Monday, December 17, 2018

A climate passport?

A prominent researcher is proposing establishing a "climate passport" for people driven from their homes by the impact of global warming.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said Thursday the passport could be modeled on a similar certificate given to refugees of Russia's civil war in the 1920s.

The so-called Nansen passport was later extended to other people who were made stateless after their citizenships were revoked. It helped hundreds of thousands of people to find refuge elsewhere in the world.

Schellnhuber's proposal, made on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Poland, is likely to face resistance from rich countries concerned about the possibility of millions of refugees heading their way in the coming decades.


Climate Depot's Morano Responds: "On the contrary, it is time for 'climate passports' to be issued to French citizens and others who wish to flee climate change driven policies that skyrocket energy prices. It is the victims of 'climate change' policies, taxes, and regulations that need passports to escape their leaders who are trying to control the weather through higher fuel costs. Climate passports should be issued to all the French citizens who wish to escape from Pres. Macron's climate policies!"

Ocasio-Cortez backs green policies that would hurt the poor and cripple our economy

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promises that going green – removing all fossil fuels from our energy mix – will “establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States.”

In fact, her proposal would cripple our economy and hurt our poorest citizens.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has admirable passion, but needs some schooling in energy economics. The cost of renewable energy is dropping fast, but is still more expensive in many applications than traditional fossil fuels like coal or oil. That’s one reason that adoption of wind and solar power has been slow, and that many countries, including the United States, underwrite renewables with subsidies and tax credits. The International Energy Agency predicts in its 2018 report that “the share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth in the next five years to reach 12.4% in 2023.”

The share of renewables remains low because wind and sun power are effective in producing electricity but not, for instance, in powering automobiles or airplanes. Renewables will generate nearly 30 percent of global electricity in 2023, a big jump from 24 percent in 2017, but will still account for only 3.8 percent of transportation fuel, compared to 3.4 percent in 2018.

More important, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should know that lower-income and minority communities in the U.S. are disproportionately disadvantaged by higher energy costs. A 2016 study by the National Research Defense Council found that low income households “spend, on average, 7.2 percent of their income on utility bills…That is more than triple the 2.3 percent spent by higher-income households for electricity, heating and cooling.”  Were we to ditch coal, natural gas and oil in favor of higher-cost renewables, electricity prices would soar, especially harming just those folks whom the young progressive says she wants to help.

Evidence of the staggering costs imposed by green policies is provided by other IEA data, which compares electricity costs in different countries. In the United States, the cost of electricity for households earlier this year was $129 per megawatt. In Germany, a country that leapt into renewables with enthusiasm, and imposed hefty taxes to squelch demand for fossil fuels, the cost is $343.59. Does Ms. Ocasio-Cortez really want to impose a near-tripling of electricity costs on Americans?

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez might want to visit France, a sympathetic left-leaning country, which is currently convulsed by people who are really, really angry over recently-enacted green policies of the kind that she might embrace.  President Emmanuel Macron raised taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline, hoping to make driving more expensive and thereby discourage fossil fuel use, setting off the worst rioting that country has seen in a generation.

The lesson for Macron, for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other policy makers is that people may be concerned about global warming and increasing emissions, but they are considerably more worried about making ends meet.

It is not the high-income elites who are taking to the streets, breaking store windows and burning cars – it is middle class and blue collar people who think Macron has no sympathy for their travails, for their ever-higher cost of living and, in particular, for the cost of their commute.

Note that 70 percent of the French people support the protests, while at the same time 79 percent of the country, according to a poll conducted last year, fret about climate change.

The lesson for Macron, for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other policy makers is that people may be concerned about global warming and increasing emissions, but they are considerably more worried about making ends meet.

Polling on the subject bears this out. While a global Pew study found that 54 percent of people in 40 countries thought that climate change was a “very serious problem,” a survey conducted by the UN at about the same time, which elicited almost 7 million responses, showed people ranking climate change the least of their concerns. Global warming came in dead last behind better education, better health care, better job opportunities and thirteen other issues.

Even in the U.S., where 6 of 10 respondents to the Pew poll say their community is already being impacted by climate change, the issue ranks 17th in a list of policy priorities.

Why this disconnect? One reason is that the extreme alarmism from environmentalists has numbed us to the perils of rising emissions. If you are endlessly lectured about how eating meat or driving your Chevy will cause entire populations to be swept away by rising sea levels, it becomes overwhelming. People tune out.

It is also true that some of the wilder predictions of disaster have failed to materialize, leading to profound skepticism. Al Gore’s doomed polar bears, for instance, seem to actually be thriving. According to one source, their numbers are increasing except in one location, where in fact they are challenged by too much sea ice, as opposed to too little.

Because of abundant natural gas displacing coal, the United States is the only major country in which emissions have been dropping over the past decade. We are not the problem. It is China, whose carbon output is already nearly twice that of the U.S. A recent report from the Global Carbon Project blames a predicted rise in worldwide emissions this year on “a rise in coal consumption in China, which accounts for more than 46% of the projected increase in industrial CO2 emissions in 2018.”

