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French Senate Report Calls for EU Action to Counter Climate Change, Peak Oil

Frsenate
France in 2000 as an example. Transportation has a double problem: the largest amount of CO2 emissions, and almost entirely from petroleum. Click to enlarge.

A report on sustainable development prepared by two French Senators for the French Office Parlementaire D’Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques (OPECST) calls for the EU to lead a global energy transition to avoid the worst impact of climate change and an oil shock they predict occurring by 2020 at the latest.

The report by Senators Pierre Laffitte and Claude Saunier calls for financing the transition by taxes that would be dedicated to promoting renewable energies, buildings insulation, biofuels, hybrids and electric cars and other low fossil-carbon technologies, particularly in the transport sector.

The Senators assert in the report that:

  • There is a real risk of a level of climate change for which the physical and financial consequences are very underestimated. The economic cost of climate change could increase to 2.5 to 3% of world GDP, they conclude.

  • The combination of an insufficient supply of oil and ongoing demand from the US, China and India will create by 2020 an oil shock of great reach that will push the price of oil to more than $150/barrel. That shock will take another 2% out of global GDP.

The senators argue that while the transition away from fossil fuels is an urgent requirement, it also offers opportunities for developing new industries. They also assert that the technologies required either exist or are close to being market-ready.

They estimate that their financing schemes could raise about €4-5 billion (US$5.1-6.4 billion) to be applied to the development and deployment of such solutions.

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Comments

t

One area that is been neglected in this discussion is China. China now consumes more resources, including coal than any country in the world. The U.S. still outdistances China in oil consumption but China is moving up fast with their tremendous increases per year in auto production and sales and their building of super highways which will make the U.S. interstate highway system look like small potatoes.

In addition to all the particulates, sulfur dioxide, and othe pollutants China puts out with its coal burning, it will eventually overtake the U.S. in greenhouse emission if its economic and greenhouse growth continues its current pace.

China is building one largely uncontrolled coal plant every several days. What the rest of the world does makes little difference as China's increases in co2 alone will dwarf all savings from Kyoto.

Obviously, the U.S. is hardly in a position to lecture China, but it is sad and almost surreal how China insists on following an industrialized path based on the auto that has been shown to be a destructive technology in terms of its impact on the land, oil supplies, and the atmosphere. China had the opportunity to start fresh as an undeveloped country and to follow a path that would deemphasize the automobile and build cities that were largely car free with associated excellent mass transit, bike paths, pedestrian zones, etc. etc. China is even developing suburbia, amazing considering its billion plus population. They are eating up land that they will need to feed their people.

China is engaging in "back to the future" on steroids and seems to have learned very little from our mistakes. I guess they see it as their turn and damn the consequences , including the fact that we will need a couple of additional planets to support their population if they persist in reaching the GDP per capita that the U.S. has. It's not going to happen because they will die trying but they will be major participants in the trashing of the planet in the mean time.

China is the elephant at the table now and demands to be served.

So how is the issue of China to be addressed? Their efforts in the area of wind, solar, and biofuels, while perhaps commendable, will be dwarfed by their devotion and access to coal. When the oil runs out, they will have already switched to coal liquids so they can perpetuate their desire to emulate the Western world.

Arguably, both China and the U.S. are in a similar category. With respect to their concern for the future of the planet, they are both rogue nations. How long can Europe continue its efforts to cut carbon emissions while these countries ignore Kyoto and continue down this path to certain destruction. More to the point, what is the freaking point to all these efforts by the Europeans.

Even if the U.S. somehow turns around, which I doubt, China will overwhelm all the efforts of the rest of the world.

Think about it. What is to be done?

Cervus

marcus:

The new coal plants are being built because natural gas production has peaked in North America, and the prices have risen tremendously. In the late 90s it was something like $1.50 per 1k cubic feet. It's hovering around $7 now, but it peaked at nearly $16 last winter. Natural gas powerplants are simply too expensive to fire.

