Thursday, November 28, 2019

The world 'will miss its chance to avert climate disaster' without an almost impossible fall in fossil fuel emissions, the United Nations warned today
That CO2 levels keep rising and yet nothing seems to change -- despite their prophecies -- does rather dent the credibility of their prophecies.  We are said to be already "too late" but you would never know it

The UN Environment Programme said global emissions need to fall by 7.6 percent, each year, every year until 2030 to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.

But emissions have continued to soar, smashing a record 55.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018 - three years after 195 countries signed the Paris treaty on climate change.

'We are failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions,' UNEP's executive director, Inger Andersen said. 'Unless we take urgent action now and make very significant cuts to global emissions we're going to miss the target of 1.5C.'   

The World Meterological Organization said Monday that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations hit an all-time record in 2018.

The Paris deal committed nations to limit temperature rises above pre-industrial levels to 'well below' 2C, and to a safer 1.5-C if at all possible.

To do so they agreed on the need to reduce emissions and work towards a low-carbon world within decades.

Yet the UN found that even taking into account current Paris pledges, the world is on track for a 3.2C temperature rise, something scientists fear could tear at the fabric of society.

Even if every country made good on its promises, Earth's 'carbon budget' for a 1.5-C rise - the amount we can emit to stay below a certain temperature threshold - would be exhausted within a decade.

In its own words, the UN assessment is 'bleak'.

While it insisted the 1.5-C goal is still attainable, it acknowledged that this would require an unprecedented, coordinated upheaval of a global economy that is still fuelled overwhelmingly by oil- and gas-fuelled growth.

The Emissions Gap report, now in its tenth year, also details the cost of a decade of government inaction.

Had serious climate action begun in 2010, just after the Copenhagen summit that breathed new life into the debate, annual needed emissions cuts would be 0.7 percent for 2C of warming and 3.3 percent for 1.5C.

'10 years of climate procrastination has led us to where we are today,' said executive director Andersen.

The report highlighted specific 'opportunities' for big emitters to push their economies into line with the Paris goals.

While advice varies between countries, the theme is clear: completely phase out coal, significantly pare back oil and gas, and dramatically build up renewable energy.

G20 nations were singled out as laggards: although they produce around 78 percent of all emissions, only 15 rich nations have outlined plans to reach net-zero.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, notified the UN earlier this month that the US will pull out of the Paris treaty, and has taken steps to boost fossil fuel production, including subsidies for technology to capture and store CO2 emissions from power plants.

In all, countries must increase their contributions to the climate fight five-fold to deliver the cuts needed for 1.5C.

Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the world's leading scientific body on the subject - issued a stark warning that going beyond 1.5C would increase the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, superstorms and mass flooding.

With just 1C of warming so far, 2019 is projected to be the second hottest in human history, a year marred by deadly wildfires and cyclones rendered more frequent as temperatures climb.

And despite the need for urgent action, with global energy demand set to continue rising for years, the UN itself conceded Tuesday that 'there is no sign of (greenhouse) gas emissions peaking in the next few years.'

That turning point should have come years ago, said Alden Meyer, director of policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

'We are not running out of time - we are already out of time,' he told AFP.

The report said emissions would need to drop 55 percent by 2030 to stay on a 1.5C track - an unprecedented fall at a time of sustained global growth.

John Ferguson, director of country analysis at The Economist Intelligence Unity, said he was pessimistic that countries could undertake emissions cuts in the time required.

'There's the emissions gap but there's also the gap between rhetoric and action, and that gap explains my pessimism that we're not going to limit it to 1.5C,' he told AFP.


Big Business and Climate Cronyism

After all the endless debate over climate change, the central topic of conversation remains what to do about our CO2 output. Carbon dioxide — now at record levels — is blamed for rising surface temperatures, which aren’t rising as fast as we are led to believe. And America is blamed as the cause, even though the U.S. pumps less CO2 into the atmosphere than countries that have joined the Paris Climate Accord. In any case, an unlikely group has gotten behind a new plan to reduce CO2 emissions, and the makeup of this group has many on both sides of the political aisle scratching their heads.

The Climate Leadership Council (CLC) is made up a who’s who of Republican and Democrat lawmakers, consultants, and policy wonks who have supposedly come up with a plan to develop a “revenue neutral” carbon tax that would provide dividends to low- and middle-income Americans to offset the inevitable higher energy costs that would be produced by said tax.

