Wednesday, July 28, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Boris Johnson’s Net Zero goal in disarray as Rishi Sunak baulks at the £1.4trillion cost


Everything you have been told about Atlantic hurricanes and global warming is wrong, new study reveals

In this newsletter:

1) Boris Johnson’s Net Zero goal in disarray as Rishi Sunak baulks at the £1.4trillion cost
Mail on Sunday, 25 July 2021

2) Offshore power ‘will fail without subsidies’
The Times, 26 July 2021

3) Everything you have been told about Atlantic hurricanes and global warming is wrong, new study reveals, 14 July 2021
4) Bjorn Lomborg: The truth about extreme weather events
Bjorn Lomborg, 25 July 2021
5) Hans-Werner Sinn: Europe’s Green Unilateralism
Project Syndicate, 23 July 2021 
4) Gautam Kalghatgi: Electrification of road freight using overhead cables
GWPF Energy, 22 July 2021

7) John O'Sullivan: 'Climate Change' charlatanism means never having to say you're sorry
The Pipeline, 18 July 2021

Full details:

1) Boris Johnson’s Net Zero goal in disarray as Rishi Sunak baulks at the £1.4trillion cost
Mail on Sunday, 25 July 2021

Proposals to reduce CO2 emissions to ‘net zero’ as part of Boris Johnson’s plan to make the UK a ‘world leader’ in green policies have been thrown into disarray after Rishi Sunak raised objections to the eye-watering cost to the Treasury.


As part of the net zero plan –which would decarbonise the economy by 2050 – No 10 had been expected to publish in the spring details of the strategy for moving away from gas boilers ahead of Glasgow’s COP26 climate change conference in November.

But this has been delayed until the autumn amid mounting alarm about the bill.
The Chancellor – who is already looking for ways to pay back the £400 billion cost of the Covid crisis and the £10 billion a year required to reform long-term care for the elderly – is understood to have baulked at estimates of hitting net zero at more than £1.4 trillion.

The independent Office For Budget Responsibility (OBR) calculated the cost of making buildings net zero at £400 billion, while the bill for vehicles would be £330 billion, plus £500 billion to clean up power generation and a further £46 billion for industry.

After energy savings across the economy, this would leave a £400 billion bill for the Treasury.

The OBR also warned that the Government would need to impose carbon taxes to make up for the loss of fuel duty and other taxes.
The Prime Minister is considering issuing millions of households with ‘green cheques’ worth hundreds of pounds to compensate them for the cost of becoming more energy efficient.
It is the latest claim of tensions between No 10 and No 11 over the strains on the public purse.
Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed Mr Sunak had warned that reforms to social care would not be affordable without the introduction of a new dedicated tax, equivalent to an extra 1 per cent on National Insurance.
After a backlash, No 10 shelved the plans until the autumn.
There are also ongoing discussions about how to reduce the predicted £4 billion cost of the ‘triple lock’ protecting the value of the state pension, amid fears that a surge in average earnings figures will push it unaffordably high.
Both the increase on National Insurance and extra green costs are controversial within Government because the burden of both fall more heavily on younger people and lower income households.
The summit is expected to bring together more than 100 world leaders to make commitments on how they intend to reach global net zero and limit global warming to 1.5C.
Full post

see also GWPF papers on and coverage of the cost of Net Zero

2) Offshore power ‘will fail without subsidies’
The Times, 26 July 2021

Wind farms both on and offshore could be closed in future if selling their electricity to the market makes them unviable, SSE has warned

Told you so ...

Most wind farms in Britain will not be economically viable when existing subsidies end and will close prematurely without further revenue support, new analysis suggests.

A report commissioned by SSE has found that the huge expansion of wind power in the UK is likely to push wholesale electricity prices so low on windy days that most wind farms will be unable to cover their operating costs simply from selling power into the market.
This could lead to mass early closures of offshore and onshore wind farms when their existing subsidy arrangements end, primarily from the 2030s. Building new wind farms to replace them could increase the costs of hitting Britain’s net zero target by £20 billion, the report says.
It argues that it would be far cheaper to offer continuing revenue support to extend the life of the existing projects or upgrade them, such as “repowering” existing sites with bigger turbines. At present, only brand new projects are eligible for such support.
The recommendation is one of several that SSE claims could cut the costs of hitting net zero by £48 billion, based on the report from LCP, a consultancy. It recommends scrapping plans for more new nuclear plants beyond Hinkley Point C in Somerset and calls for a “renewables-led energy system supported by decarbonised gas and long-duration storage”.

