Thursday, January 06, 2022

Bjorn Lomborg says that global warming is real and damaging but the damage is trivial

Academic article:

"Welfare in the 21st century: Increasing development, reducing inequality, the impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies"


Climate change is real and its impacts are mostly negative, but common portrayals of devastation are unfounded. Scenarios set out under the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) show human welfare will likely increase to 450% of today's welfare over the 21st century. Climate damages will reduce this welfare increase to 434%.

Arguments for devastation typically claim that extreme weather (like droughts, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes) is already worsening because of climate change. This is mostly misleading and inconsistent with the IPCC literature. For instance, the IPCC finds no trend for global hurricane frequency and has low confidence in attribution of changes to human activity, while the US has not seen an increase in landfalling hurricanes since 1900. Global death risk from extreme weather has declined 99% over 100 years and global costs have declined 26% over the last 28 years.

Arguments for devastation typically ignore adaptation, which will reduce vulnerability dramatically. While climate research suggests that fewer but stronger future hurricanes will increase damages, this effect will be countered by richer and more resilient societies. Global cost of hurricanes will likely decline from 0.04% of GDP today to 0.02% in 2100.

Climate-economic research shows that the total cost from untreated climate change is negative but moderate, likely equivalent to a 3.6% reduction in total GDP.

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢.

Long-term impacts of climate policy can cost even more. The IPCC's two best future scenarios are the “sustainable” SSP1 and the “fossil-fuel driven” SSP5. Current climate-focused attitudes suggest we aim for the “sustainable” world, but the higher economic growth in SSP5 actually leads to much greater welfare for humanity. After adjusting for climate damages, SSP5 will on average leave grandchildren of today's poor $48,000 better off every year. It will reduce poverty by 26 million each year until 2050, inequality will be lower, and more than 80 million premature deaths will be avoided.

Using carbon taxes, an optimal realistic climate policy can aggressively reduce emissions and reduce the global temperature increase from 4.1°C in 2100 to 3.75°C. This will cost $18 trillion, but deliver climate benefits worth twice that. The popular 2°C target, in contrast, is unrealistic and would leave the world more than $250 trillion worse off.

The most effective climate policy is increasing investment in green R&D to make future decarbonization much cheaper. This can deliver $11 of climate benefits for each dollar spent.

More effective climate policies can help the world do better. The current climate discourse leads to wasteful climate policies, diverting attention and funds from more effective ways to improve the world.

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This article will outline how to establish a rational climate policy in the context of many other, competing global issues.

It takes its starting point from the standard climate models as described by the UN Climate Panel, the IPCC, in its latest, fifth assessment (IPCC 2013a) and impact models (IPCC 2014a) along with its special 1.5°C report (IPCC 2018), showing that climate change is real and man-made, and CO₂ and other greenhouse gasses lead to higher global temperatures, which on average cause a net detriment to humanity.

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Mercedes-Benz reveals latest battery tech at CES to overcome EV range anxiety and beat Tesla

Electric cars will travel up to 1000km on a single charge and battery technology will become cheaper to make longer range EVs affordable, thanks to new battery technologies and increased engine and drive train efficiency.

At the CES technology show, Mercedes-Benz is previewing its Vision EQXX concept car offering a range of 1000km plus and a power consumption rate less than 1 kilowatt hours per 100km, according to Daimler. It plans to build it within 18 months.

“The Vision EQXX demonstrates precisely what will make an electric vehicle a Mercedes-Benz in the future, with lightweight design, battery innovations and new materials,” said Mercedez maker Daimler.

The company said it won’t make the EQXX battery bigger or heavier. The new battery will comprise silicon anodes and lightweight materials and deliver 200 watt hours per kilogram. Additionally the EQXX will draw power from solar cells on the roof.

“On a single day with ideal conditions, this can produce up to 25 kilometres extra range for long-distance journeys,” the company said.

Reuters reports that Daimler plans to spend $US45bn by 2030 on EVs including the construction of eight battery factories.

The upcoming second generation Tesla Roadster also purports a 1000km range but you’ll pay more than $300,000 to buy one.

The Tesla Model S Long Range Plus can drive more than 660km, the BMW iX xDrive50 goes for up to 630km, but cheaper electric cars typically offer 300-400 km on one charge.

Developments in battery technology are not the only factor that will extend range and drive down cost, designs and motors are crucial too, but newer batteries are key to long range EVs being affordable.

Solid state batteries are one option and car makers have heavily invested in building factories to make them.

At CES, Korean firm SK Innovation has won an Innovation Award for its NCM9 battery, which is a lithium, nickel, manganese cobalt oxide battery. It says this configuration improves output and driving range, and reduces charging time.

The site reports that SKI’s decision to increase the nickel content to 90 per cent reduced the cobalt content to 5 per cent, and increased electric vehicle mileage to 700km. It also reduced charging time and, most importantly, greatly reduced cost. In 2020, Ski said its cells required only two quick 10-minute charges to cover more than 800km.

Ford F-150 pick-up trucks planned for 2023 are due to feature these NCM9 energy dense batteries. Rival LG Energy Solution plans to launch a variant – an NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminium) battery and has reached a deal with Tesla.

