Thursday, November 11, 2021

Net Zero Watch: Majority of Britons unwilling to pay higher taxes for Boris Johnson's Net Zero plans


In this newsletter:

1) Majority of Britons unwilling to pay higher taxes for Boris Johnson's Net Zero plans
The Sunday Telegraph, 7 November 2021
2) Welcome to Net Zero Britain: UK pensioners face crippling winter as fuel bills for over 75s soar
Sunday Express, 7 November 2021

3) Sleaze-hit Boris Johnson loses opinion poll lead
London Evening Standard, 8 November 2021
4) Hot air and ‘greenwash’: the truth behind COP26 pledges on coal, cash and trees
The Daily Telegraph, 8 November 2021

5) Rupert Darwall: Are we heading for a Net Zero crash?
The Spectator, 8 November 2021
6) The price of climate hysteria: Poor nations to sue UK and others over hurricane damage
The Times, 8 November 2021
7) US set to wrap up COP26 with little to show on climate
Financial Times, 7 November 2021

8) Dominic Lawson: Presidents Xi and Putin are laughing at us
The Sunday Times, 7 November 2021

9) COP26 is a gigantic flatulent mess of incoherence and sanctimony: Ex-No10 Special Adviser STEVE HILTON claims our entire establishment has been possessed by an almost spiritual climate cult
Mail on Sunday, 7 November 2021
10) Richard Tice: Throwing away good boilers is mad - we need a referendum on Net Zero 
Sunday Express, 7 November 2021

Full details:

1) Majority of Britons unwilling to pay higher taxes for Boris Johnson's Net Zero plans
The Sunday Telegraph, 7 November 2021

Less than half the population is willing to pay thousands of pounds to make their homes greener and help meet Boris Johnson’s net zero goals, a major new study has suggested.


Only the majority of well-off Britons support higher costs & taxes for Net Zero policies

As the Prime Minister this week seeks to clinch a historic climate pact at Cop26 in Glasgow, polling and focus group research revealed the UK remains deeply divided on how the domestic green agenda should be funded.

Conducted by centre-right think tank Onward and pollster JL Partners, the survey found that while hiking taxes to fund cheaper public transport, installing electric vehicle infrastructure and driving behavioural change enjoyed broad support, policies targeted at homes were those most “politically difficult” to achieve.

When confronted with the huge costs involved in hitting the UK’s world-leading targets, just half of the 8,500 people polled said they were willing to pay higher taxes, while 46 per cent were also unprepared to tolerate higher prices for fuel and household items.

In two focus groups conducted in Redcar, a key red wall seat that voted Tory in 2019, and in Southampton Itchen, a southern marginal constituency, respondents also expressed fears they would be “taxed ridiculously” and “bled dry”.

The research concluded that all the respondents expected to pay more tax and higher prices to hit net zero, and noted that most spoke about how measures to reach net zero would hit the “people in the middle like them, while the very richest and poorest had protection.”

Alongside concerns over increased taxes and prices, the study highlighted significant declines in support for several green policies designed to curb emissions - before and after the estimated cost to the individuals surveyed were disclosed to them.

This drop was most severe with home interventions, such as installing insulation, double glazing, and improving energy efficiency as a condition of selling a property, with high levels of net support found to have reversed into net negative figures.

In a boost for Mr Johnson, the polling also revealed that support for climate action now enjoys net support among voters of all political parties, while two-thirds of Britons believe the Government needs to be bolder.

There is a shared sense of urgency across Britain, with the proportion of voters identifying it as one of the most important issues facing Britain rising from 6 per cent to almost one-third over the past decade.

Voters are also increasingly positive about green job creation, with the research finding 72 per cent of all voters, excluding those who did not express an opinion, agreed that more roles in clean industries would be created than lost from old polluting sectors.

However, the researchers noted that while “climate change and support for bolder action from the government enjoys strong support from approximately 70 per cent of voters, this falls to around 50 per cent when people are confronted by the prospect of higher taxes or prices.”

It suggests that Mr Johnson will be forced to walk a difficult political tightrope in deciding how to fund his long-term strategy for hitting net zero emissions by 2050, which analysts estimate could cost more than £1 trillion over the next three decades.

It also raises significant questions over the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, published last month, which suggested that homeowners could in future face having to improve the energy efficiency of their properties under the terms of their mortgage.

The plan for decarbonising homes, backed with £3.9 billion of funding, is seen as vital to the net zero strategy, with a large amount of UK emissions coming from homes.

But the Government has faced criticism over the generosity of its £450 million “boiler upgrade scheme”, which is set to provide grants of £5,000 to just 90,000 households over the next three years.

Mr Johnson has pledged to work with industry to cut the price of cleaner technologies, such as replacement heat pumps, while Government sources insist the cost for individual households can be driven down through private sector investment.

