Sunday, March 10, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: EU Leaders Fear Rising Energy Prices Will Boost Populist Parties In European Elections








As Energy Prices Rise Sharply, Dutch Turn Climate Sceptical

In this newsletter:

1) As Energy Prices Rise Sharply, Dutch Turn Climate Sceptical
NL News, 7 March 2019

2) Carbon Taxes May Decide Dutch Elections 
NL Times, 8 March 2019



3) EU Leaders Fear Rising Energy Prices Will Boost Populist Parties In European Elections
Energy Reports, 23 February 2019

4) Benny Peiser: Energy Revolts & The Crisis of Europe’s Green Energy Agenda
De-Greening Day, Amsterdam 7 March 2019

5) John Constable: The UK Offshore Wind Sector Deal -- A Reality Check
GWPF Energy, 7 March 2019

6) David Whitehouse: China And The Pause
GWPF Observatory, 8 March 2019
 

Full details:

1) As Energy Prices Rise Sharply, Dutch Turn Climate Sceptical
NL News, 7 March 2019

The number of Dutch people who are worried about climate change decreased significantly over the past months. While the group who thinks that addressing greenhouse gas emissions is going too far is growing since the government announced their climate plans, according to a survey by Peter Kanne of I&O Research, AD reports.

At the end of 2015 two thirds of Dutch thought the cabinet should do more to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses. Now it’s only 48 percent. In the same period, the group that thinks the government should do less grew from 7 to 19 percent. Late last month 65 percent of Dutch said they were worried about climate change, a significant decrease compared to the 78 percent who were worried about this in December.

Two thirds of Dutch are convinced that humans are responsible for global warming. But the group that thinks their own actions can make a difference is much smaller. Some 60 percent of Dutch think that as long as large companies do not reduce their CO2 emissions, their own actions don’t matter. […]

“The skepticism about climate change is increasing”, Kanne concluded, according to AD. He believes this turnaround is linked to the draft Climate Agreement the government presented just before Christmas.

“In our latest poll we see that people are not that enthusiastic about it. They are afraid that it will cost them a lot of money. And of course it is not pleasant either: we are called upon give up nice things like eating meat, long showers and going on holiday by plane. And you do not immediately get anything in return.”

Full post

2) Carbon Taxes May Decide Dutch Elections 
NL Times, 8 March 2019

A recent poll by I&O Research showed that the number of Dutch people who are worried about climate change decreased significantly over the last months, while the group who thinks that the government is too focused on reducing emissions is growing.

The first debate for the Provincial State elections of 20 March, which will ultimately also determine the composition of the Senate, happened on RTL on Thursday. The climate was one of the main points that the leaders of the VVD, CDA, D66, PVV, SP, PvdA and FvD debated, NU.nl reports.

D66 leader Rob Jetten called on Jesse Klaver and GroenLinks to team up with his party in the area of climate after the Provincial States elections. “We have to make sure that we get [VVD leader Klaas Dijkhoff] to tax pollution, shut down coal fired power plants and maybe even implement road pricing”, Jetten said. He hopes that with Klaver on his side, they can convince Dijkhoff to take more ambitious climate measures.
Over the past months the VVD has been increasingly skeptical about the climate agreement, which has yet to be concluded.

Road pricing – taxing motorists for the kilometers they drive – is even a taboo for the Liberals, according to the newspaper. In the coalition agreement it was made clear that road pricing will not be introduced in this cabinet period. The plans for the draft climate agreement are currently being calculated for feasibility by the Netherlands’ planning offices. The results are expected on March 13th. After that, parliament and the government will discuss the plans before a final agreement is concluded.

On March 20th, the Netherlands will elect the members of the Provincial States, who in turn will elect a new Senate in May. Trends in the polls show that the Rutte III coalition of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie will likely lose their current one-seat majority in the Senate. If that happens, the government will need support from at least one  opposition party to implement their plans.

“We will be needed after 20 March”, GroenLinks leader Klaver said on Thursday. The green party is willing to help the coalition to a majority on some points, but one thing must happen first. “Large companies have to pay a CO2 tax. That is the only way they contribute to climate change”, Klaver said.

On Thursday morning 17 large Dutch companies published an open letter in the Volkskrant, calling on the government not to implement a tax on CO2 emissions. According to the companies, this will result in job losses, among other things.

VVD leader Klaas Dijkhoff is not immediately convinced of the usefulness of a CO2 tax. “You can tax companies so heavily that they eventually leave the country. Then jobs disappear and CO2 is still released into the air abroad.” Dijkhoff wants to tax businesses in a “smart way”. The VVD leader wants to wait for planning agencies’ calculations on the climate agreement plans before he decides what is the best way to tax companies.

