Carbon market or carbon tax? – Give Washington a trade war carrot and stick

Hydrogen fusion to create ‘mini-sun’ in the South of France

Heritage Foundation offer Trump l’Oeil over Paris Agreement

Sculpting a climate change accord

Carbon market or carbon tax? – Give Washington a trade war carrot and stick

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The world can reign in Trump’s America for a new security…

by Felix von Geyer

The world has been waiting since 1997 for Washington to take meaningful and effective action on climate change.

Between the tweets, statements, retractions, and double bluff surrounding double positives, discerning coherent straight lines through the scatter diagram of Trump’s bluff and vitriol political style is akin to aluminium chaff thrashed out by naval warcraft seeking to divert the honing device of enemy missiles, real or imaginery. In the wake of Manafort and Cohen, one can expect only more of the same.

More white hairs pervade Trump’s Administration than grey cells, their collective political imagination honed in a bygone time hazed with political nostalgia. As Trump’s style embraces pugilistic revisionism, so it threatens to knock the post-second world war era of international co-operation whose spirit embedded US interests and values within multi-lateral regimes that provided America permanent pole position on the world’s starting grid of international political economic order.

Now anxious the supposed Pacific Rise of China will lose America the race to win the Grand Prix of the international political and economic order makes Trump further rescind on the post-Cold War new security agenda the world urgently needs but the United States still fails to lead.

Security stopped being a nuclear military security; a deeper security agenda in the 1990s embraced environmental, political, economic and even human security once Moscow’s bankruptcy through US-inspired low oil prices ended the Cold War.

If Europe ever expected the US to take an economic hit for the sake of the environment however, then the EU had another thing coming, a former career staff US climate change policy framer told me somewhere in the wake of the economic crisis.

Ironically, a decade ago, projected climate change costs to the economy were estimated at 1.8% of US GDP by 2100. Last year, America lost 1.66% of its GDP to climate change.

Yes, eighty years early, the economic hit from the environment came ahead of schedule but Trump’s response instead liberates US coal and automotive industries from any responsibility in redressing the global issue of climate change, the issue that terrorizes humankind beyond all borders.

The reality check is that any responsibility for saving the world now lays with the rest of the world. The US government – namely Republican politicians – long ago abdicated any federal responsibility on addressing climate security. For humanity to survive, the world must save America from itself and force the US towards a new security.

In a world where power is sometimes defined as A making B do something B ordinarily would not do, that would require a big carrot and an even bigger stick.

Encouraging the United States requires a carrot. So, the world should invite Washington to roll-out a global carbon market and suggest it be traded in US dollars as with every other major commodity.

Moreover, money through a certain percentage of all trade deals, akin to a Tobin tax but only on traded carbon credits, could furnish the coffers of the United Nations climate change mitigation and adaptation funds which Hillary Clinton said would receive US$100 billion of funding per year from 2020 onward at the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference.

Yes, a global carbon market traded in US dollars would benefit the US economy, particularly the US Treasury and, the tighter the cap, the higher the price and the greater the role and strength of the US dollar. Taken a step further, a cryptocurrency hedged against the price of carbon could also be leveraged. The US dollar could see its history since 1945 shift perspective from gold to petrocurrency, now to carbon and more.

So, what if Washington fails to jump on such a generous opportunity? Simply, if the rest of the world fails to make Washington eat a fat supply of carrots for the benefit of everybody, they must transcend Trump`s bullying style.

Quite simply, impose a straightforward carbon tax against the US in place of retaliatory tariffs. Surely, the world over would applaud and support this necessary move?

Where the Trump Administration is hitting America’s traditional allies with sticks in the form of tariffs over steel and aluminium requires Canada, the EU and China to respond:- not just with a stick, but a moral staff. A new security agenda requires transcending old style politics.

Unlike Trump`s tariffs over steel and aluminium and retaliatory measures by Canada, EU and China that all likely flout World Trade Organisation rules, carbon taxes in the shape of border adjusted tariffs would be legal under WTO rules. The WTO said as much almost a decade ago in its joint WTO/United Nations Environment Program Trade and Climate Change report produced in the run up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference.

Ironically, in 2009, carbon taxes or border adjusted tariffs were intended for use against developing countries like China and India to force them to address their future emissions trajectory set to outstrip current US emissions, or at least plug the so-called carbon leakage gap should countries like the US and Canada face the economic consequences of reducing their emissions while developing countries did not.