Coal is cheap. And electricity demand is rising. They have to meet that demand somehow. And we certainly can't do it in the short term with nuclear, wind, or solar.

Even Germany is giving its coal power industry a pass.

Cervus

Speaking of Kyoto, European emissions, and China... (Link to New Scientist article)

marcus

Cervus, so you think what Germany has done is a good thing? I think if the US had set a better example Germany would not have lapsed as it has done.

I agree that we need coal power to maintain and supply present and near future power levels. All I am asking is that we make sure that it is clean.

I suspect our different view points in part stem from different visions of what is going to happen if CO2 levels are left unchecked. This is the last time I am going to suggest to you to see Gore's film. Perhaps then we can continue this discussion.

James White

At a minimum, we need a moratorium on CO2 emissions from any new coal plants. In order to site a new coal plant the company should be required to offset their CO2 emissions by purchasing carbon credits or some other reducti

James White

... reduction strategy. As far as China goes, I'm confident that China and India could do a lot more if the U.S. showed some leadership in the right direction. There are many ways the U.S. could encourage the right behavior if we put our minds to it.

Cervus

Marcus:

Don't make what Germany (or China, or India) does our fault. They and they alone are responsible for their choices. They signed Kyoto and are struggling--and failing--to meet its treaty obligations without serious economic reprecussions.

China and India both signed Kyoto, but neither has any obligation to lower their emissions. T is right that they are the elephant in the room (though I disagree with him on his other points). Both countries have red-hot economies right now and they won't do anything to threaten that.

As for Gore's film, I have followed the science for several years so I don't need to view it. Since reading Dr. Lindzen's objections and Dr. Peilke's blog, among other papers, I'm less certain that the concensus exists. The IPCC also refuses to study any possible positive effects from climate change. That makes their conclusions suspect, in my view.

The fact that environmentalism and socialism have become so firmly linked doesn't help, either. That, IMO, is what is making any political action so hard in the US. But I digress.

The fact is that I favor individual action over government involvment anyway. Buy a hybrid, buy solar panels for your house, buy organic foods, make biodiesel in your backyard from restaurant grease, take the bus. Do all those things first before you think of raising my taxes and see what effect it has on the market. I think it works better.

GreenFuel Tech emphasizes the economics of their products more than anything else, because they realize that their technology will have to win on those merits.

hampden wireless

I find that the world is going to need nuclear power more and more each day. We would be far better off having nuclear plants then coal. Sure, I would rather have solar or wind vs nuclear but there is no way we can get the kind of baseline power we need from anything other then nuclear .

marcus

Cervus I think it really all boils down to this question. Should a company pay for the damage it causes through pollution?

I clearly say yes. What do you say?

Andrey

Cervus:

Fighting a dogma is very unrewarding business. BTW, do you familiar with this:

http://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?ide=3

John Baldwin

Run all cars vans buses and trucks on natural gas. World is full of it and its still being made!!

marcus

Andrey that website contains a load of BULL. "Friends of Science" are an industry-funded group affiliated with the Fraser Institute in Canada which receives funding from ExxonMobil to disinform and confuse (to obfuscate) the public. They are certainly not what their name says.

The ONLY scientific, peer reviewed papers listed in their references are those below with their conclusions listed also below (apart from the PHYSICS paper which I couldn't get to). The only reference questioning global warming is a paper from 1990 in which they cite satellite data showing no clear warming trend over the previous decade in contrast to ground based measurements. However their measurements were skewed by air from the stratasphere which exibits a cooling trend as shown by a later Nature paper (Nature 429, 55-58 (6 May 2004)). What is this kind of crap doing on GCC? It seems that Al Gore's film starting to stir things up a bit.....

1. Goldenberg, S. B., Landsea, C. W., Mestas-Nunez, A. M., and Gray, W. M. 2001. The Recent Increase in Atlantic Hurricane Activity: Causes and Implications. Science, v.223, p.474-479.

