Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From Kyoto to Copenhagen

I was never a fan of the Kyoto protocol because it did not reward good behavior in the past. Those that were causing the least CO2 emissions were expected to reduce by as large a percentage as those with huge emissions. Kyoto has been at best a tool to shame governments into taking looking like they are interested taking some action on climate change.

Now we have Copenhagen and see no hope that this will make any real difference to action on climate change issues.

I may not agree with all Andrew Weaver has to say, but there is some likely limit to which we should not push green house gas emissions. We have a huge problem with the scale of emissions for electrical production in the US and China alone. Shifting cars to emission free form will ultimately be market driven and need not government intervention other than to place a carbon tax on fuels. It is electrical production where the problem.

We need to deal with the CO2 emissions from coal fired power plants. There are only two options, get rid of coal fired power or capture the CO2 released. Neither will be easy or cheap.

Based on how things are going, as an example look at the backlash against green power in BC, we are unlikely to be able to replace the coal fired power in the next 20 years. Conservation is only likely to slow demand and not to reduce the demand. Even if we could achieve a 20% reduction by households over five years, that would only keep demand steady.

In the short term, the next 20 years, the major solution to green house gasses will be through carbon capture and storage. We will see more and more people, governments and businesses pay to offset their carbon footprint. We are already seeing this happen, as an example Habour Air in Victoria is carbon neutral. This will create a real market for carbon capture and storage.

But this ignores the big picture, the 2 000 000 GWh coal fired power in the US problem.

It also ignores the other big green house gas source, eating meat.

We are going down a path of a lot more green house gas emissions for the better part of another generation. A generation of carbon capture and storage as the only major solution.

No comments: