Monday, November 27, 2006


Spring in Malaysia is even more silent than it was when I reported how the indigenous jungle is being destroyed to provide palm oil for the Soil Association's "environmentally-friendly" pesticide soft soap. More great swathes of the eco-system are being replaced by oil palms to supply Europe with the biodiesel it must have by next year to comply with Directive 2003/30/EC requiring 5 per cent of road fuel to come from biological sources.

Both outcomes are typical results of green intervention in the market. They have not grasped that, to succeed, intervention must be complete and global - anything less merely creates a distortion used by shrewd businessmen to exploit the public purse, usually with further damage to the environment.

Locally, nationally or internationally, green policies are a dreary saga of intervention, unforeseen consequences and further intervention, with the environmental balance sheet always in the red.

A bit like the Red Queen, in the lexicon of green speak, words mean whatever they want them to mean so the temporary, short-term generation of landfill gas in rubbish dumps is deemed to be "sustainable" and electricity generated by burning it qualifies for Renewables Obligation subsidies, currently standing at about Ao48 per megawatt hour.

Curiously, nuclear - based on an estimated 4,000 years' supply of uranium - is not sustainable. This encouragement to create landfill sites conflicts with the EU directive requiring less rubbish to go to landfill and more to composting or incineration. But both these operations require extensive transporting of waste to central facilities.

Burning chicken dung to generate subsidised electricity and replacing it with artificial manure with a carbon price of 5.7 tonnes of per tonne of fertiliser is another dismal entry in the environmental ledger, but the ultimate in "double speak" - less is more - is reserved for hydroelectricity.

Prior to 2002, hydroelectric stations of over 20MW capacity were excluded from Renewables Obligation subsidies. However, on 1 April, a date that made many people wonder if it really was a prank, the government quietly announced that stations above that level could be deliberately reduced in capacity to qualify.

Generating companies, among them Scottish & Southern Energy, promptly decommissioned alternator windings by between 18 and 47 per cent to reduce hydro capacity by a total of 59MW, achieving their goal of less renewable electricity but more profits at the expense of the environment.

Overall, I reckon green policies in Scotland have considerably increased emissions and I'm not including the extra given off by peat disturbed during wind power station construction. Nothing convinces me that it is any different.

Taking a global outlook, the recommendation in the Stern report for international carbon trading will simply become another mechanism for taking money from poor Europeans and giving it to a very few, very wealthy Third World dictators who will sell their countries' carbon entitlement to line their own pockets. Carbon dioxide is the same whoever emits it and carbon trading will make no overall difference.

Already, national morale is wilting under the relentless green propaganda message that our lifestyle is "trashing the planet" and creating "climate chaos". It will take more than a few thousands spent on Glasgow's happiness centre to offset that and who in their right mind would chose to have children in a collapsing, chaotic world?

We will never achieve anything in response to climate change until we return to hard science, free-market economics, evidence-based policies and democratic accountability.



Immediate steep global reductions in the emissions of the chief greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, turn out to be a fantasy. This was made plain by a panel discussion today which featured the release of a report by the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies. The panel aimed to outline the "economic case for action on climate change," but the realities of global poverty overwhelmed it.

First, the CEPS report itself with the fetching title, Revisiting EU Policy Options for Tackling Climate Change, was a kind of Stern Review-lite. The Stern Review released by the British government the week before the Nairobi climate conference convened argued that avoiding climate change must begin now and was surprisingly affordable. It achieved that conclusion by among other things positing a very low discount rate so that investments made now to avoid climate change look cheap when compared to the costs of adapting in the future to climate change. The CEPS report also applied a relatively low discount rate and included measures for the "social costs" of externalities and for valuing energy security. The CEPS report amounted to interesting intellectual exercise that focused on the sorts of expensive actions that already rich countries can afford to take even if they turn out to be economic dead ends.

The CEPS report made the magnitude of the proposed reductions clear. In order to make sure that the CO2 concentrations do not rise beyond 550 parts per million in the atmosphere by 2050, the current annual level of global emissions of 33 billion tons of CO2 would have to be slashed by 25 billion tons by 2050. A drop of around 70-80 percent. However, if no emissions reductions policies are put in place, the CEPS report notes that global emissions would rise from 33 billion tons of CO2 today to 51 billion tons by 2050. For comparison, the European Union's Kyoto Protocol reductions amount to 400 million tons of CO2 by 2012.

