Wednesday, January 22, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Donald Trump Rejects Environmental 'Prophets Of Doom' In Davos Address

The World Is Safer From Climate-Related Disasters Than Ever, New Study Shows

In this newsletter:

1) Donald Trump Rejects Environmental 'Prophets Of Doom' In Davos Address
SBS News, 21 January 2020
2) President Trump: We Must Reject The Perennial Prophets Of Doom & Their Apocalyptic Predictions
World Economic Forum, 21 January 2020

3) The World Is Safer From Climate-Related Disasters Than Ever, New Study Shows
Climate Discussion Nexus, 8 January 2020
4) Down And Up: 2019 Global Temperature
GWPF Observatory, 20 January 2020
5) Economic Downturn Diverts Davos Focus From Climate 
Financial Times, 21 January 2020
6) Dominic Lawson: Boris Johnson, Flybe & Yellow Vests
The Sunday Times, 19 January 2020
7) And Finally: Wind Farms Paid Up To £3 Million Per Day To Switch Off Turbines
The Sunday Telegraph, 19 January 2020

Full details:

1) Donald Trump Rejects Environmental 'Prophets Of Doom' In Davos Address
SBS News, 21 January 2020

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at the "perennial prophets of doom" who warn that the world is in the throes of a major environmental crisis, as he addressed an audience in Davos including Swedish teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg listens to Donald Trump. AAP

"We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse," Mr Trump said, hours after Ms Thunberg told the World Economic Forum that governments had done "basically nothing" to reverse climate change.

Much of Mr Trump's speech revolved around the success of the US economy.

He reminded the audience that when he spoke there two years ago, early in his presidency, "I told you that we had launched the great American comeback".

"Today I'm proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before," the president said.

Full story

2) President Trump: We Must Reject The Perennial Prophets Of Doom & Their Apocalyptic Predictions
World Economic Forum, 21 January 2020

[….] To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the Apocalypse.

They are the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers, and I have them, and you have them and we all have them and they want to see us do badly but we won't let that happen. They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s.

These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.

We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country or eradicate our liberty. America will always be the proud, strong and unyielding bastion of freedom.

In America, we understand what the pessimists refused to see. That a growing and vibrant market economy, focused on the future, lifts the human spirit and excites creativity: strong enough to overcome any challenge, any challenge by far. [….]

Watch the video

3) The World Is Safer From Climate-Related Disasters Than Ever. New Study Shows
Climate Discussion Nexus, 8 January 2020

During the last 30 years the mortality risk from climate-related disasters plunged more than six-fold and the economic loss rates went down five-fold.

click on image to enlarge

Fig. 4. Mortality rates as function of the wealth for multi and single hazards. Mortality rates are expressed as number of fatalities per 10 000 people exposed. Wealth is approximated by the GDP per capita (in US$-PPP) at the time of the event.

A paper published in the scientific literature in July 2019 had the refreshingly plain-language title “Empirical evidence of declining global vulnerability to climate-related hazards”. Care to guess what it’s about? In slightly less plain-language, the authors say:

“We quantified the dynamics of socio-economic vulnerability to climate-related hazards. A decreasing trend in both human and economic vulnerability is evident. Global average mortality and loss rates have dropped by 6.5 and nearly 5 times, respectively, from 1980 to 1989 to 2007–2016. Results also show a clear negative relation between vulnerability and wealth.”

In even plainer language, the world is getting way less vulnerable to climate-related hazards over time, thanks largely to economic growth. So let’s not embrace climate policies that destroy economic growth in a mistaken belief that it will somehow make us less vulnerable to climate disasters.

The authors gathered data from 1980 to 2016 on the global incidence of general floods, flash floods, coastal floods, cold-related hazards, heatwaves, droughts, and wind-related hazards. The number of people affected and the value of the damage has, of course, gone up, because there are more people and more things in the path of the events. But re-expressing the same data in terms of percentages (of population and size of the economy) the trends are very different. Comparing the 1980s to the decade from 2007-2016, the mortality risk from all these disasters plunged more than six-fold and the economic loss rates went down five-fold.

Those are huge reductions by any standard. Poor countries are still more vulnerable to climate hazards than wealthy ones. But as the income gap shrinks, so does the vulnerability gap. So any policy that slows down economic growth in poor countries in the name of climate change, such as the decision by the African Development Bank to stop funding fossil-powered electricity generating plants even though Africa is seriously under-powered, will make that continent’s citizens more vulnerable to climate hazards over the long term, not less.

Full post

4) Down And Up: 2019 Global Temperature
GWPF Observatory, 20 January 2020

Dr David Whitehouse, GWPF Science Editor

Last year was the second, third or fourth warmest depending on whom you speak to, with by far most of the warming occurring in one region of the planet, the Arctic.

We’ve just lived through the warmest decade in at least 170 years, probably longer. The past five years have been the warmest, dominating the statistics of the past decade. What does it mean? Will it go on this way? There is no shortage of comment and certainty from many scientists and commentators, but the lesson drawn from experience is that, in the short-term, nobody knows.

