Friday, December 13, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: At Last! Rebel Member States Reject EU Green Finance Law In Setback For Climate Goals

Arctic Temperature Was 7°C Warmer Than Today 10,000 Years Ago

In this newsletter:

1) At Last! Rebel Member States Reject EU Green Finance Law In Setback For Climate Goals
Reuters, 11 December 2019
2) COP Ritual, Stage 5: UN Climate Summit Deadlocked
Reuters, 11 December 2019

3) Greta Thunberg ‘Ignored’ By World Leaders At Climate Summit, Admits Protests Have Achieved ‘Nothing’
The Blaze, 7 December 2019
4) Arctic Temperature Was 7°C Warmer Than Today 10,000 Years Ago
Geophysical Research Letters, December 2019
5) Andrew Montford: Alarmism No More
Global Warming Policy Forum, 10 December 2019
6) John Constable: UK Energy Consumption and Weak Productivity Growth
Global Warming Policy Forum, 8 December 2019

Full details:

1) At Last! Rebel Member States Reject EU Green Finance Law In Setback For Climate Goals
Reuters, 11 December 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union states have rejected a set of rules governing which financial products can be called “green” and “sustainable”, an EU official said, in a major setback for the bloc’s climate ambitions.

The decision overturned a deal struck just last week by EU lawmakers and the Finnish presidency of the EU, which negotiators hailed as a landmark compromise that could establish a global standard on green bonds and other financial products aimed at climate-conscious investors.

Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia opposed the deal at a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels, fearing it would prevent investments in nuclear and coal projects from being labeled as green.

Such investments were not explicitly excluded from the EU’s new classifications, known as taxonomy, but under the rules it would be very difficult to label them as green, potentially reducing future funding for those industries.

France relies on nuclear energy, while European countries are still largely dependent on coal.

The setback came on the same day the EU commission unveiled plans to make the bloc greener and drastically cut carbon emissions.

The taxonomy is considered a key pillar of that strategy as it could increase funding for renewable energies and other green projects while tackling so-called “greenwashing”, whereby firms boost their green credentials without merit.

Under EU rules, lawmakers and governments have to find a compromise over proposed legislation when their views differ. Talks were conducted on behalf of EU states by Finland, which holds the six-month EU presidency until the end of this year.

Usually states support compromises struck by their representatives, but the blocking of the green finance law highlights the deep divisions in the bloc over the matter.

Full story

2) COP Ritual, Stage 5: UN Climate Summit Deadlocked
Reuters, 11 December 2019

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) - Negotiations on how carbon markets can be used by countries to meet their global warming goals under the Paris accord go down to the wire this week as United Nations climate talks enter their final days in Madrid.

Technical experts worked past midnight on Monday, but left some of the thorniest issues for environment ministers and senior officials – who have arrived in Madrid for the high-level section of the talks on Tuesday.

Carbon markets are seen by some as an opportunity to lower the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enabling countries to commit to more ambitious targets. Others see them as a way to stall more aggressive action to combat emissions.

The focus in Madrid is on article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which creates rules addressing the stringency of carbon markets and creating a new global carbon offsetting mechanism.

Carbon offsetting involves helping to fund a cut in emissions elsewhere, such as through preventing deforestation.

“Article 6 is the only part of the Paris Agreement that directly engages with the private sector, helping them contribute to climate action,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as she appealed to negotiators to seek ways to break the deadlock.

Full story

3) Greta Thunberg ‘Ignored’ By World Leaders At Climate Summit, Admits Protests Have Achieved ‘Nothing’
The Blaze, 7 December 2019

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg was “ignored” by world leaders at the United Nations COP25 climate change summit in Madrid on Friday.

Speaking with reporters, Thunberg said her calls for action on the climate have been ignored and admitted her protests have achieved “nothing.”

“We have been striking now for over a year, and still basically nothing has happened,” Thunberg said, according to Sky News.

“The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power,” she added.

More from the Guardian:

“Thousands of young people were expected to gather at the UN climate conference and in the streets of the Spanish capital on Friday to protest against the lack of progress in tackling the climate emergency, as officials from more than 190 countries wrangled over the niceties of wording in documents related to the Paris accord.

In the four years since the landmark agreement was signed, greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 4% and the talks this year are not expected to produce new commitments on carbon from the world’s biggest emitters.”

Thunberg, as she typically does, also reverted to climate change alarmism on Friday, claiming the actions of humanity will result in an unsustainable future if environmental actions continue to go unchecked.

“We can’t go on like this; it is not sustainable that children skip school and we don’t want to continue — we would love some action from the people in power. People are suffering and dying today. We can’t wait any longer,” she said, the Guardian reported.

