Tuesday, March 16, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Green Europe in terminal decline as 'demographic winter' grows icier


Climate ‘apocalypse’ fears stopping people having children – study

In this newsletter:

1) Green Europe in terminal decline as 'demographic winter' grows icier
The Times, 15 March 2021
2) Climate ‘apocalypse’ fears stopping people having children – study
The Guardian, 27 November 2020
3) William Reville: Reducing world population may be a bad idea
The Irish Times, 18 February 2021
4) Europe’s Green Deal in trouble as Biden administration warns EU against carbon border tax
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 March 2021

5) Russia & Greens jubilant: Boris Johnson considers ban on UK oil and gas exploration
The Sunday Telegraph, 14 March 2021

6) Benny Peiser: Net Zero destroys UK jobs and offshores problem to mega polluter China
Daily Express, 13 March 2021
7) Dominic Lawson: The worst fallout from Fukushima was hysteria
The Sunday Times, 14 March 2021 

8) And finally: Austria vetoes Mercosur free trade deal saying it goes against EU Green Deal
EurActiv, 8 March 2021

Full details:

1) Green Europe in terminal decline as 'demographic winter' grows icier
The Times, 15 March 2021

European countries fear that their “demographic winter” will grow icier still as a result of a slump in births linked to the pandemic and anguish over an uncertain future.

The fall has been particularly acute in southern Europe, raising concerns for health and pension systems that were already under pressure.

The figures emerging refute widespread claims in the European media that a baby boom would follow the lockdowns, on the basis that couples were forced to spend time together with limited leisure activities.

In practice, the opposite has happened, with couples postponing plans to have children amid anguish over an uncertain future.

In January in France — nine months after its first lockdown — the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies registered only 53,900 births, a fall of 13 per cent on the same period last year. The figure for December had been 7 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Amina Yamgnane, a Parisian gynaecologist, said that she had noted much “back-peddling by women and by couples who said to themselves that they didn’t have the means to have a baby at the moment and to bring it up”.

Italy recorded a 21.6 per cent fall in births in its major cities in December compared with December 2019. ISTAT, the country’s statistical agency, said that the drop was comparable to that recorded nine months after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1987.

With almost two thirds of babies born in wedlock in Italy — in France the proportion is one third — officials in Rome believe that the 50 per cent fall in marriages in 2020 will hit the birth rate.

The picture in Spain is similar, with a 20.4 per cent nationwide fall in births in December. The National Statistics Institute said that the 23,226 babies born in December was the lowest monthly number since it began registering births in 1941.

In Europe there are fears that the pandemic will accelerate a long-term trend that threatens to undermine the continent’s future.

Full story (£)

2) Climate ‘apocalypse’ fears stopping people having children – study
The Guardian, 27 November 2020

People worried about the climate crisis are deciding not to have children because of fears that their offspring would have to struggle through a climate apocalypse, according to the first academic study of the issue.


Born into a dying world? Children at a climate protest in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Isopix/Rex/Shutterstock

The researchers surveyed 600 people aged 27 to 45 who were already factoring climate concerns into their reproductive choices and found 96% were very or extremely concerned about the wellbeing of their potential future children in a climate-changed world. One 27-year-old woman said: “I feel like I can’t in good conscience bring a child into this world and force them to try and survive what may be apocalyptic conditions.”
These views were based on very pessimistic assessments of the impact of global heating on the world, the researchers said. One respondent, for example, said it would “rival world war one in its sheer terror”. The research also found that some people who were already parents expressed regret over having their children.
Having a child also potentially means that person going on to produce a lifetime of carbon emissions that contribute to the climate emergency, but only 60% of those surveyed were very concerned about this carbon footprint.

“The fears about the carbon footprint of having kids tended to be abstract and dry,” said Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, who led the study.
“But the fears about the lives of existing or potential children were really deep and emotional. It was often heartbreaking to pore through the responses – a lot of people really poured their hearts out.”
The number of people factoring climate change into their reproductive plans was likely to grow, Schneider-Mayerson said, as the impacts of global heating became more obvious. 
Full story
3) William Reville: Reducing world population may be a bad idea
The Irish Times, 18 February 2021
Collapsed birth rates likely a greater threat to humanity than climate change

Demographers predict fertility rates will soon drop below 2.1 for the first time in history, falling below 1.7 by 2100. 

