Monday, September 13, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Australia rebuffs Biden, Boris and the UN; vows to keep mining coal


Chinese coal power companies on the verge of bankruptcy

In this newsletter:

1) Australia rebuffs Biden, Boris and the UN; vows to keep mining coal
GWPF International, 9 September 2021

2) Australia vows to keep mining coal despite climate warning
AFP, 9 September 2021

3) Chinese coal power companies on the verge of bankruptcy; petition Beijing to raise electricity prices
South China Morning Post, 10 September 2021
4) Australia is winning the coal war against China and its green allies, 8 September 2021 
5) Ian Williams: Are China’s climate promises just a load of hot air?
The Spectator, 10 September 2021
6) China likely to offer 'enhanced climate ambition' to claim global leadership and throw Joe Biden a bone
Reuters, 10 September 2021
7) Ireland freezes power exports to UK as energy costs rocket tenfold
The Daily Telegraph, 10 September 2021
8) California declares energy emergency, seeks to avert blackouts by burning more fossil fuels
Bloomberg, 9 September 2021
9) Gerald Warner: Net zero cult threatens energy meltdown and political revolution
Reaction, 8 September 2021

Full details:

1) Australia rebuffs Biden, Boris and the UN; vows to keep mining coal
GWPF International, 9 September 2021

For the UN climate summit in November in Glasgow to succeed it “must be the COP that consigns coal power to history”, Britain’s climate envoy Alok Sharma has repeatedly stressed. After all, a binding agreement on phasing out coal by 2030 is the main goal of both the Biden administration and the UK government.
Today’s developments down under, however, demonstrate once again that their COP26 agenda is almost certain to fail as Australia has become the latest nation to reject the demands for an end to coal.

2) Australia vows to keep mining coal despite climate warning
AFP, 9 September 2021
Australia vowed Thursday to keep mining coal for export and said global demand was rising, rejecting a study that warned nearly all its reserves must stay in the ground to address the climate crisis.

Researchers warned in a study published in the journal Nature this week that 89 percent of global coal reserves — and 95 percent of Australia’s share — must be left untouched.

Such restraint, they said, would still only offer a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the current global goal.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday Australia’s energy exports were needed to power developing countries, and predicted technology would enable them to be burned “in a much more climate-friendly way” in the future.

“We will keep mining the resources that we’re able to sell on the world market,” Morrison told a news conference when asked if he would put an “expiration date” on the coal mining industry.

“We obviously anticipate that over time world demand for these things may change.”

Under existing agreements, developing countries are able to use Australian resources “well into the future”, Morrison said.

Full story
3) Chinese coal power companies on the verge of bankruptcy; petition Beijing to raise electricity prices
South China Morning Post, 10 September 2021
The Beijing Electric Power Industry Association has joined 11 coal-fired power companies in petitioning authorities to raise electricity rates to avoid bankruptcy amid surging coal prices.
Supply shortages have driven up coal prices in China and some electricity suppliers in Beijing are incurring dangerous losses. Photo: Reuters
Supply shortages have driven up coal prices in China and coal-fired power stations can only raise rates to accommodate increasing operational costs by as much as 10 per cent, with a large part of electricity prices fixed by the government.
But last year, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency, prohibited all rate rises.
The Beijing Electric Power Industry Association said this week it had sent a letter to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Management petitioning for increased rates. Five member companies had incurred losses in the first seven months of the year, ranging from 20 million yuan (US$3.1 million) to 192 million yuan, the association told the South China Morning Post.
The petition echoed a letter sent by 11 coal-fired power companies within the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan power grid last month, which said they were losing money and were on the verge of bankruptcy due to steep increases in coal prices.

“It has severely disrupted normal electricity transactions and stable electricity supply … operations are extremely difficult, with some companies experiencing capital chain ruptures,” said the letter, which was also circulated online.
The companies said coal prices rose by 65.3 per cent in July compared to a year ago, and by 56.9 per cent in June, while the benchmark price for electricity in the region set by authorities had dropped this year.
One of the 11 companies, Beijing Jingneng Power, which is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and services the Beijing area, reported a loss of 300 million yuan in the first half of this year compared to profits of 837 million yuan last year.
Full story
4) Australia is winning the coal war against China and its green allies, 8 September 2021 
China’s tough crackdown has brought Australia’s $149 billion iron ore industry to its knees – but hope has come in a new form.
Although China has brought a $149 billion industry in Australia to its knees, hope has come in a new form — coal.

