Climate Divestment Rhetoric, Meet Reality

energy-plugged-in-coal

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Australian ABC has unusually printed an almost balanced article, about the future prospects of coal, in which they contrast the sharp divide between green divestment rhetoric, and the market reality, which is that demand for coal is soaring.

World in danger of spending trillions on unviable fossil fuel projects, says climate change adviser

A former investment banker turned climate change adviser says the world risks building trillions of dollars worth of uneconomic fossil fuel projects over the next 10 years because of measures to limit global warming.

“It’s the projects like the Galilee Basin, the Carmichael mine, they are just not needed economically in our view,” Mr Fulton said.

“There’s just so much coal out there, that does Australia once again, all these companies, want to bet on a highly volatile, highly difficult-to-read market and produce the world’s largest coal mine, which by the way, even if I’m just an economist now, all you’re doing is risking a collapse in the coal price.

The Minerals Council of Australia disagrees with the report’s assertion that $US100 billion worth of future coal, oil and gas projects are unviable.

The council’s executive director of coal Greg Evans said demand for planned coal projects in Queensland’s Galilee Basin would remain strong over the next few decades.

“Our major customers are those customers in Asia where economic expansion will be taking place,” he said.

“India, South-East Asia, and indeed, North Asia. So they will require all the energy they can get.”

Mr Evans said the International Energy Agency was forecasting that Australian coal exports are likely to increase by 37 per cent by 2040.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-25/viability-of-future-fossil-fuel-projects/6974538

The Minerals Council of Australia cites Asia as the main market for their coal. In my opinion Asia is thumbing its nose at the Western obsession with CO2. China demanded and received a free pass to burn as much coal as they want, for the foreseeable future. Japan has taken the climate humour even further, by claiming that building coal power stations is a form of green energy investment.

In the midst of this circus, Coal companies are quietly ramping up production capacity, to meet the ongoing surge in demand for their product.

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68 thoughts on “Climate Divestment Rhetoric, Meet Reality

    • and re-brand electricity as toxic waste. Hopefully that would cause the price to drop. Obviously this new toxic waste would need to be processed through domestic appliances in order for it to be safely removed from the environment 😉

    • No. Problem NOT solved. They know that coal, etc. are tree food generators and they de-emphasize that because they think carbon dioxide is harmful to human bodies. In fact, it is highly beneficial. Classify coal as human longevity generators and we might get somewhere.

  1. Whenever the Guardian does one of those “divest from fossil fuels or lose all your money” stories it;s enthusiastically lapped up by the true believers below the line.
    But in the UK it is illegal to give financial advice without the correct qualifications and approvals. This is to stop fraudsters stealing people’s money.
    It’s always fun to report the comments with that point – the Guardian has to delete the comments.
    Yet they see no irony in breaking the law with their main editorial content.
    One day that will come back to bite them.

    • It won’t bother the Guardian when their old claims and speculation have been shown to be worthless nonsense.
      By then they will have moved on to brainwashing the next generation of youngsters.
      By targeting the young, the left can continually rewrite its past failures.

  2. “World in danger of spending trillions on unviable fossil fuel projects”
    Change “fossil fuel projects” to “renewable projects” and it would be an accurate statement.

  3. Meanwhile Barack Hussein Obama is conspiring to destroy the ability of US located manufacturers in the Paris COP21 conference while the city is under martial law to protect the French from the very forces Barack Hussein Obama is supporting. What a strange dance we are observing. In full view.
    I do think that Australians really haven’t suffered enough at the their own misguided hands. They have not really suffered moral pain and generational regret for their perverse decisions to live in the green anti-human fantasy world. I think they should have degraded themselves to the circumstances of Mad Max so that their progeny would have a epigenetic and visceral revulsion to the green movements ideology.
    The greens just didn’t go quite far enough to relegate themselves to outlaws.
    Common sense is prevailing. They will forget and do it again when all the nouveau hippies are grown up.

    • But now the Aussies are exporting their Climate Madness. The Alberta government paid Flannery to come over and give advice to their “Climate Panel”. Total madness. I assume he coached them in how to keep a straight face when announcing the shut down of 40% of Alberta’s power supply from Coal. Mad Dogs and Aussies.

