Thursday, May 25, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: European Nations Set To Wipe Out Forests To Cheat On CO2 Emissions

Windfarms Blamed After Three Whales Die Off Suffolk Coast

In this newsletter:

1) European Nations Set To Wipe Out Forests To Cheat On CO2 Emissions
New Scientist, 23 May 2017
2) Windfarms Blamed After Three Whales Die Off Suffolk Coast
The Times, 22 May 2017 
3) Colder Than Normal Eastern Pacific Ocean Temps Lower El Niño Bias
North Queensland Register, 20 May 2017 
4) Matt Ridley: Peer Review Of Science Is A Deeply Tainted System
The Times, 23 May 2017 
5) Benny Peiser: Trump’s Climate Challenge -- Between Energy Superpower And Green Shackles
Association of Geoconservation Hong Kong
6) Trump’s Budget Eliminates Funding For UN Global Warming Programmes
The Daily Caller, 23 May 2017 
7) How OPEC Lost the Battle Against U.S. Shale, Again
World Politics Review, 24 May 2017 

Full details:

1) European Nations Set To Wipe Out Forests To Cheat On Co2 Emissions
New Scientist, 23 May 2017
Fred Pearce, New Scientist

It looks like greenwash.  European nations publicly keen to boost their climate credentials by switching to “green” biomass are accused of working behind the scenes to expunge their carbon emissions from burning wood in power stations from national emissions statistics.

“If we don’t measure emissions when trees are cut, we won’t measure them at all,” says Hannah Mowat of FERN, a European NGO working to save the continent’s forests, who has followed the EU negotiations on the issue.

Under international climate treaties such as the Paris Agreement, burning biomass like wood is defined as carbon-neutral, even though it emits as least as much carbon as fossil fuels. The assumption is that new trees will be grown to take up the carbon emitted from the burning.

If countries reduce their forest cover – as a result of harvesting trees for biomass burning or anything else – the carbon loss should show up in national statistics under a complex accounting process known as LULUCF, for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry.

But measuring carbon stocks on the land and in forests is an inexact science, and critics say the LULUCF rules are wide open to accounting errors.

On 19 June, European environment ministers will set their own rules for LULUCF carbon accounting. How they do this will play an important role in Europe meeting its emissions targets under the Paris Agreement.

But Mowat says that countries with plans to replace coal and nuclear fuel burning with wood are lobbying for rules that will obscure likely resulting emissions.

“France, Austria, Sweden and Finland are fighting tooth and nail to weaken the EU’s rules,” Mowat told New Scientist. “This is because they all plan to significantly increase the amount of trees they cut in the next decade: Finland will increase harvesting by 25 per cent and France by 20 per cent, and they don’t want to count the emissions.”

Government data show that France plans to increase timber harvesting by 12 million cubic metres by 2026.  Finland plans a 15 million cubic metre increase, almost entirely for burning more wood in power stations.

Fewer trees will mean less carbon being soaked up from the atmosphere, too.
Mowat estimates that the reduction in the EU’s total forest carbon sink between now and 2030 is equivalent to the emissions of 100 million cars.

Full story

2) Windfarms Blamed After Three Whales Die Off Suffolk Coast
The Times, 22 May 2017 

Three whales that washed up on the Suffolk coast may have died after becoming disorientated by offshore windfarms, marine experts believe.

The coastguard received reports of a minke whale calf that had become separated from its mother on Friday night. By the next afternoon it had been found dead at the mouth of the River Ore and its mother was found washed up near Felixstowe. Yesterday another dead adult was seen off the Harwich coast. They are likely to have come from the same pod meaning that an entire family could have been lost.

Council staff are trying to establish what happened before they dispose of the carcasses, one of which is about seven metres long and likely to weigh more than five tonnes. Wildlife experts claim that the noise generated by wind turbines can affect the sonar whales use to navigate, steering them off course. There are several commercial wind farms off East Anglia including Gunfleet Sands, which has 48 turbines.