Environmentalists have an irritating tendency to cast humans as environmental pests. David Attenborough falls into that category. “We are a plague on the planet” and “either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us”, he said in a Radio Times interview in 2013. Humans in large numbers undoubtedly press on ecosystems but humans are also clever and produce technologies that counter negative environmental impacts.
Scientific analysis indicates that, coincident with burgeoning world population numbers and industrialisation over the 20th century, many indicators of human and environmental flourishing soared to unprecedented heights. And so, although seemingly paradoxical at first, it can be argued – eg Glenn Stanton in Quillette (December 2020) – that significantly reducing world population numbers would damage both human flourishing and the natural environment. I’m not saying this argument is conclusive but the perspective is fascinating.
Attenborough was seemingly unaware in 2013 that world population growth had significantly slowed down. Fears that humans will overrun the Earth ignore the data and demographers now worry more about a shrinking than an exploding global population.
In order to hold population numbers steady, a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman is necessary. World fertility rate is now 2.4 and falling. Demographers predict fertility rates will soon drop below 2.1 for the first time in history, falling below 1.7 by 2100. As people get richer they prefer to spend their money nurturing fewer offspring.
Detailed demographic projections are “jaw-dropping” (Stein Emil Volsett and others, The Lancet, July 14th, 2020). World population, now 7.8 billion, will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064, falling to 8.8 billion by 2100.
Beyond 2100 the projected fertility rates in 183 of the 195 countries in the world will be too low to maintain current population levels. Populations will halve by 2100 in 23 leading countries, including JapanSouth KoreaSpainItaly and China and another 34 countries will see populations fall by between 25 per cent and 50 per cent.

Children younger than five will fall from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100 (41 per cent decline). Over-80s will climb from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million in 2100 (514 per cent increase). This inverted age structure will cause big problems. Who pays tax and looks after the elderly in a massively-aged population?
Key requirements for human flourishing include clean air, clean water, plentiful food and protection against natural hazards. How have we fared globally in these areas as population numbers and industrialisation soared over the 20th century? Very well indeed, according to the respected database Our World in Data and the Oxford University Martin School. Granted, global warming is a problem, but it is manageable.

Death rates from air pollution decreased by more than 50 per cent since 1990. Access to clean water increased by 68 per cent between 1990 and 2015. The world now produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, 28 per cent greater than current world population and grown on less land per capita than ever before. The percentage of malnourished people decreased from 15 per cent in 1990 to 12 per cent in 2018.
The percentage of people living in extreme poverty decreased from about 84 per cent in 1820 to about 10 per cent in 2018. Human and economic vulnerability to the most common climate-related hazards – flooding, drought, extreme wind, cold and heat, volcanoes, earthquakes – decreased up to 90 per cent since 1980. Conclusion: population growth plus technology causes human flourishing.
Endogenous growth theory won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics for Paul Romer. It explains how a rapidly growing population produces spectacular abundance – endogenous human innovation and ingenuity bless the world far more than human appetites damage it; the latter spurring the innovation.
However, the perceived existential threat posed by climate change is our biggest public fear, despite good evidence that this fear is misplaced. The latest scientific study shows that empirical data does not permit calculation of any “doomsday” thresholds that, if exceeded, lead to runaway environmental change (Helmut Hillebrand and others, Nature Ecology and Evolution, August 17th, 2020).

Remarkably, it appears that the end of humanity will more likely come from collapsed birth rates than from climate change. The coming world population decline will not be reversed easily and if numbers continue to decrease so will the production of innovative ideas, resulting in stagnation of knowledge and living standards for a gradually vanishing population.
It may well be necessary to ensure that global population numbers do not eventually fall below about seven billion if we are to avoid fading away.
William Reville is an emeritus professor of biochemistry at UCC
4) Europe’s Green Deal in trouble as Biden administration warns EU against carbon border tax
Global Warming Policy Forum, 12 March 2021

Europe’s Green Deal and its planned carbon border tax are in serious trouble as the Biden administration raises concerns about its potentially disastrous fallout on international trade and relations.

