Home Climate Change How Dare People Be This Damn Stupid About Net Zero Emissions?

How Dare People Be This Damn Stupid About Net Zero Emissions?



Assume that climate change is a problem, that we’re causing it, that something must be done. OK, so, the aim must be to reduce emissions to where they’re not a problem, that’s obvious enough.

Emissions are a net problem. That is, the only thing that matters is the net emissions over the whole society. It cannot, for example, ever be true that an individual may have no gross emissions – that would ban breathing out. It must be that it is the net amount that matters. And it’s net over everything because the CO2 emissions from transport are not different from those of agriculture, or from planes are different from the extra energy used to cycle.

It’s the net number that matters. So, this is ghastly stupidity:

The science of net zero is simple: every sector of every country in the world needs to be, on average, zero emissions. We know how to do this for electricity, cars, buildings and even a lot of heavy industry. But in certain areas, including air travel and some agricultural emissions, there is no prospect of getting to zero emissions in the near future. For these residual emissions, greenhouse gasses will need to be sucked out of the atmosphere at the same rate as they are added, so that, on average, there are net zero emissions.

It’s that “every sector” that is the gross stupidity. For of course by the end of the paragraph he’s entirely contradicted the point. What matters is net emissions, not emissions from any one country, sector or activity.

This is important too. Take this idea that commercial air travel must stop. Yes, people are indeed insisting that this must be so. Because of that insistence that each sector must become zero emissions. As it’s gonna be difficult to have jet planes without emissions therefore no commercial aviation.

But aviation is currently 2% of emissions. -ish. So, we don’t in fact need to have zero emissions aviation – as the end of the paragraph says we don’t. We need to have some other process having negative emissions in order to be able to have aviation. We have such processes too – properly managed soil can suck up that amount, no problem.

That is, even if we go with net zero then it’s the net which is the important bit. Meaning that each sector doesn’t need to go to zero, but that we can have cross sector positive and negative.

Of course, the way to do this is just to have a carbon tax so that all prices reflect the costs but then actual solutions aren’t what people are looking for.



  1. The government imposes a carbon tax. The government thereby takes money out of the economy. (True, it gets put back in at some inefficient and wasteful way). The economy adjusts to the debilitating impact of the government taking money from the economy. How has this done anything to emissions which may, but likely don’t, have anything to do with climate change over the millenniums.

    • I agree. If the government wants to reduce emissions, without drastically reducing both the population and its living standards, the only way is nukes.

      I’d regard this as sensible as it would protect the UK against foreign embargoes. But I don’t think it’s worth bothering about to protect the UK against climate change.

    • Because you’ve changed prices. Every decision that anyone makes is prodded toward the lower emission method of achieving that goal.

      Petrol tax is higher in Europe than the US. Europeans live closer to their work, drive smaller cars with smaller engines, do fewer miles per year. Prices work.

      • I don’t think Europeans live closer to work because of petrol taxes. I think it’s because Europe is smaller. If I lived 50 miles from where I worked, I’d be working in the next city two cities over. Either that, or I’d be in the middle of the next city over – there’s a limit in Europe how far away from work you can live without ending up living in the middle of somebody else’s work.

        If you factor in inflation, UK petrol prices at the pump have been flat since the 1940s.

        • I’ve found my graph, and in fact petrol prices have been flat since 1900, other than spikes for wartime. I need to make a comparison graph of wages to price it in petrol per workhour.

        • Yeah, I think that the resi/commercial pattern was essentially set (in the UK at least, and I don’t see why the rest of Europe would be significantly different) by the mid-1800s or thereabouts – when the Industrial Revolution had changed the migration patterns for work. Which is slightly before we discover oil. In the US that’s about 20 years later, around the time of the civil war.

          Slightly later than that, we shift from local power generation (coal or oil from whatever source) to remote, electricity. I don’t see why that would alter the established migrations, it would seem to be more likely to lock it in.


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