Friday, January 21, 2022

Net Zero Watch: As war looms in Europe, energy crisis deepens


In this newsletter:

1) Vladimir Putin 'is now plotting a full-scale invasion,' UK defence chiefs fear
Daily Mail, 19 January 2022
2) After approving Russian gas pipeline, Biden opposes European gas pipeline
EurActiv, 10 January 2022

3) Bernard-Henri Lévy: Putin Is Waging War on Europe
The Wall Street Journal, 19 January 2022
4) Mark Almond: The EU's abandonment of Ukraine is shameful
The Daily Telegraph, 18 January 202
5) Andrew Stuttaford: Europe's wind energy falters (again)
National Review, 17 January 2022
6) Energy crisis: Household finances face worst hit from surging bills since 1970 by end of this year
Sky News, 19 January 2022
7) UK Govt considers subsidising fossil fuels to keep energy bills down
Daily Mail, 18 January 2022
8) Using taxpayers' money to pay energy companies will 'deepen the cost of living crisis'
Daily Express, 19 January 2022
9) IEA warns government to stop meddling in energy market
City A.M., 19 January 2022
10) Climate activists lose court case against UK Oil and Gas Authority
Offshore Engineer, 18 January 2022

11) West Virginia divests BlackRock over its Net Zero agenda
West Virginia State Treasurer, 17 January 2022

12) And Finally: ‘Wildly incorrect’ Covid modelling bounced Boris Johnson into second lockdown, MPs told

Full details:

1) Vladimir Putin 'is now plotting a full-scale invasion,' UK defence chiefs fear
Daily Mail, 19 January 2022

Vladimir Putin will opt for the 'nightmare scenario' of a full invasion of Ukraine as tensions rise towards tipping point, UK defence chiefs fear.

The region has been on a knife-edge since the end of last year when Moscow moved as many as 100,000 troops, as well as tanks and missiles, close to the border.

The White House warned yesterday the situation was 'extremely dangerous' and that Moscow could launch an attack 'at any point'.

It had been thought Mr Putin would choose the 'simple option' of sending troops into the Donbass region in south-eastern Ukraine and then negotiate for it to become an independent state, providing a buffer between pro-western Ukraine and Russia.

As the region is already occupied by pro-Russian separatists, and has been in a state of war since 2014, it was believed it would offer little resistance.

But the latest intelligence now has Ministry of Defence chiefs worried about a much larger incursion, raising fears of warfare engulfing cities and high civilian death tolls.

They believe Mr Putin's troops are being positioned in line with his new objective, with armoured divisions set to head into neighbouring Belarus on exercise but now stationed within striking distance of Kiev.

Last night a senior defence source said: 'We strongly believe [Putin's] preference is for a full invasion rather than a limited offensive. In a sense he might as well go for as much of Ukraine as he can get hold of because the penalties are just the same.

America last night warned the Kremlin of 'massive consequences' as its top diplomat flew to Europe for last-ditch talks aimed at averting war.

In a hastily arranged trip, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to arrive in Kiev last night to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He then moves on to Berlin and will also hold talks with France and the UK.

Looking to impress on Moscow the need for de-escalation, he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov decided yesterday 'it would be useful' to meet in person on Friday in Geneva.

In a call to Mr Lavrov, Mr Blinken 'stressed the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions'. A senior State Department official said: 'This is neither an exercise nor normal troop movement. It is a show of force and plans for a possible invasion.

'This is extremely dangerous. We are now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack on Ukraine.'

The official warned the Kremlin: 'Our message, and that of our allies and partners, is that Russia has two choices: diplomacy and de-escalation, or escalation and massive consequences.

'Should Russia invade, we will provide additional defensive equipment to Ukrainians.'

'Also, if he just occupies the eastern regions he will never be able to take back the whole of Ukraine because of the inevitable strengthening of Ukrainian forces in the remainder of the country in the aftermath.

'It is the nightmare scenario.'

Mr Putin is aware that as Ukraine does not belong to Nato, there will be no military response by Western states.

Similarly, the economic sanctions threatened by the US and the UK apply regardless of the scale of such action.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday before holding talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday in the latest attempt to defuse the crisis.

'Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation,' said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

'We're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine, and what Secretary Blinken is going to go do is highlight very clearly there is a diplomatic path forward.

'It is the choice of President Putin and the Russians to make, whether they are going to suffer severe economic consequences or not.'

Officials said last week that Russia had deployed agents trained in sabotage and urban warfare to launch a 'false-flag' attack on proxy forces, providing the pretext for invasion.
Full story
NZW: Government’s years of irresponsible neglect has left Britain “at mercy of Putin”


2) After approving Russian gas pipeline, Biden opposes European gas pipeline
EurActiv, 10 January 2022

The United States is no longer supporting the construction of EastMed gas pipeline project as Washington’s interest is now switching to renewable energy sources, according to a State Department statement. According to Greek media, the move profits Turkey.


Opposed by Biden: The Mediterranean gas pipeline that would have changed Europe's energy security 
“We remain committed to physically interconnecting East Med energy to Europe. We are shifting our focus to electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources,” the US State Department said.

The statement added that at a time when Europe’s energy security is more than ever a question of national security, “we are committed to deepen our regional relationships and promote clean energy technologies”.

The US is now backing projects such as the planned EuroAfrica subsea electricity interconnector from Egypt to Crete and the Greek mainland, and the proposed EuroAsia interconnector to link the Israeli, Cypriot and European electricity grids.

“Such projects would not only connect vital energy markets but would also help prepare the region for the clean energy transition,” the statement added.

Cyprus, Greece and Israel signed in January 2020 a “historic” agreement for the construction of the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, which is considered a project of common interest of energy infrastructure in Europe.
It aims to transfer between 9 and 12 billion cubic metres a year of offshore gas pumped in fields between Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.

The discovery in recent years of huge natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has whetted the appetite of nearby countries but exacerbated geopolitical tensions between Turkey and its neighbours.
Several Greek media reported that Joe Biden’s move politically winks at Turkey, who since the beginning has opposed the EastMed deal as it was bypassing it.

“Any project disregarding Turkey, who has the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Island of Cyprus, cannot succeed. We bring this fact once more to the attention of the international community,” Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at the time.

Greek OPEN TV channel also reported that the Americans believed that EastMed caused tensions in the regions and therefore wants relevant players to focus on other projects that would also bring political stability in a highly tense region.

Also, the US is interested in selling its own LNG and it may not want to sponsor competing pipeline gas.
Full story
3) Bernard-Henri Lévy: Putin Is Waging War on Europe
The Wall Street Journal, 19 January 2022
His officials and media supporters have started talking openly about ‘military confrontation.’

The West is obsessed by the pandemic. International politics has all but disappeared from the public conversation, so that few people seem concerned by the imperial ambitions of the new Russia.

I refer to the ferocious repression in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and the images of Russian tanks there, eerily similar to those in Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968. And to the 150,000 Russian troops massed near the border with Ukraine, holding the Europeans of Kyiv’s Freedom Square at gunpoint. And to the draft “treaty” delivered to the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Dec. 17, a document that Françoise Thom, in an article in Desk Russie, reveals to be, in Moscow’s eyes, a veritable ultimatum.

Ms. Thom quotes Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying that if the U.S. and NATO fail to meet Moscow’s demands, they will face “a military-technical alternative” and will see “the continent” become “the theater of a military confrontation.” Gen. Andrey Kartapolov, a former vice minister of defense, raises the possibility of “a pre-emptive strike.” Of Russia’s firing of Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles on Dec. 24, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he hoped they would make the Dec. 17 proposal “more convincing.”
Never before have Russian officials expressed themselves publicly this way. Vladimir Mojegov, whom an article in French on the Russian website Sputnik calls a “political analyst and Americanist,” jokes that the same Zircon missiles are “more reliable allies” for Russia, that they can “crack a destroyer like a nut,” and that they are capable of “shooting at unwieldy aircraft carriers like a pistol at a can.” The pro-Putin Svobodnaya Pressa asserted that if NATO is enlarged, Russia “will bury Europe and two-thirds of the United States in half an hour.”

