Monday, September 25, 2023

EVs and the American Autoworker

For decades, Democrats and autoworkers were joined at the hip. Which makes sense because Democrats and Big Labor were joined at the hip. But not anymore. Indeed, many of those rank-and-file workers are now at odds with the same party they’ve traditionally supported.

Why, it’s almost as if the Democrats are no longer the party of blue-collar America.

The effort by Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Gavin Newsom to ram unwanted electric vehicles down our throats threatens to end the cozy relationship between the politicians pushing EVs and the union workers tasked with building them.

The Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act provided “unprecedented levels of support for EVs, including at least $83 billion of loans, grants, and tax credits that could support the production of low or zero-emission vehicles, batteries, or chargers,” reports EV Hub. And just this month, Biden’s Department of Energy announced that it’s doling out another $15 billion in grants and loans.

With all that taxpayer money floating around, it’s no wonder that big automakers are tripping over themselves to lead the way with EVs. Unfortunately, they’re also abandoning the very men and women who’ve built those companies.

“The UAW strike entered its seventh day on Thursday,” reports Fox Business, “in what is the union’s first strike simultaneously targeting each of Detroit’s Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. About 12,700 workers at a trio of facilities operated by the Big Three went on strike last Friday in the initial wave of walkouts.”

The UAW is asking for a 46% pay raise over four years, a 32-hour work week while getting paid for 40, and the unionization of workers who build electric vehicles. But the biggest sticking point is that tens of billions of dollars being poured into EV infrastructure will take jobs away from autoworkers up and down the line.

As Business Insider reports: “Workers who assemble gasoline engines, transmissions, exhaust systems, and the myriad of other parts not needed in electric vehicles will likely bear the brunt of the transition. Moreover, electric motors and batteries are much simpler than traditional powertrains, allowing carmakers to maintain the same production output with fewer workers.”

The Big Three themselves are facing competition from Tesla, which is turning a profit on its EVs. On the other hand, Ford and other companies continue to lose billions on their EV production.

Ford last $3 billion last year on EVs and may lose another $4.5 billion this year. Yet according to to The New York Times, “If the union got all the increases in pay, pensions and other benefits it is seeking, the company said, its workers’ total compensation would be twice as much as Tesla’s employees.”

But it’s not all about short-term pay and benefits. Some union workers see a broader strategy to phase out gas-powered vehicles.

“In both public and private, union officials have made clear their belief that the auto industry is using the technological transition to mask a second, economic, transition,” reports The Atlantic. “They worry that the companies are using the shift from internal-combustion engines to carbon-free electric vehicles to simultaneously shift more of their operations from high-paying union jobs mostly in northern states to lower-paying, nonunion jobs mostly in southern states.”

And it turns out their fears are well-founded. Thanks to fewer regulations, lower electricity costs, and right-to-work laws, red states are benefitting from the EV transition. Hyundai, for example, plans to open a $4.6 billion EV factory in Georgia. And Ford is building a $5.6 billion battery and vehicle manufacturing campus in Tennessee called BlueOval City.

On the other hand, the transition from combustible engines to EVs is not only affecting future jobs in the auto industry; it also threatens to leave the U.S. even more dependent on China, which is the world’s leading producer of key elements needed in the production of EV battery cells. A future in which the majority of Americans own EVs is a future that China would be happy to supply.

It looks like the EV revolution is coming, but it won’t come without risks.

Democrats could lose support from the UAW and leave the U.S. even more energy dependent. And the precious environment that leftists claim to care about takes a big hit when renewable resources are mined. In the end, most Americans don’t want an EV and even fewer can afford one.

Biden and the Democrats won’t listen to the people, but a UAW strike may be just what’s needed to wake them up to the folly of electric vehicles.


Berkey Water Filter Maker Sues EPA Over Claims That Its Products Are 'Pesticides'

The maker of Berkey water filters, New Millennium Concepts, is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over what it says are false claims by the federal agency that its products are “pesticides.”

Using COVID-19-era regulatory powers, the EPA issued a stop-sales order to several Berkey vendors and distributors in May, resulting in mounting financial losses for the Texas-based company, which was founded in 1998.

On Aug. 3, New Millennium Concepts filed a lawsuit in a Fort Worth federal court that challenges the EPA's stop-sales order as “unjustified persecution.”

In 2022, the agency demanded the company register its mechanical filter as a “pesticide device,” and then recently as a “pesticide,” without compliance with Administrative Procedures Act (APA) guidelines, the lawsuit argues.

'EPA Fail'

“The EPA’s failure to operate using plain language and follow APA guidelines has caused plaintiffs devastating damage,” the suit claims.

“What the EPA is doing is attacking the vendors to Berkey products,” Mr. Norred said. “They’re interfering in the supply chain.”

The EPA has been regulating pesticides since 1947 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). However, the lawsuit argues that Berkey filters don't use chemical pesticides to treat water—its purification process is entirely mechanical.

“FIFRA is exactly what it looks like—a law that seeks to regulate chemical pesticides,” according to the Norred Law website. “But the law distinguishes between actual pesticides, ‘substances or mixtures of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest,’ and ‘treated devices,' which use registered pesticides in their construction, e.g. seeds that are sold after being treated with a registered pesticide.”

In February, the EPA issued a compliance advisory announcing changes in regulations governing the production, distribution, and sale of “pesticide devices.”

“There has been a significant increase in the number of devices being distributed or sold in the United States,” the advisory stated.

“EPA has found substantial non-compliance with FIFRA in the device and pesticide marketplace. Examples of non-compliance include unregistered pesticides claiming to be devices, devices bearing false and misleading statements, and devices being sold and distributed that were not produced in an EPA registered establishment.”

The EPA said examples of pesticide devices include water or air filters, ultraviolet light systems, ozone generators, and sound generators.

“If a device incorporates a substance or mixture of substances to perform its intended pesticidal purpose, then it is considered a pesticide, not a device, and would require registration under FIFRA Section 3.”

Silver-Protected Filters

New Millennium Concepts agreed to an EPA condition designating Berkey water filters as treated devices, because they use silver to protect the filters that remove pathogens by means of a “tortuous maze of micropores.”

The use of the antiviral silver in Berkey filters has been found to trap more than 99 percent of COVID-19 strains, Mr. Norred said.

“Silver is often used in pesticides for pesticidal purposes. The EPA has latched on to the use of silver to protect the filter, and said you’re using silver and you are making pesticidal claims—poof, you’re a pesticide.”

“We do use a registered pesticide that has silver in it. So the filters are technically a treated article because there is a pesticide Berkey uses to protect its filters. But that pesticide does not have any pesticidal purpose for the water. It just protects and lengthens the lifetime of the filter,” Mr. Norred added.

Not Enough

But the company agreeing to brand its Berkey water filters as treated devices "wasn’t enough,” the legal website added.

‘The EPA recently decided that the filters are actual pesticides, again without notice or warning, issued orders preventing Berkey filters from sale in some parts of the country, and preventing their export.”

“If the EPA wants to regulate gravity-fed mechanical water filters, it has a process to follow, at the very least. Berkey’s water filters have never caused any harm to anyone, and the removal of Berkey filters from the market inexorably means that the demand will be met with untested knockoff and counterfeit filters.”


UK: Running out of power: Value of used electric cars drops by a fifth, plummeting in price by a quarter in a year

Prices of second-hand electric cars have plummeted by almost a quarter in a year, figures show, amid a drop in consumer confidence.

Dealers have warned that Electric Vehicles (EVs) are sitting on forecourts for 'months on end while they haemorrhage value', with some at risk of selling at a loss if the market does not recover.

Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak ditched the 2030 target for a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, post- poning it until 2035.

The Prime Minister warned that imposing 'unacceptable costs' on families risked wrecking support for saving the planet.

The move, which brings the UK in line with the European Union, was a victory for the Mail's campaign to rethink the 2030 deadline.

Mid-month figures for September released by AutoTrader – the largest online marketplace for cars – reveal that the average price of a used EV has fallen by 21.4 per cent to £32,463.