According to the European Commission the EU’s Green Deal and its 2050 Net Zero target are threatening the very survival of Europe’s industries unless a carbon border tax is enforced upon countries that are not adopting the same expensive Net Zero policies.
It’s a matter of survival of our industry. So if others will not move in the same direction, we will have to protect the European Union against distortion of competition and against the risk of carbon leakage,” European Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans warned in January.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament endorsed the creation of a carbon border tax that is planned to protect EU companies against cheaper imports from countries with weaker climate policies.
However, it would appear that the Biden administration is getting cold feet about the protectionist agenda and its potentially devastating impact of world trade, throwing a spanner in the EU’s plans.
John Kerry, Joe Biden’s climate envoy, has warned the EU that a carbon border tax should be a “last resort,” telling the Financial Times that he was “concerned” about Brussels’ forthcoming plans.
He urged the EU to delay any decision until after the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
"It [a carbon border tax] does have serious implications for economies, and for relationships, and trade,” he said. “I think it is something that’s more of a last resort, when you’ve exhausted the possibilities of getting emission reductions and joining in some kind of compact by which everybody is bearing the burden.”
According to Kerry, the UN climate summit in November would be a success if all countries adopted Net Zero emissions targets similar to those adopted by Western nations.

The fundamental problem with Kerry’s demand, however, is that it contravenes the Paris Climate Agreement which cements the UN’s key principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities.‘ This principle acknowledges that developing nations have different capabilities and differing responsibilities in reducing CO2 emissions.
While China has already offered a Net Zero emissions intention by 2060, the Biden administration’s demand that other developing nations adopt similar Net Zero targets as Western nations is quixotic.
In light of more than a decade of futile attempts by Western leaders to believe that the developing world — at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow — would relinquish this key principle and curtail its economic development and prospects in order to save the West’s competitiveness borders on political insanity, i.e.trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
5) Russia & Greens jubilant: Boris Johnson considers ban on UK oil and gas exploration
The Sunday Telegraph, 14 March 2021

Ministers are considering declaring the beginning of the end for the North Sea oil industry with a ban on new exploration licences.

Boris Johnson is considering to shut down Britain’s oil and gas exploration. Image: Greenpeace campaign
The radical move is on the table as part of a decisive shift away from fossil fuels and as part of preparations for the crucial climate summit the Government is due to host in Glasgow in the autumn.

Britain is already legally bound to deliver “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050. Options being consulted on are understood to include an end to issuing licences in 2040, and an immediate temporary pause in licences. No change to the licensing regime is also possible.

One industry source said a decision is close. A ban on new licences would begin the terminal decline of British exploration in the North Sea and would be particularly controversial in Scotland.

An estimated 39pc of the 270,000 total UK jobs supported by the oil industry are in Scotland – more than any other UK region – and the SNP has relied on forecasts of future North Sea tax revenues to claim that the nation could pay its way outside the Union.

Oil and gas reserves from the UK Continental Shelf are dwindling since their heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, but had been expected to play a significant role in its long-term energy needs, as well as in production of plastics and chemicals.

More than 30pc of the UK’s electricity in 2020 was generated by gas-fired power plants, while the offshore industry met about 45pc of its overall energy needs in 2019, according to industry figures.

Although that will change as wind turbines and electric cars come to the fore, any restrictions on licences are likely to trigger debate about whether the move would simply increase Britain’s reliance on imported gas and oil, potentially increasing emissions due to transportation requirements.

Full story (£)
6) Benny Peiser: Net Zero destroys UK jobs and offshores problem to mega polluter China
Daily Express, 13 March 2021

Once again Boris has let down the Red Wall seats he was elected to serve, this time with a U-turn on Cumbria's planned mining project, announced last night.

The Cumbria mine, we are told, “sends the wrong message” ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow this year. Indeed, cancelling might make for good messaging to the international Green elite, but it will harm jobs for struggling British workers and could make the environment worse. The project is essential for UK steel-making (the coking coal is used for steel production rather than power generation) and without it, mining jobs simply move to Russia where factories are far more polluting.

