Wednesday, June 26, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: G20 Plays Down Commitment To Climate Change Action

UN Climate Talks Fail To Adopt Contentious IPCC Report

In this newsletter:

1) G20 Plays Down Commitment To Climate Change Action
Financial Times, 25 June 2019

2) UN Climate Talks Fail To Adopt Contentious IPCC Report
The Independent, 23 June 2019 

3) G20 Nations Triple Coal Support, Ignoring Their Climate Pledges
The Guardian, 25 June 2019 

4) Lord Lawson Urges Parliament Not To Approve Net Zero
Global Warming Policy Forum, 24 June 2019

5) Andrew Montford: The Economic Case For Net Zero Carbon Emissions Is Hokum
Reaction, 24 June 2019

6) Terence Corcoran: Why The Global Fossil-Fuel Phase-Out Is A Fantasy Akin To Time Travel
Financial Post, 22 June 2019

7) Super-Cheap Shale Gas & Oil Is An “Unmitigated Disaster” … But Only For Investors, 24 June 2019

8) And Finally: Labour Party Promises Climate Communism
Gaia Fawkes, 25 June 2019 

Full details:

1) G20 Plays Down Commitment To Climate Change Action
Financial Times, 25 June 2019

Japan has bowed to US pressure by watering down commitments to tackling climate change in its draft G20 communiqué, a sign of how Tokyo is seeking to curry favour with Washington amid tense trade talks and concerns over North Korea.

The draft document omits the phrases “global warming” and “decarbonisation” and downplays the Paris climate accord compared with previous communiqués. Analysts say it is an effort to placate the position of the US, which has made clear its intention to withdraw from the 2015 climate pact.

The US and Japan are locked in difficult negotiations over a potential trade deal, in which agriculture and car parts have been sticking points. Tokyo also wants Washington to raise the economic pressure on North Korea and force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

“This really demonstrates the irrelevance of the G20 in addressing the world’s largest crisis at this point in time,” said Jennifer Morgan, head of Greenpeace International. “It is a complete lack of political leadership.”

The G20 summit in Osaka, which starts on Friday, comes after global emissions hit a record high and as demonstrators are planning protests over Japans’ pro-coal policies. Activists are preparing to inflate a blimp with a likeness of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, standing in a bucket of coal, as they urge the country to stop building new coal-fired power plants.

For the past two years, the climate portion of the G20 communiqué has included a “G19 + 1” statement on climate change, with the US making its own climate statement from the rest of the bloc.

This year, the current draft by Japan caters to the US position and avoids calling for reducing emissions or “decarbonisation”.

The wording, seen by the Financial Times, will be discussed by country representative “sherpas” before the summit. It could still change significantly before its final adoption.

“It is quite striking how Japan is giving up on any leadership on climate, and really striking how they are trying to be very nice to the US,” said Luca Bergamaschi, a former Italian climate negotiator. “We know the US is the country with the highest leverage on Japan, so we can expect there is a high degree of discussion between Japan and the US.”

While in the past the G20 and G7 played a crucial role in forging climate deals, that has changed in recent years, after the Trump administration announced it would quit the Paris pact.

This year’s draft does mention climate change, but only among a series of issues, saying: “We recognise the need for addressing global challenges, including climate change, resource scarcity, air and marine pollution, marine plastic litter, biodiversity loss and other environmental issues.”

The document also avoids endorsing the goals of the Paris accord, while previous G20 communiqués had called the agreement “irreversible”.

Full story 

2) UN Climate Talks Fail To Adopt Contentious IPCC Report
The Independent, 23 June 2019 

A major study on how to limit global warming could be dropped from formal UN climate talks in Bonn this week after a “gentlemen’s agreement” was made under pressure from Saudi Arabia.

Last December four large oil producers, Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia, refused to endorse the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which shows what the world could look like under 1.5C of warming.

The report was commissioned by the UN after the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

Now, with UN talks set to continue this week in Germany, Saudi Arabia still objects to the study being part of formal climate negotiations.

The talks are intended to “[raise] ambition to curb greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate resilience-building efforts, and ensure that climate policy is built on a solid foundation of the best available science and knowledge” in the light of the Paris accord, according to the UN.

“If countries are not able to agree on welcoming the report’s findings or doing anything with them, it’s awkward,” Carl Schleussner, head of climate science at the NGO Climate Analytics told Climate Home News.

A “gentlemen’s agreement” was believed to have been made before the meeting, meaning there could not be dedicated space for country representatives to discuss the key findings.

This means that discussions will finish next Wednesday even if no agreement has been reached.

Full story

3) G20 Nations Triple Coal Support, Ignoring Their Climate Pledges
The Guardian, 25 June 2019 

Major economies pledged a decade ago to phase out all aid for fossil fuels

G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies they give to coal-fired power plants in recent years, despite the urgent need to cut the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis.

The bloc of major economies pledged a decade ago to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies.

The figures, published in a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and others, show that Japan is one of the biggest financial supporters of coal, despite the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, having said in September: “Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations … We must take more robust actions and reduce the use of fossil fuels.” The annual G20 meeting begins in Japan on Friday.

