Dave Murphy on This Week in Energy

Last week, Prof. Goose told you about This Week in Energy, a world-reaching, web-based weekly (and archived) energy-focused show, that we are working with.

This week the show featured David Murphy of our staff. Dave has an M.S. in Environmental Science and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the same field at the State University of New York - College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Current research initiatives include Energy Return on Investment (EROI) analysis, studying the interface of energy and economics, and applying econometric time-series analyses to energy/economic issues.

In this week's show, Dave talks to hosts Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield and Bob Tregilus about a number of topics including

• The offloading of research to universities, instead of companies having their own R&D departments
• China's passing the US in wind and solar investment
• Obama's announcement on offshore drilling
• The decline in popularity of cap and trade

The show is available either as a video or as a podcast. It is Episode 18, if you are downloading the podcast.

Art Berman was on the show a week ago, talking about L/CNG, the natural gas business, peak oil, and all sorts of other related topics. If you missed it, it can be viewed here as a video, or downloaded as a podcast (Episode 17). The video quality is low on last week's show because of technical difficulties, but otherwise it is fine.

The TWiEpodcast streams live each Wednesday at 17:00 UTC (10:00am PDT & 1:00pm EDT) and runs for 90 minutes. Here is the link if you want to watch it live and/or participate in the live chat: Watch Live.

The decline in popularity of cap and trade
Given that for every unit of money spent on a carbon reduction solution 30% goes the the solution and 70% is
"profit taking" with 30% going to 'traders' (Goldman Sachs as an example) no wonder it is declining. Or to put it another way - for each unit spent on ACTUAL Carbon reduction that same amount goes to traders who's efforts have no effect on Carbon reduction.

About 30 percent of the funds go into actual projects that reduce emissions, such as a wind farm in a developing nation, reports BBC.

30 percent – Investment banks often buy up carbon offsets before a project is up and running, and they take an average 30 percent of the total in profits and operations.

Naah, forget all that stuff. If you take that out among people who are neither scientists nor energy economists nor energy geeks, how many of them will have the foggiest idea what in Hades you're running on about? The word "popular" carries no meaning in this context unless you qualify it by specifying: popular among which special-interest group(s). (Which of course won't stop some polling companies from flaunting faux "data" gleaned from people from answering questions they have no clue about, just to get the pollster off the phone when they were silly enough to answer it in the first place.)

Transcripts would be very, very helpful.

I was looking for one on the site, but couldn't find one. With 90 minutes of talk per show, I wasn't up to volunteering to do one.

Volunteers, anyone?

If you've been looking for a way to make a difference, and been frustrated that you couldn't find one in the world of internet info-sharing, here it is...

We would LOVE someone to offer to transcribe the show for us. If you're interested in helping out, please do email me. Nikki at littlecollie dot com :)

We'd also love to know what you all think of the show. And if you have any guest requests/suggestions!


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I think cap and trade could work but it needs a tough umpire. Right now it seems like they got the referees from TV wrestling. I think almost all carbon credits are questionable, either temporary in the case of tree planting or wrong in principle in the case of 'clean development'. Emitting less than a presumed entitlement is not a reduction from the baseline and in any case should not allow others to emit more.

Cut out carbon offsets and auction all first issue CO2 permits and there will be little scope for scamming. Industries who claim they cannot compete with pollute-for-free China should get help outside the C&T scheme, for example carbon tariffs on imports. Therefore I blame the failure of C&T schemes on weak governments in Europe, Australia, USA and the World Bank. What is not clear is whether we'll even need C&T when oil is $200 a barrel. Perhaps it is something we should have done in hindsight to smooth the way.

What is not clear is whether we'll even need C&T when oil is $200 a barrel.

It's needed to reduce coal consumption, and promote wind, solar, and nuclear instead.

Of course, a carbon tax would be infinitely better.

Or you might try a carbon levy and actually monetising the intrinsic energy value of carbon, through Energy Pools

You really need to have a comprehensive world-wide system to make a difference.

In the 2000s, world use of coal grew greatly, despite the efforts under the Kyoto protocol. Countries like Australia greatly ramped up their exports, to help poorer countries looking for more coal (and to earn funds to pay for their growing oil imports).

To me, it would make more sense to tax (or otherwise restrict) production rather than consumption, because then one would at least be capping the fossil fuels one really has control over. But that wouldn't work either, because it would just encourage imports from countries that don't tax production, and would badly mess up importers' balance of payments. Unless one can figure out a way that

1. deters coal producing countries from exporting coal to others,

2. taxes the carbon content of imported goods and services, and

3. includes everyone--so reducing coal consumption in participating countries doesn't just leave more coal for non-participating countries to import,

I don't think you will have a system that will really keep coal production down.

I think what may be needed are blunt instruments. Countries are either compliant according to a checklist or non-compliant, in effect greenhouse rogue nations (read China and India). Those who tick the list form a club that trade freely between each other. The problem is what kind of penalty to impose on imports from greenhouse rogues. I suggest an arbitrary carbon tariff of say 20% of value, whether that is steel ingot, plastic toys or travel bookings.

Of course it will be messy and unfair. China have given themselves the right to burn 2.5 billion tonnes of coal a year. While that's less per person than US or Australia, who says they should have 1.3 bn population? It could be pointed out that carbon tariffs punish not only India and China but also Western consumers since goods become more expensive. Divide the tariff revenue between buyer and seller and spend it on approved greentech programs.

Boof, I'm afraid we in the U.S.A. are now beholden to China. We demand that they do something, and they don’t show up at the next weekly T bill auction. Then our administration’s plans to spend like drunken sailors, (no offense to sailors :), go to hell. We can make all sorts of pontifications to our news papers, but the administration must quietly kowtow to China.