While the debate goes on isn’t it about time for some common standards in the temperature reports? A standard baseline for comparison would be good. Is there any good reason for not having one? Also, the inclusion of error bars in graphs would seem to be an obvious thing to do, after all if a science student presented a report on an experiment without error bars they would be failed!

Including error bars would show the temperature changes in a different light. It would stop the scientific nonsense of claiming a year’s rank by a margin far less than the size of the error. Indeed, spurious accuracy – sometimes quoting temperatures to a thousandth of a degree with an error of a tenth of a degree – is ridiculous. If an agreed protocol was observed (it can be found almost everywhere in science) the global temperature would be rounded to the nearest 0.1° C then the temperature changes of the past few decades would give a different impression.

El Nino vs global warming

Interannual changes are not important for climate change. They show weather especially the effects of El Nino and La Nina events. The temperature of the past decade – the warmest since accurate records began – is the story of the 2016 El Nino. It’s influence spans many years.

It is nonsense to say that 2016 was a very warm year because of an El Nino — but a year or two later was climatically important because it didn’t have a strong El Nino and has a temperature independent of what happened in 2016. El Nino’s are not confined to an arbitrary definition of the start and end of the year. After all, the warmth of 2019 was heavily influenced by El Nino conditions that lasted nearly half of last year.

It’s obvious from the way the temperature has behaved that there was a thermal build-up to the El Nino and a relaxation after it (remember what was being said in 2015 about seeing the start of runaway global warming). The temperatures over the warm last five years are because of the 2015/16 El Nino, not despite of it. We need to look at annual temperatures over a longer period to see what’s really going on.

The last decade was the warmest mainly because of what happened in the latter part of it. This has been driven by El Nino conditions, not climate, and it does not tell us much about what may happen in the future. If anything, it tells us once again that El Nino effects are currently much stronger than long-term global warming.

As for the global temperature of 2020, the UK Met Office foresees no El Nino and says that the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will continue to drive global temperatures upwards. I predict that the global temperature of 2020 will be well within the error bars of the previous years.

As for what carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been doing this century and the global temperature is shown in this indicative graph below. Where do you think the global temperature will go in 2020? Why not enter our competition and place a bet.

PS. Last year we published a similar graph to the one below and faced comments that its axies had been rigged to make it difficult to see any correlation between carbon dioxide and global temperature. We responded by plotting it several other ways. In none of them is the correlation seen any better. I wonder from those that claim it is a “denier” tactic, how would they plot such a graph?


5) Economic Downturn Diverts Davos Focus From Climate 
Financial Times, 21 January 2020

The IMF has trimmed its forecasts for global economic growth this year, casting a shadow over the opening of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Organisers of the annual gathering of the rich and powerful had wanted this year’s event to promote a more cohesive and sustainable world, hoping to urge companies to embrace stakeholder capitalism rather than simply pursue profits.

But the latest signs of economic fragility will force global leaders and chief executives to tackle the more immediate challenges of restoring growth and confidence, rather than focusing on how to address climate change.

Full story (£)

6) Dominic Lawson: Boris Johnson, Flybe & Yellow Vests
The Sunday Times, 19 January 2020

Voters care about the environment but always revolt against carbon taxes

For a minister in Boris Johnson’s administration, things are a little confusing. On the one hand, the guidance from No 10 is that nothing must be done to detract from Britain’s claim to “global leadership in the fight against climate change” ahead of the UK hosting the UN climate change conference (COP 26) in November.

On the other hand, ministers have been told that the highest priority of the government is to enhance “regional connectivity” and thus honour the electoral debt to those in the “left behind” parts of the country whose switch from Labour to Conservative was the principal cause of Tory triumph at the polling booths.

So what to do when financial crisis threatens to close Flybe? This is the business responsible for the majority of flights between regional airports in the UK, and unique in not being centred (unlike other airlines) on a London hub. Answer: the government allows Flybe a moratorium on about £10m it owes in air passenger duty (APD) collected from its passengers, and promises to review the APD charged on all domestic flights.

Unsurprisingly, the Green MP Caroline Lucas was scandalised: “If APD was cut, it would make cheaper the fastest growing form of greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn’t make sense.”

It certainly doesn’t if you want to reduce the number of flights people take within this country, regardless of any consequences for businesses and families. That, after all, is the supposed point of APD (aside from the convenient fact that it raises almost £4bn a year in revenues for the insatiable exchequer). If such a charge deterred no one from flying, it would be an abject failure in terms of its ostensible purpose. And the people most likely to be deterred are those on the lowest incomes. If it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t work.

