Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Net Zero Watch: Biden urges G20 leaders to increase fossil fuel production as Russia cuts gas flow to Germany


In this newsletter:

1) Biden urges G20 leaders to increase fossil fuel production as coal surges, oil crunch continues
Fox Business, 31 October 2021

2) Russian gas pipeline starts flowing backwards taking fuel out of Germany as Biden warns Putin not to use resources as a weapon - while troop movements near Ukraine alarm intelligence officials
Mail on Sunday, 31 October 2021

3) G20 leaders 'largely avoiding firm goals' ahead of COP26, says report on draft statement
Sky News, 31 October 2021
4) Coal countries balk at G20 phaseout calls
Politico, 30 October 2021

5) Ian Williams: China’s energy crisis
The Spectator, 30 October 2021

6) Join the first FLOP26 livestream tonight
Climate Resistance

7) We claimed £70,000 in grants for a heat pump - but it still saved us NOTHING... and it's so chilly our daughter keeps her coat on indoors
Mail on Sunday, 31 October 2021
8) Tony Parsons: We didn’t vote to be greener and we didn’t vote for rampant energy bills
The Sun, 31 October 2021
9) Jeremy Warner: Don’t be fooled: a cost-free energy transition is just magical thinking
The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2021
10) Adam Houser: Google, YouTube, and the Climate Inquisition
The Washington Times, 30 October 2021

Full details:

1) Biden urges G20 leaders to increase fossil fuel production as coal surges, oil crunch continues
Fox Business, 31 October 2021

President Biden will ask global leaders to increase energy output as the United States faces a coal shortage and rising energy prices.

A senior Biden administration official said during a press briefing Friday that Biden will ask foreign leaders to ramp up their energy production.

"It’s a delicate time in the global economy," the official said. "And what’s important is that global energy supplies keep up with global energy demand. And global — global energy demand has returned almost back to pre-pandemic levels. Global energy supplies have not."

The official added, "And so, within the G20, there are, of course, major consumers of energy and there are major suppliers of energy. We’d like to raise the issue and underscore the importance of finding more balance and stability, both in oil markets and gas markets."

Some Republicans have taken issue with Biden’s plea to the international community including Texas Rep. August Pfluger, who represents the oil-rich area of West Texas.

"Rather than flying across the world to virtue signal, President Biden and his team should be advocating for an all-the-above energy approach, including natural gas," Pfluger told Fox News. "Forcing unreliable energy on developing nations only sabotages their efforts to rise out of poverty."

The Biden administration’s move comes as the demand for electricity in the United States is surging which has driven natural gas prices to record highs and Bloomberg reports that coal miners are "sold out" for 2022 after power producers have signed multi-year contracts for every ton they can get.

The coal crunch has many causes including the post-pandemic boom, supply-chain issues, and efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Experts believe the strain will last at least through the winter, exacerbating concerns in many countries of fuel shortfalls in the upcoming months.

Ryan Sitton, founder and CEO of Texas-based reliability firm Pinnacle, told Fox News, "If you want to solve this problem you have to rewind the clock a year ago."
Sitton, who is also a former regulator of the Texas energy industry, continued: "There’s no spigot you can just turn on and make more oil flow, there’s no crane you can just turn on and coal is going to be coming out tomorrow. These things take months and years to develop and we stopped funding all the way back during the coronavirus and the investment has not come back."

A large part of that cut in funding, Sitton explained, comes from governments and powerful interest groups that have lobbied pro-climate change investments and driven money and taxpayer dollars away from the oil and gas industry.
Full story
2) Russian gas pipeline starts flowing backwards taking fuel out of Germany as Biden warns Putin not to use resources as a weapon - while troop movements near Ukraine alarm intelligence officials
Mail on Sunday, 31 October 2021
President Joe Biden has warned Vladimir Putin not to weaponise natural resources for political purposes after Russian gas pipeline starting flowing backwards out of Germany.

Fuel supplies in the Yamal - Europe pipeline with goes from Russia to Germany via Poland had come to halt on Saturday, with the direction of gas actually reversing.

But energy firm Gazprom played down concerns saying that all European orders were being fulfilled.

One Russian news media report even suggested the flow reversal was a short-term problem caused by balmy weather in Germany over the weekend.

Russian troops movements near Ukraine have also caused concern among some US and European intelligence officials, according to the New York Times.

Videos posted on social media show large numbers of tanks and soldiers being moved from Siberia towards Ukraine. The elite 1st Guards Tank Army has also appeared to move to the region.

Similar movements for a large scale Russian exercise caused similar alarm last year, but this time no exercise is scheduled.

The supply drop comes amid an explosion in gas prices across Europe, and accusations that the Kremlin is restricting gas supplies for political purposes.

There are also suggestions Russia is pushing the EU to approve a controversial new pipeline, Nordstream 2, that would bring gas from Russia directly to Germany, bypassing Eastern Europe.

US President Biden last night met outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the fringe of the G20 summit in Rome to discuss the manipulation of natural gas flows.

A White House source said the leaders were meeting to underscore the importance of 'ensuring that Russia cannot manipulate natural gas flows for harmful political purposes'.

Full story
3) G20 leaders 'largely avoiding firm goals' ahead of COP26, says report on draft statement
Sky News, 31 October 2021
A draft joint statement on climate change action by G20 leaders largely avoids firm commitments to tackle the problem, according to the Reuters news agency.
Boris Johnson and other leaders are in Rome for the summit of the world's major economies this weekend, ahead of the crucial COP26 climate change talks involving almost 200 countries that start in Glasgow on Monday.

While the G20 leaders are set to say they aim to limit global warming to 1.5C - the level scientists agree is vital to avoid disaster - their draft statement contains few concrete actions to limit carbon emissions, Reuters journalists who have seen the statement report.
"We remain committed to the (2015) Paris Agreement goal to hold the global average temperature increase well below 2C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels," the draft says.
Leaders also say they recognise "the key relevance" of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century - a goal that United Nations experts say is needed to achieve the 1.5C cap on warming, but some of the world's biggest polluters have still not committed to it.
Full story
4) Coal countries balk at G20 phaseout calls
Politico, 30 October 2021
ROME — A group of coal users and coal exporters is blocking efforts for the G20 to call for an end to coal use — something organizers had hoped would send a powerful signal ahead of COP26 climate talks starting Sunday.
Diplomats from the U.K. and Continental Europe are pressing for a commitment by the large economies to phase out coal, a fuel responsible for about 44 percent of man-made CO2 emissions.
But Australia, India, China and Russia are holding out, a European diplomat said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived in Rome after a bloody fight to set a domestic net-zero emissions target for 2050 — a goal that pointedly does not aim to halt the country's lucrative coal exports.
"We are not engaged in those sort of mandates and bans. That's not the Australian government's policy, it won't be the Australian government's policy," Morrision said after talking to French President Emmanuel Macron, who asked him to commit to ending the production and consumption of coal at home and abroad.
A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British hosts of the COP26 climate summit would continue to push Morrison: “We do believe Australia can do more on areas such as coal.”
The G20 leaders will discuss climate change and energy on Sunday morning. Also on the table in draft agreements seen by POLITICO were deals to end international coal finance, ramp up action during the 2020s, reach net-zero emissions “by mid-century,” and halt the construction of new coal plants “in the 2030s.” Negotiations were continuing on Saturday evening and none of the specific language had been settled.
The economic and political interests of the regions where coal is mined and burned are proving to be an obstacle for the organizers of the G20 and the upcoming COP26.
Full story
5) Ian Williams: China’s energy crisis
The Spectator, 30 October 2021

The Communist party may be facing the sort of decline it wishes on the West

The absence of Xi Jinping from COP26 in Glasgow this weekend should strip away any illusion that China is a serious partner on climate change. It also points to another intriguing possibility – that we may be witnessing not Peak Carbon, but Peak China. The Communist party may be facing the sort of decline it wishes on the West, and as with the climate, the impact could be dangerous and unpredictable.