This rising extremism only half-surprises me.
I have feared its coming since August 2013, when President Obama, in Syria, gave the signal to retreat and ushered in a world without America.
I took its full measure in Amsterdam in 2019 during a public debate with Alexander Dugin, one of Mr. Putin’s ideologues and a proponent of neo-Eurasianism.
But it would be good if this extremism hit home with high-ranking European officials who continue to see Russia as a peaceful neighbor surrounded by ill-behaved Westerners, or Mr. Putin as a leader trying simply to defend his right to his personal space, his lebensraum, his cordon sanitaire.
It would be very good if the sleepwalkers in France, America and the rest of the world would wake and hear Russian military expert Konstantin Sivkov musing about Russia’s “nuclear potential” to “physically eliminate” Europe and explaining that, at the end of this hypothetical nuclear war, “there will be . . . almost no survivors.”
There remain, among supposedly enlightened Western thinkers, many fools who would accept the annexation of Crimea to avoid the annexation of Ukraine, and then the invasion of Ukraine to prevent an invasion of the Balkans, followed by the subjugation of the Balkans to ward off the Finlandization of the Baltic states, the neutralization of Poland, and even the placing under Russian tutelage of the great states of Western Europe. This is all reminiscent of the appeasement that produced the 1938 Munich Pact.
Mr. Putin has declared war on Europe, and the West. It is a cold war, a war deferred, with an Iron Curtain falling (for the moment) along the Ukrainian frontline. But it is a war all the same.
Its instigator now bears in history’s eyes the immense responsibility of having broken the taboo against war, which has preserved the safety of the European Continent twice devastated by world war. During the 80-odd days leading up to the presidential election in France, there should be no issue more pressing than this programmatic kidnapping, as Milan Kundera might put it, by one of our worst enemies.
Mr. Lévy is author of “The Will to See: Dispatches From a World of Misery and Hope.”
4) Mark Almond: The EU's abandonment of Ukraine is shameful
The Daily Telegraph, 18 January 2022
Claims that Germany had “blocked” RAF transport planes carrying anti-tank missiles to Ukraine from flying over its airspace seem to have been exaggerated. Yet the truth is worse. Berlin no more acted to block our help going to Kiev than it has been willing to back up Ukraine to block any potential Russian invasion.
Its passivity in the face of a looming crisis means that Berlin is not the pivot of Europe but a power vacuum at its heart.
There were hopes in the West that Angela Merkel’s retirement last year would usher in a less cosy relationship between Berlin and Moscow. The delay to certifying the Nordstream 2 pipeline suggested a firmer line. But as tensions have mounted, the new German government seems to think that sweet-talking in Kiev and Moscow will wish away the war clouds.
When she was appointed foreign minister in the new German coalition government last month, Annalena Baerbock seemed to mix Green Party concerns with a human rights agenda which put her at odds with the Kremlin. But her comments in Kiev yesterday suggested that her line is little different from Angela Merkel’s, which was incredibly weak in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis in 2014. 

Ms Baerbock’s double visit to Kiev and Moscow has demoralised the Ukrainians and emboldened the Russians. They see that she has only words. Even the hints of sanctions suggest how little Germany will do rather than how firmly it will act.

Germany isn’t alone to blame for splitting the Nato response. President Macron has talked a big game of asserting the strategic sovereignty of  a “united Europe” able to pool its diplomatic, military and economic weight. But when trouble looms, and his re-election fight in April approaches, Macron chooses the path of strategic silence.

To paraphrase Churchill, Macron's grand strategy is a riddle without a sphinx to embody it.

Washington’s attention span wobbles between domestic crises to China and Taiwan, to North Korea and the Middle East. This makes Brussels’ absence from the table as this crisis mounts in Eastern Europe a desperate indictment of the dreams of the EU as a key player for peace and security.

Sadly, Vladimir Putin sees an unfocused Joe Biden in the White House and a British prime minister mired in scandals. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, might be scanning the clouds on the horizon, but can Whitehall galvanise the European allies by itself?

With the Americans absent, it is desperately destabilising that Europe’s two “engines” — Germany and France — have stalled at this critical moment. Germany’s energy dependence on Russia, and France’s dependence on the German-dominated European Central Bank in Frankfurt, have stymied any EU-wide underpinning of Nato.

