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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change
FoS Extracts - 2021

By: Ian Cameron                 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2021-09-13

 

Save the Dates for Friends of Science Annual Event: October 2nd and 6th.

This is the FoSS 18th annual climate major event "Politicians Can't $top Climate Change" with Dr. Guus Berkout, President of CLINTEL, and Marc Morano, author.  See our banner.

 

China Warns US: Back Off or We'll Sink Climate Cooperation

US climate envoy John Kerry met virtually with China's foreign minister Wang Yi in Tianjin on September 1. The purpose of Mr. Kerry's two-day visit was to "continue discussions on key aspects of the climate crisis" ahead of COP26. At the meeting with Mr. Wang Mr. Kerry was told that prolonged tensions between the world's two major powers would make it difficult for them to work together in the climate field. These tensions include alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, and security challenges to Taiwan and in the South China Sea.

A problem for Mr. Kerry is that, following the humiliating US withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden and his climate envoy look rather weak. China's state-run Global Times thought it "absurd" that the Biden administration is trying to look righteous and reasonable by separating cooperation on the climate issue from the entire China-US relationship.

 

World Will Fall Short of Net-zero Emissions by 2050: DNV

Two months ahead of COP26 the Norwegian assurance and risk-management expert DNV released its Energy Transition Outlook 2021, "an independent model-based forecast of the world's most likely energy future through to 2050." The forward to the ETO by DNV president Remi Eriksen begins with the gloomy observation that the most likely future for the world's energy system will result in global warming exceeding 2°C by 2100. Mr. Ericksen laments that the covid pandemic turned out to be a lost opportunity for governments and companies to take decisive action on climate change. Instead, the recovery packages have been focused on protecting rather than transforming existing industries.

 

Europe's Tryst with Biofuels Destroyed 10% of World's Orangutan Habitats

In 2010, the EU introduced the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that set a 10% renewable energy target for transport by 2020. This increased demand for cheap crop-based biodiesel, such as palm and soy oil, thereby destroying large areas of forests in Asia and South America. About 10% of the world’s remaining orangutan habitats have vanished because forest land was cleared for biofuel crop production.

According to Laura Buffet, the energy director at Transport & Environment: "10 years of this ‘green’ fuels law and what have we got to show for it? Rampant deforestation, habitats wiped out and worse emissions than if we had used polluting diesel instead. A policy that was supposed to save the planet is actually trashing it. We cannot afford another decade of this failed policy. We need to break the biofuels monopoly in renewable transport and put electricity at the centre of the RED instead."

As per one estimate, Europe has burned around 39 million tonnes of palm and soy biodiesel alone in its cars and trucks since 2010, emitting up to three times more CO2 than the fossil diesel it replaced. Ms. Buffet said the EU needs to phase-out support to all crop biofuels by 2030 at the latest. In 2020, roughly 80% of biodiesel production came from rapeseed, palm, soy. At the same time, total demand for biodiesel went up, despite overall demand for fuel shrinking during the pandemic. Some European countries increased their biofuels blending, just like India increased its target of ethanol blending from 10% to 20%, while others kept volumes constant to meet EU compliance targets.

 

Europe Will Miss Its 2030 Climate Goal by 21 Years

A study by the continent's biggest utility Enel, and the think tank European House Ambrosetti suggests that at its current pace Europe will reach its 2030 emissions target of 55% below 1990 levels ("fit for 55") only by 2051. To speed up the process, the study called for closer cooperation between member states on energy transition, adopting a regional approach to help boost market integration.

 

Net-Zero Wind: Britain Save by Coal — At Huge Cost

On September 7, the UK's National Grid Operator was forced to pay over £20 million to "balance" the system and avoid blackout, ten times the normal cost. The country's entire wind fleet was almost completely absent for much of the day. As a result, conventional gas- and coal-fired generators had to be fired up, with some units being paid as much as £4,000/MWh to switch on. This year the balancing costs to avoid blackouts is expected to hit £1-2 billion.

For a country hosting COP26 and claiming to be Powering Past Coal, this is embarrassing as it leaves the UK's prime minister no plausible platform from which to urge other countries to decarbonize.

 

EV Battery Fires Do Not Bode Well for Projected Sales

Recent news about electric vehicle (EV) battery fires does not bode well for California Governor Newsom’s executive order to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. In the past four months these fires include nine Chevrolet Bolts made by General Motors, 15 by Hyundai and three by Tesla. In August GM announced the recall of 73,000 recently made Bolts in addition to the 70,000 produced between 2017 and 2019 to repair the battery modules at a cost of $1.8 billion. The problem with EVs is that when the lithium-ion batteries that power them catch fire, they burn with extraordinary ferocity and can only be cooled, not extinguished, as they burn and emit toxic fluoride gases. As a result, in Germany there is a trend of banning EVs from underground parking garages.

Most of the California EVs are owned by higher-income people, who can afford to use them as a second vehicle. A growing number of these users are switching back to gasoline cars. The working poor, many of whom are experiencing energy poverty, need workhorse vehicles, not expensive EVs.

 

CLINTEL Goes to Court in Duarte Case

The Netherlands-based group Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL) has submitted a petition to the European Court of Human Rights to be allowed to participate in a climate law suit initiated by climate activists against 33 countries. This case, known as the Duarte case, involves six young Portuguese, aged eight to 21, who have petitioned the European Court in Strasbourg to protect their human rights against the dangers of climate change. The plaintiffs are demanding that no fewer than 33 countries, including the 27 member states of the European Union, Norway, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine, take all necessary steps to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. 

Specifically, the climate activists have made four demands: (1) a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, (2) drastic restrictions on the export of fossil fuels, (3) drastic measures to compensate for emissions associated with the import of products and (4) measures to force internationally operating companies to limit the emissions of their entire production chain.  Based on a favourable judgement from the Court, the climate movement will be able to litigate further at national level against countries that do not try hard enough to achieve these goals. The countries complained against will have no choice but to comply with the Court’s ruling, as no appeal is possible.

 

Minnesota Appeals Court Holds Natural Gas Power More Environmentally Friendly than Solar and Wind

Minnesota Power and a Wisconsin firm, South Shore Energy, LLC, propose to build a 525 MW natural gas-combined cycle power plant in Superior, Wisconsin (at the far west end of Lake Superior, across the St. Louis River from Duluth, Minnesota). The two companies intend to buy for re-sale half the plant's power output. The Minnesota Public Utility Commission issued a permit under a process governed by a "public interest" standard.

Environmental opponents of the plant challenged the permit application on grounds that investment in renewable energy sources would better serve the public interest than would this fossil fuel project. The Commission then conducted hearings and ruled in favour of Minnesota Power. The environmentalists appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which, on August 23, denied that appeal, stating that generation of power by natural gas provides "a more reliable and lower cost (including environmental costs) source of energy than the equivalent renewable resources."

 

2021-08-26

 

UK Looking to Blame Joe Biden for Looming COP26 Failure

With only eight of the G20 countries having submitted more ambitious climate pledges, there are growing fears that COP26 is going to turn into FLOP26, and officials are blaming an incompetent UK organizing team. As a result, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is feeling pressure from all sides — green lobby groups demanding to see how Britain will hit net-zero emissions by 2050, while a group of 30 of his MPs are expressing concerns about its impact on the cost of living for their constituents.

Now the Biden administration's disastrous retreat from Afghanistan threatens US international standing, including whether any pledges made at the Glasgow climate summit can be seen as trustworthy. Mr. Johnson is pressing the administration over America's current "pitiful" contribution to the $100 billion/year of climate finance for poorer countries — a top objective for COP26, for which time is running out.

 

Boris Johnson's MPs Warn over Impact of Emissions Cuts

A group of about 30 MPs from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own party (known as the Net Zero Scrutiny Group) are concerned that measures to slash CO2 emissions could leave the country's poorest citizens worse off. An emeritus professor at the London School of Economics warns that Mr. Johnson's unpopular decisions on climate change could see his party swept from office as Winston Churchill's Conservatives were in 1945, saying: "The people who put you there in 2019 put you in as a Conservative. They did not vote for Greta Thunberg…"

Mr. Johnson, being a bit of a loner socially and politically, is not fully aware of the delineation of the groups within his part over climate. One of them, the Northern Research Group of MPs with seats in the northern "red wall" part of the UK worries not just about the costs of electric vehicles and "green" boilers for home heating, but also ministers' language and the offshoring of Britain's CO2 emissions to other countries. Even the most fervent greens in the PM's party worries that the government isn't bothering to explain why the big measures to reach net zero are necessary.

 

Concerned About Consumer Prices and Elections, White House Withholds Support for Carbon Tax

US President Joe Biden and top members of his administration have said publicly that they want a carbon border tax as a tool to level the playing field between US companies facing environment regulations and foreign competitors which do not. However, the White House is not supporting a proposed border tax spearheaded by long-time Biden ally Senator Chris Coons. This tax would levy a tariff on carbon-intensive imports, leaving specific details to the Biden administration.

The White House Is concerned that the levy would increase prices on a range of consumer goods, from cars to appliances and conflict with Mr. Biden's pledge not to tax any Americans earning less than $400,000/year. The White House also plans to withhold support as the US Treasury and other administration officials try to coordinate tax policy with the EU, which recently announced its own carbon border tax.

 

The Real Cost of "Green" Steel

Making steel traditionally requires use of coking coal in blast furnaces, both as a heat source and as a reducing agent to remove oxygen from iron ore. In Europe the steel industry accounts for 4% of all CO2 emissions and 22% of CO2 industrial emissions, and is therefore facing pressure to decarbonize. One option is to use hydrogen as an auxiliary reducing agent instead of coking coal, thereby cutting CO2 emissions by 21%. A Swedish steel foundry claims to have delivered its first batch of fossil-free steel produced using "green" hydrogen as the reducing agent in an electric-arc furnace.

This news prompted Willis Eschenbach to calculate what it would take to replace coal with hydrogen for all of Europe's steel making. The blast furnaces would need 120 TWh/year of electricity, or the output from about 18 new nuclear power plants of 1 GW each, costing $144 billion. The cost of the electricity itself by 2050 would be another $134 billion and the capital cost of the steel plants $117 billion. By 2050 the changeover will have cost about $400 billion and, if the IPCC is right, will have reduced atmospheric CO2 by 0.2 ppmv, making the world of 2050 cooler by ~0.002°C, or $US 200 trillion per °C.

 

California Admits that Wind & Solar Are Unreliable, Commissions Five New Gas Plants

On August 13 it was announced that California's Department of Water Resources is in the process of designing, financing, and building five new 30 MW natural gas power plants. Earlier this year California regulators balked at ordering utilities to add new gas-fired generation after environmental groups said it would run counter to the state’s decarbonization goals. According to the CA Assembly member who broke the news: "California has been forced to do this because we now have growing demand on a grid that has flattening supplies and that has caused these Flex Alerts. Our grid is destabilized because of political decisions."

California lawmakers may be finally waking up to the reality that you can’t have a reliable electricity grid when you’re feeding it with unreliable wind and solar power.

 

2021-08-05

 

G20 Ministers Fail to Agree on Climate Targets

A meeting of the G20 environment and energy ministers from the G20 group of nations took place in Naples, July 22-23.  This was to be a decisive step ahead of COP26 next November. Prior to the meeting US climate envoy John Kerry said that there were 100 days left to "save the next 100 years."

However, at the meeting, the ministers failed to agree on two disputed issues opposed by China and India: one on phasing out of coal power and the other on the wording surrounding the 1.5°C-2.0°C limit on global temperature increase set in the Paris Agreement. These issues will be punted to the G20 summit of heads of government, to be held in Rome on October 30-31.

In addition, India asked rich nations to reduce their per capital emissions by 2030. That country emits 1.96 tonnes of CO2 per capita, compared to a world average of 6.55 t (17.6 t for the US, 15.7 t for Canada and 6.4 t for China.) Since past emissions by rich nations have already consumed most of the “carbon space” available for developmental needs,          pledges of carbon neutrality by 2050 may not be adequate.

