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David Hone
Climate Change Adviser, Shell Group

David Hone

David Hone is the climate change adviser for the Shell Group and vice chairman of the International Emissions Trading Association. He also works closely with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. ALL POSTS

How much change is possible?

Nuclear energy has played a big role in France. But what has been achieved? Starting 40 years ago in the late 1960s, France pursued some very major energy and energy-related policy initiatives. If emissions reduction had been the goal in 1970, then delivering 80 percent of electricity from nuclear, a high speed nationwide transport system and a significant tax on transport fuels may well have been the preferred way forward.

It is in fact the direction taken by France and today C02 emissions are at 424 MT per annum, compared to 462 MT in 1970, or a reduction of just under 10 percent -- although emissions peaked at 545 MT in 1973, which means a reduction of a bit more than 20 percent. Either way, this is far from the 80 percent reduction that is proposed for the next 40 years in the U.S.A.

It means that policy will have to go far beyond an aggressive expansion of nuclear power and that a heavy handed intervention in the national energy system at all levels and across many technologies will be required. The challenge ahead is daunting.

By David Hone  |  October 27, 2009; 2:58 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg     Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Representing Shell Group or no, I like what Hone says.

"It means that policy will have to go far beyond an aggressive expansion of nuclear power and that a heavy handed intervention in the national energy system at all levels and across many technologies will be required. The challenge ahead is daunting."

I'm surprised and pleased that a nuke proponent would publicize the small 10% to 20% CO2 reduction from THE major nuke user, France. And France gets 77% of it's electricity from nuclear + sells a lot of electricity too.

Hone said that the nuclear option isn't enough and that we will have to make drastic interventions "at all levels and across many technologies". To me, this is a unique view among nuclear proponents.

Here's a highly abbreviated version of nuke proponents messages during multiple 2 hour meetings we had in our area about starting a new nuke plant: 1)the nuclear option is THE answer to CO2 pollution; 2) All alternative have such severe drawbacks that these energy sources will always be minor; 3)if only non-nuke do-gooders would get out of the way, the nuke trained people (including employees) can take care of all potential problems.

Nuclear scares me in the same way that Big Coal scares me: they want us to use huge quantities of their products and they haven't solved the garbage disposal problems. For both industries, I don't accept large corporations saying: "trust us" and "nothing serious will happen". We developed a Superfund to deal with misplaced trust for things like these --- except this is much, much larger.

Still, I would like to know what Hone means when he says: "a heavy handed intervention in the national energy system at all levels and across many technologies will be required."

Posted by: thetravelingmasseur | November 1, 2009 10:37 PM
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ummm.....to those posters who submit their posts and the message doesn't post, it is probably because it did not want to post. But if you wait long enough, maybe long enough to fall asleep, it will surely post.

Posted by: paultaylor1 | November 1, 2009 9:18 PM
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There may be more to the 20% (which is significant in itself) emmission reductions in France than is apparent by Mr. Hone's figures.

And that is: what were the expected emission level increases, given population, commercial, agricultural and technological growth in France during that 40 year period?

Posted by: paultaylor1 | November 1, 2009 8:48 PM
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Perhaps the emissions reduction was more impressive than it would seem, at first hand.

During the 40 years of this experiment, what was the population growth? What was industrial, farming and expected power plant growth? What technology came into existence that might increase emissions?

In other words, where would emission levels have been if nothing was done to curb them?

Posted by: paultaylor1 | November 1, 2009 8:38 PM
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We constantly forget the law of KISS - keep it simple ... For less than $2,000 we can have solar hot water - the pay back is quick, especially if you have teenage daughters.

From southern California to Florida on our southern border - we need to mandate white roofs on government buildings and schools - and give tax credits to businesses and families with white roofs. The pay back is very quick with lower cooling costs.

Posted by: alance | November 1, 2009 1:06 PM
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Our principal problem is hinted at in Italian above, santoparisi1katamailcom. But the simple fact is that the electricity industry and its army of shareholders doesn't support a policy of making households independent of "the grid." Their lip-service to going green is a charade. The industry profits when households consume greater amounts of power rather than lesser.

The seismic change that must come is to "spread the wealth around" so that the comfortably rich who own the power companies cannot oppose households getting off the grid.

It's currently too expensive for ordinary people to purchase solar panels for their rooftops and reverse electrical meters that reduce consumption and dependence on the industry.

Why? They like things the way they are. Getting the public to pay for the construction and risks of new nuclear generation is a way to continue keeping wealth in the hands of those who already have it.

Nukes are not "green". The pollution they produce is far more dangerous to the environment than CO2. An international competition with France to go more nuclear is just gaming the system in the same old way.

No nukes is good nukes.

Posted by: dwyerj1 | November 1, 2009 5:12 AM
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I disagree with the other two posters. I feel that Mr. Holm has given input into the debate, from a different point of view than the other panelists. Even these other contributors have brought up doubts as to how much a nuclear solution will have on carbon emissions (Mr Joseffson estimates 5% of the necessary reduction, and Mr. Boesch suggests that a nuclear solution will not slow down climate change).

This problem is not as simple as leveling accusations against the Shell Group. We have to have a real debate, that includes experts from all over the energy/environmental spectrum. Mr. Hone has brought up realistic expectations about where we need to take the debate if we really want to move away from fossil fuels: a "heavy handed intervention in the national energy system at all levels and across many technologies will be required." The challenge ahead is daunting indeed.

Posted by: c0lnag0 | October 31, 2009 3:39 PM
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Oggi è possibile costruire case per abitazione completamente indipendenti da ogni richiesta energetica esterna. Una politica che incentivi queste ricerche e queste applicazioni porterebbe certamente ad un risparmio energetico ed un miglioramento di vita di ciascuno di noi, oltre che,ovviamente, un minore riscaldamento del pianeta, senza abbandonare le richieste delle industrie a più alto impatto ambientale. In ogni caso, qualunque soluzione del problema va sempre affrontata "cum grano salis sapientiae". Santo Parisi.

Posted by: santoparisi1katamailcom | October 31, 2009 3:33 PM
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Mr. Hone may be right that a 'heavy handed' government energy policy is the way forward. I just doubt his sincerity in suggesting it. Sound more like red meat for the far right. I didn't read any solutions coming from him, so I will assume he supports the status quo.

Posted by: Mugwamp | October 31, 2009 11:09 AM
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The only word that come to mind with respect to comments by David Hone is weasel. As per always the case from highly paid spoke persons for the established energy sector, particularly those heavily dependent on carbon based fuels, there role it to spread confusion and interference to muddy the waters with spurious argument (with a nice clean green photos of them in an unspoilt beautiful locatioN - ohm the sins of marketing). I actually wish there was a higher power that would determine the fate of such people. France, represents 1.4% of global carbon emissions. so a 20% reduction is very small. like 0.28% impact on global emissions. IF France had a 1000% reduction. it would have a 1.4% impact globally. In comparison, the USA is responsible for 20.2%, the UK for 2.0%. This is a global issue. so Mr. Hone trying to score points on France reductions of a 'pitiful' 20%, as if it is a failure, is nonsense. If the USA could only match the French, there would be a global reduction of 4%, compared to the French of 0.28%. Challenging times ahead indeed and only more so from the tripe that the likes of Mr Hone throws up.

Posted by: mdrmhall | October 31, 2009 6:17 AM
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