Tuesday, September 15, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Nuclear Power And Hydrogen Four Times Cheaper Than Renewables, New Report


EU Threatens China With Trade War Over Costly Climate Policies

In this newsletter:

1) Nuclear Power And Hydrogen Four Times Cheaper Than Renewables, New Report 
The Sunday Times, 13 September 2020

2) EU Threatens China With Trade War Over Costly Climate Policies
EurActiv, 14 September 2020

3) Cheap Labour & Cheap Energy: Tesla Plans To Export China-Made Electric Cars To Undercut European Car Makers
Bloomberg, 11 September 2020
4) Climate Campaigners Quit As Extinction Rebellion Starts To Split
5) Petrol And Diesel Cars Could Be Made £1,500 More Expensive To Subsidise Electric Vehicles
Daily Mail, 11 September 2020
6) Daniel Yergin: The New Geopolitics of Energy
The Wall Street Journal, 11 September 2020

7) Susan Crockford: David Attenborough Is Wrong About Polar Bear Extinction
Polar Bear Science, 13 September 2020

8) Michael Shellenberger: Forests That Survive Megafires Prove Good Management Trumps Climate Change
Michael Shellenberger, Forbes, 13 September 2020 
9) Gautam Kalghatgi: What the UK’s Target of Net Zero Emissions Would Really Entail
Gautam Kalghatgi, National Review, 10 September 2020

Full details:

1) Nuclear Power And Hydrogen Four Times Cheaper Than Renewables, New Report 
The Sunday Times, 13 September 2020

Using nuclear power to generate hydrogen could help limit global warming and clean up heavy industries, a report has claimed.

Hydrogen is rapidly turning into the holy grail for environmentalists and big oil companies alike, because the only by-product of its combustion is water. The government is committed to the UK achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The report, by consultancy LucidCatalyst, claims that nuclear power could create hydrogen and “decarbonise aviation, shipping, cement and industry using … proven technologies”. For hydrogen to be affordable and clean, it says, the gas “must be generated from non-fossil sources, at a price which is competitive with cheap oil”.

It reckons the cost of this transition globally would be about $17 trillion by 2050 — versus $70 trillion if renewables such as wind and solar power were used.

The nuclear industry is on a last-ditch lobbying push as ministers prepare to publish a much-delayed energy white paper that will explain how they plan to cut emissions while keeping the lights on — as well as powering the growing fleet of electric cars.

Full story (£)
see also GWPF report on Hydrogen: The Once And Future Fuel (pdf)

Hydrogen May Be a Lifeline for Nuclear—But It Won’t Be Easy

2) EU Threatens China With Trade War Over Costly Climate Policies
EurActiv, 14 September 2020

The European Union will press China to aim for climate neutrality by 2060 or eventually face punitive carbon tariffs during a summit on Monday (14 September) aimed at concluding a bilateral trade agreement by the end of the year.


At the summit, Europeans will also push Beijing to peak its global warming emissions by 2025 and commit to stop all investments in new coal-fired power stations, whether at home or abroad, EU officials said.

The climate talks are part of a wider bilateral trade and investment agenda that Brussels hopes will help restore a level playing field between EU companies and state-owned Chinese firms that are not subject to the same CO2 emission obligations.
“On Monday, we hope to agree on a detailed roadmap in order to close negotiations by the end of this year as we set out to do,” said an EU official who was briefing reporters on Friday (11 September).

The online summit will be attended by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council chief Charles Michel on the EU side, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping on the Chinese side.
After the last EU-China summit in June, von der Leyen made clear that the ball was “way in the Chinese court” when it comes to reciprocity in trade relations, an EU source said.
The list of EU recriminations is long and includes a request for fair access to the Chinese market, as well as an end to forced technology transfers imposed on European firms operating in China.
On the climate diplomacy front, the EU has committed to reducing global warming emissions to net-zero by 2050 as part of the Paris Agreement and is now asking Beijing to play its part by committing to a similar objective.
“We hope that they will commit to climate neutrality domestically by 2060,” a senior EU official said, adding that Europe was “extremely prudent” about the commitments China has made so far on climate change and will ask concrete measures rather than just talk.
“China has committed to peak its emissions by 2030,” a senior EU official remarked. “We think it’s far too late, we suggest 2025.”
Failing to do so would eventually push the EU side to impose punitive carbon tariffs on Chinese firms in order to restore a level playing field with European companies, which will face ever-stricter emission standards in the coming years because of the bloc’s increased level of ambition, EU officials explained.
“We’ve already had this discussion with our Chinese friends” as well as other nations, the official said in reference to the EU’s planned border adjustment mechanism, or carbon border tax.
Although there is no decision yet on the shape or features of the tax, the official said that “some parameters” were already clear: first, the Commission “will make a proposal” and “it will be aimed at putting imported products on the same level as domestic products” with a view to restoring fair competition between EU and foreign manufacturers.

