Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by shpalman » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:50 am

molto tricky

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:30 pm

Taiwan is suffering from the worst drought in 56 years. The consequences are far-reaching,
If this and other reservoirs in Taiwan dry up, it could be detrimental for the global electronics sector, because so many of the products people use are powered by semiconductors - computer chips - made by Taiwanese companies.

Around 90% of the most advanced microchips are manufactured in Taiwan.

They're key to objects ranging from ventilators to smartphones, and the pandemic has left demand high and supply tight.
According to this BBC report water is used to spray-clean the silicon wafers. One company uses 31,000 tonnes of water each day!
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by dyqik » Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:50 pm

Also, there's already a global semiconductor shortage sure to CoVID, which has shutdown car production lines in the US, including Ford in the last week or two.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by shpalman » Sun Apr 25, 2021 7:51 am

Also, I think there was already a chip shortage even before covid although I've lost track of why.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by shpalman » Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:52 am

(more on the chip shortage is here)
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:31 pm

Germany the latest country to agree that young people are getting totally shafted by grown-ups' ineffectual gestures and outright mendacity:
Germany's climate change laws are "insufficient" and violate fundamental freedoms by putting the burden of curbing CO2 emissions on the young, its highest court has ruled.

It said the law failed to give enough detail on cutting CO2 emissions after current targets end in 2030.

"The provisions irreversibly offload major emission reduction burdens onto periods after 2030," the court said.

The government will now have to revise the law by the end of the next year.

The decision comes a week after the EU unveiled ambitious new climate change targets.

Under the law, which was agreed between member states and the EU Parliament, the bloc will cut carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

Like the EU legislation, Germany's domestic climate change law also provides for a 55% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

The 2019 law was agreed as part of Germany's response to the 2016 Paris climate deal, which aims to keep the global temperature rise well under 2C - and preferably to 1.5C - to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

But the German Constitutional Court said on Thursday that current measures "violate the freedoms of the complainants, some of whom are still very young" because they delay too much of the action needed to reach the Paris targets until after 2030.

"In order to achieve this, the reductions still required after 2030 will have to be achieved more urgently and at short notice," it said in a statement.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56927010


Most political targets seem to choose either 2030 or 2050 - either an ambitious target for the distant future with no sense of how to get there, or a bunch of clever accounting tricks to get good headlines by 2030 by kicking the can down the road.

It seems that politicians are more like babies, and need their hands held by civil society every step of the way. Legally-binding targets, set by scientists, with check-in points every 3-5 years, would be a good way to go.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Sciolus » Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:58 pm

That's a good result. We'll see it makes any difference.
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:31 pm
Legally-binding targets, set by scientists, with check-in points every 3-5 years, would be a good way to go.
So, the UK carbon budget approach?

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:38 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:58 pm
That's a good result. We'll see it makes any difference.
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:31 pm
Legally-binding targets, set by scientists, with check-in points every 3-5 years, would be a good way to go.
So, the UK carbon budget approach?
Yes, in theory - I'm looking forward to seeing the updated version.

As always the devil is in the details, and what really matters is total emissions ever - I struggle with interesting under the curve in my head so depend on others' analysis. For me, the key desirables are net zero by 2050 at the very latest (given a sensible definition of net), but also early sharp declines, rather than business as usual with low-carbon pie in the 2040 sky.

We really need good models from progressive countries to roll out globally, with support for developing economies.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Mon May 10, 2021 10:15 am

When judicial instruments fail:

Logging exempt from environment laws despite destroying threatened species’ Victorian habitat, court finds
In its judgment on Monday, the court found the initial judgment – including that VicForests had breached the code of practice by not complying with the precautionary principle in some forests – was factually correct.

But it found that VicForests’ logging was exempt from national environment laws even if it did not comply with the RFA [Regional Forests Agreements].
If I'm understanding the article correctly, the court decided that even though the Victorian government forestry agency (VicForests) has broken the law it doesn't matter because it's not subject to that law. So it can log away, even in areas where endangered species live, with nothing to stop them.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Woodchopper » Mon May 10, 2021 10:31 am

Fishnut wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 10:15 am
When judicial instruments fail:

Logging exempt from environment laws despite destroying threatened species’ Victorian habitat, court finds
In its judgment on Monday, the court found the initial judgment – including that VicForests had breached the code of practice by not complying with the precautionary principle in some forests – was factually correct.

