Saturday, April 22, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: Shale Gas Could Heat British Homes By Early 2018








Theresa May Accused Of 'Stealing' Energy Price Cap Manifesto Pledge From Ed Miliband

In this newsletter:

1) Shale Gas Could Heat British Homes By Early 2018
Business Cloud, 20 April 2017
 
2) Cuadrilla To Begin Shale Drilling In “Couple Of Months”
Kallanish Energy News, 14 April 2017

3) UK Set For First Full Day Without Coal Power
BBC News, 21 April 2017

4) Britain’s Energy Future: UK Energy Bills To Soar By 54% For Hundreds Of Thousands Of Households
Daily Mail, 21 April 2017

5) Theresa May Accused Of Stealing Energy Price Cap Manifesto Pledge From Ed Miliband
The Daily Telegraph, 19 April 2017

6) Nick Butler: Job Vacancy: Energy Policy Adviser To Theresa May
Financial Times, 17 April 2017

7) John Constable: Emissions Reduction “Without Compromising” Economic Growth?
GWPF Energy, 18 April 2017

8) Steven Koonin: A ‘Red Team’ Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science
The Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2017

Full details:

1) Shale Gas Could Heat British Homes By Early 2018
Business Cloud, 20 April 2017
 
Matt Lambert, director of government and public affairs at Cuadrilla, says the county can become a European hub for the controversial fracking industry. 
 
Image result for GWPF frack on
 
A senior figure at fracking firm Cuadrilla Resources has said homes in Lancashire could be heated by shale gas as early as the beginning of next year.

Matt Lambert, the firm’s director of government and public affairs, spoke at BusinessCloud’s Lancashire Powerhouse event in Lytham on Wednesday.

He told editor Chris Maguire that there has been a great deal of “scaremongering” about the potential damage fracking does to the environment and said the opportunity to explore huge natural reserves of shale gas in the county is “too good to miss”.

The fracking process involves injecting water, sand or chemicals at high pressure into rock below ground to force open cracks and extract the gas and oil within.

“At heart it’s a safe, well-tried engineering process. In Lancashire there’s a tremendous amount of shale gas underneath the ground and an opportunity to get that out safely with limited impact on the environment,” Lambert said.

“Probably as early as the beginning of next year, we will be heating homes in Lancashire with Lancashire gas.

“We’re looking forward to finding out whether shale gas really works here in Lancashire.”

Many business figures have spoken about the opportunities fracking could bring to the local economy while Government has handed out more than 100 licences to fracking firms.

However they must also receive planning permission from local councils – and Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s proposals in 2015.

Cuadrilla went through the appeals process to press ahead with its exploration site near Blackpool.

“We had a High Court case judicial review last week where the judge essentially dismissed all the challenges to those appeals,” Lambert said.

With the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs being created in the semi-rural county, Lambert believes that more people will look favourably on the industry when it becomes operational.

“I think then people will begin to understand. They will start to see real jobs, real supply side contracts coming through and say: what was the fuss about?”

Technology has been the enabler for the industry, which now accounts for more than half of the United States’ oil output with 300,000 wells delivering 4.3 million barrels of oil a day.

“It is made possible by directional drilling which allows you to drill under the ground for several kilometres – that’s what opened up shale gas for the United States and what makes the opportunity available here,” added Lambert.

“We need to get that started here and make Lancashire a hub for the industry in Europe.”

Full post

2) Cuadrilla To Begin Shale Drilling In “Couple Of Months”
Kallanish Energy News, 14 April 2017

British unconventional exploration company Cuadrilla plans to start the drilling stage of its shale gas exploratory plans in northwest England within the next “couple of months,” company CEO Francis Egan said this week.

Egan welcomed the UK’s High Court decision dismissing two claims made against Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid’s approval of planning for Cuadrillla’s Preston New Road site.

Last year, the company had its planning application denied by the local Lancashire councillors, but that was overruled by Javid, following a recommendation to approve from the council’s planning officers.

Opponents to Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) plan, the Preston New Road Action Group, legally challenged the grant, and asked the High Court to rule against the government’s approval of the project.

“We respected the democratic right of those opposed to this consent to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision. However we always remained confident that the planning consent would stand,” said Egan, in a statement sent to Kallanish Energy.

The CEO, who a number of times expressed frustration with the lengthy permit application process, is “very pleased” with the outcome.

