Europe faces an energy shock after gas and power prices rocket
In this newsletter:
3) Europe faces an energy shock after gas and power prices rocket
Bloomberg, 5 August 2021
Daily Mail, 5 August 2021
NoTricks Zone, 3 August 2021
8) Stephen Glover: Boris Johnson's green guru Allegra Stratton and the hypocrisy of her sermons about our dishwashers
Daily Mail, 5 August 2021
The Daily Telegraph, 5 August 2021
AFP, 3 August 2021
China's top climate negotiator warns that "some countries are pushing to rewrite the Paris Agreement."
China's climate envoy on Tuesday said the world's most populous nation would release its updated plans to reduce carbon emissions "in the near future" as nations prepare to meet later this year for a pivotal global conference.
Climate negotiators from 196 countries and the European Union as well as businesses, experts and world leaders will gather in Glasgow in November for the COP26 summit.
The meeting is the crucial next step in getting the world's nations to agree to the kind of reduction in carbon emissions needed to stave off catastrophic climate change.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries are meant to have submitted updated 2030 climate targets ahead of COP26.
But nearly half have yet to do so, including key global emitters like China and India.
On Tuesday, China's top climate negotiator said Beijing's updated plans would soon be released, potentially before the Glasgow meet.
"In the near future relevant policy papers will be out there, there will be detailed implementation plans," Xie Zhenhua told an online webinar organised by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
"Then we're going to talk about that support to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow," he added, according to a simultaneous English translation of his speech.
The United Nations is pushing for a global coalition committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 which will cover all countries. China has said it will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060.
The 2015 Paris Agreement adopted a collective promise to cap the planet's rising surface temperature at "well below" two degrees Celsius and an aspirational limit on 1.5 degrees.
Many scientists now say 1.5 degrees must be reached to effectively tackle climate change and say huge emitters like China will be crucial in making that a reality.
Record-smashing heatwaves, floods and drought across three continents in recent weeks -- all amplified by global warming -- have added pressure for decisive action in Glasgow.
China is reluctant to commit to 1.5 degrees.
"Some countries are pushing to rewrite the Paris Agreement," Xie said. "That is, they want to strive to change the target of control for the rise of temperature from two degrees Celsius to 1.5 degrees Celsius."
"We have to understand the different situations in different countries, and strive to reach a consensus," he added.
China argues that industrialised nations, especially in the West, were able to get wealthy before carbon reduction controls came in and that it and other developing economies should not be expected to make as heavy reductions.
Critics of that view say the world cannot afford for huge populous nations like China and India to be slow on reducing their own carbon footprints.
"While China has pledged carbon neutrality in mid-century, which is great, it has not so far announced plans to do enough in the 2020s in my judgment," Todd Stern, President Barack Obama's former climate negotiator, who has often sat opposite Xie at summits, told the same webinar.
2) India pushes back on calls to set Net Zero target ahead of COP26
S&P Global Platts, 3 August 2021
India is under diplomatic pressure to commit to a net-zero climate target ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) meeting in Glasgow in November, but the country has pushed back on tougher targets and asserted the developing world's right to economic growth.
Its refusal to set a net-zero target is at odds with other major Asian economies. In October 2020, China committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, shortly after Japan's 2050 pledge. Now Indonesia is targeting for 2060.
With India the world's third largest emitter of CO2 behind China and the US, its administration was expected to make a strong, positive statement at the July 22-23 G20 summit in Naples.
This it did -- restating its determination to stick to existing commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement -- while highlighting the disparity between developed countries' emissions and those of emerging economies.
"We should not be shifting goalposts and setting new benchmarks for global climate ambition," Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav said July 23 following the summit.
Instead, developed countries should be doing more to ensure the developing world had the "carbon space" to grow.
"Keeping in view of the legitimate need of the developing countries to grow, we urge the G20 countries to commit to bringing down per capita emission to global average by 2030," a ministry statement said.
India has a strong case to argue when it comes to per capita emissions. According to S&P Global Platts Atlas of Energy Transition, India's per capita CO2 emissions was 1.66 mt in 2019, compared with 15.55 mt for the US, 16.56 mt in Australia and 8.11 mt in Germany.
A diplomatic faceoff is clearly brewing, with the G20's official Naples communique unable to agree much more than "to update or communicate ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by COP26."
Delivering on NDCs
Under its existing NDCs, India has committed to 40% installed generation capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030 and to reduce emissions intensity by 33%-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels.
