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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #46

Posted on 18 November 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

‘Planet at a crossroads’: climate summit makes progress but leaves much to do

The UN negotiations in Bonn lay the groundwork for implementing the landmark Paris deal, but tough decisions lay ahead

COP23 Bonn Act Alliance Chocolate Coins

Representatives of Act Alliance hand out chocolate coins, promoting the need for climate finance for adaptation. Photograph: Kiara Worth/ENB/IISD

The world’s nations were confident they were making important progress in turning continued political commitment into real world action, as the global climate change summit in Bonn was drawing to a close on Friday.

The UN talks were tasked with the vital, if unglamorous, task of converting the unprecedented global agreement sealed in Paris in 2015 from a symbolic moment into a set of rules by which nations can combine to defeat global warming. Currently, the world is on track for at least 3C of global warming – a catastrophic outcome that would lead to severe impacts around the world.

The importance of the task was emphasised by Frank Bainimarama, Fiji’s prime minister and president of the summit: “We are not simply negotiating words on a page, but we are representing all our people and the places they call home.”

‘Planet at a crossroads’: climate summit makes progress but leaves much to do by Damian Carrington, Guardian, Nov 17, 2017 

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Nov 12, 2017

Mon Nov 13, 2017

Tue Nov 14, 2017

Wed Nov 15, 2017

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Fri Nov 17, 2017

Sat Nov 18, 2017

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Comments 1 to 8:

  1. So Donald Trump talks about clean coal. The only real way to achieve this is to bury CO2 emissions underground, as is done with an experimental plant in Canada. Couple of articles:


    Knowing Trump he would subsidise coal companies with tax payer money. But if Trump does go down carbon capture and storage road, then that is a solution. But how many of us believe he would carry through with his claims, given his general record to date on so many things being not carried through? He could change that record now with implementing carbon capture and storage.

    Republicans need to remember its not all about "tax reform" their big obsession.They have to start holding Trump to account for other things as well. Sorry about political comment, but climate change has become very political.

    However carbon capture and storage is not ideal solution, seems expensive approach to me. Just stop burning coal, it's easier and renewable energy is now very cost competitive.

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  2. Nigelj:

    Your article is from 2014.  From your first reference:

    "Captured CO2 from the Boundary Dam project will be pumped underground and sold to the Cenovus oil company for use in priming nearby oil fields, or buried in geological formations."

    "He noted the Saskatchewan plant relies on a local source of coal – and on selling on the CO2 to the oil industry – to keep it in the black. Coal also faces intense competition from historically low prices for natural gas, which makes it prohibitively expensive to build new coal plants with CCS."

    Using the CO2 to obtain more fossil fuel is not a path to carbon free energy.   About half of the CO2 captured is released when the oil is obtained.

    Carbon capture is not economic in competition with renewable energy.

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  3. Michael Sweet @2

    I agree carbon capture and storage is expensive, and has problems. But If you read the second linked article, Saskatchewan has limited wind and solar potential, and carbon capture and storage does have a case because of this. Its the local and regional differences thing. Of course it needs to be done properly, with all carbon stored, not on sold to oil companies for fracking, which looks like half the C02 will end up back in the atmosphere to me.

    As for America under Trump, carbon capture and storage might be better than nothing, given he seems determined to promote coal. At least this could be as a temporary measure and technical experiment, until new leadership sees obvious cost and environmental advantages of promoting renewable energy.

    I think maybe Trump is just suspicious of new energy solutions, getting older and resistant to change. Look at age of his inner circle as well.

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  4. Nigelj,

    Your link goes to a report from a think tank.  I did not find any information about this think tank with Google, but there are no scientists on the board.

    A news release from a think tank reporting on a coal industry project that says there is limited renewable energy in Canada is not a very strong source.  The Solutions Project, run by scientists, claims that there is plenty of renewable energy in Canada.

    You have to choose how reliable your sources are.  In the USA, think tanks are frequently run by fossil fuel interests.  I am not familiar with Australian think tanks.

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  5. nigelj,

    The suggestion that Saskatchewan does not have adequate renewable power sources is highly suspicious.

    The total population of Saskatchewan is 1.16 million. And a large part of the energy consumed in Saskatchewan is for oil and gas production, an activity that has to be terminated so that makes its energy demand irrelevant (those energy demands are real but they need to disappear in the sustainable future).

    The indicated percentages of solar may also be skewed by including the almost unpopulated Northern half of the province which indeed has lower levels of sunlight, especially in the depths of winter. But Saskatchewan also includes many of Canada's sunniest locations as confirmed by the 'Current Results' website summary of Sunniest Places in Canada. The southern area of Saskatchewan where the vast majority of the population lives is quite sunny.

    And Southern Saskatchewan is reasonably windy, though perhaps not at the speeds required to optimize wind generation. But then optimum is only the ideal. Power generation is power generation, even if it isn't optimal.

    Of course the final criticism of the claim that Saskatchewan lacks non-reneweable energy capability is that electricity storage systems are being ignored when that claim is made. Storage may be more expensive than getting away with burning fossil fuels. But sustainable renewable energy supply systems should not be cost-compared to damaging unsustainable energy systems.

    I do however support adding CCS to recently built fossil fuel burning power plants. Proper CCS locked away (not assisting in the extraction of  new fossil fuels for burning), can be better than a new gas burning power station, even after considering the power lost to collect and store the CO2. But converting the coal burnet to be a gas burner with CCS would be better. And even if a gas burner with CCS needs to be shut-in before 2050 the lower return on investment is irrelevant since the 'costs' are only a small part of the massive debt owed to the future generations by what the current generation and their predecessors got away with doing.

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  6. Ok guys you win. Perhaps the case for coal fired carbon storage and capture in Saskatchewan is weak. My point was really that if Trump is going to be doing coal, and it looks inevitable,  he should be true to his word about clean coal, and use carbon storage and capture, retrofit ideally. A point OPOF seems to acknowledge anyway. It may also be still worth experimenting with the technology, its just a little too early to say its a dead end.

    The Saskatchewan example is just that, an example that the technolgy does work if properly done. That's all I was saying.

    However coal fired power is never my preferred option, and I suppose theres the risk that CCS might encourage it.

    On a related topic, the has a good article as below titled "what they dont tell you about climate change"

    It nicely summarises need to suck carbon dioxide out of atmosphere to meet Paris accord, either literally with technology (such stuff exists at a price), carbon capture and storage options, and development of forestry sinks and enhanced soil sinks. It discusses the various possibilities and  challenges.

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  7. nigelj,

    I acknowledge that CCS on coal burning results in less CO2 per unit of useable electricity than natural gas fired generators, even better than combined cycle gas turbine generation.

    However, that same coal burning facility with CCS would be even better if it is converted to gas burning with CCS. The gas burning with CCS would also reduce many other nasty side-effects of coal burning, while still creating a few nasty side-effects beyond making new excess CO2.

    So technically I am pointing out that burning coal to generate electricity is not an acceptable option, no matter how much more it costs to convert existing coal burners to more responsibly generate electricity in the short-term (prior to 2050 when all of the more fortunate people need to have terminated their attempts to 'benefit more from the burning of fossil fuel').

    A final point. CCS on fossil fuel burning does not count towards the identified need to 'remove carbon from the atmosphere'. The net result of fossil fuel burning with CCS is still a net increase of carbon in the atmosphere.

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  8. OPOF @7, fair comments. I have no argument with you on the technology, and ideal options.

    It's politics. In America it's probably coal fired with CCS or nothing right now. Those are the options, until a new administration is elected.

    I dont like it any more than you do.

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