Thursday, August 31, 2023

UK: Michael Gove claims ‘Brexit freedoms’ mean pollution rules can be watered down

Housing secretary sparks environmentalist fury by ripping up so-called ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules

Environmental campaigners hit out at Rishi Sunak’s government after it confirmed that EU-era restrictions that force housebuilders to mitigate the impact of new developments on rivers will be scrapped.

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove defended plans to scrap “clunky” EU-era environmental protections on nutrient neutrality – hailing it as a Brexit benefit to boost housing.

Mr Gove said it was a “myth” that water quality in British rivers has deteriorated under the Conservative government, saying they “all cleaner than they have been in the past”.

The government has argued that housing developments contribute only a small fraction of nutrient pollution and new funding is being provided to mitigate any associated increase.

But environmental campaigners accused the government of going back on its word and suggested the change would allow developers to cut corners, branding it a “disgraceful move”.

Speaking on a visit to a new-build housing estate near Norwich, Mr Sunak told broadcasters that the boost to housebuilding would be “fantastic for young, first-time buyers”.

Current nutrient neutrality rules prevent developers from building houses in protected areas when it would add harmful substances like nitrogen and phosphorus into nearby rivers and lakes, because such nutrients can cause algal blooms that deprive other plants and animals of light and oxygen.

Under legislation derived from the EU, Natural England currently issues guidance to 62 local authority areas, requiring new developments to be nutrient neutral in their area. This requirement will now be watered down to become guidance.

Changes will see the financial burden to mitigate nutrient pollution for new housing shifted from developers to taxpayers – with the government promising to double investment in the nutrient mitigation scheme run by Natural England, to £280m. A further £166m will be allocated for slurry infrastructure grants.

The changes are being proposed via an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which is currently going through the House of Lords, with the government claiming it could see additional homes being built in a matter of months.


China continues coal spree despite climate goals

China is approving new coal power projects at the equivalent of two plants every week, a rate energy watchdogs say is unsustainable if the country hopes to achieve its energy targets.

The government has pledged to peak emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2060, and in 2021 the president, Xi Jinping, promised to stop building coal powered plants abroad.

But after regional power crunches in 2022, China started a domestic spree of approving new projects and restarting suspended ones. In 2022 the government approved a record-breaking 106 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity. One gigawatt is the equivalent of a large coal power plant.

This run of approvals is continuing, potentially on track to break last year’s record, according to analysis by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, published on Tuesday.

It said in the first half of 2023, authorities granted approvals for 52GW of new coal power, began construction on 37GW of new coal power, announced 41GW-worth of new projects, and revived 8GW of previously shelved projects. It said about half of the plants permitted in 2022 had started construction by summer.

The analysts said: “Unless permitting is stopped immediately, China won’t be able to reduce coal-fired power capacity during the 15th five-year plan (2026–30) without subsequent cancellations of already permitted projects or massive early retirement of existing plants.”

Analysts have observed big advances in the renewable energy sector in China, which the government intends to make a mainstay of power supply, with coal in a supporting role.

China is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy, including wind, solar and hydroelectricity. But previous analyses have found infrastructure to store and distribute has not kept pace.

Shortfalls in interconnectivity between regional grids, and issues with power supply for some areas mean energy driven by fossil fuels remains crucial for supporting grid stability or integrating variable renewable energy sources. However, the report says many or most of the approvals being rushed through are not in areas with those issues.

“Sixy per cent of new coal power projects are in grid regions where there is already an excess of coal-fired power capacity,” the report says. “The provinces adding large amounts of new coal-fired power are getting most of their added power generation from coal, contradicting the framing of coal power as a ‘supporting’ source for clean energy.”

Cory Combs, an analyst at Trivium China, said authorities appeared to be prioritising uninterrupted demand and short-term economic recovery.

“There is more development than there is need for development,” he said. “When we look at it from an energy security perspective, [provincial level governments] they are putting an extremely high premium on short-term energy security. I don’t mean systemic issues, [I mean] even making sure there’s not even a two-hour power shortage. That’s taken over everything else, including the financials, but certainly decarbonisation.”

China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, contributing almost a third of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2020. UN figures show that in terms of population size and number of environmental disasters, it is also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. In its 14th five-year-plan, which ends in 2025, China’s government committed to reducing the latter by 65%, and raised the share of renewable fuels in primary energy consumption from 20% to 25%.

Analysts have pointed to the power of the Chinese government to demand big change – another report out this week shows that Beijing’s “war on pollution” has had a significant impact, driving a decrease in global average pollution.

While China’s air pollution is still six times higher than World Health Organization guidelines, it has reduced toxic air by 42.3% since 2013, which is forecast to result in an extra 2.2 years on the average life expectancy of a Chinese resident if the results are sustained.

Combs said he was “really concerned” about the long-term impacts of the coal plant approvals apparently being made for short-term gain. Xi has promised to reduce coal consumption by the 2026-30 period, and Combs said China’s leadership was still standing by its targets, but this activity would put huge pressure on the later years of the window.

“Xi’s credibility is largely tied to the 2030 goal. But some of the year-to-year thing I don’t take much stock in. They are overridden by other interests.”


UK: Do not heat your homes in the evenings, Net Zero quango tells public

Millions of families will be urged by a green quango not to heat their homes in the evening to help the Government hit its net zero target.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) said people should turn off their radiators at peak times as part of a wider drive to deliver “emissions savings”.

In a document on “behaviour change” the body recommended Britons “pre-heat” their houses in the afternoon when electricity usage is lower.

It said the move would save families money, but critics suggested the real reason was that renewables will not be able to provide enough energy to cope with peak demand.

The advice is contained in the CCC’s sixth “carbon budget” paper, which sets out how the UK should reduce its emissions between 2033-37.

In it the quango suggests people with electrically powered heating systems, such as heat pumps, should switch off their radiators in the evening.

“There is significant potential to deliver emissions savings, just by changing the way we use our homes,” the dossier states.

“Where homes are sufficiently well insulated, it is possible to pre-heat ahead of peak times, enabling access to cheaper tariffs which reflect the reduced costs associated with running networks and producing power during off-peak times.”

The green quango said that by 2033 all newly built homes and up to half of those constructed after 1952 should be suitable for such pre-heating.

But critics said the advice was just the latest example of Britons being asked to compromise on their quality of life so the Government can hit climate targets.

Andrew Montford, the director of Net Zero Watch said: “The grid is already creaking, and daft ideas like this show just how much worse it will become.

“It’s clear that renewables are a disaster in the making. We now need political leaders with the courage to admit it.”

Craig Mackinlay, head of the Net Zero Scrutiny group of Tory MPs, added: “It is becoming clear that adherence to judicable Carbon Budgets and edicts coming from the CCC are developing into farce.

“The Climate Change Act 2008 will require amendment to free us from madcap and impractical targets foisted upon the population by long departed politicians.

“This latest advice to freeze ourselves on cold evenings merely shows the truth that the dream of plentiful and cheap renewable energy is a sham.

“I came into politics to improve all aspects of my constituents’ lives, not make them colder and poorer.”

A spokesman for the CCC insisted that the advice would benefit households and would mean “homes will still be warm, but bills can be lowered”.

He added: “This is a demonstration of homeowners benefiting from periods of the day when electricity is cheaper.

“Using electricity to heat a home opens the prospect of choosing a time when prices are lower, something that’s not possible with a gas boiler.

“Smart heating of homes like this also makes the best possible use of the grid and supports greater use of cheap renewable generation.”

The advice follows a furore over Government plans to ban the installation of new oil powered boilers from 2026 and force homes into adopting heat pumps.

Downing Street has hinted it is now set to U-turn amid warnings the move would increase rural fuel poverty and put more strain on the struggling electricity grid.

The CCC is an independent body set up by ministers in 2008 to advise the Government on how to hit its climate targets.


Australia: NSW Premier warns giant overhead cables only way to deliver renewable energy future

Premier Chris Minns has vowed to push ahead with the construction of gigantic overhead power cables across the state, warning a delayed rollout of transmission lines could undermine the renewable energy transition and threaten supply and prices.

In an unusually blunt intervention into the fraught debate over how to connect regional wind and solar projects to the east coast grid, Minns said burying the cables below ground as some landholders have demanded could triple the cost and delay the government’s urgent effort to plug a looming hole in the state’s power supply caused by the retirement of coal-fired power stations.

Labor will have to consider how to resolve a stand-off with vocal community groups – including farmers and environmentalists – who strongly oppose overhead powerlines. This could see new policy measures to give more state control over local planning.

Speaking at a Business Sydney event, Minns acknowledged that regulatory and planning changes would be needed to accommodate above-ground transmission, but overhead powerlines were the only cost-effective option available to the government.

He warned that delays in connecting renewable energy projects in regional NSW to the eastern seaboard through new transmission could threaten energy supply and the cost of power bills.

Minns said the government could not “pretend that the difficulties of renewable energy can be just wished away, we gotta get on with those projects”.

“Part of that is us looking at the impact and cost of underground cabling to get renewable energy projects to the eastern seaboard,” Minns said.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to go overland and the reason for that is it is three times the cost. If you do it underground, that’s going to add cost [and] is going to add delay.”

Minns and energy experts are increasingly worried that time is running out to build the thousands of kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines needed to connect renewable energy zones in regional areas to major cities.

Time to accelerate the development of renewable alternatives

The federal government wants to reach 82 per cent renewables by 2030 and to hit net zero by 2050. The Australian Energy Market Operator calculates the grid needs to grow by 10,000 kilometres.

However, transmission methods have been hugely divisive in NSW amid concerns from some groups that overhead powerlines would have negative impacts on property values, the environment and the landscape.

