Wednesday, November 20, 2013
A 2015 climate treaty? Don't bother, Congress says
As activists gathering this week for U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, fuel hopes for a 2015 legally binding treaty, U.S. lawmakers already are throwing cold water on the prospects.
In interviews this week with members of Congress on the right and left, even the most ardent supporters of international efforts to curb global greenhouse gas emissions said chances of Senate approval for a treaty have not improved much since the Kyoto Protocol crashed and burned in Washington, D.C., in 1997.
"It will be difficult to get a treaty passed in 2015 in the U.S. Senate as it is presently constituted," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who co-chairs the Senate Climate Change Clearinghouse, aimed at supporting legislation to cut carbon emissions.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) agreed: "I am for global action on climate change. I am a proud supporter and very anxious for the U.S. to participate globally." But, he added, "I think if you look at the current makeup of the U.S. Senate, it's very difficult."
The Obama administration and nearly 200 other governments have pledged to devise a new international pact to curb global emissions, expected to go into effect by 2020. Talks this week in Warsaw and over the next two years will hammer out the contours of that deal -- including whether it is a formal agreement under international law or something looser and more fluid.
The United States is pressing for a "flexible" agreement in which each country decides what level of cuts it is able to offer the world, and a combination of strict reporting and peer pressure from the international community helps ensure that collectively the efforts are enough to avert catastrophic warming.
Whether it will ultimately become a "protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force," as the tortured language of a 2-year-old U.N. agreement laying out the options for the 2015 deal offers, is unclear, and Obama officials have not formally stated a preference.
But U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern cautioned in a speech last month: "Keep our eyes on the prize of creating an ambitious, effective and durable agreement. Insisting that only one way can work, such as an agreement that is internationally binding in all respects, could put that prize out of reach."
If the deal winds up being a treaty, Republican opponents of climate action have said, it won't get far -- even if, as the Obama administration has insisted, it puts major economies like China on an equal legal standing with the United States.
"It's not going to go anywhere. It's dead on arrival," said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who argued that new U.S. EPA authority imposing carbon dioxide emissions limits on new power plants is "hurting our economy on a daily basis."
And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who maintained that "there is a lot of difference of opinion among very educated people on the science" of global warming, said he, too, does not believe a treaty would pass muster in the Senate.
"I kind of doubt it," he said. "There is still a legitimate question of science, and you can't brush that away."
Others say the political winds in Congress might shift enough in the next few years that support for a treaty might be possible by 2015.
Fresh from a Wednesday briefing of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change on a study that showed strong public support for federal climate action, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) yesterday said he saw "seismic shifts" in the political landscape.
"I think this is an issue that can flip very quickly," said Whitehouse, who chairs the task force with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).
For one thing, he said, President Obama's Climate Action Plan, released in June, which includes the EPA regulations, will "put a lot of costs on polluters and cause them to rethink the wisdom of an economywide carbon fee." For another, the emergence of donors like billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer means industrial donors may not always have the upper hand when it comes to political spending over the climate debate.
"If we can organize the armies on our side, it's a rout," Whitehouse said. "We just haven't bothered to organize them."
He argued that if climate change is seen to have been an important issue in the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans competing for their party's presidential nod the following year might move away from a hard-line position against cutting carbon.
"So all that adds up to 2015 being a pretty good year," Whitehouse said. Climate change legislation might again be possible, and the United States might be better-positioned to support a U.N. climate change agreement, he said.
Waxman said he believes a global agreement on carbon dioxide emissions will be necessary.
"This problem is global, not just related to any one country or only one region," he said. "We need an international effort, and I think there's growing support for that in the United States."
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said the United States needs to focus first on putting its EPA regulations into play and proving it is taking its domestic emissions seriously.
"We need to set a good example to the rest of the world," Carper said. "That way, when we call on China and India and other big emitters, we can say not only 'Do as I say,' but 'Do as I do.'"
Markey said, "Increasingly, the U.S. is being viewed as a leader. Especially if the administration takes action on coal-fired power plants, I think it will be very hard, then, for China and India to say the U.S. is not acting."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who sponsored two cap-and-trade bills in the last decade, said he thinks "some kind of catastrophe" might be required to spur action on climate change.
