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The Problem With Carbon-Cutting Programs

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the selling-warm dept.

Canada 219

Med-trump writes "Alberta's $60 million carbon-cutting program is failing, according to the latest report from the Canadian province's auditor-general, Merwan Saher. A news article in Nature adds: 'the province, despite earlier warnings, has not improved its regulatory structure — and calls the emissions estimates and the offsets themselves into question.'"

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It's Alberta... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38183924)

What? Do you really think the tarsands province has an interest in putting carbon emissions on its beloved oil? Or that the federal Conservative government of the corporate elite wants them to either?

Re:It's Alberta... (4, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183948)

I'm not concerned. We're going to run out of fossil fuels eventually and then we'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

Re:It's Alberta... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184104)

Oh, we'll run out of fossil fuels but it won't be for a long time yet. Canada and the US both contain so much oil in the form of tar sands and oil shale that they could become the world's premier oil exporters. Techniques for extracting these reserves are being developed that would not require strip mining so you wouldn't even know there was an oil operation going on. Sorry, but the age of oil is not over yet unless you can find another source of energy and methods of storage and transportation that are as cheap, convenient and energy dense as plain old oil, gasoline or other hydrocarbon fuels.

Re:It's Alberta... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184520)

"Techniques for extracting these reserves are being developed that ..."
That just raises costs even more. Funny thing is, without those really really heavy subsidies fossil fuels wouldn't be so cheap as they are today. Think about it for a moment, when it was first used, the oil came from wells so close to the surface, that drilling was so simple and could be done with that "ancient" technology. Nowadays we have oil platforms, underwater pipes and transcontinental pipes, gargantuan ships travelling from one side of the globe to the other. Costs are incredibly higher now, than 100 years ago. Fossil fuels will stop being used long before we run out.

You might argue that the technology doesn't exist. Well, you might find it shocking, but people don't invent things just because they "had an idea". There has to be a need for something, before it's invented. Oil is already becoming expensive, not expensive enough to ground aircraft and force ships to switch back to steam power, but enough to make people take another look at alternatives.

Re:It's Alberta... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184784)

"That just raises costs even more"
No it actually LOWERS costs. If it raised the costs of extracting this oil then it would never be cost effective to do it. Check out Sowell's Basic Economics to learn about pricing and how economics work in the real world.
http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Economics-4th-Ed-Economy/dp/0465022529/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322434629&sr=8-1

Also please provide a link describing these "really, really heavy subsidies"

A link about "really, really heavy subsidies".... (3, Informative)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185130)

Next time you are standing on a road, have a look down and contemplate what you are standing on, why it is there, how it got there, and who paid for it.

Who paid for the crusades in Iraq? Who benefitted? Why? While we are at it, what is the cost of the middle east policy? Who benefits? Why?

Without even jumping into climate destruction ( although, again, who will pay for it? Who benefitted? Why? ), there is the 'other' environmental disaster - air pollution. How much does it cost? Who pays for it? Why?

Subsidy doesn't quite describe the situation; perhaps "hand out" or "graft" are closer to the mark.

Re:It's Alberta... (4, Interesting)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185394)

You seem to ignore the role of demand and scarcity; if the price of oil rises to $200/barrel, there are extraction methods that would be profitable, that are not profitable now. The technology does not "cause" the price, that is true, but in this case it only lowers the price from a very high level to one that is somewhat more tolerable -- the energy return on energy invested is not nearly as good. I assume, unless we get some really nasty climate-related bite in the ass, that we will eventually get all the oil that can be gotten, but not necessarily at anything we would call a "low" price.

And if that price exceeds the cost of alternatives for obtaining transportation (non-oil electricity + batteries; bicycles for short trips; robot-assisted taxi/carpooling), then we might leave it in the ground after all.

Re:It's Alberta... (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185628)

When the price of oil starts getting that high, its energy competitors start becoming a lot more... competitive.

Re:It's Alberta... (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184116)

Yes a future without cheap energy, nasty short and brutish as it may be.

Re:It's Alberta... (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184128)

Solar Panels. Put them in fields, put them in orbit, put them on roofs, etc.

Re:It's Alberta... (4, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184412)

Solar Panels....

It's not a substitute. Oil products are incredibly convenient. They concentrate energy into a small space (compare energy density for jet fule with Li batteries one day) doen't spontaneously burn (compare with hydrogen) but it burn easily when you want it to (compare with coal / wood etc).

However, oil is even more valuable as the base material for things such as plastics. Burning it is a true sin and our descendants are likely going to hate us for it.

To make solar panels a direct oil substitute, fundamentally we need processes for turning electricity (+CO2 from the atmosphere and H from water) into hydrocarbons. These do exist, but most are in early research stages and/or quite inefficient. Getting them going at large scale, together with much cheaper solar panels would be great.