In May, China promised “economic pain” to Australia by reducing its iron ore purchases, predicting that would wipe off $32 billion off our economy.

And it appears to be working. Earlier this week, the price of iron ore dropped a whopping 9 per cent in one day, the second biggest decline on record.

However, a new export, coal, has risen to supremacy in the stead of iron ore.

When markets closed on Monday, metallurgical or coking coal was selling for $274 a tonne, very near the all-time high of $299.33 a tonne in November 2016.

The $274 cost was below its close last Friday which was the highest price for coal since April 2017.

In the past year, coal has been up 170 per cent.

That’s despite China unofficially banning coal since October last year, with power companies warned off the Australian commodity.

In fact, Peter Cai, director of the Lowy Institute’s Australia-China Relations Project, believes China is accidentally shooting itself in the foot and bearing the brunt of those costs.
Mr Cai said it was “entirely possible” that China is paying premium rates for coal because it needed to buy from a middle man rather than directly through Australia — which means its price was higher.

That would also mean the demand from China is still there, buoying the prices.

“It’s entirely possible that some shipments have been sold via a third country, to get around the unofficial bans,” he told

Reports claim China is paying $595 a tonne for coal, which is more than double what Australian coal producers are selling it for at $274 a tonne.

The spike in coal was also aided by China through another unforeseen consequence of its ban — pushing other buyers into Australia’s path.

As coal floundered last year by the sudden drop in demand, the bargain prices were quickly snaffled up by other countries.

“While hard coking coal exports to China have diminished since mid-2020, increased exports to India, Japan and South Korea have offset some of the fall,” the ABS confirmed.

Mr Cai added, “Think of it as a bath tub. Everyone tips water into the bathtub. If China is not drawing from it, it evens out eventually.

“It’s not a huge decline. In a way, we were able to find other buyers.”

Immediately after the ban on coal, China experienced another backfiring — by cutting off the much-needed energy import, millions of its citizens were plunged into darkness as a result of electricity shortages.

Full story
5) Ian Williams: Are China’s climate promises just a load of hot air?
The Spectator, 10 September 2021
China is prepared to hold its cooperation on climate issues hostage to Western concessions elsewhere. 

Few cities in China represent the country’s addiction to coal more than Tianjin, where Alok Sharma travelled this week to talk about cooperation on climate issues. It sits on the coast of one of China’s most polluted regions, and its port is a key hub for trading 100 million tons a year of the stuff – that’s roughly 12 times Britain’s annual coal burn.

Chinese coal consumption is on track to increase this year by around ten per cent. To meet that demand, vast new open cast pits are being rushed into service in Inner Mongolia, China’s biggest coal production region, from where supplies are brought down the coast to Tianjin. There is a chance that Sharma might have caught a glimpse of the vast port, the piles of coal, or the traffic jam of ships waiting to dock, as he flew in. If so, it will have presented a far clearer picture of China’s commitment to a ‘sustainable future’ than the empty platitudes and vague promises of his hosts.

China has pledged that its greenhouse gas emissions will reach their highest point before 2030 and the country will reach carbon neutrality before 2060. Sharma, who will preside over the United Nations Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, would like China to bring its targets forward. At the very least he was looking for more detail from special representative for climate change affairs, Xie Zhenhua, as to how China will achieve its targets. He got none – because China is taking a big leap in the opposite direction.

China is the world’s biggest polluter, responsible for 27 per cent of global emissions of greenhouse gases – and that’s about to get worse. It is opening new coal-fired power stations and increasing emissions at an annual rate that is greater than the savings of the rest of the world put together. Last year, coal plants with a combined capacity of 37.75 gigawatts were retired globally, more than half in the United States and European Union, according to an analysis by Global Energy Monitor, which analysis fossil fuel trends. During that time, China opened 38.4 gigawatts of new plants – that’s three times more new coal fired capacity than the rest of the world combined.

China has refused to budge on its target dates and refused to give detail as to how it intends to achieve them. This week, a prickly editorial in Global Times, a Communist party tabloid, said:

‘China has already announced its own climate road map and will stick to its own pace.’

