Saturday, May 23, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Carmakers Set To Desert Climate-Obsessed Europe

Energy-Intensive Industries Warn Against Green Deal Burden

In this newsletter:

1) Carmakers Set To Desert Climate-Obsessed Europe: France Warns 'Renault Could Disappear'
Daily Express, 22 May 2020
2) EU Commission's 'Green Recovery' Will Only Support 'Clean' Cars 
Deutsche Welle, 20 May 2020

3) Energy-Intensive Industries Warn Against Green Deal Burden
Clean Energy Wire, 21 May 2020

4) China's Cheap Energy Recovery Plan, Boosting Fracking And Shale Development
Reuters, 22 May 2020
5) Mark Mills: Covid-19 Crisis Will Only Intensify Global Dominance Of Oil
City Journal, 21 May 2020 

6) Who Would Have Thought: Scientists Discover That Coral Reefs Can Adapt To Warming Ocean Temps
Courthouse News Service, 21 May 2020

7) Benny Peiser Talks To Julia Hartley-Brewer About Green Campaigners Celebrating The Lockdown Of Society
TalkRadio, 20 May 2020

8) John O'Sullivan: The Coming Struggle for Power with China
The Pipeline, 18 May 2020

Full details:

1) Carmakers Set To Desert Climate-Obsessed Europe: France Warns 'Renault Could Disappear'
Daily Express, 22 May 2020

Europe's car industry was put on alert for more job losses on Friday as a French minister warned Renault could disappear if it didn't get help soon and a Japanese news report said partner Nissan was considering 20,000 layoffs, with many in Europe.

Renault and Nissan have been in a carmaking alliance for the past two decades and are due to announce a strategy update next Wednesday. The plan was originally billed as a reset of their relationship, which was rocked by the November 2018 arrest in Japan of the alliance's architect and long-time boss Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial misconduct, which he denies. However, the update has taken on greater significance since the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand for vehicles and threw production into disarray.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who is considering a £4.5billion (€5bn) loan for Renault to help it through the crisis, warned on Friday the company's future was at stake.

"Yes, Renault could disappear," he told Europe 1 radio.

Le Maire said Renault's French plant in Flins mustn't close and the company should be able to keep as many jobs as possible in France, but also said it needed to adapt and be competitive.

Renault declined to comment on Le Maire's remarks.

The Flins factory, northwest of Paris, is where Renault makes its electric Zoe models and the Micra car for Nissan. It employed around 2,640 people at the end of 2018, according to Renault's website.

Kyodo, meanwhile, said Nissan might axe 20,000 jobs from its global workforce, mainly in Europe and developing countries.

Two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters the number of cuts had not been finalised.

Full story

2) EU Commission's 'Green Recovery' Will Only Support 'Clean' Cars 
Deutsche Welle, 20 May 2020

A draft proposal seen by German media suggests the EU is planning on pumping billions into its shattered auto industry. However, the aid would be contingent on promoting "cleaner cars."

A day after the EU auto industry published its record-low sales figures for month of April, the European Commission is circulating a plan to inject €100 billion ($109 billion) into the sector as part of a plan to promote "clean" modes of transportation, such as electric cars, according to a proposal seen by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The proposal notes that the EU is the largest producer of vehicles after China, with 300,000 related companies employing some 13.8 million people.

The automotive sector has been one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as factories and dealerships closed their doors for extended lockdowns and many of the newly unemployed unable to make big purchases. In countries such as Italy and Spain, sales plummeted by about 97% in April.

However, the draft paper points out, the auto industry is part of an even bigger threat — climate change. Driving cars accounts for 75% of carbon emissions of all forms of transportation combined, with that trend on the upswing.

"Massive support for the auto industry," the Commission warns, "places a significant burden on future generations."

To that end, the paper proposes that €40 to €60 billion of the package come in the form of investments dedicated to "clean cars" such as electric vehicles, and other new technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels.

