Professor Roger Pielke Jr says there’s no way the Gillard Government is going to meet its emissions targets – or not without going nuclear fast:
The image above comes from a report issued today by the Australian government on its projected carbon dioxide emissions compared to various targets for emissions reductions (here in PDF). The gap between projection and targets is stark. The report asserts:
The Australian Government has reiterated its intention to introduce a carbon price in Australia to reduce emissions and meet the 2020 target.
What would it take for Australia to meet the least ambitious of these targets? ….
In 2004 Australia produced 0.83 t of carbon dioxide emissions per $1000 (US) (essentially the same as in 2006). For this to be cut in half over the next decade or less – as implied by the 5%, 15% and 25% 2020 targets – would require that nearly all Australian coal consumption be replaced by a zero-carbon alternative such as nuclear or renewable. If an average nuclear plant provides 750MW of electricity (World Nuclear Association, 2007) and one quad is equivalent to 11,000MW of electricity (produced over one year, American Physical Society, 2010) then about 15 nuclear power plants would provide one quad. Coal provided 2.4 quads for Australia in 2004, meaning that this could be replaced by about 35 nuclear power plants.
Of course, Australia’s energy consumption has increased since 2004 and is expected to increase in the future. If Australia’s demand for energy increases by 1.5% per year to 2020 then an additional 1.4 quads of energy will be needed, implying the equivalent of 21 additional nuclear power plants, or a total of 56. . .
What this sensitivity analysis clearly indicates is that under a wide range of scenarios Australia would need to undertake a herculean effort comparable to the level of effort required to build and put into service dozens or more nuclear power plants by 2020 or thousands of solar thermal plants.
Contrary to the Australian government’s official position, carbon pricing is not going to make the target achievable.
Meanwhile, a new German study explodes one more hysterical scare pushed by the Al Gores and Tim Flannerys – that global warming is pushing the Arctic to a “tipping point”, where the permanent melting of the cap is irreversible:
It seems that even in the case of a completely ice-free summer with the sun shining down onto an unprotected Arctic Ocean 24 hours a day (as it does in summer time up there), the heat absorbed by the sea would not be enough to permanently remove the ice cap. It would recover, in fact, within two years: there is no tipping point… Tietsche and his colleagues write:
We examine the recovery of Arctic sea ice from prescribed ice-free summer conditions in simulations of 21st century climate in an atmosphere–ocean general circulation model. We find that ice extent recovers typically within two years. The excess oceanic heat that had built up during the ice-free summer is rapidly returned to the atmosphere during the following autumn and winter, and then leaves the Arctic partly through increased longwave emission at the top of the atmosphere and partly through reduced atmospheric heat advection from lower latitudes. Oceanic heat transport does not contribute significantly to the loss of the excess heat.
Our results suggest that anomalous loss of Arctic sea ice during a single summer is reversible, as the ice–albedo feedback is alleviated by large-scale recovery mechanisms. Hence, hysteretic threshold behavior (or a “tipping point”) is unlikely to occur during the decline of Arctic summer sea-ice cover in the 21st century.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and is a regular commentator on Channel 9′s Today show and ABC TV’s Insiders. He will be heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of new radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.
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