Think back to how President Macron and Chancellor Merkel last year wanted to restart a dialogue between the EU and the Kremlin, over the heads of the other members. Paris and Berlin would be the double-mouthed voice of Europe negotiating with the double-headed Russian eagle. That suggestion was shot down not least by the Poles and the Baltic States, but nothing clearer was put in its place. Now Germany has revived that  suggestion but without even French participation.

Italy, like Germany, is heavily dependent on Russian gas. Like Paris, Rome looks to Berlin for a lead.

Vladimir Putin may be more of an opportunist than a grand strategist, but a headless Europe tips the balance in favour of him acting to grab what he can while he can.
5) Andrew Stuttaford: Europe's wind energy falters (again)
National Review, 17 January 2022
One of the countless ironies running through current climate policies is that progress may be about to go into reverse, not because of climate change, but because of policies designed to combat it.

One of mankind’s great achievements has been the way that, across an ever-increasing part of the planet, we have reached a level of technological sophistication that has meant that we can go about our business without, extreme events aside, having to worry too much about what the weather is doing.
One of the countless ironies running through current climate policies is that that progress may be about to go into reverse, not because of climate change, but because of policies designed to combat it, and, more specifically, what looks more and more like a premature dash into wind energy. One of the triggers of the prolonged energy-price squeeze in the U.K. was the failure of winds over the North Sea to do what was expected of them in the late summer/early fall.
I wrote a bit about this in mid September, and here’s Joe Wallace in the Wall Street Journal, on September 13:
"Natural gas and electricity markets were already surging in Europe when a fresh catalyst emerged: The wind in the stormy North Sea stopped blowing.
The sudden slowdown in wind-driven electricity production off the coast of the U.K. in recent weeks whipsawed through regional energy markets. Gas and coal-fired electricity plants were called in to make up the shortfall from wind.
Natural-gas prices, already boosted by the pandemic recovery and a lack of fuel in storage caverns and tanks, hit all-time highs. Thermal coal, long shunned for its carbon emissions, has emerged from a long price slump as utilities are forced to turn on backup power sources.
The episode underscored the precarious state the region’s energy markets face heading into the long European winter. The electricity price shock was most acute in the U.K., which has leaned on wind farms to eradicate net carbon emissions by 2050. Prices for carbon credits, which electricity producers need to burn fossil fuels, are at records, too"
Perhaps “leaning on wind farms” to the extent that the U.K.’s ruling establishment (this is more than a matter of Tory incompetence, although the Conservative Party deserves a great deal of the blame) has decided to do was not the wisest course of action, particularly when combined with — and even more of the blame rests with the Tories for this — moving to a more or less just-in-time supply arrangement for gas.
But that failure by the wind to do what it should was a rarity, a one-off, right?
Now may be a moment to be start thinking of that Anakin/Padme meme.

The Daily Telegraph today (scroll down a bit):
"Power prices have surged to their highest level in a month as an extreme lull in wind threatens to hit supply.
Prices for Monday evening jumped to £1,161 a megawatt-hour – the highest since December 16. At the same time, wind output is set to slide below 1.5 gigawatts, compared to a 10-day average of 6.3 gigawatts.

The surge in prices highlights the pressure on the UK power market as ageing nuclear reactors are shut down and aren’t immediately replaced."


Nasdaq (also today):
"PARIS, Jan 17 (Reuters) – The German spot price jumped on Monday as wind supply was predicted to fall sharply on Tuesday.

Broker Marex said in a short-term comment that power supply would be lower than expected this week.
Wind supply is significantly reduced day on day and residual load is seen up throughout the region, Refinitiv analyst said, adding that residual load is down compared to last week.

The German Tuesday baseload TRDEBD1 stood at 232 euros ($265.01) per megawatt hour (MWh) at 0956 GMT, 58.6% above the price paid last Friday for Monday delivery."
Full post
6) Energy crisis: Household finances face worst hit from surging bills since 1970 by end of this year
Sky News, 19 January 2022

Households in Britain could soon be spending more of their money on energy than any previous generation, including during the oil shocks of the 1970s and '80s, according to Sky News analysis.


If the energy price cap rises in line with current wholesale prices, by the end of the year the share of family expenditure on heat and power will exceed the peaks of the 1980s, taking them towards unprecedented highs.

The projections are the latest evidence of the impact families will face if and when record gas prices are passed onto them by their providers.