Those concerns prompted an upper house parliamentary inquiry into the feasibility of transmission infrastructure being built underground. A report from the Labor-controlled committee is due to be released on Thursday.

“We’ve got renewable energy zones in regional NSW, we have to transmit that power onto the east coast energy grid, which is largely hugging the eastern seaboard,” Minns said.

“The best way we can execute the renewable energy revolution while keeping prices as low as possible and ensuring supply is ensuring we get those connection points.”

The renewable zones were the brainchild of the former NSW Coalition government as part of its ambitious energy road map but costs and timetables of some projects have blown out.

The Labor government has said the capital costs for the zones are estimated to be about $9.3 billion, and warned some of those projects are likely to be delayed.

Costs for the Orana renewable energy zone in the state’s Central West have increased from $650 million to $3.2 billion, while the Hunter Transmission Project has risen from $880 million to $990 million.

As well as boosting supply to the grid by fast-tracking transmission infrastructure from the renewable zones, the government may be forced to intervene to help keep Australia’s biggest coal-fired power station open beyond 2025.

The government’s electricity network review is being finalised, but Minns has previously indicated extending Eraring’s shelf-life might be necessary because “the pace of renewable energy coming online in NSW has been so slow”.




Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The return of animal sacrifice

We look back with bewilderment at the ritual sacrifice of animals by our ancestors. Whether it was the Celtic people’s sacrifice of livestock to appease pissed-off deities or the Ancient Romans’ slaughter of oxen so that Jupiter might be more sparing with his stormy weather, it was all a bit mad. We would never be so superstitious, we tell ourselves. I’m not sure that’s true. Consider the proposed slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle in Europe in the holy name of Net Zero. This is the return of pagan lunacy, surely.

Irish farmers are under pressure to ‘cull up to 200,000 cows’ in order that Ireland might meet its ‘climate goals’, reported the Financial Times at the weekend. The Irish government is considering proposals to bump off that amount of cattle over the next three years to help it achieve a 25 per cent reduction in its agricultural emissions. Cows produce methane, you see, and methane is bad. It’s a greenhouse gas. Farming accounts for 40 per cent of Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions, so it has become a natural target for the Net Zero zealots. Every EU member state is under pressure to make strides towards Net Zero, and if that entails the sacrifice of livestock, so be it. Save the planet, slaughter the cows.

It’s so superstitious. A ‘mooted cow massacre’ to try to offset the angry climatic conditions apparently caused by man? If someone can explain how this is any different to an ancient people’s ritualistic killing of a poor bull in a desperate bid to placate the weather gods, I’d be most grateful. In fact, if anything, the proposed cow-culling in Ireland is worse than the paganistic antics of our ill-educated forebears. At least they were wise enough to offer up only one or two beasts to the gods of thunder – the neo-pagans of the Net Zero cult are offering up whole herds to try to assuage the heatwaves and floods they think furious Mother Earth has in store for us.

And they seem to care little for the consequences of their heathen carbon-offsetting. Irish farmers are seriously worried for their livelihoods. The dairy industry is worth €13 billion a year to the Irish economy. It provides 54,000 jobs. It brought in a staggering €6.8 billion in exports in 2022 alone. What will become of all this fruitful work if cow slaughter in the name of Net Zero takes off? We’re portrayed as ‘climate killers’, complains one Irish farmer. Indeed, eco-activists marched in Dublin with banners saying ‘Meat + dairy = climate crisis’ – a perfect snapshot of out how out-of-touch the urban elites are, who probably never give a second thought to the question of who produced the luscious cream that appears atop the €20 pancakes they scoff for Sunday brunch in a hip Dublin eatery.

The other likely consequence of Ireland’s ‘mooted cow massacre’ would be more global emissions. Ireland’s brilliant dairy farmers supply 130 markets around the world. Where will those nations source the milk, butter and cheese they need if not from the Irish Republic? Probably from countries ‘with worse green credentials than Ireland’, Irish farmers say. They’re right. Forty-three per cent of Ireland’s beef goes to the UK. Remember that next time you’re tucking into a delicious, moist burger: it was probably made by one of those ‘climate killers’ across the Irish Sea. Where will Brits get their beef if the Irish elite’s cow-killing frenzy really spins out of control? New Zealand? The air miles involved in such a long-distance meaty relationship would make the farting cows of our neighbouring nation seem perfectly eco-friendly in comparison.

So this is the double impact of the neo-paganism of Net Zero, of today’s irrational dread of weather that comes dressed in the garb of scientific revelation: we undermine domestic production while potentially increasing global emissions. It’s lose-lose. And it isn’t only in Ireland that anti-farming hysteria has taken hold. Dutch farmers have been protesting for four years over their government’s determination to slash nitrogen emissions in half by 2030, which could lead to the closure of 3,000 farms. That is, to fewer cows, and fewer jobs. This week, Australian farmers joined the growing workers’ revolt against the Net Zero ideology. They drove their tractors around the parliament in Victoria to protest a new ‘renewables’ policy that they believe will intrude on their land and limit their ability to farm.

Surely nothing better sums up the irrationalism of the 21st century’s eco-elites than their cavalier attitude to the rights and happiness of the people who make our food. Ritual sacrifice to mollify the heavens is once again all the rage among the rulers of Earth. Sacrifice not only of animals this time, but also of livelihoods and even liberty. Dairy farming, food production, pesticide-use, cheap flights, our right to drive – all are being offered up at the apologetic altar of Net Zero. ‘Forgive us our hubris’, cry the elites as they sacrifice, one by one, the things that make life good and tasty. It is time for a rational pushback, surely, against this modern paganism.


Governor Pritzker Vetos Illinois Nuclear Ban Repeal

In 1987, a provision of the Illinois Public Utilities Act banned the construction of any new nuclear power plant in the state until a permanent high level waste repository is approved without express permission via a statute by the General Assembly.

This bill artificially limits the future energy options of the state by taking a source that is currently an important source of baseload power to the state off the table for future development. Illinois currently has six nuclear power plants with 11 reactors between them. In 2021, 53.3 percent of the state’s power came from these 11 units.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed a bill, S.B. 0076 that would have removed the language in the Public Utilities Act that bans new nuclear plant construction. This updated language would instead allow for the construction of “Advanced” reactors, which include the AP1000 reactor which is the design of Plant Vogtle Unit 3 that recently came online in Georgia. This definition would also include new small modular reactor designs.

The bill passed both houses with supermajority votes, but has hit a road block at the Governor’s office. On August 11th, Governor J. B. Pritzker vetoed the bill.

The governor’s complaints with the bill center around the distinction between “advanced” and the initial language of “compact”. Pritzker has expressed an acceptance of small modular reactors, but appears to draw the line there.

Bill proponents, including sponsor State Senator Sue Rezin, were taken aback by the governor’s veto. “The governor’s veto of my bill was a complete shock to everyone involved. This was a heavily negotiated bill. On both sides of the aisle,” Sen. Rezin said.

Gov. Pritzker has been working very closely with anti-nuclear environmental groups during this process, punctuated by a letter from the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter and Illinois Environmental Council entreating the Governor to veto the bill.

The letter cites the expense of nuclear plants, the opinion that they would not solve grid capacity issues, outdated rules and regulations for nuclear, and the nuclear waste issue as its primary motivations.

The first two points, that of expense and of solving grid capacity issues are not decisions to be made at the level of a ban on a technology, they are decisions to be made at the utility level as a particular plant is proposed and it’s individual costs and benefits can be weighed. A blanket ban precludes that possibility. The letter also suggests that the interconnection of primarily wind, solar, and batter storage capacity from out of state will fill the state’s needs better than new nuclear plants would, a view that ignores the intermittency issues of wind and solar entirely. “We’re going to spend over $1 billion dollars in the next five years, building out, improving, and putting in new electric lines in Illinois to connect us to Iowa, Missouri and Indiana so that they can safely send more electricity without melting our grid,” said State Rep. Dan Caulkins about this preference for bringing in power from other states.

As far as regulations go, in the first place there are already incredibly stringent federal regulations around the oversight, regulation, and siting of nuclear plants. The state itself is also already in the position of regulating nuclear power plants. Illinois already operates the most nuclear power plants of any state in the country, so the implication that it is somehow ill-equiped to do so is an unreasonable one.

When it comes to the waste issue, although the ban was initially intended to be in place in the interim before a permanent geologic waste repository was established by the federal government, waste management at sites across the country is safe.

Overall, the Sierra Club and other groups have successfully lobbied the Governor to veto the bill over supermajority votes from the legislature with Rezin noting that, “This is a pattern of a governor that is bending to special interests.”

There is still the possibility of the bill being passed over the Governor’s veto, and Sen. Rezin has already filed the necessary paperwork for the bill to be brought up in the fall veto session.


Will the rising cost of green energy cost US Democrats next year's elections?

A generational push to tackle climate change in New York is quickly becoming a pocketbook issue headed into 2024.

Some upstate New York electric customers are already paying 10 percent of their utility bill to support the state’s effort to move off fossil fuels and into renewable energy. In the coming years, people across the state can expect to give up even bigger chunks of their income to the programs — $48 billion in projects is set to be funded by consumers over the next two decades.

The scenario is creating a headache for New York Democrats grappling with the practical and political risk of the transition.

It’s an early sign of the dangers Democrats across the country will face as they press forward with similar policies at the state and federal level. New Jersey, Maryland and California are also wrestling with the issue and, in some cases, are reconsidering their ambitious plans.

“This is bad politics. This is politics that are going to hurt all New Yorkers,” said state Sen. Mario Mattera, a Long Island Republican who has repeatedly questioned the costs of the state’s climate law and who will pay for it.

