Thursday, October 21, 2021

Recent NIMBY Move Could Leave California in the Dark

“Excuse me,” says your landscaper. “The mower’s out of juice. Mind if I plug in?” You look from the immobile machine to your half-cut lawn. “Outlet’s over there,” you tell him. “But let’s knock $20 off your fee? What are we up to now, 25 cents a kilowatt-hour?”

Welcome to the future. Welcome to California.

The state, committed to net-zero emissions by 2045, is moving to ban sales of gas-powered landscaping equipment as early as 2024. This is not the first attempt. Politicians tried and failed to do the same in 2003. Since then, though, more than half of homeowners in the state have swapped out their consumer-grade equipment for “zero emission equipment” (ZEE), meaning, battery-powered weed whackers, leaf blowers, hedge clippers, chainsaws, and even lawn mowers.

Electric, Because It’s . . . Quiet?

Many make the switch because, although lower-powered and less reliable (do batteries ever die at the right time?), battery-powered equipment is less noisy. That’s what prompted Mayor Stewart Welch of Mountain Brook, Alabama to begin switching his town’s tools over to electric. The bellow of leaf blowers disturbed his tennis game with a friend who, as chance would have it, had previously complained about the town’s noisy equipment. The city has spent $18,000 over the last year outfitting its public works crew with electric trimmers, blowers, and more.

According to Stanley Black & Decker, sales of the company’s electric yard equipment jumped 75 percent between 2015 and 2020. But, although lots of people are making the switch of their own accord, they’re not doing it fast enough, according to California’s legislative assembly.

Stop and Recharge

The biggest holdouts are those who do landscaping for a living, and for good reason. I searched Husqavarna’s site high and low for battery run time info for its 550iBTX, which one landscaper reviewed as “The best electric blower on the market.” For $469? Not bad, I thought. After lots of web searching about the battery, I gave up and contacted support. Turns out, it does not come with one. The lowest-priced option will cost landscapers an extra $300 and lasts between thirty and sixty minutes. The one the associate recommended, though, costs $969 (yes, more than double the cost of the blower) and “lasts up to 3.5 hours,” he told me. That’s if you run it in “normal” mode, which is half the power of Husqavarna’s $459 gas blower; boost mode saps the power faster and is about 33 percent less powerful than the gas blower.

Some landscapers make electric work, and not just those whose equipment is paid for by taxpayers, as in Mountain Brook. Chris Regis, owner of Florida-based lawn care company Suntek, is able to charge customers between 10 and 20 percent more for all-electric lawn care. He says, “There are people who don’t care and say, ‘I just don’t want the noise.’” All power to them. That’s exactly how free markets work.

Given the numbers above, though, it would take a lot of lawns to make up one’s initial investment with only a 10 or 20 percent upcharge. But Regis’s investment is far greater. He has outfitted the company’s vans with solar panels for recharging batteries on the go—each van costing about $100,000. Reflecting on how much longer the same work now takes him, Jimi Layne of Mountain Brook’s crew asked, “Are we looking at dollars and cents?”

‘Expensive and Unreliable, Please’

That’s an even more pertinent question in California, where energy prices are the highest in the continental US. (23.11 cents per kilowatt-hour, as of June 2021). Gas is more expensive there, too, in large part because of penalizing policies, but researchers predict electricity prices can only rise in the golden state, thanks to a host of factors. Prices are high, in part, because the size of the state increases transmission costs, as do wildfires on mismanaged public lands that have knocked out critical infrastructure, requiring replacement.

But the biggest contributor to high prices is the state’s push to adopt wind and solar, which require big upfront investments but nonetheless necessitate a reliable backup for when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing.

This problem came to the fore in 2020 when, for two days, California’s three big energy companies instituted rolling blackouts across the state because the grid could not meet demand. It was a self-inflicted wound. Given the state’s environmental restrictions, many coal-fired power plants are being decommissioned, and thanks to irrational fears, they’re not being replaced with clean, reliable nuclear energy, either.

Instead, taxpayers are being forced to subsidize massive investments in “renewables,” and power companies make up much of the state’s inevitable shortfalls by buying energy from more reliable, fossil-fuel plants in neighboring states. Unfortunately for Californians, on August 14, 2020, when the sun set and solar farms went offline, these companies realized they had miscalculated how big that shortfall would be. Western states were in the grip of a heat wave, and as Californians reached for the AC dials, they lost power altogether.

A Deadly Mistake

Losing power is no minor inconvenience, particularly when you live in what is naturally a desert, and especially when it’s more than 100 degrees outside. It’s not just that people can’t charge their Teslas or their ZEE mowers. One 2020 study concluded that more than 5,500 Americans lose their lives due to extreme heat annually. Climate-related deaths are a key indicator of low climate resilience, the ability of a locale to deal with extreme temperatures and weather. And, of course, climate resilience is directly dependent on plentiful, affordable, reliable energy.

But, increasingly, that is what California is doing away with in favor of expensive, unreliable energy. Unsurprisingly, the poor suffer the most. Research done in 2020 shows that many in Los Angeles can’t afford air conditioners, and many who have them can’t afford to run them because electricity prices are so high. In fact, accounting for cost of living, California has the highest poverty rate in the country, in large part because energy prices are so high. This, not in spite of the state’s adoption of “cheap” and “reliable” renewables, but because of it—because solar and wind are not cheap nor reliable and require a backup that is.

Cutting the Lifeline

Yet, with startling shortsightedness, the state assembly has sent Governor Gavin Newsom a bill that will effectively eliminate a go-to backup: gas-powered generators. The bill (AB-1346) lumps gas-powered generators in with the offending landscaping equipment and all other “small off-road engines,” referring to them as SOREs. It “encourages” the California Air Resources Board (the state’s own sort of EPA) to “adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines” and to consider “expected availability of zero-emission generators.”

Such generators do exist, but they are far more expensive, generate far less power, and most need to be recharged after just a few hours. Consider the GOAL ZERO YETI 3000X. It costs $3,400, and an additional $250 kit enables you to use it as a battery backup for your home. After all that, you can power a single refrigerator for less than 2.5 days, and that of course drops if you want to power, say, a few lightbulbs. By contrast, a Duromax XP10000HX can power your whole home—lights, appliances, and A/C system—continuously, running on either gasoline or propane, and it costs $1,400.

When the power went out last August, says Collin Blackwell of Eldorado Hills, California, “We went out and bought an $800 generator, so that way we could have the fridge powered up in the garage at least and be able to have food and everything in the house.” Mark Galloway of Cameron Park said he lives in a mountain community where losing power is fairly common. “You should have something, so having the backup generator and things like that—I think it’s on you to really take care of that,” he said. “It’s not like it’s something that you can’t plan for.”

But, if AB-1346 is signed into law, going out and buying an $800 generator will no longer be an option.

California legislators have not only cut ties with reality—failing to see that they’re heading for ever more blackouts—they also want to cut their citizens’ last lifeline to reliable power when these blackouts inevitably occur. California is committing energy suicide, and given that people rely on energy for just about everything, we shouldn’t be surprised by the toll this will take on human life.


Biden on Energy Crisis: Begging Others to Save Him From Himself

President Joe Biden is drowning in a sea of crises of his own creation, and Americans are the ones who are paying the price.

There’s an ongoing humanitarian and national security calamity at the southern border.

Thirteen U.S. service members are dead, and an unknown number of our citizens remain stranded in Afghanistan following Biden’s disastrous withdrawal.

COVID-19 is still rampant, despite Biden’s promises that he would defeat the virus, while his vaccine mandate has divided the country.

Americans are not taking the millions of jobs available and the economy is stalled, as many have chosen the option of being paid by the government to stay home instead of working.

Biden’s administration failed to identify the growing supply chain disruption, which did not occur overnight and threatens to further strangle the economy. Labor shortages are a contributing factor, including a lack of truck drivers to help unload ships and transport goods (see the above point about workers not accepting available jobs).

And energy prices continue to rise, helping to drive mounting inflation and hurting Americans—especially those with moderate or low incomes—at a time when the economy should be hitting its stride coming out of the pandemic lockdowns.

It is on the costs of energy where Biden’s failures are most starkly visible.

