Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Net Zero Watch: Britain’s Net Zero wars heat up as both sides claim fresh MP backers


In this newsletter:

1) Britain’s Net Zero wars heat up as both sides claim fresh MP backers
Politico, 28 March 2022


2) Energy price shock will be bigger than in the 1970s, Bank governor Bailey warns
The Times, 28 March 2022

3) Desperate families voluntarily cut themselves off from energy suppliers as prices spiral
Express & Star, 28 March 2022
4) Chris Morrison: Does a ‘Great Disappointment’ await the climate zealots?
The Daily Sceptic, 18 March 2022
5) Tammy Nemeth: Back to the worst 1970s energy policies
Financial Post, 29 March 2022
6) William Watson: To save democracy, ship Canadian gas 
Financial Post, 29 March 2022
7) Coal makes a comeback after energy crunch puts the squeeze on the climate agenda
The Washington Times, 28 March 2022
8) Security flaws leaves electric cars at risk of cyber hacks
The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2022
9) Gas imports to soar without more North Sea investment, warns industry
The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2022
10) Hans-Werner Sinn: Germany's Energy Fiasco
Project Syndicate, 28 March 2022

Full details:

1) Britain’s Net Zero wars heat up as both sides claim fresh MP backers
Politico, 28 March 2022

Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Tories bags 58 members — but rival pro-green caucuses are also growing.

LONDON — There's a tug of war going on over Boris Johnson's promise to slash carbon emissions, as opponents and supporters both boast of fresh backing from MPs.

The Net Zero Scrutiny Group, a caucus of the Conservative Party determined to give Johnson’s green agenda a rough ride, was previously thought to comprise up to 20 MPs.

But its ranks have now swollen to 58, according to Craig Mackinlay, the Tory MP who chairs the group — and he's citing concerns over the cost of living as a driving factor.

“There is a slow and steady rise in interest, not necessarily on the back of the Ukraine crisis but energy security has been put into stark focus because of it,” Mackinlay said.

He said a few more signups had been secured off the back of the U.K.’s oil and gas regulator moving to seal the country's only remain shale gas wells in the north of England.

The rise in membership is part of the battle for hearts and minds in the U.K.'s governing party. The pro-green Conservative Environment Network (CEN) reported it now has 133 MPs signed up to its parliamentary caucus. That's more than half the total number of Tory backbenchers.

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and a potential future leadership contender, is the latest recruit.

Hunt said the push to decarbonize Britain's economy was needed “now more than ever, in light of the global gas crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine." A transition away from fossil fuels would, he said, “lower people’s bills, strengthen our energy security and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.”

Eighteen Tories have joined the CEN since the start of the year, including a handful of those newly elected at the 2019 general election.

CEN’s membership overlaps with the separate Net Zero Support Group (NZSP), which was set up by former minister Chris Skidmore to defend Johnson's drive.

The NZSP has around 30 members — although it's already subject to testy briefings from some of those skeptical of the decarbonization drive.

One Tory MP from the Net Zero Scrutiny Group claimed Skidmore’s outfit was an invention of the whips — the government’s enforcers of parliamentary discipline — and that “people will join it because they want to be a minister.”

Skidmore denied this, saying he’d never been contacted by the whips about the support group.

Mackinlay and his fellow travellers maintain that they support the principle of fighting climate change and are simply questioning where the cost will fall. That's despite links between the group and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which has a long history of denying climate science (sic).

Johnson has promised a new strategy aimed at achieving energy security in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, but it faces delays amid reported disagreements within his Cabinet.

Some ministers and Tory MPs have been arguing for the government to reconsider its moratorium on fracking in a bid to boost domestic production of gas, but Downing Street is moving to dampen expectations of any major rethink.
2) Energy price shock will be bigger than in the 1970s, Bank governor Bailey warns
The Times, 28 March 2022

British households are facing a bigger shock from energy prices this year than at any time during the 1970s oil crisis, the governor of the Bank of England has warned.