“Work continues on the construction of the exploration site and we look forward to move to the drilling stage of our operations within the next couple of months,” he added.

Full post

3) UK Set For First Full Day Without Coal Power
BBC News, 21 April 2017

The UK is set to spend its first full day without generating electricity from coal on Friday, the National Grid says.

It said it had run coal-free before, but the longest continuous period was 19 hours, first achieved last May.

It comes as less-polluting natural gas and renewables play a bigger role in supply - although the demand for power is also lower on Fridays.

The grid said it would only know for sure if it had achieved the feat by "22:51 on Friday"....

Full story

see also: GWPF Report Reveals £300 Billion Cost Of Britain's Climate Change Act

4) Britain’s Energy Future: UK Energy Bills To Soar By 54% For Hundreds Of Thousands Of Households
Daily Mail, 21 April 2017
Ben Wilkinson

Energy bills could soar by up to 54 per cent in hundreds of thousands of households when many popular fixed deals expire at the end of the month.

Consumers are being warned their bills could rise by up to £414 if their supplier automatically puts them on a more expensive new tariff.

It comes as many big energy firms have already announced further price increases this year.

With a total of 16 popular fixed deals from seven suppliers due to end on April 30, customers are being urged to shop around to avoid hefty increases.

Those on the fixed tariffs scheduled to expire are likely to be put on to more expensive standard variable tariffs if they take no action, according to the energy price comparison website uSwitch.

Fixed energy tariff customers with Npower face paying £414 more on average, while those with First Utility could be stung by an extra £397 and ScottishPower users £373 more, the consumer site warned.

Co-operative Energy, GnERGY, EDF Energy and Flow Energy also all have fixed deals expiring this month....

Six out of the seven suppliers with deals ending this month have also already said they will increase prices this year.

Full story

5) Theresa May Accused Of Stealing Marxist Energy Price Cap Manifesto Pledge From Ed Miliband
The Daily Telegraph, 19 April 2017
Steven Swinford

Ed Miliband’s allies have accused Theresa May of “stealing” his flagship plan for an energy price cap for the Conservative’s manifesto as part of her bid to win seats in Labour’s northern heartlands.

Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, yesterday gave the strongest indication yet that the Tories will put the policy at the heart of their manifesto as he vowed to take “muscular and strong action” to protect consumers.

He accused energy companies of “exploiting” people and said that the Government will act to stop the “flagrant mistreatment” of customers. It is one of a series of policies in the manifesto, which will be published in May, that will target working-class voters.

The Prime Minister needs to make significant inroads in the North to achieve her ambition of securing a significant majority at the General Election in June….

Labour MPs are privately admitting that many of these seats are already likely to be “gone”. An ally of Mr Miliband said: “These policies were widely panned by the Conservatives as Marxist interventions. Now Theresa’s nicking them.”

6) Nick Butler: Job Vacancy: Energy Policy Adviser To Theresa May
Financial Times, 17 April 2017

Theresa May needs an energy policy adviser. I hasten to add that this is not a job application – but someone is needed to pull together the necessary reforms and to help the UK prime minister avoid self-destructive mistakes such as an attempt to take charge of fixing energy prices.

The predominant view in Whitehall – from the Treasury to the business department which is now responsible for energy – is that current policies are mistaken and require radical reform. Those policies take no account of the structural fall in energy prices; the failure of new nuclear to live up to its promise; the changing pattern of demand; and, most important of all, the transformation in the global energy market being brought about by a range of new technologies.

Each of those factors requires some adjustment in policy but taken together they justify a complete reset. Reform, however, is very difficult. There are numerous vested interests and an army of lobbyists. Given the preoccupation with Brexit, and a host of other problems on the government’s agenda, it is perhaps not surprising that changing energy policy is seen as too difficult. There is a noticeable absence of any rousing endorsement of the current policies but equally there is no sign of any serious change.

The House of Lords economics committee produced a sensible and practical set of proposals two months ago but the government has not yet responded. It may well agree with the thrust of the report but cannot say so because there is no will to implement the changes proposed.

In these circumstances, the obvious response to grumbling about the way things are is to find someone else to blame. Mrs May seems to have been led into the familiar territory of blaming the energy companies – in this case the retailers of gas and electricity for charging “high” prices – and has threatened to impose some so far ill-defined form of price control.

