Thursday, April 25, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: Germany’s Dirty Green Cars

Climate Sceptic AfD Now Biggest Party In East Germany

In this newsletter:

1) Electric Vehicles Emit More CO2 Than Diesel Ones, German Study Shows
The Brussels Times, 18 April 2019
2) Editorial: Germany’s Dirty Green Cars
Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2019

3) German Power Prices Set To Keep Skyrocketing 
P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, 16. April 2019
4) Climate Sceptic AfD Now Biggest Party In East Germany
The Times, 23 April 2019 
5) Renewable Energy Mandates Are A Costly Failure, New Study Finds
University of Chicago, 21 April 2019 
6) The Ridd Affair Is A Debacle For James Cook University And Its Council Should Look Into It
The Australian, 24 April 2019 
7) David Attenborough, Dead Bats And How Radical Green Propaganda Relies On Tragedy Porn
Andrew Montford, Reaction, 23 April 2019
8) Netflix Series Challenged On Claim That Climate Change Causes Cliff-Diving Walruses
The Washington Times, 22 April 2019 
9) Greta Was Brainwashed In School: “Pictures Of Starving Polar Bears Convinced Me”
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 24 April 2019

Full details:

1) Electric Vehicles Emit More CO2 Than Diesel Ones, German Study Shows
The Brussels Times, 18 April 2019

Electric vehicles in Germany account for more CO2 emissions than diesel ones, according to a study by German scientists.

When CO2 emissions linked to the production of batteries and the German energy mix – in which coal still plays an important role – are taken into consideration, electric vehicles emit 11% to 28% more than their diesel counterparts, according to the study, presented on Wednesday at the Ifo Institute in Munich.

Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt and manganese used for batteries consume a great deal of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 tonnes of CO2. Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.

The CO2 given off to produce the electricity that powers such vehicles also needs to be factored in, they say.

When all these factors are considered, each Tesla emits 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is more than a comparable diesel vehicle produced by the German company Mercedes, for example.

The German researchers, therefore, take issue with the fact that European officials view electric vehicles as zero-emission ones. They note further that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per km by 2030 corresponds to a “technically unrealistic” consumption of 2.2 litres of diesel or 2.6 litres of gas per 100 kms.

Full story

2) Editorial: Germany’s Dirty Green Cars
Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2019

Berlin and Brussels stifle innovation by picking ‘winners.’

Germany’s worst industrial scandal in recent memory arrived when auto companies fiddled with emissions tests to make diesel cars seem greener than they are. Now a new study suggests that electric cars touted as a diesel alternative also aren’t so great for the environment.

A study this month by the IFO think tank in Munich found that a popular electric car releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than a comparable diesel engine. The authors compared CO2 output for a Tesla Model 3 and a Mercedes C220d sedan. They calculated that the diesel Mercedes releases about 141 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer driven, including the carbon emitted to drill, refine and transport its fuel. The Tesla? Between 156 and 181 grams.

The main Tesla problem—and subject of a long-running debate—concerns the CO2 emitted to manufacture the battery. The IFO report pegs this at between 73 and 98 grams per kilometer, assuming a 10-year battery life at 15,000 kilometers of driving per year.

The other problem with electric cars is Germany’s growing reliance on coal for electricity generation. The country’s ruinously expensive energy policy has stimulated renewable electricity but also reliance on coal plants to keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. This heavy-emitting fuel mix means that charging a Tesla in Bavaria releases some 83 grams of carbon per kilometer driven.

This isn’t a universal condemnation of electric cars, which may emit less carbon in countries such as France that rely heavily on nuclear power. It’s better read as a warning that new technologies aren’t a climate-change panacea. Recall the false promises about corn and cellulosic ethanol.

Berlin for years has offered thousands of euros in subsidies to electric-car buyers to get a million of them on the road. The European Union lets manufacturers claim an implausible zero emissions for electric cars under its strict emissions limits. They may have this exactly backward in some European countries.

Full editorial

3) German Power Prices Set To Keep Skyrocketing 
P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, 16. April 2019

According to German online business daily Handelsblatt here, German electricity are set to get significantly more expensive in 2019 due to the power grid becoming 8 percent more expensive to use.  This will make already painfully high electricity prices even more excruciating.

The Handelsblatt cites calculations by German think tank “Agora Energiewende”, which reports that revenues for the network operators total 24 billion euros this year.

According to Agora, “Costs previously referred to as grid costs are expected to rise by a total of six to eight percent.” For household customers the grid already amounted to 7.17 cents per kilowatt hour in 2018, which compared to 6.79 cents per kilowatt hour levied for the renewable energy feed in tariffs. This year it was 6.41 cents.

