Wednesday, June 30, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Green Tories warn about populist backlash over Net Zero costs


Biden's ticking climate clock: What happens when he fails to deliver?

In this newsletter:

1) Net Zero: Green Tories warn about populist backlash
Global Warming Policy Forum, 27 June 2021
2) Chris Skidmore: Prepare for the populist backlash, if Net Zero becomes an elite project
The Sunday Telegraph, 27 June 2021

3) Iain Duncan Smith MP: The Government must give up its dangerous obsession with electric cars
The Daily Telegraph, 26 June 2021

4) Biden's ticking climate clock: What happens when he can't deliver?
Axios, 27 June 2021

5) Blackouts loom in California as electricity prices are ‘absolutely exploding’
Robert Bryce, Real Clear Energy, 24 June 2021

6) Wind energy in crisis as expansion stalls in Germany
Alex Reichmuth, Nebelspalter, 21 June 2021
7) Andrew Stuttaford: Stakeholder Capitalism - Corporatism by another name
National Review, 25 June 2021
8) Susan Crockford: Attenborough flogs COP26 ‘tipping point’
Financial Post, 24 June 2021

Full details:

1) Net Zero: Green Tories warn about populist backlash
Global Warming Policy Forum, 27 June 2021

As public discontent and concerns over the astronomical costs of Net Zero keep growing, green Tories are beginning to fret that they may soon be facing a disastrous political backlash.


In the Sunday Telegraph, the UK’s former energy minister, Chris Skidmore, is unnerved by this likely prospect and warns that the Net Zero agenda will fail unless ministers are honest with the public ‘about the scale of what lies ahead….’ 
Mr Skidmore’s alert about the geopolitical risks of going green is certainly timely, as is his warning about the growing risk of power shortages if the UK were to follow a renewables-only policy.
But when it comes to honesty and trust, Mr Skidmore would be well advised to refrain from claiming that the cost of offshore wind has come “crashing down.” Empirical data shows that this is simply not the case.

As for the Climate Change Committee and the UK Government, how about coming clean and reveal the dodgy Net Zero cost estimates they are trying to hide?
After all, Mr Skidmore is right when he warns about the true risk Net Zero faces:
"Trust means working with people to achieve shared ambitions and potential, not working to a centralised plan without widespread support that will be destined to fail.”
2) Chris Skidmore: Prepare for the populist backlash, if Net Zero becomes an elite project
The Sunday Telegraph, 27 June 2021
We need to level now with people about the Net Zero trade-offs. Trust means working with people to achieve shared ambitions and potential, not working to a centralised plan without widespread support that will be destined to fail.


Two years ago today I sat down at my ministerial desk and signed a piece of legislation that quietly committed the UK in law to reducing its carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050 writes Chris Skidmore. We would drastically reduce our carbon footprint, to the point of negating any carbon dioxide that we could reasonably be held responsible for. We would become, in the stroke of a pen, the first G7 country to commit to such an endeavour.Looking back two years on, little could I have fathomed that the UK’s leadership on net zero would have set off a chain reaction across the globe, with 75 per cent of the world’s land mass now signed up to a net zero target.

In November later this year, at the United Nations summit on climate change, COP26, held in Glasgow, the stage will be set for the UK to once more demonstrate its climate leadership on the global stage by forging international agreement on each country’s emissions targets. Global Britain is back, wrapped in a union jack tinged with green.

To achieve net zero by 2050, however, requires not merely a plan, but a massive transformation to every aspect of our lives. Gas boilers out, heat pumps in; goodbye to petrol, hello battery powered electric car.

Already the UK has demonstrated that large emissions reductions can take place, thanks mainly to winding down coal fired power plants in favour of gas. We have built the largest offshore wind farm in the world in the North Sea and are reaping the benefits as the cost of renewable energy comes crashing down.

Ask any person on the street, however, who or what keeps the lights on, and you are likely to draw a blank. Recent polling has shown that barely 10 per cent of the population even know what net zero means. In the race to burnish our green credentials, we run the risk of making deals on the international stage without taking our local population with us.

Don’t get me wrong. I desperately want net zero to succeed. But to do so, perhaps we need to reflect on how Brexit can carve a path towards this new national mission. Taking back control wasn’t merely a slogan, but a cry for self-determination across much of our regions where the impact of offshoring manufacturing supply lines had decimated our local skills base.

Net zero has the potential for the UK to turn the clock back. Sovereignty across the supply chain is critical here. We cannot commit to net zero in the long term unless we ensure that we will not be held at ransom by another country for materials needed to secure our green future. Whether it be carbon fibre manufacture – we currently import all of our carbon fibre, a material essential for wind turbines or hydrogen tanks – or lithium mining in Cornwall for batteries, we need to act now to deliver a sustainable production line of the raw materials that will power a green revolution made in Britain.

Boris Johnson is absolutely right to invest in Britain’s future as a “global science superpower”, yet for energy, this means going nuclear or go home. Unless we invest in a new fleet of nuclear reactors, combined with the next generation of smaller reactors suitable for regional deployment, we will face potential power shortages a decade from now as our existing fleet begins to shut down. Again, we can avoid the mistakes of the past by training a new generation of skilled workers to onshore our nuclear capacity, rather than find ourselves in the debt of the Chinese or the French.

We will need to address not only our energy supplies but the sectors which emit the most carbon into our atmosphere. Here clear leadership on future alternatives to cement, steel, and other carbon heavy industries that make up 80 per cent of our emissions must be our priority. While climate change analysts talk of changes to individual patterns of meat consumption, or cutting down on lifestyle patterns, this kind of mission creep runs the risk of alienating people when we need to take everyone with us.

The worst of all scenarios would be to create an elite-led, grand project, a net zero mission dictated by international convention that fails to be grounded in the day to day conversation of ordinary life. The consequences of this could be disastrous, with populist movements turning against climate change policies, securing platforms that might reverse any consensus agreed this year.

Ultimately, if net zero is to succeed, we need to understand better that fundamental principle that led to Brexit: trust. If we trust the people, who understand full well the need for change, we can be honest about the scale of what lies ahead.

We need to level now with people about the trade-offs, the compromises and sacrifices, but also the benefits that can be secured through making change happen now. Trust means working with people to achieve shared ambitions and potential, not working to a centralised plan without widespread support that will be destined to fail. Our future is too important to fail. Yes there will be challenges to achieving net zero, no one doubts that, but let’s seize the benefits with both hands too.
3) Iain Duncan Smith MP: The Government must give up its dangerous obsession with electric cars
The Daily Telegraph, 26 June 2021

It is becoming clear that in their frenzied determination to hit their arbitrary Net Zero target, ministers have overlooked the enormous repercussions of weaning Britain off petrol – and onto electric cars. 
First, let us address the economic challenges. In England alone it is estimated it will cost £16.7bn to get the UK’s public charging network ready. The Government has allocated just £1.3billion UK wide. 

On top of that colossal figure, it has been calculated that getting the national grid ready for the scale of demand anticipated will require hundreds of billions of pounds. To illustrate why, just look at the example of the Glasgow electric bus fleet. The programme is expected to be completed in 2023 – but already, it has been calculated that the full fleet will use the same electricity as it takes to power a town of 10,000 people. And that’s just one city.

Finally, there is the inescapable fact that electric vehicles will cost around £40bn in lost road taxes and fuel duty – a crucial source of income for the Treasury.

But the political ramifications are, if anything, even more alarming. The UK is already far too dependent on China, a brutal regime which indiscriminately tramples on human rights. And switching to electric vehicles would massively increase that dependence: China not only produces 50% of the world’s electric vehicles – it is also responsible for 73% of the world’s batteries. The Government talks of building one, or possibly two, battery factories. But China is opening a new megafactory every few weeks. In short, when it comes to electric capacity, we aren’t even at the races.

Two hundred years ago, the industrial revolution ushered in a sustained period of economic growth and rising wages. But it was a revolution based on cheap energy – and, as we discovered too late, there were serious environmental consequences.

Now, we are facing the opposite problem. In their blinkered pursuit of Net Zero, British politicians risk making energy more expensive – a move that will hit the poorest the hardest and make levelling up nigh on impossible.
If the Government chose to concentrate on developing the UK’s already advanced hydrogen sector, we might stand a chance both of reducing our dependence on China and limiting the cost of Net Zero. Yet for some reason, ministers remain fixated on batteries, which despite all the green chest beating will mostly end up in landfill.

