Saturday, September 26, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: As China Threatens War Over Taiwan, It Plays the 'Climate' Card


Threat Of War Over Taiwan Leaves Superpowers On Edge

In this newsletter:

1) Threat Of War Over Taiwan Leaves Superpowers On Edge
The Times, 23 September 2020

2) China’s Meaningless “Promise”
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 25 September 2020

3) Joe Biden’s China Dilemma: Save The Paris Agreement Or Protect Taiwan?
Rupert Darwall, Real Clear Energy, 24 September 2020
4) Appeasing China Won’t Cool the Earth
Walter Russell Mead, 22 September 2020
5) UK Trade Union Calls For Halt To Building Offshore Wind Farms As 'Green Jobs' Go To China
The National, 22 September 2020
6) Global Warming Hiatus Was Real, Chinese Study Finds
GWPF Observatory, 23 September 2020
7) Ben Pile: Science Is Now Just Another Wing Of Politics
Spiked, 24 September 2020

Full details:

1) Threat Of War Over Taiwan Leaves Superpowers On Edge
The Times, 23 September 2020

President Xi is flexing his military muscle in pursuit of the dream of returning ‘rebel island’ to China’s grip. 

The world has long fretted about the outbreak of a catastrophic war on the Korean peninsula but the real danger may lie some 1,000 miles away in the Taiwan Strait — where the largest army on the planet is flexing its increasing might against a democratic island of 24 million people.

In recent days, jets of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have repeatedly crossed the midpoint of the strait that separates the mainland and Taiwan — their de facto border — triggering intercepts by the island’s frontline fighters.

Chinese flotillas are practising mine clearing to open up sea lanes for warships and landing forces, and Chinese soldiers have vowed to give up their lives should there be a war against Taiwan.

“If one day, the war breaks out, we would rush to the battlefield without any hesitation,” announced the PLA’s eastern theatre command, which would be the force to invade the island.

“We will protect every inch of the land of the motherland, every flower and every blade of grass. We’d never let down the motherland and our people!”

In Taiwan, the defence ministry has redefined procedures, allowing its soldiers to fire back when attacked, while its president struck a defiant tone against the mainland.

“We will never allow others to display their military might in our territorial airspace,” declared Tsai Ing-wen, as she toured a military base in Penghu, a string of small western islands that are on the furthest front of Taiwan’s air defences.

China has pledged to take Taiwan — which it considers unfinished business from the civil war in 1949 — back by force if necessary. For decades that seemed an unlikely threat, especially as Taiwan had a defence pact with the United States, but as relations plummet between Beijing and Washington, Taiwan could spark a clash that draws in the superpowers.
Full story


China will aim to hit peak emissions before 2030 and for carbon neutrality by 2060, President Xi Jinping has announced.
Mr Xi outlined the steps when speaking via videolink to the UN General Assembly in New York.
The announcement is being seen as a significant step in the fight against climate change...
According to the official translation, Mr Xi went on to say:
"We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060."
Until now China has said it would peak its emissions by 2030 at the latest, but it has avoided committing to a long-term goal.
Emissions from China continued to rise in 2018 and 2019 even as much of the world began to shift away from fossil fuels.
Observers believe that in making this statement at this time, the Chinese leader is taking advantage of US reluctance to address the climate question.

"Xi Jinping’s climate pledge at the UN, minutes after President Donald Trump’s speech, is clearly a bold and well calculated move," said Li Shuo, an expert on Chinese climate policy from Greenpeace Asia.

"It demonstrates Xi’s consistent interest in leveraging the climate agenda for geopolitical purposes."
So what do we make of this?

I suppose the first point to make is that “pledges” from dictatorships such as China are in essence worthless. Indeed, it is not even a pledge, only an “aim”.

Xi won’t be around for ever, and his successor may well tear up any pledges made, or policies enacted. Indeed, this is the way China’s communist party works – all of the failures will be blamed on the hapless Xi in due course, and his policies purged.

Beyond that, Xi’s pledge contains no actual proposals or specific targets. He promises that emissions will peak before 2030, but I cannot see any difference between that and his Paris pledge that they will “peak by 2030 at the latest”.

There is no commitment about the level they will peak at. Nor are there any targets quantifying when and how much subsequent cuts in emissions will be.
Finally, we should be extremely suspicious about the use of the term “climate neutrality”. If China were really serious, they would simply promise to cut emissions to zero.

