• September 21, 2023

‘Net Zero’? More Like Not Zero

Robert Hargraves

March 7, 2021, 5:34 p.m. ET

A wind turbine near Spearville, Can., January 13th.


Charlie Riedel / Associated Press

Every day a different company, city or state is committed to zero net carbon emissions.

Google and


claim their data centers are net zero. These companies’ massive computer systems consume reliable electricity, mostly from fuel-burning, CO2-emitting, on-grid generators within a few hundred miles. They are demanding net zero emissions by offsetting the carbon generated electricity they consume by buying renewable energy credits for electricity from intermittent wind and sun in other places and at other times.

It turns out that no matter how they use energy, any business can zero their emissions by helping to reduce emissions everywhere. Native, a not-for-profit that helps companies “achieve quantifiable emissions reductions,” offers carbon remedies by claiming, “Website purchases work with hunters and gatherers from Hazda communities to promote biodiversity and forests in.” Protect Tanzania. ”ProPublica’s review of emission allowances for a large tree-planting project in the Amazon assessed its effectiveness as“ worse than nothing ”, as projects in other locations caused ecological damage.

In 2007, Congress called for cellulosic ethanol to be added to gasoline to achieve at least 5.5 billion gallons of biofuel in 2017. By 2017, the biofuel industry could only produce five million gallons, requiring Environmental Protection Agency exemptions and another essential marketplace for “Renewable Identification” number “credits.

During President Obama’s first term, the EPA proposed a simple limit on new power plants: 454 kilograms of CO2 per megawatt hour. However, unreliable wind and solar generators required natural gas, and their combustion turbines emitted too much CO2 to meet the requirements. In 2015, the EPA’s simple rule was abandoned in favor of a complex system of trading in environmental credit, the 1,560-page Clean Power Plan.

Fraud comes from such complex rules as replacing petroleum with biodiesel fuel made from vegetables like soybeans. Biofuel producers receive a tax credit of $ 1 for every biofuel gallon produced. These credits are sold to large oil producers to help them comply with EPA regulations. Opportunistic Washakie Renewable Energy applied for a total of $ 644 million in loans without producing a single gallon of biodiesel.

Net zero is a new word for CO2 emissions. When will a modern Martin Luther nail the truth to the door of the cathedral of the green religion?

Mr. Hargraves teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Dartmouth and is a co-founder of ThorCon International, a nuclear technology company.

Journal Editorial Report: The Best and the Worst of the Week by Kim Strassel, Bill McGurn, Mary O’Grady, and Dan Henninger. Images: SpaceX / Shutterstock / AFP / Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Published in the print edition of March 8, 2021.

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