Friday, November 2, 2018

GWPF Newsletter - Bolsonaro In, Merkel Out: The Paris Climate Gang Is Breaking Up

Only 16 Countries Meet Their Paris Agreement Commitments, New Study Finds

1) Bolsonaro In, Merkel Out: The Paris Climate Gang Is Breaking Up
GWPF & Climate Home News, 31 October 2018 
2) Will Trump And Bolsonaro Unravel The Paris Climate Agreement?
The Daily Caller, 29 October 2018

3) Only 16 Countries Meet Their Paris Agreement Commitments, New Study Finds
EurActiv, 29 October 2018
4) New Asian Coal Plants Knock Climate Goals Off Course
Financial Times, 31 October 2018
5) The UK’s Autumn Budget And Environmental Policy: A Tale Of A (Recyclable) Tub
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor, 31 October 2018 
6) Cuadrilla Says UK Fracking Rules Risk ‘Strangling’ It
Financial Times, 31 October 2018 
7) Matt Ridley: Fracking’s Enemies Are Wrong To Call These Earthquakes
The Times, 31 October 2018
8) And Finally: Fukushima Wind Turbine, Symbol Of Tsunami Recovery, To Be Removed Due To High Maintenance Costs
The Japan Times, 27 October 2018

Full details:

1) Bolsonaro In, Merkel Out: The Paris Climate Gang Is Breaking Up
GWPF & Climate Home News, 31 October 2018 

While Brazil has elected a climate sceptical president, Germany’s ‘climate chancellor’ Angela Merkel has announced that she is gradually stepping down from her political roles. Green news outlets are voicing concern that these and other developments in the Western world are putting the Paris agreement and the entire climate agenda at risk of falling apart.


The alliance of rich, emerging and poor economies that sealed the Paris climate deal is falling apart.

In 2015, the world’s top two emitters, the US and China, joined with Brazil, some small island countries and the European Union, led by Germany, France and the UK, to land the agreement.

But climate change politics have shifted significantly since then, with two more big tilts this week. Brazil elected a staunch and radical anti-environmentalist president, while Germany’s Angela Merkel confirmed her exit plans, further weakening an already fading image as the “climate chancellor” and Europe’s go-to leader in the field.

It is the latest bout of a malaise that has infected climate efforts since Donald Trump was elected in the US in 2016.

Now, in many important countries, climate scepticism and economic nationalism are usurping the international green enthusiasm of 2015. As a result, political support for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, sending aid to the poorest and most vulnerable countries and discussing it all in multilateral summits is waning. Others that remain committed to climate action are consumed by domestic concerns – like Brexit in the UK, and political instability in Germany.

Full story

2) Will Trump And Bolsonaro Unravel The Paris Climate Agreement?
The Daily Caller, 29 October 2018

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil has provoked international concern that his disdain for the Paris climate accord could unravel the agreement altogether.

President Donald Trump announced the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in June 2017, telling the world that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Despite its status as the world’s sole superpower, America’s rejection of the international agreement did not ultimately kill it. No other country has followed suit, while numerous state and local politicians have vowed to work around the federal government to adhere to the agreement.

However, America’s status as the only country to reject the Paris deal could be coming to an end. Brazil on Sunday resoundingly elected a conservative politician who has shown as much antipathy for the international climate agreement as Trump: Jair Bolsonaro.

While on the campaign trial, the 63-year old congressman pledged to leave the 2015 global agreement, telling supporters that it infringes on Brazil’s sovereignty.

However, the conservative lawmaker moderated his position in the waning days of the election, suggesting that he would keep Brazil in the pact as long as assurances are made that the government can maintain its sovereignty over the Amazon and indigenous lands in the region.

“Could we run the risk of losing our Amazon in the Paris Accord? You have the answer,” Bolsonaro said Thursday at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Should Bolsonaro feel that these guarantees aren’t met, he could follow Trump’s example by walking away — taking the most influential South American country and fifth-most populous in the world with it.

Not only would the exit of a large and influential country deal a devastating blow to the Paris climate agreement, but Brazil’s ownership of the Amazon makes it a strategic member of the pact. Representing over half of the world’s remaining rainforests, the Amazon is an essential sink for the globe’s CO2 emissions. Millions of dollars in subsidies are given to Brazil to reign in deforestation.


Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), poses with his wife Michelle as they arrive to cast their votes, at a polling centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/Pool

However, major international supporters of the Paris deal would enact swift blows to the Brazilian government if it were to withdraw. French President Emmanuel Macron announced in a United Nations speech that his country — and all of the EU by extension — would not enter into a trade deal with any country that is not signed onto the agreement. Not only would Brazil lose out on its subsidies, but its agricultural sector would lose big on exports.

Full story

3) Only 16 Countries Meet Their Paris Agreement Commitments, New Study Finds
EurActiv, 29 October 2018

Only sixteen countries out of the 197 that have signed the Paris Agreement have defined national climate action plan ambitious enough to meet their pledges, according to a policy brief released on Monday (29 October), ahead of the crucial UN climate conference COP24 in Katowice (Poland) in December.

The 16 countries are: Algeria, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore and Tonga.

“Our analysis reveals that countries are being slow to reproduce their NDC (‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ or climate pledges in UN jargon) commitments as targets in national laws and policies,” the report said.

Implementing the Paris Agreement relies on countries’ translating their commitments set out in the NDCs into national laws and policies, which in turn define quantified and measurable domestic targets, the policy brief explained.

However, it found this translation to be inconsistent with the countries’ climate pledges, a situation that raises doubts about the likelihood of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, it warns. […]

As it is, there remains a significant gap between the global projected emissions in 2030 and emissions compatible with the Paris goals – that is, holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C – with current NDCs collectively limiting global warming between 2.7 and 3.7°C.

The brief found that 157 of the 197 countries, or Parties to the Paris Agreement in UN jargon, have submitted NDCs that include a target for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from their economies as a whole.

These 157 parties were responsible for about 95 per cent of global annual emissions in 2014, it pointed out.

“However, only 58 of the Parties to the Agreement have set economy-wide targets for emissions reductions in their domestic laws or policies, and just 16 of these are as ambitious as, or more ambitious than, the pledges in their NDCs,” it underlines.

Full story

4) New Asian Coal Plants Knock Climate Goals Off Course
Financial Times, 31 October 2018
Leslie Hook, David Sheppard and Myles McCormick

A fleet of new coal plants in Asia threatening to derail global emissions targets has exposed the growing “disconnect” between energy markets and climate goals.

Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, said the growth of coal-fired power in Asia was worrying because the new plants would “lock in the emissions trajectory of the world, full stop”.

“How we are going to deal with this problem is for me the nerve centre of the climate change debate today,” Mr Birol told the Financial Times.

Asia has 2,000GW of coal-fired power plants that are operating or under construction — more than 10 times as much as the EU — and many of them are inefficient plants.

While the coal fleets in the US and Europe are older, 42 years on average, and nearing the end of their life, Asia’s coal plants are just 11-years-old on average and most still have decades left to operate.

Mr Birol said the Asian coal plants were a crucial reason why renewable energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions were both increasing at the same time. “It’s one of the blind spots of the climate change discussion,” he said.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions ticked up 1.4 per cent last year, following several years of staying flat, and are set to rise again in 2018 owing to greater demand for fossil fuels. Asia accounted for two-thirds of the growth in emissions last year.

This month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations, said global emissions had to reach net zero by 2050 if the world was to limit warming to 1.5C from pre-industrial levels. That would require a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel consumption, as well as developing technology that could remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Bringing global emissions to a peak so that they start to decline as soon as possible was an important recommendation of the report.

However, that goal looks increasingly challenging. “With these targets, and what is happening in the market, there is a big disconnect,” said Mr Birol. The data on energy consumption is moving in “close to the opposite direction” of climate targets.

Last year China’s coal-fired power generation grew 4 per cent, while India’s rose 13 per cent, according to IEA data. The rate of investment in the construction of new coal-fired power plants, however, also slowed down last year, according to the agency.

Full story

5) The UK’s Autumn Budget And Environmental Policy: A Tale Of A (Recyclable) Tub
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor, 31 October 2018

The United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Philip Hammond delivered his Autumn Budget, 2018, on Monday the 29th of October. Although silent on many environmental issues it contains clear indications that the Treasury is persisting in its attempt gradually to introduce technology neutral carbon taxation to replace income support subsidies to renewables. If successful, this attempt will represent a major and by and large desirable change of direction.

If attacked or troubled by a whale, sailors in the seventeenth century were in the habit, so it is said, of distracting the creature by tossing out a barrel with which it could be tempted to play as  the ship made its escape. Jonathan Swift took the concept as the title and the underlying jest of his first satire, The Tale of a Tub of 1704 (Figure 1, below, shows the frontispiece to a later edition). It may also be seen as a model for the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget of 2018, at least insofar as environmental policy is concerned, with the whale as the green sentiments of the public, and the distracting “tub” the tax on plastic packaging.

Figure 1: The Leviathan of Popular Environmentalism, distracted for the moment by a sustainable container. 
Meanwhile the Chancellor and his colleagues set sail in another direction.