The final, 60-paragraph communiqué from the G20 meeting mentions tailoring national and international efforts to local conditions, national circumstances, priorities and needs (para 6) and reaffirms the $100 billion/year commitment from developed to developing countries. The world "coal" appears nowhere in the document, and the only negative mention of fossil fuels is a call for phasing out “inefficient” subsidies (para 38).

 

China, India, et al Ignore UN Deadline on Emissions Pledges

July 31 was the UN's deadline for signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to submit their updated emission-reduction pledges for COP26 in Glasgow. While 110 nations met the cut-off date, China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria and 82 others failed to update their nationally-determined contributions.

During the last week of July COP26's president, Alok Sharma, hosted climate talks in London, where India was a no-show. Asked why they didn't attend, Indian officials said they were needed at home, had technical problems that prevented online participation and had already made their views known at the G20 meeting in Naples.

Meanwhile, South Africa has demanded that developed countries, which have not yet met the long-standing $100 billion/year promise, set a target of $750 billion/year to help poorer nations transition to renewable energy.

 

Benny Peiser on COP26 Problems, Net-Zero Troubles and Boris Johnson’s Climate Crisis

In this 12-minute radio interview, the Global Warming Policy Forum president explains how UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in trouble as COP26 looks increasingly like a flop. This is not because Mr. Johnson is “missing in action” (as claimed by UK Opposition Leader Keir Starmer), but because the PM’s advisors have completely misread the international situation, as 85 nations have failed to submit their emissions targets. Despite nearly three decades of COPs, CO2 emissions have continued to go up because fossil-fuel energy is the cheapest form, especially for the developing world.

Even at home Mr. Johnson’s net-zero policies, like the ban on gas boilers for home heating, are proving toxic and politically unsustainable. By year’s end Mr. Johnson risks becoming completely humiliated when he is unable to deliver a net-zero agreement at Glasgow.

Asked why governments are so obsessed with the climate-change issue, Dr. Peiser blames the university sector and the media for putting pressure on governments. Climate change is primarily a Western issue, in wealthy countries where people have the luxury to be concerned about it.

 

France Pushes Back on EU Proposal for a New Carbon Market

Days after the EU's July 14 announcement of an ambitious plan to tackle climate change, France began lobbying to water down or delay the new carbon market. This market would extend emissions trading to heating and road transport, thereby passing higher energy prices directly on to consumers. In January France will take over the rotating EU presidency and could then intensify its push against the plan.

 

Green Deal: Fear of the Yellow Vests Rebellion Spreading Across Europe

Two years ago, months-long demonstrations by yellow vest-wearing protestors forced French President Emmanuel Macron to reverse eco taxes on gasoline. Two weeks ago, the European Commission released its "Fit for 55" plan that includes a ban on internal combustion engines, stricter rules for flying, and bringing gasoline and heating into the EU's emissions trading scheme. Poland, the coal capital of Europe, will have to fundamentally reorganize its economy, and there is concern for social peace. The Italian government fears rising electricity prices. There, anti-EU populists are among the parties with the strongest voter support.

 

Mounting Backlash Forces Boris Johnson to Back Down on Boiler Ban

A key plank of the UK government's Net Zero strategy was to ban the installation of gas boilers for home heating by 2035, replacing them with electrically-driven heat pumps. While a boiler can quickly heat a house, a heat pump can take around 24 hours to heat it to 17-19°C. To live in a not-quite-warm house homeowners need to pay around £10,000 to have the unit installed and another £100/year on their energy bills. If homeowners want a house that's more than lukewarm, they spend more tens of thousands of pounds for extra insulation.

In response to mounting public backlash over the boiler ban, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to push back the ban by five years, to 2040.

 

Mark Carney: Regulate Business to Tackle Climate Crisis

Because free financial markets will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their own, former Bank of England governor and now UN envoy on climate change Mark Carney wants governments to step up regulation of businesses to tackle the climate crisis. He is calling for governments to force industries to follow clear rules on everything from electricity generation to construction and transport and set carbon prices that would drive investment towards green ends and close down fossil fuels.

However, Mr. Carney says countries and companies can still continue to exploit fossil fuels if they use technologies such as carbon capture and storage and carbon offsets such as tree planting.

 

SFU Prof. Wants to Censor Newspapers over Climate Coverage

Robert Hackett, a communications professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is upset that the Vancouver Sun and its affiliate the National Post, gave favorable coverage to former Greenpeace leader Patrick Moore and his new book Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom. So, Prof. Hackett filed a complaint with the National NewsMedia Council, an industry self-regulating body, charging the papers with choosing to “promote a book that the editors should have known would be highly problematic, amounting to misinformation on a matter of supreme importance” — climate change. He recommends that the council create “guidelines regarding journalism’s responsibilities vis-a-vis fact-checking and the dissemination of misinformation on what is increasingly recognized, by governments, scientists and publics, as a climate emergency.”

 

Global Electricity and Coal Use Soaring after Covid-19

On July 8 BP released the latest edition of its BP Statistical Review of World Energy, finding that even as the global energy market collapsed last year during the pandemic, electricity demand barely wavered. While global GDP fell by 3.5% in 2020, electricity use declined 0.9% (oil, coal and natural gas dropped by 9%, 4% and 2%, respectively.) Thus, electricity is the world's most important form of energy.

Electricity demand is soaring in developing countries, which mainly rely on coal for power generation. For example, China produced 727 TWh of electricity from wind and solar in 2020, but 4,018 TWh by burning coal.

 

2021-07-16

 

EU's "Fit for 55" Package Gets Rough Reception

On July 14 the European Commission revealed a package of climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing the EU's net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The package includes tightening the existing Emissions Trading System with a separate new trading system for road transport and buildings, increased use of renewable energy, greater energy efficiency, faster roll-out of low-emission transportation modes, alignment of taxation policies with the European Green Deal objectives, measures to prevent carbon leakage, and tools to grow natural carbon sinks. The commission gave the package what it thought would be a catchy title: Fit for 55: Delivering the EU's Climate Target on the way climate neutrality.

However, even the commission itself was divided, with Austria's commissioner voting against package at a tense meeting, and another six commissioners having detailed objections to plans to extend carbon pricing to cars and tougher emissions standards for automakers. The executive VP of the commission predicted "massive pushback" as implementing the package will demand changes to cars people drive, how they heat their homes, and even if their jobs will exist in the new clean and green economy. The commission's president, Ursula von der Leyen, presided at a messy press conference where she tried to paper over the cracks as the messaging fell flat. The "Fit for 55" title was widely ridiculed for resembling a boot camp for the middle aged.

To combat carbon leakage the commission proposes a carbon border tax (officially known as a carbon border adjustment mechanism) which will apply to energy-intensive products imported into the EU from countries with weaker environmental regulations. There will be a transition period from 2023 to the end of 2025 during which the EU will collect emissions data on imports, but not tax them. From 2026 to 2035 imports will be taxed at a reduced rate. Large emerging countries, such as China, Brazil, South Africa and India have concerns about the tax, saying that it will penalize developing countries that have done the least to cause climate change. Russia fiercely opposes the CBAM and threatens to challenge it at the World Trade Organization.

The CBAM would only protect European companies from cheap competition in their home market. As producers they would face the abolition of the current allocation of free emissions certificates under the ETS, and this would make their exports less competitive. To avoid violating WTO rules, the commission could not protect EU producers from foreign competitors by both border adjustments and free certificates, so the latter had to go.

Hungary has flatly rejected the package, with a cabinet minister stating: "The European Commission’s choice of tools is untenable and unacceptable because it would lead to taxes on real estate and cars instead of making polluters pay. This would also destroy the results of utility price-cuts. Therefore, this proposal is unacceptable for Hungary in its current shape, and since unanimity is required, the EU can’t implement this proposal." Governments in France, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Ireland and Bulgaria raised concerns about the impact on citizens at a meeting of EU ambassadors. EU legislators told the Financial Times that the commission's attempts to expand CO2 pricing to cars and buildings are at risk, as that will force the poorest to pay.

The NGO European Environment Bureau, labeled the package "unfit and unfair" because it leaves open the door for fossil fuels to stay within the EU for at least two decades, while sending the "polluter pays" bill to EU citizens. Oxfam called the package "not fit to tackle the climate emergency" stating that the EU should be aiming for a 65% emissions cut by 2030 and pointing out that the package does not rule out use of crop-based biofuels and burning trees.

 

Economic Recovery Threatens Paris Agreement Targets, IEA Fears

On July 5 the International Energy Agency warned that its forecasted growth of natural gas demand to 2024 (3.6% in 2021 and 1.7%/year thereafter) threatens to knock the world off track from reaching net zero emissions by 2050. In May the IEA published its pathway for the energy sector to meet that goal, saying that investors should not fund any new oil, gas or coal supply projects. On July 15 the IEA announced that global electricity demand will grow 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022 and that almost half of this increase will be from fossil fuels, notably coal. Most of the increase in electricity demand will come from the Asia-Pacific region.

 

Wind Energy in Crisis as Expansion Stalls in Germany

The German wind power industry is suffering setback after setback as few new turbines are being installed, while more and more old ones are being phased out. Though Bavaria's prime minister promised in 2019 to have a hundred new wind turbines in the state's forests, there has not been a single application. One problem is the state's "10H" rule that means that the distance between a turbine and the nearest residence must be ten times the turbine's height.

Across Germany, there is too little land designated for possible construction, lengthy planning and approval procedures, growing resistance to construction of wind turbines and too many lawsuits. Even worse, thousands of wind projects are reaching the end of their 20 years of guaranteed subsidies. At the current low electricity prices, they are hardly competitive. The industry is calling for relaxation of regulations for new wind farms, more lands designated for them, including in forests, and reducing the distance between turbines and inhabited areas.

Because of “low wind in spring” Germany’s 30,000 wind turbines generated almost a third less electricity in the first quarter of 2021 than last year, the statistical office has announced. The result was the lowest generation since 2018. The gap was filled by increased electricity generation from coal- and gas-fired plants.

 

Blackouts Loom in California as Power Prices Explode

Two energy trends are underway in California: soaring electricity prices and ever-worsening reliability. The state's radical decarbonization mandates, a ban on the future sales of gasoline-powered cars, community bans on the use of natural gas in homes and businesses and the pending closing of the last nuclear power plant have driven the power price to 18.15 ¢/kWh in 2020 (70% above the US average) and guarantee that prices will soar over the next decade.

In mid-June the state's grid operator, the California Independent System Operator, issued a "flex alert" that asked the state’s consumers to reduce their power use “to reduce stress on the grid and avoid power outages.” On May 27 CAISO's CEO warned that if the state is hit with another hot summer like the one that required rolling blackouts that left more than 800,000 homes and businesses without power over two days last August, “our numbers tell us the grid will be stressed again." That warning followed a May 12 CAISO press release which warned that “reliability risks remain” and the state will likely need “voluntary” electricity conservation this summer to avoid a repeat of last year’s blackouts.

Meanwhile, the state’s renewable plans are being thwarted by rural Californians who don’t want wind and solar projects in their neighborhoods. California has added essentially no new wind capacity since 2013. 

 

Forty Progressive Groups Urge US to Prioritize Cooperation with China on Climate Change

On July 8 forty progressive groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden and members of the US Congress urging them to prioritize cooperation with China on climate change and curb its confrontational approach over issues such as Hong Kong and Uyghur Muslims. Specifically, the letter states: "We, the undersigned organizations, call on the Biden administration and all members of Congress to eschew the dominant antagonistic approach to U.S.-China relations and instead prioritize multilateralism, diplomacy, and cooperation with China to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis… To combat the climate crisis and build a global economy that works for everyday working people — in the U.S. and China alike — we must shift from competition to cooperation."

However, challenging China's regional human rights abuses and aggressions is central to Biden’s foreign policy, while the struggle between American-style democracy and Chinese-style authoritarianism serves as his presidency’s animating idea. “It is clear, absolutely clear … that this is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies,” Mr. Biden told reporters in April.

