Thursday, October 12, 2017

GWPF Newsletter - October Arctic Surprise: Rapid Recovery Of Ice Extent

Tony Abbott, Green Attacks And Ridley’s Paradox

In this newsletter:

1) October Arctic Surprise: Rapid Recovery Of Ice Extent
Ron Clutz, Science Matters, 7 October 2017
2) Tony Abbott, Green Attacks And Ridley’s Paradox
Paul Matthews, Climate Scepticism, 10 October 2017

4) Green Activists Face Up To 21 Years In Prison As Judge Rejects Climate Change Excuse
The New York Times, 10 October 2017
5) Germany’s Green Caste System Contributed To Merkel’s Electoral Losses
Daily Caller, 9 October 2017 
6) Germany Set To Widely Miss Climate Targets, Environment Ministry Warns
Clean Energy Wire, 11 October 2017
7) Obama’s Clean Power Plan Is Finally Getting The Axe. But Climate Skeptics Want More
E&E News, 11 October 2017 
8) CEI Analysis: EPA Proposes Clean Power Plan Repeal Rule
Competitive Enterprise Institute, 9 October 2017 

Full details:

1) October Arctic Surprise: Rapid Recovery Of Ice Extent
Ron Clutz, Science Matters, 7 October 2017

In recent years, October has seen some rapid recoveries of Arctic ice extents.  But this year may become something special.

With the early onset of Siberian snow cover and the resulting surface cooling, ice is roaring back, especially on the Asian side. Consider the refreezing during the last 11 days through yesterday.

The graph compares extents over the last 10 days.

2017 has reached 5.7M km2, 460k km2 more than the strong 2016 recovery, now tracking the 10 year average.  2007 remains 1.1M km2 behind, and 2012 is 1.7M km2 less than 2017.  SII is showing similar ice gains in October.

Halloween is Coming!

Full post
2) Tony Abbott, Green Attacks And Ridley’s Paradox
Paul Matthews, Climate Scepticism, 10 October 2017

Tony Abbott, former PM of Australia, gave the annual GWPF lecture on Monday night. Predictably, the talk has been attacked, thereby giving it lots of publicity, and equally predictably, there is no substance to the attacks.

To watch the video of Tony Abbott’s GWPF Lecture click on the image above

He started with some general remarks about world politics and loss of trust in leaders before moving on to some climate-sceptic points. He acknowledged the role of carbon dioxide

Physics suggests, all other things being equal, that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide would indeed warm the planet. Even so, the atmosphere is an almost infinitely complex mechanism that’s far from fully understood.

but despite this was labelled a “full-bore climate denier” by one of the idiots at ClimateHome. He talked a little about extreme events:

Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s.

and the potential benefits of warming:

Then there’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.

Here, of course, he is in line with the early proponents of global warming, such as Arrhenius and Callendar, in the days before climate science got taken over by political activism.

But most of the talk was on climate policy, with particular reference to Australia, and the problems of renewables and the subsidies they require.

These are not new ideas of course, but I did like his introduction of “Ridley’s Paradox”:

In what might be described as Ridley’s paradox, after the distinguished British commentator: at least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

There are many examples of course – the German “Energiewende” has doubled electricity prices but done hardly anything to emissions levels; diesel cars were encouraged because they produced lower CO2, but this increased levels of dangerous pollutants; trees in the US are being chopped down, chipped, transported across the Atlantic and burnt at Drax, and so on.

Predictably, the talk has been attacked, thereby giving it lots of publicity, and equally predictably, there is no substance to the attacks. The Guardian felt the need to attack Abbot thrice – one article claims that Abbott denied “many of the central findings of the UN’s climate science body”, without giving a single example; another describes the talk as “loopy” and “weird stuff”, without saying why,  and a third says it was strange and sad. The Telegraph reports quite a bit of what Abbott said, but their headline news is that Ed Miliband described it as “idiocy”.

Full post & comments 

3) Tony Abbott Draws A Line In The Energy Sand
Terry McCrann, Herald Sun, 11 October 2017

Tony Abbott’s speech in London was a seminal event. It finally, if belatedly, drew a line in the sand between energy sanity and insanity and invited politicians, business leaders and indeed voters to join him on the side of sanity.


Tony Abbott delivers 2017 Annual GWPF Lecture: Daring to Doubt; image  GWPF

The side of sanity, it should not need stating, is one of cheap, reliable and plentiful electricity, delivered principally by the only form of generation that meets that criteria, and has been meeting it with increasing efficiency for nearly 100 years: coal-fired power.