Elsewhere, and apart from a promise to fund the planting of trees, this Budget makes only apparently minor references to the environment or to climate change. As we shall see, these references are in fact heavily freighted with meaning, but the whole presentation is certainly in a minor key. There is, admittedly, some Green Boasting – the plastics policy is described as “world leading” – but the usual touchstones are absent. Indeed, the term “renewable” does not appear at all in the text, a notable omission, and there is nowhere any sign that the government has given in to recent and very vocal lobbying demanding a restart for subsidies to wind, deviously badged with Orwellian disregard for the truth as “subsidy-free” long term contracts. The Treasury’s 2017 moratorium on new support for renewables until the current expenditure levels start to fall, remains in place.

Furthermore, the Carbon Price Support (CPS) has been frozen, at £18 per tonne of carbon dioxide, the justification being that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme price has recently risen to relatively high levels. However, the Budget goes still further and actually signals an intention to reduce the level of Carbon Price Support if the ETS price remains high.

In a rather more conciliatory gesture, the Treasury has also announced that should the UK have to leave the Emissions Trading Scheme, as would be necessary in the case of a No-Deal Brexit, then a UK-specific Carbon Emissions Tax would be introduced from the 1st of April 2019 at the rate of £16 per tonne of carbon dioxide, in order to “help meet the UK’s legally binding carbon reduction commitments under the Climate Change Act” (p. 3). The implicit admission that such a level of tax, which is lower, of course, than the current Carbon Price Support, will only “help” towards the Climate Change Act targets is significant. It wouldn’t be sufficient, and the Treasury is quite aware of the fact. The implications for the CCA are left hanging, suggestively in the air.

But this initial No-Deal Brexit measure would appear to be a stop-gap measure, since the Budget text observes in addition that:

The government is also legislating so it can prepare for a range of long-term carbon pricing options. (p. 48)

Indeed, the implication seems to be that even if there is a deal, EU ETS membership would in time be replaced with carbon pricing legislation specific to the UK.  Some will find that implicit refusal to take the Brexit dividend regrettable, and I agree, but realistically one could not expect the government to do anything else at this stage and so long as the Climate Change Act remains on the Statute Book.

Indeed, it is notable that an Act of the United Kingdom parliament, albeit an arguably foolish one such as the CCA, is presented as the driving legislation, and the EU ETS simply as an ancillary mechanism, to be replaced or supplemented as required. This is beginning to sound like “taking back control”.

But most of all, these remarks are entirely consistent with the persistent rumours that Treasury would much prefer, as would most economists, a climate policy grounded in carbon taxation rather than income support for renewables.

Circumstantial evidence in support of this view can be seen in the otherwise easily missed fact that the Treasury wishes to equalize the rates of Climate Change Levy (CCL) on electricity and gas (p. 53). That is precisely the sort of efficient tidying and ground clearing that is to be expected ahead of a new policy departure in this area.

There can be no doubt that something important is afoot here. The plastics tax, laughable in some ways and laudable in others, is not opportunistically intended to camouflage a weakening of environmental policies. The truth is much more dramatic. It is providing cover for a major change in the fundamental character of the United Kingdom’s approach to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

This country is now clearly and steadily moving away from heavy-handed attempts to pick winners via subsidies to renewables, and tacking carefully towards the technology neutral and much more flexible approach of carbon taxation.

Full post

6) Cuadrilla Says UK Fracking Rules Risk ‘Strangling’ It
Financial Times, 31 October 2018 

The head of the energy company that is seeking to become the first in the UK to start commercial fracking for gas has warned the government that its regulatory system risks “strangling” the nascent industry.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, called on the government to relax operating rules that have forced the company to halt work several times after it unleashed earth tremors at its fracking site in northern England.

Fracking has revolutionised the US energy industry, and Cuadrilla is hoping to replicate this success in the UK, although it has encountered strong opposition from environmental protesters worried about pollution and earthquakes.

Since it began fracking tests on October 15 at its Little Plumpton site near Blackpool, Cuadrilla has caused 31 tremors, including three that were of sufficient magnitude under its operating rules to require the company to stop work.

Mr Egan said the government needed to move “within weeks” to relax the rules covering Cuadrilla or it may never discover if the UK’s shale gas resources are commercially viable.

“It could be strangled before birth, this thing,” he told the Financial Times.

Hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep under the ground at high pressure to release gas from rock formations, often in wells that run horizontally rather than vertically.

Under Cuadrilla’s operating licence, the company has signed up to a so-called traffic light system devised by the government that requires it to stop work if activity above 0.5 on the Richter seismic scale — a level imperceptible to humans — is detected.

