Author: Iowa Climate Science Education

Jeremy Warner Hawks His Carbon Tax

By Paul Homewood

 

 

Jeremy Warner had this article in yesterday’s Telegraph:

 

Carbon taxes are coming

Possibly more in hope than expectation, Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, plans to deliver a Budget on Nov 6, by which time we are meant to have left the European Union.

It will be a faintly surreal affair – a pre-election giveaway, with the fiscal rules massaged to accommodate the extra borrowings needed to pay for it all. Yet without a majority in Parliament, there is little chance of implementation. Johnson needs to win an election first.

One of the consequences of the last three and a half years of Brexit torture is that all other big picture priorities have been shunted aside; if, tantalisingly, we are now close to leaving, then finally we will be able to start thinking about wider challenges.

One such issue is climate change, which the Government promises to tackle by committing to an almost wholly meaningless target of net zero emissions by the middle of the century. Targets are worth nothing without a credible plan for achieving them, and so far we don’t have one.

Protesters in Whitehall in London, during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest

Protesters in Whitehall in London, during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The Juncker curse has it that “we know what has to be done, we just don’t know how to get re-elected afterwards”. Climate change is a case in point. There is overwhelming public support and pressure for action, until, that is, the costs of it are laid bare.

In the short term, these will be considerable, with the payback uncertain and long into the future. Crudely imposed climate change measures can moreover easily backfire, as occurred with the “gilets jaunes” protest movement in France when a rapid ramping up of carbon taxes at a time of stagnant wages erupted in an explosion of public anger.

Realistically, however, carbon taxes are likely to prove the only effective way of incentivising the required energy transition. All the alternatives – emissions trading schemes, carbon floor prices, feebates (incentives to buy fuel efficient goods such as electric cars) and heavy-handed regulation (enforced energy efficiency standards) – tend to fall short in some way or other.

How could the Chancellor introduce such a tax without destroying his party’s electoral prospects? A potential answer comes in the form of new analysis by the International Monetary Fund. This concludes that a carbon tax of $75 (£58) a ton globally is needed within the next 10 years to contain the rise in temperatures to the two degrees scientists judge manageable.

Just to put that in perspective, the current effective average tax on carbon globally is just $2. By the IMF’s calculation, a $75 carbon tax would raise the price of coal by 200pc, natural gas by 70pc, and petrol by 5pc to 15pc, depending on how heavily it is already taxed locally.

The good news is that because the UK has already reduced its use of coal for electricity generation to virtually zero, the effect is not going to be as bad for us as many others. Even so, it’ll be quite bad enough; a $75 carbon tax would raise the UK’s overall tax burden by around 0.7pc of GDP.

Yet provided this is done in a revenue neutral manner, it might not be as politically controversial as it seems. Combining carbon taxes with offsetting, equally distributed dividend payments to the public would disproportionately benefit low earners, with around 40pc of the population making a net gain, and would thereby create a large constituency in favour of the tax.

Any loss of international competitiveness among those with high carbon taxes could be countered via border adjustment tariffs of the kind already being considered by the European Union. This would in turn incentivise laggard nations to fall into line.

I’d be surprised if any of this gets an airing in the Budget on Nov 6, but sooner or later, carbon taxes are coming, driving transformational change that frankly is likely to be much bigger in its real life impact than the obsession of the moment – Brexit.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/10/20/boriss-great-advantage-people-fed-brexit/

 

Just because you keep repeating an argument does not make it right!

A carbon tax on its own will inevitable have little effect on emissions, other than marginally reducing energy consumption.

After all, we already have the biggest carbon tax of the lot, fuel duty. Yet this has very little impact at all. It does not make us switch to EVs, it has little impact on fuel consumption. Indeed it does not even seem to make us but smaller cars, if the popularity of SUVs is anything to go by.

But it is a big earner for the government.

 

According to Warner, gas prices would rise by 70%, guaranteeing fuel poverty. But what else would that achieve? We still need to heat out houses and cook, and electricity is three times as expensive as gas, so nobody will be switching.

To eliminate emissions from natural gas means stopping people from using it, and forcing either electrical alternatives or producing and distributing hydrogen in mass quantities. The government simply has not got the money to pay for either of these unpalatable alternatives, as Warner himself should know.

Similarly nobody is going to buy EVs in any serious numbers, until conventional cars are banned completely, or taxed out of existence.

As for power generation, while carbon floor prices have encouraged generators to switch from coal to gas, it is subsidies which have brought wind and solar power on stream. Again, gas generation could be taxed out of existence, but then the grid would have no dispatchable power to fall back on.

And, as we know, higher energy prices will simply drive industry off shore. Warner’s potty idea of a border tariff would be of little help. It would simply increase the cost of living and trigger a trade war with China and other countries who have no desire to follow suit.

What is absolutely certain is that China and India will remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels for many years to come, whether they implement some sort of carbon tax or not.