US states who have tried to lead on emissions reductions such as California’s Western Climate Initiative and the North-Eastern states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, would not be able to receive exemption as the WTO only recognizes nation-states as members or entities. Therefore, a blanket carbon tax would on all US exports would be required.

Again, where the United Nations faces shortfalls in funding its Green Fund to help countries adapt to climate change under the Paris Agreement, much of the revenue from taxing US exports could be diverted accordingly.

Whether Canada as it is forced by Trump to renegotiate NAFTA can co-ordinate this policy with the EU with whom it has a recpricoal Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement and both EU and Canada share China as an important trade partner, they will need to be in consort to achieve a new security. Bringing the UK on-board who likely aim for an economic trade agreement with Washington in the event of a Brexit Britain will also be critical.

But hopefully the carrot of rolling-out a global carbon market traded in US dollars will help the Trump Administration – and Washington – refix its vision of a security agenda and transcend its current myopic view of US interests and global security.




admin @ August 23, 2018

Hydrogen fusion to create ‘mini-sun’ in the South of France

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 by Felix von Geyer

A 500 Megawatt hydrogen fusion plant based in South of France is now over halfway to completion and on target to produce FirstPlasma by 2025 in the bid to produce a scalable zero carbon emissions energy program to combat climate change, it was announced Wednesday.

Where since its inception, nuclear energy has over-promised and under-delivered in its ambition to create limitless energy at a price too cheap to meter, the world’s most complex scientific undertaking could alter the course of this energy pathway by the time it is completed in 2035.

Hydrogen fusion, where two atoms combine to make one larger atom, effectively mimics the sun’s own hydrogen-helium fusion process. The hydrogen fusion facility located in Aix-en-Provence will effectively create its own ‘mini-sun’ by heating to 150 million degrees Celsius a doughnut shaped magnetic field known as the Tokamak that would confine particles and plasma. At approximately the same heat as the inner core of the sun, the Tokamak would contain its own burning and self-sustained plasma, or ‘mini-sun’ Dr Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the hydrogen fusion facility ITER told neworator.com on Wednesday.

ITER – the Latin expression for ‘the way’ – uses heavy water or deuterium freely available within seawater with tritium separated from lithium to create its fuel. A two-ounce pineapple-sized quantity of hydrogen would produce the energy equivalent of 10,000 metric tonnes of coal.

‘Each gram [of hydrogen] produces as much energy as 8 tonnes of oil,’ said Bigot.

Whereas it is estimated ITER will cost $22 billion by the time it is completed in 2025, Bigot expects the costs to reduce by a factor of five or ten ‘and will be competitive with other energy worldwide,’ he said.

The reason for the projected reductions in capital and operating expenditure result from the learning process already acquired and the tools and metrics since developed and implemented in passing the pivotal halfway point towards completion.

‘We now have all the tools in place to monitor the project and the progress,’ explained Bigot ‘The largest challenge was to assemble all the pieces from all over the world. We have learned how to work together,’ he stated, underlining the nature of the project where 35 national governments including EU countries, the US, Russia, Japan, China and South Korea.

‘Many investors and countries don’t see the current global energy scenario as sustainable so it is encouraging that fusion is taken seriously,’ Bigot said.

ITER’s hydrogen fusion project started at the 1985 Geneva Sumit where former USPresident Ronald Reagan and the former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev signed a memorandum of understanding to embark on joint research into hydrogen fusion.

Indeed, the challenges now facing the scalability of hydrogen fusion in order to produce enough clean power to combat climate change will require governments to send strong investor signals, for example low or zero-tax dividends to investors, and encourage public private partnerships in the quest to find alternative options to rare earth magnets Niobium Tin and Niobium Titanium in order to scale up the implementation of hydrogen fusion globally.

Approximately ten thousand imperials tons of Nobium have been used to produce ITER’s Tokamak, that Bigot describes as the ‘first of a kind magnetic cage.’ Bigot expects almost 200,000 tons of Niobium will ultimately be used whereas previously global annual production of this superconductive magnet has not surpassed 10,000 tons.

‘It [Niobium] is the best technology for now but we will need to find alternative options for more and more superconductive materials,’ added Bigot.

Bigot stressed the pacific purposes of hydrogen fusion for energy and agreed that the international co-operation surrounding hydrogen research could in fact provide a cornerstone to peace around mutual clean energy security. No laser technology is used in the fusion process. Instead only a highly dense hydrogen plasma similar to the sun is used to overcome the repulsive forces of the nuclei. Also as only two to three grams of hydrogen are introduced at any one time, there is almost zero chance of any meltdown and neither is there any radioactive waste.

