Archive for November, 2015

Paris perspective 1

As the UN climate change summit in Paris opens, the International Energy Agency has published material that matters far more than demonstrations, stunts with shoes and all the rest of the ballyhoo drawing the attention of 3,000 journalists covering the event and, to a substantial extent, the focus of more than 140 mainstream media reports in Australia today.

Perhaps most importantly, the agency has also just published the much-awaited outlook for India which, in a nutshell, says this:

Strong growth in manufacturing and an additional 580 million consumers boost Indian electricity demand by 4.9 per cent per year, reaching almost 3 300 TWh in 2040. Installed capacity surges from 290 GW today to nearly 1 100 GW in 2040 – about the same as Europe’s current capacity. Nearly half of the net increase in coal-fired generation capacity worldwide occurs in India, where coal is set to remain key in the electricity system. However, rapid growth in renewables, together with a large increase in nuclear capacity, means that these sources account for more than 50 per cent of new capacity brought online.The increase in domestic energy production is nonetheless far below India’s consumption needs — and by 2040 more than 40 per cent of the nation’s primary energy supply is imported, up from 32 per cent in 2013.

The study adds:

Indian coal production increases to 930 Mtce in 2040 (+4 per cent per year), making the country second only to China among global producers. India also becomes the largest importer of coal in the current decade and imports rise to over 400 Mtce by 2040. India’s oil production tails off to around 700 kb/d, as limited resources and relatively high costs constrain new oil projects. The result is a rapid rise in net oil imports, to 9.3 mb/d by 2040, boosting the country’s oil import dependency to over 90%, with high reliance on the Middle East. Gas production rises to 90 bcm in 2040 with the balance being filled by rising imports, mainly LNG.

For context, this needs to be read against the World Energy Outlook the agency published a few months ago, one of the key paragraphs of which said:

World coal supply grew faster than any other major fuel in the past decade, but is the slowest-growing fuel in the decades to come, with global production increasing by around 10 per cent by 2040. Lower natural gas prices are making it more challenging for those planning long-term investments in new capital-intensive projects. However, world natural gas production is not derailed in the longer term, and reaches nearly 5.2 trillion cubic metres (tcm) by 2040.

Renewables-based generation reaches 50 per cent in the European Union by 2040, around 30 per cent in China and Japan, and above 25 per cent in the United States and India. Coal’s share of total electricity generation drops to 30 per cent in 2040 and the output from inefficient sub-critical plants declines by 45 per cent. Around 550 million people in the world remain without any access to electricity in 2040 – the majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

The agency has marked the start of the Paris summit by publishing a brief advisory note for the governments assembling in the beleaguered French capital. (I have scanned some 2,500 current news reports this morning and cannot find a mention of this advice.) The note offers four key messages:

  1. Take five key actions, led by energy efficiency and renewables, to peak global energy emissions.
  2. Use the Paris Agreement to drive short-term actions consistent with long-term emission goals.
  3. Accelerate energy technology innovation to make decarbonisation cheaper and easier.
  4. Enhance energy security by making the energy sector more resilient to climate change impacts.

Those “five key actions” involve: (a) increasing energy efficiency in industrial, building and transport sectors, (b) progressively reducing the use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants, (c) increasing investment in renewable energy technologies, (d) gradual phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and (e) reducing methane emissions in oil and gas production.

The IEA calls on the governments to “lock (their) vision of the 2°C target into a clear and understandable long-term goal, with five-year revisions to track the transition.”

One wonders why our own government and the Labor opposition cannot make a similar statement (with local variations) to Australians rather than continue to vie (especially in Bill Shorten’s case) for the fringe green vote in marginal seats and to so mangle their messages that very few of us (and none of the mainstream media) actually understand them. And, in passing, when will our governments start talking clearly to their local audience about all the emissions-related issues and not just prating about wind farms and rooftop solar power?

The missing ingredient in the IEA shorthand, so far as we are concerned in Australia, is that the agency takes for granted that nuclear energy will play a growing international role and that hydro-electric power will make up a substantial share of new renewable power production.

To be precise, in its view of desirable directions, the agency seeks a world in 2040 where nuclear power contributes 18 per cent of electricity supply (which is actually lower, thanks to energy efficiency than where our current trends will land us) and where hydro power provides 20 per cent. This leaves such renewables as solar and wind power to contribute 32 per cent versus 29 per cent for fossil fuels. Or, to put it another way, where nuclear plus hydro power produces 7,000 terawatt hours more electricity than they do today — for comparison, Australia’s total annual output currently is 215 TWh — and non-hydro renewables produce 9.600 TWh more than in 2013. (For completeness, in this scenario fossil-fuelled electricity output would be some 9,800 TWh then compared with 15,700 TWh in 2013 and energy efficiency savings represent a whopping 6,500 TWh.)

This is a world where non-emitting power generation forms account for 70 per cent of all production — and the work is weighted towards nuclear and hydro (38 per cent).

How can we claim to know in this country what rational Australians (whom I opt to believe remain in the substantial majority) would choose for an energy future when they are denied a clear explanation of the practical, cost-efficient options?

The IEA, in its weekend statement targeting the negotiators in Paris, adds: “In terms of accelerating innovation, reducing the cost and improving the performance of low-carbon technologies is essential to making the transformation of energy systems affordable and feasible.”

Quite so.


Unknown knowns

On the cusp of the most heavily guarded international meeting of modern times, the UN climate change summit in Paris, starting next week, discarding posturing from all over the place (eg the Greens pushing out the 90 per cent renewables can at home and activists generally demanding the “phasing out of fossil fuels by 2050”), what do we really know about the world’s energy scene?

Or, to put it another way, what should we know?

For a start, on best available estimates, overall global demand will jump by about a third in the next 15-20 years even as consumption in the European Union is projected to fall by 15 per cent.

As the energy sector in all its guises accounts for at least two-thirds of global greenhouse emissions, this is important.

Next, Australia is part of the region driving demand the hardest; we are a small consumer (relatively) but a large provider (coal, gas, uranium) with our neighbors (China, India, South-East Asia and Africa) in the van of rising consumption.

Third, if you use a common denominator (in this case millions of tonnes of oil equivalent) and rely on existing policies and the national pledges being taken to Paris, you can calculate (as the International Energy Agency does) that, in 2030, the dominant fuels will be oil (4,800 mtoe), coal (4,309), gas (3,824) with two other conventional forms of electricity production (nuclear 1,051 mtoe and hydro 466 mtoe) making a solid contribution, bio-energy kicking in 1,718 mtoe and solar, wind and other non-hydro renewables providing 566 mtoe.