Thunberg arrived in Europe this week after embarking on a three-week transatlantic journey, which made headlines because the trip did not save carbon emissions as expected. Thunberg travels via boat, train, and car because she refuses to fly.

Full story

4) Arctic Temperature Was 7°C Warmer Than Today 10,000 Years Ago
Willem G.M. van der Bilt, William J. D`Andrea Johannes P. Werner Jostein Bakke, Geophysical Research Letters, December 2019

Early Holocene temperature oscillations exceed amplitude of observed and projected warming in Svalbard lakes

Reconstructed temperatures from investigated lakes Gjøa, Hajeren and Hakluyt, expressed as anomalies from the CE 1850-1900 Pre-Industrial (PI) mean (text S3). Stacked temperatures (text S3) are shown in blue in the background (95% confidence intervals); Source: van der Bilt et al. (2019)

Abstract: Arctic climate is uniquely sensitive to on‐going warming. The feedbacks that drive this amplified response remain insufficiently quantified and misrepresented in model scenarios of future warming. Comparison with paleotemperature reconstructions from past warm intervals can close this gap. The Early Holocene (11.7‐8.2 ka BP) is an important target because Arctic temperatures were warmer than today. This study presents centennially resolved summer temperature reconstructions from three Svalbard lakes. We show that Early Holocene temperatures fluctuated between the coldest and warmest extremes of the past 12 ka, exceeding the range of instrumental observations and future projections. Peak warmth occurred ~10 ka BP, with temperatures 7°C warmer than today due to high radiative forcing and intensified inflow of warm Atlantic waters. Between 9.5‐8 ka BP, temperatures dropped in response to freshwater fluxes from melting ice. Facing similar mechanisms, our findings may provide insight into the near‐future response of Arctic climate.

Full paper ($)

5) Andrew Montford: Alarmism No More
Global Warming Policy Forum, 10 December 2019

The scaremongers’ favourite doomsday climate scenario is in trouble.

Environmental correspondents make a good living from scare stories. In the case of the BBC’s Matt McGrath, doubly so: as well as his BBC salary, he was recently the recipient of a €100,000 award from the green blob for his work. A prize “pour encourager les autres” no doubt.

Alarmism is a pretty straightforward way to make a living, because the climate science machinery is set up specifically to generate scare stories. The way this works has recently been made clear, but before I tell that tale, a little background is necessary. In order to produce a prediction of what the climate will do, scientists use official scenarios of how carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will change. These cover a range of possible futures, from the “not-very-scary” RCP2.6, to the “OMG we’re all going to fry” RCP8.5.

At first, the scenarios were officially considered equally plausible, but more recently RCP8.5 was designated the one that represented what would happen if we didn’t do anything. This was great for everyone inside the green blob: green journalists and other activists got an endless source of alarming headlines about what would happen if we didn’t decarbonise, and scientists got an easy route to favourable coverage: they simply had to look at RCP8.5 to generate the scare stories the press so craved. Since its publication, RCP8.5 has been behind almost every climate alarm story, as well as being the focus of a completely disproportionate amount of scientific attention.

Which is a problem, because RCP8.5 has long been criticised as being entirely unrealistic. As the science writer Matt Ridley pointed out some years ago, many of its underlying assumptions defy belief. For example, does anyone really think we will see a tenfold increase in coal use over the rest of this century? It is entirely implausible, particularly at a time when the world is awash in new-found supplies of cheap natural gas. But these complaints have fallen on deaf ears, and the environmentalists in the media have continued to make hay out of frightening tales of climate woe.

But that may be about to change. A few days ago, the American researcher Roger Pielke Jr pointed out that the scaremongers’ favourite scenario was already looking a bit silly, with its emissions figure for 2020 already 15% ahead of anything energy pundits expect to happen in reality. On this admittedly somewhat limited evidence, it certainly looked as if a less alarming future might be on the cards.

Emissions are currently tracking below RCP 8.5 levels

And then another academic, Justin Ritchie of the University of British Columbia, started analysing the International Energy Agency’s forecasts and found that they were effectively confirming Pielke’s position. In the IEA’s view, with policies already implemented, the future was going to look more like RCP4.5, one of the least scary scenarios. On average, RCP4.5 gives warming of just 1.5 degrees above today’s temperatures, and only 50 cm of sea-level rise.[i] And bear in mind that even these figures may well be overstated. That’s because such predictions are based on the vast (and vastly complicated) computer simulations that climate scientists use, and these seem to err on the side of too much warming. Certainly, they predict more warming than you would expect based on climate history since pre-industrial times.

