Archive for December, 2010

The HFC-23 story

December 20, 2010

The HFC-23 scam shows how well-meant politics like the UN/Europe CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) can be hijacked by intelligent mafiosi of the industrial complex.
The story is not quite new, but rekindled fresh interest after Cancun.
The production of the refrigerant chlorodifluoromethane HCFC-22 (also known as R22 or freon 22) has a usually unwanted byproduct, the HFC-23. whose quantity is about 2.3% of that of the HCFC-22. As all fluorocarbons this gas has a very high globalwarming potential, about 12000 to 15000 according to different sources. That is it 15000 times more potent than our humble CO2. As the UN/EU want to save the planet, they pay producers (world-wide there are 19,  most in China and India) of this gas to destroy it, which seems relatively easy (starting removal by molecular sieves is one option). The producers received valuable CER certificates that they may sell to other (European) countries who must offset their CO2 emissions (Luxembourg for instance bought such carbon certificates for a high price from Estland).

This has created an incentive to produce more HCFC-22 (which should be phased out also by developing countries in the near future) as the byproduct is so valuable. Read a short history from Sourcewatch on CDM and HFC-23 here. Clare Perry from the  Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) writes at the EurActiv website: “The CDM has made destruction of HFC-23 so valuable that, at least for some manufacturers, it has become the product, not the by-product”.

As a consequence, the UN decided to not give carbon credits (UN Certified Emission Reduction credits, known as CERs) any more to HCFC-22 producers, mostly found in China and India as said above. This made quite a splash, with Chinese producers blackmailing the EU and UN with venting all their HFC-23 stocks to the atmosphere! The UN backed down, and issued 2 million credits worth about 30 million US$ to the Juhua company in Hangzhou.

Mundus vult decipi!

Program Background on RTL Radio

December 4, 2010

The Luxembourg “national” radio station RTL had today a program on climate change. The main interviewee was Dr. Laurent Pfister, a researcher from the EVA department  of the “Centre de Recherche Public Gabriel Lippmann” (CRPGL), a major public research institute of Luxembourg.
The CRPGL-EVA has an important group of about 25 people researching hydrology and having added climate change to their agenda during the last years. They built some important models showing the regions of Luxembourg most susceptible to flooding. Concerning climate change, the CRPGL is in the same situation as other public funded research institutes of the environmental domain: no alarm, no funding! Concerning this important political pressure, I appreciate that Dr. Pfister, who absolutely is not a AGW skeptic, remains nevertheless very cautious and polite, somehow in the line of Dr. Judith Curry. He acknowledges model uncertainties, deplores the gaffes in AR4 and understands the problem of over-hyping renewables.  I disagree on several points he stretched in the interview, like that an average of multiple climate models which diverge heavily is meaningful in any way. He also neglected  that reliable observations and models sing different songs, as clearly demonstrated in the latest testimonies of Richard Lindzen and Pat Michaels. But he publicly welcomes skepticism and diversity of opinions, which is a courageous and intelligent position.

During the interview I was asked by phone to give a very short comment on-line. You may find it at time-stamp 23:36 of the “Background” program. Be aware: the spoken language is “Luxembourgish”,  so international readers may have some problems in understanding this language used by less than 500000 people.