The safety factor of hydrogen fusion plants is crucial in making the plants available to power large cities, allowing plants to be constructed near their target markets, diminishing the risk of energy loss through long power transmission grids and networks.

Regarding the long-term future of hydrogen fusion, Bigot played down the possibility of ITER’s hydrogen fusion process becoming the catalyst for similar projects in space where hydrogen fusion could theoretically fuse with the moon’s estimated 100 million tonnes of Helium-3 – compared to approximately ten tonnes of Helium-3 on Earth – and transmitting the resultant energy to Earth via Nicholas Tesla-style radiowaves or, alternatively, using fusion with tritium on Mars which would also allow for mining of the nearby asteroid belt.

Bigot laughed. ‘Yes, it is true that we have very little Helium-3 on earth compared to the moon but we are not yet at that point that we will be rolling this out to Outer Space! We’re keeping our feet firmly on the ground!’ concluded Bigot.

admin @ December 7, 2017

Heritage Foundation offer Trump l’Oeil over Paris Agreement

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by Felix von Geyer

The White House is split over whether or not to remain in the Paris Agreement to address climate change, according to one Capitol Hill source.

Where President Trump stated during his electoral campaign that any future Trump Administration would withdraw from the Paris Agreement while labelling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese, the reality is that key staff members are at odds with Trump over the Paris Agreement revealed the source, a former White House official under George Bush and Barack Obama.

Both the President’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are keen for the United States to remain in the Paris Agreement as are members of the National Security Counsel, Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency and even former ExxonMobil Chairman, Rex Tillerson US Secretary of State, according to the source.

However, the spanner in the works comes from the right-wing lobby think-tank, the Heritage Foundation , one of several climate denying and obfuscation organizations heavily linked to funding by the multi-billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.

The exact advice on offer from the Heritage Foundation former staffers remains unclear, however but the source, speaking under strict conditions of anonymity, described them as “lying to the President’s face.” At least eight Heritage Foundation members joined the original Trump transition team including appointments on his Executive Committee and within the US State Department and US Treasury departments.

The advantage of the US remaining in Paris is “that if you are already at the table, why would you wish to leave it?” the source added rhetorically.

A possible policy overture being considered by various staff members that could be made to persuade the President to remain in the Paris Agreement would be for the United States to withdraw its Intended Nationally Determined Commitment (INDC) to reduce its Greenhouse Gas Emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The US negotiated 2005 as the new baseline for reducing emissions versus the original 1990 levels set under the Kyoto Protocol at the 2007 Bali UNFCCC COP 13, partially as a measure to eliminate so-called Russian hot-air credits from any possible emissions trading schemes.

Asked by neworator.com how the United Nations would feel should Washington propose to remain in the Paris Agreement under the proviso it could withdraw its INDC, the UNFCCC’s Communications Director, Nick Nuttall declined to comment over “conversations that may or may not be happening.

admin @ May 9, 2017

Sculpting a climate change accord

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affiche 2015 - copie

by Felix von Geyer

As the Paris COP 21 climate talks continue into their second week in the political quest for a global climate accord that could rally the world’s governments to prevent the onset of serious climate change, Québec sculptress Sarah Marceau-Tremblay continues her second and final week of her climate change inspired exhibition, ‘La Robe de Sophie’ (Sophie’s Dress).

Indeed, La Robe de Sophie is itself a dialogic intercourse with the public and Marceau-Tremblay dresses up climate change as a collective human, cultural, intellectual and anthropological failure.

There is no coincidence between the idea of Sophie’s Dress and the similarly named philosophical novel Sophie’s World by Norwegian Jostein Gaarder that sought to bring Western philosophy to life for a young girl.

As a sculptural narrative or ‘conte sculpté’, Marceau-Tremblay’s works adorn Montreal’s Galerie Viaduc on Boulevard St Laurent as they depict key pages of the book in narrating the tale of humanity’s demise as a consequence of the inability to accept the reality of its relationship with the environment.

The works signify the breakdown of this relationship in similar fashion to the Stations of the Cross during the Easter Passion that narrate Christ’s journey to Calgary.

The sculptor herself remains faithful to her almost post-Frink style. She contrasts solidity with static stubbornness as the death of elegiac human beauty and movement caused by climate change drags all humanity into an infernal descent. This descent is effectively self-prophesied through the obstinacy of those unwilling to accept that any other economic, social and political path is either possible or necessary; let alone embrace it.

admin @ December 8, 2015

Canada’s energy strategy fails on imagination and vision

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by Felix von Geyer

If Canadians want an energy revolution, a psephological earthquake at the federal elections is the best place to start.