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October 21, 2019 at 11:24AM

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Reflections on energy blogging

by Planning Engineer

Five years ago today I started guest blogging on Climate Etc., focusing on energy related issues.

My initial goal was to share some insights in a more formal fashion on energy related issues being discussed in the comments. I didn’t really get the values of blogging until I started. My first posting, Myths and Realities of Renewable Energy, provoked a good bit of commentary. .Discussions led to further postings which led to further discussions and the cycle continued. I discovered that many denizens of this blog have considerable expertise and knowledge as they shared valuable insight. Non-experts asked great probing questions and helped me uncover where explanations need to be tightened as well as offering insights from complimentary perspectives. Putting complicated thoughts into simpler language challenges and aids understanding.

It must be mentioned that one of the biggest challenges in blogging comes from the “noise” in the comments. I define “noise” as criticisms that have nothing to do with what is being said or ignore what is being said. The biggest challenge with “noise” is that coarse insults and stonewalling are often mixed in with legitimate criticisms and challenges. I can’t say that it’s been easy for me, but it has been good for me to better learn how to deal with “noise”.

Criticisms of the form, “If you know so much, why are you blogging here”, occurred fairly frequently. My goal was to make arguments that would stand up to scrutiny, not to issue an appeal for an audience to trust me based on authority or expertise. Questioning motives is a bad argument, because it’s only invoked when someone doesn’t like what is being said. But these critiques motivated me, and I began publishing articles in the trade journals with a coauthor. They built upon many of the topics discussed here at Climate Etc. In particular the last one on the German Miracle was driven by one commentator who kept claiming that my arguments were suspect because Germany had superior grid reliability compared to the United State with high levels of intermittent renewables. His claims were based on a widely held misconception.

While I’m glad blogging pushed me to experience publishing, counter to what many might think, I found blogging preferable to publishing. It’s nice to be in print, with a photo and your name while your writings are being read or scanned by some of your peers. I’m sure it’s more impressive to friends and additionally I’m sure publishing looks far better on a resume than blogging might. But the feedback is nothing like from blogging. Working with an editor cannot be compared to the flood of information that comes with blogging on a popular blog. I don’t know that writing either place makes a noticeable difference anywhere, but I suspect I reached more people who might be impacted through blogging. My experience has made me greatly appreciate Dr. Curry’s perspective that there is a place for blogging, technical journals and academic journals.

This brings up another criticism that relates to the differences between academics and engineers, or scientists and engineers. Engineers are less concerned with observations and theory, focusing more on creating workable real world solutions. Engineers have quite a track record and demonstrated considerable competence in the development of our modern power supply system. Academics frequently have a much narrower and specific focus and consequently are not as aware of the big picture. Some commenters would note that what I was saying conflicted with what professors from distinguished Universities were saying in prestigious journals. Generally I would read the articles and find there was not conflict with what was actually said, but rather the problem lay in the inferences drawn.

Academics often make narrower studies and analysis which are touted by others with much less careful language. For example, I’ve seen pronouncements about how renewable green technology can replace conventional technology. In the simplest case an academic could look at replacing MWHs of conventional technology with MWHs of renewable resources by 20XX. .What’s fine in generalities breaks down when you consider that we need the electricity to be produced when it is needed. At the next level an academic might consider the timing issue. Beyond that the issues increase exponentially with concerns for grid deliverability and grid stability. In considering statements as to what can be done, factors like the following must be considered: 1) What was studied?, 2) What else needs to be studied?, 3) What is being claimed?, 4) What has been demonstrated versus what is theoretical? And 4) What extra costs are or might be associated with the claim? I think blogging can serve as an important role checking on conventional media who too readily make outlandish claims based on misinterpretations of academic studies.

I cautioned against prevalent overly high expectations for green technology based on well accepted understandings of the power systems. Looking back I think my postings hold up well, except for the embarrassing typos. Back then there was not much out there of this type of information, but as time goes by more and more cautions and descriptions of this nature appear. There is a lot more evidence for what I was saying on the table today and some prominent figures are seeing the limitations with existing green solutions. However, in many sectors unbridled enthusiasm remains for 100% renewables.

It can always be argued that change is right around the corner, despite the failure of such predictions in preceding years. Critics can always ask, “If this renewable approach is uneconomic and unworkable why are they spending multi-millions to develop this project?”, regardless of how many similar projects in the past cobbled together financing but failed to produce. Perhaps a piece is needed on the many drivers that push for and enable projects that likely will end up infeasible or uneconomic boondoggles. Some are misled because they are satisfied by a limited understanding of the factors involved and don’t want to see the bigger picture. In addition to such reasons, there is just willful deliberate ignorance where contrary views are promulgated just because people will believe them.

