Friday, December 30, 2022

Europe must exploit its fossil fuel resources or face economic relegation to second world status

As Europe faces its worst energy crisis in living memory, Net Zero Watch has warned ministers and MPs in London and Brussels that they have a choice between exploiting Europe’s untouched fossil fuel resources or inevitable relegation of the continent to second world status.

It is matter of real concern that most MPs and ministers still oppose drilling for gas and oil in European waters and the North Sea, and even more importantly, still reject shale gas exploration, blocking a vital energy resource for Europe’s and the UK’s future.

Europe’s fossil fuel resources are the subject of a new paper published today by Net Zero Watch. The paper surveys the scale of resources and concludes that they are large enough to make a significant difference to both price and energy security, opening up the path to a more secure future.

Europe’s energy resources are far from trivial, with coal reserves amounting to nearly 13% of the global total, sufficient to support current levels of production for nearly 300 years.

According to the European Commission, technically recoverable shale gas resources in Europe amount to some 14 trillion cubic metres, between four and five times greater than the proven reserves of natural gas. In other words, shale gas would be sufficient to support current levels of European gas production for more than 50 years.

In 2014 the European Commission concluded that ‘the volumes produced will not make Europe self-sufficient in gas, but could help to reduce prices’. That conclusion is obviously correct, and applies with equal force to coal, oil, and conventional natural gas resources.

Dr John Constable, the report’s author, said:

Europe’s fossil fuel resources will not deliver self-sufficiency – for that we need nuclear energy – but they reinforce our energy security and promote the economic prosperity that we require to move towards a high energy nuclear future.

It is alarming that there are still parliamentarians who believe that more renewable energy is the solution, when this will only deepen the current crisis and make recovery still more difficult. Only the physically superior energy from fossil fuels is able to help us out in this desperate situation.”

See: "European Fossil Fuels: Resources and Proven Reserves" (pdf)


UN Secretary-General António Guterres Falsely Claims Weather Disasters Have Increased 500% in 50 Years

Last September, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres claimed climate, weather and water-related disasters had increased by 500% over the last 50 years. According to the political and environmental science writer Professor Roger Pielke this is “pure misinformation“. He goes on to suggest that “you will never find a more obvious and egregious wrong claim in public discussions from a more important institution”. Matters were made even worse, in Pielke’s view, because the false notion was “legitimised” by none other than the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), one of the founding bodies of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Of course 2022 is not fully complete, but total disasters will be around the 330 mark, and this will be similar to the average for the last decade. Compared with the 2000s, the numbers are about 10% lower.

Based on these data, said by CRED to be reliable since 2000, Pielke notes there is no evidence that the number of global and climate disasters is increasing. “That means that – undeniably – there is no evidence to support another false claim by the UN that, ‘The number of disaster events is projected to reach 560 a year – or 1.5 each day, statistically speaking – by 2030’.”

Preliminary estimates suggest that around 11,000 people lost their lives this year as a result of weather and climate-related disasters, a figure around the average for the last decade. The overall death rate was about 0.14 people per million, and was one of the five lowest annual death rates since data were compiled. Pielke ventures that the figure is the lowest in all recorded human history. Just two decades ago, the figure was 20 times greater at 2.9 per million. The diminishing human impact of disasters is a science and policy success that is “widely under-appreciated”.

In fact, as the Daily Sceptic has repeatedly shown, such inconvenient facts are largely ignored in most mainstream media, as individual weather events are relentlessly catastrophised in the interest of upending society, via the Net Zero political project. Weather catastrophisation is now the main climate propaganda tool since global warming went off the boil over two decades ago. Pielke noted that he had spent 30 years working to understand trends in disasters. “Along the way, I’ve observed a concerted and successful effort by climate advocates to create and spread disinformation about disasters, knowing full well that virtually all journalists and scientists will stay silent and allow the false information to spread unchecked – and sometimes they will even help to amplify it,” he wrote.

“I am curious. When are journalists going to start reporting the facts about disasters, and call out disinformation,” he asked.

Don’t hold your breath just yet Professor, might be the reply. On September 14th, the Daily Sceptic reported that four leading Italian scientists had undertaken a major review of historical climate trends, and concluded that declaring a ‘climate emergency’ was not supported by the data. Our report went viral, was viewed over 25,000 times, retweeted over 9,000 times, and eventually made its way into other media outlets.

It led to the inevitable ‘fact-check’. State-owned Agence France-Presse reported that “top climate experts” said the paper “cherry picked” data. One of the experts was Friederike Otto who works out of Imperial College London, and is at the forefront of the pseudoscientific ‘attribution’ of single weather events to humans allegedly causing the climate to change. She said that “of course” the authors were not writing the article in good faith. “If the journal cares about science they should withdraw it loudly and publicly, saying that it should have never been published,” she said.

As a result of this pressure, the publisher of the paper Springer Nature made the following announcement: “Readers are alerted that the conclusions reported in this manuscript are currently under dispute. The journal is investigating the issue”. Of course all science is “under dispute” (except, it seems, the ‘settled’ science of climate change), but that is not the reason why this shameful announcement was made. It remains on the paper to this day.

Pielke concludes that planet Earth is a place of extremes. Hurricanes, floods, drought, heatwaves and other types of extreme weather are normal and always have been. The ability of societies to prepare and recover from extreme events is a remarkable story of policy success – deaths related to disasters have plummet from millions per year a century ago to thousands per year over the past decade.

“Unfortunately nowadays, every weather and climate disaster becomes enlisted as a sort of ‘poster child’ for climate advocacy. Every extreme event and associated human impact is quickly turned into a symbol of something else – such as failed energy policies, rapacious fossil fuel companies, evil politicians, or callous jet-setting billionaires. It is a simple and powerful narrative, and one that is also incredibly misleading,” he concluded.


2022: The year ESG fell to Earth

The year 2022 brings an end to an era of illusions: a year that saw the end of the post–Cold War era and the return of geopolitics; the first energy crisis of the enforced energy transition to net zero; and the year that brought environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing down to earth with a thump—for the year to date, BlackRock’s ESG Screened S&P 500 ETF lost 22.2% of its value, and the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index rose 54.0%.

The three are linked. By restricting investment in production of oil and gas by Western producers, ESG increases the market power of non-Western producers, thereby enabling Putin’s weaponization of energy supplies. Net zero—the holy grail of ESG—has turned out to be Russia’s most potent ally.

It wasn’t only a bad year for ESG on the stock market. Earlier this month, Vanguard announced that it was quitting Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (NZAM), set up by former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney a little over a year ago. “We have decided to withdraw from NZAM so that we can provide the clarity our investors desire about the role of index funds and about how we think about material risks, including climate-related risks,” the world’s second-largest asset manager said.

Two months ago, Alex Edmans, coauthor of the latest edition of the standard textbook on the principles of corporate finance and professor of finance at the London Business School, published a paper titled “The End of ESG”—without a question mark. Edmans criticizes what has become the primary justification for ESG: the claim that business can generate higher returns for investors by tackling climate change. Since governments are democratically elected by a country’s citizens, they are best placed to address externalities, whereas investors disproportionately represent the elites. “If ESG is pursued for its externalities, companies and investors should be very clear that it may be at the expense of value,” Edmans says.

October also saw the publication of Terrence Keeley’s Sustainable, where the former BlackRock senior executive penned what amounts to a requiem for ESG. Rather than “doing well by doing good,” the logic of Keeley’s case, as I reviewed for RealClear Books, is that investors in conventional ESG investment products are likely to end up not doing very well and leave investors feeling good, not doing good.

It has not all been going one way. In May, HSBC terminated Stuart Kirk, its global head of research at HSBC’s asset-management arm, for voicing some hard truths about ESG. Earlier this month, HSBC announced that it will stop financing new oil and gas fields, putting the West’s third-largest bank on Putin’s side in Russia’s energy war on the West.

What is now a negative factor disadvantaging the West in a world increasingly characterized by East–West geopolitical tensions originated after a period when the United Nations had been fostering a horizontal global division between a rich North and an exploited South. As University of Pennsylvania’s professor Elizabeth Pollman records in her June 2022 paper “The Origins and Consequences of the ESG Moniker,” through the 1970s and early 1980s, the UN promoted the New International Economic Order that called for the regulation of transnational corporations on the alleged grounds that they were widening the gap between developed and developing countries.