"I think it's real, and I think that we should continue to explore our options to reduce the effects of it," McCain said, but he added he has not liked "anything I've seen lately" through the U.N. climate process to address the issue. Still, he said the United States should remain involved internationally.
"I don't think talking hurts," McCain said. "It probably helps."
Warmist nutcase thinks it helps if he stinks
Kevin Anderson, a professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester and Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK, acknowledged in an interview at the UN climate summit in Warsaw that he has made personal hygiene changes in his life in order to help fight global warming.
Anderson was confronted with his 2012 comments that he was going to do his part to reduce emissions by reducing his amount of bathing and showering.
“I’ve cut back on washing and showering – but only to levels that were the norm just a few years back,” Anderson (email@example.com) wrote on October 1, 2012.
“I’ve done without a fridge for 12 years, but recently relented and joined the very small proportion of the world’s population that has a fridge – this I may have to reverse!”
Anderson added: “I haven’t flown for almost eight years – and that will have to continue. I have halved the distance I drive each year and have significantly changed how I drive.”
Anderson was confronted with questions about his personal bathing habits in a contentious interview with Climate Depot’s Marc Morano at the UN climate summit in Warsaw on November 19, following a press conference featuring global warming skeptics.
Anderson conceded that he has cut back on his personal hygiene after Morano read aloud to him his 2012 quotes. “That is why I smell, yes,” Anderson told Climate Depot.
Morano then asked Anderson: “And you really believe that [not bathing] is going to help people avoid typhoons? “I think you misunderstand the point, I do not believe it would help as an individual,” Anderson responded.
“So it’s symbolic?” Morano asked.
“Well, it’s symbolic, it catalyzes action,” Anderson replied. “That’s the point of that. It may not in that in that particular case, but if we don’t make some attempt I don’t think we can catalyze action elsewhere. I don’t think it’s up to actual individual to bring about the change. But it is up to individuals to stand up for the morals they believe in and the science that they believe in. You have your view and I have my views and you act accordingly.”
Morano then asked about Anderson’s advocacy of “planned recessions” to help reduce emissions and allegedly reduce man-made global warming. See: ‘Planned recession’ could avoid catastrophic climate change
Anderson responded: “First, it’s not ‘believe’. I concluded. And it’s related to some caveats that went with it.”
Anderson and his colleague Alice Bows wrote in 2008: “Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year15), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650 ppmv CO2e.”
Anderson and Bows explained that global warming was such an urgent problem that it “demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda, and the economic characterization of contemporary society.”
Morano concluded the interview with Anderson by stating: “So you don’t shower, you don’t bathe regularly. You believe in planned recessions.”
Poland recognizes the real global warming agenda
Decades of oppression make Poles wary of being subjugated in name of “climate protection”
David Rothbard, writing from Poland
A cabal of climate change alarmists landed in Warsaw, Poland last weekend, to hammer out terms and rally support for a new binding global agreement to “save the planet” from “dangerous global warming.”
Not so fast, tens of thousands of Poles responded. The facts support their position.
Average global temperatures have not risen in 16 years, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased steadily, helping plants grow faster and better. Antarctic ice is at a record high, Arctic sea ice is back to normal, and at current rates Greenland would not melt for 13,000 years. A new research paper in Global and Planetary Change reveals that global sea level rise has decelerated by 44% since 2004, to barely 7 inches per century!
These realities were underscored during a climate policy conference in Warsaw, on the eve of the UN confab. The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) keynoted the event, which was sponsored by Solidarity, the Institute for Globalization, and other Polish and European NGOs. Capping off the program, representatives from the United States, Italy, Sweden, Hungary and Poland formally signed the “Warsaw Declaration.”
The declaration calls on the United Nations to discontinue work on a new treaty until a genuine “scientific consensus is reached on the phenomenon of so-called global warming,” including both its natural and human causes.