Democrats, Mattera said, have been unable to explain effectively the costs for the state’s goals. “We need to transition into renewable energy at a certain rate, a certain pace,” he said.

Proponents say the switch will ultimately lower energy bills by harnessing the sun and wind, result in significant health benefits and — critically — help stave off the most devastating climate change scenarios. And they hope federal money from the Inflation Reduction Act, celebrating its one-year anniversary, can limit costs to consumers.

New York has statutory mandates calling for 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and a fully “zero emissions” grid by 2040, among the most aggressive targets in the country. The grid needs to be greened, while demand for electricity is expected to more than double by 2050 — the same year when state law requires emissions to be cut by 85 percent from 1990 levels.

But some lawmakers in New York, particularly upstate Democrats, and similar moderates across the nation are worried about moving too quickly and sparking a backlash against higher costs. The issue is another threat to Democrats heading into the critical 2024 battleground House races in New York, which will be instrumental in determining control of Congress.

Even Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who is fond of saying that “we’re the last generation to be able to do anything” about climate change, last spring balked at the potential price tag of a policy to achieve New York’s climate targets. And she’s not the only top member of her party to say so.

“If it’s all just going to be passed along to the ratepayers — at some point, there’s a breaking point, and we don’t want to lose public support for this agenda,” state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Democrat, warned in an interview.

Part of the problem is New York has been unable to meet its previous renewable targets, which DiNapoli’s office in a recent report attributed in part to permitting challenges and inconsistent contracting efforts.

New York got about 29 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2022, three-quarters of which came from large hydropower dams in upstate New York.

The costs of the state’s renewable energy mandates are being paid for almost solely by New York residents and businesses through their electric bills. With renewable developers asking for higher subsidies to deal with inflation, those costs are expected to increase while expected savings from the transition takes longer to materialize.


Australia: Who’s the Coalkeeper now? The renewables disaster rolls on...

‘Victoria joins NSW in saying no to “Coalkeeper,” ran the headline in Renew Economy in September 2021. ‘Coalkeeper’ was the disparaging name that Big Renewables and their political champions gave to a proposal to pay fossil fuel generators not just for the energy that they supplied but the critical backup they provided to highly subsidised renewables. Without that backup, Australians face blackouts and businesses face being pressured to load shed to help keep the lights on.

The plan was devised by the Energy Security Board (ESB) and backed by the then-federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor. The proposed mechanism was a capacity market to provide a stream of income to power companies that guarantee to provide energy which can backup renewables.

Capacity markets are commonplace in energy markets but the fact that the companies providing the backup were coal or gas-fired power stations infuriated the renewable-obsessed state governments of NSW and Victoria.

In September 2021 NSW Minister for Energy Matt Kean claimed there was no need for a capacity market or to ensure the continued operation of fossil-fuelled backup. In response to a call by the UN for wealthy countries to phase out coal by 2030, Kean said ending coal-fired generation by 2030 was entirely feasible. It was quite a boast given that NSW has the biggest coal-fired fleet in Australia, with more than 10GW of capacity. Kean put his faith in his legislated renewable energy plan – the biggest in the nation’s history – with five renewable energy zones to provide 12GW of renewable energy and 2GW of energy storage. He was also counting on the federally-backed Snowy 2.0 pumped-hydro project. By offering generous contracts guaranteeing that the state would purchase energy, NSW received expressions of interest to produce 34 GW of energy in New England and 27 GW in the Central West Orana zone.

Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio followed Kean’s lead. She claimed she wasn’t opposed to a capacity mechanism provided there were ‘no payments to incumbent fossil fuels generators’. This is absurd given that fossil fuel generators are the only energy suppliers in Victoria capable of backing up a grid supplied by 95 per cent renewable energy – the Victorian target for 2035.

In December 2022, a headline in Renew Economy gloated ‘Coalkeeper killed off as Labor states embrace Matt Kean’s auction and underwriting plan’. ‘Coalkeeper is dead,’ wrote Queensland energy minister Mick de Brenni whose state owns more coal-fired power stations than any other entity in Australia and has committed to closing them all by 2035.

But it’s one thing to legislate targets. It’s another thing for them to deliver reliable power in sufficient quantity. Renew Economy reported the gloomy news this week. Just 188MW of new capacity was approved in July and 1.2GW this year. That’s less than half the amount needed to reach Labor’s target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030 to fill the gap created by closing coal plants.

D’Ambrosio has been mugged by reality. She was forced to do a deal with AGL to keep open the Loy Yang A coal-fired power station which supplies a third of the state’s electricity until 2035. It was scheduled to close in 2048 but announced in February 2022 that it would close between 2040 and 2045. D’Ambrosio refused to disclose the cost of the deal. She also declined to disclose the cost of subsidies to keep open the Portland aluminium smelter – with power from Loy Yang – until 2035.

When AGL announced last September that the plant would close in 2035, federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said, ‘The reason that this is happening is because the cheapest form of energy in Australia and globally now is renewable energy.’ In reality, it is because renewable energy is the most heavily subsidised and fossil fuels the most heavily penalised. In addition, the energy shortages created by renewables create greater profits.

Each year, the CSIRO and AEMO work with the industry on the NextGen report which gives an updated cost estimate for large-scale electricity generation. It supposedly shows that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of energy, however the report substantially overestimates the low capacity factor of renewables and underestimates the cost of additional transmission, battery and pumped hydro storage, land, and backup.

We can get an idea of the gap by comparing federal Labor’s estimate of the cost of its 2030 renewable electricity target of 82 per cent which it claimed was $78 billion before the last election whereas Australia’s former chief scientist Robin Batterham put it this year at $1.5 trillion.

NextGen also overestimates the cost of nuclear energy which it says is more expensive than wind and solar. Compare Ontario, which gets around almost 60 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power, with South Australia which has the highest level of wind and solar in Australia. The cost of electricity in South Australia is more than three times higher than in Ontario.

In the NSW election in March, Kean suffered a 12 per cent swing against him in the primary vote and the government lost office so he didn’t have to face the embarrassment of negotiating with Origin to keep the Eraring power station open. It was originally slated to close in 2032 but last year its retirement was bought forward to 2025 because it was deemed unprofitable.

An independent report commissioned by the new NSW Labor government recommended the state keep Eraring open with the establishment of a mechanism to manage the orderly retirement of fossil fuel generators. That sounds like the establishment of a capacity market. Last year AEMO, which was managing the auctioning of Kean’s renewable energy contracts, warned that NSW would experience shortfalls in electricity if Eraring was retired in 2025.

Kean said in December 2020 that building new coal-fired plants was like going back to Blockbuster video after getting Netflix. That hasn’t worried China. Chinese imports of coal from Australia surged to their highest levels in three years in July after bans imposed in 2020 were lifted on 18 May. It approved the construction of an additional 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power in 2022, four times higher than in 2021.

Unlike in Australia, these projects are being built in a matter of months. For the foreseeable future, it seems we are all Coalkeepers now. ?




Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Is Norway's Love For EVs Enough To Put A Dent In Fuel Demand?

I suspect that a large factor in the continuing high demand for gasoline is that buyers of electric cars have not ditched their old cars but have kept them for use on very cold days when EV range is eaten up by heating needs. Norway has a LOT of very cold days. A really cold day could HALVE the range of an EV

Road fuel demand in Norway has remained relatively stable even with soaring electric vehicle (EV) adoption, raising questions about whether EVs really have a material impact on diesel and gasoline sales. Rystad Energy research and modeling has, however, uncovered the truth behind the persistent sales – electrifying heavy-duty vehicles, especially trucks, is essential to lowering overall fuel consumption.

EVs are often positioned as the key to decarbonizing transportation, but the latest data from the Norwegian government suggests otherwise. Electric cars have accounted for at least 80% of all passenger vehicle sales for the past three years. EVs – including plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) – accounted for about 90% of all new car sales in 2023. More than 50% of passenger cars on the road in Oslo are electric, a threshold that BEVs alone will pass 50% in the next two years.

Such an aggressive growth in EV sales should lead to a dramatic fall in fuel demand. But that is yet to materialize, and sales figures from Statistics Norway (SSB) show diesel and gasoline demand has declined only modestly since 2017. In the first half of 2023, road fuel sales hovered around 62,000 barrels per day (bpd), a 10% fall from the 70,000 bpd sold between 2017 and 2019, well after the EV boom started. Current consumption is relatively stable between 60,000 and 70,000 bpd, and a precipitous drop is not forecast in the near term.

Our research – which goes beyond the numbers reported by SSB – tells a different story. Our model considers the official fuel sales, annual average mileage by vehicle type and car sales as reported by SSB. It converts this raw data into estimated diesel and gasoline demand, factoring in the efficiency of individual vehicles as of 2022. The upshot of this is a crystal-clear image that road fuel demand from passenger cars has declined rapidly since 2016, falling more than 20%, in line with the BEV market penetration.

Meanwhile, fuel demand from buses and trucks – which run predominantly on diesel – has grown, rising from about 30,000 bpd between 2010 to 2015 to 32,000 in 2022. A structural decline in fuel demand is not likely in the short term until the recently initiated electrification of these sectors takes hold. As a frontrunner in the transport electrification process, these findings pose significant questions for other countries trying to follow Norway’s lead.

Electrifying the road transportation sector is a pillar of many countries’ energy transition strategy, with policymakers around the world offering incentives to those who switch to EVs. However, the situation seen in Norway could play out on a global scale as adoption ramps up. If efforts to lower emissions and reduce the carbon intensity of road transportation are to succeed, the focus should not be solely on passenger cars, but must also address heavy-duty vehicles that run on traditional fossil fuels.