Premium sector EVs, including Tesla, BMW, Mini and Mercedes-Benz, were hit hardest – with values falling by up to 24.1 per cent year-on-year.

The data, reported by The Times, showed that prices of second-hand premium sector EVs peaked at £51,704 last August and have since plummeted by more than £10,000 to £39,268.

Marc Palmer, the head of strategy and insights at AutoTrader, said: 'The used market will now be slower to mature. There will be fewer new EVs registered and fewer used cars coming to market.

'There will be sections of the public, especially those who are sceptical, who will want to wait.

'Used cars are the biggest part of the industry, but getting the majority of motorists into second-hand EVs will take longer. A lot of things are up in the air.'

Figures revealed earlier this week also showed that sales of new zero-emission vehicles to private buyers have fallen by more than 11 per cent.

Umesh Samani, chairman of the Independent Motor Dealers Association, which represents more than 1,000 traders, said the delay to the ban on petrol and diesel cars had given 'everyone some breathing space'.

He said: 'It has been so volatile, dealers have been very frightened of getting involved with EVs.

'Many of our members have been stuck with EVs on their forecourts that they cannot shift, even as they are falling by £2,000 to £3,000 a month. That's a phenomenal amount.


Australia: Rooftop solar 'cannibalising' power prices as Australian generators pay to stay online

"Ecological" power generation is basically nuts. It tries to get something stable out of power sources with wildly fluctuating outputs. Basically, everybody loses. For much of the day both the ecological generators AND the conventional generators lose -- as a big daytime electicity suplus plunges power prices so low that ALL generators get nothing or near nothing for their output

Daytime power prices are plunging into negative territory – meaning generators have to pay to produce – as renewable energy increasingly cannibalises the market, according to experts.

As the share of green energy in Australia's biggest electricity system momentarily reached a record high of 70 per cent this week, energy software company Gridcog said "price cannibalisation" was becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.

Wholesale power prices in the national electricity market across the eastern states dropped to as low as -$64 per megawatt hour last Saturday, when soaring output from millions of rooftop solar panels flooded into the system.

The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in mild, sunny conditions and especially on weekends, when solar output is at its highest but demand for electricity is relatively low.

In a post to its social media followers, Gridcog said large-scale solar farms were, perversely, being hit hardest by the trend because rooftop solar was generally beyond the control of the market operator.

It noted utility-scale solar plants were having to pare back generation or switch off entirely during such periods to avoid having to pay to maintain production.

"Price cannibalisation is a major emerging feature of the energy transition," the company wrote on LinkedIn.

"It occurs when increased volumes of renewables with the same generation profile produce at the same time.

"This depresses prices in the market, often to the point that prices turn negative, and it presents a serious challenge for investors, particularly of utility-scale projects."

The firm said the trend was likely to accelerate as ever-more solar was added to household and business rooftops across the country.

More than 3.3 million Australian homes have solar panels – almost one in three – and there are forecasts this will almost double by 2032.

"These systems compete directly with large utility-scale assets connected to the transmission system," Gridcog wrote.

"As an aside, it also demonstrates the dominance that distributed [rooftop] solar has in Australia compared to utility-scale, something we expect to see more of in other markets in coming years."

Dylan McConnell, a senior research associate from the University of New South Wales, said rooftop solar was no longer a marginal player but central to the running of the grid.

He said the technology was reshaping the power system in sometimes unexpected ways. "It's very significant in some jurisdictions," Dr McConnell said. "It varies across the country, but in places like South Australia there are periods where production from rooftop solar actually exceeds the demand of the entire state. "It's huge."

Dr McConnell said SA was an extreme example of a different, though related, phenomenon known as minimum operational demand.

The term referred to the minimum level of demand for power from the grid.

Crucially, it stripped out the demand that customers were meeting themselves through resources that sat behind the meter — principally, rooftop solar.

Dr McConnell said generation from rooftop solar panels was so great at times that it was not only meeting owners' demands, but also those of most other customers as well.

He said this was pushing demand for power from the grid ever lower and squeezing out conventional generators such as coal- and gas-fired plants.

But Dr McConnell said the electricity system was not ready to run without those generators, which were increasingly having to ramp up and down to cope with the intermittency of solar supply.

"The other day in NSW, [coal generation] was just above two gigawatts in the middle of the day, and then that evening it was above 9GW," he said.

"So we had a 7GW ramp in the space of a few hours — they're capable of doing it.

But then, I guess more importantly, is the impact on economic viability." That, says Dr McConnell, represents the challenge.

"When you have low prices in the middle of the day and low volumes, is the increase in prices in the evening and the higher volumes there enough to offset that? The answer to that seems to be no."

Alex Wonhas, a former electricity system planner, noted that record lows for demand for power from the grid were being broken routinely as more and more rooftop solar was added to the system.

"At times when the renewable resources are high they will replace the conventional generators," Dr Wonhas said.

"But then at other times when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining we need either storage or conventional generators to step in.

"So it's a much more dynamic and much orchestrated system that we're facing in the future."

For Dr McConnell, the growth of rooftop solar in Australia would continue to test other generators and the power system more broadly.




Sunday, September 24, 2023

Coming soon to Fox? Tony Abbott, the Australian former PM who said climate crisis was ‘absolute crap’

If there was any doubt as to whether Fox Corporation would follow its controversial rightwing trajectory under the sole leadership of Lachlan Murdoch, after his father’s retirement, it ended with the endorsement of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott to join the Fox board.

Abbott has been a highly controversial figure in Australia for decades, accused of misogyny and climate change scepticism, and once threatening to “shirtfront” Russian president Vladimir Putin.

His nomination, which came a day after Rupert Murdoch announced his retirement, shows Lachlan is “doubling down” on the company’s “right-wing crusading”, critics say.

Abbott served as prime minister for two years from 2013 to 2015, having received a glowing endorsement from Rupert Murdoch on the campaign trail during his successful attempt to oust Kevin Rudd, now Australia’s ambassador to the US. Rudd had previously enjoyed the support of Murdoch’s Australian newspapers.

“Conviction politicians hard to find anywhere. Australia’s Tony Abbott rare exception. Opponent Rudd all over the place, convincing nobody,” Rupert Murdoch tweeted at the time.

His ascension came after a period of brutal efficacy as opposition leader from 2009 to 2013, when he relentlessly attacked Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard.

Gillard’s famous misogyny speech in 2012 – voted by Guardian readers as the most unforgettable moment of Australian television history – was directed at Abbott.

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said. “I will not… not now, not ever.”

She then listed examples of what she called his “repulsive double standards when it comes to misogyny and sexism”, including him standing in front of protest signs referring to Gillard as former Greens leader Bob Brown’s “bitch” and “ditch the witch”.

But it was Abbott’s attitudes to climate change which eventually caused his downfall.

Abbott notoriously once said that the “so-called settled science of climate change” was “absolute crap”. He has also previously said that climate change is “probably doing good”. Under his leadership, Australia’s carbon price was repealed, as bitter climate change wars continued.

He was deposed as prime minister when he lost a leadership spill to rival Malcolm Turnbull, a moderate, in 2015. He then lost his seat of Warringah in the 2019 election to Zali Steggall, one of a raft of independent candidates promising stronger action on climate change, after 25 years in parliament.

Earlier this year Abbott joined the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK thinktank that is critical of climate change science


The empire strikes back

The editor-in-chief of one of the world's leading academic journals has rebuked a scientist who claimed that research about climate change is rejected if it does not 'support certain narratives'.

Dr Magdalena Skipper, the top editor at Nature, accused Patrick T. Brown, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and doctor of earth and climate sciences, of 'poor research practices' that are 'highly irresponsible'.

Brown claimed in an article for The Free Press that editors at Nature and Science - two of the most prestigious scientific journals - select 'climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives' and favor 'distorted' research which hypes up dangers.

