Flemming: A third of climate proposals unscientific, unaffordable

By David Flemming

When I heard that David Hill of the Energy Futures Group was scheduled to present its model to Vermont’s Climate Council two months ago, I was skeptical. The Climate Council’s plan, released in December 2021, seemed to rely heavily on a “social cost of carbon” to justify future climate proposals.

While Hill’s presentation justified a few of my priors, it also unearthed an even larger concern. Even with a social cost of carbon estimate triple the scientific consensus, many of the proposals were still so expensive that they could not be justified in terms of an ‘invest money now, see benefits later’ mentality. They will always be net losers, regardless of time frame.

David Flemming, policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute

The social cost of carbon is a metric that measures the economic damages that result from emitting one additional ton of carbon dioxide. As a price on CO2 emissions, it is calculated by using models that integrate predictions about future CO2 emissions based on population and economic growth, how the climate will respond to future emissions (e.g. sea levels, rainfall patterns), the impact of these climatic changes on agricultural yields and labor productivity, and future damages.

Here is an example of how the social cost of carbon will be used to analyze the Climate Council proposals this upcoming legislative session. Carbon jet fuel creates financial benefits for Vermonters to the tune of $132/ton of emissions. Multiplying $132 by Vermont’s 0.7 expected tons of CO2 emitted from carbon jet fuel (from 2022- 2050), we find that such benefits are expected to benefit Vermont to the tune of $87 million. Since the Climate Council’s social cost of carbon is $146/ton of emissions on a global scale, we would have to spend the $132/ton that is necessary to prevent these emissions by developing and implementing an alternative jet fuel blend that has less carbon.

If instead, we used the Biden administration’s social cost of carbon of $51/ton, instead of the Climate Council’s $146/ton, implementing this jet fuel blend would not make economic sense. After all, taking $132/ton out of Vermont money to save $51/ton globally would be irrational. Five other questionable proposals would fail Biden’s social cost of carbon justification and pass Climate Council social cost of carbon muster. But these should not distract us from the very worst Climate Council proposals.

Using a social cost of carbon in excess of the scientific consensus does paint a few of the Vermont Climate Council’s programs in a better light. But what is astounding is that many of the Climate Council’s ‘recommended programs’ to the Legislature are predicted to be net losers for the world, (not just Vermont) even after the Climate Council’s excessive social cost of carbon value of $146/ton of emissions is assumed.

While most climate scientists would no doubt prioritize Biden’s social cost of carbon over the Climate Council’s, this disagreement doesn’t matter much in the context of the costliest proposals.

The Climate Council is expected to make six recommendations to the Legislature which have a negative net value to Vermonters, and the world at large — regardless if the Climate Council’s or Biden’s social cost of carbon is used.

These proposals (to be accomplished between 2045 to 2050) include: replacing 80% of natural gas for heat with biogas, mandating that diesel gasoline be composed of 20% biodiesel, reducing vehicle miles traveled 10%, weatherizing 243,000 Vermont homes and replacing 20% of propane/oil boilers with pellet stoves.

So why on earth would the Legislature seriously consider such proposals if the Energy Futures Group model shows they will be terrible investments? Certainly not the loosest pretense of scientific merit. Rather, because Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020 says so.

As Hill told the Climate Council’s Mitigation Committee, “only do(ing) the ones that provide net savings … risks not meeting the (GWSA) requirements.” Those requirements stipulate that Vermont must fall 26% below 2005 emission levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below by 2050. If Vermont fails to meet those requirements, then anyone can sue the state for not moving fast enough on reducing our (lowest in the country) emissions.

If Vermont’s Climate Council and Legislature tandem was interested in becoming a national leader on climate, they would only consider the proposals that are justified by the model they paid for. After all, if they were already planning to pass all proposals anyway, why bother hiring the consultants (with taxpayer money) to build the model? If they want us to suspend our disbelief in using a social cost of carbon well above the leading climate science, fine.