“Our entire approach is to incentivise people to choose more efficient, low carbon technologies - whether that’s electric cars that cost 1 pence a mile to run, hydrogen boilers or heat pumps that will collapse in price over the next decade,” a Whitehall source said.

The study also suggests that the green agenda could pose significant challenges for Mr Johnson’s new electoral coalition, finding that support for higher taxes and prices drops further for those on low incomes, non-graduates and renters, who are all net opposed.

Just 44 per cent of Conservative voters are prepared to pay more tax and 41 per cent more for goods, dipping again for those who switched to the party in the 2019 election.

A second strand of the polling also identified that support for nine green policy interventions fluctuated wildly when respondents were polled “blind” and then again after they were provided with estimates of the costs to them personally.

When asked whether they backed making every household install better insulation and double glazing, with funding provided for the poorest households, 50 per cent of those surveyed agreed and just 14 per cent disagreed.

But when they were provided with the estimated cost of £8,000 per household affected, this support flipped, with 38 per cent disagreeing and just 26 per cent agreeing - a switch from +36 points net support to - 12.

The researchers excluded those who did not express an opinion, with net support calculated by subtracting those who agreed with the policies from those who disagreed.

Near identical patterns were seen when voters were asked whether homeowners and landlords should have to install high grade insulation and a low energy boiler to sell their properties, with net support shifting from +31 points to -13 when told this could cost up to £16,700 per home.

Support also continued to decline steeply with lower cost changes, such as the Government offering a payment to every household that replaces an old gas boiler with a heat pump or hydrogen alternative.

While respondents were found to be +46 points net supportive when surveyed blind, they were just +7 points when it was posited that their taxes could have to rise by as much as £50 a year to fund the policy.

The findings appeared to be supported by focus group responses, which were based on a sample of working voters aged 25-65, who hail typically from middle to lower socioeconomic groups.

In Southampton Itchen, Claire, a health practitioner, told the researchers: “I’m willing to make changes but I don’t want to be forced to make certain changes and be impacted financially… We don’t get to make choices but we have to pay for them. I worked hard, I bought my house, I will run it the way I want”.

In Redcar, one voter named Tara suggested the price of net zero was also closely associated with the cost of living, telling the researchers: “Some people are on the brink as it is and can’t even afford a bus”. Another, named Martin, said: “You’re going to see it in your food bills, your fuel costs, your housing costs and your taxes.”
Full story
2) Welcome to Net Zero Britain: UK pensioners face crippling winter as fuel bills for over 75s soar
Sunday Express, 7 November 2021

NEW figures showing that older people are spending the most of energy has fuelled fears that pensioners will put their health in danger by turning down the heating this winter.

Households on average spend £10 per person for a week’s energy, but this rises to £14 for households in the 65 to 74 age bracket and £16 for those aged 75-plus.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves responded to the Labour research by pressing for a VAT cut on domestic energy bills.

Age UK has called for pensioners not to switch off or turn down their heating but to contact the charity to see if they qualify for financial support such as pension credit, which can open the door to other help including cold weather payments....

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK, said: “Many older people, particularly those on a low fixed income, are undoubtedly feeling extremely anxious about the prospect of soaring energy costs in the months ahead. More than a million older households are already living in fuel poverty and surging energy prices seem certain to make that number considerably higher by spring.
Full story
3) Cop-Flop: Sleaze-hit Boris Johnson loses opinion poll lead
London Evening Standard, 8 November 2021

The Tories have lost their lead over Labour as Boris Johnson’s “good Prime Minister” rating has plummeted to its lowest since he entered No10, an exclusive poll reveals as a sleaze storm rages at Westminster.

The Ipsos MORI survey for The Standard put the Conservatives on 35 per cent, down four points on September, Labour unchanged on 36 per cent, the Greens up a startling five points to 11 per cent, and Liberal Democrats unchanged on nine per cent.

For the first since Mr Johnson gained the keys to Downing Street, a majority of adults in Britain disagree that he has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister.

However, despite the grim findings for the Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer and Labour do not appear yet to have made any dramatic breakthrough in winning over voters.
Full story
4) Hot air and ‘greenwash’: the truth behind COP26 pledges on coal, cash and trees
The Daily Telegraph, 8 November 2021

The pledges have flown thick and fast; every day the Government and other authorities are making one bold announcement after another on the success of talks determining the future of the planet. But halfway through Cop26 in Glasgow, the reality may not be living up to the hype.

An analysis by The Daily Telegraph suggests a large gap between official communique and the stark truth.

What they say:

The UK made a breakthrough announcement last Thursday that 190 countries and organisations were now committed to phasing out the use of coal. In an official release, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business and Energy secretary, declared that “spearheaded by the UK’s Cop26 presidency… the end of coal is in sight”.