After Kofi Annan became secretary-general in 1997, the UN shifted from a strategy of confrontation to co-optation. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 1999, Annan launched a Global Compact between business and the UN. In 2004, the Global Compact’s financial-sector initiative published a report titled “Who Cares Wins”—a rip-off of the British special-forces SAS motto “Who Dares Wins”—arguing for “better consideration of environmental, social and governance factors” in investment appraisals, claiming that this would both improve outcomes for investors and help the UN achieve its sustainable development goals.

ESG means different things, depending on whom you’re talking to. Is it about risk disclosure? Or about factors driving long-term shareholder value? Or is it about society holding business to account? One thing is clear: ESG’s unsustainable dual mandate of boosting shareholder returns and at the same time making the world a better place— “doing well by doing good”—was present at the creation of ESG. It was a masterstroke by ESG’s designers to incorporate “G” for governance. No investor can be against improved governance, and it helped mainstream ESG, whereas previous iterations, such as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), remained niche.

The 2008 financial crisis subsequently turbocharged the uptake of ESG. Having caused the financial crisis, Wall Street was going to redeem itself by saving the world from a planetary catastrophe. Without climate change, ESG would have vastly less salience. Although marketed as a climate risk analysis tool, ESG is no such thing. In reality, it’s about investors and debt providers driving the decarbonization of Western companies and sunsetting its oil and gas companies.

According to ESG doctrine, there are two types of climate financial risk—physical risk and transition risk—and it’s straightforward to demonstrate that both are spurious. Take the Bank of England. For its climate stress tests, the Bank of England uses a scenario derived from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) extreme and physically implausible RCP8.5 climate scenario. Roger Pielke, Jr., professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado–Boulder, and Justin Ritchie have documented how use of the RCP8.5 scenario represents “a stubborn commitment to error,” with its absurd projection of a sixfold growth in per-capita coal consumption to 2100, based on erroneous reports in the late 1980s of virtually unlimited coal deposits in Siberia and China. The Bank of England compounds implausibility with impossibility by taking the RCP8.5 pathway of 4 degrees by the turn of the century and telescoping it into a 3.3-degree Celsius rise by 2050. Central banks resorting to these types of games constitutes strong evidence that climate physical risk is a nonissue for financial stability.

When he was governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney gave an agenda-setting speech alleging a tragedy of the horizon as the catastrophic impacts of climate change will be felt beyond the traditional horizons of most actors. Climate catastrophes are presumed to be triggered by tipping points, one of the earliest being the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. In its sixth assessment report, the IPCC declared that with sustained warming, there was limited evidence that the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets would disappear “over multiple millennia.” That is some time horizon. Despite the best efforts of central bankers, geologic timescales of millennia and human timescales of decades are completely out of whack.

Similarly, climate transition risk and the stranded assets trope defy economic and financial logic. If you restrict the flow of capital into a sector producing stuff that people want and are willing to pay for, the price of the output of a capital-embargoed sector will rise, as will the value of its invested capital. This, in essence, is what has been happening in energy and capital markets over the past year and explains why ESG as an investment strategy does not work. In the absence of draconian government policies to suppress demand for oil and natural gas, ESG policies strangling the supply of capital to Western oil and gas producers have two effects: they push up the price of hydrocarbons; and they displace supply from Western producers to neutral or hostile ones, with major detriment to the economies and security interests of the West.

Although the disintegration of ESG as an investment strategy became unmistakable in 2022, its existence as a political doctrine will continue until it is challenged and defeated politically. This is already happening in Red states such as Florida, Texas, West Virginia, and Utah. It also requires concerted leadership at a national level to get central bankers and financial regulators to quit playing covert climate policy and to shame banks such as HSBC into switching their support from Russia in the energy wars by dropping their anti–oil and gas financing policies. Defeating ESG not a case of “who cares wins” but “who fights wins.”


Tesla chaos strikes: Long Christmas holiday queues for charging station reveals the harsh reality of owning an electric vehicle in Australia

The people caught out must be either gullible or a bit dim. Electric vehicles are just not suitable for long-distance travel

Australian Tesla drivers have been forced to wait in 90-minute queues at charging stations as thousands take to the roads over the holiday period.

Queues for charging stations have been spotted nationwide, including in Victoria and NSW.

The huge queues have angered Tesla owners, with many blasting Australia's lack of electric vehicle infrastructure.

ABC reporter Phil Williams shared a video of the electric cars all lined up at a charging bay in Wodonga, on the border of Victoria and NSW on Wednesday. 'Wodonga Tesla charge points overwhelmed with wait times around 90 mins,' he said.

In the footage, Tesla owners can be seen aimlessly standing around their cars as they wait for a charge before getting on their way more than an hour later.

There were similar scenes at a Coffs Harbour charging point in northern NSW on Wednesday, with Teslas stretching through the carpark as drivers waited their turn to power up.

Many Aussies were quick to call out electric vehicles after seeing the footage. 'Think I'll stick to a petrol powered car. Takes less than 5 minutes to fill up my car's tank, pay for the petrol and to then be on my way again,' one said.

'Why anyone would want an electric car that can take up to an hour to fully recharge is beyond me,' another declared. 'They obviously have way too much time on their hands to just wait either waiting to recharge or recharge!'

'So how do you travel during peak periods in an EV? Just be prepared to add 3 hours to your trip? That won't help with the take up of the technology?' a third said.

'I'm an expat Australian and this is the reason I left. We're 10 years behind the rest of the world with EV and innovation,' added another.

Others called for an expansion of the charging network across Australia to solve the problem of long wait times.

'There are eleven petrol stations in Wodonga, multiple outlets for every major brand, and only one place to charge EVs which is just outside the council offices.'

Another suggested: 'Every petrol station should have to fit charging points.'

Others suggested the long wait times were due to the Christmas holidays, while some said it was likely the scenes in Wodonga were from a Tesla club meet-up.




Thursday, December 29, 2022

Oh, So That's How USPS Plans to Go Green By 2026

Monkey see, monkey do—that’s what the United States Postal Service is going regarding its delivery fleet. They’re going to blow some $11 billion on electric vehicles after a push from the Biden administration. It won’t be immediate, but the goal is to have 66,000 cars delivering mail by 2026. Also, in that same timeframe, USPS hopes all purchases of future vehicles will carry zero emissions (via WaPo):

The U.S. Postal Service will buy 66,000 vehicles to build one of the largest electric fleets in the nation, Biden administration officials announced Tuesday, turning to one of the most recognizable vehicles on American roads — boxy white mail trucks — to fight climate change.

Postal officials’ plans call for buying 60,000 “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles” from defense contractor Oshkosh, of which 45,000 will be electric, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told The Washington Post. The agency will also purchase 46,000 models from mainstream automakers, of which 21,000 will be electric.

The Postal Service will spend $9.6 billion on the vehicles and associated infrastructure, officials said, including $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden and congressional Democrats’ landmark climate, health-care and tax law.

By 2026, the agency expects to purchase zero-emissions delivery trucks almost exclusively, DeJoy said. It’s a major achievement for a White House climate agenda that leans heavily on reducing greenhouse gases from vehicles.

“It’s wonderful that the Postal Service will be at the forefront of the switch to clean electric vehicles, with postal workers as their ambassadors,” said John Podesta, White House senior adviser for clean energy innovation. “It will get people thinking, ‘If the postal worker delivering our Christmas presents … is driving an EV, I can drive one, too.’”

No one looks to their local postal worker to gauge what's hot regarding car sales. No one is going to say, 'look, the postal guy or gal is driving an EV'; I need one too,' that's ridiculous.

The USPS should post profits before blowing billions on a fleet that will probably cause more problems than it solves. Second, it’s not green since it uses fossil fuel to charge its batteries. Do liberals think an energy wizard resides within the power stations for these cars? There are logistical issues as well, especially post offices in rural areas. Reports of electric vehicles are conking out as the power station infrastructure remains underdeveloped. That’s all an aside; the USPS should have to post consecutive years of profit before this Democrat-led boondoggle project gets the green light. Blowing $11 billion on electric cars isn’t going to help bring this struggling agency to solvency.