The CLC plan has the support of several energy producers, including ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips and other oil and natural-gas companies. It might sound intriguing at first glance, but as with all things revolving around climate policy, it’s necessary to drill deeper.

This plan appears to be an attempt by energy producers to eliminate their competition in the coal sector. Any carbon tax is sure to hit coal producers the hardest, and leftists have not been shy about their desire to remove coal from our energy options altogether. They have found a fair-weather ally in oil and natural-gas producers.

If the CLC’s revenue-neutral carbon tax, supported by some of the nation’s largest oil and natural-gas producers, sounds like cronyism, well, it is. Remember Enron? The natural-gas company lobbied the George W. Bush administration in the early 2000s to place caps on CO2 emissions, knowing that this would hit coal producers the hardest. Since 93% of all the coal produced in the U.S. is used by the electrical power grid, Enron hoped to fill the void left by the loss of coal with its own natural-gas production. This would have made Enron and a few other companies the de facto providers of the nation’s electricity. Of course, that whole idea went down the drain when it was revealed that Enron was the most crooked company in modern history.

Additionally, the roster of Republican names on CLC’s board doesn’t hide the fact that it’s also receiving a large chunk of financial support from left-of-center groups that also fund numerous activist organizations, including some of the very same groups that go after large energy producers. And let’s not forget that revenue-neutral schemes rarely ever work because the revenue never seems to find its way to its intended target, which in this case would be energy consumers.

It’s a tangle web, and generally that means that it’s the citizens at the bottom of the pyramid who get the shaft. The best solution to our climate troubles, exaggerated though they may be, is to let the market do what it does best. Innovation free of government meddling is what works best. There are too many special interests in government to trust that taxes and increased regulation will bring about the desired solution. And in the end, no drastic solution is even necessary.


The silly notion of “speed limits for ships”

Occasionally a report appears which claims to be wisdom, but after careful analysis, offers solutions that don’t make much sense. Such a report was issued earlier this month by United Kingdom consulting firm GL Reynolds, titled “The multi-issue mitigation potential of reducing ship speeds.” The report proposes that we can reduce global warming by imposing speed limits on ocean-going ships.

The GL Reynolds report concludes that a 10-20 percent reduction in ship speeds would have a “highly positive potential impact” on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and nitrous oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (SOx) pollutants. The report also projects that a ship speed reduction may reduce fatal collisions with whales.

The report is actually conservative and recommends that more study is needed. But the BBC and environmental groups now hail the report as a roadmap for international maritime policy.

Matt McGrath, environment correspondent for BBC News, wrote “Cutting the speed of ships has huge benefits for humans, nature and the climate, according to a new report.” John Maggs from Seas at Risk told the BBC, “It’s a massive win, win, win, win.”

According to the International Transport Forum, ships carried 10.7 billion metric tons of freight in 2017, 70 percent of world freight volumes. ITF projects maritime freight volumes to triple from 2015 to 2050.

Like almost all modern transportation, ships emit carbon dioxide when they burn fuel. Ships emitted about 932 million tons of CO2 in 2015, about 2.6 percent of global emissions. When ships move at lower speeds, they consume less fuel and emit less carbon dioxide. A 2017 study by CE Delft estimated that a 20 percent reduction in commercial ship speeds would reduce CO2 emissions by 19 percent, after a required 13 percent increase in the number of ships to provide the same transport work.

In 2017, the value of the world shipping fleet was estimated at $829 billion. Increasing the size of the fleet by 13 percent would cost over $100 billion, plus additional costs to hire and train additional crews.

Today, most global corporations practice cycle time reduction as a key business process. Apple, currently the world’s most valuable company, calls it “reducing time to value.” On-line retailing giant Amazon implemented one-day delivery for many products this year. Footwear and apparel producer Nike announced a goal to reduce supply chain lead times by 83 percent.

Regulations to reduce the speed of ocean-going ships by 20 percent would increase cycle times and costs for the shipping industry. Crews would need to be paid more for longer voyages and each ship would take 20 percent more time to deliver the same cargo. Cycle-times and costs would also increase for Apple, Amazon, Nike, and all freight customers.