In 2019/20, before the latest series of price hikes, Britons were on average spending 4.2% of total household spending on electricity, gas or other fuels to heat their homes. This was comfortably below the average over the past half century, about 4.7% of total spending.

However, if the energy price cap takes the average bill up to £2,000 this spring, as is implied by Ofgem's formula, the share spent on heat and power will rise to 5.6% of spending. That would be the highest overall electricity/gas burden since the early 1980s.
Full story
7) UK Govt considers subsidising fossil fuels to keep energy bills down
Daily Mail, 18 January 2022

The taxpayer could hand energy firms huge subsidies to stop them hiking bills for customers when gas costs soar, under plans being looked at by ministers.

The mooted 'temporary price stabilisation mechanism' would kick in when wholesale costs go over a set threshold.

Firms would agree not to increase bills for consumers in return for the money - but they could also repay it when prices go below the agreed level.

According to the Financial Times, Rishi Sunak recognises that the proposals could leave the government heavily exposed to prolonged high gas costs.

But the Chancellor and Boris Johnson are increasingly desperate to find a way of easing the pressure on households, with bills on track to rise by another 50 per cent in April and wider inflation spiking.
Downing Street refused to comment on the idea, saying: 'There's obviously ongoing policy discussions taking place across government on what's the right course of action, but beyond that I'm not going to get into speculation.'

The PM's official spokesman said: 'Real wages are 2.9 per cent above pre-pandemic levels. But we know people are facing pressure with the cost of living.'

'That's why we're taking action worth billions of pounds to help – be it the Universal Credit taper, increasing the minimum wage, supporting households with their bills and freezing alcohol and fuel duty.'

The spokesman added: 'Globally we are seeing challenges caused by inflation and cost of living, particularly as the global economy emerges from the worst of the pandemic.'

MailOnline understands that other options are currently regarded more favourably by ministers.
Full story
8) Using taxpayers' money to pay energy companies will 'deepen the cost of living crisis'
Daily Express, 19 January 2022

PLANS to use taxpayers' money to pay energy companies worth billions to keep bills down came under attack yesterday.

A "temporary price stabilisation mechanism" is being considered by ministers wanting to protect hard-pressed householders from spiralling gas and electricity prices.

The scheme would see the state making payments to energy suppliers when wholesale gas prices rise sharply in a bid to soften the financial impact on consumers.

Energy companies would only have to pay back the money when wholesale prices trade below an agreed level.

But John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Using public money for bailouts will only lump more costs on taxpayers.

"With the tax burden already at a 70-year high, handing over money will do nothing to encourage energy firms to solve their underlying issues.

"If ministers want lower prices for consumers they should power ahead with eliminating green levies that place an extraordinary burden on household bills and businesses. Using taxpayers' cash to keep bills down will only deepen the cost of living crisis."

Full story

9) IEA warns government to stop meddling in energy market
City A.M., 19 January 2022

The government should reconsider plans to further interfere in the domestic energy market, argues the Institute of Economic Affairs.


The think tank’s energy analyst Andy Mayer told City A.M. the current spike in energy prices is “rooted in the government’s interventions in the energy market”.
He criticised Downing Street plans, first reported in The Financial Times, to soften the blow for UK households by handing energy suppliers public money whenever wholesale gas prices rise sharply from market shocks.

Under proposals being weighed up by the government, energy firms would be supplied with public funds when wholesale prices exceeded a threshold, to prevent price hikes being passed on to consumers.
The measure, known as a temporary price stabilisation mechanism, could potentially be self-funding as energy companies would have to return money to the government when wholesale prices traded below the agreed level.
However, this would be dependent on energy prices declining, as it would otherwise leave taxpayers exposed to higher costs from propping up suppliers.
Mayer said: “More intervention is not a solution and will make these problems worse. This policy is a mask, when what the market needs is a vaccine.”
Instead of introducing more measures to control the market, the IEA analyst suggested that the UK should give the green light to new developments in the North Sea and support onshore fracking, which would help shore up the country’s energy supplies and potentially contain soaring prices.