Re:It's Alberta... (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184732)

However, oil is even more valuable as the base material for things such as plastics. Burning it is a true sin and our descendants are likely going to hate us for it.

It is very likely I may be wrong but I thought that when oil is refined a certain amount can be turned into gasoline, a certain amount into diesel, a certain amount into plastic and so on. I didn't think you could use the hydrocarbons that make up gasoline to make plastic and vise versa.

Re:It's Alberta... (4, Informative)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184896)

You can do a fractional distillation on crude and separate it into it's various types, tar, diesel, octane, propane, etc. You can also take long chains and "crack" them (break the chains) and create more of whatever you want, as long as it has a smaller chain.

Most refineries crack now and can get up to 50% octane from a barrel of oil. Without cracking it is less than 10%.

Re:It's Alberta... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185364)

Annnnnd now i got Fleetwood Mac stuck in my head.

Re:It's Alberta... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185034)

If you have a reliable source of energy, any energy, that is cheap, you can create any hydrocarbon or plastic/polymer you desire. Energy is king.

Re:It's Alberta... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184368)

oh for the love of handjobs!

Cluebat for you (2)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185002)

I invite you to read The Energy Trap [ucsd.edu] .
Enjoy the other articles on that blog too.

bjd

..The Problem is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184304)

Americans will get free solar energy, and the British Over Lords will collect less money. So to compensate the Royal Family decided to impose a carbon tax, so every American will pay a tax on every exhale of a breath. God **** the Queen.

Re:It's Alberta... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184408)

They have only spent $60 million on this, that is now where near enough. Bump everyone's taxes another 10 percent and spend some real money on this and they will see results. If that doesn't do it, go for 20 percent.

Re:It's Alberta... (4, Insightful)

chudnall (514856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184552)

This is exactly the line of reasoning that explains why every government program inevitably gets bigger and bigger.

Re:It's Alberta... (1)

Bahamut_Omega (811064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185572)

Forty years of government by the same provincial party unfortunately. I'd say the government is pretty much running on gas fumes. Either that or some of the politicians have been doing gas fumes thinking they will be smarter in the end.

First Comment (-1, Offtopic)

PatPatrson (2438886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183930)

My first first comment. I feel special.

Re:First Comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38183936)

DRINK YO PRUNE JUICE

Re:First Comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184132)

Your first comment wasn't really a comment though. It's too bad you chose to mark this landmark event with a post that essentially said nothing. Next time you choose to comment you should actually try making a comment.

Of course... (-1, Troll)

dev382 (2518642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183952)

All these 'programs' just offset the pollution [evenweb.com] into china and create a loss of jobs.

Re:Of course... (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183984)

Well as long as the air remains breathable here, then I would sat that it is worth it.

Re:Of course... (1, Informative)

MichaelKristopeit421 (2018882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184062)

Well as long as the air remains breathable here, then I would sat that it is worth it.

well as long as a stream doesn't exist that moves air around the world in the way that a jet would, i would sat you'll be fine.

you're an idiot.

Re:Of course... (3, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184096)

That fact remains that the air is completely horrible in China. Sure it is not a permanent or perfect solution to move pollution to china but in the short term, at least, it greatly improves our quality of life.

Re:Of course... (1)

MichaelKristopeit421 (2018882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184162)

that fact remains that you're an idiot.

Re:Of course... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185252)

Localized pollution has been known for a long time. Smokestacks served no practical purpose initially, other than move pollution away from the source. So sending the pollution elsewhere is an improvement. Pollution in China does not pollute the US to the same degree pollution in the US would.

Re:Of course... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185580)

The initial purpose of a smokestack is to provide draft to the hearth, the heated flue-gasses are expanded and therefore lighter than air, so the taller the smokestack the more air is drawn through the hearth.

Re:Of course... (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184432)

mod this down; it's a response to a Goatse troll and deserves to suffer.

GOATSE ALERT! GOATSE ALERT! GOATSE ALERT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184082)

GOATSE ALERT! GOATSE ALERT! GOATSE ALERT! GOATSE ALERT!

In case you haven't heard, this is a goatse alert.

In case you haven't heard, this is a goatse alert.

In case you haven't heard, this is a goatse alert.

Parent is not a troll! And offers solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184280)

First of all, the parent raised a common criticism of these cap and trade and other carbon offset programs.

Secondly, he offers a solution - put the carbon in a big black stinky hole! That's basically what shoving carbon underground intends to do.

Not much of a surprise (5, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183966)

It's not much of a surprise. Kyoto was designed (intentionally or not) as a subsidy that would allow business as usual while just writing a check to Eastern Europe. The baseline CO2 levels were set at 1990 levels, which was right before the collapse of the USSR and the resultant massive decrease in their CO2 output levels. (Likewise, our CO2 production has decreased since 2007 since our economy has tanked.)

