The information about no warming in the last decade I get from the HadCrut3 dataset

    See here:
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Since20011.jpg

    and here

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1995/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1995/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/trend

    The “warmest year on record” has no significance. If I drive out of my garage, hit the motorway in 5 mins, and spend 5 hours at 100 kph, then if I hit 100.006 kph during the journey, it will be the “fastest speed on record” It says nothing about trend.

    What is important, of course, is what happens next. The CO2 models say we will warm. Some solar physicists and others say we will cool.

    Take your pick.

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  50. Trevor,
    your point about making options less attractive is OK up to a point. However, the problem with the ETS and the electricity spot market is that we pay the same price for power regardless of its source. I don’t get the choice of renewable or fossil fueled power when I plug the jug in, but the renewable guys get more profit.

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  51. Trevor, any scheme which isn’t intended to reduce emissions is not worth having. But the Australian scheme most definitely is intended to reduce emissions – look at what the Greens deputy leader said about reductions. 80% by 2050. This scheme will hardly make a dent in that lofty target. We can bandy about targets till the cows come home but if we don’t actually do anything to meet the targets, they won’t be met. Actually, 80% may well be achievable, through doing nothing. But by 2050, the demand reduction will be due to nature taking a hand.

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  52. Andy correctly notes:

    However, the problem with the ETS … is that we pay the same price for power regardless of its source. I don’t get the choice of renewable or fossil fueled power when I plug the jug in…

    Exactly, as I’ve pointed out previously, the dice are loaded against us, we (those who ultimately pay the carbon charge) can only ever lose.

    The theoretical idea of an ETS is that it reduces carbon emissions by giving us a choice, but we (thats 99.99% of us, there are exceptions) will never get to make those choices. Because of that, what seems like a good, environmentally sound idea actually ends up being just another tax, and there seems no reasonable expectation that anything other than legitimising existing an future emissions will be achieved.

    The wabbit is being pulled out of the hat, and everyone is going “ooooh”, but its smoke and mirrors at work.

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  53. Tony – I didn’t say that the ETS or carbon tax wouldn’t reduce emissions. I said it wasn’t aimed at reducing consumption, which is a different thing altogether.

    Andy – it isn’t the consumer that needs to make the choice. Instead it is the electricity generators who chose how to generate the power, and an ETS or a carbon tax makes it more cost-effective to install renewable generation rather than build new fossil generation as the ongoing charges of the latter are pushed up, while they have a negligible effect on the price of renewable generation. The price of electricity will be pushed up, so some compensation is paid, which just makes it more sensible for home owners to insulate and to install more efficient appliances.

    Trevor.

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  54. dbuckley, the increased price (via carbon tax) encourages consumers to save energy/invest in energy efficiency, just as it encourages producers to look at alternative generation.

    Apart from that the tax shift also lowers the tax burden on “income” (encouraging those looking to profit from successful R and D in Green Tech companies)

    Apart from that the price mechanism allows the economy to adapt in advance of future carbon depletion – it’s a useful economic planning tool.

    So not only will we be reducing the intensity of carbon use in our economy and possibly lowering total carbon used (even as the economy grows) to manage depletion of a scarce resource (acting in our optimal longer term economic interest) we also contribute to mitigation of global warming.

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  55. This equation – from IPCC 3

    http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/247.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_potential

    Note that “20x” is a measurement that depends on using a 100 year comparison period. At 20 years it is more like 70 because the Methane is shorter lived in the atmosphere, and that the CO2 in the denominator has a non-linear behaviour when more is added, as the spectral absorption band it is in is already pretty well blocked, so a doubling is less effective at blocking CO2 than it was back when the ppm was 290. Where the effective band of a compared gas is currently more open, the efficacy of that gas as a greenhouse gas is greater. That’s why the picture I linked earlier is important.

    As for working oneself up over this:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut3/diagnostics/comparison.html

    …there are three things worth noting.

    First: is that it has started rising again despite seeing a deeper than usual solar minimum.

    Second: A decade is still a measurement of noise. You need 15 years worth of data.
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/five-years/

    Third: The solar physicists don’t actually predict so much as guess, but the results of the forcings that possible (as guessed) differences in solar intensity provide vs the greenhouse gases, are not compelling.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/06/what-if-the-sun-went-into-a-new-grand-minimum/

    respectfully

    BJ

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  56. Trevor,

    Carbon taxes and ETSs are definitely aimed (at least in terms of spin) at reducing emissions. There would be no attempt to come up with such schemes unless AGW was seen as a problem that required reductions.

