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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change
FoS Extracts - 2020

By: Ian Cameron                 TABLE OF CONTENTS




Friends of Science 17th Annual Event

Another reminder of the Friends of Science event on April 6 in Calgary at the Red and White Club, 1833 Crowchild Trail NW. The title of the event is Freedom of Speech!.NO Climate Emergency, featuring investigative journalist Donna Laframboise and research scientist Roy Spencer. Doors open at 5:45 pm. The event opens with a buffet dinner (included) during the mix 'n mingle from 6:00-7:00 pm.

Tickets can be ordered here by March 27, 2020. Early bird tickets are on sale until February 29.


Patrick Moore: Why I Was Banned from Speaking in Regina

On February 7 past president of Greenpeace Canada, Patrick Moore, was deplatformed for the first time in 45 years of giving keynote speeches at conferences around the world. The City of Regina had signed a contract with him to kick off their Reimagine Regina Conference next May but caved to local activists and told Mr. Moore to stay away. In its announcement of the banning, the city said it did not want “to spark a debate on climate change.” It said the stated goal of the conference is “to make the city’s facilities and operations 100 per cent renewable by 2050.” Regina is one of at least 54 cities and towns in Canada that are virtue signaling by declaring a state of “climate emergency.” 

After the cancellation, Mr. Moore found a new platform to speak in Regina on May 19, the night before the conference begins. The new venue was booked for him by Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant, who emailed: "Media bullies, environmental extremists and political scolds thought they could deplatform Dr. Moore. We’re re-platforming him — and it looks like he’ll have a far larger audience than before."


Imagine a World Without Oil

Larry Bell, an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston, imagines that all of the current hydrocarbon energy were replaced by wind, water and sunlight. As proposed by the Green New Dealers, 80-85% of the existing energy sectors would be electrified by 2030 and 100% by 2050. This includes all demands for transportation, heating/cooling, industrial, and agriculture/forestry/fishing. Referring to data compiled for Friends of Science by electrical engineering professor Michael Kelly and energy economist Robert Lyman, Prof. Bell lists some sobering examples:

  • Accommodating the 46,480 solar photovoltaic (PV) plants envisioned in wind, water and sunlight (WWS) plan for just the US would take up 650,720 square miles, almost 20% of the lower 48 states.
  • In Western Europe at the end of 2014 renewable generation capacity amounted to 22%, but the actual output was only 3%.
  • To replace the 440 MW of US generation expected to be retired over the next 25 years would take 29.3 billion solar PV panels and 4.4 million battery modules, covering an area equal to that of New Jersey It would require 929 years to build this many panels at the rate of one per second.
  • A central component of WWS calls for the electrification of all transportation uses, which is now technologically impossible as no battery storage exists for heavy-duty trucks, marine vehicles and aircraft.
  • The costs of electrifying passenger rail systems are so high that no private railway would ever take them on.
  • In rough terms, it requires the energy equivalent of about 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store a single barrel of oil-equivalent energy.

Nevertheless, the WWS plan includes a call to shut down all coal, oil and natural gas production


Americans Reluctant to Join the EV Train

Even though the number of battery-electric car models doubled from 2018 to 2019, Americans are showing their lack of enthusiasm by avoiding the dealerships. Only 325,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2019, down from 349,000 in 2018. Those dismal numbers represent an embarrassing 2% of the 17 million vehicles of all types sold in the United States in 2019. California remains the primary buyer of EVs while the rest of America has shown little interest in the incentives and the increasing choices of models.

Several factors may be contributing to this lack of enthusiasm:

  • While there are no or low fuel costs and no fuel tax for EVs, once they predominate EV owners are going to be picking up the costs for highway infrastructure through some form of vehicle mileage tax.
  • EVs have no tailpipes themselves, but the power plants supplying the electricity to charge and car batteries and the refineries producing all the petroleum-derived parts for the EVs do.
  • Range and charging anxieties remain constant in EV drivers' minds. To fully charge an EV, even at fast-charging stations, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours.
  • Extracting the exotic metals used in EV batteries exposes local ecosystems to destruction when the wastewater and other unusable ores are let loose onto the environments. The workers have no choice but to live in horrific conditions because their wages are so infinitesimally small,
  • Replacing an electric vehicle’s battery will be an expensive proposition along with the environmental challenges to dispose of them safely.


Why The Green New Deal Would Destroy The Environment

Writing in The Federalist, Paul Diessen argues that environmentalists have paid too little attention to the serious harm Green New Deal policies would inflict on the environment — including scenic lands, wildlife habitats, and threatened and endangered species. Solar farms generate only 1.5% of US electricity. To replace the 8 billion kWh now generated by fossil fuels and nuclear, would require blanketing 57,000 square miles of land (equivalent to the land area of New York and Vermont) with 19 billion photovoltaic solar panels — assuming that they all were installed in sunny Nevada.

