Saturday, October 24, 2009


They are in a bind over their own fantasies. Excuse me while I laugh!

The European Union is wondering what to do with billions of unused pollution credits accumulated by Russia, Ukraine and other former communist states of Eastern Europe under the Kyoto Protocol as lawmakers worry about the continuity of the carbon market beyond 2012.

Environment ministers from the 27-member bloc met in Luxembourg on Wednesday (21 October) to thrash out the position that the European Union will take to UN climate talks in December.

But as an international agreement slowly takes shape, the question of what to do with the billions of unused pollution credits accumulated during the 2008-2012 period has become the "elephant in the room" for negotiators. "There is a lot of money involved," said the European Commission's environment spokesperson Barbara Helfferich. "We haven't clarified our position on this in detail," she told EurActiv after the ministers' meeting on Wednesday.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries were granted a certain number of permits to release greenhouse gases in the atmosphere called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), which are equivalent to one tonne of CO2.

Kyoto targets were decided based on 1990 emission levels. But in the wake of massive deindustrialisation that followed the fall of communism, Eastern European countries are now finding themselves sitting on a huge stockpile of unused pollution credits. "The Russians have accumulated something like five billion units" during 2008-2012, said an EU diplomat from one of the large EU member states. "This is enormous," he added, saying the amount is equivalent to the effort expected from the entire EU during the upcoming 2013-2020 period. "We have a big problem of hot air in the system," the diplomat said.

Stefan Singer, director of global energy policy at WWF, warned that the possibility for Russia and Ukraine to carry over their surplus credits after 2012 would probably "sink" international climate talks.



An aggressive policy of generously subsidizing and effectively mandating "renewable" electricity generation in Germany has led to a doubling of the renewable contribution to electricity generation in recent years.

This preference came primarily in the form of a subsidy policy based on feed-in tariffs, established in 1991 by the Electricity Feed-in Law, requiring utilities to accept and remunerate the feed-in of "green" electricity at 90 percent of the retail rate of electricity, considerably exceeding the cost of conventional electricity generation.

A subsequent law passed in 2000 guaranteed continued support for 20 years. This requires utilities to accept the delivery of power from independent producers of renewable electricity into their own grid, paying technology-specific feed-in tariffs far above their production cost of ¢2.9-10.2 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

With a feed-in tariff of ¢59 per kWh in 2009, solar electricity generated from photovoltaics (PV) is guaranteed by far the largest financial support among all renewable energy technologies.

Currently, the feed-in tariff for PV is more than eight times higher than the wholesale electricity price at the power exchange and more than four times the feed-in tariff paid for electricity produced by on-shore wind turbines.

Even on-shore wind, widely regarded as a mature technology, requires feed-in tariffs that exceed the per-kWh cost of conventional electricity by up to 300% to remain competitive.

By 2008 this had led to Germany having the second-largest installed wind capacity in the world, behind the United States, and largest installed PV capacity in the world, ahead of Spain. This explains the claims that Germany's feed-in tariff is a great success.

Installed capacity is not the same as production or contribution, however, and by 2008 the estimated share of wind power in Germany's electricity production was 6.3%, followed by biomass-based electricity generation (3.6%) and water power (3.1%). The amount of electricity produced through solar photovoltaics was a negligible 0.6% despite being the most subsidized renewable energy, with a net cost of about $12.4 billion for 2008.

The total net cost of subsidizing electricity production by PV modules is estimated to reach US $73.2 billion for those modules installed between 2000 and 2010. While the promotion rules for wind power are more subtle than those for PV, we estimate that the wind power subsidies may total US $28.1 billion for wind converters installed between 2000 and 2010.


Michael Ignatieff should think outside the green box

(Michael Ignatieff is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition in Canada)

Following the global-warming herd doesn't show courage – quite the opposite, in fact

It's rather daring that Michael Ignatieff is putting “green policy” at the centre of his party's pitch during the next election, whenever that longed-for bliss occurs. Daring, for the obvious reason that it was St├ęphane Dion's “green shift” – purest idealism built on a mud field of impenetrable prose – that so wounded his predecessor in the last election.

It's daring for another reason, too. I do not know if Mr. Ignatieff visits the BBC News website these days. He was once an ornament of that venerated service, so perhaps he does. He may read there an interesting article on the precious topic of global warming. The BBC has been very friendly and supportive of AGW – so-called man-made (anthropogenic) global warming – and it is therefore a little surprising for those of us who follow the fortunes of the crusade to see this headline on a BBC story: What Happened to Global Warming?

