The Moral Question Of Our Time: Can We Share The Planet?
April 23, 2014 12:13 AM Subscribe
UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy
- "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it."
The Working Group III contribution assesses the options for mitigating climate change and their underlying technological, economic and institutional requirements. It transparently lays out risks, uncertainty and ethical foundations of climate change mitigation policies on the global, national and sub-national level, investigates mitigation measures for all major sectors and assesses investment and finance issues.
-IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable
-Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple to Save Climate, UN Says
- Rising Sun - "It's no longer remotely true that we need to keep burning coal to satisfy electricity demand. The way is open to a drastic reduction in emissions, at not very high cost. And that should make us optimistic about the future, right? I mean, all that stands in our way is prejudice, ignorance, and vested interests..."
- Salvation Gets Cheap - "The incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular, have improved the economics of climate change."
- How Solar Energy Could Be The Key To Reducing Economic Inequality - "Once solar is cheaper per watt than coal, oil, and natural gas, falling energy costs will provide massive relief to people squeezed in recent years by the rising cost of fossil fuel extraction, a burden passed on to the consumer. All else being equal, falling energy prices mean more disposable income to save and invest, or to spend. And because of the decentralized nature of solar energy, the benefits of cheap, plentiful energy can be realized by anyone with a solar panel, instead of being accrued by the capitalist who owns the coal mine, the power plant, or the oil well."
- Are We Halfway to Market Dominance for Solar? - "So how can 1 percent of all global electricity sales suggest in any way that we’re on the road to a world dominated by solar?"
- World Solar Power Capacity Increased 35% In 2013 - "With about 37,007 megawatts (MW) of solar PV power installed in 2013, world solar PV power capacity increased about 35% to 136,697 MW. Whereas Europe had dominated annual growth for years up until 2013 (10 years, to be precise), solar PV growth was much more evenly split last year, and China actually topped the tables... with around 11.3 GW connected to the grid. With around 6.9 GW, Japan was the second global biggest market in 2013. The US ranked n°3 with 4.8 GW. Germany was the top European market with 3.3 GW (down from 7.6 GW in 2012)."
- One-Third of Texas Was Running on Wind Power - "Texas has more wind power than any other state, by a huge margin. And it keeps blowing through these major milestones just about every year. There was some trepidation that Texas's wind industry would slow as fracking rose in prominence and a key tax credit faced expiration, but hallmarks like this underline some very strong fundamentals. Wind power is ideal for Texas, where there's a lot of open land, a lot of breezy plains—and a rising demand for electricity, as the state's population continues to grow. So the wind boom has carried on. After new power lines are installed to better route the power from rural areas to more populated cities, Texas will be the 5th-largest wind power producer in the world. Most importantly, perhaps, is that there's now a thriving industry with real economic and political power—citizens and politicians alike appreciate, work, and profit from the wind sector, so they'll be more willing to fight for it."
Or can't we?
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy - "In a setback for the renewable energy movement, the state House in Oklahoma this week passed a bill that would levy a new fee on those who generate their own energy through solar equipment or wind turbines on their property. The measure, which sailed to passage on a near unanimous vote after no debate, is likely to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. The bill, known as S.B. 1456, will specifically target those who install power generation systems on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid... Last year, Arizona enacted a similar law."
- Coal's Best Hope is Costly Power Plant in Mississippi - "Rising from the scrub pines of central Mississippi is a $5.2 billion construction project that may determine the future of coal in the age of global warming. It's here in Kemper County, 90 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that utility Southern Co. is building the first large-scale power plant in the U.S. designed to transform coal into gas, capture the carbon dioxide and pump it underground... there are plenty of doubters."
- Post-Fukushima Japan Chooses Coal Over Renewable Energy - "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing Japan's coal industry to expand sales at home and abroad, undermining hopes among environmentalists that he’d use the Fukushima nuclear accident to switch the nation to renewables. A new energy plan approved by Japan's cabinet on April 11 designates coal an important long-term electricity source while falling short of setting specific targets for cleaner energy from wind, solar and geothermal. The policy also gives nuclear power the same prominence as coal in Japan's energy strategy. In many ways, utilities are already ahead of policy makers. With nuclear reactors idled for safety checks, Japan's 10 power companies consumed 5.66 million metric tons of coal in January, a record for the month and 12 percent more than a year ago, according to industry figures."
- German Energy Push Runs Into Problems - "Chancellor Angela Merkel's government plans to revamp the energy law to focus on wind turbine parks and solar energy as the most cost-effective renewable sources, in the hope of reining in runaway electricity prices. But international energy experts, who recently completed a study of the German energy sector, say the country cannot meet its future needs solely through renewable sources. They say the plan must also include a climate-friendly — even if not renewable — option, like domestic natural gas."