The reality:

Critics were quick to accuse the Government of overselling the deal. Although the announcement sounded impressive, the number of countries signed up totalled just 45 and did not include the US, China, India or Russia. Wales was cheekily included as an extra nation alongside the United Kingdom. The Government had also added to the pledge 120 entities who had already signed up to a separate Powering Past Coal Alliance agreed as long ago as 2017.

Even of the 190 entities that the Government was including, it emerged that only 23 were countries with new commitments and six of those had not fully committed. Ten of the countries that were signed up to the pledge don’t actually use the fossil fuel in their power stations.

The wording of the pledge also appeared to be watered down with a commitment to end coal power for developed nations by 2030 and by 2040 for developing nations. Crucially, a caveat was added “or as soon as possible thereafter”.

For example, Indonesia, a major coal user, agreed to phase out coal “into the 2040s” but only on condition of receiving financial support. Poland declared itself a developing nation to fit in with its own deadline of 2049.

What they say:

In Cop26’s first major deal, Boris Johnson announced that 110 countries – “more leaders than ever before” in the prime minister’s words – had made the “landmark” commitment to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. The pledge includes £14bn of public and private funds to encourage success.

The reality:

This all sounded like quite the breakthrough until experts pointed out it was hardly a “landmark” at all. A similar pledge was made in 2014 at the New York Declaration on Forests and five years on was declared a failure.

That declaration, endorsed at the 2014 UN climate summit in New York was endorsed by 150 governments, companies and other organisations. The deal pledged to halve deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030. But an official report in 2019 said the New York declaration had been a failure and that deforestation had “actually accelerated” in the intervening years.

There may be improvements this time round with Brazil – which includes vast swathes of the Amazon rainforest – and Russia among the signatories in Glasgow. Prof Simon Lewis, an expert on climate and forests at University College London, said the political commitment was “good news” but warned the world "has been here before" in reference to the 2014 agreement "which failed to slow deforestation at all".

What they say:

More than 450 firms with assets totalling $130 trillion announced their commitment last Wednesday to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. They signed up to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). Trumpeted by Mark Carney as a “watershed” moment, the former governor of the Bank of England declared: “Right here right now is where private finance draws the line.”

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, agreed. “This is a historic wall of capital for the net zero transition around the world,” said Mr Sunak.

The reality:

The announcement might have been “watershed” but the figure was “eye watering”, prompting the Financial Times to question the $130 trillion figure, pointing out that “the market capitalisation of the world’s stock markets is only about $120tn” in the first place.

Any lay person might have thought this vast sum was being invested to make the world go green. But it did not even include a promise that would prevent financial firms from making investments in fossil fuels.

The University of Oxford’s Oxford Sustainable Finance Group said it would not be possible to deliver on climate pledges without “halting the financing of new fossil fuel infrastructure” and the GFANZ did not promise that. One campaign group – Corporate Europe Observatory – said that Cop26 “looks set to become the biggest finance greenwash in history”.

Critics pointed out that $100 billion promised to developing countries as long ago as 2009 to battle climate change in 2020 to 2025 will not be delivered until 2023 at the earliest. In other words, it’s all very well talking up a hypothetical $130 trillion, when $100 billion of real money still hasn’t been raised.

What they say:

Led by president Joe Biden and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, more than 100 nations pledged to reduce global methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. The influential International Energy Agency (IEA) said that with all the commitments being made at Cop26, the world was now on course to limit any temperature rise to 1.8C by the end of the century. This was heralded as a triumph for Cop26 because, pre-conference, the IEA was predicting a temperature rise above pre-industrial levels of 2.1C by the year 2100.

The reality:

The Global Methane Pledge comes with caveats. Major emitters like Russia, China and India have not signed up and the commitments are all voluntary.

The IEA announcement comes with its own pinch of salt. The United Nations points out that even with these national plans in place, all greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 13.7 per cent by 2030. In fact to keep to 1.5C, emissions need to fall in the next decade by 45 per cent.

Even the IEA is sceptical. Dr Fatih Birol, its executive director, said its updated analysis showed that the targets would need to be “met in full and on time” to hold the global temperature rise to 1.8C. But he added: “we still fall well short of what is needed to keep the door open to 1.5C.”
5) Rupert Darwall: Are we heading for a Net Zero crash?
The Spectator, 8 November 2021


So far, the big message from the Glasgow climate conference is the role of finance in decarbonising the global economy. It’s a dangerous development. In his speech to COP 26 last week, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, pledged action to 'rewire the entire financial system for Net Zero.' Finance has taken centre, stage in large part because of inadequate government policies.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, around two-thirds of global emissions are linked to private household activity. Reducing them requires major changes in people’s lifestyles, UNEP says.

So, rather than imposing carbon taxes that really hurt – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates a minimum of $135 (£100) a ton, rising up to $14,300 (£10,600) a ton in order to hit net zero in 2050 – governments prefer to outsource the heavy lifting to the world of finance in the hope that it will provide a pain-free path to the net zero goal. Financial institutions signed up to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero hold assets worth over $130 trillion (£100 trillion). 'This is an historic wall of capital for the net zero transition around the world,' Sunak declared.