India is on track to achieve this with renewable energy capacity, including hydropower, standing at 143.28 GW, or 37% of India's total installed capacity of 384.12 GW.
Further, India has already achieved carbon emission reductions of 28% on 2005 levels, according to the Power Ministry.
A voluntary 2030 target of 450 GW of renewable capacity, meanwhile, is seen as a stretch but one that could be met with the help of large industrial sector investments by parties seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Other recent steps include a vehicle scrappage policy to promote fuel efficient vehicles, electric vehicle subsidies, incentives for renewable component manufacturing and for solar rooftop installations.
A hydrogen policy placing a purchase obligation on consuming sectors is awaited.
India's climate policy was "development centric," according to Kaushik Bandyopadhyay, chairperson, Centre for Business Sustainability at Indian Institute of Management in Lucknow.
"Mitigation and adaptation actions are not only intended to serve the cause of emission reduction, but also to provide development co-benefits," he said.
What is missing is an emissions reduction policy, one that builds political consensus despite regional differences, according to another policy expert.
"The government would have to identify the big polluters and mandate them to reduce emissions ... it would need deadlines and milestones," said G Chandrashekhar, a policy commentator and commodities columnist. "This is going to be a tough call -- it needs enormous political will to achieve it."
A formal carbon market would help send a consistent price signal to polluters, but talks are yet to produce any material proposal.
Meanwhile, India continues to push for developed countries to follow up on a pledge to provide $100 billion/year for developing economies to help in decarbonization efforts through to 2025. That commitment was "reaffirmed" in the Naples communique.
"It is the big elephant in the room," said Aarti Khosla, director, Climate Trends. "I am not sure if a serious finance package will be delivered. Any outcomes here might only be symbolic than real."
Coal-fired emissions growth
About 70% of India's energy needs are met by the combustion of coal. This share may fall in future but the fossil fuel is set to remain the dominant source of power demand growth, and this would rise by 4.4% from 2020 through to 2030, according to Roman Kramarchuk, S&P Global Platts Analytics head of Future Energy Analytics.
"Our Platts Analytics Global Integrated Energy Model estimates that India is accounting for 7% of total global energy combustion CO2 emissions in 2021 and we project that, under a most likely scenario, emissions will grow faster than the rest of the world," Kramarchuk said.
"India's most likely case: emissions in 2040 would account for 15% of our estimated 2 Degrees global 2040 combustion CO2 emissions," he said.
3) Europe faces an energy shock after gas and power prices rocket
Bloomberg, 5 August 2021
Higher energy costs are a headache for politicians less than 100 days before world leaders meet in Scotland to nail down a pathway to net zero. Governments fear a backlash as higher utility bills increase voter resistance to the paying for the energy transition.
After lockdowns forced Basel Hamzeh to close his cafe in a trendy Berlin neighborhood for months, the 53-year-old is confronting a fresh crisis: high energy bills.
The cost of natural gas and electricity has surged across Europe, reaching records in some countries, as businesses re-open and workers return to the office.
In Germany, wholesale power prices have risen more than 60% this year, leaving the owner of the Frau Honig cafe in Friedrichshain with no option but to raise prices of everything from cappuccinos to cinnamon rolls.
“The higher power prices were a double whammy after our cafe was forced to close for such a long time, doing only takeaway during the pandemic,” he said. “We just had to pass on the costs to customers.”
Energy prices are rising around the world as the global economy emerges from the pandemic, fueling concerns about inflation. In Europe, plans to decarbonize the economy are also playing a part as utilities pay near-record prices to buy the carbon permits they need to keep producing power from fossil fuels.
Add to that shortages of natural gas and the result is super-charged electricity prices, a bill consumers will eventually have to foot. Spain was already forced to cut energy taxes as power prices rose to a record, and the U.K. is expected to allow utilities to increase bills a second time this year, a move that will be announced Friday and affects 15 million people.
Higher costs are a headache for politicians less than 100 days before world leaders meet in Scotland to nail down a pathway to net zero. Governments fear a backlash as higher utility bills increase voter resistance to the paying for the energy transition. Swiss voters rejected this year an ambitious climate law that would raise taxes on things like flying and driving.
“Are we going to see yellow vests in the streets, are we going to see a repeat of the Swiss referendum?” said Thierry Bros, an energy professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. “You are not going to get re-elected if you are putting so many people into energy poverty. That’s going to be a wake up call for governments.”