To put this in context, the current overall energy consumption of the European Union is calculated at 1,700 mtoe.

In this supply scenario, the fossil fuel share of energy supply falls back from just on 80 per cent now to 77 per cent in 2030 (and, the IEA adds, to 76 per cent in 2040.)

Let me interpolate here that the respected Statoil annual Energy Perspectives exercise this year included a quite radical scenario in which emissions levels were driven down by “significant and consistent change in energy policy, unprecedented improvements in energy efficiency, pursuit of higher levels of renewables and low-emission energy and substantial investments in new technology, including carbon capture and storage.”

In this modeling exercise, global primary energy demand rises only 0.2 per cent a year between 2012 and 2040 – and fossil fuels account for 52 per cent of the mix: 24 per cent market share for each of oil and gas as well as 14 per cent for coal.

The scenario includes 10 per cent nuclear power and the non-hydro renewables share stands at 11 per cent.

The two breakdowns above (which could be described as likely and aspirational) could hardly be more different, I suggest, from what an Australian Jo Citizen probably believes to be the future case, having gleaned his or her information from mainstream and social media over just the past year and the incessant chatter about what we locally need to do to “save the planet.”

Fourth, in the IEA scenario referenced here, primary end demand outside the OECD drives up almost 40 per cent versus a rise of 3.5 per cent in the organization’s member nations by 2030 – while global carbon emissions go up 15 per cent.

Putting this another way, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises on average 0.7 per cent a year under Paris pledges, slower than the 1.2 per cent increase in overall energy demand.

Moreover, as the IEA notes, “a steady decarbonization of electricity supply is not matched by a similarly rapid shift in end-use sectors, where it is much more difficult and expensive to displace coal and gas as fuels for industry or oil as a transport fuel.”

Fifth, just getting to the point suggested by the pledges in 2035 will require (the agency estimates) annual global spending of $US2,000 billion to meet energy needs and another $US550 billion a year on energy efficiency – a whacking cumulative $US48 trillion or two per cent of global GDP.

The break-up of these energy outlays is power sector $US16.4 trillion, oil supply $US13.7 trillion and gas supply $US8.8 trillion.

And the largest share of this (more than half) will go on just maintaining energy delivery at today’s levels – compensating for declining oil and gas production from existing fields and for power generation that has reached the end of its operational life.

Sixth, the IEA estimates that changing the energy outlook to “move the world on to a two degree (warming) path” in this time frame would require increasing energy efficiency outlays from a cumulative $US11 trillion over 20 years to $US16.5 trillion – or more than double the projected outlay on all renewable energy.

Seventh, the largest part of the energy investment decisions now in train (based on the pledges) will not be made in the OECD nations from whence we receive most of our chatter about what should be done but (by 2:1) in the rest of the world.

China, India, South-East Asia and Co will be spend more than $US25 trillion or a trillion bucks a year.

The main pecking order for this, the greatest outlay on our energy needs in human history (in $US trillions) will be North America (8.5), China (5.7), India and S-E Asia (4.1), Latin America (3.7), the EU, the Middle East and Africa (3.2 each), Russia (2.5) and Japan and Korea (together 1.1).

Soberingly, the IEA estimates that all this will still leave a billion people (half of them in Africa) without electricity and 2.6 billion still relying on traditional biomass for cooking.

This is the big picture.

So much of the rest is just noise.

As they say in Yorkshire, think on – and stand by for the outpourings of 3,000 journalists who have registered to attend the Paris summit……………..

In the dock?

As I write this (midday Friday) the temperature out in The Hills district of Sydney is pushing towards 40 degrees and it is 37 nearer the coast.

New South Wales is calling on 10,530 megawatts of generation capacity to cope — and 8,672 MW of that is fossil-fuelled, mostly by black coal (7,531 MW). The renewables contribution is made up of 773 MW of hydro power, 458 MW wind, 153 MW large solar and 499 MW of rooftop PVs.

Over the border in Victoria, where Melbourne is bravely coping with 19 degrees, fossil fuelled capacity is at 6,367 MW of which 5,342 MW is brown coal-fuelled and newspapers readers are contemplating a Fairfax Media story headlined “Brown coal in the dock — where to for Victoria now?”

This is based on nothing more than Shanghai Electric Australia deciding not to pursue a $110 million demo plant to process lignite (that’s brown coal) in to briquettes, helped by $25 million of State and federal subsidies — and the Andrew government declaring that it will “release a new coal policy” in 2016. Needless to say, the State Coalition wants to know if the government is “planning to pull the plug on Victoria’s cheaper energy resources?”  To which the short answer is no.

The broader argument — about what a federal might do to encourage the oldest and least efficient black and brown coal plants in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to shut down — rumbles on and is really no nearer solution than it was four or five years ago when Labor explored (and walked away from) paying owners to close some of them.

At least one commentator has conflated the (minor) news from Victoria with the Conservative government in Britain signalling that it plans (to quote Energy & Climate Change Minister Amber Rudd in  a London speech this week) to consult on a plan to “close all unabated coal” by 2025 — note “consult” which is not a decision, as is being reported here.  Note, too, that the Cameron government to again quote Rudd, proposes to “be tough on subsidies, have new gas replace coal, get new nuclear off the ground and push offshore wind developers to bring down their costs.”

The government’s top priority, says Rudd, is “let the market lead our choices, keep costs as low as possible, give energy security top priority, safeguard economic security.”

Meanwhile the German government of Angela Merkel, which has much more than energiewende on its mind right now, has just announced that, having abandoned the idea of taxing its brown coal plants, it will pay the lignite generation owners to shift 2,700 MW of generation to a reserve role from mid-2016 in a four-year process. There is 18,000 MW of lignite generation operational in Germany and the two forms of the fuel delivered 47 per cent of the country’s electricity last year — versus 16 per cent for wind and solar power. What’s more 2,743 MW of new coal generation has been added to German capacity since 2012.

