Gas heating, cooking to be phased out: Dutch government plans

 The use of gas to cook and for heating will be phased out in the Netherlands under the government’s new energy strategy up to 2050.
The Energieagenda policy document, published on Wednesday, states that gas firms will no longer be required to connect households to the gas supply and that no new gas infrastructure will be developed. Instead homes and offices will be heated by surplus heat generated by industry and waste incineration as well as from geothermal sources. Cooking will be done on electric hobs.
The Energieagenda is a follow up to the energy agreement reached in 2013 between the government, industry, lobby groups and unions. That agreement set out a programme to ensure 16% of Dutch energy requirements are met from sustainable sources by 2023.
Now, in order to meet the agreement reached in Paris last year, CO2 emissions must be reduced to almost zero by 2050, Kamp says. In an interview with the NRC, Kamp said that the shift to a gas-free society will happen gradually. Some seven million households are currently connected to the gas grid.
Other measures in the new plan involve phasing out the use of non-sustainable fuels in the transport sector, more investment in cycling and measures to boost solar and wind power generation by individual households. The plan also envisages that all new cars in the Netherlands will be powered by sustainable sources from 2035.
Cost estimates for the switch currently vary so much that the government has commissioned extra research to assess the financial implications of the plan. They will be published mid 2017.

Last month Amsterdam city council published a plan to rid the city of gas-fired cooking and central heating by 2050. Next year, the aim is to remove 10,000 housing corporation homes from the gas network, city alderman Abdeluheb Choho said. In addition, two new residential areas are already being built without links to the gas network.

The above article is re-posted from   where it appeared on Wednesday 7 December 2016

This is only one small demonstration of the lack of information available to the Australian population about what other countries are doing.  The Commonwealth and State governments make the most of this to try to convince us that what they are doing is in line with the rest of the world, when the reality is that we are one of the global laggards in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Studies on health and environmental concerns related to hydraulic fracturing

My apologies for the gap in posting.  I’ve been flat out on a number of fronts, from going to Sydney to catch up with two Lao friends who were at the Parks Congress, searching for data to support a friend’s immigration case, getting our place (more) fire-ready in the face of the crazy hot weather over the last weekend (43degC here on Saturday, with very low humidity and high winds), setting up a greywater diversion system, and getting my Dragon Fruit cuttings potted – among other things.

One of the things I’m working on is a post on the Texas town of Denton which voted in a municipal ordinanced banning fracking within the city limits early this month.  Still some work to do on it, but it seems like a nice case study to give people an idea of what could be in store here.

On the Frack Free Denton website I found a small bibliography of studies in health and environmental issues associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  I can’t vouch for its completeness or accuracy, but it is worth a look for anyone wanting to amass material to fight coal seam gas activities in the Lockyer Valley Region.

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Coal Seam Gas and the Gatton Star Poll on Mining in the LVR

LVR Mining Poll in Gatton Star - results 13 NovWOW!  This is the score at 9.30pm on 13 November.  Three days ago, when I wrote the last post and pointed readers to the poll the ‘No’ vote was 84%.  Well done people.

If you know of anyone who might not have voted on this, please ask them to use this link to register their opposition to coal seam gas exploration or extraction in the Lockyer Valley Region:

Let’s keep these destructive activities out of the Lockyer Valley Region – not just the productive farmland in the valley bottoms, but the ridges and forested areas as well.  This industry is far too impacting to be allowed anywhere near our farms, homes, schools, businesses, or natural environment areas.

You can check on the latest poll figures here:

The Coal Seam Gas Meeting in Grantham on Sunday 9 Nov.

We went to the Lock the Gate / LVRC  /LVRC Ratepayers meeting on coal seam gas at Grantham yesterday.  A very well organised event, with a large turnout from the community and some very good speakers and a broad range of topics covered..  This can be seen as the first major step (I know there have been other initiatives) on the path to galvanising public opposition to coal seam gas exploration in the Lockyer Valley Region.  The organisers deserve our congratulations and thanks for their efforts to bring people together to hear the message.

There’s certainly not only already a large local opposition to the idea of even exploration for CSG in the LVR, but also existing connections to anti-CSG campaings elsewhere. Both are sure to grow rapidly.

Just an idea: maybe a local group could be called Lock Yer Gates?

One of the things that we found out at yesterday’s meeting was that there’s an online poll running on the Gatton Star website.

The question being asked is:  “Do you support mining in the Lockyer Valley?” which is kind of a dumb question in the sense that in general usage the term “mining” covers a whole range of activities from quarrying road base through architectural sandstone extraction to open-cut coal mining.  However I think that in the current climate we can take it as a proxy question for “Do you support coal seam gas activities in the Lockyer Valley Region?”