      • I hope “Flim Flam” didn’t fly to Alberta in an evil carbon-spewing plane.
        If he did, that would make him a complete hypocrite, wouldn’t it?
        Or maybe the plane was solar powered 😉

    • “Paul Westhaver
      November 26, 2015 at 8:36 am
      I do think that Australians really haven’t suffered enough at the their own misguided hands.”
      No, not yet. But the day is coming. People think the Australian economy can support itself with multi-million dollar McMansions. All on borrowed money. There was even talk a while back of the Govn’t raiding personal pension funds to clear Govn’t debt. Now that is a worry!

  4. Never mind! Massive increases of uncontrolled emissions from Asian Coal Fired Power Stations include massive and increasing amounts of particulate carbon and sulphates as well as CO2. Hansen has explained the recent and on-going flattening of the global atmospheric temperature rise on such particulate carbon and sulphate emissions: they create a Solar Gloom effect screening out much of the solar radiation received and thus “cooling” the planet! If the Chinese, Indians and other Developing Countries continue as planned with massive increases in uncontrolled CFPS operations and emissions then, even if man-made CO2 emission CAGW/Climate Change is happening, these CFPS emissions will counter this supposed CAGW effect – maintaining, if not even decreasing, global temperatures. That means we can then stop the obscene waste of global funds on green energy!

    • Cassandra, you may be too young to recall that we spent billions removing the sulphates and particulates from smelting metals, auto fuels and coal -fired plants in the 1970s so we could have clean air. Now we have outsourced manufacturing to regions where the reverse is happening. Unintended consequences anyone?

      • I can remember getting lost in a dense yellowish fog in the early/mid 50’s when coming home from school – a situation just as bad as the horrific scenes in Beijing and other Chinese cities we’ve now been seeing in News broadcasts.

  5. “The Australian ABC has unusually printed an almost balanced article …”
    That start to the essay reminded me of a comment by journalist Fred Reed:

    It is curious: Though I have spent a lifetime in journalism, I do not read a newspaper, not the New York Times nor the Washington Post nor the Wall Street Journal. Nor do I have television service.
    Why? Because, having worked in that restaurant, I know better than to eat there. The foregoing media are quasi-governmental organs, predictably predictable and predictably dishonest. The truth is not in them.
    ~ Fred Reed

    Fred goes on to say that the net is where people can not go to get real news and information. I agree entirely. Things like the Australian ABC are a dying breed.

    • I must agree with that. THe visual ms media in particular ( i.e. TV) have now adapted to lowest common denominator variant of the medium and normalised “gotcha” as the paradigm for all news and current affairs in paticular. In response politicians, the public service and the corporate world have put nore and more money and effort into spin , front and media management. The result has also affected the way radio goes about the same business as well. The result is a negative for our society. We have plenty of freedom of expression but it is overwhellmingy sexed up drivel. Parts of the net like Facebook, Twitter etc take it to a new depth of inanity and intellectual depravity.
      So here I am on sites like this….

    • “… is where people can not go to get real news and information.” should read insead ” … is where people can go to get real news and information.”

      • “If you make a typo, just go with it.”
        If the typo is trivial and doesn’t change what you mean, I agree with you, TonyL. But in this case the typo reversed what markstoval meant to say? It needed to be corrected. As long as there’s no edit function here, replying to your own comment is the only way to make a correction when you don’t see the typo before posting.

      • Louis,
        Agree.
        We’re all human – I can make mistakes as well as the next commenter.
        And – if non-trivial – I’ll come back to correct them – just like markstoval.
        Auto

  6. …“There’s just so much coal out there, that does Australia once again, all these companies, want to bet on a highly volatile, highly difficult-to-read market and produce the world’s largest coal mine, which by the way, even if I’m just an economist now, all you’re doing is risking a collapse in the coal price.”…
    Er…what does this mean? Even though I have a degree in English, I fear that I’m stumped…

    • If it was a direct quote from someone speaking, there is some hint in what was attempted to say by that statement:
      There is so much coal out there (big global supply)
      … does Australia (and) all these companies
      … want to bet on a highly volatile, highly difficult-to-read market
      … and produce the world’s largest coal mine
      …(when) all you’re doing is risking a collapse in the coal price (by creating even more excess supply)
      Some people speak and write with many extraneous parentheticals which makes understanding their statements difficult.
      The real problem is not so much excess supply and government-restricted demand for a low-cost, reliable energy source.