I raise the overseas stuff simply to make the point that, no matter what the radical greens and the shallow media coverage of their comments may say, the “death of coal” internationally is not on the cards — and that, when you take the real world picture overall in to account, it is extra-ordinary how little public discussion there is in this country about high efficiency, low emissions coal generation technology, what future role it could play in Australia and what alternatives there are to meet the criteria cited by Amber Rudd: “To make sure energy security remains the backbone of the economy while we transform to an affordable and cleaner energy system.”

Buried in the waterfall of information pouring out of the International Energy Agency in Paris is this information about coal and power generation, using the pledges nations are taking to the UN climate change summit in Paris at the month’s end.

First, the agency interprets these pledges to show that 5,660 gigawatts of new power capacity will be built worldwide between 2014 and 2035. More than 2,500 GW will be in Asia versus 800 GW in western Europe and 580 GW in the US. In south-east Asia, coal power’s share of the generation mix will go up from a third today to 48 per cent in 2035.

Second, a large part of this development will be fossil-fuelled — 1,270 GW of gas plant and 1,070 GW of coal-burning plant. (As a local benchmark, we have 29 GW of coal plant in Australia today.) Between 2014 and 2035 an estimated 450 GW of coal generation and 350 GW of gas plant will be retired. The EU countries plan to retire 120 GW of coal plants and to build about another 40 GW of them along with 120 GW of gas plants to back up all those renewables they are pushing in to their markets.

(By the way, the IEA sees 2,930 GW of renewable generation being built globally and 700 GW being retired as wind and solar PV reach the end of 20-25 year working lives.)

Third, the Chinese are expected to build more than 390 GW of new coal-burning power stations and the Indians to add 270 GW of coal plant.

Fourth, $US2.6 trillion will be invested between 2014 and 2035 in fossil-fuelled generation versus $US4.5 trillion to be spent on intermittent (ie non-hydro) renewable projects. Non-hydro renewables will require 46 per cent of spending on power plants even though they will represent only 40 per cent of capacity additions.

Tucked away in the IEA’s World Energy Investment Outlook (which is accessible on the agency’s website) is this point that is worth a little reflection: “Nuclear plants involve substantially higher investment costs than other sources but typically provide baseload power 40 to 60 years. By contrast, variable renewables such as wind and solar PV have lower investment costs but generate power only when the wind blows or the sun shines and are retired after 20 to 25 years.” Think on, as they say in Yorkshire.

And wheeling back to south-east Australia, rather than a thin debate on shuttering our older coal plants, baulking gas development and pursuing the love affair with wind and solar, might we perhaps have some genuine effort put in to working out what can best deliver a new “backbone of the economy,” which even the green radicals would be hard put to disown as the role for black and brown coal over the past 5-6 decades.

PS: In the 90 minutes I have been working on this, NSW’s need for heatwave power has added nearly 1,000 MW to on-line capacity, nearly 600 MW of its hydro power and another 300 MW gas.


Real power picture

In a little over a week there have been almost 21,000 media reports around the world (just in English) about the International Energy Agency’s 2015 World Energy Outlook, among them perhaps a hundred or so (including Web sites) here in Australia.

This waterfall of commentary and opinion inevitably creates clouds of confusion, especially when, as is mostly the case in Australian reports, the focus of much of the coverage is to talk up renewables and talk down fossil fuels. For example, ”World Energy Outlook goes green.”

For those Australians who are interested but casual followers of the energy story – how many is that, I wonder? – gaining real insights via the media in to the likely medium-term future borders on the impossible.

At the outset it needs to be appreciated that the IEA paywalls most of its 700-page Outlook, releasing only carefully selected bits in the free public domain – then mainstream journalists and the myriad of “social media” players cherry pick their way through what’s available to them.

Also important, and rather lost to view in much of the noise about the report, is the fact that the agency is using the broad policy commitments and plans the world’s governments are taking to the UN summit in Paris at the month’s end (and event now further bedeviled by the immense security issues created by Black Friday) as well as existing climate policies as its baseline scenario.

In other words, the agency is making its judgment on what lies ahead in 25 years on what today’s governments say they will do or are doing about decarbonization, seemingly unpalatable for the green ideologists but commonsense really.

Of course, to state the blindingly obvious, governments change their minds and governments change hands.

The Paris “pledges” are an indication of intent at a point in time and how things will actually pan out over 25 years (during which, for example, there will be about eight Australian federal elections, eight US presidential elections and 16 American congressional polls) is a different matter.

Not a few of the media commentators (innocently or otherwise) are using another scenario included in the Outlook report (one modeling a notional pathway to limit planetary temperature rises to two degrees Celsius) as the IEA “prediction” of where we are headed, not least to use it to crow about the “death (or near-death) of coal.” It’s not a prediction; it’s a point of view.

In the baseline scenario it has used for WEO 2015, the agency foresees global energy demand growth averaging about one per cent a year to 2040, roughly half the annual rate since 1990 “thanks to increased energy efficiency in end-uses and structural economic changes.”

For electricity supply, this translates in to a 70 per cent increase in demand from now to 2040 (and here one must bear in mind that, allowing for losses during transport over power grids, the actual amount of energy sent out will be higher than the amount consumed and it is the former that provides the level of emissions).

The IEA, using this scenario, foresees construction of 3,600 gigawatts of renewable generation capacity.

To put this in context, it reports that a record 130 GW of renewables were installed in 2014.

It’s this focus on capacity rather than power plant output that is skewing so much of the public coverage.

Overall, including all forms of the supply chain (generation, storage and delivery), the agency sees global investment of almost $US20 trillion in power supply over the next quarter century – and another $US22 billion in energy efficiency activities.

(For those of us conscious that global emissions encompass rather more than greenhouse gases from power stations, it’s not uninteresting that the largest share of investment, $US25 billion, will be in the oil and gas sectors. And gas is seen as the fastest-growing fossil fuel, rising at 1.4 per cent per year.)

Annoyingly (to me) – because the media stubbornly persist with a collective inability or unwillingness to appreciate the capacity factor issue and continually confuse the amount of generation being built with the amount of energy being sent out from power stations – the IEA does not include foreshadowed output in the public relations version of WEO.

However, among the Web newsletters, is to be found a table lifted from the paywalled stuff that fills this gap.

For the baseline scenario, this table shows that, after all that expenditure, the 2040 global power profile, contrary to just about everything you will read in mainstream reporting, has coal-generated supply on top of the ladder with almost 12,000 terawatt hours, followed by gas with about 9,000 TWh, then wind, solar and so forth with just over 7,000 TWh, a bit more than hydro (with just over 6,000 TWh) and, last of all but hardly small, nuclear with 4,600 TWh, roughly double the current output.

