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In the Grip of Drought, Australia Considers A Carbon Market

by Jack Rosebro

Average increase per decade of Australia’s mean temperature, 1950-2007, in degrees C. Click to enlarge. Source: Australia Bureau of Meteorology

Australia’s Department of Climate Change has published a Green Paper[1], or preliminary proposal, of its plan to limit the amount of carbon dioxide that the country’s major industries will be allowed to produce from 2010 forward, and has invited public comment. A White Paper, which will incorporate those comments, is scheduled to be released by the end of 2008 along with a draft of proposed legislation to enact the plan. A summary of the Green Paper has also been published.[2]

Referred to as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the plan largely comprises a national emissions trading system that would require around a thousand Australian companies—those that produce more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year—to purchase permits which would give them the legal right to emit greenhouse gases. Proceeds from the sale of such permits would be distributed to Australian households and small businesses to offset increased costs, as well as invested in renewable and low-carbon energy projects. No proceeds from the sale of permits would be returned to government.

Public information sessions on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme are being held this week in eight major cities, and will be followed by additional sessions in regional centers next month.

Noting that data released after last year’s Fourth Assessment Report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “is starting to paint an even more worrying picture of climate change and its future impact,” the Green Paper estimates that if emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) continue to increase at current rates, the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere will reach 1,000 part per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in the second half of this century, compared to 384 ppm CO2 in 2005 and 280 ppm CO2 in pre-industrial times.

Under such a scenario, Australia’s average temperatures are projected to rise by up to 5ºC (9ºF) by 2070. The Fourth Assessment Report had previously concluded that Australia’s water resources, coastal communities, ecosystems, energy security, health, agriculture and tourism are likely to be vulnerable to the effects of climate change if global temperatures rise by 3ºC (5.4ºF).[3] In remarks made at the National Press Club in Adelaide last week, Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water, laid out the rationale behind market-based reform, saying “This is not an emotional plea to abandon our self interest in favour of ecological concerns... After so many years of inaction, it is impossible for Australia to be in front of the rest of the world in tackling climate change.[4]

Transitioning to a Carbon Market

Proposed schedule of sales dates for Australia’s carbon permits, 2010-2018. Click to enlarge.

The Australian government intends to hold quarterly auctions of carbon pollution permits as soon as possible in calendar year 2010. The permits would be electronic, rather than physical, and would have unique identification numbers. Each permit would represent one Australian emissions unit: that is, the right to emit one tonne of CO2 equivalent in greenhouse gases. Permits would not have expiration dates, but would be marked with the first year, or “vintage”, in which they could be used. Permits could be auctioned up to three years before their vintage, once a year.

The Department of Climate Change, which was established around eight months ago, proposes to soften the initial impact of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme with an easing of fuel taxes that would be equivalent to any increases in the price of fuel associated with the cost of emissions permits. The amount of the reduction would be adjusted as necessary for the first three years of the plan’s implementation. After three years, the government would consider whether to continue the offset.

However, Australia’s carbon profile is particularly dominated by emissions from the stationary energy sector, in part because of its reliance on coal-fired electricity. The sale of coal to Asia is also a key component of the country’s exports. Recognizing that the shift to a low-carbon economy will create “adjustment costs” for businesses, the Green Paper proposes several transitional programs, including free permits for “the most emissions-intensive, trade-exposed activities” with major competitors in countries which levy little to no carbon costs. The government’s “preferred position” is to allocate up to 30% of emissions permits to emissions-intensive, trade-exposed companies.

Australia’s carbon emissions profile, 2006. Click to enlarge.

Eventually, all emissions permits would be auctioned rather than given away, although that time frame, as well as scheme caps and gateways, have not yet been worked out.

In the absence of assistance, if constraints on emissions are placed on activities in Australia but not elsewhere, there is a possibility that some emissions-intensive trade exposed activities(EITEs) may choose to leave Australia (or new investment could be discouraged). If these EITEs choose to relocate elsewhere, with no consequent global reduction in emissions, it results in what is called ‘carbon leakage’.

