Tuesday, August 11, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom


Biden vs. Trump: The Battle Over US Energy Policy And Its Geopolitical Consequences

In this newsletter:

1) China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom
Michael Doran and Peter Rough, Tablet Magazine, 3 August 2020
2) China's New Coal Plants Account For 90% Of Global Total In First Half Of 2020 
Reuters, 3 August 2020

3) Biden vs. Trump: The Battle Over US Energy Policy And Its Geopolitical Consequences
Tilak Doshi, Forbes, 8 August 2020
4) Saudi Arabia Turns Off America’s Oil Taps Again
Bloomberg, 9 August 2020

5) U.S. Shale Remains In Survival Mode For Another Year
Irina Slav,, 6 August 2020
6) Clean Coal: The Commonsense Answer To Africa’s Energy Crisis
Dr Rosemary Falcon, The Conservative Woman, 10 August 2020
7) And Finally: Emperor Penguins Are Thriving – Climate Models Are Killing Them Off
Global Warming Policy Forum, 8 August 2020

Full details:

1) China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom
Michael Doran and Peter Rough, Tablet Magazine, 3 August 2020
China’s drive for supremacy is now underway in the Middle East—and it won’t end there

American policymakers have long assumed that Chinese and American goals in the Middle East are largely complementary. Beijing, so the prevailing wisdom holds, is fixated on commerce, with a special emphasis on oil and gas. “China’s strategy in the Middle East is driven by its economic interests,” a former senior official in the Obama administration testified last year before Congress. “China … does not appear interested in substantially deepening its diplomatic or security activities there.”
According to this reigning view, China adopts a position of neutrality toward political and military conflicts, because taking sides would make enemies who might then restrict China’s access to markets.

This oft-repeated shibboleth ignores clear signs that China is very actively engaged in a hard-power contest with the United States—a contest that the Chinese occasionally acknowledge and are capable of winning. In 2016, Xi Jinping toured the Middle East for the first time in his capacity as president of the People’s Republic of China, visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. Chinese propaganda hailed the trip as a milestone. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a white paper on its Arab policy, the first of its kind. “We will deepen China-Arab military cooperation and exchange,” the paper read. “We will … deepen cooperation on weapons, equipment and various specialized technologies, and carry out joint military exercises.”

The following year, in 2017, the Chinese navy opened a naval base in Djibouti, the first overseas base it has ever established—a tacit renunciation of the traditional Chinese credo of noninterventionism. Djibouti sits on the southern end of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which guards the passage to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal from the Gulf of Aden. On the northern end, only 18 miles away, lies Yemen.

China is advancing on the Middle East with ruthless determination, because the region is of more vital interest to China than any other, aside from the Western Pacific. Indeed, China is actively working to oust the United States from the Middle East—a reality that the American strategic community would overwhelmingly prefer not to recognize, but one that is nonetheless becoming glaringly obvious.

Don’t believe us? Ask the Uighurs, the brutalized people of Xinjiang province, which the Chinese government is actively colonizing by moving in millions of ethnic Han Chinese. The lucky among the Uighurs, who number some 11 million in total, are trapped in an inescapable web of surveillance and oppression. The unlucky ones, numbering perhaps 1 million, are interned in ideological indoctrination camps where they are exploited as slave labor, tortured, and, according to recent reports, subjected to forced sterilizations.

What motive can China have for its ongoing torment of a small ethnic minority, which brings Beijing an ongoing avalanche of negative publicity in the West? Xi’s policy flows, the experts tell us, from Beijing’s fear of terrorist and separatist movements among the Uighurs, who are a Turkic Muslim people with ethnic and religious ties to their neighbors and to Turkey. Whatever the validity of this analysis, it misses the strategic vector, which again points directly to the Middle East.

Xi’s signature foreign policy achievement is the Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion program that invests in infrastructure projects across the world designed to funnel resources back to a hungry China, thereby creating a global Chinese sphere of interest. The jewel in the crown of the Belt and Road Initiative is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor—a multibillion-dollar program to build highways, rail lines, and pipelines from the port of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean to Xinjiang, the Uighur heartland. The northern terminus of the corridor is Kashgar—a Uighur city which, with cameras in every crevice, is likely the most surveilled metropolitan area in the world. China is crushing the Uighurs, in other words, because their territory sits athwart China’s critical overland supply routes.

How determined is China in its advance toward the Middle East? Determined enough to commit genocide.