Indeed, Canada`s ten provincial and territorial premiers were unanimous in calling for more involvement from Ottawa`s federal government before concluding their two-day meeting Friday with the production of a 40-page document that outlined the approach for a new energy strategy. The strategy`s consultative process started in the tar sands province of Alberta in 2013.

The repetitive and brittle communication spin surrounding the protracted document reveals the reality that Canada’s energy future is seriously grounded in the past, offering an old value proposition that will fail to provide environmental or climatic security as it looks to invest C$650 billion over the next decade in building Canada`s energy future.

Three themes inform the premiers` strategy: sustainability and conservation; technology and innovation and delivering energy to people. In each area, the debate is almost a decade old if not more.

In Canada the conversation was most alive in 2007 around the Harper government`s Clean Air Act was taken to task by the Liberal opposition party and Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez introduced the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act – prompting Harper’s former Environment Minister John Baird to declare that implementing Kyoto would create the largest recession Canada had ever seen.

The energy strategy`s own statistical out-takes seek to sell the economic benefits of Canada`s existing energy infrastructure and the need for energy security and stability to provide economic growth, but instead reveal that less than one per cent of Canadians are directly employed by the industry.

Furthermore, it highlights that Canada is the world`s second largest producer of Uranium (mostly located in Saskatchewan) and and the paper is confusing in its promotion of the 73 per cent renewable (low or zero emissions) segment of Canada`s electricity. Hydroelectricity accounts for 63 per cent of Canada`s total electricity generation in one headline figure, where later the small print reveals the figure was 57 per cent in 2012.

But the devil himself must be starving in the lack of details proposed by the premiers’ energy strategy whose ten areas of focus include the need to promote energy efficiency and conservation and to transition to a lower carbon economy with no glimpse of a target. Normal palliatives to carbon pricing can be found in the absence of any vision of renewable energy targets and greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Canada`s pro-oil sands Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently submitted its Nationally Determined Commitment to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change to reduce the country`s greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The government has no plan in place that would achieve this.

Again, details are scarce in mentioning the need for accelerated development and deployment of research and technology to achieve more efficient production and transmission outside of further talk about the long-awaited East-West Grid allowing provinces to transmit electricity to other provinces. Quebec could sell its hydro to Ontario, preventing the latter from having to develop extra nuclear capacity.

Facilitating development of green or renewable resources is another vague area of focus but the need to speed-up regulatory approval and market liberalisation receive greater mention in offering a proactive and stable framework.

In the build-up to the Premiers’ meeting, Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall had publicly decried the demonization of Canada`s oil industry, claiming national benefits are derived through equalization payments distributed by Ottawa to poorer provinces.

The reality is far different. Oil and gas companies provide maybe one percent of Ottawa`s revenues. However, to place Wall`s words into perspective, Saskatchewan has the world`s highest GHG emissions per capita of any jurisdiction. At sixty tonnes of GHG emissions per head Saskatchewan outstrips Saudi Arabia’s 45 tonnes per capita.

Reliant on enhancing the oil recovery of its own end of life oil wells through carbon capture and storage to inject the CO2 into the wells to lift the oil, the province is also home to a portion of Canada`s tar sands. Saskatchewan is also a leading producer of uranium, an energy-intensive extraction process as well as the world’s largest producer of potash.

The Premiers meeting came at the same time as US scientists produced their annual report stating that the oceans would continue to warm for centuries as they are the main sink for absorbing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. It also came at the same time as reports leaked of a new double-walled pipeline owned by Nexen Inc spilled 5 million litres of oil sands crude in Alberta and a rail train carrying oil sands crude derailed in North-Eastern Montana.

In the meantime, new Albertan Premier Rachel Notley of the formerly left-wing New Democratic Party picked up where her Conservative predecessors have so far failed. Notley has asked Canadian Premiers to adopt the C$12 billion Energy East pipeline to carry oil sands crude from Alberta to the Eastern Maritime Province of Nova Scotia to be shipped to Europe. The European Union wants to become as energy independent as possible from Vladimir Putin`s Russia and hopes Eastern Canada can provide the shortfall with as much crude oil and LNG as possible. India is also a likely LNG customer.

So if Canada wants an energy future that is likely to deliver climate security and a stable environment on whose back its economy is drawn, its citizens will need to tell its policy-makers – and fast.

admin @ July 19, 2015