On his very first day in office, Biden scrapped the Keystone XL pipeline, killing 11,000 jobs in the process and making good on his campaign promise to be hostile to the fossil fuel industry.

Continuing his assault on natural resource development, Biden suspended oil and natural gas leases in Alaska.

Former President Donald Trump had propelled America to energy independence, but Biden has purposely squandered it. His policies are designed to reduce domestic production of petroleum, meaning we have become necessarily more reliant on foreign sources.

Biden’s approach has been an economic disaster.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the price of crude oil has jumped by 64% to a seven-year high. The cost of natural gas has doubled in just six months. Heating oil is more expensive by 68%, just in time for winter. And gasoline is over $3 per gallon on the national average, up by almost a dollar over the past year.

Energy costs are one driver of inflation, which is already a concern and could get worse.

The situation he created has led Biden into embarrassing situations where he has been forced to plead for rescue.

Over the summer, his administration begged OPEC to increase oil production to combat rising gasoline prices. It refused.

This month, Reuters reported that the Biden White House has approached domestic oil and gas producers, asking for help. These are the very companies that Biden has been demonizing and now he wants them to save him from himself.

Anne Bradbury, the chief executive officer of the American Exploration and Production Council, explained who the culprit is.

“By pursuing policies that restrict supply and make it harder to produce oil and natural gas here in America, Americans will have to pay more for their energy,” she said.

But never fear, White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated that the higher prices just mean that Biden’s policies are going according to plan.

“Certainly, we all want to keep gasoline prices low, but the threat of the crisis—the climate crisis—certainly can’t wait any longer,” she said on Oct. 6.

One week later, Psaki appeared to soften the message somewhat, in recognition of how higher energy bills affect people, but attempted to mislead about the scope of the problem.

“[T]he American people are, of course, impacted by rising prices of gas in some parts of the country—not all,” she said.

This, of course, is not true. Gas prices are higher in all 50 states.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain then underscored the indifference of the Biden administration to the concerns of regular Americans by approving of a tweet from Harvard economist Jason Furman, who labeled “economic problems we’re facing,” such as “inflation, supply chains, etc.,” as merely “high-class problems.”

Klain quote-tweeted Furman and enthusiastically agreed, posting “This,” with two hand emojis pointing to Furman’s original post.

For Americans still struggling, it must be jarring that the White House chief of staff thinks rising grocery bills—driven by fuel prices and inflation—are “high-class problems.”

Such a callous dismissal of real-world issues, the endorsement of an Ivy League elitist view that working people are just imagining things, simply feeds the prevailing belief that Biden simply is bad at his job.

But rather than face reporters or describe to Americans what he’s doing to combat these severe economic problems—and all of the other crises he’s inflicted on the country—Biden has almost entirely avoided taking questions.

On the rare occasions that he comes to the cameras to deliver remarks, most often he finishes speaking, turns around abruptly, and returns to the recesses of the White House.

It’s an apt image presented by an administration that is usually very concerned about visuals and symbolism.

Biden is leaving the lasting impression that, as he does to members of the press, he is simply turning his back on the American people.


UK: Green banks: They may claim to grow savings with a clear conscience - but is it just posturing?

The idea of making money while also saving the planet is appealing to many savers. So it’s no surprise the Duke and Duchess of Sussex leapt at the opportunity last week to plunge their fortunes into the sustainable investment firm Ethic. ‘When we invest in each other we change the world,’ the couple said in a typically verbose statement.

Harry and Meghan are the latest in a long line of celebrities, politicians and businesses to talk about ‘ESG’ — which stands for ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’.

And the trend is filtering down to the High Street banks. The amount of money spent on ‘ethical banking’ more than doubled to £196.65 million between 2010 and 2019, according to research and campaign organisation Ethical Consumer.

From launching recycled debit cards to boosting women onto their boards, firms are eager to show customers they are the most socially responsible place to look after your money.

But can banking ever be ethical and lucrative? You don’t have to delve deep into the murky world of ESG for the threads of these claims to unravel.

Traditionally, these types of accounts meant banks would not invest your money in the likes of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, fossil fuels or fur.

However, firms are increasingly coming under fire over ‘greenwashing’ — the practice of overstating how sustainable a product really is.

There is no better evidence of this than Ethic — which the Daily Mail revealed at the weekend had invested millions of dollars in a wide range of unethical practices, such as fracking.

This trend is not exclusive to wealthy investment funds, however — it trickles right down to ethical accounts being offered by High Street banks.

‘Often we see banks just rebrand accounts overnight with the term “ESG”,’ says Gareth Griffiths, head of retail banking at green firm Triodos. ‘There is minimal accountability.’

And for customers, it can be almost impossible to work out which firms genuinely do good and which are simply virtue signalling.

In recent years, everything from meat consumption to air travel has come under scrutiny as the UK moves towards net zero.

But according to Make My Money Matter, making your pension green is 21 times more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up flying, going vegetarian and switching energy provider combined.

And customers are wising up. Figures from investment data firm Morningstar show around £27 billion was poured into ethical investment funds in the first three months of 2020 alone.

Triodos bank, which often tops ethical banking polls, saw its customer base grow by 10 per cent in the first six months of this year. That follows a 20 per cent growth in 2020.

As interest grows, banks want to cater to new demands. But this can be difficult to balance with their core aim of making money.

And under pressure to be seen as more sustainable, banks are tempted to overstate how green their practices truly are.

For example, Barclays claims to work for the ‘common good’ under a section on its website titled ‘our approach’.

‘It is our fundamental belief that we can and must do business in a way that does good,’ it reads.

Yet one look at Barclays’ Climate Related Financial Disclosures reveals that the bank continues to invest in aviation, coal mining and oil and gas.

Greenwashing has become so widespread that City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sent a letter to chief executives this year warning them that funds proclaiming to be concerned with ESG were not of an acceptable standard.


Why Australia is foolish to embrace net zero emissions

Senator Matt Canavan

Australia is lagging the rest of the world. Just as we are set to sign up to a net zero emissions target, everyone is in a desperate rush to get more coal, oil and gas.

In the UK, they have reopened coal power stations because there has been a wind drought, and Vladimir Putin is not sending them as much gas as he used to.

The US has asked Middle Eastern countries to increase oil production because the woke Wall Street bankers are no longer financing fracking in Texas.

In China, Premier Li said this month that “coal supply is crucial to people’s lives” and that he would review China’s emissions targets in light of their recent energy crisis. He stressed that energy security was China’s priority.

India has demanded that all coal power stations use at least 10 per cent imported coal so they can boost their fuel security.

This is all happening because of Europe’s ill-fated attempt to reach net zero. The failure of Europe to develop their own fossil fuel resources has led to a cascading effect through world energy markets. The price of coal and gas are at record highs, which is good for Australia given we are the world’s largest exporter of both of these things.

But we are set to look this gift horse in the mouth by signing up to a net zero emissions target. A “net” zero emissions target means that any new coal mine or gas field in Australia would need to “net” off its emissions by purchasing carbon credits. These credits cost money and will, in effect, tax the creation of working class Australian jobs.

Over 1 million Australians work in the mining industry alone but these requirements will also impact agriculture, manufacturing and construction jobs too. A net zero target will be the first time that an Australian Government has adopted a policy to make us poorer.

How much will these carbon credits cost? UK Government modelling shows that the carbon price will have to be A$295 per tonne to reach net zero. Julia Gillard’s $20 carbon tax increased electricity prices by 10 per cent. Electricity bills are already skyrocketing in the UK under their net zero plans, and they have a lot higher to go.

But there will be some winners. The banks are happy with this outcome because they will trade the carbon credits. Banks are some of the biggest supporters of net zero emissions. My rule of thumb is that if something is good for the banks, it is probably bad for me.

Turning our back on our domestic supplies of coal and gas will also mean that we will become reliant on China for our energy needs, as that is where our wind turbines and solar panels are made. All of this just as we learn that China has invented a hypersonic, nuclear capable missile that can land anywhere on earth and avoid existing missile defence systems.

China now has space nukes but they can’t match us on plans to reach net zero.

At the last election, Scott Morrison rightly warned of the dangers of cutting our emissions by too much. He called Labor’s proposed 45 per cent reduction in emissions a “wrecking ball through the Australian economy.”