He referred to an article he authored which was published in Nature last week and said the study - titled 'Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California' - focused exclusively on climate change and intentionally ignored other key factors. Brown said researchers often 'tailor' their work in such a way to 'support the mainstream narrative'.

In a scathing response, Skipper said: 'The only thing in Patrick Brown's statements about the editorial processes in scholarly journals that we agree on is that science should not work through the efforts by which he published this [study].

'We are now carefully considering the implications of his stated actions; certainly, they reflect poor research practices and are not in line with the standards we set for our journal.'

Skipper said Nature has an 'expectation' that researchers use the most appropriate data, methods and results.

'When researchers do not do so, it goes against the interests of both fellow researchers and the research field as a whole. To deliberately not do so is, at best, highly irresponsible. Researchers have a responsibility for their research which they must take seriously,' she said.

Nature, which is based in London, was founded in 1869 and is one of the world's most cited scientific journals.

'When it comes to science, Nature does not have a preferred narrative,' said Skipper.

The strongly-worded rebuttal came after Brown claimed top scientific journals approach climate change research in the way 'the press focus so intently on climate change as the root cause' of wildfires, including the recent devastating fires in Hawaii.

He pointed out research that said 80 percent of wildfires are ignited by humans.

Brown said 'the editors of these journals have made it abundantly clear, both by what they publish and what they reject, that they want climate papers that support certain preapproved narratives—even when those narratives come at the expense of broader knowledge for society.'

He wrote: 'To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change.

'However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.'

Scientists whose careers depend on their work being published in major journals also 'tailor' their work to 'support the mainstream narrative', he said.

'This leads to a second unspoken rule in writing a successful climate paper,' he added. 'The authors should ignore—or at least downplay—practical actions that can counter the impact of climate change.'

Skipper's response also pointed to the peer review process for Brown's paper - which was written along with seven other researchers - which highlighted the 'lack of inclusion of variables other than climate change' and said 'the authors themselves argued against including it'.

She also listed three recent examples of research published in Nature that does not 'follow the purported editorial biases alleged by Brown'.


Biden’s American Climate Cult

With a swipe of his pen, Joe Biden unilaterally (and unconstitutionally) created his so-called “American Climate Corps.”

Touting the Biden administration’s ongoing effort to indoctrinate the country into the climate change dogma, White House policy adviser Ali Azaida contended, “This is important because we’re not only opening up pathways to bold climate action, we’re not just opening up pathways to decarbonization, we’re opening up pathways to good paying careers, lifetimes of being involved in the work of making our communities more sustainable, more fair, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.”

In other words, Biden is acting to create an army of climate cult activists, 20,000 strong. Never mind the fact that, constitutionally speaking, he doesn’t have the authority to do so. That’s because Congress shot down this idea last year.

It harkens back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps, though notably that was established by Congress. Along with other ecofascists, Varshini Prakash, head of the environmental activist group Sunrise Movement, has been calling on Biden to declare climate change a national emergency. Of this move, Prakash gushed, “This climate corps will conserve our land and water, bolster community resilience, advance environmental justice and tackle the climate crisis.”

Except that it will do no such thing.

In truth the corps will exist to enlist a bunch of young leftists to browbeat the public into acquiescing to the radical Left’s anti-fossil fuel agenda. As the White House’s announcement states, the American Climate Corps would “train young people in clean energy, conservation and climate resilience related skills,” and “streamline pathways into civil service.”

Becoming proselytes of Gaia, this army of Greta Thunbergs will call for the public to increasingly sacrifice their living standards in the face of dire warnings of a global warming apocalypse should these instructions fail to be heeded.

Revealing that in truth this organization is ultimately all about empowering more government in order to advance greater wealth redistribution, the program will advance Biden’s “Justice40 Initiative.” That initiative is a plan to allocate 40% of “federal investment” to “disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” In other words, it’s a race-based effort to use the climate change “emergency” as an excuse to implement socialism.

That has always been the goal of the “green” movement. It’s actually red.

At its root, Biden’s American Climate Corps is anti-capitalist, which is why it failed to pass muster with Congress. But never mind that. Biden and the rest of his Democrat colleagues constantly harangue the country over the nonexistent threat that “MAGA Republicans” pose to democracy, though they are more than willing to throw the democratic process aside in order to “save democracy.”

Ignoring the limits the Constitution sets upon the three branches of government in order create a favored program is the mark of a tyrant, not a democratically elected representative of the people whose power is constrained by the rule of law. The more Washington elites like Biden flout the rule of law, the more he encourages the rest of the country to do the same.


Our moral guardians: Climate activists teach children to send cookie malware to skeptical grandparents

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) is asking supporters to send deceptive links out to friends and family that look like a cookie recipe but embed software cookies instead on the victim’s computer. The digital cookie then pushes green climate videos into their feeds, (as if the ABC news wasn’t loaded enough).

Look out for any links to

The AYCC gets about $3m in donations, and even visits schools, teaching children how to cheat and lie to save the planet, or something like that. What are good family relationships built on after all, if not deception? What is science if it is not propaganda?

These are all good questions to raise with the children in your life and the schools in your area. Don’t wait for an email to arrive, thank the AYCC for providing the opportunity to start the conversation now.

If the believers are so caring, ethical and moral why are they teaching children it’s OK to deceive family members? Is this the kind of “fair and just” world we want to live in?

Call up schools and the local P&C and ask if they are aware the AYCC — which runs programs in schools — teaches children to fool parents and grandparents and use malware. Are these the kind of family values that belong in our schools? Will the local school guarantee that they will not allow this group to manipulate children?

The Australian exposed their crooked game this week, and traffic to has fallen to zero. So presumably the link trap will change. (The campaign has been put on hold).




Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Biden Admin Just Declared 'War on Consumers'

In the Biden administration's whole-of-government attempt to force a transition to supposedly "green" and ethical energy that's anything but — just ask the whales off the coast of New England or forced/child laborers in EV battery supply chains in Africa — another department is jumping into the crusade.

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released its "Principles for Net-Zero Financing & Investment" to press ahead with "best practices for private sector financial institutions that have made net-zero commitments and promote consistency and credibility in approaches to implementing them."

These principles, the Treasury Department and Secretary Janet Yellen say, are key to "supporting the mobilization of more private sector capital to address the physical and economic impacts of climate change and to seize on the historic economic opportunity presented by the green transition."

To that end, Yellen and her department heralded "a number of announcements from civil society including a $340 million commitment" from the likes of the Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Climate Arc, ClimateWorks, Hewlett Foundation, and Sequoia Climate Foundation over the next three years "to support the continued development of research, data availability, and technical resources intended to help financial institutions develop and execute robust, voluntary net-zero commitments" and "facilitate the transition planning efforts of non-financial sectors of the economy."

According to the Treasury Department, the "climate crisis is propelling a massive economic shift and is hitting the most vulnerable countries and communities first and hardest" and there's an "increasing demand for technologies, products, and services that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support a clean energy future, and help adapt to a changing climate across all sectors." Notably, however, that demand is not high enough to see the market move truly voluntarily to meet it. As such, "[i]n the United States, government support is playing a role in accelerating this transition," the Treasury Department admitted as it pushes for more net-zero agreements and investment, as seen in the principles released on Tuesday.

"This announcement from the Department of the Treasury forcing financial institutions to adopt net-zero principles should come as no surprise to American consumers as the Biden Administration openly declares war on consumers," reacted Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers' Research.

"Treasury Secretary Yellen, with her announcement of these new net-zero principals at the Bloom Transition Finance Action Forum, has made it abundantly clear that the Treasury Department is working with and for ESG activists like Michael Bloomberg to make the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) goals for financial institutions into U.S. government policy, leaving consumers with nothing," Hild added. "The Biden Administration is littered with former BlackRock employees such as Brian Deese and Eric Van Nostrand who are pushing these liberal, progressive, net-zero, and ESG policies on Americans, rather than focusing on reducing costs at the grocery store and gas pump and tamping down inflation."