ESG’s Perverse, Narrowly Focused Ethics

As most people know, ESG stands for Environmental protection, Social justice, and Governance of corporate and societal affairs. They’re all noble-sounding causes. However, under ESG they’re centered around progressive, woke agendas, with the prevention of “manmade climate cataclysms” uppermost. Fund assets are used to drive “net zero” climate agendas and punish or de-fund fossil fuel companies.

That narrow focus creates serious problems. Those trillions of dollars are supposed to be passively invested in the index and other funds, under fiduciary obligations to secure maximum returns in support of the state, local, corporate and personal retirement and investment accounts. Under ESG, however, strong returns are too often sacrificed to serve politicized agendas, often in collusion with governments, activists, and other financial institutions, and thus also in violation of antitrust laws and basic ethical principles.

That’s why Asset manager Vanguard recently left the UN-sponsored “Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.” Meanwhile, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and other states are pulling tens of billions of dollars out of BlackRock, State Street, and other Wall Street asset management firms, for violating fiduciary duties.

A second ESG ethical dilemma arises from the way practitioners employ narrow definitions of ES&G to virtue-signal, pontificate, and impose prescriptive agendas. When the “existential threat of manmade climate change” is the primary arbiter, enormous problems associated with replacing fossil fuels with “clean renewable energy” are simply ignored, suppressed, and censored from the analysis.

Here are some of the people and planet realities that must be included in any ESG analysis.

Environmental protection. Rather than looking only at the temperatures, storms, droughts, rising seas and other environmental costs that climate models falsely blame on fossil fuel emissions – any accurate and honest ESG scorecard must also assess the ecological impacts from the wind-solar-battery (WSB) energy systems that will supposedly replace oil, gas, and coal.

WSB systems and associated transmission lines do not appear spontaneously, via Materials Acquisition for Global Industrial Change (MAGIC). They require mining on unprecedented scales. President Biden’s initial batch of offshore wind turbines alone would require 110,000 tons of copper, refined from 25,000,000 tons of ore, after removing 40,000,000 tons of overburden – plus millions of tons of iron, manganese, aluminum, nickel, concrete, plastics, and other materials ... from billions of tons of ores.

Replacing all U.S. coal and gas electricity generation with WSB – plus gasoline vehicles and gas stoves and furnaces – would require tens of thousands of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of battery modules for vehicles and backup electricity storage, and thousands of miles of new transmission lines. Has BlackRock calculated the ore body and mining requirements for that? For a global transition?

All those turbines, panels, modules, transmission lines, mines, processing plants, and factories have to be located somewhere. Have the ESG potentates determined in whose backyards they will go? (Probably not Larry Fink’s or John Kerry’s.) Have they assessed the impacts on scenery, habitats, and wildlife? the air and water pollution from the mines and other operations? Did those operations get ESG scores?

Social justice. ESG theology holds that the poor and people of color suffer most from climate change. In reality, they benefit most from having abundant, reliable, affordable fuels and electricity – for cars, jobs, modern homes, cooking, heat, and air conditioning. The poor and people of color are not faring all that well in Britain and Europe, where the “transition to green energy” is well underway.

Over seven million British households have fallen into “fuel poverty” this winter, and special “warm rooms” have been set up to help people survive freezing weather. Recent headlines warn that Britain could have nationwide blackouts and extensive factory shutdowns and layoffs this winter. In Germany, families are stocking up on candles, so that they can at least read while they shiver in their homes.

Developing countries desperately need dependable, affordable electricity to create jobs, lift families out of poverty, modernize homes, schools, and hospitals, provide clean water, and replace wood and animal dung for cooking and heating. Even today, millions of parents and children die from respiratory and intestinal diseases that are unheard of in wealthy countries.

ESG scoring ignores all of this, actively stymies investment in fossil fuel power plants in Africa and other countries, and attempts to limit financing to wind and solar energy and whatever jobs and living standards this limited, weather-dependent energy can support. That’s hardly ethical or socially responsible.

Governance of corporate and societal affairs. ESG activists and financial institutions coopt and collude with corporate, federal, state, and local governments to serve the climate crisis agenda, and drive investment out of fossil fuel endeavors and into “renewable” energy. In essence, this is fascism, an economic system in which government doesn’t own the means of production but controls them through laws, policies, and arrangements with financial institutions, corporations, activists, media, and academia.

Equally troublesome, ESG inevitably results in modern industrialized nations de-developing, as their factories and jobs migrate to China, India, and other countries that are not obligated under climate agreements to reduce their coal and natural gas use anytime soon, have no intention of doing so and are burning record amounts of coal to ensure reliable and affordable electricity.

This also raises disturbing national security concerns, as the United States and its allies become ever more dependent on China and Chinese-controlled supply chains for wind, solar, battery, transformer, communication, computing, healthcare, and even defense/weaponry raw materials and technologies.

ESG advocates minimize these concerns, even as they ignore how soaring raw material demands under Net Zero plans would trigger skyrocketing prices for increasingly scarce commodities, and thus imperil the economies of nations across the globe.

The words scam and fraud come to mind. But an even better term is Shanghaied: using trickery, intimidation, or violence to force someone to serve your navy ... or company. In this case, ESG pressures are forcing investors, companies, and countries to serve the interest of China’s government and corporate sectors, which control supply chains and manufacturing for technologies of every description, especially in the energy sector.

This Christmas or Hanukkah, let’s all give the gift of wise, honest, accurate, and insightful Environmental, Social, and Governance principles to our friends, relatives, and financial institutions.


It is Fossil Fuels that Keep Us Warm and Secure During Winter Months

As a historic bomb cyclone ravages much of the country, this extreme weather event has killed at least 20 people and put travel at a standstill.

And it doesn’t help those in distress –or without power – feel secure when many in the media fear-monger about climate change correlating with winter weather.

More reassuringly, however, conditions aren’t worse. Why? Continued reliance on fossil fuels keeps us warm and provides energy security.

Much to the Biden administration’s dismay, net zero policies will make extreme winter events difficult to weather.

The North American Reliability Corporation (NERC) issued its 2022-2023 Winter Reliability Assessment, warning, “The capacity of the natural gas transportation infrastructure could be constrained when cold temperatures cause peak demand for both electricity generation and consumer space-heating needs. Potential constraints on the fuel delivery systems and limited inventory of liquid fuels may exacerbate the risks for fuel-based generator outages and output reductions that result in energy emergencies during extreme weather.”

Per the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA)’s, the daily electricity generation mix map shows consumers are using natural gas (39%), coal (24%), and nuclear (16%). Where do solar and wind fall? At a paltry two percent and seven percent, respectively.

In 2020, fossil fuels accounted for 80% of U.S. energy consumption and 80% of energy production.

In 2018, the Department of Energy (DOE) explained continued reliance on oil, coal, and gas keeps Americans thriving and warm during winter months: “This increased demand requires a steady and reliable energy supply, and fossil fuels play an important role in meeting that demand…This need for more heating and electricity can put a strain on the electric grid—especially during extreme weather events. But, fossil fuels provide a stable source of power generation to keep the grid up and running.”

With Winter Storm Elliott plaguing at least 60% of the U.S., our electric grid is vulnerable if we move away from fossil fuels.

The White House desires an “economy-wide” transition to faulty renewables like solar and wind by 2050.

As of this writing, 13 states comprising the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast–including Virginia–are currently at risk of rolling blackouts this past holiday week. Ironically, many of the states affected belong to the flawed carbon market and 11-member Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that has encouraged going net-zero.

But don’t be surprised to see Biden and company double down on net-zero.

Coupled with this is a push to phase out gas-powered cars by arbitrary deadlines to push Americans to an entirely electric vehicle fleet.

Imagine driving in atrocious winter weather in an electric vehicle–unreliable vehicles forced on consumers and mandated by the government (federal or state).

During a January 2022 winter storm that paralyzed drivers on I-95 in Virginia, Washington Post columnist Charles Lane reminded readers that an entirely EV fleet would have made that situation more dire.

Lane observed, “If everyone had been driving electric vehicles, this mess could well have been worse.”

“All else being equal, though, cars and trucks with internal combustion engines (ICE) would have the advantage in coping with a sudden challenge such as the I-95 fiasco. It is much easier to rehabilitate a disabled ICE vehicle. Rescuers can deliver gallons of gas in convenient jugs; gas stations are still far more numerous than EV charging stations; and ICE car batteries can be jump-started in minutes. Absent some breakthrough in mobile charging technology, out-of-juice EVs in out-of-the-way places will need a tow. If Monday’s nightmare had been an all-electric affair, they might have littered the highway for miles,” he added.

