Sunday, October 27, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: Chile Explodes Expensive Climate Policies Spark Mass Riots

Chile’s Violence Has a Worrisome Message for Climate Campaigners And The World

In this newsletter:

1) Chile Explodes: Expensive Climate Policies Spark Mass Riots, Just Like the Yellow Vest Protests in France
James Taylor, The Epoch Times, 25 October 2019
2) Chile’s Violence Has a Worrisome Message for Climate Campaigners And The World
The Washington Post, 23 October 2019

3) Trump Prepares To Formally Withdraw US From Paris Climate Accord
The Hill, 23 October 2019
4) Forget Paris: Russia Rejects Climate Change Plan After Business Uproar
The Moscow Times, 17 October 2019
5) Loophole On Counting CO2 Emissions Threatens Paris Climate Agreement
The Japan Times, 11 October 2019
6) Brexit Is Delaying EU Action To Fight Climate Change
Dave Keating, Forbes, 20 October 2019
7) And Finally: BBC Facing Extinction If It Fails To Win Back Young Viewers
Deadline News, 24 October 2019

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1) Chile Explodes: Expensive Climate Policies Spark Mass Riots, Just Like the Yellow Vest Protests in France
James Taylor, The Epoch Times, 25 October 2019

Climate activists and the United Nations are suffering a major black eye this week as protests and riots resulting from high energy prices have erupted in Santiago, Chile.

Chilean firefighters extinguish burning buses during clashes between protesters and the riot police in Santiago, on Oct. 19, 2019. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)

Chile, which is hosting a major U.N. climate conference in December, earned praise from climate activists for recently imposing a carbon dioxide tax on conventional energy sources and switching the Santiago Metro system to renewable power. Now, the people of Chile are rising up and firing a shot across the bow of other nations considering similar energy taxes and expensive renewable energy programs.

On Friday, protesters took to the streets throughout Santiago in response to Metro fare hikes. The protests soon spread to other cities and led to rioting and at least five reported deaths. The Chilean government and the legacy media blamed the fare hikes on rising oil prices. But that is not true.

Oil prices are not rising. Global oil prices are currently 25 percent lower than they were a year ago and 37 percent lower than they were five years ago.

On Friday, over one million people marched in the streets of the Chilean capital — “The Largest March in Chile” with rallies paralyzing major cities.

In Chile, gasoline prices reflect the lower oil prices. Chilean gasoline prices were $1.12 U.S. per liter in August 2019 (the last month for which data are available), compared to $1.28 a year ago. Five years ago, Chilean gasoline sold at $1.50 U.S.

Santiago Metro fares are rising, despite falling oil and gasoline prices, because government officials in 2018 traded out most of the Metro’s energy sources from conventional power to wind and solar power. The Chilean government also hit the portion of conventional power that remains with new carbon dioxide taxes.

As a result, Chileans are now burdened by higher Metro fares reflecting unnecessary energy price hikes. As Chileans protest in the streets, climate activists and their media allies want people to believe oil is to blame rather than government climate programs that raise energy prices and impoverish people.

Unlike speculative climate change harms that never seem to really happen, carbon dioxide taxes and renewable energy mandates immediately and measurably raise living costs and reduce living standards. In the United States, people may have some concern about climate change, but polling shows most Americans are not willing to pay $2 per month to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

In Chile, where per-capita income is merely one-quarter of U.S. per-capita income, people are understandably even less willing to pay for carbon dioxide reductions. Moreover, Chile’s per-capita income is higher than that of most other Latin American countries, so people in other Latin American countries would be even more likely to rise up and protest economically destructive climate change programs like the ones imposed in Chile.

For U.N. officials planning the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) climate conference, scheduled for the first two weeks of December in Santiago, the protests are especially embarrassing. Last year’s U.N. conference took place in Poland, where government officials and the prominent Solidarity labor union have criticized costly U.N. climate programs. Solidarity even held a press conference at the U.N. event and issued a joint statement criticizing U.N. climate activism.

