Tuesday, June 22, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: COP26 heading for the rocks?


UN climate talks hit a wall over tensions about finance

In this newsletter:

1) COP26 heading for the rocks?
Global Warming Policy Forum, 18 June 2021  

2) UN climate talks hit a wall over tensions about finance
Financial Times, 18 June 2021

3) UN climate talks are headed for trouble after G7 wrangling
Bloomberg, 18 June 2021
4) Russia warns EU carbon border tax may threaten energy supplies to Europe
Reuters, 17 June 2021
5) Russian parliament adopts law aimed at limiting greenhouse gasses
Bellona, 17 June 2021
6) Ross Clark: Rishi Sunak and the coming Tory battle over climate change
The Spectator, 17 June 2021
7) The renewable boom has barely impacted oil & gas, 17 June 2021
8) Coal share of German power seen up for 1st time in 8 years
Montel News, 17 June 2021
9) And finally: Climate activists get so woke they cancel themselves
Townhall, 17 June 2021

Full details:

1) COP26 heading for the rocks?
Global Warming Policy Forum, 18 June 2021
As the geopolitical risks and astronomical costs of the West’s unilateral Net Zero agenda become ever more evident the planned UN climate summit later this year (COP26) seems to be heading for the rocks.


Unsurprisingly, the reluctance of Western governments to deliver its pledge of an annual $100 billion transfer fund to more than 100 developing countries is threatening to unravel COP26. 
“A major reason for the discord is that rich countries appear to have missed a target of $100bn in annual climate aid by 2020, creating mistrust among the 191 countries that signed the Paris agreement….”
This geopolitical own goal also provides China, India and other emerging nations a rock solid reason to reject Western pressure on any new or binding commitments.
If Biden, Boris and the EU thought emerging and developing nations would simply cave to their unrealistic Net Zero demands they should think again. It’s not going to happen.
The US and EU leaders have tried and failed to square this circle for the last 30 years. It’s unlikely to go away for decades to come.
There is now a growing risk that COP26 will end in yet another COP-flop, throwing the climate campaign back to the 2009 Copenhagen fiasco.
2) UN climate talks hit a wall over tensions about finance
Financial Times, 18 June 2021

Weeks of negotiations were overshadowed by cost of meeting demands of Paris agreement

Tensions over climate finance threaten to derail this year’s COP26 summit after weeks of preliminary UN deliberations yielded little agreement over how to proceed with core principles of the Paris climate accord.

The downbeat conclusion fuels further disappointment about progress on halting global warming, after the G7 leaders summit in Cornwall failed to produce specific plans for new climate funding.

A major reason for the discord is that rich countries appear to have missed a target of $100bn in annual climate aid by 2020, creating mistrust among the 191 countries that signed the Paris agreement.

The shortfall in funding also sets the scene for a series of difficult discussions in November at the COP26 in Glasgow when it comes to agreeing new goals for climate finance.

“It is unlikely that rich countries hit the target of mobilising $100bn per year by 2020,” said Amar Bhattacharya, co-chair of the UN’s Independent Expert Group on Climate Finance and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, although official figures are yet to be tallied formally.

At a time when government coffers have already been emptied by the coronavirus pandemic, reaching agreement on climate finance — public and private funding to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to climate change — is more contentious than ever.

During three weeks of tense negotiations at the UN Climate Change intersessional meetings, which concluded on Thursday, an undercurrent of discontent over climate finance stymied a number of discussions on topics such as carbon markets and transparency.

“The issue of climate finance still remains the most difficult part of all these negotiations,” said Molwyn Joseph, environment minister for Antigua. “I do not believe that particular aspect was dealt with as it should have been.” Rich countries donated around $80bn in 2018, according to UN figures.

The annual intersessional meetings are a chance for negotiators to outline their positions and identify areas of disagreement ahead of the main COP summit at the end of the year. This year, however, participants say scant progress was made.

Several aspects of the “rule book” governing the 2015 Paris climate accord are due to be finalised at the COP26, including how countries report their carbon emissions.

Negotiators will also attempt to craft rules for global carbon markets, for example, carbon offsets between countries. The issue — mandated in Article Six of the Paris accord — has thwarted several previous summits.

UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa admitted there had been a lack of progress. “I cannot say that there was really any breakthrough in the consultations that took place here,” she said on Thursday.

She said that the promised $100bn is “absolutely crucial” for the success of the negotiations, adding that “everyone mentioned this as one very important point”.

