Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Boris’s recycled eco-sop

Today, the prime minister announced his 10-point plan for what he claims will be ‘a green industrial revolution’. But despite the green applause and gushing, Boris Johnson’s agenda contains nothing new and nothing to cheer. It is nothing but the recycled and reused promises of every government which, since the 1990s, has failed to convince the public that environmentalist goals are advanced in our interests. These are commitments, not to respond better to the British public’s needs and wants, but to ignore them in favour of the wants of the blobs that infest Westminster, the ‘international community’, and Boris’s girlfriend.

It was not Boris who said, ‘The huge industrial revolution that is unfolding in converting our economy to low carbon is going to present huge business and employment opportunities’. It was Peter Mandelson in 2009. And it was not Boris who said that wind power means ‘a real prospect of us becoming a net energy exporter again, as we were at the peak of North Sea oil and gas’. It was the disgraced Chris Huhne, former energy secretary, in 2010. For over a decade, all governments have been promising that a ‘green industrial revolution’ is ‘unfolding’ on their command, which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and release the UK economy from its slumber. Boris Johnson repeats them, claiming that the UK will become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. This endless recycling of promises has delivered nothing for the public, except perhaps for higher energy prices.

What this constant recycling demonstrates is how all the establishment parties have gone green. Vote Blue, go Green. Vote Boris Johnson, get Ed Miliband. The failed ambitions of a one-time party of government become the flagship policies of the next. The Labour Party’s ‘Green New Deal’, for example, was repackaged by the succeeding Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition as the ‘Green Deal’. Though he promised ‘no more half-measures going off at half-cock’, Chris Huhne’s scheme was abandoned after the public turned their noses at the offer, which included loans for home retrofitting – point seven on Boris’s plan. Much of Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan reuses these failed policies.

Then, as now, Britain’s politicians believed that strong domestic legislation on climate change is what’s needed to take a leading role on the world stage. In the desperate, dying days of the Gordon Brown government, the UK Climate Change Act was formed and was taken to the ill-fated climate meeting in Copenhagen by Ed Miliband. But the act of collective self-sacrifice taken on our behalf was ignored, and the meeting failed to reach an agreement. Boris’s 10-point plan intends to repeat the mistakes of the Brown government, by enacting draconian legislation ahead of next year’s climate meeting, which Britain is hosting.

Since the mid-2000s, the UK’s politicians, civil society and public institutions of all kinds have – with few exceptions – tried to establish the environment as the top political priority. Despite this, the ever-patient voter has had other ideas. The era of environmentalism’s apparent ascendency was better defined by the question of Britain’s membership of the EU. Although Johnson seemingly championed Brexit, he seems hell-bent on ignoring the referendum’s fundamental message: the desire for democratic control of British politics, not submission to undemocratic supranational political organisations. The 10-point plan, signalling ‘our’ commitment to the global green agenda, is intended to secure the foundation for a form of supranational politics that is every bit as overbearing and undemocratic as the European Union. No thanks, Boris.

The constant recycling of the same ‘ambition’ has become the leitmotif of British politics. It is the endless screeching of an aloof, detached elite, hopelessly searching for support from above, rather than turning to the public for instruction. But the fact is, as nearly everyone below can see, it is not an ‘industrial revolution’ that is being sought, but a political revolution – against democracy. Boris’s plan, the ‘Net Zero’ agenda and the green political consensus explicitly remove the public’s ability to participate in political debate about the material conditions they endure and the freedoms they enjoy.

Hence, the 10-point plan at last turns hitherto abstract emissions-reduction targets into more concrete objectives. As was expected, it sets out the plan in which domestic boilers will be abolished and replaced – at four or five times the cost to the householder – by ‘heat pumps’. Petrol and diesel cars will be abolished and replaced by electric vehicles that are vastly more expensive, pricing millions off the road. Meanwhile, cycling and walking will be made ‘more attractive’.