The December 2019 U.N. conference was originally scheduled for Brazil, but the Brazilian government strongly criticized U.N. climate activism and told the United Nations it no longer desired to host the conference.

The Chilean government offered to host the conference in Brazil’s place, touting its carbon dioxide taxes, renewable-powered metro, and other activist climate programs. Yet now the world is seeing the Chilean population rioting in the streets as a result of those taxes and climate programs. This is the third major black eye for the U.N. Conference of the Parties in less than a year.

The Chilean protests, like the Yellow Vest protests that erupted in France a year ago, highlight how out of touch the international climate class is with the people they seek to govern and control. Faced with a choice between suffering certain lower living standards today or dealing with speculative climate change in the distant future, people wisely choose the latter.

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2) Chile’s Violence Has a Worrisome Message for Climate Campaigners and The World
The Washington Post, 23 October 2019
John Authers

If it can happen in Santiago, it could happen anywhere. That is the uncomfortable message that the rest of the world should take from the sudden breakdown of civil order in Chile, and unfortunately it is correct. 

The riots and vandalism of the last few days, which have sparked a state of emergency, a military response, and even a declaration by Chile’s president that the country is at war, have come in Latin America’s stablest and most prosperous nation. It had the longest uninterrupted democracy on the continent before the coup that installed Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1973, and it has enjoyed uninterrupted democracy since his regime’s peaceful fall in 1990.

Outside the country, Chile has been seen as the living embodiment of the economic policies installed under Pinochet by the “Chicago Boys” — a group of economists, many of whom had been trained in free-market ideas at the University of Chicago. Chile’s pension reform, in which everyone must pay into private pension plans overseen by the state, was used as a template by countries around the region, and has allowed a steady buildup of patient local capital.

Meanwhile, globalization allowed Chile to benefit from its huge supplies of copper. In relative terms, its success is undeniable. In 1975, just after Pinochet had taken over power, Chilean gross domestic product per capita lagged Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and even its neighor Peru. Now, it has more wealth per capita than any of them. It has avoided the crises that bedeviled the rest of the region.

The fact that Chileans have revolted against the cost of living, then, is alarming, and suggests a similar situation could more easily happen in the rest of the developing world. Many assumed that insurrections like this would follow hard on the heels of the Great Recession; instead that moment seems to have been delayed amid a decade of slow recovery, but also deepening inequality. Only now is it upon us, with television pictures of protests in Lebanon and elsewhere only amplifying the message from Chile.

If Chile seems an unlikely flash point, why the blowup there? There are, I think, four critical reasons. Taken together, they offer a troubling template for other potential hot spots.

The first is inequality. The Chicago Boys’ agenda delivered reasonably strong and stable aggregate growth, but Chile remains one of the most unequal countries on earth. It ranks as one of the leaders in inequality among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and, according to the World Bank, remains more unequal than either of its very different neighbors, Argentina and Peru. People are far angrier about a rising cost of living if it comes with a sense of injustice.

Second, the catalyst was a proposal to raise public transport fares and energy bills. There is ample evidence from across the world that these will incite rebellion like nothing else — a point that those who hope to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions via a carbon tax should bear in mind. The violent protests of the Gilets Jaunes in France were over higher gasoline taxes, which were seen as penalizing car-dependent people in the provinces while favoring metropolitan elites. Mexico in 2017 saw riots and protests against what was known as the “gasolinazo,” a 20% rise in fuel prices that was a part of the government’s partial privatization of Pemex, the monopoly state oil company. Last year, Brazil was rocked by protests and a strike by truck drivers in response to fuel shortages and a sharp increase in the price of diesel.
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3) Trump Prepares To Formally Withdraw US From Paris Climate Accord
The Hill, 23 October 2019

The White House is reportedly beginning to prepare to formally withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

The official withdrawal would cement a promise President Trump made in the White House Rose Garden in 2017, where he first announced his intention to withdraw from the global climate change agreement signed by every other country.

