Wednesday 20 December 2023

"Interpreting COP28" - easy!

Lineker Lookalike compo, UAE entry

Each COP since at least COP21 in Paris has claimed to be the "last-chance-to-save-the-world, one-minute-to-midnight" etc.  Each one breaks up with tearful hugs all round - "we've done it!" - and those confected whoops of joy one becomes accustomed to in TV shows where, at key moments, someone at the front lofts a placard reading Everyone Whoop Now Like Demented Gibbons! and the live audience complies with distressing readiness.

Then we read The Text.  The buyer's-remorse hangovers start almost immediately.  What does it mean?  FFS, you can drive a coach and horses through that!    Well of course: what did you expect?

This time we have the following (my emphasis): 

... calls on Parties to contribute to the following global efforts, in a nationally determined manner, taking into account the Paris Agreement and their different national circumstances, pathways and approaches: (a) Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030; (b) Accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power; (c) Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century; (d) Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science; (e) Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production; (f) Accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030; (g) Accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero-and low-emission vehicles ...

One can have a bit of fun parsing all the UN-speak boilerplate guff (which lobby is being appeased with which empty form of words etc), but let's stay with the salient bits.

Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.   This mostly means wind and solar.  Setting aside the gross implausibility of this target; greenies, please note that wind & solar capacity is a very poor guide to wind & solar output of electricity.  Average for solar: around 10% of nominal rated capacity: for wind, maybe 25%.  Challenging.  And that's before the system balancing issue is addressed, not to mention the grid issues (multiple). 

Towards net zero emission energy systems.  What are 'energy systems'?  A vexed point - see below - and very relevant for ...

Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems ... to achieve net zero by 2050.  This was supposedly the Great Triumph: the first ever explicit mention at a COP of fossil fuels!  Of course, many wanted Phase Out or even Phase-Down, in preference to Transition Away.  Hard luck.  Look around you - who was hosting? (and who'll be hosting next time ..?)

Nuclear / CCUS.  Nuke is the big win for France; and CCUS for the oil industry.  Many greens hate both with a vengeance.  More tough luck.  Look around you.

So - what are 'energy systems'?  The obvious interpretation is power generation, plus heating.  This former is the only sector where serious (albeit flawed) detailed work has gone into what Net Zero might actually mean.  But of course it ain't enough for many.  Here's a bleat from the Graun

... the ambiguous term ‘energy systems’ in the agreement, and how it should be understood ... This ambiguous term is what enabled textual agreement between the 130 countries at Cop28 that wanted a phase-out of fossil fuels and the oil- and gas-producing states who didn’t. The former are absolutely clear that energy systems should be taken to include transport energy – they would not have signed it otherwise. The latter want you to believe it doesn’t... This is a battle for interpretation. It is vital that all supporters of climate action insist that Cop28 has called for the gradual transition to a non-fossil fuel future. Saying the opposite will be self-fulfilling.

The Graun correspondent's 'evidence' is a bit of background puff-wording he likes, that appeared on a UN website.  Nothing direct or specific.  My counter-suggestion would be that, particularly as to transportation, there's a completely separate and explicit little subsection on that sector [(g) above] which makes no such prescription; but only 'reduction of emissions from road transport' (not even air travel or shipping; and certainly not agriculture).  So, no - transport is not in 'energy systems'.  And there it is.  Simples.

But the battle for interpretation will rage on.   Bald men, comb ... COP28's 'text', unlike that of Paris 2015, is not a Treaty, it's entirely pour encourager.  Onwards to COP 29 and, errr, Azerbaijan!



djm said...

Azerbaijan............ FFS

If ever there was a marker laid down stating

"You are being trolled"

This is it..........

dearieme said...

Matt said...

Net Zero as in "balance the output of CO2 from burning fossil fuels with removing the same amount of CO2 from the atmosphere" isn't a bad plan. Of course, the technology doesn't exist (or makes energy uneconomic) but that's the same for clean energy.

The reason the eco-twats don't like Net Zero because they are closet communists who want to reduce everyone to the living standards of the 16th century. The fact that renewables won't work is a feature not a bug.

The science says that emissions of CO2 will lead to a rise in temperatures. What it doesn't say, and can't because Attribution Studies/Science is fortune telling, is what the outcome of this temperature rise will be.
Supposedly, it'll be mass displacement of populations due to flooding but that's bollocks. The rises will be over 10s to 100s of years and adaptation (see Venice) will take care of it. Worse case, people move a bit further from the sea like Obama and Bezos presumably will have to.

So we return to the question of why we are impoverishing ourselves now if the technology either doesn't exist, is too expensive or there is no actual hard science to back up the cataclysmic predictions?

jim said...

As expected. No sane politician is going to do anything realistic about warming, the costs are insane and the benefits well beyong the next election.

Even playing the Green Industry card does require some actual industrial capacity and ability to flog windmills and solar arrays at a profit. Or flog Carbon tickets, 5 glued to every tree planted and a claim on each. Or you can flog EV hybrid cars - driven by electric, powered by petrol. With the charging lead if any stowed in the boot in its factory wrapping.

Assuming the sea level does rise then make sure the rich and the politicians own or sequester the higher ground and food supply. The army will help out if the civvies cut up rough. No worries really.

Jan said...

If I'd beeen there I would have objected to "in keeping with the science". There is no such thing as "the science" we're back to the covid BS again.

