Showing posts with label subsidies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label subsidies. Show all posts

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The breach of the Paris Agreement

By Andrew Glikson
Earth and climate scientist
Australian National University

Since its inception the Paris Agreement has been in question due to, among other:
  • its broad definition, specifically holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels;
  • its non-binding nature; and 
  • accounting tricks by vested interests.
The goal assumes pre-determined limits can be placed on greenhouse gas levels and temperatures beyond which they would not continue to rise. Unfortunately these targets do not appear to take account of the amplifying positive feedback effects from land and oceans under the high cumulative greenhouse gas levels and their warming effects. Thus unfortunately the current high CO₂ levels of about 408 ppm and near-500ppm CO₂-equivalent (CO₂+methane+nitrous oxide) would likely continue to push temperatures upwards.

Significant climate science evidence appears to have been left out of the equation. The accord hinges on the need to reduce emissions, which is essential, but it does not indicate how further temperature rise can be avoided under the conditions of a high-CO₂ atmosphere, which triggers carbon release, unless massive efforts at sequestration (drawdown) of greenhouse gases are undertaken. Inherent in global warming are amplifying positive feedbacks, including albedo (reflection) decline due to the melting of ice and the opening of dark water surfaces, increased water vapor contents of the atmosphere in tropical regions which enhances the greenhouse effect, reduced sequestration of CO₂ by the warming oceans, desiccation of vegetation, fires, release of methane from permafrost and other processes. This means that even abrupt reductions in emissions may not be sufficient to stem global warming, unless accompanied by sequestration of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to a lower level, recommended as below 350 ppm CO₂ by James Hansen, the leading climate scientist.

The world is on track to produce 50% more fossil fuels than can be burned before reaching the limit prescribed by the Paris Agreement, with currently planned coal, oil and gas outputs making the Paris Agreement goal impossible. Projected fossil fuel production in 2030 being more than is consistent with 2°C, and 120% more than that for 1.5°C.

Unbelievably, according to the International Monetary Fund, “In 2017 the world subsidized fossil fuels by $5.2 trillion, equal to roughly 6.5% of global GDP”, which is more than the total the world spends on human health. Such subsidies cannot possibly be consistent with the Paris Agreement. The pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 by the G7 nations, with exceptions by the UK and Japan, may come too late as global CO₂ concentrations, already intersecting the stability limits of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, are rising at a rate of 2 to 3 ppm per year, the highest in many millions of years.

Despite the scientific consensus regarding the anthropogenic origin of global warming, the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations are taking a defiant stance against warnings that reserves of coal, oil and gas are already several times larger than can be burned if the world’s governments are to meet their pledge to tackle climate change. ExxonMobil said new reserves in the Arctic and Canadian tar sands must be exploited. Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, said global warming was “an environmental crisis predicted by flawed computer models”. Glencore Xstrata said that governments would fail to implement measures to cut carbon emissions. The World Bank and Bank of England have already warned of the “serious risk” climate action poses to trillions of dollars of fossil fuel assets.

Not to mention the risks to the living Earth and its billions of inhabitants!

The apparent neglect of scientific advice is not an isolated instance. It is not uncommon that climate reports are dominated by the views of economists, lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians, often overlooking the evidence presented by some of the world’s highest climate science authorities. Whereas the IPCC reports include excellent and comprehensive summaries of the peer-reviewed literature, the summaries for policy makers only partly represent the evidence and views of scientific authorities in the field, including those who have identified global warming in the first place.
Figure 2. from: James Hansen, data through June 2019

There exists a tendency in the media to report averages, such as average global temperature values, rather than the increasingly-common high zonal, regional and local anomalies.

For example, the annual mean global temperature rise of for 2018 is about one third the Arctic mean temperature rise (Fig. 2). Given that developments in the Arctic bear major consequences for climate change, the global mean  does not represent the seriousness of the climate crisis.

Another example is the way extremes weather events are reported as isolated instances, neglecting the rising frequency and intensity of hurricanes, storms, fires and droughts, indicated in frequency plots (Fig 3.).

Figure 3. Rise in geophysical, meteorological, hydrologocal and climatological events. Munich RE
It is not until international and national institutions take full account of what climate science is indicating that a true picture of the climate crisis will be communicated to the public.

Andrew Glikson
Dr Andrew Glikson
Earth and climate scientist
Australian National University

- The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
- The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
- Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
- Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
- The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
- Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
- From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence

Monday, October 21, 2019

Which policy can help EVs most?

In many countries, it has been proven hard to implement policies that help electric vehicle (EVs). In France, fuel taxes have triggered huge protests. In Ecuador, huge protests followed a steep rise in fuel prices, as a result of a decision to end gasoline and diesel subsidies.

An analysis conducted by Arctic-news compares eight policies on two criteria, i.e. how effective they are from a policy perspective and how popular the policies will likely be. As the image below shows, many policies are little or no better at helping EVs than continuing with business as usual (BAU).