But don’t try to pretend these proposals are ‘scientific,’ if they cannot be remotely tied to the commissioned model for the social cost of carbon. This gives the appearance that our Legislature wants to be seen emotionally involved in combatting climate change without bothering to lay out a framework that other states would consider copying. I really hope that is not the case. There is too much at stake for such grandstanding.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Edward Kimmel

21 thoughts on “Flemming: A third of climate proposals unscientific, unaffordable

  1. The attitude that climate can be controlled by meager human efforts is pure arrogance. This planet’s climate has been changing for thousands of years and the issue is a lot bigger than any bureaucratic
    or scientific manipulation. That is not to say that we earthlings have been the best stewards of the environment, but our poor stewardship amounts to very little in contributing to the current climate status. Likewise, any effort to actually control the climate of the entire planet would be akin to doing “you-know-what” in the ocean. The real focus should be on adapting to those areas such as climate change that are well beyond human efforts to control and practicing better stewardship of this planet that we call home.

  2. And what makes the Biden administration’s numbers more based on science than the Energy Futures Groups?

  3. I’ve lived long enough to have seen that good ideas and good products that are wanted and needed just soar organically because the people want this and it sells itself.

    It’s stunning what we did in this nation before we had technology and we sold massive amounts of stuff just from word of mouth- this was not that long ago.

    It’s really that simple.. it’s takes almost no effort to move things the public wants.

    This Climate Change is a scam and the masses know this- this is why it’s not flying.
    The government is now trying to force more and more of this crap upon the people against our will- and that in and of itself should show you that it’s a scam!

  4. Hydro Quebec = virtually unlimited green wholesale electricity at 7 cents per kwh.

    Vermont generated Solar, Wind, Methane thru GMP purchases = 20+ cents per kwh

    What more do you need to know?

    • there you go confusing people with numbers and facts again.

      This will not be tolerated by those in the state house! Censor this man, immediately!

      What a nice headline your post would make, what a nice question at debates….of course they sold to gaz prom, just like GMP I believe…do we know who they are?

      Let say, we might be filling the coffers of man who’s last name resembles poutine….from the land of siberia…

      • For anyone interested, GMP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the same conglomerate that controls Hydro Quebec. Go figure.

        And Hydro Quebec just purchased 13 hydropower generating stations along the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts – with a 589 megawatts capacity.

        The primary reason Vermont doesn’t purchase all of the HQ power it can, cutting our electric bills nearly in half, is because GMP profits, as a regulated utility, are based on a percentage of its operating expenses. The higher GMP expenses, the higher its allowed profits. And the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) lets GMP pass those additional expenses on to the rate payers.

        Why does the PUC allow this? Ask Margaret Cheney, one of Vermont’s three PUC commissioners. Of course, when you read Ms. Cheney’s resume, you see that she has no utility management experience. She was a magazine feature writer for a couple of left-wing publications before moving to Vermont.

        Why is Margaret Cheney a PUC commissioner? Ask her husband – Senator Peter Welch.

        • Hydro-Quebec is a ‘Crown Corporation’ wholly owned by the Government of Quebec, and Hydro-Québec is the fourth largest hydropower producer in the world.

          Here’s how the circuitous (and, I suspect, intentionally) complex Hydro Quebec corporate web structure works. Basically, everything is controlled by the Quebec provincial pension fund, most of which is managed by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

          1997: Hydro-Quebec wins approval to sell power in the United States.
          2004: Hydro-Quebec Sells Major Interest in Gaz Metro to a consortium led by the Quebec provincial pension fund manager Caisse de depot.
          2006: Subsidiary of Gaz Métro acquires Green Mountain Power.
          2012: Gaz Métro completes acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation.
          2017: Gaz Métro is renamed Énergir to reflect its wider energy portfolio.
          2022: Hydro-Québec acquires Great River Hydro.

