Sunday, November 17, 2013

Japan axes targets to cut greenhouse gases

Japan last night became the first major economy to abandon the greenhouse-gas promises made in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.  In a setback for the UN talks on climate change this week in Warsaw, Tokyo announced it will let emissions rise 3 per cent above 1990 levels by 2020.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said Japan’s decision was ‘deeply disappointing’ and a ‘major step backwards’.

However some Tory MPs called for the UK to follow Tokyo’s lead. Japan, which hosted the Kyoto Protocol, had promised to cut emissions by 25 per cent.

But the fifth biggest producer of greenhouse gases said the original targets could not be met following the decision to mothball its nuclear plants after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The country’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said the 2020 target of a 25 per cent cut was ‘completely baseless’.

The loss of a quarter of its power production leaves Japan more reliant on high-polluting coal and gas.

It insists the change to the target is temporary, while it resolves its energy supply issues, and it still intends to halve emissions by 2050.

Britain, which derives about 20 per cent of its energy from nuclear, is on track to cut carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. It has a legally binding target to cut them by 80 per cent by 2050.

Mr Davey said: ‘It is deeply disappointing that the Japanese government has taken this decision to significantly revise down its 2020 emissions target.

'This is inconsistent with the unequivocal message from the scientific evidence, which clearly underlines the urgency of addressing emissions reductions.’

Britain has committed to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, which will help cut emissions; the first deal was signed for a reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset last month.

But they will take years to produce power and Tory MPs are concerned that meeting climate targets with green taxes on homes and businesses, and building expensive wind farms, will harm economic growth.

Mr Cameron has already promised to ‘roll back’ green taxes on household bills this year - although they are expected to be put into general taxation instead.

Peter Lilley, a Tory MP and former trade minister who sits on the Commons energy and climate change committee, said: ‘This is part of a pattern. We have seen Canada resile from its climate targets, Australia abandoning green taxes, now Japan, and I think we will see something similar in Germany which is clearly going to be unable to reach its ambitions for the same reason as the Japanese.

'You cannot say it makes any sense for Britain... to continue trying to set an example by crippling our industry with high costs and our customers with unbearable bills. Unilateral energy disarmament can only handicap us.'


How the BBC turned a catastrophic crisis into a drama about global warming

Listeners to Radio 4's Today programme were given an unmistakable but totally bogus message last week: that catastrophic storms such as Typhoon Haiyan are linked to global warming – and are set to increase.

The same claim, which has no scientific basis, was echoed by David Cameron, who said there was 'growing evidence' that warming was responsible for storms.

Interviewing Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, presenter Evan Davis announced that climate change has made the Philippine islands 'one of the most fragile parts of the planet' and asked what would the world do if more frequent storms forced its population to abandon them.

'That's a great question,' Kim replied. In his view, rising seas caused by global warming would make not just islands but the Thai capital Bangkok uninhabitable 'within the next 20 to 30 years'.

'The predictions the scientists  are making are that the severity and frequency of these extreme weather events are going to go  up,' he said.

The response of Davis – with the full weight and authority of the BBC's morning news flagship behind him – was to muse: 'If we don't invest in the prevention of climate change, we'd better invest in border control.'

In fact, basic facts Davis and the Today programme's army of researchers failed – or refused – to raise with Jim Yong Kim include:

*    A study based on data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre and the Japan Meteorological Agency shows the number of typhoons making landfall in the Philippines has declined since 1990.

*    The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – hailed by greens as the ultimate arbiter – does not agree tropical storms have become more intense or frequent, but says the opposite. Their special report last year said: 'There is low confidence in any observed long-term (40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (ie intensity, frequency, duration).'  Its authoritative Fifth Assessment Report added in September there have been 'no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century'.

*    The reason Bangkok is suffering serious floods isn't rising sea  levels but the fact the city is built on soft clay – the weight of its skyscrapers is causing subsidence of up to 2in a year. Local expert Anond Snidvongs says: 'The rise in sea level is not that great and climate change only plays a fairly small part – about one-fifth – in the current scenario.'

*    There have been very few Category 5 storms like Haiyan in the Pacific since 1991. A study published this year by the American Meteorological Society states in the North Pacific 'overall tropical cyclone activity shows a significant decrease' since 1998.

*    This year has been the quietest Atlantic hurricane season for decades. No Category 3 or stronger storm has made landfall in the US since Katrina in 2005 – the longest hurricane 'drought' on record.

*    A new study published last week said the rate of sea level rise has diminished by 44 per cent since 2004, to just 1.8mm per year – 18cm (7in) per century. The reason is the 17-years-and-counting global warming 'pause', which was not predicted by computer models.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of  the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said both Mr Cameron and Today seemed 'totally unaware of both the science and changing international realities. Every scientist is adamant that the typhoon has nothing to do with global warming.'