China and India give the biggest subsidies to coal, with Japan third, followed by South Africa, South Korea, Indonesia and the US. While the UK frequently runs its own electricity grid without any coal power at all, a parliamentary report in June criticised the billions of pounds used to help to build fossil fuel power plants overseas.

Full story

4) Lord Lawson Urges Parliament Not To Approve Net Zero
Global Warming Policy Forum, 24 June 2019

Lord Lawson has written to all MPs and Peers, asking them to withhold their approval for a controversial Net Zero emissions target until there has been proper consideration of the significant impacts this might have on the British economy.

In his letter of warning to MPs, Lord Lawson said:

"The full economic impact cannot be understated, and yet ministers want to push this amendment through with little to no real scrutiny, in the form of a statutory instrument. Regardless of how you feel about the merits of decarbonisation, it is essential that Parliament has time to scrutinise new laws that are likely to result in astronomical costs."

The measure is being rushed through Parliament as part of Theresa May’s so-called ‘legacy’ in the form of a Statutory Instrument. This means it will only get cursory scrutiny and no impact assessment.

Both the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have estimated that the cost could be well in excess of £1 trillion.

The CCC had advised MPs that the costs would be within the range approved by Parliament when it voted for the previous 80% target in 2008. However, the impact assessment for that target was only published after MPs had already voted on the Climate Change Bill. So Parliament has never had a chance to consider the costs of the Climate Change Act properly.

The Bill had envisaged that Britain’s actions would be imitated by other nations, but instead the opposite has happened. Global emissions have continued to rise, and in 2018 they rose at their fastest rate for 7 years.

Read the full letter here 

WATCH GWPF video -- Net Zero: How Much Is A £trillion?


5) Andrew Montford: The Economic Case For Net Zero Carbon Emissions Is Hokum
Reaction, 24 June 2019

In an era when politicians are increasingly viewed with contempt, a decision to embark on such a madcap scheme without even considering the costs or benefits will surely be seen as wholesale dereliction of duty, the ultimate virtue-signalling insult to the electorate. Supporters of the scheme can surely no longer claim to be a serious party of government.

Last month, the Committee on Climate Change issued its report on how the UK could reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to “net zero”. Since its recommendations are for a complete upending of the economy and our way of life, it is, not to put too fine a point on it, a document of historic importance.

You might, then, have hoped for some careful consideration of the report’s contents, but alas that is not the way of the political class. This week, Parliament will be asked to pass the statutory instrument to embed a net zero target in law and will probably do so on the nod.

The public debate, such as it has been, over the last few weeks has been almost entirely superficial. In particular, nobody seems to have worked out that the CCC has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes about the scale of what is planned. They did this through a carefully worded headline message, which said that net zero could be achieved at a modest cost of 1–2% of GDP in 2050.

This claim seems to have caused some consternation at the Treasury, who issued their own claim that the cost was going to be £1 trillion or more. The result was a public lambasting, with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph saying the claims were “innumerate nonsense”. He alleged that the Chancellor had conflated spending with investment.

In order to get to the truth, this all needs very careful unpacking. First let’s look at the claim that the cost is 1-2% of GDP in 2050. If you dig and dig and dig through the CCC’s reports and the supporting information on its website, you end up at an obscure spreadsheet from which it is possible to work out that the 1–2% figure represents a sum of £50.8 billion, set against £3.9 trillion GDP. But this is the annual figure, not the total to 2050. Over 30 years, it will add up to £1.5 trillion.

So we can see that the Treasury’s figure is indeed innumerate nonsense, but as a result of having understated the number and not, as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard suggested, because they had overstated it.

Moreover, Evans-Pritchard’s claim that spending has been conflated with investment is not true. The returns are included. The CCC explains in its report that when it refers to “cost”, it is talking about something called “resource costs”, which it explains are:

“…estimated by adding up costs and cost savings from carbon abatement measures, and comparing them to costs in an alternative scenario (generally of a hypothetical world with no climate action or climate damages).”

The quote repays careful reading. The CCC says that the resource cost of getting to net zero is 1–2% of GDP. But they aren’t using the word “cost” – in the way normal people do – to mean “how much you have to spend”. They are talking about the extra spending over business as usual, and net of any savings generated along the way as well. The “impact” might be a better word. There are hints elsewhere in the report that the gap is narrowed by adding a value for climate damages to the business as usual case, completely ignoring that the most likely scenario is that most of the rest of the world fails to follow suit – in other words the climate damages value should appear on both sides of the equation. I have been unable to ascertain what value the committee has used though, so whether it is reasonable is anyone’s guess. But what seems clear is that we are being told that we are going to be considerably more than £1.5 trillion worse off than if we did nothing at all. This is a rather extraordinary argument for a policy proposal.

How much actually needs to be spent is not a subject that the CCC addresses, but it’s clear that it is a mind-bogglingly large sum. To give just one example, Professor Michael Kelly, a former chief scientist at the Department of Communities and Local Government, has reported the results of a government project to retrofit insulation to houses. The spending, of £150,000 per home, reduced energy bills by more than half. But this means that, even if the cost could be halved in future, retrofitting all of the UK’s 29 million homes would still cost £2 trillion, money that would have to come out of the pocket of homeowners or taxpayers.

