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Sea-Level Rise Accounting; Climate Negotations; UK Energy Bill

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An estimate of terrestrial water storage changes in the recent past (1961-2003) provides a potential answer for a significant portion of total (~42%) sea-level rise in a new study (summary):

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The next round of climate negotiations are in Bonn, Germany this week.  Countries are trying to come up with the next climate agreement, but members disagree over whether and how such a measure would bind them.  I’ve concluded in the past year that international efforts haven’t and won’t work for the foreseeable future.  There are simply too many interests at the table trying to conceive something from scratch and the technological solutions aren’t readily at hand.  I think it would better for interested parties to form smaller groups and work on mutually beneficial goals with an eye toward keeping any agreements flexible and dynamic to accommodate new members and goals as needed.  The focus on a grand global bargain isn’t and won’t get the job done.

The U.K. is working on an energy bill and this article asks the question: will the bill help the U.K. meet its climate (emissions) goals?  Call me Debbie Downer, but the answer is relatively easy: no, it will not.  Nothing that is politically feasible in the UK (or US) right now will meet any kind of emissions goals in any time frame (unless those goals include larger numbers than exist today.)

The government is committed to decarbonising electricity generation by 2030, as well as slashing overall carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.

The UK will not decarbonize electricity generation by 2030.  Any way you look at it (e.g. here or here), the UK generates most of its electricity with fossil fuels (coal and natural gas).  Renewable sources are responsible for only ~3.5% of the electricity generated.  Is the UK seriously going to replace all currently existing coal and natural gas plants with renewable sources in 18 years, to say nothing of expectations of increasing electricity demand in that 18 year time span?  The scale of that project boggles the mind – it simply will not be accomplished.  And just so I am clear, the same thing holds true for every other nation, including the US.  This is exactly the type of project I worked on late last year – and I promise I will share those results in the future.  I look forward to hearing from my favorite UK blogger (Martin) both now and when I put that future post together on this topic – what think you?

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5 thoughts on “Sea-Level Rise Accounting; Climate Negotations; UK Energy Bill

  1. Unfortunately the UK government has ignored promises made at G20 summit in Pittsburgh PA in 2009 and now published its draft Energy Bill without any commitment to phase-out fossil fuel use.
    http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/a-very-unsustainable-energy-bill/

    Also, have you seen this:
    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2012/05/satellite-data-video-shows-methane-escape-in-arctic/

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I have actually seen a variety of articles in the past few years that deal with the methane in what will be formerly known as permafrost. It’s disconcerting, to say the least. As I wrote on another blog where I cross-posted this piece, I’m not sure if it really matters when the methane is released or how quickly it is released. I say this from the perspective that plenty of additional warming and downstream impacts are already on their way throughout the rest of this century. It might make a difference in some locations, but will the methane release be large enough to generate a signal on top of the already-occurring CO2 signal?

  2. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact used to be a leisure account it. Look complicated to far brought agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep up a correspondence?

  3. Pingback: Bonn Climate Negotiations Predictably Go Nowhere « Weatherdem’s Weblog

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