But it found that VicForests’ logging was exempt from national environment laws even if it did not comply with the RFA [Regional Forests Agreements].
If I'm understanding the article correctly, the court decided that even though the Victorian government forestry agency (VicForests) has broken the law it doesn't matter because it's not subject to that law. So it can log away, even in areas where endangered species live, with nothing to stop them.
I think a bit different. My reading is that it broke the Regional Forest Agreement. However, that agreement didn't have the status of a law.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Mon May 10, 2021 10:49 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 10:31 am
Fishnut wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 10:15 am
When judicial instruments fail:

Logging exempt from environment laws despite destroying threatened species’ Victorian habitat, court finds
In its judgment on Monday, the court found the initial judgment – including that VicForests had breached the code of practice by not complying with the precautionary principle in some forests – was factually correct.

But it found that VicForests’ logging was exempt from national environment laws even if it did not comply with the RFA [Regional Forests Agreements].
If I'm understanding the article correctly, the court decided that even though the Victorian government forestry agency (VicForests) has broken the law it doesn't matter because it's not subject to that law. So it can log away, even in areas where endangered species live, with nothing to stop them.
I think a bit different. My reading is that it broke the Regional Forest Agreement. However, that agreement didn't have the status of a law.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Mon May 10, 2021 11:06 am

Yeah that seems to be right.

Sort of related but not quite the same, this episode of Local Zero podcast is primarily about discussing citizens assemblies but also goes into the tension between national and local targets, and argues local authorities should be given more power and responsibility to reduce emissions - it's not particularly party political so there isn't really any commentary on certain parties' behaviour around those kinds of issues but it does flag up the problems on both sides.

I do wonder if, now that quite a bit of awareness has been raised about the fact that climate change is A Thing and maybe a tad less, but still some, awareness on the technical 'solutions' for it, there is scope to bring in some legal education about climate change and environment related law. I mean that's an incredibly complex topic, and will vary from region to region, and sector to sector, and I certainly don't know much about it myself, but even a broad brush approach could perhaps steer people towards exerting pressure in the right places. And by 'people' I mean people who are already engaged to some extent.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon May 10, 2021 12:29 pm

discovolante wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 11:06 am
I do wonder if, now that quite a bit of awareness has been raised about the fact that climate change is A Thing and maybe a tad less, but still some, awareness on the technical 'solutions' for it, there is scope to bring in some legal education about climate change and environment related law. I mean that's an incredibly complex topic, and will vary from region to region, and sector to sector, and I certainly don't know much about it myself, but even a broad brush approach could perhaps steer people towards exerting pressure in the right places. And by 'people' I mean people who are already engaged to some extent.
I think educating people on what instruments are already available to them to pressure for change would be incredibly valuable. I've seen it work very well with wildlife stuff, for example.

People like ClientEarth and Good Law Project have been doing great stuff with high-profile cases at the national level, but I think some kind of "activist toolkit" highlighting useful policy levers that people could pull on at a local level could be very helpful.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Mon May 17, 2021 8:26 pm

I wasn't sure where to put this but this thread seems as good a place as any.

Time to Get Angry: Beyond the Cosy Consensus in British Nature Conservation
Much of the public discourse around nature conservation is focused on encouraging people to “connect” with nature and appreciate the birds and wildlife that can be found in their local area. And by this measure nature conservation in the UK has been very successful. Indeed, in the UK we often congratulate ourselves on our supposedly high levels of environmentally literacy... But we in the UK are in no position to lecture anybody: biodiversity loss, bird population declines, and the destruction of nature have intensified at precisely the same time that the number of Brits ostensibly concerned about these things has dramatically increased. Simply “caring” about nature is clearly not enough.

...