The various carbon markets and carbon trading schemes have likewise been plagued with fraud. It comes as absolutely no surprise that Alberta's emissions trading scheme has run into identical problems.

While carbon trading schemes are admirable in their attempt to internalize external costs, in practice they're just not a very good idea.

Re:Not much of a surprise (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183992)

The various carbon markets and carbon trading schemes have likewise been plagued with fraud

Equally true statement for all other markets if you cut out the word "carbon"

The various markets and trading schemes have likewise been plagued with fraud

Its just another crooked tax and intermediary scheme to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. What a huge surprise.

Re:Not much of a surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185300)

The various carbon markets and carbon trading schemes have likewise been plagued with fraud

Equally true statement for all other markets if you cut out the word "carbon"

At least in a "natural" market you have actual market forces (however distorted) working. Someone, somewhere eats those soybeans or pork bellies at the end of the day. The carbon market has the added bonus of being an artificial market created and controlled by governments, so it adds an entirely new level of opportunity for distortion, manipulation and corruption regardless of how well meaning. A lot of incentive to influence the government over what exactly constitutes a carbon offset, how rules are applied to each industry, etc. There are no nice blocks of "carbons" to count and balance against nice little holes of "offsets", so it all comes down to who defines what and how it is counted.

Re:Not much of a surprise (5, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184102)

I wouldn't classify myself as a climate change denier, but I don't believe the world as we know it can get a political fix for it. In order for the world to terraform itself(Yes, the solution is a form of terraforming, and could be useful for Mars in hundreds of years), we must get enough of the countries agreeing with each other. Right now we have problems just agreeing not to kill each other. Even some of the best governments have corruption in them too. Do we want to go,"More power to the governments!"? To me it is no surprise that the guy who rose awareness to the issue is a politician himself because it is a power grab move.

Re:Not much of a surprise (4, Insightful)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184284)

It's not much of a surprise. Kyoto was designed (intentionally or not) as a subsidy that would allow business as usual while just writing a check to Eastern Europe.

Because Eastern European countries have such great international bargaining clout? Come on. It's not a subsidy, it's not a conspiracy, it's an effort to do something good about something bad. They picked a year with a target that they thought they could hit. Obviously some places would be effected by this to a greater degree than others.

Doubtless there was some weedling and self-centered manipulation going on, so what? Whenever you have a broad and painful treaty like this there will always be someone hurting more than others - you make it as fair as you can and then you suck it up, because it has to be done regardless. My own country, the United States, pollutes far more by every metric than any of the signatories of the Kyoto treaty so we, to my chagrin, decided to take our ball and go home. Hopefully we'll step up and own to some of the problems that we've caused with the next one.

Re:Not much of a surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184440)

I think the mistake the GP posits is not so much that the target year was unfair, but that that the goals for each country were set as their 1990 levels rather than as a per-capita proportion of the world's carbon output target. Instead of saying, the world is going to release X CO2 this year, so Erewhon, as a state with 1% of the world's population, gets to release 0.01*X CO2 this year or must buy credits from underpolluting nations; the treaty instead says, Erewhon released Y CO2 in the year 1990, so Erewhon should work towards releasing only that much CO2, despite the fact that Y/population number is grossly higher than the average per capita CO2 release for the world's nations, because Erewhon was an industrial hellhole back in 1989.

Re:Not much of a surprise (2)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184912)

>>Because Eastern European countries have such great international bargaining clout?

That's why I said, "intentional or not"... 1990 was a terrible year to pick. The worse bit is, even the wikipedia page for Kyoto has a graph labelled "what they promised and how they are doing" with all of the countries with, quote, large percentages achieved in CO2 reduction all Eastern Bloc Countries.

In order:
Latvia
Lithuania
Estonia
Bulgaria
Ukraine
Romania
Poland
Hungary
Slovakia
Russia
Czech Rep
before getting to non-Eastern Bloc countries.

Alberta tar sands (4, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183968)

Alberta is the home of the tar sands... the dirtiest source of petroleum. Do you actually think they are interested in cutting carbon emissions?

Re:Alberta tar sands (3, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184394)

Dirtiest source??! I'd say they'd have to work really hard to be dirtier than deep sea drilling has been.

Re:Alberta tar sands (5, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184608)

Dirtiest source??! I'd say they'd have to work really hard to be dirtier than deep sea drilling has been.

Oil sands extraction produces massive quantities of contaminated (lead, arsenic, mercury, ammonia, naphthenic acids, and other fun things) water which is stored in tailings "ponds" (they're really more like lakes) which currently cover about 170 square kilometers.

Re:Alberta tar sands (1, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184804)

Bet you've never been to alberta in your life either, or visited one of those sites after they've finished the cleanup either. We don't use tailings ponds anymore.

Re:Alberta tar sands (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185358)

I live in Alberta and I can assure you that tailings ponds are still in use.

