Climate talks in Bonn, Germany kicked off two days ago with a warning from the head of the UN Climate Change body that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) are about to reach the point of no return: 400 parts per million. That is recognized by scientists as the level beyond which mankind cannot hope to constrain global average temperature increases to below 2.4 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, the host country scrambles to build new coal-fired electricity generating plants to cover the electricity shortfall that will come because of its panic retreat from nuclear power after the harmless Fukushima meltdowns of March 2011. Though the meltdowns occurred 4291 days ago, and there have been no people killed or even injured by the minor radiation leaks from the reactors, the German government was spooked by the hysterical Green-Party-led exploitation of the media circus that accompanied the non-event. And lacking the qualities of true leadership, which oblige leaders to stand firm in the face of manufactured and agenda-driven hysteria, the German government buckled like wet cardboard and agreed to throw away the country’s nuclear generating fleet. And, knowing that it cannot possibly hope to replace its nuclear output with the much-touted but lamentably inefficient and unreliable wind turbines and solar panels the Greens have forever demanded, the German government has okayed a rush of new coal-fired plants. Germany is, after all, a modern jurisdiction that cannot live without electricity.
Coal-fired electricity generation produces upwards of one kilogram of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour put into a grid. Which means that for every megawatt-hour (MWh), a coal-fired plant will dump one metric tonne, one thousand kilograms, into the air. See Tables 1 and 2 in the left-hand sidebar.
So, while the head of the UN climate change body goes about her business at Bonn, the host country’s coal-fired power generators will be adding to the atmosphere’s inventory of the man-made CO2 the Bonn meeting is supposed to discuss, while perfectly good nuclear plants sit idle because of hysterical phony-green scaremongering.
Will these observations, or anything like them, make their way into the official communiqué when the Bonn meeting is over? If Bonn is anything like any of its innumerable predecessors, no.
Meanwhile, my home jurisdiction of Ontario has achieved a truly remarkable reduction in electricity-sector CO2 emissions. These were around 43 million metric tons in 2000, and 16 million tons last year.
How did Ontario achieve this? By bringing refurbished nuclear generators back into service. This has occurred since 2003.
The refurbishments were carried out at two sites: the Pickering generating station just east of Toronto on Lake Ontario, and at the Bruce station on Lake Huron.
The Bruce station recently returned to full power, and now has eight operational units totaling around 6,300 megawatts. This makes it the biggest clean energy centre in the western hemisphere.
I doubt this achievement will be even mentioned at Bonn, let alone extolled as a proven way to reduce CO2 emissions.
Which makes me wonder what the Bonn meeting is really about.