If our plan for net zero results in spiralling debt, higher taxes at home and growing dependency on a brutal Chinese regime, surely it’s time for a complete rethink.

4) Biden's ticking climate clock: What happens when he can't deliver?
Axios, 27 June 2021

President Biden is under intense pressure to deliver on his historic climate plans, with real danger that he’ll miss his window on major goals that allies had hoped were in their grasp.

Why it matters: Only six months into his presidency, Biden has a limited amount of time to tackle what he calls "the No. 1 issue facing humanity."
Key parts of his platform are tethered to the infrastructure push underway right now. Biden and liberal Democrats want huge clean energy investments and tax incentives.
They hope a Democrats-only package would provide vastly more than energy measures in the infrastructure outline Biden unveiled with a bipartisan Senate group on Thursday.
Threat level: Republicans have a good chance of regaining one — and perhaps both — chambers of Congress in the 2022 midterms, effectively slamming Biden's window shut.
And already Democrats are having trouble locking down enough votes in their own ranks for anything resembling Biden's proposals around electric cars, renewables, efficient buildings and more.
The intrigue: The time pressure is even more intense than the electoral calendar suggests.
November brings the most important United Nations climate summit since the 2015 talks that birthed the Paris agreement.
Walking into that summit with an enacted package would help show that the White House pledge to slash U.S. emissions by 50% by 2030 is realistic.
But if the U.S. effort is foundering, winning higher ambition and tangible new steps from other nations could be a harder diplomatic lift.
The big picture:
 The U.S. is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas polluter behind runaway leader China.
Biden's campaign platform pledged a sweeping emissions-cutting agenda that would go far beyond that of former President Obama.
The goals include a carbon-free power sector by 2035; strong new regulations to limit tailpipe emissions; new restrictions on fossil fuel development; and massive new resources for clean energy R&D and deployment.
Big new investments and greatly expanded clean energy incentives would require approval from Congress. Another part of Biden's plan — a "clean energy standard" that forces utilities to vastly ramp up carbon-free power — also requires legislation.

Yes, but: The White House also hopes to accomplish a lot with executive actions by redirecting agencies, including the EPA and the Interior and Energy Departments, to be more climate-focused.
Just one of many examples: Biden is pushing the EPA and the Transportation Department to rewrite vehicle efficiency rules to be much tougher.
There's also a multi-agency push to accelerate the development of large offshore wind projects.
And U.S. development finance agencies — including the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. — are putting a higher priority on clean energy.
Executive actions face their own hurdles, however, including litigation that greets every major rulemaking.
This month, a federal judge issued an injunction against Biden's freeze on new oil lease sales — a move that foreshadows legal battles that will confront all his regulatory efforts.
The bottom line: "Every passing day tests [Biden's] ability to achieve an ambitious climate agenda in his first term, especially if the infrastructure bill doesn’t include the transformative investments and tax credits for clean energy," Margaret Jackson of the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center tells Axios via email.
5) Blackouts loom in California as electricity prices are ‘absolutely exploding’
Robert Bryce, Real Clear Energy, 24 June 2021

The blackouts and high electricity prices that are plaguing California provide a neon-lit warning sign about the looming renewables reliability and affordability crises. 

