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COP26 – the need to scrutinise hidden climate agendas

there may be a need to recognize the short comings of some of the technical fixes being promoted, for example, by some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts. The NGOs can perhaps help here.  For example, Oxfam has produced a useful report, ‘Tightening the Net’, which claims that using land-based techniques alone to remove CO2 from the air and help the world reach net zero by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests. That is equivalent to 5 times the size of India, or more than all the farmland on the planet.

The charity’s report, says governments and companies are hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘unreliable, unproven & unrealistic carbon removal’ schemes, so as to ‘continue dirty business-as-usual activities’. 

COP26 Agendas  https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/09/with-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate.html?showComment=1630897750625#c4129514770472857573  September 04, 2021 With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) having produced a new very grim report on climate issues, all eyes are now focused on COP 26, the 26th meeting of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change to be held in Glasgow in November. COP 26 has the obvious formal agenda of continuing with the negotiation process over climate policy, developing on the outline COP21 Paris agreement in terms of national and global emission targets and aid funding. There is a lot to do, with many key countries still dragging their feet and the main focus will be trying to improve on that. 

However, there are also underlying policy agendas reflecting different views as to how best to cut carbon, and they may shape what goes on and what is seen as important.  Most are backed by specific groups or interests. Most familiar, there are the vested fossil fuel interests- global/local oil, coal & gas companies. Some in the past backed climate change denial, but most are now in defensive mode, seeking to limit damage to their profits/portfolios. Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) is their fall back option as part of a ‘net zero’ carbon offset concession, with 2050 targets presumably being seen as far enough off to be survivable.

At the other end of the spectrum there are the various green NGO’s, all keen on maximum carbon cuts as soon as possible. Most back renewables as the main plank, along with energy saving and a commitment to reduced energy demand- and even perhaps reduced economic growth. Most greens oppose fossil CCS, but some do back biomass CCS as a negative carbon option. Very few however like nuclear, which, as ever, is trying to get in the act despite its generally poor showing compared with renewables. But you’ll find nuclear lobbyist hard at it, always, for good or ill, keeping the nuclear debate alive – even if nuclear PR displays were apparently blocked from access to the Green Zone at COP26!

Hydrogen has meantime become a new area offering angles for all sides. The fossil lobby looks to allegedly low-carbon blue hydrogen (from fossil gas SMR with CCS), an option that seems increasing challenged.  The greens look to zero carbon green hydrogen via electrolysis (using power from renewables), and costs do seem to be falling, while the nuclear lobby (both fission and later fusion) hopes it can also get in on the hydrogen act. That seems a long shot. Especially since there is also a strong showing from the electricity lobby, which wants to see heat pumps used, not hydrogen gas – and certainly not fossil gas!

Some underlying issues

Lobby groups certainly do keep it all alive.  Although the fossil and nuclear industry lobby groups are familiar enough, there is less of an obvious renewables industry lobby, apart from some trade associations. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) doesn’t get involved much direct campaigning. So it’s often left to political pressure groups and NGOs, and their interests transcend energy policy and spread across the whole of field of eco-sustainability. 

 The renewables v nuclear/ CCS issue has already been noted, and the role of hydrogen. However, there are also issues relating to scale and distribution. Most greens would prefer energy to be generated and used locally at the smaller scale. That can be aided by PV solar, but, even with storage, there may still be a need for top-ups and balancing from outside.  That means grids, and some actually see grids as a key thing, with low-loss supergrids allowing for power trading long-distance. ……………

Transport is also obviously a key area. The standard green argument is that flying is very bad, but actually, it is only making a small contribution to CO2 at present- about 2% globally. Cars are vastly worse (they use 45% of global energy) and many more people drive than fly. But, longer-term, flying demand will build up vastly, unless blocked. ………….

What can we expect from COP26? 

It will be interesting to see how the various technical fixes & social fixes issues are dealt with in Glasgow. It’s only a week, and that may mostly be taken up with haggling on targets and dodging invoices for aid!  But some of the wider issues and social fix options may get an airing. The world is changing, and though issues like meat eating are still on the fringe, wider issue are emerging, with Scotland often being a pioneer.   More immediately, Scotland is now getting almost all its power from from renewables, so that technical fix may be an inspiration to many people. . Though perhaps a bit peevishly, Greta Thunberg was not that impressed with Scotland’s progress. However, there may be a need to recognize the short comings of some of the technical fixes being promoted, for example, by some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts. The NGOs can perhaps help here.  For example, Oxfam has produced a useful report, ‘Tightening the Net’, which claims that using land-based techniques alone to remove CO2 from the air and help the world reach net zero by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests. That is equivalent to 5 times the size of India, or more than all the farmland on the planet. The charity’s report, says governments and companies are hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘unreliable, unproven & unrealistic carbon removal’ schemes, so as to ‘continue dirty business-as-usual activities’. 

Well, CCS and the like may not be the main reason, but it certainly is worrying that growth in renewable capacity had slowed in the UK. The latest DUKES statistics indicate a year-by-year fall in new capacity added since 2015, with just a 1GW expansion last year, half of that being for offshore wind. The slow down is arguably mainly due the demise of the Feed in Tariff and the block to CfD access for onshore wind and large PV. That may be reversed in the next CfD round, due to be opened up for bids in December. Let’s hope so, otherwise we could have the odd spectacle of the UK promoting renewables hard at COP26 while its own efforts have been diminishing. 

September 6, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster

2 Comments »

  1. The losers don’t get obituries

    Comment by K scott | September 6, 2021 | Reply

  2. Thank you for the good post 😊

    Comment by Sustain | sustain-blog.com | September 7, 2021 | Reply


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