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The Carbon Crunch [Kindle Edition]

Dieter Helm
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Despite commitments to renewable energy and two decades of international negotiations, global emissions continue to rise. Coal, the most damaging of all fossil fuels, has actually risen from 25% to almost 30% of world energy use. And while European countries have congratulated themselves on reducing emissions, they have increased their carbon imports from China and other developing nations, who continue to expand their coal use. As standards of living increase in developing countries, coal use can only increase as well—and global temperatures along with it.

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"Helm's credentials couldn't be more impressive...This intelligent though depressing tome should inform future debates."-Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly "An optimistically levelheaded book about actually dealing with global warming."-Kirkus, starred review Kirkus "The Carbon Crunch is a powerful and heartfelt plea for hard-nosed realism. And it also suggests a worrying truth - that the environmental movement is often more interested in pursuing a soft-focus vision of a greener world than in actually fixing climate change."-Fred Pearce, New Scientist -- Fred Pearce New Scientist "Dieter Helm's lucid assessment of the risks of climate change and what we can do about it, has attracted fierce criticism from Green groups - not for his diagnosis, with which they agree, but for his prescription. Helm is clear that man-made climate change is occurring; but he has no faith in renewables and argues that global agreements such as Kyoto are a waste of time ... Moreover, the best weapon against climate change is research and development - government-funded science will have to get us out of this, which means less cash for wind-farms. Sounds like common sense."-Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday -- Brandon Robshaw Independent on Sunday "Dieter Helm's The Carbon Crunch [is] a forensically deadly attack on the failures and obfuscations of current debates on global warming. The world, he shows, now faces a 'carbon crunch', from which there is no pain-free exit. Helm's book should be compulsory reading for the entire political class as well as the bureaucratic elite and the commentariat."-David Marquand, New Statesman -- David Marquand New Statesman

About the Author

Dieter Helm, CBE, is professor of energy policy, University of Oxford and fellow in Economics at New College, Oxford. He is a member of the Economic Advisory Committee to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Chair of the Natural Capital Committee.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outsourcing carbon emissions 27 Nov. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The history of international attempts to address global warming can be traced back to the Rio conference of the early 1990s, which led to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the twenty years since Rio, agreements have been signed, targets set, laws passed and speeches made. Whole industries have grown up to tackle the problem. But for all the time and money that has been expended, the result so far has been utter failure. The unspinnable fact is that carbon emissions relentlessly continue to rise; the rate of increase is if anything getting faster.

Why? Who's to blame? What should be done? These are the three questions which lie at the heart of Dieter Helm's provocative and entertaining monograph.

The main reason for the relentless increase in emissions is, of course, the build out of coal burning power stations, particularly in China.

It is common therefore to hear China being blamed for the lack of progress on climate change. European leaders often point to the fact that emissions are falling in most European countries and argue that they are 'leading' on climate change, while implying that sadly nothing can be done about Chinese emissions.

Helm doesn't buy this smug European line. Take the example of Britain. Our production of carbon in the last twenty years has fallen; our consumption of carbon has not. Essentially we are outsourcing our emissions to China and other less developed economies. We let China pollute on our behalf, and then pretend it is nothing to do with us.

One of the key problems with the targets that have been set in Britain and Europe is that they focus on the wrong variable: carbon production rather than carbon consumption.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, but a few gaps 31 Dec. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely interesting book and should be read by all with an interest in combating anthropogenic climate change - particularly policy makers. It lays out the history of climate change talks from Rio, through to Kyoto and on to recent talks in Copenhagen and Durban, explaining why they are hailed as successes, even though they have produced little in the way of visible results. Helm also dispels many prevalent myths such as the potential contribution current renewable technologies and energy efficiency measures can make - typically vastly overstated by environmental groups. He comments on the damage which results from picking energy generation winners, such as spending enormous amounts of money on wind power programmes which can only ever provide energy intermittently and are therefore normally backed up by fossil fuel plants. This approach means that money is not being put into other technologies where we would get more bang for our buck. After clarifying why past policies have failed and current policies will have little positive effect, he sets out his own short, medium and long term plans to address climate change.