Andrew Bailey said swings in commodity markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine posed a risk to financial stability and that the challenges facing the global economy now are bigger than after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

“This really is an historic shock to real incomes”, Mr Bailey said at an event held by the Bruegel economic think tank in Brussels. “The shock from energy prices this year will be larger than every single year in the 1970s”.

After two oil price shocks in the 1970s, households faced double-digit inflation, peaking at more than 20 per cent, a sharp climb in unemployment, mortgage rates at 17 per cent and consumer price inflation that reached 25.3 per cent.

Bailey said that the resilience of financial markets could not be taken for granted and central bodies and authorities were watching the volatility of commodity markets very closely.

“I’m afraid the cost of doing business will reflect a huge change in risk and volatility in these markets,” Bailey said. “We have to watch very closely to ensure that the step change in the cost of risk doesn’t cause a market failure.”

Oil and gas prices have surged on the back of Russia’s invasion, which has meant households are facing a significant increase in their heating and fuel bills at a time when inflation is at a three-decade high.

The Bank of England, which said earlier this month that inflation could reach 8 per cent this spring and 10 per cent later this year, has to balance rising prices with the risk of an economic slowdown. Interest rates are now at 0.75 per cent after a 0.25 point increase at this month’s meeting in which officials softened their language on the need for further rate rises. Bailey said the bank had started to see evidence of an economic slowdown as a result of the wider pressures but insisted that it was appropriate to tighten policy.

“We expect it to cause growth and demand to slow . . . We expect that this pressure on demand will weigh down on domestically generated inflation, other things equal at the moment,” he said.

Full story
3) Desperate families voluntarily cut themselves off from energy suppliers as prices spiral
Express & Star, 28 March 2022


More than 100 desperate Wolverhampton families voluntarily cut themselves off from their electricity or gas supply due to rising prices.

Wolverhampton Homes helped reconnect 104 tenants to an energy supplier in the last year but it is impossible to know the full number of people who have done the same across the city.

The consequence of the energy crisis was revealed at a Wolverhampton Council cabinet meeting as councillors discussed the problems facing the city's poorest residents.

Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal said: "One hundred and four families have been reconnected with their gas supply, people are having to choose between heating and eating which is a sad fact but the increase in fuel bills is astronomic.

"It must be a nightmare for these families who have been forced into the decision to cut themselves off from their energy supplier, the numbers we have are just for Wolverhampton Homes tenants that we know about.

"There will be countless more people who are too embarrassed to say they have cut themselves off, it is people with meters and who have to pay bills.

"And it will not be just people who are on benefits, this is affecting working people."

Full story
4) Chris Morrison: Does a ‘Great Disappointment’ await the climate zealots?
The Daily Sceptic, 18 March 2022


Are we reaching peak climate hysteria after 40 years of relentless green campaigning? Certainly the pushback against Net Zero, which recent figures suggest could cost each U.K. household over £100,000, is becoming obvious. 
In 1856, a 15 year-old child prophet called Nongqawuse is said to have heard voices telling the Xhosa tribe in southern Africa that it must kill all the cattle, stop cultivating the fields and destroy all supplies of food. In addition, people should destroy all their farming implements and cooking pots to help, it was said, ward off the threat of British colonialists. The junior soothsayer forecast that a magic day would dawn and everything necessary for life would arise from the earth. Of course, it didn’t.

By the end of 1858 the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to just 26,000, with up to 50,000 deaths from starvation. The tribal culture was destroyed and the colonialists picked up the pieces.

Come amongst us today is a child prophet from the North who tells us that our house is on fire and we must remove the most efficient, reliable fuel we have, and harness our power from the wind and the sun. The child prophet Greta Thunberg claims superpowers, while her mother says she can see the demon carbon dioxide gas – invisible, of course, to the rest of us. National treasure and revered voiceover artist Sir David Attenborough produces mass entertainment programmes featuring images of fire, storm and desolation and tells us that too many people live on the planet and we have only a few years to mend our ways.

BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine tweeted that the 2019 meeting between the Doom Goblin and the old Malthusian was “surely the radio moment of the last decade”.  Others might conclude that the impressive salary that Mr. Vine receives from the BBC echo chamber is a tad on the generous side.

Meanwhile George Monbiot, Guardian writer and activist, has been warning of Armageddon for decades. Every year the language gets ratcheted up and he recently warned: “We are reaching a systems tipping point – and the collapse of our liveable planet.” According to Monbiot, the “extreme” weather in 2021 – the heat domes, droughts, fires, floods and cyclones – are “frankly terrifying”. Only, it might be noted, if you ignore the meteorological records that show little recent variation in such events.

Monbiot also suggests that “current policies commit us to a calamitous 2.9°C of global heating”. Here he repeats the scare stories cooked up by climate models that have never produced an accurate forecast. For “calamitous”, read “pessimistically modelled”. More realistically, the small rise in global temperature ran out of steam almost two decades ago and has been plateauing for years. But Monbiot’s warnings become more biblical by the day. He recently wrote in the the Ecologist that if Earth’s systems crossed critical thresholds, humans would be reduced to stratigraphy – laid out, he suggests, in layers of rock.

Are we reaching peak climate hysteria after 40 years of relentless green campaigning? Certainly the pushback against Net Zero, which recent figures suggest could cost each U.K. household over £100,000, is becoming obvious. The war in Ukraine has shot energy security to the top of the news agenda. The decadent assumption by governing elites across Europe that they could build intermittent windmills and get other, less-than-friendly regimes to supply the vital back-up power, is dead in the water.

All the evidence suggests that the citizens supporting Net Zero had not thought they would have to pay much for it, or alter their own lifestyles. Only perhaps to be expected, since serial doomsday forecaster Prince Charles leads the way on virtue, but has shown no sign of giving up his own four magnificent residences. The current attitude is perhaps best summed up by the usually reliable Daily Telegraph writer Madeline Grant, who recently managed to refer to Net Zero as a “fantasy” and a “worthy ambition” in the course of the same paragraph.
Nigel Farage, meanwhile, sniffs another referendum coming along.
It is more than likely that a growing number of people will start to laugh at the failed predictions, the shonky models that are always wrong, the ‘settled’ science notion that insults the intelligence, the constant virtue signalling from those with palaces and private planes, and the ignorant demonising of routine bad weather.

A new ‘Great Disappointment’ could be on the cards.
On April 18th 1844, Jesus Christ, along with the Saints in Heaven, failed to appear to cleanse and purify the Earth. The event had been predicted by the Baptist preacher William Miller, who had built up an enormous following across New England. A subsequent date also led to a JC no-show, following which the movement not surprisingly declined. But among Miller’s large number of followers, many of whom had donned white robes to prepare for their Ascension into the next world, there was recrimination. Shattered expectations led to what was termed the ‘Great Disappointment’.

In 1957, a group of psychologists led by Leon Festinger published an influential paper, “When Prophecy Fails“. This examined a small UFO religion in Chicago called the Seekers that believed in imminent apocalypse. Looking at other examples from the past, including the Millerites, they found that a failed prophecy actually led many believers to increase their commitment to the cause and attempt to recruit others into their belief system. In this way the pain of disconfirmation was lessened. “If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must after all be correct,” they wrote.

In the recent past, no matter what climate change scares were debunked, the movement went from strength to strength. In addition, the green cash running through subsidised technologies, countless public bodies including academia and well-funded activist groups is huge.
Politicians like Boris Johnson have changed their mind once in the face of the relentless green propaganda onslaught; they are unlikely to want to do so again in the near future. The American novelist Upton Sinclair once wrote that it is “difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.