The government’s green turn has stirred some criticism from Tory quarters, concerned that the lofty green ambitions of the south east might not resonate in the newly won ‘red wall’ constituencies in the north. Not so, claims Boris in the Financial Times, invoking the distant memory of Britain’s industrial age, projected on to the future of former industrial towns. ‘Imagine Britain when a Green Industrial Revolution has helped to level up the country’ and ‘British towns and regions – Teesside, Port Talbot, Merseyside and Mansfield – are now synonymous with green technology and jobs’.

But the promise is paper-thin. It is a £12 billion make-work scheme. It might not be capable of creating a single job at all – let alone turning around Britain’s former industrial towns. In any case, its ambitions are dwarfed by the damage inflicted on jobs by the government’s response to Covid-19. Figures from the ONS show that the government borrowed upwards of £1 billion per day throughout the pandemic. That is to say that Boris’s flagship policy initiative costs less than a fortnight of its mismanagement of the pandemic. And it is the last nine months of the government’s catastrophic interventions that should calibrate our estimation of the 10-point plan.

I would not buy a second-hand car from Boris Johnson. Much less would I buy from him a suite of policies that will, among other things, abolish cars and reorganise the entire economy, society and culture. This agenda will have no democratic control; no ordinary person, whether or not they are grateful for a make-work job, will have any say over it.

In fact, I would not buy a second-hand car from any politician peddling Net Zero utopianism, hydrogen-powered fantasies and dreams of reorganising society around the rationing of energy. This is not ‘building back better’, as Boris would have it; it is building back according to the wishes of green-blob lobbyists, billionaires’ pet ‘civil society’ organisations, the prime minister’s awful girlfriend and a degenerate political class that thinks we can be persuaded into a lifetime of ecological austerity by a £12 billion sop

Trump slams the Paris Climate Accord and says it was designed to destroy the American economy

President Donald Trump railed against the Paris climate accord on Sunday, telling world leaders at a virtual summit that the agreement was designed to cripple the U.S. economy, not save the planet.

'To protect American workers, I withdrew the United States from the unfair and one-sided Paris climate accord, a very unfair act for the United States,' Trump said in a video statement from the White House to the Group of 20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

His comments came during a discussion among the world's largest economies on safeguarding the Earth.

President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office in January, has said he will rejoin the global pact that the U.S. helped forge five years ago.

Trump contended the international accord was 'not designed to save the environment. It was designed to kill the American economy.'

Trump, who has worked to undo most of President Barack Obama's efforts to fight climate change, said that since withdrawing from the climate agreement, the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions more than any nation.

That is true, but not that remarkable.

With its giant economy, the U.S. has far more raw emissions of climate-damaging carbon dioxide to cut than any other country except China.

A more telling measure of progress in various countries is to look at what percentage of emissions a county has cut. Since 2005, the United States hasn´t been even in the top 10 in percentage of greenhouse gas emission reductions.

More than 180 nations have ratified the accord, which aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide 'well below' 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and ideally no more than 1.5C (2.7 F), compared with pre-industrial levels.

Scientists say that any rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius could have a devastating impact on large parts of the world, raising sea levels, stoking tropical storms and worsening droughts and floods.

The U.S. formally exited the Paris pact on Nov. 4.

During the discussions at the climate session, President Xi Jinping of China, the world's largest emitter, said the G-20 should continue to take the lead in tackling climate change and push for the full implementation of the Paris accord.

'Not long ago, I announced China's initiative to scale up its nationally determined contributions and strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060,' he said. 'China will honor its commitment and see the implementation through.'

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, said 'climate change must be fought not in silos, but in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic way.'

The perversities of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement

Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on the first day of his administration, a promise unambiguous and therefore certain to be fulfilled, notwithstanding the essential absurdity of the Paris agreement narrowly and of climate policies more generally. Applying the EPA climate model under highly favorable assumptions, the Paris agreement if implemented immediately and enforced strictly would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by about 0.17 degrees C, an effect that would be barely detectable given the normal variation in annual temperatures. The Biden proposal for net-zero emissions by the U.S.: 0.137 degrees C. The temperature effect by 2100 from either net-zero emissions by the entire OECD or a 30 percent cut in GHG emissions by the entire world: less than 0.3 degrees C.