- Ukraine spotlights Germany's nuclear power switch - "Merkel's ambitious plan is for renewable energies including wind and sun to make up 40-45 percent of Germany's energy mix by 2025, compared with just under a quarter now, and 55-60 percent by 2035. Critics say it's not green enough, though: coal and lignite — decried as dirty by environmentalists — accounted for 45.5 percent of Germany's energy output last year, up from 44 percent in 2012, as nuclear energy dropped to about 15 percent from more than 20 percent at the time of Fukushima... If Germany makes its goal of having 80 percent of its power come from renewable sources by 2050, there is no question it will add to the country's energy security. But along the way, as it takes nuclear power plants offline and builds up its renewable network, the country remains reliant on fossil fuels — and that means Russia."
- Shale revolution reverses global energy flow - "The United States has replaced OPEC as the marginal petroleum supplier to the world thanks to the shale revolution and improvements in automotive fuel efficiency. Net U.S. imports of crude and products have halved over the last five years, or by an amount equivalent to the entire daily crude exports of Saudi Arabia. Net imports totalled 5.2 million barrels per day at the start of 2014, down from 11.2 million at the beginning of 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)."
- Sol Invictus - "There is a lot of buzz about the effort by the Koch brothers and assorted conservative groups to end 'net metering' for solar power. Kevin Drum and Paul Krugman think that it's mainly about conservative tribalism - conservatives have identified solar as something liberal, so they fight it on ideological grounds. Personally, I suspect that the current fight against net metering is mainly economic - utility companies stand to lose their government-protected monopolies if rooftop solar takes over, and of course the Kochs make their billions from the fossil fuel industry. Anyway, the first thing to realize is that even if net metering gets killed (and if it does, it will only be in red states), it's not the end for solar."
- Let's Celebrate, Not Lament, Renewables' Disruption of Electric Utilities - "Renewables are making headway in Europe and bringing a low-carbon electricity system to the forefront. Renewables were 69 percent of new capacity added in 2012 in Europe and 49 percent in the United States. Not surprisingly, this threatens utilities unwilling to let go of outmoded business models and fossil-fuel generation."
- How rooftop solar and big utilities can co-exist - "Solar installations don't just cut into the electricity sold by a big utility. They use its grid, and depend on its generating plants for back-up power. Non-solar customers usually carry the brunt of these costs. California has already cut the link between electricity use and profit. If more PG&E customers install solar panels, the utility can ask for a rate hike to make up for that lost revenue. 'Our profit is not tied to the electricity we sell,' says a PG&E spokesman, Denny Boyles. But PG&E still has to maintain backup power and the grid. To share those fixed costs more evenly, this month California passed a law that allows utilities to bill solar customers an additional $10 a month. The solar industry got a win, too: The law removes a limit on the amount of electricity solar customers can sell to a utility."
- EBay, Ellison Embrace Microgrids to Peril of Utilities - "Microgrids are emerging as a credible threat to the dominance of America’s 100-year-old-plus utility monopoly. The small-scale versions of centralized power systems, once just used against blackouts, are now gaining thousands of customers as homeowners in states with high power costs turn to them as a way to manage rooftop solar systems, cut electricity bills and, in some cases, say goodbye to their power companies. The systems use computer software and remote measuring devices to control energy sources such as rooftop solar panels and natural gas-fueled power generators. They allow a home or business owner, a college systems engineer or a farmer on a mountainside to generate, distribute and regulate their locally produced power with an ease and sophistication that only utilities had a few years ago."
What Does the New IPCC Report Say About Climate Change?
Some Myths of the Economics of Climate Change and its Economic Conclusion
- The warming is unequivocal.
- Humans caused the majority of it.
- The warming is largely irreversible.
- Most of the heat is going into the oceans.
- Current rates of ocean acidification are unprecedented.
- We have to choose which future we want very soon.
- To stay below 2°C of warming, the world must become carbon negative.
- To stay below 2°C of warming, most fossil fuels must stay buried in the ground.
- "Ultimately, economists need to step up on climate change. It is more than a textbook example of externalities and far more nuanced than many simple accounts make it to be. It is also far more harmful than many of their models suggest (consider the limits). Economic logic sometimes fails... [I]f an asteroid was about to crash into New York City, we wouldn't ask economists to create a poorly-founded model of its costs. We would tell NASA to do whatever it can to save us. Economists need to stop telling us what the program for change should be, but rather identify the most efficient means of implementing a program scientists already deem necessary."