The industries where it's easy will take the easy way to avoid the carbon fee.
The industries where it's hard will pay the fee but will see the ratchet coming and will be furiously researching alternatives. Worse come to worse, at some point the fee will be more than sequestration costs so they'll take that option.
I don't have to talk about any specific industry like steel because there is always sequestration as a backstop.
edit: of course my plan only works because there are lots of people like the companies Bill Gates linked to working on the details.
No no, emissions need to be cut - for real. There need to be schedules and (tax-based) funding to help make this happen. And - an expropriation of intellectual property so that technologies developed to help this happen aren't controlled by any single company or cartel - or nation.
You make a good point about the intellectual property, though. The system will still work without such precautions, though - eventually if polluting became expensive enough, relevant technology would be licensed.
Are you confusing fee& dividend with cap&trade?
If you accept that we need to lower carbon emissions then that means we will need to stop doing some things. Yes some people will be worse off, others better off. Given that change is coming anyway we might as well be on top of it rather than dragged along screaming and kicking.
Why would I pay more taxes just to have them come back to me? No. Just no!
My second link is a plan to avoid this free-rider problem
And think about it: if I fly across the country on a private jet, or heat my mansion to 80 degrees throughout the new England winter, or build a million cars to sell overseas, I am doing harm to you and your loved ones. I should reimburse you. And that's exactly what this policy is.
Glad to see this. I take any future large-scale green energy initiative as unserious if it doesn’t take an honest look and consideration at new nuclear energy power plants.
I also have a hard time taking anyone serially if they don't talk about how we need a diversified energy portfolio nor understand the difficulties of energy density. I feel like many repeat popular points but do not spend time trying to understand. I think that's how we get politicians that consider climate change as one of their top priorities saying that geoengineering and CC are "false solutions". I also don't know any climatologist who isn't pro nuclear (which means nuclear + renewables, not nuclear vs renewables).
The IPCC endorses the use of nuclear power too. Being anti nuclear seems to me, as a scientist, anti-scientific. Since it is against what the scientists studying this are recommending.
The science has shown us that Nuclear electricity is incredibly dangerous, and that humans are mostly too incompetent to maintain it safely. I say this as the child of a Nuclear Physicist who spent half of his life working on weapons, and half at a power plant. Dad didn't think we were up to the responsibility either.
I was just in Belarus, a friend of mine told me that since Chernobyl 20 members of her family have died of cancer. Cancer isn't fun, I will tell you from experience.
There's more to consider than "does it work in the lab?" and "will it be cheaper"?.
> We can barely build a bridge that lasts for 50 years, but somehow we are going to magically build containment units for waste which last 1,000s?
We've had nuclear power for ~70 years. There is a very high likelihood that if we push on with nuclear power we will either be reprocessing that 'waste' for fuel at some point or it will be inert enough that it doesn't really matter.
The idea that we in 2019 need to take responsibility for the next 15 generations is absurd. Anyone who tried that at any point in the past would have been at best wasting their time; technology has moved too quickly. Our ancestors might as well have worried that by 2019 we'd look back on them with contempt for not leaving us a strategic 10t reserve of bronze for forging our swords and shields.
The biggest risk is that in 60 years they will dig it up and hurl it at their enemies, on purpose, as a dirty bomb.
I would say that when you are valuing the opinion of the public and/or political groups over the opinion the scientific consensus (i.e. the IPCC and other) then that is the definition of anti-scientific. (As to Chernobyl, I would also call building a positive void coefficient reactor is also anti-scientific, considering it was against recommendation).
Nuclear for heat makes more sense.
My understanding is that they're extremely desirable. They're a drop-in replacement for millions of hydrocarbon plants. They can scale up/down with demand. They produce enormous amounts of energy and emit no C02.
Think of the materials and industrial waste to produce 1 nuclear power plant versus all of the battery, solar cells, and turbines to equal the same in power and scalability.
Besides, why do the technologies need to be exclusive? Shouldn't we be using them all where it makes sense?
