Daily Archives: August 12, 2009

FT Energy Source

Bjørn Lomborg, the author of ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’, now believes reaching an agreement at Copenhagen is vital. His Copenhagen Consensus has published a paper calling for geo-engineering measures, such as deflecting sunlight from the face of the earth, to be considered. Lomborg answers readers’ questions below.

Update: Thanks to everyone who participated. We are no longer taking new questions.

Questions are in bold:

Don’t you think that by placing too much emphasis on techniques such as geo-engineering, we risk relying too heavily on highly risky scientific endeavours (more risky for the environment, I would argue, than reducing carbon emissions) with climatic effects that we still understand relatively poorly?
Jeremy Whipp (by email)

BL: You’re quite right that there should be an informed, ethical discussion about climate engineering. And I should underline the point that the research paper we released last week – on the costs and benefits of different climate engineering solutions – is just one out of a series of papers that the Copenhagen Consensus Center is releasing this month. In each paper, different climate economists look at the costs and benefits of different responses to global warming, whether it’s cutting carbon, methane or black carbon, planting more forests, etc.

To answer your question: there are risks to be considered, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that other possible solutions to global warming – like the one we focus most on, carbon cuts – are risk-free. Think about what happened with bio-fuels – and think, also, about the possible impacts on free trade. And also consider the boondoggle that politicians are likely to make – the Waxman-Markey Bill was 1400 pages long, gives pay-offs to everyone imaginable, but does virtually nothing to actually reduce temperatures.

Are there any new pieces of evidence available now, that made you change your mind, which were not available when you wrote your earlier books? Or are you simply interpreting the same data differently?

Do you believe that the analyses and recommendations of the UN climate panel adequately represent the consensus among leading climate researchers? – Nicolay Worren, Oslo (by email)

BL: In both my first Danish book in 1998 and the English version of The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001, I stressed that man-made global warming exists. In Cool It, I wrote: “global warming is real and man-made. It will have a serious impact on humans and the environment toward the end of this century”. What I have also consistently argued is that there are other global challenges that we must also address, and that some of the extreme suggestions about global warming are overblown. My view is that the careful research of the United Nations panel of climate change scientists, the IPCC, is the best guide to what we can expect from global warming. The IPCC’s report writing process is robust and custom-made to weather criticism.

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

COMING UP: Bjørn Lomborg Q&A

IEA revises oil demand forecast upwards, but outlook still gloomy

US driving and demand destruction

Polls, politics and climate change

The latest stars of the clean tech scene: natural gas and efficiency

BP takes a baby step in microbial biofuel


Further reading:

Waxman-Markey bill could cost $8bn in administration (USA Today)

Natural gas, not so sustainable (The Examiner)

Town hall lobbying tactics: coming soon to the climate change bill (Washington Wire/WSJ)

Fungus forced to have sex for biofuels (Greensheet)

India should pay for its own solar plan. But Ecuador should continue with its threat to burn down its rainforests (Guardian)

UN climate chief says fighting climate change will cost $300bn a year from 2020 (Cop15)

Eagle Ford Shale economics are ‘more robust than Haynesville’ (The Barrel/Platts)

Kate Mackenzie

The IEA’s report today paid special attention to the subject of reduced demand for oil from US drivers.

As well as observing that the US driving season failed to materialise again this year (which could be put down to suppression – ie. a temporary decline), it dedicated a special feature to the country’s recent moves towards increasing vehicle efficiency – which indicate demand destruction.

The EIA chart to the right shows, demand for liquid fuels fell substantially last year, and  gasoline demand is not expected to return to growth until 2010, despite this year’s lower prices.

Kate Mackenzie

A poll by Zogby of 1,005 likely voters, carried out for the National Wildlife Federation, found that 45 per cent “strongly favour” the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and 26 per cent “somewhat favour” it.

At the same time, another survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Survey (H/T Treehugger) shows what has been pointed out before: the US is relatively unconcerned about climate change compared to other countries.

Despite this, the Zogby poll shows fairly strong support for the bill, especially considering the confusion and suspicions that cap-and-trade tends to attract. But as the political wrangling over climate change legislation in many countries shows, it’s not so much what the majority of citizens think that matters. Getting the ACES bill through the House required some major concessions, and getting it through the Senate is not going to be much easier, not least because several Democrat Senators from carbon-intensive states are dubious about how it will affect their constituencies.

Kate Mackenzie

The International Energy Agency has revised its crude oil demand forecasts for 2009 and 2010, based almost entirely on growth in emerging markets, particularly in Asia.

However the agency said it remained bearish on signs of a world economic recovery.

In its monthly oil report, the IEA said 2009 demand would average 83.9m barrels per day, 190,000 barrels higher than it forecast last month, representing a 2.7 per cent decrease on 2008 demand levels.

Demand for 2010 was also revised upwards, by just 70,000 barrels per day – but the bigger increase in the 2009 forecast means next year’s increase will be smaller, on a year-on-year basis, than previously estimated.

China oil and iron ore imports surge
Buying for both raw materials hits record (FT)

Brotherly shove
Ambani squabbles over gas gaining national importance in India (FT)

Repsol is said to favor CNPC over Cnooc in YPF sale
Spain’s oil producer to sell stake in its Argentine unit (Bloomberg)

Indian groups move to fill power void
$6bn targeted for generation projects (FT)

Shell pipeline attacked in Nigeria
Attack by locals underscores ongoing risk despite cease-fire (WSJ)

Motor lobby attacks planned emission rules
Light commercial vehicles to meet tighter environmental standards (FT)

Australia heatwaves lift Intl Power figures
Profits buoyed by hot weather, but demand and prices low (FT)

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