The GOP’s Climate Change Challenge

It pains us to say it, but Greta Thunberg is winning the climate change debate.

No, she doesn’t make good, sound, thoughtful, rational arguments, and she doesn’t communicate in a way that invites consensus and collaboration. Instead, she gives decent people a rash. She’s a petulant child being exploited by her parents and by the media and by the Left. But the issue of climate change is becoming harder and harder for Republicans to simply ignore or dismiss — at least from an electoral perspective.

Young Republicans, for example, are a lot more concerned about the climate than are older Republicans. So, of course, are the centrists and the independents who tend to decide elections. According to a September 2022 AP-NORC poll, 62% of Americans say the federal government is doing too little to reduce climate change. That number includes half of Republicans under age 45 but only 32% of older Republicans. The point here is that when nearly two-thirds of the electorate feel a certain way about a certain issue, it’s electorally suicidal to dismiss that issue as a hoax — or to allow the leftist press to say you’re dismissing it as a hoax.

So if the Republican Party is to fare well in the 2024 election — both for president and all down the ballot — the party will need to hone and communicate a coherent message that goes deeper than, “Climate change is a hoax.”

Perhaps the most riveting moment of last week’s GOP presidential debate came when 38-year-old upstart Vivek Ramaswamy took a shot at the rest of the candidates on climate change: “I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” he said, “so I can say this: The climate change agenda is a hoax, and we need to declare our independence from it.”

Right behind Ramaswamy’s feel-good zinger was the moment when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shut down co-moderator Bret Baier’s effort to get a show of hands about whether they believe climate change is man-caused. “We’re not children here,” said DeSantis — and that was the end of Baier’s show-of-hands stunt.

Incidentally, notice how Ramaswamy said the climate change agenda is a hoax, but notice how the dishonest mainstream media reported otherwise. The Appropriated Associated Press and The Hill and plenty of others reported that he called climate change itself a hoax. That’s a lie. What he did was say that the Left’s claim that we need to enact the Green New Deal, and we need to declare war on fossil fuels, and we need more windmills and solar panels, and we need to phase out the internal combustion engine in order to save the planet — those things are a hoax.

If you’re like us, you smiled at the rhetorical force of Ramaswamy’s statement. But then, like it does after you’ve eaten a rich piece of chocolate, the endorphin rush subsides and we end up back where we were — in this case, wondering when the Republican Party will agree on a basic set of climate principles and when its candidates for president will begin communicating them. Because while “hoax” sounds great, while it sounds like a necessary thumb in the eye of Green New Dealers, it isn’t going to get it done at the ballot box — especially in the swing states, where razor-thin margins will determine who our next president is and whether our Supreme Court will retain its conservative majority for the next generation.

“We’re getting to a point where Republicans are losing winnable elections because they’re alienating people that care about climate change,” said Christopher Barnard, the Republican president of the American Conservation Coalition, the largest conservative environmental group in the nation. “You don’t have to be the biggest climate champion,” Barnard continued. “If you just say, ‘Climate change is real, and we’re going to have some sort of solution,’ that’s enough for most voters.”

That may or may not be enough, but at least it’s a start. We tend to think the Republican Party’s position on climate change should include an acknowledgement that the planet may indeed be warming slightly and that human activity might play a small role in that warming.

But beyond that, the real debate must be what to do about it. As climate thinkers like Bjorn Lomborg have long maintained, many of the elaborate and expensive actions that the Green Left proposes are both inefficient and deeply misguided. Why, for example, spend trillions of dollars in an effort to move global temperatures a fraction of a degree and ruining the global economy in the process when we can instead address issues with far greater benefit to humanity, such as fighting malaria and maintaining a safe and fresh water supply around the globe?

Furthermore, the war that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been waging on American energy independence has been, as Ramaswamy rightly put it, “a wet blanket” on the American economy. And given that it’s still the economy, stupid, this is the sort of rational environmental territory that Republicans can win on.

In short, the word “hoax” has a nice ring to it, but it’s not going to win us any hotly contested elections.


ULEZ: A green con trick to fleece the motorist

When politicians claim to be 'on the right side of history' it invariably means they are on the wrong side of the present. So it is with London mayor Sadiq Khan, whose roundly hated Ulez extension comes into force today. It is a model of how to alienate the public against green initiatives.

The scheme has been imposed against overwhelming opposition, backed up by spurious (some would say deliberately exaggerated) statistics, and will affect the poorest most.

It is also profoundly undemocratic. Mr Khan's 2021 mayoral manifesto didn't mention the extension, and consultations have shown up to 70 per cent opposition in the affected areas.

Yet, like a despot drunk on his own power, the mayor closes his ears to all dissent, and ploughs on regardless. Most bizarrely, he claims that only climate change deniers, those with vested interests and far-Right conspiracists oppose him. Has he even read the results of his own consultations?

The Ultra Low Emission Zone, which drivers of non-compliant cars are charged £12.50 per day to enter, has been in force in central London since 2019.

It was intended to cut levels of two key air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulates, which can cause or aggravate respiratory and cardio-vascular illnesses.

However, a study carried out by Imperial College London in the early weeks of Ulez, found it had had an 'insignificant' effect on particulates and cut NOx levels by just three per cent. Indeed, at several monitoring sites, pollution had risen.

This should have tempered Mr Khan's zeal. Instead, he doubled down, dismissing the study's findings and sticking to his own flawed statistics.

Let's look a little deeper into one of the scariest of these. Mr Khan states: 'Every year 4,000 Londoners die prematurely from air pollution.'

No one apart from him even tries to pretend this is literally true. The figure relies on modelling the reduction in overall life expectancy in London deemed to be the result of air pollution, then converting that calculation into 'equivalent deaths'.

The study claimed each Londoner could be losing up to 2.8 days of life expectancy and roughly equated that to between 3,600 and 4,100 deaths.

It is at best a vague estimate, at worst an educated guess. Yet Mr Khan quotes the 4,000 toll as hard fact. It is scaremongering of the most blatant kind.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of families and businesses will suffer hardship because of the mayor's hubris.

The poor and elderly are most likely to have older, non-compliant vehicles and least likely to be able to afford a compliant replacement, so will be faced with paying £12.50 a day.

This applies not only to Londoners but also those living in areas bordering the capital – Kent, Surrey and the other Home Counties – who need to enter the zone for business, school runs or shopping.

And while the mayor will rake in £1 billion from this and his other road charging schemes, many pensioners will lose their freedom of movement and may also be cut off from visits.

There is already a furious and growing backlash, as the Uxbridge by-election proved. Everyone wants cleaner air, but this scheme fails to deliver it, serving only to make ordinary people poorer. For all Mr Khan's bluster, it's little more than a money-making racket.

Following the shock Uxbridge defeat, Sir Keir Starmer backtracked on a commitment to bring in clean air zones across the country (Yes, another U-turn).

But with so much money to be made, it's hard to believe he and his virtue-signalling colleagues could resist fleecing motorists even more if they were to win power.


Net Zero is a revolutionary idea, but not all revolutions are a good idea

There is a saying that revolutionary ideas are first heretical, then they become interesting and controversial, until suddenly they are old hat. Or as Rowan Dean put it, ‘Today’s denounced conspiracy is tomorrow’s undisputed truth.’

So let’s get interesting and controversial about Net Zero.

Net Zero is not necessary, it’s not happening, and it’s not possible until nuclear power is in the mix. In the meantime, why don’t we burn our beautiful black and brown coal that generates the cheapest power in the world?

The push for Net Zero is driven by two propositions. The first is that the increase in global temperatures has to be kept below 1.5 or at most 2 degrees Celsius, and the second is that this warming is being driven by human activities that produce emissions of (mostly) CO2.

From there, everything follows down the chain of Net Zero policies to reduce the production of airborne plant food and a few other things, like animal farts.

What if we test the foundational assumptions? Among critical rationalists inspired by Karl Popper and Bill Bartley, this is called ‘the check on the problem’. Essentially, this check is undertaken to confirm the problem is real and alternative responses (including doing nothing) are on the table for cost-benefit analysis and due diligence.

We want to avoid the process that Roger James observed when the postwar British Labor government was building a New Jerusalem by central planning.

James coined the term ‘solutioneering’ for the process of jumping straight from a perceived problem, usually described as a crisis, to a solution before investigating the problem (if indeed there is one at all), and exploring a range of possible solutions.

Jumping to a solution before clearly formulating what the problem is (or indeed if there is one at all) or how success or failure are to be judged. Achievement of the solution then becomes the goal; and, when opposition develops, the problem becomes how to get the solution accepted, while the question of how best to solve the original problem, if there was one, never gets discussed at all. I call this mistake solutioneering

Anticipated benefits are over-estimated, the costs are under-estimated, everything is urgent, time is of the essence, it will cost more later on if it is delayed.

If all else fails, someone might decide to describe the costs as investments in a ‘glorious future’.

This process is now standard procedure for left-wing and conservative administrations, as though Key Performance Indicators are the number of new programs and the pages of legislation and regulations added to the books.

Running a check on the global warming problem and Net Zero solution reveals some concerning realities.

The first question we have to ask is, has the planet been warming?

If the answer is ‘no’, then go on with business as usual.

If ‘yes’, we require the follow up questions of how much has it warmed and is this a problem?

Some will say the planet has warmed by 1.3 degrees over the last 120 years and this has been a good thing. It may have stopped warming already and another degree or two more in the next century will most likely do more good than harm.

So again, if this is the case, the sensible thing for humanity would be to go on with business as usual, including genuine research in the field of climate science.