Former Productivity Commission chief Gary Banks and competition reformer Fred Hilmer stepped at least three-quarters of the way over the line with their — and the word is used deliberately and in its right meaning — courageous call for Australia to reduce its emission reductions commitments under the fake (my word) Paris Climate Accord.

Commitments, it should be noted that were “committed” by the former prime minister, the said Tony Abbott; albeit — very hurriedly — actually only formally endorsed by his successor Malcolm Turnbull.

Banks and Hilmer were joined somewhere between a quarter and halfway over the line by Paul O’Malley, the retiring CEO of BlueScope Steel — the once-was steel division of BHP, and seemingly the last redoubt of some energy sanity from that conglomeration.

At least O’Malley called for a 10 year journey to the land of energy insanity — that of the fake wind and solar so-called renewable energy (my term again) and the unnecessary excessive use of expensive gas to make electricity.

Straddling the “Abbott line” with O’Malley, I would also put former Origin CEO and former (temporary) BHP director Grant King, with his endorsement of the Turnbull Government’s (unofficial, as yet unannounced, and so vulnerable to the onset of political spinelessness) ditching of a CET (Clean Energy Target).

King made exactly the same point as Turnbull and his Energy Minister John Frydenberg: if, as the renewables main-chancers have been stridently claiming, that wind and solar are now or about to become cheaper than coal, the CET is entirely and totally superfluous.

Full post

4) Green Activists Face Up To 21 Years In Prison As Judge Rejects Climate Change Excuse
The New York Times, 10 October 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. — A lawyer for an environmental activist convicted of targeting an oil pipeline in North Dakota said he doesn't think a judge's decision disallowing the threat of global warming as a defense to justify the crime would be grounds for an appeal.

Defendant Michael Foster, of Seattle, said he has not decided whether to appeal his jury conviction to the North Dakota Supreme Court, and part of him wants "to honor the judge and the jury and their verdict."

Foster took part in effort on Oct. 11, 2016, to draw attention to climate change by turning off valves on five pipelines that bring Canadian oil south. Foster targeted the Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota. Other activists targeted pipelines in Minnesota, Montana and Washington state.

A jury in North Dakota's Pembina County on Friday convicted Foster after a weeklong trial of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and conspiracy. He faces up to 21 years in prison when he's sentenced Jan. 18. The man who filmed his protest action, Samuel Jessup of Winooski, Vermont, was convicted of conspiracy and faces up to 11 years.

Foster had hoped to use a legal tactic known as the climate necessity defense — justifying a crime by arguing that it prevented a greater harm from happening. Prosecutors objected, saying they didn't want a trial on global warming.

5) Germany’s Green Caste System Contributed To Merkel’s Electoral Losses
Daily Caller, 9 October 2017 
Chris White

Germany’s hefty green energy subsidies played a crucial role in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s debilitating political losses during last month’s election, according to a report Sunday from The New York Times.

The country’s hefty solar subsides have created a have and have-not type caste system in Germany, the report notes. Germany’s poorest citizens began joining ranks with Merkel’s chief political opponent after subsides caused electricity bills to skyrocket.

Germany’s so-called Energiewende has spent nearly $222 billion on green energy subsidies since the early 2000s. Subsidies from the policy are financed through citizens’ electric bills, causing energy prices in Germany to double since 2000, TheNYT’s report notes.

Electricity bill increases have had political consequences.

Merkel’s chief political opponent, Alternative for Germany (AfD), campaigned on ending the Energiewende, arguing that the policy has saddled people with ever-increasing energy prices while doing little to lower carbon emission levels.

AfD, which won enough support in recent elections to gain seats in the parliament, gained in popularity because of the toll green energy subsidies have on everyday Germans. The far-right party entered parliament for the first time after grabbing third place with 13.5 percent in September’s elections.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and sister party the Social Christian Union, meanwhile, received 32.5 percent followed by the Social Democrats (SPD) at 20 percent.

The other parties to pass the 5 percent threshold were the pro-business FDP at 10.5 percent, the Greens with 9.5 percent and the hard-left Linke party at 9 percent. CDU dropped nine percentage points compared to the last election.

Germany ramped up coal production after the country took nuclear power plants offline following the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown 2011.  The green energy subsidies have had little effect on controlling greenhouse gas emissions during the past decade, analysts contend, because of the increase in coal production.