The recommendations reflect SSE’s own business interests. As well as operating and building wind farms, the FTSE 100 energy group wants to build hydrogen power plants or gas plants with carbon capture technology and wants support to build more pumped hydroelectric plants. It also operates power networks.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s chief executive, said: “A high-renewables system centered around the UK’s offshore wind resource and backed up by technologies like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and long-duration storage can achieve a faster and cheaper route to net zero than one including any more new nuclear projects.”

The biggest saving suggested in the report comes from extending the life of wind farms. Most of Britain’s onshore and offshore wind farms have been built over the past decade and a quadrupling of offshore wind is planned by 2030. Initial projects were eligible for 20-year subsidy schemes, while more recent projects have been awarded guaranteed revenues for 15 years.
Construction costs have fallen so much that the most recent projects have been guaranteed revenues that are below present wholesale prices and have been described as “subsidy-free”.

However, as the amount of wind generation increases, wholesale prices are predicted to fall sharply on days when it is very windy “often to as low as zero”, the report notes. Wind farms that no longer have guaranteed revenues “may be unable to make sufficient returns to cover their high ongoing fixed costs”.
Under policies in place at the moment, “large amounts of existing low-carbon capacity reach the end of their [subsidy] support from around 2030 onwards and will close prematurely as they are unable to cover their costs or the cost of life-extensions or refurbishments”, it warns.

See also GWPF papers on the true cost of wind power

3) Everything you have been told about Atlantic hurricanes and global warming is wrong, old data reveals, 14 July 2021
Researchers affiliated with several institutions in the United States have determined that the increase in the number of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic over the past several years is not related to global warming. They suggest instead, in their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, that it is simply reflective of natural variable weather patterns.

Source: Gabriel A. Vecchi et al, Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century, Nature Communications (2021).

Over the past several decades, scientists studying satellite data have found that the number of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean has been increasing. Many in the field have suggested that this is due to the impact of global warming. A warming ocean, they note would naturally lead to more active atmospheric activity. The problem with such thinking, the researchers from this new effort note, is that satellite data only goes back to 1972. Prior to that date, data on hurricane frequency tended to come from eyewitness accounts, which left out many hurricanes that never touched land.

In this new study, the researchers went back to the old record books to learn more about the frequency of hurricanes prior to satellites.

The old-time data stretched as far back as 1851 and came courtesy of records kept by workers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The workers had collected the data from eyewitnesses across the eastern seaboard, along the Gulf of Mexico, islands in the Atlantic and fishermen venturing out to sea. The researchers then calculated the ratios of hurricanes that never came ashore in modern times to those that did, and worked backwards using modern data along with math techniques to estimate the number of hurricanes going back to 1860 that were never recorded. They then plotted those numbers on a timeline.

Researchers found no evidence on the timeline of larger than normal numbers of hurricanes forming over the past few decades—instead, it showed that the numbers were on par with prior spikes in the late 1940s and early 1880s. They also found no evidence indicating that modern hurricanes are any more powerful than those in the past.
More information: Gabriel A. Vecchi et al, Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century, Nature Communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24268-5

Full story

4) Bjorn Lomborg: The truth about extreme weather events
Bjorn Lomborg, 25 July 2021
Fewer and fewer people die from climate-related natural disasters. This is even true of 2021, despite breathless climate reporting.


Over the past hundred years, annual climate-related deaths have declined by more than 96%. In the 1920s, the death count from climate-related disasters was 485,000 on average every year. In the last full decade, 2010-2019, the average was 18,362 dead per year, or 96.2% lower.
In the first year of the new decade, 2020, the number of dead was even lower at 14,893 — 97% lower than the 1920s average.
You hear a lot about all the deadly climate catastrophes in 2021 — the US/Canada heat dome, the floodings in Germany and Belgium, or the US February winter storm. All of these deaths are included in the graph.