          Énergir, formerly Gaz Metro, is a privately held limited partnership. The largest owner (with 43% ownership) is Trencap, an investment company – also majority owned by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

          Some of the Quebec pension fund holdings, directly and indirectly, now include:
          Gaz Métro Plus, Gaz Métro LNG, Gaz Métro Transport Solutions, Gaz Métro Energy Solutions, Standard Solar, Vermont Gas Systems, Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, Great River Hydro, Trans Québec & Maritimes Pipeline Inc, Champion Pipeline, Portland Natural Gas Transmission System, Intragaz, CCUM, Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms.

          You get the picture. Nationalized businesses are phenomenon to behold. But don’t let that divert your attention from the fact that the Hydro-Quebec and Vermont energy systems are completely intertwined. The question is, why, if HQ sells its electricity for 7 cents a kwh, does GMP pay more than 20 cents per kwh for wind, solar and methane (‘cow power’)?

          I think I already answered that for you.

          • Thanks for some reason I had it being bought by a different source, great reporting, good ole boy network in place, why we sold our own power company to a foreign country I will never know, but at least is not Russia, but I’m beginning to think Canada is not far behind…eh?

  5. Vermont is already at net zero because of our extensive forests. On a cost benefit analysis why are we spending money to solve the problem the exists outside the four corners of our own state?

  6. Is climate change real, ” well sort of “, just ask the climate ” crusaders ” like Al Gore
    or John Kerry, these two leading hypocrites are just that !!

    Climate changes all the time every day, every year, and every decade the climate is
    cyclical, and that’s according to NASA, not from the bought and paid for crusaders
    Al or John……. follow the money, they’re living pretty well, their lear jets use a lot of
    fuel promoting an agenda………….. pathetic.

    For all the followers wanting to save the planet, may you should be protesting the real
    polluting countries of concern, China, Russia, and India to name a few, but Nah.

    To all the whining liberals thinking driving an ” EV ” is going to save the world, wake up
    you’re being played, this is a bigger scam than anything ” Bernie Madoff ” could dream up !!!

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling……….Again.

  7. Here is an example of EXPENSIVE

    Solar an Unreliable Nothing-burger in the UK in Winter, and in New England
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/solar-an-unreliable-nothing-burger-in-the-winter-in-the-uk-as-it ;
    Francis Menton

    The Zero-Carbon folks have no idea how an electrical system works, because they never analyzed, designed, and operated any energy system. Often, they are various types of environmentalists.
    They are demanding an expensive, highly subsidized wind/solar/battery replacement of fossil fuels that has zero chance of success, as was shown in Europe in 2021, well before the Ukraine situation, and in 2022.
    Europe is frantically trying to correct its under-investments in fossil fuel and nuclear.
    It’s only a question of when, and how big, will be the wind/solar/battery failure, and how damaging the consequences of the failure will be.

    Paul Homewood posted on his website “Not A Lot Of People Know That”, an article titled  “Why Solar Power Is Useless In Winter in there UK.”

    Homewood obtained the hourly data of electricity generation from UK solar panels from this website.
    Open URL to see website

    For context, the typical electricity usage in the UK at this time of year, per Homewood, is about 840 GWh, or 840/24 = 35 GW of daily average demand; some hours are less and others are more, depending on the daily demand curve.

    The capacity of the UK solar systems is about 14 GW, as AC loaded onto the high voltage grid.

    If the solar systems produced at full capacity for the 24 hours, they would have produced 14 x 24 = 336 GWh, or 336/840 = 40% of the UK’s typical usage for the day.

    But hey, it’s late November in the UK

    The days are short, the sun gets up late and goes to bed early, and there are lots of clouds, and often there is snow and ice on the panels, and some panel systems are out of service.
    So how much did the solar facilities actually produce today?

    Here is the chart:

    Open URL to See chart

    The peak output of the solar panels was about 1.33 GW, less than 1.33/35 = 4% of the 35 GW loaded onto the high voltage grid.

    Production from the solar panels (the area under the curve) was 5.46 GWh, or 5.46/840 = 0.65% of the 840 GWh loaded onto the high voltage grid. By any definition, this is a nothing-burger.