The stunted progress on lowing emissions demonstrates the “partial failure” of Germany’s attempt to transition from fossil fuels to green energy, Arthur Landowska, an energy analyst at IHS Markit, told reporters. “The whole point of the energy transition was to lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

Full story

6) Germany Set To Widely Miss Climate Targets, Environment Ministry Warns
Clean Energy Wire, 11 October 2017

Germany’s environment ministry fears high emissions from coal-fired power plants and transport will make the country miss its 2020 climate targets by a wider margin than previously anticipated. The ministry’s warning adds further pressure to make fast progress on climate-related issues in upcoming talks aimed at forming a new government following September’s general elections.

Germany is headed for a clear failure to meet its 2020 climate targets, according to calculations by the country's environment ministry. Without further action, Germany's CO2 emissions will only be 31.7 to 32.5 percent below 1990 levels, an internal environment ministry paper seen by the Clean Energy Wire shows. Given the official target of cutting emissions by 40 percent, the ministry warns that a failure of this magnitude would constitute a “significant blow to Germany’s climate policy”, and would amount to “a disaster for Germany’s international reputation as a climate leader.”

Germany has made climate protection one of its priorities in its Energiewende, a dual shift from fossil fuel and nuclear power to a renewables-based energy system. Back in July, Berlin also pushed hard to convince the G20 group of leading industrialised and emerging economies to step up their efforts to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement, by keeping all countries but the United States aboard. The next round of international climate negotiations - the COP23 - will take place in Germany in November.

On the eve of the September general elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – whose international engagement has earned her the nickname ‘climate chancellor’ – promised  that her government will find ways to meet the country’ ambitious climate targets.

Most experts believe that Germany’s only option to drastically cut its emissions in the short term is to close down its dirtiest lignite-fired power plants. This is a prominent Green Party demand in the upcoming coalition talks  with Merkel’s conservatives and the free-market FDP

In May this year, the government’s  forecast already projected an emissions reduction of just about 35 percent.

The ministry’s paper now cites fresh data to prove that even this figure will not be reached. “In summary, the unexpectedly strong economic growth, low energy prices, the continued rise of power exports, and population growth are the main drivers of this development.”

Economic growth and exports will increase coal-fired power generation, while low oil prices will push up demand in the heating and transport sectors, according to the ministry.

“The expected readjustments regarding the 2020 target at the start of the [new] legislative period become ever more urgent and will have to be much more comprehensive than previously assumed”, concludes the paper.

The issue of phasing out coal has already proven to be a moot point among potential coalition partners, the CDU and the Green party.

Think tank Agora Energiewende* had already warned in early September that Germany must step up its CO2 reduction efforts without delay if it wants to prevent a spectacular miss of its 2020 climate targets. According to the think tank’s calculations, the country’s emissions might even fall as little as 30 percent.

Full story 
7) Obama’s Clean Power Plan Is Finally Getting The Axe. But Climate Skeptics Want More
E&E News, 11 October 2017 

The Trump administration today will officially announce the end of the Clean Power Plan, a regulation limiting planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the conservative crowd that’s skeptical about climate change says its work is just beginning.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt argued yesterday that the climate rule is a reflection of President Obama’s antagonism toward the fossil fuel industry, describing it as an unlawful interpretation of the Clean Air Act (Greenwire, Oct. 9).

“The past administration was unapologetic,” Pruitt told a group of coal miners yesterday in Hazard, Ky. “They were using every bit of power, every bit of authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers in how we generate electricity in this country. And that’s wrong.”

For all the applause that Pruitt received, there is also disgruntlement. A backroom battle between industry officials and those anti-climate conservatives over whether to issue a scaled-back replacement rule is burgeoning. The hard-liners don’t want an alternative rule because greenhouse gases would still be regulated.

And that could mark an acceptance of the endangerment finding, a mound of scientific evidence that affirms human-caused carbon emissions are at the root of rising temperatures.

Climate skeptics question if Pruitt truly wants to attack the endangerment finding. He hasn’t said yes or no publicly. He’s only offered hints. Doubts extend to President Trump, who has expressed cynicism about climate science but hasn’t focused on the all-important finding.

