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Dealing with Climate Change & Justice

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  • Started 9 months ago by chdot
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  1. chdot
    Admin

    I’m sure on one level ‘we’ are all bored (or even terrified) about all this.

    I doubt if there are any ‘deniers’ on here, but maybe some people more (or less) optimistic than ’the average’ due to ‘hope’ or actual understanding/knowledge.

    It’s fascinating/depressing that (most) governments (and the BBC) are (at last) fairly sure ‘it’s real’ and ‘something must be done’ and there’s no need to ‘balance’ science with scepticism anymore.

    The UKGov/Boris seem scandalously complacent about only setting targets and relying on the market and individuals to deal with it all.

    It’s understandable that people don’t want to be worse off and even more so that those who feel/are ‘poor’ want/expect more.

    As ‘we’ know, even getting people to imagine that fewer cars/less traffic might actually be better for most (not just in a climate context) is hard/impossible.

    For the Govs (inc SG), more/bigger cars isn’t a problem - as long as they are electric - and, maybe, people use them less - say 20%…

    Covid changed everything, for a short while, but then ‘back to normal’ as fast as possible. Some changes in work patterns - the possibilities of, and now desire for, WFH (for some) plus realisations that ‘I don’t want to do that job anymore - at least not for THAT money’.

    What’s to be done/what can be expected?

    Can’t see me getting rid of the gas boiler any time soon. A completely free heat pump installation might change that, IF it was actually as useful/convenient/reliable.

    (Recent talk of the possibility of hydrogen instead of fossil gas - any chance of that?)

    But ‘better answers’ would be district heating - no sign of that being compulsory, even for new housing developments (or ban on flood plains or MUCH better insulation standards).

    Not ready to give up milk/cheese, partly because the vegetable ‘milks’ are not great.

    Meanwhile UKGov seems content to damage UKFarming with misguided expectations of cheaper food from elsewhere - have they seen the increase in shipping costs?

    As always, energy - its provision and cost - is a big issue.

    Not much emphasis on reducing demand.

    More concern about the stability of fossil fuel supply than accelerating the “transition” to renewables.

    Nuclear is firmly back on the agenda (not forgetting that even people like George Monbiot think it’s necessary). Even ignoring the radioactive waste problem, (industry says ‘not a problem, gets turned into glass and buried’), is the cost of nuclear electricity ‘value for money’?

    I don’t really expect to be alive in 2050, but I certainly hope the lives of my grandchildren are generally pleasant and secure.

    Before then I want there to be an obvious trajectory towards the elimination of the danger of ‘runaway climate change’.

    Meanwhile I don’t want to be cold or hungry.

    More importantly I want that to be the case for others - plus good health and wellbeing.

    Rational changes in energy and food production plus adequate housing might be good places to expect improvement.

    More trees (probably) good, not convinced artificial/industrial carbon capture likely/possible and potentially dangerous to rely on the development of such technologies.

    Where are we with tidal, large scale battery storage and other ‘maybes’?

    Posted 9 months ago #
  2. chdot
    Admin

    Just mentioned on radio (worth a listen https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0010q9n ) -

    https://www.decentlivingenergy.org

    Posted 9 months ago #
  3. Yodhrin
    Member

    Honestly I think the key thing that needs to be impressed upon people is that the biggest "personal impact" you can have on climate change is to vote and campaign for politicians - at all levels - willing to make the real, big, society-scale changes that will actually do some good.

    Carbon footprints were invented by BP's marketing team. "Littering", like jaywalking, was a contrivance of industry to criminalise behaviour incompatible with their business model and shift responsibility for the problems that incompatibility caused(they created disposable packaging; they relentlessly advertised it as such in the most carefree way they could; they then demanded a massive increase in the provision of public bins and put the blame on plebs if they didn't use them, even if the reason they didn't use them is there can never be enough bins and they were overflowing). The evidence that a plant-based diet alone has a meaningful impact on your "carbon budget" relative to eating meat is tenuous at best - beef/dairy from your own or a neighbouring country may be *less* carbon intensive than buying potatoes or whatever at the supermarket that have been transported half way around the world. Recycling - as it's commonly understood/presented to people - is a scam for pretty much everything except aluminium and to an extent glass. About the biggest possible change an individual can make in terms of consumption is transportation - stop flying and use your car as little as possible. Oh and hydrogen gas for homes is a complete boondoggle IMO, it's being pushed purely so the existing gas heating suppliers don't get forced out of business by a widescale switch to electric heating systems and would require staggeringly huge public subsidy/investment to upgrade the largely ancient gas network to be viable.