The working men and women of Australia agreed, and rewarded the Liberal and National parties with an unexpected victory. If we turn our backs on their jobs, the Quiet Australians will become loud and angry.

These Australians don’t care what world leaders think of them. They just want their government to create jobs, keep living costs down and make Australia stronger.




Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Price spike highlights how switching to greener energy will be a dirty job

The world is living through the first major energy crisis of the clean-power transition. It won't be the last. The shortages jolting natural gas and electricity markets from the UK to China are unfolding just as demand roars back from the pandemic.

But the planet has faced volatile energy markets and supply squeezes for decades. What’s different now is that the richest economies are also undergoing one of the most ambitious overhauls of their power systems since the dawn of the electric age — with no easy way to store the energy generated from renewable sources.

The transition to cleaner energy is designed to make those systems more resilient, not less. But the actual switch will take decades, during which the world will still rely on fossil fuels even as major producers are now drastically shifting their output strategies.

One of the biggest obstacles ahead will be storing power generated by intermittent wind and water sources. Solutions do exist, but it will be years before we have them at the scale on which they’re needed

“It is a cautionary message about how complex the energy transition is going to be,” said Daniel Yergin, one of the world's foremost energy analysts and author of The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations. In the throes of fundamental change, the world’s energy system has become strikingly more fragile and easier to shock.

Take the turmoil in Europe. After a colder-than-normal winter depleted natural gas inventories, gas and electricity prices soared as demand from rebounding economies surged too fast for supplies to match. Something similar probably would have happened had Covid-19 struck 20 years ago.

But now, the UK and Europe rely on a very different mix of energy sources. Coal has been cut back drastically, replaced in many instances by cleaner-burning gas. But surging global demand this year has left gas supplies scarce.

At the same time, two other sources of power – wind and water – have had unusually low output, thanks to unexpectedly slower wind speeds and low rainfall in areas including Norway. In other words: a strained global gas market triggered Europe's record-setting spike for electricity prices — and the transition amplified it.

The pain hitting Europe is an ominous sign of the types of shocks that could strike more of the globe. Even as solar and wind power become increasingly plentiful and cheap, many parts of the world will for decades still depend on natural gas and other fossil fuels as backups. And yet, investor and company interest in producing more of them is waning.

That’s a good recipe for volatility, Nikos Tsafos, from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a recent analysis. “You're definitely moving into a system that’s more vulnerable,” Tsafos, the centre’s James R Schlesinger chair for energy and geopolitics, said in an interview.

To be clear, the transition itself – imperative for the planet – didn't cause the squeeze. But any big, complex system can become more fragile when it's undergoing major change.

All this is happening at a time when power consumption is projected to increase 60 per cent by 2050, according to Bloomberg NEF, as the world phases out fossil fuels and switches to cars, stoves and heating systems that run on electricity.

Continued economic and population growth will also drive consumption higher. And as the world moves even more into all things digital, it will mean that this heightened vulnerability comes at a time when people need reliable power more than ever.

The surge in electricity demand combined with fuel-price volatility means the world could be in a for a rocky few decades

The surge in electricity demand combined with fuel-price volatility means the world could be in a for a rocky few decades. The consequences will likely range from periods of energy-driven inflation, exacerbating income inequalities, to the looming threat of power outages and lost economic growth and production.

The planet's energy systems are interconnected, so the crisis and its spill over are being felt across the world. The crunch has had knock-on effects across industries, obstructing silicon production, disrupting food supplies and snarling supply chains.

In the US, natural gas futures have already more than doubled this year, before the peak demand that comes with the winter cold. With 40 per cent of the country’s electricity now generated by burning gas, those higher prices will inevitably push up electricity and heating bills.

In China, even as the government pushes to ramp up renewable power, the industrial economy still relies heavily on fossil fuels: coal, gas and oil. And when its factories started humming again during the pandemic rebound, the country simply didn’t have enough fuel.

Chinese manufacturing contracted in September for the first time in 19 months, suggesting that soaring energy costs have become the biggest shock to strike the economy since the beginning of the pandemic.

China's government is now vowing to stabilise the situation by procuring more overseas coal and liquefied natural gas. That puts the nation in direct competition with Europe, threatening to starve the continent of fuel and worsen that crisis. There will be an inevitable fight over what exports are available, leaving some developing countries such as India and Pakistan worried they can’t compete.

As major western producers from BP to Royal Dutch Shell work to reduce emissions and America’s shale drillers take a step back from expansion, the finite amount of exportable supplies is growing tighter. Jeff Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, points to underinvestment in fossil fuels as a big part of the problem.

Investors seeking the big returns that come from new businesses have been pouring money into alternative energy stocks rather than fossil fuel companies. Others are actively dumping coal and oil stocks, seeing them as a risk while the energy transition accelerates.

The current price spike has served as a reminder that even as the world is trying to build a new energy system, it’s still reliant on the old one

And some fossil fuel companies have themselves started directing investments into the low-carbon future rather than focusing solely on their old role of finding, pumping and delivering more oil and gas.

“In many parts of the world, you’ve overbuilt wind, you’ve overbuilt solar,” Currie said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “The new economy is over-invested and the old economy is starved.”

Wind and solar power production have soared in the past decade. But both renewable sources are notoriously fickle – available at some times and not at others. And electricity, unlike gas or coal, is difficult to store in meaningful quantities.

That’s a problem, because on the electrical grid, supply and demand must be constantly, perfectly balanced. Throw that balance out of whack, and blackouts result. So far, natural gas plants have served as the stable backup that wind and solar power need. That interdependence works fine, so long as gas prices aren’t going through the roof.

One of the biggest obstacles ahead will be storing power generated by intermittent wind and water sources. Solutions do exist, but it will be years before we have them at the scale on which they’re needed. “The transition is both the challenge and the opportunity,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, managing director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University.

Australia and California are plugging massive batteries into the grid to keep power supplies steady when the sun sets on solar plants. That deployment is just in nascent stages, and the batteries themselves are limited, usually supplying electricity for about four hours at a time.

Many countries and companies have pinned their hopes on hydrogen, seeing it both as a way to store energy and as a fuel for transportation and industry. Hydrogen can be split from water using machines called electrolysers powered by renewable energy, whenever it’s abundant. The process produces no greenhouse gases.

The hydrogen can then be burned in a turbine or fed through a fuel cell to generate electricity – all without carbon emissions. And unlike oil, gas and coal, such “green hydrogen” can be produced almost anywhere where there’s water and strong sun or wind.

The first wave of green hydrogen plants is still in planning stages. Many of the potential users – heavy industries and utility companies – are still studying whether the solution will work for them. The point at which hydrogen could underpin our global energy system, if it arrives, is likely years away.

In the short term, a warm winter across the northern hemisphere would bring gas prices down and allow storage fields to fill back up. But the current price spike has served as a reminder that even as the world is trying to build a new energy system, it’s still reliant on the old one.

“It’s not just about capacity of the amount of power we can get onto the network, it’s about the flexibility and the ability to deliver that power at the right time,” said James Basden, founder and director of Zenobe Energy Ltd., which is building Europe’s biggest battery.


Poland seeks EU climate policy rethink amid high energy prices

Poland on Monday called for the European Union to cancel or delay parts of its plan to tackle climate change ahead of a summit at which EU leaders will wrangle over their response to surging gas and electricity prices.

EU country leaders, who meet on Thursday and Friday, are divided over whether short-term national measures like tax cuts are sufficient to address the recent energy price spike, or whether deeper reforms of EU energy regulation are needed.

In a paper circulated to other countries ahead of the EU summit, Poland said Brussels should change or delay parts of its planned climate policies, warning that if an "excessive burden" is put on consumers, they may reject the EU's climate aims.

"We should analyse in detail all elements of the Fit for 55 package that can have a negative impact on the energy price and consider their revision or postponement," the paper said.

"Fit for 55" refers to the EU policy package to cut emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030.

The paper, seen by Reuters, singled out the EU's plan to launch a carbon market for transport and buildings, which has faced resistance from some countries over concerns it could increase consumer bills. The European Commission has said a new multi-billion-euro EU fund would shield vulnerable consumers from any price increase.

Poland also said the EU should maintain its current minimum energy tax rates. Brussels wants to overhaul the system to end tax exemptions for kerosene - a move supported by countries including the Netherlands and France - and increase rates on other polluting fuels.