Consider, for example, the decline in farmland birds. You don’t need me to tell you that resident farmland birds such as Skylark, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting have all experienced catastrophic declines over the past half century. What is more, we know exactly why these birds have declined. It’s because of what is euphemistically called the “intensification” of agriculture. But what does “intensification” really mean? It means changes in land use arising from a push to increase yields as much as possible so as to maximise profit margins. The correct word for this is capitalism... We call it “intensification” rather than “capitalism” in part because the latter sounds too confrontational and too political for the conflict-averse mainstream of UK bird conservation.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Woodchopper » Tue May 18, 2021 7:22 am

Fishnut wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 8:26 pm
Consider, for example, the decline in farmland birds. You don’t need me to tell you that resident farmland birds such as Skylark, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting have all experienced catastrophic declines over the past half century. What is more, we know exactly why these birds have declined. It’s because of what is euphemistically called the “intensification” of agriculture. But what does “intensification” really mean? It means changes in land use arising from a push to increase yields as much as possible so as to maximise profit margins. The correct word for this is capitalism... We call it “intensification” rather than “capitalism” in part because the latter sounds too confrontational and too political for the conflict-averse mainstream of UK bird conservation.
My inner pedant feels compelled to point out that similar, and often worse, damage was caused by centrally planned economies in which there was little or no profit motive. So environmental destruction appears not to be inherently capitalistic, but instead an inherent component of economic development. (Or at least the development that has occurred so far).

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by IvanV » Tue May 18, 2021 3:10 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:06 pm
As discussed on other threads, rapid action is needed to reconcile scientific knowledge about the causes of present and future climate disruption, and the current lack of meaningful political action to address it. For instance, the Paris Agreement's commitments are far too weak, and most countries aren't going to make them anyway:

The Death of Fossil Fuels thread has been doing a fascinating job covering the technological advances that mean that a net-zero-carbon world by 2030 is completely achievable. Unfortunately, the availability and advantages of that technology don't do enough to overcome the economic, societal and political impediments to the effecting the necessary transitions.
The difficulty of deep carbon reduction is widely underestimated. I haven't been able to read all the 38-page Death of Fossil Fuels thread, but I would doubt it was able to present a convincing agenda to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, even in a wealthy country let alone the world. Because I've never seen that. To me, 80% by 2050 looked like very hard work, the old target, let alone zero. In a feasible political world where you don't do serious damage to people's wealths and livelihoods.

When you talk about net zero, I hope that means not very much of the net business, and mostly actual zero. Because cheap offsets are not part of the long term solution. Cheap offsets only exist because other countries are outputting so much carbon and so inefficiently that you can pay them only a small amount of money to reduce quite a lot. That can't persist in a world heading towards zero. Also it's probably mostly greenwash anyway. You are paying people not to do things. But they will do other things instead. So probably it didn't make much difference to their output. Very difficult to prove it isn't a game of whack-a-mole.

In Britain's case, about 25% of our final energy use comes from electricity. We've got the wind/solar/nuclear stuff up quite high now. The biomass is probably not very zero, though there is supposed to be some kind of audit on it. But as you increase all that, it gets harder. How do you balance electricity through periods of low wind and low sun? Just look at the last 6 weeks (April to mid May 2021) on gridwatch. Not much there. If you don't have gas power stations to cover that, the storage quantities are infeasible. You need something like 200 Dinorwigs if you are to cover low output periods from storage rather than gas. And that's just for our present electricity needs. When heating and cars are all electric too, then you need a lot more electricity and a lot more Dinorwigs, something like 500.* And existing battery arrays are only a small fraction of a Dinorwig. Doing this from storage is currently a non-starter. And if we head into a hydrogen economy, we need even more electricity, because hydrogen is a rather inefficient way of storing electricity. And running electrolysers only at very low load factor to absorb peak output makes the hydrogen rather expensive.

This is why the CCC's plan involves large amounts of CCS. It remains the most feasible way of getting electricity to somewhere close to zero by 2050. But it remains undemonstrated at scale for the moment. The last demonstration scheme was cancelled for massively busting its budget, and the new money is smaller than the old budget.

Then how are we heating people's houses and other buildings if we turn the gas off? The good solution is ground source heat pumps, preferably with shared loops as that keeps the costs down, but presents ample source for neighbourly disagreement. Other solutions will require even more reliable zero-carbon electricity, which as I hope you realise from the above is a problem. (And an air source heat pump is not going to give people the quality of heat many of them will be very happy with, as well as being noisy.) But the amount of cost in building retrofits is beyond belief, and the amount of effort to achieve it staggers belief by 2050 let alone 2030. And how is it being funded?

