Guest essay by Larry Hamlin
The Los Angeles Times cavalierly suggests based upon a UCI study published in the journal Nature that the world needs to retire its fossil fuel plants to meet the Paris Agreement’s politically driven schemes requiring the pipe dream of global abandonment of fossil energy.
The article grossly misrepresents the magnitude of such a colossally huge global plant “retirement program” which they enormously understate by noting that the Paris Agreement emissions mandate cannot be met “unless some are retired ahead of schedule.” The article not only addresses early retirement of power plants but also of factories, vehicles and appliances as noted below:
“The power plants, factories, vehicles and appliances in use today could make it all but impossible to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord unless some are retired ahead of schedule, according to an exhaustive new analysis of the world’s energy infrastructure.”
The article offers the following litany of ludicrous economic and energy observations about the Paris Agreements globally catastrophic schemes.
“If allowed to operate for the rest of their expected lifetimes, the greenhouse gases they would produce by continuing to burn fossil fuels will raise global temperatures more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the study found.”
“To keep temperatures below this threshold — which countries have agreed to aim for to avoid the worst effects of climate change — the researchers concluded that no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built and many power plants and industrial facilities must be retired early.”
“Power plants represent the largest share of committed emissions, accounting for roughly half of the total in the new study.”
“Most scenarios for meeting the Paris targets require a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel infrastructure. Davis said the new work reveals just how difficult that may be: According to the findings, the world cannot afford to commission any new carbon-producing infrastructure, or allow existing power plants to live out their normal lifetimes.”
“It’s really a wake-up call to governments and institutional investors,” he said. “If we are serious about doing this, then that means we are going to have to strand some assets.”
The article fails to address at all the incredibly complicated and extensive economic fossil energy dependency of the world’s nations today as well as these nations future plans regarding continued use and growth of fossil energy.
A review of global energy consumption data reveals how extensive and all encompassing the use of fossil fuel resources are in meeting the world’s energy and economic needs and what a small and insignificant role renewable energy plays.
As of 2018 the global energy and economy were dependent upon fossil fuels for meeting about 85% of total energy needs with the largest single energy component from petroleum resources.
Renewable energy resources provided only about 4% of the global energy need and most of that is provided through use of politically contrived government dictated mandates and subsidies.
Less than 3% of global energy was met using the so-called “zero emission” energy resources of wind and solar.
Electricity represents about 44% of total global energy consumption.
The developing nations of the world which dominate energy and related emissions use and growth required fossil fuels to meet over 87% of their energy needs with the largest single energy component coming from coal resources.
Developing nations relied upon renewables for less than 3% of their total energy needs.
China, which is in the process of building hundreds of new coal plants along with India and other nations of the Asia Pacific region, relies upon fossil fuels to meet more than 85% its energy needs with renewables providing less than 4.5% of their total energy.
China’s coal fuel was used to meet more than 58% of their total energy needs.
The developed nations used fossil fuels to meet over 82% of their energy needs with the largest single energy component being from petroleum resources.
Renewables provided less than 6% of the developed nations total energy needs. Much of the use of renewable energy is mandated in the electricity sector which has significantly driven up electricity rates particularly in the EU.
U.S. fossil fuel resources were used to meet over 84% of the country’s energy needs while renewables provided less than 4.5% of total energy needs.
The Times irresponsible mischaracterization that “some plants” would have to be retired early to meet the Paris Agreement schemes is a completely misleading understatement given that the world’s nations now rely upon fossil fuels for about 85% of their total energy requirements. Additionally about 56% of total global energy use is required to provide energy to other than the electricity sector – namely the industrial, commercial, residential and transportation sectors.
Unmentioned by the Times is the fact that there are plans for hundreds of additional new coal plants underway by China as noted in articles that have been completely ignored by the L. A. Times with an example presented below.
“China Electricity Council (CEC) has proposed to increase the country’s coal power capacity in the next decade by 290 GW on current levels, eventually resulting in a total capacity of 1300 Gigawatts by 2030. That translates to anywhere between 300 and 500 new coal power plants by 2030, or a new coal plant every 14 days.”
The Times article provides no information concerning the huge costs that would be associated with trying to meet the Paris Agreement temperature goal provisions. A recent article estimated that the cost to achieve the energy and economically reckless renewable energy schemes portrayed by the Paris Agreement would be on the order of $100 trillion dollars.