    Of course, whether they’re designed by the powers that be to reduce emissions is another thing. I suspect that the designers think they are but in an attempt to reduce impacts on people and businesses, they turn out to be ineffectual.

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  57. I don’t accept any of these arguments in favour of an ETS or carbon tax.
    We pay more for EVERYTHING as a result of the ETS. Of course, I want to insulate and double glaze my house, but I’d do this irrespective of an ETS

    I don’t really accept that it is in energy companies interests to move to renewables, unless they are heavily subsidised like they are in the UK.

    We need to provide baseload, and in NZ that comes from hydro and coal/gas. Wind is not suitable for baseload.

    The real issue, I have though, is that these policies are being pursued by left-wing parties, who supposedly are representing the underdog. The fact is, we pay extra and this money goes to corporate power and forestry companies. It is a reverse Robin Hood tax.

    When will the “left” wake up and realise that they are doing this?

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  58. If ETSs and carbon taxes are really going to cut into consumption then everything SHOULD cost more. That should be the whole point of them. Offsetting costs for those least able to pay more simply allows them to continue consuming the same, whilst those able to pay more will just pay more or perhaps grow their consumption less than they otherwise would.

    None of these schemes will work but they also aren’t fair, which is probably why they get watered down to be ineffectual. The only scheme I’ve come across which is fair and will guarantee reductions is the Tradeable Energy Quota (TEQ) combined with depletion protocols like the Oil Depletion Protocol.

    But they will never be implemented because they will actually work. Governments are only interested in economic growth and in appearing to try to do something about AGW.

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  59. Tony – stop getting hung up about “consumption” and look at the possibility of getting more out of less through efficiency improvements.

    Putting a price on CO2 and returning some of that money back to consumers boosts the price of electricity and heating fuels, making alternatives more attractive, while giving money to consumers so they can take advantage of those alternatives. These alternatives includes hot water solar systems, heat pumps instead of resistive heating appliances, better insulation and double glazing, etc. In addition, the higher cost of fossil fuelled power makes renewable energy options more attractive for the power companies so they shift their investments to areas which reduce CO2 emissions. This drives renewed interest in geothermal power, and spurs more development of wind farms and solar photovoltaic systems, and other technologies that could take off include wave and tidal power, solar thermal systems, and perhaps Ocean Thermal systems (OTEC). Salinity gradiant systems might become viable, but there would only be a few areas where Australia would have surplus fresh water!

    What putting a price on CO2 isn’t about is reducing the standard of living. It is about better ways of achieving the same standard of living, and long term it is about being able to preserve that standard despite Peak Oil and Peak Gas, without cooking the planet.

    Trevor.

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  60. If ETSs and carbon taxes are really going to cut into consumption then everything SHOULD cost more.

    Not designed to cut into consumption. Designed to cut into production of CO2. Consumption is a different thing.

    Everything that produces CO2 should cost more.

    Of course, I want to insulate and double glaze my house, but I’d do this irrespective of an ETS

    If the price of energy was decreasing towards nothing your incentive to do so rather than to add heaters is?

    The THEORETICAL point to an ETS is to increase the economic incentive to insulate to the point where it is more important to people than their wide-screen television and tickets to the Rugby World Cup.

    That the laws as formulated are unlikely to work as WE (the Greens) would like, is a function of the realities of politics with respect to unpleasant medicine in democracies. Such things are not done. Particularly when the injustice we seek to remedy is intergenerational.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/07/perfect-moral-storm.html

    Just look at what we are lumbering on our kids in terms of economic debts… and those are EASY to understand, even a right-wing nutcase can usually understand it and get indignant over it, but actually FIXING it doesn’t happen, no matter whether the left or the right wing of the wealth party is actually in control of government at the time.

    We need to provide baseload, and in NZ that comes from hydro and coal/gas. Wind is not suitable for baseload.

    With as much hydro as we have got, supplying wind that keeps the water in the lakes is vastly more efficient than its opponents advertise. The need for more baseload is a function of growth of demand and that in turn is as much a function of a busted monetary system as it is of an actual need to “grow”… or more. We have debt based dollars everywhere in the world, and we HAVE to consume more and spend more in order to pay the interest on the debt. This is a thermodynamic argument at heart, and economists don’t accept any of it as a rule, but perpetual growth in a finite world is the result of their monetary definitions, and inevitable breakage of governments, obligations to the future, and the planet are the next step.

