Tuesday, July 26, 2022

From Sri Lanka to Holland, the road to hell is paved with emissions reductions

Matt Canavan

In Evelyn Waugh’s classic satire Black Mischief, the fictional African country of Azania welcomes an English delegation from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at a gala dinner. In the after-dinner speech, given by the Azanian Minister for the Interior, it becomes clear that there is a slight misunderstanding about the Society’s objectives:

‘It is my privilege and delight this evening to welcome with open arms of brotherly love to our city Dame Mildred Porch and Miss Tin, two ladies renowned throughout the famous country of Europe for their great cruelty to animals. We Azanians are a proud and ancient nation, but we have much to learn from the white people of the West and North. We too, in our small way, are cruel to our animals…’At this point, Waugh explains that the Minister ‘digressed at some length to recount with hideous detail what he had himself once done with a woodman’s axe to a wild boar’.

I sometimes think that the mess that countries like Sri Lanka get themselves in is perhaps due to a similar ‘lost in translation’ phenomenon. Presumably, when our modern-day, do-gooding, busy-bodying westerners turn up in countries like Sri Lanka, with promises of infinitely cheap renewable energy, there is the mistaken belief that these envoys, from the rich industrial nations of the west, must know what they are talking about. Like when George Soros and Nobel prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz were the guests of honour at the 2016 Sri Lanka Economic Forum at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. As Professor Stiglitz told the assembled government officials and business leaders, ‘your major source of energy is the sun and not oil’. In a written article following his visit, Stiglitz explained that a carbon tax was the answer:

‘Sri Lanka has abundant sunshine and wind; a carbon tax would raise considerable revenue, increase aggregate demand, move the country toward a green economy, and improve the balance of payments… Sri Lanka may be able to move directly into more technologically advanced sectors, high-productivity organic farming, and higher-end tourism.’ Unfortunately, and tragically, Sri Lanka took his advice, stopped building a coal-fired power station, promised a 70 per cent renewable energy target, mandated organic farming and achieved an ‘ESG score’ of 98 out of 100. As a result, the production of Sri Lanka’s major cash crops fell by 20 per cent, they have a major balance of payments crisis (despite abundant sunshine they can’t afford to import oil) and their government has been ousted in a people’s revolt.

The one difference from Waugh’s time is that there is now a two-way trade in ignorant, wishful thinking between the developed and the developing worlds. At last year’s Glasgow climate change conference, Sri Lanka launched the #Nitrogen4NetZero initiative. As the then president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, explained to his gullible mother country audience, ‘nitrogen generated by human activity and released into ecosystems worsens climate change’. Sri Lanka was the driver behind the Colombo Declaration, signed in 2019 with the goal of halving nitrogen waste by 2030.

European countries have backed the Sri Lankan push and guess why Dutch farmers are angry right now? They are protesting because a new law would force many of them off the land so that more houses and roads can be built while the Netherlands, as a whole, stays within strict nitrogen limits set by European laws. This started because a small environmental group, Mobilisation for the Environment, successfully sued the Dutch government in the European Court of Justice in 2017 for insufficient limits on nitrogen. Since then, the Dutch government has developed plans to reduce nitrogen use, which is a by-product of everything from transport to construction to agriculture. When asked whether the plans would require compulsory farm buyouts, the responsible minister said, ‘I really can’t rule it out’.

Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for plant growth because it helps plants form protein and that ultimately keeps humans fed. Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the atmosphere but until the German scientists, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, developed their eponymously named process, there was no way of directly using atmospheric nitrogen to stimulate plant growth. Before nitrogen-based fertilisers, famines were a common disaster. After Haber-Bosch, famines are only caused by political dysfunction not agricultural failure. The process was originally developed at the world’s largest chemicals hub, the BASF facility at Ludwigshafen, Germany. This month BASF executives reported that they are considering shutting down the entire facility if Russia restricts gas supplies further.

Food security and energy security are two sides of the same coin. As we enter the worst energy crisis in our nation’s history, the Dutch and European experience shatters the myth that something like Sri Lanka cannot happen here. On the Australian Greens website, they say that they want ‘to support farmers to reduce emissions, including through reducing usage of fossil fuels and nitrogen fertilisers’. Even more foreboding is a tweet from our new Prime Minister, after just two months in the job, ‘Thanks to @JosephEStiglitz for the discussion about the global economy this morning’. The obligatory selfie of inane grins provides no confidence that organic farming, or the power of sunshine, were not discussed.