Sadly it is part of a trend, and key industries like steel, in which Britain was once a world leader, could soon disappear altogether.

All this despite the fact Brexit means we now have the power to make such sectors competitive again.

Boris came to power on a pledge to "level up" the UK after Brexit and bring back jobs to struggling manufacturing regains. But he seems to be doing the very opposite.

Jobs and production will continue moving abroad, mainly to China, unless the government rethinks it's punitive "Net Zero'' policies and how to approach plans to go "carbon neutral".

Last week, court filings revealed that 5000 jobs at 12 Liberty Steel plants across the UK are at risk, as the lender, Greensill Capital, collapsed.

UK Steel revealed this week that our steel makers are paying £254 million in additional bills when compared to French and German counterparts.

This is mainly because electricity prices in the UK are between 60 and 80 per cent higher, with climate policies accounting for the bulk of this difference.

That is hardly surprising since UK subsidies to renewable electricity generators now amount to about £10 billion per year.

Unfortunately, those handouts to green energy firms drive up the cost of living, increasing upward wage pressure, and further eroding our international competitiveness.

Bosses and workers might blame each other, but in truth they have a common grievance with No. 10.

Worse still, industrial electricity prices in Europe themselves are nearly 50 percent higher than in the G20. In China and India, meanwhile, industrial electricity prices are estimated to be just a third of UK prices.

Because of this, the steel industry and other energy-intensive industries can no longer compete in the global markets.

China already accounts for more than half of the world’s steel production and the UK now sits below the likes of Egypt, Belgium, and Vietnam.

Steel is essential for our military and key industries, such as car manufacturing and food. Off-shoring it to potentially hostile nations such as China is not only economically nonsensical, but potentially a security risk.

While coal consumption in China, India and most of Asia, continues to surge as their economies boom, Britain's renewable energy policy is driving up energy costs relentlessly, making British businesses uncompetitive across the board. Domestic steel making is the canary in the mine.

And the rise in electricity prices is only going to get worse – much worse. The Treasury thinks the overall cost to the UK economy of Net Zero by 2050 could be £1.275 trillion, a number the government battled to hide for two years.

My organisation successfully forced them to reveal the number last week after a gruelling Freedom of Information battle and ruling by the Information Commissioner. However, I still think the number is a huge underestimate.

But the EU has a problem, too. "[European Union steel firms] are set to be overtaken by Asian rivals that don’t have to comply with similar rules imposed by Brussels," reported on Monday.

Yes, industrial power there is cheaper that in the UK, but it is nearly 50 percent higher than in the G20, and way above China. Trade unions on the continent have warned 11 million jobs are at risk.

Now the UK is out of the EU we can be more flexible and adapt more quickly than our European competitors. We should take advantage of this freedom to rethink Net Zero policies and gain the advantage.

In fact, there is a compelling alternative option: If the UK were to switch to nuclear energy and natural gas, instead of unreliable "renewables" like wind and solar, Britain could generate electricity much more cheaply and much more reliably, whilst reducing CO2 emissions at the same time.

Doing so could save our steel industry, bring thousands of jobs home, and help reduce pollution by stopping offshoring manufacturing to China.

7) Dominic Lawson: The worst fallout from Fukushima was hysteria
The Sunday Times, 14 March 2021

Merkel’s hasty rejection of nuclear energy looks more unwise than ever

A year after the colossal earthquake and tsunami that took the lives of 18,500 souls on the northeast coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, I visited the area. So efficient was the clean-up operation, there was no visible detritus from nature’s onslaught. Instead, I wrote in my notebook, “What can be seen is the absence of homes. Rows upon rows of footings, the reminder of where people once lived and who are now dead. It’s hard to find something to say to the young local guide, whose fiancĂ©e was among the many thousands killed.”
I also visited displaced families in prefabricated homes provided by the authorities — these were not just people whose properties had been swept away, but evacuees who had been living within a 12½ mile radius of the Fukushima nuclear power station. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had been hit by a 46ft wave of water — that was the tsunami following the earthquake. It caused three nuclear meltdowns. This was, after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the only other event to have been measured as level 7 on the international nuclear event scale.