This is a dangerous path. Numerous reports, most recently from the Competition and Markets Authority, have concluded that although there is unnecessary complexity around pricing tariffs, there is no evidence of collusion or profiteering. From the outside the market looks competitive and would be even more so if consumers took the opportunities they have to switch suppliers.

I have seen no evidence to suggest that this conclusion is wrong. If there is price fixing it should be exposed and prosecuted. But looking at the accounts of the retailers, if anyone really is making windfall profits they are hiding them very well indeed.

Are prices too high? What is “too high”? As in any market, prices have to cover the costs of supply and the mechanisms of delivery – in this case the networks of wires and pipes that make up the gas and electricity grids. None of these costs can be eliminated without jeopardising future continuity of supply. Given current policy, retailers must also fall in line with the requirement to include a substantial and growing volume of renewables in their supply and before too long will have to charge an extra premium for expensive new nuclear.

The fact that the lowest-cost sources are constrained by government decisions means prices are higher than they need be. Power produced by onshore wind would be by far the cheapest source of renewable supply, but wind turbines are highly unpopular in many areas. Coal would be the cheapest source of bulk supply, but is being eliminated from the energy mix because it produces high levels of emissions and because government plans to experiment with carbon capture and storage which might have reduced or eliminated those emissions have been dropped.

So what could Mrs May or any minister do to “control” energy prices? The world market sets most of these. The need for renewal and upgrading of the grids is undisputed. Only a change in policy could bring prices down and that, for political reasons, is unattainable.

Taking “control” would inevitably focus public attention on the detail of prices. Ministers would have to defend every increase unless they chose to freeze prices, with all the negative consequences that would have for future investment.

The easiest solution would be to leave the status quo in place and let the companies take the blame. But that is cynical and leaves the underlying issues unaddressed, storing up greater problems for the future. Mrs May needs an adviser who can guide through her a complex but essential process of reform, as well as protecting her from the temptation to fall into the trap of “taking control” of something that is broken.

7) John Constable: Emissions Reduction “Without Compromising” Economic Growth?
GWPF Energy, 18 April 2017
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

By mistakenly using inappropriate data from the OECD, The Energy and Climate Information Unit (ECIU) misled The Times into claiming that per capita GDP in the UK grew by 130% in the period 1992 to 2014, when the correct figure, from the UK’s Office of National Statistics is 44%. This error led both the ECIU and The Times into thinking that the UK had cracked the ‘clean’ growth conundrum by decoupling emissions and economic growth. The truth is more complicated and much less clear.

The text that follows is sharply critical of data for GDP per head published by the OECD and used without due care in the sources reviewed here. In that context, I have drawn on the advice of Professor David Henderson, formerly Head of what was then the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD, and an advisor to the GWPF from the time of its foundation.

On Monday the 10th of April The Times carried an editorial, “Green Growth: Britain is a richer and cleaner country than it was 25 years ago”. This leading article claimed that a new “OECD study” demonstrated that “environmental policies and economic enrichment are compatible”, a view summarised in a single sentence:

"In the 25 years since the UN climate convention was signed Britain’s output per person has more than doubled while its per-capita carbon dioxide emissions have declined by a third."

However, anyone turning to the OECD website for details of these striking claims would find that there is no new study there on this subject.

In fact the editorial is based on a short paper by a think-tank, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), which is directed by Richard Black, the former BBC Environment Correspondent, and principally funded by the European Climate Foundation and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The ECIU study, Conscious decoupling: On the eve of Brexit, UK leads G7 in both growth and carbon cuts, was also described in a news story elsewhere in that day’s Times“Nation proves economy can expand while emissions fall”.

Unfortunately for The Times, the ECIU’s study was not a secure foundation for their confident editorial assertions. Foremost amongst many failings is the fact that the ECIU based its argument for high rates of ‘clean’ economic growth on OECD figures for GDP per capita in the G7 that do not bear the construction placed on them by the ECIU and The Times. Simply, those figures do not reflect real output per head, correctly defined and measured; and the differences between the correct series and the OECD numbers are very large.

The case of the UK is illustrative. The official estimates of real output per head, correctly defined with GDP measured in constant prices in national currency, are available from the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), where it can be seen that the increase between 1992 and 2014 (the period taken by the ECIU paper) was 44 per cent. The OECD counterpart figure, used in the ECIU study, is 133 per cent, three times greater. As with other G7 countries referred to in the study, this latter number does not at all reflect actual economic growth, and the OECD series should not have been used for this purpose. Reference to the IMF datasets, which collect national government data for the G7 economies amongst others, delivers similar corrections. For example, the ECIU reports the OECD data to the effect that Japanese GDP per head grew by 83 per cent in this period, when in fact the correct figure for real growth is 16 per cent.