For something as capital intensive as a nuclear power plant, throttling their output makes them uneconomical. They have almost zero opex so you barely save a penny.
Please, also think of the carbon footprint of those materials. Every ton of cement produces 1 ton of CO2. Every ton of steel produces 1.8 tons of CO2. The mere process of building a hydroelectric dam and wind turbine involves emitting CO2 into the environment. Even the process of growing silicon crystals and doping them with ions to create a solar panel produces CO2 that must be offset over the lifetime of that solar panel. Carbon capture solutions, on the other hand, can involve simply planting trees. Each acorn that is dug into the ground will capture a ton of CO2 over the course of a decade.
 there's also an IPCC study that's bigger than this and shows the same thing but I'm on my phone.
Solar PV Thin Film Utility Scale: $36-$44/MWh | Onshore Wind: $29-$56/MWh | Nuclear: $112-$189/MWh
Can you build nuclear faster than the rest of the world can build and install PV solar and onshore/offshore wind turbines? Unlikely. Tesla installed the Hornsdale Power Reserve in 90 days. Bigger utility scale battery systems will take longer, but no where near 10 years.
This is the argument for a nuclear substitute, specifically in places where renewables are difficult. You don't replace renewables in SoCal with nuclear, you replace coal in Seattle with nuclear (and continue the expansion of renewables and storage).
The underlying reason the IPCC promotes nuclear is that it is the only existing technology that can fill in the gap for renewables. It can handle load balancing, reduce storage costs/vulnerability, and helps with the duck curve (which has to this date not been solved by batteries). This isn't a "fund nuclear vs fund battery research" argument (seriously guys, stop with this!). This is a "well this works and we can start building it right now. Let's do that while we keep inventing new solutions because things are too bad to not have a backup plan. We also need to increase the total funding and use every feasible option on the table" kind of argument. I'm not sure why this is so difficult to see. No pro nuclear person is anti renewable. If they are I'll call them anti-scientific too.
No pro nuclear person is anti-renewable. Come on. Let's stop having this debate. It's not a VS game, we have to use every available option.
Edit: I want to reiterate what I said in my original comment. Not following the expert advice of those working in climate is anti-scientific. You may be as smart as them but you sure aren't as close to the data and have access to tons of other people working on the same problem. Trust the scientists. If you don't give a good reason, but you're going to have to go into as much detail as they do. You don't argue with scientist about dark matter, which we know less about than climate. It's just shocking to me that people here get all up in arms and ignore the expert advice.
I've seen plenty of anti-renewable and pro-nuclear (and often pro-fossil fuel, from the same source) advocacy from people in the US Right. It is simply false to say “no pro-nuclear person is anti-renewable.”
It is accurate to say that some pro-nuclear people are also pro-renewable.
> It's not a VS game
When it comes to resource allocation, it absolutely is. There aren't infinite resources to allocate.
I've seen this from politicians but not people. The people are really just against the subsidies, at least that I've seen. Which is fair, but I'd still consider dumb.
I'll also add, like I said I would, that I'll call those people anti-scientific as well. Because they are ignoring the expert advice on an extremely nuanced and complicated problem.
> When it comes to resource allocation, it absolutely is. There aren't infinite resources to allocate.
I think both camps can agree that we need to spend more. That's a big part to the argument. You can't say "this is a catastrophy happening, we have only so many resources" when we clearly do have more. They need to be reallocated to the high importance problems at hand (I'd argue climate is in fact a military issue, and there have been plenty of high ranking generals that agree. So let's allocate some of those funds). So I get the argument, but I don't think it's the right argument to make. Because the resources are there to do both, just not currently. Shifting the argument to the zero sum argument doesn't address the underlying issues. (We have enough resources that we'd run into problems of how to effectively spend them long before we ran out).
(1) Politicians are a subset of people, so if you've seen it from politicians, you've seen it from people.