Then there's electric vehicles. It's one thing for a few smaller countries to go electric, it's another thing entirely when a large fraction of the world is trying to do it all together in short order. The idea that the mining industry can open up enough mines to deliver all the materials needed for that, and the car manufacturing industry reequip to deliver electric cars, and not-yet-invented electric heavy vehicles, is beyond belief.

Then there's aviation. And ships. And steel. And cement. And mining. And manufacturing. And construction. Heating and light transport is the easy stuff.

When the British govt upped its 80% by 2050 to 0 by 2050, I thought it was a kind of gullibility test. The goverment was not taking the reasonable actions to achieve 80% by 2050, and it increases the target. The only sensible grounds were to kind of shock people into doing things so that they might start heading towards 80%. But the damaging thing about increasing the target to zero is that a lot of sensible things to achieve large reductions in output now become things you shouldn't do, because they aren't on the path to zero. For example, we are now worrying about going zero even on quiet railway lines, when under the more reasonable target you could keep a proportion of diesel lines, the carbon per pax mile still being pretty small.

At some point there is a trade-off between how much we reduce our lifestyles by converting to much more expensive ways of living, and adapting to a changing climate. There is a moral case and economic case and leadership case for the wealthy part of the world to reduce its carbon much more and faster than the less wealthy part of the world. And it isn't doing enough. But when the rest of the world is going to carry on emitting carbon in large quantity for a long time yet, then there is a point when going all the way to zero so quickly becomes so far from the cost-benefit boundary that it's pointless. And will result in us having to absorb some adaptation costs anyway.


*There's an unintentionally hilarious paper somewhere where someone spots some Scottish glen with the volume of something like 500 Dinorwigs, and proposes the world's biggest dam to create such an energy store. Since there is no prospect of a lower reservoir of similar capacity, they propose using the sea as the lower reservoir, so it would be a salt-water lake. As critics point out, the flows of water required to operate are not capable of being handled, as they would cause massive erosion. The mass difference between full and empty, if you had to run it down over a few days, would cause earthquakes.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Tue May 18, 2021 8:39 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 7:22 am
Fishnut wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 8:26 pm
Consider, for example, the decline in farmland birds. You don’t need me to tell you that resident farmland birds such as Skylark, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting have all experienced catastrophic declines over the past half century. What is more, we know exactly why these birds have declined. It’s because of what is euphemistically called the “intensification” of agriculture. But what does “intensification” really mean? It means changes in land use arising from a push to increase yields as much as possible so as to maximise profit margins. The correct word for this is capitalism... We call it “intensification” rather than “capitalism” in part because the latter sounds too confrontational and too political for the conflict-averse mainstream of UK bird conservation.
My inner pedant feels compelled to point out that similar, and often worse, damage was caused by centrally planned economies in which there was little or no profit motive. So environmental destruction appears not to be inherently capitalistic, but instead an inherent component of economic development. (Or at least the development that has occurred so far).
That's a fair point. You made me think about the eradication of sparrows in China which, along with deforestation and other ecological disruptions contributed to Great Chinese Famine. And I've no doubt similar situations occurred in Russia, I'm just being too lazy to search for specifics. That said, there is a general sense that the natural world is there to be exploited which feels very capitalistic in a 'knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing' kind of way (which I know is about cynics rather than capitalists, but feels applicable to both).
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue May 18, 2021 11:04 pm

Interestingly, part of the problem in the European (including UK) context has been due to market failure. Loads of farmers would have gone bust long ago, but have been encouraged to overproduce by the EU CAP. The EU specifically funded stuff like drainage and grubbing out hedges, and struggling farmers took the money to do that even though they were - in some cases knowingly - degrading their own (natural) capital in the form of things like soil quality, pollination and pest control.

OTOH, looking at the here-and-now, the emphasis on constantly increasing production of commodities is definitely the issue. But, again, it only works because of a market failure: industrial farming is polluting rivers, damaging the climate and degrading the recreational value of the countryside through biodiversity loss, but to the extent that the tab is picked up at all it's by the public, not the industry that profits.

