By Gord Price
I think it’s time to cut the comment responses on Trump’s Climate Legacy – 2.  But to give those of you who care about this issue, well, there’s this from the NY Times:

Earth Isn’t Doomed Yet. The Climate Could Survive Trump Policies.

Is the battle to contain global warming now lost?
Don’t give up just yet. True, international diplomacy will become more difficult as China and India weigh their own energy policy commitments in the light of the possibility that the United States will walk away from its promises. But President Trump’s climate policy — or his lack of one — could work out in surprising ways.

Ted Nordhaus and Jessica Lovering, in a report published on Tuesday by the Breakthrough Institute, pointed out that real progress on reducing carbon in the atmosphere has been driven so far by specific domestic energy, industrial and innovation policies, “not emissions targets and timetables or international agreements intended to legally constrain national emissions.” …

As Robert Stavins of Harvard University put it, “The most important factor in terms of carbon emissions in the United States is the price of natural gas.”

And for all the hand-wringing over the future of the Clean Power Plan, its demise might not even make that much of a difference. The shift from coal to gas will continue to happen anyway. …

This is not to say that the world could survive forever an American administration that doesn’t believe in climate change and does nothing to contain it. …

“If a Trump administration lasts only four years, the process could maybe absorb that,” said Oliver Geden, head of research at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

The bomb is ticking, but the world still has some time.

Comments

  1. The future behavior of Trump is shear speculation. Trump does not necessarily matter. What does matter however is whether or not there are truth tellers in the now.
    “In the cyber-propagandists’ atomized, construct-your-own-narrative world, agreement on a common framework of factual evidence can become almost impossible.” Richard Stengel, U.S. State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy.
    This is why a global climate agreement is necessary.

  2. Recent MIT modeling projects global atmospheric concentrations of carbon in 2100 at 710 ppm assuming full implementation of INDCs, versus 750 ppm in the absence of them, which translates to a difference in temperature increase above pre-industrial levels of 3.7 versus 3.9 degrees Celsius.
    What becomes clear in looking at climate policy as it has been implemented at the international level is that most countries have only been willing to commit to decarbonization targets that are consistent with expected business-as-usual trends, accounting for measures that they have intended to take in any event.

    (Breakthrough Institute report)
    That is clearly not good. James Hansen, one of the world’s pre-eminent climate scientists, established 450 ppm as the highest level we can achieve before irreversible tipping points are breached, the biggie being the mass release of methane from permafrost and from under the sea bed. This has already started happening.
    He described the research in his book, Storms of My Grandchildren, and it was extensive (including analysis of the ancient geological evidence) and deeply peer reviewed. He concluded that 450 ppm should be an international policy ceiling with the goal of stabilizing atmospheric carbon permanently at 350. His work was the basis for the establishment of Bill McKibben’s 350.Org.
    We are now at a planetary average of 405 ppm. Our Sunny Ways prime minister ascribes to Paris 1.5 degrees C, yet is approving pipelines in the name of a 19th Century economy (he clearly does not grasp the long range perspective) and therein defaults to 4.0 degrees. When he arrives at 80, Hadrian Trudeau will not be pleased with his father’s legacy of allowing the great Canadian boreal forest to burn off, and the talk from two sides of his dad’s face.
    Consulting and developing a plan to foster both large and small scale clean industry based on renewables should be part of the federal infrastructure initiative. Enbridge (of Northern Gateway infamy) has seen the light and has so far invested $5.4B in clean energy all over the world. They have built 17 wind farms to date; wind is now price competitive with coal in Alberta. There is an excellent possibility that Enbridge clean energy projects will overtake their fossil fuel division in less than a generation; they are becoming well-positioned for the transition. Trudeau could stimulate far greater private sector involvement using the Enbridge model as a starting point . . . if he tried.
    There is so much still to do, but so much inertia remains.

  3. If you set the bar as low as what most federal governments have done it’s pretty logical that local government policies and industrial innovation come out the winner.
    That’s not a good thing!
    Trump can still do a lot of damage – not least giving legitimacy to the absurdity of the denial industry. We can’t afford four years of delay – we’re at least ten years behind already.
    If we had been more successful at fostering federal leadership and reaching meaningful international agreements much earlier as well as the successes we have seen we’d be much much farther along and we wouldn’t be running up against such a seemingly impossible task.

