New Decarbonisation Policy Scandal That Could Bankrupt A Generation
In this newsletter:
Financial Times, 26 August 2020
4) New Decarbonisation Policy Scandal That Could Bankrupt A Generation
Emma Byrne, The Spectator, 26 August 2020
5) Andrew Montford: Who Saved Bambi?
6) Ross McKitrick: New Confirmation That Climate Models Overstate Atmospheric Warming
Forbes, 27 August 2020
8) Bjorn Lomborg & Matt Ridley: How To Talk About Climate Change
9) And Finally: Cold-Weather Accounts For Almost All Temperature-Related Deaths
Financial Times, 26 August 2020
Former and current employees describe incidents of sexism, racism and harassment at Green Climate Fund
The UN-backed Green Climate Fund, the world’s largest climate finance institution, is facing a wave of internal misconduct complaints including allegations of sexism and harassment in the workplace, and criticism over the death of an employee from coronavirus.
Seventeen current and former employees told the Financial Times they had witnessed or been the victim of misconduct, including abuse of power, racism, sexism, harassment and inappropriate relationships at the fund’s 330-person headquarters in the South Korean city of Songdo. All of the individuals who spoke to the FT asked to remain anonymous.
The GCF has raised more than $17bn and financed more than 140 projects. It is the main funding body to help poor countries achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris climate change accord but has faced previous criticism over its board-level decision making and project selection.
Full story (£)
Gaia Fawkes, 28 August 2020
Parliament’s Digital Services Cyber Security team have this morning informed civil servants who work on Parliamentary Select Committees that a new threat to parliamentary accounts has been identified - from Extinction Rebellion. As if Russia and China weren’t enough, eco-nutters are now posing a domestic threat too…
3) Green Groups Outraged As UK Government Presses On With £27.4bn Road-Building Plan
Eddie News, 24 August 2020
The Treasury and Highways England are facing criticism after the latest string of details about the UK Government’s £27.4bn road-building plan was published, with green groups arguing that the money would have been better spent on public transport and digital infrastructure.
In a statement published late on Friday (21 August), Highways England confirmed that it will be undertaking projects accounting for £14bn of the government’s £27.4bn Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2) as part of the UK’s Covid-19 stimulus plan. RIS2 was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the 2020 Budget and will run through to 2025...
Green campaigners have voiced anger and disappointment in the plans, in much the same way that they did at the original RIS2 announcement. The main difference in response this time was that, after months of remote working, groups were particularly keen to see funding divested from roads and directed towards broadband connectivity.
Emma Byrne, The Spectator, 26 August 2020
Countless properties have suddenly become worthless –including mine
Within the next year or two, I could go bankrupt. My mistake: to join a government-backed affordable housing scheme and purchase a one-bedroom flat in east London. For the past four years, it has been my pride and joy — not to mention my savings, my pension and my financial future. I was grateful for the government’s help in getting a foothold in the city. But now another government policy is hurtling towards me, against which I have no defence. Nor do potentially tens of thousands of first-time buyers and the owners of affordable housing in my position. It might be the next big scandal to hit the government.
It’s about cladding. Three years ago, the tragedy at Grenfell showed what can happen when you get this wrong: insulation added for environmental reasons turned out to be highly flammable. The residents were living in a death trap, and when a fridge caught fire, the tower block became an inferno. This, of course, raised the immediate question: how many others are living like this? The answer, it turns out, is all too many — 600,000. Including me.
Or so we’re now told by my housing association. We’ve been warned that the cladding covering our block of flats, along with 11,300 other buildings across the UK, is potentially combustible and has to be tested. Should it fail those tests, the cladding will have to be replaced — and that huge financial cost will most likely fall on leaseholders. You might think this is unfortunate, but is it really a disaster? Unexpected expenses are, after all, one of the normal pitfalls of home ownership; in the great Monopoly game of life, you pick up a Chance card that has you buying a new boiler, fixing your roof or treating subsidence. Is cladding so different?
The answer is yes. First, a good survey can protect you against repair bills. There was nothing to protect me against what turned out to be inept government regulations, which allowed flammable cladding to be fitted. Next is the scale of the cost. The new draft building safety bill — due to be examined by a parliamentary committee — makes clear that leaseholders will be liable for sums of up to £78,000, payable within 28 days. Other home repairs are affordable; this would be crushing.
And all the more so because I’m a shared ownership tenant. I own a 40 per cent stake in my flat (my housing association owns the rest, which I pay rent on) but I’m liable for the whole repair bill. To put it mildly, I don’t have £78,000, or anything approaching this sum. We’re not talking about being sent back to the beginning of my financial life — I’d be sent way backwards. It would take me years of work and savings to pay off the debt.
The government has offered some help, but it’s going to fall woefully short. In his March Budget, Rishi Sunak announced a £1 billion first-come, first-served fund on top of £600 million already promised for those affected. However, government officials have admitted the cost will be nearer to £3.5 billion — meaning two-thirds of homeowners will miss out on assistance.