Next, Surya P. Sethi, the principal energy policy advisor to the Indian government, showed that the CEPS study is basically an exercise in climate change policy whimsy. Sethi began by reviewing the development challenges faced by India. He pointed out that 50 percent of its people have no access to electricity; cooking was the largest use of energy for 75 percent of households; and 70 percent of cooking was done using traditional biomass, wood and dung. In addition, 35 percent of India's people live on less than $1 per day and 80 percent live on less than $2 per day. He pointed out that lack of access to modern energy supplies correlates with high infant mortality, low life expectancies, high gender inequality, and low literacy rates.

Sethi then noted that India's economy must grow at 8 percent per year for the next 25 years in order to lift the bottom 40 percent of its people to a decent standard of living. He pointed out that India was falling behind in achieving it Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty due to persistent energy shortages. "Energy is central for development. Our energy consumption must go up," declared Sethi. Today India uses 471 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) of energy each year of which 327 MTOE is primary commercial energy. The rest comes from burning traditional biomass. In order to achieve its poverty reduction goals, Sethi asserted that India needs to grow its energy supplies by 4.3 to 5.1 percent per year and to consume 1536 to 1887 MTOE by 2031. (For comparison the US consumes around 2300 MTOE annually now.) "India will need to tap all available energy supplies and pursue all available energy efficiency technologies. For India it is not a choice between energy supply and energy efficiency. It is both." said Sethi.

Sethi contrasted India's current total primary energy supply (TPES) per capita energy use with other countries. TPES per capita is calculated as the energy equivalent of the amount of oil in kilograms (kgoe) a person consumes per year. In China the amount is 1090 kgoe, Brazil 1094, Denmark 3852, UK 3906, US 7835, Japan 4052, and the world average per capita energy use is 1688. Where does India stand? The average Indian consumes the equivalent of 439 kilograms of oil. The eight percent annual economic growth that Sethi hopes India will experience over the quarter century would mean that the average Indian would be consuming between 1065 and 1279 kgoe in 2031. That's about what the average Chinese uses now and is only 70 percent of world's current per capita average.

Sethi said that India could cut projected CO2 emissions between 2012 and 2017 by 550 million tons at an additional cost of $25 billion for more energy efficient technologies. However, he pointed out that the Indian government spent that amount on its social and poverty reduction goals in the last five years. He then pointedly added, "I do not have the funds for both. My choice is to improve the lot of India's poor or reduce CO2 emissions so the developed world can breathe easier." Paying for the new energy efficiency technologies would also raise the price of power and thereby delay its delivery to the poor. Besides, Sethi observed, Indians already pay the highest rate in purchasing power parity terms for energy in the world. In fact, the average household spends one and a half times more on energy than it does on food. Finally, Sethi told me that even after implementing the most efficient energy conservation technologies over the next 25 years, India will still be emitting 4 times more CO2 in 2031 than it does today.

A Swede in the audience reminded Sethi that the Stern Review had declared that urgent action toward reducing CO2 emissions is needed now. Sethi's response made it clear that restricting the access to energy by world's poor was unacceptable. "You cannot tackle climate change unless you make dramatic lifestyle changes in the West," replied Sethi. I think it is a safe bet that few Westerners will decide for the sake of the climate to live like poor Indians. So humanity will have little choice but to adapt to any future climate change. Fortunately, economic growth makes that easier to do.

Tomorrow-the environment ministers finally gather here in Nairobi to ratify and complete what their underlings have been negotiating for the past week which, as far as I can tell right now, isn't much. A couple of side events intrigue me so I may cover sessions on climate and forests, the role of policies the enable adaptation to climate change once the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012, and another that asks if it is time to set a long-term global climate. The last is basically asking where humanity wants to set the planet's thermostat.