  4. Now that this afternoon socialist François Hollande has bowed out and will not run again the France, the favourite now becomes the lover of racing cars, François Fillon, from Le Mans.
    Further stark evidence that the left elites are in turmoil all over.
    As the Guardian says; “Fillon, an admirer of Margaret Thatcher, has promised to slash 500,000 public sector jobs in five years, cut public spending, lower taxes and break the power of trade unions.”
    Pendulum’s swing and these days it’s to the right.

    1. Climate science is not down to a contest between left and right politics. That’s the denial community’s shallow narrative.

      1. Brace yourself Alex. In The US the Democrats are at their lowest leveles in senators, state governors and congressmen in over a century. The popular vote went to the Democrat but the support and the only success was on the coasts, a couple of Latino communities in the south west and around Chicago – the rest is red.
        The right could easily prevail in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, France is almost a certainty, Germany, etc.
        While Europe is primarily concerned with refugee migrants saving the planet will lessen in importance. Even today less than 20% of French households consider the climate as important. We suspect the US red states hold a similar level of urgency.
        The left is more deeply entrenched in the universities than ever and this has spilled to many governments including those that are now falling. The EU is a classic example of an academic driven massive and bloated nepotistic bureaucracy, creating laws and rules dictated by a condescending and unelected self-enriching (at public expense) liberal minority, which included a good chunk of the media and their associated celebrities. The US just relieved itself, as did the UK, of these social engineering obsessed clans. Just watch Ontario when they next get a chance to send a message.
        Other states will soon follow. Those that cannot understand the inevitable adjustments of priorities and accept this change will become the new ‘deniers’.

        1. Oh, Italy too. Renzi signed COP 21 in Paris, with great enthusiasm.
          Today there are dark clouds over Italy and, more importantly, over the EU.

        2. The laws of physics don’t care about humans and their politics. They just do what they do. Carbon dioxide will continue to trap heat no matter what type of party is in power.

    2. Indeed Eric, indeed !
      Not everyone loves carbon taxes: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/peter-foster-canadas-elite-useful-idiots-endorse-the-liberal-governments-plan-to-eat-them-last
      ==> Where is the income tax reduction in lieu ?
      Up next: backlash in Ontario after massive debt creation … then in AB … then on federal level as the middle class has had it: growing discontent indeed due to excessive immigration, crowded cities with higher and higher rents or real estate prices, excessive taxation via ever expanding and grossly overpaid civil servant apparatus and power consolidation between public sector unions and politicians .. leaving behind low wages and an elite public sector upper middle class ” Liberals” unable to sell the benefits of unbridled immigration and open borders. All summed up as #DrainTheSwamp .. not only true in Washington but also Brussels, Ottawa, Toronto, EU and UN !!
      In addition, left-right is more and more meaningless as states run out of funds for healthcare, roads and education !
      More on this here https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/01/blame-trump-brexit-identity-liberalism such as “Cliches of left and right have lost all meaning, and institutions their certainty. Even in France and Italy, European union is falling from grace. A rightwing US president wins an election by appealing to the left. In Britain, Ukip can plausibly claim to be supplanting Labour. A Tory prime minister attacks capitalism, while Labour supports Trident. Small wonder Castro gave up and died.
      Conventional wisdom holds that it is the “centre left” that has lost the plot. The howls that greeted Brexit, Donald Trump and Europe’s new right are those of liberals tossed from the moral high ground they thought they owned. Worse, their evictors were not the familiar bogeys of wealth and privilege, but an oppressed underclass that had the effrontery to refer to a “liberal establishment elite”.”
      Canada is falling behind: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/jack-mintz-how-canada-lost-the-burger-king-advantage will lose investment, jobs and will have falling incomes.

    1. Sounds promising, especially with using lower amount of energy to produce ethanol. I would think this one would need further R&D to attain commercialization. Hopefully it won’t get bought out by an oil company then killed.
      Many “technological fixes” proposed have very poor energy return on energy invested (EROEI), which is a concept that is poorly understood by overtly political critics. Just read the comments above to see what I mean.

  5. “Trump Age?” Maybe we should be discussing a “Post Ideological Era” featuring a motley collection of nihilists and narcissistic characters who give not a whit for life itself always favoring money instead.

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