Thursday, March 10, 2022

Net Zero Watch has welcomed Boris Johnson's last minute decision to overrule the energy regulator, preventing Britain's shale gas wells being cemented over for good

According to press reports, the Prime Minister has opened the door to the revival of the UK’s shale gas industry in the aftermath of the Government’s ban on imports of Russian oil.

According to the Daily Telegraph "the Prime Minister wants his ministers to look again at whether fracking, which has been under a moratorium for more than two years, can help diversify the country’s energy supply."

Officials are said to be working on an “energy supply strategy”.

Meanwhile, the US administration is ratcheting up pressure on shale gas producers, telling them they should be doing “whatever it takes” to increase shale supplies and tame energy prices that have soared following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Even the EU's newly released energy plan makes absolutely clear that the first and overriding priority is to obtain non-Russian natural gas to shore up security of supply.

Net Zero Watch director Benny Peiser said:

"The Prime Minister needs to heed the desperate calls by US and EU officials for new, non-Russian gas supplies. It is vital that he overrules the obstructive anti-shale gas activism of Kwasi Kwarteng and the Department of Business and Energy."

"BEIS, DEFRA, the Climate Change Committee, and even Ofgem are responsible for the current energy emergency and cannot be trusted with its resolution."

"The lack of realism and the ideological dogmatism in BEIS underlines the need for the PM to take personal control of energy security. We think he should create a new Cabinet committee for 'National Energy Security', based in Number 10.”



Coal’s comeback

Even before the war began, coal was enjoying a comeback as the surging post-pandemic economic recovery led to high demand for power.

That was the case even in countries with lofty environmental goals. In the US, coal-fired power generation was higher in 2021, under President Joe Biden, than it was in 2019 under then president Donald Trump, who positioned himself as the would-be saviour of America’s coal industry. In Europe, coal power rose 18 per cent in 2021, its first increase in almost a decade.

The global surge in demand has delivered windfall profits for companies such as Glencore, Whitehaven Coal and Peabody Energy, the once bankrupt Wyoming group now planning to expand production after its most profitable quarter ever.

Peabody chief executive Jim Grech expects this year to bring “a period of elevated demand” for coal, and continued high prices.

The war in Ukraine could boost coal demand even further, at least in the short term. That point was acknowledged last week by Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck, of the country’s Green party, who said Europe may be forced to burn more coal in the face of Russian aggression and spiralling gas prices.

Gas prices hit a record above €335 per megawatt hours this week, and at that level it is cheaper for some power stations to burn coal rather than gas even when the cost of carbon permits is taken into consideration.

Energy security concerns are also contributing, with some countries including Italy saying they may need to burn more coal, in order to burn less Russian gas.

The IEA recently acknowledged this trade-off. “The faster EU policymakers seek to move away from Russian gas supplies, the greater the potential implication, in terms of economic costs and near-term emissions,” the IEA said, in a report last week.

The conflict in Ukraine is having an impact on the global coal market in other ways, as Russian coal exports are called into question. As banks, insurers and shipping companies shun Russia, coal consumers in Europe and Asia are now scouring the market for alternative sources of supply and pushing up prices, which last week hit more than $400 a tonne, from $82 a year ago.

At those prices, 2022 promises to be another year of bumper profits for the industry. Russia accounts for about 30 per cent of Europe’s imports of thermal coal, which is burnt in power stations to generate electricity.

Coal is still dominant in Asia too, especially in China, the world’s largest emitter. The country is still constructing new coal plants, and emissions there rose 4 per cent last year, accounting for a quarter of the total global increase in emissions. (The US was not far behind, accounting for about 22 per cent of the global increase in emissions last year.)

The increase in Chinese power demand in 2021, compared with 2019, was the equivalent of the entire power output of Germany and France combined. This year, Beijing is targeting 5.5 per cent gross domestic product growth, which implies a further increase in energy demand.

Even though China gets only 5 per cent of its gas supply from Russia and 10 per cent of its oil supply, according to data from IHS Markit, it is not insulated from the global energy shock.

“If there’s any natural gas shortage, China may have to again resort to increasing domestic coal production — often cited as the last defence for energy security by officials,” says Xizhou Zhou, vice-president of power and renewables at IHS Markit.

Beijing has pledged to cap its coal consumption during this decade, which means that its coal consumption, and emissions, are likely to keep growing for several more years.


70% of Americans Favor Increased U.S. Oil and Gas Production

With gas prices soaring, energy policy is likely to be a major issue in the midterm election campaign, and voters strongly favor a policy of promoting domestic petroleum production.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 70% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the U.S. government should encourage increased oil and gas production to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and gas. Only 18% oppose a policy of encouraging U.S. energy independence, while 12% are not sure.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on March 3 and 6, 2022 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.


Abandoning ‘net zero’ could be the highroad to electoral victory for Australian conservatives

The path to electoral victory is crystal clear. Scott Morrison must abandon net zero to win the next election.

Much has changed since those halcyon Glasgow days back in October, when reaching net zero carbon emissions was all the rage. This week, the great climate warrior himself, Boris Johnson, recognised the inevitable and declared Britain and the rest of the West must ‘give a climate pass’ to natural gas and ramp up gas production. Net zero in the UK, following a Tory backbench revolt, a freezing winter of power cuts, spiralling energy costs and now the Ukrainian war, is almost certainly dead. Leaders in the capitals of the West, faced with Russian military aggression driven by and financed by Europe’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, are rapidly waking up to the fact that, to put it in a simplistic but irrefutable equation: fossil fuels equal peace, ‘net zero’ equals war.

That this grim equation has for many years been both predicted and feared by many conservative-leaning thinkers, from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to, of course, Donald Trump, comes as no solace.

Unfortunately for the likes of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, even the most fanciful extremist climate change ‘rising sea levels’ and ‘Biblical floods’ doomsday scenarios pale into insignificance compared to the very real ‘Armageddon for mankind’ that nuclear conflict would deliver.

As has long been recognised by conservatives, peace lies in the preparation for war. Credible military deterrence is the ultimate guarantor of freedom. Since the end of the second world war, the West has kept the rapacious communists at bay through superior military weaponry and leaders who proclaimed they were prepared to use them. Up until the hapless Joe Biden stumbled into the White House, the events unravelling in Ukraine were unimaginable.

But the last decade has seen a headlong rush by a plethora of weak Western leaders and institutions to focus primarily on juvenile, trite and idiotic concepts such as ‘diversity and inclusion’, ‘gender fluidity’, critical race theory and climate change and in doing so advertise our impotence.

Perhaps our church-going Prime Minister might like to recall the lines from Corinthians 13.11: ‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ Climate change is a child’s obsession – both metaphorically and literally – but in an age of potential nuclear war and totalitarian ambitions we need adult, indeed manly, leadership.

Scott Morrison has talked tough on both Russia and China. So he should. And as he and his focus group handlers –sorry, typo, his political advisers – are obviously aware, the way to beat Labor at the forthcoming election is to play the national security card for all it’s worth. In times of strife, the average Aussie family man and woman will always feel more comfortable with a right-leaning politician running the show than a starry-eyed eco-luvvy or some class-obsessed union hack. Again, so they should.

The Prime Minister points out that Labor can never be trusted to protect our borders and to guarantee our national security. And he is right. But unless he backs up his own tough talk with genuine action, the sad truth is that neither can he be trusted. You cannot protect a nation while agreeing to ‘de-growth’ and ‘net zero emissions’. And you cannot protect Australia if your future source of energy is a fantasy like Twiggy’s green hydrogen.

It’s time to grow up, abandon net zero, and deliver a Coalition victory




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