Two inexorable energy trends are underway in California: soaring electricity prices and ever-worsening reliability – and both trends bode ill for the state’s low- and middle-income consumers.
Last week, the state’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator, issued a “flex alert” that asked the state’s consumers to reduce their power use “to reduce stress on the grid and avoid power outages.”
CAISO’s warning of impending electricity shortages heralds another blackout-riddled summer at the same time California’s electricity prices are skyrocketing.
In 2020, California’s electricity prices jumped by 7.5%, making it the biggest price increase of any state in the country last year and nearly seven times the increase that was seen in the United States as a whole.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration, the all-sector price of electricity in California last year jumped to 18.15 cents per kilowatt-hour, which means that Californians are now paying about 70% more for their electricity than the U.S. average all-sector rate of 10.66 cents per kWh. Even more worrisome: California’s electricity rates are expected to soar over the next decade. (More on that in a moment.)
The surging cost of electricity will increase the energy burden being borne by low- and middle-income Californians. High energy costs have a particularly regressive effect in California, which has the highest poverty rate – and some of the highest electricity prices – in the country. In 2020, California’s all-sector electricity prices were the third-highest in the continental U.S., behind only Rhode Island (18.55 cents per kWh) and Connecticut (19.19 cents per kWh.)
Before going further, let me state the obvious: California policymakers are providing a case study in how not to manage an electric grid. Furthermore, that case study shows what could happen if policymakers at the state and federal levels decide to follow California’s radical decarbonization mandates, which include a requirement for 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045 and an economy-wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
The state’s surging energy costs demonstrate the regressive nature of decarbonization policies and how renewable-energy mandates drive up the price of power. California’s electricity prices are “absolutely exploding,” says Mark Nelson, an energy analyst and the managing director of the Radiant Energy Fund, who used that phrase on a recent episode of the Power Hungry Podcast. He added that the electricity price hikes are happening before the state’s utilities have incurred all of the costs of the deadly wildfires that swept the state, trimming millions of trees to prevent future wildfires, and adding all the mandated renewable-energy capacity, transmission lines, and new battery storage that the state will need to meet its climate goals. Further, the costs do not include all of the costs that will be incurred after the proposed shuttering of Diablo Canyon in 2025.

Last week’s power conservation requests are likely the first of many to come. On May 27, CAISO CEO Elliot Mainzer warned that if the state is hit with another hot summer like the one that required rolling blackouts that left more than 800,000 homes and businesses without power over two days last August, “our numbers tell us the grid will be stressed again.” That warning followed a May 12 CAISO press release which warned that “reliability risks remain” and the state will likely need “voluntary” electricity conservation this summer to avoid a repeat of last year’s blackouts.

The specter of more blackouts is yet more bad news for California’s beleaguered consumers. Between 2010 and 2020, the state’s electricity prices jumped by 39.5%, which was, the biggest increase of any state in the U.S. Even more worrisome: California’s electricity rates will soar over the next decade.

Full post
6) Wind energy in crisis as expansion stalls in Germany
Alex Reichmuth, Nebelspalter, 21 June 2021
The German wind power industry is suffering setback after setback. Hardly any new turbines are being built, and more and more old wind turbines are being phased out. Now wind industry lobbyists are calling for new subsidies and construction rules to be relaxed.
In the Free State of Bavaria there is almost nothing going on when it comes to wind power. According to a report by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs expansion of wind power has been almost zero for several years. The share of wind energy in electricity production is now even declining. “Wind power is dead in Bavaria” “complained the Green politician Martin Stümpfig.

Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder had promised in 2019 to have a hundred new wind turbines installed in the state’s forests. But according to the Ministry of Economics, not a single application for such a wind turbine has yet been received. The Greens are calling for the so-called 10H rule to be abolished, according to which the distance between new wind turbines and the nearest residential area must be ten times the height of the turbines. Modern wind turbines are 200 meters high, which requires a distance of two kilometers. That makes many projects impossible.

The expansion of wind energy has stalled nationwide as well. In 2016, 4625 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacities were installed in Germany, and in 2017 even 5334 MW. That corresponds to four to five large coal-fired power plants. In 2018, the expansion fell to 2402 MW, in 2019 even to just 1078 MW. Last year, too, the newly installed capacity of 1431 MW was well below the federal government’s target of 2800 MW of new wind power capacity per year.

Enormous public resistance 

Lengthy planning and approval procedures stand in the way of the expansion of wind energy. There is too little designated space for possible locations and too many lawsuits against projects. The resistance to the construction of wind turbines is enormous in many places. Countless nature conservationist groups and citizens’ groups see the landscape impaired, health threatened or rare birds in danger and are fighting with all possible means against new wind turbines. Frequently, political leaders of municipalities and states are against easing the elimination of wind power locations.

To make matters worse for the future of wind energy is the fact that many wind farms are threatened by shutdown. The German Renewable Energy Act which has been in force since 2000 guarantees wind turbine operators secure subsidies for twenty years. For thousands of wind projects this deadline will expire in the next few years. Without subsidies they are no longer profitable. By 2025, there is a risk of 15,000 MW of wind projects being lost which corresponds to over a quarter of Germany’s onshore wind power.Technically, it would still be possible to continue wind turbines operating after 20 years. But without guaranteed subsidies many operators find it difficult to survive in the market. At the current low price level for electricity they are hardly competitive. There are already appeals to the federal government to provide financial support to keep the wind farms running.

