There are times in conversation when you know, you just know, that it’s going nowhere, and that you’ll have to fold. Cue lame excuses, mumbling into beard/beer/brassiere, lower eyes, get up and walk away. “It’s not you, it’s me”, you’ll claim, or something similarly limp, obvious and contrite.
So many times in the last six and a half years since I read the British Government’s Energy White Paper of February 2003, I’ve had to bow out of conversations with employees and fans of the Big Energy companies and the World Nuclear Association and some people from the Government as well.
Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’ve not left gracefully, and I’ve gone down shouting, pulled out by my mates : it’s been so frustrating :-
They’ve all been trying to sell me New Nuclear Power. Or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), as known as “Clean” Coal. But, honest to goodness, it’s all sounded too complex, heavyweight, expensive. Too much commitment to risky enterprise doesn’t make me feel easy.
Clinging to old, dirty, failed technologies just seems crazy.
I’ve always found myself shaking my head from side to side to disagree with the commonly reproduced propaganda meme : “we must have a broad energy mix”, or “we have to use every tool we have in the box”. Arguing for an all-encompassing “energy mix” is just a plea to hang on to Coal and Nuclear Power. I don’t know why more people don’t see through that one !
There’s another propaganda meme that has gone viral : “China/India are going to burn their Coal. We just have to accept this as fact…” which I’ve heard and read several times recently. This one is used to justify developing Carbon Capture and Storage, so we can sell it to the Chinese/Indians.
I’ve discovered that the proposals for New Nuclear and “Clean” Coal have originated from well-established mining and drilling companies, both in Energy and construction. How they’ve made use of the “equal partner” “expert” status that corporates (profit-making, privately-owned companies) have in the United Nations negotiations to hawk and foster their favoured “solutions” for Climate Change Mitigation.
For the established Energy and Mining companies, this is all about their survival; and their survival means the survival of a large number of Pension Funds as well. How interdependent we all are !
But in the new Low Carbon future, we can’t be having this kind of self-justifying logic.
We need to understand that most mining of the Earth must cease in order for us to preserve the Climate of our habitat.
It’s not just a question of the local Environment being spoiled by mountain-top removal, underground Coal fires, yellowcake toxics, mining tailings and mercury in the waterways, oil spill into the Oceans.
It’s about protecting the atmosphere from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from all the built, Energy-consuming infrastructure : buildings, transport systems, Electricity.
We have to leave Coal in the ground. But increasingly, we will have to leave Natural Gas and Petroleum and Bauxite and Iron Ore and Uranium and Copper in the ground as well.
Wind Turbines and cars and all machines will need to be recycled.
Buildings will need to be made of conservation grade wood.
And our Energy must be Renewable and Sustainable.
Some old-technology Energy and Mining companies will go to the wall.
This is a fact we have to accept.
But, since they still have budgets for communications, advertising and lobbying, they keep on keeping on, trying to hang on like Digging-it-up-Neanderthals in the age of Homo Sustainabilis.
Although we aren’t about to lose the well-funded influence of the Coal and Nuclear companies on Government Policy, there is a clear attempt to lever off the limpets this week, with impending Government publications, and boy, are the clams angry today !
For some reason, I can’t download this file : “The file is damaged and could not be repaired.” Maybe it was the Adobe update I did earlier. But anyway.
And the Press Release, I can’t read that either :-
“Page Load Error : Redirect Loop : Redirection limit for this URL exceeded. Unable to load the requested page. This may be caused by cookies that are blocked.”
Allowing cookies didn’t help. Oh well. I would have read it if I could have. I just want to see what a cry for help from a desperate industry looks like.
Ah diddums ! It looks like it could nearly all be over for Coal and Nuclear.
Here is the news :-
“13 July 2009 : Power Generation : UK investing too heavily in wind power, says CBI : The UK’s energy policy is driving investment in wind power at the expense of other low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear and clean coal, says business lobby group the CBI. A report out today from the CBI, Decision Time, is calling for the Government to shift the focus of its energy policy to drive investment in a more balanced energy portfolio. “While we have generous subsidies for wind power, we urgently need the national planning statements needed to build new nuclear plants. If we carry on like this we will end up putting too many of our energy eggs in one basket,” says CBI deputy director-general John Cridland. The CBI is calling for the Government to reduce the proportion of wind power expected by 2020 under the forthcoming Renewables Strategy to 25%. Simultaneously, the planning process for new nuclear and carbon capture and storage demonstration projects should be speeded up with the issuing of National Planning Statements…”
“Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 13:11 UK : Energy policy ‘too wind focused’ : The CBI says the government targets wind power too much : The UK must invest more in nuclear and clean coal energy and put less emphasis on wind power if it wants a secure low-carbon future, business leaders say. The CBI says government energy policy is “disjointed” and it is urging a “more balanced” energy mix. The current approach means the UK might miss climate change targets, it added. The government said putting in place a balanced mix of renewables, new nuclear and cleaner fossil fuels was at the heart of its energy policy. It is due to set out its Energy White Paper on Wednesday. But the CBI is calling for more action in its report “Decision Time”…The document is timed to influence the government’s Energy White Paper due this week. It is the latest salvo in the business war between nuclear, coal and wind. A recent study by the consultants Poyry suggested that wind power could become so dominant in the UK that it leaves nuclear and CCS coal in competition with each other instead of holding the dominant position they have enjoyed since the 1950s…Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy and formerly a member of the CBI’s energy policy committee, told the BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin that the increase in wind power was threatening to the big power generators who he said dominated the committee. “This document is no surprise. EDF have been lobbying very hard for less obligations on renewables, saying it will distract from nuclear,” he said. “This is precisely what Patricia Hewitt [the former trade and industry secretary] warned would happen when she published the ‘no-new-nukes’ 2003 energy white paper.” Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said that by calling for wind power’s contribution to the UK’s renewable energy targets to be reduced the CBI is actually doing its members a great disservice. “Nuclear power is less effective than wind power at tackling climate change, while investment in renewables would create much needed British jobs in one of the few growth sectors in the global economy,”…”
