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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Paris, D'Accord?

Christopher Bates:
The United Nations climate conference is taking place in Bonn, Germany, right now. It has been the occasion of much anti-Trump rhetoric... It has also seen a fair bit of bargaining, such as the forging of an agreement among Mexico, Canada, and the Pacific "blue wall" (California, Oregon, and Washington) to cooperate on carbon reduction. The big news on the deal-making front, however, is that Syria... has signed the Paris Accord. That means that the American cheese now stands alone -- it is the stated position of 195 governments that global warming is real and must be confronted, and the stated position of one government that it is not and should be ignored. As a practical matter, however, the U.S. is still a part of the Paris Accord. The withdrawal that Donald Trump triggered cannot be completed until November 2020... the occasion of the next presidential election. The next time a Democrat is sent to the White House, there is zero question that person will rejoin the pact. And whether it is two months after the U.S. officially "withdraws," or four years and two months, or eight years and two months, there is zero question that the other nations of the world will be happy to welcome the Americans back on board. So, like Obamacare, the Paris Accord is a dragon that Sir Donald is going to have real trouble slaying.
Of course, the Paris accord is inadequate even if implemented and it's not like the planet has time to waste on more years of Republican obstruction even if they have a limit -- and even the optimism here about such a limit seems to draw on the analogy of a failure to repeal the ACA just as we find the Senate endorsing yet another stealth repeal of the ACA (its enabling mandate) as part of the corporate plutocratic money-grab of the GOP tax plan.

1 comment:

jimf said...

> Of course, the Paris accord is inadequate even if implemented and
> it's not like the planet has time to waste on more years of Republican
> obstruction
Wind and Solar Power Advance, but Carbon Refuses to Retreat
NOV. 7, 2017

. . .

Leaving aside President Trump’s past declarations that climate change
is a hoax, there are heartening signs. . .: Global carbon-dioxide emissions
have stopped rising. Coal use in China may have peaked. The price
of wind turbines and solar panels is plummeting, putting renewable
energy within the reach of meager budgets in the developing world. . .

And yet. . . I would like to point. . . to a different, perhaps
gloomier statistic: the world’s carbon intensity of energy.

The term refers to a measure of the amount of CO2 spewed into the
air for each unit of energy consumed. It offers some bad news:
It has not budged since that chilly autumn day in Kyoto 20 years ago. . .

This statistic, alone, puts a big question mark over the strategies
deployed around the world to replace fossil energy. In a nutshell:
Perhaps renewables are not the answer. . .

Capacity from renewable sources has grown by leaps and bounds,
outpacing growth from all other sources — including coal, natural gas
and nuclear power — in recent years. Solar and wind capacity
installed in 2015 was more than 10 times what the
International Energy Agency had forecast a decade before.

Still, except for very limited exceptions, all this wind and sun has
not brought about much decarbonization. Indeed, it has not added
much clean power to the grid. . .

Despite additions of renewable capacity, carbon intensity remained flat. . .

Nuclear power faces hurdles beyond popular mistrust. Notably, reactors
require a lot of capital up front. But renewables have a hard time
producing power at a nuclear scale. . .

The most worrisome aspect about the all-out push for a future powered
by renewables has to do with cost: The price of turbines and solar panels
may be falling, but the cost of integrating these intermittent sources
of energy — on when the wind blows and the sun shines; off when they
don’t — is not. This alone will sharply curtail the climate benefits
of renewable power. . .

“Competitive large-scale renewables deployment will be more difficult
to accomplish than many anticipate”. . .

[T]here is some evidence that among investors, at least, the excitement
[for renewables] may be waning. After half a decade of sustained increases,
investment in solar and wind energy has been fairly flat since 2010,
at around $250 billion per year. While that is a lot of money, it is
nowhere near enough. . .

Building a zero-carbon energy system requires broader thinking about
the technological mix.

Well sure. No doubt the solution is to hurry up the development of AI
and Nanotechnology so the human race can reduce its carbon footprint by
being uploaded into virtual reality, like the polis-dwellers in
Greg Egan's _Diaspora_.

Sci-fi to the rescue!