Saturday, February 18, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: Europe’s Green Madness: Dieselgate Was A Political Disaster








Britain’s Energy Policy In Disarray As Toshiba Faces Bankruptcy

In this newsletter:

1) Europe’s Green Madness: Dieselgate Was A Political Disaster
The Wall Street Journal, 15 February 2017
 
2) Britain’s Energy Policy Thrown Into Disarray As Toshiba Faces Bankruptcy
Daily Mail, 15 February 2017
 
3) U.S. Congress Probes Allegations Of Politicization Of NOAA Study 
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, 14 February 2017 
 
4) Meet The Renewable Energy That Is Deadlier Than Nuclear and Gas Power
Business Insider, 13 February 2017
 
5) Australian Blackouts Due To Unreliable Renewables Were Predicted In Royal Society Paper
Sunday Mail (South Australia), 12 February 2017
 
6) Rupert Darwall: The Baker-Shultz Carbon-Tax Plan Is A Bad Deal For Americans
National Review Online, 13 February 2017

Full details:

1) Europe’s Green Madness: Dieselgate Was A Political Disaster
The Wall Street Journal, 15 February 2017
Holman W Jenkins Jr.

After the Kyoto treaty, Europe’s entire auto industry was led down the primrose lane of adopting a technology that now appears to be a commercial and regulatory dead-end.
 

VW-scandal_inyt

Contrary to usual practice, we’ll begin with the punch-line: less than 4/1,000ths of a degree Celsius. That’s how much warming might be spared half a century from now thanks to Europe’s decision, starting after the Kyoto treaty in the late 1990s, to switch more than 50% of its passenger cars to diesel.

For this negligible result, Europe got significantly dirtier air. Paris, on some days, suffers worse smog than Beijing. Though his methodology may be questionable, a U.K. government scientist estimates that thousands of citizens die each year because of increased nitrogen oxide and soot emissions.

The word “microcosm” was invented for Europe’s diesel snafu—a microcosm of the governance failures that are breeding political revolt in much of the advanced industrial world. Europe has gone overnight from pushing and subsidizing citizens to adopt diesel vehicles, to punishing them with taxes and excluding them from downtown areas. Britain is contemplating a scheme to pay owners to scrap their diesel cars.

Europe’s entire auto industry was led down the primrose lane of adopting a technology that now appears to be a commercial and regulatory dead-end. More than 70% of BMW and Daimler cars made for the European market last year were diesel. When honestly tested, one study shows the latest “Euro 6 Standard” vehicles miss their pollution targets by a whopping 400%.

Virtually everyone agrees Europe’s “dash for diesel” was a monstrous policy error, not to mention the proximate cause of the emissions-cheating scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen and other auto makers. Yet the overarching imperative today is to vilify the car companies and insist they do better at achieving meaningless reductions in CO 2 emissions, now by forcing them to build electric cars that customers must be bribed and pressured into buying. Not to be questioned, though, is the green agenda or the competence of Europe’s political class.

When a government conceit goes pop in such a disastrous way, we usually get reform. That won’t be the case here.

But at least, in this maelstrom, Volkswagen’s outside shareholders and German corporate-governance reformers saw a chance to solve one real problem—the excessive influence of government and labor appointees on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, where they work together to inflate employment. It takes VW twice as many workers to build a car as it does Toyota.

And VW reformers looked set to prevail at this past summer’s annual meeting until, at the last minute, the company’s ruling families, the Porsches and the Piëchs, caved to a jigged-up rescue of the status quo.

In place of depoliticizing the company and improving efficiency, Volkswagen adopted a set of faddish promises to invest in electric cars, ride-sharing and the new “mobility economy.” All this was cover for the real agenda—a big pay hike and fresh promises of job security for unionized workers despite the $25 billion (and growing) cost of the diesel cheating scandal.

As a lengthy Reuters report frankly summarized, Volkswagen’s new “strategy” is chiefly a political kludge designed to create a simulacrum of change so real change doesn’t have to happen.

We have here an emblem of the Western world’s infirmity. Multiple irrationality loops have taken over. Climate policy is the primary example—a pure traffic in costly gestures that create no real benefits for the public. In the U.S., the totality of Obama climate policies—his fuel mileage targets, his coal regulations, his wind and solar subsidies—would not make a detectable difference in the earth’s climate even if given a century to work their nonmagic. Yet the cost will be hundreds of billions.

Full story

2) Britain’s Energy Policy Thrown Into Disarray As Toshiba Faces Bankruptcy
Daily Mail, 15 February 2017
Rachel Millard

Britain’s nuclear power plans were thrown into chaos last night as problems escalated at Japanese company Toshiba. It marks the latest setback to the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions and keep the lights on.

The corporate giant owns a 60 per cent stake in the planned NuGen power plant in Cumbria that is supposed to eventually supply up to 6million homes as a key part of the Government’s energy strategy.

