Friday, November 27, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: ‘Economic emergency’ puts the brakes on Boris Johnson’s green agenda


Radical activists ask Joe Biden to declare a ‘climate emergency’

In this newsletter:

1) ‘Economic emergency’ puts the brakes on Boris Johnson’s green agenda
GWPF, 26 November 2020

2) Britons to subsidise £billions for green jobs abroad as wind power contracts go overseas
GWPF, 26 November 2020

3) New Zealand's left-wing government set to declare climate emergency
Reuters, 26 November 2020
4) Radical activists ask Joe Biden to declare a ‘climate emergency’
Bloomberg, 25 November 2020 
5) Benny Peiser: US climate envoy John Kerry warns China: ‘Paris agreement is not enough’
GWPF, 25 November 2020
6) Allies? What allies? John Kerry to turn up climate heat on  Australian  government
The Australian, 25 November 2020
7) Tilak Doshi: Fate of Middle East oil producers turns on Biden’s actions on climate and Iran
South China Morning Post, 24 November 2020
8) Central Banks And Climate: A Case Of Mission Creep
John H Cochrane, Hoover Institution, 13 November 2020

Full details:

1) ‘Economic emergency’ puts the brakes on Boris Johnson’s green agenda
GWPF, 26 November 2020

Outraged climate activists are blaming Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor, of eroding Boris Johnson’s plans for a ‘green industrial revolution’.
In his so-called Spending Review, Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor, yesterday announced that Britain’s ‘economy emergency has only just begun’ and that it will negatively affect Britain’s finances for decades to come.
Obviously, Sunak hardly mentioned the climate issue at all.
The Spending Review and its relegation of green issues to the bottom of priorities confirms reports that the Treasury is at odds with Boris Johnson’s green hobby horse. Ten days ago, the Observer reported about the growing row about Boris’s green agenda.


Boris Johnson’s plans to relaunch his premiership with a blitz of announcements on combating climate change and the creation of tens of thousands of new green jobs are meeting stiff resistance from the cash-strapped Treasury, the Observer has been told.
Senior figures in Whitehall and advisers to the government on environmental issues say negotiations on the content of a major environmental speech by the prime minister are still ongoing between No 10, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with just days to go before Johnson delivers the keynote address. 
But many of these pledges involve long-term financial commitments of funding and subsidy which the Treasury is reluctant to make until the extent of the bills from the Covid crisis are better known.
“The Treasury is fighting back hard against a lot of the green plans and there is a battle going on with No 10,” said a source close to the talks. “The PM wants to get on with it, with plans for the long term, but he is meeting a lot of resistance. You would expect that from the Treasury but with Covid it is of another order.”
With the economic and financial crisis accelerating and an astronomical debt mountain building up fast, it is becoming absolutely obvious that Britain won’t have the finances for years to come to splash out on costly Net Zero plans.
Even BBC’s in-house climate campaigners are beginning to realise that the financial constraints will ultimately lead to further dilution, delays and U-turns.


The UK chancellor’s Spending Review has been accused of undermining the prime minister’s “green” vision by pushing ahead with a £27bn roads programme.
After several speeches in which Boris Johnson pledged to rescue the economy by “building back greener”, Rishi Sunak’s speech on Wednesday barely mentioned the climate.
He said he was pursuing the nation’s priorities.
Mr Sunak put detailed numbers on the PM’s recent green technology plan.
But he offered no increase on the £12bn Mr Johnson says the government has mobilised to tackle climate change – even though the sum is much less than what’s been agreed in France, Germany and others.
Environment groups are most angry at the roads programme. The chancellor said it would ease congestion, improve commute times and “keep travel arteries open.” It was essential, he said, because people are shunning public transport during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Campaigners said it would attract more traffic and increase emissions, when the PM says they should be falling.
Friends of the Earth’s Mike Childs said: “He (Mr Sunak) has completely undermined the Prime Minister.
Full story
2) Britons to subsidise £billions for green jobs abroad as wind power contracts go overseas
GWPF, 26 November 2020
According to news reported today by the Construction Index, large parts of £billions in subsidies paid by UK households for the construction of the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm will go to factories in Poland and Belgium.

Boris’s green jobs will be created here: Smulders yard in Hoboken, Belgium (Photo credit: Steven Maier)

The contract for manufacture and supply of monopiles and transition pieces has gone to Smulders, the Belgian subsidiary of Eiffage Métal, as part of a consortium with Sif (a Dutch company specialised in offshore  foundations).

As a result approximately 260,000 tonnes of steelwork for first two phases of the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm project in England will be produced in Smulders’ facilities in Poland and Belgium.

The contract is subject to financial close on the two phases, which is expected soon.
The Dogger Bank wind farm, a joint venture between SSE Renewables and Equinor, will be erected in the North Sea, 130km off from the Yorkshire coast of England. At 3.6 GW, it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world, and is being developed in three phases: Dogger Bank A, B and C.
The first two phases, Dogger Bank A and B, will require 190 foundations in total. Each foundation comprises a monopile and a transition piece in water depths varying from 18 to 63 metres.

For this contract, Smulders will manufacture the secondary steel of the transition pieces, and will assemble, coat and test the fully equipped transition pieces. Sif will manufacture and supply the monopiles and primary steel for the transition pieces, and marshal all foundation components.

Production in Smulders’ facilities in Poland and Belgium will begin in May 2021. The assembly, which will be done at the Belgian Hoboken facility, is scheduled to last approximately 10 months. The first phase, Dogger Bank A, is expected to be operational in 2023.

Full story
see also Boris Johnson’s green jobs for China


3) New Zealand's left-wing government set to declare climate emergency
Reuters, 26 November 2020

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government is to declare a climate emergency in a symbolic step to increase pressure for action to combat global warming.

The government will put forward a motion to declare the emergency next Wednesday, the government said as parliament reconvened after a general election won by Ardern’s party.
“We’ve always considered climate change to be a huge threat to our region, and it is something we must take immediate action on,” Ardern said, according to state broadcaster TVNZ.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to progress a motion around a climate emergency in parliament in the last term, but now we’re able to.”
Ardern returned to power last month delivering the biggest election victory for her centre-left Labour Party in half a century as voters rewarded her for a decisive response to the novel coronavirus.
Full story
4) Radical activists ask Joe Biden to declare a ‘climate emergency’
Bloomberg, 25 November 2020
Progressive environmentalists are mounting a long-shot bid to get President-elect Joe Biden to go beyond naming a climate czar and declare an environmental national emergency, borrowing a tactic employed by President Donald Trump to fund part of his border wall.
Invoking a climate emergency could give Biden the authority to circumvent Congress and fund clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships, according to a research note by consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners.

“The president’s powers to address climate change through an emergency are very, very large,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, which is lobbying Biden’s team to act. “This is No. 1 on the list of things the Biden administration should do.”
In a statement, Biden’s transition team didn’t explicitly address the question of a climate emergency, saying only that he plans to follow through on his policy platform to fight the climate crisis while creating millions of jobs. Biden’s climate platform includes no mention of declaring a climate emergency.
Full story
5) Benny Peiser: US climate envoy John Kerry warns China: ‘Paris agreement is not enough’
GWPF, 25 November 2020

In a clear sign that the incoming Biden administration is planning to move the goalposts of international climate negotiations and corner China, US climate envoy John Kerry has raised the stakes.
John Kerry: “All nations must raise ambition together, or we will all fail together.”


In a short speech yesterday Kerry claimed that the Paris agreement on its own will not be enough to stop global warming in its tracks.”
John Kerry, who was confirmed into his new role as climate envoy of the new US administration, used his first speech to stress that the United States is only responsible for 13% of global CO2 emissions and that more was necessary than adhering to the letters of the Paris agreement.

At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together or we will all fail together. Failure is not an option.”

Kerry’s message was unambiguously addressed at China which is coming under growing pressure from both the EU and the US.

The Biden administration’s concern about the possible failure of COP26 to achieve a breakthrough in climate negotiations is understandable. Not only is communist China emerging as the world’s new superpower, but its leadership has already preempted the anticipated moves by Western governments by taking the wind out of their sails.

Responding to the threat of carbon border taxes proposed by EU leaders and Joe Biden, China’s communist leaders recently pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 – to international praise and cheering. President Xi Jinping’s announcement was short on detail, but it significantly enhanced China’s negotiating stance, kicking the ball firmly back into Europe’s and America’s courts.

As Kerry’s speech signals, China’s energy and climate policies are coming under growing pressure, likely to culminate in another showdown between the West and the Rest at the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow next November. There can be no doubt that the new US administration, in close cooperation with the EU, will try, once again, to play the climate card to corner China.

Yet, as usual, this game plan is easier said than done. Chinese officials have already warned that any threat of trade war or carbon border taxes will undermine China’s climate pledges. And whether the Chinese Communist Party is willing to let its energy-hungry economy being scrutinised and determined by Western governments remains highly unlikely.

In its editorial yesterday, the Wall Street Journal warned that China will demand a very high price for any compromise at COP26:
"Chinese leaders will be only too happy to make future promises on climate in return for American acquiescence today to their security priorities of Taiwan, the South China Sea and Huawei. Sending Mr. Kerry to negotiate with Chinese President Xi Jinping on climate is a recipe for returning home dressed in a barrel. An obsession with climate will turn a U.S. security strength into a vulnerability.”
In light of China’s insatiable energy demand in coming decades and its growing concern about energy security, it is unlikely that the new Biden administration will be able to succeed where Obama failed, i.e. to cut the Gordion knot of the international climate policy conundrum.
6) Allies? What allies? John Kerry to turn up climate heat on  Australian  government
The Australian, 25 November 2020
The orthodoxy that Joe Biden’s executive team will make Australia comfortable is spectacularly wrong in one respect: the appointment of former secretary of state and presidential nominee John Kerry as special envoy for climate.
There is one certainty. Kerry will create problems for Australia and the Morrison government as a consequence of his brief from the incoming president.
It is obvious Biden has selected Kerry as a special global envoy not just to return America to the Paris Agreement but to champion stronger international action from the parties.

It will be Kerry’s rhetoric, his symbolism and his close ties with Europe on climate change that will put inevitable pressures on the Morrison government.
Kerry is a natural Atlanticist who was involved in negotiating the Paris Agreement and believes climate change is a global security imperative.
Biden and Kerry in tandem will intensify the climate-change tempo across the developed world with many leaders joining the conga line.
Kerry’s political history gives him a special status, though his reputation stands in contrast with few concrete achievements.
But he will transform global perceptions of the US after ­Donald Trump’s hostility to the Paris accord and the entire progressive movement in Australia will have a rich series of messages from him with which to hound Scott Morrison.

Kerry, by the way, has never shown much interest in Australia — unlike many senior Americans — making his first visit here only in 2014 when he was secretary of state. His first overseas visit in that high office was, significantly, to the UK and Europe.
Tony Abbott as prime minister had to deal with Kerry as ­secretary of state and found him relentlessly focused on climate change as a security issue, a priority not shared by the Abbott government in its hierarchy of security concerns.
In this sense Biden has picked his man. Kerry said he was returning to government “to get America back on track to address the biggest challenge of this generation”. As envoy for climate, Kerry will sit on the National Security Council — a pointer to the Biden-Kerry view that climate change is a security issue and that Kerry’s job will be to persuade others nations into faster action.
Full post ($)
7) Tilak Doshi: Fate of Middle East oil producers turns on Biden’s actions on climate and Iran
South China Morning Post, 24 November 2020

The fate of oil and gas producers in the Middle East hangs in the balance. They can expect a reprieve from low oil and gas prices if the US ceases to be the world’s leading oil and gas producer – but if sanctions are dropped against Iran, even lower oil and gas prices await.

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to enter the White House, one might presume that the campaign rhetoric of the Democratic Party will be pared back as the real costs of some of the more radical proposals become apparent. Most observers would contend, however, that the odds are low that a “tack back to the centre” (à la former president Bill Clinton) will happen.

The Middle East is at a crossroads, and Biden’s policy choices will be critical in the outlook for the region’s oil and gas producers. In his last debate with Donald Trump, Biden’s pledge to “transition away from the oil industry” put climate change concerns as the top policy priority. The contrast in Republican and Democratic world views over fossil fuels and global energy geopolitics could not be starker. Biden is more committed than any previous presidential nominee to radical climate action.

The United States recently overtook Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest petroleum producer. In response, Saudi Arabia launched last year a self-debilitating and unsuccessful price war to starve out the producers behind the US “shale revolution”. But US oil producers have been facing pressure not only from Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Opec oil producers’ cartel.

In 2017, a report by the US Director of National Intelligence accused forces in Russia, a major oil producer, of pushing anti-fracking environmental propaganda, and US intelligence reports have been cited in accusations of Russian funding for anti-fracking groups. “By targeting fracking, Putin hopes to increase oil and gas prices, destabilise the US economy and threaten America’s energy independence,” said a Newsweek report that year.

The surge in US oil and gas production over the past decade allowed Trump to pursue his “America first” and “energy dominance” agendas. It increased US foreign policy leverage, giving his administration greater latitude in supporting allies and sanctioning rivals.

But a Biden administration focused on constraining US oil and gas production in favour of renewable energy and climate policy priorities would deliver what Russia, Saudi Arabia and other Opec+ members have failed to achieve with an all-out price war – the incredible prospect of their largest competitor exiting voluntarily.

On the face of it, things could not look better for the major oil and gas producers. No price or disinformation wars need to be waged by US competitors if the Biden administration forces a “transition” away from oil and gas production. Russia’s anti-fracking propaganda war appears to have been more effective than the Saudi price war – in that a Biden presidency would be stacked with climate change advisers who probably support the very same NGOs funded by Russian money.

Still, there are limits to what a US president can achieve. The Senate is likely to remain Republican-controlled and hence resistant to Biden’s campaign pledge for net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and all of America by 2050.

Even if Democrats wrest back control of the Senate, support may not be forthcoming from the states that are dependent on fossil fuels or are major producers. Moderates from both parties in oil and gas-dependent states such as Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas would be fearful of destroying jobs and tax revenues while trying to recover from the pandemic recession.

Full post
8) Central Banks And Climate: A Case Of Mission Creep
John H Cochrane, Hoover Institution, 13 November 2020

The following is adapted from John H. Cochrane’s remarks at the European Central Bank’s Conference on Monetary Policy: Bridging Science and Practice. His full presentation about the challenges facing central banks is here.
Central banks are rushing headlong into climate policy. This is a mistake. It will destroy central banks’ independence, their ability to fulfill their main missions to control inflation and stem financial crises, and people’s faith in their impartiality and technical competence. And it won’t help the climate.

In making this argument, I do not claim that climate change is fake or unimportant. None of the following comments reflect any argument with scientific fact. (I favor a uniform carbon tax in return for essentially no regulation, but this essay is not about carbon policy.)
The question is whether the European Central Bank (ECB), other central banks, or international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development should appoint themselves to take on climate policy—or other important social, environmental, or political causes—without a clear mandate to do so from politically accountable leaders.
The Western world faces a crisis of trust in our institutions, a crisis fed by a not-inaccurate perception that the elites who run such institutions don’t know what they are doing, are politicized, and are going beyond the authority granted by accountable representatives.
Trust and independence must be earned by evident competence and institutional restraint. Yet central banks, not obviously competent to target inflation with interest rates; floundering to stop financial crisis by means other than wanton bailouts; and still not addressing obvious risks lying ahead; now want to be trusted to determine and implement their own climate change policy? (And next, likely, taking on inequality and social justice?)
We don’t want the agency that delivers drinking water to make a list of socially and environmentally favored businesses and start turning off the water to disfavored companies. Nor should central banks. They should provide liquidity, period.
But a popular movement wants all institutions of society to jump into the social and political goals of the moment, regardless of boring legalities. Those constraints, of course, are essential for a functioning democratic society, for functioning independent technocratic institutions, and incidentally for making durable progress on those same important social and political goals.
Full essay

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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