Thursday, November 30, 2023

Eat Less Meat Is Message for Rich World in Food’s First Net Zero Plan

UN’s FAO is set to publish plan for food’s climate transition

Food expected to take more focus at COP28 summit in Dubai

The world’s most-developed nations will be told to curb their excessive appetite for meat as part of the first comprehensive plan to bring the global agrifood industry into line with the Paris climate agreement.

The global food systems’ road map to 1.5C is expected to be published by the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization during the COP28 summit next month. Nations that over-consume meat will be advised to limit their intake, while developing countries — where under-consumption of meat adds to a prevalent nutrition challenge — will need to improve their livestock farming, according to the FAO.

From farm to fork, food systems account for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and much of that footprint is linked to livestock farming — a major source of methane, deforestation and biodiversity loss. Although non-binding, the FAO’s plan is expected to inform policy and investment decisions and give a push to the food industry’s climate transition which has lagged other sectors in commitments.

The guidance on meat is intended to send a clear message to governments. But politicians in richer nations typically shy away from policies aimed at influencing consumer behavior, especially where it involves cutting consumption of everyday items.

“Livestock is politically sensitive, but we need to deal with sensitive issues to solve the problem,” said Dhanush Dinesh, the founder of Clim-Eat, which works to accelerate climate action in food systems. “If we don’t tackle the livestock problem, we are not going to solve climate change. The key problem is overconsumption.”

North America Has Biggest Appetite for Meat

The average American consumes about 127 kilograms of meat a year compared with 7 kilograms in Nigeria and just 3 kilograms in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the FAO data. The Eat-Lancet Commission recommends people consume no more than 15.7 kilograms of meat a year.

The Rome-based UN agency, tasked with improving the agricultural sector and nutrition, is seeking to strike a balance between the climate transition and ensuring food security for the growing global population. So as well as calling for less meat consumption for the world’s well fed, the plan would also encourage farmers in developing countries to bolster productivity of their livestock and supply more sustainably.


UK: The Tories have capitulated to green extremists

The Green Blob’s iron grip is squeezing the life out of our economy

We have long been told that the costs would be taken into account along with the benefits. We have been reassured that the burden would be eased on households and small businesses. And, more recently, we were led to believe that some of the more draconian measures would be scrapped.

Following Rishi Sunak’s reset of some net zero plans earlier this year, there was optimism that the Government was no longer capitulating to the more extreme wing of the green movement.

Yet, in the last week alone, we have heard reports of bans on gas hobs, a change to the rules to encourage uptake of heat pumps that no one wants, closures of refining plants and demands for even more taxpayer cash for electric vehicles.

In reality, the iron grip of the Green Blob is as tight as ever – and until the Conservatives find a way of breaking free, it will squeeze the life out of the economy.

By now, the UK was meant to have switched from the camp of the net zeros to that of the net sensibles. The Prime Minister had, quite rightly, recognised that turning a nation which accounts for only 1pc of global carbon emissions into a global leader on fighting climate change was becoming increasingly unaffordable.

The costs for hard-pressed households and small businesses, in particular, were simply too high.

He pushed back the deadline for banning the sale of petrol-driven cars from 2030 to 2035 (bringing it in line with the EU), relaxed the target for phasing out gas boilers, and scrapped plans to start fining landlords if they didn’t pay for expensive energy-saving upgrades.

Instead of leading a green crusade, the UK would sensibly assess the costs and benefits of each plan, wait to see what worked in the rest of the world, and then decide what would be cost effective in this country.

Yet in the last week alone, we have witnessed another whole series of crazy green targets.

In Oxford, the local council has unveiled plans to ban gas cookers and boilers in new homes from 2025, a decision that will drive up the cost of building in a part of the country where extra housing is desperately needed (and where life sciences and tech companies could be thriving if only people had somewhere to live).

If that goes ahead, we can be confident that virtue-signalling councillors will mimic the policy right around the country.

On heat pumps, rules have been relaxed so that people can place the cumbersome beasts closer to boundary walls regardless of how much noise it might cause to neighbours.

Instead of waiting for a better carbon-neutral technology to arrive, and there are plenty in development, the Government is insisting that we press on with a vastly expensive switch to heating systems that hardly work and no one wants.

In an Autumn Statement that was meant to be pro-business and pro-investment, the Chancellor still felt compelled to dish out another £2bn in subsidies to the auto industry for the switchover to electric vehicles.

That is despite falling sales to private buyers, as it becomes increasingly clear they may well be the wrong way of switching to carbon neutral transport.

Huge new subsidies have been offered earlier this month to the wind industry to keep it afloat, even though we have been lectured for years that it is the cheapest form of energy there is. It is hard to see how any of that fits into a strategy of switching to a more moderate policy on net zero.

In reality, the green fanatics are just as influential as they have ever been. The Government has managed to chip away at it very slightly. But it is having only a marginal impact.

The problem is profound and far-reaching. A range of bodies, where greenery is institutional, have taken control of the climate change agenda and keep ramping up every existing target.

The devolved administrations appear more interested in appeasing their green allies and supporters than protecting jobs and the local economy. And civil servants simply shrug off the change of government policy as irrelevant, while the legal system has been used by climate activists to impose mandated targets.

No one – well, almost no one – disagrees that climate change is important nor that we need to reduce carbon emissions. But that doesn’t mean that it can be achieved without taking full account of all the costs.

It doesn’t mean that the Government, despite its dire track record, should choose which technologies are best to achieve that. And it doesn’t mean that it should be done by picking arbitrary targets out of thin air at a climate change conference and sticking to them even when it is glaringly obvious that they are no longer realistic.

Under Sunak’s brief reset, the UK had an opportunity to embrace a more sensible approach, as indeed President Macron is doing in France, with plans to ramp up nuclear power, and even the Social Democrat-Green coalition in Germany, with old coal mines reopened as a backup for intermittent wind power.

We could have settled on a steady reduction in carbon emissions, but combined it with energy security, and made sure that costs were kept under control for households, and that industry had the power it needed to remain competitive on the global market.

Instead, the Green Blob has doubled down on a headlong rush towards net zero regardless of the expense.

Until that changes, the economy will keep on getting crushed by extreme environmentalism – and whatever ministers promise there is very little sign of that changing any time soon.


Siemens Energy plans to withdraw from wind power

As a consequence of the escalated ongoing disaster, Siemens Energy is considering a partial withdrawal from its onshore wind turbine business.

Christian Bruch illustrates the dimensions of the crisis. “We have the largest order backlog in the energy technology industry, and the success of the energy transition will require Siemens Energy,” emphasised the head of the DAX group during a memorable balance sheet presentation in Munich.

Until the evening before, the federal government and banks, Siemens Energy and parent Siemens had been negotiating to secure state guarantees that were vital for survival. Final details are still open, Bruch's answers showed. What is clear, however, is that the crisis-ridden company has reinsured 7.5 billion euros of the twelve billion euros that banks guarantee for major Siemens Energy projects and Siemens is liable for another billion euros. But everything is still far from good.

Siemens Energy does not want to supply the entire world with wind turbines in the future

As a consequence of the escalated ongoing disaster, Bruch is considering a partial withdrawal from the onshore wind turbine business where existing problems are concentrated. “When an area loses so much money, you have to question the strategy,” the manager realised after a three-year decline. In the past 2022/23 financial year alone (as of September 30th), the net loss was 4.6 billion euros on sales of 31 billion euros, after previous years had already seen lower red figures.


Australia: Former Letist cabinet minister lashes government over green litigant funding

Former Labor cabinet minister Joel Fitzgibbon has lashed the Albanese government over its decision to hand millions of dollars to help green litigants, accusing Labor of “financing job destroying legal challenges”.

In a speech to forestry industry leaders, the former Hunter MP said Labor had “handed taxpayers’ money to activists”.

The attacks come after Labor fulfilled its election promise to reverse funding cuts to the Environmental Defenders Office, providing $10m in funding to the community legal centre over the forward estimates.

The EDO is an legal organisation well known for its environmental advocacy, running high-profile cases against coal and gas developments.

Mr Fitzgibbon, the chair of the Australian Forest Products Association, said it made no sense for the government to fund activists to take legal action “against the very government that gave them the money”.

“Activists funded by rich donors - and indeed governments through the Environmental Defenders Office - are challenging value-creating projects in the law courts,” Mr Fitzgibbon said, in a speech delivered earlier this month that has been obtained by The Australian.