Lord Nicholas Stern, professor of economics at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said developed countries should contribute at least $150bn in climate finance annually by 2025.

Full story (£)

3) UN climate talks are headed for trouble after G7 wrangling
Bloomberg, 18 June 2021
U.S. held back pledges on coal, cars and climate finance
Planned offer of financing help to poorest nations falls short

Global leaders say they want decisive action on tackling climate change at a crunch UN summit this year. The behind-the-scenes arguing among Group of Seven delegates -- when progress was blocked by last-minute nerves, political tensions and a shortfall of funding -- shows just how far they have to go.
Diplomats and ministers working toward the COP26 UN climate talks starting in Scotland in October worry that the summit’s chances of success may be in jeopardy. One senior British figure privately said the vital gathering is likely to disappoint.

If leaders cannot step up in Glasgow and agree to measures to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to deliver on a $100 billion-a-year financing pledge to help the poorest countries adapt, the consequences for the planet could be dire.

Last weekend at the G-7 on the coast of Cornwall, southwest England, U.S. President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi were among those who fell short as other leaders in the group pushed for more ambitious goals, according to officials who asked not to be named discussing private talks.
Coal, Fired
During intense negotiations in the days leading up to the gathering, leaders’ aides were drawing up a deal on ending domestic coal use in G-7 economies, having already agreed to stop financing international coal projects.

Officials expected it would be particularly hard for Japan to commit, given the country’s reliance on coal power after closing nuclear plants following the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Yet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s team came around to the idea, and backed it during talks.
It seemed that all seven nations would be able to agree to the landmark pledge in Cornwall, which would set the tone for other countries to follow in phasing out fossil fuel generated power.
At the 11th hour, however, Biden’s officials became nervous about the impact on domestic politics and the White House refused to sign off on the plan, which then had to be left out of the final summit communique, according to officials, and a diplomatic note summarizing the meetings.

It was also the U.S. that blocked a G-7 initiative to make the majority of new passenger car sales zero-emission vehicles by 2030, an aim British leader Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were ready to back, officials said.
The Money
Leaders of the rich economies represented at the G-7 know they have one key pledge they must meet if they’re to encourage developing countries to get on board with cutting emissions: delivering $100 billion a year in finance for the poorest nations.
Here, too, Biden was unable to commit to new numbers for how much the U.S. will contribute, after four years in which Donald Trump failed to spend what was needed. The G-7 agreed that each member would increase the amount they give toward the total of $100 billion annually, but not everyone announced how much more they’d spend.
Angela Merkel agreed to raise Germany’s 4 billion-euro ($4.8 billion) annual payment to 6 billion by 2025. Canada’s Justin Trudeau vowed to double his country’s share to C$5.3 billion ($4.3 billion), which was seen by the U.K. as an important win.

But when it came to Italy’s turn, Draghi’s team could only muster another 100 million to 150 million euros a year. Italy then decided not to formally make that pledge when it became clear that it would be embarrassingly low compared to other countries’ contributions, according to British and European officials and a diplomatic note of proceedings. Instead, the Italian government is expected to announce its contribution later in the year, the officials said.

A spokesperson for the Italian government said there was no negotiation on individual nations’ pledges for climate finance at the G-7 meeting. Italy is in the process of assessing its commitment with a view to the forthcoming Group of 20 meetings, the spokesperson said.
COP Fears
The big concern for the COP organizers now is that governments aren’t making fast enough progress to be able to deliver on their key goals. Unless developing countries are confident the $100 billion a year will be reached, they’ll never agree to the expensive steps needed to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, officials said.
“I acknowledge there is much further to do both in terms of raising commitment and articulating a collective vision on how the [$100 billion] goal will be met in the coming years,” said COP26 President Alok Sharma, who serves in Johnson’s U.K. government. “We need to move faster, because we’re now in the homestretch to COP26. With just over four months to go, we really need to get going.”
There are already worries that a huge summit with perhaps 20,000 people attending in person will be a logistical nightmare to hold as winter approaches in the U.K. during the pandemic. The summit was postponed last year as coronavirus raged around the world, but Johnson’s team is adamant that preparations will continue for an in-person event this year.
Even so, many of the preparatory talks between governments are taking place virtually, and that makes building trust and ensuring meetings are productive much harder, according to one person involved. Cajoling all the nations involved in COP talks poses a much tougher challenge to U.K. leadership than bringing the close, rich allies of the G-7 into line. The COP summit has been extended by a day to give delegates more time to make progress.
Stronger Action
“Tackling climate change is a central mission of our G-7 presidency and we’ll continue working with the G-7 nations and others to agree even stronger action to limit global emissions ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow,” a British government spokesperson said in emailed statement.