He rightly states that the first objective of every country is to stop using coal for energy generation. From a carbon dioxide perspective, coal produces roughly double the emissions per unit of energy production when compared to gas. Gas (e.g. CCGT) power plants are a well developed technology which can be built quickly and relatively cheaply. Increasing gas energy production would lead to a reduction in emissions, especially in countries like China and India. He correctly identifies why carbon taxes in the developed world are explicitly flawed, since manufacturing is increasingly being exported to the developing world along with the associated emissions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By David
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you have any interest in energy, read this book. It's well written and accessible - you don't need to know anything about the technicality side of energy, the science of climate change, or economics. You'll get lots of insights and new understanding. The down-side is that you might be worried you were getting a one-sided view and might need to read more. So don't make this your one and only venture into understanding this mightily important subject.

Dieter Helm is, deservedly a well known energy expert, a great communicator, and enjoys being a controversialist. It doesn't mean, he's wrong. Indeed it is quite hard to fault many of his arguments. His prescriptions are weaker - but definitely worthy of the attention of policy makers.

Briefly the thrust of the argument is: - in targeting reducing our carbon-footprint by increasing renewable generation in the UK, particularly wind, we are focussing on the wrong things. Because of de-industrialisation in the West (i.e. industry is shifting to places like China and we are buying their manufactured good) we should be tackling where carbon generation is driving carbon consumption. We have simply exported the problem and the small amount we are doing to shift to low carbon electricity generation is so tiny as not to have any overall impact. The solution to that is a carbon tax.

Accepting, however that we should do something about shifting to low (er) carbon electricity generation in the UK, picking wind was a bad idea. Lots of people dislike wind-farms for many reasons - Helm's has a very specific and powerful argument.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be more widely read
I think its very good book which addresses not only the current policy failures, but why, considering that Climate Change is a huge issue, the public aren't more on side. Read more
Published 4 months ago by penname
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful study, with both good and bad proposals
Dieter Helm, the Professor of Energy Policy at Oxford University, is a member of the Economics Advisory Group to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Read more
Published 5 months ago by William Podmore
5.0 out of 5 stars The Carbon Crunch - please read this to find out the facts that are...
A very thought provoking book that anyone who has anything to say about climate change should read. You may be surprised to learn that the USA is the only country in what is known... Read more
Published 10 months ago by travelling girl 2007
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for politicians, policy-makers and NGOs
A tour de force that cuts through the convenient political hype and NGO posturing. This book presents a rarely heard voice of reason, from someone who has studied the topic of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars very good view
This is a very we'll thought out view of where we have let the politicians lead us, the conclusions at the end of the book sums up my thinking on what we must all do to put right... Read more
Published 11 months ago by M. smith
4.0 out of 5 stars If you want to buy a book on dealing with climate change, buy this...
Superb critique of the green movement and how obstructive they've been to quicker fixes. How governments have bowed to 'public' pressure, otherwise known as the green fanatics. Read more
Published 12 months ago by paulyb
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book
A helpful summary of current policy and the problems with it. Surprisingly for a book about economics, it is gripping and really easy to read. Read more
Published 17 months ago by bob
5.0 out of 5 stars best carbon book i have read
This is the best carbon book i have read - very clear thinking, it explains what is going on (green lobby that hate nuclear rather than wanting to reduce emissions) - also tells... Read more
Published 18 months ago by karl jeffery
1.0 out of 5 stars same lies
same lies repeated that we are causing global warming even though the world has COOLED down in the last 15 years!!! Google the truth and ignore this rubbish.
Published 19 months ago by the-truth
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor analysis from a professor of energy policy
I expected better than apologism masquerading as analysis, especially from a professor of energy policy at Oxford, and one who has the ear of government. Read more
Published 20 months ago by SimonT
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