The ostensible reductions in GHG emissions under the Paris agreement are merely the summed promises (“nationally determined contributions”) submitted by the various nations. There is neither “science” nor rigorous benefit/cost analysis underlying them, and there is no enforcement mechanism in any event; short of military action, any such enforcement would be impossible, notwithstanding all the current talk about “border adjustment” tariffs to be imposed upon economies failing to satisfy the demands of the international climate and environmental left. Indeed, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), under the authority of which the Paris agreement was negotiated, makes it quite clear that the resolution of disputes is wholly voluntary:

A conciliation commission shall be created upon the request of one of the parties to the dispute. The commission shall be composed of an equal number of members appointed by each party concerned and a chairman chosen jointly by the members appointed by each party. The commission shall render a recommendatory award, which the parties shall consider in good faith. (Italics added)

Notice also that almost all of the NDCs are promised emissions reductions relative to a “business as usual” baseline, that is, an emissions path unconstrained by any policies at all. Because GHG emissions are closely correlated with energy consumption, itself driven by gross domestic product, even a small overestimate of future economic growth will yield a BAU baseline assumption for future GHG emissions higher than realistic. When economic growth proves lower than assumed, so will GHG emissions; accordingly, the NDCs can (and many or most of them will) be fulfilled without any change at all in actual underlying emissions behavior. Commitments fulfilled!

The Paris agreement obviously is a treaty requiring ratification by the U.S. Senate, but because it was doomed to defeat had it been so submitted by President Obama, he pretended that it was merely an administrative agreement, agreeing to its terms in September 2016 by sending a letter to the UN. That this is clearly unconstitutional should be obvious: If presidents can decide unilaterally which international agreements require Senate ratification and which do not, the presidential “power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur” becomes unconstrained, a blatant destruction of the Senate’s explicit power to provide or to withhold consent.

Accordingly, the failure of President Trump to submit the Paris agreement to the Senate for a certain defeat was a major mistake, as doing so would have preserved the proper respective roles of the president and the Senate under the constitution, while relegating the agreement to its well-deserved place on the trash heap of history. His decision merely to implement a formal exit appeared attractive because it circumvented opposition by the State Department bureaucracy to a treaty ratification vote; the certain defeat was inconsistent with the bureaucracy’s eternal goal of endless expansion of the scope of international negotiations regardless of the harm to U.S. interests. But Trump’s chosen path of less resistance has yielded the current situation in which Obama and Trump have created a precedent that Biden can exploit without so much as a nod to the Senate’s proper role.

And so it is unsurprising that Biden will implement that seemingly straightforward course of action, but rejoining the Paris agreement entails crucial complications and serious adverse effects far beyond the obvious higher energy costs and weaker economic growth.

Once Biden sends the requisite letter to the UN, the U.S. formally would become again a party to the agreement after thirty days. But then the U.S. would have to submit an NDC; that initially might be a placeholder, an example of which might be the original Obama NDC, an emissions cut of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Largely because of the massive expansion in U.S. natural gas productionattendant upon the fracking/horizontal drilling technological revolution---vehemently opposed by the environmental left as part of its ideological stance against fossil fuels---U.S. GHG emissions in 2019 were over 16 percent below those in 2005.

But even a projected fulfillment of the Obama NDC by 2025 would not satisfy the political corner into which Biden has painted himself. He pledged, prominently, net-zero U.S. GHG emissions from the electric power sector by 2035, and net-zero for the whole economy by 2050. As a central policy dynamic, those goals are indistinguishable from those typically subsumed under the heading “Green New Deal,” regardless of Biden’s attempt to claim that his plan and the GND fundamentally are different. That means that legislation would be needed to effect the necessary massive shifts in the U.S. economy, but such Congressional acts simply will not be forthcoming from a House of Representatives with a Democratic majority of, say, 225-210, or from even a Senate divided 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting deciding votes. There are too many Democratic Congressmen and Senators whose constituents would suffer large economic losses from such policies, and the 60-vote supermajority rule in the Senate would make matters even more difficult.