  7. If the energy market were as easy as placing a few windmills, flipping a switch, and watching profits roll in then we’d see energy producers and others clambering over each other to build renewables. I believe that a lack of economic feasibility with wind and solar stems from their inefficiency in every step of the process, in other words manufacturing and installing them uses more energy than they produce.
    This is Mr. Fulton’s plan in a nutshell:
    http://blogs-images.forbes.com/artcarden/files/2011/07/300px-Gnomes_plan.png

  8. So let’s see; first they punish coal because of its “carbon” emissions, making it less viable, and favor “green” energy through subsidies and the like. Then, they say “Oops, you don’t want to invest in coal or other fossil fuels, because – Hello!, they are less viable now. Which they did. The chutzpah is mind-boggling.

    • Bruce: You must be from Alberta. 😉 That is exactly what the Alberta NDP government is proposing … a huge escalatiing carbon tax, then kill coal and erect raptor and bat killers – and funny enough, the oil companies are jumping on the band wagon cause guess who gets to benefit from supplying nat gas to all those natural gas turbines that will actually be providing the power?
      Ah well, in another few years the pendulum will likely swing back.

  9. Thanks to a three year old article he posted on Thorium, has me now taking a 4th gen MSR to investment banking:
    Premise: build cheaper than coal energy
    • Project cost $800 Million to build Phase One 5.5 GW for 30 Year PPA
    o Year One $30 Million FEED Study costs, site & regulatory schedule
    o Year Two and Three $120 Million Plant Construction & Testing, government approval & PPA
    o Year Four $650 Million Build up to 500 MW End Phase One
    • Affordable: Low Pressure Design eliminates Pressure vessels and 170 atmosphere triple redundant systems; meaning shipbuilding systems can now build 4th generation nuclear.
    • Overnight Cost less one-half of coal steam generation
    • No Emissions of CO2 or particulates
    • 30 year Power Purchase Agreement income $37 Billion, or $75 Billion Gross
    Project Summary:
    • Bringing shipyard productivity to nuclear power
    • Complete plant is built in shipyard, delivered to site fully pre-fission tested
    • Increase quality, defects caught early without impact of overall schedule
    • Nuclear is Small when using low pressure Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) design
    • 1 GW deliverable within 2 years once phase One is complete with cost of power $.03 KWh
    Demand:
    • Current Global Electricity use is 2,500 GWe and is expected to double by 2035
    • World requires emission free source 24.7 energy without fossil fuel, battery or pumped water backup
    Those with connections feel free to contact me:
    Walter Horsting visionar@comcast.net

  10. Here in Canada, the fossil fuel industry is capitulating to the climate/change establishment. They are shut down on every attempt to develop, or even continue producing in a viable capacity. They are giving up the struggle. Sadly, its a huge and growing number or green groups that are pressuring and influencing government, not the public, who are I think confused about what importance to give climate change. The climate change/green alarmist propaganda machine is in full swing here, with the media giving it all the exposure it wants.

    • Give it a few years and Canadians will be in full revolt especially since we are definitely entering a cold cycle similar to the Little Ice Age.

    • Unfortunately the people will pay, until the bubble bursts and then all those green companies will go belly up.

    • Holly – give it 5 years of Trudeauisms. His most admired politician is Angela Merkel, the East German. Not surprising given Trudeau the elder’s belief in communism, a socialist son in a Liberal party that went Left of the NDP that seems to court socialist ideals. It surely can’t last more than one term. At some point the Oilcos will have to grow some or go out business. But face it, the big oil guys can hold out for more than 5 years and all those hypocritical politicians won’t be giving up their limos any time soon.

    • That’s true. I frequently have my letters to the editor published in the Montreal Gazette, except when they go against climate change orthodoxy. Suddenly they’re not acceptable. On the other hand, there are frequent op ed pieces and other contributions from the warmistas, and they get published without question. All this in a newspaper that’s made up mostly of fossil fuel-burning automobile ads. Without the revenue from those ads, they’d go belly up in a heartbeat. The hypocrisy is palpable.

    • 601nan: I think that’s exactly what a few of Gore’s well-heeled friends intend to do. This time next year when the ice is hitting the fauna they will be quids in.

