Sunday, June 23, 2024

Biden’s Hypocrisy on Climate Change Is Painfully Obvious

President Joe Biden has repeatedly called climate change an “existential threat,” worse than nuclear weapons.

Yet, Biden’s green energy mandates result in a greater U.S. demand for wind turbines, solar panels and electric batteries from China, made by coal-fired power plants, increasing the emissions Biden criticizes at home.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that in the absence of reductions in carbon emissions, temperatures will rise by about 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The idea that such a temperature change is worse than deaths from nuclear weapons is ludicrous. Over 200,000 people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after America dropped atomic bombs.

Temperatures have varied for centuries. Climate models are not reliable and accurate enough to attribute global warming to human activities. The observed rate of global warming over the past 50 years has been weaker than that predicted by almost all computerized climate models.

Thirty-six computer models overpredicted surface air temperatures during the summer growing season. The models all showed warming well above what happened in reality, with the most extreme model producing seven times too much warming.

Increases in hurricane frequency are erroneously cited as an effect of warming. Although carbon dioxide emissions and temperature—both in America and globally—have increased over the latter parts of the 20th Century, no meaningful increase in frequency and intensity of hurricanes has been observed.

Hurricane damage has increased over time, but this outcome is largely due to increased incomes and wealth, and therefore infrastructure creation, rather than more violent hurricanes. For example, homes in Florida have risen by a factor of 12 since 1975, according to the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The same hurricane that in 1975 destroyed a house worth $100,000 would now destroy a house worth $1.2 million.

Although some say that increased CO2 levels are detrimental to human health and welfare, deaths are more likely to result from medical events triggered by the cold than by the heat.

A 2020 study by Dr. Whanhee Lee and others in Lancet showed that cold-related morbidity and mortality—strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and other problems—result directly from the influence of cold temperatures on the body, where the body is unable to maintain sufficient core temperature to guarantee survival.

In addition, Environmental Protection Agency data shows that death rates are about 10 percent higher in winter, and January is the deadliest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

If Biden truly thought that climate change was an existential threat, he would try to lower global emissions through greater U.S. exports of natural gas. This would enable other countries to reduce emissions by substituting natural gas for coal, just as America has reduced carbon emissions by 1,000 million metric tons over the past 16 years.

In addition, Biden would try to expand emissions-free nuclear power if he thought climate change was a threat. He would make uranium mining easier, because uranium is a critical ingredient for nuclear power. Yet he has taken swaths of land off the table for uranium development and made no attempt to solve the problem of nuclear waste.

Instead, Biden blocks a new liquid natural gas export terminal in Louisiana, which results in greater worldwide use of coal, increasing global carbon dioxide emissions. Europe has already been turning to coal to deal with energy shortages in the aftermath of Russia’s cutoff of natural gas.

New regulations at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of the Controller of the Currency discourage companies from investing in natural gas, and banks from lending money to fund natural gas. Regulations from the Department of Energy raise the cost of natural gas stoves, water heaters, and boilers.

Over the past 20 years, U.S. emissions of CO2 have declined by a billion metric tons as natural gas has been increasingly substituted for coal use in the generation of electricity. Over the same period, CO2 emissions in China have risen by 8.7 billion metric tons.

Biden’s repetition that climate change is an existential threat gives him an excuse to impose more regulations and sign into law subsidies for favored donors.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Amb. Rahm Emanuel when he was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. Biden is inventing the crisis and the waste is following.


John Kerry's Climate Office Coordinated With Left-Wing Nonprofits Working To Shut Down Coal

The State Department's lead climate office discussed shutting down coal power worldwide with environmental groups, namely the California-based Sierra Club among others, ahead of its decision to join an international anti-coal coalition, according to emails reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

The internal agency emails—obtained this month via information request by watchdog group Protect the Public's Trust (PPT)—are the latest evidence that the State Department's Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC), led by John Kerry until he departed early this year, discussed key policy issues, including actions related to coal power, with nonprofit interest groups.

And the emails come amid a sweeping congressional probe into the SPEC office's coordination with eco groups. That probe is being spearheaded by House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R., Ky.), who told the Free Beacon that his panel continues to review separate documents showing the Biden administration "caved to pressure by leftist climate groups" seeking to end construction of new coal plants and phase out all coal worldwide by 2040.

"Evidence continues to mount showing a sophisticated, targeted approach by radical environmental groups to influence the Biden Administration's domestic and foreign policy," said Comer.

"The Oversight Committee will continue to press the Biden Administration for information related to Envoy Kerry’s position and his office’s ability to bind the United States to agreements at the detriment of American consumers and businesses," he continued.

According to the emails obtained by PPT and shared with the Free Beacon, on April 15, 2021, Steve Herz, a senior attorney and international climate policy adviser at the Sierra Club, contacted then-SPEC adviser Jesse Young, inviting Kerry and other administration officials to attend the June 2021 "grassroots leadership climate summit" hosted by the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.

Herz said the summit would focus on issues "the U.S. government needs to address internationally" including "shutting down coal."

Sierra Club senior attorney emails SPEC adviser Jesse Young an invitation for John Kerry to attend a private discussion with environmental groups.Sierra Club senior attorney Steve Herz emails SPEC adviser Jesse Young an invitation for John Kerry to attend a private discussion with environmental groups.
Young, who is now the SPEC office's chief of staff, responded to Herz, saying that he "would love" if Kerry could attend the summit. Then, in a May 2021 email, Young asked other State Department officials to confirm whether Kerry could attend the event, noting the invite was brought up during a recent "NGO call" and adding that it "seems like a good idea to me."

Kerry and then-senior SPEC adviser Lauren Sanchez, who has since been hired as a climate adviser for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.), ultimately attended the Sierra Club-Friends of the Earth summit, joining a session on June 3, 2021. While much of the event was broadcast online, that session was private.

"This private session of the Global Grassroots Leaders Climate Summit will provide an opportunity for participating grassroots leaders to have a dialogue with Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry and his team," a description of the session online states. "They will discuss ways the Biden administration can be constructive partners in global climate efforts and specific ways the administration can benefit their campaigns."

That description failed to detail the session's covered topics that were listed in Herz's original email to Young two months earlier.

In a separate email exchange from July 2021, Herz requested a meeting with SPEC officials to discuss "opportunities of limiting international coal finance." The top Sierra Club official sent the request to a group of SPEC officials whose names were redacted in the documents produced via FOIA request.

"limiting international coal finance."

Sue Biniaz, who serves as the principal deputy special envoy for climate, said in an email to other officials that it "couldn’t hurt to hear their thoughts." An unnamed official then responded, suggesting that they loop the White House National Security Council into the conversation.

The SPEC office, Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth did not respond to requests for comment.

"Government of, by, and for the people demands transparency and accountability," PPT director Michael Chamberlain told the Free Beacon. "The actions of John Kerry’s secretive climate office are anathema to those qualities."

"And every new revelation seems to add to the body of evidence that Kerry’s office has been outsourcing its policymaking—policies that have a significant impact on our ability keep the lights on and the machines running in our homes, hospitals, schools, and businesses—to powerful but unaccountable special interest organizations," added Chamberlain.

In January, the House Oversight Committee released emails that, like the batch obtained this month by PPT, highlight the extensive coordination between the SPEC office and environmental nonprofit organizations.

Those emails showed that, on March 2, 2021, the State Department solicited and received guidance from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on the so-called Powering Past Coal Alliance, an international effort to reduce coal reliance. And they also revealed that, on April 7, 2021, the NRDC, along with the Sierra Club and three other eco groups, sent SPEC officials a memo outlining a "global coal phase-out agenda for the Biden administration."

NRDC's memo, obtained by the Free Beacon, made a series of recommendations to the SPEC office, including joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance, prioritizing coal phase-out policies in diplomatic engagements with China, Japan, and South Korea, and increasing financial incentives for other countries to transition away from coal by "greening" COVID-19 recovery plans.

"The Biden administration should make a global coal phase-out a top-tier foreign policy priority, and a critical issue in bilateral relations with all key countries funding and using coal," the memo stated.


The week the UK took another step on the road to being ruled by unelected judges

I'm beginning to wonder if it really matters who we vote for on July 4 when we are now a country in which power has been steadily seeping from elected politicians to ­unelected judges.

Take energy policy, a pivotal issue at a time of high fuel prices and fears about security of supply.

The Tories want to grant lots more licences to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea, to increase supply (to steady prices) and make us less dependent on unreliable foreign imports.

Labour would cease any further development in the North Sea after existing licences expire, preferring to give greater priority to reducing our carbon emissions and getting to net zero sooner rather than later.

So a clear choice for us to make. Exactly how a democracy should work. Except that judges have already taken the decision for us.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Surrey County Council had been wrong to allow the expansion of a tiny oilfield known as the Gatwick Gusher (for its proximity to the airport) because it had only taken into account the emissions generated by developing the field, not those emitted when the oil was eventually burnt.

Thus, with one ruling, has the highest court in the land brought the further development of our oil and gas reserves to a grinding halt.

It has done more for Just Stop Oil's ­campaign than any amount of Stonehenge-style performative attacks could ever hope to achieve.

The Surrey field is small in the grand scheme of things but the Supreme Court ruling will now be applied to far ­bigger ventures just getting off the ground, such as the massive ­­Rosebank oil field 80 miles west of the Shetlands and the Whitehaven coal mine in Cumbria.

The massed ranks of climate activists are already being mustered. Armed with their high-powered (and highly paid) lawyers and the Supreme Court ruling, they will challenge every nascent fossil fuel development in the land.

And there is every chance they will bring them to a grinding halt, just as they have the Gatwick Gusher.