“In a wealthy, liberal democracy it makes sense to use taxpayers money to ensure all Australians have legal representation when they face a criminal conviction. But it makes no sense to hand taxpayers’ money to activists so they can take legal action against the very government that gave them the money.

“To challenge in the courts approvals processes the government rightly argues are as robust as any in the world.”

Labor pledged to reinstate funding for the EDO ahead of the last election in order to enable Australians to have access to the law.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek told The Australian Labor was “proud to be restoring funding to the Environmental Defenders Office, reversing cuts made by the Abbott government.”

“Every section of our community deserves legal advocacy. As does our previous environment. Unlike the Liberals and Nationals, we are not afraid of scrutiny and accountability,” Ms Plibersek said.

Government officials pointed out that the EDO was also funded under the Rudd and Gillard governments of which Mr Fitzgibbon was a Cabinet minister.

The Abbott government cut funding to the organisation following allegations of activist lawfare.

The EDO, first established in NSW in 1985, has used the courts to delay or squash major projects including the Adani coalmine in central Queensland, Santos’ Barossa gas proposad and forestry developments in Tasmania.

The body has received grants from groups including the Myer Foundation.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Fitzgibbon also attacked “extreme environmental activists” who he said “would destroy our sovereign capability in this country and destroy the jobs of the people who provide it”.

“AFPA provides me with an opportunity to do another thing I did for many years in politics – to take on the extreme environmental activists who, given the chance, would destroy our sovereign capability in this country and destroy the jobs of the people who provide it,” he said.

The EDO was contacted for comment.




Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Germany's green debt emergency

It looks like the government has found the most obvious solution to the problem: declare another state of emergency to allow more borrowing for the Green agenda.

While North American newspapers frown with concern at the resounding Dutch election victory of Geert Wilders, an arguably more interesting crisis in neighbouring Germany is being somewhat overlooked.

In 2021, Germany held a Bundestag election that led to an awkward coalition government, with participation from the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Euro-liberal Free Democrats (FDP). The FDP normally gets somewhere between five and 12 per cent of the vote in Germany, and more often than not is in a position to swing the national government either to the centre-left Social Democrats or the centre-right Christian Democrats.

This time out, the chairman of the Free Democrats, Christian Lindner, was handed the finance portfolio and promised to rein in the spending impulses of the Reds and the Greens.

The German Constitution has an unusual rule that was introduced in 2009: a “debt brake” that limits the federal deficit in any given year to 0.35 per cent of gross domestic product. This is a pretty tight limit, which can be waived only if there is a recession, or the government declares a public emergency. (The analogous figure for the Canadian federal government was 0.6 per cent for the second quarter of this year and 1.2 per cent for the first.)

The debt brake helped Germany (and Chancellor Angela Merkel) establish a reputation for marvellous fiscal rectitude in the decade after it was created. But the multiple blows heaped on German public finances by COVID and the Russo-Ukrainian war (when do we start capitalizing the W?) began to add up.

The previous German government declared an emergency in 2020 and created a coronavirus relief fund that was outside the envelope imposed by the debt brake. In December 2021, with lots of credit left in the COVID instrument, the new part-Green German government decided, hey, looks like we’ve got some free money we can invest in green energy measures.

It decided to put 60-billion euros (about C$90 billion) of the COVID fiscal room into encouraging electrified home heating and transport. But opposition politicians naturally saw this as an unconstitutional swindle and an abuse of emergency powers. The constitutional status of the debt brake allowed them to sue in federal court — and last week they won. Pretty resoundingly, as it happens.

This punched a huge hole in German finances, and on Tuesday a humiliated Lindner announced an immediate freeze on federal spending. Meanwhile, the coalition could no longer paper over its fundamental differences.

The Greens hate the debt brake and would like to see it eliminated — but the necessary constitutional change would require the support of two-thirds of the Bundestag, which ain’t happening. The Social Democrats, leading the coalition but floundering in the polls, are naturally reluctant to raise taxes to meet the crisis. Lindner and the Free Democrats would prefer to stand up for austerity, but not at the expense of their own popularity.

As of this writing, it looks like the triad has found the most obvious solution to the problem: declare another state of emergency to allow more borrowing for the Green agenda.


The Dutch revolt against Net Zero

One of the big losers of this week’s Dutch elections, in which right-winger Geert Wilders romped to victory, was Frans Timmermans, leader of a newly formed alliance of the Labour and Green parties. Timmermans is best known internationally as the former vice-president of the European Commission, where he was the architect and face of the EU’s flagship climate policy, the European Green Deal. To fans, he was hailed as the EU’s ‘climate pope’. Yet it is no exaggeration to say his stringent climate targets are set to impoverish Europe.

It seems the European mainstream media are finally taking note of the disastrous consequences of Timmermans’s Net Zero zealotry. Last week, Politico warned that his EU climate policies could be about to set off a wave of deindustrialisation on a scale we haven’t seen in 50 years.

The report asked the question: ‘Does the architect of Europe’s Green Deal truly understand what he’s unleashed?’ The answer can only be a resounding ‘Yes’.

The truth is that Timmermans is simply indifferent to deindustrialisation in the EU. Indeed, as noted in Politico, he ‘has been candid about the cost of his revolution’ and has warned that ‘the journey will be harder on some than on others’. Back in 2020, Timmermans admitted to the European Parliament that his wild goose chase for Net Zero would be ‘bloody hard’.

So who, precisely, is Timmermans asking to make sacrifices? Most of the burden of his green schemes will fall on the working class – both through job losses from factory closures and from ever rising energy costs.


The Green Energy Wall gradually coming into focus

It’s been obvious for many years that electricity generation from the intermittent wind and sun would never work to power a modern economy. But how would the infeasibility of the proposed energy transition finally manifest itself to put an end to the madness?

A couple of years ago I began writing about the the upcoming “Renewable Energy Wall,” for example in this piece from December 2021 titled “Which Country Or U.S. State Will Be The First To Hit The Renewable Energy Wall?” I called for readers to place their bets as to which among various jurisdictions would be the first to recognize that it could never achieve the net zero goal. But what would be the aspects of reality that would put an end to further renewable development? Would it be the soaring costs? Or perhaps the spreading blackouts? Or maybe the voters wising up? Or maybe other things that nobody had yet guessed?

Over the past few weeks and months, several parts of the coming Green Energy Wall have started to come into focus. The two factors that are emerging most significantly at this early stage are (1) voters starting to catch on, and (2) the inability of wind and solar developers to deliver projects at costs that are at all workable for consumers.

In the voter category, many places, particularly in Europe, have long had an all-party political consensus in favor of “climate action,” or some such nonsensical slogan, thus making it almost impossible for citizens to use their vote to push for any kind of sensible energy policies. But suddenly that is changing. First we had Argentina a week ago electing as President an avowed climate skeptic, Javier Milei.

And then on Wednesday, the Netherlands followed suit, giving the biggest bloc of seats in its Parliament to the party of another avowed climate skeptic, Geert Wilders. Wilders’s Freedom Party delivered a drubbing to both the “center right” party of the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as well as to a Labor/Green coalition headed by Frans Timmermans, who is the European Commission’s Vice President and a face for the EU’s noxious climate agenda.

Euro News today has some quotes from the manifesto of the Freedom Party:

[T]he PVV manifesto . . . declares: "We have been made to fear climate change for decades... We must stop being afraid." “The climate is always changing, for centuries,” the document goes on to say. "When conditions change we adapt. We do this through sensible water management, by raising dykes when necessary and by making room for the river. But we stop the hysterical reduction of CO2, with which, as a small country, we wrongly think we can "save" the climate.” The manifesto also calls for more oil and gas extraction from the North Sea and keeping coal and gas power stations open.


Some better ways to net zero

Australia’s ALP/Green government and their media mates are using subsidies, taxes, and propaganda in a lemming-style attempt to move the whole country to 82 per cent ‘renewable’ energy by 2030 and ‘Net Zero Emissions by 2050’. Canny Aussies are buying diesel generators.

If they persist in their rush to Net Zero, we have a few ‘Net Zero’ suggestions for them.

‘Net Zero Immigration’

Every migrant adds to Australia’s emissions by consuming food, electricity, transport fuels, and housing. Thus, to reach Net Zero emissions, the rest of us must be rationed further to cope with these additional emitters.