The U.S. is blessed with abundant energy, an important competitive advantage. The Trump White House pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord because the demands of that agreement would have destroyed that advantage and hobbled our growth, while demanding virtually no commitments from China.

Americans are sensible people. We want clean air and water, and we want to curtail the carbon emissions that appear a danger to our world. But, we do not want to sacrifice our economic wellbeing on the altar of climate dogma. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be careful before promoting policies that would build a cleaner planet on the backs of American workers.


The Green New Deal: eco pastiche

Despite the often unhinged and naked fearmongering of environmentalists, climate change has remained the preoccupation of very narrow sections of society: certain political activists, remote bureaucrats, disoriented journalists and disconnected politicians – groups that many people might rightly identify as a bigger problem for society, and the future, than global warming. Thus, the movements that urge us to flush the toilet less frequently and not to take unnecessary journeys has had to recycle moments from history in order to try to stir political passions.

Climate activists have dressed themselves up as Suffragettes and rushed parliament to demand ‘deeds not words’ from MPs. Politicians have compared their own projects with the civil-rights movement. Senior technocrats and scientists have compared the task ahead of them with the Moon landing and the Manhattan Project, and demanded budgets accordingly. Environmentalism is like an astronomically expensive, but dire, costume drama.

The latest example of such historical plagiarism is in the United States. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has backed a so-called Green New Deal, aimed at creating a new green industry that she says will guarantee every American a job. Her pitch is full of the usual naff pastiche: ‘This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the Moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.’

The US green left is making some huge promises. Ocasio-Cortez says this proposal, to make 100 per cent of US electricity renewable and phase out fossil fuels, will also eliminate structural inequalities, racism and social injustices of all kinds. Her vision of the Green New Deal leaves virtually no part of American society unmodified.

But the idea that one can simply summon up the ghost of Roosevelt to solve contemporary political crises is misplaced. To do so misses the complexity of the present. It assumes that everything wrong with the world is merely the consequence of fossil fuels, and that everything can be righted by building enough wind turbines. Going by Ocasio-Cortez’s statements, you’d think all we have to do is make every victim of social injustice a unionised wind-power engineer in a green-energy cooperative, and voila! What’s more, the idea of a Green New Deal is not new, and its history may shed some light on its future.

In 2007, Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times about his desire for ‘a new unifying political movement for the 21st century’. Green ideology, he said, ‘has the power to mobilise liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, big business and environmentalists around an agenda that can both pull us together and propel us forward’. In his vision for a ‘Green New Deal’, government would be ‘seeding basic research, providing loan guarantees where needed and setting standards, taxes and incentives’. That people did not immediately leap to the streets to demand it must have been a great surprise to Friedman.

The following year, in the UK, a group of prominent environmentalists from the Green Party, Friends of the Earth and the Guardian, based out of the New Economics Foundation, drafted their own proposals for a ‘Green New Deal’ to tackle what they called the ‘Triple Crunch’: ‘A combination of a credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices underpinned by encroaching peak oil.’ It was a time of much green policy innovation; the UK’s Climate Change Bill was being debated in parliament.

In 2009, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched its own ‘Global Green New Deal’ under its Green Economy initiative. According to a UNEP policy brief, a fiscal stimulus of a mere $750 billion – one per cent of global GDP – could begin to transform the ailing and ‘unsustainable’ ‘brown’ economy into a vibrant green one. Arriving in the wake of the financial crisis, it argued for stimulus into sanitation, housing and energy, rather than bank bailouts. Which might have connected with people at the time. But the UN’s proposals were still downbeat, with the people at the bottom offered ‘sustainable development’ rather than a meaningfully better life.

Indeed, to compare these green schemes to something like the New Deal is more than a little disingenuous. Economic prosperity and jobs are not the primary concerns of climate activism – ‘saving the planet’ is. And the UK experience would suggest that ordinary people do not feel the benefit of these grand plans.

In April 2009, the Labour government announced that the crisis-ridden British economy would be saved by creating 400,000 new ‘green jobs’. ‘The huge industrial revolution that is unfolding, in converting our economy to low carbon, is going to present huge business and employment opportunities’, said then business secretary Peter Mandelson. But it didn’t. Domestic energy prices doubled, and much of the profit went to wealthy landowners on whose estates the ‘revolution’ was installed, in the form of wind turbines, solar panels and biofuel crops. The revolution soon began to look a lot like feudalism.

Greens like to talk about making the world a better place, but their indifference to ordinary working people has been plain for decades. Hence climate change has not been a vote-winner. Anywhere. Ever. Despite Friedman’s optimism for a new ecological political consensus, environmentalism has only ever united political elites. What’s more, climate change has become synonymous with the tendency towards ‘globalism’, at the expense of national political agendas. Brexit, Trump and now the gilets jaunes have shown that the era of international, consensus-driven politics is over. The retreat to Roosevelt’s mega-Keynesianism is thus an attempt to give climate activism a new political context, off the back of absurd promises.