    When will the “left” wake up and realise that they are doing this?

    Don’t be silly, WE didn’t do it, the shift in emphasis from CO2 reduction to corporate welfare was National’s idea, and I recall calling them criminals to their face in my submission on their “revised” ETS. Respectfully, but all the same… :-)

    It would ONLY be a Green led government that could possibly actually pursue intergenerational justice here. We take such a long view of things that we regard such injustice as important.

    The whole thing is depressing as hell, and Hansen is as depressed as I am about it with his “Storms of my Grandchildren” tome… but the notion that it is about “left” and “right” is mistaken. The left has seized on it and the right has seized on it but the Green view is NOT primarily based on the “left”vs”right” struggle but on intergenerational theft and the irreplaceable planet.

    BJ

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  61. Trevor,

    stop getting hung up about “consumption” and look at the possibility of getting more out of less through efficiency improvements.

    Sorry, but that has distinct limitations. You’ll only get more out of less for a short time, then you will start using more. It’s always been that way, since the laws of nature were formed at the creation of our present universe.

    Putting a price on CO2 and returning some of that money back to consumers boosts the price of electricity and heating fuels, making alternatives more attractive

    Only if those alternatives cost less than the current products. So, yes, it could work that way but I very much doubt that the price will be put high enough to make that happen. If the price is not high enough to do that and the extra is simply given back to consumers (what a terrible word) to enable them to afford the extra, when they otherwise would have had to cut back, then they won’t cut back, or will only cut back a fraction of what is needed.

    In addition, the higher cost of fossil fuelled power makes renewable energy options more attractive for the power companies

    It would only do that if the power companies weren’t allowed to put up their prices to cover the extra costs and if the alternatives would bring in more profit. The first isn’t being done and I’m sure the second would make them shift anyway.

    What putting a price on CO2 isn’t about is reducing the standard of living.

    I’m sure you’re right, but it should be. Unfortunately, standard of living, as measured by money and possessions is not a particularly good measurement of happiness. I’d rather have a habitable planet and a satisfying life, than lots of possessions and money, in a deteriorating environment. In any case, standards of living are bound to decrease anyway – that’s just what to expect on a finite planet with increasing numbers clamouring for more and more.

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  62. BJ,

    Not designed to cut into consumption. Designed to cut into production of CO2. Consumption is a different thing.

    Everything that produces CO2 should cost more.

    It seems like you’re splitting hairs here. Stuff is produced because it’s consumed (either willingly or through persuasion). Everything that’s produced produces CO2. Can you think of anything that doesn’t? Oh, apart from truly organic food grown sustainably and eaten fresh, locally.

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  63. Basically, you are expressing the “Club of Rome” limits to growth thesis.

    The major problem here, is that the “elite” who administer this will not actually be cutting their growth.

    Examples: Prince Charles, Ted Turner, Al Gore, David Suzuki, …

    When one of these preachers of apocalypse is going to make an actual sacrifice themselves? Maybe downgrade from business class once and again?

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  64. Andy, that’s not a problem with the thesis, just with weak humans.

    We don’t have to wait for a lead, fortunately, we can all power down and simplify our own lives, though it would be nice to get the whole world on board, for obvious reasons.

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  65. dbuckley, the increased price (via carbon tax) encourages consumers to save energy/invest in energy efficiency, just as it encourages producers to look at alternative generation.

    NO IT DOESN’T. You (and some others) persist in believing that there is a an environmentally positive outcome to an ETS, but there simply is not.

    There should be, I agree, but it wont happen.

    The reason that it wont is that ETS will (for example) not make the costs of an off-the-grid solar home comparable with todays electricity charges plus ETS on top. So almost everyone will just have to pay for more expensive electricity, because there are no reasonable alternative options. Its just a tax of a few percent that everyone will end up paying.

    I say again: an ETS is just a way of legitimising emissions, and rorting everyday Kiwis (and now Ozzies too).

    For triggering taking dramatic action to significantly reduce energy usage, requiring the average homeowner to invest thousands of dollars in insulation or solar water heating or whatever, the price signals would have to be enormous, say tripling everyone’s electricity bills. Yes, I said tripling. And even that might not be enough, especially considering that everyday Kiwis probably really do not have the money to have their electricity bills tripled or quadrupled. A few bucks a week extra on the bills just isn’t going to do it.