‘Net Zero Tourists’

Every tourist adds to our emissions for transport, food, electricity, and accommodation. To achieve Net Zero emissions in the face of millions of immigrants, tourists, and foreign students will need slick carbon accounting, or penury for the rest of us. Victoria’s Dan Andrews was accidentally right for once – he cancelled the Commonwealth Games.

‘Net Zero growth of welfare and the bureaucracy’

Net Zero will not allow us to import hundreds of foreign workers for our mines, factories, and farms while we maintain battalions of bureaucrats shuffling files in air-conditioned ivory towers in the capital cities. Nor can we accept growing armies of able-bodied idlers sipping green smoothies at the beach.

We must get all healthy Aussies into real jobs.

‘Net Zero growth in locked-up land’

Wind and solar energy are sterilising huge and growing areas of land to produce their intermittent electricity. This greatly reduces the land available to grazing, forestry, fishing, exploration, and mining.

It’s time to call a halt.

There must be a net zero increase in land devoted to national parks, marine parks, world heritage playgrounds, locked-up Native Title area, or carbon credit and green energy wastelands.

‘Net Zero lies about electric vehicles’

They have a fanciful plan to replace our petrol and diesel cars, trucks, dozers, and tractors with fleets of yet-to-be-built battery or hydrogen powered vehicles. Where are the fast-refuelling stations for them all? And who has counted the extra emissions to mine and refine the metals for batteries, electric motors, turbines, and power lines? And where will we get the extra electricity for overnight re-charging of battery-powered vehicles as coal generators close, the sun sets, and the wind drops? (They have discovered the answer in ever-green California – electric powered trucks are being recharged with diesel generators.)

‘No Subsidies for Hydrogen’

In this unplanned rush to all-green energy some extol the coming of hydrogen powered vehicles. To produce green hydrogen requires large amounts of electricity plus nine tonnes of water for every tonne of hydrogen produced by electrolysis. Some even think that it makes sense to use large amounts of electricity to desalinate sea water to make green hydrogen. Such a process is not even ‘net zero’. It is hugely energy negative. Obviously the main goal is to harvest green subsidies or votes.

‘No Subsidies for ‘Pumped Hydro’

Greens think taxpayers should fund giant dams and turbines to generate electricity when green energy is on strike – at night, on cloudy days, and during wind droughts.

Does that mean that Greens believe we can steal water from every river system for green energy stabilisation while reducing the water stored for towns, farms, and orchards?

Let’s have the first dam on the Franklyn River in Tasmania (they want to be ‘the battery of the nation’).

‘Full Accounting of all Emissions’

Who is counting all the emissions being generated to manufacture, transport, and erect an ugly intrusive spider-web of roads and power lines to collect intermittent solar and wind energy from mountains, flats, seas, and roof-tops? Where is the carbon and dollar accounting for the metals, concrete, and hydrocarbon fuels that are needed?

We must also count the emissions to manufacture and erect all their planned green energy stabilisation schemes involving pumped hydro and giant batteries. All of this is a dash into the unknown without a coherent plan of how it will all work, or its full cost.

‘We need a Climate-Exit Referendum’

We are locked into never-ending climate conferences and all the costs and eco-babble generated by Paris Climate Agreement.

They want us locked into 15 minute cities with bicycles, walking shoes, oat-milk coffee, and fake meat burgers while they jet off to a new well-fed tourist destination every year. We have copped these annual climate-fests for 26 years now. The last one catered for about 40,000 delegates and hangers-on for 2 weeks of talk-fest that achieved nothing useful (as usual).

Let’s have a Clexit (Climate Exit) Referendum and abandon all liabilities under the Kyoto and Paris Climate Agreements.

‘The Net Zero Prize’

Our reward for reaching our 2030 Net Zero Emissions targets will be a precarious population with industry operating on the whims of the weather and an angry, urbanised, locked-down population faced with food, fuel, and electricity rationing.

There is no global warming crisis, but Blackouts Bowen (Australia’s Minister for Climate Panics and Zero Energy) is determined to create an electricity crisis. Power grid failure will be followed quickly by failure of food and water supplies to cities. Hopefully Canberra, (Australia’s Green Capital) will be the first to suffer.

The rest of Australia must vote no to this dangerous Net Zero delusion.




Tuesday, November 28, 2023

ROWAN ATKINSON: Our honeymoon with electric vehicles is over so, for now, my advice is to hang on to your old petrol motor

His point about old cars is well taken. These days there is rarely any need to buy a new car. My 2004 Toyota Echo still runs like a watch and has never let me down. It has only ever needed wear and tear items replaced and routine maintenance

I love electric vehicles — and was an early adopter. But increasingly I feel duped.

Sadly, keeping your old petrol car may be better than buying an EV. There are sound environmental reasons not to jump just yet.

Electric motoring is, in theory, a subject about which I should know something. My first university degree was in electrical and electronic engineering, with a subsequent master's in control systems.

Combine this, perhaps surprising, academic pathway with a lifelong passion for the motorcar, and you can see why I was drawn into an early adoption of electric vehicles.

I bought my first electric hybrid 18 years ago and my first pure electric car nine years ago and (notwithstanding our poor electric charging infrastructure) have enjoyed my time with both very much.

Electric vehicles may be a bit soulless, but they're wonderful mechanisms: fast, quiet and, until recently, very cheap to run. But increasingly, I feel a little duped. When you start to drill into the facts, electric motoring doesn't seem to be quite the environmental panacea it is claimed to be.

As you may know, the Government has proposed a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. The problem with the initiative is that it seems to be largely based on conclusions drawn from only one part of a car's operating life: what comes out of the exhaust pipe.

Electric cars, of course, have zero exhaust emissions, which is a welcome development, particularly in respect of the air quality in city centres. But if you zoom out a bit and look at a bigger picture that includes the car's manufacture, the situation is very different.

In advance of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, Volvo released figures claiming that greenhouse gas emissions during production of an electric car are nearly 70 per cent higher than when manufacturing a petrol one.

How so? The problem lies with the lithium-ion batteries fitted currently to nearly all electric vehicles: they're absurdly heavy, huge amounts of energy are required to make them, and they are estimated to last only upwards of ten years.

It seems a perverse choice of hardware with which to lead the automobile's fight against the climate crisis.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of effort is going into finding something better.

New, so-called solid-state batteries are being developed that should charge more quickly and could be about a third of the weight of the current ones — but they are years away from being on sale, by which time, of course, we will have made millions of overweight electric cars with rapidly obsolescing batteries.

Hydrogen is emerging as an interesting alternative fuel, even though we are slow in developing a truly 'green' way of manufacturing it. It can be used in one of two ways. It can power a hydrogen fuel cell (essentially, a kind of battery); the car manufacturer Toyota has poured a lot of money into the development of these.

Such a system weighs half of an equivalent lithium-ion battery and a car can be refuelled with hydrogen at a filling station as fast as with petrol.

If the lithium-ion battery is an imperfect device for electric cars, concerns have been raised over their use in heavy trucks for long distance haulage because of the weight; an alternative is to inject hydrogen into a new kind of piston engine.

If hydrogen wins the race to power trucks — and as a result every filling station stocks it — it could be a popular and accessible choice for cars.

But let's zoom out even further and consider the whole life cycle of an automobile.

The biggest problem we need to address in society's relationship with the car is the 'fast fashion' sales culture that has been the commercial template of the car industry for decades.

Currently, on average we keep our new cars for only three years before selling them on, driven mainly by the ubiquitous three-year leasing model.

This seems an outrageously profligate use of the world's natural resources when you consider what great condition a three-year-old car is in.

When I was a child, any car that was five years old was a bucket of rust and halfway through the gate of the scrapyard. Not any longer. You can now make a car for £15,000 that, with tender loving care, will last for 30 years.

It's sobering to think that if the first owners of new cars just kept them for five years, on average, instead of the current three, then car production and the CO2 emissions associated with it, would be vastly reduced.

Yet we'd be enjoying the same mobility, just driving slightly older cars.

We need also to acknowledge what a great asset we have in the cars that currently exist (there are nearly 1.5 billion of them worldwide).

In terms of manufacture, these cars have paid their environmental dues and, although it is sensible to reduce our reliance on them, it would seem right to look carefully at ways of retaining them while lowering their polluting effect. Fairly obviously, we could use them less.

