Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

17 November 2008

Europe's Climate Change Leadership

In March 2007, the European Union pledged that by 2020 it would cut carbon emissions by at least 20% from 1990 levels, get 20% of its energy from renewable sources, and make energy efficiency improvements of 20%. Apparently, it was thought to be politically cute to aim for a series of 20% goals for 2020! Better to be cute than rational in politics.

My 14 November 2008 post addressed Europe's leadership also based on a commentary by Driessen. An article in The Economist in the 4 October 2008 issue adds some information on this issue. It says almost every European country is now complaining about their agreement. Britain says it cannot meet the renewable energy goal and Ireland wants protection for its grass-fed cows which emit large volumes of methane. But, most plaintively, the countries of Eastern Europe are worried and upset by these accords.

Poland gets over 90% of its electricity from coal-fired plants. They hope to replace the present power plants with clean coal technology and nuclear power in time, but they are worried about the intermediate timescale. UBS produced a report in February 2008 that the tax on carbon will be so high that 43% of Europe's coal-fired power plants will switch to natural gas. Well, Poland has huge coal reserves, but it has to import natural gas mostly from Russia! So, for understandable reasons of national security, it is very loathe to become dependent upon Russia for its ability to generate electricity. Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary joined Poland on 26 September to sign a joint declaration that the European climate change program would greatly increase their dependence on some countries for their natural gas supply. Apparently they did not have the gumption to state that it was Russia they were worried about.

The Eastern European countries have good reason to worry. In March 2007, the EU pledged "solidarity", a word so associated with socialism that it makes my stomach crawl, should energy supplies be cut-off. They called for increasing the energy supplier vendors and the Nabucco pipeline to bring gas from the Caspian Sea area without passing through Russian control. But, EU countries are individually making deals to undermine Nabucco, such as Germany supporting the Nord Stream gas pipeline deal with Gazprom. Europe's backbone was found to be a flimsy reed during the war in Georgia, with Russia's role as energy supplier being a part of the reason for European accommodation.

Russia is clearly doing everything it can to make Europe its energy hostage. Russia is investing in new pipelines to deliver gas to Europe. It is even trying to control a pipeline from Nigeria to Europe. It is also building a nuclear power plant in its little Kaliningrad enclave, the same one it is putting missiles in aimed at Europe, which is too big for Kaliningrad's needs. They plan to sell carbon-free electricity to Poland, Lithuania, and other nearby countries. Russia is clearly using energy as a means to control and intimidate Europe.

It sure would make more sense for Europe to take its chances that a little more CO2 will do less harm than being beholdened to Russia. If the earth should warm a few tenths of a degree, this would simply be the equivalent of moving a few miles to the south, while Russian control would be as chilling as moving to the North Pole.

No comments: