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« Book burners | Main | Royal Society responds to Lawson? »
Thursday
May022013

More evidence that nobody believes in climate policy

The Economist notes that far from pulling back from the oil and gas business, governments - allegedly concerned with climate targets - are actually expanding their fossil fuel businesses and that exploration activity is expanding across the board:

Such behaviour, on the face of it, makes no sense. One possible explanation is that companies are betting that government climate policies will fail; they will be able to burn all their reserves, including new ones, after all. This implies that global temperatures would either soar past the 2°C mark, or be restrained by a technological fix, such as carbon capture and storage, or geo-engineering.

Recent events make such a bet seem rational. On April 16th the European Parliament voted against attempts to shore up Europe’s emissions trading system against collapse. The system is the EU’s flagship environmental policy and the world’s largest carbon market.

Putting it at risk suggests that Europeans have lost their will to endure short-term pain for long-term environmental gain. Nor is this the only such sign. Several cash-strapped EU countries are cutting subsidies for renewable energy. And governments around the world have failed to make progress towards a new global climate-change treaty. Betting against tough climate policies seems almost prudent.

 

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Reader Comments (38)

This implies that global temperatures would either soar past the 2°C mark, or be restrained by a technological fix, such as carbon capture and storage, or geo-engineering.


The Economist still thinks that AGW is real then?

May 2, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

This shouldn't be a surprise. If you look a a graph of projected future energy demand (it goes up) and the corresponding projected future energy supply, petroleum products are the dominant contributor. So follows more petroleum products are needed for future.

May 2, 2013 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

The EU Commission will not be denied for too long. How dare the "elected" Parliament vote against them.
Previous 'no' referenda have been ignored or side-stepped and similar tactics are about to be used against the toothless EMPs.

May 2, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Less pain now for more pain later. Human short-termism strikes again.

May 2, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

So follows more petroleum products are needed for future.

May 2, 2013 at 9:44 PM | Paul

What makes you think more petroleum products will be available in the future? How far ahead are you thinking?

May 2, 2013 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@entropic man

'Less pain now for more pain later'

Nope. Less pain now. But only the straggling ageing and tattered remnants of a failing cult believe in some possible future pain instead. Nobody else does.

It is the fate of all doomsday soothsayers....eventually enough time goes by without doomsday occurring for their credibility to nosedive. It would be almost tragic if it weren't so funny.

May 2, 2013 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

THE Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.

The Stone Age did not end because a neolithic government taxed the use of stones either.

PS while checking the Sheik Yamani quote above, I found this hilariously optimistic Economist article about the future of energy - from 2003. Laughable but tragic looking back:

http://www.economist.com/node/2155717

May 2, 2013 at 10:31 PM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

Entropic Man @ 10:18

"Human short-termism strikes again."

The Human Race has thrived, developed, prospered & expanded ever since we lived in caves.

Care to expand on your opinion?

May 2, 2013 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

"This implies that global temperatures would either soar past the 2°C mark..."

You beat me to it, Stephen Richards. It implies that The Economist still doesn't get it. There is no "soaring" going on. The forecast “soaring” is still failing to arrive.

May 2, 2013 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Entropic man, can't remember timeline on graph but think long term. Unconventional become more important...

May 2, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

If the Economist thinks that any government would forego revenues from and expose itself to huge compensation claims from a bona fide licencee of a proven commercial reserve on the basis of green activist scaremongering they are either quite mad, or, in the case of the UK, quite correct.

May 2, 2013 at 11:27 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

100 years, entropic man. We have at least that much oil, and we can now be pretty confident that CO2 sensitivity (if such a concept has any real meaning) is not at such a level as to cause catastrophic warming or sea level rise in that time frame. Beyond that, who knows? Anyone who tried to predict what the world would look like in 2013, or plan for it, in 1913 would look as daft as you do now.

May 2, 2013 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

The first sentence in the Economist article is rubbish.
The markets didn't misprice risk, the banks selling the debts hid the risk.
In fact the article as a whole is drivel.
Stuff in the ground stays in the ground if no one wants it, or you are trying to force up the price.
As the Aussies are learning, someone always wants their coal and that someone is usually China.
Really the Economist is getrting worse.

May 2, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

There can be no CO2-AGW; it's precluded by basic radiative equilibrium physics.

There has been AGW from polluted clouds but it saturates and teh Earth's atmosphere is able to be stable by other pathways.

May 3, 2013 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

In 1883 geologists J. Peter Lesley and John F. Carll warned that US oil fields were depleting so rapidly that reserves would be exhausted in a generation. In the late eighties they were joined by E. W. Claypole who made similar claims about natural gas.