It is not a headline that will please the pious. “Rank heresy,” I hear some of them sniff. Nor will they be pleased with the body of the story, which proceeds to offer, in this the Advent period of the great Copenhagen global warming conventicle, a highly inconvenient truth: “For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise. So what on Earth is going on?”

Carbon dioxide has increased, temperatures have not: The models did not predict that incongruity. This is, or may be, the church of global warming's Galileo moment – when observation of what is happening trumps the gloomy choir of consensus on what may.

Galileo didn't work from consensus. Those who opposed and persecuted him worked on the consensus of centuries – that the Earth was the centre of the universe. The consensus multitude who tormented him are now a byword for folly and ignorance.

The BBC story makes many more interesting points that Mr. Ignatieff should read before he chains himself to another Liberal platform built around a response to global warming. Not least is the observation “that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.” But let's jump to the last paragraph.

That paragraph blisters with the heresy of heresies: “One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over.” Is this possible in 2009? The debate is not over! I picture Al Gore reaching for the holy Evian water and loosing a jeremiad: “Out, apostates! By my hemp underwear, and in the name of Kyoto and the IPCC, by the heel and toe of the carbon footprint, I declare thee excommunicate and anathema. In the name of bicycle paths, twisty bulbs, windmills and slow-flush toilets, carbon offsets and compost heaps, I declare the BBC heretical.” Or something like that.

The BBC is not the only voice showing sprigs and shoots of independent thinking on global warming. From Ian Plimer, the Australian scientist, to Canada's Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, brave men who debunked the infamous “hockey stick” graph, there are minds outside the herd.

There are many warning that the great rush to fix the planet, and re-engineer its economy in the middle of a huge recession, on the basis of incomplete science and vastly overblown advocacy from the world's swarm of environmental lobbyists, NGOs, foundations, action groups, Greenpeace acrobats and UN politicians, may be terribly ill-advised. For those with eyes to see, and ears to hear, there have been throughout this whole global warming enterprise serious and well-informed minds asking for a second look, proposing alternative explanations, or qualifications to the idea that man-made CO2 is the sole or main driver of an impending apocalypse.

There are intellectual bubbles as often as there are economic ones. Y2K was a computer hysteria that cost billions. We even had, 30 plus years ago, a mini-bubble of “global cooling” anxiety. These are not hospitable grounds for a national party, in opposition, with a new leader, on which to build a platform for a coming election. A little intellectual hardihood on Mr. Ignatieff's part, a little resistance to the cries of doom coming from the overheated zealots of the global warming consensus, would signal a streak of courage in his leadership.

Throwing the word “green” around, or building a national policy on its vague and trendy seductiveness is an escape from thinking, rather than an exercise in it. It is a genuflection to politically correct conventional wisdom. A little intellectual and political boldness would do Mr. Ignatieff a world of good right now, and right now is when he needs it most.


Tiny bat pits green against green

There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Workers atop mountain ridges are putting together 389-foot windmills with massive blades that will turn Appalachian breezes into energy. Retiree David Cowan is fighting to stop them. Because of the bats.

Cowan, 72, a longtime caving fanatic who grew to love bats as he slithered through tunnels from Maine to Maui, is asking a federal judge in Maryland to halt construction of the Beech Ridge wind farm. The lawsuit pits Chicago-based Invenergy, a company that produces "green" energy, against environmentalists who say the cost to nature is too great.

The rare green vs. green case went to trial Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. It is the first court challenge to wind power under the Endangered Species Act, lawyers on both sides say. With President Obama's goal of doubling renewable energy production by 2012, wind and solar farms are expanding rapidly. That has sparked battles to reach a balance between the benefits of clean energy and the impact on birds, bats and even the water supply.

At the heart of the Beech Ridge case is the Indiana bat, a brownish-gray creature that weighs about as much as three pennies and, wings outstretched, measures about eight inches. A 2005 estimate concluded that there were 457,000 of them, half the number in 1967, when they were first listed as endangered. "Any kind of energy development is going to have environmental impacts that are going to concern somebody," said John D. Echeverria, a Vermont Law School professor who specializes in environmental law and isn't involved in the suit. "This has been an issue for the environmental community. They are enthusiastic; at the same time, they realize there are these adverse impacts."

Indiana bats hibernate in limestone caves within several miles of the wind farm, which would provide energy to tens of thousands of households. The question before the judge: Would the bats fly in the path of the 122 turbines that will be built along a 23-mile stretch of mountaintop?

