Sunday, August 8, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Boris Johnson & COP26 in deep trouble


Boris Johnson should move COP26 online if he wants to avoid a political fiasco

In this newsletter:

1) Boris Johnson should move COP26 online if he wants to avoid a political fiasco
Global Warming Policy Forum, 4 August 2021
2) COP26 summit ‘too big’ to happen in person, warns climate change negotiator
The Sun, 4 August 2012

3) Benny Peiser on COP26 problems, Net Zero trouble and Boris Johnson's climate crisis
TalkRadio, 4 August 2021

4) Tom Newton Dunn: Boris Johnson’s UN climate conference is already in deep water
London Evening Standard, 4 August 2021 
5) Nigel Lawson: Why Boris Johnson’s Net Zero green rush risks economic catastrophe
The Yorkshire Post, 4 August 2021
6) Esther McVey: British public will backlash against PM's Net Zero agenda
Daily Express, 4 August 2021
7) Emily Carver: If the public face of COP26 won’t buy an electric car, don’t expect the nation to be on board with Net Zero
Conservative Home, 4 August 2021
8) SOS: Spain urges EU to act on soaring energy prices
Financial Times, 4 August 2021

Full details:

1) Boris Johnson should move COP26 online if he wants to avoid a political fiasco
Global Warming Policy Forum, 4 August 2021

As hopes for a successful UN climate summit are waning by the day, calls for turning COP26 into an online or hybrid event due to Covid-19 are suddenly growing.

The GWPF has repeatedly called for the COP26 conference to be moved online. Earlier this year, in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson GWPF director Benny Peiser pointed out that President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate had demonstrated that a physical meeting was not necessary to get political leaders to make lofty climate pledges.
And since President Biden’s conference has already delivered an array of pledges from 40 national leaders, it is unlikely that Glasgow will achieve a great deal more.
Now, the former climate diplomate Christina Figueres has made a similar point, explaining that “over the past 18 months we have actually shifted our mindset and realised that much can be done without our physical presence.”

Figueres, the main architect of the Paris climate agreement, has called for the upcoming Cop26 summit in Glasgow to become a hybrid event, with some negotiations taking place online.
If Boris wants to avoid a COP flop, he should follow the advice by this seasoned climate diplomate. Pulling the plug on a physical event and blaming Covid for the ‘regrettable decision’ may be his best chance to avoid a humiliating fiasco in November.
2) COP26 summit ‘too big’ to happen in person, warns climate change negotiator
The Sun, 4 August 2012
A climate change negotiator has said the COP26 summit cannot happen in full and in person due to Covid.
Christina Figueres said it is unlikely 25,000 people could go as planned — but insisted world leaders must be there.
She added: “Over the past 18 months we have actually shifted our mindset and realised that much can be done without our physical presence.
“Somewhere that is only virtual I think is going to be extremely difficult.
“It will probably not be possible to have 25,000 people descend on Glasgow as was originally planned.
“And so the big question is going to be, what is the sweet spot in between that will allow for successful and efficient negotiations?”
COP26 President Designate Alok Sharma wants leaders in Glasgow in November to secure a deal to curb global warming at 1.5 degrees.
Ministers have offered vaccine stocks to developing countries to help more people attend.
But it emerged neither China nor India have submitted updated climate plans for the summit.

Full story
3) Benny Peiser on COP26 problems, Net Zero trouble and Boris Johnson's climate crisis
TalkRadio, 4 August 2021

Click on image to watch the full interview
4) Tom Newton Dunn: Boris Johnson’s conference on climate change is already in deep water
 London Evening Standard, 4 August 2021 
One afternoon in September 2019, an excited Boris Johnson ushered his most senior aides into his No10 study. He had just pulled off his first diplomatic coup since taking over as Prime Minister.

The United Nations had announced that Blighty had won the bid to host the 26th Conference of the Parties on climate change (COP26) in Glasgow.

Johnson, one aide who was present tells me, was fizzing with Johnsonian ambition. No longer would Glasgow simply be known as Scotland’s biggest city. It would enter humanity’s lexicon as the site where the world parked its differences and came together to avert its own destruction.