Historians are divided on whether it was Roosevelt’s programme or the Second World War that ultimately saved Americans from the economic torpor of the 1930s. Either way, searching 1930s America for answers to America’s problems today is facile. Climate-change activists seem compelled to re-enact the past because they are so unpopular in the present.


Document Details the Eye-Popping Amount Attorneys Stand To Make from Climate Crusades

One of the law firms involved in a trove of California lawsuits targeting ExxonMobil and other energy companies is poised to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from their climate crusades.

Sher Edling LLP could capitalize on a big payday if San Francisco’s lawsuit against the oil company, according to documents obtained Wednesday by Climate Litigation Watch. The contract between the firm, San Francisco and the county is complex and lays out a multi-tiered payment method for Sher Edling.

The California-based firm pay is dependent on the amount of the settlement. If the city secures a $100 million settlement, then Sher Edling takes roughly $25 million; if the settlement is over $100 million, then it gets $32.5 million; and the firm receives roughly $36.5 for anything above $150 million. These payments are per city, meaning the firm is looking for a big payout.

Oakland is also working with Sher Edling on a lawsuit against the Texas-based company, but refused to provide copies of its settlement, CLW noted in a press statement Wednesday. San Francisco and Oakland had previously employed Hagens Berman to represent them in their legal pursuits.

Hagens Berman’s fee was pegged at 23.5 percent of any winnings from its cases with San Francisco and Oakland before the two cities switched firms. Hagens Berman represents King County and New York City in their separate lawsuits demanding Exxon pay for its supposed role contributing to global warming.

Manufacturers’ groups have consistently criticized the lawsuits. Linda Kelly, senior vice president and general counsel for National Association of Manufacturers, blasted the settlement in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“In case anyone thought this litigation was motivated by a desire to actually address climate change, this agreement between San Francisco and its new outside counsel should put that notion to rest,” Kelly said. “It is astounding that Sher Edling managed to undercut Hagens Berman and still anticipates receiving a cut worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The contracts come shortly after TheDCNF reported in November that attorneys Vic Sher and Matt Pawa got into a multi-million-dollar legal dispute in 2014 stemming from a lawsuit they both worked on against ExxonMobil. Sher, who founded Sher Edling, alleged Pawa’s group, Pawa Law Group, failed to distribute money from a settlement in the case. Pawa, who is now with Hagens Berman, argued in a lawsuit that Sher was the one cheating him out of millions of dollars.

Sher eventually paid Pawa about $6 million for the retributions, court documents show. The disagreement stems from a lawsuit New Hampshire filed in 2013 alleging Exxon negligently contaminated the state’s waterways with 2 billion gallons of MTBE, a gas additive experts believe poisons drinking water. The intrigue comes amid growing bad blood between the two sides.


Good show! Australia’s carbon emissions highest on record

Good for crops

Australia’s carbon emissions are again the highest on record, according to new data from the emissions-tracking organisation Ndevr Environmental.

Ndevr replicates the federal government’s national greenhouse gas inventory (NGGI) quarterly reports but releases them months ahead of the official data.

Data it has produced for the year up to September 2018 shows Australia is still on track to miss its Paris target of a 26%-28% cut to emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.

Matt Drum, the managing director of Ndevr, said if emissions continued at their current rate, Australia would miss the target by a cumulative 1.1bn tonnes.

Electricity sector emissions were stable, but fugitive emissions, and emissions from stationary energy and transport are all still trending sharply upwards.

Both the Coalition government and Labor have not ruled out using controversial carryover credits from the Kyoto protocol to help meet Australia’s obligations under the Paris agreement.

Labor has promised that if it wins the election it will increase Australia’s target to 45% on 2005 levels, in line with recommendations from the independent Climate Change Authority.

Ndevr’s analysis said this would require a reduction of 197.1m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent based on current emissions levels, which would be equal to taking 75m cars off the road for a year.

In comparison, the Coalition’s emission reduction target would require an 80.8m tonne reduction.

Breaking up Labor’s target across sectors, Ndever suggests a range of reductions will be necessary in several industries, including 61.2m tonnes from the electricity sector, 33.4m tonnes from the stationary energy sector, 23.7m tonnes from agriculture and 34.2m tonnes from transport.

“If Labor come into government we can’t afford a policy vacuum,” Drum said. “It’s looking grim. We need policy levers and we need them quickly.” Drum said the need for action was so urgent there would be no time for a full redesign of policy if there was a change of government. Instead, he said existing policies, such as the safeguard mechanism, should be amended.

“They need to utilise existing policy like the safeguard mechanism and tweak it so it achieves what it is intended to achieve, which is reduce emissions,” he said.

On Thursday, the Greens environment spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, said Australia was using “creative emissions accounting” to try to meet its Paris targets. “Counting Kyoto credit towards Paris cheats our environment and the rest of the world,” she said.

“Our emissions are going up, yet our environment minister is telling the world we are doing our bit to meet our Paris targets.”



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