Bjorn Lomborg on World energy mix

I am reposting here a post by Bjørn Lomborg in his fb wall early today. Thanks for this great piece, Bjorn.
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The world is mostly run on fossil fuels (81.4%). Nuclear makes up 5% with 13.6% from renewables. Solar panels and wind turbines contribute less than 0.7%.

When you hear 13.6% renewables, you will likely think ‘wow, things are going pretty well with the change-over to renewables’. But these are not the ones you hear about. The biggest contributor is wood, used in the poor world to cook and keep warm. This leads to terrible indoor air pollution – it is actually the world’s deadliest environmental problem, killing some 4.3 million people each year. We should definitely hope the poor will have to use *less* polluting wood in the future.

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The other main contributors of renewables are biofuels (e.g. the American forests, cut down and shipped across the Atlantic to be burnt in European power plants to be called green and CO₂ neutral) and hydropower. In total, that makes up 12.1%. The last 1.5% comes mostly from geothermal energy (0.54%) and wind turbines (0.53%) along with solar heaters in China, tidal power etc. (0.29%) and solar panels (0.13%).

Contrary to the weight of news stories on how solar and wind is taking over the world, solar panels and wind turbines really make up a very small part of the global energy mix. (I started out coloring solar panels yellow, but the thin sliver at the top became invisible.)

Sources: The International Energy Agency has released their latest Renewable Energy Information 2017, http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/…/renewables-information…. It contains 488 pages of data, with preliminary data for the rich world for 2016, but for the entire world for 2015. Unfortunately, the data is not free.

Since solar PV constitutes such a small part of the energy supply, the International Energy Agency combines it with tidal, solar CSP and solar thermal (the water heaters on rooftops for direct hot water). In 2014, the split was 34% for solar PV, 0% for tidal, 6% for CSP and 60% for thermal, so I applied the same split to the data for 2015.

All data is Total Primary Energy Supply, which is the International Energy Agency’s own main measure, also used in all their graphs for global energy balances.

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Top 10 myths for oil tax hike

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last January 17, 2017.

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An excise tax is defined by the Department of Finance (DoF) as “a tax on products that have a negative effect on health or the environment… on nonessentials and luxury items.” With this definition, the DoF therefore, should abolish the tax on oil products, not increase it.

Here also are the 10 myths and alibi why the DoF and other sectors tend to demonize oil and are proposing oil tax to be as high as possible.

MYTH 1
OIL IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.

Truth: Transportation of people and goods via cars, jeepneys, buses, and trucks that use oil is good for the environment because there will be no need for millions of cows, carabaos, or horses that produce tons of animal manure on the roads daily. Sure, there are particulates and other polluting gases but they are minor compared to tons of animal manure everywhere, more dirt, flies and worms in the environment. Also, cheaper LPG will encourage poor households to stop using firewood and charcoal for cooking which will result in more trees being saved.

MYTH 2
OIL IS BAD FOR PEOPLE’S HEALTH.

Truth: Cars, vans, jeepneys, and buses that use oil spare the oldies, sick, babies, pregnant women, etc. of hard labor and more diseases due to exposure to heat, rains, dust, and exhaustion if they were to ride bicycles or skateboards or animals that do not use oil. Also, transport of agricultural products from Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, or Bicol to Manila via animals not trucks will only lead to food spoilage. People will have little or no access to fresh vegetables and fruits, resulting in poor health.

MYTH 3
OIL IS NOT A PUBLIC GOOD.

Truth: Oil is a public good. As shown above, no petroleum, no modern and comfortable life, no mass production of food and transportation of people and goods. Public goods like public education, public health care, roads, bridges, etc. are either provided to the people for free or highly subsidized prices. Oil as a public good only needs zero tax, or at least low tax.

MYTH 4
MORE CO2 EMISSION FROM OIL MEANS MORE POLLUTION, MORE “MAN-MADE” CLIMATE CHANGE.

Truth: CO2 is not a pollutant gas; it is a useful gas. It is the gas that humans exhale, the gas that our pets and farm animals exhale, the gas that plants use to produce their own food via photosynthesis. Climate change is natural and cyclical. Planet Earth is 4.6B years old, there was climate change ever since marked by warming and cooling cycles.

MYTH 5
INCREASING THE OIL TAX IS NECESSARY TO FINANCE MORE PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE.

Truth: Government has trillions of pesos already from income taxes (corporate and individual), VAT; excise tax from alcohol, tobacco, mining, new vehicles; from documentary stamp tax, franchise tax, from annual vehicle registration tax, withholding tax, capital gains tax, travel tax. And from various regulatory fees (passport fees, driver’s licenses, terminal fees, etc.)

Government simply has too many personnel, officials, employees, consultants and pensioners; too many offices, travels, trainings, and meetings. Perhaps these items alone constitute about 70%-80% of the annual budget. So little is left for public infra, school buildings, government hospitals, etc.

MYTH 6
THE OIL TAX INCREASE WILL HAVE MINIMAL IMPACT ON THE POOR.

Truth: Oil is used by the poor not only in jeepneys but also in tricycles, farm tractors and harvesters, irrigation pumps, fishing boats, interisland boats, generator sets in off-grid islands. While the DoF plans to introduce “Pantawid Pasada” for jeepneys, nothing has been allotted for farm tractors and other equipment used by poorer farmers, fisherfolks, hunters, etc.

As shown below, fishing boats that use gasoline, tractors and irrigation pumps that use diesel, tricycles that also use gasoline, will be slapped with 12%-19% price hike simply because of the proposed tax hike (see table).

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MYTH 7
THE OIL TAX INCREASE WILL HIT THE RICH MORE THAN THE POOR.