Onshore wind turbines are no better. Replacing all the nation's fossil fuels and nuclear would require more than 500,000 square miles of farm, wildlife habitat, and scenic lands. That’s equivalent to the combined acreage of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and one-quarter of Washington state. The 56,000 wind turbines already installed slaughter millions of bats and birds every year. The millions of turbines required by the Green New Deal could even threaten the existence of some species. Renewable energy proponents tout offshore wind turbines as superior to those on land because ocean winds blow more steadily. Yet because of opposition from environmental groups, only one relatively small offshore facility is operating today off Rhode Island’s coastline.

Solar panels require many toxic materials, and wind turbines require enormous amounts of steel, concrete, copper, and rare earth elements. Storing a week’s worth of power for periods when the sun is not shining or the wind isn’t blowing would require about 2 billion half-ton Tesla car battery packs. Meeting these needs would require a massive expansion of mining for lithium, cobalt, and other substances in the US or in Asia, Africa, and South America. Moreover, operations in the latter parts of the world involve extensive child labor and create environmental disasters.

Disposing of obsolescent solar panels, wind turbines and batteries is already causing problems in the US and countries like Germany. Thus, the Green New Deal is anything but "clean" or "green."


EU Threatens UK with Carbon Tariffs

Brussels negotiators are seeking to lock the UK into EU rules on climate change as tensions rise over a future trade deal. The bloc wants Britain to sets up an independent watchdog to ensure it sticks to green commitments and it called on the UK to remain as part of its carbon trading market. Specifically, the EU wants Britain to consider becoming an associate member of its Emissions Trading System. The ETS, the world’s largest carbon market, works by setting a cap on emissions and requiring industry to hold a permit for each tonne of CO2 emitted. However, PM Boris Johnson insists that Britain will not accept EU rules as the price of a trade deal.

Sources in Brussels are drafting plans to give the European Commission power to levy a tax on imports of goods with a heavy CO2 footprint. It is aimed primarily at non-EU countries such as the US, China and Russia, but could be imposed on the UK if it diverges too far from the EU's green policies.


Germany's Wind Giants Now Want Taxpayer Subsidies

During the first round of auctions for offshore wind power in 2017 developers were happy to forgo any subsidies, confident that the technology was robust enough to turn a profit unaided. Now potential bidders for the next round of auctions for 2022 are concerned that the German government's muddled climate policy will make investments in the technology riskier. As a result investors are seeking UK-style contracts-for-difference to ensure that they get paid enough for their power, no matter what wholesale prices are doing.


Offshore Wind Deployment "Too Slow" to Meet EU Climate Target

A record 3.6 GW of new offshore wind capacity was added across Europe in 2019, bringing the total installed capacity to 22 GW, according to the industry's trade association WindEurope. (Nearly half that added capacity, 1.7 GW, came from the UK, which is no longer a member of the EU.) However, the association claims 3.6 GW is not enough to reach the EU's ambitious target of 230-450 GW of installed offshore wind power by 2050. This would require adding 7 GW/year to 2030 and ramping up to 18 GW/year by 2050. 

Deployment of wind energy in Europe faces obstacles, mainly related to slow permitting procedures, installing grids and resistance from local populations. The European Commission said it will address them in a new “offshore wind strategy” due to be presented before the end of the year.


Best Response Ever to a Fossil-Fuel Divestment Demand

Two students at Oxford University's St. John's College wanted the college to immediately sell more than $10 million of its endowment invested in Shell and BP. The college's bursar, Andrew Parker made them a counteroffer: "I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice. But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal." Apparently, this idea did not go over well. 


Beware the Eco-Stalinist Witch Hunters

A climate advocacy group called Skeptical Science hosts a list of academics and others whom it labels "climate misinformers." One of the 17 academics on the list is Judith Curry, formerly the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech,. One of the principals of Skeptical Science, Dana Nuccitelli wrote of her: "if you look at the statements we cataloged and debunked on her page, it should make her unhirable in academia."

Roger Pielke Jr. spoke to Prof. Curry about the Skeptical Science list and was told that in 2012 she was informed by the Dean at Georgia Tech that she had to step down because of "extreme displeasure by several activist climate scientists who had a very direct pipeline to the Dean." Prof. Curry's subsequent attempts to secure another academic position failed because "I was an outstanding candidate, looked excellent on paper, articulated a strong vision, and interviewed very well in person. The showstopper was my public profile in the climate debate, as evidenced by a simple Google search."

As Dr. Pielke puts it, "what has happened to Curry is just the tip of the iceberg."




Friends of Science 17th Annual Event

"Freedom of Speech! NO Climate Emergency!"

We are pleased to announce an enlightening climate policy and science evening featuring two excellent speakers.