Also included are the 559 dead from India (incl a February glacial lake outburst in Uttarakhand killing 234 and a May hurricane killing 198) and more than a thousand others. Many of these you probably haven't heard about, possibly because they're not first-world, photogenic catastrophes.

2021 is not over so the actual graph shows the likely number of dead, based on the historical ratio of climate-related deaths in Jan-Jul to the full year. This gives a preliminary estimate of 2021 climate-related deaths at 5,569 or 98.9% lower than the 1920s.

This is clearly the opposite of what you hear, but that is because we're often just being told of one disaster after another – telling us how *many* events are happening. The number of reported events are increasing, but that is mainly due to better reporting, lower thresholds, and better accessibility (the CNN effect). For instance, for Denmark, the database only shows events starting from 1976.

Instead, look at the number of dead per year, which is much harder to fudge. Given that these numbers fluctuate enormously from year to year (especially in the past, with huge droughts and floods in China and elsewhere), they are here presented as averages of each decade (1920-29, 1930-39 etc.). The data is from the most respected global database, the International Disaster Database ( There is some uncertainty about complete reporting from the early decades, which is why this graph starts in 1920, and if anything this uncertainty means the graph *underestimates* the reduction in deaths.

We are not well-informed when the media doesn't actually give us an overview of the data, but instead, just inundates us with one catastrophic story after another without context.

Notice, this does *not* mean that there is no global warming or that possibly a climate signal could eventually lead to further deaths. Global warming is a real problem that we should fix smartly. But panic from bad media reporting does not help us being smart. This graph shows us that our increased wealth and increased adaptive capacity has vastly overshadowed any potential negative impact from climate when it comes to human climate vulnerability.

This is an update of my graph in my 2020 peer-reviewed article…/artic…/pii/S0040162520304157.

See also two recent GWPF reports:

** Ralph Alexander: Extreme Weather in 2020

** William M Briggs: The climate blame game: Are we really causing extreme weather?

5) Hans-Werner Sinn: Europe’s Green Unilateralism
Project Syndicate, 23 July 2021

The European Union’s unilateral climate strategy will transform Europe into a trade fortress, encourage green protectionism worldwide, and give other regions the opportunity to develop using cheaper energy. And without China, India, and the United States on board, few will want to emulate the EU’s role as a green guinea pig.

MUNICH – The European Union is one of the few signatories to the 2015 Paris climate agreement that initially committed to binding limits on its carbon dioxide emissions, having promised to reduce them by 40% (and now 55%) from 1990 levels by 2030. On July 14, the European Commission presented a comprehensive package of measures aimed at achieving massive reductions in EU firms’ and households’ CO2 emissions in the short term in order to meet the 55% target by 2030 and make the bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

Never before has the world seen a comparable effort to protect the environment. And rarely, except in wartime, have market economies been subjected to the sort of rigid central planning that the Commission now proposes.

The program envisages three different CO2 emissions-trading systems. The Commission plans to expand the existing scheme, which already applies to the energy and chemical sectors and parts of basic industry, to shipping. The EU will also create a new, separate trading system for buildings and road transport. Moreover, emissions certificates will no longer be allocated free of charge. Instead, the EU wants to sell them and use the proceeds to finance transfers to poorer sections of the population, while also sharply reducing the number of certificates each year.

In 2020, the EU introduced a so-called taxonomy for classifying investments according to their degree of “greenness,” with the aim of prompting the European Central Bank to implement differentiated credit operations that provide verifiably green firms with lower interest rates. The Commission is now proposing a total ban on the direct use of fossil fuels in car engines after 2035; cars must thereafter be powered by electricity stored in batteries or in hydrogen tanks. And EU air-traffic emissions will be frozen at 2020 levels.

Lastly, the Commission plans to introduce a carbon border adjustment mechanism to put a carbon price on imports of basic industrial materials into the EU. This is intended to prevent so-called carbon leakage, or the relocation of CO2 emissions to other countries outside the bloc.
Whether these breathtakingly bold measures will work is an open question. What is certain, however, is that by bringing European industry to its knees and robbing it of its competitiveness, they will have a massive negative effect on the region’s living standards.
The main force behind the Commission’s proposals is Frans Timmermans, its Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal, who is transforming Europe into a protectionist economic system controlled centrally from Brussels – and making many mistakes in the process.