It is yet another significant step on the road from democracy to kritocracy (rule by judges).

We are moving from rule by elected politicians —who consult experts in and out of government before rolling out the policies on which they were voted in — to rule by unelected judges who know nothing of the matters on which they opine but are still able to impose their own narrow but highly consequential interpretation of the law.

None of the three Supreme Court judges who took Thursday's decision would seem to have any expertise in energy policy or climate change.

One of them, Lord Leggat, is big on diversity and inclusion, as those — like him —educated at Eton, Cambridge and Harvard often think they should be seen to be. But not energy policy.

Another, Lady Rose, a product of Oxford and Cambridge, doesn't seem to have any private sector experience, never mind energy sector expertise, since she's spent most of her working life as a career legal officer in government.

The third, Lord Kitchin, also Cambridge, is a specialist in intellectual property. Not oil and gas.

The activists determined to stop the Surrey development had already lost in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. But thanks to these three judges from the same university, they won a narrow victory (three to two) in the highest court.

The local council and the oil company have run out of legal road. That sound you hear is the noise of oil and gas firms running for the door. Why hang around in a country that doesn't want you?

A country in which an incoming Labour government was going to freeze further licences anyway; in which the governing SNP in Scotland is no friend either; and in which supposedly temporary windfall taxes, taking the corporate tax rate to a penal 75 per cent, look like becoming permanent.

A country in which every planning application takes for ever (even the minor development in Surrey spent five years in the courts); in which you face the relentless hostility of activists and polite society treats you as a pariah (while, of course, avidly ­consuming your products).

And in which you never know when you, your family or your offices will be sprayed in orange paint by eco-zealots and loons.

There are far friendlier climes that want your investment — and they're probably more profitable, too. So don't for a second think the departure of the oil and gas industry from our shores is any kind of victory for net zero.

They will just move to exploit fossil fuels in other territories, often with less ­rigorous environmental standards than our own, while our world-class oil and gas sector, which generates £30 billion in revenues, £9 billion in tax and 220,000 direct and indirect well-paid jobs, enters terminal decline.

Not for much longer will Aberdeen be the oil capital of Europe. It risks the same fate as Glasgow, whose once proud boast to be the shipbuilding capital of the world is now but a distant memory.

Lord Leggat opined that oil from the Surrey field would 'inevitably' be 'burned' and the planning application had failed to account for that in terms of the carbon emissions generated.

Exactly how you would ­calculate that he did not say. After all, not all oil is burned. It's used for petrochemicals (the clue is in the name, your lordship) and in a variety of products from plastics to tyres to bitumin to pharmaceuticals. So the figure he wants is well nigh impossible to calculate.

But the most ludicrous aspect of the judgment — described by one energy expert as 'utter lunacy' — is the implication that banning new licences in the UK will reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

If that were the case, there would be some logic to the ruling. But it's not. We are destined, on all reputable forecasts, to need oil, gas and even some coal for the foreseeable future.

But now we'll import even more of it, at even greater cost in terms of price and emissions. The UK Supreme Court will be the toast of Qatar and Saudi Arabia this weekend. No doubt the Kremlin is smiling too, as it also looks at ways of sneaking its oil to us, perhaps via India.

Our loss is the dictators' gain. And not just the ­dictators. A friend from Texas thanked me yesterday for the Supreme Court ruling, saying his state looked forward to sending us even more natural gas.

The Tories have only themselves to blame. They have long pandered to the net zero cause, hoping to scoop up some of the 'green' vote (naturally, they've failed).

This culminated, during the last, miserable days of Theresa May's premiership, in the House of Commons nodding through, without proper debate or scrutiny, a legally binding target for Britain to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

May regarded this as her lasting legacy. It's turned out to be more of a time-bomb because it's the legally binding aspect of the target which has given the Supreme Court such a grip on energy policy.

The net zero target only covers emissions generated within our borders. So the fact we will have to import more oil and gas as a result of its ruling, even though that means higher ­emissions, doesn't concern the Court. It has no legal remit over imported energy.

Nor can it have anything to say about energy security since the Government hasn't set a legally binding target for that.

Thus, almost by accident, has net zero become the be-all and end-all of judge-determined energy policy, whose impact will be to make us all poorer.


Congratulations to Australian conservative leader on climate change retreat

Opposition leader, Peter Dutton, deserves an elephant stamp for calling out the impossibility of Australia reaching its 2030 emissions target set by the Labor government. The Coalition has now effectively disowned the target.

Recall here that the Coalition had been shooting for an emissions-reduction cut of between 26 and 28 per cent by 2030 from a base of 2005. The then prime minister, Scott Morrison, declared that this would be achieved in a canter. He wasn’t wrong on that score, because by the end of 2023, a cut of 29 per cent had been achieved.

But as they say, the last mile is always the hardest and so the 43 per cent emissions reduction set by the Albanese government is looking like a tough climb to the top of Everest in unfavourable weather conditions.

But this fact never deterred Albo and the hapless B1, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen, from racing the new higher target into legislation and formally advising the UN climate bureaucrats in charge of the Paris Agreement racket of this more ambitious goal.

Mind you, the fact that the target is legislated doesn’t really make much difference nor does our refreshed statement of intent made to the UN – let’s not forget here that the Paris climate agreement is not legally binding.

Most signatories to Paris haven’t bothered to legislate their targets and have no intention of doing so. The UK, much to its shame, is different in that regard. Theresa May, a true climate believer if there ever was, insisted on this as well as committing the Tories to net zero.

She even conferred ridiculous powers on the Climate Change Committee, appointing extremist chairs who bully the Poms to change their evil climate ways – don’t eat meat, install expensive and ineffective heat pumps, use ‘active transport’ (walk, cycle or scooter) rather than drive the car, don’t even think about getting on a plane, etc, etc. Is it really any surprise that the Tories are about to get a drubbing, Boris and Rishi having never walked away from this rubbish?

But I digress. Let me get back to Australia. Dutts’ decision to decline the 43 per cent target is a mixture of informed realism and courageous politics. Needless to say, the progressive press is aghast, claiming that the announcement puts paid to the Liberals’ chances of winning back the Teal seats, although we shall see.

The rent-seeking business community with interests in green things is complaining bitterly. Evidently, they need certainty which is simply code for more subsidies. A lower target or no target at all will undermine their case for even more moolah from taxpayers and long-suffering consumers.

One of the advantages that Dutts has over Albo is that Dutts can count. Albo’s strong suit is wishful thinking and dreaming up rhyming cliches. The fact is that a 43 per cent target requires losing around 100 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent in six years in the context of a rapidly rising population. It boils down to the maths: where will those tonnes come from?

Sadly – OK, not that sadly – for B1, the renewable energy experiment has not been going entirely to plan, like Japan’s second world war effort. Of course, if you throw subsidies at something, you will get more of it. But there have been some significant impediments to renewable energy (RE)investment in recent times – escalating costs, worker shortages, local resistance to RE developments (God bless our country cousins) and inadequate transmission.

As a consequence, the amount of RE added to the grid has been a fraction of what is required to meet another B1 target – 82 per cent RE in the grid by 2030. It’s only around 40 per cent now. There is a long way to go.

Going by the polls, voter opinion is on the side of the Coalition on this issue. A rising majority think that affordable and reliable electricity is the most important consideration with a small and declining proportion taking the view that hitting the emissions target should prevail. Even those on board with the green energy idea either don’t want to pay anything extra or $100 more per year at most. It looks as though peak climate has been reached and we are now on the sunlit downhill.

Albo and B1 could easily be tempted to look beyond the electricity grid to achieve the unachievable target. Laughably, there was a view at some stage that 90 per cent of all car sales by 2030 would be EVs. Given recent developments in the EV market here and overseas, it would seem extremely optimistic to predict that half of all car sales in Australia will be EVs by the end of the decade.

Let’s face it, the wheels are really falling off the EV market in the US – pardon the pun. General Motors, which was given great licks of taxpayer money to convert to EV production and ditch its highly profitable and popular lines of internal combustion vehicles, is walking back at an incredible pace. The company built an EV truck expecting to sell 150,000 in the first year; it sold 27,000.

There are so many hairs on EVs as convenient family or work vehicles, including the incredibly high cost of insurance and the absence of a second-hand market. Add in the difficulty of accessing fast charging and range anxiety, and the real surprise is that so many EVs have been sold.

But note here that most EVs are sold to companies attracted by the substantial tax concessions, not to private buyers. The only ones surprised by these developments are the true-believing green activists – and B1.

The Albanese government might have a crack at pushing for the closure of some of the big emitters – aluminium smelters, alumina refineries, steel works – but the politics of this are not great. Attacking the farming community also has its downsides – just take a look at what has been happening in Europe with farmers revolting.

The bottom line is that Australia’s current emissions target already looks like a bust and most people who follow these things know this.

As Speccie readers appreciate, a political leader who stands for nothing is never well-placed to roll an incumbent government. Claims of superior managerial competence simply do not cut it if the proposed platforms are essentially the same as the government’s. (Take note, David Crisafulli, hapless opposition leader of the LNP in Queensland. It was a Bill Shorten moment – ‘I don’t know what’s in Labor’s budget but we will support it.’)

I say hats off to Dutts: he has taken a stand on the 2030 target. Next stop: ditch the folly of net zero by 2050.




Thursday, June 20, 2024

Biden EPA Rules Will Cause Blackouts for Millions of Americans, Study Warns

President Joe Biden’s aggressive climate regulations targeting fossil-fuel-fired power plants will create widespread electric grid instability and lead to mass blackouts impacting millions of Americans, according to a recent study commissioned by North Dakota’s state government.