The European Commission will not reveal its approach on the EU’s proposed carbon border tax until late 2020 or early 2021, when it concludes a detailed feasibility analysis, said Phil Hogan, the EU’s trade commissioner.
But officials were also quick to add that Europe did not have any “red lines” on environmental issues at this stage and was ready to assist China in reducing its emissions.

It’s not a classical negotiation where you have red lines that you cannot accept,” one official explained. Rather, “we’re looking for cooperation, we’re hoping to bring the Chinese government on board,” the official said, portraying climate talks as one of the positive chapters of EU-China relations.
“China is a good ally on climate change” and was “instrumental” in getting the Paris Agreement over the line, another senior EU source pointed out. At the same time, China is “by far the largest emitter in the world” and has an economy that is highly inefficient, the official added, pointing to areas like energy savings where the Chinese could benefit from EU technology and experience.
In Europe, the carbon trading system has had “a very strong impact on the energy efficiency of European industry over the past 15 years and our Chinese counterparts are listening very carefully on that one,” the official said, pointing to potential areas of cooperation.
“Europe is small” and cannot tackle climate change single-handedly unless it partners with other nations, another official remarked.
Full story
3) Cheap Labour & Cheap Energy: Tesla Plans To Export China-Made Electric Cars To Undercut European Car Makers
Bloomberg, 11 September 2020
Tesla Inc. plans to ship cars made at its Shanghai factory to other countries in Asia and Europe, according to people familiar with the matter, shifting its strategy for the plant to largely focus on supplying the local market.

China-built Model 3s for delivery outside the country likely will start mass production in the fourth quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. They said the markets targeted include Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe. Shipments could start as soon as the end of this year or early 2021, according to the people.

The move is a turnabout from the plan Elon Musk communicated when Tesla broke ground and was constructing the Shanghai factory in 2019. The chief executive officer said then that the facility would only make lower-priced versions of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover for the Greater China region, and predicted there would be enough local demand to potentially necessitate several factories in the country.
While the Shanghai plant has helped Tesla grow in China this year, it hasn’t expanded as quickly as some expected. The company has said it has the capacity to produce 200,000 vehicles a year — almost 17,000 a month — and in August sold about 11,800 cars in the country.
Tesla’s pivot to export from China and its build-up of inventory may signal demand is below capacity, Dan Levy, an analyst at Credit Suisse, wrote to clients. A representative for Tesla in China declined to comment.
Full story
4) Climate Campaigners Quit As Extinction Rebellion Starts To Split
The Times, 12 September 2020

Allegations of bullying, racism and power-trips are hurting Extinction Rebellion’s credibility

It was a disastrous interview that had viewers glued to their screens. The Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Zion Lights was asked where the group had obtained figures which it claimed showed that climate change would kill “billions of people . . . in the next 10 to 20 years”.

Ms Lights, a leading figure in the group, had to admit that the figures were “disputed”. The BBC’s Andrew Neil, sensing blood, pounced, accusing her of “scaring people with rhetoric”.

Looking back, Ms Lights, 36, who has since left the organisation and become a campaigner for nuclear energy, said her experience in “XR” had left her “exhausted”, and is candid about what she perceives as its misgivings.

Zion Lights said she had abuse after leaving the group – JAY WILLIAMS

“What people didn’t know when they watched that was I had been in this massive battle internally with XR for six weeks over that figure,” she told The Times. “A lot of us, me and a lot of scientists, said ‘it is not OK, you cannot make up figures, people need to be reined in’. But there was a cult following of the founder, Roger Hallam, who had made up the figure.

“They would say ‘no, we’ve found a scientist who supports it’. But that’s not how science works. I came off the show and I was exhausted, part of me just died. I have a master’s in science communication. I just said to them, ‘Oh my god, I can’t do it’. ”

It’s an extraordinary claim and gives a rare insight into the fractious arguments behind the scenes that have until now been kept largely from the public.

Ms Lights, a mother of two, left XR in June having grown disillusioned at what she said was its refusal to acknowledge that its numbers were not backed by evidence. She told The Times that since leaving she had received death threats and abuse from members who called her “turncoat scum” and a “nuclear shill”.

A group spokeswoman said claims of an internal battle about the figures were “total nonsense”, and that Mr Hallam’s claim, which came from his own research, related to the likely number of deaths by the end of the century.
The Times has spoken to XR insiders who have laid bare a series of allegations including racism, bullying and a cult-like following of Mr Hallam that resulted in accusations of financial mismanagement.

Full story (£)
5) Petrol And Diesel Cars Could Be Made £1,500 More Expensive To Subsidise Electric Vehicles
Daily Mail, 11 September 2020
A feasibility study commissioned by minsters on ways to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles has suggested making new petrol and diesel cars £1,500 more expensive.

The report, published by the Department for Transport this week, said the funds generated by the additional cost of motors with internal combustion engines could be used to subsidise battery vehicles, which are generally more expensive to buy.

But the motor industry’s trade body has blasted the suggestion, saying such a move would penalise those who can’t afford electric cars currently, or don’t have the facilities to charge them.
The report outlines the key areas for the Government to tackle the slow adoption to electric cars.
This includes raising awareness of EV benefits, improvements to the public charging infrastructure, changing consumer attitudes towards battery cars with limited ranges and consideration of financial factors to make plug-in models more attainable. 
For the latter, the study produced by the Behavioural Insights Team and the Transport Research Laboratory has suggested higher VAT rates for petrol and diesel cars, or forcing buyers of these models to pay towards making electric cars cheaper.
This would see the cost of new cars with internal combustion engines likely increase by between £500 and £1,500. 

Full story
6) Daniel Yergin: The New Geopolitics of Energy
The Wall Street Journal, 11 September 2020
Power is shifting from longtime oil giants like Russia and Saudi Arabia to innovators like China—and maybe the U.S.

Two years ago, the CEO of a Middle Eastern oil company stopped in Washington, D.C. on his way home from a visit to Silicon Valley. What he wanted to discuss with me over a cup of coffee wasn’t the future price of oil or Iran’s activities in the Middle East but rather the astonishing thing he had seen in California. “I couldn’t believe the number of Teslas,” he said. “They were everywhere.”

What he saw in all those electric cars was a looming transition that in the decades ahead will shift the world away from using oil, natural gas and coal. The transition will have an enormous global economic impact, but it will also bring about major changes in the map of global power. China is poised to be the big winner, Russia and Middle East oil exporters the big losers. The U.S. is likely to fall somewhere in between.

Enormous efforts are now under way to bring about this shift, but it is likely to take longer, to be more expensive and to require more technical innovation than many now anticipate. For the U.S., there’s also the matter of what happens to the more than 10 million jobs that the American oil-and-gas industry now provides.

“Energy transition” has become the shorthand for discussions about the future of energy ever since 195 countries pledged in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures and to make best efforts to cap the rise at closer to 1.5 degrees.

The target for getting there is “net zero carbon” by 2050 or shortly thereafter—a goal already accepted by the European Union, Britain and Japan, among others. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has likewise pledged to put the U.S. on “an irreversible path to…net zero emissions.” In July, he unveiled his vision for an “Equitable Clean Energy Future”—a $2-trillion climate plan, backed by an “enforcement mechanism,” which aims to eliminate carbon emissions from electricity by 2035 and, in the wider economy, to shift from oil, natural gas and coal (which in 2019 provided 80% of U.S. energy) to solar and wind (which provided 3.7%) and other technologies to get to “net zero carbon” by “no later than 2050.”

The bandwagon is growing. Companies, including some oil and gas and electric power companies, are promising to go “net zero carbon,” major pension funds are adding “Paris goals” to the criteria by which they evaluate investments, banks are cutting back on lending for traditional energy projects and auto makers are planning to go all-electric in the 2030s.

History shows, however, that energy transitions don’t happen quickly. [...]
Shale has turned the U.S. into the world’s largest oil producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia. The U.S. has also become one of the largest exporters of oil and the largest producer of natural gas, and will be one of the major exporters of LNG, liquefied natural gas. The shale revolution has stimulated over $200 billion of investment in new factories, reduced the trade deficit by several hundred billion dollars, generated millions of jobs and contributed significantly to federal and state revenues.

Less well understood is that this rapid rise in oil and gas production has given the U.S. a new dimension of influence and flexibility in the world. American oil and gas exports, for instance, are one of the foundations of the expanding relationship between the U.S. and India. The shale revolution also provides a solid foundation for energy security as the energy transition unfolds over the next several decades.

Navigating the world’s new energy map will require significant choices. If the campaign to “ban fracking” were to gain traction—or short of that, even if major new restrictions were imposed on oil and gas development—the result would be a rapid decline in U.S. production, because most oil and gas wells today have some element of fracking.