Others say that this warming period represents an existential threat and, because it’s our fault, the onus is on Australia to do everything we can to reduce our 1 per cent share of the world’s emissions. Never mind what China, India, and the developing nations are doing.

The next question is a no-brainer, knowing that our efforts will make no measurable difference to the climate of the world. (Alan Finkel told us as much when he was the Chief Scientist.)

Why would we spend a single dollar of public money, let alone a trillion, to press on boldly with decarbonisation?

Admittedly, we have produced a lot of remarkable achievements even at this early stage of the long march.

We have doubled, maybe tripled the cost of power with a lot more to come as we rewire the nation.

Billions of dollars of investment have gone offshore (think balance of payments, jobs, tax revenue, local skills development).

Would anyone dare to add up the cost of the new public entities in Canberra and elsewhere to mastermind and supervise and report on our Net Zero strategies? Would anyone count the new state and federal agencies, the special units in universities, or the grants handed out for new initiatives like carbon capture and pumped hydro? Not to mention hydrogen and green aviation fuel…

Look at the work big consultancies have picked up to advise firms across the nation to implement the data collection and reporting systems to satisfy the demands from every regulatory agency to consider ‘climate risks’ and ESG protocols.

All of the above add to the cost of doing business. They undermine the productivity of the private sector which is the goose that lays the golden tax eggs to pay the bills for government spending.

And there is more. We have seen the corruption of scientific research. The trashing of education from kindergarten to Year 12 and beyond. Then we have the travesty of reporting standards by stenographers and commentators in the mainstream media, especially in the public broadcaster. All this comes as the public starts to lose faith in the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.

Is there any need to go on? All we can do is look forward to the time when everyone says ‘we were always climate and energy realists’.




Monday, August 28, 2023

The Biden Admin Is Going After Another Common Household Item in the Name of Climate Change

They want ceiling fans to be smaller. If a small fan is not enough, what will people do? Easy: Buy two. So any such regulation will be defeated, but at a cost. Fans are a lot more energy efficient than air-conditioning so should be encouraged, not discouraged. It's all ivory-tower thinking under Biden

After attempts to ban gas stoves burned such proposals' Democrat proponents and proposed new federal vehicle efficiency standards seek to force costs even higher, the Biden administration is now going after (drumroll please) ceiling fans. Republicans in the House of Representatives, however, are not fans of the proposal due to the impact it looks to have on America's small businesses.

In a new letter to the U.S. Department of Energy and its leader Secretary Jennifer Granholm, members of the House Small Business Committee pointed out the problems with the latest policy in the Biden administration's supposedly "green" energy crusade that's anything but.

"This proposed rule would decrease the maximum estimated energy consumption permissible for large diameter and belt driven ceiling fans," the letter from House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams (R-TX) and Reps. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), and Aaron Bean (R-FL) explains.

"This rule would require numerous small business fan manufacturers to redesign their products and may put between 10 and 30 percent of small business ceiling fan manufacturers out of business," the lawmakers warn Secretary Granholm and the Department of Energy. "It appears that the Department of Energy (DOE) may not have properly considered small entities during this rulemaking process."

It would be unsurprising if the Biden administration ignored the concerns or impact of such a policy as it's shown little if any concern for the impact of its climate agenda on the little guy or individual Americans. As such, the lawmakers' letter reminds Secretary Granholm that it is "important for agencies to examine small businesses interests — which make up 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States — when passing any new rule."

Rightfully, the letter points out that "America's small businesses deserve to have their voices heard and considered," and asks the Department of Energy for more information on the policy to get a better idea of what the new energy consumption standard would mean for Americans.

Here's what the committee wants to know:

1. Did the DOE consider allowing small business fan manufacturers to attest that they are using a DOE compliant electric motor, or other forms of alternative compliance, as a means of complying with this proposed rule?

2. In the impact calculation, did the DOE expect small businesses to abandon some of their product lines to comply with this rule, or that these businesses would redesign their products?

3. Does the DOE expect this rule to decrease the availability of large diameter, or belt driven ceiling fans?

4. What additional costs would a small business, such as a restaurant, incur when purchasing a new ceiling fan that complies with these updated standards?

5. Does the DOE believe “Small Business 1” in Table VI.1 will go out of business as a result of this rule?

a. Does the DOE believe “Small Business 2” in Table VI.1 will go out of business as a result of this rule?

b. Does the DOE believe “Small Business 3” in Table VI.1 will go out of business as a result of this rule?

The House Small Business Committee gave Secretary Granholm and her Department of Energy until August 30 to respond to their questions.


Summer: The Best of Times for Climate Alarmists

August and September are great months to be a professional climate alarmist like Dr. Michael Mann of the University of Pennsylvania.

You have hurricanes making landfall, wildfires seemingly everywhere, the odd F-4 tornado wreaking devastation, and you can pretend that these never happened before we started adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Plus, you have virtually all the media and a host of “environmental” groups parroting every seemingly scientific observation without question.

Yes, alarmists find it best to use their time during the hazy, hot days of summer linking every possible weather event to our use of fossil fuels and that demon molecule, CO2. They must do this in order to instill the fear required to impose economically crippling new taxes or restrict citizens’ freedom to choose what car, dishwasher, stove, shower head or washing machine to purchase.

Right now, with wildfires in Canada and Greece and the tragic fire in Lahaina, Maui, the focus is on linking supposed man-made warming to these events and characterizing them as unprecedented. Are they really extraordinary and increasing?

NASA reports that between 2003 and 2019, the global area burned has dropped by roughly 25 percent. In addition, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service reports that, according to their satellite data, the year 2020 was one of the least active years since records begin in 2003.

Heat waves in Texas and Italy are also trumpeted as global and escalating due to increasing carbon emissions. Conveniently omitted are exceedingly cold temperatures in northern Europe and the northwest of the United States. The USHCN temperature data reveal that the number of days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8°Celsius) peaked in the 1930s and have been in an 80-year decline.

See link for graphics


Coral reefs may have adapted to ocean warming

The bleaching of the coral off the coast of Palau in 1998 was devastating. In the clear Pacific waters, the sharks swished through lifeless and brittle reefs. The bleaching event in 2010 was bad too — swathes of coral were left damaged.

And the coral bleaching of 2017, when temperatures reached the same level as 1998 and higher? It didn’t come. The sharks prowled an exuberant reef that may have, somehow, gained resistance.

In that finding, says Liam Lachs, from Newcastle University, there is some good news for a warming world. “It does provide a glimmer of hope that some coral reefs have an innate resilience to warming oceans,” he said.

Scientists have been surveying the reef on the remote island for bleaching for almost 40 years. Their data, they believe, provides evidence that reefs may be able to adjust to ocean warming. In a paper in the journal Nature Communications, they estimate that this reef increased its heat tolerance by 0.1C a decade.

If so, then the effects of climate change on corals might be delayed, for a while at least. However, they cautioned, it was also clear that such mechanisms only take us so far — and that unless temperature stabilises we will still lose a lot of coral.

Some reefs have, anecdotally, seen similar effects, including on the Great Barrier Reef. Others, such as in Kiribati, have still been devastated by recent warming.

Lachs has a few theories as to what might be causing the apparent tolerance. The key to understanding how they might work is acknowledging that reefs are not really one thing.

“The thermal tolerance of an entire coral community is an odd concept, as it is a community made of many species, each with a symbiosis with photosynthetic microalgae that are housed in their tissue,” he said.

One idea, the simplest, is that successive bleaching events kill off the most vulnerable species and provide space for those that are more heat resistant to take over.

In Palau, at least, there is not good evidence for a large shift in the composition of coral species. Another theory, then, is that it is not the species that have changed, but the genes — with adaptation selecting those members of the same species with the best heat tolerance.

The third idea is, said Lachs, essentially “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, with individual corals that survive becoming hardier throughout their lifetime.


Australia: A newly elected Labor State government has commissioned a report to provide a handy excuse to try and slow down the currently manic net zero transition.

What is it about the relentless pursuit of so-called renewable energy by our leaders that they overlook the need to provide affordable and reliable electricity supply to Australians?

Especially at a time when the cost of living is front of mind.

In a first-world country blessed with huge energy resources, the unreliability and cost of energy is a national scandal.

Even if one accepts the need to "transition" from fossil fuels to other forms of energy there is the foundational requirement to keep the lights on and our factories and farms producing at an affordable price.

Time and again warnings have been provided that inherent in the word "transitioning" is the imperative that energy supply and affordability need to be maintained.

Those who have correctly sounded those warnings of commonsense have been decried as "deniers" and economic vandals along with all sorts of other descriptors to avoid the discussion.

In that scenario leaders of all stripes have virtue signalled how quickly they can decommission coal-fired power stations and set zero emission targets.

Decommissioning and net zero targets can be achieved overnight by simply turning off all the power stations.

But the hugely more difficult task, with its accompanying cost factors, is the provision of alternate, affordable, and reliable energy.

An unwelcome reminder of this monumental task is the concern around the slated closure of the Eraring power station in New South Wales in 2025.

The newly elected Labor Minns government commissioned a report to provide a handy excuse to try and slow down the currently manic net zero transition.

Why a report was needed is obvious. It was to cover the government’s proverbial backside from being kicked by the citizens who feel betrayed by the hype and propaganda associated with "transitioning."

In a completely unsurprising finding the recommendation has been made to extend the life of Eraring.

Apart from that there was also the "groundbreaking" insightful suggestion that a mechanism to orderly manage the retirement of coal-fired power stations be established.

Who would have thought it necessary? Order. Management. These two previously quite foreign concepts to the renewable energy pushers and political leadership have finally mugged them and not before time.

