Thursday, June 21, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Not A Single EU State Is Meeting Paris Climate Targets

Britain Backs Away From Total Ban Of Conventional Cars

In this newsletter:

1) Forget Paris: Not A Single EU State Is Meeting Paris Climate Targets
P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, 19 June 2018 

2) James Hansen: The World Is Failing 'Miserably’ To Address Climate Change
The Guardian, 19 June 2018


3) Britain Backs Away From Total Ban Of Conventional Cars
Financial Times, 18 June 2018

4) Shock, Horror: CO2 Shortage Sparks Fears Over World Cup Beer Supplies
Financial Times, 20 June 2018 

5) Told You So: Renewables Won’t Be Competitive Without New Carbon Tax Or Policy Changes
Wind Power Monthly, 14 June 2018

6) Andrew Montford: Remote Windfarms Are Bad News For Birds
The Spectator 17 June 2018

7) John Constable: Speech At The Financial Times Energy Summit
GWPF Energy, 20 June 2018

8) Matt Ridley: My Speech On The Bee Population Scare
House of Lords, 19 June 2018

Full details:

1) Forget Paris: Not A Single EU State Is Meeting Paris Climate Targets
P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, 19 June 2018 

Not a single EU state is meeting Paris climate targets, a new analysis finds.

It’s been close to three years since countries worldwide signed the Paris Agreement, which obligates nations pledge to commit themselves to intending (or something like that) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to “safeguard the planet’s future”.

The language of the Agreement is in fact non-binding, and so one wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some signatories might not be living up to the agreement’s spirit.

“Relevant hoax”… all EU states “off-target”

Well, here’s the real shocker: According to a new analysis by NGO CAN Europe, all! EU countries are missing the Paris Agreement targets, as assessed by CAN Europe.

So now it’s crystal clear: Europe was never really serious about implementing the Paris Agreement from the very start. It was nothing more than a New Year’s resolution which no one ever intended to stick to.

Little wonder ex-NASA GISS director James Hansen just told the Guardian: “…the relevant hoax today is perpetrated by those leaders claiming to be addressing the problem.” Hansen is right.

CAN Europe: dismal results

The aim of the CAN Europe report was to examine “which EU Member States are willing to increase their climate action and tackle the gap between the goals of the Paris Agreement and current greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts in the EU.”

The final results? According to the CAN Europe:

The ranking shows that all EU countries are off target: they are failing to increase their climate action in line with the Paris Agreement goal. No single EU country is performing sufficiently in both ambition and progress in reducing carbon emissions.”

23 of 28 countries rated “poor” or “very poor”

The chart on page 5 of the CAN Europe report shows us that a whopping 23 of 28 European countries are in fact performing poorly or even very poorly.

Source: CAN Europe.

The nongovernmental organization assessed the European countries according to a variety of factors, especially pro capita emissions and progress on expanding renewable energies. For example leader Sweden met 77% of the CAN measures, while Poland met only 16%.

Full post

2) James Hansen: The World Is Failing 'Miserably’ To Address Climate Change
The Guardian, 19 June 2018
Oliver Milman
 James Hansen, who gave a climate warning in 1988 Senate testimony, says real hoax is by leaders claiming to take action

Thirty years after a former Nasa scientist sounded the alarm for the general public about climate change and human activity, the expert issued a fresh warning that the world is failing “miserably” to deal with the worsening dangers.
While Donald Trump and many conservatives like to argue that climate change is a hoax, James Hansen, the 77-year-old former Nasa climate scientist, said in an interview at his home in New York that the relevant hoax today is perpetrated by those leaders claiming to be addressing the problem…

Hansen’s long list of culprits for this inertia are both familiar – the nefarious lobbying of the fossil fuel industry – and surprising. Jerry Brown, the progressive governor of California, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, are “both pretending to be solving the problem” while being unambitious and shunning low-carbon nuclear power, Hansen argues.

There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”.

Hansen even accuses Obama of passing up the opportunity to thwart Donald Trump’s destruction of US climate action, by declining to settle a lawsuit the scientist, his granddaughter and 20 other young people are waging against the government, accusing it of unconstitutionally causing peril to their living environment.

“Near the end of his administration the US said it would reduce emissions 80% by 2050,” Hansen said.

“Our lawsuit demands a reduction of 6% a year so I thought, ‘That’s close enough, let’s settle the lawsuit.’ We got through to Obama’s office but he decided against it. It was a tremendous opportunity. This was after Trump’s election, so if we’d settled it quickly the US legally wouldn’t be able to do the absurd things Trump is doing now by opening up all sorts of fossil fuel sources.”

Full story 

3) Britain Backs Away From Total Ban Of Conventional Cars
Financial Times, 18 June 2018

A plan for the UK to ban petrol, diesel and most hybrid cars by 2040 is set to be watered down, with ministers now referring to it as a “mission”.