By staying at home China’s leader can concentrate on what has become an urgent priority for his government: massively ramping up the production and import of coal to solve the energy crunch his increasingly unsustainable economy is facing. That might have been a bit of a conversation stopper around the dinner table in Scotland.

Old coal mines are being rapidly brought back into production and output ramped up at existing ones. China is scouring the globe for coal, and ships are queuing to drop if off at the country’s clogged ports.

Xi has stepped up sanctions-busting imports from North Korea, according to a UN panel of experts responsible for monitoring sanctions on the North on behalf of the Security Council. The panel obtained satellite images of Chinese coastguard vessels looking on while coal was transferred from North Korean vessels to Chinese-flagged ships. Beijing pressured the panel to place the photographs in a confidential annex of a report published in September, though the incident is described in the text.

China’s energy crisis is being described as the worst in a decade. Half of the country’s provinces are rationing electricity, factories have closed, and there are regular blackouts. There are a number of reasons for the crisis, including flooding in coal producing regions, but most can be traced to policy missteps. These range from an economic bounce-back after Covid that relied on energy-hungry construction and heavy industry, to self-defeating energy subsidies. Coal prices in China reached an all-time in October, more than doubling since the beginning of the year, before falling back on government intervention. In some cases power stations have cut output in order to avoid generating electricity at a loss. A cold winter will massively exacerbate the problem.

There are reports that China is once again bringing in coal from Australia, which would a humiliating climbdown after it banned Australian imports following Canberra’s call last year for an independent enquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

Glasgow was always going to be tough for Xi. China is the world’s biggest polluter, responsible for 27 per cent of global emissions of greenhouse gases. 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 studies 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. It is currently building new coal plants at more than 60 locations across the country

China has pledged that its greenhouse gas emissions will reach their highest point before 2030 and the country will reach carbon neutrality before 2060. It announced some cosmetic changes to that programme in the run-up to COP26, light on detail and heavy with caveats, leaving little doubt that Beijing is now prioritising its economy.

In the run-up to COP26, Xi said China would no longer finance coal-powered plants internationally. This was presented as a concession and eagerly embraced as such by the West, desperate for signs of Beijing’s cooperation. It was no such thing. Construction had already dried up because of the soaring price of coal and the fall in price of renewables, as well as concern over debt among the recipients of Beijing’s largesse.

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 it remains addicted to coal. Fossil fuels still account for 85 per cent of energy used, and coal represents 57 per cent of that. It consumes as much coal as the rest of the world combined, and has given few details of how it intends to kick the habit – rendering its pledges meaningless.

Taken in isolation, China’s energy crunch would be challenge enough for the Communist party, but it comes at a time of multiple and growing problems. The bursting of the country’s property bubble continues apace. Evergrande, the world most indebted property company, teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, kept in a state of suspended animation by a Communist party terrified of the consequences of a crash. And the contagion is spreading, with other property companies unable to pay their debts. It is not just that property and property-related goods and service are a driver of growth, representing 28 per cent of the economy, it is that Evergrande is in many ways the Chinese economy in microcosm – a scary combination of eye-watering debt, lack of transparency and diminishing returns on wasteful investment.

Even if the Party manages to muddle through, bailing out and shuffling distressed assets on to state-owned banks and other pliable entities, the country could face years of relative economic stagnation.

It also comes at a time when the Party has taken aim at some of the country’s most dynamic companies, from Alibaba, the king of e-commerce, to private tutoring platforms. There are multiple reasons for this, but it essentially boils downs to the Party asserting greater control, particularly over data, and a further centralisation of power around Xi. Whether this is conducive to creating the sort of domestic-driven innovation economy China aspires to have must be doubtful – especially when it is increasingly cut off from the Western IP that is has so easily been able to steal, copy or otherwise acquire in the past.