He’s correct.

Naturally, climate alarmists are blaming arctic warming for these cold blasts.

A Washington Post headline reads, “Scientists say Arctic warming could be to blame for blasts of extreme cold.” The tagline added, “Research suggests that climate change is altering the jet stream, pushing frigid air down to southern climes more frequently. But the scientific jury is still out.”

Ryan Maue, meteorologist and former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist under the Trump administration, tweeted, “Climate change doesn't make nasty winter storms or cold more frequent.”

Michael Shellenberger, environmentalist and author of Apocalypse Never, observed in his Substack newsletter, “In other words, the underlying reason for the electricity emergency is the lack of natural gas, nuclear, and coal, which can provide reliable electricity in all weather conditions, unlike solar panels and wind turbines. It’s true that solar panels and wind turbines can still operate in cold weather. There is often still sunlight and wind when it is cold. Snow can be brushed off of solar panels, and it is possible to de-ice frozen wind turbines. But the sun often doesn’t shine during the hours people most need electricity and wind is not reliable enough to provide electricity during the winter.”

What’s the lesson here? Let's not bite the hand that feeds us.

There’s no practical reason to trade reliable, cheap, fossil fuels and nuclear energy for more costly and unreliable energy sources.


Iced out! Furious Tesla owners share videos of their cars failing to work in harsh winter snowstorm as arctic temperatures freeze doors shut

Furious Tesla owners have complained about being locked out of their car after their door handles froze shut during a massive winter storm in Canada and the US.

Rachel Modestino, a meteorologist from Ontario, was unable to get into her sleek black Tesla when her door latch wouldn't budge on December 23 when temperatures hit a low of five degrees Fahrenheit.

Modestino posted a now-viral video with more than 10.1 million views of her struggle as the car was partially covered in ice.

'Bet ya didn’t think of ice in the Tesla design,' Modestino wrote in the Tweet.

Modestino was quickly met with Tesla critics coming to her aid to complain about her problem while others offered her advice on how to open her car, including using an app on her phone that will unlatch the door for her.

'You shouldn't need to use Twitter to learn how to use your expensive car,' one person wrote.

'You shouldn't need a car cover to get into your expensive car. Every other car company has had this figured out for decades but people just keep making excuses for Tesla because they're in the cult of Elon. '

The meteorologist responded to the contentious anti-Elon Musk and Tesla thread to clarify she was simply showing off her dilemma rather than critiquing Musk.

'OKAY, this went off... Not meant to dig Elon (I love my car),' Modestino wrote. 'Only tweeted because I thought it was a silly flaw for the price.

'I learnt: unlatch capability, defrost longer, be less gentle with your 2nd baby & car covers. Ty for the help, be kind, Merry Christmas.'

Meanwhile, other people took an aim at criticizing Modestino for paying nearly $50,000 for a car but not having a garage to put it in.

'If you have a tesla you should have enough money to have it in a garage,' one person wrote.

To which Modestino responded: 'Okay but I don’t.'

Meanwhile, Modestino wasn't the only Tesla owner struggling with her vehicle during the Christmas holiday.

Domenick Nati, 44, Tesla owner in Virginia, was forced to cancel his Christmas plans with his son after his electric vehicle failed to charge during the winter storm.

Nati told Business Insider how he plugged his Tesla S into a supercharger in Lynchburg on Friday as temperatures hovered below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

But as the hours went by, the percentage charge dipped as the temperature got lower, before the car stopped charging altogether.

He then tried again on Christmas Eve, but after a few hours of nothing happening, he decided to abandon his car at the lot and get a ride home.

Nati tried to charge his Tesla S at home, but had no luck there either.

So he went back out on Christmas Eve, and posted a video to TikTok of his efforts to get the car to charge.

Nati said he tried to contact Tesla for help, but did not receive an answer.




Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Climate sensitivity, agricultural productivity and the social cost of carbon in FUND

I have reproduced below only the concluding section of the academic journal article, as the careful statistics would be impenetrable to most readers here. Basically, the article is a complex "proof" of the statement that the likely benfits of global warming outweigh the costs. Global warming is good for us!

By Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ross McKitrick & Patrick J. Michaels
Environmental Economics and Policy Studies volume 22, pages 433–448 (2020

Discussion: IAMs as if–then statements

IAMs cannot provide a single, canonical social cost of carbon. As Weyant (2017) notes, they are best thought of as elaborate “if–then” statements. Researchers must decide on their preferred premises, and the IAMs provide the implied SCC range. As shown herein, user judgment is unavoidable, and a researcher prescribing an SCC for policy purposes must be able to defend the “if” statements that give rise to it.

It is already well known that if the appropriate discount rate is 5% or higher, then the SCC will be relatively small compared to 2.5% or 3% cases. We do not propose to resolve herein the ethical arguments over time preference; instead, we note that once climate sensitivity is changed to an empirically constrained distribution, the choice of discount rate matters a lot less.

While some studies have considered ranges of ECS values, the IAM literature as a whole has been wedded to climate model-based distributions with modal values around 3 °C and thick upper tails extending above 6 °C. However, there is now a substantial climatological literature showing that distributions with modal values below 2 °C and small upper tails match historical (post-1850) data better. The debate over which distribution best describes the real climate system must ultimately be resolved within the climatology literature, but economists need to be aware that it exists and the outcome has significant ramifications for SCC estimates. If ECS values like those estimated in Lewis and Curry (2018) turn out to be approximately correct, then the FUND model indicates that CO2 is for all practical purposes not a negative global externality through mid-century. Even if we consider possible catastrophic tipping points, the possibility of reaching such a threshold any time in the next 1000 years diminishes substantially.

IAM practitioners should therefore study the empirically constrained ECS estimates rather than relying exclusively on model-derived distributions. Kiehl (2007) noted the puzzle that climate models can differ in their implied ECS by a factor of 3 yet all fit the historical surface temperature record equally well. One of the compensating parameterizations emphasized by Lewis and Curry (2018) is aerosol cooling: a model with high ECS paired with strong aerosol cooling fits the surface trend as well as one with low ECS and weak aerosol cooling. The Lewis and Curry (2018) empirical ECS distribution is conditioned on the IPCC’s updated estimates of observed historical aerosol forcing, lending it increased credibility. Specifically, the IPCC’s preferred estimate of aerosol forcing (cooling) has declined over time, which leads to a lower preferred ECS estimate in empirical energy balance models. The methodology of Christy and McNider (2017) provides an independent and model-free check on this approach. Also, while climate models with high ECS values can be made to fit the surface warming trend, they have shown demonstrably excess warming elsewhere, especially in the troposphere over the tropics (Fu et al. 2011; McKitrick and Christy 2018). We therefore believe that the LC18 results in Table 2 are more credible than the ones conditioned on the Roe–Baker distribution.

Another if–then statement concerns CO2 fertilization of agriculture. If adding CO2 to the air has no effect on plant growth, then the assumption in DICE and PAGE that the effect is non-existent is appropriate. However, there is overwhelming evidence that CO2 increases do have a beneficial effect on plant growth, so models that fail to take these benefits into account overstate the SCC. Indeed, the initial studies on which the FUND parameterizations were based cautioned against ignoring this line of benefit (Kane et al. 1992; Tsigas et al. 1997). The recent literature on global greening and the response of agricultural crops to enhanced CO2 availability suggests that the productivity boost is likely stronger than that parameterized in FUND. If the effect is 30% stronger, and if the Lewis and Curry ECS distribution is valid, then the mean social cost of carbon is negative even at discount rates as low as 2.5% at least through mid-century.



It's certainly a lot more harmful than global warming

Parts of the US brace for another 12 inches of snow as a 'ferocious' winter storm has left at least 60 dead with 'hospitals full of bodies' and more frozen corpses feared.

In Buffalo, 50 inches of snow have been measured and emergency services have gone 'car to car' searching for survivors.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz described the blizzard as 'the worst storm probably in our lifetime', warning: 'This is not the end yet.'

He added: 'We've had so many bodies that various hospitals are full and we're just having to go through and determine if the individuals have died from a blizzard-related death.'

