Alarmists Pull Out All the Stops

Big marches, emotional speeches and new reports about climate change are part of the big push to achieve a new climate treaty in Paris next year.

Among the plethora of misinformation about global warming is a new report, Better Growth, Better Climate, by The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Impressive name, but merely a cover for climate alarmists.

The commission isn’t global, but merely sponsored by seven countries — Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the UK. The chair is Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico, with Nicolas Stern, of the highly controversial, and some say discredited, Stern Review, as co-chair.

The underlying premiss of the report is that Climate Change must be stopped by cutting CO2 emissions.

The report tries to show that the world can cut CO2 emissions while achieving economic growth: Fossil fuels can be eliminated and replaced with renewables at no increase in cost and with benefits to humanity.

Of course, the world must conform to what these people say we must do, which is always the problem with leftist theology.

Cover of Report by Global Commission on the Economy and Climate 2014
Cover of Report by Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, 2014

One message is that cities must be constructed around mass transit. This requires mixed use with people forced to live around mass transit stations. Suburban sprawl must be avoided at all cost. It infers that the American model of suburbia is a threat to mankind, and that the automobile is a weapon against humanity.

The report calls for setting a price on carbon to make renewables seem more economically competitive. This, of course, means higher electricity costs for people, but it will supposedly save them from climate change.

The war on coal goes global, without any recognition that new Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants produce cheap electricity with much lower emissions of all types, actually almost as low as emissions from natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants … but NGCC power plants are also ultimately a threat because they emit CO2.

Here are the 10 action plans proposed by this report.

  1. Accelerate low-carbon transformation by integrating climate into core economic decision-making processes
  2. Enter into a strong, lasting and equitable international climate agreement
  3. Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs, and incentives for urban sprawl
  4. Introduce strong, predictable carbon prices
  5. Substantially reduce capital costs for low-carbon infrastructure investments
  6. Scale up innovation in key low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies
  7. Make connected and compact cities the preferred form of urban development
  8. Stop deforestation of natural forests by 2030
  9. Restore at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural lands
  10. Accelerate the shift away from polluting coal-fired power generation

It’s impossible in a short article to cover all these ten items, but here are a few comments.

Item 1 infers that government should dictate how people live. Many things people do, such as driving cars, eating meat, or living where and how they want, affect climate.

It reminds me of the policy actually proposed by a member of the UK parliament to give a carbon debit card to all UK citizens.

“Each time a person did something, the card would be debited for the carbon usage resulting from the transaction. Filling the gas tank would debit the card for the CO2 caused by the amount of gasoline purchased. Lamb chops would debit the card for the green house gasses caused by sheep. Buying an airplane ticket would debit the card for the CO2 released by the jet engines.”

In essence, government would control what people do.

Item 2 would be Kyoto redux, locking the US into committing national suicide while other countries would likely cheat. It would force the US to cut per capita emissions from 16.6 tons per person to 2.3 tons by 2050, an impossible task without destroying the US economy. The last time the US had per capita emissions of 2.3 tons was in 1900.

How many cars, airplanes, refrigerators and air conditioning units did the US have in 1900?

Virtually none. How do Americans cut CO2 emissions 80% without eliminating these necessities?

CO2 emissions with 80% cut
CO2 emissions with 80% cut

With respect to item 3, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. The report claims fossil fuel subsidies amount to $600 billion per year, but nowhere in the report does it itemize or identify the subsidies, except that countries, such as Venezuela, subsidize the use of gasoline by charging 6 cents per gallon.

The report claims fossil fuels are subsidized, but doesn’t say how.

With respect to item 8, the forested area in the United States is the same as it was in 1900, while population has increased by over 400%. There’s no need to increase forested area in the United States, unless it is to return it to the way it was when the Pilgrims arrived.

Item 10 is merely a continuation of the war on coal, even though coal is the lowest cost method for generating electricity in most undeveloped countries around the world. And many of these poor countries have substantial deposits of coal. (India is an exception.) It asks that export credit agencies restrict loans for building coal-fired power plants in developing countries.

The war on coal deprives poor people, such as in Africa, of electricity for heating and cooking, forcing them to continue to use dung and wood with resulting damage to their health. Burning wood also contributes to deforestation, so cheap electricity produced by coal-fired power plants would help stop deforestation.

Another major fallacy of the report is that it repeatedly claims that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) works. This is a flagrant error. No one has demonstrated that sequestration will keep billions of tons of liquid CO2 under high pressure, locked-up, underground for centuries.

There are many other items in the report that should be of concern to all who live in freedom.

For example, the report says governments should promote a shift in diet from meats.
And it distorts the truth by using the EIA’s Levelized Cost of Electricity for coal that includes a charge for carbon. This artificially increases the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants, which is then used in an attempt to demonstrate that solar and wind are competitive with coal.

Reports like this, and there have been many before it, try to gin up support for cutting CO2 emissions.

They are long on rhetoric and short on objective commentary and facts.

This report’s rhetoric says, “Unchecked emissions from coal, oil and natural gas represent a potentially grave risk to future generations.”

But their proposed cure; curtailing freedom, reducing economic growth, and condemning people to live in poverty, is hardly the answer, and is likely to present an even greater risk to future generations … especially if global warming is not caused by CO2 emissions.

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