Truth: Oil use is a small portion of the overall consumption of the rich. The rich buy more expensive but more fuel-efficient cars and SUVs, they spend more on expensive restaurants, hotels, schools and universities, condos and subdivisions, etc.

MYTH 8
FOOD PRICES WILL NOT GO UP SIGNIFICANTLY WITH OIL TAX HIKE.

As mentioned above, oil is used not only by trucks, jeeps, and boats that transport agriculture, meat and fishery products. Oil is also used by farm tractors and harvesters, fishing boats. A 3.6% food inflation in 2016 (despite around 50% hike in diesel prices) is not small for the poor.

MYTH 9
NO OR LOW EXCISE TAX MEANS SUBSIDIZING THE OIL CONSUMPTION OF THE MIDDLE CLASS AND RICH.

Truth: There is no subsidy, zero, unlike subsidies for public education and health care or rice price subsidies using tax money. When you walk down the street and encounter a mugger who didn’t demand your money, you do not owe that mugger anything.

MYTH 10
GOVERNMENT IS LOSING SOME P145 BILLION/YEAR POTENTIAL OIL TAX REVENUES.

Truth: Government has no entitlement to more income and savings of the people other than income taxes that are already high, and other existing taxes. Government is losing more from wasteful spending or stolen money via corruption. Government can save more money for infrastructure by reducing too many personnel and consultants and by abolishing and defunding old welfare programs that do not work before it creates new welfare programs.

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the head of Minimal Government Thinkers and a Fellow of SEANET. Both are members of Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia.

Malaysia and Singapore at night and nat gas power

I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last Sunday-Tuesday, for the IPRI 2015 launching + other visits arranged by IDEAS and SEANET. It was my second visit in KL this year, I was there last April for another SEANET event.

My 5+pm return MAS flight to Manila (arrival should have been 9:20pm) on Tuesday was cancelled, should be due to additional APEC security measures in Manila. I needed to go back home, so IDEAS got a new ticket for me, KL-SG-Mla via SG Air. Left KL Tuesday at 9:45pm, left SG at 12:20am, Manila by 4:30am.

So, I was able to see KL and suburbs at night from the air as I took the window seat. Again, like what I saw in Thailand last month when I arrived Bangkok at midnight (see Thailand’s bright nights and nat gas power), Malaysia has a wide, huge area of well-lighted roads, houses and buildings.

This photo I got from the web, not from my camera. It shows KL center and suburbs. The dark areas are the many urban forest in KL.

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The bright and well-lighted areas go beyond KL and suburbs. Stretched to other urban centers further down, to Johor and other cities bordering with Singapore.

Below, Singapore at night; again, this photo I got from the web, not from my camera. It simply captures the well-lighted city-state, from the shorelines to other sides.

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I am glad that like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore do not believe in mandatory switch to unreliable, intermittent wind and solar power made “cheaper” only because of various subsidies. They rely on the old, dependable coal and  natural gas, for their electricity needs.

In 2012, these countries and economies were dependent on the following energy sources:

Thailand: 20% coal + 70.3% nat gas + 1.5% oil = 91.8% fossil fuel.
Malaysia: 41.5% coal + 46.6% nat gas + 4.5% oil = 92.6% fossil fuel.
Singapore: 84.3% nat gas + 13% oil = 95.3% fossil fuel.

Indonesia: 48.7% coal + 23.2% nat gas + 16.7% oil = 88.6% fossil fuel.
Vietnam: 17.9% coal + 35.8% nat gas + 2.7% oil = 56.4% fossil fuel.
Philippines: 38.8% coal + 26.9% nat gas + 5.8% oil = 71.5% fossil fuel.

Hong Kong: 70.3% coal + 27.3% nat gas + 2.1% oil = 99.7% fossil fuel.
S. Korea: 44.8% coal + 20.9% nat gas + 4.0% oil = 69.7% fossil fuel.
China: 75.8% coal + 1.8% nat gas and oil = 77.6% fossil fuel.

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Source: ADB, Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2015, Table 6.1

So when people say they dislike or hate fossil fuels yet also dislike or hate frequent brownouts and expensive electricity, they proudly and openly exhibit their hypocrisy and double talk.

In one fb thread of a friend, he commented that during the APEC meetings, US President Obama posed climate change (CC) as a challenge that government and business leaders must take action.

I commented that the main reason why we have electricity in M.Manila for the APEC and similar events, the reason why many people can do fb and attack “man-made” CC, is because of those power plants that run on fossil fuels.  Frequent brownouts and candles are NOT nice to “save the planet.” Watch more fires because of more candles. Watch more crimes and road accidents because of dark streets.

There are many people who advocate or support the “anti-fossil fuel movement.” We can assume that they have no car or motorcycle, that they do not take a jeepney or taxi or bus, does not ride an airplane — ALL of these run on fossil fuel.

The anti-fossil fuel movement is notorious for hypocrisy and double talk. The Paris meeting in less than two weeks will have thousands of petroleum-bashing planet saviours who reach Paris via fossil fuel-fed planes and cars.

CC is natural, it is nature-made, not man-made. It is cyclical, warming-cooling-warming-cooling, endless cycle, not “unprecedented”. CC is true, it happened in the past even if humans did not even ride a bicycle or invented shoes. It is happening now, and it will happen in the future.

As I told my friend in the past, climate alarmis, ss(“it is man-made, period!”) will never be interested in dialogues or even debates. The big ones and leaders are interested only in climate money, something like $100B a year, or $500B a year, or $5 trillion a year, take your pick. The non-big ones are interested only in spreading alarmism.

The Pope, ahh, when he came to Manila, his plane was using water, or it was being towed by hundreds of witches on flying brooms or carpets.