The next day, more than 50,000 enthusiastic Poles gathered in downtown Warsaw to celebrate National Independence Day, which commemorates the restoration of Poland’s statehood in 1918, after 123 years of partition and occupation by Russia, Prussia and Austria.
As millions more watched on live television, I was honored to be invited to the stage, to deliver an address celebrating freedom and warning against the UN’s dangerous, oppressive climate agenda. It was undoubtedly the largest audiences ever to hear a speech denouncing UN global warming policies, and I was proud to stand next to a CFACT banner that read “No to UN Climate Hype” in Polish, and be surrounded by thousands of people wearing stickers bearing the same message.
It was clear that – after twelve decades of partition, six years of Nazi terror, and 44 years of Russian and Communist subjugation – few Poles are in any mood to have their lives, liberties and living standards dictated by the European Union and United Nations, under the guise of “protecting the planet” from the supposed “ravages” of “cataclysmic” global warming (or “climate change” or “climate disruption” or whatever the catch-phrase of the week might be).
This is “a new battle for freedom,” I emphasized, “against those who would use environmental and climate alarmism to steal away our liberties and give international bureaucrats control over our energy sources, our daily lives, our prosperity, and our national sovereignty.”
During last year’s climate meeting in Rio de Janeiro, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that what the UN intends is “a complete economic transformation of the world.” In 2000, former French President Jacques Chirac called the Kyoto climate treaty “the first component of authentic global governance.” And last year IPCC Working Group III co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer said international climate policy is not about environmental policy; it is about “how we redistribute the world’s wealth.”
These attitudes and agendas are bad news for those of us who love freedom. UN climate policy is bad news for the people of Poland, I stressed. The good news is that my address was carried live on Polish national television, covered by many international media outlets, and heartily endorsed by the throngs of independence celebrants, who gave a rousing chant in support of my message, following my address.
My talk was certainly noticed by the UN climate alarmists, who were kicking off their COP-19 climate conference, power grab and wealth redistribution schemes just a few kilometers away.
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion,” I continued, quoting from the Book of Proverbs. That is why environmentalists and climate bureaucrats don’t want to debate these issues or show anyone the assumptions, massaged temperature data and secret codes that they use in their misleading global warming computer models. “They know they are deceiving the world.”
Those of us gathered in Warsaw that day, I concluded, “stand for freedom. We stand for opportunity. We stand for our families. We stand for a strong and prosperous future. Together let us be bold as a lion.”
The UN made a big mistake in choosing Poland to host this global warming treaty summit. The Poles see right through the global warming hype and propaganda. Having to endure generations of Nazi and Communist oppression, pollution and economic deprivation has left them with a deep distaste for bureaucratic control and further curbs on freedom, opportunity and growth. Having to live according to grim ideologies enforced by threats of jail, or worse, has made them angry about new codes of ecologically correct speech.
Poland deserves freedom and prosperity. It knows it cannot move forward without energy – the Master Resource, the lifeblood of modern industrialized societies. The brave Poles are not about to cede their sovereignty to UN control – not about to let phony climate Armageddon alarms dictate their lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards and life spans. They will not let the EU or UN control virtually everything they make, grow, ship, eat, drive and do.
They are fully aware that Poland is blessed with some of the biggest coal and shale gas reserves in all of Europe. They know Japan has reversed course, and will now allow a 3% increase in greenhouse gas emissions above 1990 levels, instead of mandating a 25% cut. They realize that “rich nations” (or more accurately, formerly rich nations) have rejected demands that they fork over $30 billion immediately, followed by $100 billion annually – in “compensation,” “adaptation” and “mitigation” money, to pay for “damages” from more frequent, more intense climate changes that aren’t happening, but are supposedly caused by industrialized nations.
They also know Germany is expanding its coal use to generate affordable electricity, and reverse the skyrocketing energy prices and job destruction that are sending shock waves through the German economy. Poland too needs all the coal, oil and natural gas power it can muster, to build an economy that was held back for decades by war and Communist misrule.
CFACT has been an officially recognized NGO at United Nations conferences for nearly two decades. It will be in Warsaw throughout the two-week-long COP-19 confab, with a delegation headlined by Apollo VII astronaut Colonel Walter Cunningham, who is highly critical of UN climate pseudo-science.