The research, conducted in May by the firm Always On Energy Research, concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized regulations are not technologically feasible and will foreseeably lead to the retirement of coal power generation units. Intermittent and weather-dependent green energy sources, such as wind and solar, will replace such retired generators, leading to unreliable conditions, the study found.

The study largely echoes concerns that have been voiced by the U.S. grid watchdog, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation; regional grid operators; and power utility companies. Four regional grid operators that oversee the infrastructure supplying power for 154 million Americans warned after the EPA regulations were first proposed last year that grid reliability would “dwindle to concerning levels” under the regulations. The Edison Electric Institute, the lead industry group representing U.S. electric companies, in late May joined a lawsuit that challenged the EPA’s finalized regulations.

“Biden’s Green Agenda is shutting down baseload power and is rapidly destabilizing our electrical grid. Electricity costs are up 30% under Biden already,” North Dakota governor Doug Burgum (R.) told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. “Prices will continue to skyrocket if he’s re-elected as real power demand increases dramatically for the first time in decades—for chip manufacturing and new foundational industries like AI.”

Burgum, a member of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which commissioned the study, added that Biden’s regulatory regime will reduce power supplies, leading to “higher prices AND less reliability.”

In April, the EPA finalized the first part of a multi-pronged effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions produced by the nation’s power sector. The regulations require existing coal plants to slash their carbon footprint 90 percent by 2032, which could force the vast majority of such plants across the country to shutter over the next two decades. They further require significant emissions reductions for new natural-gas-fired power plants that operate more than 20 percent of the time.

The finalized regulations are poised to have a particularly acute impact in Midwestern states such as North Dakota, where coal-fired power plants produce more than half of all electricity generated and where the four largest power plants are all coal-fired. North Dakota is also the sixth-largest coal-producing state in the country.

According to Always On Energy Research, the rules’ economic consequences include increasing the cost of compliance for coal plant operators, reducing competitiveness with alternative power sources, expediting the rate of coal retirements, resulting in higher electricity prices, and causing supply chain issues for industries reliant on coal.

“The Finalized Rule will increase costs, which, compounded with inflation, will negatively impact the affordability of electric and gas services, resulting in a disproportionate effect on low-income citizens,” the study stated. “Given the high rural populations in North Dakota, pricing low-income citizens out of a reliable energy source creates an economic and social justice issue with devasting [sic] impacts on North Dakotans’ lives.”

In addition, under EPA’s plans, coal plants—considered dispatchable power, or power that can quickly be turned on in times of high electricity demand—will largely be replaced by new solar and wind power generators, which are highly dependent on proper wind conditions.

Solar panels, for example, produce just 25 percent and wind turbines produce 34 percent of their listed capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration. Coal and natural gas plants, meanwhile, respectively produce 49 percent and 54 percent of their listed capacity.

Factoring in that disparity, Always On Energy Research concluded the grid across the majority of the Midwest would experience nearly 9 million megawatt hours of unserved load, leading to blackouts costing tens of billions of dollars.

“The EPA power plant rule is exactly the wrong thing to be doing for grid reliability right now,” Paige Lambermont, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Free Beacon. “To be intentionally closing and, essentially, banning the facilities that are keeping the grid functioning while, at the same time, in other ways, encouraging the penetration on the grid of things like wind and solar that are making the grid less reliable is going to have incredibly poor aftereffects.”

Nationwide, natural gas plants generated roughly 43 percent of total electricity produced in 2023 while coal plants generated another 16 percent, according to additional Energy Information Administration data. By comparison, wind power generated 10 percent of total electricity in the United States, and solar produced less than 6 percent.

The EPA is expected to finalize a second batch of regulations cracking down on existing natural gas power plants in the coming months.

Democrats and climate advocates have long targeted the power sector as part of their effort to reduce pollution and fight global warming. According to EPA data, electric power generation in the United States is responsible for 25 percent of total nationwide emissions, only behind the transportation sector, which produces roughly 28 percent of total emissions.

EPA spokeswoman Angela Hackel told the Free Beacon that “over decades EPA regulations like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Good Neighbor Rule have achieved important reductions in pollution from electricity generation while supporting reliability.”
“This rule will do the same,” Hackel said. She added that the EPA is reviewing the North Dakota study.


Wrong, BBC, the Popular Kenyan Farmer Is Right, There Is No Climate Emergency, Africa Does Need Fossil Fuels

The BBC recently published a hit piece posing as an article attacking a Kenyan farmer who has developed a modest following on X, for his skeptical view of climate alarm claims, and his experienced based understanding that Africans need and deserve to develop fossil fuels. The farmer, Jusper Machogu, is right. In reality, it is the BBC’s “climate change misinformation” reporter who is misleading readers. Not only is the target of the hit piece correct that fossil fuels would be good for Africa, but the BBC reporter’s assertion that Africa is uniquely battered by climate change is false.

The BBC’s Marco Silva wrote the article, “How a Kenyan farmer became a champion of climate change denial,” covering the social media activity on X of a young Kenyan farmer and agricultural engineer, Jusper Machogu, who strongly supports and frequently posts that apocalyptic climate change claims are false and about fossil fuel development for Africa.

Machogu’s post history mostly involves him advocating for the mechanization and modernization of farming in Africa, enthusiastically praising synthetic fertilizers, tractors, and other production-boosting technologies that are made possible by fossil fuels and their derivatives. He has extensive knowledge about agriculture, including why “green” methods of farming and fertilizer production are nowhere near as effective as the processes involving fossil fuels.

The fact that African agriculture has benefitted from the use of fossil fuels has been covered at Climate Realism extensively.

Silva warns ominously that Machogu is a “flagbearer for fossil fuels in Africa, but there is more to his campaign than meets the eye,” accusing him of being motivated exclusively by financial gain to post “debunked theories about climate change[.]” Silva’s evidence of this is that Machogu got a whopping $9,000 over the course of two years in donations, “some of which came from individuals in Western countries linked to fossil-fuel interests.” This is just scummy on the part of Silva, an ad hominem attack on Machogu’s character and possible motivations rather than the content of his posts.

Silva doesn’t attempt to engage with Machogu’s claims that “there is no climate crisis,” except to cite specific experts who disagree. Machogu has written that his research has led him to believe that climate change is mostly natural, posting on X ““Climate change is mostly natural. A warmer climate is good for life,” to which Silva blithely responds that Machogu, “wrongly claimed in a tweet posted in February, along with the hashtag #ClimateScam (which he has used hundreds of times).” Silva cites no evidence for his claim that Machogu’s claims about climate change being natural and a warmer world being good for life are wrong — where’s his proof? That, of course, would have been to engage in facts rather than deploying smarmy rhetoric.

The problem for Silva is, as Climate Realism has shown in hundreds of articles, there is no evidence whatsoever that climate change is making the world worse for humanity. In fact, people are living longer, more food is being produced, the earth is greening, and fewer people are dying from extreme weather and non-optimum temperatures than ever in history. In short, data strongly suggests that it is the poor farmer rather than the educated journalist who is right about climate change, a warmer climate is good for life. Once again, rather than disputing Mochogu’s claims with data, Silva then parrots a talking point that Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and its alleged effects “including more intense and frequent heatwaves, prolonged droughts, and devastating floods.” He provides no proof for these claims, either, because there is none.

Computer model projections may predict that Africa might someday suffer ill effects from climate change, and propagandist journalists may promote the idea every time some part of the continent is suffering from extreme weather, but real world data debunk such claims. The bulk of evidence show that Africa is not suffering from worse or more prolonged heatwaves, drought, or flooding, as covered in several posts by Climate Realism.

Machogu is also correct that greater fossil fuel development and use would benefit poor African nations, so long as they get to reap the benefits of having the products and energy security that fossil fuels provide, instead of having African fossil fuels exploited by corrupt governments or shipped off to energy-hungry Western nations. Silva attempts to head off this obvious point by quoting a Ugandan climate activist, writing that “fossil fuel exploration has not always been a synonym for growth and development in Africa.”

But this does not address the point at all. Just because some development has been exploitative doesn’t mean that Machogu is wrong.

Trying to stop Africans from using cheap, plentiful energy from fossil fuels makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to adapt to natural weather disasters. Similarly, as Machogu, who actually lives in a region where so-called “sustainable” farming practices dominate, points out, organic and non-mechanized farming are all fun and games when your life does not depend on it, but give lower yields and increase the threat of famine, as it did in Sri Lanka.

Modern synthetic fertilizers and fossil-fuel powered equipment have already helped African nations’ food production increase over time, reducing hunger and malnutrition, regardless of extreme weather events, as discussed here, here, and here. For a specific example, see African cereal yield data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization since just the 1990s. (See figure below)

Over the same period which has seen the most climate alarmism amid modest warming:

Cereal production rose 131 percent;

Yield rose 48 percent;

New all-time production records have been 7 times between 2011 to 2021.

To get an idea even further of the kind of dishonesty and underhanded tactics employed by Silva in his thread, take a look at this quote:

“When we spoke, Jusper told me his beliefs are shared by many people in Africa, but I found that most users engaging with his X account are actually based in the US, the UK, and Canada,” Silva wrote.

This is an obvious bait and switch that anyone with a functioning brain can see. Jusper Machogu has lived experience, every single day, with African sustenance farming communities outside of social media. There are far more Westerners with daily internet access than there are Africans that do; ironically, the former being yet another result of the Western world’s fossil fuel-based infrastructure.