The Labor party has been elected on a platform of grand promises to transform our food and energy production processes. They want more than 80 per cent of our electricity to come from renewable energy and they want to pay farmers to shut down food production so we can ‘offset’ other carbon-emitting activities. As the world suffers from food shortages does it seem a little strange to pay farmers to grow less food?

At least in Waugh’s Azania the leaders were trying, however unsuccessfully, to make their nation more advanced and prosperous. Our leaders now seem to be in a race to join the third world as quickly as possible. It would make for a funny satire if we were not all characters in the story.


What You Need to Know About Biden’s Climate ‘Emergency’

In a speech Wednesday in Massachusetts, President Joe Biden announced that he would use yet more executive action in a bid to push his radical climate agenda, despite recent checks on unilateral presidential action by Congress and the Supreme Court.

The administration is aiming to overhaul the energy sector and the American economy to achieve the costly and unrealistic objectives of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reaching economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.

Biden stopped short of invoking national emergency powers to achieve his climate agenda as rumored, while promising more regulatory and executive actions to come. Instead, the president announced $385 million for weatherization projects and air-conditioning units and diverting $2.3 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for infrastructure.

He also announced more heat-exposure regulations by the Department of Labor, in addition to touting programs in the infrastructure bill that passed last fall.

Whether to appease activists who want more or to lay the groundwork for future action, Biden also used the occasion to make the case why he’s entitled to act unilaterally without Congress.

Taking a look at some of those claims briefly. Biden said:

* “The U.N.’s leading international climate scientists called the latest climate report nothing less than, quote, ‘code red for humanity.’”

Headlines for “code red” situations came from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ press release about an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change draft report last August. But for all its faults, this isn’t what the IPCC found. Rather, it reported that the most extreme projections for warming—the so-called code red—was downgraded to “low likelihood.”

That’s as much good news for humans as it is for improving scientific integrity.

As an aside, Biden continued: “It’s not a group of … elected officials [saying that]. These are the scientists.” Where else have Americans heard that before? Americans found out all too well with the total mishandling of discussions about COVID-19 as politicians, the media, and scientists made similar appeals to authority to deflect responsibility.

* “We lose it all” if we don’t suppress temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Not only is this irresponsible catastrophism that is not supported by the science Biden was quick to cite for authority, it also ignores some of the benefits of warming and displays a lack of faith in the ability of people to innovate and adapt.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates warming already of 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1850. During that time, extreme poverty plummeted 80%, global crop yields of grains increased more than 200%, and humanity has become more resilient to natural disasters, to name a few trends in the remarkable progress for human well-being and adaptation that give reason for optimism.

* Last year, “extreme weather events [cost] $145 billion” in property damage because of climate change. Damages from weather disasters have been decreasing since at least 1990 as a percent of gross domestic product, which is the proper way to account for losses.

More importantly, the death toll from climate-related disasters decreased 96% over the past century. To put this in perspective, Our World in Data (a project of Oxford University) recorded that 15,071 people died in natural disasters in 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 93,331 deaths in the U.S. from drug overdoses that same year.

* Hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, flooding, and wildfires are becoming more destructive because of climate change. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported no discernible global trends for hurricanes, winter storms, floods, tornadoes, or thunderstorms, while it did report trends in heat waves, heavy precipitation, and some kinds of drought.

Policymakers should be very leery of using global warming as a scapegoat, only to misdiagnose problems and consequently ignore real solutions. The failure of the Oroville Dam in California and mismanaged federal forests fueling catastrophic fires are just two examples.

Finally, while not explicitly stated, Biden clearly intimated that the air we breath is choked with pollution. In fact, Americans have a lot to be proud of. Air pollution has decreased 73% since 1980.

The Real Emergency

But here’s the real problem. No matter what one thinks about the nature and pace of global warming, the president’s self-proclaimed reason for unilateral action should be appalling to all Americans: “Congress isn’t acting as it should.”

Americans’ elected representatives set policy, not a king in the White House (regardless of party) or bureaucrats keen on legislating via regulation.

With the latest failure in Congress of Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, a massive spending bill that included tax favors and spending on climate-related federal programs, the possibility of more radical climate policies passing Congress appear even more remote.