In essence then, it looks like the science is suggesting we should dial back the alarm. Matt McGrath’s columns and reports should be full of good news stories.

Not that there is a cat’s chance of this happening, either with McGrath or anyone else on the green beat in the mainstream media. There is simply too much money to be made from peddling alarm. Expect RCP8.5 to live on.

6) John Constable: UK Energy Consumption and Weak Productivity Growth
Global Warming Policy Forum, 8 December 2019

Falling energy consumption in the United Kingdom is not receiving the attention it deserves. While similar to the norm prevailing in the EU 28, the UK pattern is very strongly at variance with the global trends, which see significant increases in all sectors. There is a clear possibility that this fundamental difference is a leading causal factor behind the weak productivity growth in the United Kingdom since 2008, yet it is hardly considered by commentators calling, perhaps correctly, for aggressive “innovation” as the answer to the “productivity puzzle”. Until they do so, their appeals will be in vain: costly energy makes it rational for innovators to be risk averse.

Figure 1 charts data taken from the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES), and shows total primary inland energy consumption (yellow line) and UK GDP from 1970 to 2018.

Figure 1: Temperature corrected total primary inland energy consumption (yellow line), and UK GDP on a chained volume measure (black line), from 1970 to 2018 (1970=100). Source: Data from DUKES Table 1.1.4. Chart by the author.

Beginning with the macroscopic patterning, one observes that while energy consumption over the period has been more or less stable, GDP has exhibited a strong rising trend. This undermines claims that “de-linkage” of energy consumption and GDP is a recent phenomenon, due, for example, to efficiency measures, the digital economy and dematerialisation.

On the contrary, de-linkage is a long-standing phenomenon in this data, and thus is probably not to be explained by recent novelties but rather by factors that are simpler and more fundamental
Further doubts are cast on the validity of a naïve assertion of de-linkage by examination of the finer structure of the data, in which we observe a varied and subtle relationship between energy consumption and GDP.

Firstly, there is an irregular but clear downward trend in energy consumption from 1970 to the early 1980s, after which we  see a moderate but steady rising trend in energy consumption up to the later 1990s and early 2000s, after which there is a flattening off and then a marked decline from 2005 onwards, a decline which is acute compared both with the previous downward trend in the 1970s and indeed with the preceding upward trend from the early 1980s. In a little over ten years the increase in consumption evident over the period 1982 to 2001 has been reversed, and in 2018 the UK consumed just under 10% less than it did in 1970. This change would be notable in itself but is particularly so when we recall that over this period population has risen from about 56 million to 65 million and that GDP has more than doubled.

As already noted, some see evidence in this data that energy consumption and economic growth have been “de-linked” in the last decade or so. There is clearly some ground for this view in the fine structure of the data at the end of the series. But equally there is evidence for an earlier de-linkage in the 1970s to the early 1980s. This can only undermine confidence in any argument suggesting that current de-linkage results from recent societal and technological modernisation, principally the digital economy. It is at least possible, and in my view probable, that some other explanation accounts for both the divergence in the 1970s and that in recent years. For the time being the de-linkage case, never theoretically strong, should be regarded as weak in comparison with alternatives.

For example, it might be inferred that the energy consumption required to support the economic growth visible in GDP is taking place elsewhere in the world. On this view, the UK economy, taken as a system, became for a short period in the 1970s more reliant on energy conversions elsewhere in the world for the goods and services it consumed, a trend that has recurred in a stronger form in the present day. If this were correct, the de-linkage of GDP and energy in the UK would be illusory.

Furthermore, the fine structure of the data also reveals that even in the divergent curves at the beginning and end of the series there is still some degree of linkage between inland energy consumption and economic activity. For example, both in the periods 1973–1975 and in 1979–1981, and again after 2008, falls in energy consumption are paralleled by falls in GDP. Indeed, in the 1970s and the early 2000s the relationship is notable for a subtle but highly suggestive character. – GDP and energy are clearly related, rising and falling together over the short term, even as they are exhibiting divergent secular trends over the longer term, with energy consumption falling and GDP rising in both periods. 

These two phases at either end of the series contrast sharply with the straightforward correlation visible in the two decades from the early 1980s up to the early 2000s, when GDP and energy consumption rose together. Indeed, one interpretation could be that the Britain of today has more in common with that of the 1970s than with that of the 1980s and 1990s, a rather shocking conclusion, but one that cannot, I think, be rejected quite out of hand. It is worth asking whether a tendency towards a healthier economic function, with a more reasonable balance between inland production and imported consumption, is represented by the 1980s and 1990s, and a less satisfactorily balanced, or even anomalous operation by the 1970s and the present day.

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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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