Tuesday, February 11, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: EU Threatens Carbon Tariffs In Climate Trade War Warning Shot To Brexit Britain

Political Suicide Note: UK Government Considers Banning Gas Heating & Cooking

In this newsletter:

1) EU Threatens Carbon Tariffs In Climate Trade War Warning Shot To Brexit Britain
The Sunday Telegraph, 9 February 2020
2) Political Suicide Note: UK Government Considers Banning Gas Heating & Cooking
The Sunday Telegraph, 9 February 2020

3) Top EU Official Warns Child Climate Protesters Suffer From ‘Greta Syndrome’
GWPF & EUobserver, 8 February 2020
4) Madeline Grant: Why It's Time To Put Net Zero To A Referendum
The Sunday Telegraph, 9 February 2020
5) Charles Moore: Boris Has Fallen Into A Trap By Sucking Up To David Attenborough
Charles Moore, The Spectator, 7 February 2020
6) Dominic Lawson: Talking Green Is Easy; It’s Being Green That’s Hard
The Times, 9 February 2020
7) Ross McKitrick: Fight Climate Extremists Before They Upend Freedom & Society
Troy Media, 5 February 2020
8) Roger Pielke Jr.: Beware The Eco-Stalinist Witch-Hunters: ‘We Should Make Her Unhirable In Academia’
Roger Pielke Jr., Forbes, 8 February 2020

Full details:

1) EU Threatens Carbon Tariffs In Climate Trade War Warning Shot To Brexit Britain
The Sunday Telegraph, 9 February 2020

A new European Union carbon border tax could lead to tariffs being slapped on British imports of steel, cement and aluminium in a climate change trade war after Brexit.

The tax will give the European Commission the power to impose levies of  imports on goods with a heavy carbon footprint. The tariff would target countries where the carbon emissions price is lower than in the EU.

If Britain was to diverge too far from the EU’s green policies, the trade defence measures would prove a powerful weapon as the EU toughens its global climate diplomacy.

Energy intensive industries such as steel are likely to be targeted. Half of all UK steel exports are to the EU, which remains Britain’s major trading partner.

Sources in Brussels said the tax, which is in the early stages of drafting, was aimed principally at unfair competition from polluting non-EU countries such as the US, China and Russia. Experts said it was as yet undecided whether the levy would make up the difference in the carbon price or be much higher.

But diplomats admitted the plan could also be levelled against Britain, which left the EU on January 31. The tax is likely to gain support as a way of protecting European businesses after the commission launched its plan to cut the EU’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

“If the UK decides to go its own way on climate change policy after Brexit, that will certainly build impetus behind the carbon tax plan,” one EU diplomat said.

“We started designing the carbon border adjustment mechanism. We might imagine that we will apply this mechanism to the UK in order to restore the level playing field,” Pascal Canfin, the French head of the European Parliament’s environment committee said.

“This is another example of the UK needing to take a decision on whether it continues to take an EU approach or not in the knowledge that if it doesn’t there is the possibility of facing trade penalties,” said Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform think tank.

Brussels is anxious that Britain plans to use Brexit to start a slash and burn of EU regulation after Brexit, undercutting the bloc, and gaining a competitive advantage. The EU has demanded that the UK sign up to “level playing field guarantees” on sectors including the environment as the price of a new post-Brexit trade deal.

“The threat of carbon border measures is the way the EU will keep the climate sceptic and environment hating dogs in the UK on a very tight leash,” said Sanjeev Kumar, of the Change Partnership, a climate NGO.

Full story

2) Political Suicide Note: UK Government Considers Banning Gas Heating & Cooking
The Sunday Telegraph, 9 February 2020

Gas boilers could be banned from all homes to ensure the UK meets carbon neutral target by 2050

Homeowners could be forced to replace their gas boilers to ensure the UK meets its target to be carbon neutral by 2050, ministers are warning.

The Government will publish a White Paper later this year which will set out the “bigger decisions” that the UK has to make to meet the target.

Lord Duncan of Springbank, the Climate Change minister, said that the White Paper will consider whether the Government should ban gas central heating altogether from all homes.

It is not clear if homeowners will have to pay for this new strategy – which is planned to be introduced incrementally over the next decade – and whether there are enough plumbers to carry out the work.