(2) I've seen it from people who are not politicians (mostly people who are both highly partisan and politically engaged, but then, those people are overrepresented in public policy discussions of all types. They are also disproportionately influential in government since they are reliable voters and provide the foot soldiers for political campaigns.)
The pro nuclear people want to allocate resources away from fossil fuels. The pro renewables want to allocate away from fossil fuels.
Nobody has run the numbers on how much environmental damage renewables do. Given the sheer orders of magnitude involved in nuclear power, I'd bet it turns out to be more environmentally friendly even after waste is considered. It would certainly be competitive; we actually try to rehabilitate nuclear plants. Solar panels just get dumped afaik.
The pro nuclear types are just more scientific about how to get to the goal than the wind-and-solar-or-coal-before-nuclear types.
I have never heard this argument. The problem with nuclear power plants is that you always need the next generation plant design that solves the flaws of the previous generation. Almost every pro nuclear strategy involves new types of reactors that by definition haven't been proven. Of course we can always just build more current or old generation nuclear power plants which then strengthens anti-nuclear fears again.
There is no panacea. We need a well-rounded, safe, stable, and diversified energy portfolio and it must include nuclear. It also needs wind, solar, and high-density energy storage (batteries and other such strategies).
If you want to subsidize the last 59 US nuclear plants based on their low CO2 emissions, extending their operating license (if it can be done safely) until cleaner base load arrives, that's a sound decision. Building more nuclear is not. I question if we even have the fortitude to fund safe cleanup of existing decommissioned plants (spent rod casks have been sitting onsite in Zion, IL 19 years after that nuclear generator has been shut down, with nowhere to go ).
Batteries will get cheaper faster than nuclear ever will, considering every automaker is moving to electric vehicles .
 https://about.bnef.com/blog/energy-storage-investments-boom-... (Energy Storage Investments Boom As Battery Costs Halve in the Next Decade)
That's a bold claim. Batteries could also suffer from law of diminishing returns. It might not be physically possible to store energy much more densely, without catastrophic failures.
I don't think it is  . Regardless of cell and pack density, there's plenty of open land to install outdoor enclosures. Utility storage isn't cars, where density is terribly important.
The big Hornsdale power reserve in Australia is 130 MWh. Say you want to store 6 hours of US average energy consumption. That's 1 500 000 MWh, or 11 000 Hornsdale stations. Just for 6 hours of electricity storage.
There are over 7,000 power plants in the United States run by over 3,000 companies. There are over 55,000 substations and over 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. I don't believe what I'm proposing is unreasonable. Hard? Sure. But unreasonable? Absolutely not. Going to the Moon was hard, and we still went to the Moon.
So you can put them in cars, boats, planes, and other things.
Yeah, I know, we have Teslas. But do you know it's twice the weight of an ICE alternative? Weight matters a lot. While we've made a lot of progress in the last few decades, the best research batteries are still 100x below any fossil fuel in terms of energy density.
The Model S (2019) appears to look roughly the same and appears to be roughly the same size as the Audi A7 (2019), and is just a bit heavier (Tesla curb weight 4883 lbs, Audi 4332 lbs).
So though they're weights are similar the Audi has a range of 424.6/559.9 and the Tesla has 285. That's 50.1%-67.2% of the range (let's say 60%).
Yes, ~300mi is a mostly comfortable range, but it's the same weight for 60% the range (and 5k more). To get the same range we'd have to add a ton of weight, which would probably push us to 2x (maybe the original comparison was decent enough?).
With Supercharger stations being no more than 150 miles apart (and that distance shrinking as more stations keep coming online), home charging, and per mile costs half that of internal combustion vehicles you mentioned, it’s a no brainer even considering the vehicle is somewhat (but not outrageously) heavier.
This is an extreme oversimplification of the issues in nuclear. I'll suggest it's as extreme of an oversimplification as saying "the only reason we don't have nuclear is because public FUD".
That leads me to the opposite of Gates' conclusion.
At this point there are many low hanging fruit, so until we have a good way to address steel production, we should keep the focus on those other measures.