This form of “climate change” tax imposed on air travellers is higher in the UK than in any other country. The government would doubtless have boasted about it in plenary sessions of COP 26. But the public — that is to say, the poor saps who pay all the bills — have an annoying habit of disturbing the political consensus with their own discordant opinions. Actually, the Flybe bailout was not a response to voter discontent, so much as a prophylactic against the outcry the government feared would happen if it didn’t offer relief to a company on which a number of regional airports are almost entirely dependent.

This is a long way from the disturbances that set France ablaze last year, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protest at the fuel tax increases imposed by Emmanuel Macron. The French president had been acclaimed in all the most enlightened circles for this policy — to the extent almost of worship when he went to Trump’s America to tell them “there is no planet B”.

This did not impress la France profonde, where affordable fuel really is a matter of economic survival. Or as the gilets jaunes put it: “Macron talks about the end of the planet, but we worry about getting to the end of the month.” The president duly U-turned. Nothing less than his political survival was at issue — which for any head of government will always take precedence over the future of the planet.

In fact, the UK had its own earlier version of the gilets jaunesprotests. Even if most have forgotten, our politicians certainly haven’t. This was in 2000, when blockades of oil refineries by lorry drivers and farmers among others caused the Tony Blair administration to take emergency powers amid petrol rationing, panic-buying in supermarkets and cancellation of non-essential operations in the NHS. The “fuel protest” was a response to the inexorable increases in taxes on petrol and diesel: by 2000, tax accounted for 81.5% of the price charged to the consumer.

This was down to the fuel price escalator, a policy to increase duty annually by 3% (and, later, 6%) above the inflation rate. That fiscally avaricious scheme was launched by the Conservatives in 1993, on the pretext that the growth of car use was damaging the planet through increasing emissions of CO2. But in 2000 the Conservative opposition led by William Hague sensed how the wind was blowing and actually organised a “day of national protest” against the fuel price increases under the Labour government. Having been so far behind in the polls for so long that pundits wondered if they would ever return to government, the Tories suddenly overtook Labour. The Hagues spent the weekend with us at that precise juncture, and William seemed almost bemused by the sudden turnaround in his party’s fortunes. It didn’t last for him, however, since the then chancellor, Gordon Brown, hastily suspended the fuel price escalator. Not only has it never been reintroduced: Brown’s Conservative successor, George Osborne, twice abandoned fuel duty increases he had already announced in a budget statement.

It is in Australia, however, where the political battle over CO2 has determined the result of general elections. In 2013 the Liberals (their equivalent to our Conservative Party) rode to power with a promise to “scrap the tax” — the much disliked carbon pricing introduced by Labor. And the main electoral battle ground of last year’s Australian election was over the country’s future as the world’s biggest exporter of coal. The Liberals were thought certain to lose power, but Labor’s environmentally based strictures against extractive industries cost them too many seats in coal-producing areas. More generally, voters worried about the cost in jobs and prosperity.

The next day, in a report entitled “It was supposed to be Australia’s Climate Change Election. What Happened?” the New York Times wailed: “Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers. In a result that stunned most analysts, they re-elected the conservative coalition that has long resisted plans to sharply cut down on carbon emissions and coal.”

Full post (£)


For readers in the South of England: Global Warming Talk Tonight -- Boris Johnson & Climate Change. ‘Net Zero and the problem of rising energy costs’
7) And Finally: Wind Farms Paid Up To £3 Million Per Day To Switch Off Turbines
The Sunday Telegraph, 19 January 2020

Wind farms were paid up to £3 million per day to switch off their turbines and not produce electricity last week, The Telegraph can disclose.

Energy firms were handed more than £12 million in compensation following a fault with a major power line carrying electricity to England from turbines in Scotland.

The payouts, which will ultimately be added onto consumer bills,were between 25 per cent and 80 per cent more than the firms, which own giant wind farms in Scotland, would have received had they been producing electricity, according to an analysis of official figures.

The payments have prompted questions in Parliament, as one charity warned that consumers were having to fund the consequences of an “excessive” number of onshore wind farms, which can overwhelm the electricity grid.

In December an analysis by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity that monitors energy use, revealed that the operators of 86 wind farms in Britain were handed more than £136 million in so-called “constraint payments” last year – a new record.

REF has warned that consumers are left to foot the bill for wind farm operators having to reduce their output as a result of an “excessive” number of turbines in Scotland leaving the electricity grid unable to cope on occasions such as when there are strong winds.

The Western Link, a 530-mile high-voltage cable  running from the west coast of Scotland to the north coast of Wales, was built to help overcome the problem by providing more capacity to transport green energy from onshore wind farms in Scotland, to England and Wales.

But the line, which became fully operational in 2018, has been dogged by difficulties.

In the latest incident, it “tripped” on Jan 10, prompting a spike in the number of wind farms being asked to shut down temporarily because they were producing more energy than could be transported to consumers’ homes.

On the following day  – last Saturday – 50 wind farms were asked to stop producing electricity, and given a total of £2.5 million in compensation to do so. Last Wednesday, the figure was as high as £3.3 million, which was paid out to £3.3 million wind farms by National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) arm.

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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