    Even so, what's really needed is big, top-down, systemic change. It's easier to stop flying if trains are cheap, frequent, and reliable. It's easier to stop driving if there is a comprehensive active travel network, linked up with mass public transit. And once those carrots exist, politicians need to bring out the sticks and begin seriously limiting the use of private vehicles. Agricultural subsidies can be redistributed to make less intensive forms of more local production price-competitive with imports. Regulations need to change to eliminate single-use plastic and promote the use of materials that can be recycled, ideally not just once but many times. Huge, comprehensive subsidy and grant schemes need to be put in place for retrofitting existing housing stock to be more thermally efficient, and passivehaus-equivalent standards have to be mandated by law for all new builds. The same goes for microgeneration at both the individual house and local community levels, primarily solar but also microhydro where possible. The grid-level switch to renewables and expanding grid-scale storage asap is already well understood but slowly acted upon - coal and gas power plants have to go, not tomorrow but today.

    None of that stuff is something individuals or charities can deal with, Meatless Mondays isn't doing to decarbonise agriculture, but that doesn't mean all is lost, it just means that if someone wants to make a real impact rather than simply feel better the best way is the ballot box and to do as much activism as you're able to.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  4. chdot
    Admin

    “Oh and hydrogen gas for homes is a complete boondoggle IMO, it's being pushed purely so the existing gas heating suppliers don't get forced out of business by a widescale switch to electric heating systems and would require staggeringly huge public subsidy/investment to upgrade the largely ancient gas network to be viable.”

    Yeah, pretty much what I assumed. Presume more likely to leak/explode than regular gas?

    More scope for some vehicles - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-58969916

    The rest of your ‘list’ is relatively straightforward and ‘only’ needs political will to overcome inertia/vested interests…

    Posted 9 months ago #
  5. crowriver
    Member

    Part of the problem is the scale of the changes required.

    Consider for a moment the political and economic trajectory of these islands and indeed most of "the West" over the past 40-odd years. Never mind that of the former communist bloc or developing nations.

    Putting trust in electoral politics when the game is rigged in favour of certain economic and class interests is a real leap of faith. Especially so when a substantial section of the electorate has been persuaded that they ought to be more concerned about what model of SUV to get next year, moving further up the "property ladder", enjoying holidays in the sun, etc. Most don't take kindly to being told they can no longer have such things. So they vote for politicians who promise to give them more of the same.

    For a localised example, specific to the "concerns" of this forum, look at how difficult it is to get any decent cycling infrastructure built in Edinburgh. That's just one element of public space in one city. Then imagine trying to change a global economic system.

    The reality is that the corporations, and their allies in governments across the world, will largely be deciding what happens next. If you want to see what that looks like, read the UK government's recent statement on the path to "net zero". Or, closer to home, the Scottish government's progress on meeting its "world beating" emissions targets. Or how the City of Edinburgh Council is responding to its declaration of a climate emergency two years ago.

    That's not to say there is no role for individuals, campaigns or mass political movements to change things. But you can only get so far in the face of vested interests.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  6. acsimpson
    Member

    Regarding hydrogen heating I can't see how it can compare to a heat pump. A quick google puts a gas boiler's efficiency at 90% while a heat pump is 400%. Hydrogen electrolysis is about 80%.

    Figures for transmission efficiency are harder to get but the electrical grid seems to be somewhere between 90 and 98% efficient while the gas grid is pretty close to 100%. I'll assume that the electrolysis is done at the same location as the power is generated.