EU tax changes require unanimous approval, meaning one country can block them.

While other states have warned that high energy prices could erode support for ambitious climate policies, Poland's demands are likely to face opposition from countries which say the recent gas price spike should encourage Europe to accelerate its green shift away from volatile fossil fuel prices.

Meeting the EU's legally binding climate targets will require huge investments. Brussels says this will create jobs and economic growth in green industries, while the cost of not tackling climate change would be far higher, in the form of devastating floods, droughts and wildfires.

Poland also called for the EU to create new financial mechanisms to reduce energy poverty, limit speculators' participation in the EU carbon market and introduce a gas storage obligation for each EU country.


UK: New plans for net zero are unrealistic at best, irresponsible at worst

Boris Johnson’s net zero strategy fails to address the concerns that the available technologies are either too expensive or cannot be delivered at scale

Yesterday, months behind schedule, the government’s strategy for decarbonising the nation’s homes finally appeared. The long wait is understandable though - it is widely recognised that bringing the UK’s housing stock to net zero carbon emissions will be difficult and eye-wateringly expensive.

That’s because the only relevant net zero technology that is at hand is the electric heat pump, which carries a price tag of well over £10,000 once you have added in the bill for installation and the necessary upgrades to plumbing and radiators.

On top of that, most homes will also need much higher standards of insulation, adding thousands of pounds more. It’s little wonder that some estimates of the cost to the country run into the trillions of pounds.


Greenhouse gas dispute in Australia

On Sunday, the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reductions Angus Taylor presented the Nationals with the government’s plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the compounds such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide which contribute to global warming and help trigger climate change.

Under the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, Australia promised to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

There were two main components to the government’s plan on Sunday – bringing emissions to net zero by 2050, and increasing our 2030 target.

While there were hopes the Sunday meeting would complete negotiations, after four hours this proved not to be the case, with the Nationals presenting a host of objections.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister told parliament Australia would not be updating its 2030 emissions goal.

He has also said the 2050 net zero goal will become a decision for national cabinet, rather than the Coalition party room.

The Nationals expressed a range of objections, chiefly about the impact of net zero policies on the regions and wanting increased support for existing high-emitting fossil fuel industries such as coal and gas.

A number of Nationals also want the government to explore the possibility of Australia developing nuclear power.

There is also an historical element to the Nationals’ discontent. When John Howard signed the Kyoto Protocol (the forerunner to the Paris Agreement) in 1997, it prompted state and territory governments to ban land clearing.

This measure is regarded as the primary factor that’s enabled Australia to reduce its emissions by around 20 per cent already, as the uncleared land effectively retains carbon in vegetation, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

But many farmers say clearing bans have prevented them from making a decent profit from their land, so there is a sentiment that people in the regions should not be further burdened by further emissions cuts.

There are huge divisions. Some MPs, such as former leader Michael McCormack and Darren Chester, now cautiously support net zero as a global economic and environmental necessity (Mr McCormack was previously opposed).

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud sees himself as something of a centrist on the issue, telling reporters this week that “zealots from both sides need to bugger off”.

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan is perhaps the most hard line opponent, and has threatened to cross the floor if any net zero legislation is to come before parliament.

He has also raised concerns about the lack of detail in the government’s modelling and called for it to be made public. “We’re getting very little details about this and I’m in a position of being asked to marry a girl I haven’t met. That’s not how the Nationals party room works,” he said this week.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has himself been a fierce critic of net zero in the past but has cast himself as a broker. On Tuesday he said he would be seeking further input from Nationals MPs over coming days, and he would communicate them to the Prime Minister.

The latest quarterly figures from the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory show Australia has reduced its emissions by just over 20 per cent on 2005 levels.

Mr Taylor has said on current projections, Australia could actually end up cutting emissions by around 32-35 per cent by 2030.




Tuesday, October 19, 2021

UN Climate Change Funding to Feed Corruption Gravy Train of Developing World

The U.N. climate change conference in Glasgow (COP26) is great news for corrupt governments in the developing world because it looks set to transfer huge sums of money into their hands.

Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian-born economist, has long warned the West against sending aid to Africa because of the corruption it creates.

Moyo’s book “Dead Aid” explained how foreign aid produces terrible outcomes in the developing world, such as economic laziness, cultures of dependence, and rampant corruption. She argued aid was killing Africa.

Warnings by Moyo, and others, have helped reduce the flows of foreign aid to third world governments know to be kleptocracies. But that has simply meant corrupt governments have had to work harder to get the West to send them money.

How have they done this? The method that has been widely used is playing the guilt card or the victim card.

The guilt card tells Westerners they should feel guilty because European empires and colonialism allegedly exploited the third world. But, unfortunately, the Left has so widely propagated this anticolonial mythology that it is becoming almost impossible to have a sensible discussion about the age of imperialism.

The victim card tells Westerners that the developing world is full of poor and starving people because villainous Western capitalists exploit them. Unfortunately, this socialist myth has been sold to many well-meaning but naïve, liberals through journalists and celebrities, or by screening heart-wrenching and sensationalist television images.

Since well-meaning liberals lack personal experience of the third world, they have no reality against which to measure the myths fed to them by left-leaning media and educators.

Playing the guilt and victims cards have also been routinely used by leaders of multilateral organizations like the U.N. and WHO.

More recently, we have also witnessed third world leaders increasingly using China’s Belt and Road initiative to turn the foreign aid tap back on. Today’s version of great power competition has seen Western countries handing out aid to try and stop developing countries from aligning with China.

Sadly, this sort of aid is especially likely to lead to corruption—just as it did during the Cold War.

But now we are facing a new explosion of third world corruption, caused this time by the way Greens have successfully mobilized the politics of climate change. If governments in Africa and Asia get their way, the Glasgow conference on climate change will transfer huge amounts of money into their hands.

With the Glasgow summit in mind, the South African government (known for its corruption) has promised to go beyond its Paris greenhouse gas targets.

But there is a catch—along with other third world elites, South Africa expects taxpayers in the West to pay them to implement their targets.

So we see the South African government, a well-known kleptocrat regime, brazenly asking the developed world to hand over to them $269 billion to pay for proposed decarbonization projects. The South African document lodged with the U.N. said “substantial multilateral support” would be required for measures such as “a very ambitious power sector investment plan.”

So Glasgow funds will be used to fix South Africa’s broken Eskom electricity supply system, plus fix the country’s catastrophic debt-repayment problem created by Eskom’s corruption and maladministration. Eskom has been unable to supply the country with enough electricity since 2007.

Further, ending the country’s energy crisis by building giant new power plants at Medupi and Kusile failed because of corruption, looting, and planning incompetence. Glasgow funds could fix all these problems, but it would also provide new corruption opportunities.

Effectively, the developing world is putting forward yet another neo-socialist wealth transfer scheme, but this one is dressed up in the language of saving the planet from climate change.

But the developing world says they will only help save the planet on condition that Western governments help them meet their Glasgow promises by transferring billions (if not trillions) of dollars from Western taxpayers to developing world elites so they can meet over-blown targets.

There are two problems with this. Firstly, the developing world has a record of poor governance, meaning these governments can seldom deliver on promises or targets. Even worse, developing world elites generally spend the foreign aid monies they receive to enrich themselves rather than to actually build the intended projects.

So the reality is, the U.N. climate change conference in Glasgow looks set to become just another mechanism to feed the corrupt gravy train that third world elites have been running for decades. Far from paying for green decarbonization projects, any wealth transfers flowing from Glasgow are more likely to end up buying four-wheel drives for the children of the third world elites.

To understand what is likely to happen to the $269 billion for climate change projects asked for by the South Africans, one only needs to look at what happened to their $4.3 billion COVID-19 relief funding from the IMF. One corrupt government Minister alone was involved in COVID-19 fraud valued at $10 million, while other politicians and African National Congress-aligned cronies looted another $700 million out of PPE funds.

If South Africa’s elite were even prepared to steal from funds geared to saving lives by fixing a health system shattered by COVID-19, imagine what they would do with climate change aid (where no lives are at stake).

