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Discussion > How to reduce global carbon emissions?

It is clear that people here don't want it to happen, but let's take this as a given: the global economy is going to reduce carbon (and other GHG) emissions. How can this best be achieved while at the same time maintaining and enhancing living standards worldwide?

Dec 18, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Gas first while researching Nuclear.

And better building regulations for energy efficiency.

Forget about aviation until we invent a totally new means of flying.

Dec 18, 2015 at 4:21 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

On transport:

Progressive taxation on goods which require shipping, on a per mile basis.
Taxing of companies who do not allow teleworking, or do not provide company transport.
Personal taxation of yearly driving mileage. (make road tax proportional to mileage)
Packaging tax for goods (reduces plastic use and waste transport costs)

On energy:

Nuclear energy.
Research / development of fusion.
Clean fracked gas.
Research into local storage / battery solutions for intermittent sources.
Localised hydro (river mills) / rainwater capture
Localised unobtrusive solar (paint, flexible surfaces)

On energy use reduction:

Smart streetlighting
Developing dry chemical washing systems / smart fabrics
Discourage pleasure flying / driving

Dec 18, 2015 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

- Nuclear, with a proportion of breeder reactors (to avoid hitting peak uranium). Electric heating.
[+ Develop nuclear via thorium - I'm never convinced that will be as easy as claimed]

- Synthesise motor and aircraft fuel from nuclear electricity, water and atmospheric CO2. Figure out how to tame hydrogen as motor/aircraft fuel.

(Not sure how to do without cement - turn back to using lime?)

Dec 18, 2015 at 5:45 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Can we go back to fossil fuels when CO2 falls to plant growth inhibiting levels?

Dec 18, 2015 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

SandyS - No. Plants must be grown in chambers dosed with CO2 but hermetically sealed to prevent the escape of the dangerous gas.

Dec 18, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

There are a lot of things we could do to radically cut CO2 but the real question is what would we do. The answer at the moment is 'not a lot'. Sure, a few over paid world leaders will throw away public money on - reduce CO2 quick schemes - but they don't even care enough to fully acquaint themselves with the issues... much like the way they deal with most problems these days. They don't even seem to realise that keeping energy bills low and reducing CO2 are incompatible. Anyone who tries to point it out is discarded as a denier. We really can't have it all. It's like asking for low carb, low fat, low calorie, great taste food. It can't be done with today's technology.

What everyone demonstrates when they have to choose between carrying on as we are or suffering from one of the hardships of cutting CO2, they might as well be servants of Exxon judging by the speed they vote for the fossil fuelled option.

Dec 19, 2015 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Make climate scientists work in offices without heating or airconditioning for a year, and see how they feel about the CO2 they have saved.

Dec 19, 2015 at 1:19 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Is Raff just collecting information for Lewandowsky's next science busting paper?

Dec 19, 2015 at 1:37 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Some good points there. And if Sandy has a design that can reduce atmospheric carbon he'll be a rich man.

I agree that nuclear needs to be part of the solution, although I can't see it happening without factory-made and returnable reactors. And that can happen only if governments order experimental reactor designs.

But how do we pay for it? A carbon tax is my preferred best approach. But is there a better one?

Dec 19, 2015 at 3:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

"How to reduce global carbon emissions?"
You mean CO2 why write "carbon" when it has more letters ? It is perhaps an indication into the way political greens deal with information.
"It is clear that people here don't want it to happen,"
That's INSULTING. If Raff is interested in genuine debate instead of wasting our time, why's he start with a mis-reprenting generalisation ?
It's not "clear" at all, it's just a nasty untrue smear. If easy fusion power comes along I cannot imagine people here on BH saying "we can't have that we need fuels that push out CO2".
"but let's take this as a given: the global economy is going to reduce carbon (and other GHG) emissions."
Why ? adding the COP21 promises to past performance indicates that overall emissions will still continue to increase, as developing countries populations and industrial bases grow.
"How can this best be achieved while at the same time maintaining and enhancing living standards worldwide?"
hang-on this condition "maintaining and enhancing living standards worldwide?"
"BRSH Brsh brsh !" Goalposts moving

Why are we talking about doing stuff without reducing living standards, when we've already spent $$billions on measures like solar/wind energy/business restrictions ? Our 'green electricity" costs much more than if we had left the system as it was. You can't spend that money twice it does cause a decline in living standards over what we would have otherwise. We have already made a sacrifices. People here on BH have already given ground to mad "green" policies, already paying. Whereas political greens live in this fantasy universe where they can have their cake and eat it.

