Republicans at UN climate talks push for nuclear, gas and carbon capture
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – The Republican delegation for the climate landed at Glasgow climate talks. As 100,000 protesters took to the streets to demand radical and transformational change, Representative Dan Crenshaw from Texas, Representative Garret Graves from Louisiana and Representative John Curtis from Utah entered the convention center where negotiators are working out a climate deal.
Their discourse is decidedly not transformational, although it is certainly radical. Instead of decarbonizing by developing renewable capacity as quickly as possible, the group proposes to export more US natural gas and invest in expensive nuclear power and unproven carbon capture technology as needed to deal with the climate crisis.
Earther met the entourage as they wandered the pavilions of countries where nations hold expert conferences and tout their climate good faith. Crenshaw stopped at one point to take a photo of a Artistic installation featuring polar bears wearing life jackets at the pavilion of Tuvalu, an island nation threatened with extinction due to rising sea levels, before taking a meeting in the Danish pavilion. We were able to catch up with him afterwards.
âAs a Republican delegation here, I would generally say [weâre here] to bring a more rational perspective to it all, âhe said. Asked what solutions the group was here to promote, he noted that it included nuclear power, including advanced modular reactors, carbon capture, and Texas natural gas. âThis is more of a rational discussion of promoting nuclear power, promoting carbon capture, promoting US natural gas exports, which would displace coal around the world and have much more impact on reducing emissions than, frankly, any of the targets we’re talking about here. â¦ The reason Republicans are in favor of these kinds of solutions is that they actually work.
The rationality of these positions, however, is on somewhat precarious foundations, including how well they actually work. Let’s start with nuclear power, which is a vital source of carbon-free energy that is under serious threat. Many factories in the United States are approaching or are past retirement age. At New York, Indian Point closed this year, while in Illinois, the state government recently threw a lifeline to aging nuclear park to keep it in line, highlighting the two widely divergent options available.
However, new nuclear power plants have proven to be incredibly difficult to build. There is currently only one under construction in the United States, the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant, which is years overdue and is now double its initial cost. Investments in nuclear are certainly a path to decarbonization, but Vogtle’s challenges show that this is not a slam dunk and that it is not sufficiently likely that nuclear capability can be harnessed. service on time.
Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, has so far been a failed pipe dream. This includes the formwork of the Installation of Petra Nova at Crenshaw’s Texas earlier this year because it was too expensive and inefficient. (The carbon it captured was also used to extract more oil, which isn’t exactly a victory for the climate.) Crenshaw said it was a “pilot project,” which says a lot about the state of CSC. That’s not to say it’s not a technology worth investing in, and in fact, it would save the world time to cut emissions. But it is not a quick fix or a major element in the race to decarbonize the energy system.
Then there is the problem of natural gas. Gas is better than coal, yes. But it still releases methane. Texas gas still relatively “clean” poses a climate challenge, with fugitive methane emissions that cause the planet to heat up 80 times faster than carbon dioxide.
A major report from the International Energy Agency, which was founded in the aftermath of the oil crisis of the 1970s and is not exactly a fan of granola and hemp, released earlier this year find this new oil and gas exploration is due to stop next year. Crenshaw said he had not seen the report, but “it is not at all feasible”.
Meanwhile, the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7-degree-Fahrenheit) objective found that oil and gas use is to decline 37% and 25% respectively by 2030. Crenshaw also said the power outages in Texas showed the need for more natural gas and the risk of dependence renewable energies. (Peer-reviewed science found that the outages showed the risk of not altering the natural gas infrastructure.)
âThere was a straw man argument like, ‘oh, Republicans say the wind turbines froze,'” he said. âMaybe some have said so. I did not say that. There was a meme saying that on the internet.
Indeed, there was a even demystified. Although Crenshaw didn’t share said meme, he did. tweet a thread on why the Texas power grid failed, starting with âFrozen Wind Turbinesâ and that he would dig into what happened âso we don’t rely on frozen wind turbines to heat our homes during a blizzard “. Again, this is just not what experts who study energy policy have found to be the main cause of the suffering.
The Republican view of rationality at the UN talks therefore continues to rely primarily on fossil fuels. with CCS and nuclear bells and whistles which, although very significant investments, are not enough to prevent the tides from rising. swallow places like Tuvalu.