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Love the smell of emissions? They’re on the rise…

Some disturbing climate change news from The Guardian this morning:

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius — which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” — is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

According to a new IEA report announced last week, the biggest concern is how to remove carbon emissions from electricity generation, in terms of preventing a rise in global temperatures of more than 2 degrees. Energy efficiency, renewable energies, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage are regarded as the best solution to deal with rising emissions.

It comes on the same day that Sarah Palin attended a motorcycle rally and said when asked if all campaign stops could be this loud, Palin replied: “Oh it would be a blast if it were this loud, if it smelt this good. I LOVE the smell of the emissions.”

Yes, yes, it’s not the same thing and I know that motorcycles are smaller polluters than cars. But it is an interesting angle about how science is revealing one thing while politicians are encouraging another.

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  • 1
    Mark Duffett
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Energy efficiency and renewable energy are regarded as the best solution to deal with rising emissions.

    Really? And that would be why the following, quoting the head of the IEA, appeared in The Guardian piece, would it?

    People may not like nuclear, but it is one of the major technologies for generating electricity without carbon dioxide,” said Birol. The gap left by scaling back the world’s nuclear ambitions is unlikely to be filled entirely by renewable energy…

  • 2
    Mark Duffett
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    And here’s the full quote from the IEA press release announcing the report:

    “…much of the solution to rising CO2 emissions can be found in:

    - Enhancing energy efficiency…

    - Powering electricity with renewable sources of energy, nuclear and carbon capture and storage…”

    (emphasis mine, in an attempt to compensate for the apparent deliberate omission and misrepresentation by Ms Jamieson)

  • 3
    kd
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Mark:

    Given the history of the IEA, that until recently it’s been in complete denial about peak oil, it would seem fair to be a bit sus about it’s proclamatinon on CCS which is expensive, unproven, likely unviable technology. Nuclear? Yeah, maybe. Frankly the set-and-forget end of the street nuclear reactors in concrete bunkers the size of containers are more likely than CCS.

  • 4
    Mark Duffett
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    @kd, regardless of the correctness or otherwise of the IEA’s view, my main beef was that Amber Jamieson blatantly misrepresented it.

    As it happens, my opinion of the relative merits of nuclear and CCS would not be completely dissimilar to yours. If I’d been writing the report/press release, I’d probably have left off the ‘and CCS’ bit.

  • 5
    kd
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Aye, George Monbiot is big on highlighting divisions in the green movement at the moment. Brushing the contentious stuff is probably not the best thing to do.

  • 6
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Hey Mark,

    Sorry to disappoint, but it was not a deliberate omission. Just a mistake.

    As you can see from the time stamp, this was written late in the arvo, just before I headed off. I obviously didn’t give it enough of a re-read before hitting the publish button, I just wanted to quickly get up something about the record rise in greenhouse emissions.

    You’re absolutely right, nuclear and CCS should have been included (and now are). Thanks for pointing out the mistake.

  • 7
    Mark Duffett
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Apology accepted, Amber. I should have applied the maxim to the effect that, given a choice between cock-up and conspiracy, go for the cock-up every time.

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