Sunday, September 16, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Out-Trumping Trump








European Nations Urge Subsidy Extension For Coal Plants Beyond 2030

In this newsletter:

1) Out-Trumping Trump: European Nations Urge Subsidy Extension For Coal Plants Beyond 2030
Montel, 14 September 2018
 
2) Green No More: Germany Is Razing A 12,000-Year-Old Forest To Make Way For A Coal Mine
Quartz, 13 September 2018


 
3) Japan: From Climate Leader To Coal Leader As Energy Security Tops Agenda
Michiyo Morisawa, Nikkei Asian Review, 14 September 2018
 
4) EIA Report Says Coal Still King On State-by-State Basis
Power, 12 September 2018
 
5) New South African Coal Power Station Will Only Be Used By Chinese Companies
Business Insider South Africa, 11 September 2018
 
6) Arctic Sea Ice Just Won’t Play The Game
The Conservative Woman, 7 September 2018
 
7) Hurricane Florence Is Not Climate Change Or Global Warning. It's Just The Weather
USA Today, 14 September 2018
 
8) David Whitehouse: Climate And The Subtle Sun
GWPF Observatory, 13 September 2018


Full details:

1) Out-Trumping Trump: European Nations Urge Subsidy Extension For Coal Plants Beyond 2030
Montel, 14 September 2018

Six European nations have called for government subsidies to be extended to coal-fired plants in capacity mechanisms beyond 2030, according to a working paper published earlier this month.













France, Poland, Ireland, the UK, Greece and Hungary demanded a “suitable and realistic transition period for existing installations that do not yet meet the emission[s] criteria”, they added in the paper published on NGO Climate Action Network’s (CAN) website.

This comes ahead of the European Commission’s next trilogue talks on electricity market design next Monday and Tuesday.

According to EC proposals, new or existing coal-fired power plants as part of capacity mechanisms must no longer receive state subsidies by 2025.

“French shame”

“It is shameful to see France, Italy and the UK backing up Poland’s desperate efforts to secure subsidies for their coal plants through capacity mechanisms,” Joanna Flisowska, CAN’s coal policy co-ordinator, told Montel.

Poland, which has some of the most polluted cities in the world, produces 81% of its electricity from coal and lignite. Its reserves could cover the needs of the country for 150 years.

For the NGO, the proposal from the six nations “is in stark contradiction to their commitment to fully implement the Paris Agreement”, which aims to limit the rise in global temperature to below 2C by 2100.

Full story

2) Green No More: Germany Is Razing A 12,000-Year-Old Forest To Make Way For A Coal Mine
Quartz, 13 September 2018

Germany may have set laudable goals for its ambitious “Energiewende”—or shift to a low-carbon economy—but it is still struggling to free itself from fossil fuels, in particular electricity generated from coal’s dirtier cousin lignite. In the latest demonstration of this struggle, an ancient forest is about to be razed in order to expand what is already Europe’s largest opencast mine.



Today (Sept. 13), the last 200 acres of Hambach Forest in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia were a scene of battle between environmental activists and German energy company RWE, which owns the land and wants to clear it for mining. German police in riot gear arrived in force to evict activists from their treehouses.

The protestors have occupied the forest for the past six years, foregoing basic creature comforts like running water and electricity in their efforts to stop RWE from chopping the trees down. Many of them were evicted in September, and today police started dragging those remaining out by force.

State premier Armin Laschet told local broadcaster WDR (link in German) on Wednesday that the Hambach Forest was “an illegally occupied area” and accused protesters of violence.

While Germany is generating huge amounts of energy from renewables, the country has a strong coal lobby, and that lobby’s influence coupled with an initial shortfall in energy generation due to Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power within 10 years has left the country stuck with fossil fuels longer than it intended.

As a result, the coalition government in January agreed that the country’s 2020 climate target of reducing CO2 levels by 40% from their 1990 levels was unachievable.

Full story

3) Japan: From Climate Leader To Coal Leader As Energy Security Tops Agenda
Michiyo Morisawa, Nikkei Asian Review, 14 September 2018

It is strange that a population so careful about their local environment, willing to help reduce local factory pollution and clear up sports stadiums can seem somewhat uninterested in doing much about climate change.

















In 1997, Japan was at the forefront of climate action. The birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement committing countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the country came to be synonymous with cutting carbon.

Fast-forward 21 years and Japan has struggled to make significant progress on reducing its own emissions.

Japan has a very limited supply of natural resources, so energy security dominates the political agenda, with climate change seen as the poor relation. With public concern over the safety of nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident still high, and renewables languishing at around 15% of the energy mix, Japan still depends largely on imported fossil fuels.

The country seems hooked on coal. The share of coal in the electricity mix actually increased from 10% in 1990 to 31% in 2015. With ambitions to build around 40 new coal-fired power plants, on top of some 100 existing ones, it’s not surprising that fossil fuels still dominate energy plans. By 2030 the government envisages that fossil fuels will make up 56% of the Japanese energy mix — more than the nuclear (20-22%) and renewable (22-24%) capacity combined.