"Make no mistake, the Biden administration is running cover for the financial industry's net zero cartel, protecting megalomaniac CEOs like Larry Fink and leaving consumers with nothing," said Hild.

As summarized by the Treasury Department, the principles established to reinforce the woke, economically damaging priorities of the left are:

PRINCIPLE 1: A financial institution’s net-zero commitment (commitment) is a declaration of intent to work toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Treasury recommends that commitments be in line with limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C. To be credible, this declaration should be accompanied or followed by the development and execution of a net-zero transition plan.

PRINCIPLE 2: Financial institutions should consider transition finance, managed phaseout, and climate solutions practices when deciding how to realize their commitments.

PRINCIPLE 3: Financial institutions should establish credible metrics and targets and endeavor, over time, for all relevant financing, investment, and advisory services to have associated metrics and targets.

PRINCIPLE 4: Financial institutions should assess client and portfolio company alignment to their (i.e., financial institutions’) targets and to limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5°C.

PRINCIPLE 5: Financial institutions should align engagement practices — with clients, portfolio companies, and other stakeholders — to their commitments.

PRINCIPLE 6: Financial institutions should develop and execute an implementation strategy that integrates the goals of their commitments into relevant aspects of their businesses and operating procedures.

PRINCIPLE 7: Financial institutions should establish robust governance processes to provide oversight of the implementation of their commitments.

PRINCIPLE 8: Financial institutions should, in the context of activities associated with their net-zero transition plans, account for environmental justice and environmental impacts, where applicable.

PRINCIPLE 9: Financial institutions should be transparent about their commitments and progress towards them.

The voluntary net-zero commitments the Biden administration is seeking to foist on the private sector, however, may put companies which join them in legal jeopardy.

As Townhall has reported previously, state attorneys general from across the U.S. have put insurance and financial service companies on notice that their net-zero commitments may constitute a violation of antitrust and consumer protection laws. One recent letter to signatories of a net-zero commitment led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti noted how such net-zero alliances see companies "colluding to limit consumer choices and manipulate market outcomes in support of international climate activists," moves that "could violate [his state's] antitrust and consumer protection laws." As AG Skrmetti rightfully noted, "[d]ecisions about energy policy should be made by our elected representatives, not by transnational corporate alliances."

Already, an earlier warning to insurance signatories to a net-zero pact saw several companies back out of the agreement rather than face additional scrutiny from state attorneys general for their activities that may have constituted antitrust violations.

Despite such warnings about net-zero priorities being potentially in violation of state law, the Biden administration and its climate alarmist allies in the private and nonprofit sector are plunging ahead with more agreements — an unsurprising development from the administration that has not allowed federal law or the U.S. Constitution curb its ambitions, leading to a series of high-profile losses before the Supreme Court for its attempts to force an energy transition.


‘Unacceptable costs’: Britain delays petrol car ban, weakens net-zero targets

Britain will delay its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and relax a transition away from gas and oil heaters in homes amid cost of living fears and a looming electoral wipe-out for the ruling Conservatives next year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a series of U-turns on key targets to tackle climate change on Wednesday, claiming his “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach to reaching Britain’s 2050 target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions would protect vulnerable households.

In a press conference at Downing Street he said that the country’s present approach would “impose unacceptable costs” on the poorest families and lead to the collapse of the national consensus on tackling climate change.

Polling from YouGov released after the announcement found 50 per cent of Britons supported the government’s proposal to push back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, 34 per cent opposed, and 16 per cent didn’t know.

About 44 per cent supported delaying or dropping some commitments, while 38 per cent said the government should stick to its plans and its 2050 commitment.

But the move was greeted with anger by a coalition of environmental groups, business lobbyists, trade unions and politicians who say it would damage the UK’s chances of reaching its climate goals.

The announcement also coincided with United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, telling world leaders in New York that they were still “decades behind” in moving away from fossil fuels, launching a scathing critique at the UN’s inaugural climate ambition day.

Sunak, who said governments “of all stripes” had not been “honest with the public” about the costs of net-zero, said a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be delayed from 2030 to 2035, a move strongly opposed by some carmakers.

He said still expected that by 2030 “the vast majority” of cars will be electric, because of improving technology and the move would bring Britain into line with several European countries.

The government also relaxed the 2035 phaseout target for the installation of new gas boilers by introducing a new exemption for the most hard-pressed households, so they will “never have to switch at all”.

Other retreats Sunak announced included abandoning tougher energy efficiency rules for landlords and delaying a ban on oil boilers off the gas grid, with £7500 grants for boiler upgrades. The government will also “fast track” through the planning system projects to improve connections to the grid.

Sunak was forced to rush forward his speech after his plan to dilute Britain’s green policies was leaked. He said he was aligning himself with ordinary households who want Britain to meet its 2050 net-zero commitments, but on a reasonable timetable.

He said the debate around climate change had been charged with “too much emotion and not enough clarity” and that the approach should shift to “consent, not imposition, honesty not obfuscation, pragmatism not ideology.”

“If we continue down this path, we risk losing the consent of the British people and the resulting backlash would not just be against specific policies, but against the wider mission itself,” he said.

Sunak also ruled out several other climate policies - none of which had been promised — such as taxing meat, requiring people to share cars, fly less or use seven bins to aid recycling.

Leading car brands such as Ford, Vauxhall and Volvo have pledged to go fully electric this decade and had made manufacturing decisions with the 2030 ban in mind, with Ford accusing the government of lacking ambition, commitment and consistency to net-zero.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman backed Sunak’s decision, saying the government was “not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people”.


Transmission lines rage in Australia: power struggle and a ‘shocked minister’

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King joined farmers, councils and environmentalists in attacking consultation on the Victorian-NSW Interconnector transmission project, which will plug renewables into the grid and help achieve Labor’s 2030 emissions ­reduction target.

Amid growing concerns in ­regional Australia about transmission line upgrades and offshore wind turbines, Ms King told the Australian Energy Market Operator to “engage thoroughly and honestly with impacted communities … from project conception, to construction and beyond”.

Ms King’s extraordinary intervention heaps pressure on Energy Minister Chris Bowen to urgently address rising community anger over government consultation on renewable projects and massive transmission lines integrating solar and wind farms into the electricity system.

In her submission to AEMO, which is overseeing a project plagued by delays and cost blowouts, Ms King said parts of her electorate would be significantly impacted if a Western Renewables Link transmission station was built by VNI West north of ­Ballarat.

“Throughout this process, I have been shocked and disappointed by the lack of respect that has been shown to local communities and the lack of consideration of their land uses, local government views and landscape,” Ms King, writing in her capacity as Ballarat MP, told AEMO.

“In my view, a significant amount of the anger felt by the community could have been avoided if their views and interests were considered from the very start of the project, rather than four years down the fact.”

AEMO has established TCV, a wholly owned subsidiary, to progress early works on Victoria’s centrepiece $3.3bn electricity transmission project, finalise the route and consult with landholders, community groups and traditional owners. It will not physically construct or own the high-capacity 500Kv double-circuit overhead Victoria-NSW transmission lines.

Mr Bowen, who is working to “improve” renewable energy project engagement with stakeholders, received a hostile reception on Tuesday when he ­arrived at a closed-door meeting in Nelson Bay to discuss the NSW Hunter Offshore Wind Zone with hand-picked community representatives.

Community leaders who ­attended the meeting in Labor MP Meryl Swanson’s battleground seat of Paterson, where the Liberals secured a 4.2 per cent swing at the 2022 federal election, claimed Mr Bowen rejected their request to reopen consultation.

The government’s rapid push to meet its 82 per cent renewables and 43 per cent emissions ­reduction targets by 2030 has sparked anxiety in coastal and regional communities earmarked for transmission line projects and offshore wind zones.

Confirmed and proposed projects in NSW, Victoria and South Australia have united seafood producers, fishermen, boaties, farmers, environmentalists, tourism operators, local governments and community groups who are demanding better consultation and independent analysis.