By bringing together third world elites carrying begging bowls with Western greens which are willing to be taken advantage of, the U.N. climate change summit seems almost certain to deliver a bonanza for all those corrupt elites with a legacy of running gravy trains.

But this still begs the question; will Western governments ever learn?


California environmental regulations behind shipping backlog

The trucking issue with California LA ports, ie the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB), is that all semi tractors have to be current with new California emissions standards. As a consequence, that mean trucks cannot be older than 3 years if they are to pick up or deliver containers at those ports. This issue wipes out approximately half of the fleet trucks used to move containers in/out of the port. Operating the port 24/7 will not cure the issue, because all it does is pile up more containers that sit idle as they await a limited number of trucks to pick them up. THIS is the central issue.

On October 16, 2020, the EPA reached a settlement agreement [DATA HERE] with California Air Resource Board (CARB) to shut down semi tractor rigs that were non-compliant with new California emission standards:

2020 SAN FRANCISCO – “Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced settlements with three interstate trucking companies imposing $417,000 in penalties for violating the California Air Resources Board’s federally enforceable Truck and Bus Regulation, Drayage Truck Regulation and Transport Refrigeration Unit Regulation.

“As trucks are one of the largest sources of air pollution in California, EPA will continue to ensure these heavy-duty vehicles have the needed pollution-control equipment and operate in compliance with the rules,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “These companies have agreed to bring their trucks into compliance and operate more cleanly in all communities they serve.”

Transportation is a primary contributor to the high levels of air pollutants in Southern California and the Central Valley. Diesel emissions from trucks are one of the state’s largest sources of fine particle pollution, or soot, which is linked to health issues including asthma, impaired lung development in children, and cardiovascular effects in adults. Many of these trucks are older models and emit high amounts of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

[…] California Truck and Bus Regulation and Drayage Truck Regulation have been essential parts of the state’s federally enforceable plan to attain cleaner air. California requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles they own to meet specific NOx and PM performance standards and to verify compliance of vehicles they hire or dispatch. Heavy-duty diesel trucks in California must meet 2010 engine emissions standards or use diesel particulate filters to reduce the diesel particulates emissions into the atmosphere by 85% or more. (read more)

In effect, what this 2020 determination and settlement created was an inability of half the nation’s truckers from picking up anything from the Port of LA or Port of Long Beach. Virtually all private owner operator trucks and half of the fleet trucks that are used for moving containers across the nation were shut out.


Are reusable cotton tote bags really good for the environment?

Long hailed by brands as the eco-friendly solution to single-use plastic bags, cotton totes have ironically become part of the problem.

According to a 2020 study by Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, reusing a cotton bag 50 times had over 10 times the global warming potential compared to reusable plastic bags that were reused the same number of times.

That means a single cotton tote has to be used hundreds of times before they are considered a more eco-friendly alternative over single-use or reusable plastic bags.

Bigger environmental footprint
The study also showed that cotton totes have relatively bigger environmental footprints compared to their plastic counterparts because of the eco-toxicity potential in their production.

According to a 2018 study by Danish authorities, a single organic cotton tote needs to be used 20,000 times – or used daily for 54 years — to offset its overall impact of production.

Cotton production is resource-intensive – staggeringly large amounts of water is needed to grow the fibres. Some 10,000 to 20,000 litres are required to produce just 1kg of cotton, which is the rough equivalent of one T-shirt and a pair of jeans.

It is also associated with allegations of forced labour in Xinjiang, China, which produces 20 per cent of the global cotton supply and supplies most Western fashion brands.

Even recycling a cotton tote is not as environmentally friendly as perceived.

Experts have said that even if these bags are sent for recycling, logos or messages have to be cut out of the cloth, wasting an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of cotton received by a single recycling firm. Most dyes used to print designs on the cotton totes are PVC-based, therefore not biodegradable and unrecyclable.

What can you do?
Think twice the next time you accept the offer of a free tote by brands – not every product needs to be bagged.

By all means, accept a free tote if you need it, but make sure you use it as often as possible.


From green euphoria to global energy crisis

“The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” So declared Sheikh Zaki Yamani, a Saudi Arabian oil minister who shot to global prominence during the oil shocks of the 1970s. In his view, the age of fossil fuels would draw to a close as superior technologies and cleaner fuels prevailed in the marketplace. The inevitable corollary of this argument was that vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas would remain untapped as stranded assets in the ground.

For a time, it seemed as though his vision was coming to pass. A confluence of clean-energy innovation and concern about climate change created a euphoric green moment in energy markets. Solar and wind generation costs plunged dramatically, to the point that new renewable power plants became cheaper than new coal or gas plants in most parts of the world. With help from Californian investment and innovation and Chinese subsidies and scaling, electric cars started to give petrol-fired ones their first real run for the money since Thomas Edison and Henry Ford championed them over a century ago.

And global concern about global warming produced a rising tide of government action to cope with the rising tides of the oceans. Next month world leaders will assemble in Glasgow for the UN’s COP26 climate summit. They are expected to unveil national plans ahead of the summit that put teeth into pledges to rein in extreme climate change made at a similar shindig in Paris six years ago. Excitement about the forthcoming summit gave a dramatic boost to clean energy and climate innovation. Some even imagined that the talks would sound the death knell for fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases produced by them.

Alas, there is now a rather large and dirty spanner in the works. Far from fading quietly into the night, fossil-fuel use is rising on the back of strong economic demand. But because investment in fossil energy production has plunged of late—in part because investors concerned about future regulatory action against carbon-spewers have been dumping shares of oil and gas firms—there is short-term scarcity. Europe has very low stocks of natural gas, for example, and if this winter proves especially bitter it will run out of the stuff. The demand for fossil fuels is partly the result of shortfalls in renewable sources such as hydroelectric power and wind in various parts of the world.

This looks to be the first great shock of the global energy transition. Policymakers are likely to respond either by slamming on the brakes, seeing greenery as a threat to energy security and reliability, or by stepping on the accelerator, seeing today’s disruptions as short-term distractions in the urgent fight against climate change. But what they really need to do is rethink the policies and reform the markets of the energy transition. That could prove as difficult as fixing a flat tyre while going full speed ahead.

The Economist:




Monday, October 18, 2021

‘Insurrection’? Climate Change Protesters Attempt to Storm Interior Department Building

The Jan. 6 Capitol incursion was not an insurrection, as many left-wing politicians and pundits have claimed. Sure, some of those present during the incursion were rioters who broke the law. They should be punished accordingly.

But the idea that the events of Jan. 6 constituted some sort of domestic terror attack is nothing but a calculated narrative developed by establishment elites in their attempts to garner more power.

Leftists know this. Otherwise, they would apply the “domestic terrorism” label to other attempts to storm federal buildings.

On Thursday, a large group of climate change protesters tried to enter the Department of the Interior, according to Ellie Silverman, a reporter for The Washington Post.

“Climate protesters are now rallying outside the Department of the Interior. They’re trying to get inside but police are blocking the entrance. I can see a few Indigenous women through the doorway who are sitting on the floor inside the building and linking arms,” Silverman tweeted.

She further noted that “protesters are remaining on the steps and won’t move out of the doorway where several police are blocking passage into the building.”

As you might have guessed, the establishment media hasn’t been so eager to cover this story. Most likely because it totally debunks the left’s Jan. 6 propaganda.

If these activists happened to be conservatives protesting against vaccine mandates or Bidenflation, the media would be covering it ad nauseam.

Panicky headlines declaring the return of the Jan. 6 “insurrectionists” would spread like wildfire across social media.

But instead, since the protesters happen to be supporting a cause backed by the establishment elite, the media has remained largely silent.

The rioters who illegally stormed the Capitol in January should be condemned for their actions, just as these activists should be condemned for theirs. This isn’t how anyone should peacefully protest.

That being said, neither group is made up of “domestic terrorists” or “insurrectionists.”

Anyone who tells you as much is simply pushing a partisan agenda.


Xi Jinping 'set to miss climate summit'

Boris Johnson has reportedly been told the Chinese president will not attend, in a setback for the summit's ambitions

President Xi Jinping is set to miss the Cop26 climate conference in Scotland this month, according to a report.

The Chinese president is not expected to travel to Glasgow for the summit in a blow for world leaders hoping to set ambitious new climate targets, including limiting global warming to 1.5C.