As an environmentalist once said to me, if you really need a car, buy an old one and use it as little as possible.

A sensible thing to do would be to speed up the development of synthetic fuel, which is already being used in motor racing; it's a product based on two simple notions: one, the environmental problem with a petrol engine is the petrol, not the engine and, two, there's nothing in a barrel of oil that can't be replicated by other means.

Formula One is going to use synthetic fuel from 2026. There are many interpretations of the idea but the German car company Porsche is developing a fuel in Chile using wind to power a process whose main ingredients are water and carbon dioxide.

With more development, it should be usable in all petrol-engine cars, rendering their use virtually CO2-neutral.

Increasingly, I'm feeling that our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end, and that's no bad thing: we're realising that a wider range of options need to be explored if we're going to properly address the very serious environmental problems that our use of the motor car has created.

We should keep developing hydrogen, as well as synthetic fuels to save the scrapping of older cars which still have so much to give, while simultaneously promoting a quite different business model for the car industry, in which we keep our new vehicles for longer, acknowledging their amazing but overlooked longevity.

Friends with an environmental conscience often ask me, as a car person, whether they should buy an electric car. I tend to say that if their car is an old diesel and they do a lot of city centre motoring, they should consider a change.

But otherwise, hold fire for now. Electric propulsion will be of real, global environmental benefit one day, but that day has yet to dawn


Federal Energy Efficiency Requirements Are Outdated and Should Be Repealed

Americans have experienced appliance inflation over the past few years, and it could be about to get worse as the Biden administration continues its onslaught of appliance regulations.

While blaming Washington bureaucrats is always a reasonable response, in this case, any problems that they are causing is a result of them exercising the authority granted to them by legislation passed at the height of the 1970’s energy crisis—the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

The act gives the Department of Energy authority to regulate nearly everything in a household that uses energy. While it doesn’t require the Department of Energy to continuously impose ever stricter standards, the reality is this is precisely what it does. Worse, this trend has worsened in recent years as the Biden administration freely uses the act to advance its extreme agenda with ever stricter government standards, using climate change as a primary justification.

While the Energy Policy and Conservation Act does grant the secretary of energy broad authority, current law also requires that certain factors, like the effect on cost and competition, the amount of energy saved, and the need for energy conservation in general, be taken into account. Unfortunately, Washington bureaucrats not only routinely ignore these requirements in any meaningful way but choose instead to focus on extraneous alleged benefits like climate change.

This could be expected, perhaps, because the underlying justification for the efficiency regime established by the act has largely dissipated over time. The act was born out of a time of perceived energy scarcity. But today, America has hundreds of years of known energy reserves, and new technology is allowing for new discoveries and more efficient use of existing reserves all the time.

In justifying the policies that act ultimately set in place, President Gerald Ford laid out three broad policy objectives. These included reducing oil imports, ending American vulnerability to economic disruption by foreign suppliers, and developing energy technology and resources to supply a significant share of the free world’s energy needs.

In each case, America has achieved Ford’s objectives.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act Has Lost Relevancy
In 1975, net imports of crude oil were close to 6 million barrels per day. By 2020, the United States had become a net exporter.

Geopolitical shocks and cartels, specifically the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, which produces about 40% of the world’s crude oil, can still have a near-term impact on American energy prices. However, due to the large amount of energy on global markets, energy disruptions do not present the sort of systemic threat that policymakers feared in the 1970s.

The extent to which the United States economy remains vulnerable is purely a function of energy restriction policies—like Biden’s recent decision to ban energy development in parts of Alaska—and have nothing to do with energy efficiency. Further, American technologies like fracking, the nation’s vast coal resources, and commercial nuclear reactors not only can keep America energy independent but also grow its role as a global supplier of energy.

Further, appliances of all sorts are becoming more efficient because that is what people want. While the consuming public considers many attributes of the purchases they make, including capability and upfront cost, efficiency is clearly something Americans value. The government does not need to compel efficiency; the market demands it.

America Is in an Era of Energy Abundance, Not Scarcity
America has ample energy reserves. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, in 2020, the United States held over 373 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude oil reserves, which would provide the U.S. with over 50 years of supply. The same is true for natural gas. The agency estimated in 2020 that the U.S. held 2,925.8 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas. At current consumption levels, that equates to nearly 100 years of supply.

Further, new discoveries are always occurring that would expand this supply over time, which is demonstrated by the growing availability of unconventional sources like oil shale. According to Energy Information Agency, the U.S. currently holds 195.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 1,712.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in unconventional reserves.


UK: Proposed Zero Emission Mandate part of
‘war on the car’

Net Zero Watch is warning that the new ‘Zero Emission Mandate’ is just the latest in a series of blows that the political establishment has struck at motorists, and says it will not be the last.

The mandate, currently being debated in Parliament, will see car manufacturers fined £15,000 for each car they sell above a prescribed quota, but with the scheme allowing unsold quota to be sold to other companies in the market, the effect will be a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

Motoring journalist James Ruppert says:

“Rich people, who can afford a Tesla, will be heavily subsidised by poor people who can’t. It’s a shameful idea.”

Ruppert’s comments coincide with the publication of his new paper for Net Zero Watch. Entitled The War on the Car, it is a brief history of how the political establishment has tried to force ordinary people out of cars, using a variety of tricks, from low emissions zones, to ever reducing speed limits, to the ongoing attempts to irritate motorists with driver ‘aids’.

Net Zero Watch director Andrew Montford said:

“James Ruppert’s paper shows that the campaign to take away our cars is just part of wider struggles: the attritional war of decarbonisation, and behind it the guerilla campaign to take away our hard-won freedoms. The writing is on the wall.”


Australian government throws more cash at renewables, but taxpayers foot the bill

The idea that Australia can become an energy superpower is impossible to square with taxpayers stumping up billions of dollars to subsidise renewable energy. If renewable energy is really so cheap – the cheapest form of generating electricity, according to embattled Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen – why would the operators need a guaranteed flow of funds from taxpayers? That’s not how markets work.

To be blunt, Australians have been sold a pup when it comes to the energy transition and the benefits that would flow from it. The notion it would be good for the economy, the climate and consumers is disingenuous – and that’s the best you can say. What has been obvious for some time but has dawned on Bowen only recently is that Labor’s grand plan to have 82 per cent of electricity generated by renewable sources by 2030 had become unachievable.

The commissioning of new large-scale renewable energy projects has slowed to a crawl and the rollout of the required new transmission lines is mired in local resistance, escalating costs and delay. The hope of the side – offshore wind turbines – also is looking forlorn.

Shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister Ted O’Brien has… clashed with Chris Bowen after the Labor MP refused to reveal the “true cost” of the expanded Capacity Investment Scheme. The Climate Change and Energy Minister announced the scheme last Thursday which will underwrite 32 gigawatts of new electricity, which More
The real tragedy of this story is the failure to appreciate the complicated features of the electricity grid and how government intervention generally worsens rather than improves outcomes.

In particular, the downside of large proportions of intermittent generation has been vastly underestimated. There is also a wilful ignorance of the vital role played by dispatchable 24/7 generation.

What has emerged is essentially two markets: a day market and a night market. During the day, it’s common for electricity prices to be negative, mainly as a result of the widespread and somewhat unexpected expansion of domestic rooftop solar panels. At night, prices are much higher and it’s when dispatchable power comes to the fore, particularly if the wind is not blowing.

Another important change has been to interest rates. When interest rates were extremely low, the cost of capital to investors was extremely low as well. Now that interest rates have returned to more normal levels, the cost of capital has increased markedly, particularly for renewable energy installations carrying a lot of debt. Add the escalation in the cost of hardware and the shortage of workers, and the result has been an uncongenial backdrop to large-scale renewable energy investment.

This combined with the fact several coal-fired stations are heading towards closure has led to a degree of panic by state energy ministers as well as Bowen. It is surely ironic that the Victorian Labor government, which frequently proclaims its green credentials, is financially supporting the continuation of two brown-coal-fired electricity plants at unknown expense to the taxpayer.

(Note here that coal-fired plants are not a good fit with intermittent energy as they work on the basis of constant spinning. The cost curves of these plants resemble a bath tub: they decline in their early years and rise sharply towards the end of their lives. For instance, it has been estimated that the annual maintenance bill for the Yallourn power station in Victoria is close to $200 million.)

