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Say Goodbye To Gas

December 19, 2015

By Paul Homewood 



We looked yesterday at Bob Ward’s suggestion that gas heating and cooking would need to be rapidly phased out by the 2030’s, if carbon targets were to be met. How close is he to the truth?

Let’s have a look at the GHG numbers from DECC, which are only available up to 2013 at the moment. Gummer’s Committee on Climate Change is already pressing for a cut, from 1990 levels, of 57% for the Fifth Carbon Plan, which runs 2028-32. Let us therefore assume a target of 63% for the next five year period; this would keep us on line for 80% decarbonisation by 2050.


DECC have a number of interesting charts in their Greenhouse Gas Emissions Statistical Release.

The first shows how most of the reduction in emissions to date has been from Non CO2 gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide.





Figure 3 reveals that energy supply only accounts for 33% of total emissions. It follows that, even if we could totally decarbonise the power sector, there would still need to be big cuts in other sectors.




Since 1990, the energy supply sector has reduced emissions by 89 MtCO2e, equivalent to 11% of total GHG.




Now let’s take a closer look at the other sectors:









(Changes in the other two sectors, public sector and LULUCF, are small).


Emission savings in agriculture have levelled off in the last few years, so it is difficult seeing any further significant change, which leaves the three main sectors: transport, business and residential.

There have been reductions in business, much no doubt due to a smaller manufacturing sector. But even here emissions have remained stable since 2009, suggesting that, short of industrial capacity being slashed, there is little likelihood of further substantial savings.

Meanwhile it is pretty much as you were in the transport and residential sectors.


So we have a dilemma.

We can look at GHG emissions in another way, by fuel:




Emissions of CO2 from coal amounted to 121 MtCO2 in 2013. But, according to DECC, only 82% went into electricity generation. So once all coal power production is ceased, we would see a reduction of 99 MtCO2.

Currently, GHG emissions are 568 MtCO2e, and a 63% targeted cut from 1990 levels would mean 299 MtCO2e. Therefore eliminating coal from the mix would still leave us at 469 MtCO2e, a long way from the target for 2035.

What about electricity generated from gas? According to DECC, this only accounts for 31% of total gas consumption, implying emissions of 57 MtCO2e. Even if we found a way of running the electricity grid with no coal or gas, we would still be looking at emissions of 412 MtCO2e, still way above target.


So where will the axe fall? It is reasonable to assume that the low hanging fruit has already been picked, and that there is limited scope for any further reduction in non CO2 gases.

Which leaves transport and domestic heating. Combined GHG emissions in these two sectors totalled 194 MtCO2e in 2013. To get from 412 to 299 MtCO2e, this figure would have to fall to 81 MtCO2e. And this all assumes that the electricity supply system can cope with no gas fired generation, and a massive increase in demand from decarbonised transport and heating.


So it all looks as if we can kiss goodbye to our gas cookers and boilers, not to mention our cars!





1) GHG emissions from DECC


2) Energy statistics from DECC

  1. saveenergy permalink
    December 19, 2015 7:31 pm

    You can bet ghastly Gummer won’t be cutting his consumption !!

  2. December 19, 2015 7:44 pm

    Water vapour is the main ‘greenhouse gas’. Messing about with concentrations of trace gases will not make much difference to anything.

    ‘So it all looks as if we can kiss goodbye to our gas cookers and boilers, not to mention our cars!’

    Or find a political party to vote for that doesn’t agree with that 😉

  3. December 19, 2015 8:04 pm

    I have read somewhere that the Govt. is putting the gas grid up for sale.
    With Chinese fingers on the nuclear power switch and no coal power stations;when the wind stops and the sun dont shine—no energy security—no energy—we die.
    Well done comrade Cameron.

  4. john cooknell permalink
    December 19, 2015 8:13 pm

    This was known when our politicians enacted the Climate Change Act.

    Maybe they were hoping for a miracle to occur !

  5. December 19, 2015 8:29 pm

    This astonishingly impractical ‘policy’ puts me in mind of one of the main reasons that the Beeching cuts to the railways were so quickly enacted without any additional bus services being put in place. Politicians were convinced, presumably by ‘government advisors’ at the time, that most public transport was going to be replaced by helicopters.

  6. S Allnutt permalink
    December 19, 2015 9:08 pm

    It might be informative on some occasion to put natural GHG emissions on the graphs as well for the unenlightened.

  7. John Peter permalink
    December 19, 2015 9:21 pm

    It looks to me as if UKIP eventually will get a majority if/when this scenario is enacted by CON/LIB/LAB (if ever – I would say never) Put that in a manifesto and watch what will happen. It looks to me as if CON (driven by Osborne) is sneaking towards the exit door from the Climate Change Act without admitting so much. Just cut the money and the subsidies claiming the users must be protected from excessive energy bills. As to mandating a shutdown of gas fired central heating – forget it.

  8. Joe Public permalink
    December 19, 2015 9:44 pm

    “Say Goodbye To Gas” – but not in the near future.

    In 2014 GB gas demand was 835TWh vs 345TWh for power demand; and, only 20% of the gas demand was by gas fired power stations.

