UK government’s insane plan to ‘decarbonize’ the economy
Written by Andy Rowlands
How will the British government’s plans to ‘decarbonize’ the economy affect us? Very badly according to an article in Climate Change Dispatch on February 24, 2020.
In fact, it won’t just be bad, it will be horrific.
Basically, according to a government-sponsored report called Absolute Zero, written by a group calling themselves UK FIRES, based at Cambridge University, it means shutting down virtually the entire British economy on a semi-permanent basis.
The Absolute Zero report starts with:
‘About three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are emitted when we burn the fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – and the rest arise from our agriculture (particularly cows and sheep), our conversion of land from forestry to pasture, the way we allow organic waste to decompose, and our industrial processes. Using today’s technologies, all of these sources unrelated to energy have no alternative, so reducing our emissions to zero means phasing out these activities. (Emphasis added)
Our emissions related to energy come from our use of oil (as diesel, petrol or kerosene) for transport, our use of gas for heating our homes and industrial processes, and our use of coal and gas to generate electricity. Some of our electricity is also generated without burning fossil fuels – for instance by nuclear power stations, wind turbines or solar cells – and in a zero emissions future these will be our only source of energy. Most of our current uses of energy could be electrified – as is becoming familiar with electric cars – but there are currently no options for electric flying or shipping. With today’s technologies, these modes of transport must therefore be phased out also.’ (Emphasis added)
‘The decarbonisation of shipping is difficult with current technologies. Although short-distance shipping can be electrified using battery-powered engines, long-distance shipping requires a combustion process. Nuclear propulsion of ships offers a viable alternative to current long-distance shipping and it is already used, although almost only in military vessels. Some commercial operators are currently exploring the opportunity to add sails to conventional ships to reduce their diesel requirements.’ (Emphasis added)
Sails?? I find it difficult to comment on this ludicrous suggestion without the use of language which would prohibit publication.
This means it will be necessary to end all imports and exports into and from the UK because ships emit ‘greenhouse gases’, and will not be permitted in our territorial waters.
The report says it will be necessary to close all but three airports in the UK by 2030, and all UK airports by 2050 because of aircraft emissions. The report gives the impression this ban could be a permanent end to aviation in UK airspace.
It states it will be necessary to have a near-total shut down of the construction industry, because cement production produces greenhouse gases, thus can no longer be permitted. This means that after 2050, no more wind turbines can be erected, because each one requires a base of several hundred tons of concrete. What happens to electricity generation after wind turbines constructed in 2050 come to the end of their working lives around 2065 is not discussed.
The report states all steel production must cease, because that also generates greenhouse gas emissions, and only ‘recycled’ steel can be used after 2050 via electric arc furnaces as is currently done to a limited degree, and the assumption there will be al almost unlimited supply of scrap steel.
After the closure of the existing gas & coal power stations, the report says there will be a 40% cut in electricity production.
Two of the remaining three coal-fired power stations are due to close in March this year, and all nuclear power stations will close around 2025 unless they receive life-extension programmes. The report is actually in favour of nuclear power, but most of the environmentalists, including the Green Party, want to close them.
If they did close, we would lose another 8gw of electricity generation, and push the loss of capacity to over 50%.
Our current average daily demand is around 40 gigawatts. Losing 40% of that (assuming we retained nuclear power stations) would reduce generation to around 24gw. This will mean there will need to be big reductions in home and workplace heating, no capacity to charge electric vehicles, and large parts of the country would be blacked out every day.
On days with little or no wind and sun, this deficit would increase towards 80%. Currently, wind & solar can produce a maximum of 15gw. By 2050 we may have doubled that capacity, but only if we build them at about five times the current rate. The most we can import through the three Interconnectors is 4gw total.
The report states
‘If we can manage our electricity distribution system and find ways to store electricity from windy/sunny times to be available at still/dull times this suggests that by 2050 we will have around 60% more electricity available than today, all from non-emitting sources.’ (Emphasis added)
This is pure fantasyland stuff. Commercial battery technology is unlikely to progress to the point where it will be able to store electricity in the way envisaged, we will not have enough wind & solar generation to provide 100% continuous usage, let alone a further 60% of space capacity. No mention is made of what would happen if the lull in wind & solar continues after the batteries were depleted.