Maybe hold that disappointment for a little while longer.
5) Tammy Nemeth: Back to the worst 1970s energy policies
Financial Post, 29 March 2022
The current government-made global energy crisis has western countries scrambling for policy options to minimize its impact on their citizens.
Unfortunately, most policy-makers refuse to acknowledge that their attempt to force an unnatural energy transition via net-zero policies is responsible for the potentially devastating harm to European and, more generally, Western energy security.
Instead, their immediate response is to channel the worst of 1970s policies, doubling down on the destructive “keep it in the ground” approach that got us here in the first place, and rejecting the one strategy that worked in the 1970s: increasing free-world supply.
In many Western countries the initial response to the energy crises of the 1970s included draconian government-mandated conservation, distorting price controls, and disastrous windfall profit taxes, which tended to discourage exploration and production. This was overcome, to some extent, when in 1974 consuming countries created the International Energy Agency (IEA), a sort of anti-OPEC, to help them coordinate their emergency responses. Indeed, “a massive effort to provide producers an incentive to increase their supply,” was an essential purpose of the IEA, as Henry Kissinger reflected in 2009.
For Europe, increased supply meant the development of North Sea oil and gas, primarily offshore the U.K., Norway, and Denmark. In large part because of the lifting of economic and political constraints, North Sea oil production increased from 12,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 1973 to 3.5 million bpd in 1985. As for the U.S., as historian Tyler Priest explains, it was able to stem the decline of its conventional oil production by expediting completion of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, which had been held up by environmental activists, and removing regulatory hurdles and price disincentives for deep offshore oil production.

Despite targeting Alberta with discriminatory price controls and the National Energy Program, Canada attempted to encourage the development of its oil sands, heavy oil, and offshore resources. It also approved the building of pipeline infrastructure in a timely manner. For example, in 1973, the government of Pierre Trudeau announced its intention to allow the extension of the Interprovincial pipeline to carry western Canadian crude from Sarnia to Montreal. Even with over 200 consultations and environmental assessments, the 837-kilometre extension, known as Line 9, was completed within two years.
These measures encouraging exploration and development both signalled global markets that Western countries were committed to expanding supply and by the mid-1980s eroded OPEC’s control over prices. Non-OPEC, free-world oil production went from 17.7 million bpd in 1971 to 28.7 million bpd in 1985.

Now fast-forward to March 2022 and the EU’s REPowerEU policy and the IEA’s A 10-point Plan to Reduce Oil Use. Both documents, in different ways, resurrect most of the policies of the 1970s — except the ones that worked. The REPowerEU document recommends such failed policies as energy price controls, windfall profit taxes, accelerated investment in renewable energy, and mandating heat pumps. There is no mention of increasing European hydrocarbon supplies, only temporarily diversifying those supplies while phasing out hydrocarbons
Similarly, the IEA 10-point plan eerily resurrects many of the 1970s’ draconian conservation efforts: reducing speed limits by 10 km/h, car-free Sundays in cities, mandating private-car access to cities based on license plate numbers, mandating eco-driving techniques for freight-haulers and delivery-drivers, mandating a minimum work-from-home quota, and so on. Supply issues are mentioned but only to suggest increasing supply will take too long and not help the current situation — a point echoed by Canadian political leaders. Thus, the one policy that actually had a positive impact in solving past energy crises and that was one of the central purposes of the IEA in 1974 has been rejected in 2022 by the IEA itself and most Western policy-makers.

