A very unsustainable Energy Bill
Here in the UK, the Coalition government has published a draft Energy Bill for consultation. Crucially, this does not contain any commitment to phase-out the use of fossil fuels by 2030 – or any other date (i.e. as per an agreement reached at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh (PA) in 2009).
The Coalition government says it needs to retain the flexibility to generate electricity by the cheapest possible means. However, if you are in the middle of negotiating the purchase price of any commodity, at what point after you have heard the fire alarm do stop your discussion and head for the fire exit? …That’s right! You stop arguing as soon as you know you have got a much bigger problem – mere survival… Our Foreign Secretary, William Hague, may have described the single currency in the EU as “a burning building with no fire exits”, but our looming energy crisis is not the same; we have a way out – it is called renewable energy.
As Bill McKibbin has pointed out recently, fossil fuel research, exploration, extraction and refinement are all subsidised by our governments; removing any incentive those involved might otherwise have to change their modus operandi and/or raison d’etre – and invest in renewable energy instead (i.e. our only hope for a long-term future for a habitable planet).
I have responded to these announcements by emailing my MP, as follows:
Please accept my apologies for previously forwarding you such a ‘rabble-rousing-campaign’ email [i.e. from Bill McKibbin's 350.org]. I should like to offer you this more reasonable-minded email; and ask that you forward this to Ed Davey [i.e. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change] instead?
Despite the efforts by those who seek to perpetuate doubt, the climate science has been well understood for decades: If we do not decarbonise our energy generations systems within this current decade, the cost of doing so will grow exponentially because the speed of both climate change and the required decarbonisation will only increase. I therefore believe that the Energy Bill should have a fixed date for eliminating fossil fuel use.
When such disparate institutions as the US Department of Defense (Quadrennial Defense Review in 2010); the Communist Party of China (Climate Change White Paper in 2011), and the International Energy Agency (World Energy Outlook in 2011) all agree with the Stern Review that any delay will be a false economy (as now does the formerly-sceptical American economist William Nordhaus) – I think UK politicians should admit they are not qualified to second-guess the science; and act on the advice of relevant experts.
Furthermore, I believe the World’s politicians should stop pinning all their hope on the fossil fuel lobby’s get-out-of-jail-free propaganda of carbon capture and storage (CCS). If it is ever proven to be workable on a large scale, CCS will be even more dangerous than burying nuclear waste because CO2 has no half-life (i.e. it will never be safe for it to re-enter the biosphere).
Yours very sincerely,
I will leave you with a quote from the author of the 2008 Greenpeace Report on CCS, entitled ‘False Hope’ (i.e. available via the link embedded in the final paragraph above):
“Carbon capture and storage is a scam. It is the ultimate coal industry pipe dream… Governments and businesses need to reduce their emissions – not search for excuses to keep burning coal.”