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  •  Germany - perhaps the most "with it" (1+ / 0-)
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    country on earth these days technologically - has been trying frantically to "decarbonize" for the past decade (longer actually) and yet their emissions and use of coal continue to go up.

    Bottom line - it is not remotely possible to suggest that the entire planet can get off fossil fuels in a decade if basically the richest, most determined country around can't . .. .

    •  wrong thinking (1+ / 0-)
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      Roadbed Guy

      the richest, most carbon intensive countries are the difficult ones, All the other ones are already way way better than places like Germany or the US. You do not need to remove cars from societies that have none. Mali is already decarbonized because they never carbonized (yet).

      If Germany can do it then everyone can do it. And as you say they´re trying. I agree, ten years is somewhat unrealistic, but in thirty years they aim to have reduced their fossil carbon use from 12 to 3 PJ/a.

      Noone knows if they can pull it off but we all better should hope they will. However, if the rest of the world waits til 2050 to see if the germans were able to do it then everything will be futile.

      •  I don't think that a country can decarbonize (0+ / 0-)

        if it has never carbonized.

        Just like I've been told it's not really a boycott if you never patronized the place in question in the first place . .. .

        In any event, the whole point is more or less moot considering that virtually the entire energy-consuming world is doubling down on coal, constructing new power plants that are intended for 40 to 60 year lifetimes (Germany claims otherwise for themselves, I suppose we will have to see about that!).

        China is getting into fracking big time so that will ameliorate their coal-based emissions somewhat, but hardly in the manner needed

        Other than that, there aren't too many bright spots out there.

        •  get that point (3+ / 0-)
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          johanus, rovertheoctopus, Roadbed Guy

          I find it just intriguing that everyine throws their hands up and says it is impossible, when we have actually a large number of countries who are living with far far less human carbon footprint that the US or even the Europeans.

          There is an interesting graphic, Id like to point you to, here, showing the correlation between their forms of a Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint. The bad joke in this discussion is that we have all the countries around who are having quite a high development but not nearly the destructiveness as the US and others have, yet people in the US at least seem wilfully blind to it.

          Cuba is on there too, on the cusp with one of the highest HDI/footprint ratios. Cuba is a dictatorship of course but this isnt about political system but about consumption structure of the society. Cuba is a perfectly civilized country - it just doesnt have the gross and planet-destroying wastage habits of the US and Abu Dhabi. You could try to find Costa Rica too on there if you wanted to avoid the politics distraction that mentioning Cuba will bring. We have all that - these people live too, and there is nothing, really nothing stopping all the global ressource wasters from living like that and preserving the planet, apart from that they dont want to.

          That is whats typically left ouit of the "it cant technically be done" discussion. It need not be done on todays level of waste. Thats also what you see on the German plan: they will have a primary energy usage in 2050 that is 50% LOWER than today, regardless of source. They arent planning on becoming poor! We can be fully civilized and fully equitable WITHOUT the enormous waste of today´s lifestyle.

          Its not technically unfeasible. The will is lacking, that is all.

    •  the efforts to date (0+ / 0-)

      have been structured within a free-market and pay as you go system.  If it was taken from a command economy perspective (as in pre WWII usa) then the results would be quantitatively different.  

      just because "didn't" or "won't" doesn't mean "can't"

    •  Hmm, DoE sez German emissions declining (1+ / 0-)
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      New Minas

      Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center:  Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions from Germany


      Fossil-fuel emissions of CO2 from unified Germany have declined 22.4% since 1990 to 215 million metric tons of carbon in 2008. The 2008 per capita emission estimate of 2.61 metric tons of carbon is comparable to early 1950s levels. Although the largest fraction of emissions (39.8%) is from burning of solid fuels, the use of coal has been in general decline since 1950, at which time 97.3% of the total emissions were from coal burning. Natural gas burning first contributed over 1% in 1968 and is now 22.3% of the total. The year 1991 marked the first year the United Nations published energy statistics for unified Germany. Through 1990 statistics were still published for the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). We have combined the statistics here to generate a continuous time series for unified Germany.

      Boden, T.A., G. Marland, and R.J. Andres. 2011. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A. doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2011

      Got better data?

      "Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?" - George H.W. Bush

      by rsmpdx on Wed May 01, 2013 at 10:33:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a crazy comparison (1+ / 0-)
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        New Minas

        since the baseline includes all the tremendously inefficient east German industries that shut down upon unification.  Thus allowing Germany to look really, really good wrt meeting Kyoto standards, and that type of thing.

        But more relevant than what happened 20 years ago due to a historical anomaly is what happened LAST YEAR.

        Greenhouse gases rise as Germany burns coal

        Published: 26 Feb 13 07:05 CET | Print version


        Germany saw increased emissions in greenhouse gases last year due to more coal and gas usage while the country seeks to develop its renewable energy sources, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

        For whatever it's worth, in the here and now the USA is doing a way better job than Germany of reducing greenhouse gas emissions
        •  Interesting and problematic, but (0+ / 0-)

          it's hard to read much into a one-year "trend".

          Also, this is happening in the context of Germany's commitment to phase out nuclear power.

          Germany, which has committed to phase out nuclear power, emitted the equivalent of around 931 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 14 million tonnes more than a year earlier, the agency said on Monday.

          "Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?" - George H.W. Bush

          by rsmpdx on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:43:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But it is really crazy in the context (0+ / 0-)

            that if Germany wasn't idiotically closing their nuclear power plants, they'd unambiguously still be reducing emissions.

            Then we wouldn't have to quibble about 1 or 2% upticks or declines from year to year had any significance.

            In any event, most projections show growth in the use of coal over the next several years.

            And even the Germans admit that getting solar and wind above 30 or 35% of electricity supply is an uncertain proposition.  So maybe the coal will be here to stay considerably longer than its alleged "bridge" role would indicate.

        •  that is also a false statement (0+ / 0-)

          the u.s. reductions are based on the economic advantage of fracking for natural gas.  Now that natural gas prices are back up we will see continued CO2 emission increases.

          Only a command economy approach will save us from our climate catastrophe.  And that is an iffy proposition, but the only one that I see.

          •  If anything, the uptick in NG prices will (0+ / 0-)

            spur on even more fracking.

            It was on the verge of not being economical in some places at the price trough of the last 2 or 3 years, but that "problem" is fading.

            So it is unlikely coal will rebound significantly.

            •  fracking doesn't drive down (0+ / 0-)

              CO2 emissions, natural gas prices do.

              utilities switched to natural gas from coal last year when natural gas was so far below parity price.  now the price has gone up a lot.

              •  Fracking has significantly driven (0+ / 0-)

                down US carbon dioxide emissions by making NG dirt cheap, causing a significant shift from coal to NG for electricity generation (per unit of electricity generated, NG only produces 1/2 as much emissions as coal).

                Unfortunately, the NG itself (well at least methane, usually it's major component) is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so if about 3 to 7% of the NG "leaks" during production the global climate change impact of the reduced coal use is totally offset.  There isn't any widely agreed upon data on leakage.

                That aside, how many coal plants have been re-commissioned/re-started now that NG has gone up a bit in price?  I personally have found no evidence of this, but you seem to know better.  (I'm talking about the USA, I realize that globally coal is in the midst of a huge boom).

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