In New York state, authorities have described ferocious conditions, particularly in Buffalo, with hours-long whiteouts.

People have reportedly died from a host of causes as a result of the extreme weather, such as a woman from Wisconsin who fell through river ice.

In Niagara County, New York, a 27-year-old man suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after snow blocked his furnace, in Ohio, a utility worker was electrocuted, and Kansas saw a deadly homeless camp fire.

A falling branch killed a Vermont resident, while least six people have been killed in car crashes in Missouri, Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Some have died from cardiac stress while shovelling snow, others when emergency crews could not respond in time to medical crises.

The National Weather Service said Monday that up to twelve more inches of snow could fall in some areas today.

Buffalo mayor Byron Brown described the heartbreaking task of retrieving storm victims from cars, homes and streets.

'Our police officers are human. It is painful to find members of your community that are deceased,' the mayor said, adding the blizzard's victims 'were trying to walk out during storm conditions, got disoriented and passed away out in the street'.

At least 60 lives have been lost in weather-related incidents nationwide, according to an NBC News tally.


NYC Says New Electric Garbage Trucks Are No Match for Wicked New England Weather

As the Buffalo, New York, region digs out following a historic snowstorm, lessons are coming in from across the state suggesting that despite advancements in electric vehicles, the future of snow removal is probably diesel.

New York City has set a goal of transforming its fleet of municipal vehicles to be fully electric by 2040, but the 2022 blizzard is sending a reminder that electric vehicles can’t yet do every job.

The commissioner of the New York Department of Sanitation, Jessica Tish, said during a City Council hearing last month that the city’s new electric garbage trucks will not be able to keep up with their diesel predecessors in their secondary function as snowplows.

“In our test of the non-diesel rear-loaders, we found that they could not plow the snow effectively,” Ms. Tish said. “They basically conked out after four hours — we need them to go 12 hours.”

The city has ordered just seven such electric garbage trucks — they cost just more than $500,000 each — a small fraction of the sanitation department’s 2,100 garbage trucks and 6,000 total vehicles. Under the city’s long-range plan to combat climate change, the council has ordered that the vast majority of those vehicles be “clean” energy versions by 2035, with a total conversion to electric vehicles by 2040.

According to the department’s tests, the electric garbage trucks are only able to operate for about four hours when plowing snow, while diesel trucks are able to plow for around 12 to 24 hours at a time.

“Given the current state of the technology, I don’t see today a path forward to fully electrifying the rear-loader portion of the fleet by 2040,” Ms. Tish said.

“Now, things could change, the technology could develop and advance, but I don’t want to sit here and say to you that I see it in my crystal ball today,” she said.

While the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the public transit authority for the Buffalo region, put into use its first electric buses in 2022, neither the Nickel City nor Erie County has announced similar plans.

The reason likely boils down to some of the limitations of electric vehicles — at least in their current state. Despite general advancements in the technology, they underperform in cold weather.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is overseen by the Department of Energy, predicts that heavy electric vehicles will reach “total-cost-of-driving parity with conventional diesel vehicles by 2035.” The laboratory, however, acknowledges that these predictions are subject to change as electric vehicle technology advances and the cost of fossil fuels fluctuates.

The lab says its predictions are “sensitive to technology improvement trajectories, adoption decision-making, and uncertain assumptions about future freight demand, logistics, and vehicle use.”

What the prediction of “total-cost-of-driving parity” doesn’t address, though, are certain applications for heavy vehicles, like snow removal, which appear unlikely to go electric for the foreseeable future.

Part of the problem is that the range and reliability of electric vehicles suffer in cold temperatures, in part because of the chemistry of the batteries and in part because of the demands of heating the cabin and defrosting windows.

While New York City’s sanitation department found that its heavy electric trucks could only run for about a third of the time of the diesel trucks, all electric vehicles seem to suffer performance-wise in the cold.

A Consumer Reports test of two electric vehicles from 2019 found that electric vehicles had about half of their estimated range in temperatures between 0° F and 10° F. Consumer Reports tested a Tesla Model 3 and a Nissan Leaf in such conditions and found that they used 121 miles and 141 miles of their estimated ranges, respectively, to complete a 64-mile trip.

A senior analyst at the automotive research firm Navigant, Sam Abuelsamid, told Consumer Reports that range reductions in electric vehicles are “largely a factor of increased electrical loads on the battery.”

“Breathing means condensation on cold glass, which requires use of electric defoggers,” Mr. Abuelsamid said. “Longer nights mean more use of headlights. And cold tires, snow, and slush will increase rolling resistance, all of which will reduce range.”

With the shorter range of electric vehicles and the need for specialized chargers, like those used for New York City’s electric garbage trucks, charging could present another challenge for electric plows.

The New York State Thruway Authority, which is responsible for maintaining about 570 miles of thruways across four divisions — New York, Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo — could run into issues with charging its fleet, were it to be electrified.

The authority operates 11 tow plows, 260 large plows, and 142 small plows. Currently, there are no plans to electrify the fleet.


Austraia: Fossil-fuel enmity cutting back investment in natural gas mining

Future gas and LNG projects valued at $32bn are under threat of having investment stalled or pulled under the Albanese government’s “hostile attitude to Australia’s resources sector” after the Gina Rinehart-backed Senex paused its $1bn Surat Basin ­expansion project.

Up to 12 gas projects listed in the government’s resources and energy major projects investment pipeline report on Monday are considered to be facing “significant uncertainty” following the government’s crackdown on gas companies.

Amid industry concerns over the government’s one-year $12-a-gigajoule gas price cap, mandatory code of conduct on gas producers and tougher environmental approval regulations, there are rising fears that other companies could suspend projects.

Senex’s decision to halt work on its coal seam gas projects is the latest hit to Queensland’s resources industry, where coalminers Glencore and BHP have shelved or frozen investment amid a running brawl with the state’s Labor government over a shock royalty hike announced in its July budget.

Opposition resources spokeswoman Susan McDonald said “more than $15bn in future east coast gas projects are under a cloud of uncertainty due to Labor’s hostile attitude towards Australia’s energy resources sector”.

Nine projects planned to supply east coast domestic gas, and another three LNG projects that could supply gas to the east coast, are valued at $32bn.

Senex, jointly owned by POSCO and Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Energy after they sealed a $900m takeover of the ASX-listed company in March, announced the $1bn coal seam expansion project four months ago around the same time the federal government was drafting its plans to combat high domestic gas prices.

The coal seam expansion was aimed at pumping more gas into the domestic market by lifting its Atlas project to 60 petajoules within two years.

Senex has left open the possibility of returning to the $1bn ­expansion if the federal government rethinks its gas industry plans. However, it has paused ­recruitment and spending on long lead items “pending the outcome of the Albanese government’s mandatory code of conduct consultation process” on February 7.

A spokesman for Resources Minister Madeleine King said the government was “confident Senex will continue to engage constructively with the government as they design and implement the gas code of conduct”. He said the government’s gas price cap applied only to existing projects and not “new projects like Atlas”.

“The government wants to ­design a measure that does not have a chilling effect on investment, and ensures investment continues to flow to new products,” Ms King’s spokesman said.

“The gas code of conduct, once it enters into force, is not about stripping profits off producers. It’s about ensuring that where gas ­enters the domestic market, Australian households and businesses are not subject to the exponentially skyrocketing prices that we have seen throughout the course of this year. “That’s not on, and the code will prevent those runaway prices that we have seen previously.”

Acting Treasurer Katy Gallagher this week authorised the gas price cap to begin from Friday, with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission tasked with “closely monitoring” the east coast gas market and enforcing the cap.

Senator Gallagher said without capping gas and coal prices, “the average family would be paying $230 more on their electricity bill next year”.

Senator McDonald said the government was “joining forces with the Greens to implement unprecedented price controls, hand over more power to unions, ­increase environmental red-tape and fund anti-mining lawfare groups”.

“Coal and gas alone are forecast to earn Australia $223bn but under Labor’s war on conventional energy commodities, 18 coal and gas projects have been reopened for environmental assessment after already receiving approval, and 43 oil and gas projects have been required to redo their consultation,” Senator McDonald said.

“Our regional partners, like Japan and Korea, will be very concerned about Australia’s approach to providing the energy commodities they need to power their economies. All this sends strong signals to international companies that they are not welcome here, so we can expect them to consider halting their investment.”