Not that I'm advocating a laissez-faire approach to the countryside, nor (you'll be unsurprised to here) defending/endorsing capitalism generally. I think it's best treated as a public, ultimately global, commons, needing intelligent, long-term management with a close eye on connections and externalities. But I think I'd agree with Chopper's point about intensification being the proximate issue - capitalism is why we have intensification in the 21st century UK context, but the Soviets dried up an entire f.cking sea to grow cotton, which I think puts Stalin below even Michael Gove in terms of who I'd want running DEFRA.

That said, it's a good piece. I think he's right that environmental damage is, to some extent, a symptom of wider issues in how the UK is owned and run. And I think the mainstream environmental movement has been horribly unambitious in that regard. I'm not particularly worried that addressing that will tip the UK into a Soviet-inspired revolution, tbh. But we could make the point that while capitalism and markets may have their uses, perhaps managing the environment shouldn't be one of them? We already argue against the commodification of health, the sale of humans, etc., so it's just a case of drawing another little line around another vital system.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue May 18, 2021 11:15 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 3:10 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:06 pm
As discussed on other threads, rapid action is needed to reconcile scientific knowledge about the causes of present and future climate disruption, and the current lack of meaningful political action to address it. For instance, the Paris Agreement's commitments are far too weak, and most countries aren't going to make them anyway:

The Death of Fossil Fuels thread has been doing a fascinating job covering the technological advances that mean that a net-zero-carbon world by 2030 is completely achievable. Unfortunately, the availability and advantages of that technology don't do enough to overcome the economic, societal and political impediments to the effecting the necessary transitions.
The difficulty of deep carbon reduction is widely underestimated. I haven't been able to read all the 38-page Death of Fossil Fuels thread, but I would doubt it was able to present a convincing agenda to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, even in a wealthy country let alone the world. Because I've never seen that. To me, 80% by 2050 looked like very hard work, the old target, let alone zero. In a feasible political world where you don't do serious damage to people's wealths and livelihoods.

When you talk about net zero, I hope that means not very much of the net business, and mostly actual zero. Because cheap offsets are not part of the long term solution. Cheap offsets only exist because other countries are outputting so much carbon and so inefficiently that you can pay them only a small amount of money to reduce quite a lot. That can't persist in a world heading towards zero. Also it's probably mostly greenwash anyway. You are paying people not to do things. But they will do other things instead. So probably it didn't make much difference to their output. Very difficult to prove it isn't a game of whack-a-mole.

In Britain's case, about 25% of our final energy use comes from electricity. We've got the wind/solar/nuclear stuff up quite high now. The biomass is probably not very zero, though there is supposed to be some kind of audit on it. But as you increase all that, it gets harder. How do you balance electricity through periods of low wind and low sun? Just look at the last 6 weeks (April to mid May 2021) on gridwatch. Not much there. If you don't have gas power stations to cover that, the storage quantities are infeasible. You need something like 200 Dinorwigs if you are to cover low output periods from storage rather than gas. And that's just for our present electricity needs. When heating and cars are all electric too, then you need a lot more electricity and a lot more Dinorwigs, something like 500.* And existing battery arrays are only a small fraction of a Dinorwig. Doing this from storage is currently a non-starter. And if we head into a hydrogen economy, we need even more electricity, because hydrogen is a rather inefficient way of storing electricity. And running electrolysers only at very low load factor to absorb peak output makes the hydrogen rather expensive.

This is why the CCC's plan involves large amounts of CCS. It remains the most feasible way of getting electricity to somewhere close to zero by 2050. But it remains undemonstrated at scale for the moment. The last demonstration scheme was cancelled for massively busting its budget, and the new money is smaller than the old budget.

Then how are we heating people's houses and other buildings if we turn the gas off? The good solution is ground source heat pumps, preferably with shared loops as that keeps the costs down, but presents ample source for neighbourly disagreement. Other solutions will require even more reliable zero-carbon electricity, which as I hope you realise from the above is a problem. (And an air source heat pump is not going to give people the quality of heat many of them will be very happy with, as well as being noisy.) But the amount of cost in building retrofits is beyond belief, and the amount of effort to achieve it staggers belief by 2050 let alone 2030. And how is it being funded?