Theresa May’s “Road to Zero Strategy”, designed to eliminate pollution from Britain’s roads, is due to be published on June 20, according to Whitehall officials — although it has been plagued by delays.

Michael Gove announced last July that the clean-air plan would see an outright ban on petrol, diesel and certain hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, which rely on traditional engines.

But Mr Gove has faced resistance from colleagues including Greg Clark, business secretary, concerned about the impact on the automotive industry.

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, has meanwhile “recused” himself from some of the discussions because Toyota has its head office in his constituency of Epsom and has regularly donated to the MP.

The wording of the government announcement last summer was that new diesel and petrol cars and vans “will be banned”.

The new, weaker language being considered by ministers suggests that the government’s “mission” is to put the UK at the forefront of design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles and to ensure the elimination of polluting cars from the streets by 2040.

Full story

4) Shock, Horror: CO2 Shortage Sparks Fears Over World Cup Beer Supplies
Financial Times, 20 June 2018 

Beer and fizzy drinks are in danger of falling flat after fears of a shortage of carbon dioxide production in Europe surfaced at the weekend.

Concerns about CO2 are usually more about there being too much of the gas. But a shortage among some of the biggest suppliers in north-western Europe has emerged, potentially endangering a much-needed boost to beer sales during the World Cup football tournament.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, representing large brewers said on Tuesday that “given the time of year and the World Cup, this situation has arisen at an unfortunate time for the brewing industry”.

She added: “We are aware of a situation affecting the availability of CO2 across Europe, which has now started to impact beer producers in the UK.”

Full story (subscription required)

5) Told You So: Renewables Won’t Be Competitive Without New Carbon Tax Or Policy Changes
Wind Power Monthly, 14 June 2018

Accelerating the expansion of renewable energy sources could threaten their competitiveness, a new report has claimed.

Onshore wind prices initially fell as Germany held its first auctions, but costs have risen in the last two tenders (pic credit: Siemens)

Germany’s minister for the economy and energy Peter Altmaier believes renewables will become “fully competitive” with fossil fuels and even subsidy-free by 2023.

But Aurora Energy Research argues that this is questionable under the current market design.

The analysts, however, suggested that policy changes such as implementing a carbon price floor or improving power purchase agreement (PPA) structures could increase competitiveness for renewables.

Onshore wind prices initially fell as Germany held its first auctions, but costs have risen since citizens’ projects were stripped of privileges including longer implementation periods and no permitting requirement.

Aurora Research points out that actual subsidies will be higher than published results because auction bids are given for a reference location with a standardised location, but in practice, guaranteed prices are corrected by location-specific measurements.

This, the analysts conclude, suggests that current projects are “far from being competitive”. Further, with increasing market saturation, the quality of available sites is likely to decrease.

Full story

6) Andrew Montford: Remote Windfarms Are Bad News For Birds
The Spectator 17 June 2018

Last week, the government announced that it was going to allow onshore windfarms to once again gain access to the vast pots of money set aside for renewable energy.

However, there was one very important restriction: only windfarms on remote islands would be eligible. In practice, we are therefore talking about the Inner and Outer Hebrides and the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland.

Having come to office on the back of a campaign pledge to stop the spread of onshore windfarms, this represented something of a U-turn, but the reaction has been comparatively muted. This is slightly surprising, because in ecological terms, the islands of Scotland are pretty much about as sensitive as it’s possible to get. Back in 2006, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds published a paper outlining the areas where windfarm developments would most threaten bird populations – these were in essence areas populated by windfarm-sensitive species and/or areas occupied by species that were already threatened.

In summary terms, most of the areas of high sensitivity fell into one of two categories: mountain tops and – you guessed it – remote islands. In fact, the Hebrides and the Northern Isles make up something between a quarter and a third of the 31,000 square kilometres of land identified as “high sensitivity”.

Think about it. A third of the land where windfarms can be expected to do the most damage to birds has been opened up for windfarm development. Indeed the (greenest) government (ever) will even subsidise the destruction.

And the reaction of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds? You would think that such a threat to Britain’s rarest birds – red and black-throated divers, Slavonian grebes and all – would be the cause for some alarm. But as far as I can tell, the nation’s great defenders of the all things avian have said precisely nothing. Not a cheep.

Don’t the birds actually matter any more?

Andrew Montford is deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum

7) John Constable: Speech At The Financial Times Energy Summit
GWPF Energy, 20 June 2018

Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

Last week, on the 14th of June, I spoke in the Lex Debate at the Financial Times Energy Transitions Summit, opposing the motion that “Fossil Fuels are Doomed”, but did not succeed.

The text of my debate speech follows. I attended the Summit from 08.45 to 15.30, and was the only platform speaker to use the terms “physics”, “entropy”, or “thermodynamics”, or to raise these matters as relevant to the feasibility and pace of energy transitions. Economics, of all subjects, appears to have become a very spiritual matter.