    The sooner those who think they are environmentalists get past the idea that ETS will make a difference, then perhaps New Zealand can have a meaningful conversation about how we can actually reduce emissions.

    This isn’t so different to the raging CGT argument: Thre are those on this forum that think CGT will actually extract tax from rental property owners, but that just isn’t going to happen – how stupid do you think rental property owners are? They are just going to factor CGT into the spreadsheet, and the renter will pay it. Thus the CGT due on the rental property sale in x years time will have been paid for by the renters, not the landlord. Doh! So Labour is actually taxing the poorer end of society, those who can’t afford to buy their own home.

    (And I mean that as an example of this forums behaviour, not to start a CGT debate in this thread, theres a thread for that already)

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  66. Tony

    If the electricity market was a monopoly, with unregulated prices, then a price on carbon would probably drive up the price of electricity and the electricity company may or may not choose to use renewables. But there is competition. If one company puts up its prices too far, another will grab more share, and therefore their profits are dependent on the costs of production. A carbon price increases that cost of production for fossil-fuelled generation, less so for renewables and thus their profits will be higher if they switch to more renewable generation with lower CO2 emissions.

    As a consumer, I am interested in comfort. I want to live at a comfortable temperature, and shower with hot water. Therefore I am a consumer of heating, cooling and water heating. An increase in the price of electricity will encourage me to look at ways of obtaining that heating, cooling or water heating without using as much electricity, such as solar water heating or hot water heat pumps. I would also look for ways of cutting down on that use, such as through better insulation, or raising shade sails, or installing a hot water cylinder closer to where hot water is used.

    Thus the carbon price will lead to implementing measures that give the same standard of living but with lower CO2 emissions.

    Trevor.

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  67. Tony

    I was discussing the failure of a particular law to do what IT was designed to do. That law in any form (ETS, Tax… whatever) is ostensibly intended by politicians to reduce CO2 production. Reduction of overall consumption is not and was never, the aim of a Carbon tax.

    It may be a valid long term goal for us, and I tend to agree with you in general about the need to do it, but it isn’t ANY part of the Carbon Tax/ETS motivations.

    Moreover, increased efficiency in production and use of renewable energy can allow some production increases without additional CO2 emissions.

    CO2 emissions of the production of “things” are not going to be eliminated, but can be reduced. Enough to allow us to support 10 billion people? Not hardly. :-)

    Andy – It never crossed my mind to think about it but flying business class vs flying coach isn’t actually going to increase CO2 production unless the food is heavier. No?

    The major problem here, is that the “elite” who administer this will not actually be cutting their growth.The major problem here, is that the “elite” who administer this will not actually be cutting their growth.

    Fundamentally you have a problem with a couple of people who are in the public eye telling us that we all have to cut back because they may be making a buck doing that. They are not however, the scientists who do the research, and they have no actual power nor seek any, in the political arena or in the administration of the schemes.

    In fact, that is the case for most of the scientists involved.

    One does have to consider that the TRUTH is not taking a political side here. We are doing intergenerational theft on a mammoth scale, and the people who DO have the power to stop it, won’t.

    BJ

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  68. BJ wrote:
    “Australia has a substantial solar resource which it could use to make up a lot of the expected deficit, but it has no energy storage infrastructure to assist it in matching that power to the load.”

    Gravel batteries could provide the required energy storage and they can be built where they are needed:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/26/gravel-batteries-renewable-energy-storage

    These are an ideal match for solar power where the solar resource is rarely interrupted by clouds, but could be quite useful in other situations – truly a game-changer.

    Trevor.

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  69. I already live a fairly modest lifestyle. I mostly telecommute from home.

    Prince Charles recently converted an Airbus into a personal flying palace. Al Gore has several mansions and flies between them in executive jets.

    I’ll make more sacrifices when these hypocrites get off my case.

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  70. I think that that rather depends on whether you value children and planet OR profit and privileges.

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  71. dbuckley said:
    “The reason that it won’t (happen) is that ETS will (for example) not make the costs of an off-the-grid solar home comparable with today’s electricity charges plus ETS on top. So almost everyone will just have to pay for more expensive electricity, because there are no reasonable alternative options.”