MILLIONS of families were facing a new wave of taxes on their holidays last night. Chancellor Gordon Brown will announce his latest cash raid in the run-up to Christmas. Middle Britain will be hammered by a series of stealth taxes which will be disguised as green measures. Holiday and business flights along with family cars are set to be the target of the new squeeze. Mr Brown, who has devised more than 80 ways of increasing tax since taking over at the Treasury, will say the higher levies are vital to save the planet from global warming.

Last night critics warned that the green agenda will be merely an excuse to wring yet more cash out of Britain's hard-working families, with questionable benefits for the environment. James Frayne, of the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group, said: "This confirms what we have suspected: Politicians are going to start raising taxes massively in the name of the environment. "It's a convenient excuse. All they are interested in is extra revenue. These tax rises will penalise millions of ordinary middle class families."

Mr Brown is expected to unveil plans in his Pre-Budget Report on December 6 for an increase in air passenger duty, which is paid by every traveller leaving a UK airport. Tax on bigger family cars is also expected to rise in a bid to outflank David Cameron, who has put the environment at the heart of his Tory policy agenda.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said last night: "I want to see a shift to green taxes but they have to pay for tax reductions elsewhere. "My motto is pay as you burn, not pay as you earn. My fear about Gordon Brown is that he will use this as an excuse for a stealthy increase in the tax burden for families." Radical action to stave off disaster for the Earth was demanded by the recent Stern review, which was commissioned by the Treasury.

Mr Brown was said yesterday to have been persuaded that higher air passenger duty, which was frozen in the spring Budget, could have a part to play in tackling the damage done by aviation. There are currently four rates: 5 or 10 pounds for European destinations, and 20 or 40 for long-haul flights. An indication of Government thinking on the issue was revealed in a leaked memo from Environment Secretary David Miliband. He said air travel was "lightly taxed". Slapping 5 on air passenger duty would bring in 400 million a year, he said, adding that there was also a case for levying VAT on flights.

James Fremantle, of the Air Transport Users Council, said: "We do not shut our eyes to environmental concerns, and passengers have those concerns too. "But we are not convinced that raising air passenger duty would be the way to go. We are not convinced that higher taxes would stop people flying.''

Mr Brown is also poised to pile more pressure on the owners of family cars, believing that raising indirect taxation could help to persuade motorists to switch to less polluting vehicles. Since March, vehicle excise duty has included a top band of 210 pounds a year for new cars which emit the most carbon dioxide. Vehicles likely to be targeted include Land Rover Freelanders and Discoveries, and also Jeeps. But any new tax would also hit Mondeo Man, long seen as a political barometer, by affecting 2.5-litre models as well as owners of Vauxhall Astra 2L Twin Tops and Vauxhall Vectra 2.8Ls.

But critics say the 20 pound increase has not done enough to dissuade people from buying the most polluting models. Mr Miliband called for tough measures to combat car use and ownership, with a substantial increase in road tax to force people to switch to smaller vehicles.

Edmund King of the RAC Foundation stressed the Government must ensure that any duty rises are announced several years in advance of taking effect. "We have no problem with higher tax for the more polluting vehicles, it's about giving people time to adapt," he said. Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne said official figures this week showed that green taxes on fuel, vehicles, energy and landfill fell last year to 2.9 per cent of national income, the lowest since 1989. He added: "Reports about raising vehicle excise duty and air passenger duty would ring rather less hollow if Gordon Brown did not have such an embarrassing record on environmental taxes."

Mr Brown's Pre-Budget report is also expected to support an international market in carbon trading in which companies can buy and sell emission quotas to keep the overall level within a set limit. The Treasury last night described as "speculation" reports that Mr Brown was poised to raise taxes on air travel and large cars.


Sydney: A Greenie-created water crisis

Everyone agrees Sydney faces a water crisis, but the city seems incapable of significant action. Today I want to celebrate a Turramurra couple who have accepted responsibility for their water use. It's a story of triumph, but also of frustration in dealing with government. To understand this, you need to see why the State Government's management of water is so deeply dysfunctional.