Liberal Senator Paul Scarr says “basic economics” is all it takes to realise imposing gas price caps at “less than… the market-prevailing price” will create a shortage of investment and, consequently, energy reserve. “It’s an investment-killing concoction,” Mr Scarr told Sky News host Gary Hardgrave. “The consequences are disastrous, especially More
In the government’s major projects report, prepared before the national cabinet slapped a $125-a-tonne price cap on coal, 33 coal projects were stalled in the feasibility stage as lenders and investors, led by pension and equity funds, pull f­inance for thermal coal projects.

Global mining giant Glencore earlier this month pulled the plug on plans to build its $2bn Valeria thermal coalmine, citing Queensland’s royalty rate increase as a major cause. BHP is also considering the impact of the royalty rate hikes on the life of its Queensland coal operations.

The mining giant has already said it will not invest in Queensland growth projects while the windfall royalty rates are in place, and set aside $US750m in its annual financial accounts for potential early closure and rehabilitation costs.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association chief executive Samantha McCulloch said the Senex decision highlighted risks involved with the Albanese government’s gas market intervention.

“No new gas supply means no downward pressure on prices and an increased risk of future gas shortages,” Ms McCulloch said.

“Without this kind of investment, Australia misses out on crucial new gas supply to ease east coast energy system pressures as well as substantial economic ­returns including hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of local investment in regional communities.”

Opposition treasury spokesman Angus Taylor said market ­interventions were “adding to red tape and complexity for investors both domestically and abroad”.

“The billions of dollars of projects on hold or under question shows that when we are in a global race for capital, more regulation leads to less investment, which means fewer jobs, less work for small businesses and a slower economy,” Mr Taylor said.

After the Office of the Chief Economist on Monday revealed that resources and energy export earnings will fall by $68bn in 2023-24, down from a record $459bn this financial year, Mr Taylor said it was imperative for the budget bottom line to avoid ­future slides.

“This makes it all the more alarming that the government is cutting funding support for our resources sector and making extreme interventions that energy experts are warning will cool investment and decrease supply,” he said.




Friday, December 23, 2022

More on the screech by Princetown climate missionaries

Lord Monckton has written a reply to the juveniles at the Princetonian

On climate change, as on all else, hear both sides

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, special to The Daily Princetonian

The English-speaking jurisdictions recognize just two principles of natural law. One of these is audiatur et altera pars: let both sides be heard. On the climate question, though, the promoters of the official narrative are strikingly – and revealingly – intolerant of dissent.

Recently, in this column, two climate campaigners were allowed to attack three eminent Princeton-bred professors, the late Fred Singer, the late Fred Seitz and Professor Will Happer. I had the honor to know Professor Fred Singer, an exceptional rocket scientist and founder of the U.S. Satellite Weather Service. I had the further honor of working with him on a paper discussing the intersection between chaos theory and climate prediction. It was one of the last papers he wrote.

And I have the honor to know Will Happer, a formidable radiation physicist, exceptionally well qualified to write about the influence of heteroatomic molecules on global temperature. Will has published a string of distinguished papers on the subject in recent years.

The climate fanatics described the three professors as having used Princeton’s “name and prestige” to “open doors, grab headlines, mislead the public and grant legitimacy to their climate-denial claims … helping put us on the pathway to today’s existential global crisis”. Oh, pur-leaze!

The editors of this journal should in future eschew such hate-speech terms as “climate denial” or “denier” or “denialist”. None of the three professors denies that there is a climate, or even that we are capable of influencing it. Fred Singer’s paper on chaos theory pointed out that, precisely because the climate behaves as a mathematically-chaotic system, even a small perturbation, whether natural or anthropogenic, might cause unforeseeable effects. But it is the property of a chaotic object that, unless the initial conditions are known to a precision that is and will aye be unattainable in climate, the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. In this, Professor Singer swam in the mainstream: IPCC says the same.

Will Happer’s recent detailed paper studying the radiative effects of greenhouse-gas enrichment, far from “climate denial”, powerfully endorsed the conclusion that that enrichment – beneficial though it is for the net primary productivity of plants (their total global green biomass has increased by 15-30% in recent decades thanks to CO2 fertilization detectable from space as chlorophyll fluorescence) – will cause about 2 degrees’ global warming per doubling of concentration, a value within the official uncertainty interval.

All three professors were and are right to point out that the mildly warmer worldwide weather that is occurring does not and will not pose any “global existential threat”. Such childish, anti-scientific slogans, bandied about by the extremist classes, are devoid of meaning and should be forsworn forthwith and for aye. The OFDA/CRED international disaster database shows that, despite a tripling of global population, weather-related deaths have plummeted throughout the past 100 years. And a string of learned papers in the medical journal The Lancet establishes that in all regions deaths from cold outstrip deaths from heat tenfold.

Finally, let us hear no more nonsense about such towering professors as these “preventing climate action”. For such action would expensively do far more harm than good. Since 1990 our influence on climate has increased linearly at 1 unit per decade, driving 0.4 degrees’ warming. Even if the whole world were to move linearly to net zero emissions by 2050, only half the next unit would be abated by then, preventing just 0.2 degrees’ warming.

The cost of global net zero, according to McKinsey Consulting, will be $275 trillion in capex alone. Even ignoring opex, typically at least twice capex, and even allowing for no price increases in the desperately scarce techno-metals needed to reach net zero (one would need 67,000 years’ worth of the entire 2019 global annual production of vanadium, for instance, so good luck with that), each $1 billion spent on attempted mitigation would prevent less than a millionth of a degree of future warming. Value for money it isn’t. And the climate won’t notice either way.

Like it or not, it is legitimate for men of learning gently to correct the moralizing screechers by drawing their attention to elementary, verifiable facts such as these. As it is, only the West is making any attempt to attain net zero. But the net effect of our supererogatory sacrifice of our own workers’ jobs is to price our energy-intensive manufacturing industries out to far Eastern nations whose emissions per unit of production are considerably above ours. Climate campaigners, then, are adding to the very non-problem they are clamoring to solve. Making things in China rather than Chattanooga is good for Communism but bad for the planet.

So let the skeptical scientists be fairly heard, and let us cease to turn universities like Princeton into mere pietistic indoctrinators. Learning advances not by cloying “consensus”, roundly and rightly rejected by Aristotle 4500 years ago, but by diligent research, free publication and open debate. It is only those who know they would lose a debate who seek to silence their opponents. The hysterical malevolence of the screaming campaigners shows the world they know full well that they would lose. Indeed, they have already lost.

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, a Cambridge alumnus and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, is the author of two dozen learned papers on climate sensitivity and mitigation economics.


Antarctica's emperor penguins could be extinct by 2100 – and other species may follow if we don't act

And penguins might fly

Greater conservation efforts are needed to protect Antarctic ecosystems, and the populations of up to 97% of land-based Antarctic species could decline by 2100 if we don’t change tack, our new research has found.

The study, published today, also found just US$23 million per year would be enough to implement ten key strategies to reduce threats to Antarctica’s biodiversity.

This relatively small sum would benefit up to 84% of terrestrial bird, mammal, and plant groups.

We identified climate change as the biggest threat to Antarctica’s unique plant and animal species. Limiting global warming is the most effective way to secure their future.


New Zealand's amended cow burp tax plans still stink, say farmers

New Zealand's government has amended controversial plans to tax the greenhouse gas emissions from farm animals. ©AFP
Wellington (AFP) - New Zealand's government on Wednesday outlined changes to controversial plans to tax the farts and burps of livestock, but a leading farmers group said it was still opposed to the emissions reduction scheme.

New Zealand is planning a "world first" levy on emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, produced by the nation's six million cows and 26 million sheep as a step towards tackling climate change.

Under the proposed scheme, farmers would have to pay for gas emissions from their animals.

The plans have caused uproar in New Zealand's agricultural community and sparked nationwide protests.

Farmers have demanded Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's centre-left government ditch the tax, which they warn will make food more costly and could put livelihoods at risk.

The changes outlined Wednesday include allowing farmers to use on-farm forestry to offset their carbon emissions, and a promise to keep emissions pricing low.

"Our shared goal is supporting farmers to grow their exports, reduce emissions, and maintain our agricultural sector's international competitive edge," Ardern said in a statement.