High energy costs are set to persist. Russia is flowing less gas to Europe and Asia is scooping up cargoes of liquefied natural gas, making it harder to refill depleted storage sites after a bitter winter. Benchmark European gas prices have already hit a record and all of that is fueling power prices and boosting earnings for utilities including Germany’s RWE AG and France’s Engie SA.
A hike in utility bills -- frequently the biggest fixed cost after rent -- could push many small businesses over the edge. The U.K. hospitality sector lost at least 80 billion pounds ($111 billion) due to lockdowns, forcing the government to step in. A significant rise in energy costs “would be devastating,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer of industry group UKHospitality.
“Survival and revival is already on a knife edge for many hospitality businesses,” she said. “Should utility bills increase by the sort of figures being forecast, further specific reliefs or measures could become necessary.”
Inflation has been creeping up in Europe as economies rebound and commodity prices rise. Costs for consumers in the Eurozone rose 2.2% in July, the highest rate since October 2018.
While Europe has the most ambitious de-carbonisation plans in the world, unveiling proposals last month to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, some countries have started to balk at parts of the agenda.
France is lobbying behind the scenes to water down or delay the new proposed carbon market for heating and road transport. Several countries, including the Netherlands and Hungary, are also concerned about its social impact, according to European Union diplomats with knowledge of the talks.
In the U.K., there are questions about the cost of meeting net zero. It’s still unclear how the government intends to deliver on the targets, including convincing 600,000 people a year to rip out their gas boilers and replace them with expensive heat pumps.
“It’s basically our generation that’s bearing the cost of the energy transition,” said Jonathan Stern, a research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. “How will that feel come mid-decade if they are told we aren’t going to meet the goals of the Paris agreement let alone net zero? How will that change their views?”
For now, Spain is feeling the biggest impact. Without sufficient interconnection to France, electricity prices have surged above 100 euros a megawatt-hour, more than double the rates at this time in 2019, before the pandemic hit demand. That’s a sensitive topic for the Socialist-led government, which campaigned on lowering energy costs.
“It’s a heavy hit for the government,” said Javier Tobias Gonzalez, an architect who works on energy poverty at ECODES, a Spanish organization focused on sustainable development. “Before they were elected, they were quite critical of the government at the time regarding energy poverty.”
In the U.K. energy regulator Ofgem is expected to allow utilities to increase prices by 125 pounds when it announces the decision Friday, Morgan Stanley analysts estimate. The more than 10% increase would be the biggest ever to the price cap, introduced in 2019 to protect British households on default tariffs....
Daily Mail, 5 August 2021
Boris Johnson last night offered Nicola Sturgeon a 'huge' role at an upcoming global climate conference - after snubbing her offer of face-to-face talks during his visit to Scotland.
The Prime Minister said he wanted the Scottish First Minister and her Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts to be involved in Cop26, which takes place in Glasgow in November.
His offer comes amid a stand-off between Westminster and Edinburgh after he dismissed an offer of talks about Covid rebuilding during his current visit to Scotland.
Mr Johnson turned down an offer to meet Ms Sturgeon at her Bute House residence in Edinburgh before undertaking an engagement just 30 miles away.
Both sides denied the move was a snub, but the First Minister branded his decision 'odd'.
The offer of a Cop26 role may also raise some Tory eyebrows. At the party's conference in 2019, Mr Johnson told an event that he did not want the Scottish leader involved, saying: 'I don't mind seeing a Saltire or two but I want to see the Union flag and I don't want to see Nicola Sturgeon anywhere near it.'
However last night he told the BBC: 'It's a huge undertaking by the whole of the UK.
'I hope very much that the First Minister, along with all her colleagues around the UK, at whatever level in government, will evangelise, will exhort everybody she represents to do the needful.'
5) Tory rebels vow to fight 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars
The Sun, 5 August 2021
The Fair Fuel all-party parliamentary group today calls on ministers to publish a full-cost analysis of what it will mean for the economy to go electric, and how they will slash emissions.
They also demand a new road user advisory group, an air quality watchdog, and for the Government to look into how fuel catalysts can cut pollution from existing cars.
Group chair Craig MacKinlay said: “Sooner or later the public will rebel against this madness.
“Better to have the rational debate now before we fully embark on a failing and expensive experiment.”
Howard Cox, of FairFuel UK, added: “All common sense has been thrown out and cluelessly replaced by a set of virtue-signalling policies.