Sunak might well have been speaking from a script provided him by Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England and instrumental in bringing together the Glasgow Financial Alliance. 'We must build a financial system entirely focused on net zero,' Carney says. Though billionaires and multimillionaires they may be, oligarchs of finance are custodians of other people’s money.
What’s missing in the craze for net zero and ESG (environmental, social and government) investing is B – as in B for beneficiaries. A financial system wholly geared to financing net zero isn’t one focused on savers and investors. Pension funds exist to generate secure incomes for pensions; insurers need to be solvent to pay out against insurance claims. Neglecting the B is a formula for financial ruin.

A financial system wholly geared to financing net zero isn’t one focused on savers and investors
Carney puts the net zero financing requirement at around $100 trillion (£75 trillion). 'If there’s a revenue stream, then the funding is infinite,' Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan told the Wall Street Journal. It should set alarm bells ringing when bankers stop talking about risk and prudence and start talking like Buzz Lightyear. 

These revenue streams don’t currently exist, but one way or another, they will be created – juiced up and supported by governments and multilateral aid agencies such as the World Bank. On the other side of the ledger, returns on investment in the production of hydrocarbon energy needed to keep the lights on and economies moving are to be suppressed, pushing up their cost. The day Sunak spoke, low wind speeds necessitated paying coal-fired power stations thousands of pounds per megawatt hour to help keep the lights on.

Ultimately, the revenue streams Moynihan and other bankers lend against come from taxpayers and consumers. Higher energy costs and supply disruptions would make it harder to service purportedly low-risk net zero financing. When bankers talk of the social value of bank lending, it has all the makings of a systemic financial crisis. 

In 1987, shortly after the Reagan administration’s botched Savings & Loan (S&L) deregulation, University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman warned of the dangers to bank capital when banks are induced by governments to channel credit to socially 'worthy' sectors like housing. There followed the S&L meltdown, which cost American taxpayers up to $124 billion (£90 billion). Two decades later came an order-of-magnitude larger financial crisis, also with its origins in housing finance. Using the global banking system to cross-subsidise net zero risks a financial crisis that would make 2008 look comparatively minor – much the way the S&L meltdown looks to us today.

Such thoughts must have been far from Sunak’s mind as the Glasgow COP’s host singled out British business for special treatment and announced that the U.K. will become the first ever 'Net Zero aligned financial centre.' That vision could see businesses being forced to file net zero transition plans policed by an independent task force. We live in a global, interconnected world.
About 62 per cent of the revenues of Financial Times Stock Exchange-100 companies are generated outside the U.K. Unilaterally imposing net zero on U.K.-listed companies inflicts a climate tax on them, forcing them to cede market share and profits to their non-U.K.-listed competitors. 

As a former Goldman Sachs banker, Sunak knows this full well, but a costly soundbite at a UN climate conference is evidently worth the damage to British businesses. 'Over $130 trillion (£100 trillion) of private capital waiting to be deployed; and a greener financial system, under way,' Sunak boasted, displaying a habit acquired from Tony Blair of speaking in sentences without verbs.
Indirect climate policies are not a substitute for direct government action to suppress consumer demand for greenhouse gas-emitting activities. Using the financial system as the principal policy instrument of decarbonisation will have unintended consequences and create immense distortions that threaten global financial stability and the functioning of a commercial society. 

Historian Adam Tooze calls the energy transition a 'historic experiment.' The climate crisis enters a new, dangerous phase as finance ministers, central bankers, and financial leaders all look to save the planet – with other people’s money.
6) The price of climate hysteria: Poor nations to sue UK and others over hurricane damage
The Times, 8 November 2021

Developed countries including the UK face a legal claim of hundreds of billions of pounds to compensate poorer nations for damage from storms and rising seas caused by climate damage.

A coalition of island nations, led by Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu, is preparing to launch a case at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Early next year they plan to seek an advisory ruling that countries with high historical emissions are liable to pay compensation for the damage they suffer because of climate change. If it succeeds they will file claims.

They say that they have made little contribution to global warming and the “polluter pays” principle should apply.

Molwyn Joseph, environment minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who is representing the Alliance of Small Island States at Cop26, said that his islands faced worse hurricanes and were entitled to compensation, not charity. He said that after Hurricane Irma had caused damage totalling more than £170 million to Barbuda in 2017, his government had appealed for international aid but received only a fraction of the amount needed to rebuild. “When damage is done, experts must come in and do their assessment to establish liability,” he said.

Scientists are confident that they can link specific extreme weather events to climate change and show that they were made much more likely and severe by emissions caused by humans.