We will steadfastly present the facts about natural and manmade climate change, and the absolute requirement that environmental policies must reflect genuine science and the needs of human beings.
We will also support Polish feelings about the UN climate treaty – which boil down to what Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher told the Soviet Union: “Let Poland be Poland!”
Germany To Open 10 New Coal-Fired Power Stations
Steag GmbH started Germany’s first new power plant fueled by hard coal in eight years, allowing the generator and energy trader to take advantage of near record-low coal prices that have widened profit margins.
The 725-megawatt Walsum-10 plant, located near Dortmund in the western part of the country, began electricity output today, the Essen-based company said in an e-mailed statement. It will probably start commercial operations later in the year after “optimization works and testing,” it said.
The plant is the first new hard-coal-fired generator in Europe’s biggest power market since 2005. It marks the start of Germany’s biggest new-build program for hard coal stations since its liberalization in 1998. Ten new hard-coal power stations, or 7,985 megawatts, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years, according to information from German grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur and operators.
“Coal prices recently fell to their lowest price for over four years in October and carbon prices are half what they were two years ago, making coal-burn extremely attractive to generators in terms of profitability,” Gary Hornby, energy markets analyst at Inenco Group Ltd., said by e-mail today.
The price for coal used in thermal plants for delivery to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp next year, dropped to a record low of $80.25 a metric ton on Oct. 14, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The contract traded at $81.60 at 2:51 p.m. London time, broker data show.
Generating electricity by burning coal currently makes a profit of 9.16 euros a megawatt hour, compared with a loss of 19.31 euros a megawatt hour from gas, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on next-year German power prices. This is the widest gap between the two fuels for at least four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Gas power plants coming off line must be replaced with baseload generation, coal seems the logical solution,” said Hornby.
The 10 new units will boost German hard coal generation capacity by 33 percent to 32,432 megawatts from 24,447 megawatts as of Oct. 16, regulator data show.
Walsum-10 will probably operate 5,000 to 6,000 hours per year, Juergen Froehlich, a Steag spokesman, said Oct. 30 by e-mail.
Steag has sold 57 percent of the plant’s output to EVN AG, a utility based in Vienna, while EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG is buying 35 percent under a long-term contract.
Government Funded Tesla Is One Hot Ride
Elon Musk of Tesla got a U.S. federal government loan of $465 million to produce the upscale Tesla Model S electric car. At more than $70,000 the car is too expensive for most consumers and as Britain’s “Top Gear” found, the car ran far less between charges than Elon Musk claimed. Now other problems have emerged.
In recent months, three Tesla Model S cars caught on fire, the last two reportedly caused by road debris. The other fire occurred in Mexico when the car hit a wall. No injuries reported in the fires, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into the safety issue. As it happens, safety problems are not limited to the pricey Tesla Model S.
Recall that Fisker Automotive, Inc, got a federal loan of $529 million to produce its $100,000 Fisker Karma hybrid, built not in America by American workers but in Finland by Finnish workers. Before Fisker went bankrupt, 16 of its upscale vehicles caught fire and blew up during Hurricane Sandy.
In 2011 in Hangzhou, China, an electric Zotye Multipla taxi burst into flames for reasons. Chinese firefighters were unable to discern. Apparently it was an absolute “fireball” that firefighters could not control, and the second such fire that year. That’s not good for areas of high population density, though the passengers and drivers apparently escaped unharmed.
Electric vehicles could well be unsafe at any speed, but they have not attracted attention from alleged consumer watchdog Ralph Nader. Likewise, the safety problems have not caused the federal government to revise its stimulus policies. Those may be risky for taxpayers, but they certainly proved bountiful for Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. The man whose luxury plug-ins are catching fire plunked down $17 million for a 20,248-square-foot Bel-Air mansion with a gym, seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, tennis court, motor court, and a swimming pool.
United States Considers Ethanol Blend Increase
The United States, the world's largest ethanol producer, is weighing options to boost domestic use of the controversial fuel, according to the country's new agriculture administrator.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recommends that a higher percentage of ethanol be blended into gasoline to support the nation's struggling biofuel industry. The United States currently allows gasoline to contain a maximum of 10.2 percent ethanol, most of which is produced from corn.