I have a copy of the Sydney Water Board's 1991 water supply strategy review, and have confirmed with former senior staff that it represents informed opinion at the time. It pointed out that the city's population had doubled since 1960 but its water storage capacity had increased by only 2 per cent. It said: "If measures are not taken to provide Sydney with additional storage, early in the next century there will be a real risk of serious water restrictions being necessary." The reason for this did not involve apocalyptic events such as climate change or a one-in-a-thousand-year drought. It was mundane: you cannot increase a city's population without increasing its water supply. The prediction was accurate: no steps were taken to increase storage, and water restrictions were introduced in 2003.

The review recommended that a dam be built on the upper Shoalhaven River. This was accepted but Bob Carr cancelled it when he became premier. But don't think the Shoalhaven was saved. On October 24 Shelley Hancock, the Liberal member for South Coast, told State Parliament that enormous amounts of water were being pumped from the river anyway. "In August, 78 per cent of Sydney's water supply was pumped from the Shoalhaven," she said. "In the following week [it was] 82 per cent." This had produced an "alarming drop in the water levels in the river".

The review considered large-scale recycling, which Carr also rejected. Indeed, the Government spent almost $1.6 million on lawyers to try to stop a private company, Sydney Services, getting access to its waste water. It was finally forced by the National Competition Council to negotiate with Sydney Services. In response, last week it brought in a shabby piece of legislation called the Water Industry Competition Bill. This appoints as umpire for access disputes the Government's Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, rather than the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which the industry wanted. The tribunal will ultimately determine the terms on which Sydney Water has to offer access to private companies. The industry does not believe the tribunal will be sufficiently independent.

Why is the Government so opposed to large-scale recycling, whether done by itself or private companies? Because Sydney Water pays a massive "dividend" each year to the Government, which it doesn't want to lose by recycling. (Recycled water costs more than dam water.) Last year the dividend was $193 million, an increase of $73 million over the previous year. To put this in some sort of perspective, the increase in Sydney Water's cash flow from normal operating activities over the year was only $26.7 million. Some of that dividend - many would say a lot of it - is money that ought to have been spent on serious recycling. But with the exception of the Rouse Hill recycling scheme, the Government has largely ignored, even discouraged, recycling, by companies and individuals.

In Turramurra, Alicia Campbell and Jason Young have taken matters into their own hands. Last year they moved into a standard two-storey house, which they had helped design. Under the Government's BASIX regulations they were required to have a 5000-litre rainwater tank. Says Alicia: "We thought, if we were going to do it, why not do it properly?" So they installed a 25,000-litre tank underground, "double-U" gutters to stop leaves getting in and first flush devices on the downpipes so when it rains the roof is washed clean before water goes into the tank. In the past year they have used 91,000 litres from the tank; the house is not connected to mains water.

Jason and Alicia, who have two small children, have also installed a system that allows them to recycle all their waste water, including sewage. This will produce about 100,000 litres of water a year. Ku-ring-gai Council has insisted they pay about $3000 for a series of tests before they can use this water for non-potable purposes, at which point they will disconnect from the sewer mains.

Michael Mobbs is the guru of Sydney's sustainability movement. He says 17,000 people have been through his sustainable house in Chippendale in the past eight years. An environmental lawyer, he advises people like Alicia and Jason, and has helped them deal with the regulatory thickets set up to discourage people from becoming self-sufficient. Mobbs says he knows of about 30 households in Sydney that have gone off the water grid. Sydney Water guesses 50 have disconnected from the sewer mains. As well as this, 27,500 residences, businesses and schools have received up to $800 from Sydney Water, for installing rain tanks with a capacity of more than 7000 litres that are connected to a toilet or washing machine.

These figures are modest in a city of so many residences. Expense is a big issue. Jason and Alicia paid about $25,000 for their independence, funded partly by savings elsewhere in the home (for example, concrete instead of wooden floors). The home builder AV Jennings has tried to sell houses with environmental features, but a company spokesman says few are prepared to pay the additional cost. Which makes Alicia and Jason's achievement all the more remarkable. She was the driving force, and at first he was concerned about costs. "But now we've done it," he says, "I'm overjoyed."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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1 comment:

Calvin Jones said...

Just read a rather interesing article in the Independant today about the Cairngorms.

I live in Ballater (well within the Cairngorm National Park).

I`m also interested in climate change so this was doubly interesing to me.

Article + My Thoughts