Foreign investors in China are a stoic bunch. There have been times when it has seemed there was no end of abuse they were willing to take for a slice of the mythical China market. Some still suffer from a version of Stockholm Syndrome, where a hostage increasingly identifies with their captor. But there are signs of increasing unease, a realisation that Xi Jinping wants their soul and not just their money. He wants them to take sides. There are whispers that China is becoming increasingly uninvestable.

Hard-nosed financial types have rarely been squeamish. A million imprisoned Uighurs rarely gets in the way of a profitable Chinese investment. But profit is now more challenging and the Party is armed with a rash of new security, data and cyber laws empowering it to take out through the front door what it used to steal from the back. And Hong Kong is no longer immune. For those living in the former British colony, Communist Party repression has reached their doorstop. It was always a bolthole, a place of sanctuary from the harder edges of doing business in the mainland. Now ‘one-country two-systems’ is dead and the Party is rounding up critics as enthusiastically in Hong Kong as it does on the mainland. The best venues for Hong Kong leaving parties are reportedly booked up weeks in advance it.

Internationally, China is no longer having such an easy ride. There is increasingly alarm and growing pushback against Beijing’s bullying. The country’s ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy is increasingly counterproductive. It is significant that while much of the publicity about the Aukus deal for Britain and America to provide nuclear-powered submarine technology to Australia centred on French outrage, it was quietly welcomed throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Other alliances, including the Quad grouping of India, the US, Australia and Japan, and the Five Eyes signals intelligence sharing alliance of the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are being refreshed and repurposed with China in mind.

The belief that we need China’s cooperation on climate change and North Korea has given Beijing enormous leverage over the West. This was made explicit when China told John Kerry, American’s climate change ambassador, that the price for cooperation on climate is bilateral concessions in other areas. Beijing has shown that it cannot be trusted on carbon or Kim, which should diminish Xi’s ability to use them as leverage. America and other nations are looking for ways to wean themselves off their dependence on China’s monstrously large economy just as they have reduced the reliance on fossil fuels. It’s not quite ‘net zero China by 2050’ but there is real and justified anger among policy makers about the CCP’s lack of transparency as to the origins of Covid-19.

British policy remains muddled – recognising China as a ‘systemic competitor’ and criticising human rights abuses, while seeking deeper trade and investment links. Beijing does not hesitate to use investment as coercion. Ahead of October’s Global Investor Summit’ at the Science Museum last week, Boris Johnson said, ‘China is a gigantic part of our economic life and will be for a long time - for our lifetime’, and declared that he wasn’t about to ‘pitchfork’ away Chinese investment. In interviews at the time of the Aukus Pact (and during the deployment of the Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific), Johnson could barely bring himself to mention China. China’s leader became ‘Xi Who Cannot Be Named’.

Over the years there have been numerous predictions of doom and gloom for China’s economy, once described as the bubble that never pops. The combination of factors we are now seeing does feel different, but also dangerous. Peak China may fall back on increasingly strident nationalism – something we are already seeing. A gory chest-thumping Korean War movie, The Battle of Lake Changjin, commissioned by the Party’s propaganda department, has just broken all box-office records in China. It depicts the People Liberation Army’s ‘volunteers’ defeating the killing lots of villainous Americans in one of the major battles of the war. ‘Resist American aggression and aid Korea — protect your home and country!’ scream the brave volunteers as they scramble through the snow.
COP26: What are China's real intentions?