Furthermore the fact that renewables provided only about 4% of total global energy needs (with less than 3% from wind and solar despite trillions in global subsidy supported mandates) in 2018 clearly demonstrates what an absurdly and monumentally expensive proposition the Paris Agreement would be for all the world’s nations – an extraordinarily important outcome as well as an extremely harmful consequence unaddressed by the Times article.
In 2017 EIA data shows that in the state of California fossil fuels were used to meet about 80% of the state’s total energy needs while renewables provided only about 13% of total energy despite more than a decade of mandated renewable energy use and tens of billions in carbon taxes and renewable energy subsidies.
The “zero emission” renewables of wind and solar only provided about 8% of California’s total energy need.
California faces very significant problems in achieving its future “zero emissions” questionable schemes particularly given the reality that the government mandated progress in use of renewables to date had been in the electricity energy sector.
The state’s electricity sector only represents about 22% of California’s total energy use versus the electricity sector representing over 38% of total energy use across the entire U.S.
By far the largest energy use sector in California is the transportation sector which consumes more than 40% of the state’s total energy use.
The state is uncertain on how to address the transportation sector but is planning on heavily pushing public transit and EVs to try and jury rig lower fossil fuel use in the transportation sector – good luck with that.
At a “climate summit” held by Governor Brown in 2018 much was made of the role EVs must play in reducing emissions (EVs are not “zero emission” vehicles) in the transportation sector but EVs will likely play only a very small role compared to ICE vehicles as noted in the graphs below. Subsidies by California promoting purchase of EVs have resulted in only 5% of the states annual cars sales being EVs with the state having a total of about 35 million registered vehicles.
A recent analysis of the failures of the Los Angeles Metro System bus service shows the long-standing record of extraordinarily poor performance that has significantly reduced ridership.
Additionally the bus services slow, awkward and complex routes for riders are motivating people to get in cars. These poor public bus service results offer little hope for state and city government mandated “solutions” of increased public transportation in addressing fossil energy reductions in the states transportation sector. Provided below is an example of the extensive frustration riders experience when trying to use the city and county government L A Metro bus system.
“To be on time for her 9 a.m. class at Cal State Northridge, Yurithza Esparza has learned the hard way that she needs to be at the bus stop no later than 6 a.m.
She would prefer to drive the 30 miles from her home in Boyle Heights, but the car she saved to buy was totaled when another driver ran a red light. So she is back on public transit, taking three buses and a train to get to school.
“Driving here is a pain because of the traffic, but it’s still more convenient,” said Esparza, 23, who can spend five hours a day commuting. “On the bus, I just can’t get from Point A to Point B whenever I need to go. I hate it.”
Over the last decade, both Los Angeles County’s sprawling Metro system and smaller lines have hemorrhaged bus riders as passengers have fled for more convenient options — mostly, driving.”
Many other issues exist regarding the problem plagued public transportation in Los Angeles as noted in the examples of long standing poor performance by the city and county government run public transportation systems presented below.
“Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses, which carry most of the county’s bus riders, have lost nearly 95 million trips over a decade, according to federal data. The 25% drop is the steepest among the busiest transit systems in the United States and accounted for the majority of California’s transit ridership decline.
The bus exodus poses a serious threat to California’s ambitious climate and transportation goals. Reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions will be next to impossible, experts say, unless more people start taking public transit.
Now, transportation officials and advocates are puzzling over how to transform the humble bus into something more than a last resort.
That will require attracting some of the 14 million Southern California residents who rarely, if ever, set foot on a bus or train. Fewer than 3% of residents take more than 25% of the region’s transit trips. The vast majority of riders are Latino or black, studies show, with no access to a car and little time to lobby for better service.”
“It will also be difficult to keep current ones. Last year, UCLA researchers found that Southern California families have scrimped and saved to put even modest pay increases toward cars, aided by the rise of low and zero-interest auto loans. From 2000 to 2015, the share of households that had no access to a car fell 30%. In immigrant households, it fell 42%.”
“The average speed of a Metro bus has dropped 12.5% over the last25 years, according to data analyzed by UCLA. The delays are worse on major corridors, including Vermont, which has at least 10 hours of severe congestion per day and an average local bus speed of 9 mph.”
The Times article addressing the monumentally expensive, complex and unwarranted need to – as the reporter cavalierly noted “retire some plants” based on the Paris Agreement climate goals – was nothing but political propaganda trying to conceal the massive and expensive consequences of these ill-considered and foolhardy renewable energy schemes. The situation for California’s politically contrived government driven “zero emissions” schemes are equally inane.