The assumption of compatibility between Chinese and American interests in the Middle East is the residue of an otherwise defunct strategic belief system. Call it “harmonic convergence.” From Presidents Nixon to Obama, American leaders mistakenly assumed that globalism would transform China into a kinder, gentler communist power.

This theory began with the basic recognition that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) faced extraordinary pressure to grow its economy to create jobs for an exploding population. By necessity, therefore, Beijing had no choice but to accept several core components of capitalism, chief among them the flexibility that only decentralized decision-making can provide. As China decentralized its economy, so the thinking went, a new middle class would rise and demand more say over government policies. Full-blown democracy might not ensue, but relations between rulers and ruled would become ever more consensual and transactional. The iron laws of market economics would transform the CCP from a tyrant into the largely benign technocratic manager of a giant outsourcing park for Apple and Nike.

Harmonic convergence is a materialist theory of history, a capitalist analogue to Marxism. It assumes economics to be the main driver of human affairs, and it sees the “liberal international order” as the product of the immutable laws of political economy—universal laws that would shave the rough edges off communist China just as they had shaped Europe, America, Australia, Japan, and South Korea into modern liberal states. For decades, successive American presidents from both political parties worked to integrate the economies of China and America, turning them into conjoined twins.

The dynamics on which harmonic convergence focused were real enough. But the theory’s exclusive focus on economics blinded American leaders to countervailing factors—cultural, political, and demographic—of equal or greater weight. Culturally, China sees itself not as one country among many, but as a great civilization that is central to humankind. Politically, the CCP has proved more capable than anyone ever dreamed possible of adapting single-party rule to the demands of a modern economy. Thanks, in part, to the rise of new technologies, the CCP now manages to efficiently surveil 1.4 billion people, permitting them latitude in their economic affairs while ruthlessly policing their political life and social interactions.

CCP oppression of the Chinese people would be troubling but manageable if China were a middling actor on the world stage. But size matters. In 2010, Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, stormed out of an international conference in protest over U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s criticism of aggressive behavior by the Chinese military in the South China Sea. He subsequently justified his rage with this terse observation: “China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact.”

China resents the efforts of the United States to defend and support “small” countries in order to sustain an international order China had no say in creating and whose values—liberalism, democracy, free speech, free and transparent markets—it sees as daggers aimed at the CCP’s continuing rule. Beijing is therefore determined to break the liberal capitalist mold that the West built for it, and its heft gives it the power to succeed.

Of late, some analysts have taken to identifying the source of China’s hostility to the West as “communism.” Though anachronistic, the term is not entirely inaccurate. To be sure, no one in China still believes in the hidebound tenets of Marxist economics. Still, the CCP continues to rely on the one-party state structure and the traditional communist party tools of repression, subversion, and ideological warfare—including, to name just three, the secret police, a global system of front organizations and espionage networks, and a colossal propaganda machine—to advance nationalist ends.

In foreign policy, the CCP remains dedicated to international revolution. The new world they envision, however, is not a Marxist paradise but one in which China will replace the United States as the dominant power in a Sinocentric world order.

In achieving this goal, China’s leaders see business and scientific research as subordinate branches of the national security apparatus. The “Made in China 2025” initiative, which the CCP unveiled in 2015, envisions near-complete Chinese independence from foreign suppliers, especially in next-generation high-tech industries, with the goal of transforming China into the undisputed leader in the fields that will drive global economic growth in the coming decades.

The idea of supplanting the United States as the motor of high-tech innovation is integrally connected to the second track along which the CCP is moving: military modernization and expansion. Although reliable numbers are difficult to come by, between 2000 and 2019, China’s defense budget is estimated to have increasedmore than fivefold, from $43 billion to $266 billion—a sum that exceeds the combined defense budgets of Russia, Israel, Great Britain, and France. While Beijing’s immediate goal is to gain superiority over the United States in the Western Pacific, its long-term aim is to develop, within three decades, a fully expeditionary military, one capable of projecting power to the four corners of the globe with state-of-the-art weaponry matching or surpassing the firepower of the United States, and one trained in tactics designed to neutralize existing American advantages.

The third track of China’s strategy is political: to make the world more hospitable to the CCP’s single-party state. The new security law for Hong Kong, issued in late June, reminds us that as China grows in stature, it is becoming more aggressive and expansionist and hostile to democracy, not less. The CCP routinely uses front groups to organize expatriate Chinese communities and mobilize them in support of Beijing’s goals. It forces foreign companies operating in China to toe its ideological line in their own homes, and exploits Chinese businesses, universities, and research institutes to infiltrate Western institutions and companies.