Click here to watch the webinar
5) Join the first FLOP26 livestream tonight
Climate Resistance
The FLOP26 livestream is a daily, 1 hour show for each day of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, offering a wide range of guests, countering the single-sided story being heard there, and on the news media. 
The first FLO26 Livestream will kick off the series tonight at 7pm (EST 2pm; CST 1pm; MST 12pm; PST 11am).  
Net Zero Watch director, Benny Peiser will join Ben Pile to talk about the prospects for Britain's presidency of COP26and the UK's Net Zero agenda -- both of which look decidedly unstable.
Watch here tonight
7) We claimed £70,000 in grants for a heat pump - but it still saved us NOTHING... and it's so chilly our daughter keeps her coat on indoors
Mail on Sunday, 31 October 2021

The greeting as I step inside the kitchen is open and friendly, but not particularly warm. This has nothing to do with the hospitality extended by homeowners Lee and Jane Roche and all to do with the room's rather chilly temperature.

Welcome to the world of heat pumps, the technology that the Government is banking on to help it meet new and bold carbon emission targets. Fine in theory, underwhelming in practice. The Roches now question their decision to have the heating system installed in their detached four-bedroom home, situated in the village of North Luffenham in Rutland.

Just a couple of inches below my feet lies a labyrinth of tubing filled with tepid water – pushed around by a giant £30,000 ground source heat pump that hums away in its own room next door.

The Government has just announced it will offer grants of up to £6,000 to install such eco-friendly technology from next April. Yet what it is less keen to promote is that this 'bribe' is far less generous than a previous deal that is quietly being dropped in March – and one which the Roches took advantage of.

They were able to claim £70,000 in grants to install their heat pump under the 'renewable heat incentive scheme'. Yet, even with such a huge bribe, Jane is not convinced the heat pump saves them any money – or was even worth installing for free.

The kitchen's temperature is such that ten-year-old daughter Imogen keeps her coat on to stay warm. Jane admits she would prefer it to be perhaps a couple of degrees Celsius warmer.

To raise the room temperature you do not simply turn up a thermostat as you might with a traditional gas boiler. Instead, you adjust heating control in the pump house. As these units are designed to push out relatively modest heat levels, the extra energy required to reach a higher temperature means it is often not cost effective – ramping energy bills even higher. [...]

The Roches' heat pump relies on the underground pipes being warmed by the soil, where temperatures are typically between six and 12 degrees Celsius. The pump then uses compression technology to further boost the heat. The other heat pump alternative – that will benefit from a £5,000 grant – is air sourced. It costs less money – typically £15,000 compared to around £20,000 for a ground source pump. But you might still need to spend a further £10,000 on double glazing and cavity insulation if you do not have a modern airtight home.

The air pump extracts warm air from a box outside – the size of a small washing machine. This air is then blown into the home – or used to heat up water or big radiators. But it may struggle to heat a house when the outside temperature is close to or below zero degrees Celsius.

Full story
7) Tony Parsons: We didn’t vote to be greener and we didn’t vote for rampant energy bills
The Sun, 31 October 2021
Nobody voted for this new green religion. Nobody voted to be colder and poorer. Nobody voted for rampant energy bills.
WILL the UN’s COP26 climate change conference be a true step towards a cooler, cleaner, greener planet – or an excuse for virtue-signalling big-shots to show off their fully recyclable halos?

The leaders of two of the world’s greatest polluters — Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia — are not even bothering to come to the summit, which begins today in Glasgow, currently rat-infested and rubbish-strewn, thanks to the SNP.

That doesn’t make COP26 (the letters stand for “conference of the parties”) meaningless, but it puts our national debate into perspective.

Boris Johnson blusters about our glorious green future with an evangelical zeal.

But this country produces just one per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

So even if Brits abolish our gas boilers for heat pumps, and ditch all our petrol and diesel cars for electric vehicles, mother earth is unlikely to notice.

True change will only come if the world acts as one.

The UK has vowed to reach “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 — whatever the damage to our economy, comfort and way of life.

But why does going net zero — currently costed at £97billion per year in green funding and lost taxes — need to be enshrined in law?

And will we proceed even if the world’s greatest polluters ­continue to puke their poisons into the world, while chuckling at our hopelessly naive idealism?