Eric R. Glitzenstein, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in his opening statement that both sides agree the windmills will kill more than 130,000 bats of all types over the next 20 years. "The question comes down to whether there is some reason to think Indiana bats will escape that fate," he said. "The position of the defendants is, 'Let's roll the dice and see what happens.' We believe that the rolling-the-dice approach to the Endangered Species Act is not in keeping with what Congress had in mind."

Cowan and other plaintiffs, including the D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute, support wind power as one way to mitigate climate change. But they say this setting, a lush rural area where coal and timber industries once dominated, is the wrong one. They say Indiana bats are likely to fly near the turbines in the fall as they migrate to caves from forests, where they spend spring and summer. Some biologists who analyzed recordings at the site say they are nearly certain that Indiana bats made some of the calls.


Pass The Obama Energy Tax to Help Wall Street!

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand writes in today's WSJ:
Over the past year, the economic crisis has devastated the financial services industry that fueled New York's boom years. The ripple effect from Wall Street is still being felt, as unemployment has risen to 10.3% in New York City.

In this turmoil, it may seem hard to imagine a financial market poised to deliver significant growth. However, a rising number of investors and financiers see one in the trading and reduction of carbon. According to financial experts, carbon permits could quickly become the world's largest commodities market, growing to as much as $3 trillion by 2020 from just over $100 billion today. With thousands of firms and energy producers buying and selling permits to emit carbon, transaction fees for exchanges and clearing alone could top nearly half a billion dollars.

If Congress establishes proper oversight of a carbon market, New York's financial talent, expertise and institutions are uniquely suited to provide the tools and innovation for a new commodities market of this size. Firms wishing to invest over the long term will need to turn to our financial sector to create the emerging products and provide the capital that would allow them to make green energy investments.

Isn't this a little off script? Aren't Democrats supposed to blame New York's "financial talent" for the economic mess we're in right now?


A History Lesson on the Electric Car

History offers some inconvenient truths for the green industry

At the Big Government/Big Auto-sponsored “The Business of Plugging In” electric-vehicle conference this week, general-turned-green-activist Wesley Clark heralded plug-ins as “that next big thing for America. It could be in electric vehicle technologies.”

Or not. Though Big Utility (a co-sponsor of the conference) also stands to gain from government mandates for electricification of the auto, DTE Energy CEO Tony Earley gave conference attendees a welcome history lesson.

He reminded them that Detroit’s favorite son, Henry Ford, had worked for an electric utility before he saw the possibilities of the internal combustion engine. Earley explained that electrics made up 80 percent of the vehicle market in the early 20th century. Electrics were preferred for their ease of starting (no hand crank). By 1914, Detroit itself became the first city to have an entire fleet of electric taxi cabs (an eerie echo of politically correct efforts to electrify urban cab and bus fleets today).

But, continued Earley, Ford’s revolutionary cars changed all that (in part, thanks to the electric starters that replaced the cranks). Electrics disappeared because gas engines were cheaper, had better fueling infrastructure, and “people needed to travel greater distances.”

So what has changed in 100 years? Nothing. Except politics. In the 1970s, explained Earley, electric vehicles resurfaced as some (read: political elites) “became concerned about oil dependence and emissions.” Today, those concerns have been joined by global warming. Which is exactly why utilities like Earley’s DTE Energy have signed on to the fiction of global warming.

Because without it, there is still no market for electric vehicles.



The government is trying to terrify you. That is the only possible interpretation of its latest television advertising campaign on the supposed dangers of global warming. Whether or not you accept the scientific premises behind the "bedtime story" advert which is now to be investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority after attracting over 350 complaints from the public, there is no question that it is propaganda in the strict technical sense of the word.

That is to say, it is an attempt by the state to manipulate opinion and evoke emotional reactions without offering argument or evidence for its case. It accepts uncritically the most extreme rendition of the anthropogenic global warming narrative as if it were entirely uncontentious and presents it in the most sentimentally evocative possible way (i.e. as a threat to one's own children and to defenceless creatures generally). It uses the techniques once associated with totalitarian societies not to persuade (which is what advertising properly does) but to coerce: to create fear and guilt. And to what purpose? Without offering constructive argument or serious explanation of the options, we can only assume that this is a campaign designed to browbeat the public into accepting any new restrictions or "green" taxes which government may choose to impose. Fortunately, it seems that ordinary people still have the independence of mind to know when they are being bullied.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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