We should certainly be doing research on the issue that he is focused on, but we shouldn't let ourselves get distracted by it.
Getting to zero carbon emissions overall (the goal he brings up to justify his focus) is a great long-term goal but I think our success in this challenge will be determined in the short and medium term.
He says it's "an important subject that deserves a lot more attention".
With sequestration costs at $100 - $300 per tonne for worst-case industries, climate change will cost trillions world-wide. That's a lot of money, but hardly a "drastically lower standard of living". Compare with Iraq war, or Apollo + Vietnam. Much less sacrifice than WW2.
I'm not suggesting sequestering is going to be the end of society or the economy, just that people won't start sequestering until something is imminently threatening them.
While I agree in broad terms that eliminating greenhouse gases in the materials sector is important medium-term, I agree with other posters here that we need to focus hard on implementing solutions we DO have now - specifically, in the electricity and transportation sectors.
> these materials are everywhere in our lives, and we don’t yet have any proven breakthroughs that will give us affordable zero-carbon versions of them
This is at least partially misleading - for aluminum. There are a number of hydroelectric-powered aluminum smelters in Quebec and British Columbia, that produce very-low-carbon aluminum. And there are technologies approaching market for zero-carbon aluminum.
The only other alternative is electrolyzing water to get hydrogen, which binds with the metal oxide’s oxygen to make water again.
But not only is this really inefficient by comparison, but now you’re adding O2 to the atmosphere at industrial scale.
There's the problem that hydrogen can make metals brittle, see
EDIT: Joseph Priestley actually discovered that iron oxide ("calx of iron") could be reduced to the metallic state by hot hydrogen ("inflammable air") in the late 18th century.
You should understand that there are no good enough solutions for electricity yet, so not much is going to change on electricity wrt greenhouse gases on the global scale, and the solution to transportation is to essentially stop making cars for personal use, but we only see the opposite happening.
Edit: Downvoted for what exactly?
What people forget is that things like plastic ever-present not because of some evil conspiracy by oil companies to push an inferior material on the market but because it's superior to all other materials we know of.
The problem isn't product innovation but fundamental science and we have had no new discoveries since oil to fundamentally change how we approach progress.
Having listened to a lot of pitches by claimed alternative to plastic it's been very obvious to me that we simply need improvements in fundamental science not just in technology. I.e we lack fundamentally new discoveries to truly change our ways.
Nanotech might help us some of the way but we are nowhere near the utopia a lot of people seem to be thinking.
There literally is no realistic alternative to plastic right now.
And what a defeatist attitude - what about enumerating the plastics we, standardising and regulating additives etc? Today it's total chaos with a very thin veneer of recycling.
The unaccounted externalities are that fossil fuel and thus ex. plastic makes modern life possible with everything from increased age, to the ability to cure the sick, to lowered childbirth, to increased living standards, food production, cleaner environments and so on.
Of course there are negative externalities too and we need to deal with them but all in all plastics and thus fossil fuels improve our lives tremendously IMO.
Ironically the problem the modern society is facing is how to deal with abundance rather than scarcity.
Do you believe I advocate remove all plastic?
Do you advocate keeping all plastic?
None of the plastic can be replaced with other materials or designed away altogether?!
I hope you are not, because that is ludicrous.
Some parts of the plastic industry can and will be replaced but far less both short term and long term than people want to think, unless; some new fundamental scientific discoveries are done.
I am always horrified by the debate about US healthcare we’re almost nobody makes an effort to think it through and also listen to other opinions and experiences.
As more money is invested and spent on research and development of new ideas, I think some things will eventually start to work providing a solution to these issues.
For more money to flow into the ecosystem, we need people to see value from being carbon neutral personally.
If you'd like to become carbon neutral, I'd suggest you check out https://projectwren.com/
And the only way to limit to +4C IMO is to try and limit to +2C and inevitably missing.
“Only” +4 is already going to be a very, very rough situation rife with positive feedback loops that may well make +5, then +6, etc inevitable.
