Month: June 2019 (page 2 of 3)

Wednesday energy links: UK replaces carbon with methane

  • As the UK’s coal-free streak comes to an end, Amy Harder at Axios points out that the island nation’s energy outlook isn’t so rosy. The fact is, the UK has largely displaced coal with natural gas. Even the Axios article is a bit deceptive: it shows a graph of carbon emissions starkly declining along with coal, and then points out that natural gas still causes greenhouse gas emissions. The point is, carbon and methane are both potent greenhouse gases.  In fact, the warming effect of methane is far stronger, albeit with a shorter half-life.
  • Vox  makes the case that climate-saving measures must be carried out by the oil and gas industry, not individual consumers. The most effective course of action for the little guy is to engage in public action like protests. This is probably right: public action should drive regulatory changes, which in turn influence how the most polluting industries do business. Otherwise, the tragedy of the commons just keeps playing itself out. However, I think it’s important to recognize the opportunity (and necessity) for clean tech advancement in the coming years.
  • Another analysis, this time at CleanTechnica, finds that the Tesla Model 3 is a cost-effective choice compared to other EVs.
  • Staying on the topic of EVs, a report finds that e-mobility shows huge cost-saving potential in the EU. 
  • Finally, I found this thread about the pessimistic assumptions in the IEA’s EV Outlook useful:

Tuesday energy links: the oil and gas lobbying effort

Monday energy links: Volkswagen supports nuclear

  • Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, argues that Germany’s exit from coal (planned for 2038) will be far too late. Furthermore, Diess says that the plan to phase out nuclear runs counter to carbon reduction goals.

Sunday energy links: German Christian Democrats favor cap and trade to carbon taxes

  • I have seen a lot of pushback about German CDU comments regarding carbon taxes in this piece from Handelsblatt. In short, the party favors broader cap-and-trade schemes over CO2 pricing. Their reasoning? It is simpler for scientists to determine the amount of carbon that should be emitted in a given period. Then, regulators can allow this amount to be traded and the market can then set the price. However, calculating demand curves for fossil fuels upfront and determining the corresponding price is unlikely to yield optimal results. To me, this is logical. Even assuming lawmakers could set the price perfectly (not likely), the two approaches would lead to the same emissions. So, why not just skip the complicated pricing step and ensure the correct amount of emissions, with no wiggle room? Furthermore, CO2 prices are always in nominal terms. This means they are vulnerable to inflation and regular price adjustments are necessary. I have yet to understand the controversy on this particular issue (setting German politics aside). Above all, why do some feel so strongly that carbon taxes are superior to emissions trading?
  • Speaking of which, Oregon is close to passing a cap-and-trade scheme similar to California’s:

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