Friday, July 08, 2022

Gas and Nuclear Power Can Be ‘Green’ Under New EU Plan

Laughable face-saving

A vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday cleared the way for nuclear power and natural gas to be included in the EU’s so-called green taxonomy.

Lawmakers in the European Union voted to include nuclear power and natural gas in the bloc’s list of investments deemed sustainable, a move it hopes will trigger more funding of those sectors but that critics said would slow down the EU’s shift to greener energy sources.

Opponents of the plan failed to gather enough support for a veto during a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday, clearing the way for the two energy sources to be included in the EU’s so-called green taxonomy if they meet a series of conditions such as limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

The taxonomy, which will affect a range of industries beyond energy, is meant to help funnel more money into projects that the bloc considers to be sustainable and is part of a larger push to slash greenhouse gas emissions. It doesn’t bar investments in projects that aren’t on the list or prevent European countries from making decisions about their own energy mix.

The debate over whether nuclear energy and natural gas should be included in the taxonomy took on a new dimension in recent months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. About 40% of the gas the EU used last year came from Russia.

Officials from the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, have said natural gas and nuclear energy should be included in the taxonomy under certain conditions because they can help countries transition away from coal. Burning natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide that is generated by coal, and nuclear-power plants don’t produce carbon dioxide when they are operating.

But environmentalists, lawmakers and some investors have argued the plan risks diluting investments in other projects such as renewable energy. Lawmakers also said their case against including natural gas in the taxonomy became stronger after Russia invaded Ukraine because of the EU’s heavy reliance on Russian gas.

Europe is racing to reduce its dependence on Moscow and is seeking liquefied natural gas from other countries, including the U.S., to replace Russian natural gas. Officials are also preparing for the possibility of a complete cutoff of gas supplies from Russia, which they have said could result in rationing.

Wednesday’s vote in the European Parliament marks a last significant hurdle for the plan to include nuclear power and natural gas in the taxonomy, and means it will likely come into force at the beginning of next year.

Mairead McGuinness, the EU commissioner for financial services, said earlier this week that the plan wouldn’t deepen Europe’s reliance on Russia and is a time-limited measure that is meant to help with the bloc’s transition to cleaner energy sources.

“Some member states moving from dirty fossil fuel may need gas in transition,” Ms. McGuinness said. She said nuclear power is also part of that transition.

The commission has said the conditions for determining which nuclear and natural-gas investments can be included in the taxonomy set a high bar and should help ensure that those activities are contributing to the overall goal of climate-change mitigation. Environmental groups and some lawmakers disagree, saying the standards are too lax.

Under the commission’s plan, new nuclear plants that show they can safely handle toxic nuclear waste could be counted as green investments until 2045. Natural-gas plants could be considered sustainable until at least 2030 if they meet certain criteria, including keeping emissions under a set threshold.


British government's adviser admits heat pumps won't reduce energy bills

Installing a heat pump will push energy bills higher, the Government's adviser has admitted, despite ministers pressing the technology on households.

The Climate Change Committee, the Government's independent adviser on tackling climate change, has found the running cost of heat pumps is 10pc higher than that of a gas boiler – equal to £100 more a year.

This excludes the upfront capital costs of around £10,000 per household that is needed to replace a gas boiler with a heat pump, according to the Energy and Utilities Alliance, a trade body.

The CCC’s report said: “Even under current record high gas prices, our estimates suggest that the average heating bill for a heat pump is around 10pc higher than for a gas boiler.”

Heat pumps run on electricity, which is around four times more expensive than gas because of the way carbon taxes are applied. These taxes add £93 to an average electricity bill but only £3 to gas bills, according to supplier Octopus, although this is currently being reviewed.

The report added: “Removing energy levies from electricity will directly lower running costs for heat pumps, making them more financially viable.

“In the medium term, heat pump efficiency improvements should also help bring their running costs closer in line with gas boilers.”

Mike Foster, of the EUA, said the data had been “hidden away from the main headlines” and confirmed fears installing heat pumps would worsen the effects of the cost of living crisis.

He said those who suggest heat pumps are the answer to soaring energy bills – particularly as the energy price cap is set to increase later this year – “risk heaping more misery onto ordinary, hard-working families.”

Mr Foster added: “The Government should be looking at ways of reducing our heating bills, not ramping them up. They have a target of 600,000 heat pumps a year to be fitted into homes by 2030. This will force up heating bills, not just according to our analysis, but also to the Government’s own advisors. It’s time for a reset.”


UK: New coalmine in Cumbria backed by environment secretary

The environment secretary has given his backing to a new coalmine in Cumbria on the eve of a government decision about whether to approve the contentious project.

George Eustice said the alternative was “outsourcing pollution” to countries where standards would be lower.

The proposal for a mine at Whitehaven has the support of local Conservative MPs but is unpopular with environmental campaigners. Developers want to drill underneath the Irish Sea to extract coking coal used for steelmaking. Around 36 per cent of the coal is imported from Russia at present. Michael Gove, the levelling-up, communities and housing secretary, has been asked to announce whether the mine will go ahead by tomorrow.

