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TEQs & Carbon Caps

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:49 am    Post subject: TEQs & Carbon Caps Reply with quote

The BIG PROBLEM with Peak Oil, or rather Peak Energy, is that Fossil Fuels have a higher Energy Density than other non-Carbon sources of Energy.

In other words, petroleum-derived fuels, Natural Gas and Coal burn more fiercely than Wind, Wave or Solar Power give us their flow.

It is therefore essential to not only reduce our dependence on Carbon, but to reduce our use of Energy.

This is a central reason why Energy and Fuel Quotas, or Rationing, with annual stepdown, are essential.

Zero Carbon Britain propose that we need to reduce our use of Energy by 50%, whilst at the same time increasing our use of Renewable Sources of Energy to completely satisfy our needs.


At the moment, there are several "Cap-and-Something" policy proposals on the table around the world, but none of them address concretely how their schemes will finance the development of Renewable Energy, which is vital.

This is part of my reply to the "Oxford set" of George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Oliver Tickell, who are supporting Tickell's "Kyoto2" proposal :-


After some considerable thought regarding the range of Cap-and-Something overarching policy proposals being put forward at the current time (including Hansen's, Merkel's and Tickell's), my conclusions are that a Carbon Cap is not enough, that money cannot be used as a proxy for Carbon Control, that a de facto Carbon Cap is already in the arena with Peak Oil, and that all Capping schemes have the wrong focus.

It is my assertion that any Carbon Control policy that does not deliberately and explicitly de-Carbonise the Economies and the Energy supply is bound to fail in its ultimate objectives, even if it has a measure of success at the start. This is because Carbon is so deeply embedded in all developed Economies, that it must be pulled out by the roots or it will continue to bring both Ecology and Economy to destruction by throttling.

One of the problems with these Cap-and-Something schemes is that, although they start out with the best intentions, the premise of capping Carbon, at the point of designing an implementation plan, they end up proposing using a mechanism to effect this based on money.

It then becomes a finance-driven operation, instead of a de-Carbonisation-driven operation.

Non-Carbon sources of Energy are by their nature less Energy intensive and therefore we will have to accept lower Energy flow rates. This means that we must reduce our dependence on Energy, not only reduce our dependency on Carbon.

If we do not explicitly regulate to ramp up Renewable sources of Energy, there will come a point where the Carbon Capping cannot be enforced, because there is no non-Carbon Energy capacity to replace it.

It is true, that if we can somehow enforce a price on Carbon, the future projections are that the profit to be made from Carbon Energy will be zero, so that investment in Renewable Energy will look like a good wealth-creation option. However, it will be argued internationally, that even though Carbon Energy no longer has any profit-value, it is still necessary to support Economic function, and so Carbon will continue to be used, perhaps managed by some quangos.

We desperately need to take the Carbon out of every part of the Economy, every part of manufacture, every part of agriculture, every part of construction, transport, heating, lighting, power...

I think that if we rely on voluntarism to de-Carbonise, or trend-following after setting a Carbon Price by Cap or otherwise, we will not achieve the de-Carbonisation we need.

Also, since there is already a de facto Carbon Cap in operation due to Peak Oil (in fact, Peak Energy), why should the suppliers of Fossil Fuels into the Economy be compensated for capping output ? Output is already being capped by Peak Energy...

I know that the Energy Majors will be interested in Tickell's scheme, as a way of having a licence to continue clinging to the crag face kicking out dirt on the rest of us below. Tickell's proposal is a licence to continue pumping Carbon into the Economy.

Yes, everyone has something invested in the profit-making ability of the Energy Majors, and so everyone has an interest in them surviving.

However, the Law of Increasing Profit Margins mean that with such a licence to continue profiting from Carbon, while ramping up non-Carbon Energy investment, the poor will still be paying for the de-Carbonisation through their Energy bills.

Why not just abandon such a complex scheme as Tickell's and go straight for the jugular ? It costs hard cash to develop Renewable Energy infrastructure and plant. The companies are unwilling to cut their profits in order to do that (they are obliged to carry on making as high a profit as they can to please their shareholders).

The Governments will have to manage the financing or incentivising the development of Renewables. That means one of two options that impact Citizen Consumers : Green Energy Tax or higher bills. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do you think of Professor Lutz Wicke of Berlin's proposals? Agree or disagree, the more people thinking about these things the better.

This is his paper.
I experience pleasure and pains, and pursue goals in service of them, so I cannot reasonably deny the right of other sentient agents to do the same - Steven Pinker
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:08 am    Post subject: Lutz Wicke : Climate Justice, Carbon Cap & Carbon Price Reply with quote

@palindrome - coming right back at you

I found the Lutz Wicke paper (a) badly translated and (b) overly punctuated, and yet, I found much sanity therein.

There is the very strong "Fuel Poverty cannot be absorbed so must be compensated" argument falling naturally out of a consideration of the apparently unavoidable need to price Carbon.

There is the "Carbon Justice" argument that attempts to draw in the major players and major groups of smaller players from the developing world. This Equity argument is watertight, as it can satisfy the need to pander to the "clamouring Southern element", and it can go some way to addressing the clear need to share Energy Wealth to ensure global stability both in social and economic terms.

It does offer a very simple-sounding mechanism for allocation of the Carbon Cap : the Global Climate Certificate System being a glorified form of Carbon Shares or Carbon Rationing.

However, as with all share/ration systems so far proposed, there is no discussion of the practical mechanics of how this could be done, apart from suggesting that the primary produers will get to buy the rights by auction.

This kind of parallel currency could suffer the same kind of "system expenses" that the UK Government chided in the Personal Carbon Allowances scheme they reviewed for trial.

By contrast, with a straight Cap-and-Trade system, virtual Carbon Rights are traded into existence very simply by an initial transfer of money.

The fixed price suggested for Carbon is, in my view, too low, whereas I would suggest a volatile price dependent on other factors : perhaps the "natural" market price for Crude Oil.

I will continue to think about this and comment later (especially if you reply giving me an incentive to post right back at you).
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