Although some things like energy efficiency measures/insulation etc can be implemented without living standard reductions, Not least the efficiencies we have achieved in the last 40 years in the way we use fossil fuels. If today's cars and power stations emitted CO2 at the same rate as 40 years ago our CO2 footprint would be what some large percentage higher than today.
CO2 emission would be lower in a society where people have almost ZERO children, where people sleep in dormitory beds instead of individual houses, where life is planned so we can walk everywhere, where we stop building infrastructure like universities, bridges etc...but that maybe that would be considered a decline in living standards. If we have to act "right now" I'd expect political greens to be leading by such an example but all we have got so far is Al Gire and Pachauri sharing their bedspace with women who are not their wives.

But basically to reduce emissions you have to :
#1 Use less energy
#2 Use/generate it more efficiently.

So it seems some countries have lower CO2 footprints than otherwise by
#1 Moving industry to China
#2 The US using shale gas as for electricity/heating it's more efficient than coal
#3 France using more nuclear that other countries

Forget Green Gimmicks like Wind/SolarPV/TidalBarrages/electric cars, I have yet to see any proper mathematics that show they have succeed in reducing CO2 and there should be zero subsidies.
I would guess that if you divided a country in half, and half went green gimmick and the other Business As Usual, then after 10 years the latter would be lower in CO2 as tech/efficiencies would have increased. Whereas the former with green technologies, which can't improve much in tech (like wind turbines), will be higher in CO2 as it covers all inefficiencies of making lots of concrete for turbine bases, network inefficiencies of intermittents, losses in batteries etc.

Carbon-Pricing seems a magic solution : Indeed it's what we have always done in the west by massively taxing fossil fuel energy, but the problem is industry just moves to other countries. Since we can't control guns/terrorism today, it's unrealistic to think that we can control every diesel generator in far off countries in the future.

There is a scenario where a new energy source like fusion/easy-nukes/Something-Unforseen pops up and manmade CO2 drops anyway.
....(BTW as a real-green I think that energy should never be cheap, cos that encourages people to consume more, use more land cut more trees and have a higher impact on the ecosystem)

Dec 19, 2015 at 3:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterstewgreen

"But how do we pay for it? A carbon tax is my preferred best approach. But is there a better one?"

Stop funding research in climate science and use the money ($100bns so far wasted) to develop safer nuclear options (no small task given the already high safety recored of nuclear) while rolling out current nuclear generating plants.

Now we have the problem of convincing China, India, etc. that they should continue their growth with more expensive energy options. Do you have a solution for that Ratt?

Dec 19, 2015 at 7:04 AM | Registered Commentergeronimo

You do know, don't you raft, that we'd only reduce CO2 output by 4% if we stopped all human emissions? Doesn't that worry you as it's such a dangerous gas for you chaps?

Dec 19, 2015 at 7:06 AM | Registered Commentergeronimo

Of course, all this is assuming that reducing (or stopping) all human emissions of CO2 will actually slow, stop or reverse the present rise in CO2 concentrations. NASA’s OCO2 satellite has shown us that a lot of the original assumptions might not be right, and we really have no idea why the concentrations are rising, now, so why do we think that we know what will stop it?

Hmmm… now where will the goalposts be moved to?

Dec 19, 2015 at 9:39 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Raff's question is a bit like asking 'I know you guys hate world peace but how would you go about it without it taking any effort or costing anything'.

Not everyone has the same view of what the endpoint is, never mind how we get there or how much we're prepared to pay. eg ISIS would happily wipe out the West and keep everyone but themselves in abject, unquestioning poverty. It would be peace of sorts and reduce CO2 but I think most people would balk at it as a solution.

Dec 19, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Obviously it is absolutely vital to cut all money, energy and resources wasted on climate science.

That is just so obvious I can't understand why Raff didn't include it in his loaded question.

Those that think windmills and solar panels will save the planet, should be encouraged to buy their own, and not expect anyone else to subsidise their fantasies. (subject to Planning Permission etc that everybody else has to go through)

Fracking should be encouraged, but NOBODY should be forced to benefit from it.

