Friday, September 10, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: COP26 in trouble as China rebuffs UK


BRICS nations join forces in opposing EU carbon border tax

In this newsletter:

1) COP26 in trouble as China rebuffs UK 
GWPF International, 7 September 2021
2) We won’t be bullied into going green, says China
The Times, 7 September 2021

3) BRICS nations join India in opposing EU carbon border tax
Colombo Gazette, 8 September 2021
4) India is running out of coal, 6 September 2021
5) Australia sees strong future for coal beyond 2030 despite U.N. call
Reuters, 6 September 2021

6) UK secretly dropped climate promises for trade deal with Australia, leaked emails show
The Independent, 8 September 2021
7) UK fires up coal plant as Putin turns screw on EU's gas supply – crisis looms
Daily Express, 7 September 2021
8) Removal of climate change hurdle clears way for third Heathrow runway 
9) Christopher Essex: Should we trust science?
GWPF Science, 8 September 2021
10) And finally: The UK Government Censorship Unit you’ve never heard of
Mark Johnson, Unherd, 6 September 2021

Full details:

1) COP26 in trouble as China rebuffs UK 
GWPF International, 7 September 2021
Days after China sent US climate envoy John Kerry home empty handed, Beijing has given Alok Sharma, the COP26 President and the UK’s senior climate official, the same message: China won’t cave in to Western demands, plunging Joe Biden’s and Boris Johnson’s Net Zero agenda into doubt.
2) We won’t be bullied into going green, says China
The Times, 7 September 2021
Beijing has told Britain that it will not yield to international pressure for bigger improvements to its climate change commitments at the Cop26 conference in Glasgow.
Beijing’s warning came after Alok Sharma, the UK senior climate change representative, arrived for pre-summit talks with the intention of persuading China to “enhance” its carbon emissions reduction targets.

An official Chinese pledge that carbon emissions will peak by 2030 has resulted in the commissioning by provincial governments of a flurry of new coal-fired power stations in recent months, critics said.

Sharma arrived in the northern city of Tianjin on Sunday for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special climate envoy, on “how we work together” to ensure the November summit is successful.
He met the vice-premier, Han Zheng, today for what he called a “constructive discussion”.
For its part China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, said it would not adjust its target for carbon use to peak by 2030. The country has said it aims to be carbon neutral by 2060.

“China has already announced its own climate road map and will stick to its own pace,” an editorial in the Global Times, a party-run newspaper, stated.
“Uncertainties and risks remain for multilateral platforms such as the Glasgow summit due to Washington’s toxic approaches and it is imperative for the UK and the global community to avoid the global climate conference being held hostage by US political [ideologies],” it said.
China told John Kerry, the US climate envoy who was visiting for talks last week, that the climate issue could not be divorced from the “serious miscalculations” Washington had made in its wider relations with Beijing.
Washington has said that China’s plans for more coal-fired plants undermine efforts for the world to be carbon neutral by 2050. The West has urged China to come up with more aggressive near-term measures to curb coal production and consumption. Yet even though President Xi has made environmental preservation a priority, Beijing is keen to maintain it rapid economic development.

China relies on fossil fuels for 85 per cent of its energy and coal accounts for 57 per cent of all fossil fuels used, He Kebin, a professor of environmental studies at Tsinghua University, told a forum on carbon neutrality and development this week.

Even to achieve Xi’s existing climate change ambitions requires an “extensive and profound economic and social systematic transformation that cannot be easily achieved,” he said.

Pressure to revive the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic has prompted provincial governments to approve a large number of coal-fired power plants. Last year China commissioned more than three times more new coal-power generating capacity than it did in 2019, with some suggesting there was a race to approve high-emission projects before the 2030 peak Xi has promised.

“Such short-sighted behaviour by provincial governments in 2020 run contrary to China’s mid-term and long-term strategic needs to achieve low-carbon development,” Greenpeace wrote in a report.

Beijing is concerned that Washington intends to use the climate issue for wider geopolitical purposes. Wang Yi, the foreign minister, told Kerry last week that the issue could not be “an oasis” in the China-US relations.

Sharma issued a press statement before his meetings, in which he appeared to be pushing for China to improve its commitments. “I welcome China’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2060 and look forward to discussing China’s policy proposals towards this goal, its plans for submitting an enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target, as well as how we work towards a successful multilateral outcome at Cop26,” he said.

An editorial in the Global Times described the statement as “relatively positive” and that it “underlined the UK’s genuine efforts to create a co-operative atmosphere for discussing climate issues with China”.
“If the UK can maintain such a positive attitude, there will be sufficient room for co-operation between the two countries in tackling climate change,” the party newspaper said.
3) BRICS nations join India in opposing EU carbon border tax
Colombo Gazette, 8 September 2021
NEW DELHI: Aligning themselves with India’s stand against the EU’s proposed carbon border tax, the other BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa – on Friday jointly opposed the proposal calling it “discriminatory”.