Meanwhile, China is currently building new coal plants at more than 60 locations across the country, and local authorities are planning for still more. Far from providing a plan to work towards its 2030 ‘peak emissions’ date, it is as if China sees this as a finishing line in a race to build as many coal-burning plants as possible. It's a construction frenzy that makes a mockery of the efforts of the rest of the world to reduce emissions.

The only bright spot is an apparent reduction in the number of new coal plants that China is financing in developing countries as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. This fall off appears to be more a result of the soaring price of coal and concern over debt than a change in Chinese policy, although Beijing might well present it as a concession.

China certainly talks the talk on clean energy and sustainability. It does generate more energy from solar power than any other country, and is seeking to corner the global market in many green technologies. But fossil fuels still account for 85 per cent of energy used, and coal represents 57 per cent of that.

Three days before Sharma’s visit, John Kerry, the US climate envoy, had his own meetings in China – also in Tianjin, which provided a useful insight into China’s tactics. Kerry had hoped that climate issues, of such critical importance to the whole world, could be divorced from prickly bilateral tensions. Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister told him to forget it, that climate cooperation could not be separated and that the US should ‘cease containing and suppressing China in the world.’

This suggests that China is prepared to hold its cooperation on climate issues hostage to concessions elsewhere. If that’s the case, Western negotiators should be very wary. Those who have sat opposite Chinese officials during negotiations over trade, cyber espionage and much more will be familiar with the tactics: playing the victim, veiled threats, vague promises, a lack of detail in any concessions – and ultimately ignoring any agreement reached.

Former president Barack Obama, a strong advocate of engagement with China, wrote in his memoir, A Promised Land, that China’s economic rise has seen Beijing ‘evading, bending, or breaking just about every agreed-about rule of international commerce’. China has been a master of gaming that system to its advantage. It is naive to think that climate issues are any different.
6) China likely to offer 'enhanced climate ambition' to claim global leadership and throw Joe Biden a bone
Reuters, 10 September 2021

China is about to release updated "nationally determined contributions" aimed at meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and it has previously said it would "enhance ambition".

China needs to impose an absolute cap on carbon emissions during the 2021-2025 period to help meet its climate goals, an influential government advisory body said in a new report.
China currently has no set cap on greenhouse gas emissions, now the highest in the world at more than 10 billion tonnes a year, but it aims to bring them to a peak before 2030 before becoming fully carbon-neutral by 2060.

The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a policy research body chaired by Vice Premier Han Zheng, said China needs to establish mechanisms to control absolute emission levels and impose caps on individual provinces and industries.

In recommendations published on Thursday, it also urged China to improve its flawed carbon pricing system, devise detailed plans and timetables to electrify its transport system and remove conventional vehicles, and to create a renewables-based energy system.

The council's specific role is to draw up policy recommendations for government but their adoption is not guaranteed.
As the world's biggest producer of climate-warming greenhouse gases, China's near-term ambitions are in the spotlight ahead of the next round of global talks set to go ahead in Glasgow in November.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and the British minister in charge of Glasgow COP26 Alok Sharma both visited China earlier this month to discuss bilateral climate cooperation. 

China is about to release updated "nationally determined contributions" aimed at meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and it has previously said it would "enhance ambition".

But it has come under increasing pressure to do more to curb coal consumption and slash investment in carbon-intensive projects at home and abroad.
CCICED said China should "restrict and gradually stop" the use of public funds in overseas coal power investment, as well as "take the initiative" in global international climate cooperation and governance.
"It is recommended that China actively assumes the responsibility of a major country to promote global green and low-carbon development," it said.
7) Ireland freezes power exports to UK as energy costs rocket tenfold
The Daily Telegraph, 10 September 2021

Low wind speeds and tight supplies of gas have sent power prices spiralling

Ireland has been forced to freeze power exports to the UK to prevent a shortage which could have sparked blackouts as surging energy prices continue to cause chaos across Europe.
A toxic combination of low wind speeds and a severe squeeze on the supply of natural gas sent power costs jumping tenfold on the British mainland on Thursday to as much as £2,300 per megawatt-hour, a new record high.

It came as transmission was halted on the Moyle interconnector, which sends electricity from Northern Ireland to Scotland.
Mutual Energy, which owns and operates the undersea cable, said that flows had been stopped for "operational security reasons due to generation shortfall in the all-Ireland single electricity market".
Ireland's Single Electricity Market Operator had issued an amber warning on Thursday morning, alerting the public to a "general shortfall" of electricity which could result in power cuts. 

