Friday, November 28, 2008

We’re All Getting a Lump of Coal This Xmas

Picture Credit:Avotius

EU Puts Brakes on Green Policies

In the wake of the financial crisis, some EU member states are reassesing the union’s CO2 reduction goals. To prevent a complete economic meltdown and fianancial crisis from turning into economic calamity, the European Union has pulled the emergency brake on green policies.

At last month’s EU summit in Brussels, seven eastern and central European countries, together with Italy, threatened to veto the Union’s climate pact. The rebel governments claimed that the originally agreed goal of cutting the EU’s CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 was too expensive; economic turmoil and rising unemployment meant that implementing the CO2 goal was no longer affordable. Great Britian is poised to expand its coal mining industry, despite fears that the move will lead to a rise in climate change, increase in CO2 emissions, as well as harm the environment. The news that Britain is about to return to the age of coal is no surprise to anyone who’s been following energy developments in this country or even globally.

“The coming energy crisis is going to dwarf the financial crisis”, says the head of Shell Oil.

Coal is a dirty word in the U.S. because of its impact on the environment including CO2 emissions, mercury contamination, and other pollutants. The environmental movement has fought against new coal plants being constructed in the U.S. as well as keeping newly constructed coal plants from starting up and producing electricity. Just recently, the feds put a hold on constructing new coal fired plants and new coal plants already constructed cannot fire up and produce electricity until further notice.

Last March, a hold on government financing for all rural coal plants was implimented. Billings, Mont. - “The federal government is suspending a major loan program for coal-fired power plants in rural communities, saying the uncertainties of climate change and rising construction costs make the loans too risky.”

Coal fired electrical plant

Picture Credit: davipt

Even with the U.S. keeping a tight rein on coal usage, it appears that other nations including China are bucking the green movement and going their own way ignoring global warming, CO2 and air pollution. China, the world’s number one polluter, will continue to have their air pollution problems because of their continued use of dirty coal, even though China is using modern up to date coal fired plants to produce electricity. From a previous Chemically Green post: " href="" target="_blank">China May Be The Death of the Environmental Movement is becoming more true than ever before.

China Moves Ahead With Using Coal

While US activists prepare for a battle against the notion of ‘clean coal’, China’s coal industry continues to boom. A recent MIT report estimates that China’s power sector has been expanding at a rate roughly equivalent to three to four new coal-fired, 500 megawatt plants coming on line every week.

The real danger is not just the carbon emissions, but the wrong assumptions and perception that incremental solutions, protests, or stricter carbon regulations can somehow shift China’s current direction. Why worry? The gap continues to widen between what activists want to happen with the global coal industry, versus the reality of coal’s expanding role as the world’s fastest growing source of energy.

China is hungry for energy. Oil, yes. But mostly electricity. And despite its potential to become a cleantech manufacturing hub, it is likely to rely primarily on coal for the next thirty years as The People’s Daily Online reports that geologists have confirmed a massive 23 billion ton coal reserve deposit in the country’s Turfan Basin. ‘The coal mine occupies an area of over 300 square kilometers with a thickness of 169.69 meters, and a coal bearing ratio of 29%’. This is the second major reserve confirmed in the last six months.

The Reality of the Above scenario is that Coal Use Is Growing! The US Energy Information Agency Annual Report on 2008 reveals the brutal facts of coal’s use in the world’s energy sector.

The US is almost certain to confront the challenges of coal emissions, but no country is more important to this conversation than China. The US can probably absorb higher costs associated with cleaner uses of coal, but not China. As soon as the global economy comes out of this slump, China will once again fire up its coal plants. What will this mean? More pollution coming from China to the U.S. even though the U.S. maybe using clean coal if the technology is perfected. Source: The Energy Road Map

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