Climate Alarmists Disrupt Congressional Baseball Game

Several arrests were made at the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity Wednesday night after people wearing ‘END FOSSIL FUELS’ teeshirts stormed the field at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The game, which raises money for local charities in the D.C. area, features Democrats and Republicans from the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Climate protesters chanted while holding signs that said “Stop playing games with our future,” and they wore shirts that said “End Fossil Fuels” before entering the field.

A group known as Climate Defiance took credit for the display in a tweet on X.

“Update: Eight of us have been arrested for shutting down the Congressional Baseball Game. They are behind bars now. Make no mistake: It’s the Members of Congress who should be locked up.”

The group also bragged on social media about its mission and delaying the game.

“We have taken the field at the Congressional Baseball Game + play has FROZEN! Congress sends billions of public $$ to subsidize deadly fossil fuels — but the police are tackling us instead. This Chevron-sponsored game cannot continue. This is unconscionable,” the group wrote.

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) promptly arrived and escorted the demonstrators out, and the game resumed. The USCP confirmed eight people were arrested.

“We are proud of our officers who are working to keep everyone safe during tonight’s Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. When eight people tried to protest on the field, our officers quickly stopped them and arrested them. The eight people are being charged with federal charges — Interference with a Member of the U.S. Capitol Police,” Capitol Police wrote in a statement on X.

A small group of anti-Israel protesters were also spotted in the crowd. The group unfurled a “Free Palestine” and Palestinian flag in the right field section near the foul post. The group’s message was met with boos from others in the stands.

It was not the first time the annual charity game has involved controversy.

Over the last several years, the event has drawn more attention after a gunman opened fire on Republicans at a ballpark for practice in 2017.


Clash of the Climateers


When Greenies fall out... One side is actually fairly realistic. The other side are off with the fairies

It’s the slugfest of the century — Australia’s top climate alarmist Dr Joelle Gergis duking it out with Anna-Maria Arabia, CEO of the Australian Academy of Science.

The green-Left Academy wants any challenge to its global warming panics to be censored by the federal apparatus – see Shut Them Up, Argues the Academy of Science. Hence I predict Ms Arabia will triumph by getting the impertinent Gergis cancelled as a climate denier.

At issue is “CCS” or carbon capture and storage. This means plucking CO2 out of industry and the atmosphere to achieve otherwise-unattainable net zero. The captured CO2, a plant food which the CSIRO admits has been lavishly greening the planet, has to be safely stored in repositories by the billion and even tens of billion tonnes a year. These CO2 jails must be locked up for thousands or even millions of years, say the Academy’s experts.[1]

But CCS is so much trillion-dollar bunk, as Joelle sets out to demonstrate. She’s playing Samson’s dangerous game — destabilising the Temple of Climate. This temple is already tottering in Europe as Germany et al recognise the havoc the Greens have caused their economies. Renewables are bunk too, not that Joelle would admit that. The climate models causing people to imagine “global boiling” and “highways to hell” are also bunk. As 2022 Nobel Prize winner in physics John Clauser puts it, “There is no correlation between temperature change and carbon dioxide – it is all a crock of crap.”[2]

In what the ABC would describe as “handbags at six paces”[3], the Arabia-Gergis stoush involves:

* For the Academy, its Roundtable Report of March 2023 on ” Greenhouse gas removal in Australia” and its submission to the feds last July espousing mind-blowing CCS targets. That submission is so silly I’ve banished it to this footnote [4], and will focus instead on the Roundtable.

* For Joelle, there’s her vast piece in June’s Quarterly Essay, which makes my wordy Quadrant effusions look like haikus. (Gergis occupies 88 pages of the 122-page issue). She took a break from climate catastrophism to study creative writing, and another break from her ANU senior lectureship to sit in the dark-green Australia Institute for months as writer-in-residence to pen her essay.[5] The Institute is a Siamese twin of the Greens Party[6] . Joelle has now emerged to title her handiwork “Highway to Hell: Climate Change and Australia’s Future.”[7]

In her essay Joelle for once takes a view I agree with, that CCS is a stupid scam with not even the chance of an ice-cream in hell of getting us to the broad sunlit uplands of net zero. More on her CCS demolition down the track.

The Academy, however, trusts CCS as the magic bullet to save the planet from computer-modelled fiery damnation in 2100. In general, the Academy wants Labor’s anti-emissions targets to be made something like twice as fierce. Instead of one giant 7MW windmill being built per day to 2030 (Albo’s scheme), the Academy logically wants two a day. And instead of 22,000 made-in-China solar panels installed per day, it wants circa 40,000 a day. Climate Minister Chris Bowen’s wind farms and power lines are flattening forests and blighting landscapes. The Academy’s brought-forward emissions targets would at least double the damage.

In trying to square the circle on net zero, the Academy’s experts have come up with what I’d call the “Kittylitter Leapthrough”. It involves methane, CO2’s greenhouse pal, (formula CH4, according to Mr Walter House, my despairing chemistry teacher in 1956). At the roundtable, experts suggested that zeolite, kittylitter’s cheap ingredient ($US140 per tonne), might be engineered on a planetary scale to mop excess methane (p15).

The Roundtable was run by Academy President Chennupati Jagadish AC , who thought the Academy’s “independence and convening power made us an ideal host for a roundtable on novel negative emissions approaches for Australia.” He foresaw Australia as a CCS research – or maybe kittylitter — superpower.[8]

A list on page 28 shows that every one of the 18 round-tablers, by invitation, were drawn from the university/CSIRO/govt sectors (12 professors among them). There was not one person from industry. They dreamed of breakthroughs unimpeded by costs or commercial technology. Their suggestions include, with my comments below

1/ Trains that capture CO2 while travelling between mine sites, to be stored subsequently at mine sites.

Does anyone remember that 268-waggon BHP train in the Pilbara that lost its driver five years ago and travelled 100km at up to 160kph before its $300-million pile-up? Imagine such a runaway train dragging captured CO2. Would Gina Hancock, who thinks climate doomism is propaganda, convert her Roy Hill trains to CO2 courier duties?.

2/ Ocean alkalinity enhancement – Addition of alkalinity-enhancing substance generated from mine tailings and other waste.

I’m not sure that whales, sardines, octopi and clown fish cavorting in the Great Barrier Reef would welcome a gazillion tonnes of mine tailings. The roundtablers’ stream of consciousness continued,

4/ Ocean farming (e.g., kelp, seagrass) for CO2 capture…

Ocean storage: – Biomass in the ocean , e.g., seaweed that sinks to the deep ocean, Blue carbon[9], Deep ocean storage.

5/ Injecting in the atmosphere “iron-salt aerosols – iron-containing particles that enhance natural methane sinks by mimicking natural reactions caused by mineral dust particles.

Not content with re-jigging the oceans, the tax-funded boffins also contemplate rehashing our atmosphere. I guess the ivory-tower crowd likes to think big!

6/ Integrating carbon capture into current structural materials and systems, e.g., building materials can perform a dual role as carbon capture surfaces or retrofitting HVAC [heating, ventilation and air cooling] systems to provide capture function.

My villa unit has its Hitachi split-system HVAC motor in the front garden. Its concrete pad is tilting in the mud and the box has quite a lean. Could someone from the Roundtable please drop by, convert my HVAC to airborne CO2 capture, and straighten the lean while they’re at it?.

7/ DAC [direct air capture] used to accelerate biomass production (e.g., bamboo) with a view to use in cross laminated timber as a large-scale replacement/augmentation for steel structures in buildings.

I foresee the CFMEU’s John Setka enforcing a “bamboo site allowance” of $20 an hour on Melbourne’s high-rise jobs. As I write, I hum a tune from my teens which, as I recall, goes

On the windier days, Seems an orchestra plays
On a musical breeze for you;
Like a merry salute From a heavenly flute
To the tower of singing bamboo.

TIME now,as promised, for Joelle’s hatchet job on the delusions of the Academy and its September 2022 Roundtable.[10]

Her Quarterly Essay dubs CCS “a fool’s errand that will only lead to delay and failure (p81)…a disastrous gamble (p12)…the fantasy get-out-of-jail-free card that threatens to ruin us (p50). If we buy into these delusions, we will be in very deep trouble.” (p51) Here’s why, she explains (p56-61):

* In the past 30 years 80 per cent of all CCS pilot projects have flopped.

* “To achieve global targets, approximately 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide need to be stored each year by 2030, growing to 10 billion tonnes per annum by 2050.”

* The 41 operational CCS projects in 2023 store less than 10m tonnes of CO2 a year (according to UNEP) or 49m tonnes (according to CCS industry-group figures – Joelle suggests the latter mob are lying, which is normal for green lobbies). Joelle herself is on the Climate Council. She’s mentored there by council chief Tim Flannery, who’s still waiting for his 2004 prediction to bear fruit about my birthplace Perth becoming a waterless ghost town.

* Given total human-caused emissions last year alone were 41 billion tonnes, CCS would need to be boosted by 1000 times to do any climate-solving.

* “Offshore CCS has added dangers of acidifying marine environments, contaminating groundwater, inducing earthquakes and the displacement of toxic brine deposits. The true risks of the hazards of the offshore CCS industry are yet to be fully scientifically and technically assessed, let alone comprehensively regulated… embarking on such a risky path for such little gain is spectacularly illogical.”

* To achieve net zero by 2050, the CCS industry would need to suck up investment worth $US655b to $US1.3 trillion ($A2 trillion or $2,000,000,000,000). Even with that, a commercial CCS plant takes ten years to build so don’t expect wonders by 2050.