“Motorists did not vote for the Green Party in 2019 but that is what we have got.”
In a survey of more than 50,000 road users, seven in ten called for ministers to U-turn on the car ban.
Four in five said Brits were not properly consulted, and four in ten petrol and diesel drivers would be less likely to vote Tory over the plans.
6) Benny Peiser: How YOU are going to pay for Boris’s Net Zero dream
Daily Express, 5 August 2021
Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda is in big trouble. Ministers plan to force consumers to subsidise the installation of charging stations for wealthy owners of electric vehicles by raising electricity bills.
In recent weeks, ministers and officials have announced that households will have to fund many of the Government’s costly Net Zero plans via their energy bills.
Currently, consumers are funding renewable energy investors to the tune of £12 billion per year, money taken from energy bills. But on top of this huge and rising cost, the Government now plans to add a whole catalogue of additional Net Zero subsidies.
Companies building public charging points for electric car owners would no longer have to cover the costs of connecting them to the grid. Instead, ordinary families would have to fund this through their energy bills.
EVs, which are typically £10,000 more expensive than their petrol equivalents, are mostly bought by wealthy families as second or third cars, while electricity bills are paid by everyone.
While having to fund this Net Zero infrastructure, electric cars are far too expensive for millions of households and ordinary families.
A third of UK motorists cannot afford even the cheapest electric car, economists at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have warned. That means that 10 million households can’t afford switching their petrol and diesel cars for electric ones.
Last year, the transport department spent £61m in grants to wealthy buyers of Tesla cars after the company launched its £40,000 Model 3. Since 2011 the taxpayers have handed out £1.1bn to subsidise well-off buyers of green cars, paying buyers up to £2,500 of the purchase price of electric cars.
European car manufacturers have questioned whether they can produce electric cars without making them much more expensive than conventional cars.
There are a number of reasons why EVs will remain more expensive than petrol cars – batteries are very costly and need to be renewed, the time wasted at charging points, the need to find alternative transport when their range is inadequate. That’s only going to get worse as electricity prices soar in future.
The Global Warming Policy Forum has estimated that the Government’s Net Zero plan to decarbonise private transport could cost UK motorists up to £700 billion if they want to stay on the roads.
The working classes face the prospect of being driven off the roads.
This represents a major ethical problem for Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda and his Conservative government:
Like so many aspects of the Net Zero project, subsidising EV charging points means the transfer of hundreds of millions of pounds from the poor to the rich.
It is fairly certain that most households would be unable to keep their heads above water as this torrent of additional Net Zero costs overwhelms their domestic budgets. Neither Boris Johnson nor his government would survive this unwise and unjust imposition on the British people.
NoTricks Zone, 3 August 2021
Power grid expert Herbert Saurugg warns at RiskNet that European authorities continue to ignore danger signals even after another grid disruption occurred in the afternoon of July 24th and left around 2 million people in France, Spain and Portugal briefly without electricity.
It was the second major disruption in the last 7 months.
The root of the problem on July 24th appears to be a firefighting aircraft unloading its cargo directly above an extra-high voltage line, causing a short circuit, during a wildfire.
“This apparently triggered resonance effects, which one minute later led to an overload of the coupling points and to the disconnection of the grid between France and the Iberian Peninsula,” reports Saurugg here.
“The Iberian Peninsula was short of energy from around three large power plants, which could not be compensated for in the short term by other power plants. As a result, automated load shedding was triggered, leaving around 2 million people in France, Spain and Portugal without power for up to an hour.”
Swift action in the nick of time kept the blackout from spreading even further. Numerous services like commerce and IT still got disrupted.
Blackouts and power disruptions can occur, but this is already the second time in less than a year an international “grid disconnection” occurred in Europe.
This should be viewed as a clear wake-up call, the power grid expert warns.
Saurugg says “signs and warnings have been ignored for years” by Europe and that weather disasters and catastrophes would makes these disasters completely unmanageable in the event of a power grid failure. Entire logistics and supply chains could “fail chaotically across Europe” and even take weeks to restore.
“It is precisely these effects that are massively underestimated,” says Saurugg. “At the same time, we know that around two thirds of the population will be unable to supply themselves adequately after one week at the latest. But the broad-based restart of the supply of vital goods and services (food, medicines, health, etc.) will take much longer.”
Saurugg adds another warning: “A discussion, as is currently the case after the recent severe storms, about who is to blame or who did not warn sufficiently, will then be irrelevant. Therefore, we should not wait any longer, but finally deal seriously with the topic of blackout prevention.”