The cost of energy has been spiralling across Europe, due in part to calm weather which has drastically reduced the availability of renewable power.

In the UK, which relies on wind for around a fifth of its electricity throughout the year, prices rocketed to hit a high of £2,300 per megawatt-hour by the afternoon - ten times higher than they were earlier in the morning, according to Bloomberg figures.

The spiralling prices will prompt further concern among officials who were earlier this week forced to fire up coal-based plants in an effort to cope with tight supplies.

In Spain, day-ahead electricity prices hit a record €152.32 a megawatt-hour according to Bloomberg. In France, the benchmark power price for delivery next year was at a record €99.50.
The halt in exports from Ireland comes just days after the UK was hampered by technical problems with a trading platform in Europe, which threatened a risky surge of power.
Britain was forced to ask France to stop sending as much electricity last weekend, after traders buying and selling power across borders around Europe were temporarily unable to book trades, risking too much electricity coming into Britain.

This could have caused power cuts, as supply and demand of electricity has to be precisely matched and the frequency of the system needs to be kept at 50Hz. 
8) California declares energy emergency, seeks to avert blackouts by burning more fossil fuels
Bloomberg, 9 September 2021

California is asking the federal government to declare an “electric reliability emergency” so the Golden State can lean more heavily on fossil fuels to avoid blackouts.

The state’s main grid operator wants the U.S. Department of Energy to suspend air-pollution rules for some natural gas-burning power plants in case their output is needed “to meet demand in the face of extremely challenging conditions including extreme heat waves, multiple fires, high winds, and various grid issues,” according to a filing. The last time California received a waiver of such length and breadth was 21 years ago during the Western Energy Crisis.

For a second straight day, authorities urged residents of the biggest U.S. state to conserve energy as a heat wave boosts air-conditioning use.

The emergency request highlights the conflict between California’s green aspirations and the physical reality that wind and solar thus far haven’t been able to cover power shortfalls exacerbated by the shuttering of gas-fired generators. The California Independent System Operator has warned of looming electricity shortages several times this summer.
Full story
9) Gerald Warner: Net zero cult threatens energy meltdown and political revolution
Reaction, 8 September 2021
If the government commits itself to lunatic expenditure, punitive energy bills, Draconian green taxes and all the domino-effect consequences spreading destructively throughout the economy, it should realise it will be passing a point of no return and very possibly triggering an eventual reconfiguration of governance, to the exclusion of the discredited current elites.

Extinction Rebellion's "red brigade" outside London Fashion Week to raise awareness on the climate impact of fashion. Andrea Domeniconi via Shutterstock

Britain is a massive coalfield, surrounded by an ocean of oil and gas. So, why are we fretting over the threat of energy shortages and winter power cuts? For one simple reason: our national energy policy is not being run by the government. Ministers are simply the straw men fronting decisions imposed by the most formidable global pressure group ever constructed in human history. The policies being devised to drag Britain and the world back into a neo-Pleistocene age are dictated by religious fanatics who have replaced slogans like “Millions now living will never die” with the cult mantra “Net Zero”. This is climate jihad.
This week, National Grid ESO was forced to ask EDF to fire up two units at its West Burton A coal-fired power station in Lincolnshire, to compensate for wind farms generating just 474 megawatts on Monday morning. At the same time, global gas and power prices are soaring to new highs. Monday’s pathetic 474 megawatts output of wind energy contrasts with wind’s record generation of 14,286 megawatts as recently as 21 May. But that volatility spells unreliability. What will happen, in a similar situation, after 2024, when Britain is scheduled to phase out coal-fired power completely?

The irresponsible shambles that is Britain’s energy policy arises exclusively from the “climate” hype and the demonisation of reliable forms of energy generation. The inconsistencies are epitomised by the fact that, in many circles (excluding Angela Merkel’s), nuclear power is today rated as “clean”. Swivel-eyed proponents will harangue you about how the nuclear waste generated can be compressed to the size of a matchbox and accommodated safely in your hip pocket. Their discourse resembles that of another school of energy Mormons, the carbon-capture loons. What unites all factions is a neurotic fear of CO2, previously regarded as a benevolent and essential element of life on the planet.

