GLASGOW, SCOTLAND — The Republican local weather delegation has landed on the Glasgow local weather talks. As 100,000 protesters took to the streets to demand radical, transformational change, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, and Rep. John Curtis of Utah walked into the conference heart the place negotiators are hammering out a local weather deal.
Their pitch is decidedly not transformational, although it definitely is radical. As a substitute of decarbonizing by constructing out renewable capability as rapidly as doable, the group is pitching exporting extra American pure gasoline and investing in expensive nuclear energy and unproven carbon seize know-how as what’s wanted to handle the local weather disaster.
Earther occurred to run into the entourage as they have been wandering the nation pavilions the place nations host talks from consultants and tout their local weather bona fides. Crenshaw paused at one level to snap a photograph of an artwork set up that includes polar bears carrying life vests on the pavilion for Tuvalu, an island nation going through the prospect of extinction attributable to sea stage rise, earlier than taking a gathering within the Danish pavilion. We have been in a position to meet up with him after.
“As a Republican delegation right here, I might say typically [we’re here] to convey extra rational perspective to all of this,” he mentioned. When requested in regards to the options the group was right here to advertise, he famous that it included nuclear vitality, together with superior modular reactors, carbon seize, and Texas pure gasoline. “That is extra of a rational dialogue on selling nuclear vitality, selling carbon seize, selling pure gasoline exports from the U.S., which might displace coal world wide and have a heck of much more impression on decreasing emissions than, frankly, any of the targets which can be being talked about right here. … The explanation Republicans are in favor of these kind of options as a result of they really work.”
The rationality of those positions, although, is on considerably shaky footing, together with how properly they really work. Let’s begin with nuclear energy, which is a crucial supply of carbon-free vitality that’s in critical hazard. Many crops within the U.S. are nearing or previous retirement age. In New York, Indian Level was shuttered this 12 months, whereas in Illinois, the state authorities just lately threw a lifeline to the ageing nuclear fleet to maintain it on-line, underscoring the 2 wildly divergent choices accessible.
New nuclear crops, nevertheless, have confirmed extremely difficult to construct out. There’s at the moment just one beneath building within the U.S., the Vogtle Nuclear Plant, which is years delayed and is now double its preliminary price. Investments in nuclear are definitely one avenue to decarbonization, however the challenges at Vogtle present that it’s not a slam dunk neither is it probably sufficient nuclear capability might come on-line within the timeline wanted.
Carbon seize and storage, or CCS, has to date been a pipedream that has failed. That features the shuttering of the Petra Nova facility in Crenshaw’s Texas earlier this 12 months as a result of it was too expensive and ineffective. (The carbon it captured was additionally used to extract extra oil, which isn’t precisely a win for the local weather.) Crenshaw mentioned that was a “pilot mission,” which in itself says lots in regards to the state of CCS. That’s to not say it’s not a worthy know-how to put money into, and in reality, it could purchase the world time to scale back emissions. However it’s not a silver bullet or a significant plank within the race to decarbonize the vitality system.
Then there’s the pure gasoline factor. Fuel is best than coal, sure. However it nonetheless releases methane. Even comparatively “cleaner” Texas gasoline poses a local weather problem, with fugitive methane emissions that trigger the planet to heat 80 instances sooner than carbon dioxide.
A significant report from the Worldwide Power Company, which was based within the wake of the Seventies oil disaster and isn’t precisely a granola-and-hemp-loving group, launched earlier this 12 months discovered that new oil and gasoline exploration should cease subsequent 12 months. Crenshaw mentioned he hadn’t seen the report, however “that’s not possible in any respect.”
In the meantime, the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change report on reaching the 1.5-degree-Celsius (2.7-degree-Fahrenheit) purpose discovered oil and gasoline use should decline 37% and 25% respectively by 2030. Crenshaw additionally mentioned the Texas blackouts confirmed the necessity for extra pure gasoline and the danger of counting on renewables. (Peer-reviewed science has discovered the blackouts confirmed the danger of not weatherizing pure gasoline infrastructure.)
“There was a strawman argument made like, ‘oh, the Republicans are saying the wind generators froze,’” he mentioned. “Possibly some did say that. I didn’t say that. There was a meme that mentioned that on the web.”
Certainly, there was a debunked meme. Whereas Crenshaw didn’t share mentioned meme, he did tweet a thread about why Texas’ grid failed, beginning with “Frozen Wind Generators” and that he can be digging into what occurred “so we’re not counting on frozen wind generators to warmth our houses throughout a blizzard.” Once more, that is merely not what consultants who research vitality coverage have discovered was the principle reason for struggling.
The Republican imaginative and prescient for rationality on the UN talks, then, is actually persevering with to depend on fossil fuels with some CCS and nuclear bells and whistles that, whereas essential investments, usually are not sufficient to maintain the tides from swallowing locations like Tuvalu.