Friday, December 6, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: Requiem For A Climate Dream

Europe’s Climate Fiasco: EU Set to Miss 2030 Climate Goal

In this newsletter:

1) Europe’s Climate Fiasco: EU Set to Miss 2030 Climate Goal
Associated Press, 4 December 2019
2) Nation States More Divided Than Ever Over Climate Policy & Funding As UN Summit Gathers
Financial Times, 1 December 2019

3) Global CO2 Emissions on Steady Upward Trend
Voice of America, 3 December 2019
4) Holman W. Jenkins: Requiem For A Climate Dream
The Wall Street Journal, 3 December 2019
5) Trump’s Energy Secretaries Plot Next Phase Of 'Energy Dominance' Agenda
The Washington Examiner, 2 December 2019
6) April 1st Comes Early: China “Leading The Way” In Fighting Climate Change, Says UN Official
Xinhua, 3 December 2019

Full details:

1) Europe’s Climate Fiasco: EU Set to Miss 2030 Climate Goal
Associated Press, 4 December 2019

The European Union said Wednesday that it will likely miss its target for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030, dealing a blow to the bloc’s efforts to be a leader in the fight against climate change.

The European Environment Agency said existing measures put the EU on course to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming pollutants by 30% in the next decade compared with 1990 levels.

Currently, the 28-nation bloc aims for a reduction of 40% by 2030, and some leaders have called for this target to be raised to 55%, with a long-term goal of ending virtually all new emissions by 2050.

“Recent trends highlight a slowing down of progress in areas such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, industrial emissions, waste generation, improving energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy,” the agency said in a report. “Looking ahead, the current rate of progress will not be enough to meet 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets.”

The report was released as officials from almost 200 countries meet in Madrid for U.N. climate talks. The EU’s new executive Commission is expected to present its long-term plan for tackling global warming — dubbed the European Green Deal — next week.

Full story

2) Nation States More Divided Than Ever Over Climate Policy & Funding As UN Summit Gathers
Financial Times, 1 December 2019

As delegates from nearly 200 countries convene in Madrid for the annual UN climate summit, the gap between the countries willing to reduce emissions and those who are not has become ever more stark.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s environment minister, said her country’s last-minute decision to host the talks was essential to prevent the collapse in international climate efforts, after Santiago, the original host, cancelled with just one month’s notice.

“We couldn’t have the risk that the conference didn’t take place at a critical moment, and risk the implosion of the whole system to deal with climate change,” she said. “We did this out of conviction that the world needs to commit to multilateral activism” on the issue, added Ms Ribera, a former law professor.

Ahead of the two-week COP25 gathering, which begins on Monday, the European Parliament declared a “climate emergency” in an effort to pressure the EU into more ambitious green policies.

Yet others are moving in the other direction, notably the US, the world’s biggest per-capita emitter, which has begun leaving the Paris climate accord entirely, a process that will be completed next autumn...

Laurence Tubiana, an architect of the Paris pact, said that China, the world’s number one emitter, and Japan also appeared to be climate laggards, with the two pushing ahead on new coal-fired power stations and financing coal plants abroad.

Full story

3) Global CO2 Emissions on Steady Upward Trend
Voice of America, 3 December 2019

Carbon dioxide emissions rose in 2019 for the third straight year, according to the latest Global Carbon Project estimate, and do not look set to fall before the end of the next decade.

The UN's 30 year climate policy failure

This is more bad news for United Nations negotiators in Madrid to consider as they aim to hammer out rules for implementing the 2015 Paris international agreement on limiting climate change.

This year's 0.6% growth in CO2 emissions is slower than the previous two years. Steep declines in coal use in the United States and Europe, combined with weaker global economic growth, were behind the slowdown, the report says.

But slowing growth is not enough. A recent United Nations report said emissions must decline by at least 2.7% per year to keep the planet from overheating.

Emissions look likely to continue in the wrong direction for years to come, according to Stanford University Earth scientist Rob Jackson, chair of the Global Carbon Project, the international research consortium that published the findings Tuesday in Earth System Science Data.

"I am, I have to confess, not very optimistic that in a five-to-year timescale, we'll see a peak in emissions," he said. "I hope I'm wrong. I really hope I'm wrong."

Widening gap

The data follow a bleak report from the United Nations on the widening gap between what the world needs to do to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and what countries actually are doing to meet their Paris pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Paris agreement, countries aim to limit global warming to "well under" 2 degrees Celsius and to "pursue efforts" to keep it to 1.5C over pre-industrial times. Currently, the planet has warmed about 1C, raising sea levels and producing more weather extremes, including heat waves, droughts, and heavy storms.