    Which is a strawman arguement. A complete off-the-grid solar home system is probably the most expensive way of generating electricity, so no ETS or carbon tax is going to raise the cost of electricity to a level that makes such a system attractive. It isn’t necessary. There are many different options for saving electricity in the home and out of it. Some are cheap and others require significant investment. Some save small amounts while other make a big difference. Each situation has its own costs and benefits and therefore its own threshold at which point it becomes cost-effective, but the decision makers have their own considerations and therefore their own electricity price threshold at which point alternatives become preferred. Across the country there will be a continuum of such thresholds so that any significant electricity price rise will persuade some people to act to reduce their electricity consumption, whether by installing draft strips, elergy efficient light bulbs, underfloor insulation, solar water heating or a wood pellet fire, to name just some options. And any such move will reduce CO2 emissions, except possibly if they switch to use fossil fuels. (Even in that case there might be a CO2 saving in Australia, if the direct use of fossil fuels is more efficient that using electricity generated from fossil fuels.)

    Trevor.

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  72. Trevor,

    A carbon price increases that cost of production for fossil-fuelled generation, less so for renewables and thus their profits will be higher if they switch to more renewable generation with lower CO2 emissions.

    At some carbon price, maybe, but why do you think it’s at the kind of price that Australia has used? (I read a US study recently that suggest a carbon price of 900 US dollars a ton.) If they can get the consumer to pay the extra (and the lower paid will be able to because they are being compensated for the higher price), then there is no need to invest in alternatives. Only if consumers start to cut down will power companies look to alternatives.

    An increase in the price of electricity will encourage me to look at ways of obtaining that heating, cooling or water heating without using as much electricity

    It may do, if you can’t comfortably afford the extra, or if you are not being given more income to cover the extra. If you can afford the extra, you may not bother.

    All I’m saying is that the claimed targets for emissions reduction will not even begin to be met by a scheme such as this. There might be some measurable effect (though I doubt it) but I’ll bet it will be much less than intended.

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  73. BJ,

    Understood. At some point in my discussion with Trevor, I conflated consumption with emissions. However, in trying to cut emissions, a carbon tax would attempt to do two things, one is to encourage a move to alternatives and the other is to cut down on consumption of carbon heavy activities, possibly through efficiencies – as a way to cut emissions. I don’t think this scheme will do either and, as a result, won’t reduce emissions.

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  74. Mmm, giant gravel batteries now, eh? The number of speculative energy schemes seems to be increasing exponentially. There always seems to be hope that we can keep out extravagant consumptive lifestyles going for a bit longer. The only scheme that will actually work, long term, is living within the budget of the earth.

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  75. Trevor, I’ve not made a strawman argument, I’ve made an economic argument.

    People make economic decisions.

    The economic case for switching to CFLs is already compelling today; CFLs cost literally just a couple of bucks, and return their investment many times over, and are one of the lowest cost, best return energy investments it is possible for a householder to make.

    But still people persist in buying ordinary GLS lightbulbs. (Other than some pretty but rarely used halogen fixtures, our house is all CFL and/or fluorescent)

    So I argue again, that a few dollars per month is unlikely to have a significant effect on energy consumption and thus emissions, because if that were the case, then we would have seen the effects over the years as electricity prices have risen by many percent.

    So once again, I state, the ETS is not going to make a significant difference to emissions, and will involve more costs for everyday Kiwis.

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  76. Tony – gravel batteries are not energy schemes. They are energy storage systems so intermittent or continuous renewable generation can be matched with intermittent demand. The technology is simple. You could even describe it as stone-age. So it is hardly speculative either.

    Your alternative would have us all working only during daylight and going to bed when it gets dark – and that could have interesting although ultimately undesirable side-effects!

    Trevor.

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  77. dbuckley – you made a strawman argument when you offered as the only alternative the most expensive way of generating electricity, neglecting a raft of alternatives. No carbon price will push up the price of electricity high enough to justify an off-grid solution because the electricity companies can switch to almost 100% renewable generation at a lower cost.

    People chose not to use CFLs for a variety of reasons, including start-up time, light quality and appearance. (Whether these reasons are valid is another argument.) However I see that more and more of the light bulbs available at my local supermarket are CFLs or halogen GLS bulbs (about 30% more efficient than standard GLS bulbs), so change is happening. (I also anticipate that LED lighting will become mainstream in a few years, firstly in commercial areas, then residential.)

    It takes time for people to change.

    Trevor.

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  78. Tony said:
    “Only if consumers start to cut down will power companies look to alternatives.”