 

India Wants Rich Countries to Pay More for Green Shift

India's environment secretary laid out his country's position ahead of COP26 saying: "Every policy decision has a cost to the economy. Going net-zero or using less carbon also has a cost. We are not anti-zero. But without adequate climate finance being definitely available, we can't commit on that part." He also noted that the current $100 billion/year pledge by richer nations to help developing ones — a target they haven't even met yet — is insufficient to make the shift.

 

Climate Litigation Supporters Admit that Attribution Science is Failing in Court

Climate attribution science is an attempt to assign an amount of CO2 emissions to certain investor-owned (but not state-owned) oil and gas companies so that they can be sued for climate change impacts. In late June, a group of outspoken academic supporters of climate litigation released a report that admits the climate attribution science currently being deployed by plaintiffs’ attorneys has serious flaws. One of the report's conclusions: "Our analysis shows that when courts considered evidence on causation, they typically found that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that defendants’ emissions caused the alleged impacts."

 

2021-06-25

 

Build Back Blacker

The UK's Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next November wants the G7 group of industrialized nations to lead the way in abandoning coal-fired power generation and to help medium and emerging countries in the G20 group make the same change. In a speech he said: "The days of coal providing the cheapest form of power are in the past, and in the past they must remain." Notwithstanding Mr. Sharma's plea, an analysis by Tearfund shows that the G7 group, despite their collective pledges to "build back better" from Covid-19, committed more than $189 billion between January 2020 and March 2021 to support fossil fuels, while "clean" forms of energy received only $147 billion.

Non-G7 countries continue to invest heavily in coal. According to a first-of-its-kind analysis by Global Energy Monitor that examined 432 proposed coal projects globally, China, Australia, India and Russia are responsible for 77% (1.7 billion tonnes/year) of new mine activity. If all proposed projects were realized, coal production in 2030 would be four times the IPCC's 1.5°C-compliant pathway.

 

US and Japan Leave G7 Stuck on Coal

The G7 leaders’ summit in  Cornwall had been pitched as a moment for the group to set a specific date for phasing out coal and thus set a benchmark for other countries ahead of COP26 in Glasgow. However, the Biden administration, with a razor-thin majority in the Senate and one Democrat Senator from coal-mining West Virginia, was reluctant to clamp down on coal. Japan, viewing coal as critical to its energy security, was also opposed to a fixed date. As a result, the final G7 statement merely promised to "accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity" without any deadline.

 

COP26 Heading for the Rocks?

An "intersessional" meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change took place virtually (though marred by technical glitches) from May 31 to June 17 in preparation for COP26. Negotiators failed to achieve progress on international carbon markets, adaption, loss & damage, global stock take, common timeframes for national emissions pledges, periodic review of the global warming goal, and transparency of reporting emissions.

Climate finance, especially the $100 billion/year first pledged by developed countries in 2009 loomed large, even though it was not part of the formal agenda. The $100 billion/year has never been delivered, and developing countries have little confidence that it ever will be. Tensions over this issue threaten to derail COP26.

Claire O’Neill, who was to preside over COP26 before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sacked her in February 2020, said there is now a "question mark" over whether COP26 can take place, due to lack of progress in the lead-up talks.

 

Swiss Voters Reject New Climate Law

On June 13 Switzerland's strategy to comply with the Paris Agreement hit a roadblock when 51.6% of voters in a referendum rejected a proposed law to curb CO2 emissions. The CO2 law included measures such as increasing a surcharge on car fuel and imposing a levy on flight tickets intended to reduce the country's emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2030. The country’s environment minister said it will now be “very difficult” to meet the 2030 goal, as well as becoming net neutral on emissions by 2050.

 

The Dark Side of Solar Power

According to a Harvard Business Review article, it's sunny times for solar power in the US as installations have rebounded from the Covid slump, and industry research predicts a quadrupling of the 19 GW of installed capacity by 2030. This performance is due in large part to the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which defrays 26% of solar-related expenses for all residential and commercial customers.

However, there's a high cost to the eventual solar trash. Solar panels are mostly made of low-value glass and contain only small amounts of high-value material, such as silver. It currently costs $20-30 to recycle one solar panel, whereas sending it to a landfill costs only $1-2. Rooftop panels are delicate, bulky objects to remove, requiring specialized labor lest they shatter. All panels contain small amounts of heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, which qualifies them as hazardous waste.

By 2035 the amount of discarded panels could outweigh new units by 2.6 times, increasing the levelized cost of energy by a factor of four, thus darkening the industry's prospects as it sinks under the weight of its own trash.

 

Electric Vehicles on a Collision Course with Reality

California has closed its main nuclear power plant, invested heavily in wind and solar power, and keeps the lights on by importing electricity from other states. It has also enacted legislation that seeks to ban gasoline-powered vehicles beginning in 2035. Currently electric vehicles make up only about 2% of the cars on California's roads, and the state wants them charged only during daylight hours, when sunlight and wind are abundant. But EV owners prefer to charge their cars at night, because that's when they're not driving them.

 

2021-06-03

 

Germany's Top Court Rules that Climate Protection Act is Partly Unconstitutional

A group of nine mostly young people, supported by several environmental organizations, got Germany's Constitutional Court to rule that the country's 2019 climate protection act is in part unconstitutional because it does not explain in enough detail how greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced after 2031. The judges gave the legislature until the end of next year to draw up clearer reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the period after 2030. The Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier responded to the ruling, saying it was both "big and meaningful." He added it was "epochal" for climate protection and the rights of young people as well as ensuring planning security for the economy.

An analysis of the verdict by Social Europe notes that the court made it clear that legislators must not allow the remaining budget of emissions as calculated by the IPCC to be used up in the next few years. While the ruling has no direct effects on other countries, it will be received with interest as it was built upon the Dutch Urgenda decision and is the most far-reaching ruling in the world so far.

Despite the court decision, Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected calls to bring forward Germany's 2038 exit date for coal-fired power generation. Most other EU countries have a phase-out date of 2030 or earlier.

A CBC opinion piece speculates whether the German court win improves the prospects for two youth climate lawsuits in Canada. One of them is sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation and Oregon-based Our Children's Trust and the other is led by Ecojustice.

 

Court Orders Royal Dutch Shell to Cut Emissions by 2030

On May 26 a Dutch court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 2019 levels by 2030. Seven environmental groups — including Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Greenpeace, Fossil Free Netherlands plus 17,000 Dutch citizens named as co-plaintiffs — filed the lawsuit against Shell. The court also ruled that Shell is responsible for emissions by its customers and suppliers and that Shell's activities constituted a threat to the "right to life" and "undisturbed family life" as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Shell's climate strategy states that aims to become a net-zero business by 2050. A spokesman for the company said that it "fully expects to appeal today's disappointing court decision."

The complete text of the decision is available in English. Section 2.3 of the decision (Climate change and its consequences) accepts, with the agreement of all parties to the case, the IPCC's view on the causes and consequences of climate change, in particular its SR15 report on the impacts of 1.5°C of warming. Section 2.5 describes the Shell group's activities, such as those related to emissions measuring and reporting. This section categorizes (section 2.5.4) emissions in three "scopes": (1) Direct emissions; (2) Indirect emissions from third party suppliers; (3) Indirect emissions by third party consumers. Thus, it is not surprising that the court ruled that all Shell must reduce emissions under all three scopes.

A key passage of the decision is section 4.4.40: "The parties agree that the world faces a twin challenge: dangerous climate change must be curbed by reducing CO2 emissions while meeting the global energy demand of the rapidly growing world population. However, the importance of access to reliable and affordable energy, as pointed out by RDS [Royal Dutch Shell], and the Shell group’s role in it, have no bearing on RDS’ reduction obligation. That interest must always be served within the context of climate targets …" In effect, Shell made a mistake by adopting the politically correct strategy of admitting that climate change is dangerous and can be controlled by reducing CO2 emissions. If Netherlands courts prevent Shell from providing reliable and affordable energy to its customers, the latter will find that OPEC countries and Russia are ready to supply them in place of Shell.

 

Climate Lawsuits in the US Take a Hit

In 2018 the Mayor and City of Baltimore filed suit in Maryland state court against 26 oil and gas companies claiming that the companies are partly responsible for climate change. The plaintiffs sought monetary damages, civil penalties and "equitable relief" (a court-granted remedy that requires a party to act or refrain from performing a particular act in cases where legal remedies are not considered to provide sufficient restitution.) Two of the defendants attempted to remove the case from state to federal court, lost at a US district court and the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then appealed to the US Supreme Court.

On May 17 the Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in favour of the energy companies, establishing the precedent that appellate courts must review all the defendants' grounds for removal, not just one lone argument. As a result, the Baltimore case will drag on for months or years as the jurisdictional issues continue to be hashed out, before courts deal with the case's merits. So far, three climate lawsuits that have been decided on their merits in federal courts have lost, two of them on the grounds that Congress, not the courts, is the proper venue to address climate change.

 

Deep Divisions Erupt as EU Leaders Fail to Agree on Climate Change Plans

On May 24-25 EU national leaders held a special meeting of the European Council to discuss various matters, including the bloc's goal of cutting emissions 55% by 2030. To achieve this, the European Commission is drafting a Fit for 55 package of legislation and was looking for guidance from the Council. However, at Council there was a fierce scrap, led by Poland, over how to apportion the painful reductions. Poland's prime minister said "You cannot make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. It is a question of fairness," while brandishing a chart showing how the EU's emissions pricing system unfairly disadvantages Eastern and Southern Europe.

To avoid an open fight, an early draft of the Council conclusions  that specified emissions-cutting rules was scrapped and replaced in the final version with a statement that the Council "… will revert to the matter at an appropriate time after the Commission’s proposals have been submitted."

 

John Kerry's Optimism on Clean Tech

Mr. Kerry told a BBC interviewer that the US is leading the world on climate change and rejected a suggestion that Americans need to change their consumption patterns: "You don't have to give up quality of life to achieve some of the things we want to achieve. I’m told by scientists that 50% of the reductions we have to make (to get to near zero emissions) by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies we don’t yet have."

The BBC fact-checked this assertion. A Cambridge professor of energy and environment said it was virtually impossible for new energy infrastructure technologies to have a significant effect within that time, and no country has ever introduced a new electricity generating technology at an average rate faster than 2% of demand per year. A spokeswoman for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers suggested that, rather than putting faith in start-up technologies, the world should focus on existing technologies and lifestyle changes as well. The UK’s former chief scientist stressed the need for regulatory measures and carbon pricing (which the Biden administration has rejected).

 

The Carbon Race to the Bottom for Subsidies

Across Canada and around the world, rent-seekers — oil companies, car makers, battery companies, solar power firms, mining companies, banks and finance houses — are scrambling to get their share of the global carbon-reduction subsidy bonanza. Carbon capture, utilization and storage is a current favorite among the corporate/activist power group. For example, the Public Policy Forum claims that CCUS and direct air capture will play an integral role in meeting Canada's 2030 climate objectives, and what's needed are "incentives to attract private capital investment." In June Norway will host an international conference to promote CCUS. ExxonMobil marked Earth Day 2021 with a call for a "$100 billion or more" CCUS project in Texas, that would require public and private funding, along with “enhanced regulatory and legal frameworks that enable investment and innovation.”

The International Energy Agency has issued a special report on CCUS stating that carbon capture needs grant support, operational subsidies, carbon pricing, carbon trading mechanisms, regulatory standards, risk mitigation measures, and government-funded innovation and R&D. The IEA has also issued a new report, The Role of Critical Minerals in Energy Transitions, that documents key problems in sourcing the commodities needed to support the accelerated development of solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles. For example, an electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional vehicle and an onshore wind plant needs nine times the mineral resources of a gas-fired power plant. According to the IEA, to avoid shortages and high prices for the needed commodities, governments will have to streamline permitting procedures and provide financing to de-risk projects.

 

Testimony to US Congress by Alex Epstein

Philosopher and author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels Alex Epstein founded the Center for Industrial Progress in 2011 to offer a positive pro-human alternative to the Green movement. On May 19 he testified before the US House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee. In his written testimony, Mr. Epstein argues that the media and politicians are biased in considering only the negatives of the oil and gas industry while looking only at the positives for wind and solar, rather than taking into account the full impacts of both. On balance, he finds that only the oil and gas industry can supply the low-cost reliable energy that the world's people need to survive. Rather than making the climate more dangerous for the past 40 years of the "climate crisis", fossil fuels have made it safer for humans.

