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Economy

Ottawa should abandon unfeasible and damaging ‘net-zero’ plan

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5 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

A high-power AI chip uses as much electricity per year as three electric vehicles (and by the way, one EV per household would double residential electricity demand)

According to the Trudeau government’s plan, Canada will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net-zero” by 2050, largely by “phasing out unabated fossil fuels.” But given current technologies, virtually all fossil fuels are “unabated”—that is, they generate greenhouse gases when burned. So basically, the plan is to phase-out fossil fuel use, use wind and solar power to power our lives, and transition to electric vehicles.

But this plan is simply not feasible.

In a recent study, Vaclav Smil, professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba, spotlights some uncomfortable realities. Since the Kyoto Protocol was enacted in 1997, essentially setting the world on the path to net-zero, global fossil fuel consumption has surged by 55 per cent. And the share of fossil fuels in global energy consumption has barely decreased from 86 per cent to 82 per cent. In other words, writes Smil, “by 2023, after a quarter century of targeted energy transition, there has been no absolute global decarbonization of energy supply. Just the opposite. In that quarter century, the world has substantially increased its dependence on fossil carbon.” It’s worth noting that Smil is not some “climate denier”—he’s a strong believer in manmade climate change, and sees it as a serious danger to humanity.

In another recent article, Mark Mills, renowned energy policy analyst, boldly declares, “The Energy Transition Won’t Happen,” in part because developments in computing technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) will require more energy than ever before, “shattering any illusion that we will restrict supplies.” Mills provides some eye-popping examples of how cloud and AI will suck up vast amounts of energy. A high-power AI chip uses as much electricity per year as three electric vehicles (and by the way, one EV per household would double residential electricity demand).

And chip-maker Nvidia, Mills observes, produced some five million such chips in the last three years, and market demand for them is soaring. The appetite for AI chips is “explosive and essentially unlimited.” The data centres that power cloud computing are also mind-boggling in their energy use, each with an energy appetite often greater than skyscrapers the size of the Empire State Building. The largest data centres consume more energy than a steel mill. And the energy used to enable one hour of video (courtesy of all that cloud computing) is more than the share of fuel consumed by a single person on a 10-mile bus ride.

And yet, on the march towards the unreachable goal of net-zero, government policies have forced out coal-power generation in favour of more costly natural-gas power generation, significantly increasing Canadian’s energy costs. Shifting to lower-GHG energy generation has raised the cost of power, particularly in provinces dependent on fossil-fuel power, while the federal carbon tax drives up costs of energy production. And all at a time when significant numbers of Canadians are mired in energy poverty (when households must devote a significant share of their after-tax income to cover the cost of energy used for transportation, home heating and cooking).

No government should base public policy on wishful thinking or make arbitrary commitments to impossible outcomes. This type of policymaking leads to failure. The Trudeau government should abandon the net-zero by 2050 plan and the never-gonna-happen fossil fuel phase-out, and cease its economically damaging energy, tax and industrial policies it has deployed to further that agenda.

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Economy

Trump’s Promise Of American Abundance, Fueled By ‘Liquid Gold’

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By JAMES P. PINKERTON

 

One of the brightest nuggets of policy in Donald Trump’s July 18 acceptance speech to the Republican convention in Milwaukee was his ode to “liquid gold.” That is, oil.

As part of his inflation-fighting plan, Trump offered a gleaming solution: increase energy production, thereby decreasing energy prices. “By slashing energy costs,” Trump declared, “we will in turn reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing and all household goods.”

He continued: “We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other country by far. We are a nation that has the opportunity to make an absolute fortune with its energy.”

Indeed. According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER) technically recoverable oil resources in the U.S. total 2.136 trillion barrels. At the current price of around $80 a barrel, that’s some $171 trillion. And so, Trump concluded, “we will reduce our debt, $36 trillion.”

As former Alaska governor Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha.” In Palin’s Alaska, oil is so abundant, relative to the population, that everyone gets a check from the state. Last year, it was $1,312. For a family of four, that’s more than $5000. Our goal should be that every American gets such an energy dividend.

