What do I think, What can I do?

Posts tagged ‘climate politics’

Pope and Climate Change

Last days the most commented climate change news are the words coming from catholic church’s leader Pope Francis in a encyclica called Laudato Si.  It is everywhere,

  • in climate change webs it is celebrates and extensively commented: climate progress, carbon brief, skeptical science, quark soup…
  • In skeptic webs it is criticized: whatupwhiththat, or this one.
  • In general newspapers it is mentioned profusely. For example, New York Times has 22 news in their climate change channel last week (12-19th June), 17 are about Pope’s encyclica, including an editorial. relationship with poverty, american politics reactions, or critics to current global market. Many others like BBC, El Pais (in Spanish),… It is well described in this post.
  • In Google a simple “Laudato Si” search gives 2.000.000 answers.

So,is this document a turning point in climate change? I agree with Carbon Brief‘s post that explains it is very positive and influential but just that. There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world but the two great actors (USA and China) are not Catholic and most influential catholic states are among the “convinced” in climate change (Italy, Brazil, Spain). Even more,  if this document is clear and with a lot of media attention, the opinion of catholic church with respect to climate change was not different with previous Popes. Nevertheless, in my opinion the three most positive points of the encyclica are:

  1. The moment is crucial. We need commitment and clear ideas in the governments and public opinion to start a way now that will avoid greater problems in 50 years. This document helps in this sense, to gain commitment. This year COP in Paris is a great opportunity to start a serious change.
  2. Many people in several western countries listens contradictory words about climate change, or they do not get a sense of urgency. The Pope will be a new word for them, as it is a highly respected opinion for many people and can help them inform more or get conscious about climate change. Every people’s opinion counts in this issue, at least to some extent.
  3. Finally Pope Francis connects the fact of the poorest with climate change. Climate change is becoming a great problem for them in many ways and this is the way it will become an humanitarian problem to the eyes of many people.

Last chapters in Spanish energy politics regression

definanzas.com.wp-content.uploads.energias-renovablesI started this post many time ago. And every now and then there are novelties, so it is like an never-ending post. Therefore, I have decided to stop and publish.

There was a time, not so far ago when Obama considered Spanish energy politics as a good example. A favourable Feed-in-tariff helped the development of a strong industry capable of exporting technology and an amazing 44% of electrical generation from renewables in January 2013 is an example of what was done. But this panorama, quite succesful, in fact, started to decline some time ago, concretely with the previous socialist government. And the current one, from the conservative party is deepening the problem and forcing the companies to look only abroad for new contracts.

After stopping feed-in-tariff for new installations the subsequent changes have attacked the installed solar panels and wind mills. The suggestion of removing the TUR tariff (the fixed tariff for most small consumers 99.6% of the consumers but only 50% of the KWh) was just a step. The general 6% new tax for all electricity generation followed.  And, last week a new change in feed-in-tarif for the active installations was designed with the tariff deficit in mind again.

But it does not stop there, efficiency measurements have been stopped too in a way quite difficult to understand. In one way european building efficiency directive has not been converted in law (it should be long ago) and this could be clearly an impulse for a collapsed building sector and certainly a help to save petroleum and gas expenditure and many of the programs from IDAE institute have been cancelled to support car sales (PIVE plan). The result is a record expenditure in fossil fuel imports. Is it not a bit contradictory with tariff deficit reduction philosophy? The only two good news are that el Hierro will not be affected nor a thermosolar central (just one).

It is clear from the beginning that Soria (industry and energy minister) has been mainly worried to reduce a very strange concept called “tariff deficit” , i. e. the difference between the attributed energy production costs and the final market value (TUR for most of the consumers). This difference has been steadily increasing in the last years and it is considered a debt of the consumers (or government I am snot sure) towards energy producing companies. Even if they have earned considerable money in spite of not getting all the attribution costs. Nowadays, with a terrible financial crisis this kind of debt is a heavy burden and Soria blames the renewables for it. Yet, there are data that  say the blame should be shared by many others as gas. Meanwhile the electricity demand continues falling with the economy and Soria is afraid this will continue to harm main energy companies.