"In keeping with scientific consensus" is the most I would have entertained. I would contend nothing is ever settled in science. The most we can ever put forward is a current hypothesis until a better one comes along.

Anonymous said...

"No sane politician is going to do anything realistic about warming, the costs are insane and the benefits well beyond the next election."

Be fair, they've closed all the coal mines, and have refused to allow the reopening of a small Welsh steam coal mine, so that all the heritage railways have to import it from IIRC Kazakhstan at an insane price.

They've also made it illegal to sell domestic house coal. How long before wood burning stoves are illegal?

In Scotland my understanding is that there's a date beyond which it'll be illegal to heat your house, of any age, with anything but electricity.

And unless it's been reversed I think Boris made it illegal to build any new gas-fired housing after 2025.

You would never believe that coal burning hit a new record in 2022 and is poised to match that in 2023.

And oil burning likewise:

"World oil demand is scaling record highs, boosted by strong summer air travel, increased oil use in power generation and surging Chinese petrochemical activity. Global oil demand is set to expand by 2.2 mb/d to 102.2 mb/d in 2023, with China accounting for more than 70% of growth."

That surging petrochemical activity has moved from Germany thanks to NS2 destruction

"As of December 31, 2022, BASF has 30 production sites in Greater China."

"23/09/2023- BASF has commenced construction of its syngas plant at the Verbund site in Zhanjiang, China. This world-scale syngas facility, fully integrated into the Verbund site, is scheduled to start up in 2025. "

Nick Drew said...

"closet communists who want to reduce everyone to the living standards of the 16th century", Matt?. Most communists I've encountered are full-on for heavy industry and pretty high standards of living - even if they don't know how to achieve them

Matt said...

@ ND

What would you describe people who want to drive the standard of living for everyone down to subsistence levels?

Nick Drew said...

That's a particular type of anarcho-hairshirt green (often conveniently also a trustafarian, but also the Swampy-style naïf-idealist): neither have bothered to think anything through: some of them are surprisingly tech-adept (e.g. using drones)

but not red - wot about the workers! - because true reds despise both the above

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing reports that the Houthis are mining the waters off the Yemen coast. OTOH this doesn't fit with other reports that Russian ships aren't being targeted, I wouldn't think mines discriminate.

Matt - the idea does seem to be to drive down living standards at all costs.

Which tbf has been happening for the last 50 years, a guy on median wages in say 1979 could afford to buy a house on a single wage. I note how these days it's all about "household income" as two full-time workers are needed to pay the bills. Then "they" wonder why birth rates are low.

Anonymous said...

ND - have you any views on the proposed closure of the UK blast furnaces - i.e. no steel from ore any more?

Diogenes said...


You need to get out more. There already are a significant number of people in the UK on subsistence levels - and the government's plan is to reduce their incomes in real terms.

Net zero is only a minor effect to cumulative damaged put upon the economy by incompetent or bought politicians. You'd have more success if we started weeding out those causing the damage which are those that select politicians for election.

Make a difference. Get on the selection panel for your local party.

Nick Drew said...

Anon @ 3:50 - we had a discussion about this a few weeks ago. Some writing here suggest one can see a conspiracy to deprive the UK of the means of (re)arming itself from within its own industrial capabilities, given that the steelworks being closed are owned by China, India ...

directionally, it could certainly have that effect

interestingly (if that's not too casual a term in these circumstances), there's another dynamic afoot - a carbon tax on imports from countries with higher-carbon economies, which the UK plans to introduce in 2027 and the EU a year earlier. But that hardly counters the strategic import of the first point

Anonymous said...

If anyone needed a (further) reminder of this idiocy, there is actually a Green Coal company which they claim to be carbon *negative*

Enjoy the festive season as 2024 is an election year when we have peak madness.

Anonymous said...

I see

a) we are joining in the Coalition of the Satraps to fire $2m missiles at $2k Houthi drones, obviously a better option than persuading Israel to stop killing civilians and children. And to think we got stroppy about Assad and Putin, when we are literally sending our people out there to enable Israel!

b) Rishi has caved already on the 38k salary minimum for someone bringing over a family when they immigrate here. How long did that last, a week? Two? What an absolute shower.

Nick Drew said...

Anon @ 8:28 - I'd be slow to mock that 'green coal' concept unless you have some science that genuinely refutes their claims

they call it 'green coal' because (they say) it has similar combustion properties to regular coal

are they wrong? are their numbers wrong on their production process? (what acreage of land do you need per tonne of the stuff - maybe that's an implausible number.) I have absolutely no idea (many 'green' schemes are indeed utter bollocks from start to finish) but pending some facts, personally I'm suspending judgement

Matt said...

@ Diogenes

Got any actual evidence for "significant number of people in the UK on subsistence levels"?

If they have more than shelter and food then I call bullshit on this claim.

Anonymous said...

Matt - don't know about subsistence levels, but in March 2022 we flew into Manchester Airport one morning and took the enclosed walkway to the station, there had to be more than 20 people sleeping in the walkway, nearly all young white guys.

It wasn't like that 30 or 40 years ago - I've missed my train around 1980 and had to spend the night in a sub-zero Manchester with no money*, but the people you'd meet on the street then would be older guys, many with alcohol or psych issues, not 20-somethings.

* ladies waiting room, platform 13, Victoria Station - they still had old leather chaise-longues alongside massive, hot, cast iron radiators. As the night wore on most of my companions from the waiting room at Piccadilly (they'd chucked us out at 1 am) found their way there.