Major concerns raised by stakeholders about offshore wind turbines and transmission projects include negative impacts on endangered and at-risk wildlife, tourism and whale-watching, the seafood industry, sacred ­traditional Indigenous sites, visual amenity and farmland.

In her submission published by AEMO on May 27, Ms King welcomed an “increased focus … on social license” but warned VNI West proponents to “engage fully with the communities around ­Bulgana who will be impacted by this proposal and to mitigate any negative impacts it may have on their lives or livelihoods”.

“More broadly, I welcome the focus on cultural heritage, land use and the environmental impacts of the proposed route. The region north of Ballarat is not only home to the finest potato-growing country in Australia, but is a region of notable heritage and natural beauty,” she wrote.

“It has always been an inappropriate location for a development of this type as I, and many in the community, have been saying from the start. As Australia continues its transition to net zero, there will be increasing need for new projects just like this one in order to maintain a stable electricity grid.

“In rolling out these projects, it will be important to engage thoroughly and honestly with impacted communities all throughout the process – from project conception, to construction and beyond.”

Ms King’s intervention preceded a review ordered by Mr Bowen in July to “bolster reforms in community engagement around renewable energy infrastructure upgrades and new developments”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Bowen said Ms King “is a strong advocate for the energy transition, and for listening carefully to local communities about its opportunities and impacts – and the minister agrees”.

“Our traditional energy assets are ageing – with over 4GW of dispatchable power leaving the grid over the past decade and only 1GW to replace it because of chaos on climate and energy,” she said.

“Australia has needed much better consultation around energy infrastructure for years – so with the states we are making the overdue changes to electricity rules to ensure proponents of all energy projects must engage properly with communities – and landholders and communities have better guidance about their rights and entitlements.”

Regional Victorian councils, environmental groups and farmers have lodged concerns with AEMO about the route of VNI West’s overhead transmission lines. The project will connect the Western Renewables Link, north of Ballarat, with Project EnergyConnect at Dinawan.

Concerns about the VNI West and Western Renewables Link projects focus on vegetation loss, land clearing, threats to woodland bird species, impacts on cultural sites and economic damage to agricultural production and tourism.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Mr Bowen must explain the true cost and impacts of Labor’s renewables plan. “If Chris Bowen pretends that his policy is going to cost less than $1.2 trillion, he needs to provide the detail because the experts … are saying that the Labor plan will cost between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion – and Australians will pay for that through increased electricity bills. People are going to end up with 28,000km of new poles and wires, which is a considerable eyesore through many communities.

“People in metropolitan areas, or outer metropolitan areas like mine in my electorate … don’t want those wind turbines. So why should people in regional areas be forced to take them when they’re not reliable, and you need to firm them up?”

After the Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday confirmed that Australia had entered an El Nino phase, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was taking the long-term climate change threat seriously. “Part of that is a shift in the energy mix to 82 per cent renewables by 2030,” Mr Albanese said. Mr Bowen this week said transmission projects like VNI West and Hume Link were “absolutely essential for the country, for our plans for emissions reduction, but also communities deserve proper engagement”.

Mr Bowen, who released departmental modelling this week claiming the Coalition would need to spend $387bn to replace coal-fired generation with nuclear small modular reactors, on Tuesday said it “never hurts to do a bit of engagement”.

“I understand people’s concerns. But I also understand the jobs that will be created,” he said. “I understand people in the Hunter want to see action on climate change. They want to see local jobs created as well. These are things to be balanced.”


Qld. Deputy Premier slams ‘rich inner-city elites’ for trying to stop flights

He is referring to the Greens -- accurately

Deputy Premier Steven Miles has let fly at “wealthy inner-city elites”, accusing them of trying to clip Brisbane Airport’s wings by restricting flights and driving up airfares.

In an extraordinary attack, Mr Miles said the “elites” don’t want planes flying over their own homes or “working people” to be able to afford to fly.

His comments follow a bid by the Greens to impose a curfew and flight caps at Brisbane Airport “to bring peace and a good night’s sleep to thousands of Brisbane residents impacted by flight noise”.

Brisbane-based Greens federal MPs Elizabeth Watson-Brown, Max Chandler-Mather and Stephen Bates have championed a bill to introduce hourly flight caps and a late night curfew at the airport for non-emergency flights.

Ms Watson-Brown has proposed a radical plan to divert planes to Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport and put passengers on high-speed trains to Brisbane.

The bill – set to be debated in federal parliament next month – has been estimated to come at a cost of $3b a year to the state economy if enacted.

Sharing the stage with Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner at a major aviation industry conference in Brisbane last week, Mr Miles joined forces with his political foe to slam the plan.

“Our airport is just so critical to our region’s economic prosperity, and I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than the Greens political party’s campaign against the airport,” he told a panel discussion at the CAPA (Centre for Aviation) Australia Pacific Aviation Summit.

“The blokes running this campaign are just about the most frequent travellers from Brisbane Airport to their engagements on (ABC show) Q+A and down to Canberra for the parliament.

“I’m an environmentalist, former environment minister and former conservation activist but the Greens are not a party of the environment – they’re a party of wealthy inner-city elites.

“And what they’re saying is that planes shouldn’t fly over the homes of wealthy inner-city elites, they should only fly over the homes of working people.

“And that only wealthy inner-city elites should be able to afford to fly but working people shouldn’t be able to afford to fly.

“That’s despite the fact that it’s those wealthy inner city elites who benefit disproportionately from the economic opportunity and prosperity that the airport delivers.”

Cr Schrinner said the Greens’ proposal was simplistic and would drive up travel costs and concentrate aircraft noise.

He said Brisbane City Council received far more complaints about barking dogs, loud parties and noisy air-conditioners than it did about airport noise.

“Offering simplistic solutions to this is not going to cut it,” he said.

“It’s a reminder that living in a large city is about managing impacts and noise. There are other ways to achieve that other than what’s being proposed.”

Meanwhile, the Senate inquiry into the federal government’s controversial decision to block extra Qatar Airways flights into Australia is due to sit in Brisbane next Tuesday.

The decision has also been blamed for helping keep international airfares sky-high, particularly out of Brisbane.

Brisbane Airport Corporation is understood to have made a submission to the inquiry.




Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Brazil’s Big Cats Under Threat From Wind Farms

Weighing more than 100 pounds, big cats have long reigned over this hot and semi-arid region of Brazil, developing tougher paws for the scorched earth and reaching speeds of 50 miles an hour to bring down wild boar and deer.

But nothing could have prepared them for the 150-foot blades now slicing up the deep blue sky above them.

Jaguars and pumas are facing extinction in the Caatinga, Brazil’s northeastern shrublands, as Europe and China pour investment into wind farms, puncturing the land with vast turbines that are scaring the animals away from the region’s scant water sources.

Particularly sensitive to changes to their habitat, the jaguars and pumas abandon their lairs as soon as construction work on the wind farms begins, said Claudia Bueno de Campos, a biologist who helped found the group Friends of the Jaguars and has tracked the region’s vanishing feline population. They then roam vast distances across the dusty plains in search of new streams and rivers.

The weakest perish along the way. Others venture closer to villages, where locals have started laying traps to protect their small herds of goats and sheep, often their only form of survival in this impoverished region.

The wind power industry has doubled its capacity in Brazil since 2018, setting the country up to be the world’s fourth-biggest producer by 2027 behind China, the U.S. and Germany, according to the Brazilian Wind Power Association, an industry body.

But by helping to solve one problem—climate change—the wind industry risks creating others, warn conservationists. Indigenous groups recently staged protests in Brazil over the installation of turbines on lands they say are rightfully theirs, while environmentalists have also raised concerns that wind farms installed on compacted sand dunes on the northern coast could have damaged underground water reservoirs.

“Wind power is a fantastic proposal, and the northeast certainly has plenty of wind…but wind parks must also take into account what is happening here on the ground,” said Campos, who also works for the government-run Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity.

