Republicans tout benefits of fossil fuels at climate talks
SHARM EL–SHEIKH (Egypt) Members of a Republican Congressional delegation made bold remarks at Friday’s U.N. Climate talks. This is a meeting that’s all for reducing carbon emissions for the benefit of humanity.
Scientists overwhelmingly agree that heat-trapping gases such as those released from the combustion of coal, oil and gas are pushing up global temperatures, thereby causing sea-level rise, extreme weather and species extinctions.
Yet Rep. John Curtis (Republican from Utah) said that it would be wrong not to demonize fossil fuels.
” “I think we have to decide as a whole world: Do you hate greenhouse gas emissions or do you hate fossil fuels,” Curtis said. Curtis is well-known for his founding of the Conservative Climate Caucus. “It’s not the same thing.”
Like Curtis, Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., suggested fossil fuels can be a form of clean energy, if only the carbon released by extracting and burning them could be captured and stored safely.
” “One of the things that we should be doing isn’t attacking oil and gas, but it’s to attack the emissions associated with them, to the extent it can be indistinguishable other renewable energy technologies,” he said to an audience at the U.S. pavilion during the climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh.
This, Graves argued, would make fossil fuels “an arrow in the quiver as we try to address our objectives of energy affordability, reliability, cleanliness, exportability and security of supply chain.”
House Republicans’ views are likely to become more important given the expected turnover of the House to Republican control. These comments echo recent industry efforts to separate carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuels in public perception.
Andrea Dutton is a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin Madison and a MacArthur Fellow. She said that it’s impossible.
“Burning fossil-fuels releases greenhouse gases, which are causing rapid temperature rises and is the main contributor to the current global warming,” she wrote in an email. “This is not a matter of belief but rather a matter of scientific evidence.”
While the fossil fuel industry has made some advances in reducing emissions per unit of fuel burned — largely due to government regulation and pressure from those concerned about climate change — neither coal, oil nor gas are anywhere near being a clean source of energy.
Industry has promoted the idea of carbon capture to stop emissions reaching the atmosphere. Usually, the exhaust gases are stored underground. In a very early stage, there is “direct air capture”, which would be able remove emissions from the atmosphere.
Nobody knows of a cost-effective method of doing either at large scale, according to Andrew Dessler, a professor in atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.
“Renewables are presently the cheapest energy — even without carbon capture on fossil fuels — so adding carbon capture is never going to be the economically superior solution,” he said.
Rep. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Republican from Texas) stated that replacing one fossil fuel, coal, with a slightly cleaner, natural gas, would result in huge reductions in emissions. In the United States, natural gas has displaced coal in many cases. It has also been responsible for significant reductions in carbon dioxide in recent years.
“Let them build the pipelines they need, let them build the export terminals they need,” Crenshaw told the audience in Egypt, adding that the effect would be “the equivalent of giving every American solar panels, giving every American a Tesla, and doubling our wind capacity.”
Several experts contacted by The Associated Press said that was not an ideal solution. Methane is the main component of natural gas. The powerful greenhouse gas is visible in the Satelites, which show it leaking from every stage of production.
” To solve the climate crisis, we must stop emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” stated Jonathan T. Overpeck (dean of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability). “The production and use of natural gas does both, so we have to stop using natural gas as soon as we can.”
Overpeck warned that all fossil fuel infrastructure now being built, including for natural gas, risks becoming a stranded asset if governments want to make good on their pledges to curb climate change.
“This explains why we must jumpfrog the gas-based options to renewable energy-based alternatives, plus battery storage plus hydrogen,” he wrote to The Associated Press.
Crenshaw from Texas was accused of accusing “radical environmentalists”, of exaggerating climate change’s threat and misstating science.
“Let’s not lie to children and scare them, then tell them that they’re going to die because of this.” he said.
Donald Wuebbles, an University of Illinois professor of atmospheric sciences, was once the assistant director of the Office of Science, Technology and Policy in the White House and was the former lead author on U.N.’s independent panel on climate science. He said that the allegation was erroneous.
“Nobody is out there saying that children are going to die from heatstroke,” Wuebbles wrote. “What we’re saying is that this is an extremely serious issue, perhaps the most serious human problem ever faced, and we must deal with it .”
The Republican delegation spoke shortly after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addressed a packed room at the same venue. He announced additional measures to reduce methane emissions and promoted the recent climate bill, which aims to increase rooftop solar and electric car adoption.
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