Monday, September 23, 2013

Steve, Alison, Christy - a Moment of Your Time Please

Canada's got some pretty hardcore fossil fuelers from Steve Harper to Alberta's Alison Redford and British Columbia's Christy Clark.  Waiting in the wings to join them are Tommy Mulcair and Trudeau the Lesser.

Former Irish president, Mary Robinson, needs to have a word with these people.   As the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Robinson says world leaders (even our own) need to accept that most fossil fuels are just going to have to be left untouched in the ground if we, as a species, are to avoid prematurely going in the ground ourselves.

Robinson told the Guardian that governments would have to confront the harsh reality that much of their fossil fuel reserves, and accompanying economic value, would have to be left behind if runaway emissions were not to threaten the climate.

"There is a global limit on a safe level of emissions. That means major fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. That has huge implications for economic and social development."

It would mean creating incentives for countries to look at other resources, as well as carbon pricing to penalise fossil fuel use, and most of all "political certainty" coming from global leaders.

Now any discussion of leaving "much" of our fossil fuel reserves in the ground leads directly to a discussion of which fossil fuels most need to be left untouched.   Those would be high carbon fossil fuels - things like coal and, sorry to say it Alberta, bitumen.

[Robinson] acknowledged that some countries and many businesses, particularly those with fossil fuel interests, would be hostile to the proposal. The current economic value of the resources left unused – without taking into account their effects on the climate – is likely to run into hundreds of billions of pounds. "We are already talking to the business community that wants change, but there is obviously a business community that is trying to cloud and distort the science."


the salamander said...

.. Canada and Canadians needs to jump all over this issue and reality, recognize the very real consequences.. and the failure or sellout, or complete partisan ignorance at provincial and federal political levels .. and related corporatist levels

Do we need examples or dire scenarios.. or contemporary movies to portray how this plays out according to our current Prime Minister's fatal dream ?

OK .. you have children or grand children.. and they will inherit the family cottage on lovely Lake Loon .. You hear that the federal government is going to use Lake Loon to store polluted water from an asbestos mine that flooded a fracking site full of unregulated and undisclosed carcinogens.. and now that Lake Loon is not protected by environmental or navigable waters law.. a Chinese resource firm is going to dump copper mine tailings into it..

The government (Canada eh) signs a secret 50 year deal with Russia to dump radioactive nuclear cores acquired from Japan (Fukushima) in exchange for carbon tax credits issued by James Flaherty via trade with Australia's coal consortiums ..

mmn .. can you follow this ?

Purple library guy said...

Up until relatively recently I had hopes that politics would be capable of putting a lid on carbon use. Well, it may still be possible, but it won't happen until too late.
My remaining hope lies largely in the ongoing reduction in the cost of renewables, chiefly wind and solar. Increasingly, we're going to be passing a tipping point where despite subsidies and despite refusal to deal with the externalities caused by burning carbon, the renewables are definitively cheaper. I'm not a capitalism fan, but it's the system we've got at the moment, and people will go with renewables when it costs less--the changeover from coal and natural gas could be startlingly fast.

Treu, that still leaves transportation to a fair extent. You can't power a jetliner with batteries, and even cars have the problem of energy density and installed fuel infrastructure. But it'll be a start.

The Mound of Sound said...

There was some hope that markets would turn against high carbon fossil fuels but they seem to have sensed a sufficient lack of political will for them to consider their investments in any real jeopardy. An effective, global carbon price could change that but, as Ms. Robinson notes, that will be opposed furiously by certain governments, including our own. If Harper has one demonstrated skill, it is his ability to sabotage this sort of thing.

The thing with renewables, PLG, is our refusal to put them on the same footing as fossil fuels. We won't give them the same subsidies, grants and deferrals any more than we'll charge our fossil fuel producers the actual value of the natural capital they devour almost free.

As Nikiforuk and others have detailed, most of the supposed profitability of dilbit comes from government accounting tricks, sheer sleight of hand.