To put this another way (and not a media soul according to my scanning has done so), the IEA baseline scenario depicts coal-fired generation output rising 23.4 per cent between 2013 and 2040 – during which time production by “other renewables” (not hydro) shoots up 450 per cent.

But, in terms of production, coal’s energy output share in 2040 is calculated at 30 per cent versus a wind, solar etcetera share of 18.4 per cent.

Only when you add hydro to “other renewables” do you come up with a magic 34 per cent that enables the boosters (and the naïve in the media) to declare that renewables overtake coal.

It is necessary to observe here that the environmental movement, to put it mildly, does not smile on large-scale hydro-electric construction, such as the 11 dams being built on the Mekong River (an important contribution to the 2040 outlook for hydro production), pointing to adverse effects for the natural environment and local communities (almost always placed in that order in green commentary on the issue).

The IEA itself in its WEO media launch material does not, I think, provide sufficient clarity with a soundbite that states: “driven by continued policy support, renewables (in 2040 will) account for half of additional global generation, overtaking coal around 2030 to become the largest power source.”

The cumulative cost of this green achievement, adds the IEA, will be an investment in renewables over 25 years of $US7.4 trillion as well as a 50 per cent rise in subsidies supporting deployment of wind, solar and so forth, reaching $US170 billion annually in 2040.

Last, but very far from least and again absent from all the reporting I have scanned, the IEA’s baseline scenario sees the world reaching 2040 with 550 million people (equivalent to 110 Sydneys) without any access to electricity at all, the majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

As we stare in dismay at the latest evidence of anarchy spawned by the mess in the Middle East, is it not worth contemplating here in Australia that (a) these sub-Saharans are our neighbors across the Indian Ocean and (b) we have more than enough information already to appreciate what a bad idea for all of us it is to have very large populations living in gross poverty where they are vulnerable to wars and the influence of terrorists?

The IEA’s World Energy Outlook is a document of considerable importance when looked at without the blinkers of ideology and energy illiteracy, but there isn’t any public indication I can see that our political leaders (let alone the community as a whole) are getting even an inkling of the real picture it portrays.

IEA looks out

Not surprisingly, how you view the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2015 depends on where you stand on the carbon plains – or where you want to be perceived as standing.

Leaving aside the oil issues (on which there is lots), the organization itself wants to convey (in part using the sub-headings of its executive summary) that (1) signs of change have multiplied in the past 12 months, (2) the national pledges made for the UN climate change summit in Paris, starting at the month’s end, “give new impetus towards a lower-carbon and more efficient global energy system,” (3) China’s “transition to a less energy intensive model has major implications,” (4) India is moving to the centre of the energy stage, (5) a faster pace is needed to reach the UN’s goal of universal energy access by 2030 (aka “Mission Impossible” – that’s not them, it’s me), (6) there’s “no plain sailing for natural gas” even though it’s the fastest growing fossil fuel because of competition from renewables and coal, (7) there are “turbulent times ahead for coal” but by 2040 Asia will account for four out of every five tonnes burned round the world and world demand will rise by about 1,250 million tonnes between now and 2040, (8) production of electricity from solar power will rise by about 1,250 terawatt hours and (9) the power sector is “leading the charge to decarbonize” even as electricity demand rises 70 per cent over 25 years, requiring an investment of $US19.7 trillion.

Now, to cut to the chase in terms of electricity, here are the IEA’s modelling outcomes, looking to 2040:

First, there will be some 16,000 terawatt hours more power consumption 25 years from now (and half this increase will provided by renewables). In 25 years, installed generation capacity will be 10,570 gigawatts, a rise of 4,400 GW (led by China, where capacity doubles, and India, where it quadruples). Total world electricity demand in 2040 is modelled at more than 39,400 TWh compared with 23,318 TWh in 2013 and an expected 27,222 TWh at the end of this decade.

Second, “coal remains the backbone of the power system” in Asia and its global share of supply will still be 30 per cent (of a much higher level of production) rather than 41 per cent today. (So much for the “death of coal” in generation.)

Third, gas plant, nuclear and hydro power will retain their existing shares of the electricity mix (that is, in round terms, 23 per cent for gas, 12 for nuclear and 15 for hydro) – or, if you wish to look at it another way, conventional power generation will account for 80 per cent of all 2040 supply.  The share of solar PV will be four per cent and wind five per cent.

How many people in this country, do you think, on reading the mainstream media coverage and the hoopla of green propaganda (joined at the hip in most cases), would expect this to be the case?

There could be a lot more media focus on the fact that low-carbon technologies, on the IEA’s estimate, will account for 47 per cent of capacity by 2040 (it’s a third today) but it needs to be understood this represents hydro-power and nuclear power as well as solar, wind and so forth.

And, fourth, renewables-based generation (including a large lick of hydro power) will deliver half of European Union needs in 2040, about 30 per cent in China and 25 per cent in India as well as 30 per cent in Japan and 25 per cent in India.

Fifth, and I have not read a single media report here or overseas over two days that takes this up in its entirety, here is how the agency sums up the electricity outlook:

“Despite more costly technologies and rising fossil fuel prices (not a minor matter if you are an Australian coal or gas producer, may I say), electricity is set to become more affordable relative to GDP in most regions.

“With more generation from renewable energy and nuclear power and more efficient thermal plants, carbon dioxide emissions from generation are set to grow at only one-fifth of the rate at which power output rises to 2040; this has been a one-to-one relationship over the past 25 years.

“To realize these projections, the world needs to add more generation capacity (between now and 2040) than is installed today while average utilization rates for capacity (will) go down because of the need to integrate variable renewable technologies.

“This raises questions in many countries about the appropriate market mechanisms that can generate the necessary investment in generation and grids.”

That in total is 141 words. It would hardly strain any media outlet to broadcast it verbatim for the education of the community – but not one has done so and nor will any (other than This is Power) do so.

In passing, here is something else that seems to have passed by the beady eyes of the media pack: the IEA says that subsidies to support the deployment of renewables in the power sector globally amounted to $US112 billion last year.

At this rate, this will be an aggregate trillion American dollars by 2025.

In the context of needing to bring even basic power supply to hundreds of millions of people, is this the best way to spend money?

