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The Guardian: Finding the right focus

The Guardian: Finding the right focus

Thursday June 24, 2004

· Lord Oxburgh of Shell rightly draws attention to carbon capture and storage (I’m really very worried for the planet, June 17) as part of our armoury against climate change. Studies on this option deserve considerably greater resources. But it would be irresponsible, as Lord Oxburgh suggests, for this to be our main response. Carbon sequestration could yet provide a weapon of last resort in a rapidly deteriorating climate scenario but its safety is unproven. This would be like prioritising leaking landfill sites over waste minimisation and recycling in the UK’s solid waste hierarchy.

Dr Paul K Hatchwell

Editor, Climate Change Management

· Ron Oxburgh stresses geological sequestration of carbon, but much more can be done to reduce emissions in the short, medium and long term. The city of Toronto cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42% from 1990, while Germany reduced emissions by 20% between 1990 and 2002. BP cut emissions by 18% in three years, saving an estimated $650m. In the UK, Woking cut municipal emissions by 75%, has 10% of the entire UK solar capacity, and has saved 40% on its energy bills.

Ron Oxburgh’s statement is to be broadly welcomed. We look forward to Shell further strengthening its position.

Dr Steve Howard

CEO, The Climate Group

· The government is placing its faith in wind power to meet its 10% renewables commitment by 2010. This is unrealistic, considering the power of public opposition to delay projects.

Britain’s outstanding resource is its tides. If the potential of the 42 sites for tidal stream energy as identified by the EU, and tidal rise and fall in our major estuaries, were exploited, accounting for their load factors, they could produce up to 76,000 megawatts of predictable electricity. This would involve various technologies like underwater tidal mills, tidal pounds, and innovative technologies like the tidal fence – all with greater energy densities than wind turbines. A further 9,000MW is available through wave power – significantly more than the UK grid’s annual output.

Peter F Smith

Special Professor in Sustainable Energy, School of the Built Environment, University of Nottingham

· Winston Churchill said that scientists should be kept on tap, not on top. What would he make of the latest alarmist statements on climate change, from Messrs Lovelock, King and now Lord Oxburgh, almost always unchallenged by governments?

Far more likely is that we have a problem, not a looming catastrophe. Lord Oxburgh may think there’s little hope without sequestration. I’ve more faith in off-the-shelf, lower-cost technology, from companies like Toyota now building electric hybrid cars such as the Prius – achieved without any government subsidy.

Dan Lewis

Director, Environmental Affairs, Stockholm Network

http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/opinion/story/0,12981,1245581,00.html

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