Full story

3) Energy-Intensive Industries Warn Against Green Deal Burden
Clean Energy Wire, 21 May 2020

Energy-intensive industry groups short-term measures for economic recovery from the corona crisis should aim to avoid additional burdens on energy-intensive industry from energy and climate policy legislation. 

In an open letter to the government, an energy-intensive industry alliance EID said that while sustainability aims could be "one element" of long-term investment programmes, these should be "no substitute for a swift reset," the companies said. The companies added that parallel expenses due to emissions trading and carbon pricing would severely damage their liquidity, arguing that the planned carbon pricing scheme for transport and heating should only take effect if companies are legally shielded from double taxation.
"Energy costs could become the industry's biggest stress factors," said Wolfgang Große Entrup, head of the German Chemicals Industry Association (VCI), told newspaper Die Welt. He called emissions reduction policies like emissions trading, the renewables surcharge or the coal exit a "sword of Damocles" already looming over the companies, which is why a further tightening of regulations would hit them particularly hard.The companies also warn that the EU's planned Green Deal could be mistimed, given existing challenges due to the coronavirus crisis. "It's questionable whether the Green Deal in its current form is conducive to economic recovery and climate action," the companies said, calling for developing the European investment programme into a "Sustainable Future Deal" that better integrates industry needs.
Full story
4) China's Cheap Energy Recovery Plan, Boosting Fracking And Shale Development
Reuters, 22 May 2020
BEIJING, May 22 (Reuters) - China said on Friday it will bolster the capacity of the country’s energy reserves and offer lower gas and electricity charges to key industries, as it looks to ensure energy supply and offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In energy announcements on the first day of the parliament, known as the National People’s Congress (NPC), authorities also pledged to boost the country’s oil and gas network and continue to support exploration for unconventional gas reserves.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement it would push forward construction of crude oil reserves.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a slump in demand for crude oil, with insufficient storage capacity worldwide.
The NDRC said it would also press ahead with competitive trading of mining rights for oil- and gas-bearing zones, aiming to attract more market players into oil and gas exploration and production.
The country will also accelerate construction of oil and gas network and encourage the opening up of pipeline facilities to all eligible users, said the state planner.

Full story
5) Covid-19 Crisis Will Only Intensify Global Dominance Of Oil
Mark P Mills, City Journal, 21 May 2020 
China is about one month ahead of the United States in exiting the Covid-19 shutdown. That country’s rush-hour traffic jams now equal or exceeded pre-lockdown levels, even in Wuhan. This quick reversal happened despite claims that telecommuting would “change everything,” especially old-fashioned commuting and, thus, oil demand.

At a global level, the pandemic didn’t change the fact that oil powers 97 percent of transportation. All commerce requires moving materials, food, finished goods, and people. Thus the oil used by planes, trains, and automobiles serves as the fuel gauge for the economy. The reaction to the coronavirus was, effectively, an x-ray of this reality.
The March lockdowns, which kept so many people and goods from moving anywhere, crushed global oil demand by 30 percent. Shortly thereafter, data showed that global GDP had collapsed by nearly 10 percent. Now that U.S. gasoline demand is starting to rise, many claim we are headed for a long, slow rise back to pre-crisis levels of congestion and oil use. But perhaps not.

Consider the view that communications will now replace commutes—an idea dating to the dawn of the Internet and even to the dawn of telegraphy. But most of what most people do at work requires showing up, not video conferencing. And, by now, many Zoom-weary people have rediscovered that in-person meetings are not only more time-efficient but also reveal important cues that get lost in flat, tiled images.
Teleconferencing will surely continue, and grow, but post-Covid, most people will still travel to work. This is because we’ll rediscover that “ideas have sex,” to borrow zoologist Matt Ridley’s expression. Centuries of experience show that innovation, inspiration, and commerce happen with close, regular human interaction.
There is one thing the pandemic will change and that’s the trend to cram employees closer together in open-plan offices, and simultaneously reduce air-exchanges in buildings to make them more energy-efficient. More space between employees and more (clean) air will boost electricity demand in the summer and heat in the winter. Meantime, in the travel sector, reservations for fuel-guzzling recreational vehicles are reporting all-time highs. That mirrors a trend seen after 9/11, when Americans bypassed foreign vacations for domestic ones, traveling to those destinations mainly by cars, which use more energy per passenger mile than aircraft.
Then there are the other energy-related trends that predate the coronavirus crisis but will now likely accelerate. Young professionals, for example, were already moving to the suburbs. Odds are that the urban exodus will only intensify, with many baby boomers joining in. Car commuting and suburbia are essentially synonymous. As for mass transit, in post-recovery China, ridership remains down some 30 to 50 percent. Absent massive subsidies, travel by (crowded) mass transit—at least as we knew it—might be finished.