There’s a bucket-load of media stuff all the time about fossil fuel subsidies (much of which are government aid to lower-income earners in many countries) but nary a word about the green version – except to publish the demands of renewables producers and activists for still more.

The agency’s modelling indicates that these subsidies will reach $US170 billion a year by 2040.

Would you be really, really surprised to discover that The Guardian newspaper, the archangel of green-ness, in a 34-sentence report on the IEA paper cannot find room for one line about this level of subsidy?

Ditto the ABC and the trio of Fairfax Media dailies.

On the topic of zero emission generation, the IEA nuclear statistics are interesting.

The agency expects that 148,000 megawatts of existing nuclear capacity will shut down in the next 25 years but 365,000 MW of new capacity will come on line, taking production from 2,478 terawatt hours now to 4,606 TWh then.

Will any of it be from Australian reactors?

Finally, the activists have been having a go at the IEA for being “hugely conservative” in its past assessments of renewable energy growth. The agency, the criticism goes, “consistently fails to keep pace with reality.”

To which the IEA executive director, Fatih Birol, retorts that it has been “extremely accurate” in 95 per cent of its renewables projections (those relating to hydro and wind energy) while under-estimating the subsidy-driven growth of solar power – which, he points out, accounts today for 0.19 per cent of the global energy mix.

Missing in action

It seems odd, to say the least, that we can continue pursuing such a shouting match in Australia over carbon emissions without having a high-level debate about the issue that the International Energy Agency describes as “an urgent priority” in decarbonization.

This is the more so when you appreciate that, even at an only moderate pace, this is an activity that has saved the OECD nations about to assemble in Paris for the UN climate change summit a cumulative $US5.7 trillion over 25 years – and that the agency asserts as much as 40 per cent of the carbon abatement needed between now and 2050 to limit global temperature increases to two degrees can be achieved through further pursuit of this measure.

By comparison, the IEA says, the dash towards use of renewable energy is likely to contribute 30 per cent to decarbonization.

Look at the Australia media reporting on energy activity in recent years and you will find literally hundreds of stories about the billions spent on renewable energy around the world – but I cannot find one on a most striking figure from 2014: international expenditure just on buildings’ energy efficiency last year totalled $US90 billion and it is expected to reach $US120 billion annually by 2020. (Nonetheless, the global effort to make buildings more energy efficiency has lots of room for improvement. The IEA estimates that $US4.6 trillion is being spent this year on buildings construction around the world – and just two per cent of the outlay relates to better energy efficiency.)

Coming back to media reports, I also can’t find one here on the fact that the cumulative global expenditure on energy efficiency from now to 2030, as estimated by the IEA using the national commitments filed with the UN for the Paris meeting, will exceed $US10 trillion, rising to $US14 trillion by 2035.

Despite this, the Paris-based IEA argues that promoting and expanding global action on energy efficiency needs to be pursued still more vigorously.

(This, of course, is aimed at all energy use activities, including transport, not just power station emissions on which activists and the media in Australia are fixated.

(The other side of this coin is that most of the OECD efficiency gains to date have been in electricity and gas; the transport sector has still much to do. The IEA calculates, for example, that without efficiency progress OECD countries would today be consuming 2,200 terawatt hours more electricity annually than in 1990. A fifth of this is down to use of efficient appliances.)

Perhaps federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg can take advantage of being in Paris next week for the biennial IEA governing board ministerial meeting to get a handle on how this country can do more about energy efficiency, given that Australia has lagged in the middle of the OECD efforts in this area since the days of the Hawke/Keating government.

Interestingly, the IEA believes that the flattening of electricity demand since 2010 in Australia and the rest of the OECD is “largely due” to energy efficiency in the wake of the global financial crisis.

It estimates that just the take-up of improved electricity appliances resulted last year in a cut of 430 terawatt hours in consumption across the OECD countries – this is equal to more than double the total use of grid-connected power in Australia in 2014.

We get quite a lot of noise in the local debate about the alleged employment benefits of going further and faster down the renewables road but hardly a peep about how many jobs energy efficiency projects can deliver. As an example, the Brits, now quite scared to find themselves a net energy importing nation after decades as a net exporter, have mobilized efficiency investment through obligations on utilities that sees more than 136,000 people employed in this activity.

Here’s how the IEA sums up the energy efficiency environment in its latest report on the issue: “This market has delivered remarkable returns over the past 25 years. Yet (this has) largely gone unnoticed as little attention has been focused on avoided energy consumption or of acquiring the same or higher levels of energy service with lower input.”

Finally, while what is happening in the world at large is interesting, and, in this area, often salutary, our key focus needs to be at home and the new IEA review of global energy efficiency efforts (which runs to 250 pages and is available on the agency website) includes “snapshots” of a number of countries, one of which is Australia. (The others are Germany, Spain, Sweden and the US.)

The advice contained in our “snapshot” includes a proposal that we should develop an enhanced energy efficiency program, starting with a review of existing initiatives to improve their clarity and focus. No-one in the mainstream media has taken up this proposal. Neither Labor nor the Greens has run with it.

Will the proposal be on the agenda of the CoAG Energy Council when it meets under Frydenberg’s chairmanship next month?

Even more to the point, is this issue going to be given substantially more attention in the public debate, the “conversations” about greater Australian innovation that the Prime Minister is eager to engender?

Perhaps most of all, how can we have such a public shouting match over renewables in the past two years and barely muster a whisper about an issue that, on the IEA’s judgment, is no less important?

Up the poll

Public opinion polls about climate change tend to be seized on by the sides in the carbon wars to reinforce their own views and the publication by the CSIRO of its latest survey is no exception.

Thus we have the green-hued ABC pushing the point that “three-quarters of Australians agree climate change is happening.”  (To me, the surprising thought is that a quarter of us are still unconvinced climate change is always with us, as our ancestors over several millenia can attest.)

For the conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, what’s important about the survey is that it shows that 46.5 per cent of us believe current change is natural or  it’s not happening at all. “It’s a miracle,” he writes. “Most Australians are climate sceptics after years of being misled by the media.” He is immensely chuffed that the CSIRO poll apparently shows that “even 19 per cent of the Greens (polled) are sceptics.”

At the very other end of the spectrum, the CSIRO survey has been greeted by activists GetUp as a signal to Prime Minister Turnbull that “the majority of Australians are wise to the dirty coal con and want special treatment for big polluters to end.”