  9. Paul2 permalink
    December 19, 2015 11:00 pm

    This is one more reason not to vote in general elections and definitely not to vote in any in/out referendum. Whoever you choose and if you vote yes or no to staying in Europe you still have cretins running the show.

  10. Richard111 permalink
    December 20, 2015 8:10 am

    Can anyone please direct me to any source that explains exactly how a ‘greenhouse gas’ works with provable science in the explanation.
    The only ‘back radiation’ from the atmosphere that has any noticeable effect is clouds.
    Anyone can check this; note how the temperature drops after sunset when it has been clear skies all day. If a bank of cloud arrives overhead after midnight, must be 10/10ths, you will notice the temperature rising. There must be little to no wind.
    Back radiation from the cloud base is reducing the radiative cooling of the surface and subsurface heat is rising and warming the air by conduction/convection.
    As I said above there must be little to no wind to observe this effect.

    • Roy Hartwell permalink
      December 20, 2015 11:17 am

      It’s always appeared to me that the GHG advocates seem to take a simplistic ‘insulation’ viewpoint rather than the more sophisticated (and scientifically correct ? ) adsorption / re-radiation model. The re-radiation, of course, does not occur in a linear direction (i.e. straight back to the ground ) but is dispersed over a much wider angle, much of it being directed out to space.
      Happy to be corrected if this is wrong or too simplistic.

    • December 20, 2015 1:11 pm

      Radiation from water vapour is also noticeable, here is a readable article on nighttime temperatures:

      • Richard111 permalink
        December 21, 2015 10:02 am

        Thanks for that link climanrecon, a good easy read for anyone interested in the weather.

  11. manicbeancounter permalink
    December 20, 2015 9:35 am

    Well done on showing how the UK target of emissions reductions will not be met from reductions in the energy sector. However, for clarity, can I put one comment in the proper context?
    Since 1990, the energy supply sector has reduced emissions by 89 MtCO2e, equivalent to 11% of total GHG.
    From table SPM.2 of the UNIPCC AR5 Synthesis Report, global emissions have increased from 38,000 MtCO2e in 1990 to 49,000 MtCO2e in 2010. In 2013 emissions were about 51,000 MtCO2e. Without the reductions in the UK energy supply sector global emissions would have been 0.17% higher. The difference made by emissions reductions policies is much lower than than that figure.
    The context is valid, as global warming is alleged to be caused by global GHG emissions. It is immoral to engage in costly policies to reduce UK emissions unless it is part of a global plan to reduce global emissions. After COP21 it clear that no such plan exists.

  12. Bloke down the pub permalink
    December 20, 2015 12:52 pm

    I predict that should these plans come to fruition, there will soon arise a flourishing black market trade in bottled gas which, as it would be illegal, will probably be run by ISIL to help pay for the caliphate.

  13. R2Dtoo permalink
    December 20, 2015 2:36 pm

    This would all end quickly if the folks demanded that government lead by example. Parliament, and all other government buildings should be set at 10C, and all workers can wear heavier clothing. All government workers must use public transit to and from work. All government vehicles must be “electric”, all government meetings must be held “electronically” and air travel restricted. The COPites can ride their bicycles to the next meeting. Should last about two days!

  14. J Martin permalink
    December 20, 2015 6:57 pm

    It could sort of be done eventually. But the morons we employ for politicians don’t have sufficient brain cells to work out how to get there so it won’t happen.

    It would require thorium power stations, massive investment in improved electrical transmission infrastructure to allow people to switch to heat pumps or direct electrical heating. Also transport would mostly have to be converted to use hydrogen.

    Net effect on world temperatures about three thousandths of a degree centigrade. If you are an average UK politician that means the UK must do this and then they can claim they saved the world as global temperatures peask at 1.997 °C

    I think the average grey rat has more brain cells than the average member of parliament.

    • J Martin permalink
      December 20, 2015 7:00 pm

      I figure solar cycle 25 if lower than sc24 will save the world from the imbeciles that govern us.

  15. igsy permalink
    December 20, 2015 10:03 pm

    Comrade Homewood! You correctly identified that “short of industrial capacity being slashed, there is little likelihood of further substantial savings”; however, your failure to affirm the inevitability of the aforementioned slashing is ideologically unsound.

    You also commented that it is difficult to see any further reduction in agricultural emissions. Yet you ignore the great visions of our illustrious predecessors – the Great Leap Forward, and Forced Collectivisation are but two magnificent examples of the carbon reductions possible under our economic revolution.

    Finally our smart meters, a technology related to the forthcoming Telescreen, as parodied in the puerile “1984”, the ironically labelled “dystopian” novel by the so-called “writer” E.A Blair, will ensure that correct energy allocation decisions are made at all times: when rationing returns it will be theoretically possible for Esher bankers’ swimming pools to remain heated while our venerable climate scientists sit on the runway, helplessly awaiting electricity to enable their departure to a vital climate science conference in Bali. Smart meters will ensure such sacrilege can never become reality.

    On this occasion, however, and despite the cynical tone adopted generally in your article, no action will taken against you owing to the accuracy of your final sentence.

  16. December 24, 2015 11:54 pm

    To RichardIII above.See book “The Dynamic Greenhouse Effect and the Climate Averaging Paradox” by Roy Clark:it should answer your question.

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