Advocates point out that emissions of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides can be reduced with slower ship speeds. But international regulations are already in place to reduce SOx emissions by reducing the sulfur content of fuels and to reduce NOx emissions through new diesel engine emission standards.

Collisions with whales have been rising with the growth of the world shipping fleet. National measures such as routing and speed restrictions are now in place in coastal whale migration areas at certain times of the year to reduce collisions. But how will increasing the number of ships by 13 percent reduce the number of whale impacts?

In 1975 during the first oil crisis, the US federal government imposed a National Maximum Highway Speed Limit of 55 mph. Officials estimated that lowering highway speeds would cut national gasoline consumption by over two percent. Later studies showed actual savings to be less than one percent. Today the world is awash with petroleum and the US 55 mph limit no longer exists.

We could certainly run our ships, planes, and vehicles at slower speeds. And if we returned to horse-drawn wagons, vehicle collisions with deer would be eliminated. But does anyone really think this would stop sea levels from rising?


Indian Farmers Rejoice as Best Monsoon in 25 Years -- Vanquishes Climate Fears

In India, monsoon is synonymous with joy. That’s probably because the majority of India’s 1.3 billion people directly or indirectly depend on agriculture, the success of which depends largely upon the rains of the annual monsoon season.

Climate alarmists have long argued that India would suffer from global warming because of its negative impact on the monsoons. But reports of doom and gloom are nowhere to be seen this year.

The people of India have special cause to rejoice this year. The 2019 Indian summer monsoon was the best in 25 years.

September witnessed the highest rainfall in the 102-year record and was 153% of the Long Period Average (LPA, average rainfall received during the south-west monsoon over a 50-year period).

The central, western, and southern parts of India received above-normal rainfall, causing large-scale floods and filling up most of the country’s reservoirs — important for providing water to the vast agrarian landscape and acting as lifelines for many important cities where groundwater levels are low.

Local farmers are greatly encouraged by the estimate of the types and amounts of crops they can expect to plant and harvest in the coming months.

Cotton producers and the textile industry expect a banner year. Cotton production is likely to reach 36.5 million bales (over 6.8 million tons) this crop year, 15% higher than the year just ended. This is especially good news for my childhood homes — Bombay (now Mumbai) and Coimbatore, respectively nicknamed “The Manchester of India” and “The Manchester of South India” for their cotton production and textile mills.

The Indian monsoons have been largely unaffected by the meager increase in global average temperature (GAT). They have also been healthy. Studies show that there has been a “revival of summer monsoon” in the north and central parts of India during recent decades.

This monsoon health — coupled with increased use of agricultural technology — has translated into record-high crop output in three consecutive years (2016, 2017, 2018). Even the El NiƱo-driven dry phase in 2016 failed to disrupt agricultural output significantly in following years.

To be sure, the Indian monsoon remains generally unpredictable, as evidenced in the historical record (1871–2017). If anything, the monsoon displays epochal trends over multiple decades, and these trends don’t seem to be cyclic.

So, although short-term trends can be captured and quantified, forecasts remain difficult. What does seem clear, however, is that climate alarmists’ fears about monsoon failure rest on poorly informed science.

The reality is that India has great reason for joy after this year’s monsoon. And it is not just the farmers! A favorable monsoon season is also expected to directly benefit the overall economy.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s central bank, has announced that the best monsoon in 25 years will have positive impact on the economy.

“Comfortable reservoir levels augur well for rabi [winter] sowing and foodgrains stocks above the buffer norms provide a cushion against potential inflationary pressures,” read its latest Monetary Policy report.

The report also stated, “The prospects of agriculture have brightened considerably, positioning it favourable for regenerating employment and income, and the revival of domestic demand.”

For many of us here in India, the fears about climate change portrayed in the media have no practical relevance. Our monsoon has hardly shown any signs of climate fatigue, and our agricultural outputs are skyrocketing like never before.


Australia: "Green" Victoria is locking up almost all publicly-owned land from any use

Victoria is the vanguard of states in major struggles over the control and use of public lands.  These comprise around 35 per cent of the state, the majority of which is in parks and reserves that aim to minimise human impact. Such areas have long been seen as under-managed and infested with exotic flora and fauna. They are increasingly recognised as perilous host to ferocious and destructive fires.