Meanwhile, for the very green “The Guardian,” the line to push is that the “deniers” — in which it includes those who think change is happening but believe it’s naturally-occurring — are most likely to vote for the Liberals or the Nationals. Fairfax Media also want to push the anti-Coalition political line: “Most Coalition voters reject humans to blame for climate change.”  Cue the Labor environment spokesman to tell their reporter “people fundamentally believe climate change is real.”

A spokesman for the CSIRO mildly observes that she thinks it “an oversimplification” that Australian views on climate change can be attributed to their political leanings………….

In truth, I rather suspect that eight out of 10 of my fellow citizens actually pay scant regard to this sort of stuff in the mainstream newspapers beyond headlines and perhaps a few paragraphs at the start of reports and perhaps pay slightly more attention to whatever they (briefly) see on the television news.

The CSIRO, which has dropped doing the survey this year amid its budget cuts, has published its climate change poll outcomes from 2010 to 2014, but it is the latter year on which my eye falls. The past — politically especially — is another country. Last year is at least relatively current.

The 2014 survey canvassed 5,163 people, roughly half of whom had participated in earlier versions, split roughly equally between males and females and 61 per cent in urban areas versus 39 percent in rural and regional areas.

What I see as notable is that, broadly speaking, the ratio of opinions has not altered noticeably over five years.  About 45 per cent (in 2010 and now) think change is happening and is human influenced, about 38 per cent think it’s happening but natural, about eight per cent don’t think it’s happening at all and roughly one in 13 remain obdurately in the “don’t know” category.

Considering the amount of debate/shouting about the issue over these years, it’s surely interesting how little views have shifted.

A lot of the stuff in the CSIRO study may be of academic interest but it doesn’t do much for me in thinking about the impact of opinion on policymakers and eventually on investors, which is the main game.  A question worth thought is how today’s politicians will react to the new survey — most of them, like the rest of us, I imagine,  will be influenced by a brief ingestion of media coverage.

I am interested in something like this tucked away in the survey: while 29 per cent of respondents claim to have taken part in an environmentally-motivated event, less than 20 per cent say their vote in  an election has been based on an environmental issue. Only 6.4 per cent of them are members of an environmental group.

Some of the stuff raises an eyebrow: for example, almost 23 per cent of respondents say they have contacted a government MP over climate change — but this includes only 9.3 per cent who claim to have done so for environmental reasons. Que?

Also, more than 84 per cent of those surveyed have reduced the amount of electricity and/or gas they use at home, but under 28 per cent of them have done so for environmental reasons. That makes more sense, given the high price rises of recent years.

And more than 40 per cent of them have installed solar hot water systems or solar PV panels at home, but only 15 per cent for environmental reasons (which, of course, is not what the activists want politicians to believe).

The ratio of respondents who say they subscribe to GreenPower electricity schemes has been consistently around 70 per cent over the five years of the CSIRO surveys.

Perhaps alarmingly for the alarmists, the percentage of poll respondents anticipating heatwaves will get much worse in future is under 30 per cent and those fearing the worst with bushfires is under 25 percent.  Just 12 per cent expect much worse floods.

Given the way sea level rises and so on are used by ideologists and the media to try to scare the general public, it is also interesting to note that 41 per cent of respondents don’t expect any rise and 24 per cent “only a little.”  The number for “a lot” or “a great deal” is 13 per cent.

The figure about the Greens that got Bolt excited is not entirely accurately reported. The study shows that, of respondents who identified themselves as Greens, two per cent don’t believe climate change is happening, six per cent profess not to know whether it is or not and 17 per cent who think it is happening believe it to be naturally caused.  As I said before, Que?

By the way, far from not believing in climate change, 80 per cent of Liberal respondents believe it is happening — but only 28 per cent see it as human-influenced. The numbers for the Nats are 73 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. For the record, 90 per cent of Labor types “believe in climate change” and 59 per cent see it as human-induced (versus 76 per cent of Greens).

What to make of it all? Not a lot, despite the brief burst of media excitement. It’s been clear for quite a while that Australians know there is climate change even if many of them are unconvinced about its human cause.  The majority, I feel, want cost-efficient local government action and for Australia to support effective international steps on abatement.

Most of all, I tend to believe, they are collectively deeply unimpressed with the “dog’s breakfast” that is national policymaking even without being clear on the details.

And, finally, the quote I like best from the media coverage: a CSIRO researcher saying (of interviewees’ attitudes towards government action on the issue) “An important point to note is that it is common in surveys for people to indicate that they expect government to take action no matter what the issue being asked about.” Not great grammar but right on the button. In testimony whereof here is an excerpt from the current Essential Report survey. Forty-nine per cent of those polled want world leaders to “act now, without delay” to “prevent the world’s population from being impacted by climate change.”

Perhaps I should agitate for them all to read the latest speech to the International Energy Agency by Mary Robinson (the former Irish president and Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy on climate change) in which she (a) juxtaposes the UN goal of eliminating energy property by 2030 with the most recent IEA estimate that half a billion Africans alone will still be without electricity in 2040 and (b) underlines that, without affordable, sustainable alternatives, “developing countries will turn to fossil fuels as the only options available to them.”  It’s on the IEA website.

It’s the IEA, of course, that has published a scenario (not a prediction) for world governments heading for Paris telling them that, even with a huge reduction in electricity consumption through efficiency measures and a $US1.9 trillion investment in renewables by 2030, installed power generation capacity (not output) in 15 years’ time will be some 45 per cent coal, gas and oil fuelled versus 45 per cent hydro, wind, solar and so forth (the balance being nuclear).

The IEA’s 2015 edition of its Electricity Trends publication shows that current actual output is shared between coal (41.1 per cent), natural gas (21.7), oil (4.4) — meaning that fossil fuels provide 67.2 per cent — then hydro-power (16.6) and nuclear (10.6) — meaning that conventional sources altogether provide 94.4 per cent — with solar, wind, biofuels and so forth contributing less than six per cent.

I wonder how many of the people surveyed by the CSIRO or Essential Report would get within coo-ee of that breakdown?




The Indian question

India’s energy outlook is suddenly getting a lot of attention in mainstream and social media in Australia because activists are hell-bent on stopping new mines locally to feed the sub-continent’s coal habit.