The energy crises of the 1970s and early 1980s were resolved, not by government intervention or regulated micromanagement of behaviour, but by reducing regulations, eliminating price controls and thus unleashing private industry to expand exploration and development of non-OPEC sources of oil and gas.
Yet today Canada’s political leaders repeat the mantra that the only way forward is not to increase supply but to help Europe expand renewable energy. The federal government insists we are experiencing our own wake-up call to accelerate Canada’s energy transition and get off oil and gas more quickly in order to make Canada more energy-secure. But its own climate policies — its push for renewables, defunding of oil and gas companies, and promotion of net-zero — have destabilized our national energy systems and contributed to the structural weaknesses in global oil and gas supply that made this energy crisis possible.
Energy security means reliable and affordable energy. Investing in so-called renewables will make Canada less secure. Renewables are unreliable and their infrastructure depends on resources controlled by potentially hostile nations. Canada’s real energy security lies in our world-scale reserves of oil, natural gas and coal, which will allow us to supply ourselves and others for many decades to come. Let’s use a 1970s policy that actually worked: producing more hydrocarbons, not keeping them in the ground.
Tammy Nemeth, an historian, is host of The Nemeth Report podcast.
6) William Watson: To save democracy, ship Canadian gas 
Financial Post, 29 March 2022
Our immense storehouse of energy could be very useful to countries that would be more aggressive in their support of Ukraine if they didn’t rely on Russia for energy
The airlift of urgently needed rhetoric to Kyiv continues unabated as beleaguered federal government speechwriters work the supply chains, defying logistics to keep critical shipments of bombast filling the air. Case in point: over the weekend, the prime minister told a Ukrainian church in Montreal: “Ukrainians are not just fighting for Ukraine, and for your culture, language and history, but also fighting for all democracies at the same time.”

The things one says in church do sometimes strain credulity. But if Justin Trudeau truly believes Ukrainians are fighting for all democracies, he should step up Canada’s real (as opposed to convening) support for them.

Ukrainians obviously are fighting for their own democracy, and as democrats ourselves we should understand the high value they place on it. They’re also fighting for democracy in other, smaller states bordering Russia. Already their resistance has likely reduced the chance Vladimir Putin’s tanks will roll into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or other former Soviet satrapies.

The Ukrainians are also probably fighting for Russian democracy. The one convincing theory of why Putin has pursued military adventurism is, not mystical pan-Slavic restoration, but fear of a thriving Western-style society on his border and the “colour” revolution its example might eventually spark in Russia. In the shortest of runs, the war may have set back the cause of Russian democracy as thousands of natural opponents of the war and the regime have left for the West. But, if things go badly for Russia, there may be disruption at home — even if regime change doesn’t necessarily mean the democracy all Westerners hope for in Russia.

Joe Biden wasn’t in church when he blurted out the truth about all this over the weekend. But who in the democracies doesn’t want Russia to become a democracy, too? And who in Putin’s inner circle doesn’t understand that? That doesn’t mean the West is actively plotting to bring it about. Like the idea that pre-February NATO was a threat to Putin, such thoughts are mainly paranoia.

But if you’re a prime minister who really does believe the Ukrainians are fighting for all the other democracies, including our own, you badly need to rethink your strategy. If a Ukrainian defeat really would put Canadian democracy at risk, that’s an existential crisis for us. With the stakes that high, calculations about a no-fly zone take on a new light. “If you don’t stop Putin in Kyiv, you have to fight him in Paris” means we should be all-in on support for the Ukrainians.

In fact, Ukraine likely is fighting mainly for its own democracy. And, “stand with it” as we may, our ability to assist militarily is very limited, our defence minister having already admitted our armoury is now, after a couple of shipments, all but bare. (On the other hand, if they could use an ice-breaker 10 years from now, maybe we can help.)

What we do have is an immense storehouse of energy that could be very useful to countries that would be more aggressive in their support of Ukraine if they didn’t rely on Russia for energy. Helping free them from geo-political dependency really would aid the cause of democracy.

Moreover, as the Canadian Gas Association told the prime minister in an open letter published Friday, our industry “stands ready to help,” both with a recently established Canada-EU working group but also “more broadly with the greater challenge we and our allies face at this time.”

It’s true we don’t have liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on our east coast (thanks to whom, the gas industry is too polite to point out) but, it goes on to say, “The possibility exists to move more gas to the United States and thereby enable our American colleagues to export more.” To do so, however, “we need clear signals that governments in both Canada and the U.S. will support this and work with us to achieve it.”

If Canadian gas replaces U.S. gas that helps wean Europe from Russian gas without necessarily increasing global gas consumption, you’d think that would be a no-brainer. Yes, over the longer haul costs need to be considered. On the other hand, Russian gas has suddenly imposed a substantial risk premium on itself that does alter long-term cost calculations.