    Or if consumers switch to power companies offering cheaper power because those companies have added more renewable generation and don’t have to pay for as many emissions.

    Trevor.

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  79. Of course it’s an energy scheme, Trevor. Energy storage (then release from storage) most certainly involves energy. It is an energy scheme. It is the latest idea in a long line of ideas to “solve” our energy predicament. The only trouble is that predicaments don’t have solutions. And of course it’s speculative, unless you know of a working prototype? I couldn’t see that from the article.

    No, I never suggested working during daylight hours and then going to bed. Strawman.

    Or if consumers switch to power companies offering cheaper power because those companies have added more renewable generation and don’t have to pay for as many emissions.

    Well, yes. The Australian scheme may make more headway over here.

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  80. Tony – if you rule out energy storage systems and insist that we use only what is currently available (“living within the budget of the earth”) then that means making the most of natural light and preserving what little generation we can get at night for essential services.

    I prefer investing in energy storage.

    And yes, there are prototypes.

    Trevor.

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  81. “The only trouble is that predicaments don’t have solutions.” So you know that the solutions cannot work because we are in a predicament, and you know that we are in a predicament because we don’t have any workable solutions.

    Anyone see a problem with this line of reasoning?

    Trevor.

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  82. Energy storage schemes are actually really good ideas; and can solve many problems inherent to electrical engineering on a grid scale.

    Traditionally pumped storage hydro has been used, but if this gravel scheme works, then it too could be useful.

    However, for intermittent generation, matching load to generation capacity on a second by second timescale is a better approached that storage, as there aren’t the inefficiencies inherent in any storage scheme. This demands a new approach to load interruption, working in internet time rather than ripple control time, but is disticntly possible. I’ve been advocating this for a while, but no-one is listening.

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  83. Tony, you say:
    “Everything that’s produced produces CO2. Can you think of anything that doesn’t? Oh, apart from truly organic food grown sustainably and eaten fresh, locally.”

    Plants respire day and night and exhale only CO2 at night.
    Organic gardening does not close down respiration.

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  84. Owen

    Shame on you !!! :-)

    Net daily the plants clearly emit less CO2 than they consume or we would all be long time dead.

    BJ

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  85. DBuckley, there is a company that is offering to sort things with every lamp having its own IP address. One would have thought that ipv6 would last us a while… not likely if we do this though :-)

    IEEE Computer Society news briefs. I don’t have a link handy.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  86. Yeah, IPV6 gives every square metre of the planet several addresses, so if every light fixture (which may have several lamps in it) had its own address, then we’d still be OK. Funny, but OK.

    Bit of an overkill though; we need only switch in larger units

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  87. Yeah, but why would it stop with the lights? Everyone’s car, wristwatch, radio and TV will also have an address, and so-on. I am SURE we can use ‘em up if we think about ‘em as an “unlimited” resource the same way as we do with the atmosphere :-)

    BJ

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  88. Is there a privacy issue looming here?
    Thinks “News of the World”.

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  89. Trevor,

    if you rule out energy storage systems

    which I didn’t. I don’t know why you feel you need to keep implying that I wrote things I didn’t.

    And yes, there are prototypes.

    If you say so. The article you pointed to, however, reported John Loughhead, executive director of the UK Energy Research Centre, as saying, “demonstrators would need to be built to prove the idea actually functions”. This was followed by “Howes is in the process of designing a small pilot plant” and “Howes says he is in talks with what he refers to as “a large utility company” to sponsor the construction of a full-storage demonstrator system”.

    We can dream up all sorts of ways to believe that current lifestyles can go on, even without fossil fuels. Most of them will almost certainly remain as dreams. (Hmm, I wonder how that latest cold fusion device is going.)

    So you know that the solutions cannot work because we are in a predicament, and you know that we are in a predicament because we don’t have any workable solutions.

    Nope. I know we’re in a predicament because we’re facing a whole bunch of actual limits. Just because some people want to believe that those limits can be bypassed or wished away doesn’t make it so. Predicaments don’t have solutions, they only have responses. The sooner we start to realise that we live on a finite planet, and that miracles don’t happen, the better but I don’t see much sign of that.

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  90. Are you sure that methane (natural gas) is a fossil fuel?

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  91. Methane may or may not be a fossil fuel Owen… as you well know, and I know that as a fossil I am producing more than my share on occasion :-)

    BJ

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  92. As BJ points out, natural gas is a fossil fuel if it comes from a well or if it is manufactured from coal. However it is not a fossil fuel if it is produced from decomposing biomass either naturally or in a digester.