The Eraring inquiry suggested that negotiations be entered into with the owners of the power station to prolong its life to prevent reliability gaps and guarantee no adverse price impact.

That such an inquiry was at all necessary is a complete exposure of the manic nature of the irresponsible renewable push.

Where was the leadership willing to state the bleeding obvious—we need reliability and affordability in any transition.

The false narratives are being slowly but relentlessly exposed as the predictable chickens called reliability and affordability are coming home to roost.

All this is happening at a time when speculation is rife that the Australian Energy Market Operator will soon alert the unsuspecting public that all the promised essential infrastructure and up-grading of the grid to cope is falling way behind schedule.

The management debacle of the renewable energy transition is now being witnessed on a daily basis.

A debacle that could have been easily avoided by true and responsible leadership willing to level with their citizenry about timelines, capital costs, and power bills.

The owners of Eraring will undoubtedly rub their organisational hands in glee knowing that the commodity which they were being pressured to close is now all of a sudden in demand.

The shortfall cannot be made up from elsewhere so Eraring's owner, Origin Energy, has some sway and negotiating cards with which to play.

The public is at the mercy of the provider.

This lack of foresight and deliberate denigrating of those providing the warnings by the leadership of our country is at best negligence writ large.

The fact similar stories flooding out of Europe were ignored to the detriment of Australia’s family budgets, jobs, and national well-being requires a national apology and for the responsible people to be brought to account.

The realistic fear for Australians is that Eraring will be one of many more cases to emerge over the next few years.




Sunday, August 27, 2023

The "extreme events" issue

The very gradual process of global warming that we have seen so far has produced no direct ill-effects that we can see. Crops are more abundant than ever and some Pacific islands are growing rather than shrinking. So "extreme events" are the last refuge of the warmists. Bad weather generally is routinely branded as an extreme event and is attributed to global warming without any shred of evidence for the link.

Any causal statement requires controls. You have to show that the "caused" event would not have happened without the "cause" specified. But that would require you to show what would have happened WITHOUT global warming -- and that is impossible.

Single events might or might not be due to some influence or other but you have no way of showing what the influence was. It is known as the "attribution" problem and is in principle unsolvable where the event is a "one-off", a hurricane, for instance. You have to have variations in the causal condition to correlate with the alleged caused condition. Would this hurricane have happened in the absence of global warming? We cannot know. We can only surmise. And a surmise is no proof.

So the attribution of individual extreme events to global warming is LOGICALLY false. It CANNOT be shown as be fact. But science is at ease with hypotheses so it remains a hypothesis that COULD be true even if proving it is currently impossible.

And an hypothesis can be tested in various ways. It is commonly tested by asking if it generates accurate predictions. And it could be held as preliminary support for an hypothesis that the incidence of extreme events has systematically increased as the globe has warmed. Is there a correlation? So has it? There are some claims to that effect but how well-founded are they? Have extreme events in fact become more frequent?

A recent study has addressed that hypothesis. They have looked at a big range of reports about extreme events and asked are such events becoming more frequent. For each of a range or event extremes they have gathered published information about whether such events are increasing in frequency over time. An abstract of the report concerned is given below. It finds no evidence that any extreme event has become more frequent. So the claimed connections are not only logically false but they are empirically false too.

The study was published 18 months ago and various climate skeptics have quoted it approvingly. That approval has eventually got under the skin of the Warmists so they have tried to discredit the research concerned. And their antagonism to the paper has borne fruit. The paper was "withdrawn" by its publisher, which counts as evidence that it is faulty.

But is it faulty? A much quoted attack on the paper in "The Guardian" lists a whole array of orthododox Warmists who say it is faulty but detailed evidence of the faults is conspicuously missing. No detailed numbers are quoted and the issue is entirely a matter of numbers. The Guardian makes clear that orthodox scientists disagree with the paper but does not give chapter and verse why. Link to The Guardian below:

Note that some of the attacks from Warmists are of the most intellectually discreditable kind: "Ad hominem" attacks -- attacking the motives of the authors rather than the evidence they put forward

And that none of the critics quote the detailed numbers is a major scientific fault. If a scientist disagrees with the conclusions of a particular paper -- as I have often done -- he goes over the ground covered by the paper and shows where it went wrong. In this case the paper at issue is a meta-analysis so the data behind it is readily available. Its conclusions are readily tested by repeating the meta-analysis in some more cautious way. Nobody seems to have attempted that. "Do better" is the obvious retort to the Warmists but none seem even to have attempted that.

The next link takes you to an extensive discussion of whether the paper deserved withdrawal:

The abstract of the deplored paper follows:

A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming

Gianluca Alimonti et al.


This article reviews recent bibliography on time series of some extreme weather events and related response indicators in order to understand whether an increase in intensity and/or frequency is detectable. The most robust global changes in climate extremes are found in yearly values of heatwaves (number of days, maximum duration and cumulated heat), while global trends in heatwave intensity are not significant. Daily precipitation intensity and extreme precipitation frequency are stationary in the main part of the weather stations. Trend analysis of the time series of tropical cyclones show a substantial temporal invariance and the same is true for tornadoes in the USA. At the same time, the impact of warming on surface wind speed remains unclear. The analysis is then extended to some global response indicators of extreme meteorological events, namely natural disasters, floods, droughts, ecosystem productivity and yields of the four main crops (maize, rice, soybean and wheat). None of these response indicators show a clear positive trend of extreme events. In conclusion on the basis of observational data, the climate crisis that, according to many sources, we are experiencing today, is not evident yet. It would be nevertheless extremely important to define mitigation and adaptation strategies that take into account current trends.


More polar bears than ever but they are still "endangered"

Like Mussolini, Warmists are always right

The Canadian town of Churchill has already had more than four times as many polar bear visitors this year compared with the same time last year, and many more could soon be on the way.

The world's unofficial polar bear capital, could see a record number of the white-furred visitors this year. Residents of Churchill, Canada, have already spotted an unusually high number of the bears in and around town, likely because of low sea ice.

Around 900 people live in the Manitoba town. But every year, between July and November, several hundred polar bears (Ursus maritimus) descend on the town and the surrounding Hudson Bay area, which also brings in thousands of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the Arctic predators.

Conservation officers from the town's government-funded Polar Bear Alert Program (PBAP) respond to calls from people who spot bears by either shooing the bears away or capturing them and holding them in Churchill's polar bear holding facility, commonly referred to as the "polar bear jail," before later releasing them into the wild.

As of Aug. 16, PBAP officers had received 76 calls from residents about polar bears, which have led to three bear detentions. By comparison, the officers had received only 18 calls and captured zero bears by the same time last year, CBC News reported.

"There are so many polar bears in and around the town of Churchill," Chantal Maclean, a Manitoba conservation officer with the PBAR, told CBC News. It's going to be a "very busy bear season," she added. "We are [potentially] looking at record numbers this year."

On average, officers receive around 250 calls from residents and detain around 50 bears every year, according to statistics provided to Live Science by the Manitoba government. The record number of bears captured in a single year was 176, in 2003. Most sightings occur in October and November, which means the number of sightings this year could easily surpass the average if the current trend continues.

Two people in Churchill have been killed by polar bears — one in 1968 and another in 1983. The last polar bear attack was in 2013, when two people were severely injured but survived. The rise in polar bear numbers does not necessarily mean chances of attacks increase, especially if people follow polar bear guidelines, officers said.

Polar bears spend the winter hunting for seals on Hudson Bay's frozen surface. When the ice melts during spring, the bears head inland to mate and search for alternative food sources. In the fall, the bears head back out to sea. Normally, around half of the roughly 600 bears that live along Hudson Bay's western coastline pass through Manitoba as they return to the frozen waters in fall — and a majority of those make a pit stop in Churchill to look for food. The rest pass through Ontario and Nunavut.

But this year, almost all of the Hudson Bay bears that conservation officers monitor are in Manitoba, which may be why so many bears are being spotted in Churchill.

The likely cause of the change in behavior is the way sea ice is forming and melting, which has been impacted by human-caused climate change. Experts believe that the sea ice near Churchill is now freezing earlier than other parts of Hudson Bay, which makes it the best place to start hunting when winter arrives, CBC News reported.

Polar bear numbers in Churchill may be on the rise, but in general polar bear numbers are declining. The species is currently listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Studies have predicted that polar bears could be wiped out by the end of the 21st century if current warming trends continue.

Over the last five years, Hudson Bay's population of polar bears has declined by around 27% after falling by around 11% in the five years before that, according to Polar Bears International.


Why Has Biden Declared War on Natural Gas?

Natural gas is the world's wonder fuel: cheap, abundant, made in America, reliable AND clean burning.

So why are the Biden administration and environmental groups against it? There's really no good answer.

What makes the Left's war against natural gas inexplicable is that the single biggest factor in reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere has been the increased reliance on natural gas for electric power generation as we transition slowly away from coal. (By the way, emissions from coal plants have been dramatically reduced as well, which is one reason why the air that we breathe today is much cleaner than the air 20 or 50 or 100 years ago.)

No country produces more natural gas than America. Latest reserve forecasts predict we have nearly 100 years of natural gas with existing drilling technologies, and hundreds of years of potential supply. We're not running out. We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

The two innovations that spurred the natural gas shale revolution of the last 15 years were horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. These drilling technologies tripled our supply and output almost overnight.

No single person is more responsible for this energy revolution than Harold Hamm of Continental Resources. His new book "Game Changer" documents how drilling in places like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia helped triple U.S. oil and gas supplies while lowering the price we pay for energy.

He tells me that "U.S. natural gas price has fallen by more than half while the rest of the world has seen their prices double or triple." This means that our energy costs are a fraction of the costs that Europe and Asia pay. That is an immeasurable economic and geopolitical advantage America has.