Unfortunately, if your political platform is Green Net Zero, you have real trouble doing anything that appears to slow the transition away from fossil fuels (even if, as the gas people put it, they are “producing what is increasingly the lowest emission molecule on the planet.”)

Stubbornly refusing to allow Canadian gas to replace Russian gas, even in devoutly green Europe, would be like refusing to use an effective COVID vaccine because Big Tobacco held a minority share in the company that developed it. It would be rigid, blinkered, “ideological” thinking of the kind the government supposedly disdains, preferring instead to make evidence-based decisions.

Holding back on energy resupply for Europe is certainly not something you would do if you believed your own rhetoric on the importance of what Ukrainians are currently fighting for.
7) Coal makes a comeback after energy crunch puts the squeeze on the climate agenda
The Washington Times, 28 March 2022

Moscow’s war against Ukraine coupled with record increases in energy prices was a recipe for a global comeback in coal, upending climate change plans around the world.

From the U.S. and Europe to India and China, the appetite for more coal has been inflamed by a scramble for alternative energy sources to end reliance on oil and natural gas from Russia. Many countries now see coal as the most practical and speedy solution.

“We will need it until we find alternative sources. Until that time, even the greenest government will not phase out coal,” Václav Bartuška, the Czech Republic’s energy security commissioner, told news outlet Seznam Zprávy.

Most elected leaders on the left pledged that the coal revival would be temporary, but how long a temporary revival lasts remains to be seen.

For now, it’s an easy solution to a worldwide energy crunch.

Coal power plants can be brought back online fairly quickly and coal mines already span the Earth, with major production from China, India, the U.S., Australia and Indonesia.

Global coal consumption has fluctuated slightly over the past decade but had largely plateaued until recently, according to the International Energy Agency. As the leading source of electricity, coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, underscoring countries’ desires to transition toward cleaner energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear.

U.S. coal exports increased 23% last year as the price of natural gas shot up, with India and China being the largest coal importers for electricity production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For the first time in years, India’s use of coal increased in 2021, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of Indian energy data.

In Europe, countries are returning to coal to wean themselves off Russian natural gas.

“There is a temporary role for coal, which we had hoped would be out of the energy mix by the end of this decade. But it will stay longer,” Mr. Bartuška said.

The U.K., which was forced to ditch plans to shutter its few remaining coal plants, will give up Russian oil imports by year’s end. The EU has said it plans to slash its imports of Russian natural gas by two-thirds by the end of the year.

Bulgaria axed plans for a natural gas-powered plant and Romania will ramp up coal extraction from its existing mines.

Countries with ambitious climate change plans for meeting certain emissions standards in the coming years have highlighted that relying on coal goes against their clean energy stances but emphasized that they are only temporary. They have stressed that long-term goals have not been abandoned.

The trend set off alarm bells for environmentalists.

Congressional Democrats have turned their ire toward Big Oil with accusations of price gouging.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the rising energy prices “smacks of price gouging.”

In Europe, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres labeled coal as “a stupid investment.” He said it must be phased out entirely in wealthier nations by 2030 and by 2040 for all others, including China, to keep the world on track with the Paris climate goals.

“This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction,” Mr. Guterres said in a speech to the Economist Sustainability Summit last week in London. “Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or kneecap policies to cut fossil fuel use.”

A 10-point plan unveiled earlier this month by the International Energy Agency on reducing the EU’s reliance on Russian natural gas concluded that a “temporary shift from gas to coal or oil-fired generation could reduce gas demand for power by some 28 [billion cubic meters] before there was an overall increase in the EU’s energy-related emissions.”

Gregory Croft, a professor of earth and environmental science at Saint Mary’s College of California, said the coal comeback dealt a setback to the climate change agenda because “the climate is global, so it really doesn’t matter where [coal] gets burned.”

