Sunday, March 7, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Brits were misled about cost of net zero carbon target


UN forecasts record wheat production in 2021

In this newsletter:

1) Brits were misled about cost of net zero carbon target
Natasha Clark, The Sun, 5 March 2021

2) Ross Clark: We are still not being told the true cost of Net Zero
The Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2021

3) Climate Reality Check: UN forecasts record wheat production in 2021

World Grain News, 5 March 2021
4) Build Back Faster: China targets 6% growth after reining in coronavirus
Financial Times, 5 March 2021
5) China makes no shift away from coal in five-year plan 
Climate Home News, 5 March 2021

6) EU court's bird protection ruling deals blow to German wind power plans
Clean Energy Wire, 5 March 2021

7) The Texas Catastrophic Blackouts: Lessons For The Developing Countries
Tilak Doshi, Forbes, 4 March 2021

Full details:

1) Brits were misled about cost of net zero carbon target
Natasha Clark, The Sun, 5 March 2021

BRITS were misled about the cost of the Government’s net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 after Whitehall officials played down the estimated £70billion annual hit.


In bombshell emails released after a two-year FOI battle, Treasury civil servants admitted to then-Chancellor Philip Hammond that the cost of going green would likely be £20billion a year more than the £50billion figure they were told to champion publicly.
Emails between Philip Hammond and his aides revealed the figure to be £20billion higher than expectedCredit: Darren Fletcher - The Sun

Ex-PM Theresa May legally committed the UK to Net Zero by 2050 before Boris Johnson took over in 2019 - meaning any harmful gases and emissions will have be offset.
Internal government modelling from the Department for Business showed it would be 40 per cent higher - reaching £1.275trillion by 2050.
At the time, No10 played down an estimated one trillion pound total cost of switching to a totally carbon neutral economy by 2050 and dismissed the reports that it might mean public spending would have to be cut in other areas.
Andrew Montford, Deputy Director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation which pushed the FOIs, said last night: "This shows that despite being aware of a more credible higher estimate for the cost of net zero, ministers and officials chose to conceal vital information.

"We now need to see the methodology behind these estimates, so that Parliament can properly scrutinise the cost of decarbonisation policies.”
Climate researchers argue that the true cost of climate change will cost even MORE in the long term if nothing is done now.
Then-PM Theresa May was keen to rush out the commitment to net zero before she left office in 2019.
But Mr Hammond was understood to be worried about the cost to the economy in the long run, and wanted to be honest with the public about the eye-watering costs.
It comes after Boris Johnson promised Sun readers earlier this week that he wouldn't whack them with extra taxes to pay for the promise to reach a clean planet.
The Treasury has yet to reveal exactly how much the policy will cost and their workings.
Other more recent figures from the CCC claim the cost may be as low £16billion, as the costs of new, greener tech have come down.
A Government source said last night: “The costs of transition are highly uncertain.”
2) Ross Clark: We are still not being told the true cost of Net Zero
The Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2021

The failure to have an honest debate about climate change has squeezed out one vital fact – the Government's targets will leave us poorer.

If it involved any other subject, the news that the Government hid estimates of the true cost of one of its policies would be a scandal. Imagine, for example, how bonkers the Guardian would go if it emerged that ministers and civil servants had colluded to conceal their real estimate of the costs of Brexit. But when it emerges that the Treasury withheld what it regarded as the "more realistic" £70 billion a year estimate of the cost of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 there was barely a murmur.
There is a long tradition of dishonesty over the cost of climate change policies. It wasn’t so long ago that the Coalition was implausibly trying to tell us that the Climate Change Act was going to save us money, by creating "green jobs" and saving us from ever-increasing fossil fuel prices. The collapse in oil and gas prices in 2014 put paid to that pretence, and when Theresa May’s government upped the legally-binding target contained in the act from an 80 per cent cut by 2050 to net zero emissions by that date the then chancellor, Philip Hammond, did quietly admit it would cost us £50 billion a year. But it now transpires that officials, even at the time, thought that an under-estimate.
The Government has got away with committing Britain to such a ruinously expensive policy because we have no proper debate over climate change and what we should do about it. The Climate Change Act was passed in 2008 with only five MPs voting against. Opposition to the net zero target is squashed through emotive charges of climate change "denial" and falsely claiming that all those who criticise climate change policy are stooges for the oil industry. The absence of debate has blinded us to the reality that while many countries have made vague pledges to cut emissions, only a tiny handful have tied themselves down with legally-binding targets which provide no wriggle room.
Very few people are aware of a fatal flaw in the Climate Change Act that could condemn most of our remaining manufacturing industry to oblivion. The net zero target only refers to "territorial emissions" – ie those physically spewed out within Britain. It excludes aviation, shipping and emissions elsewhere in the world made in the name of providing goods and services for UK consumers.
It is not hard to work out what will happen: UK manufacturing will be forced to relocate to China and other countries which have not been so foolish as to paint themselves into a corner by setting a net zero target before they have any idea how it can be achieved. We have as yet no commercially viable means of decarbonising high-emitting industries such as steel and cement, for example.
That is why even the Government’s higher estimate of £70 billion a year cost to achieve net zero by 2050 is likely itself to be an under-estimate. If we lose these industries and are forced to import these goods (to no net benefit for the planet) the cost to the economy will be far greater.

