Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
So the International Energy Agency (not exactly a cabal of communists) is out with their new report on Energy Policy and Global Warming.
The news is grim. Unless we drastically change direction in the next 5 years there will be climate change on a scale not seen since the Younger Dryas (those who would reject the analogy would be well advised to consider that this “Ice Age” was caused by an influx of fresh glacial water disrupting ocean currents due to… wait for it… Global Warming) 12,000 years ago.
The burning issue of energy cannot wait for economic good times
Carbon emissions are rising by record amounts, stoked by political inaction and fossil fuel subsidies. We are almost out of time to douse the climate change crisis
Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Wednesday 9 November 2011 05.02 EST
The IEA predict a temperature rise of 3.5C if current energy policies around the world are delivered but no more. That means a future world of mass migration, severe water shortages and England having the summer climate of Morocco today. If those policies fail to materialise, the IEA predicts 6C. That’s Armageddon: large parts of the planet uninhabitable and the risk of runaway warming threatening the rest.
With the economies of developed nations stagnant, some are pleading poverty as an excuse for inaction. But, says the IEA, “delaying action is a false economy”. It states that avoiding $1 of energy investment before 2020 will require $4.30 to compensate after that date.
If money needs to be saved, start with the $409bn gifted to the fossil fuel industry in 2010 in subsidies. The G20 backed this idea in 2009 but has yet to deliver. The subsidies do not enable the impoverished to access energy: just 8% of the subsidies reach the world’s poorest 20% of people. Renewable energy, the only truly sustainable source of power, received just $66bn of support last year, and even the IEA thinks this will rise to no more than $180bn by 2035.
Fossil Fuels Got Six Times More Aid Than Clean Energy, IEA Says
By Ben Sills, Bloomberg News
Nov 9, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Fossil-fuel consumers worldwide received about six times more state subsidies last year than were given to the renewable-energy industry, according to the chief adviser to oil-importing nations.
G-20 nations spent $160 billion supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels last year, led by Saudi Arabia’s outlay of $44 billion, the IEA said in its World Energy Outlook published today. Iran spent the most overall, shelling out $81 billion to support fuel sales.
While governments argue their policies are designed to help the poorest members of society, they generally fail to meet that goal, the IEA said. Just 8 percent of subsidies reached the poorest 20 percent of each country’s population last year.
“Fossil-fuel subsidies as presently constituted tend to be regressive, disproportionately benefitting higher income groups that can afford higher levels of fuel consumption,” the report said. “Social welfare programs are a more effective and less distortionary way of helping the poor than energy subsidies.”
World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns
If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change
Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent, The Guardian
Wednesday 9 November 2011 05.01 EST
The world is likely to build so many new fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.
The central problem is that most of the industrial infrastructure already in existence around the world – the fossil-fuelled power stations, the emissions-spewing factories, the inefficient transport and buildings – are already contributing to the current high level of emissions, and will continue to do so for decades to come. Carbon dioxide, once released into the atmosphere, stays there and continues to have a warming effect for about a century, and industrial infrastructure is built to have a useful life of several decades at least.
Yet, despite intensifying warnings from scientists over the past two decades, the new infrastructure even now being built is constructed along the same lines as the old, which means that there is a “lock-in” effect – high-carbon infrastructure built today or in the next five years will contribute as much to the stock of emissions in the atmosphere as previous generations.
U.S. to Open New Areas to Offshore Drilling
By JOHN M. BRODER, The New York Times
Published: November 8, 2011
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its proposed five-year plan for offshore oil drilling, which calls for opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska but bars development along the East and West Coasts.
The plan, which is subject to months of public hearings and possible revisions, expands the areas in the Gulf of Mexico that are now under development, including some near Florida that have been off limits. It will also make available broader parts of the Arctic Ocean off the North Slope of Alaska and in the Cook Inlet off the state’s southern shore.
Environmental advocates responded vehemently to the new plan, which they said put sensitive coastlines, waters and fisheries at risk in Alaska and in the gulf.
“Last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was supposed to be a wake-up call about the dangers of offshore drilling,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But it looks like President Obama hit the snooze button and slept right through it.”
Several groups pointed out the difficulties of dealing with a potential spill in the Arctic, where the nearest Coast Guard facility is almost 1,000 miles away.
David J. Hayes, the deputy interior secretary, acknowledged that the infrastructure did not now exist to prevent or respond to a major spill in the Arctic. Mr. Hayes said a response could be compromised by inclement weather, a lack of deep harbors, a shortage of appropriate vessels and inadequate oil transportation resources.
Frances Beinecke, the president of Natural Resources Defense Council and a member of the panel Mr. Obama named to investigate the BP spill, said approving new drilling without adequate safety measures was a “reckless gamble.”
“The president’s oil spill commission put forth a game plan to improve the industry’s safety, but it has yet to be realized,” Ms. Beinecke said in a statement. “Congress has failed to pass a single law to better protect workers or the environment. Industry has not invested sufficiently in developing the technologies needed to prevent future disasters. And the government still needs additional resources and science in order to effectively police an industry that so desperately needs it.”