    This suggests that one option for reducing AGW and mitigating the effects of Peak Oil/Peak Gas is to switch some of our transport to use CNG (or LNG) and to use biomass digesters to produce that CNG or LNG.

    Trevor.

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  93. The argument that methane is not a fossil fuel is based on cosmology.
    How does one explain the oceans of methane on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn

    There is a strong argument that these simple molecules of carbon make up much of the matter in the interstellar cosmos and as planets form large quantities of methane which are trapped in the lower levels of the planet but gradually work their way to the surface in some places.
    There is a similar debate about oil itself but does not have the support tendered by the oceans of methane in the other bodies in our solar system.

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  94. Owen

    Argue as you wish. I pointed out a dual nature of the stuff. Maybe there are 3 sources or a dozen. It is definitely a contributor to the Greenhouse. Some definitely comes from decaying biological matter here on earth. Some of that is certainly a “fossil” source.

    That ALL the methane in the universe doesn’t erupt from our bowels and our bovines is not pertinent to anything.

    The release of the stuff is pertinent, and its potential use as a fuel or a convenient chemical way of holding burnable H2 is pertinent.

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  95. One of the great outcomes of the Age of Enlightenment, the Royal Society, and the emergence of the Scientific Method was the development of language that was more precise and where words meant what they said.

    Precise use of language assists with precision in thought.’

    I do not for or against any of your claims, most of which are clearly true, but when we assume that every molecult of methane is fossil fuel we have to remember there are grounds for doubt.

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  96. I do not for or against any of your claims, most of which are clearly true, but when we assume that every molecult of methane is fossil fuel we have to remember there are grounds for doubt.

    Owen? We do not CARE if it is a fossil fuel, it IS a Greenhouse gas. We lump it with the fossil fuels because it is an “organic” (carbon based) fuel, as they are, (organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds, for those who are following this for some reason and didn’t know that little bit of trivia).

    You are asking us to doubt the source of the Methane being biological when nobody actually cared in the first place. I have no doubt that in the wider Universe most of the methane is not biological at all.

    The real issue is its effectiveness as a Greenhouse gas.

    BJ

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  97. dbuckley said:
    “However, for intermittent generation, matching load to generation capacity on a second by second timescale is a better approached that storage, as there aren’t the inefficiencies inherent in any storage scheme. This demands a new approach to load interruption, working in internet time rather than ripple control time, but is disticntly possible. I’ve been advocating this for a while, but no-one is listening.”

    I have been thinking along similar lines and agree totally with you on this point. Storing energy in the form that it arrives (such as heat, water behind dams, biomass) or in the form that it will be used in avoids the intermediate double-conversion costs. An example of storing energy at the point of use is air conditioning systems which freeze water when power is cheap (i.e. when energy is plentiful) and which use that ice to cool buildings when required and power is expensive.

    Trevor.

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  98. Natuaral gas isn’t at all green. Using natural gas is releasing previously sequestered carbon. Ok, its a bit less filthy than coal, but using NG still exascerbates the greenhouse gas issue.

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  99. dbuckley – I agree, unless the natural gas is produced from biomass rather than a well.

    Using natural gas for electricity generation is a big waste because it can be used as a transport fuel. Although I hate the idea, it would still be better to burn coal for electricity generation and use natural gas for transport than it would be to burn the natural gas for electricity and convert coal to liquid fuels for transport.

    Trevor.

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  100. Two different issues.
    Lord Monchton is a hereditary peer, the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Hence he is addressed as Lord Monckton.

    However, to sit in the House of Lords one has to be elected to the House by members of the House. He has not been. If every Peer in the UK was sitting in the House of Lords there would be no room.

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  101. Yes, but one has to ask why he tries to portray himself as a member of the House of Lords, which is a blatant lie. He even uses a modified logo to pretend. Maybe he thinks it lends more weight to his lies about climate change. It’s a shame that so many people are taken in.

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  102. Monckton makes creationists look good. Anyone who seriously felt there was scientific evidence against AGW would stay the hell away from him. That the denialist communities in Oz and here do not tells us exactly why they aren’t to be taken seriously.

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  103. Brash says that the Green Party are chicken because they won’t debate Monckton:

    http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/9929538/greens-are-yellow-says-brash/

    I think the best way to fight this is to get a transcript of one of Monckton’s debates and to highlight all the scientific inaccuracies and straight out fabrications, and include links to sound scientific proof.