All we need to be the world energy superpower is liquefied natural gas terminals, pipelines and drilling permits. We also need states to redefine natural gas as a "clean" and "net zero" form of energy so that utilities can use it. Why isn't this happening?

The main reason is radical environmentalists want to end all natural gas and oil production, and force utilities and consumers to get our power and transportation fuels from unreliable and expensive wind and solar power. In pursuing this agenda, and moving away from the Trump pro-drilling policies, they are killing one of the cleanest forms of energy and costing the U.S. over $150 billion a year. For that amount of money, we could modernize every school in America.

Biden's strategy appears to put America last. This explains why gas prices are back up to $4 a gallon.

If we don't get smart and soon, those prices will be rising even more. Who benefits the most? Vladimir Putin and the Saudi oil sheikhs.


Spinning the myth of Global Warming for corporate gain

The myth of human-induced global warming has always been a mixture of scientific chicanery and businesses, seeking to leverage a competitive advantage over their rivals.

For scientists – at least those in the public sector – global warming provided the opportunity to be listened to by politicians and the public, to attend international gatherings, and be shown the respect they felt was previously lacking.

For businesses, the possibility of subsidies and imposts on rival suppliers was irresistible. Indeed, the nuclear industry was among the early proponents of the greenhouse myth, seeing it as an opportunity to ride renewable energy’s coattails and gain regulatory advantages over its fossil fuel competitors.

But the main commercial impetus came from the renewable industry, which was confident that the declining costs of the energy produced from wind farms and solar systems would fall over time, and eventually be cheaper than energy derived from coal and gas. All that was needed was a bit of a nudge from the government to get the technology over the edge.

That competitive price parity never came about. Agencies like CSIRO produce data, which indicates wind might be as cheap as coal. However, this can only be so if others build the transmission lines to get that wind power into the market, provide the balancing mechanisms within the electricity system to allow it to avoid disrupting the entire network, and, above all, supply the means by which it could be ‘firmed up’ by energy supplies not dependent on the wind and sun.

These costs rise exponentially with the forced increased penetration of renewables. A full renewable system is unfeasible at any cost.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, long supportive of the Net Zero agenda, is now alarmed by it and is calling for subsidies for transmission, subsidies that would increase the cost of the network from its current $23 billion to $100 billion. Similarly, to shore up supply the Victorian government is taking steps to subsidise coal generation that is becoming insolvent as a result of the subsidies to wind/solar that it supports.

An early estimate of the direct costs imposed by regulations and by budgetary support to renewables was a 2014 submission from the IPA to the 2014 Warburton review. This projected the annual costs by 2020 at $6-7 billion. The assessment was refined for the Australian Environment Foundation’s (AEF) response to the 2017 Finkel Review.

In his 2017 report, Finkel claimed that the transition to wind and solar PV ‘is reflected in a fall in their costs’ – even though wholesale prices doubled that year. The AEF compiled the support costs for 2016 at $4.9 billion.

The costs were updated to $6.9 billion for 2019, in a report commissioned by Senator Malcolm Roberts; that estimate was also published in Chapter 22 of Pinto et al Local Electricity Markets, Elsevier 2021.

Updated for price and budget changes, annual current renewable program costs are now over $10 billion

Initially greeted with hostility by vested interests, who recognised such analysis as a threat to their ongoing subsidies, recent reaction has been subdued. The methodology is followed by the Productivity Commission in its latest Trade and Assistance Review, though the Commission declines to put an aggregate value on the subsidies.

This cost is imposed at various points of the economy: on taxpayers and on electricity consumers but the major impact is upon the generation component – overwhelmingly on coal that formerly comprised 85 per cent of supply (and now comprises 63 per cent). Before the policies started to bite, national electricity generation cost less than $11 billion a year or about $40 per Megawatt hour. Contrary to ministerial statements, the coal supplying this remains both abundant and largely non-tradeable, while plant costs are fundamentally unchanged. Hence without government interference, coal-based generation supply would be less than half the $100 plus we pay today and to deliver it to customers, we could dispense with many of the additional system, subsidy, and transmission costs that we are incurring.

How have the costs and implications of policies designed to replace low-cost, controllable coal-generated electricity by high-cost intermittent wind and solar taken so long to be recognised and even now are officially judged to be affordable? More than anything else reversion to policies that provide cheap energy could drive the cost reductions and productivity increases are vital for increased wages. But while both the Business Council and Treasury, in its Intergenerational Report claim to understand this, their prescriptions involve subsidising energy sources (renewables, green hydrogen) that will raise costs.




Friday, August 25, 2023

You can't win! Now PAPER straws are cancelled

We may all think we're doing our bit for the planet by sipping our drinks out of a paper straw.

But the 'eco-friendly' alternatives contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals, a new study has concluded.

In the first analysis of its kind in Europe, Belgian researchers tested 39 brands of straws for the group of synthetic chemicals known as poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS were found in the majority of the straws tested and were most common in those made from paper and bamboo.

The synthetic chemicals are used to make everyday products, from outdoor clothing to non-stick pans, resistant to water, heat and stains.

They are, however, potentially harmful to people, wildlife and the environment.

The substances break down very slowly over time and can persist over thousands of years in the environment, a property that has led to them being known as 'forever chemicals.'

They have been linked to a number of health problems including lower response to vaccines, lower birth weight, thyroid disease, increased cholesterol levels, liver damage, kidney cancer and testicular cancer.

The research team purchased 39 different brands of drinking straw made from five materials – paper, bamboo, glass, stainless steel and plastic.

The straws, which were mainly bought from shops, supermarkets and fast-food restaurants, then underwent two rounds of testing for PFAS.

PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities as well as military bases and firefighting training facilities where foam containing PFAS is used.

They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.

Analysis revealed the majority of the brands – 69 per cent - contained PFAS, with 18 different PFAS detected in total.

Paper straws were most likely to contain the synthetic chemicals.

The most commonly found PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has been banned globally since 2020.

Also detected were trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and trifluoromethanesulfonic acid (TFMS) - 'ultra-short chain' PFAS which are highly water soluble and so might leach out of straws into drinks.

The PFAS concentrations were low and – since most people tend to only use straws occasionally - pose a limited risk to human health. However, PFAS can remain in the body for many years and concentrations can build up over time.

The authors advised people use stainless steel straws, or avoid using straws at all.

'Straws made from plant-based materials, such as paper and bamboo, are often advertised as being more sustainable and eco-friendly than those made from plastic,' said researcher Dr Thimo Groffen, an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp, who was involved in the study.

'However, the presence of PFAS in these straws means that's not necessarily true. 'Small amounts of PFAS, while not harmful in themselves, can add to the chemical load already present in the body.'

The findings were published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants.


Biden’s Incoherent Energy Policy Continues

President Joe Biden says he wants a carbon-free future for the United States and acknowledges that to realize that future, nuclear energy is essential. Judging by the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of taxpayer dollars that Biden is throwing at his version of “green energy,” combined with a willingness to strangle consumer choice, his commitment to his cause would seem rock solid—even though his policies make neither environmental nor economic sense.

Now, Biden has issued a proclamation establishing the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, which effectively bans any new mining claims, including for uranium, on the nearly 1 million acres covered by the monument.

Some may think that such a policy is reasonable. No one wants to see an industrial mining operation in the Grand Canyon. Furthermore, respect for ancestral lands is laudable.

But that’s not the real story.

The Biden administration presents the decision as a choice between protecting the Grand Canyon and ancestral lands or allowing mining to occur, which, by implication, would destroy both.

This framing is simply not accurate.

The modern mining industry is perfectly capable of undertaking commercial operations while also protecting public health, safety, and the surrounding environment. Indeed, strict state and federal regulatory oversight ensures that mining operations are safely carried out and that disturbed landscapes are appropriately restored.

Further, the designated area lies to the north and south of the 1.2 million-square acre Grand Canyon National Park, so there is no threat that a tour of the Grand Canyon would one day be highlighted by a uranium mine pit stop.

Unfortunately, this move is just one more in a long line of policy decisions from the Biden administration that creates barriers to domestic energy development and mineral mining.

While Biden likes to talk about green energy and energy independence, his policies toward reliable clean energy alternatives like nuclear and natural gas make it almost impossible for the American mining industry to develop the resources necessary to manufacture and fuel the president’s vision.

And in this case, it matters a lot.

The United States gets around 20% of its electricity from 93 commercial nuclear power reactors, and these reactors are powered by uranium fuel, of which the United States imports 95%. Though friendly countries like Canada, Australia, and Namibia provide about 36% of imports, the United States also depends on Russia for 14% of its uranium.

Interestingly, this was not always the case. Though there were ups and downs in production, the United States produced much of its own uranium until 1980, when the declines never recovered.

No one cared much about this dependence on Russian uranium until the spring of 2022, when it became abundantly clear that America’s reliance on Russian uranium was a real problem. Not only was America energy dependent on Russia for uranium and related nuclear fuel services, but roughly a billion dollars were flowing to Russian state-owned enterprises annually as a result.

This situation alone should have made removing from potential domestic production any uranium resources that could have been used to offset our Russian dependence a nonstarter. But it is worse than that, and here is why.

Uranium is produced in some of the least politically stable countries in the world, including Niger, which produces about 5% of the world’s uranium and is in the midst of a military coup. While America is not dependent on Nigerien uranium per se, the situation in Niger could have an effect on America.

That is because uranium is a global commodity and supply disruptions will raise global prices, affecting everyone who uses uranium. Though a near-term challenge, disruptions from Russia, Niger, or anywhere else should not be an issue for a uranium-rich country like the United States.