This feels like a unilateral act of self-harm.

Already there has been a call — ironically enough, in Boris Johnson’s old paper, the Daily Telegraph — for a ­referendum on net zero.

For there is a big green elephant in the room when the Government preaches about finishing with our gas boilers, our cars, our international travel and our wicked, meat-eating ways.

Nobody voted for this new green religion. Nobody voted to be colder and poorer. Nobody voted for rampant energy bills.

This is a democracy deficit too gigantic to ignore.

So, if our politicians insist on policies that entail the greatest upheavals to our lives since the Industrial Revolution, they need to take the people with them.

They need our consent. And if they can’t do that, then the inevitable backlash will do nothing but harm to the clean green cause they seek to promote.


Already you see it with Insulate Britain, who desecrate and demean an undeniably brilliant idea — better insulation for Britain as a way of conserving energy — with their loony protests, glueing themselves to the fast lane of the M25.

The arrogance of saying that their ­protests are more important than anything — you going to work, you taking your child to school, you getting your sick parent to hospital — will never make this world a better place.

Boris needs to win hearts and minds and not make us feel as though we are being force fed all his groovy, green sub-Greta Thunberg rhetoric.

Because at the moment, this Government’s eco obsession is creating a world where owning a car and international travel and adequately heating your home will only be for the privileged few, including the Royal Family and former Prime Ministers.

My elderly diesel car — bought brand new when then Prime Minister Gordon Brown assured us all that diesel fumes were excellent for the environment — became a pariah this week, fined £12.50 every day for daring to exist within London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s sprawling Ultra Low Emission Zone.

But what about the white van man who can’t afford to pay your daily diesel tax, Mayor Khan?

And what about the single mother who can’t afford a shiny new Tesla electric?

There is a growing disconnect between ordinary working men and women and eco-preening politicians.

There will be protesters all over the litter-strewn streets of Glasgow this week.

But who is protesting in Tiananmen Square?
9) Jeremy Warner: Don’t be fooled: a cost-free energy transition is just magical thinking
The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2021
Without China and India on board, there is of course very little point in Britain and other Western nations continuing with their net zero targets; it won’t make much of a difference to the ultimate outcome.
From one big set piece event, the Budget, to the next, Cop26, which kicks off this week in Glasgow. At the time of writing, hopes of the breakthrough that is thought to be needed to limit global warming to the UN determined ceiling of no more than 1.5 degrees were not high.

UK officials have been decidedly downbeat about the chances in recent weeks, with both China and India refusing to commit to what’s deemed necessary. This may be just clever expectation management, all the better to surprise us with when the rabbit is miraculously pulled from the hat.

But for now, things do not look at all promising, with China’s Xi Jinping refusing even to attend the conference; that may say more about rising tensions with the United States than his lack of commitment to climate change goals. The geopolitical standoff shows unnerving signs of seriously derailing any cooperation there might have been on emissions.

But there it is; certainly the climate change target China published last week falls well short of what was hoped for. India’s Narendra Modi is at least attending, but he’s not giving any commitments at all. Both jurisdictions plan to keep ramping up their use of coal.

Without China and India on board, there is of course very little point in Britain and other Western nations continuing with their net zero targets; it won’t make much of a difference to the ultimate outcome.

But persist regardless is what the UK plans to do. As host to the latest climate change summit, it has little choice in the matter. Already the UK is relatively well advanced with the required energy transition, having almost totally abandoned coal-fired power and replaced it with renewable forms of energy generation.

But the hard yards of decarbonising industry, transport and home heating have yet to come, and this is where the costs ratchet upwards precipitously.

Starry-eyed predictions from some environmentalists that the transition can be achieved at zero cost because the technology is advancing at such a pace that it eventually promises boundless energy at a much cheaper price is, I’m afraid, for the birds.