    You also need to re-emphasise that you are prepared to engage in a written debate.

    While you are at it, you could offer to debate climate change with Brash himself!

    Trevor.

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  104. I would happily debate Monckton in written form. Most of us would. The requirement that it be in written form is so that the untruths that he embeds in his argument can be discerned and exposed as what they are. HE knows that he is lying, he could not accidentally make errors at this point, such errors having been pointed out at such length by so many of us so often.

    In verbal debate he is very articulate, but never ever wholly truthful, and his mistakes and whole cloth fabrications are recorded through the past 10 or so years of his rise to fame and glory. The man is a pompous and unrepentant ass.

    To prove it however, one has to be able to know where he will deviate from the truth THIS time in real time, or one has to require that he put his arguments in writing.

    As for his being a British peer, any jackass who claimed such and was proud of it would deserve whatever was heaped on him as a result. It is not a praiseworthy claim to make, it is an honorable thing when EARNED.

    Hereditary ? Well I guess that’s pretty clear.

    No, we will debate him in written form. He won’t do that because he can’t get away with anything like his normal shenanigans… in writing.

    BJ

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  105. The strawman appears quickly.

    No.

    I expect the additional methane release and CO2 emission from the shale gas to put us up perhaps another half to 1 degree over the span of intransigent idiocy that compromises current climate policies. The other 4 degrees are expectable results of what we are currently doing without any shale oil and gas.

    The prospects of change before things get out of hand are basically Buckley’s and that is a matter of human nature. We aren’t good at multi-generational accountability or morality.

    Look at the debts we rack up and pass on to our kids.

    This is more of the same ethical shortcoming, but it has a more serious consequence. Going broke is a survivable societal issue. Inconvenient, uncomfortable and often a cause of revolution. This one however, involves a halving (or worse) of human population and the destruction of most of our infrastructure… and it gets more inevitable every single day.

    Even after the denial is over, the problem will be governments which can appear to do something while doing nothing… because the cost can be deferred, and the cost is going to make the government that REALLY takes it on unelectably unpopular frases fb.

    As I said, we aren’t good at this at all. Greens play it straight, and aren’t elected all that often as a consequence.

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  106. It has been a day and a half at least since the Green Party decided not to appear on TVNZ’s Q&A program to debate Lord Monckton but I haven’t seen any official Green party explanation as to why you have made this decision. I think you have missed a perfect opportunity to show up Brash, as he claims Lord Monckton is a “reputable opponent” and an “internationally renowned climate change sceptic”. If you can convince people that he is anything but, then not only do you have a good reason not to debate him (never argue with a fool – people may not realise which is the fool!), you also show up the gullibility or dishonesty of Brash himself (depending on whether he actually knows that Monckton is not what he portrays himself to be).

    Valis’s link http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham
    is a good start.

    You could also ask Brash which part or parts of the AGW hypothesis he believes to be incorrect, and why.

    Staying silent appears to be playing right into Brash’s hands.

    Trevor.

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  107. Greens Say No To Debating With Crank
    The Greens have (to their immense credit) refused to engage in debate with climate change crank Lord Monckton. The problem with constantly engaging in dialogue with crackpots is that it allows people to believe there’s a “debate” about the science. There is no real debate about whether climate change is happening, unless you happen to believe that all the climate scientists, with all their training, research and knowledge, are either idiots or are corrupt.

    The Greens’ refusal to engage with crackpots appears to have upset ACT leader Don Brash. It has certainly upset Lindsay Perigo, because this press release certainly has a whiff of the Perigo in it. In other words, it’s intemperate, colourful, and ever so slightly bonkers. A bit like Lord Monckton.

    http://www.imperatorfish.com/2011/07/greens-say-no-to-debating-with-crank.html

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  108. @robertguyton

    The Greens didn’t want to debate Monckton because it might “confuse” the public.

    Recent work at CERN has show cosmic rays have influence on climate, Spencer’s paper (which forced the resignation of the editor of the journal in which it was published) put doubt on the downward radiation. Lindzen and Choi 2011 suggest that CO2 sensitivity is only 0.7 deg C for doubling of CO2

    Every day, more scandals and fraud emerge in climate “science”. It is hardly surprising that the Greens don’t want to engage in debate.

    It might “confuse” their stupid and gullible supporters.

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