That makes it 130 years of "peak" oil predictions.

May 3, 2013 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Those confident that our civilization will continue indefinately might like to consider the Mayans, the Romans and the Anasazi, the Olmecs, the Kmer and and Minoans, Maccu Pichu, the Indus Valley and the Greenland Vikings.
All of these collapsed when the conditions under which they survived changed in a way which made their survival impossible. At least three were victims of climate change.What makes you think we are immune?

May 3, 2013 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

This implies that global temperatures would either soar past the 2°C mark, or be restrained by a technological fix, such as carbon capture and storage, or geo-engineering.

Or the science turns out to be... *puts on sunglasses* ... overheated.

Perhaps nations sat on proven fossil fuel reserves should start demanding money for not extracting them.

May 3, 2013 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

The author of that piece should consider the idea that it is his assumptions which are failing.

May 3, 2013 at 1:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The "Western" world is doomed as long as people who think like Entropic Man have power.

The future is elsewhere. The AGW cult has ruined the future for Europe and USA etc.

http://postmasculine.com/work-overseas

May 3, 2013 at 1:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

They keep trotting out this 2 degrees C figure. It's joke, when the German climate scientist who dreamt it up says it's origins were political and it has no scientific basis to it. ( He said it was before Copenhagen that the German polis complained that they could not sell the science as it was too complex. They needed a "sound bite" so the scientist suggested the 2C idea. He explained it all in Der Speigel interview).
But I suppose if the MSM are still using it, it has achieved itspurpose.

May 3, 2013 at 1:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

Mr.Entropic Man: we do not know how or why Minoans, Indus Valley, Olmecs and Kmers collapsed. Romans and Incas were conquered by foreigners better armed. So I think you are thinking abot the Mayas, Anasazi, and Greendland's Vikings. Mayas collapsed in Peten (Guatemala) but not in Yucatán (p.e. Tulum), Anasazi may be, but they migrated. and the vikings were and outpost in the far west!
All civilizations are mortals.

May 3, 2013 at 2:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorge c.

Jorge

It's worse than that. The collapse of Rome coincided with a long cooling period. Likewise Greenland and Minoans. Mayans a lack of precipitation, which is unlikely to be caused by warming.

Basically the threat to civilisation is pretty clearly cooling. Warming has been strongly associated with the growth of civilisations.

May 3, 2013 at 5:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Jorge,

Plus I don't believe any of those civilisations placed artificial restrictions on themselves that aided in their eventual demise (like cutting oil and gas extraction).

Ultimately though a pretty weak argument from EM.

Regards

Mailman

May 3, 2013 at 7:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

"Putting it at risk suggests that Europeans have lost their will to endure short-term pain for long-term environmental gain."

There is no guarantee that current policies will provide long-term environmental gain. Furthermore, the "science" behind climate predictions is increasingly seen as being flawed.

May 3, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Money section of the Telegraph last Saturday has best/worst 3 performing investments. £1000 in some would have become £3,900 over 5 years. Worst one was Trading Emissions Plc where your £1000 became £220. Says it all really.

May 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

"Peak oil" is back. But now its "peak oil demand".

Economists project that demand is approaching a tipping point.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-01/peak-oil-is-back-but-this-time-its-a-peak-in-demand

May 3, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

Is there a kind of irony in this?

Special London Breakfast Briefing (9 May 2013) - An Audience with the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP

"The Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, secretary of state for energy and climate change, will address a 'Special Breakfast Briefing' in London on 9 May on the subject of 'Delivering a Successful UK Offshore Oil and Gas Industry - Government Policy in Practice'."

http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/events/event.cfm?frmEventID=552

May 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Drake

It seems this am that voters have served notice on the political classes that perversely heaped massive fuel price rises on top of the austerity necessarily imposed to rectify their previous financial hubris.
The UKIP energy policy, a model of rational thought and practicality will now get an airing in Council chambers throughout England and Wales, where Greens and their Europhile fellow travellers have held sway for far too long.
It remains to be seen how the main parties will react, but indications so far are that they are in total denial, preferring to see it as a protest vote without recognising what the grievances are and how firmly they are held.
Another, more bloody nose looms in 2014, and I don't mean the sideshow in Scotland.

May 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

This implies that global temperatures would either soar past the 2°C mark, or be restrained by a technological fix, such as carbon capture and storage, or geo-engineering

Or maybe the climate won't prove as sensitive to CO2 concentrations as the more alarmist proponents claim?