Congress has rejected these and other climate policies on numerous occasions over the past two decades because of the far-reaching costs and dubious environmental impact of those proposals.

Yet Congress’ role in establishing policy was reinforced by the Supreme Court’s June 30 decision in West Virginia v. EPA, severely limiting the ability of regulatory agencies to develop major policies, such as economy-wide climate regulations without clear direction from Congress.

Many on the left are pillorying Congress; Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; the Supreme Court; or high energy prices for derailing Biden’s climate agenda, claiming that the urgency of global warming means the rules no longer apply.

However, the left’s anger at those developments exposes a disturbing impatience with representative government and a preference for control to be concentrated in the hands of an unelected, select few.

That Americans’ constitutional system of government and elected representatives are disdainfully, shrilly considered as obstacles to this (or any) president’s agenda is something that should concern every American, regardless of political party. Ends justified by means, regardless of the rule of law, is not a sustainable way to run a country.

In reality, Biden’s problem is that he and his administration have never bothered to make the case for, and earn the consensus of Americans or their elected representatives for, the extreme, unrealistic, and deeply flawed climate commitments the president unilaterally made to the U.N.’s Paris Agreement.

So, who was the president really speaking to on Wednesday?

According to The New York Times: “Just 1 percent of voters in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll named climate change as the most important issue facing the country, far behind worries about inflation and the economy. Even among voters under 30, the group thought to be most energized by the issue, that figure was 3 percent.”

Other than climate activists and a small handful of radical congressmen, it’s not at all clear.


UK: Net Zero policy already costing at least £2000 per household

A new analysis by Net Zero Watch reveals that Net Zero policies are already costing every household over £2000 per year.

Spending programmes and the Emissions Trading Scheme together cost around £300, while green levies – mostly subsidies to renewables – are adding another £350.

Renewable energy also imposes a range of indirect costs as businesses pass on their costs to consumers, which may add up to another £600. Finally, there is a significant cost due to the constraints put on fossil fuel extraction in the UK.

Together, these figures add up to more than £2000 per household, a figure that will rise sharply as Net Zero plans moves to more problematic sectors of the economy.

Andrew Montford, Net Zero Watch’s deputy director, warns:

"The government seems to have no grasp of the devastating energy crisis that is about to break. The personal finance expert Martin Lewis has warned of a cataclysmic energy emergency this autumn, but ministers are still pretending that the answer is to just go faster down the same road that has brought us to the brink of disaster. This is insane."

Net Zero Watch director Dr Benny Peiser said:

"Boris Johnson green dogmatism has shackled the government in a trap of their own making. This winter, the new Prime Minister will be faced with the worst energy cost crisis since WWII. Unless the new PM makes swift and radical policy changes ministers will be presiding over the biggest social and economic disaster in living memory – and will rightly be blamed for it."


China's cheap energy dominance will endure for decades

For those dismayed at the searing heat afflicting much of the planet, some sobering news from the world’s biggest coal industry: the dirtiest fossil fuel will remain China’s mainstay source of energy for a decade or more.

“Coal’s dominant role is unlikely to change in the next 10 to 15 years,” Zhang Hong, deputy general secretary of the China National Coal Association, told a briefing on Wednesday.

China, which produces more than half the world’s coal, has said consumption won’t peak until 2025. By that time, annual demand will have risen 4% to 4.3 billion tons, according to Zhang. In 2030, the nation will still be burning some 4 billion tons of the fuel, scarcely less than is being used now. And as the government opens up even more mines, capacity is likely to be kept well above projected demand at 5 billion tons, he said.

For all of China’s massive build-up of clean energy, climate action remains hostage to energy security, particularly after last year’s crippling power shortages and the spike in prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At the same briefing, Wang Zhixuan, an official with the China Electricity Council, called the inherent intermittency of renewables a “gray rhino,” or an obvious but neglected risk, that could topple the grid if coal isn’t there as a backstop. “Safely switching energy is the basis to phasing out coal,” he said, and the country’s climate goals can’t be achieved by “one-time fixes.”

In the meantime, the fuel’s importance only grows. Capital spending on thermal power generation rose 72% in the first six months of the year, according to the CEC, dwarfing other energy sources. And more projects are on the way as the authorities speed up new approvals. The nation’s biggest coal producer said last week that net income could increase by as much as 60% in the first half.


My other blogs. Main ones below

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

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

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

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

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


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