Saturday, November 24, 2018

Irish Households Face €3,000 Tax Bill On Fuel And Energy To Cover Climate Costs

How The BBC Quietly Obliterates And Rewrites Science News

In this newsletter:

1) Irish Households Face €3,000 Tax Bill On Fuel And Energy To Cover Climate Costs
The Irish Independent, 21 November 2018
2) Ireland’s CO2 Emissions Could Be ‘95% Off Target’, Says Minister
The Irish Times, 22 November 2018

3) Irish Taxpayers To Be Hit With €100m Bill For Failure To Act On Climate Change
The Irish Independent, 22 November 2018
4) Green Inhumanity: One In Four Households Living In Energy Poverty In Ireland
Catholic Ireland, 11 July, 2018

5) How The BBC Quietly Obliterates And Rewrites Science News
GWPF Observatory, 22 November 2018
6) Rising Sea Levels May Build, Rather Than Destroy, Coral Reef Islands
Northumbria University Newcastle, 12 November 2018
7) Rupert Darwall: The Failure Of The Climate Change Act: Ten Years On
The Spectator, 23 November 2018
8) And Finally: Is A Shale-Sized Oil Boom Hiding In Britain’s Atlantic Bedrock?
Bloomberg, 22 November 2018

Full details:

1) Irish Households Face €3,000 Tax Bill On Fuel And Energy To Cover Climate Costs
The Irish Independent, 21 November 2018

Households face annual carbon tax bills of at least €3,000 unless the Government introduces a raft of measures to reduce emissions and tackle climate change.

The stark tax bill figure – which could rise to as much as €4,559 – comes just a week after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pledged to cut taxes worth €3,000 to the average worker if Fine Gael is re-elected to Government.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has outlined how the carbon tax will have to increase from €20 per tonne today to between €300 by 2024 and €470 by 2030 if Ireland is to meet its legally binding reduction targets and avoid massive fines.

If imposed, the changes will result in hefty increases in home heating bills and motoring costs.

The average emissions per household from energy use stands at 9.7 million tonnes. When the tax is levied at €20 per tonne, the total paid by households is €194. However, if this tax rate is increased to €300, it will total €2,910 – and if it is hiked to €470, the total comes to €4,559. […]

Irish carbon emissions are among the highest in the EU. Most energy use in an average Irish home is for heating, followed by water heating, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) recently found.

The ESRI suggests that unless a raft of ambitious policies including retrofitted properties, electrifying the transport fleet, achieving mass-scale energy efficiencies and phasing out of fossil fuel use takes place, the hikes will be needed for Ireland to avoid being hit with fines.

Ireland is required to reduce carbon emissions by 20pc over 2005 levels by 2020 to comply with EU rules. It is not expected to reach this target, and the European Commission will likely impose fines or force the State to buy permits to compensate at cost of millions of euro.

More onerous targets are in place for 2030, with a 30pc drop required…..

"We look at what tax would we need to reach the target," ESRI research officer Kelly de Bruin said.

The analysis suggested that if agriculture reduced emissions at the same rate as the rest of the economy, the carbon tax will have to increase from €20 at present to just under €50 by 2020 and €300 by 2030. This would result in the average household paying €2,910 a year in carbon taxes in 2030, up from less than €200 at present.

If agriculture did not play a role, the tax would need to increase to around €150 by 2020 and €470 by 2030 if the State is to hit its targets. This would increase bills to almost €4,600.

Full story

2) Ireland’s CO2 Emissions Could Be ‘95% Off Target’, Says Minister
The Irish Times, 22 November 2018

Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has revealed likely “compliance costs” facing Ireland for falling short of its 2020 targets for reducing carbon emissions – which could be as much as 95 per cent off target.

As a result, Ireland has to recommence the purchase of greenhouse gas emissions allowances and renewable energy credits.

Latest estimates suggest the cost will be up to €13 million over the next two years, but in the case of missed renewable energy targets it could be “€90 million or significantly more”. Much higher penalties are likely after 2020.

Mr Bruton said: “Ireland had agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 2005 levels. While Ireland has jointly the most demanding targets (the EU average is 10 per cent), Ireland is far off course. Current projections suggest we might achieve a 1 per cent reduction, meaning we would be 95 per cent off target.”

During the recession, when output in the economy collapsed, Ireland was meeting its climate targets, he said. However, “once economic growth resumed, growth in carbon resumed, highlighting the very significant structural issues which still exist within the economy in terms of reliance on carbon”.

