I believe it was Christopher Hitchens who suggested that you should always start the day with one thing that will annoy you as a check on whether you still have a pulse. For me, this is reading the Huffington Post. Today’s pleasure was finding them declaring the book Clean Break the Green Book of the year. An award that doesn’t exactly fill me with delight.
I could complain a little more about the inaccuracies in Clean Break, but will consider instead a sentence at the end of the Huffington Post piece.
Germany’s plan is not infallible, of course, nor is it alone in its goal to operate on 80 percent renewable power by 2050 — Scotland recently announced its intention to become 100 percent renewable by 2020.
This claim that Scotland is going to become 100% renewable by 2020 is palpable nonsense, yet this is not the first time it has been aired. Another noteable example of misrepresenting Scotland’s renewable ambitions was Bill McKibben once claiming a windfarm would “power 40% of Scotland”, when it was only 40% of houses.
Proposed windfarm would power 40% of Scotland guardian.co.uk/environment/20…
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) September 1, 2012
Such claims are often followed by questions about why America cannot follow Scotland’s lead. It would be preferable if people first took some time to figure out what Scotland’s actual policies were, then they may be less enthusiastic about following its lead.
Let’s just boil Scotland’s policy down to what it actually is: produce two times more electricity than Scotland needs, and export half of it to England, with 50% of it coming from renewables. The 100% renewables claim washes only if you somehow label the renewables stuff Scottish, and the rest of it English. Fine accounting, you will agree, but I suspect the atmosphere could not give a damn either way.
This also distracts from the fact that the majority of Scotland’s emissions do not come from electricity in the first place. Even getting 100% of electricity from renewables would not get you half way there. Scotland’s policies on North Sea oil and gas also deserve a little attention. Every possible remaining drop of oil will be extracted, and burned. The government does not appear to consider leaving it in the ground an option. However, some American green commentators would have us believe that Scotland is somehow an example worth following. As with Germany’s over-praised Energiewende this complimentary view of Scotland shows just how dangerous an obsession with renewable power, and not fossil fuels, really is.