John Cresswell, chairman of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service, said the upsetting scenes were becoming more frequent on the east coast. He added: “My personal opinion is that it could be a consequence of wind farms and the amount of sand in the water. If you stop the boat off the coast you can feel the vibrations and hear the noise.” His crew is monitoring 20 miles of coast for any more whales.

Full post

see also: Scientists Blame Windfarms for Stranding of Whales

3) Colder Than Normal Eastern Pacific Ocean Temps Lower El Niño Bias
North Queensland Register, 20 May 2017 

A number of  forecast models have reduced their El Niño bias for the spring. This is primarily due to colder than normal band of subsurface water in the eastern Pacific Ocean remaining a similar size or even growing in recent months, contrary to the normal El Niño trend.

source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

El Niño refers to the extensive warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific that leads to a major shift in weather patterns across the Pacific. El Niño events are often accompanied by cooler than normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the western Pacific, and to the north of Australia.

Typically, the equatorial trade winds blow from east to west across the Pacific Ocean.
During the El Niño climate phenomenon the prevailing trade winds tend to weaken, or even reverse direction. These changes set up a feedback loop between the atmosphere and the ocean that boosts El Niño conditions.

In Australia, El Niño conditions are generally, but not necessarily, associated with below average rainfall, particularly over the eastern states.

Since 1900 there have been 27 recorded El Niño events. Two thirds of these have resulted in significant moisture stress across some or all of the winter cropping regions of the continent.

In the latest update from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) for the tropical Pacific region is in neutral territory.

However, there has been a warming trend across the tropical Pacific Ocean since the start of 2017 and they are saying that there is still a 50 per cent chance that El Niño will develop in the second half of this year.

Another key indicator is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). The IOD is the difference in sea surface temperature between two areas (or poles, hence a dipole) – a western pole in the Arabian Sea (western Indian Ocean) and an eastern pole in the eastern Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia.

Four out of six climate models currently suggest a positive IOD is likely to develop during the southern hemisphere winter. In years when a positive IOD coincides with El Niño the pattern of below average rainfall extends further west than it typically would under El Niño alone.

In recent weeks a number of the long range forecast models have reduced their El Niño bias for the spring. This is primarily due to colder than normal band of subsurface water in the eastern Pacific Ocean remaining a similar size or even growing in recent months, contrary to the normal El Niño trend.

In April the US model was forecasting a steady increase in the development of El Niño throughout the southern hemisphere spring. By early May their confidence in this forecast had actually reduced, with the mean prediction now below El Niño levels throughout our spring.

Full story

4) Matt Ridley: Peer Review Of Science Is A Deeply Tainted System
The Times, 23 May 2017 

The latest university prank is embarrassing to academia and hilarious for the rest of us. Philosophy professor Peter Boghossian and mathematician Dr James Lindsay made up a learned paper on the “conceptual penis” as a “gender-performative, highly fluid social construct” that is “the conceptual driver behind much of climate change”, stuffed it full of random jargon and fake references and then got it through peer review into an academic journal.

True, it was a low-grade, pay-to-publish journal of the kind that has proliferated recently as a money-making venture, but the authors were recommended to try that journal by a serious journal, and the peer review was genuine. As the authors have written of their own work: “We don’t understand it either. Nobody does. This problem should have rendered it unpublishable in all peer-reviewed, academic journals.”

This happened last year, too, when Professor Mark Carey published an even more absurd paper arguing that “a critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers” and introducing “feminist glaciology”. In that case, however, the professor continues to insist, against all evidence, that he was serious. Science magazine gave him a lengthy, softball interview to justify his work after it was laughed at on the internet. I still think he’s a joker in deep cover.

Neither paper would have been published if it had not fitted the prejudices of much of academia: leftist, postmodern, relativist, feminist and moralising. “The academy is overrun by left-wing zealots preaching dangerous nonsense,” says Boghossian. “They’ve taught students to turn off their rational minds and become moral crusaders.”