For example, separate emissions-trading systems for different economic sectors, and control of the capital market via the investment-taxonomy regulation, will violate the law of one price, the normative bedrock of economics, which is indispensable for a cost-minimizing strategy of avoiding CO2 emissions.

Timmermans also overlooks the fact that oil, gas, and to some extent coal are internationally traded goods. The fuels that Europe no longer consumes will be sold on world markets to other countries happy to buy them at lower prices. The resulting carbon leakage will mean that, even if the EU formally fulfills its Paris agreement pledge, its transport-related emissions reductions will not benefit the global climate.

For a ban on petroleum use in cars to achieve any positive climate effects, the EU would have to store the unused fuel in well-protected tanks somewhere in its territory. But the bloc’s leaders are wisely remaining silent about this in order not to highlight the obvious absurdity of their unilateral approach.

Moreover, contrary to the Commission’s hopes, abolishing gasoline and diesel car engines and switching to electric vehicles (EVs) will make hardly any contribution to reducing global CO2 emissions. The EU currently still generates a significant proportion of its electricity from coal, and Germany, the EU’s largest and most industrialized economy, has committed to decommissioning its nuclear power plants in 2022. For the coming years, in many EU countries, the new EVs will therefore largely run on additional energy stemming from existing European coal plants, which have free capacity, while existing wind and solar energy plants produce at their maximum and cannot adjust.

Given that EVs will accelerate European coal mining in the short run, and combustion engines would have used fuels that are internationally tradable and therefore carbon-neutral, Europe’s ban on internal combustion engines may even result in more CO2 emissions in the coming years.

The main problem is that the EU is not coordinating its actions with other countries – not even through the Paris agreement. Roughly 70% of the nearly 200 signatories have not committed to quantitative CO2 emissions limits and quietly welcome the fact that a small minority of countries have pledged not to buy so much fuel from under their noses.

The Commission’s belief that its proposed border adjustment system can prevent or contain carbon leakage is unfounded, if not naive. Even if the EU could tax the CO2 content of all imports, it would have no way to prevent the tradable fuels that it no longer uses from being shipped to other parts of the world and burned there. The EU is focusing on the insignificant part of carbon leakage related to the carbon content of traded goods, and overlooking the direct leakage via the sale of the fuels themselves.

Like the sale of CO2 emissions certificates, the border-adjustment duty will finally provide the EU with its own source of income. But those who must pay the levies are unlikely to regard this as an advantage.

The EU’s ambitious unilateral climate strategy will transform Europe into a trade fortress, encourage green protectionism worldwide, and give other regions the opportunity to develop using cheaper energy. And without China, India, and the United States on board, other countries will be careful not to follow the EU in its self-appointed role as the world’s green guinea pig. If Europe is not careful, it will risk finding itself in a climate club of one.

Hans-Werner Sinn, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Munich, is a former president of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research and serves on the German economy ministry’s Advisory Council. He is the author, most recently, of The Euro Trap: On Bursting Bubbles, Budgets, and Beliefs.

6) Gautam Kalghatgi: Electrification of road freight using overhead cables
GWPF Energy, 22 July 2021
The government recently announced plans for the electrification of road freight, with installation of overhead cables on major roads in the UK. In this article, Gautam Kalghatgi, an engineer and a member of GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council, looks at some of the practicalities.

Putting overhead cables on just motorways and dual carriageways could cost around £58 billion (the basis of this figure is set out below). It will be practically impossible to install overhead cables on most of the rest of the 31,800 miles of the major road network. If the freight fleet is to be fully electric, lorries would therefore have to rely on on-board batteries in places where they cannot be charged by the overhead cable.

Electrifying the freight fleet would require a major expansion of electricity generation capacity. Assuming this comes from from wind power, 22 GW of new windfarms would be needed (assuming an improved capacity factor of 0.4) supported by sufficient storage capacity. Detailed calculations are set out below. This new capacity is likely to cost over £88 billion and there would be significant ongoing operating costs. For comparison, total wind capacity in 2019 in the UK was 24.1 GW.

Energy supply to the trucks would have to be guaranteed at all times. This will mean that electricity generation from natural gas has to be retained for when the wind was not blowing. The alternatives – battery storage or nuclear – are prohibitively expensive or are politically unacceptable.