The U.N. Emissions Gap Report finds that the world is headed for 3.4 to 3.9 degrees of warming by 2100. If all the Paris pledges are met, temperatures still will warm by 3.2 degrees, with potentially devastating impacts on food security, water supplies and public health.

The report says countries need to triple their greenhouse gas reductions to reach the 2-degree target and cut them five-fold to reach 1.5 degrees.

That report is based on 2018 data. The new report released Tuesday offers the first look at 2019.

Full story 

4) Holman W. Jenkins: Requiem For A Climate Dream
The Wall Street Journal, 3 December 2019

If the world isn’t slashing CO2, blame overreaction to the Fukushima disaster.

Rigor could be restored to mainstream climate journalism with a single clause. That clause consists of the words “if climate models are accurate.”

A United Nations study issued in advance of this week’s climate summit in Madrid would appear in a different light, though still worrisome, and still a challenge to policy makers, if it were reported as saying: To avoid any chance of a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, annual emissions cuts of 7.6% must begin next year if computerized climate simulations are correct.

Such simulations, we should admit, are science. Their findings represent a legitimate pursuit of knowledge. The common failing in the media involves leaving out the necessary caveats. Such carelessness has ultimately enabled a new kind of science denial on the left, where advocates like Greta Thunberg and the U.K. group Extinction Rebellion increasingly talk about climate change leading to a human demise that is nowhere supported in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or other scientific bodies.

In my view, Al Gore bears heavy responsibility here. Name any important policy commitment in history—whether Social Security or Medicare or even fighting World War II—that required that all debate be silenced and all skeptics vilified before it could proceed. The Gore formula is good for stoking tribalism. It’s not good for making policy progress in a democracy. And so it has proved. Nobody remotely believes the supposedly necessary emissions cuts will take place. The only response left to the climate crowd is to ratchet up even more dire predictions.

Let’s start over. If stated properly, the “scientific consensus” would run as follows: climate models teach us to expect some warming from human-caused atmospheric CO2 increases, but disagree about how much. It’s hard to make cost-benefit judgments on such a basis, but happily the Green New Deal makes it easy—it would cost a lot of money and accomplish nothing since U.S. emissions are just 14% of the total and shrinking. India and China, not the U.S., will determine the fate of climate change.

Cost-benefit analysis also tells us a bunch of things that might be worth doing even in light of the uncertainties. A tax reform based on a revenue-neutral carbon tax could make our tax system more efficient and pro-growth. Government investment in basic research tends to have a high payoff, and battery research is a particularly attractive opportunity.

Rethinking nuclear power and regulation is another area of huge potential. Safer and cheaper nuclear technologies continue to advance on the drawing board even in today’s inhospitable political environment.
And guess what? All the above would be easier to sell to other countries than Green New Deal masochism. Voters would readily gobble up new energy technologies and tax models that would make their societies richer and stronger.

In honor of this week’s global climate gathering in Madrid, the New York Times aptly refers to the “gap between reality and diplomacy.” International agreements, by their nature, are designed to put an imprimatur on what domestic politicians would do anyway, and that doesn’t include prematurely ending their careers by imposing on consumers the kind of crushing burdens the green left seeks.

Look elsewhere for the turning points that actually matter. If climate change proves as severe as some scientists believe, the most damning moment will be one that passed largely unremarked except in this column: the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown after Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany, the world’s sixth biggest emitter, chaotically and thoughtlessly announced within weeks that it would close all 17 of its nuclear plants. China and India, then pursuing ambitious nuclear expansions that should have become more ambitious, instead recommitted themselves to burning vast amounts of coal.

Nuclearphobes should remind themselves that more people die each year from coal-mining accidents than have been killed in all the nuclear accidents in history. Never mind the tens of thousands who are statistically estimated to die annually from inhaling particulates. No technology is perfect, but NASA’s James Hansen, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Gaia theorist James Lovelock, and the late Harvard economist Martin Weitzman are among the diverse and serious students of climate change who have said that meaningful cuts won’t happen without nuclear.

The Fukushima accident, widely misread and breathing new life into the antinuclear lobby, will prove more significant than even the advocacy errors of Al Gore.

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5) Trump’s Energy Secretaries Plot Next Phase Of 'Energy Dominance' Agenda
The Washington Examiner, 2 December 2019

Josh Siegel

New Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, and the man he replaced, Rick Perry, are ready to claim success for their "exporting freedom" agenda. They claim to have diminished Russia's influence by helping European countries diversify their energy imports.

"Competition works," Perry said. "The Russians had everybody held hostage. And now, everybody in Europe understands ... that is not necessarily a good thing."

