Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Very Large Loopholes

UBC climate scientist Simon Donner looks at the Tory govs' new regulations on carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and spots a couple of "get out of jail free cards" for polluters hidden within them:

1. Any coal plants built before July, 2015 are exempt. Given the expected shift towards natural gas in the next few years, it is entirely possible that the regulations will not end up applying to any coal-burning plants, as all the coal-burning plants will be "grandfathered" in.

2. Any coal plants built after July, 2015 are exempt until 2025 so long as it is technologically possible to install a CCS system [Carbon Capture System] by 2025. Therefore, CCS systems are unlikely to be operating at any large scale coal plants in Canada for another 15 years. This delay may reflect the technological challenge of CCS or the values of the current government, or both.

As for point 2), this is probably an admission on the part of the CDN government that they don't expect a functional CCS to be available for over a decade, if ever.  I am reminded of the words of Richard Courtney, PR guy for British Coal, who once wrote:

There is opposition to power generation systems that emit CO2 as waste (this is similar to opposition to nuclear power systems that emit radioactive waste). A response to the opposition is neeeded until the AGW scare is ended. And claims of carbon sequestration (cs) provide that needed response although everybody knows cs would be too expensive for it to be used.

It doesn't have to work; it just has to be.

Actually, Simon has updated the first paragraph a bit:

1. Any coal plants built before July, 2015 which have not reached the end of their useful life [ed - see comment #1] are exempt. Given the expected shift towards natural gas in the next few years, it is entirely possible that the regulations will not end up applying to any coal-burning plants unless they are old units, as all the other coal-burning plants will be "grandfathered" in. [ed - fair?]

2 comments:

Mark Francis said...

Yes, carbon sequestration systems are a joke. Everyone who knows what they are doing knows this. So yes, huge loophole. A deliberate one.

sunsin said...

Given the mess they make, couldn't you say that any and every coal-burning plant has reached the end of its useful life, even if it were completed yesterday?