Then there's electric vehicles. It's one thing for a few smaller countries to go electric, it's another thing entirely when a large fraction of the world is trying to do it all together in short order. The idea that the mining industry can open up enough mines to deliver all the materials needed for that, and the car manufacturing industry reequip to deliver electric cars, and not-yet-invented electric heavy vehicles, is beyond belief.

Then there's aviation. And ships. And steel. And cement. And mining. And manufacturing. And construction. Heating and light transport is the easy stuff.

When the British govt upped its 80% by 2050 to 0 by 2050, I thought it was a kind of gullibility test. The goverment was not taking the reasonable actions to achieve 80% by 2050, and it increases the target. The only sensible grounds were to kind of shock people into doing things so that they might start heading towards 80%. But the damaging thing about increasing the target to zero is that a lot of sensible things to achieve large reductions in output now become things you shouldn't do, because they aren't on the path to zero. For example, we are now worrying about going zero even on quiet railway lines, when under the more reasonable target you could keep a proportion of diesel lines, the carbon per pax mile still being pretty small.

At some point there is a trade-off between how much we reduce our lifestyles by converting to much more expensive ways of living, and adapting to a changing climate. There is a moral case and economic case and leadership case for the wealthy part of the world to reduce its carbon much more and faster than the less wealthy part of the world. And it isn't doing enough. But when the rest of the world is going to carry on emitting carbon in large quantity for a long time yet, then there is a point when going all the way to zero so quickly becomes so far from the cost-benefit boundary that it's pointless. And will result in us having to absorb some adaptation costs anyway.


*There's an unintentionally hilarious paper somewhere where someone spots some Scottish glen with the volume of something like 500 Dinorwigs, and proposes the world's biggest dam to create such an energy store. Since there is no prospect of a lower reservoir of similar capacity, they propose using the sea as the lower reservoir, so it would be a salt-water lake. As critics point out, the flows of water required to operate are not capable of being handled, as they would cause massive erosion. The mass difference between full and empty, if you had to run it down over a few days, would cause earthquakes.
Welcome Ivan!

Yes, I agree with you: net zero by 2050 it's a huge challenge. It's going to need a lot of global work to get there. But if a couple of willy-waving countries can put people on the Moon in 15 years just to show off, I think it's doable. Which is just as well, because it's what the IPCC says is necessary to avoid >1.5°C warming, so we'd better.

For what it's worth, the UN estimates that we already have the technology to replace 70% of global emissions. (Thanks to the Death of Fossil Fuels thread I'm way more up-to-date on technological developments, which is awesome. But I don't think the death of fossil fuels is really a technical challenge, so much as a political and economic one). The challenge is replacing functioning infrastructure with less-polluting stuff.

But, at the very least, governments could stop making the problem worse, subsidising carbon-emitting land-uses, permitting new coal mines, etc. (China is building one new coal power station a week, still). The best carbon offsetting by miles is leaving the stuff in the ground. It's beyond time to start taxing climate damage.

As for "net" - I have no hope for CCS at scale in a useful timeframe. I certainly don't think it's worth gambling on - we need a better plan than that. The only offsetting I'd consider genuine would be sensible ecological restoration schemes - rewetting wetlands, permitting forest regeneration, etc. A carbon market would help to fund that stuff, which does really work, and also has synergistic benefits for all sorts of things, from flood-protection to fish nurseries to indigenous land rights. I don't mind a bit of sensible, science-grounded accounting along those lines.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Millennie Al » Wed May 19, 2021 2:10 am

On the subject of carbon offsets, have a read of this: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/0 ... -increase/
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by IvanV » Wed May 19, 2021 10:36 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 11:15 pm
Welcome Ivan!

As for "net" - I have no hope for CCS at scale in a useful timeframe. I certainly don't think it's worth gambling on - we need a better plan than that. The only offsetting I'd consider genuine would be sensible ecological restoration schemes - rewetting wetlands, permitting forest regeneration, etc. A carbon market would help to fund that stuff, which does really work, and also has synergistic benefits for all sorts of things, from flood-protection to fish nurseries to indigenous land rights. I don't mind a bit of sensible, science-grounded accounting along those lines.
Carbon removal technologies like CCS are not "net" in the dubious sense that is usually used in this context. They are actual verifiable on-going carbon removal. Whereas "net" is usually used in the context of the schemes such as the one quoted by Millennie Al, and unfortunately they are mostly like that.