“We are heading for a disaster”

There are a particularly large number of wind turbines in the state of Lower Saxony. Olaf Lies, the Minister of Energy and Environment, has had to extent the period during which wind power can be taken off the grid without replacement because the feed-in tariff for electricity ends after 20 years of operation. By 2025 there will be around 3500 wind turbines with a total output of 4300 MW. “We are heading for a disaster,” said Lies to the “Handelsblatt”.

He appealed to Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier to pay more attention to the plight of renewables. “If the federal government does not pull the rip cord, Germany faces a gigantic dismantling of wind energy with all the consequences for eliminating it. Repowering means replacing old systems with new, more powerful, carbon-free electricity generation,” says Lies.
In particular, he wants to reduce the hurdles for repowering.Today, this repowering often fails due to height restrictions for new wind farms as well as due to species and environmental protection laws. “We are calling for a national repowering strategy that secures and maintains the urgently needed existing space and simplifies and accelerates approvals for projects,”  Hermann Albers, President of the German Wind Energy Association, told “Handelsblatt”.

In general, the wind power lobby is calling for the construction regulations for new wind farms to be relaxed. More land is to be designated for wind turbines, also in forest. The rules as to how far wind farms must be located away from inhabited areas are also under attack.

Fight for minimum distances

The government of the state of Hesse is planning to declare two percent of the state’s area to be wind priority areas. That would have serious consequences for the last undisturbed forests and the countryside, according to the Hessian Association of Nature Conservation Initiative. Above all, the construction of wind turbines in the extensive Palatinate Forest means “another break of taboos by the red-green-yellow coalition in favor of the wind power industry”.In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, a battle is raging over the distance rules. A regulation envisaged by the state government provides for a minimum distance of one thousand meters to residential areas. The municipalities could, however, allow a smaller distance to wind turbines.
Green politicians complain that the thousand meters are far too restrictive. According to the Greens, it is “foreseeable that many municipalities, under the pressure of a loud minority, will not want to go below the minimum distance to splintered settlements”. It remains to be seen whether the state government will cave in. After all, it has announced that it intends to double the capacity of the installed wind turbines in North Rhine-Westphalia to 10,500 megawatts by 2030.

To make matters worse for the wind industry there is now also bad data regarding electricity production. Because of “low wind in spring” Germany’s 30,000 wind turbines generated almost a third less electricity in the first quarter of 2021 than last year, the statistical office has announced. The result was the lowest generation since 2018. The gap was filled by increased electricity generation from coal power and gas-fired power plants. Critics of the green energy transition who have been warning about the intermittency problems of renewable energy see themselves confirmed.

Full story (in German)
7) Andrew Stuttaford: Stakeholder Capitalism - Corporatism by another name
National Review, 25 June 2021
How woke capitalism erodes democracy
The, well, woke nature of “woke capitalism” — a phenomenon intertwined with “socially responsible” investment (SRI), with stakeholder capitalism at its base — has obscured that the way in which this combination works owes far more to fascism than to socialism. Nearly 90 years ago, the progressive writer Roger Shaw described the New Deal as “employing Fascist means to gain liberal ends.” Overwrought, perhaps, but not without some truth. He would recognize what is going on now for what it is.
Underpinning the notion of “stakeholder capitalism,” a concept that has taken the C-suites of some of America’s largest companies by storm, is the idea that a company should be run for the benefit of all its “stakeholders,” a conveniently hazy term that can be defined to include (among others) workers, customers, and “the community,” as well as the shareholders who, you know, own the business. It’s a form of expropriation based on the myth that a corporation that puts its shareholders first must necessarily put everyone else last. In reality, an enterprise that, to a greater or lesser extent, fails to consider the needs of various — to use that word — stakeholders in mind, customers, most obviously (but certainly not only) is unlikely to flourish, and nor, therefore, will its owners.

Stakeholder capitalism is not only a threat to private property, but also, by not much of a stretch of the imagination, to individual freedom. To understand why, take a step back.
As I wrote last July:
"The wider vision underlying stakeholder capitalism is one in which different interest groups such as employers, employees, and consumers collaborate in pursuit of mutually (if sometimes mysteriously) agreed objectives under the supervision of the state. It would never be quite post-democratic, not quite, in any likely American form, but what it would be is a variety of corporatism."

