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February 2, 2013 3:44 AM   Subscribe

US Carbon Dioxide emissions in 2012 were at their lowest levels since 1994 According to the the Business Council on Sustainable Energy.

Some interesting statistics: Total energy consumption has dropped 6.4% since 2007, Despite an overall increase in GDP of 3%. A lot of that had to do with increased fuel economy in cars. Electrical generation capacity Natural gas provided about 27% of total energy use, and renewables (including hydroelectric) provided 9.4%. Non-hydro renewable energy (wind, solar, etc) accounted for about 4.1% (Increasing from 194 TWh in 2011 to 217.4 TWh in 2012).

Meanwhile in Germany, solar energy increased from 3.2% to 4.8% of electricity generated, a 66% increase over 2011, and a 960% increase since 2007
posted by delmoi (55 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
So energy use is down with the recession, and US coal exports are up by about 70,000 tons/year since 2007 due to fracked natural gas being unexportable. Yeah, let me pop the champagne - I'm pretty sure when they burn US coal in China those CO2 emissions don't effect us.
posted by crayz at 4:27 AM on February 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Don't pop the champagne! You'll let out all the carbon dioxide!
posted by sixohsix at 4:39 AM on February 2, 2013 [35 favorites]


US coal exports are up by about 70,000 tons/year since 2007 due to fracked natural gas being unexportable.

Fracked gas is not unexportable.
It is not being exported yet, but, for example, the Magnolia LNG project is one of a number of projects which could happen. US$2.2 billion is nothing to raise when gas is US$2/mcf.

Australian coal exports are also up-up-up, and our carbon dioxide emissions are about to go through the roof thanks to American exploitation of our high productivity/high CO2 fields, enabled by a Federal Government which... I have no idea. Is either relying on fairy dust, or a carbon tax (that is about to be scrapped come September 14).

Per capita we are pretty big emitters, and we are a major coal export power with apparently no political will to do much about it. Also, China.

Anecdotally, however we are going mad for solar at a house-to-house level.

Put simply, humanity is probably fucked.
posted by Mezentian at 5:22 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Natural gas, contrary to this jim-jam, is not sustainable by any definition of the word, regardless of whether it's fracked. It's still a petroleum product, still releases greenhouse gasses when burned, and is still a limited resource.

Also, the giant oil and gas companies (also walmart) that make up a significant chunk the Business Council on Sustainable Energy don't lend any credit to the proposition that this report isn't a puffed up piece of shitty propaganda.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:40 AM on February 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


Meanwhile in Germany, solar energy increased from 3.2% to 4.8% of electricity generated, a 66% increase over 2011, and a 960% increase since 2007

But this is a result of industrial policy, not environmental policy.

You see taxpayer subsidised solar arrays on every barn in cloudy Bavaria. The domestic market as a result is much higher than it otherwise should be. German industrial policy is to put German manufacturers at the forefront of the solar industry, but unless governments everywhere else want to sink lots of money into similar subsidies - which seems unlikely - there won't be any export market for Germany.

Solar is simply still not economically viable.
posted by three blind mice at 6:29 AM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


We'll just start emitting more when the economy picks up. It will truly be better, then nothing.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:29 AM on February 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Solar is simply still not economically viable.

Solar has an EROEI of over 6. In an economy that subsidizes CO2 pollution and is set to socialize the costs of increasingly extreme weather (crop subsidies, storm assistance), maybe solar is "not viable". But it's a sound societal investment.
posted by anthill at 6:43 AM on February 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


But this is a result of industrial policy, not environmental policy.

I agree with you that industrial policy is a major driver for German investment in renewable energy technologies. We saw something similar as regards German investment in wind turbines and in the case of wind it was if anything more obvious. However, the application of environmental policy enables the application of German industrial policy. Firstly, support for green goals engenders political capital which can be expended on supporting short and medium term energy prices that are above what might otherwise be acceptable to a number of stakeholders. Secondly, and possibly more importantly, the justification of environmental policy (and the legislation to enable it) serves to allow derogations from trade laws (most notably EU State Aid laws) which would otherwise limit the ability of Germany to provide support to technologies which interfere with the open market for energy.