  11. If a monkey said “climate change ooooh oooh aaaaaah aaaaaaah”, the Guardian would report it. One sad thing about the AGW scam is that it gives venue to dull witted dolts who would otherwise be relegated to the back of the drawer along with bits of string and bolts that don’t fit anything. .It would be a cold day in hell before I took advice from a former (or current) investment banker. Thank God for blogs.

  12. Too much coal?
    Too much coal will make future coal mines uneconomic, thus making wind farms economic?
    That is like arguing the law of supply and demand means not enough subsidies will make wind farms uneconomic, therefore more subsidies are ‘desperately’ needed. If you believe that, then the Guardian and Real Climate are your obvious literary choices.
    In these days leading up to the long awaited Paris-ites meeting, the TV news programs have become even more obsessed with supposed ‘climate change’, it has become almost obligatory to link any bad news with it.

    • They are back up through HughesNet’s DNS, some people will have trouble resolving realclimate.org to it’s IP address until all of the caches are refreshed. These people are telling us to trust them because they are climate scientists and saving the world and they bobble the mundane task of paying their bill on time! Of course the problem is even bigger, they don’t even own their domain name so its unlikely they can pay the bill!

  13. If the savvy investment banker honestly believes that coal prices will remain low so that investments in new projects are uneconomic I hope he’s not putting money into green energy. The halving of fossil fuels price has effectively doubled the relative cost of renewables all other things being equal. Take away government subsidies and the renewables fundamentals collapse as will the companies that are invested in them.

  14. With Decarbonization looming in the unfortunate near future, and renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy being as cost prohibitive as they are (without subsidization), we owe it to our children to continue mining coal and drilling and fracking for oil and natural gas so that the infrastructure for the more expensive substitute energy sources can be built at a significantly lower cost.
    Imagine how much more a solar panel system would cost if the energy used to produce them cost 3 times as much.
    Keep using fossil fuel energy to build the replacement infrastructure at a significantly lower price

  15. Research analyst Mark Fulton says “… they are just not needed economically in our view, …
    Does he get paid?
    Big mining projects and the energy producers and factories take a few years to ramp up, operate for 10 to 30 years, and things move on. If there were 5,000 existing-technology nuke plants under construction then the above quote might make some sense. There are not, and it doesn’t.
    There are no reasonable alternatives to carbon based energy. When something is invented, widely adopted, and construction is well under way, then and only then can it be said that fossil fuels will go into a phase-out period.
    It will be a long period.

    • 97% of investment bankers simply don’t care about the science or economics of “climate change”. Both sides of their bread get buttered, getting paid whether financing new coal projects or so-called renewables.

  16. Could somebody enlighten me on this question? Suppose renewables were in fact cheaper than fossil fuels, and they replaced them. Where would we then get the 6,000 or so by-products of petroleum refining and coal production? The raw materials for plastics and other synthetics are ethylene, propylene and benzene to name a few. They are produced in refineries via catalytic cracking and reforming. As much as 30% of refinery output goes to these products and others like asphalt to pave our roads and to make the shingles that cover our roofs. Can a wind turbine make these things out of the wind, or can a solar panel produce the raw materials for an acrylic paint? Energy for propulsion and heating/cooling are just 2 of the benefits we derive from the natural bounty we are blessed with in the form of fossil fuels. In their absence, the only possibility I can see would be reliance on biomass to be used in a Fisher-Tropsch reaction. Good luck cost-wise and volume-wise with that approach.

    • Trebla at 7:34 pm, mentions by-products, propulsion, and heating/cooling
      One of the arguments for reducing carbon based fuel for propulsion and heating & cooling is that important and higher valued things (plastics, & 6,000 whatever) would benefit and, perhaps, the resource would last longer.
      As for heating and cooling all that is needed is electricity. Heat pumps and AC work well with electricity, as do refrigerators and freezers. Nuclear power is a technology that could provide much electricity but seems unacceptable to many so petroleum and coal are much in demand, and will remain so for a long period.
      Propulsion (trucks, ships, and existing autos) is not now well served by an alternative energy but efficiencies are still improving. An alternative fuel seeking to replace petroleum has to compete with power plants 10 or 15 years out, not the average engine on the road today. Some think Hydrogen fuel-cells will be the thing. Hydrogen does have issues [one being Hydrogen embrittlement], and providing it takes energy, bringing us back to nukes. I found the following informative:
      http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_production.html