“E.ON and EDF have drawn the battle lines between renewables and nuclear : Energy bosses don’t like the idea that renewable energy delivers power to the people – both literally and metaphorically : Jeremy Leggett : guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 July 2009 16.13 BST : In 2003, the nuclear industry was very nearly killed off in Britain. In 2009, it is so resurgent that captains of the energy industry are arguing it is renewables that should be killed off, or at least kept on a starvation diet. Today, the Confederation of British Industry has thrown its weight behind the nuclear industry’s calls for the government to scale back “overambitious” wind power targets in favour of atomic energy. Two foreign-owned energy giants, E.ON and EDF, have recently told the government it must essentially choose between new nuclear and major renewables developments. With global warming, energy security and fuel poverty all rendering energy policy a matter of life and death today, in their own ways, this new polarisation in the nuclear debate is a desperately dangerous development…”
“CBI urges shift to nuclear from wind power : By Ed Crooks, Energy Editor : Published: July 13 2009 03:00 | Last updated: July 13 2009 03:00 : Labour’s energy policy is weakening the country’s energy security and making it harder to cut carbon dioxide emissions because of an excessive reliance on wind power, the CBI will say this morning. In a study of Britain’s energy supplies published in advance of the government’s latest plans for tackling the threat of climate change, which will be set out on Wednesday, the employers’ organisation has urged a shift of strategy away from wind in favour of nuclear power. John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said: “The government is pitching too high on what they are claiming can be obtained from wind, [which] will crowd out other low-carbon energy sources.”…Instead, the CBI wants more help for investment in new nuclear reactors and “clean coal” power stations that can capture and store emissions…”
“CBI calls for up to 15 new nuclear power stations : (*) John Cridland, business group’s deputy director general, urges ‘balance of wind, nuclear, gas and clean coal’ : (*) Greenpeace makes case for investment in renewables to ‘create much-needed British jobs’ : Terry Macalister : guardian.co.uk, Sunday 12 July 2009 18.47 BST : The CBI has thrown its weight behind the nuclear industry’s calls for government to scale back “overambitious” wind power targets and boost the role of atomic energy and coal. The “voice of business” believes energy prices will have to rise 30% in real terms by 2020 and some kind of financial incentives might be needed so that up to 15 new nuclear plants are constructed, capable of providing 34% of UK electricity by 2030. John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, denied business leaders had become “anti-renewables” or have been captured by a nuclear lobby, which so far has talked about building six or eight new plants. “We are not obsessed with nuclear. We have a passion for low carbon,” said Cridland. But he warned that government targets of generating 32% of electricity from wind were unachievable and should be scaled back to at least 25%…”
“Why the CBI wants less wind : July 13, 2009 6:27pm : by Kate Mackenzie : The CBI, the UK’s main business group, has called for a number of changes to energy policy. Efficiency, grid investment, faster planning processes and support for low-carbon investment are all on the list. But it’s their calls for reduction in expected wind power growth that have gained the most attention. The report, which uses modelling from McKinsey, draws a ‘business as usual’ scenario, in which wind accounts for 24 per cent of the generation mix, and a ‘balanced’ scenario where it makes up 20 per cent…the CBI’s criticisms raise some uncomfortable questions for the UK government on matters such as planning, policy clarity and speed. The hazy progress towards a lower-carbon future, indecision over nuclear, and a tendency to default to natural gas to reduce emissions all sounds a little reminiscent of the US, which it shouldn’t, because the US has the disadvantage of not having had a coherent policy on emissions reductions for the past eight years.”
“It’s time to stand up to the energy giants : Renewable energy will never take off as long as the industry is dominated by European utilities : John Sauven : guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 July 2009 17.36 BST : Against the backdrop of the worldwide economic downturn, it is ironic that the area often said to have the least business certainty, the renewables sector, is one of the few success stories. Globally this industry is bucking the trends, creating millions of new green jobs, increasing countries’ energy independence and reducing climate-changing emissions. So it is scandalous that the CBI should come out attacking the prime minister and the climate change secretary Ed Miliband’s commitment to boosting this industry in Britain just days before the launch of a fresh government initiative. Not so much the “voice of British business” as the voice of French and German energy monopolies, for too long E.ON, RWE and EDF have dictated the terms of the British energy debate. Today’s CBI report advocating that Britain scale back its renewable ambitions yet further is just the latest tactic by these utilities to shaft British business efforts in clean tech out of fear of new competition and the threat posed to their “business as usual” approach. EDF and E.ON admit they oppose ambition on renewables in case they undermine the economic case for the nuclear power stations they want to build. These arguments are now parroted verbatim by the CBI…”