This claim, more than anything, is representative of the "energy dominance" policy that Perry started and Brouillette is set to continue after being confirmed as energy secretary. While the duo insists their agenda is about promoting "all of the above" energy production and exports, it's really about expanding consumption of American fossil fuels, a concept that runs counter to calls for greater urgency in the effort to shift to renewable energy to combat climate change.

As Perry's deputy before replacing him, Brouillette, 57, has been a primary driver of the policy, albeit in a less front-facing and political way. Perry is the backslapping former Texas governor and two-time presidential candidate who reveled in being the salesman for the Trump administration's pro-fossil fuel policy. Brouillette is an insider who previously worked at the Department of Energy, focusing on legislative affairs in the Bush administration from 2001 to 2003, and a former chief of staff for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel that oversees the agency he now leads.

Perry and Brouillette, who both reside in Texas and are veterans, stressed their similarities more than their differences in an exclusive joint interview with the Washington Examiner at DOE headquarters before Brouillette's confirmation.

"Dan and I always laugh at people telling folks here's what conventional wisdom says: Fifteen years ago, they told us we found all the fossil fuels. Remember peak oil?" Perry said, prompting a laugh from Brouillette, before declaring that it's "drastically wrong" for "very shortsighted individuals [to] say coal is done, it's over with."

Despite his independent background, Brouillette is entirely on board with the Trump agenda and ushering it to its next stage, and that starts with outmaneuvering Russia in European energy markets.

When asked for evidence that the United States is successfully combating Russia, Brouillette noted the experience of Lithuania, one of the prime subjects of his and Perry's push for liquified natural gas exports.
Russia's energy company Gazprom has been forced to cut the price of the gas it sells to Lithuania 40% because Lithuania has "a diversity of supply and options available," he said, instead of relying chiefly on Moscow.

Lithuania's state-owned gas trader, Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas, in 2017 signed a deal to buy LNG directly from the U.S. for the first time.

The U.S. now exports LNG to 36 countries, double the 18 destinations at the beginning of the administration, an increase aided by the work of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ease a backlog in permitting approvals for Gulf Coast export facilities. DOE has also streamlined approvals for U.S. companies to export LNG and created a new rule allowing for small-scale exports of natural gas.

Brouillette and Perry hope increased diversification will compensate for what critics say is the Trump administration's failure to deliver on one of its promises: stopping construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

The Trump administration has failed to stop the project, despite having the power to do so through sanctions under existing U.S. law and executive authority, and Nord Stream 2 could now become operational in January after recently receiving an essential permit.

"The real key was making sure that we laid as much LNG into the European theater as we could," Perry said. "Whether or not Russia finishes Nord Stream 2 or not is going to be not as consequential as our being able to be a supplier. Because I know this: American LNG can be delivered to Europe as cheap if not cheaper to what the Russians are going to be able to deliver there. At that particular point in time, the market will be our great friend."

Brouillette insisted it's not too late for the U.S. to sanction Nord Stream 2, but that the State and Treasury Departments handle primary decision-making.

"Whether the pipeline happens or not, as long as we see them continue the diversity of their supply, that is a good thing for Europe," Brouillette said of Germany.

He noted Germany is planning to build two new LNG import terminals to provide alternatives to Russia's pipeline-delivered gas.

Yet, on another agenda item of top importance for the Trump DOE — rescuing uneconomic coal and nuclear plants — Perry, and now Brouillette, is working to fight against market forces.

As Perry has, Brouillette will prod federal energy regulators to allow for higher payments to keep alive coal and nuclear plants that are losing out to cheaper gas and renewables.

FERC, an independent agency, rejected a proposal in 2018 from Perry to provide special payments to coal and nuclear plants that could store 90 days of fuel on-site.

The Trump administration argues that closing coal and nuclear plants, which run around the clock, could leave the power grid vulnerable because pipelines that deliver gas could be targeted in cyberattacks, and renewables such as wind and solar produce power intermittently.

Brouillette denied whispers that the Trump administration could act alone to help coal plants using executive authority and said the president had not requested any specific action ahead of the 2020 election.

Full story 

6) April 1st Comes Early: China “Leading The Way” In Fighting Climate Change, Says UN Official
Xinhua, 3 December 2019

SAN JOSE, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — China has become a role model in the area of combating climate change with science and technology, Edgar Gutierrez, special envoy of the United Nations (UN) Convention to Combat Desertification, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

China’s efforts to fight environmental deterioration and improve sustainability make it “No. 1 example” for other countries, Gutierrez said, as representative of some 200 countries and organizations gather in the Spanish capital of Madrid for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25)….

“It seems to me that China is giving us important lessons on how to combat climate change, and from a perspective of caring for the soil, biodiversity and especially people,” said Gutierrez, adding, “we are learning from China.”

Full story

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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