But it is.

The problem is that opening new mines in the United States is extremely difficult and policies like Biden’s decision to take domestic supplies out of service prevent domestic uranium markets from responding to foreign supply disruptions.

Not only do domestic uranium miners miss out on the opportunity to provide secure supplies of uranium to American reactors, but American reactor operators have no choice but to continue their dependence on foreign suppliers.

This problem is about to get far worse as the world could be at the beginning of a massive expansion of nuclear energy. This means greater demand for uranium in the future, tighter uranium markets, higher prices, and greater dependence on foreign suppliers for America’s energy.

The president’s supporters say his monument designation protects the Grand Canyon from uranium mining, but no one wants to mine in the Grand Canyon. To suggest as much is disingenuous.

With his announcement, Biden is protecting foreign uranium suppliers from American competition and preventing American reactors from accessing domestic fuel supplies. This is a loss on both the environmental and economic fronts for America and a win for foreign competitors and our adversaries. ?


Who fact checks the fact-checkers?

Toby Young

Last week, a retired physics professor called Nick Cowern said it was time to get tough with ‘climate denialists’. ‘In my opinion the publication of climate disinformation should be a criminal offence,’ he posted on Twitter. He was ridiculed, but what sounds ludicrously over-the-top today could easily become the norm tomorrow. At least four EU member states have made it a criminal offence to spread disinformation – Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and France – and others including Ireland are preparing to do the same. In the UK, the Online Safety Bill will introduce a new false communications offence.

I have a dog in this fight since I run a news publishing website that’s frequently accused of spreading false information about climate change. Scarcely a week goes by without a fact-checking agency concluding that an article we’ve published – often by Chris Morrison, the environment editor – is false or misleading. If support for free speech continues to deteriorate, it’s possible that in about five years I’ll be found guilty of ‘denialism’ and sentenced to hard labour.

One of the problems with criminalising ‘climate disinformation’ is there’s no infallible authority the courts could rely on to determine whether a particular claim about something climate-related is true or false. Advocates of net zero and other measures designed to reduce carbon emissions often use the term ‘climate deniers’ to describe their opponents, thereby persuading themselves that proving them wrong would be easy. But even the most hardened sceptics wouldn’t dispute that average global temperatures have increased in the past 150 years. Rather, the argument is about the role of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, in global warming and how much impact changing our behaviour would have. We also dispute just how catastrophic rising global temperatures are, and are unimpressed by the hyperbole of the environmental lobby (‘global boiling’). In other words, proving us wrong isn’t as straightforward as pointing to temperature data.

I suppose the prosecution could summon distinguished climate scientists as expert witnesses, but then so could the defence – for instance Dr John Clauser, last year’s joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, who’s just signed a declaration stating there is no climate emergency. No doubt the would-be jailers would invoke the ‘97 per cent of scientists agree’ canard, but not only is that stat dubious, it’s also a non-sequitur. As Einstein said when 100 physicists published a book rubbishing his theory of relativity: ‘Why 100? If I was wrong, one would have been enough.’

Perhaps Exhibit A for the prosecution would be a ‘fact check’ by a reputable news organisation. Last year Reuters took issue with a piece by Chris Morrison in which he noted that Arctic sea ice was making a comeback and the coverage was well above a 2012 low point. This was said to be ‘misleading’, although the figures came from an official EU weather source. Reuters’ experts said that the sea ice was not recovering, pointing to a declining trend over a longer time period. One of them didn’t dispute the ice had recovered since 2012, but said it was a ‘wiggle’ and should not be cited as evidence that ‘climate change isn’t real’, which Chris hadn’t claimed. Nevertheless, he was accused of ‘cherry-picking’, although the sea ice improvement continues to this day. Send him down m’lud.

Or maybe not. I doubt the evidence of an ‘independent fact-checker’ would be taken as gospel by a jury. A defence barrister could ask them during cross-examination why they never scrutinise the statements of climate alarmists like Greta Thunberg. Last week, she pulled out of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, claiming the sponsor, Baillie Gifford, ‘invests heavily in the fossil fuels industry’. But wasn’t that a tad ‘misleading’? A spokesman for Baillie Gifford says just 2 per cent of its clients’ money is invested in companies with businesses related to fossil fuels. But assertions such as Greta’s, along with her pretence that western governments have done ‘nothing’ to tackle climate change, are never fact-checked.

Setting aside the difficulty of securing convictions, what would be the point of criminalising ‘climate disinformation’? History teaches us that you cannot legislate against ‘fake news’. Far from stopping its spread, it just adds to its allure. As the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, the best way to counter what you think of as false speech is not enforced silence but more and better speech. If Nick Cowern is so sure he’s right, he shouldn’t be afraid to debate the ‘climate denialists’ in the public square.


Australia-California: A climate partnership made in la-la land

Last week, Australian ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd and California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a memorandum of understanding in Sacramento on climate change. It should have been called a memorandum of waffle, as both governments jointly promised to do precisely nothing.

In what seemed like a classic Freudian slip, Governor Newsom expressed shock at the level of interest in the MOU. “This is a hell of a turnout – we are not used to this many people, particularly for something like this,” he said. Of course, he was right.

After ploughing through 1600 words of waffle, the reader learns the MOU “does not create any legally binding rights or obligations and creates no legally recognisable or enforceable rights or remedies, legal or equitable, in any forum whatsoever”.

“This MOU may be modified at any time by mutual consent,” it concluded unnecessarily, given neither party agreed to do anything. The high point of the small section on “specific activities” was “organising joint symposiums, seminars, workshops … hosting trade and investment missions”, which in practice translates to more taxpayer-funded business-class flights across the Pacific.

Sky News host Chris Kenny says Australians are poised to learn a lot from California after Ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd was seen in a conversation with Governor Gavin Newsom which focused on a climate change deal. “It's a marriage made in heaven this climate deal, because California More
A better MOU would have spelled out how California’s and Australia’s energy policies have produced among the highest electricity prices in the world at the same time as their leaders have promised to reduce them, although even Newsom hasn’t had the audacity to promise household power bills would fall by $275 a year by 2025, as Labor did at the federal election last year.

California’s power prices are now the highest in the US, except for far-flung Hawaii and Alaska. In Los Angeles residents paid an average of 28c a kilowatt hour for electricity last month, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Statewide prices are more than 77 per cent above the national average, up from 37 per cent above in 2012. But, unlike Australians, at least Californians can move to states with lower prices. Despite California’s salubrious weather and natural beauty, residents have been leaving the nation’s most populous state in droves – at first pushed out by extreme Covid-19 measures, but increasingly by a cost-of-living and a broader socio-economic crisis.

The state’s population, according to the government’s own figures, has declined three years in a row, to 39 million. In total that’s almost 600,000 people, more than the population of Tasmania or Wyoming, between April 2020 and January this year.

The MOU also promised to convene “policy dialogues” with “suitable government administrators, regulators, legislators and thought leaders”. It’s uncertain whether renowned Swedish climate expert Greta Thunberg, who once derided nuclear power as “extremely dangerous”, will make the cut. Last year Thunberg acknowledged turning off nuclear power stations in Europe was a mistake given the huge increases in fossil fuel power generation that had led to.

Indeed, the word nuclear isn’t mentioned once in the MOU, which advocated instead for “participation and leadership of Indigenous peoples in climate action” and “nature-based solutions and climate-smart land management” – what on earth these mean is anybody’s guess. Solar and wind generated abut 25 per cent of electricity in both Australia and California last year, and each are near equally ambitious.

Despite the obvious advan­tages in reliable and emissions-free power, Australia has ruled out any nuclear energy generation (except in submarines) while holding fast to its 82 per cent renewable power target by 2030.

California has legislated 90 per cent by 2035, although the Golden State has one big advantage over Australia achieving its goal: nuclear energy. Unreliable power evangelists aren’t stupid enough to plunge their economies into darkness just yet, knowing that could turn voters against their utopian project. In January, California rescinded an earlier decision to shut down its last nuclear power station at Diablo, a 2.2-gigawatt facility that is the state’s single biggest source of power, providing a little more than 10 per cent energy.

In the similarly strong Democrat state of Illinois – which maintains a similar brand of Democrat politics as California – 11 nuclear power plants generate about 50 per cent of the state’s electricity and the average electricity price was about half of California’s in 2021, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

A more honest MOU would have included a pledge to ignore scientific and economic reality. In France, which generates around 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power and has the among the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in the world per capita, a law was passed in May to pave the way for the construction of another six to eight nuclear reactors, rather than plaster the French countryside with hideous solar panels and gigantic windmills.

“I’ve been around for a long time on the climate change debate,” Rudd said at the Sacramento launch. “Way back when I pronounced in Australia that climate change was the greatest economic, environmental and moral challenge of our generation I was ridiculed. I make no apology for saying it then. And I make no apology for repeating it now.”

California’s departing residents may disagree, pointing to other more pressing challenges. San Francisco’s social decline has become so egregious that tour guides have started offering “doom loop” tours. Major department stores are leaving the state or locking up their products. Parts of Los Angeles and San Francisco look increasingly like an open-air asylum.

Even as California’s population shrinks, violent crime and property crime have increased since 2020 by 11 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, according to the state attorney-general’s latest 2022 crime statistics.

Whatever agreements California and Australia make won’t make a scrap of difference to the global climate, given the near entirety of additional increases in carbon dioxide emissions now arise in India and China.

The idea of modern economies being powered entirely by wind and solar is a fantasy, technologically and economically, yet one that holds powerful sway among a very rich virtue-signalling elite, often living in gated communities, for whom California’s rising prices and crime mean relatively little.

California dreaming for the few, not the many.