A cynic might say that with CCS advocacy, the Academy is pushing a no-lose position for its 700 Fellows. If it works, they save (we hope) the planet. If it doesn’t, well the basic research costing eight or even nine-figure amounts won’t have been wasted in enhancing the Fellows’ lifestyles. There would be lavishly-staffed Centres of CCS Excellence, university promotions and job security, multi-million lab gear approvals, King’s Birthday honours and all that, plus jetting to prestigious conferences.

Also, CCS is not just a job-ticket for boffins who can do maths and engineering — there would likely be near-unlimited CCS funding for artsy hangers-on like Jungians researching the psyches of Joelle and other CCS-deniers; CCS angles re LGBTQI+s, feminists and Aboriginal main-chancers[11]; and CCS strategies expressed in gouache and dance (enjoy!). All this stuff is already affixed like sucker-fish to the mainstream “climate science” shark.

I’d better add that Joelle’s anti-CCS crusade is to stop Albanese from pussy-footing around on emissions, and harden up the progressives’ ruinous anti-fossil-fuel fatwas. Nothing but an immediate crackdown on fossil-fuel use and any new petroleum/coal projects will satisfy Joelle.

I do worry that exposing these schisms among the climate-crazy set could set back my good relations with Academy President Jagadish. He’s already cross with, I believe, other journos for disrespecting the Academy’s wisdom. He wrote to his Fellows last August that “undermining science undermines us all”. Those rogue journos “seek to twist the truth to suit their agenda”, he complained, continuing

We have witnessed the seeding and dissemination of uncertainty throughout the years—to postpone the regulation of tobacco consumption, to continue the use of lead in petrol, to obstruct vaccination during the ongoing pandemic, or to prevent action on climate change to list a few.

His next paragraph had me scratching my head. He seemed to suggest that blaming a Wuhan lab-leak for the global Covid disaster was a “deliberate undermining of public trust in science [and] conspiracy and fearmongering.” [12] I thought Xi Jin-Ping’s incendiary reaction and billion-dollar trade bans over PM Morrison’s mild call for a Covid-origins inquiry were a clue. And indeed, evidence for the lab-leak origin is compounding every day. US intelligence agencies with their vast resources are split or uncertain about the Wuhan lab-leak theory: at least one of these agencies, judging by Jagadish’s comment, must be conspiring and fear-mongering. What on earth’s going on at the Academy?




Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Floating Wind Madness in Maine

Good God!

The Government of Maine has really big plans for floating wind, a floating net zero fantasy, in fact. Since floating wind power is the next big green thing, it is worth taking a close look at this ruinous vision.

Floating wind is a fad, not an established technology. It has yet to be built at utility scale or tested in a hurricane. The world’s biggest grid-connected system is a tiny 50 MW and just came online off Scotland.

The cost of floating wind is necessarily much greater than fixed wind. A fixed wind tower sits on a simple monopile, while a floating tower sits on a huge complex structure called a floater. We are talking about massive 500-foot towers with 500-ton turbines on top and 300-foot blades catching the wind.

The floater has to be large enough to keep this monster tower from blowing over. Then, it has to be even bigger to contain enough air to be buoyant. It also has to be anchored to the ocean floor in ways that require a lot of different mooring lines.

The small existing floating generator systems cost around three times what fixed wind costs per MW, but the big and hurricane-proof generators might cost even more. Over a hundred designs have been proposed, which shows just how immature Floating wind technology is.

Which brings us to Maine’s floating green dream, a costly nightmare for its people. When it comes to electricity use, Maine is a small state with average generation of just around 1,500 MW. But in an act of madness, they passed a law saying they will buy 3,000 MW of floating wind. Fixed wind is not an option because the Gulf of Maine is too deep.

How do they justify buying so much floating wind? Simple, it is a net zero fantasy. They have a 115-page “Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap” that explains it.

For a start, they shut down all their existing combustion generators, mostly burning either gas or wood. Maine is 90% forest, so there is a lot of wood. Then, they electrify all the other forms of combustion. For example, 60% of homes are heated with fuel oil, so they switch to heat pumps or something that works in really cold weather. Of course, all the cars and trucks are electric.

The projected cost of the 3,000 MW of floating wind is huge. Using the reported three times fixed wind figure, I get a rough estimate of $50 billion for construction and an equal amount for financing and profit, giving a total cost of around $100 billion. It could be a lot more once large-scale and hurricane-proof technology is developed if it ever is.

Apparently, the astronomical cost is no object because it is never mentioned. Not in the law, roadmap, or various technical support documents. Jobs are frequently mentioned, but they are part of the cost. But then, too, there is the much larger cost of the energy transition, without which the floating wind is simply not usable.

Clearly, the floating wind development may never occur, which brings us back to the present day, where things get really crazy. The State of Maine has started the process to build a huge new port specifically to handle this floating wind fantasy. I am not making this up.

With fixed wind, the shore facility is merely a marshaling yard where the pieces are held until barged out to the offshore site for assembly. There are just four big pieces: the monopile, tower, turbine, and blade set.

Floating wind is completely different because the huge floater is built at the port. The tower, turbines, and blade set are mounted on the floater there as well. Then, the whole assembly is towed to the site and anchored to the sea floor using eight or more mooring lines.

So this is really a highly specialized shipyard, a floater factory, not a port. There will have to be one or more dry docks to build the huge floaters in, plus a great deal of specialized equipment, especially cranes. Reportedly, steel floaters for a 15 MW turbine could typically weigh 3500 to 4500 tons, while concrete floaters would be in the range of 17,000 to 22,000 tons.

The final configuration is completely unknown until the floater design is finalized. Note, too, that this shipyard might only be in operation for the few years it takes to build 3,000 MW of floating wind generators.

The presently estimated cost of this shipyard/port is a bit under a billion dollars but it could easily be more depending on the complexity of the design. The cost of a unique new system tends to go way up when the engineering is actually done.

Starting this billion-dollar port project now is just foolish. It is highly likely that the required energy transition will not occur. The electricity will be very expensive, perhaps four to five times the present cost. Plus, we have no idea what the technology will look like, assuming it can be made to work in the tempestuous waters off Maine.

The people of Maine are unlikely to accept these onerous conditions, nor should they. This whole nutty project needs to be reconsidered.


BBC Hails Green Election Letter From “408 Climate Scientists” Signed By Psychologists, Accountants And Landscape Designers

An open letter to all political leaders currently fighting a General Election in the U.K. calling for an “ambitious” programme of green policies has been signed by 408 climate activists.

The BBC refers to “the most distinguished of the country’s” climate scientists; Bob Ward, who organised the petition through the billionaire-funded Grantham operation, tweeted, “be ambitious on climate, scientists urge parties”, while James ‘the climate clock is ticking’ Murray from Business Green stepped up a gear by referring to “top scientists“.

Scientists, you say? The first ‘scientist’ in the alphabetical list is an Associate Professor of Accounting, the second is a geographer specialising in “disaster risk reduction”, while the third is an archaeologist.

The green Grantham stunt is of course the latest in a long line of attempts to suggest that most ‘scientists’ believe humans control the climate. The letter refers to “growing damage to lives and livelihoods” in the U.K. caused by increases in the frequency and intensity of many extreme weather events.

This evidence-lite but ubiquitous assertion is not even backed up by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which finds there has been no human involvement in most natural events such as floods, droughts, wildfires and cyclones to date. Nor is human involvement detected in forecasts stretching to 2100.

There are some academics who have signed the letter who can be fairly described as scientists, but the vast majority would struggle to justify such a title. The list is littered with lawyers, psychologists, philosophers, landscape designers, engineers and computer modellers.

One interesting take from the letter is to note how many ways a university Geography Department can be renamed to capitalise on the climate zeitgeist. A similar ‘scientists’ stunt was pulled last month by Damian Carrington in the Guardian, who polled 400 so-called scientists and in an ocean of emotional guff concluded the world is heading towards a “semi dystopian” future.

Signed up for both agitprop operations is Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, who is described as the Director for U.K. Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation. A more enlightening CV might note that she is an “environmental psychologist” whose first degree was in theology and religious studies with French.

Perhaps Marco Silva, the BBC Verify climate ‘disinformation’ specialist, could cast a critical eye over the Ward letter when he returns at the end of the month from his six-month re-education sabbatical at the billionaire-funded Oxford Climate Journalism Network (OCJN).

One or two signing names might be familiar to him, including Saffron O’Neill, described as a Professor of “Climate and Society”.

She is a past speaker at the OCJN and is noted for speculating on the need for “fines and imprisonment” for expressing scepticism about “well supported” science.

Would any scientist seriously sign up for such a policy knowing that it would destroy the ongoing scientific process?

A process, it might be noted, that has served humanity so well, certainly since the time Pope Urban VIII played the ‘well supported’ argument and cut up rough with Galileo and his heretical view that the Earth orbited the Sun.

The Ward letter is a Grantham operation and is ultimately funded by the green billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham. Two Grantham Institutes are funded at the London School of Economics and Imperial, where a computer model ‘attribution’ operation is used to garner headlines with implausible claims that humans have caused individual weather events.

Investigate science journalist Ben Pile has tracked some of the major contributions made by Grantham up to 2021.

As well as significant sums paid to LSE and Imperial, there are major contributions dispersed to other green foundations that crop up all the time when there are global Net Zero collectivisation narratives to be spun in the media, politics and academia.

Jeremy Grantham has a long track record of preaching about the coming apocalypse, asking a 2019 meeting in Copenhagen, “what should I do, you say?” He met his rhetorical question by advising:

You should lobby your Government officials – invest in an election and buy some politicians. I am happy to say we do quite a bit of that at the Grantham Foundation… any candidate as long as they are green.