How the OECD came to publish such extraordinary figures is a subject beyond the scope of this article, but it is a remarkable lapse. No matter how they were arrived at, the implausibility of figures of this kind should have been obvious to both the ECIU analysts and The Times leader writers. Surprisingly, they were not, and the resulting errors undermine the ECIU study’s principal claim, again repeated by The Times, that “the UK has been the most successful of the big developed nations in […] reducing greenhouse gas emissions without compromising economic growth”. While it is true that the UK’s actual 44% growth is ahead of the rest of the G7, the margin is not wide, and this alone leads to a distinctly different picture of the extent of the ‘decoupling’, if indeed there is any decoupling at all.

A thorough investigation of that whole question would require a more detailed and careful examination of the subject than can be given here, and certainly more than is provided in the superficial and jejune work of the ECIU. Readers interested in the matter might start, for example, with the work of Professor John Barrett of the University of Leeds, who was actually quoted in the ECIU’s own press release (though it is hard to believe he had any hand in the study itself). Professor Barrett’s website provides a number of useful papers, and some interesting data on both territorial emissions and those rendered in the imported goods and services consumed within the United Kingdom. In earlier phases of his research Professor Barrett worked with the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and some part of that work is available through DEFRA, though because of its longer time series I shall here prefer the University of Leeds dataset.

The following chart, drawn from the Leeds tables, represents the total emissions of all Greenhouse Gases (not just carbon dioxide) associated with the UK economy, that is to say the emissions related to imported goods and services and those related to territorial activities (less emissions related to exports), for the period 1990 to 2013. On the secondary axis, the, correct, Real GDP per capita data from the ONS, has been plotted for comparison.
 
 
leeds.ons.emissions.gdp
 
Figure 1: Primary axis, United Kingdom Greenhouse Gas Emissions (megatonnes of CO2e), Imported and Territorial: Data source: University of Leeds. Secondary axis: UK Real Gross Domestic Product per capita at constant prices in national currency: Data source ONS.

To claim, as The Times does, that there has been a straightforward decoupling of emissions and GDP growth is clearly mistaken. Territorial emissions in the UK certainly fell, but this fall was more than offset for much of the period, up to 2007 in fact, by an increase in imported consumption emissions. Indeed, Professor Barrett himself has noted that “the UK is one of the largest net importers of emissions embodied in trade in the world”.

While, those imported emissions did drop substantially as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, it is far too soon to say, though the ECIU rashly implies this conclusion, that they will not rise again if economic growth in the UK continues to recover.

For the reasons given above, amongst others, the ECIU study does not merit serious consideration, and it is very unfortunate that credulous reporting by The Times, not least in its editorial, has given currency to conclusions that are premature and exaggerated, as well as misleading with regard to the causal history and the probable future. While it is true that the United Kingdom’s performance over the period 1992 to the present has been respectable by G7 standards, that fact is largely the result of the programme of market-oriented reforms brought in by the Thatcher government. Over the past decade, by contrast, and as a consequence of the climate change measures adopted by successive administrations, the direction of policy in the energy sector has been reversed, and the British energy market is now severely distorted, with effects on consumers and on present and future growth that are very unlikely to be favourable. As a poorer country the United Kingdom may well be importing far fewer goods and services, and thus be reducing its total consumption emissions, but whether it will be celebrating the fact is open to question.

8) Steven Koonin: A ‘Red Team’ Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science
The Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2017

Put the ‘consensus’ to a test, and improve public understanding, through an open, adversarial process.

Image result for red teaming
Tomorrow’s March for Science will draw many thousands in support of evidence-based policy making and against the politicization of science. A concrete step toward those worthy goals would be to convene a “Red Team/Blue Team” process for climate science, one of the most important and contentious issues of our age.

The national-security community pioneered the “Red Team” methodology to test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce—or at least understand—uncertainties. The process is now considered a best practice in high-consequence situations such as intelligence assessments, spacecraft design and major industrial operations. It is very different and more rigorous than traditional peer review, which is usually confidential and always adjudicated, rather than public and moderated.