If, however, temperatures are likely to rise by only 2°C in response to a doubling of carbon emissions (and if the likelihood of a 6°C increase is trivial), the calculation might change. Perhaps the world should seek to adjust to (rather than stop) the greenhouse-gas splurge. There is no point buying earthquake insurance if you do not live in an earthquake zone. In this case more adaptation rather than more mitigation might be the right policy at the margin. But that would be good advice only if these new estimates really were more reliable than the old ones. And different results come from different models.

Maybe the journalists at the Economist should read the Economist?

May 3, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

In 1883 geologists J. Peter Lesley and John F. Carll warned that US oil fields were depleting so rapidly that reserves would be exhausted in a generation.

May 3, 2013 at 12:04 AM | TerryS

They were not the first to worry about such things. In 1865, when Britain was still by far the world's richest and most powerful nation, the economist William Stanley Jevons published a gloomy book with the title The Coal Question in which he predicted the exhaustion of the country's coal reserves and the consequences for the economy.

The article below is at the Oil Drum blog which is devoted to discussions on "energy and our future."

Jevons' coal question: Why the UK Coal Peak wasn't as bad as expected
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8241

May 3, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"Those confident that our civilization will continue indefinately might like to consider the Mayans, the Romans and the Anasazi, the Olmecs, the Kmer and and Minoans, Maccu Pichu, the Indus Valley and the Greenland Vikings."

Lets see now:
Mayans = military defeat
Romans = military defeat
Anasazi = drought
Olmecs = unknown
Khmer = military defeat
Minoans = military defeat
Macchu Picchu = military defeat
Indus valley = colder climate
Greenland Vikings = colder climate

It would seem that larger defense appropriations and more CO2 is what's needed.

May 3, 2013 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered Commentertty

@tty

And I m guessing the the Greenland Vikings could still be there today and flourising if they had the luxury of modern day fossil fuel sourced energy.

May 3, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Woodentop:

Reading the article you linked to, and this stood out:

Switching to these new methods will not be easy, or all that cheap, especially in transport, but with the right policies it can be made both possible and economically advantageous.

Can anyone think of any human advance that came about from a government policy?

I can’t. All came about because someone saw that there was an opportunity, and developed it. Imagine where we would be if the present sorry incumbents of our once-illustrious House of Commons had been sitting during the development of the infernal combustion engine – the costs of switching away from the horse would have been way too high! Think of all the job losses amongst the ostlers, stable-boys, farriers, et al!

The Sheik is (was?) right; The Economist is not right (in at least two meanings of the word).

May 3, 2013 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

"Those confident that our civilization will continue indefinately might like to consider the Mayans, the Romans and the Anasazi, the Olmecs, the Kmer and and Minoans, Maccu Pichu, the Indus Valley and the Greenland Vikings.
All of these collapsed when the conditions under which they survived changed in a way which made their survival impossible. At least three were victims of climate change.What makes you think we are immune?"
Aye, Europe will definitely become second rate or even collapse as long as EU and DECC continue with their policies of closing down Nuclear and Coal energy production, inhibit shale gas development and continue with daft subsidies to solar and wind.
A Google reminder "D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y. The correct spelling is definitely. Not definately. Not definatly. Not definantly. Not definetly. Not definently. And certainly not defiantly."

May 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

JP:

I think most of us are too polite (or have given up) to mention the infinite variations that some people can think up to misspell a word, or the egregious mangling of basic grammar. It appears that your patience is definitely finite.

My own bugbear is the overuse (by that, I mean use) of that horrendous word, "gotten". That Jonathon Swift used it once in Gulliver's Travels is no excuse.

May 3, 2013 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Entropic Man

Those confident that our civilization will continue indefinately might like to consider the Mayans, the Romans and the Anasazi, the Olmecs, the Kmer and and Minoans, Maccu Pichu, the Indus Valley and the Greenland Vikings.
All of these collapsed when the conditions under which they survived changed in a way which made their survival impossible. At least three were victims of climate change.What makes you think we are immune?

You do cheer me up. Not least because I can see your ilk being hunted for food after the collapse you seem so eager to see.

Better hope that 'the collapse' doesn't happen. I can build high powered hunting rifles from ore and coal. If you can't then I can only suggest high speed across the plains of England or really good camouflage.

EM - Support your local culture. Breakdown is a bitch!

May 3, 2013 at 9:47 PM | Registered Commenterbh3x2

bh3x2

Get a boat. Your quarry lives in NI.

May 3, 2013 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

SayNoToFearmongers

Or a bigger Gun :}

May 4, 2013 at 10:13 PM | Registered Commenterbh3x2

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