Corporatism takes many, many forms. It can range from the relatively (relatively) benign — it runs through European Christian Democracy, and it can be detected in early-20th-century American Progressivism — to the infinitely more heavy-handed. It has been an important element in the theory, if not the practice, of some variants of fascism, most notably in Mussolini’s Italy, but not only there.
As choices go, that’s quite a range, but in The Rise of Corporate-State Tyranny, a fascinating, lengthy (and must-read) article for the Claremont Institute, Joel Kotkin argues that much of this country’s elite has, in essence, embarked down a route that will take us closer to pre-war Benito than to post-war Bonn. He writes of “a new alliance between large corporate powers, Wall Street, and the progressive clerisy in government and media”:
"Its agenda consists of several goals. On the corporate front we have the emergence of “stakeholder” capitalism, which embraces the state’s priorities implicitly and those of the progressives generally, as a way to please regulators, the woke among their employers, and, to some extent, their own consciences. In this they resemble companies in authoritarian states—like Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, and today’s China—where private capital accumulation is permitted but dissent from the agreed norms of the media-government-academy, once the privilege of individuals and corporations, is now largely verboten."
Kotkin relates how:
"Fascist corporatism, by rejecting the autonomy of private interests, parallels today’s fashionable theories like “stakeholder capitalism” and the environmental “Great Reset.” As in the fascist state, corporations [perhaps it’s worth adding that the word corporatism does not refer to business corporations, but is derived from the notion of society as a single ‘body’—corpus in Latin] now take it on themselves to be conscious change agents for particular political and moral agendas. Two doctrines guide these actions. First, “stakeholder capitalism,” which holds that corporations must push onto society doctrines concerning gender, “systemic racism,” and other elements of the woke agenda. Second, the “Great Reset,” which seeks to have companies essentially “save” the planet by slowing material growth for the working and middle classes while maintaining rich profit opportunities through “disruption” of energy and other industries. Both doctrines currently guide the majority of America’s major corporations."

The “Great Reset” is being promoted by the World Economic Forum (“Davos” to you and me).
"Seizing on the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Great Reset,” introduced by the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab, proposes that large corporations reject their traditional goals and market capitalism in favor of serving racial and gender “equity” or saving the planet. The “Great Reset” advocates the reevaluation of the principles of democracy, particularly if they are perceived as not meeting the values embraced in the “reset.” Eric Heymann, a senior executive at Deutsche Bank, suggests that to reach the climate goals of Davos, corporations will have to embrace “a certain degree of eco-dictatorship. Corporations must explicitly embrace top-down authoritarianism."

Ah yes, climate. Much of the activity of the emerging corporatist state both revolves around and is empowered by an apocalyptic vision of climate change. Limiting greenhouse-gas emissions can be used as an excuse to restrict how we travelwhere we travelhow we heat our houseswhat we eat, and so on — the list is endless.
If climate change (full disclosure: I am a “lukewarmer” myself) can be portrayed as endangering our future, then it can be used to justify, in Heymann’s formulation, “a certain degree of eco-dictatorship” in “the form of regulatory law” — an elucidation which obfuscates more than it clarifies. And the worse the potential harm attributed, accurately or otherwise, to a changing climate, the more drastic the measures that must be taken to deal with it, measures that would leave little of our current behavior untouched. Heymann:
"We take key consumption decisions, for example whether we travel at all, how much we travel and which means of transport we use, whether we live in a large house or a small apartment and how we heat our homes, how many electronic devices we have and how intensely we use them or how much meat and exotic fruit we eat. These decisions tend to be made on the basis of our income, not on climate considerations.
If we really want to achieve climate neutrality, we need to change our behaviour in all these areas of life."
Full post
8) Susan Crockford: Attenborough flogs COP26 ‘tipping point’
Financial Post, 24 June 2021
Ever since the falling walrus footage, Sir David appears to have abandoned his journalistic principles to achieve a political objective

Sir David Attenborough and Prime minister Boris Johnson, right, attend an event about the COP26 UN Climate Summit in February 2020. 