A largely solar- and wind-based energy system will destroy more well-paying US jobs than it creates because "green" jobs are far less productive and cause skyrocketing energy prices. The main beneficiary from the rush to wind and solar is China.

Mr. Epstein made this 1:06:35 video of his live testimony and Q&A, together with a backstory to the hearing (hearing title: Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars and Corporate Welfare in the Oil and Gas Industry) and a follow-up discussion with Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert.

 

2021-05-14

 

John Kerry Admits that US CO2 Cuts Are Pointless

Mr. Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said in a recent video interview: "…getting to net zero [carbon dioxide emissions] is gonna be hard, really hard…that will depend on breakthrough technologies and breakthrough innovations. But even if we get to net zero, we still have to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere." In other words, emissions cuts won’t matter, but technology and innovation will. He also seems unaware that getting all the CO2 out of the atmosphere would end all plant life on Earth.

In a 2015 interview Mr. Kerry said that if all industrialized nations went down to zero emissions, it wouldn't be enough since most of the emissions comes from the developing world.

In his April 28 Presidential Address to Congress, Mr. Kerry's boss, Joe Biden, accidently spoke the truth when he said: "The United States accounts, as all of you know, for less than 15 percent of carbon emissions. The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent. That’s why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Accord, because if we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to matter."

 

The Net-Zero Shell Game and Joe Biden's Deceptions

President Biden’s Earth Day announcement that the United States is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels (equivalent to a 42% cut of 2019’s pre-Covid emission levels) within nine years comes with a double deception — one of cause and the other of effect.

It aims to force America to reach net-zero no later than 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. This limit is the result of a political and ideological shell game resulting from interaction between the Paris Agreement and the IPCC.

Jobs and prosperity are the second deception. A promise of forcing net-zero on the economy as an opportunity to create "millions of good-paying middle-class union jobs" will have no effect on climate and means letting China out-compete America. John Kerry doesn't think there will be "that much" employment dislocation with net-zero, but rather "greater opportunity".

 

Russia Rejects Western Calls to Tighten Emissions Targets

Russia's climate envoy described a recent global trend towards ambitious new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as an "unreasonable race", saying Moscow would focus on the commitments it has made so far. Ruslan Edelgeriyev said: "Setting new targets every year for a few percent of additional emissions reductions not only raises questions about feasibility, but also pushes the whole world into an unreasonable race for numbers, diverting attention from the need for concrete results." Russia's self-imposed target, reiterated last year by President Vladimir Putin, is for its emissions in 2030 to be 30% lower than in 1990. It has long been on course to exceed that goal easily, due to the massive de-industrialization that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

 

Japan Joins the Lemmings

Japan has just raised its 2030 emissions reduction target from 26% to 46% below 2013 levels. When the country's environment minister was asked how the new figure was arrived at, he said the number 46 appeared to him as a "silhouette" in a sort of vision. Willie Eschenbach uses this example of lemming-like behaviour to calculate what keeping the minister's promise would entail. Wind and solar must be excluded — they are expensive, intermittent, and unreliable, and are largely precluded by Japan's geography. This means switching from burning fossil fuels to nuclear power for heating and transportation, as well as upsizing the entire electrical grid. Finally, Japan would have to commission a brand-new 1.6 GW nuclear plant every two weeks from now to 2030. Each of the six reactors at the ill-fated Fukushima plant was only 0.8 GW.

 

China: "renewable energy … intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source"

Su Wei, deputy secretary-general of China's National Development and Reform Commission said: "China’s energy structure is dominated by coal power. This is an objective reality. Because renewable energy (sources such as) wind and solar power are intermittent and unstable, we must rely on a stable power source. We have no other choice. For a period of time, we may need to use coal power as a point of flexible adjustment.”

Renewables were never going to be a viable option for China. Their experiments in renewables have been plagued by intermittency and issues such as wind turbines icing up in winter.

 

Europe's Heavy Industry Unlikely to Survive Net Zero

On April 29 the EU carbon price reached a new record high of €45/t and is expected to increase further in the next few years. Thus, European industrial groups are calling for a carbon border tax to save them from international competitors in jurisdictions without such a carbon price — also known as "carbon leakage." However, it is doubtful that the EU will be able to introduce a border tax, knowing that China, India, and the rest of the developing world would retaliate and tax European products out of their markets.

 

Macron's Climate Referendum Stalls

French President Emmanuel Macron promised a referendum to enshrine the fight against climate change in the constitution. The lower house of the French Parliament, the National Assembly, passed a bill that "guarantees environmental protection and biological diversity, and combats climate change", where it was overwhelmingly approved. However, the Parliament's Senate took issue with the word "guarantee" in the bill as that would have given environmental protection priority over all other constitutional considerations. Under French law a referendum can go ahead only if approved in identical wording by both houses of parliament.

 

20% of California EV Owners Switch Back due to Charging Hassle

Two researchers, apparently keen to see the market share for plug-in electric vehicles reach 100% of new vehicle sales, have published the results of five surveys on reasons for discontinuance — why people buy EVs but then abandon the technology. Their report, Understanding discontinuance among California's electric vehicle owners, found that discontinuance occurred with 20% of plug-in hybrid owners and 18% of battery EV owners. The reason: "We show that discontinuance is related to dissatisfaction with the convenience of charging, having other vehicles in the household that are less efficient, not having level 2 (240-volt) charging at home, having fewer household vehicles and not being male."

Business Insider explains that a 120 V level-1 home outlet will provide enough charge overnight to give an electric Mustang Mach-E about 36 miles of range. By comparison, Tesla's 480 V superchargers can fully charge one of its vehicles in a little over an hour. A gasoline vehicle can be refueled in three minutes.

 

Climate Is Everything

This is the title of the cover story for the April 26 edition of Time Magazine, citing examples to make the claim that climate change has become central to the Biden Administration, social science, government officials, corporate bosses, civil-society leaders, investment decisions, and will transform society. Judith Curry explains how climate became "everything."

She points out that a changing climate has been the norm throughout the Earth's 4.6-billion-year history, due to internal fluctuations and external influences, including human impacts. The broader geological definition of "climate change" shifted to refer only to manmade climate change by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Now "climate change" has come to mean an entire worldview of society as climate predictions influence food production, health, tourism and recreation, human migration, and violent conflict. A self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation triggers a chain reaction, leading to more worry, more new coverage, and greater alarm.

Climate change is blamed for everything that goes wrong, the leading cause of society problems — and the only solution is to stop burning fossil fuels.

 

New Fraud Allegations Deepen Global Science Scandal

Peter Ridd, who was sacked by James Cook University after making critical comments about the research of his colleagues on the Great Barrier Reef, reports on a new scandal affecting the university. JCU researchers had reported that extra CO2 is dangerous to coral reef fish, making them lose their ability to smell predators, become hyperactive, lose their ability to automatically swim left of right, and have impaired vision. A group of seven determined and principled scientists investigated these claims and published their findings in Science on May 6. The seven were unable to replicate the results of the JCU fish studies.

The science establishment attacked the whistle-blowers. Hans-Otto Portner, a co-chair of on the IPCC's working groups, wanted to keep the scandal quiet, stating: "if such a controversy gets outside of the community, it’s harmful because the whole community loses credibility."

 

Finally, a Realistic Global Energy Review

JP Morgan's 11th annual energy paper has as its main focus: why is the fourth great energy transition (i.e., deep decarbonization) taking so long? The short answer is that many prior forecasts of the renewable transition were too ambitious, since they ignored energy density, intermittency, and the complex realities of electric systems. University of Manitoba's Vaclav Smil oversaw the production of the paper, the main contents of which include:

  • Electric vehicles
  • Dreams and realities of massive electricity grid expansion
  • Geologic sequestration of CO2
  • Decarbonization of the industrial sector
  • Oil and gas update
  • Biden's energy agenda
  • China's rare earth metal diplomacy
  • China's new laws on residential heating systems
  • US solar power
  • Last words on the Texas power outage

 

2021-04-29

 

Biden's Climate Summit

On April 22-23 US President Joe Biden convened the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate with 40 national leaders participating. In Session 1 Mr. Biden announced a new pledge under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Other promises made at the session included:

  • Japan promised 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, a significant improvement over the existing 26% goal.
  • Canada pledged 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, compared to the current 30%.
  • UK will embed in law a 78% reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.
  • EU is putting into law a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.
  • Other countries (India, Argentina, South Korea, China, Brazil, South Africa, and Russia) made various commitments on renewable energy, deforestation, future emissions peaks, and carbon capture.

Other sessions at the summit included climate finance, participation by sub-national governments, speeding the transition to net-zero around the world, and opportunities presented by ambitious climate action (i.e., creating "good, high quality jobs.")

 

Canada's New Emissions Pledge

In announcing Canada's new 40-45% pledge at the Biden Climate Summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is "now on track to blow past our old target." "Only bold climate policies lead to bold results," he said, listing off some of the government's green-friendly policies such as investments in public transit and clean energy, a ban on single-use plastics and a promise to plant two billion trees. Environment minister Jonathan Wilkinson called the new emissions target both "ambitious" and "attainable."

Nevertheless, a recent report from Environment and Climate Change Canada showed that 2019 emissions were 730 Mt, compared to 728 Mt in 2018, a 0.2% increase. The 2005 emissions were 739 Mt, so the new 40-45% promise means a 2030 limit of 443 – 406 Mt.

 

Canada's "Made in China" Climate Policy

Andrew Roman, a retired litigation lawyer with over 40 years of experience in human rights, constitutional, environmental and energy  issues, argues that the main beneficiary of Canada's climate policy is not the climate, but China. The faster Canada chases net-zero CO2 emissions the more it offshores its emissions, largely to China's coal-fueled industrial empire. While the West focuses on reducing emissions down to "net-zero" China is rapidly building coal plants at home and in other countries in Asia and Africa. Under the Paris Agreement, China has committed only to “peak” its emissions by 2030 — at some unspecified level.

University of Manitoba Professor emeritus Vaclav Smil has shown that it typically takes a country 50-70 years for new sources of energy to surpass 25% of its energy use. Such transitions only happen when the new technology offers clear advantages of cost, effectiveness, and reliability over the old. Today Western governments plan to force such a transition in 30 years —  without any new breakthrough in energy technology. In Prof. Smil's opinion, the winners in the global economic competition will be the ones who reduce their emissions last. The "leaders" will be the losers.

 

EU Admits that It Can't Go Net-Zero without Natural Gas

The European Commission is proposing a regulation called the EU Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act that "introduces clear performance criteria for determining which economic activities make a substantial contribution to the Green Deal objectives." In essence this document spells out what's green and what isn't for businesses and investors wanting to participate in the EU's plan to become a net-zero emitter by 2050. Page 8 of the regulation states that investments in natural gas projects are eligible for EU funding support. Thus, the document is an admission that it won't be easy for the EU to wean itself off fossil fuels completely.

According to Frans Timmermans, EU vice-president and in charge of the Green Deal: "Where, and as long as, clean energy cannot yet be deployed on the scale needed, fossil gas may still play a role in the transition from coal to zero emission electricity … But I want to be crystal clear with you —fossil fuels have no viable future. That also goes for fossil gas, in the longer run."

 

Emerging Nations Join Forces to Oppose Carbon Border Taxes

The 30th BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change, hosted by India, took place virtually on April 7-8, after which the South African government issued a joint statement. Most of this statement dealt with pledging support full support for the upcoming COP26, describing the BASIC countries' climate actions and NDCs (nationally-determined contributions) under the Paris Agreement, emphasizing the importance of finance (especially the long-promised but lagging $100 billion/year from developed countries), urging more transparency in reporting on NDCs, concluding discussions on international carbon markets (Article 6 of the Paris Agreement), etc. However, it was paragraph 19 of the statement that got media attention. In this paragraph the ministers "expressed grave concern regarding the proposal for introducing trade barriers, such as unilateral carbon border adjustment, that are discriminatory and against the principles of Equity and CBDR-RC (common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities)."