Where people say Paris and Kyoto, now they will also say Glasgow, the PM decreed. But it isn’t working out like that. COP26 opens on October 31 and is already in deep trouble. That in turn spells trouble for Johnson.
There are four reasons. First, there is still no international consensus on what should be agreed in Glasgow. That agreement was supposed to be the last act of three. If Kyoto in 1997 was about agreeing there is a problem, and Paris in 2015 was about setting a target to tackle it (limiting the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5C), Glasgow was to be about working out how to do that. The tricky bit, in other words.

Yet from deciding the date on which to close all coal-fired power stations to determining when petrol and diesel vehicles must be replaced, every attempt this year to pin something down has failed. The G7 summit in June, also hosted by Johnson, did not change matters. World leaders’ eyes are elsewhere as they battle their own Covid pandemics and spiralling deficits.

The second reason COP26 is in deep water is that a realisation is dawning that those global policies to halt climate change that have been agreed so far are going to fail. Tree planting to decarbonise the atmosphere is one.
Oxfam GB’s boss Danny Sriskandarajah told me this week that for the world to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, forests would need to be planted “five times the size of India”. “It’s just not realistic,” he said.

Third, Johnson is still unable to show a strong enough lead on these matters in Britain for the rest of the world to follow. His heat and buildings strategy to replace 25 million gas boilers, his hydrogen strategy and the plan to build an electric car-charging network are all many months late.

As the delay goes on, more unconvinced Tory MPs whip themselves into a lather about how much this will all cost consumers.

Fourth, most frighteningly of all, things are about to get even worse. On Monday, the world’s climate change scientists publish their first update in seven years on exactly how warm the Earth has already become, and all the omens are grim. Potentially very grim.The world is very likely to be a lot hotter than had previously been feared. Some predict the 1.5C limit is already out of reach 29 years early, and climate change irreversible. Time to panic? It could be.

I understand an intense debate is now raging within No10 on what to do about all this, and how high a bar should the PM set for COP26. There are two camps. Both admit sights have been lowered considerably since the heady days of September 2019.

COP26 President Alok Sharma’s camp want to say as little as possible before the summit in the hope of building a late consensus and declaring whatever can be agreed in Glasgow a success. A declaration to “keep 1.5 alive” might be enough, they say.
The more pugnacious camp, led by No10’s big beast advisers, the camp that Johnson currently sides with, insist that’s not enough. Glasgow won’t solve everything, they argue, but it could still be a crucial stepping stone to another COP in five years that might.

To get there, the PM needs to start shouting and heap some very public pressure on the big emitters in the slow lane. Five years ago, a COP26 that fails would have been an environmental disaster but not a political one. But times have changed, and so has the weather. The summer of 2021 was the moment climate change exploded right across the public consciousness.

The extreme weather it causes has sparked wild fires in Turkish tourist resorts, washed away roads in Germany and flooded basements in west London. Voters in Britain, as well as the world, now expect. Johnson has less than three months left to save it.
5) Nigel Lawson: Why Boris Johnson’s Net Zero green rush risks economic catastrophe
The Yorkshire Post, 4 August 2021
TODAY I wrote to the Prime Minister, setting out a stark warning about the astronomical costs and huge burden for households of his Net Zero plans.

 Net Zero – the idea that we should eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from our economy entirely – has the potential to bring about economic disaster.

Carrying on in this direction in the aftermath of the pandemic would be foolish in the extreme.

Recently, the press latched onto reports that it is going to cost most households as much as £20,000 to replace their gas boilers with electric heat pumps.

This seems to have made many Conservative MPs very nervous about the Net Zero policy, which they nodded through Parliament back in 2019.

It has also been reported that Conservative backbench MPs are in the process of forming a Parliamentary group to bring the Government’s plans some much needed scrutiny.

So the news last week that Boris Johnson has decided to kick the much-trailed ban on gas boilers into the long grass is a welcome development and an important reversal.

He would be wise to reconsider other expensive Net Zero plans too. Although the Government says that decarbonising the economy could cost £50,000 per household, that figure is probably not even half of the true bill to be paid.