With the United Nations COP26 climate change summit scheduled for November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, Sir David Attenborough was recently appointed “People’s Advocate” by the British government. In that capacity, he addressed G7 leaders a few weeks ago, stating: “We are now on the verge of passing tipping points, boundaries that, once passed, will unleash irreversible and self-amplifying change.”

Attenborough’s sentiments were taken directly from his latest Netflix production, “Breaking Boundaries,” released in early June, a documentary devoted to an outdated “tipping points” theory that has no basis in reality.
No basis in reality is an Attenborough quality we’ve seen before. Back in 2019, the now official U.K. government promoter of climate alarmism released a documentary titled Our Planet. The scenes in Our Planet were horrific and shocking: one after another, several giant walrus were shown falling off a high cliff to jagged rocks below, their agonizing deaths captured in slow motion. Hundreds of others, their broken bodies panned by the camera, were said to have died the same way. Viewers were told that lack of sea ice had caused these deaths and climate change was to blame.

Marketed as entertainment, it was an unforgettable gut-punch delivered by the renowned BBC broadcaster in a joint Netflix/WWF production seen round the world. Attenborough implied that the climate change explanation was supported by science. I knew it wasn’t. I called him out on it and I wasn’t alone. A controversy ensued.
Seven months later, the BBC corroborated my account. An episode of an Attenborough-narrated television documentary called Seven Worlds, One Planet revealed the extent and scope of the deception in the Netflix sequence. As I’d suggested, polar bears had chased the walrus off the cliff and the Netflix producers had known it all along. Attenborough probably did, too.
However, he found the emotional impact of the falling walrus scene too politically powerful to waste. Attenborough shamelessly narrated six more documentaries with even more outrageous claims about the prophesied harm the world faced if climate change was not addressed immediately, and told members of the UN Security Council that climate change was the biggest threat to global security the world had ever faced. In short, he leveraged the dying walrus narrative to kick-start an uncompromising climate change campaign.

It has been an astonishing spectacle to witness and it isn’t over yet. For the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, Attenborough has become the U.K. government’s purveyor of tipping points and warnings that “there is only a decade to act” and launch a new industrial revolution that will bring greater equality. “We have reached our own political tipping point,” says Attenborough in a COP26 video, implying the planet is set to unleash irreversible and self-amplifying catastrophe.
The tipping point message, however, was on shaky ground when climate scientists first trotted it out. Then two studies published in 2011 showed that despite fears, such inevitable “boundaries” do not exist for Arctic sea ice: the very low summer extent that occurred in 2007 was followed not by continued decline but a quick recovery. For good scientific reasons, the same thing happened after the record-low ice extent in September 2012. It’s now 2021 and despite lack of evidence to support it, Attenborough and a few other vocal climate change activists continue to peddle this scary-sounding “tipping points” idea.

As I explain in my upcoming new book, Fallen Icon: David Attenborough and the Walrus Deception, the unique alliance formed in 2015 between Netflix, the WWF, Silverback Films, David Attenborough and the BBC to produce “Our Planet” was an auspicious beginning. The Netflix and BBC documentaries that followed — all on the same theme, many with the same executive producers, all narrated by Attenborough and based on the WWF’s version of science — were filmed over the same period and released to correspond with the next UN COP meeting scheduled for the fall of 2020. To their consternation, the COP26 got postponed to 2021 because of the pandemic, which meant they had to stretch out their propaganda an additional year.

Seven documentaries or series episodes, from “Our Planet” to “Breaking Boundaries” were released, starting with the horrifying falling walrus scenes orchestrated by the WWF and ending with what is essentially an advertisement for the “tipping points” concept that Attenborough is now pushing ahead of COP26.

Attenborough apparently decided he wanted his legacy to be something more substantial than “a good storyteller” and consciously became a mouthpiece for the power-hungry climate change lobby.
When he agreed in 2018 to present the deceptive and emotionally manipulative falling walrus film footage as evidence of climate change — so typical of WWF promotional material but out of character for him — Attenborough seems to have abandoned his journalistic principles to achieve a political objective. Attenborough is not an advocate for the people, as he claims: he is an advocate for the climate change movement.
Susan J. Crockford is a zoologist and author of The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened, and Fallen Icon: David Attenborough and the Walrus Deception, coming later this summer.

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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