I think we are really stuffed getting deep reductions in carbon output if we don't have some carbon removal on quite large scale. Like you I fear for CCS, but we have to find something like that. We are not going to solve that seriously nasty and difficult problem of getting reliable and very low carbon electricity without it. And more generally, I think for carbon-emitting applications where the practical alternative tech either is not going to come soon, or is horrendously expensive, carbon removal is going to be cheaper, and probably for quite a long time.

For example, I would like to run my camping stove on carbon-containing fuel, because I carry it on my back or bicycle, and there isn't a practical alternative that is sufficiently light. If I pay to have the carbon it emits removed, why shouldn't I be able to buy some carbon-containing fuel to do that. Synth fuel is sometimes mentioned, but that just sequesters the actual carbon you then re-emit. But that just adds cost, and it doesn't matter which actual carbon atoms are sequestered. So just let me buy some gas and pay for the actual physical removal under some acceptable scheme, it works out the same. That's a small example, but it applies equally to flying a plane, etc.

You quote a source to say that we have tech to reduce carbon emissions by 70%, and I think that is probably about right. The difficulty is scaling up delivery to have the volume to replace existing applications, including that nasty mining problem for all the unusual or relatively uncommon metals (copper is a relatively uncommon metal unfortunately) these techs need. And paying the cost of it, without having some kind of Great Leap Forward effect on the economy. And there's still that really difficult and nasty problem of getting reliable electricity when the cheaper renewable techs are so intermittent.

You talk about ecological restoration. A common misunderstanding here is the difference between a stock and a flow. Most of what we do is a flow. But restoring some land, regrowing a forest, it isn't a flow, it's a change in a stock. Once you have restored it and it has come to maturity, it reaches a new balance and stops removing more carbon. In fact it needs to be preserved at that new level to prevent re-emission. So it's useful for taking a chunk of carbon out in the short term, but it isn't available as a long term flow for on-going removal in the long term. Though I think the potential for taking a large chunk of inherited carbon out is quite large, so long as we don't forget about feeding ourselves.

I'm actually an old Bad Science poster from several years ago, so it's "back", but I forgot the exact name I used to use. I have been advised I used to write my surname out in full after the V before. Nice to talk you again after all this time.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Wed May 19, 2021 10:45 am

I really recommend the article I linked to here as an explanation of the problems with "net zero" as a concept, a goal, and a practical solution to carbon emission.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by IvanV » Wed May 19, 2021 11:50 am

Fishnut wrote:
Wed May 19, 2021 10:45 am
I really recommend the article I linked to here as an explanation of the problems with "net zero" as a concept, a goal, and a practical solution to carbon emission.
I agree with a lot of what they say. But they don't actually have anything like a practical solution to carbon emission without CCS. People underestimate how difficult and expensive abating carbon is, once you've done the easy stuff. They just don't address this point. All they say is, just stop emitting, really stop emitting, emitting is really bad. And there is an issue that people in many places are not even doing the easy stuff, they talk about coal a lot, but stopping burning coal is part of the easy stuff. But they have no agenda for how you do the difficult stuff. Or even an acknowledgement that there is difficult stuff, and how you get past it without large economic effects.

To large extent, we here in Britain are doing what they are saying - we are just abating. But so far just the easy stuff. But we can't get very much farther without getting into some harder stuff. We have made a lot of efficiencies - gas consumption is falling. We have pretty much closed down coal, and it will go completely before long. And have implemented large quantities of low carbon generation, without getting to the point of causing balancing difficulties. That's the easy stuff.

The next easiest stuff ought to be heating. Carbon emitted in heating can be abated at a lower cost per tonne reduced than many other applications, such as mobile applications. Because it's pretty simple, well-known technology, and doesn't have to be light and small enough like a mobile application. But it does need to be light and small enough to go into people's houses. So we ought to get on with that. But its a huge political problem that our Cakeist government - or probably many flavours of governments - is really loth to get to the point where it imposes large costs on people. It wants to keep on putting that point off. Because they want to say we can go green and it won't cost very much. They seem to hope that by waiting a bit it will magically get a lot cheaper. But it won't. We need to get rapidly used to putting in low carbon heating in new houses - because it is still unusual enough in this country that it's a custom job and it costs more than in countries where heat pumps are common and a standard job. (I have a friend who is a manager in a housing association I have been debating what he ought to do about this development of 40 houses, well off the gas grid, that they are building. The builder wanted to put in gas tanks and gch, because that's easy and cheap, and you don't usually get clever builders building HA houses.) And it's going to be very expensive retrofitting existing houses. And will need a large expansion in the production of low carbon, reliable, electricity, to be actually low carbon.