Moreover, the abundance of America’s carbon fuels is not limited to oil. According to IER, we have 3.391 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s worth $165 trillion.

To be sure, these staggering dollar totals can’t be counted directly against the national debt—or in support of some future tax cut. Yet every dollar of our energy assets would contribute to the economy, and if even 10  percent of the humongous total could be available to the public, we could, in fact, pay off the national debt.

Moreover, thanks to fracking and other enhanced recovery techniques, we keep finding more energy: Human ingenuity has upended old beliefs about energy shortages, ushering in an almost Moore’s Law-ish surge in production.

Indeed, there’s so much oil and gas (and coal) that an emerging school of thought holds that carbon fuels aren’t “fossil” at all, but rather, the product of earth’s vulcanism. The core of this earth, after all, is the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Perhaps all that heat is cooking something.

In any case, we keep finding more oil, and not just in the U.S.

So how, exactly, do we take advantage of this planetary cornucopia? As Palin said, as Trump said, and as the convention crowd chanted, “drill, baby, drill.”

Okay, but what about climate change? Most Republicans don’t worry too much about that, but if Democrats do, they should be reassured that we can capture the carbon and so take it out of the atmosphere. Trees and other green vegetation have been capturing carbon for eons; the element is, in fact, vital to their very existence. Similarly, the human body is 18 percent carbon. Yes, all of us ourselves are carbon sinks.

So we, being smart, can capture vastly more carbon — capturing it in everything from wood to cement, from plastics to nanotubes. These in turn can be landfill, construction materials — maybe even a space elevator.

We can, in fact, establish a a circular carbon economy: carbon fuels extracted, burned, and then recycled back into feedstocks. By this reckoning, carbon fuels are renewable. Such creative thinking can power all those energy-hungry data centers on which Big Tech and AI depend. So there’s the makings of a bipartisan “Grand Carbon Bargain,” uniting mostly blue-state tech with mostly red-state energy. More energy + more tech = more wealth for all.

In Milwaukee, Trump spoke of American “energy dominance,” and that’s great. But with all the energy we can produce and consume, we can speak of economic abundance — and that’s even greater.

James P. Pinkerton served in the White House domestic policy offices of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is the author, most recently, of “The Secret of Directional Investing: Making Money Amidst the Red-Blue Rumble.”

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Economy

Biden’s Energy Policies Directly Cost U.S. Households More Than $2,548 Since 2021

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From Heartland Daily News

By Linnea Lueken

Energy prices continue to surge due to President Joe Biden’s radical energy and climate agenda, according to an analysis by The Heartland Institute, a national free-market think tank. The analysis depended entirely on data from Biden’s U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In 2021, household electricity prices increased 8 percent. Electricity price increases accelerated even more in 2022, and continued to rise in 2023. Since December 2020, the last month before Biden took office, residential electricity prices have increased by 23 percent.

Key Points

Over the past three years:

  • Residential electricity prices have increased 23 percent
  • Industrial electricity prices have increased 19 percent
  • Home heating oil prices have increased 69 percent
  • Oil prices have increased 52 percent
  • Natural gas prices have increased 32 percent
  • Gasoline has increased $0.97 per gallon, or 42 percent

After three years of Biden’s energy policies, the average U.S. driver has spent at least an extra $548 per year in higher gasoline costs while the average household has expended $318 in higher electricity costs. Households that use natural gas have spent an extra $586 over the past three years, and those using home heating oil have paid a whopping $3,068 more.

Since Biden entered the Oval Office, the average American household has directly paid at least $2,548 in higher direct energy costs. This is the cost calculated by averaging price increases from January 2021 through December 2023, which means the actual added cost of energy is likely even higher.

The Heartland Institute analysis states: “Rapidly rising energy prices are not accidental. They are the predictable result of Joe Biden’s war on abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. The Biden administration has implemented dozens of policies that have caused energy prices to spike.”

To read the full report, click here.

Linnea Lueken

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