When Will Climate Change Advocates Wise Up

While we in the US wring our hands and whine about how miserable our record is in reducing carbon emissions, the rest of the world is thumbing their nose at the problem.  While we build massive solar and wind energy facilities and work to scrub clean what little CO2 is oozing from our remaining traditional electric generating facilities, the world is building coal-fired plants at an increasing pace (see below).

Coal capacity climbs worldwide despite promises to slash it

  • SIBI ARASU Associated Press
  • Apr 9, 2023

The capacity to burn coal for power went up in 2022 despite global promises to phase down the fuel that’s the biggest source of planet-warming gases in the atmosphere, according to a new report.

Steam rises from the coal-fired power plant Nov. 2, 2022, in Niederaussem, Germany.

Michael Probst, Associated Press

The coal fleet grew by 19.5 gigawatts last year, enough to light up around 15 million homes, with nearly all newly commissioned coal projects in China, according to a report by Global Energy Monitor, an organization that tracks a variety of energy projects around the globe.

That 1% increase comes at a time when the world needs to retire its coal fleet four and a half times faster to meet climate goals, the report said. In 2021, countries around the world promised to phase down the use of coal to help achieve the goal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

“The more new coal projects come online, the steeper the cuts and commitments need to be in the future,” said Flora Champenois, the report’s lead author and the project manager for GEM’s Global Coal Plant Tracker.

A young boy plays on a hill called “Teletubbies Hill,” a locally popular tourist attraction, as the chimneys of Suralaya coal power plant loom in the background, Jan. 8 in Cilegon, Indonesia.

Dita Alangkara, Associated Press

New coal plants were added in 14 countries and eight countries announced new coal projects. China, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Zimbabwe were the only countries that both added new coal plants and announced new projects. China accounted for 92% of all new coal project announcements.

China added 26.8 gigawatts and India added about 3.5 gigawatts of new coal power capacity to their electricity grids. China also gave clearance for nearly 100 gigawatts of new coal power projects with construction likely to begin this year.

But “the long term trajectory is still towards clean energy,” said Shantanu Srivastava, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis who is based in New Delhi. Srivastava said the pandemic and the war in Ukraine temporarily drove some nations toward fossil fuels.

Steam rises from a power plant located by the Turow lignite coal mine Jan. 15, 2022, near the town of Bogatynia, Poland.

Petr David Josek, Associated Press

In Europe, where the Russian invasion of Ukraine meant a scramble for alternative energy sources and droughts stifled hydropower, the continent saw only a minor increase in coal use.

Others went the other way. There were significant shutdowns in the U.S. where 13.5 gigawatts of coal power was retired. It’s one of 17 countries that closed plants in the past year.

With nearly 2,500 plants around the world, coal accounts for about a third of the total amount of energy installation globally. Other fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energy make up the rest.

To meet climate goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, coal plants in rich countries need to be retired by 2030 and coal plants in developing countries need to be shut down by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. That means around 117 gigawatts of coal needs to be retired every year, but only 26 gigawatts was retired in 2022.

“At this rate, the transition away from existing and new coal isn’t happening fast enough to avoid climate chaos,” said Champenois.

Srivastava added that it’s important to make sure the millions employed in coal and other dirty industries are not left behind when transitioning to clean energy, although that gets more difficult the more coal projects get locked in.

“Every day we delay a transition to clean energy,” Srivastava said, “it not only makes it harder to achieve climate goals but it also makes the transition more expensive.”

While we build and sell increasing numbers of electric-powered vehicles (which will create a couple new, difficult to solve problems) we continue to place ourselves at the mercy of the world largest oil producers.  We have the capacity to out produce these fascist, authoritarian, terrorist-supporting governments and vastly diminish their geopolitical threats and war-making ability while reducing the pain our citizens are experiencing in having to choose between gas to drive to work and food for their children.  All while simultaneously marching effectively to vastly, vastly reduced carbon emissions in this country in the next 10-15 years.  WE CAN DO BOTH but choose not to for strictly political reasons!  This as the Saudis are spending billions of our oil money on creating, of all silly things, a competing professional golf tour; while the Iranians are sponsoring terrorism; and the Russians spend billions of their oil-riches making war on the innocents of Ukraine.

Recently the Saudis decided to reduce oil production to raise oil/gas prices and fuel global inflationary pressures yet again (see this article below – Saudis, other oil giants announce surprise production cuts ) We are powerless to do anything about it because we, the Biden Administration, choose to dramatically constrain oil drilling and production on this continent because he fears the progressive left will abandon him for the 2024 election. 

The rest of the world secretly laughs at our weakness and ineptitude in using the resources necessary to end this global extortion by these narcissistic, self-serving tyrants.  Again, this can all be done while we pour billions upon billions into technology and innovation to both reduce carbon emissions and create the means to mitigate its effects on the planet.

