The Significance of another 1%

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Here's a rather impassioned article from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit [ECIU] about the significance of the UK's ~1% on-shore [*] contribution to global emissions.  It's the Tesco argument. It essentially says that although 1% is small compared with the United States / Chinese behemoths, every little helps, especially as there are so many rich countries making a small contribution.

There is clearly something in this argument, and there's much that might be said about it.  There are problems, however.  Here's one.  The article says:

"Offshore wind is now cheaper than gas so any new wind farms, displacing gas power, brings bills down."

It’s fair to say that not everyone agrees, and I must say that I'd not noticed this in my all-electric house.  In part, this is because the cost of electricity is determined by the marginal cost of the most expensive fuel used at the time – nearly always gas.  The government seems determined not to fix this.  This is probably because the electricity supply system needs gas to smooth out the intermittence problem associated with renewables.  More on this later – inevitably ... .

Perhaps the biggest issue which the article does not acknowledge is the question of speed.  There are now lots of people who are signed up to the need to continue to shift away from fossil fuels to renewable sources, but who think it ought to be a more organic and evolving process rather than one determined and sometimes dictated by the posturing of politicians out to make a name for themselves.  There are two elements to this: doing things too quickly is likely to be ruinously expensive and will divert investment from much needed other sectors, and it threatens to hasten our deindustrialisation by being wholly reliant on imports rather than home-grown sources.

Rather than grapple with this, however, the article creates a straw man where we stop the transition to renewables altogether.  A pity.


[*] if we count off-shore emissions, as we ought to, (all those Chinese imports) then our current emissions approximately double and the Chinese reduce by a very small amount.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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