The report further states:
‘Wind and solar power are intermittent, so create a challenge of matching the availability of electricity supply to demand for its use. This can be addressed by storage (for example by batteries or the pumped hydro-station at Dinorwig) or by controlling demand to match availability, for example by allowing network operators to decide when domestic appliances and industrial processes can operate. There are already many developments in this area in the UK, and we assume that they can operate at sufficient scale in 2050 to prevent the need for excess generation.’ (Emphasis added)
The report authors ‘assume’ there will be plenty of electricity generation by 2050, which contradicts what they said earlier in the report. The reality is permanent power cuts on a rota are likely to become normal practice.
On home heating, the report suggests wearing extra layers of clothing, and only heating rooms that people use for any length of time, or heat one room continuously and leave the other rooms unheated.
In winters this would mean the temperature in some rooms would be approaching zero centigrade. The adverse effect on health this would produce from unrestrained growth of damp, mould and mildew is not mentioned in the report.
This would have to be followed by permanent and severe food rationing, because of the cessation of imported food and the large reduction in home grown food capacity, as there will be no agricultural vehicles, and the great difficulty of getting what food is produced to the shops. Most people now lack the knowledge to grow their own food, so people would either starve or freeze to death each winter.
On future housing, the report states:
‘There are two key implications for how we live our lives: first, buildings will become much more expensive because the restrictions on building which generate substantial scarcities; second, transport will become much more expensive because the limits on air travel will generate excess demand for other forms of transport. By expensive, we mean the direct costs to an individual or firm, but also indirect costs in terms of reduced quality. We would expect these two substantial changes to lead to pressure on the amount of space any one individual uses, and also where people choose to live and work. This points to increased centralisation, with growth in cities.’ (Emphasis added)
This implies people will have to be stuffed into ‘stack ‘em & pack ‘em’ high-density housing, with only a minimal amount of space allowed per person. This itself would mean people would be unable to have more than those basic possessions necessary to live, and nothing else.
The report says to comply with the 2008 Climate Change Act, we must stop eating beef and lamb, though it falls short of saying what should be done with cows and sheep. Presumably they will all be killed to prevent them farting. This would inevitably lead to the extinction to species native only to the UK, something environmentalists are supposed to be against.
In construction, the report suggests ‘Lobby businesses and the government to make buildings and infrastructure with half the material guaranteed to last for twice as long.’ How this proposal would actually work is not discussed, though there are suggestions elsewhere in the report that we should only use ‘recycled’ steel and clay-based substitutes for cement and concrete.
Suggestions are made for new buildings to be made of wood, which would be low-rise, as you cannot make tall wooden buildings. This would require large-scale logging, again something environmentalists are supposed to be against.
‘At present there is no alternative to the use of cement and so the construction industry has to radically change its production process or close. In this case, radically change means either reverting to using wood or other natural products, or successfully developing the alternatives to current cement production described in Section 2.2. These options, however, limit the size of buildings and so the sector cannot continue as it is. This has implications for the way in which businesses and households operate. Buildings need to be reused rather than rebuilt. On the other hand, it is not clear how the existing stock of buildings will be maintained, and the conclusion is that building space (residential and commercial) will have an ever increasing premium.’ (Emphasis added)
‘The difficulty of the construction industry highlights the impact on any assets being used in an industry where there are no substitutes for carbon – such as planes, or industrial plants. The value of these assets will be zero in 2050 and this should directly affect the desire to invest in those assets now. This points to the implementation issue: realising the value will be zero in 2050 may encourage greater use in the run up to 2050 – for example, putting up new buildings at a much faster rate for the next 30 years, knowing that construction must then halt. (Emphasis added)
The report continues: ‘Three industrial processes contribute significant emissions beyond those related to energy. Blast furnaces making steel from iron ore and coke release carbon dioxide, and half of the emissions from current cement production come from the chemical reaction as limestone is calcined to become clinker. There are no alternative processes available to deliver these materials, and although old steel can be recycled efficiently in electric arc furnaces, there are no emissions-free alternatives to cement being produced at any scale. As a result, a zero-emissions economy in 2050 will have no cement-based mortar or concrete, and no new steel. The absence of cement is the greatest single challenge in delivering Absolute Zero, as it is currently essential to delivering infrastructure, buildings and new energy technologies. (Emphasis added)
On the subject of lubricants for industry, the report states ‘In section 2.2 we saw that the availability of materials which today directly emit greenhouse gases in their production will be reduced by 2050. This includes major raw materials such as steel from iron ore and cement, and multiple products of the chemical industry including F-gases, solvents, lubricants, and certain types of plastics. The knock-on effects for manufacturing are huge: Lubrication is critical for much of manufacturing; from metal forming, to motors, pumps and compressors; but almost all current commercial lubricants are derived from fossil fuels and directly emit greenhouse gases by oxidation either in production or use and so – by a strict definition of Absolute Zero – are ruled out.’ (Emphasis added)
Therefore, virtually every industrial process would have to cease, as there are no known substitutes for these lubricating products, meaning the almost total shut-down of all UK industry.