Once we have assumed a leadership position and can control global oil pricing, we can squeeze the Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, et al into a descending not increasing number of coal-fired electric production facilities.  We can make natural gas, a far cleaner resource,  a more economic fuel by reducing the global price below that of coal as we incentivize these countries to go solar and wind production and have a massively greater impact on CO2 emissions in the next 10-15 years then focusing on what will be diminishing returns here from their domestically focused protests.

Saudis, other oil giants announce surprise production cuts

•              ASSOCIATED PRESS

•              Apr 2, 2023

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers on Sunday announced surprise cuts totaling up to 1.15 million barrels per day from May until the end of the year, a move that could raise prices worldwide.

Higher oil prices would help fill Russian President Vladimir Putin’s coffers as his country wages war on Ukraine and force Americans and others to pay even more at the pump amid worldwide inflation.

It was also likely to further strain ties with the U.S., which has called on Saudi Arabia and other allies to increase production as it tries to bring prices down and squeeze Russia’s finances.

Saudi Aramco engineers pass by a gas turbine generator at Khurais oil field during a tour for journalists June 28, 2021, about 93 miles east-northeast of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Amr Nabil, Associated Press

The production cuts alone could push U.S. gasoline prices up by roughly 26 cents per gallon, in addition to the usual increase that comes when refineries change the gasoline blend during the summer driving season, said Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners LLC. The Energy Department calculates the seasonal increase at an average of 32 cents per gallon, Book said.

So with an average U.S. price now at roughly $3.50 per gallon of regular, according to AAA, that could mean gasoline over $4 per gallon during the summer.

However, Book said there are a number of complex variables in oil and gas prices. The size of each country’s production cut depends on the baseline production number it is using, so the cut might not be 1.15 million. It also could take much of the year for the cuts to take effect. Demand could fall if the U.S. enters a recession caused by the banking crisis. But it also could increase during the summer as more people travel.

Even though the production cuts are only about 1% of the roughly 100 million barrels of oil the world uses per day, the impact on prices could be big, Book said.

“It’s a big deal because of the way oil prices work,” he said. “You are in a market that is relatively balanced. You take a small amount away, depending on what demand does, you could have a very significant price response.”

The Saudi Energy Ministry said its own reduction of 500,000 barrels per day would be made in coordination with some OPEC and non-OPEC members, without naming them. The cuts are in addition to a reduction announced last October that infuriated the Biden administration.

The ministry described the move as a “precautionary measure” aimed at stabilizing the oil market. The cuts represent less than 5% of Saudi Arabia’s average production of 11.5 million barrels per day in 2022.

Iraq said it would reduce production by 211,000 barrels per day, the United Arab Emirates by 144,000, Kuwait by 128,000, Kazakhstan by 78,000, Algeria by 48,000 and Oman by 40,000. The announcements were carried by each country’s state media.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, meanwhile, said Moscow would extend a voluntary cut of 500,000 until the end of the year, according to remarks carried by the state news agency Tass. Russia had announced the unilateral reduction in February after Western countries imposed price caps.

All are members of the so-called OPEC+ group of oil exporting countries, which includes the original Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as Russia and other major producers. There was no immediate statement from OPEC itself.

The cuts announced in October — of some 2 million barrels a day — had come on the eve of U.S. midterm elections in which soaring prices were a major issue. President Joe Biden vowed at the time that there would be “consequences,” and Democratic lawmakers called for freezing cooperation with the Saudis.

Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia denied any political motives in the dispute.

Since those cuts, oil prices have trended down. Brent crude, a global benchmark, was trading around $80 a barrel at the end of last week, down from around $95 in early October, when the earlier cuts were agreed.

Analysts Giacomo Romeo and Lloyd Byrne at Jefferies said in a research note that the new cuts should allow for “material” reductions to OPEC inventory earlier than expected and could validate recent warnings from some traders and analysts that demand for oil is weakening.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Gulf expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, said the Saudis are determined to keep oil prices high enough to fund ambitious mega-projects linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan to overhaul the economy.

“This domestic interest takes precedence in Saudi decision-making over relationships with international partners and is likely to remain a point of friction in U.S.-Saudi relations for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant Aramco recently announced record profits of $161 billion from last year. Profits rose 46.5% when compared with the company’s 2021 results of $110 billion. Aramco said it hoped to boost production to 13 million barrels a day by 2027.

The decades-long U.S.-Saudi alliance has come under growing strain in recent years following the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist, and Saudi Arabia’s war with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

As a candidate for president, Biden had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the Khashoggi killing, but as oil prices rose after his inauguration, he backed off. He visited the kingdom last July in a bid to patch up relations, drawing criticism for sharing a fist bump with Crown Prince Mohammed.

Saudi Arabia has denied siding with Russia in the Ukraine war, even as it has cultivated closer ties with both Moscow and Beijing in recent years. Last week, Aramco announced billions of dollars of investment in China’s downstream petrochemicals industry.

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