I agree that the system was flawed, and that currently installed renewables are more expensive than some other energy types in direct costs but at the same time I think the whole electricity production and paying system should be redefined. It should be more transparent, clear and new renewables should have a reasonable possibility to enter as currently they are cheaper than ever, had a consolidated industry behind and produce many other benefits as jobs and reduction of CO2 footprint (Spain’s vulnerability to climate change is not low). By the way:

  • why not electrify transport to increment electricity demand but not energy demand?
  • or, why so much delay in self-supply regulation? If solar panel are expensive only the really convinced will install them and it they are not.
  • or, even better, why not simplify the system and introduce a carbon tax instead of the many other taxes to rightly account for actual externalities of the  different energy production processes?

Finally, the biggest problem with all this is the uncertainty it produces for other countries to start ambitious programs of  renewable energy. Spain was an example for energy transformation and it is at risk of becoming an example about how such a process could be spoiled. Nevertheless, the game is not over yet, a 44% of renewable electricity production in January (not based on Hydro power) is still a great number.

Aside

COP18 talks in Doha are over, another lost opportunity

COP18 talks in Doha are over and once again the results are at least unclear. Most blogs offer more rigorous analyses but they agree in the poorness of the result. Climate Progress is critical with the result, as InsideClimateNews the NYtimes is only slightly more optimistic and the skeptics are celebrating the result, so they coincide in the analysis.

Kioto protocol has been prolonged but only involving countries accounting 15% of the CO2 emissions, there are some other promising results but not very clear. So, once again, everybody agrees about the magnitude of the problem (otherwise they would not meet every year) but few countries want to be legally bounded to a worldwide treaty. This approach is not working for the moment, however, it is not the only way.

Not being legally bounded does not mean that many countries are not going to act in some way and there are many other possible agents that can get significant results as subcountry entities (California is far more advanced that the USA for example), Cities-Towns, activist groups, Households and finally families and individuals. Nevertheless, a clear international agreement would be the definitive push for every other action for this uniquely global problem, next year we will see again.

COP 18: Another opportunity in Doha

COP 18 is the 18th international meeting to address the climate change problem. It is held in Doha . I listened the news in the radio this morning with quite a clear summary of the challenges involved and by the way a good explanation of climate change causes, encouraging but an exception, I would bet that most of my friends, family, coworkers have not heard about it.

This meetings should be very important as climate change problem requires global solutions to be shared by most countries. However,  the previous meetings have been at least partially frustrating as the advance is slow and the discussions are more predominant than the agreements. The figure below shows that the world emission path has continued to go upwards in spite of 17 COP meetings, so reached agreements are clearly insufficient. But we, the humans, need time to get agreements, the problem is that we are running out of the time to get a reasonable agreement for a reasonable future climate.

Graph showing CO2 emission path last years

Graph showing CO2 emission path last years, data from IEA

Media could play an important role to make those meetings more efficient and to help people know what is discussed there and how all of us are affected. A convinced world population could be a great force to seriously start climate change mitigation instead of adaptation.

By the way, the guest country Qatar is ranked 1st in per capita emissions in spite of their last year reductions (last figure). The comparison with USA, Germany, Japan or China (4 out of 5 economic powers in the world) is quite significant. If all of us would be emitting so much CO2 (I do not think it is possible) we would live  in an oven.

CO2 per capita emissions for 5 countries including Qatar (source of data CDIAC)

Local elections in Basque Country and climate change

 

There are many levels that matter in climate change, personal level, big international politics, national politics in the most influential countries,… but there are many other that may exert some influence, cities, towns regional governments, states in the USA…

Today there have been elections for the Basque parliament. The main idea related with climate change would be that from the elected 75 people 64 belong to parties that considered climate change real and important in their programs for those elections, it is a huge percentage. Basque government has a limited field of action in the most critical things related to climate change but this even reinforces the value of those intentions.

Will they become significant steps towards a carbon free future? I do not know but they show that in Europe climate change is not discussed, what to do or how much to do to avoid it yes, even more inside the economical and social crisis.