Killing jaguars or pumas—or most other wild animals in Brazil—carries a jail sentence of up to 18 months, but there is little enforcement, Campos said. “Normally, the villagers bury or burn the bodies—they find a way to make them disappear.”

There are now an estimated 30 jaguars and 160 pumas left in Boqueirão da Onça, or Jaguars’ Ravine, a protected area that is their main habitat in the Caatinga, according to Friends of the Jaguars. Since 2009, the number of jaguars in the Caatinga has fallen 40% while the number of pumas has dropped 20%.

While the big cats are still plentiful in the Amazon and Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands, those in the Caatinga are unique, having adapted to cope with the intense heat. Jaguars have yellowish fur with black spots and are stockier than pumas, which feature a single brown to gray color. Jaguars are more sensitive to changes in their environment, biologists say.

The disappearance of the felines would throw the region’s ecosystem out of whack, leading to a proliferation of animals that serve as prey, such as wild boar, deer and armadillos, said Felipe Melo, a researcher at the Federal University of Pernambuco who has studied the impact of the wind power industry in the Caatinga.

As jaguars and pumas have been pushed into closer contact with communities, many villagers mistakenly believe they are growing in number—not facing extinction, making it harder to persuade locals to save them, said Campos.

“My god, the jaguars are everywhere now,” said José Barros da Silva, 72, who lives in Laje dos Negros, a small community in Jaguars’ Ravine. He lost five calves last year—worth some $2,500, equivalent to a year’s minimum wage.

“Only last week my son went to check on the herd and one of the cows had claw marks across its back.”

Few people in the town admit to having laid traps. But resentment is growing.

“One of my goats disappeared three weeks ago, I know it was a jaguar,” said José Ribeiro Marques, who has been eking out a living in the nearby village of São Pedro for the past 20 years.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “We raise our animals with such care.”

Much of Jaguars’ Ravine falls into an area of environmental protection that prohibits most forms of commercial activity.

Wind companies pay local farmers to erect turbines on their lands and employ local men during construction of the sites.

With 26 gigawatts of capacity, Brazil’s onshore wind power industry now ranks as the world’s sixth-biggest, accounting for 13% of the country’s electricity. Of all Brazilian power generation, 53% comes from hydroelectric plants.


Tories risk losing elections over Net Zero, British advisers warn

Rishi Sunak is conducting an 'audit' of the Government's Net Zero green strategy after his advisers warned that the cost burden on families is hitting the Conservative Party's chances at the next Election.

Downing Street insists that the Government remains committed to its target of reducing the UK's net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 per cent – relative to 1990 levels – by 2050.

But the Prime Minister has been told he has enough 'wriggle room' to water this down because the UK is doing better than countries such as Germany, the US and Canada at lowering emissions.

Controversial policies, such as phasing out petrol cars by 2030 and replacing boilers with heat pumps, are unpopular with voters struggling with the cost of living crisis.

And while a review has ruled out relaxing the ban on petrol cars over fears it may scare off foreign investors in the necessary battery technology, other policies such as the boiler ban are being looked at.

The 'audit' follows the Conservatives' unexpected win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election in July, which Tory advisers attributed to Labour's expansion of ULEZ in London, penalising drivers of older cars.

Mr Sunak has hinted he will mitigate the impact of Net Zero for families while keeping green voters onside.

He says he wants to hit the target 'in a proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn't unnecessarily give people more hassle and costs' and without forcing people to wear 'hairshirts'.

Under the Net Zero strategy, 600,000 heat pumps – at a cost of up to £45,000 each – would be installed every year until 2028 to replace gas boilers.

The scheme also pledges that all electricity would be generated from clean sources by 2035 and that carbon capture will remove between 20 and 30 million tons of CO2 a year by 2030.

Any dilution of the strategy will be watched closely by Boris Johnson, who made it a central plank of his premiership.

Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Tory MPs, said of the audit: 'I expect there will be little of substance.

'The Net Zero strategy has already hit the road. In a capitalist economy, it is unwise to try to rig the market with compulsory sales targets in this way.'


Richard North: Net-Zero: the annals of absurdity

Except for a few small-scale specialists, most of the UK's car industry is already in foreign hands, so handing it over to the coal-fired Chinese shouldn’t make too much difference. In the pursuit of net-zero targets, nothing is too much or too absurd for our government to countenance.

Most readers will recall the excited chatter of some commentators, speculating on the result of the summer’s Uxbridge by-election – which was attributed to a backlash over Khan’s ULEZ plans.

After vague noises from No.10 about being “pragmatic”, there was a widespread feeling that Sunak might capitalise on what some took to be an “anti-green” rebellion, and row back on the implementation of net-zero.

Whatever hopes there might have been, though, it must now be crystal clear that, short of any trivial, cosmetic concessions, Sunak has absolutely no intention of slowing down to destroy the British economy in the name of the Great God climate change.

If any further evidence was needed, it comes in an article in The Times yesterday, which tells us that the prime minister has rejected any idea of a reprieve for petrol and diesel cars. The 2030 electric vehicle targets, we are told, will stay.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we are also warned to expect punitive measures aimed at incentivising the few remaining car manufacturers in the UK to increase their sales of EVs.

The plan is that next year, 22 percent of new cars sold will have to be electric, rising to more than 50 percent in 2028. It is left to the Independent, though, to tell us that manufacturers who fail to meet the targets will face fines of up to £15,000 per car.

A similar stratagem is being used to push the sales of heat pumps, with gas and oil-fired boiler manufacturers being required in the financial year 2024-2025 to ensure that heat pumps make up 4 percent of their sales.

An alternative is to buy “credits” from manufacturers who are over-quota, failing which the manufacturers will have to pay an eye-watering fine of £5,000 for every heat pump short of the quota. As with EVs, the quota will increase each year.

This has led some manufacturers to warn that they will have to increase the unit prices of boilers by £300 – a sum which also might have to increase each year as sales quotas increase.

This way of doing things is particularly devious as it distances the government from the consumer and puts the responsibility on manufacturers to implement net-zero policy, which must then take the blame for the increased prices when people turn their backs on “green” products.

As such, one might expect that manufacturers would be up in arms at this cynical attempt to make them take the fall, except in the case of car-makers, the sales quota system favours those which have committed only to produce EVs – apparently an intended consequence of the plan.

This has emerged after talks between the government an BMW, when it was announced that the car-maker would receive a subsidy of £600 million for its Cowley plant in Oxford – a bribe to dissuade the company from moving its whole operation to China.

But part of the package, it seems, was an “understanding” that the net-zero timescale would not be relaxed, giving the company “certainty” about the rules, and thereby protecting their investment in EVs. In order to protect the developing market, car-makers are said to be keen to see the 2030 ICE new car sales ban go ahead.


Australian government is running out of time and options on power

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen is proof that Australians are likely to pay a high price for ideological purity when it comes to energy. By continuing to reject even consideration of nuclear power or other high-density forms of electricity generation to replace coal, the Albanese government is leaving itself little room to move.

Mr Bowen has outlined the scale of the task required, including millions of solar panels, thousands of wind turbines and tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new transmission lines. The Australian Energy Market Operator has sounded the alarm that the build-out is behind schedule and over budget, risking the security of electricity supplies unless something is done to preserve coal-fired generation.

The renewable energy industry has confirmed that commitments from companies to invest in projects have collapsed to levels below what was being achieved by the Morrison government.

For all the talk of certainty provided by a legislated emissions target, companies are not willing to invest until government has provided the distribution networks needed to get the power to market. Getting access to the land required to build the networks is proving more difficult and expensive than anticipated. So, too, is getting access to farmland and environmentally cherished areas to build wind and solar farms. Community outrage is plain to see from southern Victoria to north Queensland.

Plans to boost the renewable energy network with offshore wind also are facing heavy weather. Australians are being told we are lucky to have the attention of offshore wind developers given the global demand.

But the reality is investment in offshore wind has collapsed in Britain and North America because of rising costs and inadequate government subsidies. In Australia, there is growing community anger about the impact of offshore wind turbines on visual amenity and wildlife, including whales and seabirds.