Campaigners have estimated that in 2030 vulnerable nations will need at least $300 billion to cover loss and damage due to climate change.
Editor's note: Lawyers and officials concerned about the ruinous implications of government sponsored climate hysteria are welcome to study the GWPF's reports that scrutinise so-called 'climate attribution' methods and statistics on which the multi-billion compensation claims are based.



7) US set to wrap up COP26 with little to show on climate
Financial Times, 7 November 2021

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and dozens of members of Congress will converge on Glasgow this week, as COP26 enters its final few days, without any prospect of the US passing key climate-focused legislation before it ends.

The senior US politicians will fly to Scotland following a frantic few days on Capitol Hill, where US President Joe Biden managed to get his signature infrastructure bill through Congress, though without any of the major climate initiatives he had promised.

Many of those have instead been placed into a second piece of legislation, the fate of which remains uncertain as moderate Democrats continue to hold out for more information on how it will be paid for.

With days left until the end of the summit, climate activists have expressed disappointment about the lack of firm US commitments. But they are hoping the presence of so many members of Congress in Glasgow will give them a chance to press the case for passing Biden’s $1.75tn social security package, which includes around $550bn of environmental provisions.

Ramon Cruz, the president of the Sierra Club, an environmental organisation, told the Financial Times: “What happened this week in Congress is not ideal . . . The infrastructure package is not enough, it is not sufficient.”

“But we know that this is not the end of the road and we have to pass the legislation that could transform lives. Build Back Better [the social security bill] is such a transformational legislation.”

Biden has promised to put tackling climate change at the heart of his domestic agenda, and attended the Glasgow summit in person last week. But his administration disappointed many attendees when it refused to sign up to a pledge to phase out coal power, joining China and India in opting out of the 40-nation agreement.

The White House on Sunday insisted it remained committed to the climate agenda, pointing out the range of measures in the Build Back Better bill.

They include $300bn to induce energy companies to build clean power and build charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, $29bn to help finance zero-emission technologies and $19bn in tax rebates to encourage households and factories to install clean technologies such as rooftop solar panels.

After protracted negotiations in Congress, however, the bill does not contain headline-grabbing initiatives such as a carbon tax or a clean energy standard to force power companies to move away from fossil fuels.

Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, told CBS News on Sunday: “The Build Back Better plan that we’ve been talking about has the largest investment in American history to get us to a clean energy economy.”

Ed Markey, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, said on Saturday the bill would “unleash a revolution for clean energy”.

Klain and Biden both promised over the weekend that the legislation would pass, having secured an agreement from moderate Democrats that they would vote on it during the week beginning November 15.

But those moderates are refusing to guarantee they will vote in favour, saying they want to see an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office on how the bill would affect the US deficit before making a final decision.

Josh Gottheimer, one of the leading moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives, said on Sunday: “We just want to make sure we get that data, and that we’re able to align it with what we had received already [from the Treasury and the White House].”
8) Dominic Lawson: Presidents Xi and Putin are laughing at us
The Sunday Times, 7 November 2021

Cop26 has been a gift to our geostrategic rivals — and to hedge funds

The gap between rhetoric and fact is a perennial feature of politics. But seldom can the chasm between claim and reality have been as wide as that displayed by Alok Sharma at the Cop26 conference in Glasgow. The British president of the latest intergovernmental climate change gathering told the delegates (and the world’s media) that “the end of coal is in sight”, as a result of the agreement he had negotiated.
That was the rhetoric. Now the fact. Not only was the declaration to phase out coal by the 2040s not signed by the world’s top three consumers (China, India and America, which account for more than 70 per cent of the global CO2 emissions from burning the stuff); the pledge itself was neutered by the addition of the get-out “or as soon as possible thereafter”.

The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, observed that the absence of the biggest coal producers as well as consumers (Australia also refused to sign) meant the chances of meeting the proclaimed and mysteriously precise target of keeping global temperatures at no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels were “close to zero”. By then, however, all the heads of government who actually bothered to show up in Glasgow had already left in their private jets.

The fact that the leaders of Russia and China did not attend gave President Biden (who did, and was awake for much of the time) the opportunity to castigate them for their lack of involvement.

But Presidents Xi and Putin can at least be absolved of the charge of hypocrisy. Offstage in Glasgow the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, held talks with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, in which he urged Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to “further increase production” of oil — this from the official state department account of the meeting. Before flying in to Glasgow, Biden himself had even mooted the idea of punishing Russia and Saudi Arabia if they didn’t increase oil output soon (“What we’re considering doing on that, I’m reluctant to say before I have to do it”).

In its inarticulate way, this captures the confusion of the West’s official policy (of which the British government claims to be an exemplar). On the one hand our leaders want to make oil and gas production a thing of the past. On the other hand they know that their own voters can’t get enough of the stuff (not least for heating their homes) and in particular hugely resent any steep increase in its price. As BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, explained last week: “If you take away supply, but demand does not change, the only thing that happens is that prices go up.”
That has been happening in recent months — and it has been a boon for oil exploration and production companies. Their asset values have rocketed up in line with the price of crude. So you might think, if you have a mind for the value of your pension fund: I may be paying more at the pump, but at least my share portfolio will benefit.