Full Post

6) Terence Corcoran: Why The Global Fossil-Fuel Phase-Out Is A Fantasy Akin To Time Travel
Financial Post, 22 June 2019

A global 'Net Zero' transition would require building the equivalent of one new 1.5-gigawatt nuclear plant every day for the next 30 years.

Judging from the headlines, Canada and the world are on track to ratchet up renewable energy and begin the rapid scale-down and ultimate phase-out of fossil fuels. Most energy analysts consider the fossil-fuel phase-out to be a scientific, economic and political fantasy, akin to levitation and time travel, but the movement keeps making news.

Governments everywhere — from Canada to the United Kingdom to states in Australia — are declaring climate emergencies and committing to variations on zero emissions. The international organization promoting emergency declarations claims “a fast transition to zero emissions is possible.”

Canada’s Green Party, said to be gaining ground, has a new platform plan, headlined “Mission: Possible,” to eliminate fossil fuels by 2050. A proposed Green New Deal in America aims to eliminate fossil fuels from the U.S. power grid by 2030 and phase gasoline out of the transportation sector.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Canada’s oil industry is on its way out: “It’s the direction the world is headed.” The newly announced Liberal and Conservative programs are leaning in the zero-carbon direction, although less explicitly.

So what are the carbon zeroists talking about? Aside from massive amounts of government intervention — almost a total takeover of the economy — the practicality of it all looks a bit impossible, to put it mildly. As the graph below suggests, the required technological and economic change could be a little overwhelming.

The general scale of the operation is hinted at by Climate Mobilization, an organization promoting climate emergency declarations: “Only WWII-scale Climate Mobilization can protect humanity and the natural world.”

In keeping with the analogy, here are some indicators of the magnitude of the coming Green World War III.

In Canada, for example, Vancouver energy consultant Aldyen Donnelly calculated that to achieve the “deep decarbonization” Canada is aiming for will require massive expansions of non-fossil fuel sources of energy.

To produce the electric power needed to offset the lost fossil fuel energy, Canada would have to build 2.5 hydro power dams the size of British Columbia’s $13-billion Site C project somewhere in the country “every year for the foreseeable future” leading up to the proposed 2050 carbon reduction targets. The geographic and cost obstacles send that prospect into the realm of the impossible.

Full post

7) Super-Cheap Shale Gas & Oil Is An “Unmitigated Disaster” (But Only For Investors), 24 June 2019

Fracking has been an “unmitigated disaster” for shale companies themselves, according to a prominent former shale executive.

“The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Steve Schlotterbeck, former chief executive of EQT, a shale gas giant, said at a petrochemicals conference in Pittsburgh.

“In fact, I'm not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.”

He did not pull any punches. “While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.”

The message is not a new one. The shale industry has been burning through capital for years, posting mountains of red ink. One estimate from the Wall Street Journal found that over the past decade, the top 40 independent U.S. shale companies burned through $200 billion more than they earned. A 2017 estimate from the WSJ found $280 billion in negative cash flow between 2010 and 2017.

It’s incredible when you think about it – despite the record levels of oil and gas production, the industry is in the hole by roughly a quarter of a trillion dollars.
The red ink has continued right up to the present, and the most recent downturn in oil prices could lead to more losses in the second quarter.

So, questionable economics is not exactly breaking news when it comes to shale. But the fact that a prominent former shale executive – who presided over one of the largest shale gas companies in the country – called out the industry face-to-face, raised some eyebrows, to say the least.

“In a little more than a decade, most of these companies just destroyed a very large percentage of their companies' value that they had at the beginning of the shale revolution,” Schlotterbeck said. “It's frankly hard to imagine the scope of the value destruction that has occurred. And it continues.”

“Nearly every American has benefited from shale gas, with one big exception,” he said, “the shale gas investors.”’

Full story

8) And Finally: Labour Party Promises Climate Communism
Gaia Fawkes, 25 June 2019 

Not wanting to be left out as Theresa May succeeded in hobbling the UK economy yesterday with a trillion pound hit without MPs even voting on it, John McDonnell doubled down with an even more aggressive green assault on business last night.

McDonnell told an incredulous City audience last night about his plans for legislation to de-list any company from the London Stock Exchange that failed to meet his environmental criteria. It’s hard to overstate just how bonkers this plan is…

One City financier branded it “financial totalitarianism” and said it would be a “catastrophe” for Britain’s economy if it was ever carried out. May’s desperate attempt to carve out some sort of meagre legacy for herself has started a bidding war with Labour over who can inflict more damage on the economy in the name of the “environment” which Corbyn and McDonnell are only too happy to go along with. Never mind the fact that Corbyn showed no signs of caring about it before posh protesters started holding yoga parties on London’s major thoroughfares. Puts “f*ck business” very much in context…

All this will mean is that companies will transfer their listing from the London Stock Exchange to the New York Stock Exchange. It will achieve nothing except to lessen the amount the City of London generates in tax revenues to fund public services. Kamikaze Communism…

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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