As a system of ensuring quality in research, peer review is in deep trouble. It allows established academics to defend their pet ideas and reward their chums. Its one-sided anonymity, in which the referee retains his anonymity but the author does not, could hardly be better designed to ensure cronyism.

Worse, as a recent report by Donna Laframboise, a Canadian investigative journalist, concluded: “A journal’s decision to publish a paper provides no assurance that its conclusions are sound . . . Fraudulent research makes it past gatekeepers at even the most prestigious journals. While science is supposed to be self-correcting, the process by which this occurs is haphazard and byzantine.”

Peer review’s flaws now allow people with an axe to grind to dismiss even the most rigorous and careful of science along with the nonsense. It’s time for science, and the softer social sciences in particular, to get their house in order.

5) Benny Peiser: Trump’s Climate Challenge -- Between Energy Superpower And Green Shackles
Association of Geoconservation Hong Kong

Climate Change Forum — Hong Kong, 27 May 2017
Association for Geoconservation, Duke of Windsor Social Service Building, Wanchai, Hong Kong Island 2pm 

During his election campaign, Donald Trump pledged to roll back President Obama’s climate and energy policies. He promised to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement and stop all US payments to UN global warming programmes. Trump declared that he would develop America’s mammoth oil, gas and coal reserves to the full and make global energy dominance the strategic, economic and foreign policy goal of the United States. The US is sitting on hundreds of years of oil, gas and coal which has the potential to turn North America into the 21st century’s energy superpower. The shale revolution is having huge economic and geopolitical implications while America’s major competitors are trying to shackle the US into a low-carbon future that would essentially rob it of its assets. The Paris agreement vows to cap global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (compared to late 19th-century levels) which, campaigners claim, would require the US to massively cut CO2 emissions from conventional energy production. It would also mean most of America’s gas, oil and coal reserves would have to stay in the ground, thus relinquishing hundreds of trillions in economic gains while the US would be forced to surrender the prospect of becoming the world’s leading energy superpower. Yet despite Trump’s unequivocal pledge, his administration is deeply divided on whether to fulfil his promise to withdraw from the Paris agreement and to pursue his America First Energy plan. In this talk, I will discuss the political and economic challenges the US administration faces regarding the Paris climate agreement. I will also address the international and geopolitical implications of Trump’s climate policy decisions.

6) Trump’s Budget Eliminates Funding For UN Global Warming Programmes
The Daily Caller, 23 May 2017 
Michael Bastasch

The Trump administration has proposed eliminating nearly $1.6 billion in international programs aimed at promoting green energy and fighting global warming.

That includes providing no funding to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF), which hands out money for programs to adapt or mitigate global warming.

The White House said this proposal is in line with President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to “cease payments to the United Nations’ climate change programs.” The budget “fulfills that pledge,” according to budget documents.

The Obama administration gave nearly $1 billion to the GCF in 2016. The Trump administration proposed eliminating that funding, along with zeroing out funding for three other climate programs.

The budget also withdraws funding for the Clean Technology Fund and the Strategic Climate Fund for a savings of $239 million. It would also stop funding the Global Climate Change Initiative, saving taxpayers $362 million.

“America must put the energy needs of American families and businesses first and continue implementing a plan that ensures energy security and economic vitality for decades to come, including by promoting development of the Nation’s vast energy resources,” White House budget documents read.

Trump promised to “cancel” UN global warming payments while on the campaign trail. Trump also promised to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which the Obama administration joined in 2016.

“We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars. We don’t even know who’s doing what with the money,” Trump said in November.

Trump’s budget makes good on that promise, and Congress is likely to go along with these cuts.

Full story

7) How OPEC Lost the Battle Against U.S. Shale, Again
World Politics Review, 24 May 2017 
Thijs Van de Graaf

Oil markets are expecting the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to extend their supply quotas when they meet in Vienna on Thursday. The current production cuts have failed to drain bloated oil inventories due to a remarkable resurgence in U.S. shale production. Keeping production down will not be easy for the coalition of 24 oil producers, 11 of which are not in OPEC. Even if fully implemented, an extension of the deal will likely just prevent oil prices from falling, while giving more market share to U.S. shale.