Paragraph 19 is clearly aimed at the EU, which is considering a "carbon border tax" on imports to force emerging economies to adopt non-fossil fuel-based practices to manufacture goods. The EU may announce a formal proposal in June, for discussion at COP26 next November.

Following an April 16 telephone call among the leaders of France, Germany and China, Chinese President Xi Jinping blasted EU plans for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. “Tackling climate change should … not become an excuse for geopolitics, attacking other countries or trade barriers,” President Xi said.

 

US Intelligence Agencies Challenge Biden's Climate Alarmism

In January US President Joe Biden signed an executive order stating: "There is little time left to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory." Mr. Biden’s presidential order outlines an ambitious governmentwide plan “to confront the existential threat of climate change.” It requires all federal agencies to factor the supposed threats posed by climate change into policies aimed at lowering global temperatures. The order blamed recent wildfires, hurricanes and tropical storms on climate change and said the Pentagon believes two-thirds of critical military bases are directly threatened by global warming — without elaboration.

This assessment was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the senior intelligence official overseeing the nation’s 17 spy agencies, who made no mention of a climate crisis or an existential threat from climate change in a survey of global challenges and threats in House and Senate testimony.

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: “The focus on climate change as a national security matter is a dangerous diversion for our military from what should be its core mission: protecting the nation against aggressive adversaries. While we need our installations to be more resilient, China, Russia and Iran are not our biggest threats because of climate change.”

 

Revealed: The EU's Stunning Green Hypocrisy

he EU mandates that 30% of the bloc's expenditures be allocated to green projects — and uses some creative math to achieve this. The European Commission classifies investments in terms of 0%, 40% and 100% green content and then rounds up the numbers to the next higher target. Thus, 1% becomes 40% and 41% becomes 100%.

 

Why the UK's Net Zero Won't Happen

In a 10-minute video interview, the Global Warming Policy Forum's Benny Peiser discusses the UK government's plan to install 600,000 heat pumps every year replacing gas boilers in homes, in order to decarbonize home heating. As well homeowners will be expected to turn thermostats down by 10°C. Dr. Peiser explained that homeowners won't want to spend £18,000 to install heat pumps to save £200/year. Another problem for the government's net-zero agenda is that people will realize that they are stuck with unsaleable houses because they don't have the net-zero rating. To make them saleable, the owners would have to spend £20,000 - £25,000 to (including insulation upgrades) get that rating. With the phasing out of coal and natural gas, electricity prices will continue to rise, and so will the cost of home heating. Eventually the government will back down.

The government has already undertaken the easy parts of achieving net-zero by closing old power plants and moving a lot of production to China and other Asian countries, so Britain can claim it's emitting less CO2. Anything more, like the home retrofits, requires a dictatorship to enforce because people can't afford them and there's no benefit.

The US and Britain became wealthy societies on the back of cheap energy — coal, oil, and natural gas — and are now telling the rest of the world "you can't do what we've done over the past 200 years." The prime minister of Pakistan has said, unless the West coughs up $400 billion/year, COP26 will be a failure.

 

Obama’s Chief Energy Scientist Becomes A Climate Truth Teller

Steven Koonin, who was chief scientist for the Obama Department of Energy, has written a book, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters. In it Mr. Koonin argues that what the media, politicians and activists say about climate science has drifted out of touch with the actual science. He has been building models, and watching others build models for 45 years and says climate models are not of a standard to which to trust one's life, or trillions of dollars. Mr. Koonin hopes that the impulse for global regulation will morph into "much more impactful local environmental action: smog, plastic, green jobs. Forget the global aspect of this."

 

2021-04-02

 

Biden Announces Two-day Virtual Global Climate Conference

On March 26 US President Joe Biden invited 40 world leaders to the virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate that he will host on April 22 (Earth Day) and 23. Key themes of the summit will include:

  • Galvanizing efforts by the world's major economies to reduce emissions during this decade to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts.
  • The economic benefits of climate action.
  • Spurring transformational technologies to help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
  • Showcasing subnational and non-state actors.
  • Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impact of climate change.

 However, amid mutual distrust between America and China over each other's commitment to saving the environment, Chinese President Xi Jingping has yet to respond to Mr. Biden's invitation.

 

COP26 May Have to Be Postponed Again

The clash between two emergencies — climate and covid — is making life difficult for the organizers of COP26, the climate summit scheduled for next November in Glasgow. Last May COP26 was postponed a full year because of covid. Now, in view of uncertainties regarding public health rules, UK government sources fear having ~20,000 attendees, heads of state/government, ministers and officials flying in for a physical event, unless they can all be vaccinated and/or robustly tested. Two possible options for COP26 are:

  • Limiting attendees to national delegations, with others participating virtually. This is unpopular with smaller countries that rely on NGOs to amplify their voice, as well as climate activists.
  • Delaying the summit a second time. Opposed by greens who see the COP meeting as an emergency situation. However, moving it to May 2022 would give more time to complete preparatory work and would allow more people to become vaccinated.

 Any decision on COP26 will involve the government of Scotland, as well as Westminster and the UN.

 

Come Clean about the Cost of Net Zero

The UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee found that the government "lacks a plan for how it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 despite setting the target almost two years ago." This lack of plan made it "difficult for parliament and the general public to understand or scrutinise’ progress towards the goal." The PAC noted: "As much as 62% of the future reduction in emissions will rely on individual choices and behaviours, from day-to-day lifestyle choices to one off purchases such as replacing boilers that use fossil fuels or buying an electric vehicle. Government has not yet properly engaged with the public on the substantial behaviour changes that achieving net zero will require."

According to Spiked public disengagement with politics provided "an open door to the green lobby and other campaigning organisations." Green advocates claim that new technology can reduce reliance on gas, and the government has announced that gas for home heating will be banned in the 2030s to encourage use of heat pumps. But the latter cost at least 3.5 times as much as gas boilers, require larger radiators and noisy heat-exchange units outside of every home. In the UK, as in other countries, no party manifesto has explained to voters what a commitment to Net Zero actually requires from them.

 

Enbridge's "Sustainability Linked" Financing

When presenting his company’s 2020 financial results, Al Monaco, the president of Enbridge, a Canadian midstream energy company, boasted about its ESG leadership. In particular, Mr. Monaco took pride in Enbridge becoming the first in its sector to launch a “Sustainability Linked credit facility,” a three-year $1 billion funding from three financial institutions that have loaned over $48 billion to Enbridge from 2016 to 2020.

While it's unclear from Enbridge's press release what a sustainability linked credit facility is, a French ENGO named Reclaim Finance was unimpressed with Enbridge's efforts to promote its ESG credentials. The ENGO also took aim at two Enbridge ESG goals: (1) To reduce intensity of GHG emissions by 35% by 2030; (2) To achieve net zero emissions by 2050. These goals apply only to emissions from Enbridge-owned sources and purchased electricity, not the end use of hydrocarbons transported or sold. To achieve net zero Enbridge will rely on carbon offsets and "avoided emissions." Reclaim Finance finishes with a call to end shameless fossil fuel greenwashing.

This is an example of how ENGOs like Reclaim Finance perform a useful service: If craven corporations find that pandering to the green lobby only causes the lobby to ridicule their efforts, they may eventually realize that appeasement is futile.

 

EU's Top Court Rejects Effort to Force Tougher Climate Rules

On March 25 the European Court of Justice rejected an attempt by a Scandinavian youth group and families around the world to force the EU to set more ambitious targets for reducing emissions. The case, Armando Ferrao Carvalho and Others v. The European Parliament and the Council, opened in May 2018 when ten families, including children, from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and the Swedish Sami Youth Association, brought an action in the EU General Court seeking to compel the EU to take more stringent greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The plaintiffs allege that the EU's target to reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 is insufficient and threatens their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property. They demanded compelling the EU to set more stringent emissions targets and require a 50%-60% reduction, or whatever level the court finds appropriate.

The EU General Court did not rule on the merits but dismissed the case on procedural grounds by finding that the plaintiffs are not sufficiently and directly affected by EU climate policies. The plaintiffs then appealed to the European Court of Justice on July 11, 2019. The ECJ upheld the lower court's order, ruling the plaintiff's claims inadmissible on standing grounds for failing to demonstrate that they were individually impacted by Europe's climate policy.

 

The Climate Agenda Is a Money-making Business for the Elites

In a series of tweets Glen Peters, research director of the Oslo-based Center for International Climate Research, took former Bank of England governor Mark Carney to task for claiming that Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is a net-zero company. Mr. Carney, who is Vice Chair and Head of ESG and Impact Fund Investing at Brookfield, a half-trillion-dollar asset manager, then walked back his claim. He is also a leading light of the climate-finance oligarchy, a climate advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and serves as  UN secretary-general António Guterres' special envoy on finance and climate action.

After Mr. Carney's latest book, Values: Building a Better World for All, came out the BBC gave him the prestigious platform of the 2020 Reith Lectures, where he asserted that net-zero investments are "turning an existential risk into one of the greatest commercial opportunities of our time," and "We won’t have a financial system if we don’t have a planet." Mr. Carney told the BBC: "When you look at climate change from a human mortality perspective, it will be the equivalent of a coronavirus crisis every year from the middle of this century, and every year, not just a one-off event. So it is an issue that needs to be addressed now." It is the "power of money" that will ultimately play the biggest role in combating climate change, he said.

 

OECD Chooses “Climate Inactivist” as New Head

Climate activists were dismayed by the election of former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann as secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the run-up to the election, The Guardian accused Mr. Cormann of airbrushing his climate record, in particular his record of campaigning against a previous Australian government's "job-destroying carbon tax." Michael Mann also urged the OECD to reject Mr. Cormann's bid for the office.

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “We have little confidence in Cormann’s ability to ensure the OECD is a leader in tackling the climate crisis, when he has an atrocious record on the issue. If the OECD is to fulfil its mandate, it must confront the climate emergency, arguably the biggest social justice issue of our time.” Nick Mabey, the chief executive of the E3G thinktank, said: “OECD countries have just sent a dangerous signal by appointing someone with a track record of dismantling climate policy to run their main advisory body. This appointment will lower pressure on the leaders of other international institutions to undertake radical reforms to tackle the climate crisis.”

 

John Kerry Warns EU Against Carbon Border Tax

According to the European Commission the EU’s Green Deal and its 2050 Net Zero target are threatening the very survival of Europe’s industries unless a carbon border tax is enforced upon countries that are not adopting the same expensive Net Zero policies. On March 10 the European Parliament endorsed creation of such a tax to protect EU companies against cheaper imports from countries with weaker climate policies.

However, John Kerry, Joe Biden’s climate envoy, has warned the EU that a carbon border tax should be a “last resort,” saying he was "concerned" about Brussels' plans for one. Instead, Mr. Kerry wants all countries to adopt net-zero emissions targets at the COP26 climate summit next November. But this would run up against the key UN principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities. The developing world is unlikely to relinquish this principle and curtail its economic development and prospects in order to save the West's competitiveness.

It's possible that Mr. Kerry's resistance to a carbon border tax is due to the Biden administration's reported reluctance to impose any sort of carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme on Americans, preferring mandates and subsidies instead.

 

A Short History of Climate Alarm

Paul Homewood of the Global Warming Policy Forum has written this history that begins when a ~30 year cooling trend led to a 1970s fear that the Earth was heading towards a new Ice Age. As a result, the US government set up a Subcommittee on Climate Change in 1974. In the 1980s the cooling trend reversed, and forecasts of apocalypse re-emerged, this time based on the idea of a hothouse planet. In 1989 Noel Brown, a director of the UN Environmental Program, warned that Earth's temperature would increase 1-7°C, sea levels would rise by three feet and entire coastal nations could be wiped out if the warming trend was not reversed by the year 2000.

After 2000 came and went with only a 0.4°C temperature rise, other prophets, including UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Al Gore, the UN's Christina Figueres, Prince Charles, the Pentagon, researchers from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, the UK Met Office, and scientists from other institutions around the world made predictions of disastrous warming — all of which failed.