It comes after Ofgem, the gas regulator, said last week that Britain will have to change “the way homes and businesses are heated” to ensure the UK can hit its target.

The Government will set out the radical plans in the months leading up to the COP 26 environmental summit in Glasgow later this year.

Last June the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.

Lord Duncan said that to hit this target the Government was now looking at a new “domestic decarbonisation approach” to hit the target.

He said “There will be an overarching energy White Paper that will look at the bigger decisions that we have to take. Decarbonising domestic heating will be a real challenge. Shall we electrify the entire grid?

“If we do so, bearing in mind that electricity tends to be more expensive, we need to address fuel poverty head on if that is the case. Or are we looking at putting hydrogen into the grid in a hybrid or pure form?

“We will resolve that question this year. We will make a decision to determine that and to support the way forward.”

He added: “We will need to do so in tandem with fuel poverty; again, there is no point in decarbonising while making people cold and sick. We need to make sure we go hand-in-hand with that just transition for all the people.”

The news comes after hybrid car owners were given a “kick in the face” by ministers, motoring bodies have said, as they warned that the surprise decision to ban the vehicles from sale in 2035 will “backfire”.

Lord Duncan also warned that forcing motorists to ditch petrol cars and buy electric vehicles would be difficult because they are too expensive.

He told peers: “We need to look at a decarbonising strategy ‘inside’ transport. There, we have a challenge that will not be easy to meet because, in truth, most people do not have an electric car, and we are nowhere near the tipping point where that car will become affordable.

“Again, we need to find that tipping point and we have a strategy coming out in order to help us deliver that.”

Full story

3) Top EU Official Warns Child Climate Protesters Suffer From ‘Greta Syndrome’
GWPF & EUobserver, 8 February 2020

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell dismissed young climate activists as suffering from “Greta syndrome”, challenging child protesters to say how they would pay for costly climate policies.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday referred to the “Greta syndrome” saying that young people across Europe should be aware of the cost of these policies, besides marching on the streets to urge climate action policies. “It is fine to demonstrate against climate change as long as nobody asks you to pay for it,” he said, questioning if youngsters are willing to lower their living standards.

Full post

4) Madeline Grant: Why It's Time To Put Net Zero To A Referendum
The Sunday Telegraph, 9 February 2020

“No one voted to be poorer”, has been the Europhiles’ long-playing refrain of recent years. This slogan, though logically flawed and patronising, exposes an interesting paradox.

While we have hotly debated the costs and benefits of everything from Brexit to a Corbyn government to HS2, another crucial policy area – the environment – has been virtually ignored amid facile discussions and a total absence of democratic engagement.

In the dying days of the May premiership, to little fanfare, Parliament passed a binding pledge of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The economic cost of this could make the most apocalyptic ‘No Deal’ scenarios seem small change – yet the level of detail is astonishingly slight.

In an interview last week, Environment Secretary Michael Gove dodged questions about the cost of banning petrol, diesel and hybrid cars. Ministers use carefully chosen words to describe the public cost of Net Zero, vaguely referring to “1-2 per cent of GDP by 2050”. This is because the estimates they refer to only apply to 2050, as an FOI reveals. They ignore the years 2020-2049, conveniently omitting the expense of overhauling national infrastructure in the interim.

I cannot estimate the price of dismantling every gas cooker, retrofitting some 26 million homes, building a vast network of electric car charging points, and so on. Suffice to say it will be a mind-boggling sum – and that is before negotiating the tricky politics.

Given slow progress on commercial electric flights, net zero would likely mean halting air travel for the many – with exceptions for a wealthy few, such as those attending important events like the Oscars or Davos.

Though we do not share the revolutionary iconoclasm of our Gallic neighbours, the gilets jaunes protests – sparked by surging fuel prices – give a taste of the class resentment this could trigger.

Politicians equate climate demonstrations and opinion poll concern with unfettered public appetite for their environmental aims. Yet financial trade-offs rarely feature in such surveys. Would as many agree if presented with their own annual tax hikes? Activists imply net zero can be funded by nebulous clampdowns on “big business”, rather than punishing taxpayers while the likes of China emit as usual. But it will cost the earth for Britain not to save the planet, and the public ought to know.