Expressing their concerns over the EU’s move, these four countries along with India also put forward their formal objections to the proposal in the ‘New Delhi statement on environment’ as they pledged to cooperate with each other and take joint stands at multilateral forum.

Under the world’s first such proposal on carbon border tax, 27 EU nations had recently decided to impose border tax on imports of carbon-intensive goods. The tax plan, yet to be legally formalised, will come into force from 2026.

“We noted with grave concern the proposals for introducing trade barriers, such as unilateral carbon border adjustment, that are discriminatory,” said the New Delhi statement, adopted after day-long deliberations at the virtual BRICS environment ministerial meeting chaired by India.

Besides cooperation on different contentious issues at global forum, the BRICS nations also decided to jointly work on abatement and control of air and water pollution.
Full story
4) India is running out of coal as energy demand skyrockets, 6 September 2021
Just a few weeks ago Oilprice reported that India is nowhere near ready to kick fossil fuels. As the country’s population continues to grow and more and more Indians join ranks of the middle class, the country’s energy demand is set to far outpace its renewable energy capacity. In fact, it’s going to take all of the fossil fuels as well as renewable energy the nation has just to keep up with demand.
Now, new reports are showing that as India’s economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and the nation eases restrictions, the nation’s energy demand has skyrocketed so quickly that India is scrambling to import coal as their own producers come up short.
Nearly a fifth of the entire global population lives in India. While the rate of growth has slowed down considerably in recent years, the subcontinent’s population continues to expand. What’s more, each year more and more Indians are enjoying more disposable income and access to goods and services than ever before, driving up the subcontinent’s voracious hunger for energy in any form. 
“In fact, because India’s demographics are much younger compared to China and the US, India’s middle class could be the largest in the world (in terms of numbers of people) by 2025,” the Financial Express reported earlier this year.... 
As Indians move out of social isolation and back into their daily routines, however, the demand for energy is so great that the government has urged utilities to start importing coal from other countries, as several major power plants teeter on the edge of running out of fuel completely. 
According to data from India’s Central Electricity Authority, more than half of  the 135 coal-fired plants were facing less than a week’s supply of coal before running out, and 50 plants had fewer than three days’ worth of fuel left. Six plants had already run out of coal entirely. 
“India is the second largest importer of coal despite having the world's fourth largest reserves, and coal powers over 70% of the country's electricity demand,” Reuters reported this week. What’s more, “overall electricity generation rose 16.1% in August, while coal-fired power output rose 23.7% from a year earlier.” 
While the Indian government has been trying to cut down on coal imports, that aim has proven impossible as the economy -- the third-largest in Asia -- continues to expand. India primarily imports coal from Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa. Indian electricity markets benefited greatly earlier this year from the trade spat and unofficial coal boycott between Australia and China, buying up huge volumes of the discounted Australian coal initially intended for Chinese markets. But even those stockpiles are not enough to keep up with demand. 
5) Australia sees strong future for coal beyond 2030 despite U.N. call
Reuters, 6 September 2021

MELBOURNE, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Coal will be a major contributor to Australia's economy well beyond 2030 given growth in global demand, the country's resources minister said on Monday, a day after a United Nations envoy called on the country to phase out the fossil fuel.
Without greater efforts to cut coal, climate change will dramatically damage Australia's economy, Selwin Hart, the United Nations special adviser on climate change, said in a speech in the capital Canberra on Sunday.

Australia's heavy reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world's largest carbon emitters per capita, but its conservative government has steadfastly backed fossil fuel industries, saying tougher action on emissions would cost jobs.

Australia's latest export figures show "the reports of coal's impending death are greatly exaggerated and its future is assured well beyond 2030," Resources Minister Keith Pitt said in a statement.

In the three months to July, Australian coal exports grew 26% in value to A$12.5 billion ($9.3 billion), he noted. Coal prices have climbed as global economies recover from COVID-19 restrictions.
"The future of this crucial industry will be decided by the Australian government, not a foreign body that wants to shut it down costing thousands of jobs and billions of export dollars for our economy," Pitt added.

The U.N. has called for phasing out coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, which include Australia.
In July, energy and environment ministers from the Group of 20 big economies failed to deliver a deal to phase out coal by 2025. But some experts said there were chances of progress at U.N. climate talks in Glasgow in November.
Full story
6) UK secretly dropped climate promises for trade deal with Australia, leaked emails show
The Independent, 8 September 2021
The British government secretly dropped a series of climate pledges in order to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with Australia, leaked emails appear to show.

