‘Mission impossible’ for US cities that want to respect Paris climate deal

Posted: June 1, 2018 by oldbrew in climate, Emissions, Energy, Politics
Tags: , ,

Crazy world of climate finance [image credit: renewableenergyfocus.com]

They can tinker at the margins with energy policy, but giving up fuel burning altogether is not a serious option given current dependency on it as a power source. The obvious problem being that the preferred ‘renewable’ replacements are too ineffective and unreliable to deliver power on the scale needed. Wasting money on such futile policies must detract from other projects too.

When President Donald Trump announced the US exit from the Paris climate deal one year ago, the mayor of Philadelphia was among those who vowed to keep carrying the torch, says Phys.org.

“Philly is committed to upholding at (the) local level the same commitment made by the US in the Paris climate agreement,” tweeted the sixth largest US city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, a Democrat.

Since then, the City of Brotherly Love has cut energy consumption in municipal buildings, started replacing street lamps with LED lights, and launched a major green energy overhaul of its celebrated museum of art.

But these actions represent just a drop in the bucket, faced with the 18 million tons of carbon spewed into the atmosphere by Philadelphia each year. Although emissions have declined, there is only so much the city can do.

Here, 85 percent of residents heat their homes with natural gas, a fossil fuel that is abundant in the rocks beneath Pennsylvania. Cars and trucks rumble through downtown—and more than half of the electricity the city gobbles up each day is produced by oil- and coal-powered power plants.

“It can’t be done by cities and states. We do need a completely clean, carbon-free grid to meet this goal,” said Christine Knapp, director of the office of sustainability for the city of Philadelphia.

“We’re going to take the pieces of cleaning that grid up as much as we can, but someone still higher than us needs to set the policy that that’s what’s going to happen.”

‘Still In’

Philadelphia is among some 2,700 cities, states and businesses that declared “We Are Still In” when it comes to the 190-plus nation Paris accord, signed in 2015.

The movement emphasizes progress, such as how carbon dioxide emissions fell in 2017 to their lowest point in 25 years, and how gigawatts of solar and wind energy have been installed as coal use declines.

In Philadelphia, a city of 1.6 million people, such gains are evident, but are also happening at a far slower pace than many would like.

For instance, the mayor is simply not able to close coal and gas-powered plants that fuel the city, since they are connected to a vast network that covers 13 states in the northeast.

Continued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    launched a major green energy overhaul of its celebrated museum of art

    Aka virtue signalling.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    That could mean that the museum only opened for two thirds of the previous time, or that art lovers had to view exhibits with the aid of hand operated torches.

  3. Ian W says:

    The mayor seems to have misunderstood. The Paris Climate ‘Accord’ required monetary payments to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ and the USA under Obama was going to pay out $3Billion or around $10 a head for the privilege of reducing its CO2 output. Small countries like the Maldives are more interested in the money being ponied up rather than CO2. So with the population of Philadelphia being around 1.6 million the mayor should make a payment of $16 million to the ‘Green Climate Fund’. I am sure the IPCC wouldn’t mind setting up a photo op for the payment – although the mayor’s constituents may be a little less impressed.

  4. Kip Hansen says:

    The societal movement to shift to less polluting energy sources is a good thing.
    But….[yes, there is always a ‘but’] it must be done in a sensible way that takes into account costs and benefits and ensures a continuous supply of ample energy (electricity) at all times come what may.
    That means back-up, immediate ramp-up supply in case of storms, lack of solar (due to clouds, nighttime, etc), lack of (or too much) wind shutting off wind sources.
    The Pollyannaish pursuit of “clean energy” and “emissions goals” can lead to disaster for electrical grids.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Anyone can talk a good game about being ‘clean and green’ and so on, but then reality comes along and puts a few spanners in the works: cost, intermittency and weather dependency, low output, lack of storage etc. (to name some).

    No use pretending these are minor issues that can be elbowed out of the way. They can’t be.

