What do I think, What can I do?

Posts tagged ‘co2’

2016 in climate change

I have been quite absent from this blog last years but not from Climate Change news, so I dare to give an opinion about 2016.  2016 was the hottest year on record, it was confirmed by all agencies, NASA, NOAA, WMO,… It is true that “el Niño” effect helped a lot but breaking global temperature records in 2015 and 2016 confirms that Climate is changing and it is changing now and fast. And this, although expected, is really bad news because it means that we have less time left to reduce our CO2 (and some other GHG) emissions.

2016 Hottest year on record, figure from NASA.org

 

 

 

Maybe a positive influence is that skeptics do not know what to say after loosing their hiatus argument, they will come back with it in some time. Nevertheless they are happy because one of them in in the White House and nobody really knows how much he can hinder Climate Change fight (some even consider he can be positive). I think that having a man that doubts about climate change ruling the most powerful economy in the world in years that are critical to get a real and serious global climate agreement is, definitively,  a problem.

To end positively, two important good news: a record new renewable energy capacity was added last year (with lower costs); and coal was passed by renewables worldwide. A good example is brexit UK coal use reduction, historical in the country that started industrial revolution with it.

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Is India committed to continue to be low carbon and Germany to become so?

Some time ago, I mentioned the known fact that China and USA are the most important players in the World CO2 emissions game as the greatest emitters. But they are not  the only ones that matter. At least 25 countries are important in the world emission scenario, In this post I am going to mention two news about other two of those countries: Germany and India, the sixth and third emitter respectively.

News from India are positive: “India Plans To Build The Largest Solar Plant In The World”. In spite of being the third emitter in the world the percapita emissions are low, the lowest among great emitters and even close to the acceptable limit in the world, the ton per person as shown in the figures below. The problem is that the economic efficiency of the emissions has been erratic and the potential to grow in both, economy and emissions at the same time is huge. So, it would be great for the world that India would look for renewable energy to supply its growing demand, investing in their poor grid and forgetting coal or gas. Some studies even consider that wind is as cheap as coal for India, but the grid is a problem.

india_germany_2010On the other side, Germany had historically great emissions as a very industrial country not based on Hydro or Nuclear energy and loving good and fast cars without speed limits. But,then they decided to start the Energiewende, their self-convicted ambitious energy transition to get ride of fossil fuels and nuclear at the same time and to be energetically independent. The emissions / GDP rate (economic efficiency of the emissions) has improved dramatically as shown in the diagrams but the per capita emissions have not followed the same speed, and they still are close to 10 in 2010, ten times higher than the acceptable ton per person. I do not know the last figures but this year they have even increased emissions. So it is a bit discouraging to  see that the apparent multipartisan conviction  and serious efforts are not getting enough results, and even some doubts arose in last elections about economical effects. Nevertheless, I still believe they are committed to succeed and they need more time to show clearer results, if they do it would be a great example of transformation for one of the strongest economies in the world, a great example for China and USA and the rest of Europe.

So let’s hope Germany continues the started revolution and India grows in a revolutionary way, they could be very significant examples.

Is Sweden such a good example for the USA?

Climate Progress mentioned Obama’s praise to Sweden regarding their energy policy. And the same post shows a figure explaining the very low contribution of fossil fuels in the Swedish electricity production mix and some reasons that led them there. It is interesting and clearly reasonable as it is true that Swedish emissions from power stations are low based on hydro power and nuclear and total emissions per capita are a third of Americans. Even more the Emissions / GDP ratio, or the emission per economic unit are among the lowest in the world and certainly between rich countries, and they have improved a lot since the seventies in this emissions intensity (from 0.4 to 0.12).

But, and this is the problem, it is not enough. The problem is that it is not enough to be efficient as the Swedish, because their emissions per capita are in the 5 CO2 tons figure, 1 ton more than world average, 12 tons less than USA, close to China but 4 tons per person more than acceptable to stabilize carbon flux (data from IEA, 2010). Or, in other words, 5 times more than the reasonable objective for humans.

It is not enough to improve as the Swedish, we have to be really committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we have to start fast if we do not want to reach too far. Although of course Sweden is still a good example for the USA and many others, an example to start moving.

400 ppm to greet a new life

From honeybeesandhelium blog

My second son was born two weeks ago, so I have and will have less time to blog. But precisely because of my sons I am more and more convinced that we have to raise the consciousness of every people in the world about the dangers of climate change and the ways to fight it, because it is possible, not easy, but possible to reduce our emissions and avoid a more extreme form of change.

The recent news about passing the 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has been another expected step in this process. It was a question of time and 400 is not much more than 397 but we are used to be moved by symbolic numbers and this is one of them, in fact, the accepted “secure ” co2 concentration has moved from 350 to 450 untill 550 ppm now. So 400 is significant. 

It is not the magic number that changes everything as explained here, if there is a tipping point in climate change (difficult to know) most experts locate it higher, however it is important because it shows clearly that the show is going on in the wrong direction and it is useful to make everyone more conscious of that due to the media covering. So, the question is:

Will this child enjoy a reasonable climate and future because we acted while he was young or will he witness a mess caused by our inaction?

China and Climate Change

China and World emission paths. The magnitude of the emissions if different but the scales are the same

China and World emission paths. The magnitude of the emissions if different but the scales are the same

Now that we are close to the new year eve in China it is a good time to write something about them. The figure in the beginning of the post displays how influential is China in the current emission path of the world.  25% of the emissions come from there, if the rest of the world would suddenly stop every emission China’s CO2 would be enough to be over the 20% maximum that is considered a reasonable equilibrium. Even more important than the share (lower than the population share) is the trend, whereas most developed countries are not increasing their emissions significantly lasts years Chinese CO2 is growing very fast. It is not the only one but it is the greatest and I think that the leader of the developing-developed countries group. In a previous posts I mentioned USA and China as keys. They are, all of us are to some extent. However, I think that China will fix the trend that many others will follow, because they can reverse the upwards emission path and fix the peak, after that the perspective will be different.

And how is it doing in China? I am not an expert and see news of both sides. In one part, they are burning half of the coal of the world, if they do not stop we will get quite hot.In the other hand there are signs for hope as most Chinese are convinced of the importance of climate change, they want to be more active in renewables and form part of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and even if their 6 ton per capita emissions per year are not far from many European countries (but far from the USA), they burn them in part to produce goods that export. Transport emissions are low for example.

Apart from those news there are three great reasons I believe should make us hopeful :

  • Chinese are quite vulnerable to extreme weather, so for climate change. It is they fight as it is everybody
  • They have the opportunity to lead the development of many renewable energy technologies.
  • They have the opportunity to build many things in their society in a low-carbon way and this is much easier than transforming high carbon structures.

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.

Transportation, mainly the road

In the world the CO2 emissions corresponding to the transport sector sum a 22% of the total.

Nonetheless this percentage varies seriously from country to country. Among the top emitters (next table), China and India do not reach the 10% emissions by transport, Germany and Japan are close to 18%, the USA are around 26% and some like Mexico or  Brazil are above 35%. So transport is very important depending on the location.

Transport Emissions Road Emissions
People’s Rep. of China 7.04% 5.48%
United States 30.21% 26.09%
India 9.93% 8.90%
Russian Federation 15.30% 8.85%
Japan 19.48% 17.59%
Germany 19.11% 18.51%
Korea 15.41% 14.52%
Canada 31.62% 26.02%
Islamic Rep. of Iran 23.31% 23.07%
United Kingdom 24.67% 22.90%
Saudi Arabia 23.42% 22.93%
Mexico 36.31% 35.34%
Indonesia 25.75% 22.59%
Italy 27.13% 25.58%
Brazil 42.82% 38.22%
Australia 21.44% 18.01%
France 34.56% 33.06%
South Africa 11.01% 10.23%
Poland 15.34% 14.99%
Chinese Taipei 13.12% 12.69%
Spain 36.42% 31.73%

Next histogram includes the distribution of these topo emitters but also the whole world, and in this case the panorama is even more complex with a range from less than 10% of the share until more than 90%.

Histogram of the transport share in country CO2 emissions for two populatios: All the world and the top 20 emitters, source of data IEA

Histogram of the transport share in country CO2 emissions for two populatios: All the world and the top 20 emitters, source of data IEA

Anyway, one thing is quite regular for all of them road is the main transport emission source, a 16% around the world but up to 80% in Congo or 35% in Mexico.

Meanwhile, americans are driving less, (reducing that 26%) some also talk about peak car thereOne thing is clear, if we want to mitigate climate change, we will have to drive less (mas transit, bicycle, or just walk), do it more efficiently or change cars technology or all at the same time. In some cases it is not difficult to start saving CO2.