    So that means a hydrogen boiler is providing about 72% of the input electricity as heat in the consumer's home. Meanwhile a heat pump is producing a bit more than 360%. That's at least 5 times the heat that a hydrogen conversion could produce, even when I have skewed the maths in Hydrogen's favour.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  7. chdot
    Admin

    The efficiency calculation is good, so the savings on running costs should stack up quickly.

    SO, easy for housebuilders and homeowners to see the financial benefits.

    Prospects for a massive new heat pump manufacturing and fitting industry (which is basically what Boris is promising/hoping for).

    Doesn’t look as though it’s happening soon.

    Ban on gas boilers in new housing by 2025?

    Posted 9 months ago #
  8. chdot
    Admin

    farmers warned of “huge downsides” to the deal, which they said “could damage the viability of many British farms in the years ahead”

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-questions-whether-uk-new-zealand-trade-agreement-a-good-deal-for-scottish-farmers-3427855

    Posted 9 months ago #
  9. acsimpson
    Member

    The problem is the cost of install. Because heat pumps run colder than boilers it isn't a simple retrofit often requiring changes to the radiators and pipework in the house. The unit itself is also larger than a standard boiler so space has to be found (either inside or out) for it.

    Perhaps rather than subsidies they should be offering zero cost loans. Which would be paid back using the savings made from running them. Although prior to the current gas price rises this wasn't actually very much as electricity costs several times more than gas on a per kwh basis.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  10. crowriver
    Member

    "Although prior to the current gas price rises this wasn't actually very much as electricity costs several times more than gas on a per kwh basis."

    This will still be the case after the gas price rises, as there is a cap on the increases utility companies can pass on to consumers.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  11. chdot
    Admin

    @ acsimpson

    First para less of an issue with new build.

    Gas v electricity pricing is political.

    UKGov was thinking about changing tax balance, but now??

    Need subsidy for first x amount of energy per household plus a well organised mass insulation programme.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  12. chdot
    Admin

    “as there is a cap on the increases utility companies can pass on to consumers”

    Not for long.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  13. crowriver
    Member

    Electricity prices for consumers are going to rise too.

    EDIT: - Just checked my latest bill, and this month electricity went up nearly 2p per kWh (1.84p), whereas gas went up less than 0.7p per kWh. Which leaves electricity nearly five times more expensive per kWh than gas for domestic consumers supplied by this particular utility company. YMMV, but probably not by much as most of the cheap deal suppliers have gone bust recently.

    EDIT EDIT - Electricity daily standing charge went down slightly this month (0.1p per day), gas daily standing charge went down slightly more (0.46p per day).

    Posted 9 months ago #
  14. LaidBack
    Member

    We took EST loan out on magnetic framed secondary glazing last year and certainly helps.
    So far central heating has stayed off. Plan to use existing electric fires while we consider electric wall heaters recommended by friends. Water heating still gas.
    Being in tenement the ideal would be to have communal heating with big solar on roof.

    All this offset by daughter planning to fly in from Durban where she lives with cheaper directish flight in December. Last time was in 2018. Mind you South African government may put UK on red list again.

    If planet is to survive then countries like SA need to stop mining and burning coal. Trade unions though will strike if jobs and production were cut. Mines owned by multinationals. 88% of electricity there is from coal. 2% is Hydro and around same is Solar. 'Load shedding' is common. Air con uses a lot of energy and gov does not promote energy efficiency from what I could see.
    South Africa has the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Africa. Solar water heating is common in townships.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  15. acsimpson
    Member

    If gas was replaced by hydrogen then baring artificial price fixing I can't see anyway it could remain cheaper for the consumer than electricity.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  16. LaidBack
    Member

    @acsimpson - one reason people will continue to burn alternative stuff to heat homes & water. Outside the cities there's no gas network anyway and no smokeless zones. Small thing here but globally a big deal.

    Back in Africa.