Daily Mail, 5 August 2021
Show me a climate change zealot and I can often show you a climate change hypocrite.
Step forward Allegra Stratton, Boris Johnson's spokesperson for the UN COP26 climate change summit being held in Glasgow this autumn.
Actually, Ms Stratton is much more than your average official spokesperson. Over the past couple of weeks she has been putting herself about as though she is responsible for Government climate policy before and during the summit.
This is reported to have 'p****d off' the Cabinet minister who is meant to be in charge of the whole rattling train, Alok Sharma. One can see his point.
In the course of one of the several interviews she has recently given, Ms Stratton suggested last week that we would all do our bit for the planet — by way of reducing global warming — if we stopped rinsing plates before putting them into the dishwasher.
To be fair, she wasn't suggesting that not rinsing plates would of itself make an enormous difference. It was one of several 'microsteps' she proposed. Another was freezing uneaten bread.
If Ms Stratton wants to risk clogging up her dishwasher by piling plates into it that are encrusted with lasagne, that's her business. But I do wish she would keep her nose out of our affairs, and stop telling us what to do in our own kitchens.
No less annoying and astonishing was her suggestion that people who care about saving the planet should join the Green Party. I thought she was supposed to be working for a Conservative Prime Minister!
But then she is a friend of the PM's wife, Carrie Johnson, who is said to be something of a climate change zealot herself. Come to think of it, Boris sounds increasingly that way inclined.
Nor should one forget that Ms Stratton cut her journalistic teeth at The Guardian before moving to that newspaper's acknowledged finishing school, BBC2's Newsnight.
She is, in fact, a recent and possibly not wholly sincere convert to the Tory cause. So we shouldn't be too surprised that this bossy lady likes to lecture us about not rinsing our plates while championing the Green Party.
Yet another thunderbolt was released by Allegra at the end of last week during an interview on BBC Radio 4. She opined that the Prime Minister's target date of 2050 for cutting carbon emissions to net zero is 'too far away' to halt climate change in the short term.
But then, a few days ago, something extraordinary happened. Having sounded in her various pronouncements much like the Swedish environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, the Prime Minister's official climate spokesperson suddenly turned into Nigel Farage.
In yet another interview, Ms Stratton revealed that she had no intention of giving up her ageing 'third-hand' diesel Volkswagen Golf, which she has owned for eight years, in favour of an electric car.
She said: 'I don't fancy [an electric car] just yet.' Her Volkswagen can happily cope with trips of 200 or 250 miles to 'go to granny's and grandad's', whereas electric cars have a limited range and can take a long time to recharge.
When confronted with the realities of her own life, the woman who delivers sermons about not rinsing plates clings to her ancient, smoky diesel which, as well as emitting greenhouse gases, contributes to London's terrible air pollution by spewing out dangerous particulates.
That's why I say show me a climate change zealot and I can often show you a hypocrite. How easy to tell other people how to behave while disregarding the implications of such advice on their lives. How hard to obey the same recommendations when they are inconvenient to oneself.
Allegra Stratton deserves to be rebuked. She is practising the opposite of what she preaches on the airwaves from morn to dusk. Nor does she display a smidgeon of embarrassment or self-awareness.
And yet, when we have marvelled at her inconsistency, and wondered how it is possible for such people to thrive in the political sphere, we have to admit that she is right.
Right to imply that, as things stand, electric cars are for most people impractical, as well as too expensive. A recent study by the consumer magazine Which? found that they are more costly than petrol cars over a three-year period.
One day electric cars will probably become less pricey, and have a longer range than they do now. It just hasn't happened yet, as Allegra Stratton has discovered.
Whether it will happen by 2030 — when the Government intends to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles — is unknowable. That's only a little over eight years away.
Can we reasonably expect people, especially poor people, to buy electric cars in the meantime if doing so is impractical and puts further pressure on tight family budgets?
The Prime Minister's very well-off spokesperson for the UN COP26 climate change summit and self-appointed Green guru is not yet prepared to do it. Why should they?
A similar point can be made about gas boilers, where the costs of following the Government's prescriptions are even more painful. Boris Johnson has decreed that the installation of new gas boilers will be outlawed from 2035.
Hydrogen boilers, one possible eco-friendly substitute, are not yet available. Other alternatives include ground source or air source heat pumps, which cost at least £14,000 and £11,000 respectively.