What’s more, Japan has been slow to reduce emissions by enhancing the energy efficiency of domestic infrastructure. Homes in Japan are designed to be earthquake-proof and tend to be built with the humid summer weather in mind. As a result, buildings often have thin walls that provide minimal insulation, resulting in the overuse of air conditioning units both in the summer and in the winter.

Taking all this into account, Japan’s contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement — a target to reduce its emissions by 26% by 2030, against a 2013 baseline — is considered unambitious on the international stage.

Japan needs to catch up. Change is needed at all levels, from the routine of every citizen to national energy policy. It is strange that a population so careful about their local environment, willing to help reduce local factory pollution and clear up sports stadiums can seem somewhat uninterested in doing much about climate change.

Full post

4) EIA Report Says Coal Still King On State-by-State Basis
Power, 12 September 2018

A report this week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows coal-fired power was still the major source of generation on a state-by-state basis in 2017, though natural gas-fueled electricity production slightly outpaced coal overall

The EIA’s report, published September 10, said 18 states relied on coal for the bulk of their power generation last year, while 16 states primarily relied on natural gas. Nuclear power led in nine states and hydropower led in six. Petroleum was the primary source of generation in Hawaii.

Natural gas-fired units provided 32% of the nation’s power in 2017, with coal-fired power at 30%. The EIA report noted the decrease in coal’s share of generation over the past decade—it paced generation in 28 states in 2007—contributed to the increase in states where nuclear and natural gas now lead. Of the 10 states where coal led generation in 2007, five are now paced by natural gas, and five are led by nuclear.

Just one new nuclear reactor has come online in the U.S. over the past 20 years—Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee, POWER’s Top Plant for 2018—though other reactors have completed uprates in recent years, increasing their generating capacity.

The report noted that while hydropower is the only renewable energy source leading statewide generation in 2017, wind power is likely to take the top spot in some states in the near future, including Kansas and Iowa. In those states, and four others, wind power ranked second in generation last year.

Full post

5) New South African Coal Power Station Will Only Be Used By Chinese Companies
Business Insider South Africa, 11 September 2018

The planned new power plant, called the “Power China International Energy Project”, won’t produce electricity for South African households and business – it will only be used for a massive new Chinese-controlled industrial park.



There has been some confusion in the energy industry this past week after the announcement that a new coal-powered power plant is planned for Limpopo.

According to reports, President Cyril Ramaphosa inked a deal with the Chinese to build a new 4,600-megawatt coal power station during his visit to that country.

This came as a shock, as the brand-new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) does not include any new coal-fired power plants.

It has since emerged that the planned new power plant, called the “Power China International Energy Project”, won’t produce electricity for South African households and business – it will only be used for a massive new Chinese-controlled industrial park.

Earlier this year, nine Chinese companies committed to invest $10 billion in the Musina-Makhado special economic zone at a signing ceremony in Beijing.

The companies are specifically investing in a large new planned ferroalloy industrial park, which will span 60 square kilometres on an area outside Musina.

According to the Chinese website for the South African Energy and Metallurgical Special Economic Zone (EMSEZ), as it is called, the park will contain:
 

  • A coal washing plant (with capacity to process 12 million tonnes per year)
  • A coking plant (3 million tonnes)
  • An iron plant (3 million tonnes)
  • A stainless steel plant (3 million tonnes)
  • A Ferro manganese powder plant (1 million tonnes)
  • A ferrochrome plant (3 million)
  • A limestone plant (3 million)
  • An apartment building, hotel, shopping mall, hospital and school will also be built.

Included in the plans is the new coal-fired power plant, which according to the EMSEZ website, will be built “specifically for the project”. According to the information on the site, it does not look as if it will deliver electricity to the rest of South Africa.

Full post

6) Arctic Sea Ice Just Won’t Play The Game
The Conservative Woman, 7 September 2018
Harry Wilkinson

Arctic sea ice is proving remarkably reluctant to enter its appointed ‘death throes’, despite the usual suspects having already planned the funeral. Climate Change Anxiety Disorder, it turns out, is yet to impose its angst on the actual climate, no matter how hard the BBC tries to make it.

The latest observations show that Arctic sea ice is on course to have a greater minimum extent than in 2015 and 2016, and is running higher than levels seen a decade ago. Back then, the BBC reported that Arctic summers may be ice-free by 2013, although this estimate was described as being ‘too conservative’.

That prediction was spectacularly wrong, and contrary to warnings of an ‘Arctic death spiral’, sea ice extent has been remarkably stable in the last decade. No one can say what exactly will happen next; if this humbling affair teaches anything it should be precisely that.