The public is right to be concerned about the environment and there are all sorts of reasons why we should invest in clean energy, hopefully eventually phasing out fossil fuels. But the real deniers are those who claim that we can achieve a unilateral policy of net zero by 2050 without serious costs to the UK economy, if not an outright diminution in living standards.
3) Climate Reality Check: UN forecasts record wheat production in 2021
World Grain News, 5 March 2021

ROME, ITALY — Global wheat production is expected to reach a new record of 780 million tonnes in 2021, according to a preliminary forecast issued March 4 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


The record forecast reflects an anticipated rebound in production in the European Union that is expected to more than offset weather-impacted production prospects for output in the Russian Federation....

In addition to its record forecast for global wheat production in 2021, the FAO said it’s expecting a new and higher estimate for world cereal production in 2020, now seen at 2.76 billion tonnes, a 1.9% increase from the previous year, lifted by higher-than-expected outturns reported for maize in West Africa, for rice in India, and wheat harvests in the European Union, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

The FAO also noted that new projections for 2020-21 include a 2% increase in global cereal utilization to 2.77 billion tonnes and 5.5% increase in world trade in cereals to 464 million tonnes. Additionally, global cereal stocks are now forecast by the FAO to end 2021 at 811 million tonnes, which would be 0.9% below opening levels. World rice and wheat stocks are expected to increase, while those of coarse grains to decline, the FAO said.
Full story
4) Build Back Faster: China targets 6% growth after reining in coronavirus
Financial Times, 5 March 2021

Beijing hails recovery from ‘extraordinary’ year but provides little guidance on climate goals

China is targeting at least 6 per cent growth this year, reflecting the government’s confidence in the wake of its successful containment of the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second-largest economy.

Premier Li Keqiang unveiled the goal at the National People’s Congress, the annual meeting of the country’s rubber-stamp parliament in Beijing. Delegates at this year’s week-long session will also tighten the noose on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, approve a 6.8 per cent rise in military spending and formally pass a new five-year economic plan focused on “self-reliance” in critical technologies.

“Facing the adverse and severe impact of a sudden coronavirus epidemic and a deep global economic recession, we the Chinese people . . . responded with tremendous tenacity,” Li said, hailing China’s recovery from an “extraordinary” year.

The announcement briefly boosted Asian equities before stocks fell back, with economists saying the target was relatively modest compared with recent years.

Analysts were divided on whether the government would reveal a target of about 6 per cent — or ditch setting one entirely, as it did last year because of the uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. China’s annual growth targets have been criticised for leading to wasteful spending.

“The Chinese economy should very easily coast to the target growth rate,” said Jeremy Stevens, chief China economist at Standard Bank. “Eight per cent is more plausible.”

This year’s NPC session will also finish the work it began last year with the surprise passage of a national security law for Hong Kong that has been used to snuff out dissent in the territory....

In addition to its technology, China’s next five-year plan will be scrutinised for details of how Beijing plans to achieve President Xi Jinping’s ambitious climate goals of achieving peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2060. 

Despite high expectations, Li confirmed little other than that a plan to reach peak emissions by 2030 would be completed this year. One important mark for 2025, a targeted ratio of carbon dioxide emissions intensity per unit of GDP growth, was set at 18 per cent — the same level as in the last five-year plan.