Think again, perhaps. The big institutional investors, at the urging of their ESG (environmental, social and governance) committees, have been divesting from industries defined as polluting. And who have been the buyers? Hedge funds, mostly, such as that managed by Crispin Odey, whose European fund has risen in value by more than 100 per cent so far this year. Last month Odey told the Financial Times: “They [the big institutional investors] are all so keen to get rid of oil assets, they’re leaving fantastic returns on the table.” Another hedge fund manager, Josh Young of Bison Interests, observed: “People don’t understand how much money you can make in things that people hate.”

A friend of mine who is a fund manager said it reminded him of the situation some years ago with the tobacco companies: “A number of pension funds felt squeamish about holding their shares, but their clients, whose interests they were meant to serve above all, lost out, because the flow of dividends from the likes of British American Tobacco has continued to be stupendous.”

At least BAT is still a FTSE-listed company, so pension funds can invest in it if they wish. But Thérèse Coffey, the secretary of state for work and pensions, has announced plans to “name and shame” pension funds that prove unwilling to divest from polluting industries.

Two consequences flow from this. The first is that unquoted companies — which the “hedgies” can invest in without the restrictions that apply to big pension funds — will acquire “polluting businesses” at knockdown prices, making potentially vast returns for the people who already have the considerable sums required by such firms of their clients.

The head of the world’s biggest fund manager, BlackRock, made this clear at a panel discussion in Glasgow last week. Larry Fink observed that the disparity of obligation between public and private companies was creating the opportunity for “the biggest capital market arbitrage in my lifetime. We are seeing more hydrocarbons moving away from public entities to private entities.”

And the second consequence of Coffey’s proposals? If BP, Shell and the like are discouraged from investing in more oil and gas developments, then there will be even more dependence (as Biden has already unhappily noted) on countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia. Leave aside the economics; this is a form of geostrategic self-harm by the West. Or, at least, it will be unless the transition to a post-oil and gas era is far smoother than seems feasible.

It’s true that renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have become more competitive with fossil fuels. But not only is their intermittency a feature rather than a bug; the bizarre paradox is that the world’s biggest supplier of solar panels and wind turbines is China, whose cost advantage in producing them is achieved partly by its continued mass usage of coal energy — which it has no intention of checking in the foreseeable future, as Sharma has discovered, though not admitted.

Instead the Cop26 president chose to praise the corporation bosses who showed up in Glasgow by saying that, when he started his career in finance, “there was a guy called Swampy. He spent his time occupying trees and tunnels and he was the main face of climate action in the United Kingdom. But today the Swampys of the world are all around us, in boardrooms, in government departments and trading floors all around the world. You, my friends, are the new Swampys, so be proud.”

Perhaps they are proud. But I think of the laughter in the dark, from President Xi in Beijing and President Putin in Moscow. And I am worried.
Editor's Note: For a brilliant discussion of China's real 'green' and geopolitical intentions watch our recent webinar 


9) COP26 is a gigantic flatulent mess of incoherence and sanctimony: Ex-No10 Special Adviser STEVE HILTON claims our entire establishment has been possessed by an almost spiritual climate cult
Mail on Sunday, 7 November 2021

'The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,’ claimed America’s most prominent young Left-wing politician, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in January 2019. Now, according to her reckoning, we have barely ten years left.

The seemingly interminable frenzy of sanctimonious virtue-signalling, histrionic fear-mongering and shameless environmental hypocrisy is certainly doing its best to make the 12 days of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow feel like 12 years.

Just ask Joe Biden, who nodded off at the exact moment he was being told that this was the most important event in human history. How bad must the summit have been for the US President to turn his 85-vehicle gas-guzzling motorcade and fleet of four planes back over the Atlantic so he could rush home to see his fellow Democrats get a drubbing in state and local elections?

With Biden and other world leaders safely shuffled off the stage, the United Nations’ giant green jamboree enters its second week by no doubt getting down to the real business: a bunch of unscrupulous lobbyists and mobile phone-wielding activists cooking up ever-more ambitious schemes to pressurise big businesses to pretend to go green whether their customers like it or not, and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill through shady corporate subsidies extorted from feckless politicians too timid to stand up to any of the moralising eco-blackmail.

Cynical? I’m not the only one. Saint Greta Thunberg herself pronounced the summit a flop. She said: ‘It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure,’ accusing participants of ‘greenwashing’ and adding that the whole thing ‘has turned into a PR event’. Never have I agreed with her more.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Vote Blue, Go Green.’ ‘Hug-a-Husky.’ Wasn’t the environmental agenda at the heart of David Cameron’s bid to ‘modernise’ the Conservative Party? And wasn’t I, as his special adviser in No 10, at the heart of that?

