I have given up on the project of reviewing the various measures, partly because this has already been done in things like our own Garnaut Report. You can even download the summary from this blog.
However, from Brian Dawson and Matt Spanagle The Complete Guide to Climate Change (2009) here are a few points.
1. Nuclear power. (pp. 293-302)
While new nuclear plant construction is expected to increase over the next decade, this needs to be balanced against the anticipated decline in nuclear-generating capacity in Europe and the United States, as many existing nuclear reactors are approaching the end of their useful operating lives. More than half of the present reactor stock is due to be retired by 2025…
Overall nuclear capacity [present and future] could plausibly contribute up to 5-10% of the greenhouse gas emissions required to stabilize global emissions by 2050, but to achieve this would require a significant shift in present energy and climate policies.
That last point refers to the need, among other things, to put a price on carbon.
2. Emissions trading. (pp. 136-145)
Overall, emissions trading offers considerable promise as a mitigation instrument and, in theory, should deliver least cost emissions abatement in many circumstances. However, it is still too early to judge whether trading will deliver a superior economic outcome relative to other policy instruments…
For emissions trading to provide a common global carbon price signal, it would require the establishment of a truly global cap encompassing all greenhouse gases and all major emissions sources. In reality, such a comprehensive global system is unlikely to eventuate in the short to medium term…
Note “mitigation” means bringing down emissions to a liveable or least damaging level over the first half of the 21st century. “Adaptation”, which also appears often in this field, means learning to live with climate change. There is something of a tension between these two ideas, but it is a realistic tension.
3. Energy efficiency. (pp. 146-155)
[Given appropriate policy settings at the national level, such as a price on carbon] … energy efficiency would provide between 45 and 53% of cost effective reductions. This dwarfs what any other mitigation options could feasibly deliver.
4. Solar. (pp. 345-353)
Overall solar power is likely to make a relatively small, but increasingly important, contribution to emissions reduction by 2050.
Crap detecting kit
I have opted for a slightly more polite term than that used yesterday by Malcolm Turnbull. 😉
As you read letters to the editor, op-ed pieces in The Australian, or listen to Tony Abbott or Nick Minchin or the Saudi Arabian government or talk-back radio, keep this kit beside you.
1. The Non-Governmental International Panel On Climate Change
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Note Scientific American on this.
The 2,500 or so scientists, economists and other experts of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) call global warming "unequivocal" and think it "very likely" that humans have contributed to the problem. The world’s governments agree with the panel, which also shared last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Then there’s the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). These 23 individuals from 15 countries, including a handful of scientists, disagree. Led by physicist S. Fred Singer—best known for his denial of the dangers of secondhand smoke—they argue the reverse: "Natural causes are very likely to be the dominant cause" of climate change.
The NIPCC goes on to contend: "We do not say anthropogenic greenhouse gases cannot produce some warming. Our conclusion is that the evidence shows they are not playing a significant role."
In other words, even skeptics, deniers, contrarians—pick your favorite term—agree that global warming is real, or so it appears from the recent three-day conference in New York City put together by the Heartland Institute, a bastion of free-market thinking on the perils of junk science and government economic regulation. They just disagree—even amongst themselves—whether it is man-made.
On the one side sits Patrick Michaels, the recently resigned state climatologist of Virginia who ascribes global warming to fluctuations in the sun’s energy output aided and abetted by human activity. In his conference dinner address, Michaels said: "Global warming is real and people have something to do with it."
On the other side is astrophysicist Willie Soon of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. He lays the blame on the sun for all the agreed-on warming. And meteorologist William Gray of Colorado State University in Fort Collins believes the sun will soon reverse its effect. "We should begin to see cooling coming on," he predicts. "I’m ready to make a big financial bet.
2. Bjorn Lomborg
The Australian often gives him a run, and so, I note, does the latest Australian Spectator. See Real Climate, and also So what’s wrong with Lomborg?
Well, he’s managed to present himself as being in the middle ground. Lomborg makes himself look reasonable by saying that he accepts the science, that AGW is occurring, but that it won’t be that bad. But what Lomborg really does is cherry pick and systematically misrepresent the science. You don’t have to take my word for this. See, for example, Kevin Berger’s interview with Lomborg:
You start "Cool It" by boldly stating that polar bears illustrate the exaggerated claims about global warming. You write that polar bears "may eventually decline, though dramatic declines seem unlikely." Yet the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, which you use to support your thesis, concludes: "As the amount of sea ice decreases, seals, walrus, polar bears and other ice-dependent species will suffer drastically." Don’t you think that sounds like there will be dramatic declines?
I’m just saying that it will be harder for the polar bears but that they will not decline, and they’re not going to be extinct or even appear to be affected at present.
And it goes on like that — the scientific reports that Lomborg uses say the opposite of what he makes it appear they do. Read the whole thing. But hey, anyone can make a mistake, right? Well, look at Lomborg’s list of corrections for his book. Berger made it clear that there were serious errors in his treatment of polar bears, but Lomborg has corrected none of them.
3. Those emails
The link there is to Paola Tataro in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. See also The Economist.
AS POLITICIANS, policy wonks, businessmen, NGO types, hacks and hangers-on converge in Copenhagen for the forthcoming climate conference, a row over a set of e-mails from a previously obscure part of Britain’s University of East Anglia is becoming ever louder, if no more illuminating. Two weeks ago e-mails and other documents that had been leaked or hacked from the university’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were sent to various websites. Those with a longstanding opposition to action on climate change, from bloggers to members of the American Senate to the Saudi government, are touting the e-mails as a resource with which to derail the Copenhagen talks.
CRU’s researchers use various techniques to reconstruct the temperatures of times past. Some of the reconstructions they have been party to have long been the subject of technical criticism, sometimes in peer-reviewed literature, more frequently on blogs, notably Climate Audit, an award-winning blog by Stephen McIntyre. The critics have made many attempts to get CRU to distribute the raw data and computer codes which its scientists work on. The e-mails and other documents read as though the researchers were obstructive in dealing with some of these requests, that some of the data they used were in poor shape, that they may have indulged in spin when presenting some results and that they really did not care for their critics…
The IPCC bases its work on papers that have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. In one e-mail Mr Jones talks of stopping a couple of papers that he holds in low esteem from being discussed in an IPCC report “even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is”. This does not look good, though it is worth noting that at least one of those papers was, in fact, included in the report. Other e-mails talk of trying to get editors at specific journals removed.
That the e-mails and documents should be inspected in some sort of systematic way for evidence of poor practice or even chicanery is a fair next step. But it is ludicrous to think that climate science is a house of cards that will collapse if the e-mails were to discredit CRU’s work.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It warms the surface and increases the amount of water vapour that the atmosphere can hold, which in turn warms things further. How much warming you get for a given amount of carbon dioxide is hard to say, because there are feedback processes involved, such as the making of clouds, and also other factors at work. It may be that this century’s warming will be moderate, staying below 2ºC. It is quite possible, though, that unless something is done the warming will be greater, and there is a real risk that it could be a lot greater, perhaps 4ºC or more.
The inquiries into the “climategate” e-mails and files may find that some of the researchers fell short of the standards of their calling, or that some of the science in question does not stand up as well as its authors would wish. To think that all action on climate change should cease pending such inquiries, though, is foolish, cynical or both.
OK, that’s your lot! Other topics from now on — but here is a last offering: A special report on climate PDF (220kb).