China's emissions exceed all of the world's developed nations combined and Mr Xi's absence comes amid growing concern that the Cop26 summit will not be a success.

According to The Times, Boris Johnson has been informed that Mr Xi will not be attending.

The source told the newspaper: “It is now pretty clear that Xi is not going to turn up and the PM has been told that.”

“What we don’t know is what stance the Chinese are going to take. They could go to the G20 [summit in Rome on October 30-31] with new commitments but that is now looking less likely.

“The truth is that unless China comes with new commitments, we’re not going to be able to keep 1.5 degrees alive.”

The UN conference runs between Oct 31 and Nov 12. Organisers hope that countries will agree on key climate change pledges as part of a co-ordinated global effort to prevent environmental disaster.

Countries are expected to publish targets, known as nationally defined contributions, before the summit. However, only half of the G20 countries have put forward their plans, The Times reported.

Australia's prime minister on Friday withdrew a threat to boycott the summit, describing the meeting as “an important event”.

“I confirmed my attendance at the Glasgow Summit, which I'm looking forward to attending,” Scott Morrison told journalists.

A number of world leaders will miss the event, however. Vladimir Putin might not attend due to fears about coronavirus and Pope Francis is also expected to be absent.

Joe Biden, the US president, has confirmed he will be in Glasgow, but American climate envoy John Kerry on Thursday expressed pessimism about the summit's prospects: “It would be wonderful if everybody came and everybody hit the 1.5 degrees mark now,” he said. “That would be terrific. But some countries just don’t have the energy mix yet that allows them to do that.”

The Queen will attend a reception at Cop26, joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge


Clintel proposes a new way to analyze climate data

In his lengthy video presentation, CLINTEL President Guus Berkhout proposes creation of a new analytical facility — the Laboratory of Climate Imaging, Int. — to look at climate data in a new way. He calls it “Climate Imaging”, but it is not about pictures. It is a combination of data mapping, transformation and visualization. He also uses the additive Int to make clear that LCI is not an Intergovernmental, but an International organization.

Here is how Professor Berkhout explains it: “Imaging is much more than making pictures. Imaging is information extraction from observations (‘data’) without the ambition (yet) to explain how the extracted information is generated by nature. Having this information, and making an insightful visualization, it may improve our understanding significantly and it is often enough to make important policy decisions. His slogan is: “Let us think differently, let us think the imaging way.”

The core idea is that the climate debate is primarily focused on global averages – already for forty years – but global averaging minimizes the amount of information in the analysis. Huge amounts of detailed climate data disappear, being compressed into a single number, such as average global temperature over one, or even a few years.

Friends of Science

Professor Berkhout proposes to reverse this process, which he calls unfolding the averages. It is only in this detailed data that the causes of climate change can be determined.

But the issues are global, so climate imaging means looking globally at detailed data. For example, when and where is warming happening? This is explained at considerable length. In fact the LCI solution is only introduced around minute 42 in the video, after he goes through the global imaging concept.

The current climate models will also need to be tested against the global imaging data. What do their global images look like? For example, if a lot of the Arctic is warming, while the tropics are stable and Antarctica cools, do the models capture that big fact? If not then there is a lot of modeling work to get done. Likewise, if all those local differences in warming and cooling are observed and the increase of CO2 is almost equal at all those places, how does that fit with the AGW theory?

In fact, the specifics of where and when climate change is occurring could be extremely important. After all, science is all about specifics, not gross generalities like global averages. That gross averages are “information killers” is a central theme of the video. He says: “Information on causality does not come from trend data, but from variabilities. Don’t treat this priceless information as noise.”

In fact Professor Berkhout argues that the focus on data-starved averages is why there has been so little progress in climate science, despite 40 years of effort. The science has not properly considered the data.

He even proposes a standard approach to mapping the global data. This is in bands of constant longitude as well as bands of constant latitude. Producing these bands for temperature, solar irradiation, CO2 concentration, humidity, cloud properties etc. will be a central task of the Climate Imaging Laboratory. Next, relationships will be determined between these data volumes. Professor Berkhout expects that these relationships will be key in the long-waited progress in climate science.

Pioneering and demonstrating climate imaging will be a central mission of LCI Int. That it is an international mission is also important because data analysis today is dominated by national efforts which tend to respond to national policies. In addition, LCI will make clear that it is critical to make a clear difference between environmental pollution and climate change: decouple environmental and climate policies.

Note that there is also a wide-ranging Q & A discussion after the LCI presentation. The webcast was the annual science event of the Friends of Science in Alberta Canada. The 45-minute Q&A features a very useful discussion between Professor Berkhout and FOS’s Michelle Stirling, who has done a lot of videos on climate science issues.

At this point the Climate Imaging Laboratory Int is just an important concept. Planning is underway to make it a reality. As the title of Professor Berkhout’s presentations says “Let The Data Speak”.


Australia: Appeal to overturn naturali gas project approval dismissed

A NSW court has dismissed a legal challenge seeking to stop energy giant Santos from developing a $3.6 billion coal-seam gas project at Narrabri in the state’s north.

An opponent, the Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord, which represents about 100 residents and businesses, launched an appeal against the Independent Planning Commission’s decision last year to grant approval for the controversial proposal to build up to 850 gas wells across 95,000 hectares in the area.

The IPC gave the project “phased approval” in September last year provided a slew of what it described as 134 “stringent conditions” were met. At the time, the IPC said following detailed deliberations, which included 23,000 submissions, most of which opposed the gas field, the commissioners concluded the project was in the public interest and that negative impacts could be mitigated with strict conditions.

The accord argued in the NSW Land and Environment Court that the independent umpire should have been forced to consider not only emissions caused by drilling wells, but also the emissions generated from the end use of the Narrabri gas by Santos’ customers, known as Scope 3 emissions.

It also wanted further consideration of the environmental impacts of building an external pipeline to deliver gas from the site to the east coast markets.

In his findings, environment court Chief Judge Brian Preston dismissed the appeal, saying: “MGPA has not established any of the grounds of review of the IPC’s decision to grant development consent to the project.”

Santos on Monday said it welcomed the court’s decision to uphold the project’s approval, and looked forward to “getting on with our work in regional NSW” to create jobs, drive investment and deliver long-term energy security.

Santos managing director Kevin Gallagher said: “We are seeing play out in real time around the world what happens if you do not have domestic energy security.″⁣

Around the world, prices for oil, gas and coal are skyrocketing, as supplies fail to keep pace with rising demand from economies recovering from the COVID-19 downturn, threatening the ability of countries including China and India to keep the lights on.

“On the east coast of Australia, regulators continue to warn about an increasingly tight market in the future,” Mr Gallagher said. “A shortage of supply means only one thing and that is higher prices for NSW households and businesses.″⁣

Santos said Narrabri gas could supply up to half of NSW’s gas needs, and has committed to reserving 100 per cent of Narrabri gas for the domestic market.

The legal challenge in the Land and Environment Court caused a 12-month blow-out to Santos’ targeted timeframe for giving Narrabri the financial go-ahead. Santos will still need to carry out 12 to 18 months of appraisal drilling before the phased development can proceed.

Justice Preston said he would not order MGPA to pay Santos’ legal fees unless the company requested the group to do so.

Santos is expected to seek costs.

Narrabri has been at the front line in a years-long struggle between the gas sector and residents worried about the impact of gas drilling on the environment and the climate. The Santos project has faced years of delays and thousands of objections over feared impacts to groundwater, damage to the Pilliga state forest and its contribution to global warming.

‘Transition’ fuel

Supporters of gas promote it as the necessary “transition” fuel required to smooth the path from coal-fired power to more intermittent wind and solar energy sources, as well as a critical raw material in a range of manufacturing and industrial processes. Climate advocates say it remains a significant source of emissions that must be phased out, not expanded, to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

MGPA spokesperson and Mullaley beef farmer Margaret Fleck said the group was disappointed with the result.

Their lawyers, Environmental Defenders Office, will review the judgment in the coming days.

“If the project goes ahead, the impacts of its greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate, and the people and environment of NSW, will be substantial,” said EDO managing lawyer of safe climate corporate and gas Brendan Dobbie. “At a time when the world is preparing to meet in Glasgow to discuss action to reduce emissions to avoid further catastrophic climate change, it is disheartening that those impacts are now one step closer to fruition.”