To simplify this, it is clear that some stakeholders within the German system (e.g. the green party and its supporters, amongst others) support investment on the grounds of the desirability of improved environmental performance. It can further be argued that in achieving these goals supporting industrial policy presents a method for encouraging the participation of stakeholders whose first motivation is economic to support a goal which also presents environmental benefits. German RE policy might best be described as stemming from mixed motivations amongst stakeholders.
posted by biffa at 7:18 AM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


economic depression plus a huge natural gas bubble leading to the temporary shifting of electricity production from coal to gas (temporary because when the price of gas goes back up, and it will, they will shift back) lead to reduced CO2... whodathunk. if only we can keep destroying out economy forever while the gas gnomes produce an infinite surplus then everything will be just fine.

Even liberal news organizations like TPM want to play make-believe about carbon emissions.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:20 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Science Friday spent an entire hour discussing climate change yesterday. It was a really great discussion taking a lot of different factors into account. Highly recommended listening.
posted by hippybear at 7:59 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


/then/than/ ?
posted by hwestiii at 8:11 AM on February 2, 2013


We'll just start emitting more when the economy picks up. It will truly be better, then nothing.

/then/than/ ?

I think it works better this way.
posted by spacewrench at 8:12 AM on February 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


But this is a result of industrial policy, not environmental policy.


And in the United States, the most progress on global warming has been through transportation policy, not environmental policy. The Secretary of Transportation, Raymond "Last of the Republican Adults" Lahood has done major work on these issues while the Secretary of Energy puttered around on electric car R&D.
posted by ocschwar at 8:14 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


So much bad information here. Why are we relying on some poorly put together number that some guy pulled from some report he didn't read in 20 minutes?

Yes, total US emissions are down since 2007. That's not news at all - 2007 was a long time ago.

1) The report is by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the Business Council on Sustainable Energy just paid for it.

2) Carbon is really just a tiny part of this report, which is about energy.

3) The report doesn't say anything about total US emissions. It only reports energy-related emissions (the lions share, to be sure, but this matters!).

So basically, we have some report that has a chart or two about carbon, which then gets pulled out and reported incorrectly.
posted by ssg at 8:48 AM on February 2, 2013


@threeblindmice - Burning fossil fuels forever isn't economically viable, so I don't understand your problem with some solar subsidies.

@ssg - Total US emissions are down about 12% since 2005.
posted by MetalFingerz at 9:07 AM on February 2, 2013


-Steven Chu steps down as energy secretary. So how did he do?
-The search for better ways of storing electricity is hotting up
-Solar: It's about to be a whole new world.
-Buffett Utility Buys $2.5 Billion SunPower Solar Projects
-How Public Power Jump-Started the New Deal
-Infrastructure productivity: How to save $1 trillion a year
-Can Obama Do for the Grid What Eisenhower Did for Highways?
-Munich Re: Natural catastrophes 2012World map and statistics (PDF, 240 KB)
posted by kliuless at 9:12 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks to the wonderful Rio Declaration [pdf] we now know that sustainable development is synonymous with sustained growth. Apparently, endless economic growth is the new green!

"We also reaffirm the need to achieve sustainable development by: promoting sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth..."

"We affirm that green economy policies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication should [...] promote sustained and inclusive economic growth."

"We recognize that urgent action on unsustainable patterns of production and consumption where they occur remains fundamental in addressing environmental sustainability, and promoting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems, regeneration of natural resources, and the promotion of sustained, inclusive and equitable global growth."


And so on and on.

Yup, we're fucked.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:33 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


-Less is more green
-Less, Please
posted by kliuless at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Solar is simply still not economically viable.

This is a throwaway but it is also an oversimplification. Solar is viable in a fairly small number of areas (a niche), but this niche is growing as the cost of solar comes down. The cost of solar is coming down because a number of countries - and the other economic actors they have incentivisied to act - have spent money to develop solar power applications. This results in increasing volumes of capacity and, explicitly, increasing volumes of industrial manufacturing capacity. This leads to innovation and price reductions and the size of the niche grows.

You note that German investment is solar is strongly influenced by industrial policy, but a core element of this applied policy is that the technology costs will reduce over time, and at the same time allow German comapnies to build knowledge capacity that will allow them competitive advantage over companies from other countries. Solar is not being developed because it is economically viable, it is being developed because it might be economically viable in the future and advantages will accrue to those who have invested before that happens.
posted by biffa at 10:42 AM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think you forgot to put a comma in the thread title.
posted by koeselitz at 10:57 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


German investment is solar is strongly influenced by industrial policy

Is it? I thought it was due to a national level law the broke open the power monopoly so that anyone could generate power and get paid for it. Any household could feed into the grid and be paid. In the US for example there are a few places that allow for it but mostly it's very complex and ridden with overhead making it mostly unfeasible (other than to neutralize your own personal power bill). There are some large vested interests that don't want to compete with every homeowner with a solar panel. It's the old decentralized vs centralized debate - mainframes vs PCs.
posted by stbalbach at 11:05 AM on February 2, 2013


stbalbach: The reason the German Government set stuff up to allow individual households to connect and sell solar power to the grid was, in a signficiant part, to create a market for solar technology. The aim was that the demand created by the law would be met by German PV companies. So what you say does not disagree with tbm's assertion. Generally speaking, laws are the tool to enact policy goals, in this case the law was (to a significant extent) a reflection of the industrial policy.