Full story

3) Irish Taxpayers To Be Hit With €100m Bill For Failure To Act On Climate Change
The Irish Independent, 22 November 2018

The State faces paying a €100m bill in just over two years' time for failing to meet legally binding climate change targets.

Failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a 2020 deadline is expected to incur a bill ranging from €6m to €13m, while a shortfall in achieving renewable energy targets could cost up to €90m.

Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton last night said the Cabinet had approved plans to buy allowances and credits from countries which would achieve their 2020 targets - but this will come at a cost.

The final bill would depend on progress over the next two years, and taking into account emission reductions achieved during the recession.

"During the recession, when output in the economy collapsed, Ireland was meeting its climate change targets," he said.

"However, it is clear that we were only meeting our climate targets in those years because of the huge fall in output.

"Once economic growth resumed, the growth in carbon resumed with it, highlighting the very significant structural issues which still exist within the economy in terms of reliance on carbon."

Ireland had agreed to reduce emissions by 20pc below 2005 levels by 2020, but is likely to be just 1pc below. This means it has produced around 17 million tonnes more carbon than allowed.

To comply, it will have to buy greenhouse gas emission allowances from countries which have achieved their targets at a cost of up to €13m.

Analysis published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland suggests we will achieve between 12.7pc and 13.9pc of our 16pc renewable energy target by 2020 which in a "worst case" scenario will involved the purchase of renewable credits at a cost of some €90m or more.

The State also risks being hit with fines by the European Commission.

Full story

4) Green Inhumanity: One In Four Households Living In Energy Poverty In Ireland
Catholic Ireland, 11 July 2018

Almost one third of Irish people living in consistent poverty could not keep their house adequately warm last year, a Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) has revealed.

The survey highlights that 48 per cent of people living in consistent poverty went without heating at some stage in the last 12 months due to cost, and 29 per cent could not afford to keep their house adequately warm.

Both the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) and Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin highlighted the issue this week ahead of planned energy price increases.

“This is a very real issue. The huge poverty in Ireland is energy poverty,” Bishop Nulty told the Sunday Independent. “I know of people who are already trying to pay back huge energy bills after the ‘Beast from the East’ hit and now, with further hikes on top of that, many simply won’t be able to cope.”

Bishop Nulty called on the government to look at the price increases and think about how the poor in society can be supported.

Full story
5) How The BBC Quietly Obliterates And Rewrites Science News
GWPF Observatory, 22 November 2018

Dr David Whitehouse, GWPF Science Editor

Rewriting science history in the BBC News archive and erasing original content is a dangerous thing to do.

One of the most basic things about journalism, especially BBC journalism, is that anyone should be able to find out what the corporation reported on a particular day about a particular story. Imagine wanting to find out about what Parliament voted for or what was the content of a UN speech, or the conclusions of a report, and not having full confidence that what you are able to look up is what was actually broadcast or written.

The public does not have access to data held in TV and Radio News archives, but they do to the articles published by BBC News Online. Sadly if you want to know what article was published about a certain subject on a particular day you cannot be sure the BBC Online News website is telling you the truth for history might have been rewritten 1984 style if recent antics in its Environment section are anything to go by.

A paper by Resplandy et al. was published in Nature on 31st October. It presented a new method of estimating ocean warming and claimed that oceans were warming 60% faster than had been thought. The new paper, of course, attracted a great deal of international press coverage along the habitual claim that ‘warming is worse than we thought and is getting worse faster.’

The errors in the paper – related to its trend calculations – were obvious almost immediately, despite the paper having been  peer-reviewed for nine and a half months. Mathematician Nicholas Lewis looked closely at the data and concluded that the errors in its measurements were significantly underestimated. The authors acknowledged the errors discovered by Lewis and a process of correction is underway between the researchers, Nic Lewis and the journal.

So far, it has been a good natured affair and demonstrates the way science should work. At the end of the process everyone will know and have learned more. Science wins, but not all science journalists do.
The first flush of coverage was far to unthinking and in general did not reflect the tentative nature of the debut of a new ocean temperature measuring proxy – i.e. the changing components of the atmosphere above it. Too much was simply copied from the press release and not enough questions were asked.

As so often with climate research papers, there was no critical assessment of the paper and no questions about its extraordinary claims. Rewriting much of the press release was the usual technique that passed for journalism.