As community opposition to both onshore and offshore projects continues to build, so does the political pressure in seats that traditionally have been safe for Labor.

Meanwhile, the constituents calling loudest for change are most often those least likely to experience the disruption first-hand, and they are likely to vote green or teal independent. The major parties must manage the transition.

The Albanese government is learning a lesson that has been consistent in efforts to tackle climate change around the world. Public support for action does not always extend to a willingness to pay for it or to suffer material or environmental inconvenience as a result.

As a dense form of energy, nuclear can use existing infrastructure and have a much smaller footprint. Mr Bowen seems determined to push on regardless.

His attempts to dismiss a call by the Coalition for nuclear to be considered was ham-fisted and further damaged the government’s credibility. Even the inflated costs put forward for nuclear by Mr Bowen looked cheap compared with accepted estimates of trillions of dollars for a renewable alternative. Given the global rush for small-scale nuclear development, the long-term costs are likely to be much lower than Mr Bowen’s estimates for energy that will be available on demand.

To forgo options other than wind, solar and batteries, the government must deal with the issue of where they will go. In an energy transition where enthusiasts, including the government’s net-zero tsar, Greg Combet, are quick to talk about warlike footings, it can be only a matter of time before reasonable objections are swept away by authoritarian compulsion in the name of an energy emergency that is entirely of the government’s making.




Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Meteorologists, Scientists Explain Why There Is ‘No Climate Emergency’

There's no climate emergency. And the alarmist messaging pushed by global elites is purely political. That's what 1,609 scientists and informed professionals stated when they signed the Global Climate Intelligence Group's "World Climate Declaration."

"Climate science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific," the declaration begins. "Scientists should openly address uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming, while politicians should dispassionately count the real costs as well as the imagined benefits of their policy measures."

The group is an independent "climate watchdog" founded in 2019 by emeritus professor of geophysics Guus Berkhout and Marcel Crok, a science journalist. According to its website, the organization's objective is to "generate knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of climate change as well as the effects of climate policy." And it does so by objectively looking at the facts and engaging in scientific research into climate change and climate policy.

The declaration's signatories include Nobel laureates, theoretical physicists, meteorologists, professors, and environmental scientists worldwide. And when a select few were asked by The Epoch Times why they signed the declaration stating that the "climate emergency" is a farce, they all stated a variation of "because it's true."

"I signed the declaration because I believe the climate is no longer studied scientifically. Rather, it has become an item of faith," Haym Benaroya, a distinguished professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers University, told The Epoch Times.

"The earth has warmed about 2 degrees F since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, but that hardly constitutes an emergency—or even a crisis—since the planet has been warmer yet over the last few millennia," Ralph Alexander, a retired physicist and author of the website "Science Under Attack," told The Epoch Times.

"There is plenty of evidence that average temperatures were higher during the so-called Medieval Warm Period (centered around the year 1000), the Roman Warm Period (when grapes and citrus fruits were grown in now much colder Britain), and in the early Holocene (after the last regular Ice Age ended)."

The climate emergency is "fiction," he said unequivocally.

Human activities and the resulting greenhouse gases are the cause of global warming, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Specifically, the IPCC says that in 1750, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations were 280 parts per million (ppm), and today, the atmospheric CO2 concentrations are 420 ppm, which affects temperature.

The IPCC is the U.N. body for assessing the "science related to climate change." It was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the U.N. Environment Programme to help policymakers develop climate policies.

Edwin Berry, a theoretical physicist and certified consulting meteorologist, said that one of the IPCC's central theories is that natural CO2 has stayed constant at 280 ppm since 1750 and that human CO2 is responsible for the 140 ppm increase.

This IPCC theory makes human CO2 responsible for 33 percent of today's total CO2 level, he told The Epoch Times.

Consequently, to decrease temperatures, the IPCC says, we must reduce human-caused CO2—thus, the current push by lawmakers and climate activists to forcibly transition the world's transportation to electric vehicles, get rid of fossil fuels, and generally reduce all activities that contribute to human-caused CO2.

That entire premise, according to Mr. Berry, is problematic.
"The public perception of carbon dioxide is that it goes into the atmosphere and stays there," Mr. Berry said. "They think it just accumulates. But it doesn't."

He explained that when you look at the flow of carbon dioxide—"flow" meaning the carbon moving from one carbon reservoir to another, i.e., through photosynthesis, the eating of plants, and back out through respiration—a 140 ppm constant level requires a continual inflow of 40 ppm per year of carbon dioxide, because, according to the IPCC, carbon dioxide has a turnover time of 3.5 years (meaning carbon dioxide molecules stay in the atmosphere for about 3 1/2 years).

"A level of 280 ppm is twice that—80 ppm of inflow. Now, we're saying that the inflow of human carbon dioxide is one-third of the total. Even IPCC data says, 'No, human carbon dioxide inflow is about 5 percent to 7 percent of the total carbon dioxide inflow into the atmosphere,'" he said.

So, to make up for the lack of necessary human-caused carbon dioxide flowing into the atmosphere, the IPCC claims that instead of having a turnover time of 3.5 years, human CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years.

"[The IPCC is] saying that something is different about human carbon dioxide and that it can't flow as fast out of the atmosphere as natural carbon dioxide," Mr. Berry said. "Well, IPCC scientists—when they've gone through, what, billions of dollars?—should have asked a simple question: 'Is a human carbon dioxide molecule exactly identical to a natural carbon dioxide molecule?' And the answer is yes. Of course!

"Well, if human and natural CO2 molecules are identical, their outflow times must be identical. So, the whole idea where they say it's in there for hundreds, or thousands, of years, is wrong."

Mr. Berry said that means nature—not humans—caused the increase in CO2. And consequently, attempts to decrease human CO2 are pointless.


Paying a Premium for “Green Steel”: Paying for an Illusion?


The iron and steel industry generates around 10 % of global greenhouse gas emissions. The bulk of the emissions originates from the iron ore reduction. In this reduction, coal is used as a reagent. Steelmakers could switch to hydrogen-based direct reduction using hydrogen instead of coal as a reagent to reduce iron ore to pig iron. This would eliminate the CO2 emissions from the equivalent process in a traditional blast furnace. However, the process requires massive amounts of electricity.

This paper looks at the economics of such a switch to “green steel.” We assess a marginal increase in the production of a hypothetical green steelmaker. We also undertake an investment appraisal of a green plant, based on an ongoing installation in Northern Sweden, but also briefly consider a possible/planned investment in the US.

This appraisal is complemented by computing the survival function for the net present value in a systematic sensitivity analysis. It seems highly unlikely that a green steel plant can be socially profitable. If the green plant displaces conventional steel produced within the European Union’s cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, total emissions remain more or less unaffected; permits and emissions are simply reshuffled. Hence, if end-users of green steel pay a premium, they might pay for an illusion.


Journalists are failing the public in their reporting on renewables

The main sources of misinformation on Australia’s renewable energy transition are journalists from the ABC and the Nine newspapers.

And it’s not just about exaggerated reporting of natural disasters. Think about preconceptions among environment writers about the rights of people directly affected by the renewables grid expansion. Add to that journalists who ignore inconvenient facts about what is really happening to emissions around the world, and especially in China and India.

This column suggested last year that editors should send reporters into regional Australia to look at the reaction of rural communities affected by the rollout of more than 10,000km of poles and wires to connect renewables projects to the eastern states’ grid. This column has also pointed many times to misreporting of China’s renewables expansion while ignoring its rapidly expanding CO2 emissions.

This paper’s chief writer, Christine Middap, is the former editor of The Weekend Australian Magazine. She published a compelling piece on Saturday July 21 under the headline “Casualties on the road to renewables”.

The piece examined the plight of landholders affected by Transgrid’s HumeLink transmission project. Middap explained what fourth-generation Snow Valleys land holder Dave Purcell sees from his farm: eight to 14 steel towers, up to 76m high, carrying cables crisscrossing his cattle property.