In this context, it is surprising that little media attention has been paid to a report from the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (Unscear) released last week to mark the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima incident. It said “no adverse health effects among Fukushima residents have been documented that could be directly attributed to radiation exposure”. It added that any future consequences for health “are unlikely to be discernible”. Unscear also found “no credible evidence of excess congenital anomalies, stillbirths, preterm deliveries or low birthweights related to radiation exposure”.
It would be interesting to hear what Angela Merkel has to say about this. Three days after the Fukushima meltdowns, the German chancellor announced a moratorium on nuclear power development and the closure of all the country’s nuclear energy plants by 2022. It was a hasty volte-face by a supposedly scientific leader, previously a strong backer of the nuclear industry, but her party was facing a big challenge from the Greens in provincial elections. Politically, it was astute. In terms of Merkel’s wider policy commitment — to move Germany as rapidly as possible towards “zero carbon” energy — it was a shocker. Because it was impossible in the short term to replace the wound-down zero-carbon nuclear power with renewables such as wind and solar, Germany increased its use of coal (which will have led to at least 1,000 extra deaths a year from air pollution). Longer term, we can also see the geostrategic consequence, in Merkel’s increasingly determined defence of the Nord Stream 2 project, to import gas from Russia through an under-sea pipeline.

In 2011, in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown, few in Germany pointed out that none of its own nuclear power stations lay on one of the planet’s biggest geological faults or was at risk from a tsunami. Nor will there now be much reflection on Unscear’s conclusion that the effect of radiation leaks at Fukushima will be indiscernible in terms of public health.

Even the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, in terms of deaths or sicknesses caused by massive dispersal of radioactive materials, were grossly overplayed in western Europe — though more understandably, given its much greater proximity. What happened at that Soviet plant was so bizarre — an experiment in which one of the reactors was made to run at a dangerously low level, the emergency cooling unit disconnected and the emergency safety mechanism switched off — it might almost have been thought overambitious by a genuine saboteur. The 1,000-ton concrete reactor shield was blown clean away in a mighty explosion: iodine-131 and caesium-137 rained down upon Belarus and Ukraine.

It was widely claimed that the deaths as a result of this would run into the hundreds of thousands. Again, Unscear has come up with exhaustive analysis and concluded that, apart from the heroic Chernobyl emergency team, fewer than 100 deaths have been attributable to increased radiation — and no known birth deformities. In 2006, marking 20 years since the Chernobyl reactor blew up, the BBC Horizon programme revealed how tens of thousands of women in the area had been panicked into having abortions, for fear of giving birth to “monsters”. It interviewed one of the few who resisted this terror — next to her 19-year-old daughter, who held her mother’s hand as she tearfully told of the pressure she’d been put under to terminate that pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the acclaimed 2019 HBO series Chernobyl has only added to the terror and mythology. It portrayed the effects of radiation as contagious, as if it were a virus: thus Emily Watson, acting the hero-scientist, yells at a pregnant mother to get away from her firefighter husband, who is dying from acute radiation syndrome. In another scene a nurse who just touches a dying firefighter finds her own hand immediately turning bright red. As the pro-nuclear environmentalist Michael Shellenberger observed: “Neither thing occurred or is possible.”
Full post (£)
8) And finally: Austria vetoes Mercosur free trade deal saying it goes against EU Green Deal
EurActiv, 8 March 2021

Austria’s coalition government has confirmed it will block the landmark EU-Mercosur trade agreement – which should create the biggest free-trade area in the world – saying it goes against the EU’s environmental ambitions set out in the European Green Deal.

Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler, a lawmaker from the Green party, co-governing with the conservative Austrian People’s Party (EPP), sent a letter to Antonia Costa, the prime minister of Portugal, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency.
“The extensive forest fires in the Amazon region […] in combination with the increase of intensive agro-industrial mode of agricultural production in Mercosur countries will exacerbate global warming,” Kogler wrote in his letter, quoted by EURACTIV’s partner Efe.
“If we go on boosting trade and economic growth without taking the impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems and natural resources into account, we will inevitably be heading towards a climate catastrophe,” he added.
Full story

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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