The BBC’s news story on 1 November was remarkably sensationalist:

The world has seriously underestimated the amount of heat soaked up by our oceans over the past 25 years, researchers say” (although it did say right at the end): “The uncertainty in the ocean heat content change estimate is still large, even when using this new independent method, which also has uncertainties,” said Thomas Froelicher from the University of Bern, Switzerland.

By November 7th it became obvious that the paper’s conclusions were wrong, as the GWPF highlighted in its press release. Two days later, the Ralph Keeling, co-author of the flawed ocean paper, acknowledged the errors and a few days later thanked Nic Lewis for “bringing an apparent anomaly in the trend calculation to our attention.” Shortly afterwards the Washington Post and numerous media outlets in the U.S. published about these new developments reflecting that.

But not the BBC. They did not address the issue until November 20th a day after the GWPF put out a press release suggesting that they should get round to it. The way they did it, however, raises serious concerns.

Rather than writing a new story about these major developments they eradicated the original story and simply overwrote it with a new text, using the same URL. They left it in the archive there with no mention what they had removed the old one, meaning that the original report no longer exists except via the wayback archive.

The original BBC article started:

The world has seriously underestimated the amount of heat soaked up by our oceans over the past 25 years, researchers say. Their study suggests that the seas have absorbed 60% more than previously thought.They say it means the Earth is more sensitive to fossil fuel emissions than estimated. This could make it much more difficult to keep global warming within safe levels this century.

The article’s headline was: Climate change: Oceans ‘soaking up more heat than estimated’

The “corrected” article now starts:

Errors have been found in a recent study suggesting the oceans were soaking up more heat than previously estimated. The initial report suggested that the seas have absorbed 60% more than previously thought. But a re-examination by a mathematician showed that the margin of error was larger than in the published study. The authors have acknowledged the problem and have submitted a correction to the journal.

The headline is now: Climate change: Concerns over report on ocean heating.

The article makes no sense without the original. At its end it contains an unnecessary self-serving, “UPDATE: The original version of this story was published before the errors in the study came to light.” The comment about the large uncertainties in the data by Thomas Froelicher that was present in the original article has been removed.

The original story led the science news page. The “corrected” version, however, is hidden in the archive and not on the BBC’s live page, so few will see it and those that do will not get a chance to read the original article. It’s gone.

The erroneous conclusions from the Resplandy paper are now “out there” and being repeated as fact. How are they to know the situation has changed if the retraction news is not placed in as prominent position as the original?

Rewriting articles in the BBC News archive, erasing the original content is a dangerous thing to do, especially for a news organization with a reputation to uphold. What happens when you can’t trust the BBC archive, when there is a possibility that you are not reading an article as it was originally published but has been completely changed? It jeopardises BBC News’ standing as a journal of record. Researchers and historians looking into media coverage of climate change will be totally misled by this action. Search the BBC News archive for the Resplandy paper and see what you get.

The BBC should restore the integrity of its archive,  recover the eradicated BBC story, and publish the new post on its live science page.


6) Rising Sea Levels May Build, Rather Than Destroy, Coral Reef Islands
Northumbria University Newcastle, 12 November 2018

Rising global sea levels may actually be beneficial to the long-term future of coral reef islands, such as the Maldives, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Rising global sea levels may actually be beneficial to the long-term future of coral reef islands, such as the Maldives, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Low-lying coral reef islands are typically less than three metres above sea level, making them highly vulnerable to rising sea levels associated with climate change. However, research has found new evidence that the Maldives – the world’s lowest country – formed when sea levels were higher than they are today.

The evidence was discovered by researchers who studied the formation of five islands in the southern Maldives. Using a coring technique, they were able to reconstruct how and when the islands formed.

They found that large waves caused by distant storms off the coast of South Africa led to the formation of the islands approximately three to four thousand years ago. These large waves – known as high-energy wave events – broke coral rubble off the reef and transported it onto reef platforms creating the foundations for the reef islands.

At the time, sea levels were up to 0.5 metres higher than they are today, which gave the waves more energy. This means that higher sea levels and large wave events were critical to the construction of the islands.

The researchers say that under climate change, projected increases in sea level and the magnitude of large wave events could actually lead to the growth of reef islands, but only if the coral reef remains healthy to provide the building material.

The research was led by Dr Holly East of the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Northumbria University, Newcastle. She explained: “Coral reef islands are typically believed to be highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. This is a major concern for coral reef island nations, in which reef islands provide the only habitable land.