Abstract:The years 1995 to 2000 experienced the highest level of North Atlantic hurricane
activity in the reliable record. Compared with the generally low activity
of the previous 24 years (1971 to 1994), the past 6 years have seen a doubling
of overall activity for the whole basin, a 2.5-fold increase in major hurricanes
($50 meters per second), and a Þvefold increase in hurricanes affecting the
Caribbean. The greater activity results from simultaneous increases in North
Atlantic sea-surface temperatures and decreases in vertical wind shear. Because
these changes exhibit a multidecadal time scale, the present high level of
hurricane activity is likely to persist for an additional ;10 to 40 years. The shift
in climate calls for a reevaluation of preparedness and mitigation strategies.


Hansen and Sato: Trends of Measured Climate Forcing Agents Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 98, Issue 26, 14778-14783, December 18, 2001

Conclusion: Global Warming. Current trends and projections of climate forcings lead us to predict global warming for several decades at a rate 0.15 ± 0.05°C per decade. Although this warming is more moderate than in business-as-usual scenarios, if it is maintained for a century the Earth's temperature will approach that of the middle Pliocene (2.75 million years ago), when the world was about 2°C warmer than today and sea level was at least 25 m higher (43). This conclusion supports the need for actions that slow the growth of climate forcings.


Hansen, Sato, et. al.: Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 97, Issue 18, 9875-9880, August 29, 2000

From the conclusion (my capitals): We suggest equal emphasis on an alternative, more optimistic, scenario. This scenario focuses on reducing non-CO2 GHGs and black carbon during the next 50 years. Our estimates of global climate forcings indicate that it is the non-CO2 GHGs that have caused most observed global warming. THIS INTERPRETATION DOES NOT ALTER THE DESIRABILITY OF LIMITING CO2 EMISSIONS, BECAUSE THE FUTURE BALANCE OF FORCINGS IS LIKELY TO SHIFT TOWARD DOMINANCE OF CO2 AND AEROSOLES. However, we suggest that it is more practical to slow global warming than is sometimes assumed.

Trenberth, K. 2005. Uncertainty in Hurricanes and Global Warming. Science, v.308, p.1753-1754.

Conclusion: Trends in human-influenced
environmental changes
are now evident in hurricane regions. These
changes are expected to affect hurricane
intensity and rainfall, but the effect on hurricane
numbers remains unclear. The key scientific
question is not whether there is a trend
in hurricane numbers and tracks, but rather
how hurricanes are changing.


Spencer, R.W., and J.R. Christy, 1990: Precise monitoring of global temperature trends from satellites. Science, 247, 1558-1562.

Conclusions described above.

marcus

ps I urge readers to have a look at the extracts from those papers. Even though this group have them on their website many of the papers conclude that human forced climate change is upon us and we had better do something about it!

Andrey

“…I am a scientist and I read peer reviewed scientific journals. This is where the consensus is.”
“…that website contains a load of BULL. "Friends of Science" are an industry-funded group affiliated with the Fraser Institute in Canada which receives funding from ExxonMobil to disinform and confuse (to obfuscate) the public…”.

Thanks, Markus. Very revealing what kind of “scientists” and what kind of methods they use to achieve a “consensus”.

And of discussion.

rexis

a quick note: Zidane rocks :p

Biofuel from algae surely sound promising and attractive, however, this is a relatively new source of oil, therefore much more research needed, especially to ensure that we are going toward the correct direction.

We will require processing plant that process waste water into algae fertilizer, huge algae tank, and not to forget the amount of water needed in the process, as well as the processor to harvest and process the algae into oil, and finally, biodiesel processor.

Perhaps algae really can produce more then 5000 gallons per acre of land but how about the neutrient that we need to feed the algae? Where do we get it and how do we get it cost effectively? All required extensive research. Not after we set up everything and found out such facility will cause any ecological disaster.

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