Full story
5) China makes no shift away from coal in five-year plan 
Climate Home News, 5 March 2021

Beijing set out incremental increases in climate targets to 2025, allowing for continued expansion of “clean” coal, to the disappointment of climate watchers

As the Chinese government set out its development objectives for the next five years on Friday, those hoping for a shift away from coal were left disappointed. 
At the National People’s Congress session on Friday, as heavy smog settled over Beijing, Chinese premier Li Keqiang presented a summary of the country’s economic plan to 2025.
The document will shape China’s emissions trajectory and gives an insight into how Beijing is planning to get on track to achieve its climate goals of peaking its emissions before 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060.
And for analysts, the answer is with baby steps.
“This is much closer to continuing current trend than getting on track to carbon neutrality,” Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, told Climate Home News. “Clearly there’s no preparedness to put a stop to coal expansion.”
In his address, Li said China will “expedite” its transition to a green development model with “a major push to develop new energy sources” while “promoting the clean and efficient use of coal”.
This reflects ongoing contradictions between expanding the carbon economy and promoting green growth, Myllyvirta said.
Zhang Shuwei, chief economist at the Draworld Environment Research Center, said the plan fell short of expectations on climate, with details on how Beijing is planning to accelerate the economy’s decarbonisation largely missing.
“The international community expected China’s climate policy to jump, but in reality it is still crawling,” he said.

Researchers have said China needs to stop building new coal-fired power plants after 2020 if it is to align its policy with its long-term carbon neutrality goal.
China’s five-year plan is “underwhelming and shows little sign of a concerted switch away from a future coal lock-in,” said Swithin Lui, of NewClimate Institute, and the China lead for Climate Action Tracker. The independent watchdog rates China’s efforts as “highly insufficient” to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Full story
6) EU court's bird protection ruling deals blow to German wind power plans
Clean Energy Wire, 5 March 2021

In a blow to Germany's ambitious wind power expansion plans, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has strengthened bird protection aspects in turbine construction, business daily Handelsblatt reports.
The ECJ's ruling contradicts a proposal by the court's advocate general, Juliane Kokott, who had argued the safety of individual birds should no longer be the focus of jurisdiction, but instead entire bird populations. "There will be no relaxation regarding the future licensing" of new wind power projects, legal expert Johannes Schulte told the newspaper. "Each individual specimen will have to be accounted for and saving a [bird] population in general won't be enough," Schulte said.

Onshore wind power expansion in Germany has slowed down markedly in the past years, not least due to many projects being challenged in court by conservationist groups or local residents on animal protection grounds. Slow licensing and high regulatory hurdles mean that new wind projects may take up to five years to be implemented, if they get approval at all.

Germany's wind power industry group BWE warned that the country's goal of reaching a renewables share of 65 percent in power consumption by 2030 could not be achieved if the installed capacity does not grow. The industry group stressed that especially the modernisation of turbines at existing locations, the so-called repowering, should be eased by relaxing environmental standards and construction law.

See also GWPF report: Green Killing Machines

7) The Texas Catastrophic Blackouts: Lessons for  developing countries
Tilak Doshi, Forbes, 4 March 2021
For planners and politicians of the developing countries, most of which are signatories to the (non-binding) Paris Agreement, hectored constantly about the need to “transition” from fossil fuels, the Texas debacle provides ironic education beyond just the rushed dependence on diesel generators when the chips are down in the richest country in the world.

The recent severe snowstorm in the US led to a catastrophic power outage in Texas leaving millions of people without access to power or heat for several days, with a mounting death toll that has yet to be fully tallied. The state was about 4 minutes and seconds away from a total grid collapse that would have left the state’s residents for weeks or months without power. If that were to have happened, tens of thousands of people would have been at the risk of freezing to death.
Political leaders in Asia, Africa and Latin America, well aware that reliable and affordable electricity for their burgeoning middle classes is a pre-requisite of staying in office, would no doubt incredulously ask “How could this happen in Texas, the energy power-house of the US, the country which surpassed Russia in 2011 to become the world's largest producer of natural gas and overtook Saudi Arabia in 2018 to become the world's largest producer of oil?”
Energy planners and grid engineers in many developing countries work with creaky grid infrastructure and frequent breakdowns lead many of their customers to own diesel gen-sets as ready backups. The irony will not be lost: last week, President Biden ordered the federal government to provide diesel generators and diesel fuel along with other assistance to Texas amid the power outages brought on by extreme cold.
Policy Lessons Of The Texas Debacle
For energy policy makers around the world, the lessons of the Texas debacle will be a warning sign in their own planning for power grid reliability and resilience to adverse events. Thus, UK’s The Telegraph ran a headline: “Blackouts in energy-rich Texas are a wake-up call for knife-edge Britain”. However, gleaning policy lessons will not be straight-forward.