The mistakes made in managing and attempting to transform the east coast grid are too many to list. Mainly driven by politics rather than engineering and economics, the result has been a fiasco.

One example is the planned Marinus Link connecting Tasmania and Victoria. Because of huge cost overruns, the link has been halved and won’t be completed until the next decade. The federal government has agreed to take on a larger share of the cost, relieving the Tasmania government from some of the burden.

We are told six wind farms in Tasmania won’t be viable with this smaller link. But here’s the thing: what made sense was for Tasmania to supply dispatchable power to Victoria to underwrite its renewable energy folly, not to incentivise more renewable energy on the Apple Isle. It’s just one example of woolly, flawed thinking.

So, having come to a clear fork in the road, Bowen has decided the government must direct even more money at renewable energy.

The capacity mechanism known as the Capacity Investment Scheme will be used to spur more investment in renewable energy.

It’s worth describing here what the normal role of capacity mechanisms is. They are used in several places overseas to provide dispatch­able power to grids when intermittent sources of power are unavailable. They are small relative to the size of the grid but involve gas and coal-fired plants being kept on standby.

The owners of these plants are paid to do so as well as for the power they generate if called on. There are several coal-fired plants in Britain, for instance, that are used in case of power shortages.

In what can be described only as an irrational decision, driven particularly by Victoria, our capacity mechanism includes only renewable energy and batteries, specifically barring coal and gas. It makes no sense at all and was driven entirely by ideology.

Bowen is proposing to lift the CIS from 6 gigawatts to 32GW using reverse auctions to underwrite the returns of renewable energy operators, with taxpayers picking up the tab. Where prices are below the strike price, operators will be compensated, but if the prices rise above that level, refunds are payable. The contracts may last for up to 15 years. It’s just another form of government subsidy following on from the Renewable Energy Target.

The key here is that Bowen wants taxpayers to bear the cost year in, year out – total dollar outlays unknown – of this intervention and thereby shield electricity consumers from even higher prices. It’s essentially smoke and mirrors because the costs still have to be borne one way or another. It’s astonishing that Jim Chalmers is going along with this proposal given the pressures the Treasurer faces to manage the budget better lest ongoing inflationary pressures persist.

There is a fair chance that Bowen’s plan B won’t work even though the higher subsidies should induce some additional renewable energy investment. The growing local resistance in the regions and the rapidly rising costs of renewable energy projects are counter forces. It’s why the minister has an equivocal position in respect of gas because open-cycle gas peaking plants are the obvious complement with renewable energy to firm the system.

It also opens the door to the Coalition to make the case for nuclear. It’s a centralised system that can use existing sites and transmission lines. It also provides prized 24/7 power. Other countries are accelerating their investments in nuclear power. We need to take note.




Monday, November 27, 2023

Historic Dutch election results are a victory for climate realism

The historical victory of the PVV (Party for Freedom) in the Dutch General Elections of November 22nd was primarily linked to the theme of immigration. But let’s not forget that the PVV has also been a climate sceptic party for years now. The party doesn’t want money-consuming climate plans (i.e. CO2 reduction). Here’s what the party manifesto says:

“For decades now, we have been frightened by predictions of climate change doom. And although the projected disaster scenarios – about the world coming to an end – grew more extreme over the years, none of them ever become true.

We should stop being scared. The Netherlands is a smart country: we have the best water engineers in the world. Many years ago, our Delta Commissioner said we live in the safest delta in the world, we are well protected and there is no reason for panic.

The climate always changes and has been changing for centuries. When circumstances change, we adapt to them. We do that through sensible water management, by raising dikes when necessary and by giving rivers more space. But we should stop the hysterical reduction of CO2, an action we, a small country, wrongly think can ‘save’ the climate.

The Netherlands is responsible for less than half of a percent of the total global emission of CO2. In answer to questions of the PVV, the Minister (of Climate) admitted that his climate program with 122 measures, would only lead to a reduction of global warming by 0,000036 degrees. The amount of CO2 that The Netherlands avoids emitting with these measures, is compensated by the amount that China emits in less than one day. And the cost of all this is 28 billion euros! This has nothing to do with reality, it is all about climate ideology and delusions of grandeur.

And for this unaffordable insanity, we should change our entire way of living: our coal-fired power plants are being closed, while there are hundreds of them built in Asia as we speak. Our houses will no longer use natural gas, at the cost of tens of thousands of euros, while natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel. Our country is being crammed with dismal wind turbines, while local residents literally get sick because of them. They want us to use heat pumps and electric cars, while our power grid – that used to be one of the most reliable in the world – can’t cope with demand. We must fly less, eat less meat; it never stops.

The PVV says: there is no way we are going to do that! The Climate Law, the Climate Agreement and all the other climate measures will go directly to the paper shredder. No more wasting of billions of euros for pointless climate hobbies, but more money for our people.

The energy bill has risen to record highs over the past few years. Many hundreds of thousands of people live in energy poverty. This year, the average energy bill will rise by many hundreds of euros. More than half of that is due to higher taxes! The Dutch energy tax on natural gas, is amongst the highest in all Europe. The Dutch are being squeezed. That’s why the PVV wants to lower the energy tax and VAT on energy.”

Five years ago, FvD (Forum for Democracy) won the local (Provincial) elections, with climate as an important theme. This year BBB (Farmer-Citizen Movement) won the Provincial Elections with their critical views on nitrogen. There are enough clues that lots of citizens have had enough of the unrelenting nagging about climate and nitrogen fertilizer, despite the massive media support of climate alarmism day after day.


Offshore Wind Cannot Be Justified

Offshore wind facilities are enormously expensive and environmentally destructive. The primary purported justification for constructing them is to reduce “carbon” (carbon dioxide or CO2) emissions and save the planet from “catastrophic climate change.” However, this justification is not just built on a false premise; adding offshore wind to a state’s energy mix will most likely increase global CO2 emissions. That means the net emission benefits are hugely negative, as are other net environmental and economic effects.

This study finds that carbon dioxide reductions from local (state and national, as opposed to global) wind power generation are greatly overstated. For starters, any CO2 decrease will be small at best, largely because the intermittency of necessary wind speeds forces backup gas-fired power emissions to increase when the wind isn’t blowing. (Sufficient backup electricity from battery modules is also hugely expensive, heavily reliant on raw materials that are in short supply, and likely a decade or more away.)

The net result is that adding offshore wind to the existing coal, gas and nuclear and/or hydroelectric power system, though modestly lowering emissions at first glance, does little to reduce local power emissions overall because of the gas (or coal) backup generation now needed to maintain a stable grid.

But the story gets worse.

Often overlooked are the other factors associated with wind energy that actually drive up emissions. For example, supply chain emissions from constructing offshore wind facilities to replace existing generation facilities will be very large. Supply chain emissions include those arising from all the steps required to create an offshore wind facility: mining and processing the necessary metals and minerals, manufacturing components, constructing turbines and substations on site, and operating, maintaining, replacing, and ultimately decommissioning and landfilling worn out, damaged and obsolete equipment. They also include the myriad transportation steps along the way, via ship or truck.

These supply chain emissions are global and add to the global atmosphere. Thus, the net result of combining small local CO2 reductions with large increases in emissions via the supply chain is not a reduction in global atmospheric CO2, but an overall increase of atmospheric CO2.

In short, the “emission reduction” justification touted by proponents of building offshore wind facilities is simplistic and false.

Finally, another justification for building wind farms is that they benefit local job creation. This too is by-in-large false. One reason is that such jobs are subsidized by local electric power ratepayers that will likely see their electricity prices soar, leading to layoffs in many businesses and the closing of businesses and entire industries – making the net benefit minimal, zero or even negative. Even worse, much of the ratepayer and taxpayer money behind offshore wind facilities will go overseas, because that is where the supply chain exists. In short, the jobs created by wind energy should be viewed as costs, not benefits.

Moreover, few local jobs will be created directly by offshore wind energy facilities, because building them is a simple assembly project, not a construction project. This is because the parts being assembled are primarily manufactured and fabricated overseas. These include the towers, turbines, blades, connecting cables, substations and transformers. Adding insult to injury, assembling offshore turbines is typically done by highly specialized ships primarily provided by foreign nations.

Local or US jobs are likely to be relatively few and even low-paying installation, maintenance, repair, decommissioning and recycling/landfilling jobs. Factory jobs manufacturing offshore wind turbine components will likely disappear, because US factories will no longer have reliable, affordable power in a wind-solar-battery-backup-gas-turbine economy; will be faced with hiring highly paid American workers; and thus will not be able to compete with Asian and other foreign competitors.