The climate has misbehaved in other ways too. The Greenland Ice Sheet has been gaining mass at a record rate for the second year running, and Antarctic sea ice extent is perfectly normal relative to the 1981-2010 average. These facts get little coverage because they don’t sound alarming at all, and for most reporters that means they’re not news. These ‘inconvenient truths’ are nonetheless a helpful reminder that climate change coverage should be taken with a healthy dose of scepticism. There is a long way to go before we can make accurate predictions about how the climate will behave, if indeed we ever can.

Climate science has to be more deeply grounded in real-world observations rather than models that are inevitably riddled with flawed human assumptions.

7) Hurricane Florence Is Not Climate Change Or Global Warning. It's Just The Weather
USA Today, 14 September 2018
Roy W. Spencer

Writing for NBC News, Kristina Dahl contended, “With each new storm, we are forced to question whether this is our new, climate change-fueled reality, and to ask ourselves what we can do to minimize the toll from supercharged storms.”

The theory is that tropical cyclones have slowed down in their speed by about 10 percent over the past 70 years due to a retreat of the jet stream farther north, depriving storms of steering currents and making them stall and keep raining in one location. This is what happened with Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year.

But like most claims regarding global warming, the real effect is small, probably temporary, and most likely due to natural weather patterns. Any changes in hurricanes over 70 years, even if real, can easily be part of natural cycles — or incomplete data. Coastal lake sediments along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline from 1,000 to 2,000 years ago suggest more frequent and intense hurricanes than occur today. Why? No one knows….

The cost of storms has risen, not their severity

But a major hurricane hits North Carolina on average once every 20 years or so. The last was Fran in 1996, which is 22 years ago. Coastal residents know they live under a yearly threat of hurricanes, and sometimes (though relatively rarely), one of those hurricanes will be very strong.

Well, aren’t we being told these storms are getting stronger on average? The answer is no. The 30 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history (according to federal data from January) show no increase in intensity over time. The monetary cost of damages has increased dramatically in recent decades, but that is due to increasing population, wealth and the amount of vulnerable infrastructure. It’s not due to stronger storms.

Full post

8) David Whitehouse: Climate And The Subtle Sun
GWPF Observatory, 13 September 2018
Dr David Whitehouse, GWPF Science Editor

The Earth receives about 2 x 10E17 Watts from the Sun. It is the energy that keeps the Earth habitable and drives the weather and climate system. How do variations in the Sun’s output affect the Earth is a persistent question in climate science.

The answer depends upon how you look at it. Many say not very much. Something of the order of 0.3° C over decades is often cited and compared to the 0.2° C per decade some claim has already taken place.

On the face of it that means the Sun is important but minor in that a decade and a half of greenhouse gas forced warming will see it overtaken. However, looking back on the past 20 years there hasn’t been anything like 0.4° C of global warming (outside short-term El Ninos) so from today’s standpoint 0.3° C seems a much bigger deal.

Some predict little warming in the decades due to come because of a conspiracy of natural factors, including the Sun, offsetting what is expected by the IPCC.

Others are more categorical linking the Little Ice Age – a prolonged period of cool global temperatures in medieval times, thought to be confined to Europe but now shown to be world-wide – to changes in the Sun’s behaviour. During the so-called Maunder Minimum (approx. 1620 to 1720) it’s believed Solar output declined slightly and sunspots were certainly absent. Currently the Sun might be entering another Maunder-like state that may have the same effect on global temperature.

As usual Sun-Earth connections are not straightforward. It has been pointed out that the Little Ice Age lasted centuries inside which the Maunder Minimum was a relatively short period. A new study brings together models and observations. Using observations from the northern hemisphere alone researchers suggest that the Little Ice Age spanned about 480 years from 1440 – 1920 suggesting, they say, that there is no cause and effect between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age. They believe that multiple factors such as volcanic activity, caused the Little Ice Age and that the Sun’s declining output had an effect on a par with changing land use. Having the Little Ice Age end around 1920 is problematical for those who believe that all of the Earth global temperature increase over the last century is anthropogenic. Did human influences alone end the Little Ice Age?

Solar physicists often take a different view than climate scientists. They are often of the belief that solar effects are important on the regional scale. Quite a lot of regions actually. But how else could the Sun affect the climate if not by changes in its radiative output which are held to be to small for a global effect?

A New Climate Driver

Well-known is the Svensmark theory that the Sun’s magnetic influence can expose or protect the Earth to cloud-seeding cosmic rays. But there could be other effects coming from the Sun’s non-light output. A studysuggesting that the Sun’s behaviour could affect northern winters may provide more evidence that not only solar electromagnetic radiation but also the solar wind can affect the climate. It’s possible because the solar wind interacts with the magnetosphere and directs its energetic particles into the inner magnetosphere. This happens more often, and to a greater effect, during the declining phase of the 11-year solar cycle during which high-speed solar wind streams are more commonly detected at Earth.

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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