If the German Government wanted to break the power of the power companies there would be a lot of steps before dabbling in RE policy. Frankly, they don't want to and never have.
posted by biffa at 11:12 AM on February 2, 2013


An electric dryer can never outperform a solar powered clothesline in terms of energy efficiency and operating costs.
posted by humanfont at 11:20 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


You see taxpayer subsidised solar arrays on every barn in cloudy Bavaria.

No. Germany's feed-in tariff - the main engine behind its solar industry and the reason there are solar arrays on Bavarian barns - is not a taxpayer subsidy. It is a ratepayer subsidy, if you insist on thinking of it that way, but generally when we talk about costing mechanisms built into electricity rates, we don't call them subsidies.

The better way to think of a feed-in tariff is as a pricing mechanism that internalizes the costs of CO2 emissions, but rather than imposing a penalty on emissions it delivers an incentive to emissions-free generation. Another way to say this is that it corrects the catastrophic market failure that subsidized electricity generated from coal and natural gas by failing to price their emissions in the first place. Still another way to say this would be to say that coal and natural gas are artificially cheap, not that renewable energy's "not economically viable."

Also, installed costs for solar PV are decreasing steadily for systems of every size, and the decline in costs has accelerated dramatically since 2009. Solar will soon be economically viable in many markets even without ambitious renewable energy policy. Policies like Germany's make it viable now. Good for them.
posted by gompa at 11:43 AM on February 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Apparently, endless economic growth is the new green!

How noble of you, as one of the most privileged persons to ever exist on this planet, to tell the rest of the world "Sorry, you shoulda thought about getting rich when carbon was cool. We're done with that growth thing now."
posted by MetalFingerz at 12:25 PM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


British Columbia relied on natural gas royalties to fund the lion's share of its budget until 2008/09, when the energy/commodities bubble popped. Natural gas prices halved in value and have never recovered.

The BC government then decided to focus on mining to help prop up / develop rural regions and put money in the provincial treasury. Mining sounds nice, but in effect what's happened is coal mining has grown in British Columbia and is the dominant mining industry. Port of Vancouver / Delta Port is also radically increasing their bulk coal handling, and miles-long trains from all over northwest US come up to Vancouver to ship out coal.

Until the new bulk terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham gets created.

Coal, baby!
posted by KokuRyu at 12:36 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Margaret Wente: McGuinty’s legacy is a green nightmare
posted by KokuRyu at 12:44 PM on February 2, 2013


Solar will soon be economically viable in many markets even without ambitious renewable energy policy. Policies like Germany's make it viable now. Good for them.

I am not arguing the merits of the policy or the merits of solar power, only that the German result arises specifically from an industrial policy which is heavily subsidized by the public purse.

Without the subsidies and tax breaks it is cheaper to burn coal. Germany provides those taxpayer monies. Good on them. Bad on them. Whatever. My point it is that carbon is still way cheaper than solar and without government subsidy or carbon tax it is likely to remain so.
posted by three blind mice at 1:18 PM on February 2, 2013


I am not arguing the merits of the policy or the merits of solar power, only that the German result arises specifically from an industrial policy which is heavily subsidized by the public purse.

And I'm telling you that you're wrong to call this a subsidy from the public purse. A feed-in tariff is not a subsidy. It is a market pricing mechanism. The lion's share of the added cost of renewable energy in Germany is paid by ratepayers - businesses and factories as well as households - kilowatt-hour by kilowatt-hour.

Coal is cheaper because it does not pay the full cost of its use. It's another one of those private-profit, public-risk scenarios. The German government under the Red-Green Coalition decided it was more effective politically and economically to incentivize (not subsidize) renewable energy than to harshly penalize fossil fuels. They're on track for 35 percent renewables by 2020 - a scale of success deemed impossible by many as recently as 2005 when Merkel was running for Chancellor.