But Toshiba has been rocked by huge losses stemming from a £5billion writedown at its US nuclear unit.

 
Toshiba
New nuclear: An artists’ impression of how NuGen’s nuclear power station in Cumbria alongside Sellafield will look. Troubled Toshiba has a majority stake in NuGen

The crisis has cast doubt over its plans for the £10billion plant in Moorside near Sellafield which is supposed to provide up to 8 per cent of the country’s energy.
It marks the latest setback to the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions and keep the lights on.

Ministers are also facing calls to step in with cash to help Hitachi build a plant at Wylfa in Anglesey while another plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been approved but sites using the same reactors abroad are facing serious delays.

Full story

see also: Toshiba facing bankruptcy, total disintegration thanks to bad bets on nuclear power

3) U.S. Congress Probes Allegations Of Politicization Of NOAA Study 
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, 14 February 2017 
 

US-science-committee

U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Acting Administrator Benjamin Friedman requesting information on the Karl study following reports the study ignored NOAA standards, was rushed to publication, and was not free from political bias.

“Allegations of politicization of government funded scientific research cannot be ignored. The Committee has a constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight in instances of alleged fraud, abuse, and misconduct especially where the government’s scientific integrity is called into question. Dr. Bates’ revelations raise additional questions as to whether the science at NOAA is objective and free from political interference. In light of this new information, the Committee requests the below information to better understand the depth and scope of internal debate at NOAA related to the Karl study,” the letter states.

Today’s letter requests documents and communications related to the release of the Karl study, the datasets used in the Karl study, concerns raised about datasets used in the Karl study, and the scientific integrity of the study. The committee also requested a briefing on the independent experts NOAA is engaging with to review this matter.
The letter can be found here

Background

In the summer of 2015, NOAA scientists published the Karl study, which retroactively altered historical climate change data and resulted in the elimination of a well-known climate phenomenon known as the “climate change hiatus.” The hiatus was a period between 1998 and 2013 during which the rate of global temperature growth slowed.

The committee heard from whistleblowers who raised concerns about the study’s methodologies, readiness, and politicization. In response, the committee conducted oversight and sent NOAA inquiries to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Karl study.

Over the course of the committee’s oversight, NOAA refused to comply with the inquiries. This culminated in the issuance of a congressional subpoena, with which NOAA also failed to comply. During the course of the investigation, the committee heard from whistleblowers who confirmed that, among other flaws in the study, it was rushed for publication to support President Obama’s climate change agenda.

4) Meet The Renewable Energy That Is Deadlier Than Nuclear And Gas Power
Business Insider, 13 February 2017
David Mosher

Every type of power has casualties. 




Dams can be amazing sources of renewable, carbon-free energy. Just build a sturdy wall, let a reservoir naturally fill up with water, and allow gravity to drive electric generators and power nearby towns and cities.

The US gets about 6 percent of its energy this way. But as this week's Oroville, California dam crisis illustrates, hydroelectric energy technology comes with a major yet infrequent risk: Catastrophic collapse and flooding.

According to a March 2011 data analysis by reporter Phil McKenna at New Scientist, dams may be among the riskier power sources in the world.

The magazine compiled data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Energy Agency, and other sources.

The analysis calculated the immediate and later deaths that occurred for every 10 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of power generated globally - as a point of contrast, the world makes about 20,000 TWh of electrical power a year.

The data give a range of deaths for each type of power, but the ranking consistently places hydroelectric power as more deadly than nuclear energy and natural gas:

Nuclear - 0.2 to 1.2 deaths per 10 billion KWh (least deadly)

Natural gas - 0.3-1.6 deaths per 10 billion KWh

Hydroelectric - 1.0-1.6 deaths per 10 billion KWh

Coal - 2.8 to 32.7 deaths per 10 billion KWh (most deadly)

Even accounting for nuclear disasters like Chernobyl, which caused an estimated 9,000 cancer deaths, nuclear power is one of the safest ways to generate electricity (contrary to popular belief).

Full story

5) Australian Blackouts Due To Unreliable Renewables Were Predicted In Royal Society Paper
Sunday Mail (South Australia), 12 February 2017
Miles Kemp

South Australia’s blackouts caused by unreliable solar and wind were predicted two years ago in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, and every MP in the Parliament was told.
 



IT is hard to disagree with the blunt assessment of Business SA that South Australia has been caught on electricity planning like a frog in boiling water.

The story goes, with mixed results in scientific experiments, that a frog suddenly put into hot water will jump out but if heated slowly it will not figure out the danger.

The state was warned of the electricity-shortage crisis – and consequent blackouts – yet ignored the warnings, according to Business SA executive Anthony Penney.

“The most frustrating aspect of this most recent event is that it was anticipated by many businesses and other energy industry experts well in advance but, like the frog in boiling water, nothing happened in time,” he says.

This week the SA frog boiled. About 100,000 customers were blacked out because of the reliance on unreliable wind and solar power in our network – more than a third of SA’s generation capacity. [...]