“However, we have found evidence that the Maldivian rim reef islands actually formed under higher sea levels than we have at present. This gives us some optimism that if climate change causes rising sea levels and increases in the magnitude of high-energy wave events in the region, it may actually create the perfect conditions to reactivate the processes that built the reef islands in the first place, rather than drowning them.”

However, Dr East stressed that this could only occur if healthy live coral was available in the region’s reef communities.

“As these islands are mostly made from coral, a healthy coral reef is vital to provide the materials for island building,” she said. “However, this could be problematic as corals face a range of threats under climate change, including increasing sea surface temperatures and ocean acidity. If the reef is unhealthy, we could end up with the perfect building conditions but not the bricks.”

Full post

The paper Coral Reef Island Initiation and Development Under Higher Than Present Sea Levels is now available in Geophysical Research Letters.

7) Rupert Darwall: The Failure Of The Climate Change Act: Ten Years On
The Spectator, 23 November 2018

The Climate Change Act is ten years old. It was passed in a different age. David Cameron had been hugging huskies to de-toxify the Tories. It was a year before the Copenhagen Climate Conference. ‘Fifty days to set the course for the next 50 years,’ Gordon Brown declared. China and India’s veto put paid to that, but Britain is still lumbered with a law that puts huge economic power into the hands of an unaccountable body, the Committee on Climate Change, which entrenches climate policy unilateralism. However much greenhouse gases the rest of the world puts into the atmosphere, the Climate Change Act compels Britain to almost completely decarbonise.

Jim Callaghan once told his policy chief Bernard Donoghue that the one thing he’d learnt from his years in politics was that when the two front benches agree, you can be sure they’re wrong. Snow fell gently from the sky as 465 MPs voted in favour of the third reading of the Climate Change Bill. Only five MPs voted against: Andrew Tyrie, punished by David Cameron with the chance of any frontbench job but now chairing the Competition and Markets Authority, Ann Widdecombe, Peter Lilley, Christopher Chope and Philip Davies.

Looking back ten years on, the Climate Change Act is a threefold failure. It fails the national interest. The case for the Act assumed global action – Britain leads, the rest of the world follows. Of course that didn’t happen. According to the government’s cost benefit assessment, Britain would contribute nearly half of the total global benefit. Why do anything if you’re going to get very nearly half the benefit at zero cost?

None of the cost benefit analysis accompanying the Act took into account Britain fully participating in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme. Unless the EU’s emissions target changes in line with Britain’s, every tonne of carbon dioxide Britain is forced to cut because of the Climate Change Act enables other EU members to emit an extra tonne – all at Britain’s expense. That is to say, 100 per cent carbon leakage. The net effect on overall emissions is zero. There are no climate benefits from the Act – only costs. To Britain.

If this sounds unnervingly similar to Theresa May’s Brexit, it is somewhat ironic that the backers of the Climate Change Act were and remain strong supporters of Britain’s EU membership. Yet when it came to the Climate Change Act, they were all afflicted by ‘fog-in-the-channel’ syndrome. They simply hadn’t taken account Britain’s participation in EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Climate Change Act is a failure of politics. Politics requires debate and disagreement. With the exception of the five dissident MPs voting against, there was stifling conformity. Politics also requires a degree of honesty, something also absent from this government’s defence of its Brexit deal. Responding to a letter from Peter Lilley on the government’s estimate £404bn of costs, Ed Miliband, the energy and climate secretary, falsely asserted:

‘The impact statement shows that the benefits to UK society of successful action on climate change will be far higher than the costs.’

The impact assessment showed no such thing. Indeed, the assessment was absolutely clear this was not the case. ‘The benefits of UK action will be distributed across the globe,’ it categorically states.

In fact there has not yet been any credible official study on the overall costs and benefits of global warming to Britain, which, it is plausible to believe, could benefit from some modest warming.

Above all, the Climate Change Act is a moral failure. In the 2005 general election, the Labour party pledged to abolish fuel poverty. By 2015, fuel poverty was to have been a thing of the past. By the 2017 election, any thought of abolishing it had vanished. The impact of climate policies means that fuel poverty is here to stay.

When he was energy and climate secretary, Ed Davey admitted that fuel poverty was not something that ‘can be eradicated in any meaningful way.’ Neither did he like the way fuel poverty was measured, complaining it was ‘unhelpful’ because it was too sensitive to rising energy costs. Something had to be done.