Accordingly, a President Biden intent upon fulfilling his self-imposed mandate would find it necessary to use the regulatory process to force the promised upheaval in U.S. energy markets, presumably under the authority of the Clean Air Act. The Obama administration attempted to employ precisely this approach, and encountered towering legal obstacles that essentially made achievement of its climate policy goals impossible. Even were a Biden administration able to overcome these central legal problems---not a plausible outcome given the change in the federal judiciary over the last four years---any such regulatory process would consume years under the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Alternatively, or perhaps in combination with a massive regulatory effort, a Biden administration in concert with leftist environmental legal groups might try to persuade various judges to rule that formal U.S. participation in the Paris agreement overrides the legislative powers of Congress and the constraints imposed by actual existing legal authority upon expansive regulatory activity. Such rulings would be certain to receive attention at the appellate level, and very likely from the Supreme Court. How probable is it that the latter would be willing to adopt the position that the Paris agreement---never ratified by the Senate---has diminished U.S. sovereignty in such a way as to render the legislative powers of Congress null?

That is not all. “Climate policy” is an attempt to impose a large artificial increase in energy costs, and the asserted costs of “mitigating” the purported adverse effects of anthropogenic climate change must be borne by someone. (I shunt aside here the reality that there is no actual evidence of such adverse effects.) Accordingly, the developing economies demanded at the 2009 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen a commitment from the developed economies for large annual subsidies. The result was the Green Climate Fund, established in 2010; it is supposed to raise $100 billion per year beginning in 2020. (As of earlier this year, a total of $10.3 billion has been pledged.) The Obama administration pledged about $3 billion in total, and actually transferred about $1 billion; needless to say, the Trump administration has been far more skeptical of the UNFCCC and the GCF.

Will the Biden administration find the $3 billion pledge sufficient politically? The developing economies have been vociferous in their demands for large financial transfers as a quid pro quo for acceptance of higher energy costs, and without such transfers it is easy to envision a large-scale refusal to implement the Paris NDCs, in particular because Article 9 of the Paris agreement mandates such financial aid. The aforementioned State Department bureaucracy will be aghast, and the leaks and other tools with which to embarrass the Biden White House will become prominent. And it is not obvious that the closely-divided Congress will be willing to appropriate the requisite dollars, especially given all the other continuing and new spending demands certain to be manifest.

Note that the GCF says that the “advanced economies have agreed to jointly mobilize significant financial resources” and that the “GCF engages directly with the private sector through its Private Sector Facility.” And so it is not difficult to predict that the Biden administration will attempt to assuage the GCF financing demands by putting the squeeze on the private sector, by threatening adverse actions in terms of regulatory, tax, and other dimensions of policymaking. In a word, the U.S. contribution to the GCF will take the form of a shakedown, accelerating the already-destructive practice of the federal government to behave like a protection racket.

The basic political problem created by the net-zero policies advocated by Biden is simple: the destruction of a substantial part of the economic value of the energy-producing and -using capital stock, and therefore an unavoidable impoverishment for millions of people. The Biden answer to this reality is that we can subsidize and otherwise mandate the creation of millions of replacement “green jobs,” a hallucination that only ideologues can believe. Sharp increases in energy costs mean a smaller economy and less employment, a reality that no amount of central planning can overcome. It is no accident that electricity prices in California are the highest in the lower forty-eight states. So much for the argument that wind and solar costs now are competitive, a preposterous assertion that shunts aside the costs of their inherent unreliability and the massive subsidies and guaranteed market shares bestowed upon them.