“Carbon Leakage” Becomes A Global Policy Issue
The concept of “carbon leakage”—a reduction in greenhouse gases by one country that is offset by related actions in another country—is becoming a major policy issue for governments that have carbon reduction schemes under consideration. Carbon leakage is an effect that can have one of several root causes, such as:
  • emissions policies that trigger the relocation of polluting industries to countries with little or no climate change policy;
  • emissions policies that reduce the ability of companies to compete with those in countries with little or no climate change policy; and
  • significant trade imbalance between a developed and developing country.
As emerging economies such as China, India, and Indonesia continue to resist calls for a global compact on carbon reduction, Australia has joined the club of countries that have begun to explore the issue of carbon leakage. While government officials had initially predicted that the Garnaut Review's caution against the issuance of free carbon permits would be heeded, that position has been reversed with the Green Paper, apparently due in part to pressure from New South Wales Treasurer Michael Costa, who has termed the Garnaut Review “nonsensical.” In response, Dr. Garnaut has referred to Costa as a “well-known denier of the science” of climate change. New South Wales and Queensland produce most of Australia’s coal, a major export for the country.
New South Wales is currently trying to privatize its electricity assets, 90% of which are powered by coal-fired generators.
Following the release of the Green Paper, the Australian Workers’ Union has also raised concerns about carbon-intensive manufacturers of raw materials such as aluminum, cement, and steel. If such companies move their operations offshore after receiving carbon permits, the AWU argues, those permits should be forfeited and transferred to affected Australian workers. “It is a form of insurance and compensation for workers who may be left in a vulnerable position because an employer has acted in a less than truthful manner,” remarked AWU national secretary Paul Howes in a recent interview.
Concerns have also been raised in the European Union: the German government favors an approach not unlike Australia’s, saying that it is “urgent” to grant free emissions rights to cement, steel, and other industries to prevent them from shifting operations to countries where emitting CO2 is cheap or free. However, France’s President Sarkozy, who also holds the EU’s six month rotating presidency, argues that the EU should impose special import duties on products made in third countries with little to no climate change policies.
Such duties—which, if enacted, would take effect after 2013—are designed to reassure Europe’s heavy industries, who are likely to face tougher emissions restrictions within the next five years. The Netherlands has begun to lobby the EU commission to ramp up a planned review of the risks of migration of heavy industry from the EU to developing countries. The review was originally scheduled for next year.
Carbon leakage has also been cited as an example of the shortcomings of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which took effect in 2005. Although 36 Annex I industrialized countries as well as the European Union agreed to monitor and reduce greenhouse gases, emissions arising form the production and transport of imports to Annex I members from any of the 137 developing country signatories, which were not obligated by the Protocol to monitor or reduce GHGs, remain uncounted and unmitigated.
—Jack Rosebro

These proposals stand in direct opposition to the opinions expressed in the Garnaut Climate Change Review[5] (earlier post), which found that while the issuing of free permits to pollute “are justified in principle, their application raises dreadful problems”—not the least of which may be “a rush for government preferment”, such as direct assistance to generators of coal-fired electricity.

However, the Green Paper advocates just that, as well as the creation of two “industry adjustment” funds, the Climate Change Action Fund and the Electricity Sector Adjustment Scheme. The first fund would assist businesses affected by carbon restrictions, yet which do not qualify for free permits to pollute. The second fund would compensate workers, communities and regions affected by the effects of the carbon market on the coal-based electricity generation sector.

Direct assistance to coal-based electricity generators is envisioned for several reasons, not the least of which is energy security: a significant drag on profitability could undermine sector investment and asset maintenance. However, some coal-fueled power plants will be favored over others by the plan. For example, brown coal, such as that mined in Victoria, has a higher water content and lower energy content than black coal, resulting in significantly higher carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity produced. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is intended to be tougher on brown coal assets than on black coal, although “the extent of this difference is not entirely clear” to the authors of the report.

The Green Paper is the third major government report on climate change in Australia to be released this month. It follows by less than two weeks a draft report of the Garnaut Review, which was an economic assessment of the impacts of climate change that had been commissioned by Australia’s Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The Garnaut Review outlines the carbon reduction strategy embodied in the Green Paper, and is also open for review and comment, with a final version of the Review due 30 September 2008.

Water and Climate Change

Also preceding the Green Paper this month was the Drought Exceptional Circumstances report, an assessment of likely future climate patterns as well as Australia’s current Exceptional Circumstances standard for a one-in-20-to-25-year-drought event. The report estimates the occurrence of such events to now be every one to two years for the foreseeable future. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was briefed on the report’s findings on 5 July, a day after the draft report of the Garnaut Climate Change Review was published. Drought Exceptional Circumstances is now online[6], along with supplemental data.[7]

For Australia, water supply and climactic change are inextricably linked. The country has suffered an epic drought for more than a decade, and in the face of record compensatory payments to farmers, is reviewing its very definition of drought. Water restrictions are presently in effect for most major Australian cities today, and Australia’s governing bodies are struggling to assess effective responses to the possibility of droughts which could shift their ability to persist “from seasons to decades”, according to the report.