Over the past two weeks, three tremors measuring more than 0.5 have been recorded — the highest one being 1.1. These three constitute “red lights” that require a halt to operations.

Mr Egan said the government should allow Cuadrilla to maintain operations amid tremors measuring up to 2.0 on the Richter scale — a level he insisted would pose no risk of damage to the surrounding area.

Other countries including Canada and the US allow seismic activity well above 2.0, he added.

“It certainly looks like it would be — I can’t say impossible — but I could say very difficult to make this a commercial venture if you had to continue operating within a 0.5 red line,” said Mr Egan. [...]

Claire Perry, the energy minister, said two weeks ago she was “not considering weakening the monitoring controls on seismicity”.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said on Tuesday this position had not changed.

Full story

7) Matt Ridley: Fracking’s Enemies Are Wrong To Call These Earthquakes
The Times, 31 October 2018

Last Saturday, BBC Radio 4 ran throughout the day with headline news about the shale-gas company Cuadrilla causing “micro-earthquakes” in Lancashire, as if the ground was trembling. It wasn’t. The tremors from fracturing gas-soaked shale rock more than a mile below the surface, picked up by ultrasensitive sensors, were far too weak to be felt at the surface. They were never going to threaten the integrity of the steel and concrete casing of the gas well itself, as some activists have since claimed.

The vibrations were tens of thousands of times less powerful than the kind of tiny earthquake that, according to the official Richter scale, “almost never cause damage”. They were smaller than the vibrations that can be routinely caused by quarrying, artillery training, mining, tunnelling, passing lorries, underground trains, geothermal wells, pile driving and building works. (Even thunder can cause seismic waves.)

There was a 3.1 magnitude natural earthquake on September 15 at 6.39pm near Newton Aycliffe in Durham. That’s several thousand times as powerful as anything caused by the recent fracking. Nobody reported feeling it, according to the British Geological Survey.

British regulations say that anything over 0.5ML (local magnitude) triggers a “red traffic light”. This has been interpreted as meaning that fracking must stop for good. Not so. As the geophysicist James Verdon from Bristol University explains, when the traffic light goes red, you don’t scrap your car, you stop for a short period till the light changes, then drive on. That’s exactly how the shale-gas traffic light is designed: if there is a tremor, then the company fracking the well must pause for some hours to let further vibrations settle, before resuming work.

Britain’s threshold of 0.5 is far more sensitive than that used in other countries, such as Canada. As Francis Egan, the chief executive of Cuadrilla, points out, if any other industry had to stop work when it triggered 0.5ML vibrations, then “you’d never get a wind farm built, you’d never get Crossrail built” and many HGVs would be off the roads.

Britain has gone from being a gas exporter to a huge gas importer in little more than a decade. Most Britons heat their homes with gas. Our vital chemical industry is at risk of leaving for countries with cheaper gas. Switching to gas has been the biggest cause of falling carbon dioxide emissions. The Bowland shale is among the richest and thickest sources of gas yet found, and could bring prosperity to the north. The Russians are spreading anti-shale propaganda to protect their exports. Yet because a few fanatics have decided to campaign furiously against fracking, are we to turn our backs on this vital industry?

8) And Finally: Fukushima Wind Turbine, Symbol Of Tsunami Recovery, To Be Removed Due To High Maintenance Costs
The Japan Times, 27 October 2018

FUKUSHIMA – A floating wind turbine built off Fukushima Prefecture to symbolize recovery efforts after the 2011 nuclear disaster will be removed, a government source has said.

This floating wind turbine, erected in the Pacific Ocean some 20 km off the town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, is scheduled to be removed due to high maintenance costs. | KYODO

The offshore power facility was put in place as the Fukushima Prefectural Government introduced renewable energy after the triple-reactor meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in the days following the massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Experimental studies were conducted with a view toward commercialization but the turbine, one of the world’s largest with a rotor diameter of 167 meters, was deemed unprofitable due to multiple malfunctions decreasing the utilization rate.

“At present, we are considering a method of removal because the maintenance cost is too high,” the government source said Friday.

The turbine is one of three on a floating wind farm 20 km off the coast of Naraha.

The price tag to remove the ¥15.2 billion turbine, which has an output capacity of 7,000 kilowatts, is expected to be around 10 percent of the building cost.

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

1 comment:

Unknown said...

In article 4 you say that scientists of the IPCC say that... The UN IPCC is not a scientific organisation, they only cherry pick the articles of scientists who agree with their global warming story. They are not scientist, nor does the IPCC employ any scientists; the whole organisation is entirely political in it s makeup.