Donna Laframboise - Investigative Journalist:

"Climate Activists Want Your Freedom"

In the name of saving the planet, activists are shutting down free speech. They're getting people fired. They're poking their nose into every corner of your life. Freedom is going extinct, one climate measure at a time.

Dr. Roy W. Spencer - Principal Research Scientist:

"10 Reasons Why there is No Climate Emergency"

The current claims of a "climate emergency" are shown to be gross exaggerations. Recent warming of the climate system has been modest and benign, and at the low end of the warming predicted by the computerized climate model projections used to guide changes in national energy policy. Climate model projections of human-caused climate change are based upon the assumption that climate does not change naturally, and so represent an example of circular reasoning. From sea level rise to wildfires to severe weather, there has been little to no change observed which is outside the realm of natural variation. Thus, the "climate emergency" claims are not based upon science.

These presentations are designed for the general public. No special climate policy or science knowledge required.

Doors open at 5:45 pm. The event opens with a buffet dinner (included) during the mix 'n mingle from 6:00-7:00 pm followed by opening messages and our speakers.

Deadline to order tickets here is March 27, 2020. Early bird tickets are on sale until February 29, 2020. As climate dogma increases, your freedoms are lost, your kids are scared. Debunk it! Join us April 6th.


Canadian Institute for Climate Choices

January 21 saw the launch of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices with the help of $20 million over five years from the federal government. The institute, which will maintain independent control over its own research and reporting, is the result of a partnership between 15 climate-focused organizations that answered a federal call for proposals in 2018. Three expert panels — focused on adaptation, mitigation and clean growth — will inform the institute's work. Also on January 21 the institute issued its first report, Charting Our Course - Bringing clarity to Canada's climate policy choices on the journey to 2050. Using an analogy of Canada as a ship facing a climate change storm heading towards it (threatening floods, heatwaves, wildfires, and sea-level rise), the document sets out key aspirations:

  • Carbon neutrality by 2050;
  • Making communities and infrastructure more resilient to the inevitable impacts of a changing climate;
  • Growing the prosperity of Canadians across all regions, all communities, and all socio-economic circumstances.

While the aspirations are clear, how to achieve them is not, because "for many Canadians, climate change remains complex, confusing, and potentially paralyzing." So, the report "is a starting point for a deeper, broader, and more constructive conversation about how we can chart a course as a country—through the profound changes ahead—to a resilient and prosperous future with cleaner and more inclusive growth." The report concludes with four recommendations:

  • Canadian governments should broaden objectives for climate policy (e.g., going beyond achieving emission-reduction targets);
  • Canadian governments should embrace Canada’s role in global outcomes (i.e., influence global change rather than reacting to it);
  • Canadian governments should expand the scope, scale, and pace of climate policies (i.e., increasing "ambition");
  • Those analyzing and developing policy options should seek out integrated solutions that drive multiple benefits (i.e., break down traditional policy silos and get "all hands on deck" for the hard work required.)


CLINTEL Manifesto Blasts Climate Scaremongering

CLINTEL ("climate intelligence") is a rapidly growing international group, led by prominent scientists, who oppose the ill-founded attempts to scare people into hasty climate policy actions. It recently issued a World Climate Declaration denouncing scaremongering, and this new manifesto provides detailed scientific backup for the WCD for a wide public. The manifesto was authored by Professor Guus Berkhout, President of CLINTEL, who explains it in an 11-minute video. The focus of the manifesto is on climate-related modeling, which it says is “unfit for purpose.” The purpose in this case is predicting future climate change. Modeling dominates climate science. It also provides the scary scenarios that drive hugely expensive and disruptive climate emergency action policies.

The manifesto lists four reasons why today's models are no good:

  • They exclude many natural factors and assume that all climate change is due to human influence;
  • The models run too "hot";
  • They lack consideration of historical data regarding climate sensitivity to CO2;
  • The models cannot explain past warming and cooling.


Who Checks the Fact Checkers?

Paul Homewood, who runs the blog Not a Lot of People Know That, posted an article titled Green ideology, not climate change makes wildfires worse that was sourced from an commentary of last March by the Volunteer Firefighters Association of New South Wales. Mr. Homewood's post was shared on Facebook by Friends of Science. However, Facebook decided to flag the FoS post as "Misleading" based on a report by the self-proclaimed fact-checking site Climate Feedback. Following the Misleading stamp Climate Feedback provided several paragraphs of text supporting the orthodox view on climate change being behind the severity of the Aussie bushfires.

Mr. Homewood finds the decision by Facebook to flag the post extremely troubling in a number of ways:

  • Who decides who should be the arbiter of facts, and how is this decision made?
  • The claim that Climate Feedback says is misleading was never made in Mr. Homewood's piece, but was taken from a Breitbart article;
  • Climate Feedback failed to find anything incorrect in the FoS post. Mr. Homewood then examines some highly questionable statements in the Factcheck post.