The government commissioned the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s science agency, and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), to undertake the production of the drought report, which was released under the auspices of the minister of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Tony Burke. DAFF policy, which was established in 1992 as part of a National Drought Policy, states that “to be classified as an Exceptional Circumstances event, the event must be rare, that is, it must not have occurred more than once on average in every 20 to 25 years.” Assuming that exceptional events are defined as those occurring, on average, once every 20 years, the statistical probability of such an event occurring in any single year is 5%. Critical threshold values are defined as the 5th percentile for exceptionally low rainfall, minimum temperature and soil moisture, as well as the 95th percentile for exceptionally high maximum, mean and minimum temperatures.

Percentage of Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin experiencing temperatures above 95th percentile, 1910-present. Click to enlarge.

However, Australia’s current drought “has been unprecedented in its geographic extent, length and severity”, with some areas “drought declared” for 13 of the last 16 years, and some recipients receiving Exceptional Circumstances assistance since 2002. Impacts on farming, forestry, and fisheries have led to the creation of a Climate Change Division within DAFF.

CSIRO and BoM were directed to deliver a scientific assessment of future climactic events in four ways:

  • Likely changes in temperature over the next 20-30 years across significantly sized regions, such as northern Australia), such as consecutive sequences of unusually warm months or seasons.

  • Likely changes in the nature and frequency of severe rainfall deficiencies over the next 20-30 years, in comparison to severe rainfall deficiencies defined by the available instrument records. Severe rainfall deficiency is defined as an event in the lowest 5th percentile of historical records persisting for prolonged periods and over significantly sized regions.

  • The likely effect of projected climate changes on drought indicators such as soil moisture, water availability, or a drought index such as the Palmer Drought Severity Index, over the next two or three decades.

  • The place of past exceptional climatic events in the context of the likely frequency and severity of future climatic events.

Since the 1950s, most of eastern and southwestern Australia has become drier and hotter, while the northeast has become wetter. The “Big Dry” has been characterized by an increase in exceptionally dry years as well as a near absence of very wet years, drying out soils and reducing streamflows to dams. In particular, the average amount of water flowing into Perth’s dams for the past seven years dropped to a fourth of what it had been from 1911 to 1975. Perth recently built a desalinization plant at a cost of nearly A$400 million.

Annual streamflow into Perth’s dams, 1910-present. Click to enlarge. Source: Water Corporation of Western Australia.

Adelaide, which is the capital of South Australia, will soon seek bids on the construction of a desalinization plant that will provide up to a third of the city’s water needs as a hedge against “variability in water supply and the shortage of water that climate change is likely to bring,” according to South Australian Water Security Minister Karlene Maywald. The cost of water in Melbourne is expected to double by 2013. Water availability is now affecting real estate prices in parts of the country.

The Wilkins Review

Later this month, the Australian government is scheduled to release the Strategic Review of Australian Government Climate Change Programs, a wide-ranging assessment of climate policy. The expected report is informally referred to as the Wilkins Review, after its lead author, Roger Wilkins, who heads Citigroup’s Government and Public Sector Group for Australia and New Zealand.

In a May interview with ABC National Radio’s Geraldine Doogue of Saturday Extra, Wilkins provided what appeared to be a preview of his findings, saying that solutions to climate change “will probably be on the supply side and technology,” fostered by a carbon market “that doesn’t attempt to decide what technology and what sources of power... and lets people sort of innovate and try and figure out different ways of doing things.[8]




An interesting gesture on CO2 emissions but full of holes.

How long does it take for people to understand. You can't have your cake and eat it at the same time. If you want to reduce CO2 emmisions, less oil, gas and coal has to come out of the ground.

BHP the largest mining company (Australian) in the world, just announced record exploitation of our wonderful, limited resources. Oil, gas, iron ore and just about everything else.

They'll be hosting ice fishing contests in hell, before Australians willingly stop digging up more coal and shipping it to China.

Just politics. Appeasing the masses, shafting the planet.

Kit P

Ice fishing contest?

This look like a selective tax on energy which would be a very regressive tax hurting low income people the most. Since this would be political suicide tell people that you are fixing the environmental problems and you will redistribute the money the government collects to the poor.