According to the Handelsblatt, “The EEG levy and grid fees thus add up to amounts of over 50 billion euros” annually. The rising grid fees are due to “massive investment in grid expansion to integrate renewable energies into the grid”. And because Germany’s Energiewende (transition to green energies) still finds itself in the early stages, the costs are projected to keep rising.

In Germany, electricity prices of around 30 cents per kilowatt hour for private consumers are among the most expensive worldwide, and are in fact “the highest in Europe” Handelsblatt reports.

What is especially warped about Germany’s electricity market is that one kilowatt-hour of electricity “is available in wholesale for less than five cents”, reports the Handelsblatt. This shows how grotesquely distorted the price structure has become since renewable energies have been mandated and nuclear power plants taken offline. .

4) Climate Sceptic AfD Now Biggest Party In East Germany
The Times, 23 April 2019 

The radical right-wing Alternative for Germany has emerged as the most popular party in the east of the country, overtaking Angela Merkel’s conservatives before finely balanced elections.

The AfD stands a good chance of winning the most seats in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony this autumn, which could hasten the end of Mrs Merkel’s chancellorship. The party’s poll ratings are stagnating in the low teens across Germany as a whole but it has turned the territory of the former communist East Germany into a stronghold and is likely to seize control of dozens of councils in local elections next month.

Full story

5) Renewable Energy Mandates Are A Costly Failure, New Study Finds
University of Chicago, 21 April 2019 

Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? 
Michael Greenstone, Richard McDowell, and Ishan Nath

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the largest and perhaps most popular climate policy in the US, having been enacted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. Using the most comprehensive panel data set ever compiled on program characteristics and key outcomes, we compare states that did and did not adopt RPS policies, exploiting the substantial differences in timing of adoption. The estimates indicate that 7 years after passage of an RPS program, the required renewable share of generation is 1.8 percentage points higher and average retail electricity prices are 1.3 cents per kWh, or 11% higher; the comparable figures for 12 years after adoption are a 4.2 percentage point increase in renewables’ share and a price increase of 2.0 cents per kWh or 17%. These cost estimates significantly exceed the marginal operational costs of renewables and likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system, including those associated with their intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers. The estimated reduction in carbon emissions is imprecise, but, together with the price results, indicates that the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $130 in all specifications and ranges up to $460, making it least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon. These results do not rule out the possibility that RPS policies could dynamically reduce the cost of abatement in the future by causing improvements in renewable technology.

Full paper

6) The Ridd Affair Is A Debacle For James Cook University And Its Council Should Look Into It
The Australian, 24 April 2019 

Tim Dodd, Higher Education Editor

Peter Ridd with his legal team

Thank God for the National Tertiary Education Union. Sacked professor Peter Ridd won his Federal Court action against James Cook University this month entirely because the university’s enterprise bargaining agreement, negotiated by the union, included a lengthy and carefully worded protection for intellectual freedom.

And that is the simple fact. Ridd’s win (he was found to have been wrongly dismissed) was a big victory for intellectual freedom in academia, and its legal foundation is in the commitment of the tertiary union to free speech.

Why is last week’s decision, from judge Salvatore Vasta, so important? It helps to look back at the history of this dispute.

First of all, Ridd is a respected scientist. He was head of physics at JCU from 2009 to 2016, and he managed the university’s marine geophysical laboratory for 15 years. He has expertise in studies of the Great Barrier Reef.

But he held concerns about the methodology used by some colleagues who said that coral bleaching on the reef was a recent phenomenon and linked to global warming.

Ridd also questioned the methodology behind findings that sediment in run-off was damaging the reef.

Ridd spoke to journalists and made public statements about these concerns. He questioned the judgments of colleagues and called on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies to “check their facts before they spin their story”.

But the point about this is that Ridd was arguing about scientific judgments. His views may be right or wrong. But they are testable in the way all scientific assertions should be tested — by observation and experiment. Scientific controversies are a staple of the history of science and, eventually, truth outs.

But the university, offended by Ridd’s contrarian views and possibly fearing the impact it would have on its relations with other bodies such as the GBRMPA and the ARC Centre of Excellence, went after Ridd personally, saying that he had breached the university’s code of conduct by not upholding “the integrity and good reputation of the university”.

The university also trawled through Ridd’s work emails and came up with things that reflected on the organisation and some of Ridd’s colleagues.