Liz Truss, the trade secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, decided to "drop both of the climate asks" from the text of the UK-Australia agreement in order to get it "over the line", according to the email from a senior official.

A binding section that referenced the “Paris Agreement temperature goals” was scrubbed from the accord after pressure from the southern Hemipshere country’s government – which has a notoriously weak record on climate action.

The embarrassing revelation comes just weeks before the government is due to host a landmark UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow – where it is supposed to ask countries to make stronger commitments to cutting emissions.

Full story
7) UK fires up coal plant as Putin turns screw on EU's gas supply – crisis looms
Daily Express, 7 September 2021

VLADIMIR PUTIN has forced a coal comeback in Britain after his restriction of gas into Europe via Nord Stream 2 puts pressure on global supplies.

The deal – agreed between the Russian leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – will see gas bypass Poland and Ukraine for Germany. But now Mr Putin is turning the screw on Berlin, hoping to avoid them implementing EU law across the system.
While the UK is not a directly intended target of the Kremlin's restriction, the country has now been forced to old methods to power up again.
With gas prices already at a record high this summer, it has meant that more coal was already being burned to meet energy demands.

The cold beginning to the year saw many other countries dip into their gas reserves too, pushing up prices.

This has not been helped by the fact that wind farms still can’t generate as much wind as usual due to the autumn weather.

But making this worse is the threat of a gas supply crisis, as Britain buy a big bulk of Russian gas through the Netherlands.

An old coal plant has now been fired up in Lincolnshire, known as West Burton A, which had previously been on standby.
Full story
8) Removal of climate change hurdle clears way for third Heathrow runway 
The Times, 7 September 2021
A barrier to the expansion of Heathrow was cleared yesterday when the government refused to review its decision to give the green light to a third runway.
Ministers have faced pressure to scrap approval for a two-mile runway at the airport, which was granted in 2018, because of escalating concerns about climate change. Last year the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s backing for the Heathrow plan was unlawful because it failed to take account of commitments to limit rises in global temperatures. This was overturned by the Supreme Court in December but the government still faced calls to review its entire policy on airport expansion.

However, in a letter published yesterday, the Department for Transport confirmed that it had rejected the possibility of reassessing the airports national policy statement (ANPS), saying it was not appropriate at this time. It acknowledged that there had been a “significant and unforeseen change” in the government’s position on climate change since the decision was taken in 2018, including the introduction of a legally binding target to cut carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050.
It said there was no evidence that the policy “would have been materially different” even if these additional commitments had been known about in 2018 when the ANPS was tabled.
It said that a decision on the policy would be “considered again” as part of a further review of the government’s aviation reforms in the coming years.

In effect the move gives Heathrow the green light to proceed with the planning process for a new runway northwest of the airport.
Boris Johnson is a longstanding opponent of a third runway and it was thought that any review of the policy would have scuppered the plans. Yesterday’s decision was made as the government also announced that it was scrapping an independent aviation noise watchdog set up after the decision in 2018 to crack down on noisy planes. 
Full story (£)
9) Christopher Essex: Should we trust science?
GWPF Science, 8 September 2021
Naomi Oreskes’s book has been described as a defense of science, but it is nothing of the sort. The cornerstone of her thinking is total consensus determining truth in the natural world. Her approach is a scorched earth epistemology.
Why Trust Science?
By Naomi Oreskes
reviewed by Christopher Essex
1. Science and the Oscars
I write this while my wife is watching the Oscars. The music of professional musicians and overwrought thank-yous drift to me along with the dependably-boring, routinely inappropriate political posturing, and (of course) important personalities from the arts pontificating about the science of climate change. I might be tapping my foot to the beat of their bad ideas if I allowed myself to listen fully. In Hollywood, they already trust science, at least what they think science is. Why do they need reasons from Naomi Oreskes’s new book? Maybe I should ask instead, why trust Hollywood?

There are influential journalists who claim to trust science too. However, simple tests I have performed confirm that most journalists, including some science journalists, know absolutely nothing about science, but they trust it, whatever it is. Similar things can be said for politicians and activists. The latter don’t need reasons because they know everything. For these groups Naomi Oreskes’s new book is as unnecessary as it is for Hollywood celebrities.

Then there are the civilians who do not eagerly discuss Austrian science philosophers on the way through the grocery checkout. There are exceptions, but this still raises the question. What about scientists? That’s a different matter. They (the ones I know well) would not understand the title’s question. It’s more likely that they would ask (if I know my people) why trust Professor Oreskes? It was surely not written for them. So, who then? The surprising answer is found through a different question revealed below.