"With or without the government's proposals, New Zealand needs to be at the front of the queue to stay competitive in a market that is demanding sustainably produced products," she warned.

Ardern hopes her cabinet will make a final decision on pricing for the agricultural emissions scheme in early 2023 with a five-year pricing scheme due to start from 2025.

The head of New Zealand's leading agriculture advocacy group said the amended plans still stink and criticised the government's "unrealistic timelines".

"Everyone else is talking about food security and working with farmers to develop practical on-farm solutions," Andrew Hoggard, president of New Zealand's Federated Farmers, said in a statement.

"Only New Zealand is taking the punitive step of taxing efficient, unsubsidised food production, even if it comes at huge costs."

While Ardern wants "an emission reduction system set up that lasts", Hoggard accused her government of making "vague promises of an obscure future review with unknown terms of reference".

"The response is so high level, we may not be able to clearly understand the detail until we actually see it when introduced as legislation next year," he warned.


Green Britain: Warm banks help thousands survive cold snap as millions of households fall into fuel poverty

Even with government support, some 6.7 million UK households are now in fuel poverty

Until a month ago, Julie, a single mother with three children, was just about making ends meet. But as the UK experiences its first cold spell of the winter, she found herself turning to her local community hub in south London for help.

Most days after doing the school run she comes to the Oasis Centre, a “social living room” set up in the capital to help those struggling with their food and fuel bills. “I’ve never known my flat to be this cold,” she said.

With a weather front this week bringing widespread snow and temperatures as low as -15C to the UK, local councils and charities across the country are providing so-called “warmth banks” to help families caught in a growing cost of living crisis.

“Everyone who comes will see it through their own lens. We don’t call it a warm centre because it’s not just a warm centre,” said Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister who founded the Oasis Trust in 1985. The charity now operates in 36 communities across the UK and in the last six months it has given away over one hundred tons of food.

With the war in Ukraine causing a sharp increase in energy prices, the UK government has moved to cushion the impact on families. In October, the Treasury launched an energy support scheme that provided a one-off £400 energy discount for all households and will cap energy bills for typical households at £2,500 this winter, rising to £3,000 in April.

However, for many, these measures are not enough. Even with government support, some 6.7mn UK households are now in fuel poverty, according to estimates from National Energy Action, a pressure group — 2.2mn more than a year ago.




Princeton must face its legacy of educating climate deniers

I am not sure that the agonized cry (below) from two climate activists is worth noting here but some of my fellow climate realists have noted it so I thought I should say something about it.

The Daily Princetonian is a student newspaper so is expected to be unscholarly but this particular rag is well-produced and apparently attracts some attention.

But its unscholarly nature is manifest nonetheless. The authors take the Torquemada-like approach of making clear that they have the unquestionable truth and heretics need only to be attacked, not taken seriously.

So they speak as if global warming were a revealed religion that needs no defence. Not the slightest attempt to show why the global warming critics are wrong is attempted. "Climate" has become a new religion in possession of unquestionable revealed truth.

Like all religion, however it has its competitors. The religion that seems to be getting all the press today is trangenderism, with rather frightful penalties sometimes imposed on doubters. The climate warriors are in other words now rather old hat, a bit like the Episcopalians, so I think the latest sermon will bore unbelievers and do nothing more

“Princeton will have the most significant impact on the climate crisis through the scholarship we generate and the people we educate,” University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 was quoted as saying in Princeton’s announcement that the school would divest from 90 fossil fuel companies.

Over the past decade, Eisgruber has repeated versions of this sentiment many times to discredit divestment activists and justify Princeton’s refusal to disentangle itself from the fossil fuel industry.

It’s true that the University goes out of its way to position itself as a climate leader; indeed, Princeton has educated many who have contributed to the scientific consensus on the climate crisis and are fighting for a liveable planet. But if the University wants to rest its climate legacy on those alumni that have fought for the climate, we also have to reckon with the alumni that have advanced climate denial.

We have already written about the relationship the University has with family foundations determined to thwart climate action, including the Bradleys, Scaifes, and Davises. Though we do not know the extent of the Tiger Dark Money web, we know that there are high-profile Princeton alumni whose careers have undermined climate policy since the 1970s, including through these foundations. However, there’s more to the picture. Three people who bear responsibility for the planet being set to surpass 1.5 degrees are Fred Singer GS ’48, Frederick Seitz GS ’34, and William Happer GS ’64, all graduate school alumni of Princeton. Despite being born decades apart, their paths intersected, and together, they helped bring us to this point of existential crisis.

Singer and Seitz are identified by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their book, “Merchants of Doubt,” as two of the most influential and effective climate deniers in the world. Singer undermined the Kyoto Protocol and its ratification by the U.S., effectively setting back American climate policy by decades. He also worked closely with the Heartland Institute, a conservative, industry-funded think tank, publishing reports that were sent to teachers and continue to circulate widely, misleading enough to create a new generation of climate crisis deniers. One of Singer’s works, “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate,” had a foreword written by Seitz.

Seitz founded the George C. Marshall Institute in 1984 to defend President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative but a few years later, his focus shifted to climate change denial. In addition to being funded by the fossil fuel industry, the Institute took money from the tobacco industry to deny the dangers of smoking. Despite Seitz having been president of the influential and prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS), NAS published a clarification to unequivocally disavow Seitz’s climate denial, stating that the notorious Oregon petition, which Seitz helped organize, deliberately attempted to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The George C. Marshall Institute closed in 2015 and was replaced by the CO2 Coalition, co-founded by Happer.

Happer, a Princeton alum and professor, has made a career out of climate denial. He was director of the Office of Energy Research under President George H.W. Bush. From 1987 to 1990 he served as Chairman of JASON, a group of scientists who advise the government on energy policy issues. Most recently, he served on President Donald Trump’s National Security Council to block efforts to curb global warming and ensure the United States left the Paris Agreement. In 2015, as Seitz’s George C. Marshall Institute folded, Happer co-founded the CO2 Coalition to take over its work and “advocate for carbon dioxide.” With a Princeton banner behind him, Happer said on CNN in 2017, “There’s this myth that’s developed around carbon dioxide that it’s a pollutant, but you and I both exhale carbon dioxide with every breath.”

To understand the power of Happer’s work in blocking climate action, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ’72 promoted Happer’s disinformation in another 2017 speech, stating, “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is not harmful to ordinary things, to human beings, or to animals, or to plants. It’s actually needed for plant growth. All of us are exhaling carbon dioxide right now. So, if it’s a pollutant, we’re all polluting.”

In 2015, employees at Greenpeace — an environmentalist group that uses “non-violent creative action” — posed as representatives of a Middle Eastern Oil Company and had Happer agree to write a paper espousing the benefits of oil and gas and downplaying the impacts of CO2 emissions. Happer agreed to write the paper as a professor emeritus at Princeton without disclosing the source of funding. He advised the undercover employees that the paper would not pass peer review and so proposed alternative publishing options. Happer remains a Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, allowing him to continue to use his professional title.

Happer, Seitz, and Singer are not just the products of a Princeton education; they have actively taken advantage of their associations with Princeton, using its name and prestige to open doors, grab headlines, mislead the public, and grant legitimacy to their climate denial claims. For years, they intentionally discredited serious climate scientists and prevented climate action, helping put us on the pathway to today’s existential global crisis.

If Princeton wants to trumpet its alumni and faculty who champion climate solutions, then it must also reckon with the loss and damage caused by its own alumni and faculty.


Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than estimated

Isn't a new model a wonderful thing? Sure beats observation of actual reality

Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than previously calculated, according to a new model that takes into account the unique interaction between ice and water at the island’s fjords.

The new mathematical representation of glacial melt factors in the latest observations of how ice gets eaten away from the stark vertical faces at the ends of glaciers in GGreenland. Previously, scientists used models developed in Antarctica, where glacial tongues float on top of seawater — a very different arrangement.

"For years, people took the melt rate model for Antarctic floating glaciers and applied it to Greenland's vertical glacier fronts," lead author Kirstin Schulz, a research associate in the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. "But there is more and more evidence that the traditional approach produces too low melt rates at Greenland's vertical glacier fronts."

