14 April 2010

Climate Policy Mad Libs

An enlightening article in today's FT on the growth of coal powered energy in India, China and elsewhere allows us to play a bit of climate policy mad libs. First, an excerpt from the text:

Yet China is not the only force driving increased demand. India's huge and rising coal needs are just as critical. In effect, "Chindia" is redescribing the industry. "Coal is the fuel of the future for Asia," says Eoghan Cunningham, chief executive of GlobalCoal, a trading platform owned by miners, traders and utilities.

Emmanuel Fages, a coal analyst at Société Générale, forecasts that India will overtake South Korea as the world's second-largest buyer before the end of the decade. The increase in demand comes as New Delhi continues to expand its coal-fired power generation capacity. According to the World Bank, 40 per cent of homes in India are still without electricity. The country's authorities see coal as a "poverty alleviation" tool to spread electricity across the country.

The growth of South Korea and Taiwan is also likely to support the market as those centres switch from crude oil. At the same time Vietnam, a medium-sized expor-ter, has signalled that it might become an importer in three to five years as rapid urbanisation and industrialisation increase coal needs. Tran Xuan Hoa, general director of Vinacomin, the Vietnamese state-owned coal company, says the country might need to import 100m tonnes annually by 2020.

What of the west? The current weakness in Europe, Japan and the US is thought likely to prove a temporary consequence of recession; utilities, cement companies and steelmakers are set to buy large amounts this year, although in the longer term developed countries are moving away from coal in a bid to curb global carbon emissions. The rise in coal consumption in developing countries, particularly China and India, poses questions about this endeavour, in particular because the new coal-fired power stations will be consuming the commodity for the next 30 to 40 years.

Now the mad libs:

If India characterizes coal energy as "poverty alleviation," then those opposed to coal are also opposed to ________________.

The best way to deal with "poverty alleviation" without relying on coal energy would be to ________________.

Have fun!


  1. 1. poverty alleviation

    2. magic wands or very drastic reductions in life expectancy.

  2. One of the fundamental 'benefits' of global warming is that industrial production will be carried out by workers who won't be dependant on evil American socialist ideas like employer subsidised health care and pensions.

    Low wages may be the holy grail of investment banking, but low energy costs are almost as important.

  3. The best way to deal with "poverty alleviation" without relying on coal energy would be to ..

    No idea, but for me, one of the most annoying aspects of global warming is the 'mad liberal' who tries to pretend he/she isn't supporting the corporate status quo, by claiming that it could make the world a better place.

    In the UK, there is the Green New Deal, from the new economics foundation, a collection of worthy leftists who totally support AGW, while proposing a whole load of fantasy nonsense economic policies that will never see the light of day. AGW will make life more difficult for the the worst off.

    One of the contributors to the 'Green New Deal' report is Larry Elliott, Economics Editor of the Guardian who described the global financial meltdown as a scam until the horrific scale became clear. Larry's salary will fully protect him from increased energy prices.

    Politics may be the art of the possible, but this doesn't seem very fruitful.


    Guardian article on Green New Deal banking policy by Larry Elliott

    Green New Deal

    America was conned - who will pay? Larry Elliott

  4. 1) poverty alleviation

    2) Market forces will cure Asia's love affair with coal. The current cost of South African steam coal is $85/ton FOB South Africa. Add shipping and handling then nuclear becomes cost competitive.

    Ohh look, breaking news. The price of Australian Coking Coal just doubled to $180/tonne.

    /sarcasm on
    The world has a limitless supply of cheap coal according to the IPCC, why coal prices are acting as a scarce resource is beyond the ability of the worlds greatest climate scientists to fathom.
    /sarcasm off

  5. "If India characterizes coal energy as "poverty alleviation," then those opposed to coal are also opposed to..." heightened consciousness inebriation.

    "The best way to deal with "poverty alleviation" without relying on coal energy would be to..." 'coaless' around alternate wealth creation.

  6. This is pretty silly Roger. If using Coal alleviates poverty, how is it "Characterizing" coal energy use to say it is poverty alleviation? It sounds to me like India is just telling the truth-using coal will alleviate poverty.

    Jeez, I'll never understand why people are so viciously opposed to coal. Hissing and spitting mad, really.

  7. 1. common sense?
    2. to provide free condoms, get rid of all the sacred cows?

    Either this is an awfully silly exercise or I just don't get it.

  8. 1) motherhood and free ponies for all..... Obviously

    2) Perhaps putting resources towards disease prevention or family planning or education. Or if electrification is the answer then promoting alternatives to coal

  9. Three problems with Jesse's post.

    1. He looked up the answer. He knows the teacher is a member of the The Breakthrough Institute . I suspect he is a plant. :-)

    2) He has a tiny vested interest as the director of energy and climate policy at the Breakthrough Institute

    3) He openly admits to being a Gemini

    If I thought for one second that global warming was s real threat, investment would be my preferred solution. However ..

    Back in 2010

    EDF Energy calls for UK carbon floor price

    LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - Britain should encourage investment in low-carbon energy like nuclear power by setting a minimum charge that fossil fuel burning generators must pay to emit climate-warming carbon dioxide, EDF Energy said on Tuesday.


    EdF are strong favourites to build the UK's proposed 8 new nuclear power stations. Coincidentally, its head of communications is the Prime Minister's brother, Andrew Brown.

    The whole point of carbon trading is to raise the price of energy, not reduce it. Good luck to the Breakthrough Institute in its attempt to swim against the tide of history.

    Carbon trading could be worth twice that of oil in next decade

    The carbon market could become double the size of the vast oil market, according to the new breed of City players who trade greenhouse gas emissions through the EU's emissions trading scheme.

    The speed of that growth will depend on whether the Copenhagen summit gives a go-ahead for a low-carbon economy, but Ager says whatever happens schemes such as the ETS will expand around the globe.


  10. In case anyone thinks I am being underhand, here is the full EDF story from the BBC. They now own British Energy which was (to cut a long story short), formerly state owned.

    EDF completes UK nuclear line-up

    Less than two months after British Energy shareholders walked away from an earlier deal, EDF has bagged the UK nuclear power generator in a £12.4bn deal.

    Selling British Energy to EDF is about more than just a handover of physical assets. The deal also completes the line-up of participants in a nuclear race that will lead to the creation of two essentially new branches of Britain's nuclear industry.

    One is needed to clean up the mess left behind after half a century of nuclear weapons and energy production. The other is getting ready to build an entirely new generation of at least eight nuclear reactors, after the government gave the go-ahead for the rebirth of the nuclear industry early this year.

    "The role for nuclear new-build as an integral part of UK energy policy is now firmly established," according to British Energy's chief executive, Bill Coley.


    This is the reality of the post carbon world in the UK.

  11. @Eric44 (#11): Gah! You've found me out! My mother always told me never to trust a Gemini too... Wait! You think she was talking about me?! ;)

  12. Jesse -13.

    Like my hero Sherlock Holmes, I am a lifelong Taurus.

    From your two short statements I was able to deduce that you have a long history of grassroots climate and energy activism and may even have co-founded the Cascade Climate Network, the Northwest's largest network of youth working to tackle the climate crisis.

  13. _____Big Coal and its insidious control over the global economic system with it massive dirty money funding of politicians.

    _____harness the natural resources around us in harmony with Gaia