Even Minister for Energy Chris Bowen sympathised with the plight of such farmers. “In my experience, most concerned community members are not anti-renewables, anti-transmission or anti-progress. Nor in most cases are they opposed to projects going ahead if their concerns are addressed,” Bowen was quoted saying.

The Sydney Morning Herald took a very different tack on the issue on Saturday September 9. This is a paper that has devoted probably hundreds of thousands of words in the past 50 years to disputes in Sydney’s eastern suburbs over trees disrupting multimillion-dollar harbour views.

National environment and climate editor Nick O’Malley savaged the new NSW Labor government’s decision to extend the life of the Eraring power station in the Hunter Valley. This is the country’s largest power source and the likelihood it would need to remain open beyond the 2025 date owner Origin Energy has flagged for closure has been known for years.

O’Malley quoted NSW Minister for Energy Penny Sharpe on social licence and renewables. “As Sharpe says, transition involves dispersing energy production that was once centralised mostly in the Hunter Valley across the state. Objections to new solar farms, wind turbines and transmission lines from landholders across the east coast are increasing.”

The piece, a full page, went on to quote several green energy lobbyists and planning experts about the slow processes of the NSW Department of Planning. From people whose land is being dissected by such projects – not a word. The renewables industry lobby owns the SMH’s journalism.

Reporting about the renewables commitments of the No.1 and No.3 global CO2 emitters, China and India, is just as lacking. Too many environment writers focus on increasing renewables use while ignoring that both countries are expanding their coal capacity.

In fact, The Telegraph in London on September 6 said China had this year started on new coal capacity greater than the entire existing US coal fleet. Yet in much media here it is Australia that is the emissions pariah.

At least The Guardian was honest enough to publish the truth on August 29. Quoting analysis by the Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research of Energy and Clean Air, The Guardian said “… in the first half of 2023 (China’s) authorities granted approval for 52 gigawatts of new coal power, began construction on 37GW of new coal power, announced 41GW worth of new projects and revived 8GW of previously shelved projects.”

Yet ABC radio’s flagship morning current affairs program, AM, on September 11 reported – po-faced – that Australia was being left behind by China’s energy transition as renewables industry leaders here pleaded for subsidies to help compete with US President Joe Biden’s misnamed Inflation Reduction Act spending on US emissions reduction.

Reporter Annie Guest interviewed Tim Buckley from the consultancy Climate Energy Finance who called for $100bn in government investment in renewables and critical minerals such as copper and lithium. Buckley believed the Future Fund should become an equity holder in renewables projects.

John Grimes, CEO of the Smart Energy Council, told Guest China was leading the world in the production and export of solar panels, wind turbines and EVs. “The rest of the world is in China’s dust,” he said.

Indeed, China has been the biggest beneficiary of the global energy transition across the West, even though it has increased domestic coal consumption by 300 million tonnes a year and last year increased emissions by 10 per cent over the pre-Covid peak set in 2019, according to The Conversation on July 10.

It is the biggest emitter by far, has the fastest-growing emissions and yet is the winner from commitments in Europe, East Asia, North America and Australia to reduce their emissions. In effect, the rest of the world is exporting its industrial base to China for no net gain on global emissions.

In fact, several European car makers, including German giant Volkswagen, have warned in recent months that European car production is on the verge of collapse in the face of cheap imported Chinese EVs and conventional cars and soaring power prices in Europe.

Now President Biden is using the Inflation Reduction Act to get a piece of the action China has been enjoying and European vehicle, electronics and chemical companies are moving manufacturing facilities to the US. Renewables lobbyists here want government subsidies so they can get some of the cake too. But what if it all fails?

AM was incurious about China’s rising emissions, the dangers of governments picking winners, the severe economic downturn in China, and the possibility Biden’s green agenda may just be a trillion dollar act of self-harm.

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal on September 4 warned many projects that were made possible only by Biden subsidies are now seeking large price increases from utility ratepayers to compensate for higher interest rates and soaring investment costs. Offshore wind developers in New York are seeking a 48 per cent rise in their power delivery contacts.

“The Alliance for Clean Energy NY is also requesting an average 64 per cent price increase on 86 wind and solar projects,’’ the Journal said. It noted growing demand nationally for renewables projects in the wake of Biden’s subsidies had driven inflation in the prices of renewables components.

So the laws of supply and demand apply even in the green economy? Who knew.

Good journalists should cast a sceptical eye over the self-interested claims of people wanting government handouts to boost private profits. Many consumers don’t pay for their media, relying on free sources such as the ABC and The Guardian.

It is incumbent on such sources to test the claims of those who stand to profit from new technologies. ABC consumers may be astounded to know there is as yet no economically viable technology pathway to green hydrogen. Nor would many realise most energy specialists expect all countries will continue to rely on gas for decades to firm renewables.


House Dems cross party lines, demand Biden admin expand oil drilling

A group of House Democrats penned a letter Thursday to several top Biden administration and White House officials, demanding the immediate continuance of uninterrupted offshore oil and gas leasing.

The Democrats — led by Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas — called for the Department of the Interior (DOI) to immediately issue its legally mandated plan for offshore fossil fuel lease sales, which the agency has delayed for more than 12 months. The lawmakers noted that the Inflation Reduction Act tethers new wind leases to oil and gas leases, meaning the former could be threatened without consistent fossil fuel leasing.

"As members of Congress representing Americans across six districts in three states, we write to urge the U.S. Department of the Interior to take immediate action necessary to hold uninterrupted offshore oil and gas lease sales under the pending 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program to avoid the now expected offshore wind leasing cliff," they wrote in the letter.

"Limiting oil and gas sales to one per year eliminates much needed flexibility and opens the possibility for unforeseen circumstances that would delay or cancel lease sales, including the possibility of future administrations holding offshore wind leasing hostage," the Democrats continued.

Under the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the federal government is required to issue plans every five years laying out prospective offshore oil and gas lease sales. The most recent plan, which was implemented in 2017, expired in June 2022.

On July 1, 2022, the DOI published a draft proposal for a replacement five-year plan, which laid out multiple options for leasing between 2023 and 2028. The plan included an option with no lease sales during the time span and a maximum option of 11 lease sales. The plan ruled out any lease sales in the Atlantic or Pacific, mainly proposing Gulf of Mexico sales.

"We urge the Department to quickly release a full five-year oil and gas leasing program that includes all eleven proposed sales and promptly take action to hold these sales without interruption," Gonzalez and the other lawmakers wrote.

"Following through on its Congressionally mandated obligations as passed in the IRA is the only way to ensure offshore wind energy has a clear path to leasing, permitting, development, and production," they added. "This means holding oil and gas lease sales under a robust, timely, and functioning five-year program as well."

The delay in issuing a finalized plan represents a departure from precedent set by both Republican and Democratic administrations, which have historically finalized replacements immediately after previous plans expired. The option to hold no lease sales over the course of five years also represents an unprecedented departure.

The most recent two plans, both formulated under the Obama administration, included more than 10 offshore oil and gas lease sales each. The Trump administration sought to hold a total of 47 lease sales across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska's coasts between 2022 and 2027.

"NOIA expresses our gratitude towards Congressman Gonzalez and his fellow Members of Congress for pushing for the timely completion of the next federal offshore oil and gas leasing program," National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said in a statement Thursday.

"The reinstatement of consistent and predictable offshore oil and gas lease sales is paramount, safeguarding against potential disruptions to future offshore wind opportunities during this pivotal juncture for the industry," Milito continued. "Sound energy policy stands as a cornerstone of our nation's prosperity and should always serve as a unifying issue."

The DOI is expected to propose its five-year offshore leasing plan in the coming weeks and finalize it either later this year or early next year.

In addition to Gonzalez, Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, Jim Costa, D-Calif., Marc Veasey, D-Texas, and Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, signed the letter. The letter was sent to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and copied to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta among others.