British officials privately believe Biden will come around to pledging more money, and according to one person familiar with the G-7 talks, the U.S. team did say it will accelerate the timetable for doubling its contribution to climate finance, but just not yet.
Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, told Bloomberg the U.S. would provide more money to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt.
Other nations’ governments watching Biden believe a key worry for him is the domestic political pressure in the U.S. With a razor-thin Senate majority for the Democrats, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin -- who is a staunch backer of his home state’s coal industry -- holds huge sway and is stopping the president being more ambitious, some officials suggested.
The White House declined to comment specifically on whether domestic concerns had prevented Biden backing more ambitious steps at the G-7. Daleep Singh, Biden’s deputy national security adviser, said the president had already rallied the rest of the world to embrace “bold targets” at his leaders’ summit earlier this year.
Biden’s Defense

“At the G-7, the United States led the effort to establish a new multilateral infrastructure partnership called build back better for the world that will be instrumental in helping developing countries transition to a clean economy,” Singh said in a statement. “We also pushed for and agreed to aim for a reallocation of up to $100 billion of IMF resources to low income countries that could be used for investment in clean technology. And we agreed to commit now to the end of international financing of coal power generation this year.”
A senior administration official said Biden remained as committed as ever to the climate targets he has set, including achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. Between now and COP, the U.S. will be working hard to accelerate the global transition to clean energy and to mobilize funding, the official said.

Even if the U.S. steps up its commitments, the fallout from Brexit remains a danger for negotiators to contend with. Some involved worry that Johnson, who hosted the G-7 and is also hosting COP, may be too unpopular with European leaders to be able to convince them to go the extra mile in climate talks.

The atmosphere at the G-7 became particularly heated between Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, in a simmering dispute over trade in sausages to the U.K. region of Northern Ireland. At one point, Macron appealed publicly for “calm.”

Johnson will need plenty of that as the COP deadline gets closer.
4) Russia warns EU carbon border tax may threaten energy supplies to Europe
Reuters, 17 June 2021

MOSCOW, June 17 (Reuters) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that the European Union’s plans to impose carbon emission costs on imports of goods may clash with the global trade rules and threaten the safety of energy supplies.


The EU plans to impose carbon emission costs on imports of goods including steel, cement and electricity, according to a draft document seen by Reuters. The European Commission has said such a measure would be fully compliant with World Trade Organisation rules.
Novak, Russia's former Energy Minister, told the ministry's inhouse magazine that such carbon border taxes could be extended in coming years to oil, natural gas and coal, key sources of revenues for Moscow's state coffers.
"Many experts believe that the introduction of (the carbon border tax) may infringe on several principles of the World Trade Organization," Novak said.

He also called for the need to seek a compromise and warned about possible interruptions of energy supplies.
"Artificial restrictive measures of the traditional fuel and energy sectors may reduce the profitability and investment attractiveness of the sector, and as the result, the threat to the safety of energy supplies will emerge," Novak said.
5) Russian parliament adopts law aimed at limiting greenhouse gasses
Bellona, 17 June 2021
Russia’s lower house of parliament this week adopted a law that would limit greenhouse gas emissions via an initiative that officials say would be a first step towards carbon regulation in the country.

Russia’s lower house of parliament this week adopted a law that would limit greenhouse gas emissions via an initiative that officials say would be a first step towards carbon regulation in the country.
But the legislation places a heavy burden on Russia’s forests and their ability to scrub carbon dioxide out of the air – which, while doubtless an important contribution to the fight against climate change, is still difficult to quantify accurately and transparently.
Under the law, which has yet to pass parliament’s upper house and advance to Vladimir Putin for his signature, companies producing large amounts of greenhouse gasses would be obliged to report their emissions. It also seeks to encourage Russian companies to invest in environmental restoration projects and abandon practices harmful to the climate and national economy.

Vladimir Burmatov, chairman of the parliamentary committee on ecology and environmental protection, told Reuters that the legislation was a first step towards carbon regulation in the country.