The researchers published their findings in September in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Researchers already knew their Antarctica-based understanding of Arctic glaciers was not a perfect match. But it's hard to get close to the edges of Greenland's glaciers, because they're situated at the ends of fjords — long, narrow inlets of seawater flanked by high cliffs — where warm water undercuts the ice. This leads to dramatic calving events where chunks of ice the size of buildings crumble into the water with little warning, creating mini-tsunamis, according to the researchers.

Researchers led by physical oceanographer Rebecca Jackson of Rutgers University have been using robotic boats to get close to these dangerous ice cliffs and take measurements. They've done this at Alaska's LeConte Glacier as well as Greenland's Kangerlussuup Sermia. (An upcoming mission led by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin will send robotic subs to the faces of three west Greenland glaciers.) Jackon's measurements suggest that the Antarctica-based models massively underestimate Arctic glacial melt. LeConte, for example, is disappearing 100 times faster than models predicted.

The mixture of cold fresh water from the glaciers and warmer seawater drives ocean circulation near the glaciers and farther out in the ocean, meaning the melt has far-reaching implications. The Greenland ice sheet is also important for sea-level rise; Greenland ice holds enough water to raise sea levels by 20 feet (6 meters).

The new model uses the latest data from near-glacial missions along with a more realistic understanding of how the steep, cliff-like faces of the glaciers impact ice loss. The results are consistent with Jackson's findings, showing 100 times more melt than the old models predicted.

"Ocean climate model results are highly relevant for humankind to predict trends associated with climate change, so you really want to get them right," Schulz said. "This was a very important step for making climate models better." ?


EU Announces Agreement to Reform Europe’s Carbon Market, Cap Natural Gas Prices

The European Union announced on Dec. 18 a provisional agreement that reforms the bloc’s carbon market, successfully expanding a crucial component of the region’s broader green agenda.

After a 30-hour session, representatives of the 27 member states and the European Parliament agreed to apply the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) to heating, road transportation, and maritime shipping. Officials also plan to use the agreement to accelerate requirements on companies to reduce pollution, whether they produce power or manufacture steel.

The latest reforms are a part of the EU’s broader “Fit for 55” initiative to slash emissions by a minimum of 62 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. The bloc wants to reach net-zero by 2050.

“The agreement on the EU Emissions Trading System and the Social Climate Fund is a victory for the climate and for European climate policy,” Marian Jurecka, Czech minister for the environment, said in a statement. “This will allow us to meet climate objectives within the main sectors of the economy, while making sure the most vulnerable citizens and micro-enterprises are effectively supported in the climate transition.

“We can now safely say that the EU has delivered on its promises with ambitious legislation and this puts us at the forefront of fighting climate change globally.”

The European Council and the European Parliament have yet to formally endorse and adopt the agreement.

Inside the Climate Change Package

The first key measure in the comprehensive package is creating a second Emissions Trading System (ETS) for road transport, buildings, and shipping. This feature will slap a price on emissions from these sectors by 2027, although the fee could be postponed by a year if energy prices in Europe remain elevated.

Another critical change is mandating that 10,000 factories and power plants purchase permits for emissions. Experts say this will nudge businesses to install greener technologies to reduce their carbon footprints. The plan will phase out free CO2 licenses by 2034.

EU states will be forced to measure, report, and verify emissions from municipal waste incineration installations beginning in 2024. The European Commission intends to include these installations in the ETS starting in 2028.

“Installations that will benefit from free allocations will need to comply with conditionality requirements, including in the form of energy audits and for certain installations climate neutrality plans,” the report reads. “Additional transitional free allocations can be granted under certain conditions to the district heating sector in certain member states, in order to encourage investments into decarbonising that sector.”

EU leadership will finance the shift to green technologies by tapping into and increasing allowances to climate-related funds.

The first step is raising the allowance of the Innovation Fund to 575 million euros ($610 million) from the present 450 million euros ($478 million).

The Modernization Fund also will be bolstered by auctioning 2.5 percent of allowances allocated to nations that maintain a gross domestic product per capita lower than the bloc’s average. This money will be monitored to ensure it’s assigned toward climate-related efforts.

Despite the European Union recently changing its mind and labeling natural gas as green energy, “natural gas projects will in principle not be eligible for” Modernization Fund money. However, officials noted that “a transitional measure will allow the current beneficiaries of the fund to continue time-limited financing natural gas projects under certain conditions.”

Finally, the bloc intends to establish an 86.7 billion euro ($92 billion) Social Climate Fund that will help vulnerable transit users, households, and small businesses endure the cost of emissions trading. This fund would be created from 2026 to 2032, and members may be eligible as early as Jan. 1, 2026.

“Each member state would submit to the Commission a ‘social climate plan,’ containing the measures and investments they intend to undertake to cushion the impacts of the new emission trading system on vulnerable households,” the European Council noted in the announcement. “Such measures could include increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, the renovation of buildings, the decarbonization of heating and cooling in buildings and the uptake of zero-emission and low-emission mobility and transport, and measures providing direct income support in a temporary and limited manner.”

Natural Gas Price Controls

Soon after the EU unveiled the latest green agenda development, the bloc approved a measure to institute a limit on natural gas prices to mitigate the energy crisis.

The latest policy directive, which the energy ministers describe as a market correction mechanism, will be activated on two occasions. The first is if front-month gas contracts top 180 euros ($191) per megawatt hour on the benchmark Dutch Title Transfer Facility (DTTF) for three consecutive business days. The second is if the price is 35 euros higher than a reference price for liquid natural gas on international markets during the same span.

“We have succeeded in finding an important agreement that will shield citizens from skyrocketing energy prices,” said Jozef Siklea, Czech minister of industry and trade. “We will set a realistic and effective mechanism, which includes the necessary safeguards that will steer us clear from risks to security of supply and financial markets stability. Once again, we have proved that the EU is united and will not let anybody use energy as a weapon.”

The measure is scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 15, 2023.

However, not everyone is on board with these price controls.

The European Central Bank (ECB) stated that such a measure might “jeopardize financial stability in the euro area.”

“The mechanism’s current design may increase volatility and related margin calls, challenge central counterparties’ ability to manage financial risks, and may also incentivise migration from trading venues to the non-centrally cleared over-the-counter (OTC) market,” the ECB wrote in a report (pdf). “These considerations, relevant to the stability of the financial system, should be taken into account by the Council in its deliberations on the proposed regulation.”

Germany and the Netherlands also have shared concerns about potential market disruptions.


Australia: No greenhouse gas limits for Victoria's coal-fired power plants as Supreme Court rejects challenge

Victoria's coal-fired power stations will not face new limits on how much greenhouse gas pollution they can emit, after the Supreme Court today rejected a challenge brought by an environmental group.

The plaintiff, Environment Victoria, argued the state's environmental regulator had failed to properly consider climate change law when reviewing the operating licences for the state's three coal-fired power stations.

Environment Victoria argued the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had an obligation to impose limits on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution the plants could emit.

Victoria's Climate Change Act 2017 requires people making certain decisions to consider the effects of climate change.

But in his written decision, Justice James Gorton said he rejected Environment Victoria's argument that the EPA had failed to do so.

He found that the EPA had considered climate change when it decided not to set a target.

Community expectations 'shattered'

Environment Victoria policy and advocacy manager Bronya Lipsi said the decision showed the state's climate laws needed to be fixed.

"I think it sends a message that the Climate Change Act in Victoria is not living up to community expectations," Ms Lipski said.

"We have an expectation that our climate laws will mitigate climate change and reduce carbon pollution."

She said the decision "shattered" community expectations and Environment Victoria would consider the judgement before making a decision about whether to appeal.

In a statement, the EPA thanked the court for its decision and said it was also considering its next steps.

"We have already taken steps to strengthen our processes and ensure climate change is demonstrably considered in all our regulatory decisions," a spokesperson said.

"Scrutiny from organisations like Environment Victoria can only make us better."

Energy Australia, which owned the Yallourn power station, said it welcomed the decision.

AGL, which owns the Loy Yang A plant, and Alinta, owner of Loy Yang B, did not respond.

Plants headed for early closure

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said it would not have been possible to cheaply curb the station's greenhouse gas emissions if the court had ruled the other way.

He said Victoria's energy policy was already geared towards the early closure of the three coal-fired plants to address climate change.

"If you look at the Victorian government's most recent policy positions, before and after the most recent election, you will conclude that these power stations will all be shut down in about 10 years' time, maybe even earlier," Mr Wood said.