2. Nullius in Verba or Show Me
So, what’s so hard for a scientist to understand about the title question? There’s science, and trust, and reasons. It seems simple enough. But the root of the problem is that the only clear answer is not a direct answer to the question.

Let me explain. “Science” is a heavily overloaded word. So much so that I take steps to avoid it at times. Its grand vagueness makes it hard to know how to apply the trust question. It cannot be answered without a sensible definition for science. It’s baked into the issue. So, does science include Scientology, or Christian Science? Most would say no. That is the easy part. How about political science? A graduate of a political science program jokes with me about that. What about scientific socialism? It’s easy to say no to that for most, but not all.

Here is a harder one. What about Social Science? Some would fiercely object to even raising that question. But my late sociologist colleague, Ben Singer (crazy systems and Kafka circuits), would definitely say no. Aside from doing side-splitting sociological class analysis of the contents of your shopping cart when encountered in the grocery store, he would never utter Social Science without inserting “so called” in the middle. “Social So-Called Science” was his catch phrase.

Human sociology, also contributes to the bloatedness of the term “science” itself. “Science” can refer to human organizations: universities, research institutes, science societies, science publishers, and governments. They use their organizations to share science, to promote it, and to lobby for funding. Sometimes a few grandees produce a “consensus” on behalf of the others—unscientific, if not undemocratic. This sociopolitical side of science is about how humans organize themselves, not about scientific content around which they organize.

Let’s lay aside the curious matters of who is to trust, and what is to be trusted. There is a more compelling matter. The wording, as it is, seems to make science into a deity. Just substitute “have faith in” for “trust” to see why. A scientific perspective would proceed better from an auxiliary question: should we trust science? The answer to that question is completely straightforward and simple: no!

Why “no”? You’re not supposed to trust science! That’s the point of science! Perhaps that is what makes scientists so strange to ideologues. Dogmatists can’t imagine not trusting their dogmas. The scientific method, if it can be reduced to a catch phrase, is on the license plates of the US state of Missouri: show me. The Royal Society says something similar with “nullius in verba.” But the most excellent version has been attributed to Richard Feynman, “science is a belief in the ignorance of experts.”

If one discards the deity interpretation, while maintaining the question as actually stated, the title asks why trust not-trusting. If you do trust it, do you not-trust trusting too? If so, maybe then you should not-trust not trusting? Maybe you can trust in that, which brings us back to trusting not trusting. This is a dressed-up version of the classical liar paradox: the liar who pronounces he is lying. This is a self-referential paradox, which the late Raymond Smullyan popularized in story puzzles. Such paradoxes extend along a connecting thread all the way to Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

What a fun title. I love it!
Full essay
10) And finally: The UK Government Censorship Unit you’ve never heard of
Mark Johnson, Unherd, 6 September 2021
The "Counter Disinformation Cell" is monitoring your online statements

Stories about censorship usually focus on the individuals prevented from publishing or saying something. But if we are to defend free expression from the new era of digital censorship, we need to focus much more closely on the censors themselves.

Few corporate actors are more powerful than social media companies and under the duress of political pressure, the power that they exercise over online discourse is slowly being melded to that of the state. Online speech standards based on maintaining corporate reputations have increasingly bent to political pressures and moral panics in recent years, often causing waves of online censorship in their wake.

In the UK, without any public clamour, this convergence has been occurring through the work of the Government’s opaque Counter Disinformation Cell. This opaque Government unit, Orwellian in name, is tasked with scouring social media platforms and flagging “disinformation” with the platforms themselves. The fact that a relatively unknown team of mandarins in Whitehall are tasked with the extra-judicial censorship of citizens’ speech, purely at the discretion of politicians and civil servants, is not only a violation of the right to freedom of speech but also an affront to democratic accountability and the rule of law.

This backroom relationship between the Government and the platforms is just a flavour of what we can expect to see in the future. The Government’s proposed Online Safety Bill will be the final culmination of this power convergence, where corporate terms & conditions and domestic law will be synonymous, and the platforms’ power will be consolidated by state legitimacy. Under the legislation, platforms will be compelled to fortify their terms of use and uphold them consistently in order to protect users against a state-issued concept of “harm”.

In a famous quote about power, the late Tony Benn devised a useful tool for measuring the legitimacy of authority. Benn’s five questions — “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” — should serve as the basis for scrutinising today’s arbiters of digital censorship.

Our new report, the State of Free Speech Online, attempts to navigate this swell of censorship. In documenting the impact upon ordinary people, we hope to send a warning about this censorial trajectory and the looming Online Safety Bill, which poses a greater threat to freedom of speech in the UK than any other law in living memory.

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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