Can you run the Dutch oven on renewables?

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News from Holland to warm one’s heart and the atmosphere:

Dutch greenhouse gas emissions rose by 5 per cent in 2015 from a year earlier, Statistics Netherlands says, again highlighting the difficulty the country will have meeting its Kyoto Protocol commitments by 2020.

The agency said the reason for the increase was largely due to an increase in use of coal, as three new large coal-fired plants came online in 2015 while gas-fired plants — which produce less carbon dioxide but are more expensive to operate — were moth-balled.

The Kyoto commitment calls for a 25 per cent reduction on the 1990 levels by 2020. By last year that reduction was only 13 per cent. It’s hard to see how the Dutch government – which is at the moment left-wing so you would think it would be trying harder on the environment – can achieve a miracle in only four years. This would require de-energising of the country, which no government – not even a left wing one – would be stupid enough to do, as the renewables won’t do the trick for the Netherlands. At 4 per cent, Holland has the third lowest use of the renewables in the energy mix amongst the OECD countries, after South Korea and Luxemburg (which isn’t even a proper country but, as they say, a bank with its own airport). This surprised me quite a lot. The Netherlands being the country of windmills and the sea, I would have expected more wind and perhaps tidal power (the country is too miserable for solar).

The Netherlands, of course, have achieved peak climate change douchebaggery last year, when a court in The Hague, where I’m currently staying, ordered the government to increase the pace of cuts to the emissions in order to achieve the Kyoto targets. The class action involving several hundred greenie plaintiffs organised by an environmentalist group Urgenda accused their government of negligence for knowingly contributing to the failure to make sufficient cut-backs. The court agreed that cutting the emissions by just 14-17 per cent of the 1990 levels (instead of 25 per cent) was unlawful (!) considering the severity of the climate change threat.

In the brave new world of court-mandated emission targets (don’t you wish the courts had as much enthusiasm about, say, budget deficit, public debt or inflation targets?), judges are going to have about as much luck with the evil CO2 as King Canute had with waves. And so, more than a year after the judgment, the emissions are up, not down, in a perhaps unintentional FU to the court.

Anthropogenic climate change might or might not be a sham, but the governments the world over have behaved as if it is. So far, the CO2 reduction efforts have been a boon to spivs and speculators, with the renewables industry sucking on the taxpayers’ tit as well as charging consumers like a wounded bull. In the longer term you don’t make something sustainably cheaper and more competitive by subsidising it. If the renewable energy is ever to make it as a serious alternative to the cheap coal and gas it will only be through more research and development that will make it more effective and less expensive to produce. Until then, you can keep suing your government until the methane-producing Frisian cows come home and convert to solar.

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