Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ignoring the Obvious

Rabett Run has always been a quiet and peaceful place where old bunnies can munch their carrots, but perhaps, just perhaps it is time to stir things up again so here are a couple of thoughts for the careless.  In the end, they are tied together by a convenient ignorance of the obvious

Eli could start with the Nature Climate Change jeremiad by Shinichiro Asayama, Rob Bellamy, Oliver Geden, Warren Pearce and Mike Hulme Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous,  Now the last three of these are well know climate change ostriches, it won't be so bad, or at least I will be dead by then types, the other two are not as well known hereabouts, perhaps they should be. The first of them, who probably won't be dead by then, essayed the Twitter long form in quite the good style.   ATTP has a useful dissection of some of the frog princes who essayed and Sou emerged from time out to to whop them good.  But you know Eli, that's not his way.  Eli begins by evaluating an argument not by its conclusions, but by its assumptions

If you read the paper it is a wonderful exercise in strawmanning, exceeded in many respects by the Newsweek (or was it Time, Eli forgets.  It's kind of what happens at this time of life) said that we were entering a new ice age.  The usual nutpicking shell game also so you can ignore it on those grounds alone.  Yet, the argument fails on a basic point, they claim that you can't usefully set deadlines for tough problems, but they ignore the lessons of the Montreal Protocols which succeeded by a) establishing that there was an emergency and b) dealing with it by setting deadlines. Indeed Montreal also set up a mechanism to modify and expand the deadlines to cover other stratospheric ozone de-enhancing emissions.

To argue that something should not be done because it won't work while ignoring an example where it has been done and worked is a basic error.  Given that the defenders of that piece claim that it establishes yet another example of how scientists ignore the worthy products of social scientists (poke about on Twitter) it seems more to prove that scientists ignore the crappy arguments of the usual suspects.  Well, OK, sometimes we laugh at them, sometimes we fret, and most of the time we face palm.

Which brings Eli to part two, the recent paper by Geoffrey Heal and Wolfram Schlenker, Coase, Hotelling and Pigou: The Incidence of a Carbon Tax and CO2 Emissions, which asserts that

Using data from a large proprietary database of field-level oil data, we show that carbon prices even as high as 200 dollars per ton of CO2 will only reduce cumulative emissions from oil by 4% as the supply curve is very steep for high oil prices and few reserves drop out. The supply curve flattens out for lower price, and the effect of an increased carbon tax becomes larger. For example, a carbon price of 600 dollars would reduce cumulative emissions by 60%. On the flip side, a global cap and trade system that limits global extraction by a modest amount like 4% expropriates a large fraction of scarcity rents and would imply a high permit price of $200.
The basic idea being that since oil reserves can be depleted and are valuable, eventually all will be used up.  Arthur Yap took this on as an example of "science news cycle" (his words, not Eli's) telephone from the paper, to the public affairs office, to the newspaper and so on, but he took it seriously, trying to examine what drove the results.  Eli, Eli looked for what was not there, which is often the case.

There are first order drivers other than how much oil will be burnt.  The first is that coal will disappear as a power source, it will still be around for as a reducing agent for ore processing, but no one is going to burn coal if a carbon tax is set at $200/ton CO2

The interesting one is that $200/ton CO2, makes direct air capture and carbon capture and storage look profitable.  It's another example of why a systems approach is needed to for dealing with climate change.


tidal said...

How does $200/tonne of CO₂ make CCS profitable?

The *best* estimates for *capture alone* is $100-$250/tonne. But that doesn't include the effort to transport and store it. "It" being the CO₂ which itself is >3x the mass and, what, 20x the volume of the fossil fuels that produced it. So to transport and store, say, 25% of what we currently emit, we would have to recreate a physical supply chain at least the physical size of that of our current fossil fuel industry. All the train cars, super tankers, pipelines, refineries, on and on. All of it. To handle not a product with consumer demand (and also a "consumer surplus" in econ-speak) but rather - as the bunny is fond of saying - a waste product...