Transport costs a lot more to abate per tonne abated, because the tech has to be small and light enough to be on a vehicle. People are going to have to get used to their cars costing a lot more. And that's so difficult for this Cakeist government that it can't even stomach itself to increase the tax on petrol. But the only way you are going to get this done is to make petrol, in effect, heinously expensive. And it will need, again, a lot more low carbon electricity, though there is some potential to work around modest supply fluctuations in this case.

As I said above, at some point, ultimately there is a trade-off between adaptation to climate change and abating emission. The less wealthy parts of the world are going to carry on emitting because they practically go to war even over reducing fuel subsidies or a market-related increase in the price of bread. So they are not going to be going very green if it reduces people's already unacceptably low standards of living. Plus also some quite wealthy places who go "not us mate", like Australia. Plus also some quite wealthy places who driven themselves up dead ends which makes it particularly difficult for them to abate in the short run, like Germany and Poland, etc. So actually, we are going to have to get used to the idea of quite a bit of climate adaptation anyway.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Wed May 19, 2021 12:18 pm

IvanV wrote:
Wed May 19, 2021 11:50 am
Fishnut wrote:
Wed May 19, 2021 10:45 am
I really recommend the article I linked to here as an explanation of the problems with "net zero" as a concept, a goal, and a practical solution to carbon emission.
I agree with a lot of what they say. But they don't actually have anything like a practical solution to carbon emission without CCS. People underestimate how difficult and expensive abating carbon is, once you've done the easy stuff. They just don't address this point. All they say is, just stop emitting, really stop emitting, emitting is really bad. And there is an issue that people in many places are not even doing the easy stuff, they talk about coal a lot, but stopping burning coal is part of the easy stuff. But they have no agenda for how you do the difficult stuff. Or even an acknowledgement that there is difficult stuff, and how you get past it without large economic effects....
I think you misunderstood my comment, I was saying they were explaining the problems with net zero as a practical solution, not that they were offering one.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 19, 2021 12:37 pm

Yes, it's difficult. That's why we need to get on with the easy stuff ASAP - to leave more time for the hard stuff. But come on - global powers are not taking it remotely seriously at the moment, compared with the response to covid or the space race or whatever. If they treated it like the existential threat it is, and started a big mission to fix things, it would be easily doable in a few decades.

People talk about "we can just adapt to climate change" as if that's the easy, cheap option. It isn't - it's just later. (I suppose it is easier in a way, as lots of the people advocating doing little about the climate will be dead before things get nasty). Flood defences are hugely expensive - £100s of thousands per metre in the UK. Desalination plants are expensive to replace lost water supplies, and increase crop irrigation. Extra wildfires, droughts, floods etc - all with a human cost, as well as a financial one, that will fall most heavily on the world's poor.

There's a good page here comparing 1.5 (the Paris target) with 2°C. Hotlinked infographic:
Image

We're at 1.1°C and will exhaust the carbon budget for 1.5°C in 9 years. Anyone still building or funding fossil-fuel projects is asking for >2°(we're on track for 3°ish at the moment). The issue is that the people polluting now can profit, and the costs are borne by others. I started this thread to discuss mechanisms for addressing that injustice.

Countries that are still "developing" their infrastructure would be much better off developing along low-carbon pathways. Programs like the UN's Clean Development Mechanism were designed to transfer funds from wealthy/developed/polluting nations to poorer/developing/not-polluting-as-much-yet nations.

The kind of high-tech carbon capture approaches discussed in that Conversation piece are indeed pie-in-the-sky, and it would be stupid to continue polluting and depend on mass rollout of them later. We do, of course, have the technology to transfer huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere to terrestrial stocks: ecological restoration. At the very least, if we halted the net loss of forests and wetlands land-use would stop contributing to the problem.
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