    The times of peak electricity demand are early morning and late-afternoon/early-evening.
    At those times the UK’s solar systems produced absolutely nothing, i.e., a nothing-burger during peak hours.
    In fact, the solar systems produced absolutely nothing from 4 pm to 8 am the next day; for 16 hours!!

    So, how is the UK (or NE, or anyplace else) ever going to obtain a meaningful amount of its electricity from solar panels, in winter?

    What About Building More Solar Systems?

    Well, considering just today, the UK could have built 840/5.46 = 154 times as many solar panels as the UK currently has.
    With the wind/solar/battery trio, favored by zero-carbon folks, the UK could have obtained the exact amount of electricity the UK loaded onto the high voltage grid, 840 GWh from solar, if winds had been near-zero, as often happens during a UK winter (and an NE winter)

    However, almost all of that solar electricity would be at midday, when it was not needed
    There would be near-zero solar electricity during the morning peak, 6-8 AM, and during the evening peak, 5-8 PM, as shown by the graph

    To cover those peak periods, the UK would need a lot of energy storage.
    Hundreds of GWh of storage would be needed just for this one day.
    One GWh = one million kWh
    The noon-time solar would be stored, and partially released during the evening peak, with the rest released during the morning peak of the next day.
    That roundtrip procedure involves about 18 to 20% of losses, on an A-to-Z basis. See below.

    What About Seasonal Solar Variations?

    You could save the electricity from the summer time, when there is more intense sun, for more hours.
    But for that, tens of thousands of GWh of storage would be required, just for the winter, in the UK.
    Solar electricity would be stored for about 5 or 6 months, and released during the winter months, as needed by demand.

    All-in, Turnkey Capital Cost of 1666 GWh of Li-ion Battery Systems

    On an everyday basis, batteries should not be discharged to less than 20% full and not be charged to more than 80% full, to achieve 15-y useful service life, per Tesla recommendations.
    On rare occasions, such a rare, long-distance driving, in case of EVs, discharging and charging is OK from 10% to 90%
    Battery system rated capacity would be
    1000 GWh/0.6, available capacity factor = 1666 GWh, delivered as AC at battery voltage
    All-in, turnkey, capital cost of Li-ion battery systems would be
    1666 million kWh x $400/kWh/$1000000000 = $666 billion; most of it would need to be replaced every 15 years. See Note

    NOTE: The rated capacity of the Moss Landing, California, Tesla battery system, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company is 300 MW/1200 MWh
    The all-in, turnkey, capital cost was $370 million, or $370 million/1200000 kWh = $308/kWh, delivered as AC at battery voltage; 2018 pricing
    The 2018 pricing has increased at least 30% to $400/kWh in 2022. See Appendix
    In early 2021, Tesla increased its 2021 battery module pricing by 24.5% for 2022

    Li-ion battery systems have a loss of about 18%, when new, and about 20%, when older, on an A-to-Z basis
    Here is the round-trip loss of a new, 1.666 GWh battery system, that delivers 1 GWh to the high voltage grid

    Delivered by battery system is 1 GWh, as AC to high voltage grid
    Charge in battery system is 1 GWh/0.92 = 1.087 GWh, as DC
    Electricity to battery system is 1.087/0.92 = 1.181 GWh, as AC from high voltage grid
    The 0.181 GWh round-trip loss has to be produced by additional solar panels, or other (fossil, nuclear, hydro, etc.) generators, if they were still present!!

    Remember, all of this solar fantasy to “save the planet”, including huge-capacity battery systems, and hugely expanded electric grids, is highly subsidized with ratepayer and taxpayer money, to provide tax shelters to line the pockets of the world’s, well-connected, high rollers, who often have private planes, and private yachts, and mega mansions, and God knows what else.