You seriously think that is going to be profitable at $200/tonne??? Guess again. Much higher.

Also, the low-cost capture estimate is, I believe, from Carbon Engineering. Based in hydroelectricity-rich British Columbia. Even there, to make the system run that cheaply, they mostly natural gas for the energy to bind the CO₂ from air (the more electricity they use, the more expensive it is), and then more natural gas later in the cycle for industrial process heat to separate the "pure" CO₂ from the adsorbent...

Just saying...


Ken said...

A 20 GBP carbon price floor has been sufficient to effectively drive coal power plants out of the mix in the UK. $30 /ton would likely be the nail in the US market. $200 / ton is not enough to stop us from buying gasoline to fuel our cars but it would be more than enough to make natural gas too expensive for electricity generation when compared to alternatives - certainly it would make battery storage much more affordable than peaker gas plants.

Europe has demonstrated that to move away from fossil cars you need emission regulations. The new 92 g CO2 / km fleet average has resulted in most car makers to ship most of the EVs they make to the EU instead of to North America (currently 10 times the EV sales / month in the EU compared to the US)

EliRabett said...

David Keith at Carbon Engineering has calculations to show $94-$230/tonne CO2
which mostly depends on the cost of energy to run the process


They just raised about $70 million for a million tonne/yr pilot plant and are in the running for more to produce aviation fuel from the CO2 (takes energy of course)


A lot of the pipelines for storage transport are in place, e.g. gas pipelines of all sorts. Of course with gases, it's the volume not the mass.

This coupled with the cheap excess energy often produced by RE offers a way forward. Anything near $100 with a $200 carbon price works.

Tom said...

a) establishing there was an emergency.



Has tidal forgotten the greatest logistic lesson of the Kuwait Oil Fores ?

Though burning in desert, they were speedily extinguished by reversing the oil delivery pipeline pumps to send a flood of Persian Gulf water directly back to the burning wellheads.

Besides pipelines being largely reversible. OIL tankers and tank cars are conveniently empty half the time, and much LNG infrastructure can handle liquid CO2

Bernard J. said...

Yes Tom Fuller, there's an emergency.

The fact that you still refuse to acknowledge it simply demonstrates your lack of scientific understanding. It's that simple.

David B. Benson said...


Tom said...

David B. Benson, I wouldn't have thought you were a dittohead.

I don't dispute anthropogenic climate change. I don't dispute that it is something we must combat. I have published long lists of actions I advocate to do so, ranging from a carbon tax to conversion to renewables powering electric vehicles.

I do not see where science has established that anthropogenic contributions to climate change constitute an emergency.

I'm sorry I just won't take Greta's word for it, despite the fact that she's more credible (and clearly more intelligent) than a previous generation of doom-mongers, many of whom grace these pages.

velvet nous said...

Of course, if your plans focus on a "best guess" of 2.1 K for climate sensitivity, the only sensible conclusion is that you are not paying attention.

When a young teen speaking truth to power has the likes of you and Lomborg sweating, it's a good day.

velvet nous said...

(BTW, “science has established that anthropogenic contributions to climate change constitute” the entirety of current warming, and that you remain committed to downplaying the likely impacts.)

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Tom: I do not see where science has established that anthropogenic contributions to climate change constitute an emergency.

BPL: I take it you don't live in Miami.

Gingerbaker said...

There is zero good evidence any carbon tax has ever worked effectively anywhere in the world at any time. Why? Because almost all analyses are of very poor design (and most actually admit it) and the few well-controlled ones show no benefit.

So says the NREL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/96198796@N05/33335275688/in/album-72157705569308771/

Heal & Schlenker would therefore make sense to me.

And yet, we DO know what DOES work effectively to create new renewable infrastructure: mandates and targeted subsidies. Instead of a million words spent on the likely myth of carbon taxes, perhaps we could invest 1/10th as much to a discussion of why drastically increasing subsidies would be a better idea?

Canman said...

Climate emergency is an oxymoron!

velvet nous said...

Sloganeering Canman is a moron!