Like most controversies in America these days, the failures of the Texas power grid when it was most needed led to a blizzard of blame and finger-pointing largely along partisan lines. A torrent of information, analysis and “fact checks” has occupied the media and its talking heads as the extent of the grid failure became apparent.  
For those convinced of an impending climate Armageddon (usually one or two decades away) such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a simple tweet says it all:  “The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal.” Fellow travellers on the “climate crisis” bandwagon deny that the icing-up of wind turbines —captured in a classic meme of an oil-powered helicopter spraying oil-derived anti-freeze on turbines made with oil-based products — played a role in the grid failure. They accuse “fossil fuel interests and their allies in the Republican Party” of hiding the “real culprit”: natural gas and power grid “poorly prepared to deal with severe winter conditions after years of deregulation”.

In the polarized world of American politics, the ‘other side’ is personified by the likes of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, described by Wikipedia – the “go-to fact-checker” for many – as “a conservative think tank with ties to the fossil fuel industry”. TPPF alleges that the storm "never would have been an issue had our grid not been so deeply penetrated by renewable energy sources."
Who Is Right?
Is the TPPF view right? It is a hugely important question. The lives and basic comfort of many people are at stake . The fate of many a planner or politician around the world depends quite literally on getting on the right side of the debate over the Texas debacle. For developing countries, the stakes are far higher as the lower per capita incomes of their constituents carry risks that few in the rich world can appreciate.
One might think that the truth of the Texas blackouts is far more prosaic. It was simply the extreme weather. The fact is that all energy sources – coal, natural gas and nuclear as well as wind — were not “winterized” due to short sighted, profit-focused planning in a deregulated market, as the Texas Tribune would have it.
Alas if that were but true. For those whose professional work is in the engineering, economics and public policy aspects of power grids, the Texas debacle has been decades in the making. To begin with, fossil-fuelled power plants are designed for cold weather and rarely freeze. Fossil-fuelled power plans run in severe cold weather conditions around the world, from the Arctic steppes of Siberia to the northern reaches of China and India, not to mention the frigid plains of Canada.

Decades of policy preferences in Texas in favour of weather-dependent, intermittent “renewable energy” – read solar and wind – added 20 GW of capacity since 2015 while retiring coal power plants and barely adding to natural gas capacity. More than $80 billion in Federal subsidies were spent on wind and solar during 2010 – 2019; an additional average of $1.5 billion is spent annually on state subsidies for renewable energy. A deregulated market that rewards power generation without requiring reliable capacity ready to supply power as needed naturally tilted the field in favour of intermittent solar and wind power.

The standard response of the renewables lobby is that fossil fuels receive subsidies too. The fact that wind receives 17 times, and solar an astonishing 75 times, the fiscal support that fossil-fuelled power generation receives on a per kilowatt-hour basis is lost in the rage of the culture wars between the renewable energy advocates and their counterparts on the side of oil, gas and coal.  

Texas thus opted to lose reliable generation capacity while counting on solar and wind to keep up with power demand. To any engineer worthy of his degree, the increasing likelihood that an event that combined very high demand with intermittent wind and solar power output would lead to blackouts would be apparent. As one observer, a former Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives puts it, “the only surprise was that such a situation occurred during a rare winter freeze and not during the predictable Texas summer heat waves”. The knife-edge fragility of power grids in Western Europe and the UK which have imposed policies that forced rapid growth in renewable energy capacity is no surprise.

Perhaps the most straightforward view of what transpired is given by the chart below. It shows the change in power output by fuel in Texas between January 18th and February 17th. Not only did coal and gas power hold up better than wind, which fell by over 90%, but gas turbine generators increased output by a massive 450%, nearly making up for the shortfall in wind. But this proved to be not enough to cover surging power demand brought on by the Arctic blast. It takes chutzpah to assert that because gas, coal and nuclear power did not operate at 100% of expected potential, they “failed” even though wind failed by nearly 100%.  
For planners and politicians of the developing countries, most of which are signatories to the (non-binding) Paris Agreement, hectored constantly about the need to “transition” from fossil fuels, the Texas debacle provides ironic education beyond just the rushed dependence on diesel generators when the chips are down in the richest country in the world.

Perhaps the most profound irony, and the most consequential, should be saved for last. Among the first actions by Joe Biden, the first US “climate president”, was to re-join the Paris Agreement. His international climate czar John Kerry met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to mark America’s re-entry barely days after the worst of the Texas tragedy.
Convinced that the Earth has 9 years to avert the worst consequences of the “climate crisis” and "there's no faking it on this one", Mr. Kerry called on the world’s big emitting countries, including China, India, and Russia to “really step up”, cut fossil fuel use and “raise their ambition” to “fight against climate change”. The irony however is lost on Mr. Kerry. He goes around lecturing poorer countries on the need for raised ambitions to fight climate change when it is those very same ambitions that led to the tragic debacle in Texas.

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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