    2021 Electric car sales in South Africa comprised only 92 units, or 0,02% of the total 380,206 vehicles sold in the domestic market in 2020, down from 154 units in 2019.21 May 2021

    Of course these EVs in Jo'burg, Capetown and Durban are essentially using coal generated electricity. Some will be hybrids using main petrol engine. Toyota manufactures loads of vehicles in SA but EVs need to be shipped in.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  17. chdot
    Admin

  18. chdot
    Admin

    As Boris Johnson, among others, has claimed, the UK could be the “Qatar of hydrogen” and the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” because of its vast ‘reserves' of wind, wave and tidal energy, much of which are in Scotland.

    Countries still heavily dependant on coal and gas will increasingly be looking for ways to help cut their emissions and will doubtless welcome the chance to become less reliant on the unreliable, scheming and murderous Putin.

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/cop26-climate-summit-vladimir-putins-no-show-underlines-huge-potential-market-for-uk-renewable-energy-scotsman-comment-3426810

    Posted 9 months ago #
  19. Yodhrin
    Member

    You know, I actually hadn't considered hydrogen in that context - produced in countries which do have green infra and exported as a stopgap carbon-neutral fuel to countries that don't yet(outside of replacing diesel train stock when you can't practically or afford to electrify the lines they run on, I see little point in it in a country that does have green infra, you're just sticking an extra step of efficiency loss between the renewables and the end user).

    Although how we're "the Saudi Arabia of renewables" and simultaneously a deficit-laden basket case that needs the strong shoulders of Daddy Westminster to prevent us from sliding back into poverty and barbarism I can't quite compute.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  20. Baldcyclist
    Member

    I had assumed it was already decided that Hydrogen would replace gas reading some info from energy suppliers, most new boilers should be hydrogen compatible already.

    Heat pumps will play part, but houses need to be very well insulated as they don't produce as much heat as radiators. Neighbor out the back has had one installed at the back of their house in the last week and it is fugly (I'll post and link from Twitter). Regs mean they have to be X meters away from other properties because of noise pollution. We could put one on the side of our house luckily, wouldn't put it on the back. May look at one in a few years.

    We have been seriously (again) looking at a solar/battery system. If crypto wins in Dec as expected then system will have cost me less than £1k. Some YouTube videos suggest solar battery system using more than 9000kW/h a year because of electric car charging costs around £270 a year in 'grid' electricity (so house electric and car fuel!).

    Our next car will be 2nd hand electric. My midlife crisis petrol car I will keep until I can't buy petrol for it any more. It only does 27mpg but doesn't go very far in a year, so I am comfortable with that (last bough fuel 3 months ago).

    So our long term plan is to use electric for everything with a chunky solar battery combo.

    The very short term plan has been to invest in 10 hive heater thermostats. At the moment when we put the heating on 13 radiators fire up, which is a nonsense. Especially with wah now, much better to only heat the room you are in. Don't see a return in investment soon with them, but should use considerably less gas. So by the end of winter our current electric use should be largely self supplied with excess from renewable tarrif, and our gas usage substantially cut.

    I appreciate most of the population aren't in a financial position to make the choices I can, so I largely agree with sentiment above that more pushing should be done by the state, though those that can afford to should be making sustainable choices even if no short term return on investment.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  21. Baldcyclist
    Member

    Heat pump install..

    Once they start going in at build stage at least all of that ugly cabling should be hidden.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  22. Yodhrin
    Member

    Energy suppliers are certainly pushing hard for it, but there are huge problems. For one, most hydrogen is currently "grey", ie made from natural gas without mitigation. So-called "blue" hydrogen is made from natural gas but with carbon capture systems to mitigate its environmental impact - but practical large-scale CCS are still a complete fantasy. Properly "green" hydrogen - derived from water via electrolysis - would require something like five or six times the entire current UK wind generating capacity to supply enough even for our current domestic gas network, nevermind future growth.

    On top of that, while some modern boilers may be capable of burning hydrogen, large numbers of people don't have modern boilers, and the industry is pushing hard for the government or end-users to cover the cost of transitioning everyone across to modern ones. Then there's the network itself which would need substantial upgrades to handle hydrogen safely - industry is demanding almost a billion pounds from the government up to 2026 and that's only to develop the *concept* of "blue" + CCS plants - at this point not even for domestic supply, purely for large vehicle use like buses - and run some small and medium scale pilot schemes, the full cost of a transition could be in the tens of billions and the industry will expect all of that money to come from the taxpayer.