Compounding interest and economic growth has been the primary driving force for lifting people out of poverty, and increased wealth can be used to build seawalls, sequester carbon, and implement climate control on a large scale.
There is still plenty of debate to be had about whether the economic growth from acclimation outweighs the potential climate benefits from mitigation.
> and increased wealth can be used to build seawalls, sequester carbon, and implement climate control on a large scale.
This is fantasy. The elites having captured that much wealth will never give it up for free. Populations will have to take it from their dead hands, which is very costly.
Rest assured: if the status quo is not moved, there will be violent uprising from people feeling the heat (figuratively: it will be water wars and famines). The economies will tank then, with or without mitigation in place.
One issue with adaptation is that the people being asked to adapt aren't the same as the people being asked to prevent. It's all fine and good for the USA to say, it's most economically efficient to adapt, because prevention is expensive! But you don't see the USA dedicating a large portion of that profit stream enabled by their externalities to fund adaptation efforts in Bangladesh.
I live in an area that will still be habitable even with 4°C warming. The problem is that the vast majority do not live in this area. They aren't going to die in their hometown. They will have to move and I don't have a lot of space. So the person living here will either be me or them. A lot of people are willing to risk their lives in overloaded smuggling boats and it's not uncommon for them to sink by accident. If necessary, a single shot from a destroyer is enough to prevent them from crossing the sea at all.
But of course, people get mad about "playing god" or "using pollution to fight pollution". Kinda like a bad parent who refuses to ever punish their child, because they're afraid of being responsible if things go wrong (despite them already being responsible for things having gone wrong).
There's also the risk that eventually carbon will acidify the oceans too much, so clearly there's a limit to how much we can have.
I don’t know what the solutions will look like, but sci-fi authors have shown us some semi-plausible solutions: domed, climate controlled cities here or elsewhere in the solar system; generation ships that aren’t dependent on any planet; a reversion to small tribal societies.
Well yes, at our current technology levels ecological and climate based collapse has almost no chance of making humans 100% extinct. But I don't think that anyone is arguing the opposite.
The moral calculus for addressing climate change isn't that affected by differences in the survival rate of 0% vs 5% vs 50%. All of the above would be catastrophically bad in human terms.
I agree with that. Humanity will go on. But we may have a lot of wars and suffering while adapting to the new world.
What a joke, when you see how all the bridges built in the 60s and 70s are crumbling apart.
I don't quite get it, as this ends up electrifying the production process. Unless he talks about directly heating with electricity (induction?). I was under the impression that there was no real limit to electric heating (induction, microwave, etc.). Of course, a complex hydrogen production plant shipping hydrogen to the factories could end up being much cheaper than installing microwave heaters, I guess.
> Carbon capture
At the very least, I'd like to see those processed if they can't be eliminated or sequestrated. Run the exhaust trough some algae containers, and transform the resulting biomass into biofuels. At least, that would lessen the carbon impact due to burning those fuels.
Taking the idea to its limits to judge the impact:
If every factory was to do this, if we take current emissions as (24% agriculture, 25% electricity, 21% manufacturing, 14% transportation)  we would in theory be able to fully supply transportation with biofuels, cutting it entirely. Do the same with electricity, and you can remove as much emissions as the entire "manufacturing" budget, so 21%. Not that bad. In parallel, you can continue cleaning up electricity generation, and replacing carbon-intensive manufacturing processes with electricity-based ones.
Actually, there is no reason why this couldn't be almost a closed-loop system:
Hydrocarbons burned in Manufacturing -> CO2 -> Capture + Algae + processing -> Biofuels (Hydrocarbons)
The energy input ends up being solar energy (or equivalent) necessary for photosynthesis. Algae could also be replaced by chemical processes that take electricity as an input.
This could be expensive to install, but the fuel could be an extra source of revenue as well (or savings, if closed-loop). That's also why we need the right incentives (carbon tax?) There are multiple research projects being conducted in this area 
You're discussing global warming prevention and eating meat??