Filed under: carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, climate change, electricity, energy, global warming, microgeneration, solar, solar energy, solar panels Tagged: | climate, environment, rapid climate change, wood biomass
Posted on August 15, 2012 by Robert Kyriakides
If you measure climate change measures that each country adopts by money spent and targets you get a fair idea of the importance that each nation places upon climate change. Of course measuring targets is foolish; targets are fairly meaningless, can be easily fiddled and often miss the point. For example the United Kingdom measures renewable energy by including in the measure energy produced by means that create vast amounts of greenhouse gas – burning of wood biomass, for example. Now the renewable energy target is just that – in the UK it is not an indication of anti-rapid climate change measures but simply a measure of renewable energy, be it good for the environment or bad for it.
Money spent may be a better measure, in comparative terms, notwithstanding that much spent is wasted by governments. In the UKI there have been many Photovoltaic systems installed in the past two years and that is a good thing, but by making the feed in tariff overly generous the government has got very poor value for money and has unfortunately spent more than it should have spent on this form of renewable energy. Similarly wind turbines have been over – subsidised. I expect that these subsidies are relatively small excesses compared with those enjoyed by the nuclear power industry but nevertheless more could have been done with the same amount of money.
The world expenditure on renewables, country by country show the USA in the lead followed by China. These are both ruthless capitalistic economies and if they deem it important to make this expenditure then perhaps, notwithstanding all the “buts” and “howevers” with which I started this essay, it might be important for all nations to realise that any attempt to reduce anthropogenic climate change has got to cost something. Last year it cost the United States $48 billion.
China comes second in the spending list for 2011, and if you count the European Union as a single nation then it comes very close to the USA and China.
Most spending is on photovolatics and wind turbines, both of which produce electricity intermittently, so the spending is not always well directed. Counting the number of wind turbines that a nation has is becoming a bit like an international equivalent of the biggest penis contest – interesting but not necessarily a sign of effectiveness when it comes to combating global warming.
Throughout all nations we need to see more spending on renewable heat; after all heat can be stored in an environmentally safe and cost effective way, unlike electricity, but renewable heat lags far behind renewable electricity notwithstanding that in most nations throughout the world people spend more in terms of carbon dioxide production, particulate production and kWh used on space and water heating than they do on power.
I suppose that we should be grateful for small mercies and that something is being spent on renewables. However, it is time that the politicians grew up and stopped boasting and concentrated on small effective climate change and air quality measures, rather than trying to figure out how many wind turbines can dance on a shoreline.