"My hope is that we get a blend rate that's higher than 10 percent," Vilsack said, according to Reuters. "That's going to create more opportunities for the ethanol industry."
Vilsack said he is discussing an increase in the blend target with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the department that controls the nation's biofuel standard. A higher blend rate would appease the ethanol industry by expanding the market, but environmentalists say it would further exacerbate climate change.
Ethanol demand has fallen since oil prices plunged following a peak last summer. Several ethanol producers have struggled ever since. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. ethanol production capacity is currently shut down, according to ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland.
Industry groups suggest that the EPA respond by increasing blend rates to 15-20 percent, which they argue would guarantee greater demand.
"Just think - if the EPA would move the ethanol blend cap from 10 to 20 percent - that would open up an additional 15 billion gallons of potential demand," said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, at a conference last year.
The EPA and U.S. Department of Energy are studying how a higher blend rate would affect both vehicle handling and the environment. According to the auto industry, most cars are not designed to run on a higher ethanol blend. It also remains unclear how the higher blend ratio would affect air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
A coalition of environmentalists, meanwhile, is calling for the biofuel to be phased out altogether. The groups, which include the Clean Air Task Force, Environmental Working Group, and Friends of the Earth, say the U.S. ethanol standard should remain at current levels and then be lowered gradually - unless the fuels can be guaranteed to meet "minimum environment, health, and consumer protection standards."
Researchers have criticised corn-based ethanol for its varied environmental and economic impacts. In the United States, rising demand for corn has been associated with greater usage of fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the depletion and contamination of water resources. Converting the crop into a fuel source may have contributed to last summer's global rise in food prices. And several studies suggest that the life cycle of ethanol, from the field to the fuel tank, may release more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional gasoline, depending on the feedstock used and how this is grown.
"The notion that [corn-based] ethanol fuels are carbon neutral has been proven false," said Jonathan Lewis, an environmental lawyer with the Clean Air Task Force.
The United States is slated to increase its use of biofuels from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022, under a federal "Renewable Fuel Standard" [PDF]. While Vilsack recognizes the limitations of corn-based ethanol, he says the fuel will help the country transition to more-advanced "cellulosic" biofuels made from non-food crops or waste materials. Such biofuels are considered to be more environmentally friendly.
"There are a number of challenges to the way in which ethanol is being produced today, and we have to respond to those challenges," Vilsack said in his first press conference as agriculture secretary. "One way we respond is by accelerating significantly the research that will allow us to be more efficient with the feedstocks that we have today...at the same time, working on promoting second- and third-generation feedstocks that may be even more beneficial from a climate change perspective."
Craig Cox, Midwest vice president at the Environmental Working Group, said that government support for corn-based ethanol may prevent the industry from transitioning rapidly to advanced biofuels. Corn ethanol accounted for three-quarters of the tax benefits and two-thirds of all federal subsidies allotted for renewable energy sources in 2007, according to his organization's research.
"The financial and political capital invested in corn ethanol may be a barrier rather than a bridge to cellulosic ethanol," Cox said.
But the industry insists that ethanol efficiency is improving, and cellulosic ethanol is on its way to becoming cost efficient.
"It is intentionally misleading to deny the concrete strides American farmers and ethanol producers are making to improve our energy security, mitigate climate impacts...and create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic opportunity," the Renewable Fuels Association said in a statement on Wednesday.
Environmentalists in the European Union have also called for their region's ethanol targets to be reduced, in part out of a concern about rising food prices. Biofuel supporters prevailed, however, and the EU in 2008 included a 10 percent mandate for renewable fuel in its region-wide plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020.
The United States produced almost 9 billion gallons of ethanol last year. It was followed by Brazil, which generated 6.5 billion gallons, primarily from sugar cane. The European Union and China rounded out the top four, producing a combined 1.2 billion gallons, according to commodity analyst F.O. Licht.
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Posted by JR at 9:35 PM