I am wondering if the Aussies have plans to stop exporting coal. This would further increase demand for US coal exports.

The reason that I get so confused about AGW is that the plans that the fear mongers come up with are so stupid. Reducing ghg by 50% is simple. Ration consumer energy use to 50% of yesterday. Another approach would to be cap and ration the energy use to some standard. For example, Al gore would only be able to buy as much electricity and gasoline for his family as my family uses. It is not a hardship for me, it should be okay for him. The Governor of California would have a similar restriction placed on his family.

When our leaders have to start living with the consequences of their policies maybe then will we start getting better policies.


Bad joke on the hell freezes over theme.

It's difficult for every country in world to align on emission reduction targets. If responsible developed countries limit emission while at the same time ship boatloads of fossil fuels to developing countries. It's a net zero. China just says thank you very much for the low prices.

Those countries which are most capable of developing alternative power to reduce emissions also have to look at their export book.

If they have the political will to cap their own fossil fuel production:

1. It's boosts resource prices and helps encourage efficiency elsewhere. (Kind of universal carbon tax)

2. Saves your own resources for a time when the stuff is much more valuable.

3. Forces less wise and responsible nations to burn through their own resources first.

My opinion probably fly in the face of conservative, capitalist dogma. I'm also painfully aware of the short term gain, ignore the long term consequences of human behaviours.

I really think there's no moving forward on this CO2 issue without accepting some short term economic pain. We need to figure it out a bit better than this.

Funny thing is. I don't think it will be as painful as people think.

Recently it seems that the more an article is off topic, the more room it gets on this site.
And this one is a prime example. This is a typical climate change text, far better suited for some other sites.
Isn't it after all a GREEN CAR site?
Just did a search for "car " and then "auto" in the text above and there were no matches in either case.
I believe many readers will agree.


Well I do agree on the Auto part.

I'm not very convinced that coal to liquids, bio fuels and a host of other topics discussed frequently on this site are environmentally friendly.

I do know that most of the gunks we use to power our Autos are a major cause of climate change.

I also suspect that love of the combustion engine and Americas fuel independence trumps "green" most days around here.

What do I know. Personally I'm an all electric proponent.



Isn't CO2 reduction and Green Car promotion very closely related?


You'd think with all that desert, a shift to solar would be a no-brainer. Surely by 2020 solar will be competitive with coal.

OldNeil, Australia may well go solar but if China doesn't, we'll will keep exporting our coal. Carbon emissions should include carbon exports in the form of coal unless its shown that the CO2 will be captured. Otherwise we are still effectively sealing our climate fate for the worse no matter how less we use at home.


I'd be interested to compare the public opinion statistics of a country like Australia, which is feeling the heat, with those of the US, which isn't noticing severe climate changes but is having financial problems, with regards to acceptance that AGHGs might be a problem. A measure of the "Every man for himself devil take the hindmost" factor.


The drought will stop income from Australian agriculture. That will increase pressure to export coal to make money, which will make the drought problem worse; on and on in a viscous circle.

It is useless to stop carbon use in Australia if they export it to another country for burning.

In general, coal burning must be stopped everywhere on earth.


China emits much less CO2 per capita than any 'developed' country. So, don't bother too much about coal exports to China. We created the problem, so we need to solve it.
We need to invest in research and deployment of solar and wind technologies. If we would invest the same amount of money in these things (even if they might never work) as we did in nuclear warheads (that actually were never used after all), we would be completely self-reliant on energy very soon. After that, we can sell the technology to China, become even richer by it, and make them green also.
The job will be done many years before China emits as much CO2 per capita as we do.




The increase in China's coal consumption accounted for more than 70 percent of global growth in 2006 and more than 60 percent of the increase in world coal use over the past decade.

China brought online about as much coal power capacity each week as the United States and India together did over the entire year, adding an unprecedented 90 gigawatts in 2006.


Australia exports more then 4 times more coal then any other country and almost all to China.


If China's carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country's carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world's CO2 production today. That's just the most stunning in a series of datapoints about the Chinese economy reported in a policy brief in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Coal power has been driving the stunning, seven plus percent a year growth in China's economy. It's long been said said that China was adding one new coal power plant per week to its grid. But the real news is worse: China is completing two new coal plants per week.


The auto connection is that liquid fuels will be included in the scheme; a spot CO2 price of $40 per tonne will work out about 10c a litre on petrol. That revenue will be handed back in some unspecified way. Note CTL would penalised around 20c if that makes a difference.