In this context, the Middle East presents Beijing with a unique mix of threats and opportunities. On the threat side of the ledger is the fact that around half of China’s oil imports either originate in the Persian Gulf or flow through the Suez Canal. In addition to oil and gas, many of the other resources that feed China’s economy wind their way to ports such as Shanghai or Guangzhou only after passing through Middle Eastern choke points, where they are vulnerable to interdiction by the United States.
Full essay
see also China’s Geostrategic Priorities Become Clear: Oil not Wind…


2) China's New Coal Plants Account For 90% Of Global Total In First Half Of 2020 
Reuters, 3 August 2020

SHANGHAI, August 3 (Reuters) - China built more than half of the world’s new coal-fired power plants this year and accounted for 90% of new planned capacity, a study showed on Monday, with Beijing still commissioning new projects even as capacity worldwide declines.
Global coal-fired generation capacity saw a net decline of 2.9 gigawatts (GW) from January to June, the first drop on record for a six-month period, thanks to plant retirements in Europe and elsewhere, the U.S.-based think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM) said in the study.

But China added 53.2 GW of capacity to its project pipeline in the first half of this year - 90% of the global total - even as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to boost its use of renewable energy as part of a broader anti-pollution drive.
China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, also completed 11.4 GW of new capacity over the period, 62% of the global total, and the 12.8 GW that went into construction also amounted to 86% of the world’s total, GEM said.

While coal as a share of China’s total energy consumption fell below 58% last year, a drop of more than 10 percentage points since 2012, the country’s overall coal use has continued to rise.
China said that most of its new generation capacity would come from renewables this year but also set targets allowing another 60 GW of coal-fired projects to go into operation. It has more than 250 GW of new capacity either proposed or under construction.
Full story
3) Biden vs. Trump: The Battle Over US Energy Policy And Its Geopolitical Consequences
Tilak Doshi, Forbes, 8 August 2020
As the US has emerged as the world’s leading oil and gas producer, the energy and climate policies adopted by the next US administration will profoundly influence global economic and geopolitical affairs.

With the US presidential elections less than 90 days away, US energy policy – which includes government regulations dealing with climate change – has emerged as one of the core issues. This is not only because the Democratic Party, in seeking to unseat incumbent President Trump, has itself elevated energy and climate change policies to its highest priority. Energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy – the “master resource” that affects the production and use of all other resources – and hence US energy policy will affect the livelihood of all Americans. And as the US has emerged as the world’s leading oil and gas producer over the past decade, the energy and climate policies adopted by the next US administration will also profoundly influence global economic and geopolitical affairs.

The Radical Democrats and The Vacillating Mr. Biden
In the the Democratic Party presidential primaries, nearly everyone of the more than 20 major nominees supported first-term congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” which was her radical grand plan to save the planet from a presumed 12-year deadline to global extinction. On April 8, 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee after Senator Bernie Sanders, the only other major candidate left, suspended his campaign and endorsed Mr. Biden a few days later. Rather than making the traditional move back to the center after he secured the nomination, Mr. Biden has continued to move left especially on energy policy.

In May, it was announced that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will co-chair Joe Biden climate policy council as Biden took steps to “unify” the party with the Bernie Sander’s wing of radical progressives. In June, the Democratic National Committee signaled its shift towards extreme positions on energy and climate issues reflected by the views of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez. The DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis, stacked with progressive climate activists, pressed Mr. Biden to back “bold and urgent action to address the climate crisis.” 
The DNC 14-page plan calls for expenditures of up to $16 trillion over the next decade to speed the country away from fossil fuels. It includes getting to “near-zero” emissions by 2040, banning fracking, ending the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, denying federal permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, ensuring 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation, and re-imposing the ban on US crude oil exports and sharply curtailing exports of natural gas.

The DNC proposal more closely resembles Sanders’ climate plan in policies and scope than Mr. Biden’s, which called for a $1.7 trillion in climate spending over the next decade. Mr. Biden later announced a new plan in mid-July to spend $2 trillion over four years to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors with a range of sweeping proposals to tackle climate change. Mr. Biden has vacillated, asserting “no new fracking” in his debate Bernie Sanders in March but backtracking in July in an interview in Pennsylvania where he said that he “wouldn’t put fracking on the chopping block” in response to a question about losing oil and gas jobs.