And KokoRyu, Margaret Wente spent years giving column inches to the most intransigent and discredited climate deniers, and when that position became indefensible, she moved on to hunting desperately for arguments to undermine the Green Energy Act. She wilfully knows next to nothing about renewable energy. She also owns a hobby farm property near Shelburne, where the wealthy retirement-propertied class has been NIMBYing the hell out of wind development that benefits long-time farming families in the region. In her heart of hearts, Margaret Wente is concerned about eagles only inasmuch as she can leverage them to preserve her pristine view of the countryside. I hope you posted that in jest.
posted by gompa at 1:32 PM on February 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


(Actually Merkel said 12 percent renewables on the German grid - the 2012 target - was impossible back in 2005. She was wrong: they're already at 20-percent-plus.)
posted by gompa at 1:37 PM on February 2, 2013


And a final point: These are direct industrial subsidies. Perhaps $775 billion per year worldwide. To fossil fuels.
posted by gompa at 1:43 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not arguing the merits of the policy or the merits of solar power, only that the German result arises specifically from an industrial policy which is heavily subsidized by the public purse.

But the point isn't that the German government isn't supporting it, it's that supporting it helps to change the playfield, funding research and development, that, over time, makes solar a more viable option in the future.

And anyway, you don't have to get all your energy from solar power in order for it to make a big difference.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on February 2, 2013


An electric dryer can never outperform a solar powered clothesline in terms of energy efficiency and operating costs.

Misleading enough to be untrue. That solar powered clothesline requires you to live in something resembling a single family home which, when everything is taken into account, has a massively larger carbon footprint than higher density housing, electric dryers and all.

We would all be hugely better off if people lived in housing which required electric dryers rather than clotheslines. I realize many people don't want to live in more dense housing, but at least don't kid yourself that you're being environmentally friendly because you hang a clothesline! It's like buying a private jet, flying it to and from Europe every week, and then feeling good about yourself because you ride a bike to the 7-11 on the corner once in a while.
posted by Justinian at 2:04 PM on February 2, 2013


Actually, that is also not true. Everyone is familiar with the photos of high density housing neighborhoods with clothes lines stretched across alleyways and such that people have their laundry hanging on. Those still exist, and they still are awesome.

The trick is getting the "solar power". Where I live, this time of year, we can have 2-3 weeks of nothing but freezing fog 24 hours a day. Hard to get clothes to dry on a line while out in that.

The truly responsible thing to do is to have multiple options. Outdoor lines for when they work, indoor racks for when they work, and a dryer which you use only when you need it.

The problem with consumer energy consumption attitudes is that people never think of the other options, and so we use a lot more than we might *need* to simply because it is more convenient, faster, and involves less thought than the other options which are readily available.
posted by hippybear at 2:34 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Solar will soon be economically viable in many markets even without ambitious renewable energy policy.

This article from a year ago does a great job explaining Japan's FIT system.

For a number of reasons, the tariff in Japan is set to decline substantially.

Son Masayoshi (who has invested heavily in solar) approves.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:52 PM on February 2, 2013


gompa: I could not resist posting a Margaret Wente article. My apologies :)

But won't someone think of the poor eagles?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:53 PM on February 2, 2013


Misleading enough to be untrue. That solar powered clothesline requires you to live in something resembling a single family home which, when everything is taken into account, has a massively larger carbon footprint than higher density housing, electric dryers and all.

What? Tearing down your house and having high density housing built for you to live is going to use a lot more energy than stringing up a clothes line. Using a clothes line rather than an electric dryer does indeed save energy and reduce greenhouse gasses. Abandoning usable housing stock and building new does not save energy, in the short run or the long.
posted by tommyD at 2:53 PM on February 2, 2013


You could also dry your laundry behind your car or your airplane. What kind of ridiculous argument is this, anyway? You have a house. You want to lower your carbon footprint. You dry your clothes on the line.

Remember, if we can all reduce our energy usage by 10-15%, we have a fighting chance at combatting climate change.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:58 PM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember, if we can all reduce our energy usage by 10-15%, we have a fighting chance at combatting climate change.

Well, no.

Even if we reduce all carbon output to 0 tomorrow with no transition, our commitment to warming based on what we've already dumped into the atmosphere is going to be something between .5 and 2 degrees celsius over the next 50-100 years.

That's a livable change. It will suck, but it won't cause collapse.

We'd have to make a much larger change ON A GLOBAL SCALE than just 10-15%.

And this is a global problem. Simply having middle class people in whatever country decide to cut back 10-15% is not going to solve this.

Basically, without disruptively drastic action, our children and their children are fucked.

