Climate Change for Energy Professionals – Part 3

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In his third installment on the climate change debate, Gray Reed energy partner Paul Yale discusses the assertions of Bjorn Lomborg in his book False Alarm:

  • Lomborg relies on two major sources: Reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the US Government’s National Climate Assessment.
  • He says their forecasts about temperatures at the end of the 21st century assume nothing will be done to mitigate CO2 increases. Emissions are declining in the developed world but are rising in the developing world mainly because of China, India and Southeast Asia.
  • The US alone cannot save the planet from the ravages of climate change by self-imposed restrictions on carbon emissions.
  • If China were to switch its power production to natural gas, global CO2 emission cuts would be massive and would dwarf the cuts already made in the US. Among other options are nuclear power and or quadrupling research and development budgets.
  • Wind and solar will bring land-use, intermittency, and battery storage problems.
  • The only way solar and wind power could enable the world to meet the Paris Accord goal of holding climate change increases to 2°C (a political goal) would be for all governments to collectively force citizens to eschew all fossil fuels in favor of wind and solar power. That is not likely to happen, and the costs would fall disproportionately on poor countries, who are the ones least able to afford the leap.
  • One billion people in the world use wood and dung for their primary energy supplies. Poor countries need a functioning power grid like the wealthy countries and this could come from nuclear power, with its high startup costs and safety concerns, or cheaper, more reliable and more flexible coal or natural gas. Wind and solar are not sufficient.
  • Polls indicate that the public is generally unwilling to pay the higher taxes and utility bills needed to convert the US power grid completely to wind and solar even if it were technologically feasible. He cites trillions of dollars in costs.
  • His conclusion: All of the above, and a worldwide carbon tax (you have to read the book for the details). A carbon tax would impact rural Americans disproportionately.

Your musical interlude.

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