Trump can formally begin the yearlong withdrawal process on Nov. 4, allowing the U.S. to finalize the process on the same date in 2020 – just one day after the presidential election.

Trump was widely expected to announce the formality during a Wednesday speech in Pittsburgh but instead bashed the deal.

“I withdrew the United States from the terrible, one-sided Paris Climate accord. It was a total disaster,” Trump told crowds gathered at a natural gas event, before repeating a line from when he first pledged to leave the deal, saying “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

His views on the deal have been widely criticized by Democrats, environmentalists, and even some Republicans, who say the U.S. is abdicating global leadership at a time when urgent action is required to stem the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Trump has repeatedly boasted about withdrawing the U.S. from the deal, despite the rigid timelines required by the agreement.

Adding to the confusion was a White House readout of Wednesday’s speech, which said “the President announced he is pulling the United States out of the fraudulent, ineffective, and one-sided Paris Climate Accord.”

When asked by The Hill whether the speech constituted a formal withdrawal, a spokesman for the White House said “the president has already announced the U.S. withdraw from the disastrous Paris Climate Accord.” Reporting from the New York Times indicates the formal process is set to begin soon.

If the U.S. indeed begins the process to leave the accord, it would do so just weeks ahead of a UN summit in Chile, where leaders will hammer out final details for complying with the agreement.

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4) Forget Paris: Russia Rejects Climate Change Plan After Business Uproar
The Moscow Times, 17 October 2019

Russia’s largest companies have killed off plans to introduce individual emissions quotas and a carbon trading system. 

The Russian government has drastically watered-down its new package of climate change legislation after push-back from the country’s leading businesses, the Kommersant business daily reported.

Plans for quotas on carbon emissions at Russia’s largest companies, a new national carbon trading system and penalties for the biggest polluters have now been scrapped. Instead, Russia will only go ahead with proposals to measure and collect data on emissions as part of a five-year green audit.

The campaign against a stricter package of measures was led by the influential Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) — one of the main lobbying groups for Russia’s largest businesses. The new laws were set to be introduced as part of Russia’s ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Originally, the Russian government proposed introducing new climate legislation in two phases. The first would be a five-year stock-taking exercise to measure company-level emissions and set appropriate quotas for reducing emissions. After that, Russia would then introduce a carbon cap on the country’s biggest polluters and penalties for those that exceed their quotas. Earlier plans also envisaged the creation of a national fund to support emissions reduction and a system of nationwide carbon trading.

However, the RSPP has successfully killed-off the entire second phase, including plans to set individual company quotas or targets, arguing that the government should await the results of the climate audit before introducing new laws and regulations to hold firms accountable for their emissions.

“The idea of putting a price on carbon dioxide in Russia has fallen victim to the industrial lobby,” analysts at VTB Capital said in a research note today. This is despite the fact that “the Paris Climate Agreement envisages a greenhouse gas emission target which is higher than Russia’s current emissions. So introducing the quota system is unlikely to be punitive for businesses.”

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5) Loophole On Counting CO2 Emissions Threatens Paris Climate Agreement
The Japan Times, 11 October 2019

Four years after the signing of the Paris climate accord, a major hitch remains: Countries have not been able to reach an agreement on an accounting trick that would allow them to count greenhouse gas reductions twice.

To be sure, the biggest issue remains national targets that are not sufficient to meet the goals of the landmark 2015 agreement signed by almost 200 countries — namely, limiting long-term warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But experts emphasize that poor accounting could compound the problem unless a solution is found. Imagine, for example, a wind plant in India that reduces carbon emissions by 1 ton a year. Starting from 2020, when the trading program linked to the agreement comes into effect, a country such as Germany could in theory buy this amount and count it under its reduction goals, while India could not.

But a group of countries led by Brazil argue that it should be counted for both, which would lead to overall global emissions greater than the sum of the amounts reported by each participating entity.

“It is a really strange position. Most countries don’t support it,” said Lambert Schneider of the Oeko-Institut in Berlin, who co-authored an article on the subject in the journal Science on Thursday.

