The Warsaw Communiqué

carbon-tax-now Another round in the carbon wars. If you make money by producing coal, then the chances are that you'd like to keep doing so. Hence The Warsaw Communiqué (full PDF). I think its good that the World Coal folks feel the need to do some PR and push the idea of "clean coal"; they must be a little bit worried that someone is going to try to lean on them, so they'll get their words in. But, many of their words are silly. Not that many of them are wrong; just pointless.

They start playing nicely:

Recognising international consensus on the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, in conformity with the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

so while they don't say they accept the science themselves, they do at least know that other people do. Its downhill from there, though:

Recognising the need to address the problem of energy poverty

That's not wrong, of course, its just a lead in to:

Recalling that the International Energy Agency has estimated that half of the on-grid electricity needed to provide “sustainable energy access for all” will come from coal

And now they've got to where they want to be: burning lots of coal. Now it gets more confusing:

We therefore bring to the attention of policy-makers the fact that high-efficiency low-emissions coal combustion technologies are commercially available...

It isn't clear to me what they're referring to here. Nor is it clear why they think their coal-burning customers are so stupid as to continue to burn coal inefficiently. Unless of course the cost of upgrading their tech would be more than the cost of the extra coal they're burning, in which case its perfectly obvious. And won't be solved by these words.

And this efficiency is apparently a

necessary milestone towards the deployment of carbon capture utilisation and storage technologies once demonstrated and commercialised.

But CCS isn't commercial, and won't be, at anything believeable as a carbon price. These people aren't stupid (or if they are, they've got plenty of clever people available to think for them) so they know that.

So, its all a bit of a waste of time, except for the PR element. The bits that make sense (increasing efficiency) will happen anyway. The bits that don't (CCS) won't.

h/t David Hone who really likes CCS. So does Myles Allen.

Stop making sense

Speaking of not making sense, Lord Donoughue, who appears to be someone's pet septic in the Lords, asked the govt about the potential impact on the United Kingdom and global economies of any future extensive glaciation. This is an utter waste of everyone's time. Because, of course, all that happens is that this gets bounced to the appropriate science institute - in the case BAS - who tell the noble but stupid Lord exactly what they could have learnt for themselves. I won't spoil the excitement by telling you what the answer is.

Refs

* Krugman part 2: you can get pretty far just by regulating coal if you prefer an alternative view, via Brian.

More like this

I follow David Hone, though not the details. He's really keen on CCS, and has (I think) a strong commercial interest in it succeeding. But there is no real answer to "its not commercially viable" - and I think it remains non-viable even at plausible CO2-price levels ($80 / tonne is Sternish, no…
Well, sort of. Via Timmy I find Will Hutton bemoaning the failure of yet another GW-type summit, Rio-20. We all knew it was going to fail: had I thought there was any question about it, I would have offered to bet heavily on its failure (in fact, so little do I care that I haven't even looked to…
Says the Economist. THIS is an unusually busy moment in the unhappy history of efforts to curb climate change. In two weeks at the end of June the world’s three biggest polluters unveiled carbon-reducing measures. In China and America these are more ambitious than previous policies. But they fall…
I largely ignored Copenhagen (the conference, not the city, I hasten to add: very nice place I'm sure and I mean no disrespect) and chose instead to push for Carbon Tax Now, though I felt obliged to read a little bit of what they had to say. But now we have Cancun. What to say about that, other…

p.s.: such a deal they got cut for themselves:
http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588379-mutation-way-companies-…

"The energy business has a lot of MLPs not only because it needs capital but because it is an easy place to set them up: since 1987, tax law has allowed “mineral or natural resource” companies to operate as listed partnerships, while withholding that privilege from others. But as with other pass-through structures, the constraints are being lowered and circumvented.

For MLPs, the definition of “mineral or natural resource” is elastic. These days, for example, it is not just income from coal that qualifies; money made from rolling stock that carries coal on railways qualifies too. ..."

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 02 Nov 2013 #permalink

"Clean coal" is a joke! Just ask the coal industry and its backers.

Here are a couple of articles covering the reaction of the industry and its backers to the EPA regulations in the USA

Fox News
"In September, the EPA released a proposal to set emissions caps for new power plants that would likely require the industry to use carbon-capture technology, which involves burying the carbon underground.
Critics argue the technology, which is still under development, is too expensive, not commercially available and poses serious safety risks. "
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/29/coal-state-lawmakers-push-to…

Coal Industry
Peabody Energy, which has mines in both Australia and the US, thundered that CCS “is simply not commercially available”.

Tea Party
“Carbon capture is a pipe dream”, said FreedomWorks, the influential right wing think tank that is credited with forming the Tea Party and is one of Big Coal’s noisiest backers."

Coal State Senator
“Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible,” said Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, who represents the coal state West Virginia in Washington and is its former governor.
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/coal-industry-kicks-own-goal-as-obama-c…

"technologically impossible" is frequently claimed as a reason for not complying with environmental regulations. That's because the phrase is from the text of the statute.

E.g.
-----quote-----
US House Passes Bill to Strip States of Authority to Regulate Ballast ...
www.csgmidwest.org/policyresearch/1111ballastwater.aspx
... ballast water standards that are more stringent than those set at the federal level.... the state's regulations are “technologically impossible ...
-----end quote----

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 03 Nov 2013 #permalink

Thanks MikeH - that own goal article is very interesting. How long is the public memory around these issues?