The public is largely unaware of the intense debates within climate science. At a recent national laboratory meeting, I observed more than 100 active government and university researchers challenge one another as they strove to separate human impacts from the climate’s natural variability. At issue were not nuances but fundamental aspects of our understanding, such as the apparent—and unexpected—slowing of global sea-level rise over the past two decades.

Summaries of scientific assessments meant to inform decision makers, such as the United Nations’ Summary for Policymakers, largely fail to capture this vibrant and developing science. Consensus statements necessarily conceal judgment calls and debates and so feed the “settled,” “hoax” and “don’t know” memes that plague the political dialogue around climate change. We scientists must better portray not only our certainties but also our uncertainties, and even things we may never know. Not doing so is an advisory malpractice that usurps society’s right to make choices fully informed by risk, economics and values. Moving from oracular consensus statements to an open adversarial process would shine much-needed light on the scientific debates.

Given the importance of climate projections to policy, it is remarkable that they have not been subject to a Red Team exercise. Here’s how it might work: The focus would be a published scientific report meant to inform policy such as the U.N.’s Summary for Policymakers or the U.S. Government’s National Climate Assessment. A Red Team of scientists would write a critique of that document and a Blue Team would rebut that critique. Further exchanges of documents would ensue to the point of diminishing returns. A commission would coordinate and moderate the process and then hold hearings to highlight points of agreement and disagreement, as well as steps that might resolve the latter. The process would unfold in full public view: the initial report, the exchanged documents and the hearings.

A Red/Blue exercise would have many benefits. It would produce a traceable public record that would allow the public and decision makers a better understanding of certainties and uncertainties. It would more firmly establish points of agreement and identify urgent research needs. Most important, it would put science front and center in policy discussions, while publicly demonstrating scientific reasoning and argument. The inherent tension of a professional adversarial process would enhance public interest, offering many opportunities to show laymen how science actually works. (In 2014 I conducted a workshop along these lines for the American Physical Society.)

Congress or the executive branch should convene a climate science Red/Blue exercise as a step toward resolving, or at least illuminating, differing perceptions of climate science. While the Red and Blue Teams should be knowledgeable and avowedly opinionated scientists, the commission should have a balanced membership of prominent individuals with technical credentials, led by co-chairmen who are forceful, knowledgeable and independent of the climate-science community. The Rogers Commission for the Challenger disaster in 1986, the Energy Department’s Huizenga/Ramsey Review of Cold Fusion in 1989, and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission of the late 1990s are models for the kind of fact-based rigor and transparency needed.

The outcome of a Red/Blue exercise for climate science is not preordained, which makes such a process all the more valuable. It could reveal the current consensus as weaker than claimed. Alternatively, the consensus could emerge strengthened if Red Team criticisms were countered effectively. But whatever the outcome, we scientists would have better fulfilled our responsibilities to society, and climate policy discussions would be better informed. For those reasons, all who march to advocate policy making based upon transparent apolitical science should support a climate science Red Team exercise.

Mr. Koonin, a theoretical physicist, is director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. He served as undersecretary of energy for science during President Obama’s first term.

see also
Red Teams Can Save Climate Science From Itself

Congress-March2017

Global Warming Policy Foundation — Prominent climate scientists tell  US Congressional committee that climate science isn’t working, but can be saved by a “red team” approach.

A group of prominent US climate experts have told a Congressional committee hearing that climate science is dysfunctional, beset by bias and groupthink, and is using a profoundly unscientific approach. Speaking before the U.S.

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Professor John Christy told representatives that “consensus science”, as practiced by much of mainstream climatology, was “not science” at all, while Professor Judith Curry explained that “self-deception” had got the better of far too many climatologists.

Both concluded that there had been a wholesale failure to use the scientific method in climatology, something that could only be put right by the introduction of official “red teams” – groups of eminent scientists, who would be asked to challenge and provide dissenting opinions on official climate assessments.

Professor Christy said: “Congress needs a parallel, scientifically-based assessment of the state of climate science. Many important issues are left out of government-directed climate reports entirely; our policymakers need to see the entire range of findings regarding climate change”

The testimony of all four climatologists who spoke at the congressional hearings, including the dissenting views of Professor Michael Mann, are being republished by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the London-based think tank which seeks to enhance the public debates on climate science and policy.

Full Congressional testimonials

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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