Mr. Homewood says his examples are only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the predictions were the work of cranks, but too many came from supposedly reliable sources and were lapped up by the media. Part of the problem is the colossal amounts of money available for any type of climate research. Mr. Homewood ends by recalling climate scientist Stephen Schneider's quote about deciding the right balance in being ethical and honest.

 

2021-03-03

 

Countries Not on Track for Paris Agreement

On February 26 the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change warned that the world is falling short of its emissions reduction goals and stronger climate action is urgently needed. Specifically, it published the initial NDC Synthesis Report that gathers information from 48 new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (i.e., climate action plans) under the Paris Agreement. In an accompanying news release UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his disappointment: “2021 is a make or break year to confront the global climate emergency. The science is clear, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, we must cut global emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels. Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The major emitters must step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 in their Nationally Determined Contributions well before the November UN Climate Conference in Glasgow."

An Australian Associated Press article expressed fears that the US will target a handful of countries, including Australia, which has been accused of "shamefully doing nothing," to take stronger action.

According to Bloomberg the world is ignoring climate hysteria as CO2 emissions came roaring back, with December's level 2% higher than the same month in 2019.

 

UN Calls for Contraction and Convergence to Low Living Standards

On February 18 the UN Environmental Program published its first ever environmental synthesis report, with the expectedly scary title “Making Peace with Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies” — not just a climate emergency, but three emergencies. In the forward to the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres begins: "Humanity is waging war on nature. This is senseless and suicidal. The consequences of our recklessness are already apparent in human suffering, towering economic losses and the accelerating erosion of life on Earth."

The UNEP's ways to make peace with nature appear on page 102 with eight "Key areas for transformations change," including:

  • Reduce the negative global effect of human needs and demand – a function of consumption and production rates, population size, and waste – by reducing per capita consumption and production in some regions and human population growth in others.
  • Systematically reduce inequalities in income and other forms, including across gender, race and class.

As science, technology and policy analyst David Wojick describes it, this UNEP doctrine of Contraction and Convergence is nothing new. It means that developed economies like America are to contract by reducing per capita consumption and production, while the poorest countries are allowed to improve a bit. But every economy on Earth has to converge to a single, low standard of living.

 

UN Security Council Hears of Climate Threat, Does Nothing

On February 23 members of the UN Security Council spoke of droughts, floods, deserts, storms and rising seas eating away at the foundations of peace. They also predicted regional collapse and millions of climate refugees. Several leaders, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, called for the creation of a UN special envoy for climate and security and for UN Secretary-General António Guterres to deliver annual reports to the Council. US climate envoy John Kerry issued a stark warning that climate inaction is a "mutual suicide pact."

However, Russia's representative on the Council said the link between climate change and conflicts was specific to certain countries and there was “no justification” for making that connection globally. That “would even be dangerous,” he said, because “considering the climate the root cause of security issues is a distraction from the true root causes.” For example, he blamed the destabilization of Africa’s Sahel region on NATO’s “willful” regime change campaign in Libya in 2011.  Russia then vetoed the resolution.

 

Further Delay Feared in the Run-up to COP26

A February 25 meeting of the 11-member UN Climate Change bureau on how to proceed with preparatory negotiations before COP26 in Glasgow in November ended in a stalemate. This issue was whether to hold virtual or in-person negotiations next June. While developed countries favored a virtual format, some developing countries objected because of poor internet connections and time-zone differences that could make it hard for their delegates to fully participate. Members agreed to consult further and defer a decision to their next meeting at the end of March.

There have been no formal international climate talks since COP25, December 2019 in Madrid. The interim talks, which normally occur between COPs, are usually held in Bonn every June.

 

Boris Johnson Promises No Tax Hikes for His Green Agenda

Reacting to fears that CO2 taxes currently applied only to heavy industry, power generators and airlines will be extended to other sectors of the UK economy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “no” when asked if there would be future meat or carbon taxes on consumers during his watch. Instead, this year's COP26 summit will “generate high quality, high skill, high wage jobs.” He promised that going green was “an agenda for an economic bounce back that is built on the UK at the heart of a technological revolution as we were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago.” He added: “We can be the centre of battery manufacturing; we can be the centre of battery innovation in this part of the world. And as I say the Saudi Arabia of wind. That’s our ambition.”

 

Biden Reenters Paris Climate Agreement Without Senate Approval

On February 19 President Joe Biden announced that the US had officially rejoined the Paris Agreement. Two days later House Republicans introduced a bill to block any funding to support the agreement until the Senate ratifies the accord. When former President Obama entered the agreement in 2016, he did so by executive order over the objections of Senate Republicans, who argued that the agreement was a treaty and therefore subject to Senate ratification under the Constitution.

Mr. Biden's climate envoy John Kerry marked the occasion by urging countries to do more to confront the climate crisis warning that international talks this year are the “last, best hope” of avoiding catastrophic global heating, thereby adding his name to a long list of last chances stretching back to 1989.

 

Mines, Minerals, and "Green" Energy: A Reality Check

This essay published by the Manhattan Institute, explores the reality that all energy-producing machines must be fabricated from materials extracted from the earth. No energy system is "renewable" since all machines require the continual mining and processing of millions of tons of primary materials and the disposal of hardware that inevitably wears out. It turns out that "green" machines (i.e., wind turbines and solar panels) entail, on average, ten times the quantity of materials compared to machines fueled by hydrocarbons (see Fig. 1 in the essay.) Some other realities:

  • An electric car contains more cobalt that 1,000 smartphone batteries and involves moving 500,000 pounds of material to produce its 1,000-pound battery.
  • The blades on a single wind turbine have more plastic than 5 million smartphones.
  • A solar array powering a data center uses more glass than 50 million smartphones.
  • Averaged over an EV's battery life, each mile driven "consumes" five pounds of earth, compared to 0.2 pounds of liquid per mile in an internal combustion engine.

Over the past century the US has not expanded domestic mining, and in most cases the country's production of minerals has declined, while the demand for them has increased. Today imports account for 100% of 17 critical minerals, and for 29 others, net imports make up more than half the demand. Despite the popular trope of our digital times that the increasingly service-oriented economy means less need for materials, forecasts for the next two decades see a 300% increase in demand for common materials such as plastics, paper, iron, aluminum, silica and calcium (for concrete.)

The idea of a green circular economy based on 100% recycling is a pipe dream. For example, recycling e-waste to extract low concentrations of rare minerals is labor-intensive and hazardous. It's often cheaper and requires less energy to extract more minerals from ores.

 

2021-02-12

 

The Impossible Net Zero Fantasy

After reading some information at Friends of Science, Willis Eschenbach got to thinking about how to go to zero emissions by 2050 by getting off fossil fuels. His analysis includes a plot of global annual total and fossil-fuel energy consumption from 1880 to 2019, with extensions of both trends to 2050.

To achieve net zero by 2050 we will have to replace 193 PWh (1 PWh = 1015 Wh) of fossil fuel energy every year. This means installing 193 PWh / (24 x 365.25) ≈ 22 TW (1 TW = 1012 W) of new energy generating capacity by 2050. From January 25, 2021 there are 10,568 days until January 1, 2050. Thus, we need to install, test commission and add to the grid about 22 TW / 10,578 ≈ 2.1 GW of generating capacity every day. Mr. Eschenbach calculated what this means in terms of nuclear, wind or solar:

  • One 2.1 GW nuclear power plant every day from now to 2050, or
  • 3,000 two-MW wind turbines installed every day, plus a 2.1 GW nuclear plant every 1-1/2 days as backup, or
  • 250 km2 of solar panels installed every day, plus a 2.1 GW nuclear plant every 1-1/2 days as backup.

 

Road to EU Climate Neutrality by 2050

A collaborative report instigated by two members of the EU Parliament, one from the Netherlands and the other from the Czech Republic, provides a critical reality check on the rush to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar. The subtitle to the report is: Spatial Requirements of Wind/Solar and Nuclear Energy and Their Respective Costs. It can be downloaded both as a 45-page summary and the 459-page full report. The authors examined three key issues:

  • The effect of EU climate neutrality on the average global atmospheric temperature by 2050 and 2100.
  • The spatial (land and sea) requirements for wind and solar energy versus nuclear energy in two EU member states - the Netherlands (a country along the North Sea with abundant wind) and the Czech Republic (a landlocked country with a geographically more challenging landscape).
  • The costs of wind/solar energy and of nuclear energy for these two countries.

 The report's main conclusions:

  • EU climate neutrality, if achieved, will likely cause a very small decrease in the average global temperature rise, estimated to by 0.05°C - 0.15°C by 2100, and no more than 0.02°C - 0.06°C by 2050, assuming no carbon leakage occurs. Even so and assuming the estimates are accurate, the average global temperature would still increase by 3°C (summary, p.10).
  • Compared to wind and solar, nuclear power produces approximately 150 - 500 as much electricity per km2. These numbers exclude the additional land required by wind and solar, such as the infrastructure needed for the integration of renewable energy into the electricity system together with energy storage and conversion facilities. If the Netherlands and the Czech Republic had to rely solely or predominantly on wind and solar, there is not enough land in either country to generate the power needed (summary, p.25).
  • Considering just the costs of generating electricity (no integration or system-related costs, which are lower with nuclear) and using either market-based interest rates or zero interest rate, nuclear is cheaper than all types of renewable energy (offshore wind, onshore wind, solar) in both countries (summary, pp.28-32).

Because current EU policies favour renewable energy over nuclear, massive funding has found its way into the development and deployment of wind and solar. This has had the effect of reducing the cost of renewables while inflating that of nuclear. The EU's 2050 climate neutrality strategy involves a high risk of policy failure.

 

Democracy Wakes Up on the Road to Net Zero

The London Times broke the story of a leaked UK government memo discussing economy-wide carbon taxes, including demands from academics and campaigners to increase the prices of gas, meat and cheese to change people's behaviors. The scale of the instant blowback was such that the ambition which has underpinned climate lobbying and policymaking for decades evaporated in hours. This incident prompted Ben Pile, writing in The Conservative Woman, to reflect on his argument that the climate change agenda lacks any democratic foundation and has neither been exposed nor tested at the ballot box.

Mr. Pile describes how climate technocrats in the UK have found ways around problem of democratic legitimacy by appointing a Climate Assembly of ordinary citizens to deliver a preordained result. Nevertheless, the government's desire to put climate policymaking out of democratic reach continues in the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow next November. Mr. Pile concludes with: "The Net Zero agenda has been shown to the world for what it is: a power and wealth grab, at the public expense, which has been so poorly conceived that none of its advocates bothered to ask themselves ‘What the if the public objects to it?’”

 

COP26 in Trouble as China Nixes US Climate Appeal over Uighur Genocide Claim

After the new Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed with his predecessor's characterisation of China's treatment of Uighurs amounted to "genocide", the foreign ministry in Beijing accused Mr. Blinken of “interfering in its domestic affairs and undermining its interests.” The ministry's statement added: "China is willing to work with the US on climate change. But such cooperation cannot stand unaffected by the overall China-US relations."

During a press briefing in Beijing on January 28 a foreign ministry spokesperson threw cold water on the idea of US-China coordination on climate change, saying: “China has emphasized time and again that no one should imagine they could ask China to understand and support them in bilateral and global affairs when they blatantly interfere in China’s domestic affairs and undermine China’s interests.” In other words, China disagrees with President Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, who suggested that climate change cooperation is a “critical standalone issue.”

 

John Kerry Flew on Private Jet to Accept Climate Award: 'Only choice for somebody like me'

Mr. Kerry, recently appointed as US President Joe Biden's climate ambassador, took a private jet to Iceland in October 2019 to receive the Arctic Circle Prize for “leadership in international climate cooperation.” While there, an Icelandic reporter confronted Mr. Kerry over his choice of transportation, asking: "I understand that you came here with a private jet. Is that an environmental way to travel?"

Mr. Kerry responded: "If you offset your carbon - it's the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle … I've been involved with this fight for years. I negotiated with [Chinese] President Xi to bring President Xi to the table so we could get Paris. And, I believe, the time it takes me to get somewhere, I can't sail across the ocean. I have to fly, meet with people and get things done." He sidestepped the fact that he chose a private jet over commercial.