Climate neutrality can mean that they will offset emissions by land use changes, planting more trees and so on. However, such offsets are notoriously difficult to monitor and measure, and therefore would be meaningless.

Alternatively, China may obtain carbon offsets from abroad. Again, as we have already seen, these too are often worthless. Given China’s increasing economic imperialism abroad, it is not difficult to see them buying up offsets cheaply, maybe in lieu of debts.
The Climate Action Tracker website gives a more realistic assessment than gullible Matt McGrath, and they rate it “Highly Insufficient”

The motivation behind Xi’s statement, and indeed its timing, are clear. It is intended for foreign consumption. Already it appears to be encouraging Brussels to keep pursuing their economically ruinous climate agenda, which of course is in China’s interest.

And it already being swallowed whole by the likes of Matt McGrath.

But I believe the speech was really aimed at the US. China is coming under increasing pressure over not only its trade policies, but also human rights abuses, aggression in the South China Sea, and threats to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Under Obama, they were given free reign, as he was so keen to get them on board for the Paris Agreement.
Full post & comments
3) Joe Biden’s China Dilemma: Save The Paris Agreement Or Protect Taiwan?
Rupert Darwall, Real Clear Energy, 24 September 2020
In less than 20 years, China’s carbon dioxide emissions increased threefold—but the idea that the biggest threat China poses to America’s national security is from greenhouse gases died this year.

Is climate change an existential threat, one that overrides all other challenges? Or does an expansionist China pose a grave and growing danger to the strategic interests of the U.S.? Two questions with only one “Yes.”
President Trump makes no secret of his views on China. He was one of the first public figures to realize China as an economic threat. He denounces the decision to admit China to the World Trade Organization (WTO), seeing it as a disaster for America, and especially for American workers. And it is not hard to guess where Trump resides on the continuum from climate-change-as-hoax to climate-change-as-existential threat.

By contrast, Joe Biden supported China’s accession to the WTO and has placed all his chips on the opposite end of the climate spectrum from Trump. Campaigning for the Democratic nomination, Biden tweeted his belief that climate change poses an existential threat. Since then, he has committed to implementing the most draconian greenhouse-emissions cuts ever proposed by a serious candidate for the presidency.

Global warming is, well, global. There is no point in cutting America’s carbon dioxide emissions unless the rest of the world follows suit. During his first year in the White House, Barack Obama attempted to get China to sign a treaty that included emissions targets. It ended in the fiasco of the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009. The lesson Obama took away from Copenhagen was that Beijing held the keys to a new global climate compact. To justify the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to sharply cut power generation emissions, there had to be a realistic prospect of a new UN climate treaty—and that meant being friendly to Beijing.

At his first meeting with Obama as China’s new leader in June 2013, President Xi Jinping set out China’s quid pro quo: a new model of major power relations between the two nations, with China being given preeminence as first among equals after the U.S. This led, in November 2014, to the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, which in turn paved the way for the Paris climate agreement a year later. According to Obama, the U.S.-China climate understanding was “critical” to the success of the Paris agreement.

All this took place at the tail end of a period in which complacency reigned about the China’s rise as a world power. American foreign policy grandees believed that admitting China to the WTO would wean its Communist Party away from dictatorship and repression. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton told General Secretary Jiang Zemin that he did not want to contain China. “The biggest security threat China presents the United States is that you will insist on getting rich the same way we did,” Clinton told China’s leader.
Who believes that today?

In less than 20 years, China’s carbon dioxide emissions increased threefold—but the idea that the biggest threat China poses to America’s national security is from greenhouse gases died this year. China’s abrogation of Hong Kong’s one-country-two-systems settlement, guaranteed by international treaty to 2047, its brutal suppression of dissent there, and its armed clashes with India have transformed perceptions of China from friendly rival to, in the words of Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass, “an increasingly assertive China with growing military capabilities.”
America should unambiguously guarantee Taiwan’s security, Haass argues, as what happens in the Taiwan Straits could well decide Asia’s future and enable China to project power across the western Pacific.