This hysteria has led to a masochistic lust to destroy traditional energy sources. Nicola Sturgeon is demanding a “reassessment” of the licensing of the new Cambo oil field in the North Sea, forecast to deliver 150m barrels of oil over its 25-year lifetime. That is a far cry from the 1970s, when the slogan “It’s Scotland’s oil” first enabled the SNP to claim that independence need not mean impoverishment, lending them sufficient credibility to begin winning parliamentary seats. But, today, climate conformity requires politicians to compete in expressing loyalty to Net Zero, so, in dangerous seas, the officers are going around smashing the lifeboats.

The huge increase in gas prices is driving some countries, especially in Asia, to re-embrace coal as an energy source, to the horror of purists. Gas prices have quintupled over the past two years, recently reaching a record high of 135p per therm. OFGEM’s raising of the energy price cap will affect 15 million consumers. There are the makings here of a Grade A political crisis. How will energy consumers view the capering and grandstanding at COP26? Inevitably, Boris Johnson will wish to make himself the star attraction at this climate Stonehenge ritual, particularly as he will be on hostile turf – Sturgeon’s La La Land.

Boris is a creature of impulse and occasions such as COP26, designed to create a mood of exaltation transcending sublunary realities, are dangerous. Some of the worst decisions in history have been influenced by competitive virtue signalling (e.g. the extravagant collective hysteria generated in the revolutionary French National Assembly and Convention). Boris is capable of answering the call to “come on down” by committing himself, in an emotional spasm, to some climate policy even more ruinous than those he has already embraced.

On green expenditure, politicians are smoking in a powder magazine. The plain fact is that, post-Covid and in an unfavourable economic situation, there is absolutely no possibility that the Net Zero policy is affordable by the United Kingdom. Taking advantage of the fact that the cumulative expenditure, involving the T-word –  “trillions” – is some years away, civil servants have produced their usual dog’s dinner of creative accounting, spin, claims of compensatory “gains” from a thousand unlikely and unquantifiable sources, to arrive at a fantasy accounting package, as a cosmetic concealment of a predictable nightmare.

When, in the depths of a British winter, people find themselves lacking heat, light,  working domestic appliances and the disposable income of which they have been deprived by the robber barons of green taxation and “clean” energy, that is when their thoughts turn to lynching politicians. The Net Zero mania is the elites’ most ambitious imposition yet and it has the very real potential to be their last outing ever. It is no exaggeration to say that, if productivity, employment, medical care, living standards and civilised existence were brought crashing down by the Net Zero fanatics, the outcome could very well be a revolution.

The nagging question behind this nightmare scenario is: how serious is the climate problem? Despite endless, expensively funded propaganda hype, it cannot be repeated too often that we do not have a cast-iron, authoritative, neutral analysis of the alleged threat.
Climate models churn out whatever they were programmed to produce. What would possess us to put our material civilisation at risk to prevent a supposed crisis that has not – despite the bullying claims of alarmists – been empirically demonstrated not only to be real, but also an existential threat? [...]

The, as ever, out-of-touch elites imagine that COP26 will mark an inspirational moment, a final apotheosis of the Green cult that will carry the world with them. On the contrary, normal people, already overburdened with taxation and apprehensive about energy bills and security of supply, will watch this pantomime with hostility and contempt. The climate alarmist case is discredited by its own conduct: declaring the science “settled”, labelling sceptics as “deniers”, touting the bogus “Hockey Stick”, ditto Al Gore’s upside-down ice cores and East Anglia’s “hide the decline” – not to mention the “reduction” in the polar bear population from 15,000 in 1970 to 26,500 today.
Finally, there is the cult of Greta, a cross between something confected by the Brothers Grimm and a doomsday sect awaiting the world’s end on a mountain top. It is all weird; nothing could be less like a conventional scientific and fiscal policy debate.
This is not normal and, considering it will cost £2 trillion to convert every home in Britain to green specifications, a second precautionary principle ought to come into play, to make certain we are not about to destroy a quality of life painfully gained over several generations, in pursuit of a mirage. Extinction Rebellion is useful in one respect: it helpfully illustrates the true character of climate alarmists, shorn of the suits and red boxes that lend spurious authority to politicians doing the bidding of an insatiable lobby.
Full essay (£)

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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