In a democracy, politicians govern by consent, or imperil the social contract. But environmental aims can still fit public opinion. Abolishing a high profile tax like national insurance and replacing it with a carbon levy would be electorally palatable and, crucially, technology-agnostic, mitigating the risk of the government “picking losers”. We should think more globally too: converting India or China’s electricity grids from coal to nuclear, for example, would make a tremendous difference, especially if living standards and consumption levels continue to rise. A pound invested there will deliver far greater returns than one invested in solar power in cloudy Britain.

But why not put Net Zero to a referendum, in which costs, benefits and risks may be properly debated? Major changes require public consent. If we are serious about democratic renewal, the environment should be put to the vote too.

5) Boris Has Fallen Into A Trap By Sucking Up To David Attenborough
Charles Moore, The Spectator, 7 February 2020

Little good can come of the Glasgow COP, as David Cameron presumably recognises by refusing to chair the UN climate conference

Regardless of one’s views on climate change, one should welcome the fact that Boris Johnson removed Claire Perry O’Neill from her post as president of this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP 26), which will be held in Glasgow. He is at last trying to exercise the power of patronage. Ms Perry O’Neill is a George Osborne protegée, anti-Boris and anti-Brexit. She stood down at the end of the last parliament. She is also a keen self-publicist.

Given that international climate conferences are chiefly forums in which governments strike attitudes, it was highly unwise to let her strike the Glasgow ones. She was almost bound to be disobliging to the government.

With the election out of the way, the government recognised its mistake and acted just in time. Ms Perry O’Neill accidentally showed its decision justified by going on air this week to claim that Boris had told her he did not ‘get’ climate change. Little good can come of the Glasgow COP, as David Cameron presumably recognises by refusing to replace Ms Perry O’Neill. The Prime Minister is in a trap of his own making by sucking up to David Attenborough: all the more reason why the COP president should be in tune with the government. Since the spending of something between £20-40 billion of Treasury money per year is at stake, a current minister needs to be in charge. It has taken the Tories nearly ten years in office to learn to use patronage to advance their broad policy aims, not to offer publicly funded platforms to their critics. Tony Blair understood this from his first day in office.

This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.
6) Dominic Lawson: Talking Green Is Easy; It’s Being Green That’s Hard
The Times, 9 February 2020

People will balk at Johnson’s electric car diktat when they see the cost

Bursars tend to be robust, even tactless characters. In my school and college years they were often from a military background, which augmented the no-nonsense impression. Robust certainly describes the response of that authority the other day at St John’s College, Oxford, when slogan-shouting students occupied its 15th-century quad, declaring they wouldn’t leave until the college agreed to sell its shares in BP and Shell.

When they emailed Andrew Parker (the principal bursar) demanding a meeting to address their demands that St John’s “declares a climate emergency and immediately divests from fossil fuels”, his answer was perhaps not what they expected. “I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice,” he wrote. “But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”

When a St John’s undergraduate complained he was being flippant, Parker responded that he was making a serious point: “It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal).” This was not appreciated by the protest organiser, Fergus Green: “It’s January and it would be borderline dangerous to switch off the central heating.” Borderline hilarious, more like.

I thought of this farce, like something out of a Tom Sharpe campus novel, when the government announced a few days later that it would be bringing forward, by five years to 2035, the date by which we would no longer be allowed to purchase new cars that use fossil fuels, including hybrid vehicles. Given that currently even the smaller electric vehicles (EVs) cost about £10,000 more than their diesel or petrol equivalent, it is the government playing the part of the student demonstrators — only with real power — and the public who will be thinking as practically as any bursar.

The radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer represented the bursar in all of us when she questioned Michael Gove on this. Eight times she asked the immensely articulate cabinet minister how much more (than today’s petrol and diesel cars) it would cost to buy and drive electric vehicles in 15 years’ time. While he wouldn’t give any of the figures behind the government’s policy (either because they don’t exist or because if they did, they would be worthless), he insisted there would be “a net saving” for the public. More, he promised to buy “a slap-up meal at the restaurant of your choice” for Hartley-Brewer if he turned out to be wrong. Which would be nice for her, but not much consolation for the rest of us.

In fact the government can guarantee to make petrol or diesel relatively unaffordable — by whacking up the duty. That, however, would enrage above all the non-metropolitan poorer voters in the Midlands and northern England to whom the Conservatives say they owe their election victory, and whose concerns they insist are their highest priority.