The mine was initially approved by Cumbria council but is subject to a public inquiry. Boris Johnson appeared to hint he was in favour of the project when he said last month that “it makes no sense to be importing coal . . . when we have our own domestic resources.”

Speaking to The Times, Eustice defended the colliery, saying that coking coal was still needed. “It is with gas as with coal,” he said. “If we still need to use it for certain industries, and there’s still a role for gas in the transition to net zero, not least to create blue hydrogen — if we do need this coal in order to have a viable steel industry, then we might as well use our own coal and use our own gas rather than be reliant on other countries.”

In April the government announced a review of the moratorium on fracking.

Eustice said the argument for allowing fracking in the UK was “weaker” than drilling for coal because the quality of gas extracted from fracking was “much lower” than natural gas. However, he said that in context of high fuel prices the government would keep everything “under review”.

Last week Lord Deben, the chairman of the climate change committee, described the mine as “absolutely indefensible”. The committee published a highly critical report stating that there was “scant evidence” the government could deliver on its target of net zero by 2050.

Eustice dismissed the conclusions as “wrong”, saying that they had failed to take into account the likelihood of technological breakthroughs. He gave the example of feed additives being developed for cattle that could minimise emissions and a Cornish farm that is creating a biofuel made from slurry. “If you could perfect those sorts of technologies at scale, that’s when you make quite rapid inroads into global warming and greenhouse gases,” he said.


Greenie-inspired disaster in the Netherlands: Lessons folr Australia?

Only a few months ago it was the Canadian government that attacked its own citizens in the most grotesque and terrifyingly authoritarian manner during the so-called Truckers Convoy revolt, when the Trudeau government actually froze the bank accounts and in essence attempted to starve out any individuals involved in what were legitimate peaceful democratic protests against onerous and job-threatening Covid mandates. That ended badly for Trudeau, particularly after the shameful incident in which Canadian mounted police trampled over a peaceful woman protestor. His popularity deservedly took a hammering.

Here in Australia, we also saw unacceptable authoritarianism and police brutality being employed against ordinary, everyday Aussies who were peacefully protesting against mandatory vaccinations, lockdowns and other Covid restrictions. Under Dan Andrews’ Victorian Labor government, a pregnant woman was harassed and arrested in her pyjamas, a gran was hurled to the ground and pepper-sprayed, a man was smashed to the ground, another was rammed by a police car, another had his head repeatedly hit with a rifle butt. And so on. All in the name of keeping us safe.

Now it’s the turn of the Dutch to go ‘full totalitarian’, albeit not over Covid restrictions. This time it’s Covid’s equally ugly authoritarian twin, namely climate change. Currently the government of Mark Rutte’s laughably and ironically named ‘People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy’ is embarked upon insane efforts to slash greenhouse gases and reduce the amount of nitrogen ammonia in the soil by up to 70 per cent by 2030, or even by up to 95 per cent in some places, to meet green EU climate change targets they have signed up to. This literally means turfing people off their land. Indeed, the Netherlands House of Representatives has released a statement saying: ‘The honest message is that not all farmers will continue in business. Those who do will have to farm differently.’

Whether coincidentally or otherwise, it was only last year that Mark Rutte appeared at the World Economic Forum boasting about Holland’s involvement with the WEF’s global food innovation hubs program, which has the stated goals of ‘transforming food systems and land use’. Well, forcibly turfing farmers off their land is certainly one way to ‘transform land use and food systems’.

Everyday hard-working Dutch family farmers have other ideas, and we are now seeing massive and growing protests, tractor blockades, manure being dumped onto government property and so on, with accusations the Dutch secret police are infiltrating the protesters, which is much the same playbook alleged to have been used by Trudeau during the Truckers Convoy.

Is this what happens when governments get infiltrated by globalist activist politicians who have supped at the feet of Klaus Schwab in Davos? If that sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory, you’d be right. But alas, that is the claim of Mr Schwab himself back in 2017 when he boasted in an interview of how many world leaders today are graduates of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders program, and went on to claim how proud he was to have successfully ‘penetrated the cabinets’ of governments around the world, including claiming that ‘more than half’ of the Canadian cabinet were WEF acolytes.

This should of course concern anyone who is even remotely beholden to the democratic ideal of a parliament and indeed a government being composed of the representativeness of local constituencies whose first loyalty is to those same constituents and not to the power point agenda of some shady globalist cabal of billionaires, powerful trade union organisations and the CEOs of multinational corporations.

Which brings us back to the National Press Club speech last week by Labor’s hapless Energy Minister Chris Bowen, who proudly proclaimed that ‘the Prime Minister and I have notified the UN of Australia’s new 43 per cent emissions reduction target’ before boasting that this was a deal ‘between big energy corporations, trade unions and climate (activists)’. This, he claimed, means ‘we are all in this together’.

In doing so, Mr Bowen and Mr Albanese have almost certainly put us onto the Dutch path of authoritarian and draconian restrictions being required at some point further down the track in order to meet these otherwise almost certainly unachievable targets and climate change obligations.




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