Contradictory policy promises by politicians appealing to different constituencies in the election trail are nothing new. Once elections are won, pragmatism is expected to prevail as the real consequences of policy decisions become apparent. Furthermore, the US president’s powers to effect change are bound by constitutional limits. Even if the Democrats manage to flip the Senate while keeping the House, moderates from both parties in oil and gas-producing states such as Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas would be fearful of destroying jobs and tax-revenues while recovering from the devastating pandemic-induced lockdowns.
While oil, natural gas and coal accounted for over 83% of total energy used in the US in 2019, wind, solar and new biofuels accounted for a paltry 6%. Punting  for “green jobs” that have yet to materialize and which would depend on massive government subsidies may sound uplifting in election campaigns focused on young environmentalists but are a poor substitute for economic performance in the real world.

Yet, it is clear that Mr. Biden, if elected, would be bound to undo most if not all of President Trump’s initiatives in energy and environmental affairs. As promised, he would take executive and regulatory actions aimed at ending fracking and oil and gas drilling activity in federal lands. A politicized Environmental Protection Agency – following the Obama administration’s modus operandi – would discourage the fossil fuels sector in countless ways through administrative and regulatory choke-holds. The blocking of oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure would be enabled by activist environmentalists launching legal suits, as in the recent case of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In his plan to “secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity in a clean energy future”, Biden committed to immediately re-join the Paris Agreement if elected president. This could potentially open up the US government to yet another avenue of judicial intervention by its own law courts. For example, the recent UK Court of Appeal decision to block London’s Heathrow airport expansion explicitly cited the Paris Agreement climate targets as the basis to reject government-approved infrastructure plans.
In the age of US-led oil abundance, conventional notions of geopolitical risk and perceptions of energy security have been upended. The surge in US oil and gas production which gathered pace in the past few years with President Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda has made the US less vulnerable to political and social upheavals in the Middle East and has increased its foreign policy leverage in achieving its strategic objectives. It has given the US greater latitude to support allies and sanction rivals. It has made it easier for the US to impose export sanctions on oil-producing adversaries such as Venezuela and Iran without the fear of a resulting spike in global oil prices or on US domestic gasoline prices.
By effectively making the US the “swing” producer in global oil markets, the fracking revolution has weakened the ability of OPEC and Russia to support crude oil prices by restraining output. A Biden presidency which would vacate the role of the US as the world’s leading oil and gas producer would no doubt be welcomed by Russia and the OPEC oil and gas exporters struggling with low energy prices.
Biden vs. Trump: The Odds
recent Gallup poll, taken over July 1 – 23, asked just over a 1,000 US adults: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” A plurality, 30%, chose “coronavirus/diseases” as the most important problem, followed by “the government/poor leadership” (23%), race relations/racism (16%), “unifying the country” (6%), and “crime/violence” (5%). Among economic problems, 9% of the respondents chose the “economy in general”, unemployment, and the wealth gap. Notably, “climate change/environment/pollution” — green issues central to the progressive agenda and embraced by Mr. Biden — came at the very bottom of the list, garnering just 1% support.

Whatever the state of Mr. Biden’s mental acuity, he must be aware of the risks of campaigning on the radical makeover of the US economy in the midst of a pandemic to meet an alleged “climate emergency”. In 2017, failed presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton claimed her biggest regret was in doubling up on ex-President Obama’s ‘war on coal’ and stating in her campaign trail that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”. Mr. Biden must hope he will not have such regrets.
4) Saudi Arabia Turns Off America’s Oil Taps Again
Bloomberg, 9 August 2020
The strategy worked wonders in 2017. It will be more challenging this time around unless the pandemic eases its grip on oil demand.
For the second time in three years, Saudi Arabia is slashing the volume of crude it’s sending to America in an attempt to force down stockpiles in the world’s most visible oil market and thereby hasten the rebalancing of supply and demand.
Weekly U.S. oil inventory data — usually published on a Wednesday and covering the period up to the previous Friday — is routinely pored over by oil analysts and traders alike. Despite their shortcomings, the figures give the most up-to-date picture of changes in the oil balance and influence trading decisions and crude prices around the world.
Shifts in the flow of crude into and out of American ports can have a big impact on the level of U.S. inventories. Riyadh has clearly decided it’s time to do its bit to bring them down from heights reached in May and June, when the coronavirus pandemic and the kingdom’s own output hike combined to drive the fastest ever surge in U.S. commercial crude stockpiles. In the five weeks between March 20 and April 24, the inventories increased at a rate of 2.1 million barrels a day and by the first week of June it was hitting new highs.
Excess stockpiles act as a drag on oil prices and the most visible stockpiles are in the U.S. because the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration reports levels weekly. That’s in stark contrast to other places around the world where the data are much less timely, if they are published at all. China, for example, stopped divulging official data on inventory levels in 2017.
It’s no wonder then that Saudi Arabia should focus on the U.S. This is precisely the same policy that it adopted three years ago, shortly after the wider OPEC+ alliance was formed and its first output deal was running into trouble.
At the time, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 non-OPEC allies, including Russia and Mexico, agreed to cut their production by 1.66 million barrels a day from the start of 2017 to bring down swollen global oil inventories built up as a result of the first U.S. shale boom. Poor implementation of the cuts and rising U.S. oil production meant inventories kept on growing, despite OPEC making its first output reduction in eight years.