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said despite the decision, the group would continue to oppose the project.

“Farmers and communities in north-west NSW are already suffering the destructive impacts of the climate crisis, and this project will make it worse,” she said. “The Narrabri CSG project would also have a severe impact on the underground water farmers surrounding Narrabri rely on for their businesses, and it would wreak havoc on the Pilliga forest, which is held sacred by Gomeroi people.

“Today’s ruling is devastating, but it’s not the end of the battle. Santos will never build its gasfield at Narrabri. The community does not support it and it has no social licence to proceed.”




Sunday, October 17, 2021

Polar bears could vanish by the end of the century, scientists predict

This old chestnut again. Warmists have been desperate to find the bears in trouble but their overall numbers have in fact been increasing

Arctic sea ice has been steadily decreasing since the beginning of satellite records in 1979, but a new study comes with a chilling (or perhaps, warming) prediction: By the end of this century, Arctic sea ice may disappear during the summer, which could drive polar bears and other ice-dependent species to extinction.

The "Last Ice Area" is a region containing the oldest, thickest Arctic ice. It spans an area of more than 380,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) from the western coast of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago to Greenland's northern coast. When scientists named the 13-foot-thick (4 meters) ice region, they thought it would last for decades.

But now, under both the most optimistic and pessimistic scenarios for warming linked to climate change, the sea ice will dramatically thin by 2050. The most optimistic scenario, in which carbon emissions are immediately and drastically curbed to prevent the worst warming, could result in a limited portion of the ice surviving in the region. In the most pessimistic scenario, in which emissions continue at their current rate of increase, the summer ice — and the polar bears and seals that live on it — could disappear by 2100, researchers reported in a new study.

"Unfortunately, this is a massive experiment we're doing," study co-author Robert Newton, a senior research scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a statement. "If the year-round ice goes away, entire ice-dependent ecosystems will collapse, and something new will begin."

Worse still, the NSIDC reports that the amount of older, thicker Arctic ice that has survived at least one melt season is at a record low, around a quarter of the total recorded by the first satellite surveys 40 years ago.

A more dramatic decrease in ice coverage could have a crippling effect on the lives of the animals that dwell on, or under, the shifting ice network, including photosynthetic algae, tiny crustaceans, fish, seals, narwhals, bowhead whales and polar bears.

"Ringed seals and polar bears, for example, have relied on their dens in the ridged and corrugated sea-ice surface to stay approximately in one place," the researchers wrote.

Because they are specialized predators, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) would be especially vulnerable to extinction if the ice were to disappear. Adapted to lurk atop sea ice, the Arctic bears hunt by snatching unfortunate seals that come to the surface to breathe. Polar bears have jaws adapted for consuming soft blubber and meat; and though the bears have been seen shifting their diet to seabird eggs and caribou while on land, a 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment found that the calories they gain from these sources do not balance out those the bears burn from foraging for these animals, Live Science previously reported.

This rapid habitat shift could cause polar bears to become extinct or lead to more extensive interbreeding with grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis), whose ranges are expanding northward as the climate warms, Live Science previously reported. This process could eventually replace polar bears with hybrid "pizzly" bears. Nonetheless, in the more pessimistic, increasing-emission scenario, the researchers expect the summer ice and the ice-dependent ecosystem to disappear.

"This is not to say it will be a barren, lifeless environment," Newton said. "New things will emerge, but it may take some time for new creatures to invade." The researchers suggested that fish and photosynthetic algae may make their way northward from the North Atlantic, although they are uncertain if the new habitat would be stable enough to support those organisms year-round, especially during the long, sunless Arctic winter.

Even a partially melted Arctic could also create a positive feedback loop: The water's surface is darker and more efficient at absorbing sunlight, meaning the melt would accelerate the overall rate of warming, in a vicious cycle.

On Aug. 9, a landmark report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning that Earth is expected to reach a critical threshold: a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) due to climate change within the next 20 years. A draft third section of the IPCC report leaked to the Spanish publication CTXT warned that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years if global heating is to remain within 1.5 C.

The researchers published their findings Sept. 2 in the journal Earth's Future.


Environmental Activist Project Threatens Military Readiness

In an apparent effort to rally the base, House Leadership has jammed an environmental activist project, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- a move that threatens military readiness and supply chains.

The bill “establishes requirements and incentives to limit the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, and remediate PFAS in the environment.”

PFAS can be found in a wide variety of products like non-stick pans, weatherproof clothing, carpets, belts, food packaging and various other usages. Without PFAS chemicals we wouldn’t have smartphones since they help stabilize them and help cool data centers for cloud computing.

Perhaps most importantly for the military, PFAS has been commonly used in Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) since the late 1960s. It’s the best tool to extinguish “Class Bravo” fires of fuel oil, greases, paints, solvents and other flammable substances commonly found aboard ship. The horrific lesson learned from the fire aboard USS Forrestal (CV-59) led to the manufacture of AFFF and its reliable use ever since.

Recognizing the impracticality of including this in the NDAA, the Biden administration has quietly pushed back on House Leadership. Buried back on page four, paragraph four of the Sept. 2021 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statement of Administration Policy in response to the House version of the NDAA, the Biden Administration offered House Leadership:

“(the NDAA as written) would prohibit DoD from procuring a wide range of items that may contain PFAS. If implemented in its current form, it would not be feasible for DoD to test all of these items to determine if they contain PFAS. In addition, some of these products may not have PFAS-free alternatives available.”

The NDAA was selected as a vehicle for this bill because it’s a “must-pass” piece of legislation, consuming over 50 percent of the discretionary portion of the annual budget. Must-pass bills become magnets for everything House Leadership can add to them. This is because these “Christmas Trees” form the basis of the only legislation which House Leadership is certain to take up.

Nationally, PFAS has been phased out of production for years and replaced with substitute compounds. But since the Defense Department operates globally with nearly 3 million service members and civilians working and living in over 160 countries, Congressional passage of such broad PFAS regulations and restrictions would practically paralyze the military supply system.

And the PFAS issue is much larger than DoD.

Over the years, Congress has supported multiple studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies aimed at prohibition and also clean-up of contamination sites (largely local water supplies). The danger of compounds containing PFAS is still not completely understood but the potential for long-term harm was high enough that universal agreement for eliminating PFAS compounds in both the private and public sector was enthusiastically reached.

Yet instead of allowing the EPA to finish its work and promulgate regulations concerning continued clean-up of affected watersheds and further remediation, Congress is ignoring the science and seeking to require expensive and unmanageable timelines for work already in progress.


Idiots: WH Begs for Cheaper Fuel only Days After Biden Brags About Suspending Drilling

The White House has confirmed that they are trying to work with oil and gas producers in order to lower gas prices....ironically, this comes just days after President Joe bragged about suspending the drilling in Alaska.

Are we living in the Twilight zone??

“Alaska is pretty big. There’s an awful lot we need to protect,” Biden declared on Friday. “That’s why I’m refusing to sell out the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to oil and gas drilling.”

Breitbart reports:

In June, Biden suspended oil leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after President Donald Trump opened the area up to drilling in 2017.

Biden also halted new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on federal lands in January.

The price of U.S. crude oil hit $80 a barrel this month, a seven-year high. This year oil production remains about two million barrels a day lower than the nearly 13 million barrels per day produced by the United States in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The United States government announced Wednesday that households could see heating bills jump as much as 54 percent.

A 54% increase?? Are you kidding me?? Many people prefer gas heat and appliances because it is generally less expensive than electric. Those people will be seriously screwed over this winter if the prices jump. With inflation of groceries prices and everything else right now too, it could cause some people to struggle with making ends meet.


How Australians could become mega-rich by investing in these companies

This is a classic mistake often made by amateur investors. Because something is popular or in big demand, the assumption is that shares in it with be a good buy. They rarely are.

The big peril is over-entry. Suppliers see a goldmine and rush in to supply the assumed demand. But the increased supply cuts the price and most of the new suppliers will go bust.

And there are other perils. China is already an efficient producer of lithium and could increase their supply to the market any time -- thus undercutting and bankrupting other suppliers.