He concluded: “Addressing neither error, while introducing a hidden price cap, will further damage competition and ensure that taxpayers are exposed to higher costs for longer. The main winners will be financiers supporting wholesale hedging contracts, not the public.”
This outlook was largely shared by the IEA’s economics fellow Julian Jessops.
While he acknowledged there was “no easy or cheap ways to keep energy bills down”, Jessops felt the so-called price stabilisation mechanism had two main flaws.
Firstly, he questioned why the taxpayer should bear the risk of price fluctuations when “market incentives can only work properly if risks are shared by consumers and suppliers”, and he also said the scheme would prevent consumers from benefitting from future price falls.
He added: “The proposed mechanism is described as ‘temporary’ and ‘self-funding’, but it cannot really be both. For the taxpayer to get their money back, the scheme would need to be in place for a long time. And during this time, suppliers would have to pass any savings from lower wholesale costs to the taxpayer rather than to customers.”
Full story
10) Climate activists lose court case against UK Oil and Gas Authority
Offshore Engineer, 18 January 2022

A UK High Court on Tuesday threw out a case brought by climate activists against the country's oil and gas regulator OGA, rejecting their argument that the OGA's actions amount to a type of unlawful subsidy of the fossil fuel sector.

The ruling, seen by Reuters, is a setback for climate activists who are increasingly taking to the courts to force a reduction in oil and gas production in order to control global warming. In particular, activists won a landmark Dutch case in May 2021 requiring Shell to deepen emission cuts.

In the UK case, activists including a former oil refinery worker targeted the OGA's assessment of applications for oil and gas field developments on a pre-tax basis, noting in some years if oil and gas prices were low the government actually returned money to producers rather than benefiting from tax receipts.

This, they argue, is in conflict with both the government's long-standing policy of "maximising economic recovery" of oil and gas in the British North Sea, meaning that oil and gas extraction there should make commercial sense, and with Britain's 2050 net zero emissions goal.

"I reject the contention that the strategy is unlawful because the definition of 'economically recoverable' was irrational. It follows that the claimants' claim fails and is dismissed," Judge Sara Cockerill said in the ruling document.

Britain's treasury received around 248 million pounds ($337 million) from oil and gas production in 2020/21, a drop of 71% on the previous year, according to official data, due to a plunge in oil and gas prices during the pandemic.

In a joint statement, the claimants Mikaela Loach, Kairin van Sweeden and Jeremy Cox said they would decide whether to appeal within the next few days.

"Regardless of what we decide, the billions that the UK government has wasted propping up the oil and gas industry have finally been made public. There is no going back. The fight to stop the flow of public money to oil and gas companies is just getting started," they said.

The Paid to Pollute campaigners highlight tax years such as 2016/17 when an oil price slump meant the government returned 400 million pounds to oil producers.

British energy and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and the OGA said they welcomed the ruling.

"Turning off North Sea oil and gas overnight would put energy security, jobs and industries at risk - and make us even more dependent on foreign imports. This has to be a transition, not extinction," Kwarteng said on Twitter.

Full story
11) West Virginia divests BlackRock over its Net Zero agenda
West Virginia State Treasurer, 17 January 2022
“Any company that thinks Communist China is a better investment than West Virginia energy or American capitalism clearly has a bad strategy.” 


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State Treasurer Riley Moore today announced the Board of Treasury Investments, which manages the state’s roughly $8 billion operating funds, will no longer use a BlackRock Inc. investment fund as part of its banking transactions.
The decision was based on recent reports that BlackRock has urged companies to embrace “net zero” investment strategies that would harm the coal, oil and natural gas industries, while increasing investments in Chinese companies that subvert national interests and damage West Virginia’s manufacturing base and job market.

“As the state’s chief financial officer and chairman of the Board of Treasury Investments, I have a duty to ensure that taxpayer dollars are managed in a responsible, financially sound fashion which reflects the best interests of our state and country, and I believe doing business with BlackRock runs contrary to that duty,” Treasurer Moore said.

Treasurer Moore said this action is consistent with his belief that the state should not do business with firms whose corporate policies directly threaten West Virginians’ interests and livelihoods.

Treasurer Moore also pointed to the significant financial risks associated with firms that invest heavily in China, due to that country’s lack of free market protections, intellectual property rights and outright government interference in markets and business activities.