Fast forward to today and the reduction in the flow of Saudi oil to the U.S. is dramatic. In May and June tankers full of Saudi crude were arriving off the Gulf and West coasts of the U.S. almost daily, sometimes more than one a day. But in July and August that has dwindled to little more than one a week, as the chart below shows.
That surge in ships, which I wrote about here, briefly drove U.S. imports of Saudi crude close to a six-year high, adding to the upward push on stockpiles. But it was short-lived and imports in the last week of July were just 190,000 barrels a day, their second-lowest level in weekly data that extends back a decade.
The figure could fall even further in the coming weeks. There are only 6 tankers carrying 9 million barrels of Saudi crude currently showing a U.S. port as their destination, according to tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg. With a journey time of about six weeks from the Persian Gulf to any of the major U.S. oil ports, that’s all the Saudi crude that’s likely to arrive by mid-September.
And things aren’t likely to improve much after that. In setting its official crude prices for September, Saudi Arabia has made significant cuts to prices for European customers, where it’s competing with Russia, and smaller ones for buyers in Asia. But the kingdom has kept prices for the U.S. unchanged from last month.

Full story
5) U.S. Shale Remains In Survival Mode For Another Year
Irina Slav,, 6 August 2020
After slashing capex plans for 2020 and idling rigs by the dozen, U.S. shale drillers are still not ready to return to their default state of perpetual growth.
Oil is simply too cheap for that, so they are staying in survival mode, maintaining production with no plans to start boosting it anytime soon. Shale producers are caving in to low oil prices and worried investors, pledging to stick to production maintenance for the time being, Bloomberg reported this week, citing updates by several of the larger shale drillers in the United States. Modest growth in production is the most that any of these producers can offer their shareholders, with some cutting their earlier production guidance for this year and declining to provide any update on 2021.
According to some, U.S. onshore oil production shed as much as 2 million bpd when the double blow of the Saudi-Russian price war and the coronavirus pandemic struck. It will be a while before it recovers, and analysts see this “while” as at least a couple of years. Some even doubt that the industry will recover to its pre-crisis state at all.

Prices are at the heart of the problem, of course. This week benchmarks have been trending higher, but the rally has been limited: after both the API and the EIA reported substantial inventory declines that pushed West Texas Intermediate higher, today the U.S. benchmark was down at the time of writing, albeit modestly. Oil prices will likely continue to move extra-dynamically in the coming months as the spread of Covid-19 continues to cast a thick shadow over the future of the energy industry.

Karr Ingham, Petroleum Economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers and creator of the Texas Petro Index summarized the situation in a June news release:

“Petroleum energy demand dropped off the cliff sharply and rapidly at the same time crude oil production was peaking, particularly in Texas and the U.S.,” Ingham said. “That would have been bad enough; throw in a market share temper tantrum between Saudi Arabia and Russia at the worst possible time, and you have a thoroughly devastating impact on energy markets.”