Well, yes. But the slogan wasn’t ‘Vote Blue, Go Dumb’.

I’m all for sensible policies that help protect the environment – just like pretty much every Conservative I know.

WE LOVE nature and understand and respect it a lot more than many of the Left-wing crusaders whose idea of the natural world is a pot plant on their balcony, and who need an app on their phone to tell the difference between an oak tree and a silver birch.

I agree that climate change is real, affected by human activity, and that we should take steps to fight pollution of all kinds and protect the Earth for future generations. I’m a strong supporter of the American Conservation Coalition, which mobilises the young around environmental action through common-sense, market-based and limited-government ideals.

I have regularly hosted Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners, on my Fox News TV show to make the case for practical solutions to climate change that avoid the kind of manufactured alarmism and reckless catastrophising by ‘climate’ zealots that has most normal people rolling their eyes and reaching for some coal to burn just for the hell of it.

But the increasingly fatuous drivel served up by our leaders in the name of the ‘climate agenda’ – as they insist on calling it and which the Glasgow summit pushed to new heights of embarrassing incoherence – is not advancing the cause of environmental protection but harming it, and it’s time we said so clearly.
Let’s start with the most obvious and egregious stupidity: the fact that Western countries, in the name of curbing carbon emissions, are clamping down on their own domestic production of fossil fuels while at the same time begging OPEC to pump more oil to fill the energy gap that has been the inevitable result.

In California, the ruling Democrats have moved to ban fracking and, over time, all oil and gas extraction – while increasing imports from Saudi Arabia! How does that help fight climate change?

Shipping accounts for more carbon emissions even than air travel, not to mention the fact that fracking is the main source of natural gas – which is far less damaging to the environment than oil or coal, producing around 60 per cent less carbon dioxide.

No matter, say the politicians. Let’s just get a pat on the back from the activist groups for ‘taking on the fossil fuel industry’. Who cares if it causes emissions to rise? And who cares if it empowers authoritarian dictators such as Vladimir Putin, now exploiting Europe’s self-inflicted energy crisis to bolster his power and play geo-political games?

This same disconnect between the self-righteous green groupthink and the real world applies to the fossil fuel alternatives that we are assured are ready to take on the role of powering our economies in the future. Wind ’n’ solar, wind ’n’ solar... they repeat it like a mantra at every opportunity. The problem is, nobody told Mother Nature.

What happens when there’s a ‘windless summer’ as Britain just experienced? We’re about to find out, and it may not be pretty. International energy experts are predicting dire human consequences as energy prices surge and the most vulnerable in society bear the brunt. Are excess winter deaths among our most old and frail really a price worth paying for some negligible or non-existent progress towards a ‘climate’ target?

Whether it’s wind or solar, in an age of supposed technological progress and ever-increasing prosperity, why on earth are we making ourselves more dependent on energy sources that are less dependable?

Year-round sunshine is, of course, one of California’s most famous characteristics. So it’s not surprising that solar power has grown to become one of the main components of the state’s energy mix.

What’s more surprising is that the population of California – the fifth largest economy in the world if it was a separate country, the home of Silicon Valley and all its innovation – is now forced to submit to rolling power blackouts and Third World-style warnings about not using air-conditioning in the heat of the summer. Why? Because the energy from solar power can’t be efficiently stored.
As a result, much of it is wasted. Yet politicians, transfixed by the notion of ‘decarbonisation’, are not only forcing us to rely more and more on these power sources that are not reliable – they actually want to increase the demands on the electricity grid by making everyone drive electric cars. And here, too, the contradictions and calamities keep piling up.

The supply chain for these so-called ‘green’ technologies make an oil slick look clean. Ecosystems around the world are being devastated by mining for the ‘rare earth’ minerals that are a vital component in batteries for electric cars. Most solar panels are made in China where the main ingredients are slave labour and massive amounts of carbon-based energy in the manufacturing process.

None of this is to say we shouldn’t pursue these alternatives, or that we shouldn’t expect them to improve their environmental impact over time. But the vapid simplicities of the climate activists often give a completely false picture. In fact, everywhere you look, the ‘narrative’ of the climate change movement seems to take precedence over facts and reality.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the demonisation of countries such as the United States (which actually reduced its carbon emissions under President Trump, largely thanks to his deregulation of the energy industry, leading to an expansion of lower-carbon natural gas) and the praise received by ‘green’ countries such as Germany, whose emissions have been rising as a result of Angela Merkel’s disastrous and impetuous decision to phase out nuclear power.

And this brings us to the most glaring lunacy permeating the Establishment’s climate dogma: the rejection of the most reliable, carbon-free source of power we have, nuclear energy.