“The Chinese government’s blatant interference and controls over businesses and markets creates a tremendous amount of uncertainty and risk for anyone attempting to invest there,” Treasurer Moore said.

BlackRock has been criticized for investing in some Chinese companies that have been identified by the U.S. Department of Commerce as “acting contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States.”

“BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has been outspoken in pressuring corporate leaders to commit to investment goals that will undermine reliable energy sources like coal, natural gas and oil under the guise of helping the planet, but at the same time he’s pouring billions in new capital into China, turning a blind eye to abhorrent human rights violations, genocide and that country’s role in creating the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Treasurer Moore said. “Even liberal financier George Soros has said BlackRock’s China investments are ‘a tragic mistake’ that could potentially damage our national security.

“Any company that thinks Communist China is a better investment than West Virginia energy or American capitalism clearly has a bad strategy,” Treasurer Moore said. “We will continue to give our state’s business to people who aren’t simultaneously trying to destroy our economy.”
12) And Finally: ‘Wildly incorrect’ Covid modelling bounced Boris Johnson into second lockdown, MPs told
The Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2022
Boris Johnson was bounced into the second coronavirus lockdown after a “terrifying” and “wildly incorrect” model warning of 4,000 deaths a day was leaked to the press, MPs have heard.


Speaking at a debate at Westminster Hall on the use of models in the pandemic, Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid recovery group, described how the Prime Minister had contacted him shortly before announcing new restrictions on October 31 2020 asking for advice.
Modelling from Cambridge University and Public Health England (PHE) had suggested that without immediate restrictions there could be 4,000 deaths per day by the end of December.
Mr Baker said that he had told Mr Johnson to challenge the model, and Prof Tim Spector, of King’s College London, and Prof Carl Heneghan, of Oxford University, were called into Downing Street to go over the data.
But by the time the models were shown to be inaccurate, it was too late to stop public calls for restrictions.
Mr Baker said: “By Monday, Carl Heneghan had taken the wheels of those death projections, by which time the Prime Minister had, disgracefully, been bounced using a leak into a lockdown. This is absolutely no way to conduct public policy.
“The reality is the Prime Minister was shown a terrifying model which was subsequently proven to be widely incorrect but he took away freedoms from tens of millions on that basis.
“It is monstrous that millions of people were locked down, effectively under house arrest, their businesses destroyed, their children prevented from getting an education.
“The situation is now perfectly plain that even our most basic liberties can be taken away by the stroke of a pen, if a minister has been shown sufficiently persuasive modelling that tells them there is trouble ahead.”

Mr Baker, the MP for Wycombe, called for the establishment of an Office for Research Integrity within the Cabinet Office to challenge the data coming from modelling.
The Westminster debate was called by Bob Seely, the MP for the Isle of Wight, who argued that the use of the modelling in the pandemic was approaching a national scandal.
Mr Seely warned that the “doomsday public health scenarios” had been used to create a “despicable” and “unforgivable” climate of fear, based on “a sort of glorified guesswork.”
“Never before has so much harm been done to so many, by so few based on so little questionable and potentially flawed data,” he said.
“We had a nervous Government presented with doomsday scenarios which panicked it into a course of profound acting with shocking outcomes.
"I believe the use of modelling is pretty much getting up there for a national scandal."
Mr Seely told MPs that there was a growing body of evidence suggesting that the models were flawed and the wrong assumptions made.
“Why did we think it was in our nation's interest to create a grotesque sense of fear to manipulate behaviour?”, he added.
“Never again should the Government rely on dubious modelling.”

Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said far too little attention had been paid to the collateral damage of lockdowns.
“This wasn’t just a paper exercise,” she said. “These models and the weight they have been given has caused serious destruction to lives,
“Who was modelling the outcomes of child abuse, of poverty, of loneliness and despair and fear?”
Responding to the debate, Maggie Throup, the vaccines minister, said that an inquiry into modelling should form part of the official pandemic inquiry and promised that “lessons will be learned”.
But she said the Government did not just rely on models but also looked at what was happening in the real world.
“Modelling is helpful but it must be considered alongside what is happening to real people at home, in schools or in hospitals,” she said.
“Comparisons between past scenarios and what actually happened should be made with caution and we’re comparing apples and pears.”

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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