  8. it the hypocrites wanted to really do something to lower co2 output they would ban private jets and not blow up methane spewing gas lines (nord stream). In the age of video conferencing there’s no need of 200 private jets flying to a meeting on
    climate change (which the climate does naturally). The whole plan is to make the US a third world country after paying off every other poorer country and the stupid voters here are in favor of killing off the best country in the world to live.. idiots of the highest magnitude.

    • Nordstream 1 and 2 were blown up by the US/UK
      UK PM Truss, sent a one-word Tweet to US Secretary Blinken “DONE”, a few minutes after the four near-simultaneous explosions.

      Over 500 private jets, 45,000 people “visiting”
      They were attended to by another 20,000 in 5-star hotels, etc.

      Open the borders some more so about 3 million/y of semi-literates, inexperienced, uneducated, needy/help-me folks, from God knows where, can just walk across, and then being spread around the US, to begin sucking off the Social Security Trust Fund, the Medicare Trust Fund, and numerous other government programs, to provide them with free mobil phone, food, clothing, housing, medical care, education, etc.

      Legal US citizens should be this lucky.

  9. The other two thirds is how to take control of every facet of life as all Marxists desire, under the guise of give us your money and all the regulations and we’ll save the world.

    Why is the answer always surrender to the New Worls Order?

    Haven’t they heard? Jesus Christ is King!

    We are kneeling to the wrong king.

  10. I’m so glad that a few hardcore environmentalists like David Flemming have woken up to these…ridiculous…proposals. You’re not alone, David. I, too, am 100% in favor of respecting our environment. The current political plan is not even close.

    I’ve done my own analysis of the projected future, and I say “whoah back” on this horse.

    Please take a little while and read through all parts of my “Climate Change” analysis (index at the bottom of each page). I would accept criticism but I believe my estimates are within the ballpark of what is *really* going on:


  11. Most of us took science classes in which it was explained how plants and trees absorb CO2 and water which are both necessary to the photosynthesis process, and emit O2 as a beneficial result. Apparently the “chicken littles” that profess a Climate Armageddon either skipped those classes or weren’t paying attention. CO2 is not the poison that the Greta Thunbergs and John Kerrys of the Green Movement proclaim it to be. They either should stop exhaling or go back to science class and learn how it all works. Let’s save both the trees and humanity and increase our “Carbon Footprint”!

    • I was taught in my science classes, that the climate is indeed changing and has been for the last four and a half billion years, but none of it has ever been because of human activity, roaming herds of animals, or dinosaurs passing dino gas…
      Like ‘Big E’ noted, the false climate crisis is all about control and $$$. It’s not hard to find the testimony of thousands of scientists, those not out trying to scam the public, that climate change is a natural condition of life on earth. Their opinions are just not publicized because they don’t fit the current global political narrative that ‘…the sky is falling!’

  12. Just tax Hawaii for the amount of carbon and not the rest of the country. How many years would it take for human heating and transportation to equal the amount of carbon and sulfur dioxide being spued out by Mauna Loa. The earth pollutes itself more than human activity, but in time, the earth cures itself with it cycle of warming and then plunging into another ice age. Common sense tells me that because another ice age is inevitable, as were the previous ice age cycles, are we better off to try and retard it’s coming by a half of a generation with investing large sums of money into substandard forms of energy or do we spend that same amount of money to prepare the populations to survive the inevitable coming of the next ice age? I say prepare for the next coming.

  13. Where ARE these “Climate Activists” now with Mauna Loa erupting on the big island in Hawaii? It’s spewing TONS of nasty greenhouse gases! This MUST stop! Maybe John Kerry & Al Gore can fly their private jets over to persuade it to STOP it NOW!
    Sure, eventually we must stop burning stuff, ALL stuff, but throwing away our living standards to get there immediately? How many of these Greenies are willing to give up their “devices”? Right now the Swiss are demanding people NOT charge their E/V’s, cut down ALL appliance usage, closing bars & restaurants, etc. as their power from France is dwindling. Do we HEAR anything about THIS in the US “media”? Look to Europe for OUR coming attractions. I’ll believe in the GWSA when private jets are grounded…

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