Sunday, June 08, 2008

$45,000,000,000,000 Eco-Tax Hike

IEA global warming conference

Tyler had girded his loins to read - or at least skim-read - the new report from the International Energy Agency on the costs of halving global carbon emissions by 2050. But it turns out the IEA charges ordinary concerned citizens €80 for access to its 650 pages. So forget it.

Still, according to the free press release, total costs will be $45 trillion - 1.1% of projected global GDP over the entire period up to 2050. And for that we'll get:

  • 215m square metres of solar panels - we make that 83 square miles, about the size of Birmingham

  • 1 billion electric/hybrid cars

  • 32 new nuke plants every year for forty years

  • 35 coal and 20 gas-fired power stations fitted with CO2 capture and storage technology every year, at a cost of $1.5bn each

  • 17,500 new wind turbines every year

  • Etc etc

$45 trillion, huh?

Yeah, and the rest.

As BOM readers will know, the public sector always underestimates project costs. Normally, with a simple school or a hospital, the underestimate will be in the range 25-50%. With more difficult stuff, like tube lines, it will be a lot more. And with, say, an Olympic Games, it can easily be three or four times the original figure.

So what about a mega project to halve carbon emissions using technology we haven't yet mastered? Mr Tanaka, the IEA's head, says:

"Numerous issues would need to be overcome, such as the NIMBY-attitude, the need to boost the numbers of engineering and technical graduates, and to resolve the questions on the availability of sufficient geological formations for captured CO2 or geologically stable sites for nuclear reactors or waste storage. In addition to all this, we would also have to make an eightfold reduction of the carbon intensity of the transport sector. This represents the most difficult and costly step due to the ongoing rapid demand growth and limited potential based on existing technology."

Translation: we haven't got a clue how to do this, but we're going to breed some new super-brains who hopefully will be able tell us. Plus, we commissars will need new powers to over-rule small minded local objectors and force them to store nuclear waste in their wheelie bins. Oh, and we must price ordinary punters out of their cars.

Forget 1.1% of GDP.

We have to be talking 2-3%.


Ah, you say. Ah. It's very easy to scoff, but if we don't do as Mr Tanaka orders, we'll all fry in the global broiler. It says so on the BBC.


By all sensible accounts, global warming seems to have stopped, or even reversed (Mr B had another good update today, linked to the fascinating Watt's Up With That? science blog). And while nobody can be sure, a sacrifice of 2-3% of GDP for the next 40 years certainly doesn't attract me.

PS Who does the BBC and the rest of the eco-lobby think they're fooling by rechristening global warming "climate change"? The rest of us now understand the climate has always changed. Do they believe in chicken sacrifice as well?

1 comment:

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