From the latter point of view I think that the current tally for the poll (84% No and 15% Yes) is likely to be unrepresentative of the views of the community.  But the poll isn’t closed yet.

Since there are likely to be those (conservative politicians and mining companies spring to mind) who will tout the result as reflecting community views on coal seam gas if it seems that we are divided as a community, I think that it is really important that as many as possible of us with strong “no” views to vote.  Other communities throughout the country have polled 90%+ against (probably with better-worded poll questions). We can do the same here.

Here’s the web address for the poll:

The coal seam gas industry (and our political masters) need to be told loud and clear that there is no social licence whatsovever for CSG operations in the Lockyer Valley Region.

Please, spread this message among your friends.

Don’t be fooled by the coal seam gas industry’s advertising

I love The Conversation.  There isn’t a morning goes by that I don’t find at least one enlightening, fascinating, or just plain interesting article in their daily serve of articles – though I do suspect that it could be bad for my health.  Sitting with the laptop on my knees over breakfast for two hours can’t be good.  Memo to self: get up more often; and spread reading of The Conversation over the day.

Today’s “must share” story is about the three myths that the coal seam gas industry wants to have us believe as part of their campaign to sell the idea that it’s in Australia’s national interest to allow a massive expansion of coal seam gas activities.  These are:

Myth 1: The gas industry is a big employer

Rather than the 100,000 jobs that they claim were created in their industry last year, CSG employment is too small for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to measure as a separate category.  Even the combined employment in the whole oil and gas industry as at November 2013 was only 23,200 – whereas Bunnings employs around 36,000 people Australia-wide.

Myth 2: More CSG will stop the gas price rises

There is a considerable difference between the Australian domestic gas price and the price in international trade.  The domestic market will be competing more and more with that international price as export volumes increase.  Any of you who use gas in your home will have seen very significant rises in gas prices over the last five years – well, the impact of international trade contract prices hasn’t really begun to bite yet.  CSG will only bring down domestic gas prices if there is such a glut of gas in the international market that prices crash, leading to flow-on effects in the domestic market.  This might happen eventually, but not any time soon.

Myth 3: CSG can act as a low-emission “bridge” from coal to renewables

This is a longstanding argument from the CSG industry, along the lines of “Don’t worry, it’s just a transition phase, and luckily it has a lot less emissions than burning coal”.

But is it just a transition fuel – what would the lifetimes of CSG-burning power plants be, and would they be likely to be abandoned before that lifetime expired (or while there are still supplies of CSG available)?  Wouldn’t the resistance from industry and government to moving to renewables be just as great in relation to CSG resources and infrastructure as it is to the transition from coal?

As for the lower emissions from burning CSG – yes, natural gas, including CSG, does have lower emissions when it is burned to produce electricity.  However the process of extracting CSG turns out to substantially reduce its emission reduction benefits.  Fugitive emissions, including those resulting from leaks out of the ground associated with hydraulic fracking, have not been properly assessed in the approval of Australian CSG operations.  In the United States, studies on shale gas have found that fugitive emissions rates are substantially higher than from extraction of conventional natural gas.

Anyway, this is a rather long-winded introduction to the article in The Conversation, where you’ll find a whole lot more information, as well as links to further sources, including a just-published report, Fracking the Future, which sets out a lot of background information on this issue.

Peak oil, fracking and the fate of technological society

Been a while between posts – mostly due to ongoing shoulder problems causing chronic pain and a resultant lack of interest in doing anything that requires focussed concentration.  Now I have discovered that the physical posture associated with sitting meditation takes the pressure off the damaged areas and virtually eliminates the pain – possibly for 12 hours or more, so more blogging may be on the way.

I’ve just been reading a great post by the Archdruid, addressing the apparently increasingly widespread view that coal seam gas and shale oil fracking have solved the world’s fossil fuel dilemma by permanently banishing the spectre of peak oil and, starting with the US, have put us back on the road to endless technological progress and economic growth.  The reality, as he says so eloquently is that:

… technological progress, as well as the sciences that helped to make it possible, are subject to the law of diminishing returns; furthermore, that what has been called progress is in large part a mere side effect of a short-term, self-limiting process of stripping the planet’s easily accessible carbon reserves at an extravagant pace, and will stop in its tracks and shift into reverse as those reserves run short; more broadly, that modern industrial society is in no way exempt from the common fate of civilizations.

Click HERE to read a very well argued presentation of the evidence that the reserves can be produced using fracking and other CSG technologies are within the predicted long tail of fossil fuel reserves that would become accessible once prices were sufficiently high, and make no difference to the arrival of peak oil or the eventual outcome.