If You Liked ObamaCare, You’ll Love ClimateCare

Wrecking both health care and energy as a presidential legacy

As Barack Obama’s signature health insurance program implodes, some observers are speculating that regulatory action on climate change could afford the beleaguered president a second chance at establishing an enduring policy legacy. Unfortunately, Obama’s climate policies, like his health care policies, highlight his fondness for centralized economic planning.

The president unveiled his “new national climate action plan” at Georgetown University last June. The plan aims to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 17 percent below their 2005 levels. In his speech, the president noted that he had urged Congress to adopt a “bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change.” But he also said he wasn’t going wait for Congress to act, so outlined what amounts to a kind of Climate Five-Year Plan, setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions at home while pursuing efforts abroad to reach “a new global agreement to reduce carbon pollution through concrete action.”

To get some idea of the kind of climate change legacy President Obama might yearn for, let’s take a look back at what his proposals were before the friction of actual governance stymied his plans. Back in 2008, then-candidate Obama offered up a “plan to combat climate change and create a green economy,” the goal of which was to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. At the center of his plan was a cap-and-trade system that would have required that 100 percent of permits covering all greenhouse emissions be auctioned off. What might the price for each ton of greenhouse gas have been, and how would it affect the way Americans live?

To get handle on this question, consider the calculations the administration did last May to compute the social cost of carbon—that is, the harms of climate change caused by the emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. The Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon reported various values for the social cost of carbon in 2015, ranging from $12 to $109 per ton. To get a rough idea of the total cost to the U.S. economy, let’s use the $58 per ton cost as a possible auction price.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. emitted the equivalent of 6.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2011. Auctioning off permits for that amount of emissions would yield about $388 billion in revenues per year. For comparison, federal individual income tax revenues in 2012 amounted to $1.1 trillion. The original Obama Climate Plan did not swap the carbon taxes out for other taxes, such as individual or corporate income taxes, but would instead used them to fund clean-energy and energy-efficiency projects and to help lower income Americans to pay for the resulting higher energy costs. While such a tax would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, simply piling it onto existing taxes would further distort markets and reduce overall economic efficiency and competitiveness.

Using figures derived from a May 2013 Congressional Budget Office report on the economic effects of a carbon tax, an auction price of nearly $60 per ton would boost the price of a gallon of gasoline by 60 cents per gallon and the average price of electricity by about 48 percent. The average household consumes just over 1,000 gallons of gasoline annually. Increasing the price of a gallon of gas from the current average of $3.20 to $3.80 would raise household gasoline expenditures by $600 per year. Similarly, average annual household electric bills more rise by more than $600.

Auctioning off emissions permits was not enough. The original Obama Climate Plan would have required that the United States obtain 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources—wind, solar, geothermal, and so on—by 2025. Nuclear and natural gas were not mentioned. As it happens, in 2012, solar, geothermal, and wind energy generated 0.11, 0.41, and 3.46 percent respectively of electric power in the United States. A recent Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study estimated that replacing all U.S. fossil fuel power by 2030 would cost each American household nearly $5,700 per year. Extrapolating from that, the earlier Obama electric power renewable fuel mandate would result in an increase in household electricity costs on the neighborhood of $570 per year.

In his Georgetown speech, the president scaled back his renewable energy mandate to doubling production by 2020, which would mean that solar, geothermal, and wind would produce 0.2, 0.8, and 7 percent respectively of America’s electric power by then.

An analysis by the market-oriented Manhattan Institute compared the price trends of electricity between coal-dependent states that have adopted renewable fuel mandates of the sort that the president favors and those that did not. The study found that between 2001 and 2010, residential electricity rates had increased by an average of 54.2 percent in the states with mandates, more than twice the increase seen in comparable states without a renewable fuel requirement.

The Georgetown speech also included a reference to the EPA’s new automobile fuel economy standards (CAFE): “We doubled the mileage our cars will get on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade.” Estimates by the National Automobile Dealers Association found that the new CAFE standards will boost the average price of a car by $3,000. Proponents correctly counter that that additional cost will be offset in extra fuel savings. On the other hand, a 2012 analysis by scholars at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that setting automobile fuel economy standards is at least six to 14 times as costly to the economy as a gasoline tax that achieves the same cumulative carbon dioxide reduction. Technology mandates are a very expensive way to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

I say all this not to suggest that we should do nothing to address the possibility of a climate catastrophe. I say it because the Obamacare fiasco should be a warning to the president and other policymakers that a comparable ClimateCare program of top-down centralized planning will miscarry just as spectacularly. Wrecking both the health care and the energy sectors is hardly the kind of legacy a president should want to leave.


8 More Coal-Fired Power Plants Set to Close

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced earlier today that it will be closing 8 coal-fired power plants. The TVA is one the country’s 5 biggest users of coal for electricity, these 8 plants creating 3,300 megawatts of electricity.

