Thursday, 14 November 2019
Some truths about the Climate Crisis
Last month I attended a day conference on the Climate Crisis run by the Leeds Trades Council, largely a Trades Union organisation and Labour Party front. (The session of "Working with others" never even mentioned the Liberal Democrats. I'm not sure they even mentioned the Greens)
Reassuringly the emphasis was not so much on preserving jobs in existing industries as the urgency of action to avoid a climate catastrophe, even if that means contracting some existing industries. Rather there was considerable emphasis on the opportunities to be created in the expanding Green industries.
I picked up the following "facts" which sound sensible to me.
1. It is a nonsense to think that so-called "carbon capture and storage" techniques (CCS) will enable us to carry on extracting and burning fossil fuels and capture and bury the carbon to keep it out of harms way. CCS has never yet been achieved on a large industrial scale, even though several billions have already been spent on pilot schemes. Even if it is achievable, great lumps of carbon (frozen CO2?) in the ground and ready to leak out at any moment are hardly a friendly legacy to leave for future generations to deal with.
2. Cutting carbon emissions by 2050 , the current government policy, will be too late. "Experts" (of whom some Tories have had enough) say we need to achieve the target in 12 years at the most (ie by 2031).
3. Gas is a fossil fuel and any achieved from fracking will pump huge amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2) into the air. Even if we discover how to stop the resulting earthquakes and poisoning of water supplies which presently result from the procedure there is not now and never will be a case for fracking.
4. Hydrogen for use as a fuel does not exist in nature but has to be created, usually from water by electrolysis (I remember doing this at school). This requires more energy than is contained in the resultant hydrogen fuel.*
5. Much time was spent in discussing the proposed expansion of the Leeds and Bradford airport. Our conclusion was that LBA should be contracted rather than expanded, and the same goes for London Airport. We look for ward to seeing Boris Johnson, PM or not, lying in the road to stop the bulldozers if anyone is daft enough to go ahead with their third runway.
So far these issues have not featured al that prominently in the election campaign. The should come second only to Brexit
* On this it depends how the electricity is generated. If we can generate all the electricity we need from wind, tidal and solar power, than that alters the situation. For the present even electric cars are not super-virtuous if some of the electricity they consume is from fossil fuels. Nor from bio-fuels: the production of these takes up valuable farming lands and their use pours noxious gasses into the air.