  6. oldbrew says:

    BBC — Paris climate pullout: the worst is yet to come

    One key but quiet aspect of the Trump withdrawal that is raising more and more concern is the question of finance. Around $10bn is due to be paid in to the Green Climate Fund by the end of this year, with the US having already contributed $1bn under President Obama.

    As part of the US withdrawal, President Trump has immediately stopped the payment of the extra $2bn that had been promised.

    – – –
    Not using readily available fuels is an expensive option, beyond the reach of many – if not most – countries.

  7. oldbrew says:

    JUNE 1, 2018
    Trump Administration Proposal Would Order Grid Operators to Buy Coal and Nuclear Power

    The Trump administration is planning to order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants, which face shutdowns due to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy, according to a draft memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The memo argues that the directive, which would be carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy using emergency authority, is justified for national security reasons.


  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    For instance, the mayor is simply not able to close coal and gas-powered plants that fuel the city, since they are connected to a vast network that covers 13 states in the northeast.“It can’t be done by cities and states. We do need a completely clean, carbon-free grid to meet this goal,” said Christine Knapp, director of the office of sustainability for the city of Philadelphia.

    Back in the 1980s the Ecoloons won the argument and “outlawed” Nuclear power, often with the financial help of the oil and coal companies. Now the race to “outlaw” power provided by fossil fuels is coming to a head. Finally their goal is in sight and Surprise! Their “Rainbow Mountain” of power supplies of “Renewable Energy won’t supply nearly enough power for modern society.

    I was once in “Alternative Energy” business back in the 1970s and as an engineer I ran the numbers, All the Numbers. Realized the sad TRUTH, The only way to supply Industrial levels of the dependable energy was Nuclear.

    Sorry Christine Knapp, a completely clean, carbon-free grid has to be Nuclear powered, There is no other solution. Grow up and smell reality. There is only one solution. The only question is the path to get there…pg

  9. oldbrew says:

    Germany straining to deliver its fantasy of coal-free power generation…

    Date: 01/06/18 Dave Keating, Forbes

    Germany’s task force for phasing out coal was meant to launch this week, but yesterday the government quietly announced it is delaying the kick-off. It is the third time the coal exit commission’s launch has been delayed.


    Unless they’re going to replace all their coal power with gas power, they’re doomed. Can’t run industrial economies on weather-dependent tech.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    In the ’70s, post Arab Oil Embargo, I was deep into ‘alternative energy’. Ran a Honda Motrocycle on propane as a test. Made some toy solar heaters and bought some solar battery charger things. From Real Goods bought an inductive ballast for lamps and a socket converter so I could run PL incandescent bulbs (before ‘curly bulbs’…) Even converted my lawn mower to run on alcohol.

    Even into the early ’80s I was dead set against nuclear (mostly due to 3 Mile Island being hyped.

    Then I gradually reached the same point P.G. reached (probably before me 😉 and realized that the only thing that was really ever going to economically and reliably power the rest of Industrial Future was going to be Nuclear. We could use coal via coal to liquids for about 100 years to 200 years. We could continue to use natural gas for about 50 years. But the end game always ends up in the same place. Nuclear.

    BTW, it is interesting to note that ALL power is fundamentally nuclear. Solar from nuclear reactions in the sun. Coal and all biomass derived fuels also from solar nuclear. Hydro? Same thing. Wind? Ditto. Oil? Same basic source, though there is perhaps a side bar if it’s abiogenic via geothermal polymerization. Yet even geothermal comes from isotopic breakdown in the interior of the planet.

    There is only one non-nuclear that I’ve figured out. Tidal. That comes from the orbital motion of the moon and sun. Yet even there you must ask “How did they get there?” to deliver that power, and that leads back to a nova or supernova some long time ago making the mass that coalesced into those bodies in those orbits.

    The reality is that we ARE using nuclear power. The only differences are how efficiently it arrived to us, and what kind of reactor how far away in space and time.

    Shortly after realizing that I stopped hating nuclear power…

    We need to stop being proliferation paranoids and start building small modular passively safe nuclear electric generating plants.