Analysis by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the think-tank I founded in 2009, shows that you would probably need close to £50,000 per household just to decarbonise UK 
homes, once you had taken into account the increased electricity bills, the upgrades to the electricity grid and insulation works.

The other sectors of the economy – commercial and public property, transport, industry, commerce and agriculture – would each need UK householders to cough up tens of thousands of pounds more, either through direct payments, taxation or higher prices in the shops.

If Boris really is going to take a step back from this extraordinary plan, we should breathe a sigh of relief. A bill running to over £100,000 per household is simply unaffordable and politically suicidal.

How did the Government get it so wrong on the costs?

Its advice came initially from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), but the controversy over the cost of heat pumps shows that their figures seem to lack any basis in reality.

Worryingly, it looks very much as if their estimates for decarbonising other parts of the economy are just as bad.

They appear to use electricity cost figures prepared by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), but these also appear to bear little resemblance to the real world.

For example, they assume that the cost of building an offshore wind farm is around half of what wind farms’ financial accounts say it is.

As Steve Baker MP has pointed out, there is a desperate need for Ministers to find more balanced sources of expertise: people who will challenge the official advice, whether from civil servants or bodies like the CCC.

Good policymaking needs people who will shake the policy tree, and guide the Government towards practical and realistic policies, which the man in the street can afford and will support.

Until this is done, the Government will continue to be pushed around by their advisers, and will continue to inflict painful – and ultimately futile – policies on the general public.

And in the realms of Net Zero policy, each time they do so, they will ultimately be forced to reverse course once the real costs hit home and public anger results.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are a variety of policies that could please both those, like Boris and his wife, who are concerned about climate change, and those, like me, who are not.

As we at GWPF have pointed out, if the Government were to accelerate the small modular nuclear programme, we could have similar levels of decarbonisation to what has been achieved with renewables, but at a fraction of the cost and without the looming threats of blackouts and rationing.

Better still, so-called Allam-cycle turbines, of the kind planned for Teesside, might deliver carbon-free electricity at competitive prices.

Wouldn’t it be better to wait for these cost-effective alternatives to break through rather than blindly building wind farms, which we know can’t do the job?

There is a better future, but delivering it needs Ministers to receive sound and balanced advice, and a pause in the blind rush into an economic and political Net Zero fiasco.

Lord Lawson of Blaby was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1983-89. He is a Tory peer.
6) Esther McVey: British public will backlash against PM's Net Zero agenda
Daily Express, 4 August 2021
There will be a public backlash. "Go green, go bankrupt" is not an election-winning slogan.
One Step Greener, the new government campaign to help us on our way to hit our net zero target, was announced last week by Allegra Stratton, the Prime Minister's spokesperson on these issues.

We were told we shouldn't rinse our dishes before we put them in the dishwasher and we should put leftover bread in the freezer to stop it going mouldy. Who knew - put your bread in the freezer and we can save the planet? Is this for real? I suppose we should be thankful they aren't yet telling us we shouldn't have freezers at all as they use electricity, given that most of this agenda seems to be about lecturing us to stop doing anything we might want to do.

Anyway, I have some bad news for you - saving money by freezing bread isn't going to be enough to pay for the cost of going net zero by 2050. Isn't it striking how those wanting us to get to net zero sooner and sooner are never upfront about how much it is all going to cost and who is going to pay for it?

Well, brace yourself, the cost is predicted to be around £1trillion, and that will need to be paid for by you, me and every other consumer and taxpayer.

We will have to pay higher energy bills and replace our gas boilers with an air source heat pump (average cost circa £11k, with no annual saving as it'll cost on average £65 more per year).

Then you will need to get an electric car (which cost approximately £5k more than an equivalent petrol-powered vehicle - with an annual saving of £500 per year it will take at least 10 years to recoup that money).

Solar panels will set you back approximately £6k, with an average annual saving of £120, so that will take about 50 years to get your money back. And what with higher costs for aeroplane travel the costs will be racking up fast.