Sorry to be the bearer of harsh truth, but there it is.
posted by hippybear at 3:20 PM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


We'd have to make a much larger change ON A GLOBAL SCALE than just 10-15%.

By "we" I meant a collective we on planet earth, by the way.

Just curious how much we have to curb GHG emissions. I can't recall.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:32 PM on February 2, 2013


Time to build domed cities.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:33 PM on February 2, 2013


As much as I absolutely detest Margaret Wente, I will admit there is a kernel of truth in that column. Canada isn't funding real green initiatives, it's mostly just engaged in greenwashing, that and sleazy public-private partnerships which basically give private companies the legal right to overcharge the government. Meanwhile these same governments hack away at public institutions and social services. It's the same old neoliberal project, just with a greener coat of paint.

British Columbia's "run of the river" power projects are a great example of this. These "green initiatives" now have no environmental assessments required, despite having a history of noncompliance, killing fish and destroying habitat. To fix that problem we literally just made it legal for them to destroy fish habitat. And then we force BC Hydro to buy the power they generate from doing so, regardless of its cost.

Meanwhile "Greenest City 2020" Vancouver is on track to become the biggest coal exporter in North America, as KokuRyu notes. But we have so many farmer's markets and bike lanes! And our carbon tax? Yeah, that doesn't apply to exported coal.

We're just fiddling while the planet burns.
posted by mek at 3:54 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile "Greenest City 2020" Vancouver is on track to become the biggest coal exporter in North America, as KokuRyu notes. But we have so many farmer's markets and bike lanes! And our carbon tax? Yeah, that doesn't apply to exported coal.

Hear, hear. While I don't doubt Gregor Robertson's sincerity, I do doubt his sophistication. Meanwhile, the miners and lawyers who run Vancouver in partnership with the developers have no real interest in doing what it takes to create a true "green" knowledge economy in that town.

However, I have a different perspective on the run of the river power projects. The real genius of the projects is that they often develop new technologies that can be licensed around the globe, and it was a real shame when BC Hydro was no longer required to purchase power from them.

The BC ICE Fund (paid for by consumers) also had the opportunity to be really innovative, but it's a joke.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:09 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu: according to the IPCC AR4 we need to reduce emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2050 to minimize global warming to 2 degrees C global warming. This would have a net cost of 2.5% of global GDP by 2050. Emissions would have to peak by 2020 to achieve this. (citation pdf)

And I think we're on the same page - I don't dislike run-of-river in principle. Hydro inevitably impacts waterways but it can be done well, if very carefully planned and managed. But in typical BC Liberal fashion these projects were 90% crony capitalism and 10% green initiative. If some good came of them, great. But without a proper environmental assessment process to keep them in compliance, we are just blindly trusting corporations to be responsible. I think you know how that one will go.
posted by mek at 4:17 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's reasonable to be angry at the BC government because its energy choices, but I can't really get behind the anger for coal exports.

Are you suggesting that coal exporters should get out of the business because people want their product? I think your beef is with China.
posted by Phreesh at 4:35 PM on February 2, 2013


That solar powered clothesline requires you to live in something resembling a single family home

Not true. In many parts of the world people living in apartments hang their clothes out. Lines are attached to the other side of the street and put on a pulley.
posted by humanfont at 4:49 PM on February 2, 2013


I was probably a little unclear, but the terminal expansion in Vancouver is intended to ship American coal. Transporting coal itself is a dirty business.

An increase in exports from British Columbia itself definitely can be related to government policy. BC outside of 604 (Vancouver) and southern Vancouver Island are in one hell of a bind, thanks to pine beetle - a result of anthropogenic climate change.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:51 PM on February 2, 2013


gompa: I could not resist posting a Margaret Wente article. My apologies :)

Grudgingly accepted. There's really nothing funny about Margaret Wente.
posted by gompa at 5:10 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not true. In many parts of the world people living in apartments hang their clothes out. Lines are attached to the other side of the street and put on a pulley.

Okay, true, there are places where you can hang your clothes outside even in high density housing. That is the best of both worlds. Failing that, though, you're still better off in high density housing with an electric dryer than single family housing and a clothesline.

But it's also true we could play that game all day. Do you drive a car? Ever fly in airplanes? Are you a vegetarian? And so on. The real solution is government policy not nickel and diming on an individual level. Tax carbon emissions. Get rid of the mortgage interest tax deduction. Incentivize green living. Did I mention taxing pollution including carbon?
posted by Justinian at 5:50 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's really nothing funny about Margaret Wente.