An agriculture-labor shortage is another pre-Covid trend that figures to continue. Those proposing that unemployed citizens pick crops are, to put it gently, naïve. Urban dwellers abandoned such tasks within days when France tried it earlier this year.
Picking crops is a skill. A solution is coming from automated harvesting and robotic fruit-picking technologies that are just now becoming viable—but mechanized labor always uses more energy. And machines that operate all day in the fields will likely burn oil; even Tesla batteries aren’t nearly good enough for widespread use there.
Finally, the virus has exposed geopolitical supply-chain vulnerabilities that will accelerate the reshoring of manufacturing. For energy accountants the implications are obvious; it takes three to four times more energy to produce a dollar of industrial GDP than a dollar of services-related activity. In recent years, much of our national efficiency gains came from off-shoring energy-intensive industries.
Full post
6) Who Would Have Thought: Scientists Discover That Coral Reefs Can Adapt To Warming Ocean Temps
Courthouse News Service, 21 May 2020

(CN) — Some coral reefs are adapting to warming ocean temperatures by making their own sunscreen in the form of bright neon colors — a strategy which invites coral animals to return to reefs and is seen as a critical adaptation to maintain healthy coral reefs around the world.

Acropora corals with colorful bleaching in New Caledonia. (Photo courtesy The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the University of Southampton detail a series of controlled laboratory experiments they conducted at their coral aquarium facility.

In the experiments, “colorful” coral bleaching events cause coral to produce a layer of vibrant sunscreen which encourages the coral animals vital to a mutually beneficial “symbiosis” relationship to return to coral habitats they abandon due to the effects of warming oceans.

Many coral animals live with tiny algae embedded in their cells — it’s a fragile symbiotic relationship where the algae gain shelter, carbon dioxide and nutrients while the coral receives photosynthetic products to fulfill their energy needs.

When the ocean’s temperature rises, the symbiosis breaks down and the algae are lost, causing the coral’s white limestone skeleton to shine through and be damaged via coral bleaching. The condition can be fatal to coral — when its live tissue is gone and its skeleton is exposed to erosion, an entire coral reef can break down in a few years, causing the biodiversity that relies on its complex structure to fall apart in the process.

But some coral undergoes colorful coral bleaching — emitting a range of different bright neon colors — derived from photoprotective green fluorescent protein-like pigments produced by the coral host.

The colorful adaptation could prove vital for overcoming the fatal coral bleaching incidents which have threatened coral reefs worldwide. But the colorful coral bleaching – rather than the whitskeleton exposure of common coral bleaching events – is believed to take place due to mild ocean warming or disturbances in their nutrient environment, rather than extreme events.

Colorful bleaching occurred between this past March and April in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef, suggesting some patches of the world’s largest reef system may have better recovery prospects than others.

“Bleaching is not always a death sentence for corals, the coral animal can still be alive. If the stress event is mild enough, corals can re-establish the symbiosis with their algal partner. Unfortunately, recent episodes of global bleaching caused by unusually warm water have resulted in high coral mortality, leaving the world’s coral reefs struggling for survival,” Dr. Cecilia D’Angelo, lecturer of molecular coral biology at Southampton, said in a statement.