According to Jetten, that the VVD is discussing climate measures at all is a win. “Two years ago, the VVD did not want to know anything about climate policy. Now they are in a coalition with D66 and ChristenUnie and the VVD is slowly coming to a green position.”

Full story

3) EU Leaders Fear Rising Energy Prices Will Boost Populist Parties In European Elections
Energy Reports, 23 February 2019

European citizens face higher energy bills this year as wholesale and environmental costs rise, amid fears the issue could boost the populist vote ahead of the May European elections.

The energy costs for households might be offset as new gas supply pipelines are due to open in the next year.
Germany, alongside its controversial Nord Stream 2 project, said it would build two LNG terminals as it ditches coal and nuclear power.

Russia’s Novatek increasingly exports LNG to Europe from its new Yamal refinery on the Arctic Ocean. Lower prices for Russian LNG will make it difficult for US exporters to compete.

In the short term, however, rising prices are concentrating politicians’ minds across the EU.
Poland, which also has a general election looming in the autumn, has to amend its plans for an energy cap to ensure it does not violate European Union rules on state aid for utilities.

Poland’s populist Law and Justice (PiS) government adopted legislation in December designed to prevent an anticipated rise in energy prices early this year.

The measures aimed to limit power prices at mid-2018 levels, costing around US$2.36 billion, to cut taxes and fees. But PiS, which has a torrid relationship with Brussels, might need to amend the legislation to meet EU rules on state aid.

Poland’s technology minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said energy prices rose 300 per cent last year.

Elsewhere, there are fears energy prices will boost the populist vote.

Across the whole of the eurozone, energy prices rose just 2.7 per cent in the year to January but that came after an increase of 5.5 per cent year on year in December.

“There is a risk of protests like the yellow vests spreading so long as people feel that they are excluded from discussions around energy issues reserved for technocrats,” said Francois Gemenne at SciencesPo University in Paris, in reference to the anti-fuel-tax protests that have dominated French politics since November.

Full story

4) Benny Peiser: Energy Revolts & The Crisis of Europe’s Green Energy Agenda
De-Greening Day, Amsterdam 7 March 2019

The EU’s green energy policies have
 

  • increased energy prices significantly
  • reduced competitiveness of European industries
  • failed to solve the technological Achilles’ heel of intermittent renewables
  • increased energy insecurity and dependence on Russian energy imports
  • increased division between Western Europe and Central & Eastern Europe
  • given rise to widespread public discontent and the rise of populist parties opposed to the green energy agenda

Presentation (PPT pdf)

5) The UK Offshore Wind Sector Deal: A Reality Check
GWPF Energy, 7 March 2019
Dr John Constable, GWPF Energy Editor

The UK government’s long-rumoured Offshore Wind Sector Deal, part of the Industrial Strategy, has at last been published this morning (7 March 2019).

After the delays in publication, much was expected of the Deal, and it is being reported as highly significant, with the BBC, the Financial Times, the Times and the Telegraph all remarking that it commits the UK to supplying one third of its electricity from offshore wind by 2030, from a fleet with a total capacity of about 30 GW. Both Times and Telegraph tell their readers that the government strategy will provide subsidies of £557 million per year to support this growth. The general picture presented is one of a surge in support and ambition:

Financial Times: “UK aims to draw third of electricity supplies from offshore wind” BBC  “Government deal to boost offshore wind”Times“Government turns up power on offshore wind”Telegraph: “Offshore wind turbines to power past fossil fuels by 2030

However, those familiar with the sector will immediately realise that there is something strangely familiar about these numbers. 30 GW is not that large an increment on the current state of the industry, where there is already 8 GW operational, 2.6 GW under construction, 11.5 GW awaiting construction, and 4.6 GW in the planning system, the grand total coming to about 26.6 GW (according to the government’s own Renewable Energy Planning Database).

And the £557 million per year CfD subsidy figure is precisely that already available under the Treasury’s Control for Low Carbon Levies, which requires that there can be no new subsidies for renewables until the aggregate annual total of subsidies begins to fall, probably in the mid to later 2020s.

There just isn’t anything very new here, and it seems reasonable to conclude that this is a simple case of a policy re-announcement being used to suggest a dramatic new initiative when in truth there has been little or no fundamental change. There is, of course, freshly composed “mood music”, but the melodies, “partnership” with government, thousands of jobs, investment in local communities, global leadership, and so on, are not only very familiar but slight and resonantly empty jingles.

A glance at the underlying documents confirms this interpretation. The 30 GW expansion figure is not only little more than the sector currently has in mind, but is found to be “subject to costs coming down” and continuing to come down. Government’s precise wording is worth examining:

“Subject to costs coming down, this commitment could see offshore wind contributing up to 30 GW of generating capacity by 2030. In return, we expect the sector to continue cutting costs committing to lower their impact on bill payers will investing in and driving growth in the UK’s manufacturing base.”