“It’s temporary in that the surge in coal is driven by political events. But as soon as you say temporary, the question is how long?” he said. “Russia could pull out and things stabilize, but I don’t see how in the short term. I agree it’s temporary, but it could be years long.”
8) Security flaws leaves electric cars at risk of cyber hacks
The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2022

Electric vehicles are vulnerable to a cybersecurity attack that stops them from charging, with experts raising fears of criminal gangs extorting NHS ambulances by hacking their software.

The so-called Brokenwire technique can be exploited using “off-the-shelf” equipment and “minimal technical knowledge”, the University of Oxford team behind the discovery told The Telegraph.

Richard Baker, one of the researchers, said: “The impact is that cars stop charging, but you need to come along and actually unplug it... to get it going again”.

His colleague Sebastian Köhler added that a malicious radio signal can be continually broadcast to achieve what experts call a "denial of service" condition. EV chargers within range of the attacker’s radio would be unusable until the transmitter was found and disabled.

Prof Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey said the charger-disabling technique was concerning because of the number that could be remotely halted by one person.

He said: “The real area of concern is that it appears it can hit systems en masse and although it requires wireless contact, it can stand off some distance”.

Mr Baker raised the spectre of EVs being disabled by miscreants walking or driving past banks of car chargers, such as those found at motorway service stations.

An academic paper published by the team pointed out that the NHS plans to buy all-electric ambulances, while the US government plans to buy 645,000 EVs in coming years.

Prof Woodward, an expert in cybersecurity, said: “I foresee random attacks or even protection money being demanded by criminals misusing this technique."

EV charging can be interrupted from up to 50 yards away using off-the-shelf equipment such as software-defined radios (SDRs), according to the Oxford team.

SDRs are radio transmitters with a small onboard computer that can be programmed to broadcast a specific signal. The researchers said that a suitable radio, aerial and power supply would fit inside a small backpack.

Precise details of the flaw will not be released until manufacturers of electric vehicles and chargers have developed a fix, likely to be a software update for affected chargers.

The Oxford team said their discovery stems from details in international specifications for EV chargers.

Jake Moore, global cybersecurity adviser at antivirus company ESET, said: “Vehicle manufacturers possess a great level of responsibility, especially when so many vehicles have the potential of being remotely attacked; therefore, constant ongoing software updates are a vital part of the electric car market”.
9) Gas imports to soar without more North Sea investment, warns industry
The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2022
Britain is at risk of having to import 80pc of its gas by 2030 unless major investment in the North Sea is allowed to go ahead, an industry body has warned.

Norway overtook domestic suppliers as the biggest source of the country's oil last year, according to Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), which said production will continue to decline significantly faster than demand drops unless infrastructure can be updated.

In an extreme scenario where no further investment is made in the North Sea, the UK will need to import around 80pc of its gas and 70pc of oil by 2030, the business group said. Last year the North Sea produced about 38pc of UK gas demand and oil to meet the equivalent of about 82pc of UK oil demand.

The warning comes as the UK and other countries are trying to cut off Russian energy supplies due to its war on Ukraine, triggering greater competition for other supplies and a focus on energy security.

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of OEUK, said: “Energy security is now a matter of national security. Our policymakers need to plan not just for the coming elections but the coming decades.”

The body said that production is in line to fall by as much as 10pc annually amid a pull-back from the basin.

That would outstrip potential falls in annual demand of about 5pc-6pc as the UK tries to move towards electric cars and renewable energy, leaving a greater gap that needs to be met with imports.

OEUK says the UK’s reliance on imports climbed last year. The North Sea produced about 38pc of UK gas demand and oil to meet the equivalent of about 82pc of UK oil demand.

Producers are calling on the Government to back the industry with stable, long-term policies.

Full story
10) Hans-Werner Sinn: Germany's Energy Fiasco
Project Syndicate, 28 March 2022
In both the short and the long term, Germany will be unable to end Russian gas imports without triggering economic chaos, public outrage, and opposition from many firms. For this, years of misguided energy strategy must bear much of the blame.