There was this statement by Ridd: “ … our whole university system pretends to value free debate, but in fact it crushes it whenever the ‘wrong’ ideas are spoken. They are truly an Orwellian in nature.” And this, referring to some colleagues: “Needless to say I have certainly offended some sensitive but powerful and ruthless egos.”

Such statements, in the view of the university, were again not upholding the university’s good integrity and good reputation.

Sensibly, Vasta took the view that Ridd was just exercising his right, contained in the enterprise agreement, to “express opinions about the operations of JCU” and “express disagreement with university decisions and with the processes used to make those decisions”.

Naturally the university doesn’t agree. In a statement last week, issued after the decision, it stood by its view that Ridd “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees and breaching confidentiality directions regarding the disciplinary processes”.

“We are a university,” JCU also proclaimed in the statement. “Within our very DNA is the importance of promoting academic views and collegiate debate.”
With respect, it is exactly the lack of commitment to academic and collegiate debate that is the problem.

If the university had taken Ridd’s scientific objections to findings about damage to the Barrier Reef seriously, it’s very unlikely that this debacle — which is highly damaging to the university — would have occurred.

There is another point that needs to be made. The science at issue here is not about whether or not global warming is occurring, or whether or not such warming is caused by humans. What Ridd questioned is whether recent bleaching (which nobody disputes occurred) is itself evidence of warming. Ridd presented evidence — which should have been investigated, not summarily dismissed — that bleaching is a recurring phenomenon not specifically linked to warming.

In the court decision, Vasta offered his own defence of intellectual freedom and an implicit rebuke of JCU.

“It (intellectual freedom) allows a Charles Darwin to break free of the constraints of creationism. It allows an Albert Einstein to break free of the constraints of Newtonian physics. It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about. To suggest otherwise is to ignore why universities were created and why critically focused academics remain central to all that university teaching claims to offer,” the judge said.

The Ridd affair should be of major concern to the JCU council — the university’s governing body — and its chancellor, former diplomat Bill Tweddell. If the council doesn’t look into why the university sacked a professor whose honestly held scientific views happened to be unpopular, then it’s failing in its duty.

7) David Attenborough, Dead Bats And How Radical Green Propaganda Relies On Tragedy Porn
Andrew Montford, Reaction, 23 April 2019

“Tragedy porn” is now a standard green propaganda technique. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of it, and will recognise it once I describe it.

First of all you need a victim. Animals – preferably fluffy ones, and preferably with large eyes – are ideal, but people will do at a pinch. Then you have to film them in the process of dying or otherwise suffering. A presenter or scientist needs to be on hand to describe the events, preferably choking away their tears. Then you blame global warming.

It is often an effective technique, but care is required. Last week, tragedy porn proved to be the undoing of Sir David Attenborough, when on Netflix a carefully contrived story that global warming was driving walruses over cliff tops unravelled over the course of a week, as a series of flaws were discovered in the narrative and in the tales spun by the production team as they attempted to cover up what they had done.

Once it emerged that the production team may well have played a role in causing the tragedy, it all started to look a bit problematic.

It’s therefore unfortunate that in Climate Change: the Facts, his latest magnum opus – which aired last week on BBC1 – producers deployed a bit of tragedy porn, and once again it appears that viewers were misled.

The animal that was chosen to front the relevant segment of the new show were bats, and in particular the spectacled flying fox, a native of Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. Flying foxes are an excellent choice for tragedy porn, being very furry and having the most extraordinary bulbous eyes, beautifully evolved to bring out the maternal instinct in everyone.

The producers gave the audience both barrels. We were treated to commentary from Rebecca Koller, the owner of a bat sanctuary near Cairns, who described how a heatwave in the area had left “dead bats as far as the eye could see”. This, we were told, was “climate change in action”. And in case you missed the point, we were also treated to a description of “the deafening sound of babies crying”, with Ms Koller apparently on the verge of tears. Now the young of bats are correctly referred to as “pups”, of course, but this is tragedy porn, and scientific and technical accuracy therefore goes out of the window. Later on, as if to make the “flying foxes look like babies” point absolutely explicit, viewers were treated to images of a pup that had been swaddled and was being bottle fed. Subtle it was not, but hearts no doubt melted across the country anyway.

Sir David informed viewers that the method bats had evolved to cool off – dipping in pools of water – was “no longer enough”. This seemed rather odd to me; I would have thought they’d just need to take a dip slightly more often. Of course, asking awkward questions is not really what is wanted – the idea of tragedy porn is that you are so overwhelmed with emotion that rational thought becomes impossible. For many viewers, no doubt it was. Nevertheless, let us persist.