Whatever the future operational cost of renewables and other forms of non-carbon energy, they will be expensive to build out and will require the sunk capital of existing fossil fuel infrastructure to be largely written off. Make no mistake, investors will charge for the privilege.
Admittedly, a lot of the existing infrastructure would eventually have to be replaced anyway. There is also a somewhat esoteric accounting argument which says that if the Government has decided that fossil fuels pollute and are therefore a public harm, then the old infrastructure is already essentially valueless.

Renewables therefore carry no “additional” cost. Believe it if you will. In any case, to replace dependable gas-fired boilers with heat pumps is, whichever way you look at it, just pure cost, as is disposing of the still perfectly functional old banger in favour of an all-electric Tesla or BMW.

Take heat pumps; as things stand, these will set you back approximately £10,000 a pop more than the equivalent gas-fired boiler in return for a worse, if cleaner, heating system.

In his Budget last week, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, tried to make out that he was only putting up taxes to pay for the one-off costs of the pandemic. Once these had flushed through the system, he could return to the tax-cutting agenda which is supposed to be the loadstar of all Tory chancellors.

Sorry, but that just doesn’t hold true. If Brexit delivers as promised, and the UK economy races away as hoped, then obviously everyone will be richer and the Chancellor will be able to give back some of the taxes he has raised without having to cut spending. 

But that’s not what the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and most outside forecasters are predicting. The prognosis is for tepid growth at best.

If the Chancellor is serious about wanting to reduce taxes, then he should not have increased spending by so much. You cannot have it both ways; you cannot simultaneously respond to the demands of an ageing population, plausibly tackle climate change, and pursue a credible levelling up agenda on the one hand, while cutting debt and taxes on the other.

The one requires a permanent step change in government spending, which in turn demands a step up in the tax burden. I’m willing to bet that both will be higher by the end of this Parliament than even the OBR is projecting, particularly if public sector workers cut up as rough on pay as they threaten to. This is a circle that even Sunak cannot hope to square.

As for the costs of achieving the “net zero” target that will fall directly on the public purse, some attempt to quantify them was made in last week’s spending review, with the Treasury estimating that net zero outgoings between 2021-22 and 2024-25 will total £25.5bn, rising from £4.4bn this year to £7.7bn in 2024-25, or from 0.4 to 0.7 per cent of total public spending.

Unfortunately, that’s just the start of it. It’s later that the numbers really start to accelerate. The OBR estimates that the total fiscal costs of getting to net zero will be substantial, adding some 21 per cent of GDP to public debt by the middle of the century.

Interestingly, this is not judged to be exceptional compared with other economic shocks, notably the financial crisis and the pandemic. None the less, it all has to be paid for. And if we don’t act decisively now, the OBR has warned, the costs of catching up later could be more than double that.

What’s more, that’s just the half of it. The Government has artfully piled most of the costs of getting to net zero onto households and businesses by setting a series of rolling targets for banning gas guzzling technologies – a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars from 2030, and a mooted ban on the sale of gas boilers after 2035, for instance.

This is part of a pattern in which ministers abdicate responsibility for their own climate change goals by piling obligations onto the private sector instead.

Under pressure from the Government, the Bank of England last week said it would consider forcing banks to hold extra capital to cover risks related to climate change, an initiative that would amount to a kind of carbon tax by stealth on the declining fossil fuel industry.

All these costs will be spread out over a period of nearly 30 years, which ought to make them at least manageable. But don’t believe in the magical thinking of a cost-free transition.

For low and middle income earners, the costs are going to be significant, and even for those on higher incomes, there may be a sting in the tail, in that they are likely to be called on through the tax system to subsidise those for whom the transition is a real burden.
Somewhere over the rainbow, a cleaner world of much lower energy costs may await, but both financially and geopolitically, getting there is going to be a monumental struggle.
10) Adam Houser: Google, YouTube, and the Climate Inquisition
The Washington Times, 30 October 2021

A slippery slope toward censorship and intellectual tyranny

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” says the famous Monty Python comedy sketch.