It seems that OPEC has lost the battle against shale, again. Since the dramatic fall in world oil prices in 2014, OPEC has fought two unsuccessful battles against American shale producers.

The first was over market share, and it began in November 2014, when Saudi Arabia refused to cut any production at a notorious OPEC meeting. Instead, OPEC’s top producer began ramping up production, in an effort to drive higher-cost producers out of the market—not just the U.S. fracking industry, but also Canadian tar sands and deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

But U.S. shale production proved far more resilient than expected. It took a full year, until November 2015, to halt the industry’s year-on-year growth. Oil prices did not recover, however, due to sluggish demand, bloated inventories and Iran’s return to the market after international sanctions were lifted as part of the agreement over its nuclear program. Oil prices touched 12-year lows by mid-January 2016, and all producers—from Venezuela to Russia—were feeling the pain.

As non-OPEC producers signaled their willingness to make coordinated cuts, OPEC changed its strategy, and a second battle began. Last November, OPEC agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day, its first coordinated curb in more than a decade. Crucially, the cartel secured a reduction of 558,000 barrels per day from 11 non-OPEC countries, including Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan. The reductions were supposed to take hold in January and last for six months.

At first, this new tactic seemed to work. In sharp contrast to previous cuts, OPEC demonstrated remarkable compliance with the quotas. The International Energy Agency recently put the compliance rate at a staggering 96 percent, although this is partly due to Saudi Arabia cutting by more than agreed. The Saudis want higher prices because of the planned IPO of their crown jewel, the state oil company Saudi Aramco. By March, crude prices had rebounded somewhat, to about $55 per barrel, and a rebalancing of the oil market seemed within reach.

But since then prices have slipped. Crude remains stuck near $50 a barrel, about the level it was at when the OPEC deal was announced in November. Sluggish demand growth didn’t help. But the most important reason that the cuts failed to drain OPEC’s bloated stockpiles is production spikes in places like the United States.

After bottoming out in September, U.S. shale output has increased by nearly 465,000 barrels per day, according to the IEA. U.S. output is now approaching 9.3 million barrels a day, where it stood in November 2014 when OPEC launched its price war.

Six months ago, the cartel’s own analysts were forecasting that U.S. oil production would contract in 2017 by 155,000 barrels a day. That, they claimed, would give OPEC space to bolster oil prices without conceding too much of the market. Today, those same analysts are forecasting that output from shale plays like the Bakken field in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas and, especially, the Permian basin in Texas and New Mexico will grow by 824,000 barrels per day this year—an upward revision of nearly 1 million barrels per day. On top of that, projections for oil demand have decreased by some 500,000 barrels per day since OPEC’s cuts began.

U.S. shale drillers have shown that they can compete in a world of $50 per barrel oil. Several producers have used the price spike triggered by OPEC earlier this year to lock in revenues for 2017 and 2018. With their financial future relatively secure, they started deploying rigs. Across the entire shale industry, costs have fallen thanks largely to technological innovation and efficiency.

And it’s not just the United States. According to IHS, a consultancy firm, the cost curve has come down for Canadian tar sands, deepwater drilling in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, and even traditional oil fields in the Middle East and Russia. The entire oil business has been recalibrated to a lower price level.

The worst news for OPEC may be that a whole new wave of U.S. shale oil will hit markets in a few months. Drilling activity in America’s shale industry is increasing even faster than it did in the final stages of the first boom, up until 2014. That surge will surely test the resolve of OPEC, Russia and other producers to continue their cuts, especially if they lose market share to shale.

OPEC and its allies seem caught in a bind: Although extending cuts may clear stockpiles, it risks backfiring by giving extra support to rivals. Any jump in prices would present shale producers with an easy opportunity to hedge more future production and potentially expand output even faster.

Full story

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

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