Russia joined the Paris climate change pact in 2019. New targets were due to be announced last year, but that has been put off until later this year because of the covid-19 pandemic. Russia has faced criticism from abroad for having some of the least ambitious emissions cutting goals of any major economy to ratify the Paris Climate Accord, the international pact seeking to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Russia’s self-imposed target for Paris, reiterated last year by Putin, is for its emissions in 2030 to be 30% lower than in 1990. It is on course to easily exceed that goal due to the massive collapse of industry that followed the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Yet thanks to that collapse, these proposed targets would actually see Russia’s emissions continue to creep upward until 2050. Moscow’s current economic plans include a tenfold increase in fossil fuel production by 2035 despite calls from International Energy Agency experts to halt all new investments in coal, oil and gas. Russian companies are also building new infrastructure to produce more oil and coal

By 2050, the year by which many major economies plan to be carbon free, Russia will continue to rely on fossil fuels for as much as 57 percent of its energy mix.
What the legislation says
According to the new law, Russian companies emitting more than 150,000 tons of CO2 – or the equivalent mass of other greenhouse gases – per year would be required to limit their emissions starting in 2023. Companies emitting between 50,000 and 150,000 tons annually will have to report their emissions starting from 2024.

But the legislation falls short of identifying any methods to verify what companies report and fails to spell out any mechanisms to make them accountable for excess emissions.
The legislation goes on to introduce a carbon credit system, with companies able to receive “carbon units” in exchange for investments in reforestation, recycling, carbon capture or other initiatives aimed at fighting climate change. But here, lawmakers again fall short of identifying any stimulus companies would receive for doing so.

Full story
6) Ross Clark: Rishi Sunak and the coming Tory battle over climate change
The Spectator, 17 June 2021

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, isn’t normally given to waffle, which makes his maiden appearance on GB News all the more remarkable. 

Asked by Andrew Neil who – government or homeowner – would have to pay the estimated £10,000 per household cost of replacing domestic gas boilers with heat pumps to help reach the target of net zero emissions by 2050 Sunak replied: 
'So when you say the alternative is the household or the government, the government’s money is the people’s money. And that’s my point when I say ultimately we all pay. The government does have any separate money of its own'
As a general point of political philosophy, it was a fair enough statement. But it is one which might better be applied by a Chancellor who was proposing to cut public spending – not one who is proposing to hit homeowners with huge costs over the next decade. 
The move to decarbonise homes is going to be the next great battlefield over climate change – and has the potential to become even bloodier than that over electric cars. The typical car lasts around ten to 12 years. To improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s automobile stock can, as a result, be achieved relatively easily over a decade or so – by setting regulations for new models. No-one has to be asked to convert their existing diesel car to run on batteries instead.

Homes, by contrast, can last hundreds of years. There are around 28 million homes in Britain and we are currently building around 300,000 of them a year. Thus at the current rate of building it would take around 93 years to replace all homes – and that assumes we don’t need any extra homes. The government cannot, in other words, expect to reach a 2050 net zero target by setting zero carbon targets just for new homes – it has to find a way of retrofitting old homes. This is where it becomes extremely difficult – and expensive.
Andrew Neil was right to identify the cost of replacing a gas boiler with an electric heat pump at around £10,000. But that is not where the costs will end. Heat pumps operate at lower water temperatures than do gas-fired central heating systems. To get one to heat a house it has to have high insulation standards – difficult to achieve, for example, in the eight million British homes which have solid walls. To fit solid wall insulation will add another £10,000 to £15,000 to the bill.
These are not merely huge costs; they will fall disproportionately on relatively low-income homeowners in the centres of industrial towns in the Midlands and North, where there are huge numbers of solid-walled 19th century and early 20th century homes. If the government really does press ahead with its plan to replace gas boilers, and does not instigate a system of grants, voters in former ‘Red Wall’ will face the kind of bills which have been hitting flat-owners caught up in the cladding scandal.

In his interview, Sunak mentioned grants – yet failed to mention that he abolished the Green Homes Grant in April, after it had reached only ten per cent of the planned 600,000 homes. 
Who pays for decarbonising homes? That is a question which ministers are not going to be able to waffle their way through for much longer.

7) The renewable boom has barely impacted oil & gas, 17 June 2021

A decade ago, fossil fuels accounted for just over 80 percent of final energy consumption in the world. During the last ten years, renewable energy has boomed, and installations continue to soar to record highs. But oil, gas, and coal still represent over 80 percent of final energy consumption, despite the rising share of renewable energy in the world’s total energy consumption.


Fossil fuel use around the world hasn’t retreated despite the avalanche of net-zero pledges, significantly increased support to clean energy from governments, and record-high installations of solar and wind power in recent years.