 Full story

see also GWPF coverage of coral reefs controversies

7) Benny Peiser Talks To Julia Hartley-Brewer About Green Campaigners Celebrating The Lockdown Of Society
TalkRadio, 20 May 2020

8) John O'Sullivan: The Coming Struggle for Power with China
The Pipeline, 18 May 2020

In the 1930s John Strachey, later a sober moderate cabinet minister in Clem Attlee’s postwar U.K. Labour government, wrote a book with the ominous title, The Coming Struggle for Power. As anyone familiar either with the politics of the day or with Orwell’s writings about that time could have guessed, Strachey called himself a Marxist but was in fact a comfortable bourgeois journalist, the son of the then-editor of the Spectator, who had never come closer to a genuine struggle than when he disputed with a friend over who should pay the bill for lunch.

But his book was one of many in those times which weakened the moral self-confidence of the Western democracies in their own free societies with the result that they would enter the Second World War and later the Cold War hesitant, badly-prepared, and uncertain of purpose. If a book named The Coming Struggle for Power were to be published today, its title would carry an ominous double entendre because the West today is locked in a struggle with China over both geopolitics and world energy resources.

We have been understandably reluctant to acknowledge this conflict (which like an iceberg is only one-eighth visible above the surface) because no one wants to repeat the failure of Franco-British policy in dealing with the rise of the Kaiser’s Germany prior to 1914. The horrors of the Great War explain our fears well enough. But that war also undermined the illusion cultivated by some of the best minds of that time that trade and economic cooperation between the great powers—aka the “power of facts”—had made war between them illogical, pointless, almost impossible.

In August 1914, however, as one historian wrote, the power of facts took a terrible hammering from the facts of power.

One relevant fact is that industrial development, prosperity, and mutually beneficial trade do not automatically convert a country to political liberalism at home and commercial pacifism abroad. Wilhelmine Germany had enjoyed its own great economic rise in the 19th century, but it saw the rapid industrialization of Czarist Russia as a reason to wage war before its emerging rival became too powerful and a threat. The Kaiser’s Machtpolitik demonstrated that a nation’s interests and intentions, evidenced in its political culture, may dictate war on the grounds that security is more important than prosperity. And every now and then an event occurs that, whether large or small, inadvertently throws a spotlight on what is really driving a country’s overall “grand strategy.”

The Wuhan virus, as we’re not supposed to call it, has just thrown such a spotlight on Beijing’s drive for a more powerful role in world politics. Such a drive is itself legitimate. And if it’s accompanied by a willingness to work cooperatively with other countries and to abide by agreed international rules, other nations should strive to accommodate the rising power in collective global arrangements.

But the Chinese government’s handling of the Wuhan virus combined brutality in its suppression of ordinary citizens in its attempt to suppress the virus, an obsession with secrecy as it sought to protect its own image, a failure to inform other governments that a dangerous epidemic was spreading in and over its borders, pressure on the World Health Organization to delay warning the world of what was coming its way, outrageously dishonest propaganda blaming the virus on  the US, and forbidding air flights from Wuhan to other Chinese cities while allowing them to other countries as the epidemic was still raging there. All of this represented irresponsible national egoism on a global scale.

It also reminded other countries of how China under its present regime has behaved on other matters in recent years: its imprisonment of vast numbers of its Uighur minority in a new gulag; its creation of a virtual panopticon that keeps watch on dissidents via the internet, even to the point of being able to instruct airlines not to allow them to board flights; its widespread theft of intellectual property; its purchase of political influence in other countries by hiring senior political and civil service figures for Chinese companies, as well as by outright bribery; its attempt to control Chinese minorities abroad; and at home the restoration of a quasi-Maoism by Xi Jimping who also proclaimed himself President for Life (an absurd but revealing title.) As a result of Wuhan all these factors now seem to demonstrate the naivete of the idea that bringing communist China into the structure of global governance, in particular the World Trade Organization, would make the country a liberal democracy over time.

Or, as I quoted Rupert Darwall as writing last week: “Xi’s historic accomplishment is falsifying the globalists’ liberalization thesis.” That means not that we are heading for a war between the world’s two major nuclear powers, which would be a disaster for all mankind, but that the West, above all the United States, should be sufficiently strong to deter China from any foolish military provocations and, more broadly, to contain China as we contained the Soviet Union until its political system evolves or its political leadership changes course.