Re:Alberta tar sands (5, Informative)

Rary (566291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185538)

We don't use tailings ponds anymore.

Bullshit. The Government of Alberta's own tar sands propaganda site [alberta.ca] backs up GPs claim of 170 square kilometers of tailings ponds— that's about two Manhattans. It goes on to state that "(e)fforts continue to develop new tailings performance criteria, management technologies and practical solutions to reduce and potentially eliminate tailings ponds as we know them today." Still, tailings ponds are expected to expand to about 250 square kilometers— almost three Manhattans— by 2020.

Re:Alberta tar sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185478)

This may be one of the most asnine comments I have read on slashdot.

Think for a minute; if the oil already exists in the sand, then aren't the oil companies cleaning the worlds largest (natural) oil slick up?

No, of course not. Continue to parrot the talking points put out by WWF and Greenpeace, and continue to buy conflict oil.

God...

Like they're going to do anything effective (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38183978)

Like the Alberta government is going to do anything effective when almost their entire economy rides on the oil and gas industry. And like the Conservative Federal government is going to call their heartland to task.

A government program fails? (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184008)

A government's environmental program fails? I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked. It's almost as if governments are just as inefficient and corrupt as the companies they're supposed to be regulating--except that they get paid regardless due to taxes.

Offsets are problematic (4, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184032)

For those that don't bother to read TFA, the one-sentence summary is that "offsets", where rather than paying the tax companies pay for credits obtained for emission-cutting programs in agriculture or in developing countries, are often dubious because the "offsets" are not properly audited and often just pay for activities that would have occurred anyway without the subsidy This is relatively easy to fix. Just tighten up the rules on offsets. It doesn't damn emissions trading in general.

Re:Offsets are problematic (2, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184138)

"Carbon offsets" are just more bullshit to funnel money from the poor to the bankers.

But it's actually worse than that, because third-world governments are now evicting people from their land so they can plant trees to rake in some of that cash:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/22/uganda-farmer-land-gave-me-everything [guardian.co.uk]

The Global Climate Warming Change scam spreads evil wherever it goes.

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184696)

Agreed. We're supposed to reduce carbon output worldwide, and carbon trading doesn't do this. It just stops new carbon emitting economic development in poorer countries by allowing existing carbon emitting industries to emit more. I don't see how this is supposed to help reduce CO2 levels. It really is just another add on to the political bullshit machine.

On the other hand, it could force poorer countries who have already traded their carbon output away to become experts in "green" technology. Eventually they might become the producers of the world's best "green" tech. Then the so-called rich countries will pay for their stubbornness to change. That is, this might be a hidden way for the poorer countries to catch up and possibly overtake the richer countries in some respects at least. The trouble with that is the current unscrupulous business leaders will get to keep being rewarded for bad behavior in (long) terms of society, if not business-wise. But perhaps that's the only best case scenario.

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185234)

Blair's involved in similar jiggery-pokery in Rwanda - all above board, of course.

Re:Offsets are problematic (5, Informative)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184196)

Here is what the article actually says about it:

What are the problems with the credit methods?

Lax verification for carbon-offset projects has been a problem for several schemes. For the credit-creating projects to be effective at reducing overall greenhouse-gas emissions, the scheme operators are supposed to approve only projects that would otherwise not have gone ahead. The auditor-general criticized the Alberta Department of Environment and Water for allowing carbon credits for emissions-reducing activities that have become common practice.

The Alberta report found a lack of standards for how agricultural credits were verified — not one of the credits the auditors checked could be confirmed. It also pointed out that there was no standardized, accurate method for measuring the emissions from oil-sands tailing ponds, which store contaminated water, clay, sand and bitumen from oil-sands processing.

Many opponents of emissions trading programmes also argue that companies are likely to purchase carbon offsets instead of reducing emissions by adopting new technologies or changing their operating practices.

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184588)

just pay for activities that would have occurred anyway without the subsidy

I don't see that as a problem. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions on a global scale, which is what happens. Intentions are irrelevant, and impossible to know anyway.

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185440)

But you get more bang for the buck if you can avoid rewarding "reductions" that would have happened anyway, and use the money instead to cause reductions that would not have happened on their own. I agree that the spin -- "oh, teh incompetent government and international global warming conspiracy" -- is wrong, but it would actually be better if we could audit these a little more stringently.

Re:Offsets are problematic (2)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184604)

Actually, the real problem with emissions is that we really do not have any way to figure out how much CO2 emissions are being done. It is all guesswork. Yes, we put up some monitors around the world, but most of them are 'downwind' of the prevailing path from LARGE emitters. So, in EU and America (the most studied), we still have mostly guesswork on cars, Ag, etc. Then to make matters really bad, you have nations like China, that cheat like mad, and prevent real measures except under very controlled circumstances. OCO2 is coming and will show that many nations emit far far more than what is thought. A number of the undeveloped nations will double. China alone will jump 300-600% what current numbers show. It will also show that many of these 'offsets' are worthless.