Also on the local level, once the actual overseas emission increases and local reductions are known, it is possible to calculate a cost per ton of carbon dioxide reduction. This number is likely to be very large, certainly in the thousands of dollars per ton and possibly much more. Moreover, supply chain costs will almost assuredly grow because critical raw material shortages are predicted as demand increases.

This study is only and initial examination of the complex issues surrounding the alleged justification for massive offshore wind development. For illustrative purposes, we have used a few simple examples, such as New Jersey’s 11,000-MW offshore wind target and emissions created along the supply chain for installing mostly monopile turbines.

However, our findings are more general in scope and application. In brief, for all offshore wind installations:

A. Local power system emission reductions will be small.

B. Supply chain emissions will be large.

C. Global emissions will therefore increase, not decrease.

Conclusion 1: There are no carbon dioxide emission reduction benefits, and thus no manmade climate change amelioration justifications for offshore wind development.

Our secondary findings explain in greater detail why this is so.

A. Any local jobs created will be exorbitantly costly when US wage scales, “clean energy” subsidies and ratepayer increases are factored in, and thus are likely to be relatively few and low-paying.

B. Many existing local jobs will disappear, as electricity costs replace fossil fuel costs and rise steadily – resulting in layoffs in many economic sectors and reduced spending by cash-strapped families.

C. Supply chain costs are bound to go up due to rising US and global demand for and looming shortages of essential metals and minerals.

Conclusion 2: Offshore wind projects and infrastructure are tremendously expensive, will provide pricey intermittent electricity, and thus will destroy numerous American jobs while supporting few long-term jobs that offer similar wages.

Conclusion 3: Offshore wind projects and infrastructure inflict numerous other costs that thus far have not been factored into any cost-benefit analyses for the industry.

Conclusion 4: The net “carbon” (carbon dioxide) reduction effects of offshore wind development are thus hugely negative and cannot justify further investments in this industry. ?


Mounting Evidence That ‘Net-Zero’ Carbon Emissions Isn’t Achievable

Arizona State University President Michael Crow believes we are in such danger that we should amend the U.S. Constitution to empower the government to deal more expansively with climate change. Crow’s view that constitutional protections of our liberties should be eliminated when they become inconvenient wouldn’t square with the founders, but his estimate of the dangers and required remedies for our changing climate are quite mainstream in our society.

“Net zero by 2050” has become an article of faith among our corporate and academic elites, no longer requiring proof or intellectual defense. The notion that we must eliminate or “offset” all carbon emissions by mid-century if we want to save the planet is the organizing principle for ESG investing. ESG is the consideration of environmental issues, social issues, and corporate governance issues when deciding what companies to invest in. In 2022, it was mentioned more than 6000 times in corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC has “helpfully” proposed climate disclosure rules for companies to help investors “evaluate the progress in meeting net-zero emissions and assessing any associated risk.” Skeptics are sidelined as “climate deniers.”

But mounting scientific evidence suggests that net zero is wildly impractical and probably not even achievable. In September, the Electric Power Research Institute, the research arm of the U.S. electric power industry (which would seem to be naturally inclined to support proposals that increase reliance on electricity), released a sober report on the practicality of net zero.

Their study concluded that “clean electricity plus direct electrification and efficiency … are not sufficient by themselves to achieve net-zero economy-wide emissions.” Translation: it can’t be done. No amount of wind turbines, solar panels, battery power, fossil fuel, or other available technologies will achieve net zero by 2050.

Furthermore, even “deep carbonization”—drastic reductions in atmospheric carbon levels—is an impossible dream. With natural gas and nuclear generation forced to the sidelines, that would require options like carbon removal technologies, which would cost a quadrillion (million billion) dollars, which would … well, you get the picture.

Finally, the report concludes living in a net-zero world may not be all that great. Supply chains operating only on electricity and the reliability and resiliency of a net-zero electricity grid could be highly problematic.

The response to this nonpartisan and obviously consequential report was silence. There has been essentially no media coverage. No climate activists rushed to dispute the methodology nor challenge the conclusions.

This is a significant tell. You could assume if the eco-activists were genuinely concerned about our climate future, they would have some interest in responding to this major challenge to their assumptions. But they ignored it to cling to their groupthink.

Yet other indications that the transition to renewable fuels is already off the tracks keep coming. The government-certified North American Electric Reliability Corporation recently issued its 2022 Long-Term Reliability Assessment. It concluded that fossil fuel plants were being removed from the grid too quickly to meet electricity demand, putting us at risk for energy shortages and even blackouts during extreme weather.

But wait, there’s more.

PGM International, a large grid operator in the Northeast, recently released projections indicating it will soon lose 40,000 megawatts, or 21% of its generation capacity. The looming plant closures are mostly “policy-driven” by onerous Environmental Protection Agency regulations and mandatory ESG commitments.

Renewables, although lavishly subsidized by government to replace the lost electricity, consistently underperform and will be able to produce—at most—half of the electricity lost. Meanwhile, the government is perversely mandating electric vehicles, appliances, and whatever that will drain more electricity from the grid precisely when the grid has less to give.

Finally, the repeated assertions of “settled science” when it comes to climate change were unsettled by 1,609 scientists and professors worldwide signing a “No Climate Emergency” declaration. The document was issued by Climate Intelligence or Clintel, a nonpartisan, self-funded, independent organization of scholars whose only agenda is “to generate knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of climate change and climate policy.”

The scholars point out that there is no basis for claiming an upcoming existential crisis. Carbon dioxide is not primarily a pollutant but a necessary basis for life. Moreover, there is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying natural disasters. Panic is dangerous, with the potential to plunge us into perpetual poverty.

They charge that climate science has degenerated into a discussion based on unsubstantiated beliefs, not on “self-critical science.” Historians of the future, reflecting on our era of hyper-politicized science, will undoubtedly agree.


Australian Left takes on Greens over gas with deal to add supply, lower price

Australians will be promised a boost to gas supply in a Labor move to ease pressure on energy prices, setting up a test for the Coalition and the Greens to back the federal changes or be blamed for deepening the nation’s cost-of-living crisis.

The federal government will reveal two energy deals to fix a looming gas shortage under an industry regime the Greens are seeking to block, raising the stakes in a Senate vote on Monday on the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

In a spate of domestic policy moves, the government is also poised to announce a deal to increase environmental flows in the Murray-Darling river system, claim a $250 million consumer saving from its changes to medicine prescriptions and unveil draft law to reform the Reserve Bank.

Parliament meets on Monday for the final sitting fortnight of the year with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seeking a focus on domestic policy after arguments with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton over China, the release of detainees from indefinite detention and the response to conflict in the Middle East.

With retail energy prices rising, the government has been under pressure to boost gas supplies using the code it introduced this year to fix prices at $12 per gigajoule and force producers to meet local demand, in tandem with separate restrictions on coal.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has struck deals with gas exporters Senex and Australia Pacific LNG to divert 300 petajoules to the domestic market over the next six years, with both commitments starting this month.

The gas will be supplied under enforceable undertakings that exempt Senex and APLNG from the price cap but expose them to action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission if they do not meet their pledges.

With about 140 petajoules promised by the end of 2027 under the new deals, the outcome initially adds 35 petajoules to the domestic market on average every year. The ACCC estimates household, commercial and industrial demand adds up to 447 petajoules each year.

The Greens are seeking to halt the gas code by moving a motion in the Senate to disallow the regulations Bowen put in place in July, which will force Labor to rely on the Coalition to keep the code in place. The Coalition voted against the legislation to set up the regime last December, making the disallowance motion on the code another test of its stance.

Greens treasury spokesperson Nick McKim has welcomed measures to cut prices but accused the government of encouraging new gas fields to be developed under the code.




Sunday, November 26, 2023

Experts Raise Alarm After Biden Strikes Agreement With China To End ‘Fossil Fuels’

U.S. energy experts are warning of the economic and national security implications of President Biden’s pact with China this week to move towards shutting down ‘fossil fuel’ production in favor of ‘green’ energy

The State Department announced this week it had struck a deal with its Chinese counterparts pledging to “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation” with ‘green’ energy sources like wind and solar power.