 

Biden Press Secretary: We’re Considering Killing All the Pipelines

On his first day in office US President Joe Biden cancelled construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported Canadian oil into the US. The governor of Michigan is taking legal action to revoke the easement of a 6.4 km section under the Straits of Mackinac of an Enbridge oil pipeline carrying oil from Western Canada to refineries in the US and Ontario. During a briefing on February 4, President Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, was asked whether the White House had the same plans for the Enbridge pipeline as they do for Keystone. She responded: "A number are under review. All of these pipelines are a part of what our team is looking at and assessing.”

 

France Found Guilty of Failing to Meet Paris Agreement Pledge

A French court found the state guilty of inaction in fighting climate change in a landmark ruling that environmentalists have dubbed “the case of the century.” This is an embarrassment to President Emmanuel Macron, whose administration is judged to be failing in its promise "to make our planet great again." The lawsuit was launched two years ago by four NGOs, including Greenpeace France and Oxfam France, following an online petition that gathered 2.3 million signatures – the largest in French history, according to the organizers. The plaintiffs’ aim was to “compel the State to take all necessary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” to meet the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement.

The administrative court ordered the government to pay a symbolic €1 fine to the four green groups that brought the case after France exceeded its 2015-2018 carbon budget. The court will return in the spring to decide whether to order the French government to take more stringent carbon-cutting measures, giving ministers another two months to demonstrate what they are doing to address climate change.

 

G20 Countries’ Climate Policies Fail to Make the Grade on Paris Promises

With nine months to go until COP26 in Glasgow, the world's largest economies are far from meeting their pledges made at COP21 in Paris in 2015 according to research from BloombergNEF. According to BNEF's head of global policy analysis: "The high-level pledges over the last year, in particular, have been impressive with major economies such as the European Union, Japan, South Korea and China all promising to get to ‘net-zero’ emissions or carbon neutrality at some future date. But the reality is that countries simply haven’t done enough at home with follow-through policies to meet even the promises made more than five years ago."

Climate Action Tracker rates most of these countries as being "insufficient", "highly insufficient" or "critically insufficient" in terms of meeting the Paris Agreement's 2°C limit.

 

Climate Lockdowns?

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology in Germany report that the Covid-19 lockdowns caused an 8% reduction in emissions in 2020, though measurements so far have revealed no CO2 decrease in the atmosphere. Their study, Can We Measure a COVID-19-Related Slowdown in Atmospheric CO2 Growth? Sensitivity of Total Carbon Column Observations, found that the 8% emissions reduction last year approximately matches what is required year on year to fulfill the Paris Agreement goals for 2030 (8% in 2020, 16% in 2021, 24% in 2022, etc.)

The perfect storm caused by Covid-19 and the resulting global economic meltdown offers some of our greatest thinkers a chance to take what they see as bold and dramatic action to save the planet. The Biden administration will use the consequences of the Covid lockdown to push through some green legislation, which will not be enough to satisfy the progressives. Mariana Mazzucato, an author and a professor in innovative economics at the University of London raised the prospect of climate lockdowns stating: "Under a 'climate lockdown', governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat, and impose extreme energy-saving measures, while fossil-fuel companies would have to stop drilling. To avoid such a scenario, we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently."

The idea of "doing capitalism differently" is the driving rhetorical motivation behind the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset. A blog post by the WEF praised the emissions reduction during the lockdowns, saying: "Let's keep it that way." Karl Lauterbach, an MP for the German Social Democratic party wrote in Die Welt last December that "we need measures to deal with climate change that are similar to the restrictions on personal freedom [imposed] to combat the pandemic."

 

Climate "Emergency" Claims Falsified by Real-world Data

The standard narrative on climate change, as stated by the world's most influential people and institutions is that climate change is already increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and wildfires, reducing available water and crop yields, increasing diseases, hunger, poverty and human mortality, and reducing productivity of the biosphere and the habitat available for species. However, a study for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Impacts of Climate Change: Perception & Reality, by independent scientist Indur Goklany claims there is little if any evidence to support the scare narrative. In his report Dr. Goklany notes that climate change should not be confused with fluctuations in the weather. Since climate is often defined in 30-year averages, the temporal record examined should be long enough to cover at least two non-overlapping 30-year periods. The study considered seven phenomena: extreme weather events; area burned by wildfires; disease; food and hunger; sea-level rise and land loss; human well-being; and terrestrial biological productivity.

The study concludes that, while weather has been getting slightly warmer, extreme weather events such as cyclones/hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts have not been getting more frequent and intense. The areas burned by wildfires peaked in mid 19th century. Cereal yields have tripled since 1961 and food supply per capita has increased 31% since then. There has been marginal expansion of land area and coral islands. Death rates from climate sensitive diseases and hunger rates have declined. Health-adjusted life expectancy has increased, and global inequality has declined. The earth has become greener and more productive.

 

2021-01-27

 

Canada is Warming at Only 1/2 the Rate of Climate Model Simulations

During his January 19 presentation for the Friends of Science about there being no climate emergency, Dr. Roy Spencer compared the surface temperatures of Canada to those calculated by climate models. For observed temperatures he used the most recent 30-year period (1991-2020) for the CRUTem5 dataset, which is heavily relied upon by the UN IPCC and world governments. Latitude bounds were 51N-70N and longitude limits were 60W-130W. The model results came from a total of 108 CMIP5 simulations produced by 20 climate models.

Comparing the observed vs model temperatures reveals that Canada has been warming at 50% of the rate of the average of the CMIP5 models. The linear trends are 0.23°C/decade and 0.49°C/decade, respectively.

 

US Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Proper Venue for Climate Cases

On January 19 the US Supreme Court heard arguments on a climate case that could determine the future for climate litigation against energy companies. In 2018 the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore filed suit in state court against 26 companies, including BP, Citgo and Chevron, alleging that the companies should be held liable for environmental damages to the city — including coastal flooding and rising temperatures. The companies, arguing that the case belongs in federal court because it involves national emissions, petitioned the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and lost. They then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court on March 31, 2020.

According to Robert Percival, who teaches environmental law at the University of Maryland, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will take up the larger issue of state versus federal jurisdiction in climate litigation. Based on the justices' questions Prof. Percival thinks the case will be sent back to the Court of Appeals to consider all of the companies' arguments (some of which it ignored), rather than allowing it to proceed in state court.

 

How Biden’s Return to The Paris Climate Accord Benefits Beijing

On his first day in office, US President Joe Biden signed orders to rejoin the Paris climate agreement; revoke the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline permit; direct agencies to consider tightening greenhouse gas emissions standards on vehicles and appliances; and reestablish the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, which former President Trump disbanded in 2017. Rejoining the Paris Agreement occurs as China and India which represented 80% of the emission increases in 2019 are dramatically ramping up coal and oil development.

Beijing pledged to peak its emissions by 2030 but has done nothing to slow the emissions growth up to then. China's coal consumption has continued to increase, raising its coal-fired power capacity by 42.9 GW, or 4.5%, in the 18 months leading to June 2019. India pledged to peak its emissions around the middle of the century and announced plans in 2019 to double its domestic coal production over the next five years and will continue to use fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Mr. Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, said that China’s pledge to achieve zero emissions by 2060 is “not good enough.”

 

Bill Aims to Block US Rejoining Paris Agreement Unless Ratified by the Senate

Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, has introduced a bill to block the Biden administration from rejoining the Paris Agreement until the latter receives Senate approval. Said Ms. Boebert: "My bill prohibits Congress from spending a single penny on the Paris Agreement until this treaty is ratified by the United States Senate. Joe Biden took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. If he wants to keep it, he must transmit the job-killing Paris Agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification."

The bill has little chance of passing the Democrat-controlled House, but the legislation has drawn attention to the debate over whether the Paris accord is an executive agreement, as the Obama administration maintained, or a treaty that requires the advice and consent of the Senate under the Constitution. Ratifying a treaty requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which Mr. Biden would be unlikely to secure in the 50-50 Senate.

 

EU Sees Carbon Border Levy as "Matter of Survival" for Industry

The EU Commission is expected to propose its carbon border adjustment policy before the end of June as part of a broader package of climate laws aiming to cut emissions by 55% before the end of the decade. Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans said: "It’s a matter of survival of our industry. So, if others will not move in the same direction, we will have to protect the European Union against distortion of competition and against the risk of carbon leakage." Carbon leakage would occur if companies left Europe to avoid the cost of its emissions-cutting policies.

While Mr. Timmermans hopes that other major emitters will adopt carbon pricing policies as well, if the COP26 climate summit next November fails to deliver sufficient climate action, the EU will press ahead with unilateral carbon border measures.

Germany's agriculture ministry is also pushing for a carbon adjustment mechanism at EU borders to ensure that climate action in the bloc’s farming sector doesn’t endanger farmers’ livelihoods and cause carbon leakage. Germany can only achieve so much in trying to decarbonize its agriculture sector because its farmers are facing international competition, state secretary in the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture Beate Kasch said. Emissions from animal husbandry, manure and land-use (soils) in the German farming sector have not been reduced significantly over the past decade as farmers struggle with low prices for their products and consumers in Germany have been slow to embrace a less meat-heavy diet. The sector is supposed to achieve a 35.6% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.

 

Germany Weighs Electricity Rationing Scheme to Stabilize its Grid

Before the days of climate alarmism and hysteria, the job of deciding how to best produce electricity was left to power generation engineers and experts – people who actually understood it. So, Germany had one of the most stable and reliable power grids. Then, in the 1990s, environmental activists, politicians, climate alarmists and pseudo-experts decided they could do a better job at generating power in Germany and eventually passed the outlandish EEG green energy feed-in act and rules.

As a result, the country now finds itself on the verge of blackouts due to grid instability, has the highest electricity prices in the world, relies more on imports and is not even close to meeting its emissions targets.

 

COP 26 in Trouble as UK Government Split over New Coal Mine

On January 6 the UK's communities secretary formally refused to block the £165 million Whitehaven project to remove coking coal from beneath the Irish Sea for steel-making. This is the country's first deep coal mine in 30 years as the government tells other nations to reduce CO2 emissions. Alok Sharma, who quit as business secretary to devote himself full time to COP 26 is said to be furious with the communities secretary's decision. Greta Thunberg said the approval of the mine showed that Britain’s commitment to go carbon neutral by 2050 “basically means nothing”.

 

Two-thirds of UK Homes Will Be Unsellable by 2028 Unless They Upgrade

The Climate Change Committee, which is advising the UK government on how to achieve its net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, has recommended that all homes for sale (new and resale) from 2028 should have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of "C". EPC is a rating scheme which bands properties between A and G, with an A rating being the most efficient and G being the least efficient.

There are currently about 29 million homes in the UK, of which 19 million have an EPC lower than C according to the CCC’s figures. The last gas furnace should be sold in 2033, with the majority of homes needing to be heated by electric powered heat pumps drawing warmth from the ground. The CCC estimates 415,000 installations per year will be required by 2025 so as to hit a target of 5.5 million heat pumps in homes by 2030. The installation cost for an air source heat pump ranges between £8,000 and £18,000, while ground source heat pumps cost from £20,000 to £40,000.

 

Greta Thunberg's Address to the World Economic Forum

The WEC's Davos conference is taking place virtually this year, and Greta Thunberg sent her message to world leaders "… to once again remind you of the emergency we’re in. The crisis that you and your predecessors have created and inflicted upon us. The crisis that you continue to ignore." For Ms. Thunberg, vague, insufficient, hypothetical targets way into the future like "net-zero 2050" are no substitute for taking immediate action. She bemoans the low level of public awareness that allows political leaders to get away with almost anything. Instead, what she wants is annual binding carbon budgets "based on the current best available science." Video.

In a one-minute video the WEF offers its "simple plan" to beat global warming: halve CO2 emissions every 10 years, and double use of "green" energy every five years. This would result in "net zero" by 2050 and keep global warming below 2°C.        