I confess I'm a bit of a greenie. I believing in preserving and conserving (I am a Conservative, after all) and I had solar panels and a rain harvester in 2006 when most people - even in the Green Party - were just talking about them. But that was my choice and it was something that made sense for the property I was renovating at the time. It was not done to meet an entirely arbitrary date for work that didn't need doing, with an astronomical price tag attached that I couldn't afford.

I want to see our country lead the world in green technology, creating jobs and a cleaner future, but we have to transition to this new way of living in a practical, timely and affordable way.

Britain is responsible for less than one percent of global carbon emissions.

Bankrupting ourselves in a rush to get that to zero while countries such as China (30 percent of global emissions) continue to build airports and coal-fired power stations is not being green and saving the planet, it is being futile and stupid.

All this will do is put people off going green. There will be a public backlash. "Go green, go bankrupt" is not an election-winning slogan.
7) Emily Carver: If the public face of COP26 won’t buy an electric car, don’t expect the nation to be on board with Net Zero
Conservative Home, 4 August 2021

The Government’s Net Zero strategy is unravelling from the inside out.
Last week, it was reported that the Prime Minister – who seems increasingly to be governing by U-turn – may push back the ban on gas boilers, due to growing backlash over the cost of reducing our emissions.

This week, Number 10’s climate change spokesperson Allegra Stratton said she didn’t “fancy” buying an electric car, and would continue driving her diesel, only days after having called on the public to go “One Step Greener” by, among other “micro-steps”, walking to the shops instead of driving.

This is just a snapshot of the inconsistency of the Government’s green messaging. Why should a household invest in green technology, only for the policy to be reversed or delayed? Who would bother scrapping their diesel or petrol vehicle, when the public face of COP26 has decided herself not to go electric?

Of course, when polled, the majority of the public support addressing climate change. Who wouldn’t want a greener, more sustainable planet? However, as is the case with so many policies, it is far easier to support a rosy abstract goal than it is to face its real-life consequences.

The green agenda is no doubt important – not least for our own quality of life – but, as many have warned, arbitrary targets set by ministers lead to poor – and often frenzied – policies. Fundamentally, the plans rely on the false assumption that ministers and bureaucrats are best placed to pick winners when it comes to technology and the future of energy. Successive governments have shown this manifestly not to be the case.

Further, the idea that we must reach “Net Zero” is in itself a misguided aim, lending itself to an “at all costs” strategy, much like those who back a “Zero-Covid” strategy. This is what has led to an over-reliance on heavy-handed prohibitions – such as the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars – rather than the use of price incentives.

For politicians, there is little in the way of accountability. Setting a target for three decades in the future is illusory, lending itself to virtue-signalling and ill-thought-out measures. Fundamentally, it overestimates the Government’s ability to plan ahead.
Who could possibly believe that officials would be able to predict the state of the energy sector in three decades? It would be far preferable for the Government to set a price for carbon, adopt a technology-neutral approach, and allow technologies to compete.

It is concerning that ministers continue to use the language of “crisis” and “emergency” when discussing climate change. As we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic, this kind of rhetoric has been deployed when justifying government by decree, lockdown measures and prohibitions. Could it be that the same could be used on the basis that we face a climate emergency? Perhaps the lunatic idea that we might lockdown to protect the planet isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.

However, as the costs of Net Zero become more widely known, it is likely that those who have up till now acquiesced with the Government’s plans will begin to make their voices heard – particularly at a time when inflation and tax hikes are on the horizon. Even the broadcast media, which has been overwhelmingly supportive of Net Zero, is beginning to raise questions about – and publicise – the cost of the Government’s proposals.

This month, the Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated the total cost of reaching Net Zero by 2050 could reach £1.4 trillion. Lord Lawson has predicted the true cost could be twice this. The Government’s infrastructure adviser has said that families will have to pay up to £400 more a year for food, gods and travel to allow polluting industries to capture their carbon emissions. It is likely that this will also be an underestimation.