At the Glasgow summit, nuclear power was literally banished from the high-profile public ‘Green Zone’ because it is despised by green activists. I understand the sentiment. A decade or so ago, I myself was strongly opposed to nuclear power, chiefly on the grounds that the industry was heavily dependent on government support, particularly with respect to the costs of managing nuclear waste.

But ten years on, it’s a different world. We’ve seen rapid advances in nuclear power plant design, efficiency and safety, including the development of a new generation of smaller reactors, and ‘micro-reactors’ that could offer decentralised power to individual communities. These are much cheaper and quicker to build than the giant lumbering nuclear power stations from the mid-20th Century.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology experts estimate the total carbon emissions of nuclear power, including all construction and lifetime costs, are a quarter of solar power. They require far less space and raw material than wind farms. Above all, they are cheap and reliable.

So you have to ask why our leaders are so obsessed with forcing us to switch to energy sources that are more expensive and less reliable – and not even especially green, when you take into account their life cycle. The inevitable conclusion is that some form of almost spiritual climate cult has taken possession of the political, media and business establishment. They say things that aren’t true, propose ‘solutions’ that won’t work, and ignore the ones that would.

Instead of presenting a realistic assessment of how the climate is changing, and the right balance between adapting to those changes and trying to slow them down – we hear preposterously exaggerated threats of planetary doom.

Do they even know what the word ‘existential’ means, as they casually inform us that life on Earth could soon come to an end (a prediction unsupported by any scientific evidence).

Instead of advancing serious policies that would provide reliable, cheap, low-carbon energy for their own citizens and the wider world, we see the laughable spectacle of shallow politicians, desperate for the approval of self-appointed green zealots, competing with each other to spout ever-more ludicrous targets and timetables, knowing perfectly well they’ll never be held accountable for them because they will have long left office.

We see the developed world pompously lecture poor countries, instructing them to sabotage their own economic progress and become more dependent on rich countries in a kind of grotesque eco-colonialism, while allowing China to flagrantly ignore climate priorities and commission a vast expansion of coal-fired power without paying the slightest price.

We see our own energy security undermined while we strengthen the hand of some of the world’s worst autocrats and dictators. We see higher taxes and energy costs imposed on those who can least afford it, but subsidies and handouts for big business and the rich.

The whole thing is a giant, flatulent mess of incoherence and sanctimony, and the only saving grace is that the ghastly Glasgow summit has helped everyone see it for what it is.
10) Richard Tice: Throwing away good boilers is mad - we need a referendum on Net Zero 
Sunday Express, 7 November 2021
WHEN did you last replace a perfectly good piece of kit with something that may or may not work? Possibly never? Especially something that may cost £15,000 to install and cost you hundreds of pounds more every year to run?

As we approach another deep winter, our boilers are invaluable to us. We know they will keep us warm and cosy. Yet we worry how much the price of gas and electricity has gone up.

As I knock on doors canvassing in the constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup, people tell me this is their main concern. Why is the Prime Minister forcing us to get rid of perfectly decent boilers to replace them with an expensive heat pump that is noisy, inefficient, doesn’t heat water or radiators to the same heat and costs a lot more in electricity bills to run each year?

We all care about the environment and we all want cleaner air. So let's be smart about cutting emissions. People know in their gut that there is something not right about the Net Zero agenda being forced upon us by Boris and all the main parties in Westminster. The truth is that it is Net Stupid, not Net Zero.

When someone will not tell you the cost of something that they insist you do, it makes you suspicious. When they try to prevent debate by labelling you a denier, it makes you anxious. When they want to force you to do something, based on technology that is not yet ready nor proven, it is not right.

The Government's Net Zero plans will change your whole lifestyle, such as the way you heat your homes, the type of cars you drive, what you are supposed to eat, how much you can travel. This is dramatic and needs proper debate and we should all have a say, as there is another way, a smarter way. This is why we need a referendum on Net Zero.

If the Tory government were confident the people are behind them on these plans, why not put it to the vote? The truth is they are petrified. They keep making commitments such as we have seen at the COP26 summit this week, yet they don’t know the cost. They are not being honest about how many jobs will disappear overseas to China and elsewhere.

When the Tories took power in 2010 the U.K. was a net exporter of energy. In 2017, they promised us that we would create a new industry by using the cheap accessible shale gas literally under our feet. Yet we are now a net importer of energy, and exposed to the whims of President’s Putin and Macron in terms of price and supply.

The smarter way is to be self reliant. We can reduce emissions whilst using our own affordable shale gas for the next 30 years or more. Alongside this we can invest in new technologies such as small modular nuclear reactors, hydrogen, tidal power, more efficient solar panels and more.

We know progress will be made, discoveries made so that we will reduce emissions continually. These can create British jobs, using British engineering. I’m doing my bit with a great electric car but this is just at the beginning of a long journey. Let's make it affordable, reliable and smart. Let's have a referendum on Net Zero or Net Smart. Let’s trust the people.

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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