    All of that cash is better spent on grants for insulation, subsidies for solar, battery storage, and heat pumps(personally for the reasons you point out @Baldcyclist, I think the primary subsidy should be to bring down the cost of ground-source heat pumps).

    Posted 9 months ago #
  23. steveo
    Member

    I've seen some horror stories about air source heat pumps, people not understanding them and trying to run them hard in the winter so the compressor is working hard and using bucket loads of electricity and running up massive bills. I can't see how successful they'll be when it gets really be.

    Ground source is obviously a different game though I can imagine there will be issues either with boring or trenches for the collectors. Both would be difficult in large parts of Edinburgh, given water table levels and soil composition, the city is largely a drained swamp.

    I presume tenements could share the pipework for collectors, most have pretty big drying greens that could be dug up and repaired pretty simply. Higher density flats would need pretty creative solutions.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  24. steveo
    Member

    From what IWRATS (formally of this parish) has said about hydrogen storage I don't see it as a sensible way of transporting energy, certainly not just to pump to residential homes and burn.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  25. crowriver
    Member

    Air source heat pumps are just reverse air con units, yeah? A bit bigger but look very similar.

    Surely district heating is the best solution for tenement areas? Tenements in US cities like New York, Chicago always had communal heating with boilers in the basement, and a "super" who looked after the heating, did repairs, cleaned common areas, etc. Countries in the Soviet bloc built large district heating projects for entire areas of blocks of flats.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  26. MediumDave
    Member

    Certainly would be better than a load of rattly air-source units bolted to walls and roof (and finding space for all the water tanks etc inside flats).

    Maybe even a decentralized heat network would be possible with ground source generation stations in every back green/suitable open areas all linked by heat mains so equipment could be maintained without householders losing heating. Hot water metered on ingress into properties. No idea if the engineering practicalities would allow such a setup but it would allow a gradual build-out if they do.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  27. chdot
    Admin

    All of that.

    Lot easier if it was compulsory in new builds.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  28. Yodhrin
    Member

    Ground-source tech has come a fair way in the last few years, boring an angled hole is very viable now.

    The best way I can see would be a grant/subsidy/just fully public scheme to install communal ground source heating(including connection to existing hot water systems within the flats) on a stair-by-stair basis. Local councils should provide an at-cost factoring service and provide the electricity to run the system through the same connection as the stair lights(which they should also go back to inspecting/maintaining, and upgrade to LEDs citywide while they're at it) - possibly supplemented with some PV solar panels if that seems financially viable. This would have to be done in combination with other schemes to provide insulation, decently air-tight and double- or triple-glazed windows, and where overall air-tightness is achievable, MHRV systems to ensure air quality. Such a big job would almost certainly need central government funding, but I'd much rather see it spent on something like that than being given away as a massive subsidy to existing energy companies for hydrogen.

    Posted 9 months ago #
  29. chdot
    Admin

    The problem is, though, that as soon as we step back a little from the hurly-burly on the slip-road, we can see that those objecting to the protesters’ actions are on shaky ground, in several directions.

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/cop26-extinction-rebellion-and-insulate-britain-are-groups-we-should-all-get-behind-if-politicians-are-to-make-the-right-decisions-joyce-mcmillan-3428340

    Posted 9 months ago #
  30. chdot
    Admin

    I imagine Mr Duguid was as stunned as everyone else in Scotland with an interest in the future of North East industry when the UK government’s Net-Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener strategy published on Tuesday revealed that the environmental case for the Union had been overlooked by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), putting Acorn on the subs bench as first reserve behind the Hynet cluster centred on the Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port and the Teeside/Humberside East Coast Cluster to qualify for investment from a new £1bn CCS infrastructure fund.

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/cop26-climate-change-summit-boris-johnsons-new-environmental-hair-shirt-risks-alienating-core-conservative-voters-john-mclellan-3429440

    Posted 9 months ago #

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