So the definition of fuel poverty was changed. The focus was shifted from affordability to the potential to insulate properties. Overnight, the new measure nearly halved the number of households officially defined as living in fuel poverty. Cynical? The interests of the least well off were sacrificed to the powerful interests of the climate change lobby.

The treatment of the economics provides the one glaring contrast with Brexit. The government’s whole negotiating position on Brexit has been driven by maintaining frictionless trade and just-in-time supply chains for manufacturing industry. The Treasury produces forecasts predicting an economic Armageddon if these are in the slightest way interrupted.

But when it comes to decarbonising the economy, the government is entirely indifferent to the impact on economic competitiveness. If decarbonisation is so good for the economy, why is the European Union insisting on maintaining the so-called level playing field and requiring Britain write its decarbonisation commitments into a future trade agreement with the EU?

If the government genuinely wanted to improve competitiveness, raise living standards and abolish fuel poverty, there is a straightforward way. It could repeal, or at the very least, amend the Climate Change Act and remove its blind unilateralism. This is still something that, for the time being, it doesn’t need the EU’s permission to do. But don’t hold your breath.

Rupert Darwall is author of  The Climate Change Act at Ten: History’s Most Expensive Virtue Signal published by the GWPF.

8) And Finally: Is A Shale-Sized Oil Boom Hiding In Britain’s Atlantic Bedrock?
Bloomberg, 22 November 2018

Maverick geologist Robert Trice believes there are billions of barrels of crude ready to drill from granite rock buried under the ocean floor

On a sunny October morning, members of the The Geological Society pack an ornate lecture theater at their imposing headquarters on London’s Piccadilly. One of their number introduces a scientist who “needs no introduction,” the man people had come to see.

Taking to the podium, Dr. Robert Trice, a lifelong rock obsessive who’s also chief executive officer of independent oil company Hurricane Energy Plc, adjusts his glasses and shakes his mop of pale hair. Then he explains his billion-dollar idea.

From inside a ship, sloshing around the 65-foot waves off the coast of the Scottish isles, he plans to poke a diamond-tipped drill-bit into the sea bed. He’ll take it past layers of once-oil-soaked sandstone rocks straight into a strata of solid granite — what geologists call the basement. Then the drill will turn sideways and hopefully intersect a bunch of naturally formed cracks.

If his science is correct, there will be enough oil pooled in those cracks to make him a very rich man.

For more than a decade, people in the industry have excoriated his idea for being too expensive, too technically challenging and even geologically ridiculous.

“I’ve stopped arguing with them,” he said over lunch the day before his speech, sipping on a glass of red wine. “They’ll see.”

Trice, 57, a geology PhD who’s worked in the oil industry for three decades and founded Hurricane in his garden shed in 2005, likes to compare himself to another maverick who went from voice in the wilderness to billionaire prophet: George Mitchell, the father of shale drilling.

Mitchell started experimenting with the idea of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” into shale rock in the 1980s. It took thousands of wells and 30 years for the American oil industry to widely adopt the practices he pioneered. When it did, the U.S. became the largest fossil fuel producer on the planet, permanently altering the global energy trade. Mitchell died in 2013 at 94 with a $2 billion fortune.

While the granite under under the Atlantic Ocean west of the Shetland island isn’t likely to be another Permian, if Trice is right about the geology it will prove billions barrels of undrilled oil. Success would be a significant shot in the arm for Britain’s beleaguered oil industry, where drilling is at its lowest level since the birth of the North Sea in the 1970s.

“Fractured basement isn’t a myth,” said John Browne, the former chief executive officer of BP Plc, who spent part of his early career working in the North Sea. “But it’s difficult to drill.”

We’re about to get a clearer picture of how well it will work. A floating production vessel specially modified for harsh conditions is now sailing through the English Channel to the North Sea. In the first half of 2019, Hurricane plans to use it to produce from two wells.

The test of a good result? Hurricane needs the pressure underground to stay as high as Trice’s models predict, showing the cracks in the granite are interlinked and the pooled crude can flow freely to the surface for a sustained period.

A report commissioned by Hurricane concludes one of its fields, called Lancaster, likely has half a billion barrels of recoverable oil. That’s worth almost $33 billion at $65 a barrel Brent crude, much of which would go to the British government in taxes. Hurricane is also exploring another two fields thought to hold billions of barrels more.

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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