Small nuclear powerstations should be built, in small submersible containers, so they can be moved around, and parked on the sea bed unobtrusively. This technology has been around for quite a few decades, without problems.

Dec 19, 2015 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Stewgreen you seem to be a self-styled "real-green" who doesn't like recent renewables increasing electricity prices but nevertheless thinks that "energy should never be cheap". If I said energy shouldn't be cheap I'd be condemned for wanting old ladies to die from cold or wanting poor parts of the world to stay in poverty. But I expect you'll get away with it.

You missed
#3 Generate electricity differently.

Dec 19, 2015 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

So what do you and Stewgreen consider 'enough' if cheap energy lets us consume too much? How do you know that over consumption doesn't lead to innovation? Kill one, kill the other. eg computers have to be the ultimate disposable but where would we be if we'd waited for each model to break naturally? The market isn't being driven by industry, science or governments it's consumers that make it worth the effort developing ever smarter units. Look at those countries that tried to limit consumption - look how they now demand to be allowed to catch up.... and overtake.

Dec 19, 2015 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Raff, UK energy has never been cheap. It has risen substantially as a direct result of CO2 scaremongering.

Of course you would try to dodge the issue and divert blame on to someone else so you can save the planet.

It is amazing how deaths can be attributed to global warming, so easily and without question, whether due to asthma, storm or flood, but when people die of cold because they can not afford to be warm, it is nothing to do with inept price fixing to satisfy the crazed beliefs of those with half baked brains. Or is that down to brain acidification?

Dec 19, 2015 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Yes, 'cheap' is another word that needs clarifying. Historically energy is cheap but compared to the US it's expensive.

Dec 19, 2015 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Tiny, the principle should be that externalities are paid for by whoever causes them. Build up from there to get the correct price. The problem lies in determining the cost of the externalities.

Golf, the problem of people dying in cold weather is more complicated than just the price of electricity (or gas). For example, many homes are not heatable due to bad design or maintenance or antiquated decoration and fixtures. Anyone who owns their home has the capital to improve it to make it livable in cold weather. Rented homes should be required by law to be cheaply heatable.

Dec 19, 2015 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff, ultimately who pays to upgrade all these homes? Brilliant idea, why not tax energy even higher and cream off extra money for dodgy fly-by-night insulation companies. What couldn't possibly go wrong? It did.

Are you even aware of any of the scams, or just plain rip-offs, being perpetrated under the convenient Green Flag of saving the planet? Muslim extremists tend to fight under a Green flag, yet the Green Blob account for more deaths.

And now thanks to the corruption in Paris, people are going to have to replace gas cookers and heating systems with more expensive to use electrical equivalents, when the UK is only just managing to produce enough electricity to meet current demand. Which bit of this is so dumb you like it?

Who is going to pay to upgrade all older properties? The Government is now starting to reverse some of the taxpayer funded subsidies for making energy more expensive.

Meanwhile there is NO PROOF of CO2's involvement in any change in climate, which 18+ years with no warming proves remarkably conveniently.

Dec 19, 2015 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

And do you also believe in Santa?

When it comes to the bottom line, countries protect themselves. New generations have no desire to pay for the messes their parents made. While rich Guardianista merrily lament the UK past, the public haven't as much sympathy for their leaders bankrupting the country in atonement. Things are reversing already. It's only lasted this long because so many people are lying about the costs and effectiveness of renewables.

Dec 19, 2015 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Golf, the issue of fuel poverty is very much tied up with poverty and social welfare in general. Maybe we could pay a winter fuel allowance to those in need instead of paying it to the many who don't. Who exactly should pay to improve the poor quality housing stock the UK enjoys? Those who own the houses, those who rent them or those who developed them? Or everyone else? These are questions on which a few commenters here - but probably not you - will have well considered opinions. If you can rustle up some coherent thoughts on the matter beyond "its all the fault of renewables", why not start a thread to discuss it?

Dec 20, 2015 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

That last was in reply to Raff.

Golf Charlie - to put the costs of making old UK properties highly green it's worth reading this.

A two bed end terrace given a £90,000 make over. That was 2011 and there's very little more about the project to be found. After year 1 the energy use was still 60% of the pre renovation amounts. And they lost their loft space to insulation and equipment.

Dec 20, 2015 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2