As Rachel Wolf, co-author of the party’s 2019 manifesto, wrote on the ConservativeHome website, after the announcement on the early banning of cars with combustion engines in order to help achieve “net-zero” carbon emissions: “The public have no idea . . . how it [net zero] might change their life . . . They already think they pay a lot of tax, and are currently unprepared to pay lots more for the environment.” She went on to refer to the revolt in France when President Emmanuel Macron tried to implement swingeing increases in fuel costs “to save the planet”.

Actually, it’s far from obvious how Mother Earth will be mollified by a diktat to buy only electric vehicles — and not just because, while better for the air we breathe, they are, in terms of CO2 emissions, only as clean as the way the electric power itself is generated and stored.

Last June a group of scientists led by Professor Richard Herrington, the Natural History Museum’s head of earth science, warned the government that to replace all cars on British roads with EVs, UK demand for the batteries needed would require almost twice the world’s current yearly supply of cobalt, the total amount of neodymium produced globally every year, three-quarters of the world’s annual supply of lithium and at least half its copper supply. No prizes for guessing the effect of this (even if it were feasible) on the prices of these minerals, and therefore the ultimate cost to the consumer. And what about the CO2 emissions generated by this vast excavatory process (chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to most of the world’s cobalt reserves)?

According to Tim Worstall, a former trader in rare elements: “VW has released the comparative numbers for its new electric Golf against the diesel version. The all-clean, all-climate-friendly version must do 120,000km [75,000 miles]” to break even, “given the emissions required to make the thing.”

Full post (£)

7) Ross McKitrick: Fight Climate Extremists Before They Upend Freedom & Society
Troy Media, 5 February 2020

Last year was the year the climate issue took a sharp turn towards extremism. Let’s hope 2020 is the year sanity makes a comeback.

There have long been three groups occupying the climate issue. To avoid pejoratives, I will call them A, B and C.

The A group are the doubters. They don’t believe greenhouse gases (GHGs) do much harm and they don’t support expensive climate-policy interventions. If we must choose between climate policy and the continued use of inexpensive fossil energy, they readily choose the latter.

The C group think the opposite; they fear a climate catastrophe, they foresee a crisis and they want urgent action, regardless of cost, to stop it.

The B group are in the middle. They believe, or say they believe, that GHG emissions are a problem and must be reduced. They are vague on the question of how much and when, but in general they try to balance environmental goals with the provision of inexpensive energy and robust economic growth.

The leaders in business, government and the bureaucracy tend to be in this group. They have spent the last 20 years verbally acknowledging the concerns of group C and even borrowing their slogans, while quietly letting the A agenda mostly win out, which the underlying economics pretty much necessitates.

This uneasy compromise fell apart last year.

Despite A being a more natural ally for B, the B group long ago marginalized the A crowd and instead tried to ingratiate themselves with the Cs. They funded them, welcomed the more congenial elements into their circles and adopted their rhetoric about sustainability, the low-carbon transition and the imperative for climate leadership.

To the B crowd, these were just nice-sounding sentiments – a bit of green window-dressing to help sell the growth agenda. But their new friends in the C crowd meant every word.

Thanks to 20 years of patronage and endorsement from the B crowd, group C is now in control and has dropped any pretense of commonality with B. They raised a generation convinced the apocalypse is nigh and they proved over the past year they can dictate terms of surrender to politicians everywhere.

To take one example, the decision by the European Investment Bank to phase out all investments in fossil fuel projects – even natural gas – by 2022 and redirect a trillion euros into “climate action and environmental sustainability” is a clear signal that the Cs are not only at the table, they run the show.

Likewise, the worldwide declarations of a “climate emergency” and the embrace of net-zero targets means the B group is officially sidelined, at least in the West.

The exception among developed countries is the United States, where the Bs long ago recognized the true aspirations of the Cs and aligned themselves with the A crowd. They realized in the process that it’s a surprisingly large and energetic constituency, thus creating a coalition capable of keeping the U.S. energy sector alive and the economy growing.

Other exceptions include the developing powerhouses of China, Russia (who both must relish the prospect of their democratic Western rivals abandoning world economic and energy leadership for climate’s sake) and India.

To those in the B group who are bewildered by the turn of events, I say this: you must win this fight and right now you are losing badly. At stake are the livelihoods of millions of ordinary people whose jobs and living standards will be destroyed if C prevails, not to mention the hopes of billions of people who want to rise out of poverty.

