Climate Change

Burn now, pay later

Scientific journal NATURE published Climate change won’t wait for future innovation by Marie Claire Brisbois of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Brisbois wrote:

Reading national climate plans feels like perusing corporate advertising brochures. There is an ever-increasing focus on the promise of innovation: hydrogen fuel, new nuclear technologies and carbon capture and storage…

In April 2021, three British scientists with careers in Earth sciences warned that promoting technological methods of carbon reduction diminishes the sense of urgency needed to curb emissions immediately:

We have arrived at the painful realisation that the idea of net zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier “burn now, pay later” approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar. It has also hastened the destruction of the natural world by increasing deforestation today, and greatly increases the risk of further devastation in the future.

by 2009 it was becoming increasingly clear that it would not be possible to make even the gradual reductions that policy makers demanded. That was the case even if carbon capture and storage was up and running. The amount of carbon dioxide that was being pumped into the air each year meant humanity was rapidly running out of time...

In principle there is nothing wrong or dangerous about carbon dioxide removal proposals… The problems come when it is assumed that these can be deployed at vast scale. This effectively serves as a blank cheque for the continued burning of fossil fuels and the acceleration of habitat destruction.

However, policymakers and businesses appear to be entirely serious about deploying highly speculative technologies as a way to land our civilisation at a sustainable destination. In fact, these are no more than fairy tales...

Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap

Marc Lee is a Senior Economist at the CCPA’s BC Office with a long record of reporting on environmental issues. His article Canada’s road to zero carbon emissions full of dangerous distractions notes that Canadian policy makers establish emission targets and then cook the books to give the false impression that effective solutions are being implemented.

For example, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change recently said the country is developing an electricity grid that will operate with net-zero emissions by 2035. But the plan has loopholes that ensure this goal will not be met. Climate solutions policy analyst Stephen Thomas said:

These proposed regulations are not likely to actually achieve the core goal of a net-zero electricity system across Canada by 2035. …extensions, exemptions and loopholes in these proposed regulations leave the door wide open to a huge increase in natural gas emissions in many provinces.

Pembina Institute’s Binnu Jeyakumar said that the country could see a “70 per cent increase in gas use by 2035.” She points out that only gas-fired power stations built after 2025 would be subject to new standards. Others would continue spewing carbon.

While a net-zero carbon grid is sensible, large parts of Canadian climate policies seem written by fossil fuel lobbyists inspired by fake architecture of movie production. The aim of GHG emission reduction strategies is to look real without being real.

Source: Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research,
for nations over 10 million population

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Categories: Climate Change

5 replies »

  1. It is going to be a difficult time. Was reading an article regarding the problems with the lack of energy in california, rolling black outs. Germany, some bakeries have turned out the lights, another company cut the hot water in the bathrooms. The list goes on. While the world grapples with energy costs we have to deal also with climate change, pollution, etc.

    As things get more difficult for people and more expensive, they may not care as much about climate change. They are focused on the here and now and how to get through the increased costs, keeping air conditioners on and keeping their houses warm in the winter. In Great Britian the new P.M. has capped energy bills for homes at $2880 and after that the government pays your bills.

    We didn’t pay attention in the past and it is not expected people will pay enough attention in the present to deal with the future. Don’t expect much change until a lot more countries start experiencing the type of floods Pakistan has experienced.

    we about to begin the yearly enviornmental disaster season, better known as Christmas. It puts people into debt, is not good for the enviornment, etc. People shop til they drop and then we wonder why the enviornment isn’t doing well.


  2. Anyone trying to reduce their waistline by drinking diet Coke with their cheeseburger is missing an obvious solution to the real problem. Carbon capture and storage similarly misses the mark.

    George Monbiot provides an example of solutional backfire in his new book “Regenesis”:

    When incentives for biogas were first proposed, they were sold to the public on the grounds that, instead of leaving discarded food, sewage, and animal manure to rot in the open air, releasing methane which contributes to global heating, these wastes would be digested in tanks and their effusions would be captured and used as a substitute for fossil methane (“natural gas”). It was a sensible solution, applauded by environmentalists. But we were conned.

    From the outset several EU governments encouraged farmers to boost their methane production by supplementing the waste with crops grown specially to feed the digesters. Corn was the most profitable, and it soon became the primary feedstock. It’s a similar story to the European Union’s bio-diesel incentive, which was supposed to persuade manufacturers to turn used cooking oil into car fuel, but, as some of us warned, instead accelerated the destruction of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia to plant oil palm.

    According to the farming press, feeding a biogas digester with a capacity of 1 megawatt requires between 20,000 and 25,000 tons of corn a year. This means that 450 or 500 hectares of land must be used to grow it. By comparison, wind turbines need one-third of a hectare for every megawatt of capacity, or 1,500 times less land. Today you can witness annual disasters in several parts of Europe, caused by this “green” fuel. During winter storms, soil pours from harvested corn fields, slumping down hillsides, covering the roads, and washing into the rivers, where it destroys habitats and causes floods.

    One scientific paper reports that the soil structure has been damaged in 75 percent of fields used for growing corn, sampled in southwest England. Partly because of the loss of carbon as the soil is washed away, biogas made from corn is likely to cause more green-house gas emissions than burning fossil methane. An estimate in Germany suggests that in some cases its emissions are comparable to burning coal.

    When our governments use the word “fix”, it is often a double entendre.


  3. Directly along the lines of Norm’s opening quotation: “There is an ever-increasing focus on the promise of innovation: hydrogen fuel, new nuclear technologies and carbon capture and storage…” Michael E. Mann (2021) begins his Chapter 7 “The Non-Solution Solution” as follows:

    The inactivists have sought to hijack actual climate progress by promoting ‘solutions’ (natural gas, carbon capture, geoengineering) that aren’t solutions at all. Part of their strategy is using soothing words and terms –‘bridge fuels,’ ‘clean coal,’ ‘adaptation,’ ‘resilience’–that conveys the illusion of action but, in context, are empty promises.

    Inactivists can claim to have offered solutions. Just not good ones.

    They are delay tactics intended to forestall meaningful action while the fossil fuel industry continues to make windfall profits — what noted climate advocate Alex Steffen has referred to as ‘predatory delay.’

    It is essential that we recognize and expose these efforts for the sham they are, for the clock is ticking. We cannot afford any further delay when it comes to the climate crisis.

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