It seems logical to me to include coal and LNG exports in a reducing carbon cap so Australia's export customers have to cut back in parallel. As it is the door is open for heavy emitters like local brown coal (lignite) burning electricity producers to get an extended exemption from having to buy permits. This could turn into permanent welfare. Aluminium smelters have threatened to move offshore.

Since we have to transition to a lower carbon economy eventually might as well make that transition sooner. There may be advantages for early movers.


@Alain It will certainly take some time for the US and Australian per capita emissions to catch up to China @ ~7500*

One problem with the soft pedal welfare for the trade exposed industries is that it encourages everyone to concentrate on lobbying for 'special' treatment.

@ Anon
Coal exports , for CTL, Aluminium extraction and smelting, other mineral and heavy polluting industries are totally integrated into both the grid for manufacturing and therefore the 'carbon pollution reduction scheme' or other carbon tax, offset,or tarding schemes is as important an issue for discussion on these pages as:
'The Stern Report, IPCC, the melting of Polar ice, Environmental consequences including climate change, The Hydrogen Highway, Electric cars, V2G,
And the socio economic issues are relevant as the setting within which Automotive and Greencar issues exist.
Not to discuss the downside is likely to result in uninformed opinion.


Anon: right. No car discussion. CO2 has little to do with cars using sustainable fuels. In fact CO2 is collapsing as a concern in favor of facing up to the real problems - such as China emits more toxic pollutants (CO, SO2, particulates, etc.)per capita than any other industrial country and as energy use grows so do pollutants.

According to (China)government reports, more than 70 percent of China’s waterways and 90 percent of its groundwater are contaminated by pollution. But the biggest killer is air pollution. Only 1 percent of China’s urban residents live in cities with PM concentrations below 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air, double the WHO’s recommended level.

Forget CO2 and face up to global pollution from dirty coal and diesel fired electric plants.


They could do concentrated solar thermal power generation and water distillation. They would generate carbon free electric power and desalinate sea water at the same time.


You got to give the devil his due, Fakebreaker has a point on pollution in china

Millions of rural and urban citizens in China suffer from health problems primarily due to air pollution and water contamination. Every year, air pollution in China causes as many as 400,000 premature deaths and 75 million asthma attacks. Meanwhile, 25 percent of the Chinese population, mainly in rural areas, is drinking unclean water. Anecdotal evidence indicates that cancer, tumor, and miscarriage rates in many of China’s heavily polluted river basins are on the rise. Pollution also threatens the safety of food products, from excessive pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables to the high concentration of heavy metals in fish products.


“In general, coal burning must be stopped everywhere on earth.”

Thant is is even a more irresponsible position than NASA'a Hansen who wants to ban new coal plants. Of course neither Axil nor Hansen have any responsibility for providing energy that they consume in gross amounts.

When I joined the navy about 40 years ago, many US cities were very polluted. When I went to the med I found many of those countries has worse air quality. Now I can not find a place in the US where bad air quality is caused burning coal.

What has been demonstrated in the US is that all the electricity that our citizens need can be provided in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. It sad that China has not learned the lesson that we have.

No, I do not work in the coal industry but I am in a position to closely observe it. What is interesting is interesting is that clean efficient power plants make more electricity with less coal. That turns out to be good for the environment and good for business.

My electricity cost about $1/day per family member for an all electric home. In China, there are still ¾ of a billion peasants who live on less $2/day. The booming Chinese economy is still leaving too many behind.

It is a priority of the Bush administration and countries like France and Japan to help China and India clean up its act when making electricity. The inescapable truth is a small amount of electricity greatly improves the human condition. Then all the sudden everyone will need a big screen TV.


Now that the calculater has stopped laughig at my expense, I must will repeat after me 7 and 1/2 7.5*
etc. One billion is 1* 10^9 not 10^12.



Thant is is even a more irresponsible position than NASA'a Hansen who wants to ban new coal plants. Of course neither Axil nor Hansen have any responsibility for providing energy that they consume in gross amounts.

Kit, stopping coal power production is a main stream, down the middle, unanimous, prudent, bipartisan public policy that will be embraced by the next administration through the “carbon cap and trade” system the will be pass by the next congress and signed by the next president.

I hope and expect that this cap will include coal exports. Not covering exports would be a loop hole that will undermine the intent and purpose of the carbon cap.