Ward is employed by Grantham at LSE to “communicate” climate science, notes journalist Matt Ridley. For years he complained to the newspaper industry’s self-regulator IPSO about climate articles that took a sceptical line.

It was part of a campaign of “sustained and deliberate” pressure put on editors to toe the alarmist line, states Ridley. Ward tied journalists down in a time-consuming process in the hope it deterred them and their editors from writing and commissioning work.

It worked, observed Ridley, noting, “he has frightened away some journalists and editors from the vital topic of climate change, leaving the catastrophists with a clear field to scare children to their heart’s content”.


Home insulation is the latest net zero farce

Zoe Godrich of Swansea might best be described as collateral damage in Britain’s glorious march towards net zero. Three years ago, she had her three-bedroom home fitted with cavity-wall insulation – which the government is out to encourage through its Great British Insulation Scheme. Sadly for her, it has not worked out quite as intended.

With Labour now promising billions more to retrofit homes with this kind of stuff, what could possibly go wrong?

Within weeks of having it fitted, Godrich says her walls started to run with water, and black mould started to form on her walls. She can no longer use two of her bedrooms, and she and her children now have to slum it on mattresses in the one remaining habitable room. The company which installed the insulation also went bust and the guarantee for the work turned out to be useless. Her only option seemed to be having the insulation sucked out of the wall – for which she had to borrow £7,000 to have done. That work turned out to be botched, too.

Godrich’s experience, it turns out, seems to be becoming commonplace. Twenty miles away in Rhondda Cynon Taff, 280 homes had to have cavity-wall insulation removed after it made their walls damp. The BBC is reporting that Ofgem has told it that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of homes which have been fitted with cavity-wall insulation have been left with problems due to it being badly fitted. There are an estimated 15 million homes in Britain which have such insulation fitted – many of them courtesy of subsidy schemes launched by the present government and the last Labour government.

But if there is a lesson here, it is one that our leaders seem determined not to learn. While the present government has launched its Great British Insulation Scheme, which aims to insulate 300,000 households in a three-year period from last March at a cost of £1 billion, Labour is promising to go much further. Under its Warm Homes Plan, every home in Britain would be brought up to the standard of a ‘C’ on an Energy Performance Certificate over the next decade – using loft insulation, cavity-wall insulation and solid-wall insulation. A Treasury analysis suggests that it would cost taxpayers between £12 billion and £15 billion a year for the next 10 years. According to Labour, it will save households £500 a year on bills – unless, presumably, they have the same experience as Zoe Godrich and many others, in which case they may find themselves having to take out emergency loans to put right botched work.

It is possible to retrofit old houses properly to bring them closer to the energy performance standards of new homes, but it is also possible to damage them through such work. This is as true of solid-wall insulation as it is of cavity-wall insulation. Linda Griffiths of Carmarthenshire found that out the hard way, when she spend £30,000 fitting it to her home, partly with the aid of a £10,000 grant from another government scheme, the Energy Company Obligation. She, too, ended up with damp – and was left complaining that her home had been devalued by £100,000.

With Labour now promising billions more to retrofit homes with this kind of stuff, what could possibly go wrong? As with so much to do with net zero, reason seems to go out of the window as governments seek to meet their rashly-set targets.


Origin Energy warns costs and public support are inhibitors to nuclear power in Australia

Needless controversy from Dutton

The Coalition’s nuclear strategy will have to overcome high costs and community acceptance if it is to play a part of the country’s future National Electricity Market, Origin Energy chief executive Frank Calabria has warned.

The comments underscore the significant challenges that the Coalition will need to overcome if it to implement its signature energy policy, which is says will reduce the toll of the transition net zero by 2050 on households and businesses.

Mr Calabria said the industry is agnostic to technologies underpinning the country’s electricity market, but said nuclear has some sizeable hurdles, and it does not offer an immediate solution.

“There’s obviously also the public debate that’s going to go on about the acceptance of nuclear, and we would have to watch that as well. We’re not in control of that,” said Mr Calabria.

“The experience today around the world if you’re building a new one, it’s very expensive, but there are now new modular technology around the technologies that are being certainly development and research and that’s going to be something that continues, and we all look at that with interest.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has flagged seven potential sites, including AGL Energy’s Liddell Power Station in NSW and Loy Yang in Victoria and EnergyAustralia’s Mount Piper Power Station in NSW. The Coalition has also earmarked Western Australia’s Collie Power Station and South Australia’s Northern facility and Callide and Tarong in Queensland.

Australia’s energy industry has been careful to comment on the proposal amid concern of alienating a potential future government, but AGL Energy has rebuked the suggestion.

The most directly impacted companies did not immediately respond to the proposal, but AGL’s chief executive Damien Nicks In March said nuclear was not viable.

“There is no viable schedule for the regulation or development of nuclear energy in Australia, and the cost, build time and public opinion are all prohibitive,” Mr Nicks said.

“AGL’s ambition to add 12GW of new renewable and firming generation by 2035 does not include nuclear energy. Policy certainty is important for companies like AGL and ongoing debate on the matter runs the risk of unnecessarily complicating the long-term investment decisions necessary for the energy transition.”

While AGL has vowed to push ahead with its renewable energy strategy, Australia faces a looming shortfall.

The Australian Energy Market Operator estimates that the country’s coal power station fleet is likely to have been retired within 15 years, a fact acknowledged by Mr Calabria.

“We’ve got coal plants that are coming to very long into their lives, so we can talk about years, but they’re not going to be there,” Mr Calabria said.

“For decades, we are going to have a coal transition, but that’s all around timing. And so therefore, what we’re doing is, therefore having to make the investments and navigate that as a country to achieve what’s the best blend of technologies that does that?”

While Australia’s energy industry has been considered, Treasurer Jim Chalmers slammed the Opposition’s energy policy as the “dumbest policy ever put forward by a major political party” and accused the Coalition of “ideological stupidity”.

He said the Albanese government’s policy “couldn’t be more different to the economic madness, which is being peddled by our opponents today”.

“We are expecting to hear a bit more about the Coalition’s nuclear road to nowhere.

“With Australia’s advantages and opportunities, nothing could be more economically irrational, or fiscally irresponsible. Nuclear takes longer. It costs more, and it would waste Australia’s unique combination of geological, geographical, geopolitical and media illogical advantages.

“It might be the dumbest policy ever put forward by a major political party. It is the worst combination of economic and ideological stupidity.”

Energy now shapes as a defining theme of the election due by May 2025, with a diametrically opposed strategies threatening to create more policy uncertainty.

Mr Calabria said there was “certainly more” certainty today than five years ago as to the government’s position on renewable energy but said clarity was needed on the federal Labor’s centrepiece Capacity Investment Scheme.

“There’s certainly more in terms of where they want those renewable zones to be constructed and where they will be built,” he said. “And there’s more certainty in our role now … as you approach timing, and we’ve just committed for a gigawatt of batteries to be installed on our existing sites, and we see those have matured as being part of a solution.

“I think there are still some things that need to happen in terms of timing on transmission, timing on when those builds will occur. And probably the capacity investment scheme is the key one where they’ve announced that scheme, but we’re just waiting. More details need to be developed.”




Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The renewable green energy disaster off the northeastern US is getting worse Less than one per cent of the way to the Biden 2030 target

A slow-motion collapse in the offshore wind industry continues to grow as sticky inflation and supply chain challenges force developers to delay or cancel major projects. In particular, progress towards the Biden administration’s goal of building large amounts of floating wind off the northeastern US coast is just about stalled.

Shell, which invested in a series of offshore wind projects in recent years, including offshore the northeastern United States, announced last week it would lay off much of its offshore wind business staff as the oil giant advances its program of refocusing on its core oil and gas business.

“We are concentrating on select markets and segments to deliver the most value for our investors and customers,” a Shell spokesperson told Bloomberg. “Shell is looking at how it can continue to compete for offshore wind projects in priority markets while maintaining our focus on performance, discipline and simplification.”

Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa announced even bigger layoffs, saying it would cut 15 per cent of its global staff to adjust to a slowing market. The announcement comes after the company reported a €4.6 billion loss for 2023, a losing trend that has continued over the first half of 2024.

“Our current situation demands adjustments that go beyond organizational changes. We have to adapt to lower business volumes, reduced activity in non-core markets, and a streamlined portfolio,” said outgoing CEO Jochen Eickholt in a letter to staff.

On May 29 came survey results compiled by London-based energy consultancy Westwood indicating the global floating offshore wind industry is likely to deliver less than 3 gigawatts (GW) of new floating generation capacity by 2030, and a total of roughly 10 GW by 2040. Westwood cites lack of standardization of floating technology (55 per cent), manufacturing capability and capacity (51 per cent) and port infrastructure (50 per cent) as the primary impediments.

In light of the industry’s gloomy outlook, Westwood notes that “calls are ringing out for governments to provide more specific policy and regulatory support for technology development in addition to cost reduction and investment in port infrastructure to accelerate adoption.”

This is completely predictable, since the voracious rent-seeking wind business invariably calls for more government largesse in response to any challenge that arises. Unfortunately, the call is too often answered by policymakers who have made big political bets on being able to show off arrays of mammoth windmills floating atop various oceans and seas, intermittently producing some electricity – generally 25-30 per cent of nominal plant capacity over time.

This latest bad news for offshore wind could become especially troublesome for US President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, since he has invested so much of his personal political capital in pushing a major buildout of floating offshore wind in the Atlantic northeast. A 2023 Department of Energy fact sheet sets the administration’s goal of installing 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 for the US alone, exceeding Westwood’s just estimated potential for global new capacity by that year by a factor of 10 times over.

