Monday, September 21, 2009
Holding my breath
Reuters reports: “The U.N. climate chief said on Monday he expects China to become a "world leader" on climate change after President Hu Jintao announces policy measures on Tuesday. Yvo De Boer said he expects Hu to announce, in a speech to a U.N. climate change summit in New York, a series of measures "that will take Chinese emissions very significantly away from where they would have been and are."” But….. listen carefully to see if there is any commitment to ABSOLUTE levels of carbon output as opposed to decreasing the proportion of it. The latter is only equivalent to the former if you bracket GDP growth – which is currently running, and planned to run, at 8-9% a year. That rate of growth produces massive compound increases in GDP over time and with it, energy needed and associated carbon output unless you grow with “clean” energy. But here is (yet another) inconvenient truth – 80% of current energy is fossil based. The idea that current energy (let alone the energy to fuel growth) can be provided on a clean basis can be produced at the needed scale and be deployed on any politically realistic timetable is a pure fantasy.