But China knows how to play the West. In his UN address this week, Xi gave Biden a helping hand in the presidential election and climate hawks the upper hand over China hawks in a Biden administration.
Dressed in artful prose about green revolutions and protecting Mother Earth, Xi said China would now aim to peak it carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve “carbon neutrality” before 2060.
China’s intentions should be judged by what it does, not its rhetoric—especially in an election year. It is not going to follow California’s example and wreck its power grid and its economy.
China is building 259 gigawatts of new coal-fired power stations—almost as much as the 266 GW capacity of the U.S. coal fleet. “We should see each other as members of the same family,” Xi told the UN, but not Muslim Uighurs who Xi is subjecting to a “demographic genocide.” China is actively involved in the fight against COVID-19, Xi claims. “We should enhance solidarity and get through this together,” so China bans a World Health Organization team from visiting Wuhan and investigating the source of the virus.

Is China a trustworthy partner? The winner of the election has two choices—take China at its word and pursue the illusion of a cooperative China leading the fight against climate change, or stand firm against Chinese expansionism. He cannot do both.

4) Appeasing China Won’t Cool the Earth
Walter Russell Mead, 22 September 2020
If the US fails to manage the geopolitical challenges associated with China’s rise, the world won’t be interested in Washington’s views on climate change or anything else.

As policy makers in Beijing weigh their options in the event of a Biden victory, one of the subjects that will most engage their attention is climate change. Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that he will put the goal of slowing climate change at the heart of U.S. foreign policy. Washington would rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and urge all countries to enact measures to keep Earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, as the Democratic Party platform states.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Does this mean a Biden administration would add another dimension to U.S.-China tensions? Beijing likely hopes it’ll ease them.

For Chinese officials, the goal would be to get the Biden administration to negotiate with itself—the climate hawks persuading the incoming president to squelch the China hawks to save the planet. Beijing is the key to climate change, climate warriors will say, and America can’t persuade China to help cool the Earth by harassing it on trade, imposing sanctions against its companies, arming Taiwan, and encouraging its neighbors to form alliances against Beijing.

This is an approach China can work with. Beijing wants to fight climate change, its diplomats will whisper to U.S. climate hawks, but Chinese hard-liners need to be convinced. Help us to help you: If America demonstrates a spirit of compromise and cooperation on issues important to the hard-liners, well, who can say? We might even give up our coal plants. Someday.

There are Democrats to whom this will seem like smart statecraft. Global governance, they will tell Americans, transcends the petty stakes of geopolitical competition. Our common interest in saving humanity outweighs ephemeral disputes over maritime boundaries. Can we really let a conflict over Taiwan, a small island that America already officially recognizes as part of China, stand in the way of a climate treaty that could halt extinction?

The Biden team needs to assess Beijing’s position on climate change realistically. Global temperatures aside, China wants to improve the energy efficiency of its economy because energy is a cost. Beijing wants to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign fuel because the U.S. controls the sea lanes through which China’s Middle East imports must flow. It wants to mandate a shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles because this would destroy German and Japanese competitive advantages in the automobile industry. A new technology would give Chinese car companies a chance to occupy the industry’s commanding heights. Beijing wants to reduce water and air pollution in and around China’s great cities because residents, including powerful Communist Party members, like clean water and air.

China’s emissions will slow also because its economy is no longer growing as rapidly as it did during the boom years. As Chinese consumers become older and more affluent, demand will tend to shift to less energy-intensive services, like health care. The information revolution, which is making the world more energy-efficient and reducing humanity’s environmental footprint, is at work in China as well.

Like diplomats from many other countries, Beijing’s climate negotiators spend a lot of time packaging steps their country would take anyway as bold and courageous initiatives demonstrating its altruistic leadership. Because China’s environmental record is so poor, there is much low-hanging fruit still to gather; Beijing can achieve significant progress on emissions while honoring its other policy goals.
On the other hand, it will resist any commitments that seriously interfere with its economic and strategic ambitions. The sad reality is that there isn’t all that much difference between the steps China is prepared to take on its own and the steps U.S. pressure might induce it to take.

The November election is still six weeks away, but Team Biden needs to begin preparing now to avoid a foreign-policy train wreck over climate and China policy.
Just as Washington doesn’t accept linkage between geopolitics and human rights—e.g., America doesn’t offer to pull the navy out of the South China Sea if China agrees to ease up on the Uighurs—the U.S. needs to keep climate diplomacy and geopolitics on separate tracks.