YouTube Accused of Monetizing and Promoting Climate Science Denial

Mr. Homewood isn't the only one concerned about censoring of climate-related posts on social media, but in this case it's about not enough censorship. Here, DeSmog accuses Google's affiliate YouTube of "promoting climate science denial" while earning ad money by doing so. Since February 2019 DeSmog has been aware that YouTube's search algorithm was leading unsuspecting viewers "into an alternate universe where facts, physics, and real-world experiences are replaced by conspiracies, cherry-picking, and fossil fuel–backed propaganda." Back then DeSmog took comfort in a Google white paper wherein it detailed its work "to tackle the intentional spread of misinformation—across Google Search, Google News, YouTube and our advertising systems."

Alas, the promise of Google's white paper counted for little when DeSmog became aware of a report of January 15 by Avaaz titled Why is YouTube Broadcasting Climate Misinformation to Millions? In this document Avaaz describes how it "set out to analyze how effectively YouTube is protecting its users from climate misinformation," relating in detail the role of the algorithm, examples of "climate misinformation" videos, brands advertised, and then listing recommendations. Avaaz' key findings:

  • For the search termglobal warming,” 16% of the top 100 related videos included under the up-next feature and suggestions bar had misinformation about climate change;
  • The climate misinformation videos that Avaaz reviewed had 21.1 million views collectively;
  • Avaaz was able to identify 108 brands running ads on these climate misinformation videos;
  • Even worse, one in five of these ads found were from green or ethical brands including Greenpeace, WWF and Save the Children.

Avaaz recommends that YouTube: detox its algorithm; demonetize disinformation and correct the record.


US House Democrats Want Google to Censor ALL Climate Dissent

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, has written a letter to Google and Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai urging him to suppress “dangerous climate misinformation on YouTube.” The letter makes a number of demands for censorship from YouTube, calling on the video-sharing platform to:

  • Stop promoting climate denial and climate disinformation videos by removing them immediately from the platform’s recommendation algorithm;
  • Add “climate misinformation” to the platform’s list of borderline content;
  • Stop monetizing videos that promote harmful misinformation and falsehoods and about the causes and effects of the climate crisis;
  • Take steps to correct the record for millions of users who have been exposed to climate misinformation on YouTube.

Unlike European countries, progressives in the US are theoretically prevented by the First Amendment from passing laws against lawful content on tech platforms. However, this does not stop politicians like Rep. Castor from making censorship demands of tech companies. Two days after her letter Rep. Castor was accused of censorship by climate skeptics.


Greta vs. Donald at Davos

This year the speakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos included Swedish climate worrier Greta Thunberg and US President Donald Trump. First up on January 21 was Ms. Thunberg, who expressed disappointment that the world is neither listening nor reacting to her repeated warnings of impending climate catastrophe, saying “basically nothing” has changed since she dropped out of school and began full-time climate protesting. In an interview she asserted that there are less than eight years to prevent a global temperature rise of 1.5°C.

Mr. Trump wasn't having any apocalyptic nonsense, stating "this is not a time for pessimists. It is a time for optimism." He then listed some of the doomsday predictions which failed to come true: (1) “They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, the end of oil in the 1990s.” (2) “These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country, eradicate our liberty.” His speech noted that, while many European countries struggle with crippling energy costs, the American energy revolution is saving American families $2,500 every year by lowering electric bills.


EU Reveals Climate Fund Details

On January 14 the EU Commission revealed its long-awaited Just Transition Mechanism as a "pledge of solidarity and fairness" to make sure that no one is left behind in the bloc's Green Deal ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050. Under the new proposal carbon-intensive regions and industries will be able to apply for money from a Just Transition Fund (JTF), opening the door for producers of steel and plastics, and not just coal miners, peat farmers and oil-shale workers. The aim for the JTF is to mobilize capital worth €100 billion through grants, private investment and support from the European Investment Bank. The EU itself will contribute just €7.5 billion.

However, the fund’s promised €7.5 billion figure has already been criticized for being too low to match the size of the challenge ahead. One German member of the European Parliament likened the overall €100 billion figure to a “slight of hand” and compared the Commission to “street magicians”, while Friends of the Earth Europe said it “is too little to match the scale of transformation needed to confront the planetary emergency." The trade union group ETUC Confederal said in a statement “the funding proposed for 10 years is what would be needed every year to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 in a fair way."

EU climate chief Frans Timmermans acknowledged that the €100 billion is “just a start” but insisted that the fairness of the proposal will inspire the rest of the Green Deal.