Gore wants to close the coal mines and turn coal miners into nurses.

Now I can not find a place in the US where bad air quality is caused burning coal.

Coal burning kills 28,000 Americans a year, Nuclear .8 , wind mills, solar, geothermal, etc , 0.0.

Coal-fired power plants throughout the world are the major sources of radioactive materials released to the environment. Coal combustion is more hazardous to health than nuclear power and that it adds to the background radiation burden far more than does nuclear power. It also suggests that if radiation emissions from coal plants were regulated, their capital and operating costs would increase, making coal-fired power non competitive.

Coal is one of the most impure of fuels. Its impurities range from trace quantities of many metals, including uranium and thorium

Trace quantities of uranium in coal range from less than 1 part per million (ppm) in some samples to around 10 ppm in others. Generally, the amount of thorium contained in coal is about 2.5 times greater than the amount of uranium. Values of uranium and thorium content have been determined to be 1.3 ppm and 3.2 ppm, respectively. A substantial fraction of these radioactive elements enter the environment is the gas emitted from coal plant combustion.

What has been demonstrated in the US is that all the electricity that our citizens need can be provided in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

France generates just 1% of their power from coal which shows that nobody is perfect, but they are close.

The inescapable truth is a small amount of electricity greatly improves the human condition.

Improving the quantity and quality of the American electric grid is priority one in both the long and short term future. Our standard of living and the “American Way” depend on it.


Kit mentions that pollution levels dropped in the U.S.(due to environmentalists), then uses that fact to justify continued coal burning.

The Bush administration crippled D.O.E. funding for science research that would have benefited America. But in the last year of the Bush administration, D.O.E. funding increased 40% to $875 million for...coal pollution technology. Since China has plans for 1000 coal-fired powerplants, China will be the recipient of Bush's benevolence. >


You are mistaken. Where I live is coal is mainstream. Last time I went through West Virgina I noticed lots “I love coal” bumper stickers and none on rusted out PUs that said “I'd rather being nursing.” It does not matter what Al Gore or congress does until these loons are willing to turn off their their electricity.

“Coal burning kills 28,000 Americans a year ...”

Again Axil is mistaken, burning coal to make electricity is killing zero Americans. There appears to be some confusion between loony virtual models and well done risk analysis that show the risk in insignificant as required by US regulations. It is true that 75% of the risk factor for coal is uranium but again that risk is insignificant. In any case, pollution controls are now being installed on older plant that were not originally equipped with them.

Safe is safe, the US electricity generating industry is not killing anyone. If Axil want to debate which insignificant risk is more insignificant, then he would be engaging a silly argument.

It is also true that France does a good job of making electricity with US nuclear technology instead of US coal. The French have evolved the nuke technology and are marketing around the world.

When the world has the industrial capacity to build nukes and renewable energy fast enough to reduce the growth of fossil plants then we can debate closing down coal plant.


@Jul 25, 2008 4:28:09 PM

Axil tries not only for brilliance but also accuracy.

Again Axil is mistaken, burning coal to make electricity is killing zero Americans. There appears to be some confusion between loony virtual models and well done risk analysis that show the risk in insignificant as required by US regulations.

A recent report estimated that 30,000 premature adult deaths a year occur because of particulate matter.*1

However, children may be at even higher risk for particulate matter exposure than adults.*2

One factor contributing to this higher risk may be that their exposure to fine particulate matter can be much higher than adults.*3

Another factor may be that children are more susceptible to the effects of particulate matter than adults. Studies in the U.S. have shown that emergency room visits by asthmatic children increase when particulate matter levels rise just slightly above the national air quality standards.*4,5


1. Abt Associates. 2000.The particulate-related health benefits of reducing power emissions; Abt Associates, Bethesda, MD.

2. Thurston, G. D., 2000. Particulate matter and sulfate: Evaluation of current California air quality standards with respect to protection of children; California Air Resources Board, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; September 1, 2000. http://www.arb.ca.gov/ch/ceh/ airstandards.htm

3. Brown, K.H., Suh, H.H. and Koutrakis, P. 2001. Characterization of personal-ambient M 2.5 relationships for children and older adults. Health Effects Institute Annual Conference, Program and Abstracts. April.

4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Mercury Human Exposure Website." Accessed August 10, 2006. Available at http://www.epa.gov/mercury/exposure.htm

5. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, "2004 National Listing of Fish Advisories," September 2005. EPA-823-F-05-004.

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