The only real way to make this work, is to say that offsets can be bought within the local area (probably national boundaries), and then OCO2 simply measures the national boundaries.

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185122)

We know very well how much coal, oil, natural gas etc is consumed in various countries. The IEA keeps pretty good accounts that you can download.

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185280)

Actually, they do not. They only track it from nations that report it, which is likely just the western nations. In addition, the IEA is getting gross numbers, that is fossil fuel production as well as imported. They do not know exactly where it went, and for fuels, how efficiently it was used. China has some of the dirtiest coal going and does little to no cleaning. As such, it is pretty high emitters (one of the worst in fact). In addition, I believe that it keeps it quiet as to how much they actually dig. Then you have issues like Ag that makes major changes to national output. For example, we have brazil burning their rain forests to open land for Ag. So, they are trading efficient sinks for inefficient emitters. Worse, brazil is likely following the Chinese model (though that one is a SWAG on my part ).

Goes way, way beyond that, kiddo... (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185192)

Carbon offsets originated within the Reagan Administration, circa 1983, as just another scam, while today it is simply yet another extension of that overall global scam called, "shadow banking" --- easily explained by that GAO report a few years back, citing the carbon market in Europe as a colossal financial fraud scheme, doing absolutely nothing to cut down on emissions and pollution, which is exactly why that professional fraudster, Jeremy Rifkin, has been working over there pushing it for so long.

Various new carbon derivatives have been created by the same JPMorgan Chase (and ISDA-type) Blythe Masters, responsible for creating the credit default swap and variations on those CDOs, etc., etc.

And who owns all those climate exchanges, clearinghouses, etc.? Of course, the global bank/oil cartel. (Sure, Al Gore, together with several of his Goldman Sachs' buddies, started Generation Asset Management, to trade in the carbon market, and they purchased 10% of the Chicago Climate Exchange, owned primarily by Climate Exchange, PLC, registered on everyone's fav offshore finance ceter, the Isle of Man, but Gore has always been a faux crat, and neocon, and fervent supporter of every "free trade" agreement --- NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. --- and GATT, etc., etc.)

Re:Offsets are problematic (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185582)

This is relatively easy to fix. Just tighten up the rules on offsets.

Relatively easy to fix, assuming the political will is there. But it's not. This is Alberta we're talking about. The province whose former Environment Minister said that it's not his job to protect the environment.

Regulation 1.0 (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184066)

Some passionate NGO spokesperson comes up with a master plan to correct the problem they've achieved public passion for or recognition of, legislators pass legislation allowing a plan to be implemented. The actual implementation and regulations are then turned over to government employees. Per TFA:

"In Alberta, the Department of Environment and Water requires facilities to have their emission estimates (and offset projects) independently verified. The department also uses another set of verifiers to confirm reports for a sample of those facilities that are signed up to the scheme. The UN’s CDM keeps track of all eligible projects in an online registry."

Gee, how could something like that possibly fail?

Doesn't help when states sell carbon... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184184)

...did that read weird to you? Never mind. What happens is highly industrialised states go cap in hand to developing states and buy carbon allowance off them - basically a license to carry on polluting at the rate they are yet still meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

Re:Doesn't help when states sell carbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184678)

Why is that a problem? It doesn't matter whether the carbon emission reductions happen in developed or developing states.

Re:Doesn't help when states sell carbon... (1)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184826)

Because it's not actually a reduction.

Re:Doesn't help when states sell carbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185020)

The idea, form what I understand, is that it acts like a tax on polluters. Thus you are given a market incentive for lower your pollution level (i.e. you don't have to buy credits).

Re:Doesn't help when states sell carbon... (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185638)

If properly implemented, it is a reduction, because, while the purchaser of the credit does not have to reduce their emissions, the seller of the credit does. The theory is that it really doesn't matter who reduces their emissions, as long as somebody does.

Missclassified (1)

Goglu (774689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184194)

This should have been classified under "YRO", not "Science".

Science disappeared a long time ago from Canada's tar sands industry discussions.

The Alberta and the Canadian governments try to call their approach "scientific" (a MP even used the expressions "based on facts" when talking about the conservatives' agenda - hilarious!) while forbidding scientists to present the results of their research, cutting their fundings and replacing their voices with marketing.

Re:Missclassified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184358)

You might have some claim to talk about "science" if you stopped using weasel words like "tar sands". TAR is a product of COMBUSTION. Thanks for playing.

Re:Missclassified (1)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184618)

Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit...

spot the weasel... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185340)

'Tar sand' is the historical name, and even Britannica lists 'Bituminous sand' as an alternate name for 'tar sand'. Notice 'alternate', not a primary.