Right on cue, the same important story appeared last week in the London Times, the Daily Mail, and The Australian. Here is the Mail’s opening salvo:

"The US would lose a war with China fought in the Pacific, is unable to defend Taiwan from an invasion and fears the Guam military base is at risk now, US defense sources have warned. ‘Eye-opening' Pentagon war games have revealed growing fears the US is vulnerable to threats from China and that any attack would lead to the US 'suffering capital losses', the sources said. The worrying analysis is expected to come to light in the Pentagon's 2020 China military power report this summer."

This is alarming, of course, but far from despair-inducing. Most of the studies of a US-China military clash are based on what the military balance between the two nations will be like in 2030. The Pentagon is now planning a larger military commitment to East Asia; the U.S. economy is still more technologically advanced than the Chinese (and will now be more watchful towards technical espionage); and though both economies are likely to suffer some damage from the Covid-19 and lockdown crises, historians will recall that the prospect of war was what pulled the U.S. economy out of its New Deal doldrums and into a massive expansion both industrially and militarily.

For the one requires the other. It’s not possible to build up strong modern military forces except on the basis of a strong modern advanced economy which in turn must rest on the most efficient energy-producing industries. China recognizes that fact and acts upon it. Despite his brief flirtation with President Obama when they  shook hands and agreed to pursue the carbon reduction targets under the Paris accords, President Xi Jimping has adopted a very different practical agenda. As Darwall points out:

"Despite being feted as a climate saviour, China’s drive for coal continued unabated. A 2018 plant-by-plant survey by CoalSwarm found that 259 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity are under development in China, comparable to the entire US coal fleet (266 GW). If completed, the new plants 29 will increase China’s current coal fleet of 993 GW by 25%. Abroad, China is involved in 240 coalfired power projects in 25 countries as part of its Belt and Road Initiative."

China’s military strength thus rests upon cheap abundant reliable energy. And its rivals?

Before the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. had a successful and expanding economy based in part upon the fracking revolution that gave it low-cost, high-productivity, reliable energy without subsidies. That was a solid foundation for a stronger American military. Europe was a sadly different proposition: continental Europe has embarked on a quixotic crusade to reduce the rise in world temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius since the advent of industrialization by reducing its use of fossil fuels to net zero-carbon emissions by 2050. Not surprisingly its economies are stalled. Britain has adopted the same self-destructive target and, in doing so, has abandoned the fair prospect of its own fracking revolution. And almost all predictions of the effects of this net-zero ambition, if it is seriously attempted and sustained, are that the countries concerned—all Western countries—would suffer a prolonged depression.
And all that was before the virus and the lockdowns.

Now, it is becoming the conventional wisdom in Western Europe, Britain, and Canada that the hoped-for post-Convid-19 economic recovery will be rooted in a Green New Deal that will direct resources not to recovery as such but to ensuring that any recovery will favour “Green” industries and deny investment to industries dependent on fossil fuels. And if Joe Biden were to win the November election, this same policy approach would be adopted in the United States too.

In his new study of the likely effects of such a policy, John Constable of the Global Warming Policy Foundation points out these results would be extremely damaging.:

"[I]t is the adoption of high-productivity energy sources that is responsible for modern growth. Turning our backs on those energy sources would have been unwise even in a state of continuing global growth fundamentally driven by Asian use of coal and oil, as well as a resurgent North American use of gas. To do so in time of suppressed global trade and growth has the potential to be genuinely dangerous in the longer term, and perhaps even in the short term."

Dr. Constable thinks this would be a “counterproductive disaster,” and he does not take account of the West’s military competition with China in his calculation. Nonetheless, he thinks that the civil service [in Britain] will press the policy, and that the politicians will not resist. One might add that in the U.S. and throughout the West the media, academia, most cultural institutions, and large numbers of the voters will be eager partisans of the same counterproductive disaster. And if the Chinese communists win the battle for power as energy, they will be hard to beat in the struggle for power as geopolitical hegemony.

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

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