UN: World Needs to Prepare for Millions of Climate Refugees

On January 20 the UN Human Rights Committee made a landmark ruling in relation to a man from the Pacific nation of Kiribati who brought a case against New Zealand after authorities there denied his claim of asylum because of climate change. The Committee determined that countries cannot deport people who have sought asylum due to climate-related threats. The next day in Davos the UN's high commissioner for refugees referred to that ruling and said that the world needs to prepare for millions of people being driven from their homes by the impact of climate change. We must be prepared for a large surge of people moving against their will," he said. "I wouldn't venture to talk about specific numbers, it's too speculative, but certainly we're talking about millions here."




US Appeals Court Dismisses Youth Activists' Climate Suit

Five years ago 21 young people, represented by Our Children's Trust sued the US government alleging that it was violating their constitutional rights by contributing to climate change despite knowing its dangerous consequences. Both the Obama and the Trump administrations tried multiple times to get the case, known as Juliana v. United States, thrown out. However, an Oregon district court judge ruled that the case had legal standing.

In a 2-1 decision on January 17 the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals "… reluctantly concluded that the plaintiffs' case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate." One of the two judges behind the decision wrote that "although the plaintiffs "made a compelling case that action is needed," it was beyond the court's power to "order, design, supervise, or implement the plaintiffs' requested remedial plan." The dissenting judge wrote that the youth plaintiffs have standing to challenge the government’s conduct, have articulated claims under the Constitution, and have presented sufficient evidence to press those claims at trial. Counsel for the youth plaintiffs vowed to ask the full Ninth Circuit to review the determination that federal courts can do nothing to address an admitted constitutional violation.

In Canada there is a similar youth lawsuit, La Rose et. al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, modelled on Juliana, that was filed last October and is still pending.


Time to Silence the Voices of Denial

This is the title of an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press that bemoans the fact that, despite the "grim studies" and "pleas from scientists, who have reached a near-universal consensus on human-made climate change," climate skeptics do not take the issue seriously. In the opinion of the FP's editors "climate change deniers” have been controlling the conversation and should no longer be part of it. The editorial caught the attention of Donna Laframboise who noticed when one of the duplicate versions disappeared from the FP's website. In her view newspapers are supposed to promote debate about society's most pressing problems, not silence intellectual minorities such as climate skeptics.

Anti-energy researcher Naomi Oreskes calls for regulations on free speech. She accuses the fossil-fuel industry of exploiting the journalistic ideals of fairness, objectivity and balance by manipulating journalists into presenting propaganda for the other side. Since all previous electronic media – radio, telephone and television – have been regulated, so should its newest form. Also, Ms. Oreskes wants the US Congress to investigate the fossil fuel industry “and its allies,” as a precursor to possible criminal charges. 

In Germany climate activists are using local declarations of climate emergency to call for laws to punish those who trivialize the climate catastrophe and thereby sabotage the emergency measures to deal with it. The last time there were emergency laws in Germany was 80 years ago.


FT: Democracies Ill-Suited to Deal with Climate Change

According to the Financial Times, giving ordinary people a say over public policy impedes climate action, because we don’t care enough about other people’s problems. Edward Luce the US national editor of the FT writes that harrowing images of the Australian bushfires and the California wildfires should be blowing a hole in such complacency. Instead, they show how hard it is for democracies to mobilize public action.

One obstacle is that it's difficult for governments, because of the electoral cycle, to take unpopular actions to reduce CO2 emissions. A second is the uncertainty of establishing that any single disaster is entirely man-made (i.e., due to human CO2 emissions.) The third is human nature: people don't like to be lectured on climate change by 17-year old girls.


The Aussie Bushfires

The bushfires blazing throughout Australia have gotten a lot of press. Predictably, mainstream papers like the NY Times blamed Australia for committing climate suicide, calling the country "ground zero for the climate catastrophe." Prime Minister Scott Morrison's attempt to play both sides of the climate game spectacularly backfired. There are direct human causes for the fires than climate change however – bad forestry practices and arson. Thirty years of misguided green ideology, vested interests, political failure and forestry mismanagement have created a massive bushfire threat. Police across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have arrested 183 people for lighting bushfires. Patrick Michaels and Myron Ebel compare the similarities between Californian and Australian practices in politics, forest management practices and responses to the inevitable fires that ensue.

Others have been looking at the historical and scientific context for the fires. Considering the past 119 years of Australian rainfall, while the most recent two years have been dry, over the last half century the country has been a lot wetter than the previous half century. Jennifer Marohasy points out that it has been hotter and fires have burned larger areas. In particular there was one fire catastrophe in 1939 that burned 2 million ha.


