Republicans at UN Local weather Talks Push Nuclear, Gasoline, and Carbon Seize

Republicans at UN Climate Talks Push Nuclear, Gas, and Carbon Capture

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) smiles after speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas.

Picture: Ethan Miller (Getty Photos)

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND — The Republican local weather delegation has landed on the Glasgow local weather talks. As 100,000 protesters took to the streets to demand radical, transformational change, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, and Rep. John Curtis of Utah walked into the conference middle the place negotiators are hammering out a local weather deal.

Their pitch is decidedly not transformational, although it definitely is radical. As a substitute of decarbonizing by constructing out renewable capability as shortly as doable, the group is pitching exporting extra American pure fuel and investing in expensive nuclear energy and unproven carbon seize expertise as what’s wanted to handle the local weather disaster.

Earther occurred to run into the entourage as they have been wandering the nation pavilions the place nations host talks from specialists and tout their local weather bona fides. Crenshaw paused at one level to snap a photograph of an artwork set up that includes polar bears sporting life vests on the pavilion for Tuvalu, an island nation going through the prospect of extinction on account of sea degree rise, earlier than taking a gathering within the Danish pavilion. We have been capable of meet up with him after.

“As a Republican delegation right here, I might say usually [we’re here] to carry extra rational perspective to all of this,” he stated. When requested in regards to the options the group was right here to advertise, he famous that it included nuclear power, together with superior modular reactors, carbon seize, and Texas pure fuel. “That is extra of a rational dialogue on selling nuclear power, selling carbon seize, selling pure fuel exports from the U.S., which might displace coal around the globe and have a heck of much more impression on decreasing emissions than, frankly, any of the objectives which might be being talked about right here. … The rationale Republicans are in favor of these kind of options as a result of they really work.”

The rationality of those positions, although, is on considerably shaky footing, together with how properly they really work. Let’s begin with nuclear energy, which is an important supply of carbon-free power that’s in severe hazard. Many vegetation within the U.S. are nearing or previous retirement age. In New York, Indian Level was shuttered this 12 months, whereas in Illinois, the state authorities lately threw a lifeline to the getting old nuclear fleet to maintain it on-line, underscoring the 2 wildly divergent choices obtainable.

New nuclear vegetation, nevertheless, have confirmed extremely difficult to construct out. There’s at the moment just one below development within the U.S., the Vogtle Nuclear Plant, which is years delayed and is now double its preliminary value. Investments in nuclear are definitely one avenue to decarbonization, however the challenges at Vogtle present that it’s not a slam dunk neither is it seemingly sufficient nuclear capability might come on-line within the timeline wanted.

Carbon seize and storage, or CCS, has to this point been a pipedream that has failed. That features the shuttering of the Petra Nova facility in Crenshaw’s Texas earlier this 12 months as a result of it was too expensive and ineffective. (The carbon it captured was additionally used to extract extra oil, which isn’t precisely a win for the local weather.) Crenshaw stated that was a “pilot mission,” which in itself says loads in regards to the state of CCS. That’s to not say it’s not a worthy expertise to put money into, and in reality, it might purchase the world time to cut back emissions. Nevertheless it’s not a silver bullet or a serious plank within the race to decarbonize the power system.

Then there’s the pure fuel factor. Gasoline is best than coal, sure. Nevertheless it nonetheless releases methane. Even comparatively “cleaner” Texas fuel poses a local weather problem, with fugitive methane emissions that trigger the planet to heat 80 instances quicker than carbon dioxide.

A serious report from the Worldwide Vitality Company, which was based within the wake of the Seventies oil disaster and isn’t precisely a granola-and-hemp-loving group, launched earlier this 12 months discovered that new oil and fuel exploration should cease subsequent 12 months. Crenshaw stated he hadn’t seen the report, however “that’s not possible in any respect.”

In the meantime, the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change report on reaching the 1.5-degree-Celsius (2.7-degree-Fahrenheit) aim discovered oil and fuel use should decline 37% and 25% respectively by 2030. Crenshaw additionally stated the Texas blackouts confirmed the necessity for extra pure fuel and the chance of counting on renewables. (Peer-reviewed science has discovered the blackouts confirmed the chance of not weatherizing pure fuel infrastructure.)

“There was a strawman argument made like, ‘oh, the Republicans are saying the wind generators froze,’” he stated. “Possibly some did say that. I didn’t say that. There was a meme that stated that on the web.”

Certainly, there was a debunked meme. Whereas Crenshaw didn’t share stated meme, he did tweet a thread about why Texas’ grid failed, beginning with “Frozen Wind Generators” and that he can be digging into what occurred “so we’re not counting on frozen wind generators to warmth our houses throughout a blizzard.” Once more, that is merely not what specialists who research power coverage have discovered was the primary explanation for struggling.

The Republican imaginative and prescient for rationality on the UN talks, then, is basically persevering with to depend on fossil fuels with some CCS and nuclear bells and whistles that, whereas crucial investments, are usually not sufficient to maintain the tides from swallowing locations like Tuvalu.



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