John Constable: Speech to FT Energy Summit, Lex Debate, 14 June 2018: “Investors in the fossil fuel sector. Are they doomed?”

Energy transitions are intrinsically slow and the incoming energy system is necessarily and unavoidably created by the previous one.

Think of the history. The transition from the organically fuelled economy of the late Medieval period to the mineral based economy of the twentieth century took something like five hundred years in Europe and North America, and even today has not yet reached the whole world.
Of course, the next transition might be quicker, but it won’t happen within a decade, or two. If fossil fuels are “doomed” it is in a timeframe well beyond the investment horizon.

And that will be true even assuming that the policy-induced transition to renewables is actually viable. In fact, not all of us think it will succeed, and for my own part I suspect renewables really are doomed, on physical grounds, and that the axe of thermodynamic reality is already falling. Time will tell.

But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose renewables are indeed the long term future. Nonetheless, they will have to be created out of the fossil economy, and that will take decades at the least.

Renewable energy output is still small in volume, and the technologies have such a low energy return that they are a very long way from being autocatalytic, self-reinforcing.

Never mind the fact that they cannot support or maintain the wider economy, they aren’t even yet able to create, support and maintain themselves. Modern renewables are a dependent output of the conventional energy system.
Some people look at a wind turbine and claim to see the future. I see one of the achievements of the fossil-fuelled present. Here is a machine that can take a low grade, high entropy, chaotic energy source like the wind and make it into just about usable electricity.

Remarkable in a way. But the truth is that in spite of two decades of coerced resource input from fossil-fuelled wealth, renewables and their systems are still relatively unproductive; low load factor generators with short lives, greatly expanded but underutilised networks, and numerous complex and expensive system management tools, from computer controlled demand to batteries as big as the Ritz. Without fossil fuels this elaborate edifice would never have been created, and without the ongoing support of fossil fuels it would come crashing to the ground.

How quickly could that change? The history suggests slowly at best. Coal converters became autocatalytic quite rapidly, but the resulting energy transition was still slow.

Full speech

8) Matt Ridley: My Speech On The Bee Population Scare
House of Lords, 19 June 2018

Viscount Ridley’s speech in the House of Lords on the Bee Population Scare, 19 June 2018

My Lords, like others, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Bloomfield on securing this debate and join her in paying tribute to the Hymenoptera and other pollinators. I declare my interest as the owner of a farm. Actually, this is a bit of a humble brag of a declaration because I am proud of having created, at my own expense, the largest new wildflower meadow in the north-east of England — about 50 acres. Last week it was a riot of honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees, hoverflies and butterflies, feasting on vetch, trefoil, daisies, buttercups and other flowers. It was indeed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said, a blooming field. There you go.

Our farm and others that I know have also started creating flower-rich margins around arable fields as part of high-level stewardship schemes. That is my first point: farmers are doing a lot for pollinators these days, certainly much more than they once did. That is a huge change from 10 years ago, and one on which we can surely build.

Yet we are told that bees especially are in peril and that farmers are, at least in part, the cause of that peril. Is this true? Let us start with honey bees. Globally, there have never been more hives of honey bees; there are about 90 million in the world compared with about 60 million 50 years ago. In Europe and the UK, too, we are near to a record number of hives. There are of course continuing problems with Varroa mites, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said, and Nosema and other pests, but there is no evidence of a decline in honey bees. It is true that there was colony collapse disorder 12 years ago, mostly in the United States, but it was a brief episode and is now reckoned to have been something to do with diseases or pests, not farming.

Presumably, that is why the opponents of neonicotinoids stopped talking about honey bees a few years ago and started talking more about wild bees. But where is the evidence that any decline in wild bees is recent or related to pesticides rather than to land management and habitat change? One recent study found that wild bees declined significantly before 1990 because of agricultural intensification but that the decline has since ceased or possibly reversed. I quote from that paper:

“these negative trends became substantially less accentuated during recent decades, being partially reversed for certain taxa (e.g. bees in Great Britain and Netherlands)”.​

Even the 2016 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology modelling study by Woodcock et al showed that the most prolific crop pollinators among wild bees, which are the bumble bees, are not declining and some are increasing.

I am sure the Minister is aware of an important study published in Nature in 2015 that was conducted by 58 researchers across five continents. It found that,

“the species that are the dominant crop pollinators are the most widespread and abundant species in agricultural landscapes in general”.

It found that only about 2% of wild bee species are responsible for 80% of the crop pollination performed by wild bees. These are of course the wild bees that would come most into contact with neonicotinoid pesticides, yet the study finds that these 2% of species are actually ones that are thriving. [….]

Matt Ridley is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council

Full speech

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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