It is often argued that despite the fact Britain accounts for a tiny proportion of the world’s carbon emissions we must set an example for other countries to follow. Sure, this may be admirable – and we should do so to some extent – but when China and India are industrialising at the rate of knots, expanding their coalmine capacity year on year, it becomes harder to defend the Government’s arbitrary targets. If the aim is to drive down global temperatures, our efforts will appear to an increasing number of people as little more than an act of economic self-harm.

It has been argued that the Government should be honest about the costs of Net Zero and the impact it will have on our lives. As the media catches on, politicians and the green lobby can no longer shield the truth from the public. People are unlikely to take kindly to a dramatic, government-imposed reduction in their living standards and hikes to their cost of living. Any Net Zero policy that doesn’t command the support of the public is doomed to failure.

8) SOS: Spain urges EU to act on soaring energy prices
Financial Times, 4 August 2021
Spain has called on the EU to back measures to limit surging electricity prices as controversy deepens over the cost to ordinary citizens of the bloc’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Teresa Ribera, Spain’s deputy prime minister for the environment, suggested that high prices and charges could provoke a backlash against carbon-cutting initiatives, with Spain in the “eye of the hurricane”. 

As prices in Spain and across the continent hit record highs, she called on the EU to take measures to provide a price ceiling for electricity rather than have rates determined by the highest prices national grids are willing to pay.

At present, these so-called marginal costs reflect the price of natural gas and carbon emissions trading schemes rather than cheaper renewable energy.

“We need to revise the workings of a market with rules drawn up when the difference between technologies was not so great,” Ribera said. “I need a price that covers costs but is reasonable for the consumer [but] the [European] Commission considers this is not compatible with a market with a lot of internal competition, in which the fundamental rule with regard to price is the marginal cost of the last megawatt.” 

She added that the EU rules on pricing appeared to better suit countries such as Germany and Poland, which need investment to phase out their large coal industries. 

As well as pushing for the bloc to devise a new pricing mechanism, Spain wants the EU to use existing legislation to restrain or push down soaring carbon trading prices.

At present, Spain’s electricity prices — which this week reached a wholesale rate of more than €100 for a megawatt hour — are one of the hottest political topics in the country, with opposition politicians calling on the government to do much more to rein them in. 

“After ending July with the highest electricity price in history, we are beginning August with the third record high,” Pablo Casado, leader of the main opposition People’s party, wrote in a tweet this week. “[The government] promised not to increase energy prices . . . Gold medal for lying.”

Energy prices have soared across Europe this year — for example, rising wholesale costs are expected to lead the UK to increase the annual amount at which household bills are capped by about £150. But Spain, which depends on foreign sources for almost three-quarters of its energy mix, is particularly exposed because of its reliance on liquefied natural gas, for which it has to compete with increasing demand in Asia. Meanwhile, carbon prices are also at a record high.

Spain’s Socialist-led government, which has already temporarily cut VAT on energy in an attempt to limit the impact of price rises, this week backed draft legislation to take hundreds of millions of euros of windfall profits from hydroelectric and nuclear generators that have benefited from the high carbon and electricity prices. The government says that, by investing the recouped funds in the energy network, it will reduce prices for consumers. 

Ribera added that Spain was at the mercy of rising prices because of insufficient energy interconnections with France and the rest of the continent.

“In the case of Spain and Portugal, we can’t dilute these effects in a broader market, as happens in central Europe, because of the limitations of the interconnections; we are an energy island,” she said. “We are in the eye of the hurricane in the most turbulent years of this transformation [to cleaner energy].”

The commission defended the EU’s current pricing system as “healthy competition to create a level playing field for renewables, demand response and storage”. It added that “we increasingly see in the EU that renewables are setting the price and replacing fossil-fuelled power generation”. A spokesperson described the previous system of regulator-set prices as “expensive, inefficient and dominated by a few large companies which controlled the sector”.

But Ribera also emphasised Spain’s concerns that commission proposals to broaden emissions trading to transport and homes could prove politically unsustainable, because of the impact on the working and middle classes.

“Let’s not fool ourselves,” she said. “We want a lot of investment, we want profitability for investors, but we need to pay attention so that this does not end up working against the process of transformation because of consumers paying the price in an indiscriminate way.”

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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