Ontario Government Cancels Approval for Nearly Completed Wind Farm to Save Endangered Bat Species

Shortly after taking office in 2018 the new Ontario government cancelled 758 wind projects for economic reasons. In December 2019 the government pulled the plug on the almost complete Nations Rise project near Ottawa. The project had been granted approval for up 33 turbines (later scaled back to 29) at a cost of $200 million. It was intended to generate up to 100 megawatts of electricity under a 20-year, $400-million contract awarded by the province's Independent Electric System Operator.The reason for the cancellation was to prevent the inevitable annihilation of Hoary, Big and Little Brown bats; the Little Brown bat is identified as one of Ontario’s "Species at Risk." 

The wind farm had caused deep divisions in the community as the township had twice voted against being a “willing host” for the project. While some 70 property owners were happy about leasing land to the project's owner EDP Renewables, many others were concerned about noise, the visual disruption and the possible impacts on health and the water table in the area. EDP is now assessing "possible legal actions."


Energy Paradox Puts Europe in a Precarious Position

Despite its cool Green parties and ambitious wind and solar agendas, Europe remains by far the world's largest importer of oil and natural gas. As oil output from the North Sea and the coast of Norway declines, the European Union is quietly looking for fossil fuel energy anywhere it can find it. Despite Europe's having more reserves of shale gas than the US, most European countries shun horizontal drilling and fracking, leaving the continent dependent on Russia, the Middle East and Africa for its energy. What ensures that Europeans have enough daily gasoline and home heating fuel are not batteries, wind farms and solar panels – much less loud green proselytizing. They count instead on a mercurial Russia, an array of unstable Middle Eastern governments and an underappreciated US military. 

It is hard to be both the world largest importer of gas and oil and the loudest critic of fossil fuels, but Europe has managed to do it.


Germany Rejects EU Call for More Money to Fight Climate Change

The German government is resisting a plea by Brussels to provide more funding to get the EU's flagship climate change policy off the ground – in a blow the continent's decarbonisation hopes. Promoted by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the bloc's ambitious €1 trillion Green Deal includes a new "Just Transition Mechanism" to compensate and regenerate areas that currently depend on carbon-intensive industries like coal mining. But Germany’s finance ministry has already started the year by rejecting calls for more funding, stating that the current EU budget is sufficient to meet the continent's climate goal of going carbon neutral by 2050. The ministry also dismissed the idea of increasing the capital limit on the European Investment Bank, which Ms. von der Leyen had suggested could also help close the funding gap.


Greta To Lecture World Leaders at Davos About Ending Fossil Fuels

Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg plans to join other youth at the World Economic Forum on January 21 in Davos, Switzerland, where they will admonish world leaders for providing subsidies to the oil and gas industry, which is responsible, in part, for advancing civilization by providing abundant and affordable energy. Among the calls of the youth group: "We demand that at this year’s Forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021, we want this done now – as in right now." 

According to the Science Daily website removing fossil-fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions and renewable energy use as much as hoped. The largest emissions savings would be in oil and gas exporting countries, where fewer poor people would be affected, and subsidy removal can be aided by currently low oil prices.


Mark Carney's Case Against Fossil Fuels

After finishing his term as governor of the Bank of England this year, Mark Carney will become the UN’s special envoy on climate action and finance. He is using his final days as governor to intimate institutional financial managers by suggesting that investments in conventional, fossil-fuel energy are high-risk ventures requiring special justification. When asked point-blank in a recent interview whether he supported “divestment” from fossil fuels he tactfully evaded the question but nevertheless asserted that coal, oil and gas were insecure assets. John Constable, energy editor of the Global Warming Policy Forum, cites data from the International Energy Agency showing that nearly all the growth in global energy consumption since 1990 has been accounted for by fossil fuels. 

Terence Corcoran of the Financial Post notes that Mr. Carney is just part of an international movement to turn the world’s energy investors into pawns of state climate activists and agitators for market-distorting policies. The movement wants a new model of financial markets, one that is “sustainable” and “green” and “social” and “environmental” and “equitable." Mr. Corcoran argues that the real risks in energy markets is not the likelihood of stranded coal and oil reserves, but renewables which have failed to make advances despite three decades of incentives, mandates, subsidies and other unsustainable policies, as shown by Germany's dismal experience.


Decades of Public Opinion: Climate Change Is Not on the Radar

Each month, Gallup polling asks 1,000 random members of the US public to identify “the most important problem facing this country today.” Donna Laframboise has analyzed Gallup's results for the past two decades, finding that two or three answers typically dominate (economy, government, domestic issues), followed by a long list of concerns mentioned by small numbers of people. However, over the past two decades climate change has never been part of the table of top four issues, meaning it's a less than marginal concern.


Another Expensive Solar Scheme Bites the Dust

The Crescent Dunes thermal solar plant in central Nevada looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Ten thousand mirrors form a spiral almost 2 miles wide that winds around a skyscraper rising above the desert between Las Vegas and Reno. The operation soaks up enough heat from the sun’s rays to spin steam turbines and store energy in the form of molten salt. This feature overcomes the greatest weakness in solar electricity: supplying power outside the hours of peak sunshine. In 2011 the $1 billion project was to be the biggest solar project of its kind, supported by $737 million in federal government loan guarantees.

