The Doha Climate Conference went into its last day with no significant agreement in sight. The conference has dissolved into a dispute between rich and poor countries about who will pay the bills for reducing carbon emissions. Anger has risen as the delegates realize that their host country, Qatar, has the largest carbon footprint in the world. Climate change doubter Lord Monckton (above) provided the only excitement by showing up on a camel and getting kicked out of the conference. Getting to “Yes” with 194 delegates is a difficult task.
The US Government has adopted the Brent North Sea Crude oil price, dropping the West Texas that has been in place since the days of “Giant.” Ample supplies are keeping oil prices at a relatively low $88 per barrel and heating oil is at a 4-month low. Demand from Europe is slackening and The StarPhoenix worries that low prices may kill the move to economy cars.
The German advance toward renewables continues its irregular progress as news emerges that nearly free electricity from wind and solar – when it is available – is cutting into profits from EON’s gas boilers but sparing RWE’s coal. Clean energy results in more coal – that’s interesting. Following the market, however, RWE announced it will exit participation in an Austrian pipeline designed to bring more gas from the Caspian. The transmission lines needed to ferry wind and solar energy around the country are running into NIMBY opposition from local residents but a deal has been signed to string an undersea cable to Norway where hydropower and pumped storage are available. All this prompts Catherine Cheney to write about “Facing the Reality of the Nuclear Shutdown” in World Politics Review.
Finally, the Swiss company ABB says it has achieved a breakthrough with the invention of a high-voltage DC circuit-breaker. This will improve the ability to transmit electricity over long-distances – an essential to promoting wind and solar, which was originally supposed to be “small and beautiful” but has been found to require decorating whole landscapes with electrical apparatuses. Toyota has decided a magnesium-ion battery may be the key to improving electric vehicles and Dioxide Materials, an Illinois company, is exploring recycling carbon dioxide into fuel. ARPA-E handed out $130 million to 66 cutting-edge projects but Greg Pollowitz, writing in National Review, says the taxpayer funds awarded to the Midwestern Advanced Battery Corridor last week are unnecessary.