This is, thankfully, not a dirigiste target, but a sketch of the potential that might be achieved if, and only if, cost reductions are deep and sustained, which is unlikely, and if there is a UK manufacturing base which is vanishingly unlikely. One might also reflect that the aspirations of sustained cost-reduction and UK-based manufacturing are incompatible, partly due to fiscal policies and partly to the high cost of energy resulting from climate policies. UK manufactured wind turbines will be expensive.

With regard to income support subsidies, the Deal text simply restates what was already committed, and the text even date-stamps that commitment for the avoidance of doubt. The government writes:

“Taken with the significant commitment from the government in 2018 to run regular Contracts for Difference auctions […] using up to £557m for future Contracts for Difference, this deal has the potential to further build on the UK’s position as a world leader by providing long-term certainty to business.”

This could not be more explicit, the £557m per year subsidy is not new, and it is not guaranteed to the wind industry, who will have to make their bids alongside everyone else.

The only truly novel element that can detected in the headline messages of the Deal is that government has persuaded the offshore wind industry itself to pay “up to” £250m into a new “Offshore Wind Growth Partnership” “supporting better, high-paying jobs right across the UK.”

But even this proves to be nebulous in its details. There are the usual promises to “address challenges”, to “support productivity”, to “increase competitiveness”, to “work with” business, to “promote greater collaboration”, and, of course, to “drive innovation” (see p. 30–31). All this is very easy to say, but given the breadth of the ambition £250m doesn’t seem likely to go far, and whether any of that money actually arrives and in the right places remains to be seen.

It would be wrong to describe this Deal as a “damp squib” – it is far too noisy to deserve that put-down – but it is certainly little more than Public Relations, and in all probability the wind industry will be reasonably satisfied that this PR secures its market standing and gives the impression of ministerial support.

Full post

6) David Whitehouse: China And The Pause
GWPF Observatory, 8 March 2019
Dr David Whitehouse, GWPF Science Editor

Chinese climate scientists: The so-called hiatus in global temperature is illuminating, significant and real.

Chinese climate scientists are clearly off-message. They keep referring to the global warming hiatus which so many scientists and activists – those who shout on twitter and prowl the comment sections of off-colour articles on the subject – know has been trounced and discredited again and again. They clearly ought to have a word with the emerging science powerhouse that is China.

Writing recently in “Science of The Total Environment,” Li and Zha of Nanjing Normal University, say the global hiatus has played a prominent role in their thinking and they see it reflected in China. Using satellite data they found a hiatus in China between 2001-15. They found warming in western and southern China and a 15-year cooling trend in northern China. For China as a whole they estimate that the warming rate is just -0.02°C per decade. The conclude that, “there is a regional warming hiatus, a pause or slowdown in China, and (it) implies that greenhouse gas induced warming is suppressed by other natural forcing in the early 21st century.”

There is also Li et al writing in Climate Dynamics who are a little more forceful saying, “since the late 1990s, the global warming has ground to a halt, which has sparked a rising interest among the climate scientists. The hiatus is not only observed in globally average surface air temperature, but also in the China winter air temperature trend, which turns from warming during 1979-1997 to cooling during 1998-2013.” They attribute the effect to the melting of Arctic sea ice.

Gan et al (Lanzhou University and South Dakota State University), reporting in Earth and Space Science say that the hiatus, if not cooling, is seen over the Northern Hemisphere finding that the daily temperature minimum experienced an “obvious” decline in North America during the warming slowdown period. They relate the changes in daily temperature minimum to the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation.

He at al (National Science Review) note that carbon budgets in ecosystems in China are coupled with changes in climate. They point out that in the past decade China has experienced changes in the characteristics of its summer monsoon as well as “decelerated warming.” They point out that in general changes in China’s ecosystems are poorly documented.

Looking at East Asian surface temperatures Xie et al in Climate Dynamics suggest that the effect of the North Atlantic Oscillation, operating through its influence on the African-Asian multi-decadal teleconnection pattern, will mean that East Asian surface ait temperatures will remain at their current levels or slightly cooler between 2018 -2034, and will then increase.

Elsewhere in the world Wanatabe et al in Nature Scientific Reports say that the Indian Ocean Dipole – an inter-annual mode of climate variability in the Indian Ocean – has intensified with 20th century global warming. However, the data shows a global-warming hiatus between the late-1990s and 2015. They say it is presently unclear how this global warming hiatus, as they put it, will affect regional ocean parameters.

All of these interesting papers come from mainstream journals, and all are food for thought. The so-called hiatus in global temperature is illuminating, significant and real.

Feedback: david.whitehouse@thegwpf.com


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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