That approach won’t please some Democratic activists, but if America fails to manage the geopolitical challenges associated with China’s rise, the world won’t be interested in Washington’s views on climate change or anything else.
5) UK Trade Union Calls For Halt To Building Offshore Wind Farms As 'Green Jobs' Go To China
The National, 22 September 2020

A trade union has called for a halt to new offshore wind farms until a local supply chain is established.

Contracts to supply turbine jackets for SSE’s offshore wind farm, Seagreen, were awarded to firms in China and UAE

GMB London echoed the growing anger from GMB Scotland after it was announced last week that contracts to supply turbine jackets for SSE’s offshore wind farm, Seagreen, in Angus, were awarded to firms in China and UAE.
The decision meant Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) was left overlooked in favour of companies based thousands of miles away, even though it has engineering sites in the country, in Fife and Stornoway.

Despite BiFab securing backing from the Scottish Government to win the work, SSE Renewables claimed the gap between the submissions of foreign firms and BiFab was “too significant to close”.

Back in 2010, a Scottish Government report suggested the offshore wind sector alone could offer the potential for 28,000 direct jobs, in addition to a further 20,000 positions in related industries and a £7.1 billion investment in Scotland by this year.

But just last year, BiFab again found itself priced out for local work by global competitors after EDF granted the vast majority of the supply chain for its wind farm, about 10 miles off the coast of Fife, to Indonesia.

Now, the GMB London union is arguing that supply chain set-ups undertaken in the nuclear industry should be the go-to for renewable energy, with “tens of thousands of jobs in developing nuclear zero-carbon emissions reliable electricity” in the UK.

It says wind farms continuing to use the current supply chain will lead to higher bills for UK households, in addition to an overall lack of jobs – which it says are both against the “direct economic interest” of its members and their families.

Warren Kenny, GMB regional secretary, said: “Politicians of all stripes, who bought into the hype that renewable energy would give rise to green jobs in the UK in return for the higher electricity prices and subsidies required to bring it on stream, are taking union members for fools at the breath-taking absurdity of the supply chain and carbon emissions reality.

“The steel for the turbines and jackets is being made from high emissions coal and the ships that transport them many thousands of miles will be powered by high emissions oil.

“It is householders in the UK that are required to pay a surcharge of £10 per week on household energy bills, regardless of income, to fund the subsidies required by renewables energy suppliers to make their projects viable while creating jobs in the Far East. Without the subsidies the wind farms would not exist.”

He went on: “Offshore wind farms and the current supply chain which lead to higher bills and no jobs are against the direct economic interest of union members and families.

“The contrast with Hinkley Point and Sizewell new nuclear power supply chain could not be more stark.

Full story
6) Global Warming Hiatus Was Real, Chinese Study Finds
GWPF Observatory, 23 September 2020

Dr David Whitehouse, GWPF Science Editor
A new analysis of global air temperature by researchers from Tongji University in Shanghai has cast light on the much debated recent hiatus in global temperature.

Writing in the Journal of Earth Science the Chinese scientists say there was a rapid rise in global mean surface air temperature after the late 1970s but that this stalled and there was a relative stagnation and even slight cooling that lasted for about 15 years (1998–2012). They add that even though the slowdown was acknowledged by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) and termed as a hiatus (IPCC, 2013) there was a debate in the scientific community about whether there was a hiatus in global warming or not.

The researchers believe that the debate about the global warming hiatus poses a substantial challenge to our understanding of the global climate response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and natural variability. They say that the disagreements about the recent global warming hiatus mainly arise from different sources, among which differences across observational SAT datasets may be a key contributor to the contradictory conclusions. So they use an alternative set of data.

They use the ratio of two oxygen isotopes in precipitation, oxygen 16 and 18, which is a proxy for the temperature of precipitation and surface temperature. They are particularly interested in what they term a “robust correlation” between precipitation oxygen ratios and surface temperature over mid- and high-latitude regions. Twelve stations were selected of which ten are located in Europe, and the remaining two in Antarctica and North America, respectively. Using the data they constructed a composite isotope index spanning 1970–2016 by combining twelve precipitation oxygen isotope records collected over mid and high-latitude continents. With it they evaluate the recent global warming hiatus.