My blogging just kind of tapered off as I’d said most everything I had to say. I appreciate this chance to give my thanks to the denizens of Climate Etc. for their support, comments and perspectives over the years. We had many great discussions that showed the value of blogging. Special names and handles are too numerous to thank individually, but I would like to single out Rud Istvan because I thoroughly enjoyed our collaborative efforts. As most here do, I really appreciate Judith’s efforts to promote dialogue as well as her expertise and commitment.

I retired this year and am playing pickle ball, paddle boarding, doing community theater, riding my one wheel, volunteering and living the good life. I’m contemplating going back and looking at the arguments made in my original postings and the challenges to them and commenting on how subsequent developments have played out. I think that might be valuable because mostly the old arguments just come back in new forms. If any of the denizens want to share observations good or bad as to how that’s gone, I would appreciate it.

Bio Notes: Russ Schussler (Planning Engineer), P.E., Retired Vice President of Transmission Planning at Georgia Transmission Corporations, has spent over 35 years in the electric utility industry. Russ has served in various roles working to ensure the reliability of the grid including serving on the NERC Planning Committee and Chairing the SERC Engineering Committee.

My blogs and co-blogs here can be found by searching Planning Engineer in search bar at Climate Etc. Below are some articles co-written in technical publications which follow up on Climate Etc. discussions.

Drivers & Determinants for Power System Entities, Electric Energy (RMEL), Summer 2016, pp. 30-38, https://issuu.com/hungryeyemedia/docs/rmel_electric_energy_issue_2_2016.

The Role of Fracking in the U.S. Utility: Battle of Gas vs. Coal, Cornerstone Magazine, Autumn 2016, pp. 42-46 (English and Mandarin versions).

Reports of the Electric Grid’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, POWER Magazine, April 2017, page 68 and http://www.powermag.com/reports-of-the-electric-grids-death-have-been-greatly-exaggerated/?printmode=1.

The Grid End Game, T&D World, June 2017, p. 64 and http://www.tdworld.com/transmission/grid-end-game.

The Myth of the German Renewable Energy ‘Miracle,” T&D World: Grid Optimization, October 23, 2017, http://www.tdworld.com/generation-and-renewables/myth-german-renewable-energy-miracle

Third World Grid, SmartGrid or a Smart Grid?   T&D World June 15th 2018 https://www.tdworld.com/smart-grid/third-world-grid-smartgrid-or-smart-grid

 

 

 

 

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October 21, 2019 at 11:17AM

Virtue Signaling For Only $9,000 / Mwh

Virtue Signaling For Only $9,000 / Mwh

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October 21, 2019 at 10:44AM

Brexit Is Delaying Global Action To Fight Climate Change

It looks like that the EU’s December summit will be overtaken by Brexit – pushing adoption of its 2050 climate plan into 2020, and maybe even beyond. 

PC Boris Johnson (European Council (Brexit)) / 17.10

In June, European prime ministers meeting in Brussels were unable to agree on an EU proposal to completely decarbonize by 2050.

Poland, with the backing of a few other Eastern European countries, said they could not support a plan they believe will inhibit their economic growth.

At the time, campaigners were bitterly disappointed. The failure to agree meant that the EU showed up empty handed to the special UN climate summit in New York last month. It had been hoped that the EU raising its climate ambition would motivate others to do the same. In the end, no major economy made new pledges to up their ambition for their pledges under the Paris Agreement at the New York summit.Today In: Business

People involved in the EU negotiations believe Warsaw’s objection can be overcome by offering Eastern Europe more money to ease the transition away from fossil fuels – mostly through a “just transition fund” that would help workers in coal regions, among other things.

Getting Poland on board will take time. But campaigners say it’s essential for this to be done before the next annual summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is meeting in Santiago, Chile in early December.

Thanks to Brexit, there is no chance of that happening.

EU leaders hold their Brussels summits four times a year, so the next opportunity for them to endorse the 2050 plan was at the October summit this past week. But yet again, the climate discussion had to be postponed because of the ongoing British crisis of Brexit. 

After the EU granted it two extensions, the UK was due to leave the bloc on October 31. But with no leaving deal yet agreed by the start of this summit, it had to be used to try to clinch a last-minute agreement. Eventually a deal was agreed, but it appears it will be rejected by the British Parliament, which has already asked the EU for yet another extension.

“Everything is being overshadowed by Brexit,” noted one diplomat from an Eastern European country. That is the reason the climate discussion is being delayed until the next EU summit in December, he said.

“It feels like we can’t make any progress on climate change until Brexit is resolved one way or the other – it’s an infuriating distraction,” grumbled another EU official.

The problem is that the next Brussels meeting of prime ministers is scheduled for December 12, the last day of the Santiago UN summit. Any agreement on the 2050 plan would therefor come too late to influence Paris Agreement pledges in Chile.

Now, with a new extension imminent, it looks like the December summit may also be overtaken by Brexit – pushing adoption of the 2050 plan into 2020, and maybe even beyond. 

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The post Brexit Is Delaying Global Action To Fight Climate Change appeared first on The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF).

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October 21, 2019 at 09:26AM