The old compromise is dead. Stop using C jargon in your speeches. Start learning the deep details of the science and economics instead of letting the C crowd dictate what you’re allowed to think or say. Figure out a new way of talking about the climate issue based on what you actually believe. Learn to make the case for Canada’s economy to survive and grow.

You, and by extension everyone who depends on your leadership, face an existential threat. It was 20 years in the making, so dig in for a 20-year battle to turn it around. Stop demonizing potential allies in the A camp; you need all the help you can get.

Full post
8) Beware The Eco-Stalinist Witch-Hunters: ‘We Should Make Her Unhirable In Academia’
Roger Pielke Jr., Forbes, 8 February 2020

Several Skeptical Science team members have contacted me by email in the past hours with vaguely sinister but eminently deniable threats. I expect they will come after this column next. And if you hear that I have left academia, like Judith Curry, you’ll know why.

A climate advocacy group called Skeptical Science hosts a list of academics that it has labeled “climate misinformers.” The list includes 17 academics and is intended as a blacklist. We know of this intent because one of the principals of Skeptical Science, a blogger named Dana Nuccitelli, said so last Friday, writing of one academic on their list, “if you look at the statements we cataloged and debunked on her [Skeptical Science] page, it should make her unhirable in academia.”

That so-called “unhirable” academic is Professor Judy Curry, formerly the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, and a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society. By any conventional academic metric, Curry has compiled an impressive record over many decades. The idea that she would be unhirable would seem laughable.

But there is nothing funny about Skeptical Science. Today, Curry should be a senior statesperson in the atmospheric sciences community. Instead, she is out of academia. She attributes that, at least in part, to being placed on the Skeptical Science blacklist and its use, as expressed by Nuccitelli, to make her “unhirable.”

I asked Professor Curry about this situation. She explained, “In 2012 I was informed by my Dean that the administration wanted me to step down as Chair. While there were several reasons for this, one obvious reason was extreme displeasure by several activist climate scientists who had a very direct pipeline to the Dean.”

So Curry stepped down and started looking for administrative positions at other universities, “At the time, I was getting numerous inquiries from academic headhunters encouraging me to apply for major administration positions, ranging from Dean to Vice Chancellor for Research. I applied for several of these, and actually interviewed for two of them. I did not make it to the final short list.”

The headhunter gave Curry the following feedback from the universities: “They thought I was an outstanding candidate, looked excellent on paper, articulated a strong vision, and interviewed very well in person. The show stopper was my public profile in the climate debate, as evidenced by a simple Google search.”

Indeed, in my own Google search of “Judy Curry,” and confirmed by others on my Twitter timeline, the Skeptical Science blacklist page for her appears on the first page of Google results, and for me it was the top listing.
How can it be that a website, founded by an Australian cartoonist named John Cook and run mainly by volunteer non-academics and amateur scientists, can rise to the position of not just claiming to arbitrate who is and who is not an appropriate hire for universities, but actually fulfilling that role?

Skeptical Science emerged in 2007, the peak of the climate blogging era. It was also a time when the pursuit of “climate skeptics” (or “deniers”) really took off. The website soon found a large audience and was promoted as an ally in the battle against climate skeptics and deniers. For instance, according to Wikipedia, “The Washington Post has praised it as the “most prominent and detailed” website to counter arguments by global warming deniers.”

But the main legitimizing factor in the rise of Skeptical Science as a powerful climate advocacy group was its endorsement by prominent scientists, such as by widely-known climate scientists Michael Mann of Penn State University and Katherine Hayhoe, of Texas Tech. Like Skeptical Science, Mann and Hayhoe focus much of their advocacy efforts on identifying and denigrating so-called climate skeptics or deniers.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), a leading scientific association that includes many climate scientists, has routinely endorsed Skeptical Science. The AGU has even invoked the Skeptical Science blacklist, as recently as last December, when one of its writers dismissed an Australian academic by observing simply that he “has his own page on John Cook’s Skeptical Science site.” The mere fact of being listed on the Skeptical Science blacklist appears to be sufficient to be dismissed on the official website of the AGU, where Curry was elected a Fellow.

But what has happened to Curry is just the tip of the iceberg.

Full post

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

No comments: