Tuesday, December 8, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: UK Government sets up secret ‘green nudge unit’


Shrinks seek to make Britons accept radical Net Zero restrictions

In this newsletter:

1) UK Government sets up secret ‘green nudge unit’ to make Britons accepts radical Net Zero restrictions
The Daily Telegraph, 4 December 2020
2) Green Deal unlikely without breakthrough on EU budget, envoy says
Reuters, 6 December 2020

3) EU opens door to natural gas and nuclear energy to coax East European sceptics
Reuters, 4 December 2020
4) Peter Ridd: It’s the science that’s rotten, not the Great Barrier Reef
The Australian, 6 December 2020
5) Beware the green revolution: UK power prices jump after National Grid warns of supply risks
Bloomberg, 5 December 2020
6) Lord Nigel Lawson: "I've Never Been More Worried About This Country"
Trigger Nonmetry, 6 December 2020
7) Andrew Montford: Honesty is needed on the huge costs of attempting “net-zero”
Conservative Home, 5 December 2020
8) Tilak Doshi: Biden’s coming China headache: Climate change and “Developing Countries”
Forbes, 5 December 2020
9) And finally: Snowfalls are now just a think of the past
The Independent, 20 March 2000

Full details:

1) UK Government sets up secret ‘green nudge unit’ to make Britons accepts radical Net Zero restrictions
The Daily Telegraph, 4 December 2020

The Government has established an environmental ‘nudge unit’ to work out how to persuade people into green behaviours such as driving less and cutting down on meat.

The team was set up in April this year because of a recognition that the next phase of decarbonising will require much more personal behaviour change.
The 45 per cent cut in emissions already achieved since 1990 has come mostly from the phase-out of coal and its replacement with renewable energy such as offshore wind.
Boris Johnson on Friday set the UK one of the world’s most ambitious targets to cut emissions, by 68 per cent within the next decade, up from a previous target of 61 per cent.
The new ‘behaviour change and public engagement team’, which is working from inside the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department, is focused on how to get public buy-in for further emissions cuts, which will be targeted at what we eat and how we travel and heat our homes.
BEIS will also work to ensure that green policies do not unfairly impact one area of society.
The Government has not made any calculations for how much reaching net zero will cost, but the NAO said it could ultimately reach hundreds of billions. The cost of inaction would be far greater.
The head of the unit is Gervase Poulden, a former environmental journalist and committed vegan.
Its existence was revealed in a report this week from the National Audit Office, which warned that the UK faced a “colossal challenge” in reaching its legally binding goal to be net zero by 2050.
The Government’s policies have so far been dismissed as inadequate. The 10-point green plan unveiled last month would leave emissions at 5 per cent below even the previous reduction target, according to analysis by energy consultancy Aurora.
One of the trickiest areas will be to improve energy efficiency and switch heating systems in the UK’s draughty homes.
Installing a heat pump is expected to cost between £8000 and £17000.  A £2bn Green Homes Grant to encourage insulation measures has so far had fewer than 300 successful applicants.
Full story
2) Green Deal unlikely without breakthrough on EU budget, envoy says
Reuters, 6 December 2020

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders are unlikely to strike a deal on a new emissions-cutting target for 2030 at a summit this week if they cannot also clinch an agreement on the bloc’s next budget, a senior EU diplomat said on Monday.
Leaders will discuss a more ambitious 2030 EU climate target when they meet in Brussels on Thursday, but hopes of agreeing the goal have become mired in a dispute over the bloc’s budget for 2021-2027, known as the MFF, which Poland and Hungary are threatening to veto over upholding democratic standards.
“It will not be possible ... (it is) difficult to see that it’s going to happen if there is no agreement on MFF,” the senior diplomat said. If leaders resolve the budget spat, then there is a “fair chance” they will reach a deal on the climate target, the diplomat said.
The climate and budget issues are interlinked. The EU has agreed that hundreds of billions of euros from its 1.8-billion-euro budget and attached COVID-19 recovery fund will be spent on helping countries cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Full story
3) EU opens door to natural gas and nuclear energy to coax East European sceptics
Reuters, 4 December 2020

The European Union is offering assurances on funding for poorer members and countries’ ability to choose their own energy mix, as it strives for a deal next week on a tougher target to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to EU documents and sources.
 To get on track for its plan to have “net zero” emissions by 2050, the EU’s executive Commission says the bloc must cut its net emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The EU’s current 2030 target is for a 40% cut.
Leaders from the 27 EU countries aim to approve the new target – by unanimity – at a summit on Thursday and Friday next week (10-11 December).
The challenge is to draft a deal that all countries will support – including states concerned by the economic transformation required, such as Poland and Bulgaria, which want more analysis and conditions attached to the goal.
Further analysis into the impact of tougher climate goals on EU member states is needed before Poland can sign up to the European Commission’s proposed 55% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, a senior Polish minister has said.
The latest draft conclusions for the summit, dated Dec. 1 and seen by Reuters, would see countries endorse the “at least 55” target and ask the Commission to make cash available to help poorer states invest in clean energy – a request made by countries including Poland.
It also said countries can “choose the most appropriate technologies” to cut emissions – wording aimed at states including Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland which have sought assurances that they will be able to use nuclear power or natural gas to curb emissions.
Full story
4) Peter Ridd: It’s the science that’s rotten, not the Great Barrier Reef
The Australian, 6 December 2020

It is remarkable that the world has been convinced that one of its most pristine ecosystems is on its last legs. The science behind this claim is wrong … but no-one wants to remedy the problem.

Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Supplied

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has released its latest report on the state of the Great Barrier Reef. It has turned up the volume by one notch, claiming the threat to the reef has gone from “significant concern” to “critical”. It blames climate change, agricultural pollution, coastal development, industry, mining, shipping, overfishing, disease, problematic native species, coal dust — you name it, it is killing the reef.

But the report is just a rehash of old, mostly wrong or misleading information produced by generally untrustworthy scientific institutions with an activist agenda and no commitment to quality assurance.

It is remarkable that the world has been convinced that one of its most pristine ecosystems is on its last legs. Part of the problem is that, being underwater and a long way from the coast, very few people visit the reef. The truth is hidden. Those of us in North Queensland living adjacent to the reef, and tourists from elsewhere, can report the water is iridescent clear blue and totally unpolluted. The fish and coral are fabulous.

An aerial view of the world-famous Heart Reef in the Whitsundays. Picture: Brooke Miles/Riptide Creative

The reef occasionally conspires to give the impression it is dying. An area of coral the size of Belgium can be killed by cyclones (hurricanes), native starfish plagues or bleaching. All these events are entirely natural and are part of life on the reef. In fact, each of the 3000 individual reefs, along the entire 2000km length of the Great Barrier Reef, is a 50-100m high plateau of dead coral rubble that has built up over millennia. The live coral lives on the surface of this pile of dead ancestors.

Sixty years ago, when these cycles of death and destruction were first being discovered by scientists, it was legitimate to be concerned about whether they were unnatural. But there is now abundant evidence, almost totally ignored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, that the reef is fine. The coral always recovers vigorously after major mortality events. Coral remains abundant on all 3000 reefs. The amount of coral, while fluctuating dramatically from year to year, is about the same today as when records began in the 1980s. The coral growth rates have not declined — if anything they have increased, as would be expected from the slight increase in temperature over the past century. Corals like it hot and grow faster in warmer water.

Ignoring evidence of the obvious good condition of the reef is not the least of the problems with this IUCN report. It also uses evidence that is patently false. For example, the report claims that coal dust blowing from ship-loading facilities is a risk to the reef, which is 100-1000km from the ports. This ridiculous claim is based on a report that was discredited by unquestioned experts on this subject, Dr Simon Apte and other scientists from the CSIRO, who showed that the results were in error by 3000 per cent. It is also highly doubtful that the original scientists were actually measuring coal dust. They were measuring poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, which are common, naturally occurring molecules not specific to coal.

It is not surprising that the IUCN report made the error of using this discredited coal dust report. Other major Australian reports on the reef also quote it. It is notable that when Apte tried to get the scientific journal and the Australian Institute of Marine science, which was responsible for the coal dust data, to correct the mistake, they refused to do anything. The science institutions have become untrustworthy.

The IUCN makes other equally scandalous mistakes. It claims that agricultural pollution is a problem despite all the measurements showing concentrations of pesticides so low they are generally undetectable with the most sensitive scientific equipment. The effect of mud washed from farms is equally negligible.

The fundamental problem with the IUCN report is that it is based upon scientific evidence that is poorly quality assured. The scientific foundations are rotten and none of the science organisations want to remedy the problem — partly because the science organisations, and the IUCN, stopped being scientific long ago. They have recognised their political power. We must recognise they have become political.

Until genuine quality assurance measures can be put in place at the reef science institutions, the problem of untrustworthy scientific evidence, reported and repeated ad nauseam, will continue. The only good news is that the next IUCN report on the reef in 2023 will not be worse than “critical” because this seems to be the worst category they have.

I was on an inshore reef a couple of days ago. It was brilliant, so if this is as bad as it can get, I am not too concerned. Come and have a look for yourself.

Peter Ridd has worked for 35 years on reef research and is author of the new book Reef Heresy?
5) Beware the green revolution: UK power prices jump after National Grid warns of supply risks
Bloomberg, 5 December 2020

U.K. power prices rose to a four-year high after the U.K. grid operator warned that its safety buffer of supplies is almost eroded for Sunday night.

National Grid Plc said it’s “monitoring the situation closely” in a warning published on Twitter. The network operator stopped short of issuing an official alert called an Electricity Margin Notice, last triggered on Thursday, which is published when the normal safety margin for operating the system shrinks below the level permitted by the government.

It’s unusual for there to be problems meeting demand on a weekend when consumption is typically lower as offices and industry shut. That shows how close to the edge Britain’s power system is this winter. National Grid has been expecting more supply warnings this year, Chief Executive Officer John Pettigrew said in an interview with Bloomberg last month. The margin between power supply and demand is the narrowest the U.K. has seen in about four years, he said.
Full story
6) Lord Nigel Lawson: "I've Never Been More Worried About This Country"
Trigger Nonmetry, 6 December 2020

Interview with the former Chancellor of the Exchequer on the real threat to Britain's economy due to Boris Johnson's green revolution  

click on image to listen to the full interview
7) Andrew Montford: Honesty is needed on the huge costs of attempting “net-zero”
Conservative Home, 5 December 2020

Politicians can be divided into those who like to spend big (and posture), and those who know what a dangerous course that is. 

The Prime Minister might well complain about being labelled one of the big spenders; it is, after all, hardly his fault that his time in office has coincided with a pandemic. He would surely argue that the bill for keeping the country on its feet – around £350 billion – was a case of spending through necessity.
However, the bill that will result from Boris Johnson’s plans for another a major cut in greenhouse gas emissions cannot be waved away so easily. Quite what it will cost is unclear, but we can get some sense of the scale of what is planned from recent work on the costs of total decarbonisation of the economy. When the Government announced its net-zero plan 18 months ago, it was on the back of a recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change, which said that the cost was modest, amounting to only £50 billion in 2050. Unfortunately, they later admitted that they hadn’t actually calculated the cost of getting us to net-zero at all. Some time next year, they [will] be appearing before the Information Tribunal to explain their refusal to release the calculations they used to persuade the Government that decarbonisation could be done on the cheap.

The Treasury and BEIS have bandied around their own estimates of the bill, with figures of £1 or £1.5 trillion quoted in the press. However, like the CCC, they too have refused to reveal their calculations to scrutiny. Despite the lack of clarity, numbers of this magnitude seem to have gained a certain currency in Whitehall. A report from the National Audit Office, published this week, speaks of having to spend “hundreds of billions”.
Apart from the secrecy over a matter of vital public concern, even a brief consideration of what needs to be done shows that all of the Whitehall estimates are so absurdly low as to smack of an almost complete lack of numeracy, or worse, a complete lack of honesty, among senior civil servants. It is simply impossible that decarbonisation can be achieved for a few hundred billion, or even a trillion pounds. Take domestic heating, for example. The cheapest way to achieve decarbonisation will be through use of air-source heat pumps, which will cost over £10,000 each to install.
Putting them into 35 million homes by 2050 will therefore cost at least £350 billion – another pandemic’s worth of spending. Upgrading the electricity distribution network to deliver the extra demand will cost another £200 billion, more than the annual cost of the NHS.
So if we are spending £550 billion installing heat pumps alone, it’s fairly obvious that decarbonising the whole economy is going to come with a bill that is at least order of magnitude higher. And as if to confirm this idea, earlier this week, National Grid published the first serious official attempt to cost the project, putting the figure at around £3 trillion.
It is noteworthy that the underlying calculations for this estimate also remain unpublished, but £3 trillion may be the correct order of magnitude. However, the figure is obviously wildly understated, because of some absurd input assumptions, such as the cost of building offshore windfarms – the core of a decarbonised power system. The Grid assumes that these will set us back just half what they actually cost according to published financial accounts. Looking forward, they say the cost will fall still further, while windfarm developers are reporting that there are no cost reductions on the horizon.
It seems clear then, that net-zero is going to be much more expensive than the Grid says. My own work at GWPF suggests that we are going to be spending £3 trillion on electrification of heating and private cars alone between now and 2050. We will probably spend nearly the same amount again on decarbonising electricity generation, and then there is industry and agriculture and freight and air transport and trains and shipping to come.
It’s hard to comprehend numbers of such magnitude, but £3 trillion amounts to £100,000 per household, and we could easily end up spending double that amount. So you can get a sense of the pain that is coming. And remember, this is only the capital cost. Householders will also have to swallow a doubling of the cost of motoring and a tripling of domestic fuel bills. The price of everything will soar.
What is worse, there can be little doubt that spending on this scale cannot be achieved in a free society. Net-zero is, in effect, a programme for the conversion of the UK to a command economy, with all that entails for civil liberties and hard-won freedoms.
Johnson might protest that the tab for the pandemic was simply unavoidable, but when it comes to assigning the blame for runaway net-zero spending and the economic ruin and loss of liberty that his environmental policies will bring about, there will be nobody else to blame. Poverty will be our lot, Johnson will be the man who will be cursed for being its progenitor, and the Conservative Party will be swept aside for being responsible for the social and economic carnage.
Still, as we look back, we will at least be able to console ourselves that Johnson was the last of the big spenders, because there will simply be no more money to spend.
Andrew Montford is the deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum.
8) Tilak Doshi: Biden’s coming China headache: Climate change and “Developing Countries”
Forbes, 5 December 2020
Regime survival, China’s red line, is predicated on meeting the material aspirations of ordinary citizens, the only source of legitimacy afforded to unelected governments throughout history.

A Biden presidency, which now seems most likely, will have plenty on its foreign policy plate, ranging from relations with Russia, China and Europe to the Iran question in the Middle East. But it is likely that global climate change policy, especially in relation to China’s position in it, will be among the most contentious challenges it will face in international diplomacy.

If we are slated for a Biden presidency, we will get the most climate change-conscious administrations in US history. The climate agenda has been elevated to a “whole of government” approach, straddling the key portfolios of national security, foreign policy, and economy and finance.
From January 20th 2021,  “fighting global warming” will be elevated to a primary concern of the vast US government bureaucracies  ranging from the EPA and the Federal Reserve to the Pentagon and the State Department.  A Biden administration would “use every tool of American foreign policy to push the rest of the world to raise their ambitions alongside with the US” and it would “pursue strong measures” to stop other countries from cheating on their climate commitments.     
The “Grand Bargain” of Paris
No doubt a future Biden presidency would seek to emulate the  lauded bargain between Obama and China’s President Xi that set the foundations of the non-binding Paris Agreement. The 2015 agreement was hailed as ex-President Obama’s “breakthrough” understanding with China that the latter too would join in the global effort to cut emissions. In a move welcomed by European leaders, Biden has vowed that the US would re-join the Paris climate accord on his first day in the White House in January. It will seek to reverse President Trump’s formal withdrawal notice from the Paris Agreement issued in November 2019.
To steer this vision — an example of an enlightened , “lead from behind”, multilateral approach in concert with Europe —  Biden has appointed the aristocratic Europhile John Kerry to a Cabinet-level role as “climate tsar”. Kerry oversaw the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement and signed the accord on the behalf of the US in 2016 as ex-President Obama’s Secretary of State (2013 – 2017). As “special presidential envoy for climate”, Kerry does not require Senate confirmation. He has vowed that under his watch “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is”.
To the proponents of “climate crisis”, a Biden-Xi collaboration is an opportunity to set the terms for meaningful global cooperation on climate change policies. For the more hard headed diplomats — not least China’s ‘wolf warriors’ – more at home reading Machiavelli’s The Prince than Obama’s latest bestseller A Promised Land,  the hopes of a US-China ‘grand bargain’ will seem naïve.
The celebrated Paris Agreement was only so much of smoke and mirrors as far as China’s practitioners of strategic statecraft were concerned. For Obama’s end of the bargain, his administration unleashed such punitive measures on US’s own economic interests as the Clean Power Plan and the Waters Of The US Act by Executive Orders (since the Paris Agreement was conveniently not a “treaty” requiring an impossible Senate approval).
At Xi’s end, China promised to peak its emissions by 2030 at a level and a rate of subsequent decline that were not specified.

Nor were Chinese planners unaware that research showed that China’s commitment to peak by 2030 was actually less ambitious than continuing business as usual, that the country’s emissions would have peaked by then anyway whatever it did (or not). Meanwhile, signing the agreement did not stop China from approving 23 gigawatts of new coal-power projects the first half of 2020, more than the previous two years combined. Note that China had commissioned more coal power capacity than the rest of the world combined in those two years.  

The Developing Country Position
From the earliest UN negotiations starting in 1994 under the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), China firmly and consistently played the ‘Third World’ position. Developing countries carried “common but differentiated responsibilities”. This meant that while developed countries (primarily the West, but also including Japan) adopted binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions by specified amounts, the developing countries not only did not have any binding policy commitments but were expected to receive considerable sums in “climate finance” to assist mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China – the world’s four largest ‘developing countries’) formed a bloc in 2009 to act jointly at the Copenhagen climate summit, including a possible united walk-out if their “common minimum position” was not met by the developed nations. Effectively, the Kyoto Protocol, brought into force in 2005, became an exercise in massive international income distribution, as senior UN officials openly admitted.

To be sure, the ‘third world’ position is not necessarily a cynical one. The rationale behind the ‘developing country’ position is based on the reasonable grounds of equity and historical responsibility. Since the major portion of the stock of man-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the earth’s atmosphere is accounted for by the industrialised West, the developed countries should launch serious efforts to reduce their own emissions before calling upon the developing countries to contribute.

By the time Trump came into office in 2016, China was already the world’s largest emitter of GHGs by far. By then it was also long evident that it was a stretch to call China a ‘developing’ country in any meaningful sense. President Trump boiled over last year on China‘s “developing country” status: among his many tweets, “The WTO is BROKEN when the world’s RICHEST countries claim to be developing countries to avoid WTO rules and get special treatment. NO more!!!”

China’s emergence as an economic and military power challenging US dominance in Asia and beyond is a fact not denied even by the left wing of the US Democratic party. China is one of the prime movers of global commodity and financial markets. Its investments in the much hyped Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), often grossly inflated in the business press, have nevertheless grown into an extensive web of infrastructure construction and investments in over a hundred countries.

As a source of loans for deficit-ridden governments in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, China has emerged as the major competitor to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Washington-based pillars of the post-WWII economic international system. Indeed, David Malpass, whose appointment in 2019 as World Bank chief was supported by President Trump, was an outspoken critic of the World Bank’s loans to China (and India). Malpass quite rightly argued that these countries had become rich enough to tap global capital markets on reasonable terms.
China’s Red Line
If China is no more a ‘developing country’ with little responsibility in the West-led global “fight against climate change”, then just what can a Biden administration extract from the Chinese government in decarbonization commitments? China’s state planners are likely to have a keener appreciation for the laws of physics and economics in their assessments of decarbonization than their counterparts in the West who are busy pursuing a quixotic Green Industrial Revolution. They will insist on delivering to their people an Industrial Revolution first, of the sort enjoyed by the West since its birth over two centuries ago, before signing up to anything that might come in the way.

Full post
9) And finally: Snowfalls are now just a think of the past
The Independent, 20 March 2000

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

climate science in 2000

climate science in 2020

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries....

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.
Full snow-scare

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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