When Will It Be OK To Laugh At The Climate Campaigners?

The climate campaigners are so terribly, terribly earnest.  I guess it’s what we should expect.  After all, they have a mission to “save the planet.”  

A great opportunity to demonstrate your earnestness and fervor as a climate campaigner has been the latest UN climate confab, known as “COP 24,” taking place in Katowice, Poland this week and last.  22,000 bureaucrats and functionaries have gathered to tell the world that it must promptly do away with the evil fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. Over and over, the alarm was sounded.  From Think Progress on December 10:

The conference comes only two months after the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an ominous report projecting that the world only has around 12 years before crossing a dangerous global warming threshold.  A subsequent report released two weeks ago, the congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment, found that every region of the United States is already suffering the impacts of climate change.

And then, into the middle of what should have been universal acclaim for immediate UN-directed action, there dropped a U.S.-sponsored panel with the title “U.S. Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism.”  The lead speaker was a guy named Wells Griffith, advisor to President Trump at the Department of Energy.  Other panelists included “speakers representing natural gas, fracking, and nuclear energy proponents.”  Griffith was quoted as saying “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security.”  Such incredible chutzpah!  What is the proper response?Anger and protests, of course.  Oh, and also laughter.  I mean, this was completely outside the bounds of polite conversation.  What kind of dolts could be saying such preposterous things?  From the Independent:

Mr. Griffith spoke for about ten minutes before the audience started laughing, mocking, and yelling at him.  Eventually, they started chanting “keep it in the ground” and “shame on you.”

Meanwhile, out here in the real world, are we allowed to notice that absolutely no one is remotely taking seriously the idea that carbon emissions from fossil fuels are really going to be significantly reduced?   Yes, they may talk like they are serious.  They may talk like failure to reduce emissions is leading to catastrophe and apocalypse.  But actually do anything significant?  That would cost real money, and even then any measurable emissions reductions would likely be minimal.

What’s happening on worldwide carbon emissions?  Here is a chart from Global Carbon Project, going through 2017:

carbon emissions by year.jpg

Up 2% from 2016 to 2017. And the projection is for another substantial increase in 2018.

And what’s going on in China?  Haven’t they been talking a big “green” game for the past several years, and dramatically increasing use of wind and solar energy?  The GWPF has a new report out just todayon what it calls China’s “U-Turn” on energy policy:

[T]hree years after Paris, China no longer basks in the role of climate saviour, and any sense of momentum has been lost.  With the UN climate change apparatus having deflated and no longer serving China’s financial purposes – to secure a share of a $100-billion green fundwhile promoting exports of green technology – China’s energy policy is focused on the Communist Party’s two primary domestic needs: securing the energy to fuel China’s economy and reducing the smog that undermines public confidence in the party. . . .  President Xi Jinping has ordered state-owned companies to boost domestic production of both oil and gas. . . .  Given the paucity of domestic supplies, China has become the world’s largest importer of crude oil and, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), it will be the world’s largest gas importer within two to three years.   Next to Japan, China is the world’s largest importer of LNG, with imports surging last year by 50%. . . .   

Then we have France and its approximately 17 cents per gallon new gasoline tax.  Even if you assume that that tax was not the sole cause of the recent riots, you can’t help noticing that in the very best of circumstances that tax would have had a completely minimal effect on world emissions.  A 17 cents per gallon tax, on top of gasoline already priced at about $6, would perhaps reduce gasoline consumption by 3-4% (very optimistic), all to be accomplished by making it too expensive for the rural lower middle class to drive.  And gasoline consumption is only a fraction of France’s emissions, so at best France’s emissions would be decreased by 1%.  And France’s emissions are less than 1% of world emissions.  So maybe this tax would decrease world emissions by 0.01% -- if you’re lucky.  

And how about the world’s massive investments in wind and solar energy.  No matter how many wind and solar energy facilities you build, you will be lucky to decrease world CO2 emissions by 10-15%.  Why?  First, this only addresses the electricity sector, which is only about 40% of emissions – the rest being things like transportation, shipping and industry.  Second, the wind and solar only work part time (30% at best) and you need full fossil fuel backup to run the rest of the time.  At best you save 30% of 40%, which is 12% -- and that assumes that you actually get the 30% from the wind and solar, and that you have no efficiency losses on the fossil fuel plants running in back-up mode. 

 To get higher than the 10-15% emissions savings from wind and solar, you need things that haven’t been invented yet, that nobody is actually working on or seriously considering, and that look to cost wildly too much to ever be realistic. Things like trillions upon trillions of dollars worth of batteries (see my post from last week here), or maybe the ability to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere (which will take a huge amount of new energy – from where?).

So my question is, who should be laughing at whom here?