Thus in today’s “The Australian,” over an op-ed penned by the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, readers are informed “India looks to the future and coal is not part of it.”  The key target here is Malcolm Turnbull and ministers seeking to make a “moral” case for continuing to sell the Indians coal.  “The fact is,” declares the commentary,” that India itself wants to get away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

So where does a more than casually interested reader find the facts. May I suggest the best resource is the International Energy Agency’s “Energy & Climate Change” special report which brings together the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for the UN summit in Paris at the end of this month.  The INDCs are the pledges more than 150 countries, including India and Australia, for emission reduction action.

Dealing specifically with India in its 200-page report, the IEA starts with the obvious: the energy sector has brought electricity to hundreds of millions of Indians, but there are still 300 million of them without a power supply and many more living with poor quality supply. “Fossil fuels — particularly coal — are playing a major role in powering India’s economic development.” They have also, of course, contributed to making the country the world’s fourth-largest CO2 emitter.

Where next is the obvious question. The Indian INDC, among the last to be submitted to the UN, commits the country to increasing the share of renewables in its electricity mix from 30 per cent today to 40 per cent by 2030. Just getting this far will require investing in 200,000 megawatts of renewables, mostly solar power, which even sensible green commentators internationally describe as “extremely ambitious, given the total global solar capacity today is about 181,000 MW.

The key point here is two-fold: yes, India wants to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and, no, this does not mean a (relatively short-term) future where “coal is not part of it.”

The other important aspect is that electricity is not all energy. In illustration of this, the IEA produces a bar chart considering Indian primary energy demand in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent. It shows the coal share rising from around 300 mtoe now to about 500 mtoe in 2030 — and the fossil fuel share (coal,oil and gas) rising from more than 500 mtoe now to nearly 1,000 mtoe in 2030.

The electricity outlook is not hard to understand when you look at the IEA report: a rise overall from 1,210 terawatt hours of power production (that’s what creates the CO2) now to 2,550 TWh in 2030 — with coal’s share declining from 74 per cent today to 51 per cent (of a very much larger amount) in 2030. In other words, coal today provides Indians with some 800 TWh of electricity and in 2030 it looks like being 1,275 TWh.

Not surprisingly, the agency (and others looking at the situation without ideological blinkers) consider a major aspect of this scenario is (a) India burning higher quality coal (that’s where Australia comes in) and (b) getting away from carbon-intensive, so-called “subcritical” coal-burning generation to the most efficient new coal technology — which will be a very expensive exercise.

The IEA summation of the Indian situation is this: “Around three-quarters of the growth in final energy consumption through to 2030 is met by fossil fuels, either directly or indirectly, through higher electricity demand.”

The commentariat tends to focus on the Indian mass market for electricity, but, as the IEA points out, the industrial sector (an important provider of employment) is heavily-reliant on fossil fuels, mainly coal. Under the Indian INDC, the carbon intensity of industry will be 30 per cent lower in 2030 than today — but this will still be relatively high given where global trends are heading.

There tends to be a lot of carry-on in the media about the role of renewables, and especially solar, in getting power to the many millions of Indians in the countryside. This is a valid point — central generation and major transmission lines are not going to cut it in the 15-year time frame for these people.  However — and it is no minor caveat — India expects its urban population to grow by 183 million (that’s more than 30 Sydneys) through to 2030.  Central, grid-based power supply for these people is a must.

No matter how the commentariat twists and turns, this all comes down to money. The Indians expect that they will have to lift outlays on energy supply infrastructure to $US85 billion a year by 2022 and to $US120 billion annually by 2030. The power sector will account for 70 per cent of this investment.

Spending on wind and solar power will need to double (under the INDC) to reach $US28 billion annually in 2022 — but this is matched by what will be outlayed annually to 2030 in investment in transmission and distribution (i.e. grid-connected, central power).  The delivery capex, the IEA points out, is essential to “permit fuller use of existing power generation and to meet the needs of new plants coming on stream.”

This is the real picture behind the current propaganda game being played out in Australia over fossil fuel exports to India.  It makes a nonsense of simplistic sloganeering such as “what Indians need is affordable,locally-generated renewable energy, not coal” — which is the punchline of the ACF commentary in today’s newspaper.

‘Very slowly’

There’s an object lesson in how energy things are discussed here in the media coverage of some remarks the new Australian Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has made since his recent appointment.

At the mass interview when his new role was announced Finkel was perceived to put forward (to quote the ABC) “a vision for Australia without coal.”

This, of course, fits well with all activist agitation and suits the preferred line of many covering energy issues in the media: the “death of coal” etcetera etcetera.

So reporters, mainstream media commentators and green advocates galore have leapt on the “vision” and, in doing so, managed to fly past the caveat Finkel carefully attached – “you can’t get there overnight.”

This, I feel, needs to be underlined more strongly – not as a delaying tactic for decarbonization but as a reality check.

As one of my friends, someone who has served as a government adviser, observes: “decarbonization is a huge, long-term task; we are dealing with long-lived, capital-intensive assets.”

Lost to view in the once-over-lightly coverage of what Finkel is seen to be saying is what he actually said when interviewed by the ABC’s Emma Alberici for “Lateline” last week.

She raised the “vision” and asked “how quickly do you think we can get there?”

Here’s Finkel’s reply:

“Very slowly. I think we should be aspiring to do it (creating a world where electricity is generated with zero emissions) but it will take a long time.

“In the (past) 20 or 30 years we’ve been investing through subsidies and massively building out our capacity – he’s talking globally – (but) worldwide solar and wind only contribute about four per cent of electricity supply. And electricity supply is only a fraction of energy use.

“It’s an accelerating thing. We’re building solar and wind at an ever-increasing rate but it will take decades to get to the volume we need.

“In the energy industry it’s all about scale.

“The requirements are just massive.”

Pushed by Alberici to “hazard a guess” on how long it might take to get to a point where the world is “no longer relying on traditional sources of energy,” Finkel hedged: “With political determination and the right policy levers, we could see huge changes in the 20- to 30-year frame.”

Personally, I think he erred here.

People like the Chief Scientist must not give hostages to fortune in this roiling area of “debate” – I prefer Grant King’s definition: “a shouting match.”

That last sentence really needed the addition “But, as I have already said, major, let alone full, decarbonization would be massive and would take decades – and you can’t just talk about electricity because fossil fuels are very important in transport and key areas of manufacturing.”

You won’t find anyone with real expertise in power supply suggesting that the world will have dispensed with fossil fuels by 2035 or 2045.