For example, we were told that temperatures had reached 42°C in Cairns that day, which is certainly hot for that part of the world, but Australia is surely nothing if not a country given to occasional heatwaves. For example, in 1896, newspapers reported temperatures of over 48°C in Wilcannia in the normally cooler south of Australia. Even higher temperatures were recorded by the explorer Charles Sturt in the early 19th century.

Similarly, a perusal of the scientific literature reveals that mass deaths of bats, including as a result of heatwaves, are hardly unusual. Watkin Tench, the naval officer who described the first settlement of Australia in 1790, recorded temperatures of 43°C, and reported an “immense flight of bats…dropped dead or in a dying state, unable longer to endure the burning state of the atmosphere.” Apparently, the parrots fared no better. There are further examples of heatwaves causing mass mortality in Australian bats from the start of the 20th century.

So once again, the story served up by our national treasure turns out to have been grounded more in the hope of political action than of science. And once again, as you dig deeper, the flaws only become worse. In the 20th century, most mass mortality events among bats were the result of deliberate killing by humans or illness. Since then, however, the main cause of mass mortality has been wind farms, and overwhelmingly so. In other words, the major risk to bats is not small increases in temperatures, but attempts to prevent them through panic measures like the renewable energy systems that Sir David and his ilk are so keen to promote.

Full post

8) Netflix Series Challenged On Claim That Climate Change Causes Cliff-Diving Walruses
The Washington Times, 22 April 2019 

Valerie Richardson

A new Netflix documentary series that features disturbing footage of walruses plunging off a cliff to their deaths — a phenomenon attributed by the filmmakers to climate change — has sparked a fact-check backlash by critics questioning whether the animals were actually fleeing polar bears or drones.

Leading the pushback is Canadian zoologist Susan Crockford, who said Netflix’s “Our Planet” is misleading the public about the massive gathering of walruses on the rocky beach, known as a haulout, and the footage showing walruses falling from a steep ledge.

She blasted claims by series narrator David Attenborough during the episode as “contrived nonsense” and “Attenborough’s tragedy porn.”

The episode, titled “Frozen Worlds,” said the enormous haulouts on the Russian coast of the Chukchi Sea were the result of global warming, claiming that the decline of summer sea ice in the Arctic had forced the walruses to squeeze together, with some scaling a rocky cliffside to escape the crowding.

“They do so out of desperation, not out of choice,” Mr. Attenborough said on the series, released April 5. “Their natural home is out on the ice.”

He explained that walruses have poor eyesight and that “as they get hungry, they need to return to the sea. In their despair to do so, hundreds fall from heights they should never have scaled.”

Ms. Crockford, who runs the Polar Bear Science website, argued that the mass haulouts are seasonal gatherings.

“We have records of walrus haulouts that are nearly a century old, including some from this part of the Arctic,” she said in a statement on the Global Warming Policy Forum.

“The idea that walruses are being driven on shore by sea-ice decline is entirely incorrect. They have always done so. In fact, there are reports of walruses falling over cliffs from long before the age of global warming too.”

She posted a 1994 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service video showing dozens of walruses rolling down a cliff to their deaths in Alaska, which a biologist described as “a mystery” and “a real head-scratcher.”

“Walruses have shown similar behavior on the U.S. coastline when space and ice were not an issue, and the reason is unknown,” Lori Polasek, research assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told The Atlantic.

As Ms. Crockford put it, “Sir David’s story about climate change appears to be just that — a fable.”
The series was created in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund, which has stood by the climate change narrative.

“Have you watched the heartbreaking walrus scene in #OurPlanet @Netflix yet?” tweeted the WWF on April 15. “Discover how climate change is having a tragic impact on these incredible animals.”

Netflix did not respond to requests for comment, and the WWF declined a request for additional reaction.

Another bone of contention lies with the footage. Ms. Crockford said some of it appears to have been recorded during a September 2017 episode in Cape Kozhevnikov when hundreds of walruses fell to their deaths after being spooked by polar bears.

The Global Warming Policy Forum’s Andrew Montford pointed to a behind-the-scenes video showing polar bears in the vicinity. He also suggested that the walruses may have been frightened by drones used by the camera crews, though filmmakers have said they were careful to maintain a safe distance.

Full story

9) How Greta Was Brainwashed In School: “Pictures Of Starving Polar Bears Convinced Me”
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 24 April 2019

And where did she get this strange idea from? As she relates, her teachers at school told her, when she was about eight.

Editor's note: Great, heal thyself and read our new book -- The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened

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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