At CES, Los Angeles firm Nanotech Energy won an award for its nonflammable graphene battery which is another option for cars; Chinese firm GAC, which uses it in its Aion V sedan, claims an eight minute charge time.

Director of industry analysis and business intelligence at the Consumer Technology Association, Richard Koalski, said many of the 119 automotive companies at CES were showcasing EVs. This year’s show included more SUV electric vehicles.

He said BMW was displaying its iX M60 EV which can gain up to 150km range in 10 minutes of charging. Some of the vehicles on display had ranges up to 640km.

There were new EV propositions at CES, for example Vietnamese EV firm Vinfast was promoting a rental model where they replace a car’s batteries after they decline to 70 per cent efficiency.

Several manufacturers are showing off electric boat engines, sparking a new genre of EV boating.


Tackle cost of living crisis by scrapping energy bill tax, Tories urge Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has been told he must intervene to address Britain's cost of living crisis, with 20 Tory MPs and peers calling on him to scrap taxes on energy bills.

Five former ministers are among a group of backbenchers who are calling on Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to step in amid fears that household energy bills could double to £2,000 by April.

In a letter to The Telegraph, the MPs argued that while a global surge in wholesale gas prices is contributing to the crisis, the UK is causing energy prices to increase "faster than any other competitive country" through "taxation and environmental levies".

With the cap on energy bills expected to rise by approximately £500 in April, the group warned that the hike will feed "directly into a cost of living crisis for many and push them into what is bluntly called 'fuel poverty'".

"High energy prices, whether for domestic heating or for domestic transport, are felt most painfully by the lowest paid," they wrote.

The intervention will increase the pressure on ministers, who are locked in talks with energy companies and the regulator Ofgem over potential measures to reduce consumer bills.

Urging Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak to use "levers we have to mitigate" the looming increase, the MPs and peers called for the removal of VAT on energy bills, set at five per cent, saying it would be a "small" reduction but a "step in the right direction".

One of the signatories also pointed that, during the Brexit referendum, both Mr Johnson and Michael Gove said leaving the European Union would allow the UK to reduce energy bills by scrapping VAT.

The letter also called for the removal of environmental levies, used to fund renewable energy subsidy schemes, saying they account for 23 per cent of consumer electricity bills. It is thought the two measures combined could shave up to £200 off the average household bill.

Similarly, the MPs noted that the climate change levy, applied to business energy use, is "making domestic energy intensive businesses uncompetitive and again increases the costs to consumers on virtually everything".

The MPs also warned Mr Johnson that his net zero strategy must not undermine the UK's domestic energy supply and urged him to adopt a "new approach to our energy security".

"We hardly need to point out the risks of reliance on other countries for our energy needs, especially those hostile to us," they wrote. "This leads to the inescapable conclusion of the need to expand North Sea exploration and for shale gas extraction to be supported."

Organised by Craig Mackinlay MP, the chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Tory MPs, the letter's signatories include Esther McVey, the former work and pension secretary, Robert Halfon, a former schools minister, and Steve Baker, an ex-Brexit minister.

It comes as Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, continues to hold talks with major suppliers who are struggling to cope with record gas prices and the collapse of two dozen smaller companies.

The cost of millions of customers being transferred to new suppliers currently stands at £1.8 billion, and is expected to be recouped through a surcharge that could add an additional £100 to consumer bills.

Ofgem is drawing up plans, backed by the Government, to delay the surcharge and instead recover the costs from consumers over a longer period. According to reports, these costs would instead be taken on in the short term by banks or other financial institutions, who would be repaid by consumers over a longer period with interest.

However, energy companies are also calling on ministers to provide a £20 billion loan to help spread the wider costs of soaring gas prices over a decade – although that sum is said to be viewed to be too high by the Treasury.

Warning Mr Johnson that a bailout would effectively represent taxpayers being double charged, the MPs wrote: "There seems little point in levying against consumers and businesses to then pump money back out to those same consumers and the market, as is the understandable call by energy companies as this crisis grows."


Big Australian mining company buys battery-powered trains as green shift for miners heats up

Billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group has purchased two battery-powered trains to carry iron ore to the port in the latest sign of the resources industry’s push for cleaner ways to fuel Australia’s hugely carbon-intensive mining operations.

Amid intensifying pressure from shareholders and wider society to do more to combat climate change, companies across the industry such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have earmarked billions of dollars in the past two years to clean up their difficult-to-decarbonise remote mining operations by shifting away from fossil fuels such as diesel and gas.

The new eight-axle locomotives with an energy capacity of 14.5 megawatt-hours would be manufactured in Sete Lagoas, Brazil, the company said.

“The new locomotives will cut our emissions while also reducing our fuel costs and our overall operational expense through lower maintenance spend,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said.

Across Australia and around the world, the mining industry accounts for a huge share of planet-heating greenhouse gases, both from mining operations themselves and the emissions generated by the end use of the mined resources after they are sold to be burned or processed in factories and power plants.

Mining companies have been under mounting pressure to improve their carbon credentials, with powerful investors seeking to reduce their exposure to the ethical and financial risks posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly demanding businesses to do more to help achieve the Paris Agreement’s targets for averting catastrophic global warming.




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