The nations, which account for nearly half of global ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions, also agreed to “deepen policy exchanges” on reducing ‘carbon’ emissions in various sectors, like power, industry, buildings, and transportation, across their economies.

But the agreement — in which the nations further pledged to “sufficiently accelerate renewable energy deployment in their respective economies through 2030” — was criticized over its potential impact on U.S. consumers.

Experts also noted that China has rarely followed through on international accords and stands to financially benefit from such an agreement since it controls much of the world’s green energy supply chain.

“The agreement speaks heavily about advancing — doubling down and tripling down on renewables, wind and solar. The majority of them are made in China,” Daniel Turner, the founder and executive director of Power The Future, told Fox News Digital in an interview.

“So, you’re basically writing an agreement that guarantees China a customer and guarantees their manufacturing sector decades of purchasing. Of course, China would love this agreement. And their obligations — they’ll just ignore that. They’ve ignored every other obligation,” Turner added. “It is basically guaranteeing China decades of wealth, guaranteeing America is going to buy their products.”

In addition, the U.S. and China pledged under the agreement Tuesday to advance five large-scale carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects by the end of the decade.

‘Carbon capture’ is a nascent and expensive technology that is designed to catch a power plant’s emissions before they can enter the atmosphere, but it hasn’t been deployed at any power plant nationwide.

The agreement was finalized during Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s meeting with Chinese Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua in Sunnylands, California, last week. And it came shortly before Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco.

“The cooperative initiatives outlined by the State Department will create make-work for bureaucrats, subsidies for rent-seekers, photo ops for local politicians, and new opportunities for Chinese agents of influence and industrial spies,” Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Marlo Lewis told Fox News Digital.

“The effect on climate change, if any, will be negative, as the ‘cooperation’ will nudge the United States closer to Beijing-style central planning, production quotas, and groupthink,” he continued.

Overall, while the U.S. is the largest global producer of oil and gas, which still drives every major industry from transportation and power to manufacturing and construction, Chinese companies have established a major foothold in green energy markets.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China produces about 75 percent of all lithium-ion batteries, a key component of electric vehicles (EV), worldwide. The nation also boasts 70 percent of [cathode production capacity] and 85 percent for anodes, two key parts of such batteries.

In addition, more than 50 percent of lithium, cobalt, and graphite processing and refining capacity is located in China, the IEA data showed. Those three critical minerals, in addition to copper and nickel, are vital for EV batteries and other ‘green’ energy technologies.

Chinese investment firms have also been aggressive in purchasing stakes in African mines in recent years to ensure firm control over mineral production.

China also continues to dominate the global solar supply chain even as Western nations attempt to increase domestic manufacturing capabilities.

According to a July 2022 IEA report, China has a greater than 80 percent share in all the manufacturing stages of solar panels [production].

China further produces a staggering 95 percent of all global polysilicon, ingot, and wafer supplies necessary for solar products.

“After ESG extremists like Larry Fink met with Chinese Dictator Xi Jinping this week, the Biden Administration reaffirmed its commitment to China to push climate policies that will effectively destroy the U.S. energy industry in favor of ‘green’ energy initiatives that rely on China’s production of solar panels and batteries,” Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, an advocacy group, told Fox News Digital.

“Consumers are fed up with EV mandates, gas appliance bans, and other climate initiatives the Biden Administration continues to peddle,” he said.

“Clearly, climate alarmism remains a higher priority to President Biden than ensuring American consumers have access to affordable energy and consumer goods. Consumers’ Research will continue to call out these ideologically-driven policies that hurt American consumers while helping the Chinese Communist Party.”

While China has established a stranglehold of green energy supply chains, it has also led a massive expansion of coal power to sustain its massive economy.

In 2022, the nation permitted a whopping 106 gigawatts of new coal power capacity, roughly quadrupling the amount permitted in 2021, an analysis published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air and Global Energy Monitor showed.

According to the American Geosciences Institute, burning coal produces more ‘carbon’ emissions compared to burning any other ‘fossil fuel’. Coal power can have as much as twice the ‘carbon footprint’ of natural gas.

China already accounts for about 27 percent of total global ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions, according to Rhodium Group. The nation’s emissions output is equivalent to triple the total of the U.S., which is the world’s second-largest emitter.

“The Sunnylands agreement is nothing more than political sop from Communist China to try to help Biden and Kerry politically, and to keep the America-hurting climate hoax going,” Steve Milloy, a senior legal fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, told Fox News Digital. “The agreement does not bind China to cut emissions or to do anything else of importance.”

“But keeping the climate hoax alive is very important to China for three reasons: 1) climate spending and climate regulations hurt the U.S. economy and help the Chinese economy; 2) mandates for green technology deepen U.S. dependence on China for that technology; and 3) both of the aforementioned compromise US national security and further China’s goal of becoming the lone global superpower by 2049,” Milloy continued.

And Jason Isaac, the CEO and founder of The American Energy Institute, told Fox News Digital that the agreement was “laughable” since it states China remains committed to the 2015 Paris Accords.

“Not a single country complies with the Paris Agreement, not even France. The Paris Agreement is based on the false premise that CO2, a trace gas that makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere, is causing catastrophic warming,” Isaac said.

“It’s not, and China knows it. That’s why the global consumption of coal in 2022 increased by 9%, and China built two coal plants per week to generate affordable, reliable electricity.”

“Xi knows that the grid in America is getting crushed under the weight of a so-called energy transition. Over 80 percent of our reliable thermal generation from natural gas and coal will age out in the next two decades,” he added. “Instead of aging out, we need to build new generation more than ever.”

“Yet, the current administration is making new, reliable electric generation construction nearly impossible. Biden’s bailout of China has turned our foreign policy to ‘China first, America last.’”


Heating Your Home: More Difficult, More Expensive

Remember when we said government bureaucrats were coming for our gas stoves? Remember how they insisted up and down they weren’t going to do it?

“To be clear,” said Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Alexander D. Hoehn-Saric at the time, “[we are] not looking to ban gas stoves, and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.” Turns out it wasn’t an outright ban, but a regulatory squeeze that would act in the same manner.

Later, during the summer, we revealed that Congress was on to the ruse. “There are other rulemakings under consideration for dishwashers, refrigerators, water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, and other household appliances under the guise of improving energy efficiency as proscribed by the Environmental Policy and Conservation Act,” explained Texas Congressman Pat Fallon, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs.

As winter approaches, though, many Americans rely on their furnace to keep their homes warm. For many in urban areas, that furnace burns natural gas to provide the heat, while rural areas generally have a propane system. In both cases, consumers have essentially decided that they prefer the warmth of a gas furnace, but that’s not good enough for the regulatory do-gooders in the Biden administration. Back in September, the Department of Energy proposed stringent new regulations that would eliminate much of the current gas furnace technology by 2028.

That was step one. Now, in the wake of the most recent National Climate Assessment — an assessment rigged to make it appear we’re in a crisis — the regime has decided to dust off the 1950 Defense Production Act to reward the makers of electric heat pumps to the tune of $169 million in “investments” and game the home heating market still further.

“Today’s Defense Production Act funds for heat pump manufacturing show that President Biden is treating climate change as the crisis it is,” says ancient bureaucrat and longtime Beltway insider John Podesta, who was once chief of staff for Bill Clinton and is now our nation’s “clean energy czar.” “These awards will grow domestic manufacturing, create good-paying jobs, and boost American competitiveness in industries of the future.” This might almost make sense, except the funds are going to several multinational corporations — meaning there’s no real guarantee of domestic job creation.

It didn’t take analysts long to put two and two together. As energy expert Robert Bryce pointed out: “Some of America’s richest NGOs are pushing policies that ban the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses. While they claim the ban on gas is needed to address climate change, these bans will result in dramatic increases in energy costs and impose a regressive tax on the poor and the middle class.” Bryce also cited Energy Information Administration data stating that average homeowners who heat with electricity will pay a 77% premium this winter over those homeowners who can heat with gas. For a home in the snowy Northeast, the electricity toll is $1,465, compared to just $761 for gas. These are the numbers provided by the same federal government that’s trying to regulate away both gas furnaces and the production of electricity from natural gas sources. Yet natural-gas-powered electricity is still necessary as a backup plan if the favored “renewable” wind and solar power isn’t available.