And there would be strategic consequences. Global oil and gas consumption will begin to grow again in the post-pandemic economic recovery, and the loss of U.S. supply would create a gap in output that other exporting countries would eagerly fill. The biggest beneficiaries would be Saudi Arabia and Russia, making them unexpected beneficiaries of the energy transition, at least for a decade or two.
Full essay ($)
7) Susan Crockford: David Attenborough Is Wrong About Polar Bear Extinction
Polar Bear Science, 13 September 2020
In a new book and Netflix film, Sir David Attenborough again presents false information about future polar bear survival and walrus deaths.


An excerpt from Attenborough’s forthcoming book (A Life On Our Planet) has been published in the Daily Mail (12 September), called “End of the polar bear by the 2030s, another major pandemic in the 2080s… and a sixth mass extinction by 2100: SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH reveals how those born today could witness these scenarios unless we save the planet". 

As his upcoming documentary has the same title as the book, this excerpt forewarns of what’s in the film. Attenborough falsely claims that by 2030 – a short 10 years from now – polar bears will be on their way to extinction and again flogs the lie, exposed last year, that walrus falling to their deaths in Russia a few years ago was due to lack of sea ice.

From an article authored by Attenborough (12 September 2020, Daily Mail) about what to expect for polar bears by 2030, with callouts to my rebuttal comments in square brackets []:

"Those born today could witness the following scenarios: 2030s Floods, drought… and polar bears die out …In 2011, when we filmed Frozen Planet, the world was already 0.8C warmer on average than it was when I was born in 1926.  That is a speed of change that exceeds any that has happened in the past 10,000 years. As the ice-free period lengthened [in 2011], scientists detected a worrying trend. Pregnant females, drained of their reserves, were now giving birth to smaller cubs. It is quite possible that one year, the summer would be just that little bit longer, and the cubs born that year will be so small that they cannot survive their first polar winter. That whole population of polar bears would then crash. [1] 2040s Lands turn to mud and a CO₂ calamity
"… The warning signs of such a catastrophe [in the Arctic] can already be seen.
"Walruses live largely on clams that grow on a few particular patches of the sea floor in the Arctic. In between fishing sessions, they haul themselves out on to the sea ice to rest. But those resting places have now melted away. Instead, they have to swim to the beaches on distant coasts.

"There are only a few suitable places. So two-thirds of the population of Pacific walrus, tens of thousands of them, now assemble on one single beach. Crushingly overcrowded, some clamber up slopes and find themselves at the tops of cliffs. Out of water, their eyesight is very poor but the smell of the sea at the foot of the cliff is unmistakable. So they try to reach it by the shortest route. The vision of a three-ton walrus tumbling to its death is not easily forgotten. You don’t have to be a naturalist to know that something has gone catastrophically wrong.[2]

1. False. The paper describing the newest model does not say that any population of polar bears would crash or ‘die out’ by 2030 (Molnar et al. 2020), only that one or two might begin to be affected by that date. The model suggests Southern Hudson Bay bears are the most vulnerable and could see poor cub survival as early as 2030. However, the total collapse of the population would take decades.  I have already written about this new model, which is scientifically implausible and based on bad assumptions and out-of-date information; an earlier model has been shown to have failed spectacularly (Crockford 2019).

2. Nonsense. This walrus-falling-to-their-death due to lack of sea ice lie was exposed last year – why is Attenborough still pedalling this twaddle? Walruses falling to their deaths is a natural phenomenon, see the video below.

Full post
8) Michael Shellenberger: Forests That Survive Megafires Prove Good Management Trumps Climate Change
Michael Shellenberger, Forbes, 13 September 2020

Over the last few days, California Governor Gavin Newsom, other politicians, and the news media have pointed to climate change as the single most important cause of historic, high-intensity “megafires” ripping through California and Oregon. 
“This isn’t about ideology,” tweeted Governor Newsom, adding “What we are experiencing is an existential climate crisis.” 
But California’s leading forest scientists say that fire suppression and the accumulation of wood fuel, not climate change, are what’s made California’s fires more intense.
“Climate dries the [wood] fuels out and extends the fire season from 4-6 months to nearly year-round but it’s not the cause of the intensity of the fires,” said US Forest Service scientist Malcolm North. “The cause of that is fire suppression and the existing debt of wood fuel.”
And now a large, well-managed forest appears to have turned a high-intensity fire into a low-intensity one, proving that how forests are managed outweighs the higher temperatures and longer fire season caused by climate change.

“It ain’t over till it’s over but so far it looks as though [Southern California Edison (SCE) electric utility’s] decades of burning and selective cutting in its Shaver Lake forest has paid off, big time,” tweetedJared Dahl Aldern, a forest historian, on Saturday. 
When the high-intensity Creek Fire arrived at the Shaver Lake forestlands it turned into what scientists call a low-intensity “surface fire,” which does not threaten the bigger and older trees. “The fire comes up to @SCE land,” tweeted Aldern, “drops to the ground, and stays out of the tree crowns.”
The Shaver Lake forest is not completely out of the woods yet because there are US Forest Service “in-holding” lands inside of Southern California Edison’s property. 
“I’m not worried about the fire on our property because it’s like a hot prescribed burn” said SCE forester Ryan Stewart. “But on the forest service lands it’s all fuel, and so if the fire gets in there you know it’s going to rage.”
But whatever happens to Shaver Lake, says University of California, Berkeley forest scientist Rob York, “There are lots of cases in the scientific literature of prescribed burns having changed fire behavior.”
Full post
9) Gautam Kalghatgi: What the UK’s Target of Net Zero Emissions Would Really Entail
Gautam Kalghatgi, National Review, 10 September 2020

Vast sums of money and resources would be spent for little gain and perhaps great environmental harm.

In 2019, Britain’s Conservative government toughened existing climate-change legislation by setting the country the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (the previous target had been 80 percent). There are other yet more ambitious proposals, providing for full decarbonization at even earlier dates, such as Extinction Rebellion’s 2025 and the Green Party’s 2030. In addition, other policies such as banning the sale of new cars and vans with internal-combustion-engines from 2030 are under serious consideration by the government in order to decarbonize transport as part of the overall CO2 target.

As discussed below, the challenges of the energy transition required are enormous enough to seem unsurmountable and don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated by those who set the targets. The scale of the challenge is great. A schedule, a budget, and engineering targets need to be put in place, and the work needs to start immediately, if the government is serious about meeting the targets for zero carbon emissions.
It won’t be easy. Target: Zero Net Carbon Emissions by 2050
Fossil fuels, coal (7.9 mtoe, million tonnes of oil equivalent), oil (68.5 mtoe) and gas (875.6 TWh, or 75.3 mtoe) supplied 151.7 mtoe, or 79.6 percent of the primary energy used in the U.K. in 2019, while wind and solar accounted for 3.47 percent of the total primary energy-use (BEIS). How much additional CO2-free energy will the United Kingdom need to generate by 2050 to replace fossil fuels?
Let us assume that by 2050 the United Kingdom will need to replace only 60 percent of current fossil-fuel energy use (91 mtoe, or 1,058 terawatt hours (TWh) by CO2-free energy, thanks to greater overall energy efficiency. Even on this extremely optimistic assumption, the U.K. will need 121 gigawatts (GW) of new continuous CO2-free power generation, equivalent to 40 nuclear plants of 3 GW each or to 100,000 offshore wind turbines of 3 MW each, given a capacity factor of 0.4 — i.e., 10 MW installed capacity will deliver only 4 MW on average because it is not available all the time. The scope for large growth in the U.K. for inland wind or hydro power is limited. Solar, though coming down in cost, has a very low capacity factor of 0.1. Wind and solar will also require storage systems to cope with intermittency. Incidentally, 1,610 GW of new continuous CO2-free power generation will be needed for the U.S. to replace 60 percent of its current fossil-fuel use.The existing energy infrastructure has to be dismantled
According to PHAM News, an estimated 26 million gas boilers are installed in the U.K. These are supposed to be converted to electric (heat pumps) heating by 2050. Are there enough heating engineers and electricians in the country to implement this? Are households expected to bear the cost of conversion, or is the government going to pay for this? The enormous challenges of rebuilding the electricity-distribution network required by such changes have been discussed by Mike Travers in The Hidden Cost of Net Zero: Rewiring the U.K., a report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation. He estimates that the total cost will run up to £466 billion, much of which might have to be borne by households. 
Net zero will also involve decarbonizing transport, supposedly by eliminating internal-combustion engines (ICEs). This will also require huge investments in new infrastructure (as discussed below) but is not likely to deliver significant reductions in CO2. In addition, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture would also need to be taken to zero if climate change is the real concern. Globally, livestock farming for meat and dairy contributes about 14 percent of global GHG, the same share as from all transport. The relevant percentages are likely to be similar for the U.K. Also, the steel, aviation, and cement industries, which are extremely difficult if not impossible to decarbonize, will need to be largely shut down by 2050. 

Full essay
see also GWPF paper by Gautam Kalghatgi: The Battery Car Delusion 

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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