White washing, a speciality of weasels, won't disguise the travesty that mining the tar sands is. Oil sand, and every other lame euphemism the clueless promote, will be just as dirty as 'tar sand'. It isn't just sticky, like tar, to the touch.

ALL OF THIS IS BUNK (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184334)

Seriously. They have tied the emissions to a unit of production. That is just plain stupid. It is as worthless as tying emissions to another variable of PER CAPITA. Ppl move around all the time. In addition, gov. lie (China comes quickly to the forefront, but no nation is a saint). Basically, we need emission limits tied to PER SQ KM. Period. We need a fixed value to work from. Will a few nations like Canada, Australia and Russia look better Sure. So what. That is minor in the scope of things. By putting taxes on ALL GOODS from an area (both local and imported) based on the CO2 PER SQ Km from which the final product and perhaps the largest sub-component come from, it pushes ALL NATIONS to lower their CO2.

Cap and Trade is beyond a shadow of a doubt only useful for helping the local area and more importantly, will lead to cheating since all govs., either implicitly or explicitly, KNOW that businesses will flee to places that have cheat. But with the tax approach it prevents that. If businesses flee to nations that cheat, then the business will later on be hit with large taxes as they export.

And the per sq km is the ONLY VIABLE MEANS TO PREVENT NATIONS FROM CHEATING. It is also allows the amount to be fixed to something that is relatively fair.

what's fair? (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185464)

And the per sq km is the ONLY VIABLE MEANS TO PREVENT NATIONS FROM CHEATING. It is also allows the amount to be fixed to something that is relatively fair.

And what's "fair"? The majority of the extra carbon in the atmosphere is still due to European emissions. Even more is due to the vast deforestation across Europe over the last two millennia. Is Europe willing to absorb, say, 80% of the worldwide cost of reducing carbon in the atmosphere? Because that's what would be "fair".

Asking people to pay and reduce based on current emissions, on the other hand, is not "fair".

Re:what's fair? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185632)

The only ones paying, are those that are buying products from an area. IOW, I live in Colorado. If I buy something from China, then the tax on them is presumably high (they have a large and growing CO2 emissions per sq km). Probably not the highest, but up there. So, I would have to pay 100% of the tax that increases yearly. OTH, if I buy a product from a nation like say France, and assume that EU has decided to allow nations to go individually, I would guessing that they have some lower emissions. Probably in the bottom 1/3. Of course, we could pick Russia, which would obviously be in the bottom due to their monster area (that may change when permafrost really starts melting and methane comes). Either way, it would be say .33 of the tax, or 0 for Russia. Now, if the tax is increased over the next 5-10 years, it gives nations time to adjust, but will tell all nations that they have to chose to either control and lower their emissions (by what ever means they want), OR, the nations that they export to, will simply keep the tax going up.

As long as the tax is applied relatively slowly, but steadily, and is applied to ALL, it will be fair. It gives every nation time to adjust. It also take out the incentives for businesses to move jobs around.

This really is the fairest of them all. We are not concerned with what happened in the past. We need to be concerned with what is happening today and in the future. We need a way to lower it in a steady fashion. Playing the political game will solve NOTHING, except pass the buck. We have seen EU cheating like mad. We see Canada doing the same. Point is, that every poltician will want to make it LOOK like they are doing something, but without huring their local area. The only way, is to apply this to EVERY NATION. And the only way to accomplish that, is by nations taxing ALL GOODS.

Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructure (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184346)

First, there is a maximum of CO2 which earth can process, lets call that value X. Second, there are 7 billion people on earth. Logic and principals of the enlightenment allow us to conclude that every person has the same right and therefor the same share of that CO2. In recent years that value was calculated and the result was 1.5t CO2 per person. So if everyone gets a certificate over 1.5t CO2. The problem with that. Every Chinese is already at 2.5t, European are at 10t and the US with 19.78t CO2 per person. So after January the US citizens have to walk, as they are out of CO2 certificates. Logically that would not work. What will work is to divide the total man made CO2 production (Y) and divide it by the number of people. Then every person gets their certificates. Y will be definitely bigger than X. So we reduce Y over 20 years until it reaches X. And people and countries producing all the CO2 have to buy certificates, while others can sell their certificates. I know that was the initial idea behind those certificates. But somehow they failed. In Germany they failed because they where handed out for free to big polluters. So we have to have a change in certificate brokerage ;-)

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (2)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184522)