To be fair, fossil fuel use has dropped in overall global energy consumption over the past decade, but by a meager 0.1 percentage point, from an 80.3 percent share back in 2009 to 80.2 percent in 2019, a new report from REN21, a global renewable energy community advocating for a transition to clean energy, showed.

“We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past ten years have mostly been empty words. The share of fossil fuels in final energy consumption has not moved by an inch,” REN21’s Executive Director Rana Adib said

This is a sobering thought for green energy enthusiasts: How come the record renewable energy capacity additions over the past decade failed to significantly dent the global use of oil and gas?
Here’s how: energy demand in the world continues to rise, most evident in developing countries where the population continues to grow, and the number of people in need of accessing ANY form of energy is also growing. In many of those countries, fossil fuels are the only option for meeting a large part of the continuous rise in energy demand.

Fossil Fuel Is Still King
While most of the attention has been focused on the ambitious climate pledges and policies in developed economies, the countries with the largest growth in energy demand are the developing economies.
Renewables have dented the use of fossil fuels in the United States and Western Europe. However, energy demand there has been mostly stagnant or has only slightly increased over the past decade. At the same time, developing economies in Asia and Africa have seen surging energy demand, which has been mostly met by oil, gas, and coal. Case in point—China, the largest renewables market, installed a record-breaking 52 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity last year, breaking the world record for most wind capacity installed in a single year by any country in history as it doubled its annual installations compared to 2019. But China also commissioned more coal-fired capacity last year than the rest of the world retired.
When looking at the uptake of renewable energy, analysts have tended to focus on the surging capacity additions of solar and wind power in both developed and developing economies, and on the falling costs for batteries and solar and wind power. They tend to overlook the fact that globally, it is not Sweden that is the poster child of energy trends, it is Southeast Asia.   
As of 2019, modern renewable energy, which excludes the traditional use of biomass, accounted for an estimated 11.2 percent of global final energy consumption, up from 8.7 percent a decade earlier, REN21’s report found.
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“Despite tremendous growth in some renewable energy sectors, the share of renewables has increased only moderately each year. This is due to rising global energy demand, continuing consumption of and investment in new fossil fuels, and declining traditional use of biomass (which has led to a shift towards fossil fuels),” the authors of the report wrote.
Renewables haven’t dented much of the global energy consumption of fossil fuels despite the fact that renewable energy installations have been rising in recent years, and set a staggering record in 2020 even in the face of the pandemic that upended all plans and schedules for businesses around the world.
Full post
8) Coal share of German power seen up for 1st time in 8 years
Montel News, 17 June 2021

(Montel) The share of hard coal in the German power mix is set to rise for the first time in eight years amid high gas prices and low wind forecasts, analysts said.
German hard coal plants contributed 8.1% of the country’s power mix so far this year, up from 7.4% seen in 2020, data from Fraunhofer ISE showed.

Should coal continue this trend, it would be the first increase for the fossil fuel since 2013 in the power mix of Germany, which plans to exit coal by 2038, based on ISE data.

The share of wind has fallen to 25% so far this year...

Full story (€)

9) And finally: Climate activists get so woke they cancel themselves
Townhall, 17 June 2021

A group of student climate activists is disbanding this week after arriving at the conclusion that they are too racist to continue carrying out their mission. 
School Strike 4 Climate Auckland (SS4C AKL)—a New Zealand chapter affiliated with Greta Thunberg's climate justice movement among students—decided its disbandment was "well overdue" after getting what was apparently a very convincing woke education on how BIPOC—Black, Indigenous, and People of Color—communities are "disproportionally affected by climate change."
It’s been a fierce contest so far for most woke statement of 2021 but in June we can declare an undisputed winner - School Strike 4 Climate Auckland who are disbanding as they are self diagnosed racist and need to decolonize!
In a lengthy post on the group's Facebook page, leaders explained that the organization "has been a racist, white-dominated space" that has "avoided, ignored, and tokenised BIPOC voices and demands."
In addition, SS4C AKL leaders say the "urgent need to decolonise the organization has been put off for far too long" and their organization "delayed paying financial reparations for the work BIPOC groups/individuals within and alongside the group have done for this organisation in the past."

The decision to disband was made "under the suggestion and guidance of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) members of our group, as well as individual BIPOC activists and organizations." 
Some in the New Zealand climate movement are not patting SS4C AKL on the back for their supposedly brave decision. "Disbanding is not taking accountability, it’s quitting,” said one fellow climate warrior.
"Acknowledging you have a problem or made a mistake without taking a step towards resolving it is meaningless."

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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