The steam generators at Crescent Dunes require custom parts and a staff of dozens to keep things humming and to conduct regular maintenance. When the plant opened in 2015 the cost of solar PV electricity (which requires little ongoing maintenance) fell to less than the $135/MWh that Crescent Dunes was charging its customer NV Energy. Today PV-produced electricity costs less than $30/MWh. Last April Crescent Dunes shut down and the US Energy Department took control in August.




ExxonMobil Prevails in New York Climate Lawsuit

On December 10 ExxonMobil emerged victorious in a securities fraud trial that examined its internal accounting for the financial risks of climate change, in a striking rejection of claims by the New York attorney general that the company misled investors for years. New York State Supreme Court Judge Barry Ostrage cleared ExxonMobil of fraud claims saying that New York’s attorney general failed to establish that the oil company had deceived investors about how it accounted for the cost of future climate change regulation. However, the judge did not let ExxonMobil entirely off the hook, saying: "Nothing in this opinion is intended to absolve ExxonMobil from responsibility for contributing to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases in the production of its fossil fuel products." 

During the trial, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James accused the company of using two different accounting methods — one public, and one internal — to project its business costs in countries that were expected to implement policies to combat climate change. 

The Rockefeller Family Fund's executive director, who was the instigator of the New York AG's investigation against ExxonMobil, seemed disappointed to learn the limits of his attempts to use public officials to prosecute his enemies. RealClear Energy published a legal analysis of this case and similar ones involving state attorneys general. The problem for the states is that they have no jurisdiction over climate change, which is why the New York AG charged ExxonMobil with securities fraud, which proved too much of a stretch to secure conviction. It was a case of misguided idealism that became impatient with the basic principle of the rule of law, thwarted by an "old fashioned" trial judge who looked at whether the evidence supported the charges filed.


Dutch Court Upholds Order to Cut Netherlands Emissions 25% by EOY 2020

A judgment in the Dutch Supreme Court has left the Netherlands government with a legal requirement to perform the politically suicidal task of cutting emissions 25% by the end of 2020, The case was brought six years ago by the Urgenda ("urgent agenda") environmental group in a bid to force ministers to go well beyond EU targets. However, the chances of reaching the 20% target look slim, as emissions in 2018 were down only 15% on 1990 levels. 

The court based its ruling on the UN climate convention and the state's legal obligation to protect the lives and well-being of Dutch citizens. “There is a great deal of consensus in the scientific and international community over the urgent need for a reduction in greenhouse gases by at least 25% by developed countries,” the court said. As an editorial by the Compeititive Enterprise Institute puts it: "This is judicial tyranny in overdrive."


Sales of Electric Vehicles Plummet in Ontario

After winning the June 2018 election the new government of Doug Ford cancelled the rebate of up to $14,000 for electric vehicles, saying that the money was going to people who could already afford expensive cars. In the first six months of 2019 sales in Ontario were down 59% compared to the same period in 2018 (2,933 vs 7,110). Rebates are key because the up-front cost of an electric vehicle can be anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 more than a similar gas-powered car. Nationally, the federal government introduced a $5,000 rebate last spring, but EVs are still only a 3.5%, a far cry from the government's target of 10% by 2025. 


US Congress Turns Down Expanding EV Tax Credits

Prior to Congress taking its December recess automakers were hoping that it would extend the electric vehicle tax credits. The extension got through the House, but not the Senate, which wasn't interested. While the current $7,500 EV tax credit remains in place, Tesla and General Motors have both reached their 200,000-vehicle quota. They and other automakers lobbied for an expansion, one which would have seen a $7,000 credit kept in place until a manufacturer sold 600,000 electric automobiles.


The EU’s Green Deal

On December 11 the European Commission unveiled its European Green Deal with the objective of reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, a goal which would be enshrined in a "Climate Law", to be presented in March 2020. The Commission expects to update the bloc's climate ambition by revising its 2030 objective of a 40% cut in emissions to 50-55%. Beside CO2 emission targets, the deal includes a "circular economy", building renovation, zero pollution, ecosystems and diversity, farm-to-fork strategy, transport and money (with a "leave no one behind" Just Transition Mechanism), R&D and innovation, and external relations (including a proposal for a carbon border tax.) 

The Green Deal failed its first test at the December 12 meeting of the European Council (made up of the heads of government), where Poland refused to give the required unanimous endorsement. According to the Council's official conclusions: "One Member State, at this stage, cannot commit to implement this objective as far as it is concerned, and the European Council will come back to this in June 2020 " A previous effort to get the EU to commit to net-zero emissions by the mid-century was blocked by Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in June 2019.