Furthermore, “Biden’s action to promote heat pumps was ‘necessary’ because Biden’s new regulations on gas furnaces will make them unaffordable where they aren’t unavailable,” explained PJ Media’s Stephen Green. “When the new regs go into effect in 2028, Biden’s rules mandate that all new gas furnaces operate at 95% efficiency, up from today’s 80%. The non-condensing furnaces used in most homes almost certainly won’t make the cut.”

While there are already duly efficient gas furnaces on the market, the difference comes from the expensive process of sealed combustion. This brings outside air directly into the furnace via additional retrofitted ductwork, which is required to convert an 80% efficient furnace to a 95% one.

So here’s the bottom line: Through the onerous power of regulation, the Biden administration is trying to eliminate natural gas as a fuel source. Why? Because it’s inexpensive and reliable and was once considered “clean” but has fallen out of favor with environmentalists, who now prefer that we use less reliable but more profitable solar and wind power, for which components are generally not available domestically but are sold to us by a nation with missiles pointed at us — China.

As we see it, this is awe-inspiring stupidity. But elections have consequences.


Unrealistic Plans to Crack Down on U.S. Power Plant Emissions Won’t Work

The Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new plan that would limit carbon emissions from power plants, despite rising electricity demand. Its stated intention is to force utilities to rely much more heavily on hydrogen and other green fuels, coupled with carbon capture technologies, to generate electricity.

The EPA’s proposed rule would force power plant owners to decide virtually overnight whether to install unproven and absurdly expensive carbon capture technologies or close their plants altogether to meet emission reduction targets—an unreasonable choice that’s being presented at a time when the U.S. Energy Department estimates that the U.S. will need to double its generating capacity by 2050 just to keep up with soaring electricity demand.

The likely consequences couldn’t be clearer. As James Robb, president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, recently warned at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) annual reliability conference, the “rapid, often disorderly transformation of the generation resource base” has increased the potential for “more frequent and more serious long-duration reliability disruptions, including the possibility of national-consequence events.” Translation: The rush to eliminate fossil fuels from the electric power mix could potentially expose America to large-scale brownouts or blackouts.

We’ve been down this road before

President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, promulgated in 2015 under the authority of the Clean Air Act of 1970 (as amended), sought to replace coal-fired electricity with renewables and more environmentally friendly natural gas. Last year, a six-to-three Supreme Court majority struck down that plan, ruling in West Virginia v. EPA that the plan overstepped the EPA’s regulatory authority.

Going further than Obama’s original Clean Power Plan, which at least acknowledged the importance of natural gas, the Biden administration’s response to such worries has been to double down on restrictions: proposing to eliminate the coal and gas-fired power plants that keep America’s machines running and our lights on.

This, Clair Moeller, president and COO of Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., told the FERC conference, “is bringing about a level of complexity and risk that is unprecedented.”

Given current technologies, the presumption that renewables can entirely replace coal’s baseload power is a fantasy. Wind and solar power are intermittent, whereas coal plants supply electricity around the clock, day in and day out. Moreover, power from coal-fired plants is dispatchable on demand because many utilities maintain large coal supplies on-site.

Green dreams and extravagant flops

The current debates about power generation focus on its environmental impacts rather than on the reliability of the grid that delivers power to homes and businesses. Coal and natural gas-fired generators not only are essential for supplying reliable baseload power but also as backup power sources when renewables are offline. The efficiency of solar panels degrades in extreme heat or cold. Windmill blades spin only when air is moving past them, and despite its greenness, nuclear power cannot be ramped up or down quickly in response to changes in electricity demand.

That’s why utilities and major grid operators are voicing concerns about grid reliability and the prospect of significant power shortages.

Green dreams aside, coal continues to generate a significant proportion of America’s electric power—about 19% overall. In some states the percentages are much higher: 74% in Missouri, 57% in Indiana, 70% in Kentucky, 41% in Colorado, 42% in Wisconsin, 61% in Utah, and 90% in West Virginia. All told, coal is the most important source of power generation in 18 states.

Another part of the story is that the U.S. currently lacks the infrastructure (transmission capacity) for carrying wind and solar energy from rural areas or offshore sites to population and manufacturing centers. Building out the needed infrastructure will require significant spending, which ultimately will rest on the shoulders of taxpayers or utility customers.

For years, NERC officials have been warning that the rapid loss of baseload power plants poses risks to America’s reliable electricity supply. The question now is how many shuttered coal plants will have to be brought back into operation—as Germany has been forced to do to keep people there from freezing in the dark during the winter—to reduce the gap between electricity demand and supply.

Just because a technology for generating power is technologically feasible doesn’t make it economically viable. Even a billion-dollar subsidy didn’t stop the giant Danish energy conglomerate, ├śrsted, from walking away from a major wind farm project off New Jersey’s shores.

One of the lessons learned from that extravagant flop is that fossil fuels will be essential for the foreseeable future despite the administration’s unrealistic plans.


Australia’s regulatory environment ‘killing’ $91bn LNG industry, says Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher

Australia’s $91bn LNG export industry is being “killed” by regulatory ambiguity that has been used by opponents to hinder work on several gas developments and deterring much-needed inward investment, the chief executive of energy giant Santos has warned.

Environmental advocates have in recent months won a spate of legal victories to suspend work on new gas developments – a tactic that has badly affected Santos especially.

The company’s $5.3bn Barossa development has been hampered by two legal challenges that threaten the production timetables for a project that Santos has earmarked to fuel future growth.

Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher said the legal challenges have been permitted by regulatory ambiguity around who a company must consult and consider when developing environment plans, and that threatens Australia’s broader LNG market.

“Nothing will drive investment away faster than this regulatory environment,” Mr Gallagher said. “The uncertainty is killing us.”

The warning to Australia’s $91bn LNG export industry is the latest in a string of alarms raised by Australia’s gas industry, which has claimed legal-induced delays to projects will threaten local and regional energy security and inflame diplomatic tensions.

Nations in Asia that are energy resource poor – notably Japan, Korea and China – are major buyers of Australian LNG shipments and have moved to lock in supplies with co-investments in new projects.

But Australia’s perceived willingness to allow legal blocks to new developments had potentially dire consequences for the region. Japan’s former ambassador, Shingo Yamagami, said Australia in March was “quiet quitting” LNG.

Anthony Albanese insists his government understands the vital role of gas to the country’s $2.5tr economy but critics said its lack of urgency in limiting legal avenues to slow LNG developments indicates its commitment to the fuel source.

The federal government insists it will move on the issue, and earlier this month The Australian exclusively earlier revealed that Labor was considering narrowing the criteria about who must be consulted prior to works beginning, but any regulatory changes will not occur before late 2024.

The changes, however, will come too late to ease the legal burden on the Barossa project.

Drilling work at the Santos gas project in the Timor Sea has been suspended since 2022 after the Federal Court found the oil giant failed to consult local Indigenous people adequately on the development.

Adding to its woes, a second Federal Court ruled Santos could not complete works on an undersea pipeline until January 2024 at the earliest, following claims by a Tiwi Islands traditional owner Simon Munkara that the 262KM pipeline would cause irreparable harm to traditional owners’ connection to sea.

To resume drilling, Santos must receive approval from regulator NOPSEMA for its amended environment plan. Mr Gallagher said that if the company can resume operations by the end of the year then it can meet its timetable, but conceded delays and potential cost blowouts could occur if the company continues to await regulatory approval.

Further issues could also occur should the Federal Court rule in favour of Mr Munkara and Santos is forced to submit a new environmental plan.

The previous version of the plan, developed after Santos was barred from drilling, took more than a year to establish.

Mr Gallagher said Santos will vigorously defend itself at a hearing scheduled next month, but warned the company has little wriggle room left.

“We had some contingency in the project, but that has largely all gone now,” Mr Gallagher told investors.

The regulatory environment, Mr Gallagher said, will not only define the Barossa project but potential other investments that Santos could make in Australia.

“It will be very difficult for us to take [final investment decision] on projects in Australia.”

Mr Gallagher said the regulatory environment in Alaska and Papua New Guinea, where it is developing two other LNG projects, is far more amenable to further investment.

Santos has the option to progress its Dorado project in WA, but Mr Gallagher said the company’s appetite for that investment would be limited without legislative changes.

Santos is under pressure to spur future growth, with a group of investors in October urging the company to split the business to create a single LNG entity to unlock share growth.

Mr Gallagher told investors he was frustrated with a stagnant share price, and the board would consider all proposals.