It takes a lot of time to recover from such an impact, and this is becoming increasingly clear as prices remain stubbornly below $50, thwarting any hypothetical production growth plans. Layoffs, capex cuts, and bankruptcies are on the agenda right now, and this agenda will stay in place until WTI rises to at least $50, at least according to some industry executives who see that price level as high enough to restart drilling new wells. 
Even then, however, efforts will focus on development, that is, exploiting already proven reserves. Spending on new exploration, meaning, a substantial increase in new production, will have to wait as the industry grapples with a reality that may involve some permanent oil demand loss.
This reality may force a rethinking of the whole shale business model.
“For most of my career, we would reinvest all our cash flow and then show our success by how much we could grow our production,” Bloomberg quoted the chief executive of Concho Resources as saying earlier this month. “Well, that’s not how it’s going to work in the future.”
Tim Leach is very likely right: with all that cash flow getting poured back into production, most shale producers have accumulated sizable debt piles, and now these debt piles are sinking them. In the first half of the year, 23 shale oil companies in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy protection, with a collective debt loan of over $30 billion. And more debt is maturing over the next two years, which means more bankruptcies. Those that survive will need to come with a more financially sustainable model after burning through billions of cash for the single purpose of boosting production to the record-high cliff it fell off in the spring.
6) Clean Coal: The Commonsense Answer To Africa’s Energy Crisis
Dr Rosemary Falcon, The Conservative Woman, 10 August 2020

There is no choice but to electrify, and we can help Africa down that road. But we must treat Africans as equal partners, not children to be scolded into submission.

Dr Rosemary Falcon is a South African scientist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She was a founder of the university’s clean coal laboratory.
A CENTURY from now, maybe sooner, it’s unlikely we’ll be using coal to make electricity. Or not much of it.

Wind and solar are getting cheaper and they are easier to set up than building a power station that runs on heat, be it from coal, wood, rubbish or anything else.
The problem is that we’re not there yet. Solar doesn’t work at night, the output slips in cloudy weather, and turbines stand idle when the wind doesn’t blow. Even hydro has its limits when rainfall is low and dams don’t fill high enough to drive the turbines. Batteries are getting better at storing energy, but we need baseload power – and lots of it – to run a city such as Chicago or Cape Town.
So what should we do in the meantime?
Coal is being used at record levels across Africa, and from Poland to Bangladesh, and it’s unconscionable to pump tons of smoke into the air when we have the technology to limit and contain these emissions.
But when activists talk about stopping coal now, or chant ‘Leave it in the ground,’ they are naïve. Most of these arguments are made by people in Europe, Canada or the US who have no experience of life without electricity. Little wonder they don’t understand the hardship of more than a billion people around the world who live permanently without power.
In London the Global Warming Policy Foundation recently published a paper on the links between a lack of electricity and the rise of militia across Africa. 
It demonstrated that without industrial levels of current, as used in the developed world, it is impossible to set up mines and factories and difficult to run a modern school or hospital, and that this is a key reason for Africa’s chronic unemployment problem. Wherever you look at where extremist groups are taking hold or criminal gangs are rife, there are also huge numbers of young people without jobs. And until we solve that problem, there is no chance of winning the war on terror.
The bottom line is that more than 600million Africans live without electricity. Countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe all get their power from coal. Two years ago Egypt announced it was building the world’s biggest clean-coal generator on the coast, and Tanzania has built a smaller one near the border with Mozambique. Kenya has been off-and-on with political wrangles over a similar project not far from the coastal port of Lamu. The latter met resistance from the public and, in a democracy, the government in Nairobi must take on board their concerns. But it will be a sovereign decision for the people of Kenya and no one else. Likewise, wind, solar, coal or gas projects elsewhere in the world must be sovereign decisions for those countries too.
Overlying this is a need for cleaner air. The Paris Accord on climate change has brought the world together in a pledge for lower emissions, so where fossil fuel is used, we must use the latest clean technology.
In my view, ‘climate deniers’ are those who pretend we can impose our will on others in the name of global warming, as though all 193 member states of the UN will magically come to heel. There is no room in 2020 for playing the ‘colonial overlord’ and it may even push some away from the goal of a cleaner planet. And what happens if a government decide to use oil, coal or gas? Do we go to war, impose sanctions, expel them from the General Assembly? 
So, how about giving them the technology to burn it cleanly?
I am a scientist and have spent my working life researching how to get rid of toxic byproducts when using different types of fuel. At the clean-coal facility at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, we have done just that. We remove much of the dirt from the coal before it even enters the furnace, redesigning ovens to produce more heat and less fumes, and capturing what’s left, then harvesting elements for sale as byproducts.
I have overseen masters and doctoral degrees for academics from across Africa who have the same dream, and we liaise with like-minded schools in the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia.  
The engineers and scientists we work with around the world are not tub-thumpers or activists. They are scholars doing peer-reviewed work on clean coal. Think of the smoky old cars we had in the 50s, and the early jet engines. Fast forward to unleaded fuel and energy-efficient planes: neither is anywhere near as clean as the new way of using coal.
Across Africa, firewood is still the most common source of energy for warmth and cooking, and it comes at a terrible cost to nature. By this I do not mean just the loss of trees, but habitats destroyed for everything from insects to elephants. West Africa has cut down an estimated 90 per cent of its forest. According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Kenya and Tanzania have done the same with their coastal forests. Logging also has a huge effect on weather patterns and the environment. 
Why does this continue? A major contributor is the lack of electricity. If we want to save our forest then the only way in Africa is by connecting homes to mains electricity.  That means for those countries that continue to use fossil fuel and especially coal, we must put money and research into a clean burn.
In northern Mozambique, the world’s biggest new gas field is being opened up with a jump in jobs and wealth. Do we tell them to stop? And would the government in Maputo listen? Mozambique has one of the world’s largest coal mines at Moatize, earning millions in foreign exchange. Should we bomb it? Angola and Nigeria earn almost all their income from oil. Will they shut the wells? Will Saudi or Venezuela?
From undergrad students to post-doctoral theses, when I mark papers and essays, my question is, ‘Are you writing about the real world, or a philosophical one that doesn’t exist?’ That’s the question for anyone with an opinion on pollution, conservation and how to better serve humanity. In a pretend world, you can alter the model any way you like to accommodate some theory or other. But in the real one, we’re stuck with poverty, unemployment and ego-centric politicians. Plus, of course, voters who are shouting for a better life. In Africa jobs are almost impossible to create without industry, and industry needs power.
Perhaps, like Morocco, you turn to the private sector. Or like Kenya you use geo-thermal energy while investing in large-scale wind and solar. Tragically, these success stories are way too few. Mozambique is among the world’s top 20 power exporters, but only a third of its own people have the lights on. In Chad, Burundi and Burkina Faso it’s fewer than one in five.
Changing this is vital. Africa has massive potential for wind, solar and hydro. It also has billions of tons of coal in the ground and vast reserves of oil and gas. The scarce resource is forest.
Full post
7) And Finally: Emperor Penguins Are Thriving – Climate Models Are Killing Them Off
Global Warming Policy Forum, 8 August 2020