To date, regulators under Biden have approved permits for 6 major offshore projects, several of which have already been delayed or cancelled by developers in response to tougher economic factors. In late 2023, major Danish wind developer Orsted cancelled two projects off the Atlantic coast, and Shell divested its 50 per cent stake in another in March of this year. Equinor and BP announced in January they were cancelling plans for their Empire Wind 2 project, citing similar economic concerns.

One US offshore project, Vineyard Wind 1, was able to begin delivering its intermittent 25-30 per cent of 68 megawatts (MW) to Massachusetts residents in January with the activation of 5 offshore turbines. The South Fork Wind Project was also able to commence first deliveries into New York in March, with 12 turbines capable of generating some proportion of 130 MW.

But this is less than one per cent of the Biden goal of 30 GW, with just five and a half years remaining until 2030. Given the wind industry’s insatiable appetite for ever-increasing subsidies and constantly rising utility charges, it’s an open question how many more billions of dollars the federal government will be allowed to print to keep projects alive before the voters start to rebel at the cost.

It’s a rebellion that could commence as soon as this coming November.


As Climate Lawsuits Increase Against Oil and Gas, So Could Energy Costs

As U.S. oil, gas, and coal companies struggle under an array of regulations and permitting roadblocks, they also face new challenges from climate activists in the form of lawsuits, fines, taxes, and shareholder activism from blue-state pension funds.

Meanwhile, U.S. states increasingly are set against each other, with liberal states leading the charge against fossil fuel companies, while red states attempt to defend them.

Starting in 2018, states including New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, and California, as well as the District of Columbia, began filing lawsuits against energy giants ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Sunoco, BP, and others.

Oil companies also face legal action from dozens of cities, including Honolulu; Chicago; Baltimore; New York City; Charleston, South Carolina; San Francisco; Oakland, California; and Boulder, Colorado.

Analysts say there are multiple goals driving these suits.

“It’s partly ideological, trying to drive these companies out of business,” Kenny Stein, policy vice president at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Epoch Times. He also said he believes it has to do with consumers’ use of fossil fuels.

“These governments are trying to mandate that people use less oil and less natural gas, but people want to heat their homes as much as they want, they want to drive as far as they want,” Mr. Stein said. “If the state banned the sale of oil, the population would revolt, so this is their backdoor way of trying to impose their will.”

Many of the climate lawsuits assert that pollution caused by oil companies creates a “public nuisance” and the companies intentionally deceived the public about the harmful effects when they caused global temperatures to rise.

The activist organization Climate Analytics tried to calculate the alleged damages.

“Between 1985 and 2018, we estimate partial damages of the combined CO2 emissions from 25 companies—oil and gas carbon majors—of about $20 trillion USD,” Climate Analytics states.
Meanwhile, on May 30, Vermont became the first state to pass a law that forces oil companies to pay for damage caused by “extreme weather events,” such as floods. According to this law, Vermont will tally the cost to residents of extreme weather events over the past 30 years; any company that has released more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 from 1995 to 2024 will be forced to pay its share of that cost into a state climate superfund.

But it’s not just about money.

“This is simply a strategy for the left to accomplish what they’ve been unable to do in Congress through the ballot box, and that is to implement a nationwide climate policy that’s consistent with their green agenda,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Marshall and 18 other attorneys general—all from red states—appealed to the Supreme Court on May 22, asking the justices to rule on whether individual states and cities can “assert the power to dictate the future of the American energy industry.

“Their actions imperil access to affordable energy everywhere and inculpate every State and indeed every person on the planet,” the attorneys general wrote. “Consequently, [they] threaten not only our system of federalism and equal sovereignty among States, but our basic way of life.”

States are not just suing oil and gas companies; they are also lodging climate-related lawsuits against food companies.

In February, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued JBS USA Food Co., a U.S. subsidiary of the Brazil-based JBS Group, the world’s largest meat processor, alleging that the firm misled the public about its environmental impact and that “beef production emits the most greenhouse gasses of any major food commodity.”

The Climate Litigation Industry

The potential for enormous payouts from these lawsuits has attracted not only a seemingly endless supply of plaintiffs, but also numerous law firms and even wealthy investors who are placing bets that the lawsuits will succeed.
The plan to potentially wrest trillions of dollars out of energy companies has been developing for more than a decade. A 2012 workshop hosted by the Climate Accountability Institute sought to draw on prior successes that states had in suing tobacco companies.

A post-conference recap of the workshop stated that the group had fostered “an exploratory, open-ended dialogue“ about whether it might ”use the lessons from tobacco-related education, laws, and litigation to address climate change.”


Global Pushback Against the Greens

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has proclaimed fossil-fuel companies “godfathers of climate chaos,” but many Europeans, Africans, and Americans clearly disagree. They’ve shown recently what they think of the green agenda of costly renewables and instead support politicians who will let them keep their cars.

In elections for the European Parliament, a good number of Europeans joined the pushback that has already begun in the U.S and South Africa against the green-energy movement. Right-wing parties in Italy, Germany, and France, all with platforms opposing the green agenda, fared strikingly well.

French President Emmanuel Macron called national elections after Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party, which supports fossil fuels, gained 12 seats and won 31% of the vote: a plurality, and about twice the total achieved by Macron’s Renaissance Party.

Major losers in the European parliamentary elections included Renew Europe, the party that boasts “it has played a leading role in raising the European Union’s ambitions to reach climate neutrality by 2050,” and the European Greens Party, which seeks a green deal and wants the union to be powered 100% by renewable energy by 2040.

On June 5, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, indefinitely postponed New York City’s planned “congestion charge,” or tax, which was originally set to go in effect June 30. Had it been implemented, drivers would have been required to pay $15 per day to enter Manhattan’s central business district below 60th Street.

New York expected to raise $1 billion a year from drivers to fund public transit, although one congressional report commissioned by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., forecast revenues of over $3.4 billion.

Proponents said that the tax would improve air quality, reduce congestion, and fund public transit, but it would have disproportionately hurt small businesses, poor residents, and others who rely on personal transportation.

The tax would also have been harsh on older and handicapped people, many of whom can’t take public transit. And at a time when working from home has been hitting the economy of downtown Manhattan, it would have been an additional reason for office workers to forsake the city.

The Big Apple is fortunate to have escaped this outcome. There was vast resistance to the new tax, and Hochul was wise to cancel it. People don’t like to be without their cars, and she listened.

Virginia residents escaped a similar outcome recently, as Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin decided not to abide by California’s new Advanced Clean Cars II standards. Passed in 2022, the standards require 35% of new passenger vehicles sold in the Golden State to be electric or hydrogen-fueled by 2026 and 100% to be electric or hydrogen-fueled by 2035. Virginia will comply with federal law rather than California law.

Virginia’s prior governor, Ralph Northam, a Democrat, had required that the commonwealth embrace the 2021 automobile standards of the California Air Resources Board, which would have mandated that a certain share of auto dealers’ sales in 2025 be battery-powered cars. The 2022 standards are stricter but were passed after Virginia (and 15 other states) had signed on to California’s 2021 standards.

Virginia is the first state to walk away from California’s 2022 standards, and it will encourage others to do the same. People need affordable, reliable transportation for personal and business use. Electric tractors can’t substitute for diesel-powered ones. Small businesses rely on gasoline-powered pickup trucks that can tow equipment without having to stop for an hour or two to recharge during long trips. Construction workers need inexpensive cars to get to work. And this is a global reality.

In the South African general elections last month, the African National Congress won only 40% of the popular vote, failing to secure a majority for the first time since the party’s 1994 founding. Although South Africa has vast supplies of coal and gas, blackouts have damaged the economy and contributed to the ANC government’s unpopularity.

Unplanned outages rose from 176,000 in 2007 to almost 20 million in 2023. Between 2012 and 2022, South Africa’s gross domestic product per capita declined by 17%, from $8,174 to $6,766, and manufacturing output decreased by almost a third. The latest official unemployment rate is 32.9%.

South Africa’s new government will need to ensure a reliable energy supply to revive the country’s manufacturing sector and reduce unemployment.

Fossil fuels are demonized by the secretary-general of the United Nations, but they enable people to heat and cool their homes, operate their vehicles, and use electrical appliances reliably. And resilient sources of fuel are essential to many countries’ manufacturing sectors.

Voters know this, and they are making themselves heard all over the world.


Australia: A price to pay for climate change fantasy

Peter Dutton and Ted O’Brien haven’t reignited the climate wars, as Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen claim. The climate wars never went away and they are being waged all over the world. It’s just that almost everything you hear about climate policy in the official and semi-official discussion in Australia is basically misleading, if not outright wrong.

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted, in the serene and beguiling Japanese city of that name, in 1997, 27 years ago. Kyoto itself built on the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. So for more than three decades the world has been decarbonising, right?

We’ve had many solemn moments and announcements, especially the 2015 Paris Agreement. Dutton says he would abandon Australia’s 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent, but he’s committed to honouring the Paris pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. He wants to do it in part by building nuclear energy.

In truth Australia, whether led by Albanese or Dutton, is a very, very minor player in all this, being responsible for a tick over 1 per cent of global emissions. Every Labor leader since Kyoto, and quite a few Liberal leaders, has told us the world is decarbonising. Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, early in the life of the Albanese government, caused a ripple of concern by rejoicing in the fact that coal was being phased out globally.

So after three decades of decarbonising, how is the world going in phasing out fossil fuels, to wit, gas, oil and coal?

Let’s start with gas. Everyone except the Greens understands that gas is, at the very least, a critical transition technology.

Much of the reduction in the carbon intensity of economies – that is, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of production – has come from substituting gas for coal and oil.