This move is a decision made by executives to try and reduce coal to 20% of its total generating capacity. Two plants in Kentucky will be closed even though Senator Mitch McConnell tried to convince them not to do so in order to save jobs.

Of course the Sierra Club was at the forefront of the battle to get these plants closed. They had a lawyer involved in the negotiations with TVA from the beginning. Obviously it doesn’t help anything that the EPA keeps putting stricter rules and regulations on coal powered plants.

Deciding to close these plants not only puts many people out of work, but now this source of electricity is gone for many people in the areas around the plants. The plants set for closure include 6 in Alabama and 2 in Kentucky. It will be interesting to see the repercussions of their decision to close all of these plants in favor of gas-fired plants.

The energy war will continue on with the EPA in President Obama’s hands.


Rubbery Warmist "facts"

A leaked report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change depicts a crashing world, complete with impending wars and economic turmoil fostered by man-made greenhouse gases and overpopulation. We've all heard this before, but even as evidence mounts that the globe is reversing course, the IPCC continues to double down on catastrophic alarmism.

The Los Angeles Times writes, "The report describes a planet in peril as a result of the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, where glaciers are shrinking and plants and animals have shifted their ranges in response to rising temperatures. As global warming continues through the 21st century, many species will face greater risk of extinction, marine life will shift toward the poles and seawater will grow more acidic, the report says." Consequently, rising oceans will force millions near coastal waters from their homes, the global food supply will be severely suppressed, monumental heat waves will worsen (which, coupled with a growing population, will result in an increase in the number of deaths), extreme weather events will accelerate, and -- worst of all -- these effects will escalate the threat of regional wars. And that's not to mention sweaty underarms and burnt popcorn.

Meanwhile, the IPCC quietly corrected erroneous figures they cited in September. According to Reuters, "[T]he IPCC revised down the cumulative amount of carbon emitted since 1860-1881 to 515 billion tonnes from 531 billion given in September, and revised up the amount emitted since 1750 to 555 billion tonnes from 545 billion." Of course, they claim that the revision doesn't effect their climate prognostications. Recall in September when the panel was forced to address the unanticipated hiatus in global warming -- a development they attributed to unforeseen, natural factors that won't prevent long-term warming. In other words, their facts -- like their predictions -- are "evolving."

Such nonsense would be amusing if it weren't for the fact that economic stability and, yes, people's lives are being directly affected by policies based on scientific fallacies. Skeptics are continually chastised for questioning the legitimacy of the so-called scientific consensus that purports to know our future despite being continually and profoundly wrong. Ecofacists want to talk about what's moral? Then look in the mirror.


Local residents in Britain to get say on applications for wind farms in their area under new laws

Residents will have to be consulted over applications for wind farms in their area, under new laws set to come into force next month.

Currently only developers of a handful of the biggest wind farms have to discuss the implications of their projects with local people.

But new rules from the department of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will mean even small developments of two or more turbines which are at least 50ft high will have to go through a similar process.

Officials said smaller developments can have a major impact on local areas and be widely opposed - but often the first time residents are aware of them is when an application is received by the council.

Under the new system, a consultation will have to be publicised before an application is made - either by email or letter or in a public meeting.

It will not guarantee more applications are rejected but will mean local residents get a greater say over the size and location from the start, when they have more opportunity to influence the process.

Mr Pickles, the communities secretary said: ‘We are making sure local people have a crystal clear voice in airing their opinions on wind turbines very early on. From day one communities should be centre stage in crafting plans that affect their lives instead of having them forced upon them.

‘Ensuring communities have a greater say at an early stage allows developers to consider much earlier whether to pursue a proposal and what changes they should consider before putting forward formal plans. Our changes allow people’s views and other impacts to be taken into consideration much earlier.’

There are already 4,000 onshore wind turbines in Britain and it is estimated 10,000 will be needed by the end of the decade to meet targets to cut carbon emissions.

But applications by developers, who stand to rake in tens of thousands of pounds in subsidies have angered local communities who think they blight the landscape and hit house prices.

Council planners already reject around half the applications they receive, but many are then approved on appeal by planning inspectors to champion green energy.

Mr Pickles announced this year that the drive to build wind farms would no longer automatically trump protecting the landscape.

In a major boost for anti-wind farm campaigners, their concerns about the visual and environmental impact must be taken into account, and that for six months his Whitehall department would centrally review some of the appeals to make sure residents get a say.

Wind farms are a running sore between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories. Over a hundred Conservative backbenchers, as well as some cabinet ministers, are opposed to onshore wind farms, which they say ruin the countryside and do not help mitigate climate change.

Tory energy minister Michael Fallon said: ‘These new rules will help ensure that in future people have a say earlier on in the process over where onshore turbines are sited. Wind is an important part of the UK’s energy mix, and both Government and industry agree that these proposals will ensure that new turbines are appropriately sited.’



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