Unless they become cheaper in the foreseeable future, they will be beyond the means of most families. No wonder Mr Johnson is reportedly considering delaying a ban on new gas boiler installations by five years to 2040.
I believe almost everyone accepts the reality of climate change, though there is room for discussion about whether all of it is attributable to man-made emissions. The evidence of rising temperatures and more frequent flooding is overwhelming.
But most people don't want to be panicked into an instant and expensive upheaval in their lives by a Government that hasn't properly considered the consequences.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, meeting the 2050 net zero target could cost the UK economy more than £1.4 trillion — equal to £50,000 per household — though nearly three-quarters might be offset by energy savings. That would still leave an immense bill of £400 billion.
Has the Government done its sums and weighed up the risks? Or is it too hastily making commitments which, if adopted under the current demanding timetable, could lead to economic hardship for millions?
Some are bound to ask whether it is all worth it, given that the UK accounts for a mere 1 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, China's rising emissions are responsible for 28 per cent of the global total.
At the end of next year there will be only one coal-fired power station left in the UK. China is building them furiously. In 2020 it brought more than three times as much coal-fired capacity into operation than the rest of the world put together.
Which brings me back to Allegra Stratton's contribution to the debate. If the fervent Green Party supporter and enemy of rinsing plates won't give up her diesel car, the Government isn't going to find it easy to persuade the rest of us to accept equal sacrifices.
The Daily Telegraph, 5 August 2021
Britain has created the most hostile environment in the world for ordinary travellers. But COP26 attendees are getting a free pass
I don’t often find myself in agreement with Christiana Figueres, the former head of the UN Climate Agency, but she is quite right to call for COP26 – the climate conference due to be held in Glasgow this autumn – to be turned into a mainly online event.
To go ahead and invite 25,000 politicians, bureaucrats and activists to Britain at a time when there are still serious barriers to travel to and from Britain for ordinary people will merely confirm what many are beginning to suspect: that we are entering a new era in which a global elite is allowed to enjoy travel privileges that are denied to the masses.
On Sunday begins the latest phase of the government’s war against the mass tourism industry: Mexico is being shifted onto the red list with the result that holidaymakers who fail to arrange flight’s back to Britain in the next three days face having to pay a potentially ruinous £2285 per person for hotel quarantine.
We have achieved the dubious distinction of creating the most hostile environment in the world for ordinary travellers, even managing to out-Australia Australia. Yet at the same time the Prime Minister is itching to appear on stage in Glasgow with the great and good of the climate establishment.
There is a lesson here: if you want to continue to enjoy foreign travel in future you had better start making anguished speeches about climate change, or get yourself a position on a climate quango. It isn’t hard to see how in future such people will be the only people who are allowed to travel freely and affordably between continents. For everyone else, it will mean jumping through hoops for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a holiday flight somewhere -- or make do with Bognor.
Many in the climate establishment are already openly suggesting how Covid restrictions might be used as a model for forcing the public to cut their carbon emissions. According to former Chief Scientific Advisor Sir David King in the Washington Post last September Covid “has proved that large swaths of the population could change their behaviour and lower the trajectory of emissions — not over decades but in a matter of weeks”.
Not, of course, that any of this need impact on the global elite itself, which has carried on travelling, skipping quarantine restrictions forced on the rest of us. The G7 summit, the European football championships and now COP26; VIPs have been invited to travel to all three beanfeasts, and without having to shut themselves away in a room at the Holiday Inn for a fortnight at a cost of £2285.
Why is it that those who preach loudest about climate change seem to have some of the largest carbon footprints of all? Take Al Gore, whose Tennessee home was found to have 20 times the emissions of the average US property, to Harry and Meghan, who followed up a speech on climate change with Meghan’s transatlantic trip by private jet to attend a baby shower in the US, to Emma Thompson who, with no sense of irony, flew 5000 miles from LA to attend an Extinction Rebellion protest. If these people really believe that man-made carbon emissions are already causing death and misery on a grand scale, they shouldn’t want to fly again anywhere, ever – at least not in a plane powered by fossil fuels.
It is sheer hubris that makes members of the climate elite think that the rules shouldn’t apply to them, that their business is so important that they can continue to enjoy freedoms while the rest of us are forced to curtail our lifestyles. They can show us that they mean what they say by staying away from Glasgow and holding their COP26 meetings online, just as many of the rest of us have been conducting much of our business over the past 18 months. If they don’t, they shouldn’t expect the rest of us to take any notice of them.