Nonetheless, after 30 years of relentless decarbonisation, you’d expect a pretty severe drop in gas use. Actually, according to the International Energy Agency, consumption of natural gas is at or just near its record high. The rate of growth of demand has slowed but demand is still growing.

Well, that’s a bit of a surprise. What about oil, that must be well down, with fuel efficiency standards, the global campaign for electric vehicles, the decline of oil in power generation?

Guess what. Last year, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration, world use of oil was at a record high, higher than the peak before the Covid pandemic, at more than 100 million barrels a day. Not only that, the US under pro-green Joe Biden produced more crude oil, more than 13 million barrels a day, than any country has ever done.

Oil production dipped in the global financial crisis of 2008 and again during Covid. But it’s now roaring ahead, stronger than ever.

But surely the US constantly lectures everyone else about climate change, the dangers of fossil fuels etc. How is that consistent with record crude oil production? Bear that thought in mind, for it’s a clue to the wider reality.

OK, so we’ve struck out in looking for global reductions in gas and oil, but obviously coal use must be well down. I have myself caused something near pandemonium by suggesting on the ABC’s Q+A and on Insiders that coal has a future as well as a past. It was as though a leading atheist had infiltrated the Spanish Inquisition. So now I must face the truth about coal. Surely its use has declined?

But what do you know? According to the IEA: “Global coal consumption reached an all-time high in 2022, and the world is heading towards a new record in 2023.”

Advanced economies such as the US and the EU are using less coal but, says the IEA, “the growth in China and India, as well as Indonesia, Vietnam and The Philippines, will more than offset these decreases on a global level”. And the price of coal, at $US140 a tonne, is very healthy.

That’s a good thing because our top three export earners are coal, iron ore and gas. We couldn’t afford any fancy green measures, or Medicare, or the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or anything else, without the minerals industry.

According to the IEA, fossil fuels make up about 80 per cent of global energy, just a tick under their level 10 years ago.

So how has the world been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions for so long, with these fossil fuels all reaching record production and consumption levels? Well, actually, the world hasn’t been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Oops again. Another surprise. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, greenhouse gas levels are rising again, and reached record levels last year. The IEA’s own figures, and studies from Stanford and other universities, confirm this.

None of the foregoing bears on the question of what should be happening. But our debates ought to start with reality. What is happening in the world is more or less the opposite of what the government and the climate change propaganda agencies tell us is happening.

How often have you heard any of the facts above in the Australian climate debate? The debate is overwhelmingly dominated by people who are so committed to the idea of Australia taking radical action that they insist on pretending radical action is being taken globally.

The developed countries are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the developed countries are no longer the big story. China is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter by far. It accounts for more than 29 per cent of global emissions, more than the US and EU put together. The top 10 emitters are: China, the US, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Iran, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Of those only two, the US and Japan, are rich, developed countries. Almost none of the others has binding targets or any commitment to when their emissions will even peak.

Indonesia is a fascinating case. Like China, it has a goal of net zero by 2060. It has nearly 280 million people and is still a poor country. It has more than 250 operational coal-fired power plants. It has an international deal to retire some of them early. Well, that seems to be progress, you might argue.

Except that it also has an out clause that says plants that have already been approved, or “captive” plants that don’t feed directly into the grid but only power an industrial park or a specific project, or are concerned with National Strategic Projects, can go ahead. There are 40 plants under construction and more in pre-approval.

Recently, Indonesia has had huge success expanding its nickel production. In 2020, Jakarta banned the export of unrefined nickel. Like Australia, it has a lot of nickel. It didn’t want to dig it up and ship it overseas. It wanted refining and processing to take place within Indonesia.

This move defied every tenet of orthodox economics and was almost universally criticised by international commentators (including me). Yet as so often, reality doesn’t conform to the textbook.

Indonesia’s move worked. It attracted Chinese partners who also bought the product. Low-grade nickel is used to make steel. High-class nickel is used for very sexy products like lithium-ion batteries. A bit like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, low-class nickel can be transformed into high-class nickel with enough money. There are industrial processes that will do the trick but they require enormous amounts of power. So Indonesia’s Chinese collaborators built a swag of coal-fired power stations to provide the power to work the magic on the nickel.

In 2017, Indonesia produced 385,000 tonnes of nickel. Last year it produced 1.8 million tonnes. It’s murdering the Australian competition. The Albanese government talks a lot about Australia’s position with rare earths, of which we have a lot in the ground, and how we’re going to become a renewable energy superpower.

By the way, almost every country in the world plans to be a renewable energy superpower (surely now one of the iconic cliches of our time), suggesting many, many of them will be sorely disappointed.

The Indonesian policy has succeeded magnificently from its point of view. Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, has genuine environmental ambitions. But he’s also determined to develop his nation. Similarly, anyone with even the vaguest familiarity with Indonesian politics will know just how entrenched and powerful are coalmining and energy interests. Indonesia pays its population fuel subsidies – the exact opposite of a carbon tax – and has typically subsidised coal energy.

But the deeper pattern and perversity of the industrial politics of renewable energy revealed in the Indonesian nickel example occurs more broadly across Asia, especially in China. The production and sale of wind turbines is dominated by China. To make them so cheaply, China typically uses cheap coal-fired power. Coal power is still mostly the cheapest power in the world despite what the Albanese government tells you (more on that below).

So the true carbon cost of even renewable energy ought to take into account the role of coal-fired power in making the renewable energy products. In any event, here’s the paradox of energy politics: to become a renewable energy superpower, you need lots and lots of cheap coal-fired power.

China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines and in due course the poorer nations of Asia, and beyond that lots of African nations, are extremely unlikely to compromise their national development by embracing vastly more expensive and unreliable renewable energy over coal, gas and the like.

Two factors allow some modern, wealthy, industrial nations to run low emissions levels. One is a natural topography that lends itself to hydro-electric power. Hydro power is the only genuinely cost-competitive renewable energy and still the most important renewable energy. The other is already having a lot nuclear power.

None of this, as I say, is to argue what Australian policy should be. But the realities sketched here almost never figure in the Australian debate. How come?

Let me nominate one international factor and one specifically Australian factor.

Accompanying this article is a graph from the IEA showing the rise of the use of gas, oil and coal, measured in exajoules (one joule, a measure of energy, to the power of 18; that is to say, lots of joules, one joule being the equivalent of 107 ergs). The left side of the graph’s curve, up to the peak in 2022, which has been maintained in 2023, describes things that have already happened. That part of the graph is indisputable fact.

The right side of the graph shows a steep decline in the use of coal, oil and gas. But that’s purely speculative. That’s more or less taking an end point of declared policy, the Paris targets, and plotting a line that gets there. But that’s the future, and government predictions of the future have never been reliable. Indeed the Climate Tracker website describes Argen­tina, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, Canada, Mexico and Indonesia as “critically insufficient” in meeting their greenhouse gas reduction targets, and Australia, China, Brazil, the EU and Britain as “highly insufficient”.

The point about the graph is that huge amounts of climate literature are presented this way. The average reporter, the average citizen, tends to see such graphs as one entity and unconsciously gives the authority of the left-hand side of the graph, which represents factual history, to the right-hand side of the graph, which represents Nostradamus-like prophecy.

Within Australia, governments do this kind of thing very deliber­ately and with shockingly good effect. I’ve been following the national defence budget pretty closely for some decades. I’ve never seen a defence budget projection, or capability projection, actually come true if it concerns any period of the future longer than about six months. And defence is an area where the Australian government entirely controls what it spends. Australian governments can’t even predict what they themselves are going to do more than five minutes hence.

Yet somehow we are supposed to believe government agencies can forecast exactly what’s going to happen in energy and climate years and years, even decades, ahead. Gimme a break.

Thus the Albanese government has got great mileage from a Climate Change and Energy Department projection that Australia will reach a 42 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030, just 1 per cent shy of our target of 43 per cent. Apparently the government now can predict the course of the Ukraine war, the effects of a possible Donald Trump victory in America, greenhouse gas emissions caused perhaps by a sudden spike in migration to Australia, and all the other manifold variables. You think?

Predicting we’ll be just 1 per cent short is a sweet touch. Just try a little harder, Australia! Yet a UN committee examining the issue doesn’t think even one G20 country will meet its target. The government is miles behind in the rollout of renewables. Electric vehicle sales are a small fraction of the forecast sales. But still we are, according to the magic forecast, just 1 per cent off target.

This is the problem, though. Almost every piece of information in this area is designed to produce a political effect. Disinterested information is at a premium.

When like is genuinely compared with like, coal is cheaper than renewables. Because with renewables you have to take account of the fact that most of the time they don’t operate so you need vast extra capacity, sometimes there are wind droughts and long cloudy periods so you need vast back-up systems of gas or coal or something else, the transmission infrastructure is enormous and the costs huge, and after 25 years or so you’ve got to throw away all the renewable stuff and replace it.

Almost everywhere that introduces vast renewable energy, apart from hydro, sees big electricity price rises. It might be that we still want to make the change because of our commitment to lowering our greenhouse gas emissions. But we need to recognise the cost, otherwise there will certainly be a backlash and the policy may well be reversed in time.

On the other hand, perhaps we should have some other conversations as well. Almost everyone wants to make some contribution to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. But given that whatever we do will have no discernible impact on the global environment, we should think pretty carefully about the cost. Especially given that it’s not happening globally.

Switching to renewables will make us poorer. They say the key policy dilemma for China is: will it grow rich before it grows poor?

For us the question is: do we want to grow richer before we grow poorer? And how poor do we really want to be?