“Climate policy”---a forced reduction in GHG emissions---inexorably means, again, a substantial increase in the cost of energy, a reality that no amount of propaganda about the “competitiveness” of wind and solar power, batteries, carbon capture, and other unconventional technologies can change. That is the basic reason that such policies cannot be enacted democratically. Instead they must be forced upon the body politic by bureaucracies acting both alone and in concert with leftist environmental pressure groups, judges, and the international climate nomenklatura, all justifying their policy diktats on the basis of “existential threat” assertions utterly unsupported by the evidence. Such are the implications of reentering the Paris agreement: a further erosion of the rule of law, of U.S. sovereignty, and of the protection of property rights. It is deeply unwise and destructive.

Australia: Qld political leaders furtive in praise of resources like natural gas

Our natural gas industry has delivered positive results beyond the supply of energy, so why does the Labor Party continue to demonise it, asks Des Houghton.

In a drought-scarred landscape in western Queensland, near Roma where I grew up, Trevor Kehl gazes over an inland lake twice the size of Lang Park.

It is not really a lake, but a storage pond holding 300 million litres of water. Kehl gets the water for free, as part of a deal with Senex, a Brisbane-based natural gas explorer and producer helping to provide reliable power as the nation transitions away from coal.

Kehl said a 10-year partnership with Senex had droughtproofed his cattle property.

Senex also installed an irrigation system at no charge, so Kehl can water 100ha of crops like Rhodes grass and barley to feed his 300 Braford breeders. The Braford is a cross between a Hereford bull and a Brahman cow, 55-year-old Kehl explained.

The water was drawn to the surface to release the gas. It was a godsend to rural producers, said Kehl.

Like many farmers and graziers who benefit from the gas water, Kehl no longer has to buy feed. His cattle put on more weight and therefore sell at a higher price. Now Kehl and his wife Jasmine will build sheds to store the hay they will make from the excess Rhodes grass, and offer it to the market.

The couple also receive annual compensation payments for the 11 Senex wells and 15 Santos wells on their properties.

Senex is a rising star in Gasland, and this year completed a $400m development in the Surat Basin, 500km west of Brisbane.

In the past two years Senex drilled 80 wells, built processing facilities and pipelines in and around its Roma North and Atlas developments. Roma North supplies the Santos-operated GLNG venture while Atlas is Australia’s first dedicated domestic-only acreage.

“Senex continues to work with potential customers to supply natural gas that will support Australia’s gas-led recovery and creation of sustainable jobs for Queenslanders,” said managing director Ian Davies.

He said Senex now provided gas for domestic and commercial customers including CSR, Orora, Visy Glass, Alinta Energy, CleanCo Queensland and Southern Oil Refining. Davies recently gave the go-ahead for an expansion at Roma North and Atlas that would increase production by 50 per cent.

All the big players in gas are involved directly or indirectly in the beef and farming industry. Since 2014, Origin and Australia Pacific LNG have been supplying high-quality, treated coal-seam gas water to local landholders via its Fairymeadow Rd irrigation pipeline near Miles. The water is used for irrigation and drinking water for livestock.

Locals have been able to use the water to develop new or expanded irrigated cropping and watering for stock, boosting agricultural production.

The water is purified by reverse osmosis at the Condabri and Talinga water treatment plants.

Coal-seam gas has provided a windfall for many in the regions. Gas companies have built roads, airports and dams and given cash grants to sports clubs and schools.

The companies took billions of dollars of risk in establishing the industry that now benefits all Queenslanders. And they pay billions in royalties. They have done their bit.

So it truly beggars belief that sections of the Labor Party attempt to demonise gas.

The internecine war in the federal Labor Party over emission targets has caused deep divisions and threatens Anthony Albanese’s leadership.

Gas is a huge industry that flies under the radar, perhaps because the big players are afraid to hail its benefits for fear of antagonising the hysterical green movement.

Queensland alone produced 1503 petajoules of gas last year, enough to power 28 million homes for a year.

In the same year the contribution of the Queensland resources sector to the state economy was $82.6bn, according to the Queensland Resources Council. Yet Queensland political leaders of all colours are furtive in their praise of resources like gas, probably because they fear being wedged like Albo.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://john-ray.blogspot.com (FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


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