But unfortunately, everyone can expect the coming Climate Inquisition.

Google has announced it will now prevent ads and monetization supporting content that questions climate change alarmism. This includes YouTube.

Google’s support document on the policy says: “… we’re announcing a new monetization policy…that will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.”

What makes this new policy so concerning is that Alphabet Inc., which is the parent company for Google and YouTube, has a near-monopoly on internet search and video. According to, Google has a worldwide market share for internet search engines of almost 88 percent. Global Media Insight says over 2.3 billion people use YouTube at least once a month and that it is the second most popular social media platform.

What are the limits of what a private company can prohibit on its platforms? This is the debate politicians and citizens have been having, at least regarding social media, for years now.

The libertarian argument goes something like this: “As a private company, Google can do what it wants to limit content on its platforms. Don’t like it? Go somewhere else!”

But when that company owns 88 percent of global online search traffic, as well as the largest video hosting platform in the world, there is little else to go to.

Yet Google assures users that the best experts are being consulted, so there is no need to worry!

“In creating this policy and its parameters, we’ve consulted authoritative sources on the topic of climate science, including experts who have contributed to United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports.”

What about experts that say the United Nations, and their assessment reports, may have a few things wrong when it comes to climate policy? Google doesn’t pay them any mind.

For example, Dr. Steven E. Koonin, who served as science advisor for President Barack Obama’s Department of Energy, said the UN’s climate models don’t hold up under scrutiny in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: “The latest models also don’t reproduce the global climate of the past. The models fail to explain why rapid global warming occurred from 1910 to 1940 when human influences on the climate were less significant.”

Dr. Koonin also has a fair amount of criticism concerning AR6, the UN’s latest climate assessment report, saying in that same piece: “The Summary for Policy Makers section says the rate of global sea-level rise has been increasing over the past 50 years. It doesn’t mention that it was increasing almost as rapidly 90 years ago before decreasing strongly for 40 years.”

Physicist Dr. Ralph Alexander also criticized the UN’s climate report. He said, “there’s no scientific evidence that global warming triggers extreme weather, or even that weather extremes are becoming more frequent. Anomalous weather events, such as heatwaves, hurricanes, floods, droughts and tornadoes, show no long-term trend over more than a century of reliable data.”

Unfortunately, scientific experts are beginning to be censored across not just digital media but all media. The Los Angeles Times has banned letters to the editor from those skeptical of a climate emergency. In 2018, Chuck Todd, host of “Meet The Press,” said he would not give any air time to “climate deniers.”

But it goes further than mere censorship. Prominent figures are even advocating for the jailing and prosecution of those who are skeptical of a man-made climate crisis.

When asked what should happen to climate “deniers,” environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said: “I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at the Hague, with all the other war criminals who are there.”

When actor Bill Nye was asked the same question, he said, “We’ll see what happens. Uh, was it appropriate to jail the guys from Enron?”

In 2015, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) suggested that climate skeptics could be prosecuted under RICO laws used for racketeering enterprises.

Do these all seem like things that should be done in a free, democratic society? It seems more like the beginnings of the Inquisition by the Catholic church hundreds of years ago.

In 1633, Galileo was charged with heresy as part of the Roman Inquisition for his continued assertion that the earth orbited the sun. Galileo was not sentenced to death. Instead, he was sentenced to lifelong house arrest. He was forced to recant his beliefs.

Like Galileo, will scientists and experts be forced to recant their belief that we don’t face an imminent, dire climate emergency?

Will they even be subjected one day – as ridiculous as it may sound now – to house arrest or prosecution, as Senator Whitehouse wants?

Google’s ad ban may be one more step in a long slippery slope toward censorship and intellectual tyranny – a Climate Inquisition, if you will.

The London-based Net Zero Watch is a campaign group set up to highlight and discuss the serious implications of expensive and poorly considered climate change policies. The Net Zero Watch newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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