Oh c'mon, that time she freaked out about queer geographers? That was pretty funny. Also, the fake one on twitter does alright.
posted by mek at 6:00 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: the fake one on twitter does alright.
posted by hippybear at 6:43 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My new years resolution last year was to bike to work every single day I was going to the office. 4 miles each way every day. I do it for my 2 young girls. My dad bought the biggest SUV he could since he just doesn't give shit about the next generation (like most of the boomers). Thanks for the debt and thanks for the C02.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:58 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


How noble of you, as one of the most privileged persons to ever exist on this planet, to tell the rest of the world "Sorry, you shoulda thought about getting rich when carbon was cool. We're done with that growth thing now."

Wow. Way to overreact and utterly miss the point.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:38 AM on February 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


As far as the "energy use will go up when the economy recovers", I pointed out that GDP grew by 3% overall. Most of the reduction in energy use was from vehicle efficiency, while electrical use itself did go up.

I didn't intend to imply that we were somehow doing "enough" to stop global warming, but simply pointing out that things were getting better, at least in the US. Obviously other countries like China and Canada are increasing their greenhouse gas emissions. But, if the US is reducing its emissions, it's more likely that the US will be more interested in pressuring other countries to cut theirs rather then.
Also, the giant oil and gas companies (also walmart) that make up a significant chunk the Business Council on Sustainable Energy don't lend any credit to the proposition that this report isn't a puffed up piece of shitty propaganda.
It's just a statistical overview of energy use. If you think they're lying about the numbers, what do you think the real ones are? If they're not lying about the numbers, then what's the problem?
But this [German solar use] is a result of industrial policy, not environmental policy.-- three blind mice
That doesn't change the fact that that carbon isn't being released that otherwise would be. What does it matter what they're motivations are, if they're making a serious impact on CO2 emissions?
Solar is simply still not economically viable. -- three blind mice
*rolls eyes*. The fact that you don't have any numbers backing up this "argument" is pretty obvious proof that it's wrong.
I am not arguing the merits of the policy or the merits of solar power, only that the German result arises specifically from an industrial policy which is heavily subsidized by the public purse.

Without the subsidies and tax breaks it is cheaper to burn coal. Germany provides those taxpayer monies. Good on them. Bad on them. Whatever. My point it is that carbon is still way cheaper than solar and without government subsidy or carbon tax it is likely to remain so.
-- three blind mice
Yes, that's why you have subsides and carbon taxes. Duh. The US also has subsidies for wind and solar, although more subsides would be better. No one is saying that no government action is needed to stop global warming, just that the government policies in place are having a measurable impact, and that some progress on emissions levels is happening.

If you invest money in producing solar energy, you'll earn your money back. You might earn it back more quickly with a coal plant, but there's actually more uncertainty because you don't know what future policy is going to look like, and you don't know what future coal prices are going to be.
3) The report doesn't say anything about total US emissions. It only reports energy-related emissions (the lions share, to be sure, but this matters!). -- ssg
Well, why don't you tell us what the actual numbers are, since you seem to think they're relevant? Have they gone up? Stayed the same?
Margaret Wente: McGuinty’s legacy is a green nightmare -- KokuRyu
Wow, an article claiming wind power is bad for the environment. Scintillating. Obviously most ornithologists will tell you that global warming poses a far greater threat to birds then wind turbines, which comes up quite a bit as this is a standard right-wing argument.
Remember, if we can all reduce our energy usage by 10-15%, we have a fighting chance at combatting climate change.-- KokuRyu
Yeah, that's not even close to true. energy use is irrelevant, so long as you include renewables. CO2 emissions need to drop to near zero. The problem is CO2 stays in the atmosphere essentially forever. Reducing emissions by 10% would only slow global warming down by 10%.
And this is a global problem. Simply having middle class people in whatever country decide to cut back 10-15% is not going to solve this.
With the exception of China, almost all greenhouse gas emissions are from wealthy countries. It's not something that third world countries really contribute too. And with China, most of that is from industrial stuff that exports to the first world.

But yeah, a 10-15% isn't going to do shit. The US has already dropped its emissions by 13% since '07 so by this metric we'd already be done.
posted by delmoi at 2:38 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The mortgage interest tax deduction is a available to individuals in townhomes and condos. There is very little difference in land use policies between countries that have this subsidy and those that don't. We'd be better off putting tolls on roads and raising gas taxes and car registration fees.
posted by humanfont at 7:14 PM on February 3, 2013


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