The need to avoid double counting is spelled out in the accord, but countries failed to finalize the “rule book” on the subject last year in Poland, and it will come up for debate once more at a U.N. conference in December.

“It’s the main outstanding issue to operationalize the Paris agreement.”

The problem is similar for aviation.

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6) Brexit Is Delaying EU Action To Fight Climate Change
Dave Keating, Forbes, 20 October 2019

In June, European prime ministers meeting in Brussels were unable to agree on an EU proposal to completely decarbonize by 2050. Poland, with the backing of a few other Eastern European countries, said they could not support a plan they believe will inhibit their economic growth.

At the time, campaigners were bitterly disappointed.

The failure to agree meant that the EU showed up empty handed to the special UN climate summit in New York last month. It had been hoped that the EU raising its climate ambition would motivate others to do the same. In the end, no major economy made new pledges to up their ambition for their pledges under the Paris Agreement at the New York summit.

People involved in the EU negotiations believe Warsaw’s objection can be overcome by offering Eastern Europe more money to ease the transition away from fossil fuels - mostly through a “just transition fund” that would help workers in coal regions, among other things.

Getting Poland on board will take time. But campaigners say it’s essential for this to be done before the next annual summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is meeting in Santiago, Chile in early December.

Thanks to Brexit, there is no chance of that happening.

EU leaders hold their Brussels summits four times a year, so the next opportunity for them to endorse the 2050 plan was at the October summit this past week. But yet again, the climate discussion had to be postponed because of the ongoing British crisis of Brexit.

After the EU granted it two extensions, the UK was due to leave the bloc on October 31. But with no leaving deal yet agreed by the start of this summit, it had to be used to try to clinch a last-minute agreement. Eventually a deal was agreed, but it appears it will be rejected by the British Parliament, which has already asked the EU for yet another extension.

“Everything is being overshadowed by Brexit,” noted one diplomat from an Eastern European country. That is the reason the climate discussion is being delayed until the next EU summit in December, he said.

“It feels like we can’t make any progress on climate change until Brexit is resolved one way or the other - it’s an infuriating distraction,” grumbled another EU official.

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7) And Finally: BBC Facing Extinction If It Fails To Win Back Young Viewers
Deadline News, 24 October 2019

The BBC is facing the very real threat of extinction unless it can urgently win back young viewers following the explosion in streaming services like Netflix and YouTube.

That’s the eye-catching conclusion of an annual health check on the BBC’s output and operations by its regulator Ofcom, which published a 57-page report on its findings on Thursday.

Ofcom said the BBC is facing the prospect of a “lost generation” of viewers and “may not be sustainable in its current form” if young audiences continue to flock to online rivals.

A senior BBC source, however, voiced frustration with the “sensationalist, headline-grabbing” framing of the Ofcom report and said it does not reflect the British broadcaster’s recent progress.

Among its key findings on young audiences, Ofcom said:

* For the first time, less than half (49%) of people aged 16-24 watched the BBC’s TV channels in an average week.

* Netflix reaches almost two-thirds of 15-24 year olds each week in the UK and YouTube 42%. BBC iPlayer reaches just 26% of this age group, a drop of 28% on 2017.

* People aged 16-34 spent 72 minutes with the BBC in 2018, compared with 76 minutes the year before – a 5% decline.

* The BBC’s youth channel, BBC Three, was moved online in 2016 and since then its reach has halved. In contrast, rival ITV2 has had success with young viewers, largely because of reality format Love Island.

* Young people do not have a “close association” with the BBC News website and consider it to be just “one of many” online news services.

“With increased choice and strong competition in the market, there is a clear risk that as children and young people age, they do not come to engage with the BBC as previous generations once did,” Ofcom said.

“If people don’t consider the BBC as a core part of their viewing, then it may be hard to encourage them to pay the licence fee in years to come which will have significant implications for the BBC’s revenue.”

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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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