“Tightening fuel economy standards may aim to reduce fuel use,” says Sam Carana, editor of Arctic-news, “but the Jevons paradox shows that this may lead to people buying more powerful cars, drive longer distances, etc. Moreover, it does little to help EVs, in fact, it may make it cheaper for people to keep driving fossil fuel-powered cars.

Sam Carana adds: “Subsidies for EVs aren't popular with pedestrians and cyclists, or with people who use public transport to go to work. These are often the poorest people and they feel that money that is spent on subsidies for EVs comes at the expense of social services for the poor. Subsidies are unlikely to gain popular support. Similarly, when subsidies for EVs take the form of tax deductions given to EV buyers, this mainly benefits those who can afford to buy EVs. Additionally, this reduces overall tax revenue, leaving less money for social services.”

“Taxes aren't much better, they may make driving a polluting car more expensive, but as long as people keep driving polluting cars, it won't help EVs and it won't help much with the climate crisis either. Higher taxes on fuel and cars haven't made EVs much more common in Europe than they are in the U.S., where such taxes are lower. The worst form of tax is 'Cap & Trade', as it enables people to keep driving polluting cars by paying for emission cuts elsewhere. Even if those cuts are indeed made elsewhere, they aren't made locally. Tax and Dividend seeks to get popular support by promising people part of the revenue, but this means the money isn't used to fight pollution and it may even be counterproductive, by helping people to keep driving fossil fuel-powered cars. Simple carbon taxes therefore seem more effective, while they may also be more popular with the poor, since more of the revenues can be spent on social services.”

Sam Carana: “Local feebates are the best way to go. It makes sense to add fees to the price of fuel, and - in order to most effectively facilitate the necessary transition to EVs - the revenues are best used to support EVs locally, which also helps such polices gain popular support locally.”

The analysis also looks at a wider set of local feebates, such as fees on sales of fossil fuel-powered cars, with the revenues used to fund rebates on local sales of EVs. Fees on facilities that sell or process fuel could also raise revenues that could be used to fund rebates on, say, EV chargers.  Furthermore, differentiation in fees on car registration, on car parking and on road toll could all help make EVs more attractive.

In conclusion, a wide set of local feebates can most effectively facilitate the necessary changes and can best gain local support. The climate crisis urgently needs comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan, which recommends implementation of local feebates to facilitate the necessary changes.

An associated issue is the Urban Heat Island effect, as illustrated by the image on the right. Buildings, roads and cars can significantly increase temperatures and pollution including ozone at surface level.

One way to reduce temperatures, pollution and road congestion is by using electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxis.

Lilium plans to start offering air taxi services from 2025. While using about the same amount of electricity as an EV traveling over roads, the Lilium Jet travels as fast as 300 km/h and has a radius of 300 km.”

Sam Carana adds: “In practice, most trips are less than 10 km. A fleet of 10,000 Lilium Jets could cater for all trips otherwise made by cars in an area where one million people live.”

In theory, this could remove virtually all cars from a city, resulting in less need for roads, bridges, tunnels, parking spaces, garages, driveways, airports, etc. These air taxis can use the roofs of large buildings for landing and take off, or dedicated areas in parks or custom-built places along the shore (see image below).

This also means there will be less need for resources, infrastructure and space to manufacture, sell and service vehicles. As a result, urban centers could use the spaces gained for more trees, parks, footpaths and bike-ways, while becoming more compact, enabling people to live closer together and closer to workplaces, shops, restaurants, educational and medical facilities, etc. As cities become more compact, the average trip within a city will become shorter in distance and take up less time.

Local councils should be keen to help make this happen, for a number of reasons. A fleet of air taxis can help combat road congestion, global heating, including the Urban Heat Island effect, and pollution by cars. At first glance, creating places for 10,000 air taxis to land and take off may look like a big job, but shopping centers and businesses will be keen to accommodate air taxis. Moreover, it is very attractive when considering that 10,000 air taxis can replace the need for up to a million vehicles, as well as the need to build and maintain the associated roads, bridges, tunnels, parking spaces, garages, etc. It can also double the amount of land available for parks, houses and other buildings. Lilium plans to start offering commercial services from 2025, so it's time to start planning now and create places for air taxis to land and take off where they will be needed.


• Climate Plan

• Feebates

• Who are the gilets jaunes and what do they want?

• Ecuador's Morena scraps fuel subsidy cuts in big win for indigenous groups

• Ecuador’s Government Crisis, Explained

• What's happening in Ecuado? Protests over fuel subsidies reach sixth day

• The Jevons Paradox

• Keeping Your Cool: How Communities Can Reduce the Heat Island Effect

• Hotter Summers Mean More Health Risks In Urban Heat Islands

• Lilium Jet

• Electric Transport group at facebook