Some conservative skeptics doubt that Trump knows the limitations his anti-regulatory agenda faces if the endangerment finding continues to exist. The finding serves as the legal backbone for climate regulation, with many interpreting it as mandating federal action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“I don’t think the president knows that it’s not enough to issue executive orders. He might be disappointed to know those things are still there,” said Steve Milloy, an attorney, EPA adversary and Trump EPA transition team official. “It’s still early. But there’s a lot of work left to be done. It’s not enough to say get rid of this. You’ve actually got to do it.”

Here’s a case in point: When speaking to a rally in Alabama late last month, Trump said of the Clean Power Plan, “Did you see what I did to that? Boom, gone.” It wasn’t true. The rule was very much still intact, and powerful industry trade organizations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), were simultaneously pushing White House officials to maintain a downsized version of that very rule (Climatewire, Oct. 5).

“The NAM supports a greenhouse gas policy going forward that is narrowly tailored and consistent with the Clean Air Act,” Ross Eisenberg, NAM’s vice president of energy and resources policy, said in a statement praising news of the repeal while pushing for a replacement.

That industry groups have the White House’s ear reflects a shift in some of the administration’s broader political sensibilities.

Full story

8) CEI Analysis: EPA Proposes Clean Power Plan Repeal Rule
Competitive Enterprise Institute, 9 October 2017 
Marlo Lewis, Jr.

On Tuesday, October 10, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to release the agency’s proposed rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CCP). The CPP, which aims to reduce U.S. electric power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, was the Obama administration’s marquee domestic climate policy and principal regulatory component of the U.S. emission-reduction pledge under the Paris Climate Accord. On Friday, October 6, someone leaked the repeal rule a few days before its official debut. In this post, I provide excerpts and offer commentary on the leaked document.

Although there are no shortage of policy arguments against the CPP, the repeal proposal is based solely on a legal argument. The CPP is to be repealed because it exceeds the agency’s statutory authority. As the proposal states:

Specifically, the EPA proposes a change in the legal interpretation as applied to section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), on which the CPP was based, to an interpretation that the Agency proposes is consistent with the Act’s text, context, structure, purpose, and legislative history, as well as with the Agency’s historical understanding and exercise of its statutory authority. Under the interpretation proposed in this notice, the CPP exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority and would be repealed. The EPA welcomes comment on the legal interpretation addressed in this proposed rulemaking.

What is that interpretation? In brief, CAA section 111(d) authorizes the EPA to adopt emission-reduction guidelines individual sources can meet via modifications to or at those facilities. In contrast, the CPP requires emission-rate reductions that no individual coal power plant or natural gas power plant can achieve via changes in the facility’s technology or operation. To comply, owners and operators must shift generation from coal to gas, and from fossil fuels to renewables, either by investing in new renewable generation or purchasing emission credits from renewable facilities.

Thus, putting it now in my own words, the CPP is a plan to transfer wealth from politically disfavored to favored power generators and restructure the nation’s electricity marketplace. Neither the text of 111(d), nor the handful of previous 111(d) rules, nor legislative history provides any support for such grandiose ambitions.

Here’s how the EPA summarizes its argument:

CAA section 111(d) requires the EPA to promulgate emission guidelines for existing sources that reflect the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) under certain circumstances. Notwithstanding the CPP, all of the EPA’s other CAA section 111 regulations are based on a BSER consisting of technological or operational measures that can be applied to or at a single source. The CPP departed from this practice by instead setting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission guidelines for existing power plants that can only realistically be effected by measures that cannot be employed to, for, or at a particular source. Instead, the CPP encompassed measures that would generally require power generators to change their energy portfolios through generation-shifting (rather than better equipping or operating their existing plants), including through the creation or subsidization of significant amounts of generation from power sources entirely outside the regulated source categories, such as solar and wind energy. This raised substantial concerns that the CPP would necessitate changes to a State’s energy policy, such as a grid-wide shift from coal-fired to natural gas-fired generation, and from fossil fuel-fired generation to renewable generation.

Let’s dig into that a bit deeper. In the CPP, the “best system of emission reduction” consists of three “building blocks”: (1) Improve the heat rate (thermal efficiency) of coal power plants, (2) shift baseload generation from coal to gas, and (3) replace generation from fossil-fuel power plants with generation from new renewable facilities. “While building block 1 constituted measures that could be applied directly to a source—that is, integrated into its design or operation—building blocks 2 and 3 were expressly designed to shift the balance of coal-, gas-, and renewable-generated power at the grid-wide level.”

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

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