They found a cooling trend over the period 1998–2012 which was significantly different from that of the interval 1970–1997 which is characterised by a significant warming. They conclude that,
"our results provide new evidence for recent global warming hiatus and highlight the potential of utilising precipitation isotopes for tracking climate changes.”
7) Ben Pile: Science Is Now Just Another Wing Of Politics
Spiked, 24 September 2020

When science so readily attaches itself to politics, policies and candidates, it loses all claim to objectivity.

Earlier this month, Scientific American broke with what it claims is its 175-year history of political neutrality to endorse US presidential candidate, Joe Biden. According to the magazine’s editorial: ‘The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the US and its people.’ Strong stuff. But what field of science produced this judgement? Physics, perhaps? Chemistry? Biology? None of them, of course. The truth is that institutional science has willingly politicised itself and prostituted itself to power to such an extent that it no longer understands the difference between politics and science.

SciAm’s editorial, though, is not as much an endorsement of Biden as it is a shrill moral litany of Trump’s crimes: his handling of the pandemic and of healthcare, and his battles with national and global bureaucracies. Biden, by contrast, argued the editorial, ‘is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment’. Really? Are scientists so easily moved by such crass good-vs-evil political framing?

SciAm was not alone in nailing its political colours to the mast. In the journal Science, editor Herbert Holden Thorp wrote recently that ‘Trump lied about science’. But this view, too, requires rather more interpretation than science. Among Trump’s deadly crimes listed by Thorp was ‘the opening of colleges and schools’. The bastard!

The problem for the editorial teams of both publications is that assent to scientific facts and the drafting and execution of policy are different things. In no area is this confusion more clear than climate change. It was President Barack Obama who, in 2013, said:

"Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late."

Obama’s speech epitomises the problem from the other side. It was not the ‘overwhelming judgement of science’ that extreme weather events on their own or together were more frequent and intense. At best, this remains a matter of controversy. Moreover, extreme events would have to become very many times more frequent and intense to register as greater problems than extreme weather has caused America in the past – let alone become America’s most urgent problems. Obama, who Biden served as vice president, departed from the facts here. But few scientists rushed to condemn him for this.

Put simply, Obama’s speech flattered institutional science and the global political institutions which President Trump has sought to withdraw the US from – namely, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the 2015 Paris Agreement. But neither assent to nor dissent from facts and science have anything to do with the president’s political choices.

After all, it’s not as if the WHO has covered itself in scientific glory during this pandemic. Why wouldn’t a president ask questions about his country’s support for it? And similarly, as I have pointed out many times on spiked, the Paris Agreement is fundamentally anti-democratic. That might lead some to conclude that the basis of such a claim is ‘science denial’, but this would be to repeat the mistake of confusing political and scientific arguments. Climate change can be understood (and dealt with) as a problem without yielding sovereignty to undemocratic global technocracies.

This confusion runs deep in today’s most high-pitched political claims. One reason for this is that science is increasingly expected to carry the moral, economic and political weight for increasingly worthless political campaigns. Scientific authority – institutional science – can easily produce estimates of a political leader’s policy failures in the crude terminology of body counts. But such estimates are not like the isolation of a gene that causes a disease, or the identification of a new particle.

The SciAm editorial, for example, claims that ‘In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled US preparations for climate change’, and that the ‘changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths’. But ‘heat-related deaths’ turns out not to be a phenomenon that is as easily detected by science as it is explained by economics. Wealthier people do not drop dead in the heat. Global agreements to cut carbon emissions will arguably make many Americans significantly poorer – destroying industries and hiking up the cost of energy.

Poverty increases people’s exposure to extreme weather (climate changing or not). Meanwhile, the curbs these international agreements place on democracy hobble the public’s ability to improve their conditions. Besides, it is a cascade of unsound assumptions – not science – which link extreme-weather events to their putative social consequences. An entirely ideological worldview is required to believe the promise that a global climate institution can make things better for anyone at all, least of all for the poor. […]

When institutional science attaches itself to politics, to support candidates, it loses any claim to objectivity, and any ability to speak truth to power. Science and SciAm will be unable to say anything about either president’s claims without bringing their own conflicted positions to the spotlight. If Biden wins, scientific institutions like important journals will become mere cronies. And if Trump wins, they will look like bitter losers. Scientists risk creating a situation in which society will no longer trust in the objectivity of institutional science. They have squandered scientific authority on a political gamble. Perhaps if scientists had been more questioning of both Obama and the Democrats they might have spared themselves the ordeal of Trump.

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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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