This will also see the end of trains on the national network, the total end of all motorsports, no more airshows and no more heritage railways, again because of no lubricants, petrol, diesel or coal.
On hydrogen as a source of fuel, the report says:
‘In addition to its potential application in energy storage, hydrogen creates a further opportunity in industrial processes because it is sufficiently reactive that it could be used to reduce iron ore to pig iron without releasing carbon emissions in the reaction. Steel has been produced at laboratory scale by hydrogen, and pilot plants are now being developed to demonstrate higher scale production. However, it will only be consistent with a zero-emissions future when the hydrogen is produced with non-emitting electricity, and we have no spare non-emitting electricity to allow this to happen.’ (Emphasis added)
The Absolute Zero report wants a total and permanent end to ‘fossil fuel’ use in the UK. I compiled this list of things we would be unable to have if this were fully implemented. I’m sure readers will be able to add other things to this list I hadn’t thought of at the time of writing.
Oil and any product refined from it, like lubricating oils and greases, petrol, diesel, Paraffin, white spirit, Kerosene, Avgas, Natural Gas and LPG, waxes, petroleum jelly (Vaseline), plastics, antiseptics, anasthetics, antihistamines, bandages, disposable syringes, Cortisone, Glycerine, Aspirin, penicillin, coating for time-release pills, vitamin capsules, latex vinyl and nitrile disposable gloves, blood and medical solution bags, medical tubing, disposable masks, computers, mobile phones and related devices & most domestic appliances.
Hearing aids, heart valves, eyeglasses, contact lenses, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dentures and their adhesives, shampoo, soap, deodorant, food preservatives, detergents, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, insect repellent, artificial clothing fibres,
Oil-based paint, cable insulation, credit cards, new medical equipment, vehicle production would cease, including electric vehicles, as we will not be able to make tyres for them, nor will there be any lubricants or fuel. There will be no lubricants or fuel for agricultural vehicles, so only minimal food production by hand or horse-drawn, and no method of transporting it into cities, no manufacturing capability because of no fuel and lubricants, so no way to repair / replace wind turbines & solar panels when they fail or come to the end of their working lives.
The report makes no mention of the armed forces, but with no fuels or lubricants for their vehicles, ships and equipment, they will effectively have to be disbanded.
To achieve this fantasy green utopia, the report states it will require:
‘…changes in behaviour to achieve Absolute Zero are clearly substantial. In principle, these changes could be induced through changing prices and thus providing clear incentives for behaviour to change. The alternative is that the government prohibits certain types of behaviour…’ (Emphasis added)
The Absolute Zero report can be seen at www.repository.cam.ac.uk
If this report were to be fully implemented, it would destroy our economy, put many more millions out of work than we have ever seen, and effectively regress us about 300 years to a pre-industrial society, with the attendant greatly reduced standard of living, health and lifespans. Disease and malnutrition would once again become rife, and to paraphrase John Christy at UAH, life would become ‘nasty, brutish and short’.
Yet, UK policy-makers seem to think this is what is best for the country. To me, it sounds like the blueprint for an oppressive authoritarian Socialist dictatorship, but then again, perhaps that is the whole rationale.
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