Loads of problems with that.
First, CO2 is far more tied to economics and ag than to ppl, so per capitia is not only unfair, it is just plain brain-dead.
Secondly, nations will lie about population.
Thirdly, this encourages ppl growth, not cutting them back. You actually REWARD a nation to have more ppl. Kind of a foolish concept.
Fourth, US is already below 18 and probably closer to 15, while EU is climbing towards 15, unless you choose to ignore those nations with all of your growth. [wikipedia.org]
Fifth, the idea of handing out certificates, is BS esp. when you point out that Germany is cheating at it. Germany and Japan speak of wanting to do the right thing, but they are now cutting their nuke plants, rather than pushing for SAFE nuke plants. So what will work? Well over the next 20 years, it will not be AE. So, they will have to move nukes to coal and gas. If they do that, their costs go up and businesses will move production to China, India, Brazil, Poland, Slovania, etc, all places with massively growing CO2 emissions. IOW, your idea will make things WORSE, by pushing manufacturing to those nations that choose to cheat, or have been granted a cheat.
Finally, if you listened to some of the stories in /., then you should know that 20 years is really not going to work. ZERO chance of it.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184824)

The primary idea is, that the people get the certificate not the state. So companies have to buy CO2 certificates from people. And as the CO2 amount of certificates is reduced every year, it will get more expensive for those polluting the most. For example, when the Chinese would increase their CO2 output they need more certificates making it for them more expensive. And in when the population growth in one country certainly that country's people get in total more certificates. However, the total number of certs will still be reduced every year.

Alternatively you could allow countries with a CO2 sink to issue certificates which will result in the preservation of those sinks.

And BTW: When the US is at 18t or even 15t CO2 per person, than it is still more then 10 times higher as sustainability would allow the US citizens. Logically the same applies to the EU. However, an decrease of CO2 emissions during an economic crisis is normal. So the reduction to 17.5t for the US in 2008 (according to your data) might be just indicating reduced activity. I hope it is not and the US is going in the right direction.

Remember the goal is 1.5t

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184914)

Here in the states, we have a number of old coal plants that are being shut down and converted to natural gas or 'cleaner coal'. For example, in Colorado, we are shutting down over 1.5 GW of coal plants from the 40's-60's, and they will be replaced by a smaller number of new high temp. natural gas plants and one shared high temp coal plant (which has the ability to convert to natural gas). In addition, since 2009, America has had growth, but most results show that emissions are still dropping. Finally, unlike EU, we are still looking to move towards nukes and still grow our AE faster than does EU overall, and japan.

Simply put, America is likely lowering our emissions, while EU is idling.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184930)

Finally, the goal of 1.5t per person is a joke. The reason is that our population is still increasing and per capita has little correlation to CO2 emissions. Instead, economic output or better yet, a fixed item such as land mass, are much much better and fairer than per capita certificates.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185196)

Why don't you tax Africa. 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from making charcoal and burning wood for fuel in Africa.

It's the dirty Africans ruining the planet, not people driving cars w/ catalytic converters.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185226)

First, I seriously doubt that is true. However, we will find out when we have OCO2 doing measurements around the globe. It will be able to see how much CO2 flows in and then out of a nation. That is actually important. Whether it is per sq km, per $ of production, or per capita, it is all tied to national boundaries. Once we have real numbers and not simple guess work, things should be quite a bit different.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185276)

it is all tied to national boundaries.

Unfortunately, it is all tied to money. Saving the world, one tax at a time.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185666)

You have a good point. But the good news about this tax is that it will disappear over time. The reason is that most nations will change rather than have their businesses lose ground due to other nations pouring money into changing, while they do not.

Re:Proposal for an Emmission Trading Infrastructur (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185158)

Turn that into a slowly increasing carbon tax and you have the same effect with the benefit of improved state/federal finances.

Make it the cost of doing business and get it done (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184434)

You know, businesses don't seem to have a problem with fines and all manner of requirements. Why not simply REQUIRE the reductions where technically possible (forget about 'cost efficiency') and update the requirements as new technology arrives.

They can and they will do it. They will scream about "lost jobs" and "cutting back" and crap like that, but it's a huge lie -- they know if they want to earn more, they have to product more. If there is additional overhead involved, they will eventually accept it and move on just like they always do. In all my years, I have never seen it go any other way.

It's past time for this sort of decisiveness.

Re:Make it the cost of doing business and get it d (1, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184652)

Until you require ALL nations to do this, then it will simply lead to businesses leaving a place that is fairly clean (read expensive) to places with high emissions and climbing. China is by far the worst example, but India, Brazil, etc will happily follow the path if it brings businesses their way and they have exceptions.

Re:Make it the cost of doing business and get it d (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184874)

Then the next obvious answer becomes "tariffs and embargoes." The fact is, this is the planet we are talking about -- the only planet we have access to. We are seriously putting money before survival? We need a little more sanity.

China will stop polluting when it becomes a requirement of doing business. The EU, I have little doubt, would follow the US if such trading requirements were made. After that, you would see some amazingly fast reform occur when China's best customers won't buy from them. And in the short term, manufacturing in the US would return... what I wonderful thing that might be.

Re:Make it the cost of doing business and get it d (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184944)

Actually, tariffs and embargoes are the WORST way to go. It will lead to nations producing inefficiently. So, by nations putting taxes on ALL GOODS, they get themselves and the foreign nations to change their habits.