Emperor penguin populations have been increasing in recent years, yet worst-case climate modellers predict their extinction by 2100. It is time to stop applying the implausible RCP8.5 scare-scenarios. 


A new study of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes fosteri) populations in 2019 found that it had grown by up to 10% since 2009. The largest of all penguin species in the Antarctic, emperors now number as many as 282,150 breeding pairs (up from about 256,500) out of a total population of over 600,000 birds. This growth occurred despite a loss of thousands of chicks in 2016 when one of the Antarctic ice shelves they were huddled upon collapsed. The latest IUCN Red List assessment, completed in 2018, classified emperors as ‘Near Threatened’, a small step up from ‘Least Concern’. In their justification for this classification, the authors concluded:  

"This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is projected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations owing to the projected effects of climate change. However, it should be noted that there is considerable uncertainty over future climatic changes and how these will impact the species."

Oddly, however, other biologists studying this species are currently petitioning the IUCN to upgrade emperor penguins to ‘Vulnerable’ (a classification equivalent to ‘Threatened’ in the US system) based on survival models that predict the species could be close to extinction by 2100 using the RCP8.5 ‘worse case’ climate change scenario that polar bear biologists have so far found irresistible. As polar bear biologists have also done, they insist that if we reduce CO2 emissions via global political policy, the penguins will be saved.
The media, of course, focus on the model predictions of near extinction by 2100 that support a political response to human-caused climate change, despite the fact that both polar bears and emperor penguins are currently doing very well under declining sea ice conditions at both poles. They also ignore the valid criticisms of the RCP8.5 scenario made by many scientists, including Zeke Hausfather and Glen Peters in a Nature paper earlier this year, who insist that the use of these ‘worse case’ factors in models create quite implausible outcomes.
In a scathing commentary on recent model projections of future emperor penguin populations zoologist Susan Crockford concluded:
"I’d suggest that using far-fetched ‘worse case’ scenario predictions to propose an unlikely but scary-sounding future catastrophe isn’t likely to work any better for emperor penguins than it has done for polar bears, especially when the animals keep thriving.”

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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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