The total capital cost could therefore be £130–150 billion, and there would be significant ongoing operating costs.
Honest life-cycle analysis is needed for all the alternative approaches. This should include greenhouse gas (GHG) contributions from the electricity used for running the lorries, manufacturing and the end- of -life disposal/recycling of batteries and installing the infrastructure.
Running long-haul transport on electricity alone will certainly not be a zero-GHG solution even with increasing decarbonisation of the electricity supply. If the battery capacity needed is large, even after some of the electricity is taken from overhead cables, such an approach could have minimal or even negative impact on GHG emissions compared to using advanced diesel engines.
Full post
7) John O'Sullivan: 'Climate Change' charlatanism means never having to say you're sorry
The Pipeline, 18 July 2021
Professor Ole Humlum is a former Professor of Physical Geography at the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway, and Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography, University of Oslo, Norway. He specializes in reporting and analyzing annual changes in the climate.
wrote about the professor’s work just over a year ago on this site. His report, published annually by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London, was moderately optimistic on climate changes in 2019, pointing out that some of them were for the better, some worse, but that overall there was no justification for the alarmist rhetoric of climate emergency.
For instance, as I then wrote,
"He points out  that new data on rising ocean temperatures raise interesting questions about the source of the heat. We can detect a great deal of heat rising from the bottom of the oceans. This obviously cannot be anything to do with human activity."

Since annual reports come out every year, his latest report on the world’s climate in 2020 has just been published. It covers the waterfront from Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation to Zonal Air Temperatures, and though most of it is addressed to technical specialists, it reaches some broad general conclusions that can be grasped by the layman. By and large these are a mix of moderate changes, long-term stability in main trends, and some trends getting worse but falling short of a climate emergency. Here, for instance, is his summing-up of changes in snow cover:
"Variations in global snow-cover extent are driven by changes in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of the major land masses are located. Southern Hemisphere snow-cover extent is essentially controlled by the Antarctic ice sheet, and is therefore relatively stable. Northern Hemisphere average snow cover has also been stable since the advent of satellite observations, although local and regional inter-annual variations may be large. Considering seasonal changes in the Northern Hemisphere since 1979, autumn extent has been slightly increasing, mid-winter extent has been largely stable, and spring extent has been slightly decreasing. In 2020, Northern Hemisphere seasonal snow cover was somewhat below that of the preceding years."

And here is his account of storms and hurricanes in 2020:
"The most recent data on numbers of global tropical storms and hurricane accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) are well within the range seen since 1970. In fact, the ACE data series displays a variable pattern over time, with a significant 3.6-year variation, but without any clear trend towards higher or lower values. A longer ACE series for the Atlantic Basin (since 1850), however, suggests a natural cycle of about 60 years' duration for tropical-storm and hurricane ACE. The number of hurricane landfalls in the continental United States remains within the normal range for the entire record since 1851." (My italics.)
Not easy reading, as you can see, but worthwhile because it records what actually happened to the climate in the last year. And that picture contrasts strongly with two things: the general impression of what happened to the climate given by the mainstream media, and the forecasts drawn from computer modelling in previous years of what would happen to the climate. Those two things generally reinforce each other almost as if the media reports those real climate events that reflect the media “narrative” and ignore or gloss over those that don’t. The truth rarely, if ever, catches up with the predictions in mainstream news reporting.

Time and again the dates for which catastrophe was confidently predicted have passed without grave occurrences, as I wrote a year ago. No apologies are offered, and no signs given that the forecasters will be reconsidering the theories on which their forecasts either were based or by which they will in future be supported.

To be sure, that's a problem not confined to climate science. There’s a general crisis of “replication” or “reproducibility” in science as scientists themselves have been debating in the last decade. [...]

The latest example of this is the media treatment of a new book, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters, by Steven Koonin, a physicist specializing in energy policy who served as an Under-Secretary for Energy for Science in the Obama administration. He doubts some of the claims allegedly accepted as valid by a “consensus" of scientists. Koonin has since come under fierce attack from those scientific reviewers who in turn doubt his own claims.
That’s well and good—it’s how science is supposed to operate until experiments settle the argument conclusively--for the moment. In the meantime Koonin must fight his corner as best he can—as apparently he intends to do.
Full post

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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