Category: News (page 2 of 5)

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:

Saturday energy links: more natural gas is not the solution

Friday energy links: Bill Gates to start European clean energy fund

  • Bill Gates-led investment group to start European clean energy fund in order to get innovative green tech startups off the ground.
  • From the IEA: why industry is so hard to decarbonize. A quote that stuck out: “…industrial production facilities tend to have long lifetimes and a slow turnover of capital stock; capacity for fuel switching in industry is limited as a change in fuel often requires a change in process; high temperature heat (important across most energy-intensive industries) can require significant changes to furnace design and is currently costly and not economically attractive; and the highly integrated nature of industrial processes means that changing one part often requires changes to other parts of a given process.” Having laid out the problem, the piece then lays out a number of potential solutions. Do read it.
  • Could algae solve the climate crisis? Indeed, say scientists from Cornell:  “Think of it this way: there will no longer be pressure to deforest the Amazon for soy or to deforest Indonesia for palm oil. We can actually lead to an emissions reduction of about 13 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2040, and that’s roughly a third of our current CO2 emissions.”
  • This tweet on the EPA’s clean power plan reminded me of most sober analyses of the Paris Agreement:

  • The Paris Agreement was an important milestone, no doubt. It established the process of regularly updating climate goals, a huge step forward. However, were any of the signatories’ initial goals actually *binding*? In other words, it seems that all of the goals would have been achieved absent the agreement. For example, all of the countries chose their reference year (i.e. “we pledge to lower our CO2 emissions by x% compared to year y) as the year with the highest CO2 emissions in their history. Germany chose 1990, the US chose 2005. This was done deliberately to make the goals as painless as possible. Another example: the US (prior to withdrawing from the agreement, of course) set out to lower its carbon emissions, not its greenhouse gas emissions, quite obviously due to the fracking boom. All of the goals were set out to appear more noble than they actually are.
  • It never really occured to me how much more carbon emissions can be attributed to flying first class rather than economy:

  • But obviously, there’s a lot more wasted space in first class, which means way more carbon emissions per person. Now I can argue this is why I’ve never flown first class 🙂
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