At the same time many housing associations, including Moat, One Housing Group and Optivo, have started writing to leaseholders, warning them that, because of charity laws, flat owners will be liable for remediation work if funding applications fail. As Peter Apps, deputy editor of Inside Housing, starkly puts it: ‘We could face the very ugly scenario in coming months of people who purchased government-backed affordable housing products being bankrupted to cover the costs of removing dangerous cladding.’
It’s not only the threat of a devastating cladding bill that keeps me awake at night. If a building is deemed too unsafe a ‘waking watch’ can be ordered — whereby between two and five people walk around the property, day and night, ready to sound the alarm if they see a fire. Although these were only ever meant to be an interim measure, many waking watches are still in place after more than a year, and costs are spiralling. At Paddington Walk, a development six miles away from me, leaseholders have been charged an astonishing £21,000 per week for a waking watch over a ten-month period.
This has all been exacerbated by the External Wall Fire Review (EWS1) fiasco currently paralysing parts of the housing market — again due to cladding. The EWS1 form was introduced at the end of last year to give mortgage lenders confidence that high-rises over 18 metres were safe; however, in January the government suddenly changed its fire safety guidance to include buildings of any height, even some that don’t have cladding. Without an EWS1 form, owners of these homes can’t sell or remortgage. The result: meltdown. There are only 300 inspectors able to complete the form, leading, it has been warned, to waiting lists of up to ten years. It’s estimated that three million people in private flats are effectively trapped.
Since I can’t sell my home or remortgage because I don’t yet have the form, my property is technically worthless. And there are millions like me wondering what, if anything, we can do. Will we end up like the students in the exams marking fiasco: told that we’re the victims of a Kafkaesque bureaucratic cock-up for whom nothing could be done? I’ve been told that all this could take years to finalise; meanwhile, life is on hold. A generation are being trapped in their homes. None of us has the kind of money to fix things.
see also Grenfell and the problem of carbon targets
GWPF Blog, 24 August 2020
Environmentalists would have you know that we have now set aside some 15% of the world’s surface for conservation. That’s wonderful, of course, but it turns out that they have missed (or perhaps not) a rather more important saviour of the world’s wild places.
The identity of this greatest of environmental heroes is revealed by one of GWPF’s regular authors, Indur Goklany, in a paper just published in the journal Conservation Biology. It turns out that environmentalists should be cheering to the rafters…you guessed it…fossil fuels. Goklany’s analysis shows that without them, and without the fertilisers they produce, 20% of the world’s wild places would have to go under the plough to keep the world fed. The alternative is mass starvation.
So environmentalists really need to sit down and think very carefully about what they are trying to do with their constant war on fossil fuels. As Goklany puts it:
"…while eliminating [fossil fuel] use could reduce climate change, its unintended consequences might be to significantly exacerbate biodiversity loss…"
So the only thing standing between the rainforests and the savannahs and destruction by the plough, the only thing preventing Bambi being wiped
from the face of the earth, is Exxon, Shell, Chevron et al.
Dear environmentalists, you can show your gratitude now.
Climate Etc., 25 August 2020
Two new peer-reviewed papers from independent teams confirm that climate models overstate atmospheric warming and the problem has gotten worse over time, not better.
The papers are Mitchell et al. (2020) “The vertical profile of recent tropical temperature trends: Persistent model biases in the context of internal variability” Environmental Research Letters, and McKitrick and Christy (2020)“Pervasive warming bias in CMIP6 tropospheric layers” Earth and Space Science. John and I didn’t know about the Mitchell team’s work until after their paper came out, and they likewise didn’t know about ours.
Mitchell et al. look at the surface, troposphere and stratosphere over the tropics (20N to 20S). John and I look at the tropical and global lower- and mid- troposphere. Both papers test large samples of the latest generation (“Coupled Model Intercomparison Project version 6” or CMIP6) climate models, i.e. the ones being used for the next IPCC report, and compare model outputs to post-1979 observations. John and I were able to examine 38 models while Mitchell et al. looked at 48 models. The sheer number makes one wonder why so many are needed, if the science is settled. Both papers looked at “hindcasts,” which are reconstructions of recent historical temperatures in response to observed greenhouse gas emissions and other changes (e.g. aerosols and solar forcing). Across the two papers it emerges that the models overshoot historical warming from the near-surface through the upper troposphere, in the tropics and globally.
Mitchell et al. 2020
Mitchell et al. had, in an earlier study, examined whether the problem is that the models amplify surface warming too much as you go up in altitude, or whether they get the vertical amplification right but start with too much surface warming. The short answer is both. [...]