Mining shares of any kind are risky and lithium is one of the riskiest. A cautious investor buys nothing unless it has a solid track record

Australian share market investors are perfectly positioned to benefit from the transition to net zero carbon emissions despite the nation being a major coal exporter to China.

The International Monetary Fund said the surging demand for renewable energy in the coming decades would be good for Australia because the nation has plentiful supplies of lithium, cobalt and nickel.

The minerals are particularly important for battery storage power that will underpin the success of solar and wind energy eventually replacing coal-fired power stations.

In a new report on the World Economic Outlook, the IMF singled out Australia for special mention along with Chile, and to a lesser extent Peru, Russia, Indonesia, and South Africa.

'Countries that stand out in production and reserves include Australia for lithium, cobalt, and nickel,' it said.

Bell Direct senior market analyst Jessica Amir said now was the time to consider investing in lithium miners before more governments around the world, including Australia, introduced more substantial electric vehicle subsidies.

'This is a huge investment opportunity and this will be the hot investment opportunity for the next decade,' she told Daily Mail Australia. 'Thirty per cent of an EV car is the battery and there's a huge lack of supply of lithium and then you've got the world pivoting and pushing to being carbon neutral.

'Clean energy must have a place in investors' portfolios because we're going to see a huge amount of government stimulus going to it, we're going to see a huge uptick in consumer demand.

'You have to remember the basics of investing: a company is based on its future earnings potential, this means that companies that are in this area, they're going to see future earnings growth and share price growth.'




Friday, October 15, 2021

UK: Electric trains ditched for diesel as green power costs skyrocket 200%

ELECTRIC trains are being ditched for diesel alternatives as the price to power them is said to have skyrocketed 200 percent in a worrying step backwards during a global energy crisis.

Rail freight operators are now reportedly being forced to halt their electric locomotives and revert back to diesel trains in a move set to increase carbon emissions and journey times. Logistic firms have said soaring wholesale energy prices and a boost to track access charges has made electric, low-carbon trains impossible to run at an affordable cost.

The move comes as the COP26 climate summit approaches where world leaders will meet to discuss their climate goals, and it is likely to put Britain in a weaker position.

The Rail Freight Group, the industry voice for the sector said: “Some operators have had to take the regrettable decision to temporarily move back to diesel locomotives."

It comes after electricity prices triples as the UK tumbles into an energy crisis, with gas prices rising to record highs too.

The crisis has pushed some energy firms over the edge, with Pure Planet, which is backed by oil giant BP, and Colorado joining the list of energy firms recently going bust.

Pure Planet supplies gas and electricity to around 235,000 domestic customers, while Colorado Energy has around 15,000 domestic customers.

Other companies to go bust include Avro Energy, People's Energy and Green Supplier Limited.

Their collapses came as rising prices sent shocks to supply chains.

But while electricity prices soar and diesel makes a comeback, Rail Freight Group pointed out that only emitted over three-quarters less carbon than road haulage even when using diesel locomotives.

A Rail Freight Group spokesperson said: “The current significant increase in the wholesale cost of electricity for haulage means that some operators have had to take the regrettable decision to temporarily move back to diesel locomotives.

“A 200 percent increase in electricity costs for each train cannot be absorbed by the operators, or customers, and so necessary action is being taken to ensure that trains can continue to operate delivering vital goods across the country.


China goes rogue on energy - threatens to humiliate UK at COP26

China has announced plans to increase its reliance on coal as the energy crisis deepens, threatening a huge blow to the UK's ambitions for a landmark global agreement on phasing out the resource at COP26 climate change summit later this month. China has been hit hard by the energy crisis currently gripping the planet, with thousands of homes and factories plunged into darkness in rolling blackouts over recent weeks.

Now, Beijing has said it will ramp up coal use, hinting at a rethink of its timetable to slash emissions.

In a statement after a meeting of Beijing’s National Energy Commission, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, stressed the importance of regular energy supply.

As many as 20 Chinese provinces are believed to be experiencing the crisis to some degree, with factories temporarily closed, shops lit with candlelight and reports of mobile networks failing after a three-day outage hit the northeast.

China is already the world's largest consumer of coal, relying on the resource for 56 percent of its power. China had previously published plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reduce emissions to become carbon neutral by 2060.

Analysts have said that for China to reach the 2060 goal, some 600 coal-fired power plants would have to shut.

In the statement announcing the new coal plants, there appeared a hint at a change in the plan, saying the crisis had led the Communist party to rethink the timing of this ambition, with a new “phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions”.

The statement said: "Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced.

“Given the predominant place of coal in the country’s energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimise the layout for the coal production capacity, build advanced coal-fired power plants as appropriate in line with development needs, and continue to phase out outdated coal plants in an orderly fashion.

The statement added: "Domestic oil and gas exploration will be intensified.”

This renewed reliance on coal appears at odds with President X Jinping's recent pledges to stop building coal plants abroad.

The announcement will be causing serious concern in the UK ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and could derail a key focus.

Alok Sharma, the UK’s president-designate of COP26, has said an agreement to phase out coal power is a key aim of the summit.


Biden Administration Announces 'Ambitious' Offshore Wind Plan

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the administration is moving forward with an "ambitious" plan to develop large-scale wind farms “along nearly the entire coastline of the United States,” according to The New York Times.

“The Interior Department is laying out an ambitious roadmap as we advance the Administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” said Haaland.

To meet the administration’s wind energy goal by 2030, Haaland said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could hold up to seven new offshore lease sales in the next four years in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and offshore the Carolinas, California, and Oregon.

“This timetable provides two crucial ingredients for success: increased certainty and transparency. Together, we will meet our clean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities. We have big goals to achieve a clean energy economy and Interior is meeting the moment," she added.

Still, there is no guarantee that companies will lease space in the federal waters and build wind farms. Once the offshore areas are identified, they will be subject to lengthy federal, state and local reviews. If the potential sites could harm endangered species, conflict with military activity, damage underwater archaeological sites, or harm local industries such as tourism, the federal government could deem them unsuitable for leasing.

As they have in response to other offshore wind farms, commercial fishing groups and coastal landowners will likely try to stop the projects. In the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas exploration is a major part of the economy, fossil fuel companies could fight the development of wind energy as a threat to not only their local operations but their entire business model.

“To be making these announcements, and making them in ways that are very political, without looking at what that means, what area, when we still don’t know what the effects are going to be of these projects is really problematic,” said Anne Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a coalition of fishing groups. “In an ideal world, when you welcome a new industry, you do it in phases, not all at once.” (NYT)

While progressives praised the announcement, others pointed out why it's a misguided approach.


Australian regulators investigate greenwashing climate change claims

Corporate Australia is on notice that glib promises to address climate change no longer cut it as so-called ‘greenwashing’ claims hit the courts.

Global regulators and major investors are joining shareholder activists in driving the nation’s corporate sector to deliver credible plans to hit net zero by 2050.

Plans rather than generic pledges are now required. They also need to include short and medium term targets and measurement methodologies.

Major emitters including AGL, BHP, Rio Tinto and Santo have all pledged to hit net zero by 2050 or before.

That has not stopped them from facing growing shareholder backlashes – and even legal challenges – amid criticism their emission reduction strategies will fail to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

The nation’s regulators, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, have also made it clear they will be increasing their oversight of climate change reporting.

ASIC in July warned company directors they could face misleading and deceptive conduct charges should they overstate the environmental credentials of their operations.

It recently rapped outback gas explorer Tamboran Resources over the knuckles for its claim it would be a net zero emissions producer from first production.

The corporate cop is also reviewing whether superannuation funds which promote their investments as green, clean and ethical actually stack up.

Claims of greenwashing – overstating the environmental benefits of an organisation’s products or environmental footprint – are now hitting the courts.

Oil and gas producer Santos is being sued by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility for allegedly engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct by claiming gas provides “clean energy” and saying it has a “clear and credible” pathway to net zero by 2040.

ACCR climate and environment director Dan Gocher said while climate change had moved firmly onto the radar of major corporations, too many companies were still not being bold enough in their pledges.

“There is a lot of green washing around net zero,” Mr Gocher said.

“Companies come out and commit to net zero but they don’t provide a lot of substance or their 2025 or 2030 targets are fairly weak. That is a big problem because we know we need to take action now.