      • There are as you say a number of problems with hydrogen as a fuel the main one being storing it in a form that is portable enough to be useful for transformation. You simply cannot store enough of it as a gas since the size and weight of the required containers is prohibitive. Storing it as liquid hydrogen is a problem as even in a Dewar flask boil off rates ensure that you couldn’t park your vehicle for a couple of days without major losses. In any event the results of releasing 40 litres of liquid hydrogen in an accident are likely to be unpleasant to say the least. Then there is the issue of building a complete distribution network.
        If you seriously want to make an impact on fossil fuel use the place to start is power production. With sufficient low cost electricity you could replace gas and oil for domestic and industrial heating and lighting and radically reduce demand for oil and natural gas which would extend the life of the reserves of the fossil fuels to allow plenty of time to replace them. Trouble is what we are now doing is expending vast amounts of money on INCREASING electricity costs and grid instability.

  17. Oh great LOLz
    I used to work with Mark Fulton. Spoofer and marketeer extrordinaire.
    His most recent “investment banking” job was to sell “green” investment.

  18. Thank you all for your answers to my questions. As for saving fossil fuels to produce petrochemical by-products, it’s a good idea in theory, but you would need a way to convert the major portion of the barrel into useable feedstock, and that takes energy for cracking, reforming etc. I also wonder what would replace ships bunkers (basically crude oil) in powering a 100,000 ton container ship across the Pacific? Wind turbines? Finally on the subject of fuel cells, don’t get me started. About 20 years ago, I bought 300 shares of Ballard Power for a few dollars per share. They quickly rose to about $120 per share, and my wife urged me to sell. Full of bravado and confidence that this new technology was the wave of the future, I held on to them. Today, they’re trading at $1.72. The moral of this story is this: don’t bet the farm on hype. It is very, very hard to displace a technology that has been perfected over a century with something new. Consider the gasoline powered internal combustion engine. It’s practically perfect. How often do you see a car by the roadside with the hood up these days? When you buy your new ride, the dealer tells you to change the oil regularly and come back in after 100,000 miles.

  19. This is a FAKE PHOTO. The illustrated technique WILL NOT WORK. Instead of plugging into the lump of coal, the flat female end of the extension cord was simply glued onto it. Note the curved bump on the top, which is put on the female end to prevent reversal of the plug. The photographer should be ASHAMED for the deception.
    In order to extract energy from coal you need to shave a flat end and drill a circular hole and two thin spade shaped apertures to accommodate a MALE plug. Depending on the size and orientation of the lugs you will receive either 110vac or 220vac output.
    I think it would be screamingly funny if after countless attempts to reproduce this standard stock photo image by drilling holes and Photoshop manipulation— perhaps before the end of the century — someone actually plugs a lamp into the other end and it lights.

    • “HocusLocus
      November 28, 2015 at 3:52 am”
      Yes, not fake but inaccurate as has been pointed out many times here on WUWT. Power from a power station is transmitted, from the station where the coal is burnt, in 3 phases, typically 415vac (63amp) in the UK (My experience and training). It varies a bit dependent on the installation and country. So yeah, it’s a bit like CO2 being called carbon, technically incorrect, but gets the message across.

  20. Used this post on another site to try and point out a problem with the Church of AGW’s “miraculous techology” dogma:
    “110,000,000 metric tons of rare earth metals in global reserves. Each wind turbine uses two tons of these metals. So if you didn’t use these metals for any other use…and they have very many uses, especially in electric cars…you could build 55,000,000 wind turbines..and no more. Wind turbine generates 3Mw, so that’s 165,000,000 Mw of electricity using up all the rare earth metals.
    http://energy.gov/maps/estimat
    Present world electricity consumption is 19,710,000,000 Mw.
    http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdb
    Do you see the little problem there?”
    Of course they didn’t see the little problem there. They said “We must convert or the planet will melt!” and stated that some technological miracle will occur and save us all.” They’re a religion. Pure and simple.
    They Are A Religion.
    I will no longer try to argue the facts with those people. They are religious fanatics and shall be treated as such.

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