I get it that modeling the climate is incredibly difficult, and no one faults the scientific community for finding it a tough problem to solve. But we are all living with the consequences of climate modelers stubbornly using generation after generation of models that exhibit too much surface and tropospheric warming, in addition to running grossly exaggerated forcing scenarios (e.g. RCP8.5). Back in 2005 in the first report of the then-new US Climate Change Science Program, Karl et al. pointed to the exaggerated warming in the tropical troposphere as a “potentially serious inconsistency.” But rather than fixing it since then, modelers have made it worse. Mitchell et al. note that in addition to the wrong warming trends themselves, the biases have broader implications because “atmospheric circulation trends depend on latitudinal temperature gradients.” In other words when the models get the tropical troposphere wrong, it drives potential errors in many other features of the model atmosphere. Even if the original problem was confined to excess warming in the tropical mid-troposphere, it has now expanded into a more pervasive warm bias throughout the global troposphere.
If the discrepancies in the troposphere were evenly split across models between excess warming and cooling we could chalk it up to noise and uncertainty. But that is not the case: it’s all excess warming. CMIP5 models warmed too much over the sea surface and too much in the tropical troposphere. Now the CMIP6 models warm too much throughout the global lower- and mid-troposphere. That’s bias, not uncertainty, and until the modeling community finds a way to fix it, the economics and policy making communities are justified in assuming future warming projections are overstated, potentially by a great deal depending on the model.
Full post & comments
Forbes, 27 August 2020
As Hurricane Laura bears down on the Gulf Coast, scientists, journalists, and activists are blaming climate change for what they say are worsening natural disasters.
Michael Mann, a professor at a Penn State, claimed that storms are getting more destructive as “a consequence of human-caused planetary warming.”
The New York Times reported , “Climate change is making hurricanes more dangerous in many ways, including increased rainfall and more powerful storm surge.”
And student activist Greta Thunberg tweeted out videos of flooding in India and Niger as evidence of climate change’s impact on disasters. “What more do we need to see?” she asked.
A lot more than a few viral videos, it turns out.
Given the flood of alarming news about climate change, many will be surprised to learn that hurricanes aren’t increasing in frequency, and that deaths from natural disasters are at their lowest point in 120 years.
“A total of 2,900 people lost their lives in natural disasters in the first half of the year,” announced Munich Re on July 23, “much lower than the average figures for both the last 30 years and the last 10 years.”
But aren’t natural disasters becoming more expensive? They are, but that’s because we are so much richer, not because hurricanes and floods are so much more severe.
In a new review of 54 studies over the last 22 years, and published in the field’s leading scientific journal, Pielke finds “little evidence to support claims that any part of the overall increase in global economic losses documented on climate time scales is attributable to human-caused changes in climate.”
In other words, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters aren’t getting worse. They’re getting better. Much better.
There has been 92% decline in the decadal death toll from natural disasters since its peak in the 1920s, according to the International Disaster Database. In that decade, 5.4 million people died from natural disasters. In the 2010s, 400,000 did.
The Spectator, 25 August 2020
Can the conversation around climate change all too often get heated, hysterical, and panicked? Should we be appealing for more calm in the climate debate?
In the first of this mini podcast series featuring Bjorn Lomborg and Matt Ridley, host Kate Andrews challenges Bjorn and Matt on their views over the best way to conduct what some say is the most important debate of our lifetimes.
To listen to the podcast click here
With the number of extreme weather days rising around the globe in recent years due to global warming, it is no surprise that there has been an upward trend in hospital visits and admissions for injuries caused by high heat over the last several years. But cold temperatures are responsible for almost all temperature-related deaths, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research.
According to the new study by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago, patients who died because of cold temperatures were responsible for 94% of temperature-related deaths, even though hypothermia was responsible for only 27% of temperature-related hospital visits.
“With the decrease in the number of cold weather days over the last several decades, we still see more deaths due to cold weather as opposed to hot weather,” said Lee Friedman, associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences in the UIC School of Public Health and corresponding author on the paper. “This is in part due to the body’s poorer ability to thermoregulate once hypothermia sets in, as well as since there are fewer cold weather days overall, people don’t have time to acclimate to cold when those rarer cold days do occur.”
Hypothermia, or a drop in the body’s core temperature, doesn’t require sub-arctic temps. Even mildly cool temperatures can initiate hypothermia, defined as a drop in body temperature from the normal 98.7 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When this occurs, organs and systems begin to shut down in an effort to preserve the brain. The process, once started, can be very difficult to get under control; however, people who are more regularly exposed to lower temperatures are better able to resist hypothermia.
“People who were experiencing homelessness in the records we looked at were less likely to die from temperature-related injury,” Friedman said. “Because they have greater outdoor exposure, they acclimate better to both heat and cold.”
Heat-related issues are more likely to self-resolve by getting to a cooler place or by hydrating, Friedman said.
The researchers looked at inpatient and outpatient heat- and cold-related injuries that required a hospital visit in Illinois between 2011 and 2018. They identified 23,834 cold-related cases and 24,233 heat-related cases. Among these patients, there were 1,935 cold-related deaths and 70 heat-related deaths.
Friedman said government data systems that track temperature-related deaths significantly undercount these deaths.
“We found five to 10 times more temperature-related deaths by linking the hospital data to data from the National Weather Service and medical examiner’s data,” he said. “There are a lot more people dying from temperature-related injuries than is generally reported.”