MUNICH – Germany long regarded its energy transition as cutting edge, compared to other Western industrialized countries. Policymakers expected that the country would be able to secure its energy supply entirely from renewable sources, so they resolved to phase out coal and nuclear energy simultaneously. The last three of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants are set to be shut down this year.

Green politicians in Germany always hoped that other countries would emulate this energy agenda once they saw how well it was working. But, in light of the war in Ukraine, the world is instead witnessing how Germany’s approach has created a policy disaster.

To cushion the twin phaseout of coal and nuclear, and to close supply gaps during the long transition to renewable energy, Germany decided to build a large number of additional gas-fired power plants. Even immediately before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, policymakers assumed that the gas for these facilities would always come from Russia, which supplied more than half of Germany’s needs.

After all, Russia had proven to be a dependable supplier of raw materials to Germany during many previous crises and even during the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was expected to expand its deliveries further once the now-suspended Nord Stream 2 pipeline – which would have carried Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea – began operating.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has clearly undermined this calculation. The excessive dependence on Russian gas has now become a security risk for Germany and the entire Western world. It gives Putin the power to bring Europe’s biggest economy to its knees, and it simultaneously limits the West’s chances of imposing further energy-related sanctions on Russia.

Germany’s pledge to abandon coal and nuclear, the very energy sources that would have given it a degree of self-sufficiency and autonomy, has thus placed the country in great danger. Not so long ago, Germany was the world’s second-largest lignite producer, after China. And it easily could have procured the tiny amount of uranium needed to run its nuclear power plants, and stored it domestically for many years.

Committed Greens claim that the twin phaseout would not have been a problem had Germany pressed ahead with developing wind and solar energy to achieve green energy autonomy. If anything, they say, the need to ensure energy security is an argument for, not against, Germany’s renewables-based strategy.

This view is debatable. Despite the fact that turbines and photovoltaic panels now dot much of the landscape, in 2021 the share of wind and solar power in Germany’s total final energy consumption, which includes heating, industrial processing, and traffic, was a meager 6.7%. And while wind and solar generated 29% of the country’s electricity output, electricity itself accounted for only about a fifth of its final energy consumption. Germany would not have come close to achieving energy autonomy even if the renewables sector had expanded at twice the speed that it did.

The Green argument also overlooks the fact that the planned scaling of wind and solar-based energy supply must always be complemented by adjustable conventional electricity production, given that storage solutions are difficult and extremely expensive. This power is fed into the grid when wind and sun do not produce enough energy, and can ensure that the economy is not disrupted during a protracted wind and solar lull.

In other words, green energy cannot really end Germany’s reliance on gas imports after the twin phaseout. Germany’s only climate-neutral path to energy self-sufficiency would require it to invest again in nuclear energy.

Even those in Germany who are more optimistic about the potential of wind and solar energy should admit that, in the short term, ending Russian gas imports in an effort to squeeze Putin would also stifle the German economy. It is simply impossible for Germany to import the required natural gas from other sources fast enough. There is no excess supply in the European market, and other countries, including Italy and Austria, are in a very similar, if not worse, position. Germany has no liquefied natural gas terminals, and LNG facilities elsewhere in Europe lack the necessary capacity to replace Russian deliveries. Moreover, the capacity of existing intra-European gas pipelines is too low.

If Germany suddenly halted Russian gas imports, gas-based residential heating systems – on which half the German population, approximately 40 million people, rely – and industrial processes that rely heavily on gas imports would break down before replacement energy became available. The government would be unlikely to survive the resulting economic chaos, public uproar, and outrage should gas become unavailable or heating costs rise dramatically. In fact, the likely scale of domestic disruption would call into question the cohesion of the Western response to the Ukraine war.

Only in the longer term, say, 3-5 years, will German LNG terminals be able to replace Russian deliveries with gas from other parts of the world. But by then, Russia will be building new pipelines to China, India, and other Asian countries that will eagerly purchase and burn the gas that Germany releases.

In both the short and the long term, therefore, the West will be unable to make things difficult for Russia by shutting down gas pipelines without making things equally difficult for itself.

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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