The US Energy Information Administration, for example, in its 2040 outlook for America published this year, in its reference case, one of several scenarios modelled, sees a much bigger role for gas in power generation and a declining, but not vanished, role for coal.

The EIA’s reference outlook for 2040 sees coal providing 34 per cent of American electricity versus 31 per cent for gas, 18 per cent for renewables, including hydro, and 16 per cent for nuclear.

By the way, Finkel managed to get in something else in his “Lateline” interview that the radical greens definitely don’t want to hear: “In terms of (abating) carbon dioxide emissions, nuclear is fantastic.”

(In passing, he hit yet another note that wouldn’t please the radicals. Using input from a Twittering viewer, a favorite ABC ploy, Alberici asked “Do you think fracking is safe?” Finkel’s answer was “If properly managed, with a good regulatory framework, there is a lot of evidence that fracking is safe,” adding “The evidence is not there that it is dangerous.”

(And also: “In instances where there has been some environmental damage or contamination, (they) have always been due to lax practices – and you find that in any industry.”)

Coming back to the main point – that full decarbonization just for electricity generation would take decades – this should not be lost to public sight because the butterflies of the Australian media flit on past it.

The trick with this green game is to con the public in to forming views that then play on the nerves of opinion poll-shy politicians and takes them to interventions on the run.

Staring us in the face here in Australia today is the policy question of what needs to be done to meet the 2030 target the Coalition federal government has actually set. Dealing with the issue is not going to be helped by notions that full decarbonization is quick, easy or cheap and we can, therefore, rush on to a new, bigger target.

To wrap up, I’d like to point again to the International Energy Agency analysis of the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” – the promises Australia and the rest are taking to Paris.

The IEA calculates that, if these pledges are met, we will see carbon emissions from the electricity sector remain broadly flat from now to 2030 even as demand rises 40 per cent – and that achieving just this will require $US13.5 trillion being invested in energy efficiency and low carbon technologies.

It would be good if the federal government could state clearly what our share of this outlay will be in meeting our 2030 INDC.

Getting out the real message

We are now four weeks from the opening of the much-anticipated, much-hyped 21st UN summit on climate change policy in Paris and, try as I may, I can’t find an Australian media report that picks up the body’s “climate chief,” Christiana Figueres, saying in recent days that the abatement pledges 154 of the participating nations are bringing to a converted aircraft hangar on the road from the French capital to the Somme will make “a significant dent” in global emissions even if it is not a clear pathway to achieving only a two degree temperature rise by 2100.

In the same vein, no-one in the media locally saw the need to report the International Energy Agency saying late in October that the pledges, if met, will “slow growth in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions to a relative crawl in 2030.”

A critical part of this pathway will be global energy intensity (ie energy use per unit of economic output) improving over the next 15 years at treble the rate seen since 2000.

The big achievement, adds the IEA, will be breaking the link between rising power demand and rising related emissions.

However, it is only too obvious that this is not the sort of positive news the environmental movement’s “we want it now” brigade want to see reaching the community at large – and the mainstream media seemingly is willing to play along, so we don’t see our political leaders talking this stuff up either.

The Fairfax media, for example, are pushing a message this weekend that the pledges “lock in” higher than two degrees warming – which their writers then link to current weather that has seen some high temperatures in parts of Africa. (The message: “be afraid, be very afraid.”)

It is noteworthy, at least to me, that our new Prime Minister, our Foreign Minister and the Environment Minister, all of whom plan to be at the Paris summit at various stages, are not relaying the “significant dent” message to the Australian community over the heads of mainstream media bent on covering Paris to the theme of “Copenhagen revisited,” sooled on by radical environmentalists who want instant change.

This situation, in my book, is worse than sad.

I think that, in terms of the overall best interests of Australia as a whole, it is actually dangerous.

My reading of the masses of material lying around on the Web is that what Figueres and the UN hierarchy will consider a success at the Paris meeting, based on what they have been saying, will be an agreement by the nations to a long-term goal and a mechanism to push them to review and increase their pledges in the years ahead. And yes, what the UN also says is that the pledges are still not sufficient to halt the upward trend of global emissions by 2025 or 2030, which can hardly be a surprise to anyone following the current and proposed development of new power generation, notably in Asia.

In this context, the International Energy Agency this weekend is running an “energy snapshot of the week” illustrating how, even as global electricity demand rises 40 per cent between now and 2030, emissions from the power sector can remain “broadly flat” though the implementation of the national pledges being made to the UN.

The “snapshot” also highlights that achieving this will require $US13 trillion in investment in energy efficiency and low carbon technologies in 15 years – or 40 per cent of total foreshadowed energy sector investment over this period.

One only has to look at these numbers to appreciate the immensity of the challenge being taken up – and how economically daft it would be to pursue the immediate green revolution the radicals urge on us.

In its review of the pledges earlier this year, the IEA also highlighted the fact that some of the key technology or policy options needed to pursue a greater energy transformation over the longer term – such as, it says, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and alternative fuel vehicles – still get barely mentioned.

Meanwhile, asked by a leading German publication last week if the Paris meeting is “really the last hope to save the world from catastrophic climate change,” Figueres replied that it is “the last opportunity to do so in a cost-effective manner,” an assertion readily open to challenge I suggest; surely progress made in Paris could be taken further in Morocco in 2016 and wherever else the circus pitches its tent in the rent of the decade?

The tendency to press the “CoP” alarm button each year, something again now being pushed for all its worth by both radical campaigners plus both social and much of mainstream media, seems to me to have actually gone a long way towards creating a “MEGO” – “my eyes glaze over” – effect in many developed world communities.

In Australia, for example, as reflected in the Essential Report poll, just 32 per cent of respondents think climate change is the most important environmental problem facing the country today. (An earlier poll had 22 per cent of Essential Report respondents saying they don’t know which actions on climate change they would support and 12 per cent saying “no action is required.”)

Overall, one would like to see Australian political leaders taking up the challenge of better explaining to our community that Paris is potentially a useful step in developing a transition roadmap for global abatement, that this country is moving in the right direction but can achieve a lot more while not torpedoing the economy and that, to quote the IEA, a critical step is the deployment of low-carbon technologies here and in our region.

Not least, this would help to reinforce the message that deep decarbonization is the work of decades and that quick fixes are not a serious option and starve the green revolutionaries (and some politicians on the make) of at least part of the free oxygen on which they are currently thriving.