Wind and solar are not dead, just maligned to a point where they may as well be.
Ben Heard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide also runs environmental non-Government organisation Bright New World – which supports the use of nuclear – explains the problem.

He says the SA blackouts caused by unreliable solar and wind were predicted two years ago in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, and every MP in the Parliament was told.

“Back when wind generation was providing only 28 per cent of SA’s electricity supply, we flagged the risk presented by low supply in extreme heat conditions,’’ he says.

Mr Heard said it was well known that extreme heat conditions in SA were accompanied by very little wind.

“Our expectation at the time was that this would make it impossible to retire other generators from the market because of the security risk.

“Instead, the generators were allowed to retire, we took the risk, and we have started paying the price.”

Full story

6) Rupert Darwall: The Baker-Shultz Carbon-Tax Plan Is A Bad Deal For Americans
National Review Online, 13 February 2017

The fact that it’s being proposed by Republicans doesn’t make it any more economically palatable.

Madness is rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule — Friedrich Nietzsche

Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way,” Barack Obama declared after Democrats’ disastrous losses in the 2010 midterm elections. That shellacking finally killed off the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. From it was born the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the Obama administration’s war on coal, in turn a contributory factor to Donald Trump’s election and Republicans’ retaining control of the Senate. Now the grandees of the Old Republican Establishment, led by former secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker, are calling for President Trump to put the new Republican majority at risk by enacting an escalating $40-per-ton carbon tax.

There they are right is that a carbon tax is economically superior to cap-and-trade and EPA regulation. Their proposal addresses one of the big weaknesses of the latter two approaches by preventing “carbon leakage,” the migration of energy-intensive production to developing nations. It does this by reimbursing carbon taxes incurred in making goods for export while imposing a tax on imports from countries that did not price carbon, although it glosses over the vast expansion of the IRS that would be required to make such a system watertight.

The package is topped off by giving away the entire proceeds of the carbon tax to anyone with a Social Security number. The political bet is that the lure of free money for all — a reprise of a ploy first used by environmentalists in the 1930s, when the Green Shirts marched through the streets of London demanding payment of the national dividend to all — will be enough to induce wary Republicans who opposed cap-and-trade and want the Clean Power Plan nixed to embrace carbon taxation.

All government interventions to decarbonize impose an economic penalty. The best that can be said for a carbon tax is that it is the least bad way. A government-created market distortion that discourages the use of efficient hydrocarbon energy shrinks the economy’s productivity frontier — its potential output at the current state of best practice — and subverts consumer choice, so that for the same income families are forced to consume less than they would otherwise. This in turn shrinks the Gross Domestic Product, hurting consumers and increasing the deficit — effects ignored by carbon-tax advocates.

In that regard, the Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends produced by the Climate Leadership Council is disingenuous and dishonest. An American receiving as much in carbon dividends as he pays in carbon taxes would end up worse off because the economy would be smaller and his consumer preferences suppressed. So a carbon tax would not contribute to economic growth but detract from it.

And it’s all decked out in faux populism. “We the People deserve to be compensated when others impose climate risks and emit heat-trapping gases into our shared atmosphere,” it proclaims. This too is untrue. According to one of the Impact Assessment Models used by the Obama administration to estimate the social cost of carbon, only 1.1 percent of the impact of emitting a ton of CO2 in the U.S. results in extra climate impacts on the U.S. The costs of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions are borne by Americans while the overwhelming benefits in terms of reduced climate impacts accrue mostly to generations yet to be born in developing nations. A carbon tax is not about putting America First; it’s about Globalism with a capital “G.”

Sugaring the pill of allegedly pain-free decarbonization with free carbon dividends, carbon-tax supporters treat Americans solely as consumers, not as producers and workers. For those directly or indirectly dependent for their livelihoods on cheap hydrocarbon energy, the carbon tax spells fewer jobs and lower wages. It is a tax that would divide America, benefiting the two coasts at the expense of the heartland.

The Climate Leadership paper even claims that the benefits of taxing CO2 would accrue “regardless of one’s view on climate science.” No one in their right mind would think of taxing CO2 if it were considered harmless and essential to life, which of course it is. The risks of climate change are “so severe” they need to be hedged, write the former secretaries of state. Two former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, Martin Feldstein (the first Reagan administration) and Greg Mankiw (the first and second George W. Bush administrations), write of the “dangerous threat of climate change.”

It is here, in the climate hysteria of the elites, that the nub of the problem lies. It is an opinion that brooks no dissent. After climate scientist Roger Pielke Jr. wrote of the scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and drought were becoming more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally, he was silenced by a flash mob financed by hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer. Instead of sounding like a cracked record, an open-minded approach to the credibility and reliability of climate science would examine how well climate predictions have worn. And on this basis, climate change is less threatening than when James Baker first started talking about it.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.


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