As to China, it is already a requirement of doing business that they allow their money to float, stop subsidizing, stop dumping and even per the Japanese treaty, stop the heavy polluting. Yet, they simply ignore it and other nations allow it because businesses push this so that they can get into the Chinese market.

IOW, the current situation proves your last paragraph totally wrong.

Re:Make it the cost of doing business and get it d (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185176)

Corporations will just tell their employees (i.e. senators/representatives) to enact an exception for them. See Sears in Chicago.

Reagan's cap & trade works. (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185428)

Why not simply REQUIRE the reductions where technically possible (forget about 'cost efficiency') and update the requirements as new technology arrives.

1. Because it is disconnected from the physical limits of the environment.
2. Because it would require a myriad of standards, each one of which will be twisted by it's fight with industry. (ie: it makes "divide and conquer" an obvious strategy for industry)

I'm not saying that standards enforced by law are a bad thing, I just don't think they're the best solution to such a broad problem. In the early 90's Reagan was proud to be a leading supporter of the international cap and trade treaty that is now in place for sulphur emission. As usual, economic alarmists of the day all started screaming about an economic apocalypse. The treaty was signed by most industrial nations, the economic apocalypse failed to materialise and acid rain has gone away as a major environmental problem. As you say this is how it always goes, at least it has been in the 50yrs I've been watching. Some other examples are, lead in petrol, asbestos, clean air act(s), DDT, tobacco health warnings, the list is long and the propaganda on every one of these issues from industry has been without exception utterly immoral.

International cap and trade treaties are by far the best long term solution to AGW and many other tragedies of the commons (such as overfishing)...
Cap - Because there is time dependent physical limit to the resource.
Trade - Because capitalist markets are the most efficient way to distribute a finite resource.

The size of the cap is the only detail that is rightfully determined by science, the rest of the detail is politics and accounting. Will greed and fraud occur? - Of course, it does everywhere else.

Re:Reagan's cap & trade works. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185678)

But you know, in many areas, we are ALREADY doing this. We stopped a huge amount of pollution which companies have been known for -- water, air and land. This is just another kind of pollution which needs to be controlled. It's a difficult one to be sure. But you know? There is great research being done in the area of small nuclear reactors which can go a long way to reduce the amount of carbon emitted either by using the power to capture the carbon or by using that instead of burning things.

Re:Make it the cost of doing business and get it d (0)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185532)

You know, businesses don't seem to have a problem with fines and all manner of requirements.

Wtf?

No, they actually do things like leave the state if they're lucky. They go out of business if they're not.

Ok, lets look at it like a programming perspective. Imagine you could only run your program on one computer, and it's in a fixed state.

And EVERY layer of management used to be a coder, and are adding to the project. To help, to justify their jobs, and to show that they're "Fixing problems".

Old code almost never gets removed, and they system just gets slower and buggier over time.

You can't just keep on adding more rules and regulations, eventually people will have to ignore them just to function. That is, if they're staying.

Re:Make it the cost of doing business and get it d (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185712)

Actually, new rules and regs isn't anything like programming. But to go with your programming analogy, by tightening constraints, you force the coders to make their code more efficient and perhaps even learn to write in assembly language to get things done instead of using inefficient canned functions.

As I said before, this method is already in use for other forms of pollution and has been wildly successful against everything from acid rain to the hole in the ozone layer, from clean water to cleaner land.

The measures work and work for everyone. Reducing carbon emissions may be the last real industrial problem which needs to be reigned in... that is until the next one... like maybe RF pollution or something.

Why bother with costly program? (2)

BigFire (13822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184750)

When you can get your conscience clear by buying a couple of trillion carbon from http://www.freecarbonoffsets.com/home.do [freecarbonoffsets.com] ?

Definition of failure (3, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184950)

The program may be failing...

and that may mean the policy is succeeding.

it's all fake (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185438)

The effect of "carbon cutting programs" will simply be that people export the carbon emissions to countries where they are free. Any attempt to put import duties on the products is also going to fail. And trying to impose carbon emission taxes globally isn't going to work either.

So, all this climate change debate is pointless, since nothing can be done about the carbon emissions anyway even if we should. (But we really shouldn't reduce carbon emissions anyway.)

A carbon tax would be much simpler (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185636)

It would be much simpler for each country to tax carbon, and redistribute the revenue equally among all citizens of that country. It would give everyone an incentive to conserve, without being a hardship on anyone.

Markets work best when market failures, such as negative externalities, including carbon emissions, are corrected. If creating CO2 has a nonzero detrimental effect on the environment, then it just makes sense to internalize that cost into the price of, for example, gasoline.

This is a surprise why? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185700)

The same massive industries that report that they make no taxable profits also report that they now run on unicorn burps and pixie sneezes? Gasps of amazement.

If you make a box for it, they will check it.

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