 

SUVs Are Conquering the World as Car Buyers Ignore Climate Message

The popularity of SUVs with car buyers is a problem for efforts to reign in emissions from the global transportation sector, which accounts for roughly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, for the first time, SUVs accounted for half or just over half of all vehicles sold in the US. Other countries (China, Europe) are catching up. The average fuel efficiency increases of light-duty vehicles per year has slowed to only around 1.3% in recent years — down from the roughly 2% per year in the handful of years prior, and well below the roughly 3% needed merely to keep total global emissions from cars from rising.  SUVs are generally around 15-30% less fuel efficient than the prototypical passenger car, the sedan.

Auto manufacturers have a strong incentive to push consumers to opt for larger vehicles, since the amount of profit earned per vehicle sold is higher for SUVs than for sedans. To lure more buyers, auto companies have introduced a greater variety of new choices of SUVs than they have for sedans and other passenger cars. According to an analyst: "Utility vehicles are more practical than passenger cars, and US consumers tend to choose vehicles based on occasional use needs more than daily driver/commute needs. There was a time when sedans dominated, but utility vehicles simply move people and their stuff around easier."

 

2021-01-19

 

No Climate Emergency! Dr. Roy W. Spencer LIVE Online January 19, 2021 at 7 pm MST

The second part of the Friends of Science Society’s 17th annual climate science event will take place online on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 7 pm Mountain Standard Time (UTC - 7 hours). The event will feature a recorded presentation, “The Most Important Reasons Why There is No Climate Emergency”, by Dr. Roy W. Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. After the presentation Dr. Spencer will be available for a live online Q&A. For details on how to access this event, please see this link.

 

US Wind-Energy Sector Gets $176 Billion Worth of Crony Capitalism

Last month, during its annual conference, the American Wind Energy Association issued a press release trumpeting the growth of wind-energy capacity. It quoted the association’s CEO, Tom Kiernan, who declared that the wind business is “an American success story.” According to data from Subsidy Tracker, that success was fueled not by consumer demand, but by a total of $176 billion in subsidies. The biggest beneficiaries were General Electric ($1.6 billion in local, state and federal subsidies, plus $159 billion in federal loan guarantees), NextEra Energy (about 50 grants and tax credits from local, state, and federal entities as well as federal loans and loan guarantees worth $5.5 billion). About $6.8 billion in subsidies, loans, and loan guarantees went to foreign corporations, including Iberdrola, Siemens, and E.On. 

Many of the companies on the AWEA board will be collecting even more federal subsidies over the next few years. In December, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the latest renewal of the production tax credit will cost U.S. taxpayers about $3.1 billion per year from now until 2019. That subsidy pays wind-energy companies $23 for each megawatt-hour of electricity they produce.

 

Will the Green Economy Trigger the Next Crash?

Financier Bill Blain learned a painful lesson from the 2008 financial crisis, when a small but very significant part of the asset-backed securities market failed and shook markets to the core — like a few snowflakes triggering an avalanche. While Mr. Blain absolutely believes that climate change is the biggest challenge that humanity faces, he fears that the drive for renewable energy, especially wind, will trigger the next financial crash. The UK government has promoted wind power with messages that it's nearly costless and the country will be getting most of its energy in a few years’ time from abundant wind. Wind farms have proven to be popular, low-risk investments.

However, Mr. Blain points to a report, The Costs of Offshore Wind Power: Blindness and Insight, by John Constable and Prof. Gordon Hughes, that debunks the political, media and conversational cliché about dramatically falling prices of renewables. In fact, audited reports have found that wind power is becoming more expensive. Capital costs for new wind farms increased from 2002 to 2015 and have, at best remained constant since then. Operating costs have increased significantly for offshore and onshore wind farms over the past two decades as the inferior reliability of newer wind turbines leads to more rapid decline in performance with age.

The combination of increasing operating costs and decline in yields due to ageing means that, after expiry of the current above market-price contracts, means that expected revenues will be less than the costs. This will have consequences for financial regulation, eventually leading to a bailout of those who finance wind power. The scale of the bailout would be £30 billion for the UK and significantly more for Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.

 

Norway's Supreme Court Tosses Lawsuit Challenging Arctic Offshore Oil Licences

On December 22 Norway’s Supreme Court ruled not to overturn the Norwegian government’s approval of new licenses for offshore oil drilling in the fragile Arctic region. This ruling culminated four years of high-profile litigation, known as Greenpeace Nordic Association v. Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, The case started in Oslo District Court in October 2016 when a coalition of environmental groups (Young Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, together with the Grandparents Climate Campaign and Friends of the Earth Norway) challenged the government's issuing of a block of oil and gas licenses for deep sea extraction from sites in the Barents Sea.

The petitioners argued that allowing access to these fossil fuel deposits is inconsistent with climate change mitigation, that there would be risks of damage and spills, and that the government would recoup its costs only if the oil and gas produced is sold are market prices. They relied on Article 112 of the Norwegian Constitution, which establishes a “right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained.”

In January 2018 the Oslo District Court ruled in favor of the Norwegian Government, declaring that emissions of CO2 from exported oil and gas are irrelevant in terms or Article 112. The petitioners appealed and lost again when, in January 2020, the Borgarting Court of Appeal upheld the District Court's ruling regarding the licenses and ruled that Article 112 does apply to emissions from oil and gas after export, but found there is uncertainty whether and to what extent the licenses will lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court ruled that future emissions from exported oil are too uncertain to bar the granting of the licenses.

Greenpeace International issued a statement expressing outrage over the decision.

 

Deutsche Bank: EU Green Deal Can Only Succeed with “a certain degree of eco-dictatorship”

Eric Heymann, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank Research, warns that Europe’s Green Deal and its goal of climate neutrality by 2050 threatens a European mega-crisis, leading to “noticeable loss of welfare and jobs”. And he warns: It won’t work without “a certain degree of eco-dictatorship”. Currently, climate policy (in the form of higher taxes or fees and energy efficiency standards) does not determine our lives. However, where there are no adequate cost-effective to allow us to maintain our living standards in a carbon-neutral way, the only options are to hike CO2 prices and tighten regulatory law considerably.

If the EU moves towards climate neutrality more quickly than the rest of the world, then its industries will become uncompetitive unless subsidized for using expensive low-CO2 technology. EU Commission plans to introduce a carbon border adjustment system will invite affected countries to take countermeasures. Finally, there will be political resistance as climate policies produce winners and losers among households and companies, and as prosperity and the economy suffers. At the EU level there will be conflicts about distribution of the effects, contributing to further divisions within the bloc.

 

Boris Johnson Bows Down to Joe Biden’s Climate Demands

Before Christmas, John Kerry, US president-elect Joe Biden's climate-change point man complained that the UK needs to get a grip on preparations for the climate-change summit that it is hosting in Glasgow next November. Accordingly, UK prime minister Boris Johnson put a cabinet minister - Alok Sharma, previously business secretary - in charge of the COP26 summit.  In his role as COP26 president, Mr. Sharma will continue to sit as a full member of the cabinet and report directly to the prime minister. He will also chair the UK’s Climate Action Implementation Committee to coordinate UK efforts towards its 2050 net zero emissions goal.

 

How Carbon Bureaucrats Lied to Get the Policies They Wanted

This 7:48 video explains how the BBC and the UK Parliament turned the opinions of just ten people into the single voice for 66 million. A group of UK citizens were selected to take part in a 108-member Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change to help inform the UK government how to reach net zero by 2050. One of the recommendations coming out of the assembly's efforts was to reduce meat and dairy consumption by 20-40%, but with no bans or taxes.

However, this recommendation was not the view of the whole assembly. Instead, a sub-group of 35 who listened to the views on meat consumption by one academic, who strayed into political activism, with no debate or questioning of the speaker's claims. When the sub-group voted on a list of eight options, only 29% (10 people) chose eating less meat, the second least popular option. Nevertheless Chapter 6 (What we eat and how we use the land) of the full assembly's report contained the statements (p. 277): "In general, assembly members tended to express support for: … A change in diet to reduce meat and dairy consumption by between 20% and 40%."

It turns out that the report was not written by the assembly itself, but by the academic activists and green campaign organizers who ran the event. The civil servants running the assembly had already decided that changing people's diets should be part of the net-zero agenda and enthusiastically took the views of the ten assembly members, putting before Parliament five diet-change scenarios with reductions in meat and dairy of 20%-50%. The bureaucrats ignored the assembly's recommendation that the reductions by voluntary, not compulsory.

Since legislating voluntary behaviour is difficult the government turned to the state broadcaster, the BBC, to produce a video on meat consumption and climate change, so as to engineer the social values and behavioural changes that government policy requires. The video incorporated the views of on 17-year-old member of the Climate Assembly who decided to give up eating meat, to encourage its audience to change their diets and behaviour. In effect the BBC forgets the views that many may have about politicians' and civil servants' designs for citizens' lives and lifestyles for the next decades.

As a commentary in The Conservative Woman put it: "But by staging a performance, in which power was seemingly handed to members of the public, the technocrats and green activists who ran the Assembly have persuaded MPs that the public now share their view. And this is how abstract targets will be turned into an agenda for very real changes in society. 2020 marked the beginning of a new phase of environmental politics."

 

Climate Hero Bill Gates Bids to Purchase the World’s Largest Private Jet Operator

Climate Hero Bill Gates has been accused of hypocrisy, after details emerged of him engaging in a bidding war to purchase the world’s largest private jet operator Signature Aviation. Signature bills itself as the world's largest fixed base operation network for business and general aviation travellers. In 2020 it was "recognized for leadership in corporate sustainability by global environmental non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), securing a place on its prestigious ‘A List’ for tackling climate change." Signature handles 1.6 million private jet flights every year. Private jet flights emit 40 times as much CO2 per passenger as regular commercial flights.

Mr. Gates' company Cascade Investment teamed up with Blackstone Group to make a $4.3 billion bid for Signature. Cascade already owns 19% of Signature, making it a favorite to win the bid.

 

How the Race for Renewables is Burning Europe's Forests

The Guardian is appalled by the misuse of taxpayer subsidies to destroy Europe's forests in order to produce "renewable" energy. About half of Estonia is covered with forests, these forests are threatened by EU-subsidized clear cutting to produce wood pellets for heat and power. Between 2001 and 2019 supposedly protected "Natura 2000" areas lost more than 15,000 hectares of forest cover, 80% in the past five years.

Burning wood appears to offer a simple and theoretically carbon-neutral alternative to coal-fired power because the trees take up CO2 as they grow, but the burning wood releases more CO2 per unit of energy than gas, oil or even coal. Moreover, replacing the carbon emitted by regrowing the trees takes decades. A flaw in the EU's energy directive categorizes woody biomass as fully renewable, whether woody residues, waste, or whole trees. This means that companies can directly harvest forests for pellets – rather than making pellets from the by-products of timber cut for other uses – in the name of sustainable forest management. Almost all European countries have recorded an increase in logging for energy. Nearly a quarter of the trees harvested in the EU in 2019 were for energy, up from 17% in 2000.

 

In 2021, Let’s Challenge Green Tyranny

In early 2020 the world's plutocrats gathered at the World Economic Forum and listened excitedly while special guest Greta Thunberg berated them for not going far enough in the fight to save the planet. This captures how today's self-flagellating, end-of-days version of environmentalism is to the West's political, business and cultural elites. The ascendency of modern environmentalism is the result of demoralization of capitalism and the emergence of technocratic governments since the end of the cold war.

Environmentalism is no longer the handmaiden of technocratic rule, but is now a weapon to restore technocratic rule, by presenting climate change in a way that is aggressive, hyperbolic and threatening, (e.g., the  framing of Australia’s wildfires last January and the UN secretary general’s December demand that all nations declare a climate emergency). The pandemic emergency has been treated as a climate emergency in miniature, a sort of dress rehearsal. Death tolls in the UK and US have been deliberately attributed to their populist governments - the result of not listening to the experts and not heeding the warnings of science.

The developed world's plans to build back better after the pandemic being drawn up according to the expert-defined imperatives of the climate emergency. The political response to this should be more democracy, not less.


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