Biden Tells Crowd: Oil Execs Should Be Jailed

Former vice president and presidential candidate Joe Biden told a crowd in Peterborough, New Hampshire that if fossil fuel executives don’t take accountability for helping to doom the environment, we should throw them in jail. In order to curb the rate of pollution, Mr. Biden explained, we need to hold fossil fuel executives “liable for what they have done, particularly in those cases where there are underserved neighborhoods. When they don’t deliver, he said, “put them in jail.” 


Mark Carney to Head a UN Climate Action Project

Climate Activist and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is taking on a new role as UN’s new Special Envoy for Climate Action. Describing the Canadian as “a remarkable pioneer in pushing the financial sector to act on climate”, the UN Secretary General said the new envoy would be focusing on ambitious implementation of action, especially shifting markets and mobilizing private finance, towards limiting global warming to the key 1.5°C mark. Mr. Carney replaces former New York mayor and billionaire philanthropist, Michael Bloomberg, who has embarked on a US presidential run.


Climate-alarmist Banks Go Carbon-colonialist

Africa has the world's lowest electrification rate-613 kWh/year per capita, compared to 6,500 kWh/year in Europe and 13,000 kWh/year in the US. Over 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no electricity and 700 million rely on wood, grass and dung for cooking and heating. The African Development Bank (AfDB) launched a $12 billion New Deal for Energy in 2017, with the goal of 100% access to electricity in urban areas and 95% access in rural areas by 2025.

Tthen the AfDB caved to carbon-colonialist pressure, joining the World Bank, Goldman Sachs and other multi-lateral banks in caring more about climate alarmism and avoiding criticism than about safeguarding the lives, livelihoods, health and living standards of electricity-deprived Africans. The AfDB now says almost nothing about coal or even natural gas. Its new themes include responding to global concerns about climate change, gradually adopting a “low-carbon and sustainable growth path,” significantly reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and transitioning to “green growth” and “clean renewable energy."


"I don't want to die!"-Climate Exploitation of Children

Last October a group of seven and eight year olds gathered in their school library in Toronto to watch a video of Greta Thunberg's speech to the UN on September 23. During the presentation at least one child yelled "I don’t want to die!. A mother said the carbon clock displayed after the speech showing an eight-year count down had her daughter crying: "Mommy, they said that we’re going to die in eight years." 

This 7:49 video by Friends of Science describes how environmental charities like Ecojustice and foundations like "We Don't Have Time" are using children as pawns in a climate lawsuit against the Ontario government. Similar climate fear-mongers are behind the visits to schools like the one in Toronto.


Why “Green” Energy Is Such a Terrible Idea

Using wind power to replace the 3.9 billion MWh that Americans consumed in 2018, coal and gas-fired backup power plants, natural gas for home heating, coal and gas for factories, and gasoline for vehicles – while generating enough extra electricity every windy day to charge batteries for just seven straight windless days – would require some 14 million 1.8-MW wind turbines. These turbines, sprawling across ¾ of the lower 48 states, would require 15 billion tons of steel, concrete and other materials and would wipe out eagles, hawks, bats and other species. Each wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete, and 45 tons of non-recyclable plastic (to be disposed of in landfills after the 20-year life of the turbine.) 

Battery back up the turbines for seven consecutive windless days would require one billion half-ton Tesla batteries costing $6.6 trillion. That means still more raw materials, hazardous chemicals and toxic metals. Then there would be thousands of miles of new transmission lines to connect the turbines to the grid. 

“Green” energy is basically a hoax. The world runs on fossil fuels and will continue to do so until nuclear energy is adopted on a mass scale, or another reliable, high-intensity energy source is discovered. As Matt Ridley argues, in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures, wind power supplied zero percent (rounded to a whole number) of the world's energy consumption.


Empty Gestures on Climate Change

Bjørn Lomborg writes that climate campaigners and the media urge people to change their everyday behaviour - like switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, washing clothes in cold water, eating less meat and buying an electric car. Such gestures have only a limited effect on emissions. For example, unplugging a phone charger when not in use would save less than 1/2,000 of the average person's CO2 emissions. Moreover, charging accounts for less than 1% of a phone's energy needs; the other 99% comes from handset manufacture and operating of the data centres and cell towers. 

Going vegetarian reduces individual CO2 emissions by 540 kg, or just 4.3% of the emissions of an average developed-country individual. An electric car with a range of 400 km has a huge carbon deficit when it hits the road, and will start saving emissions only after being driven 60,000 km. Yet, most EV owners use them as a second care. 

We spend $129 billion/year subsidizing solar and wind energy, but these sources supply just 1.1% of our global energy needs. The IEA estimates that by 2040 – after we have spent a whopping $3.5 trillion on additional subsidies – solar and wind will still meet less than 5% of our needs.

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