The rest of the public land is state forest, traditionally available for forestry, grazing, mining and a whole range of leisure activities such car rallies, hunting, horse riding, camping and dog walking, none of which are generally permitted in National Parks.

Two developments are changing the nature of Victoria’s public lands. The first is increasing restrictions on the activities allowed in the state forests. Over the past 30 years governments have progressively constrained the use of the forests for timber harvesting and grazing.  Grazing has been all but eliminated and only 6 per cent of Victoria’s public forests are available for timber production, the annual harvesting area having been reduced from 25,000 hectares 40 years ago to just 3,000 hectares today.  Last week, the Andrews government announced a 2030 phase-out of all timber-getting in the state forests.

The second change is the conversion of state forest to national park and other conservation reserve categories.  This not only imposes restrictions on use but is also an essential step to converting the land to Aboriginal title, which unlike Native title, grants beneficial-use and veto rights over the activities and intentions of others.  Even within the remaining state forest, the government is moving to enhance designated Aboriginal groups’ influence by granting them controls over exploration licences.

To effect the transfer the title of the land to National Parks or similar classifications, the government funds the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC), an environmental bureaucracy comprised largely of former eco-activists, to sequentially investigate regional areas. Under the guise of community engagement, VEAC acts largely at the behest of environmental activists and Aboriginal groups (see, for example, the latest annual report).  The latter are paid to rediscover long-dormant attachments to the area under investigation and, with the prospect of title and financial support for management, are quite naturally all in favour of a change.

VEAC also hires economic consultants, who over the course of several investigations have demonstrated a skill for divining how much people supposedly value land being redesignated as being exclusively for conservation. In their most recent investigation, applying an alchemistic methodology called “contingent valuation” VEAC’s consultants have estimated that the Victorian public would be willing to pay $247 million in order to convert 60,000 hectares of state forest in the Victorian Goldfields (the Central West) into National Park.

The valuation ($4600 per hectare) of restraining public use of public land is not based on some marginal change to land use.  It would be equally applicable to the whole of the state. Its logic means people would be willing to sterilise all of the 3,100,00 hectares of state forest from commercial and most leisure uses and consider themselves to be $14 billion better off as a result!  It would mean that, if half the state’s agricultural land were to be surrendered to non-uses, we, the people, would be better off! In addition, the consultants place a trivial value on the loss from preventing car rallies, hunting, horse riding and camping. They do so with little evidence of usages.

In the case of forestry, there has been a steady, politically-driven erosion of the area permitted to be harvested.  The Regional Forest Agreements at the turn of the century were supposed to have settled the conservation/harvesting split, but harvesting has since been reduced by three quarters.  The latest proposals envisage further reductions on the road to the total embargo.

VEAC’s consultants also argue against mining and prospecting and claim that future mineral discoveries are well-nigh impossible. This view about minerals is remarkable since the Geological Survey of Victoria estimates that half the state’s gold is yet to be found, and the area has hosted much mineral production in the past.  In relatively recent times, two major gold mines have been opened near the area – one of which, Fosterville, actually has the second-richest gold concentrations of any mine in the world and is presently producing at over one billion dollars per annum. 

Moreover, entrepreneurs risking their own money take a different view to VEAC – expenditure in the 42 exploration licenses current in the area is around $9 million a year. A recent discovery in the area of a nugget worth $160,000 by an amateur prospector is further evidence of the region’s prospectivity. Uncovering any further hidden wealth would be foreclosed by reclassifying the land as National Park which VEAC have recommended.

So, we have a double whammy.  First, policies are being pursued to banish commercial and much leisure-use activities that have proven to be perfectly compatible with forest conservation.  Secondly, requiring the cessation of commercial forestry also means eliminating many of the roads, and thereby heavy machinery, essential to fight fires. It would be hard to devise a more destructive set of policies.

Several hundred regional forest workers have held a rally outside Parliament House to protest the new measures that will bring needless and counterproductive job losses.  Coalition MPs showed their solidarity, but with green philosophies dominating the bureaucracy and a state government  determined to court inner-city votes, the march to transform Victoria into an unproductive tinderbox continues apace.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


1 comment:

Dan Pangburn said...

Gullible people have been falsely indoctrinated to believe that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. CO2 has no significant effect on climate. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas and it has been increasing faster than possible if from feedback.