A Road Map Leading Nowhere

Today the European Commission explain its policy (these days called a road map) on reducing emissions. The target is to reduce emissions by 20% (compared with 1990 level of emissions) and many people will be disappointed that the target has not been raised to 30%, or at least 25%, claiming that it will not cost significantly more to reduce emissions by the extra 5% or 10%. The road map leads nowhere.

If you look at the small picture it is clear that an emission target of 20% suits the large European Union greenhouse gas emitting industries, at least in the short term. They can continue to profit from the free money they were giving in the form of emission trading permits, and do not have to invest in any particularly green or clean technology.

Again, looking at the small picture the European Commission’s sustainable energy target, of 20% is also supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately with the usual muddle of vested interests and unclear thinking the Commission’s sustainable energy target seems founded on a belief that simply because an energy source is sustainable it must be green an clean. This is foolishness of a grans scale which future generations may live to regret, if they live at all.

Growing fuel might be “sustainable” in the short term, but it is not sustainable in the long term without permitting millions to starve to death. Growing fuel is neither green nor clean, but dirty and full of emissions. The Commission’s target of 20% from “sustainable” sources should be replaced by a 20% target from non pollution low emission sources – in other words taking dirty renewable out of the definition of sustainability.

These comments that I have made simply cover the small picture, so far. There is always a bigger picture which politicians and policy makers ignore either from ignorance or because thinking about the big picture might hurt their brains.

The big picture is that in order to prevent climate change people must not emit more greenhouse gas (mainly carbon dioxide) than the plant can sequestrate. That means reducing emissions by 50% (not 20% or 30%) from 1990 levels. Anything else will mean that global warming and climate change will continue rapidly; just how rapidly we cannot say, but a 20% target is like an obese person cutting down his intake of food by 20%. It may give him a few more years of life, but no more than that.


4 Responses

  1. Robert is such a prolific writer, he appears not to have the time to actually research the subjects on which he is writing.

    These uninformed articles are exactly why there is so much confusion about biofuels. I can only guest that Robert is talking about 1st generation feedstock such as corn, soy, switchgrass, canola, etc. Cellulosic biofuels are not economically viable and should be discarded as a solution to the waning petroleum supplies.

    The only scalable, sustainable, economically viable and environmentally friendly solution we have on the table today is biodiesel from 2nd generation feedstock. These orchards produce between 500-1,200 gallons of oil/acre/year and will grow on marginal lands with a $38-$43 barrel equivalent processing cost.

    There are almost a hundred companies in the US planting millions of these trees per month and this effort will in fact eliminate OPEC purchases within 7-8 years. This will also motivate the return of the 28M acres of prime US farmland currently being used for corn sourced ethanol and the 22M acres of prime US farmlands currently being used for soy sourced biodiesel to food production.

    The American public needs to stop purchasing gasoline powered cars and follow the lead of virtually every other industrialized nation in the world and migrate to vehicles with advanced diesel engines so we can establish biodiesel mandates from B5, B10, through B100 in the coming years.

    While there are very few areas of Europe where these 2nd generation feedstock orchards will grow successfully, in the US we have almost a 100M acres.

    http://etcgreen.com Article: Are you driving your last gasoline powered car?

    • Yes, I cannot spend as much time on research as I would like, and I am talking about first generation feedstock, such as ethanol from corn and palm oil. As far as planting on “marginal” lands is concerned I simply point out that planting trees to crop is not a solution to the climate change issue, although it may be a solution to an energy problem. The more important point I make is that a carbon dioxide emission reduction target is not the same as a target for sustainable energy. In other words as someone once said, all Greeks are men but not all men are Greeks.


  2. http://etcgreen.com

    We should make use of the forces of nature and should obtain all our power in this way. Sunshine is a form of energy, wind and sea currents are manifestations of this energy. Do we make use of them? Oh no! We burn forests and coal, like tenants burning down our front door for heating. We live like wild settlers.”
    Thomas A. Edison, 1916

    Thats a beautiful quotation on the http://etcgreen.com homepage.

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