Thursday, March 24, 2022

Net Zero Watch: Climate change on the back burner


In this newsletter:

1) Climate change on the back burner as Foreign Secretary orders ‘radical’ review of international development strategy
The Daily Telegraph, 23 March 2022

2) Boris Johnson faces Cabinet split as push for onshore wind farms gathers momentum
The Daily Telegraph, 22 March 2022

3) Soaring energy and fuel bills ‘will kill businesses’
The Times, 22 March 2022

4) Biden's pursuit of Venezuelan oil while shunning US energy and Keystone XL slammed: 'climate craziness'
Fox Business, 21 March 2022
5) Tim Newark: Pumped up energy strategy will unleash Britain’s prosperity
Daily Express, 23 March 2022
6) German regulator prepares for potential energy rationing next winter
Financial Times, 22 March 2022

7) Net Zero or Zero Prosperity? Climate Costs and Solutions
Texas Public Policy Foundation
8) Tilak Doshi: With the Ukraine war, the green chickens have come home to roost
Forbes, 22 March 2022

9) Francis Menton: More confirmation of the infeasibility of a fully Wind/Solar/Storage electricity system
Manhattan Contrarian, 21 March 2022
10) US Republican lawmaker calls for heads of green groups to testify to Congress about their funding over claims Putin has poured money into the climate agenda
Daily Mail, 22 March 2022
11) Joe Oliver:  Ukraine invasion shows Trudeau's green agenda needs a reset
Toronto Sun, 20 March 2022
12) Alan Moran: Will war end the climate alarmist zeal of the central banks?
Spectator Australia, 21 March 2022
13) Jason L. Riley: Environmental alarmism has hardly changed since the ’60s
The Wall Street Journal, 22 March 2022

Full details:

1) Climate change on the back burner as Foreign Secretary orders ‘radical’ review of international development strategy
The Daily Telegraph, 23 March 2022
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has ordered changes in the way the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spends aid funding

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has ordered changes in the way the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spends aid funding CREDIT: PAUL ELLIS/AFP 

A “radical” review of the Government’s international development strategy will see women and girls prioritised over global health and climate change, The Telegraph has been told.

Liz Truss has ordered changes in the way the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spends aid funding, prompting concerns from her own officials and more than 200 British NGOs.

Sources familiar with the review say she is planning a “radical shift of strategy” in the department and fear spending on climate change, health and conflict prevention will be curtailed in favour of new priorities, while other staff are concerned they will lose their jobs.

The strategy will also see the Government hand less money to international agencies, such as the World Bank, and spend more on projects that are administered by British companies or focus on women and girls.

Whitehall sources said Ms Truss sent civil servants “back to the drawing board yet again” last week because an earlier version of the document was too broad and did not focus on her key interests.

Its publication date has now been delayed from next Monday to at least mid-April to allow officials to redraft it.

One FCDO insider said recent discussions about “workforce planning” meant that civil servants working on issues Ms Truss is less interested in are concerned they will soon lose their jobs, following a major restructure of the department last week and the resignation of Moazzam Malik, a senior official.

“It could mean in practice that the Foreign Office focuses on political stuff and away from some of the areas we have been known for, such as health and climate stuff,” the source said.

A source close to the Foreign Secretary, who is also the Government’s minister for women and equalities, confirmed that she intended to prioritise development spending on women and girls but denied that climate change and global health would be defunded, pointing to plans for the budget to be spent on sustainable infrastructure in poor countries.

The concerns from officials came as more than 200 British NGOs wrote to Ms Truss to urge her to continue spending on climate and health projects and to restore the UK’s previous aid spending commitment of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI).
Full story
2) Boris Johnson faces Cabinet split as push for onshore wind farms gathers momentum
The Daily Telegraph, 22 March 2022


Boris Johnson faces a Cabinet split over an attempt to tear up planning rules that prohibit new onshore wind farms as he seeks to wean Britain off expensive oil and gas.

Ministers are considering reversing a change implemented by David Cameron’s government in 2015, which effectively banned onshore wind developments in England by requiring the councils to support their construction.

The Telegraph understands that next week’s energy security strategy, ordered after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sparked a surge in gas prices, is likely to make it easier to secure planning permission for wind farms in a move that will prompt a slew of new developments across British fields.

But the issue is controversial within the Conservative Party. Eight of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet ministers signed a letter to Mr Cameron in 2012, urging the Government to withdraw subsidies for the farms and ensure the planning system “properly takes into account the views of local people”.

One Cabinet minister said on Tuesday that “nothing has changed since 2012” and urged Mr Johnson to relax planning laws for “housing, nuclear power, and shale gas” instead of wind farms. A second Cabinet minister said they believed local people should have the right to object to wind farms near their homes.

The letter was signed by 101 Conservative MPs, including Steve Barclay, Priti Patel, Nadine Dorries, Nadim Zahawi, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brandon Lewis and Mark Spencer - all now in the Cabinet - and ultimately forced a Tory manifesto pledge to withdraw subsidies for onshore wind at the 2015 general election.

Mr Cameron said at the time that the public was “fed-up with so many wind farms being built that won't be necessary” and that “enough is enough”.

Rishi Sunak, who was elected at the 2015 election, spoke in favour of controls on wind farms in a parliamentary debate the following year.

The current rules require a chosen site to be included in a council’s local or neighbourhood plan before it is able to go ahead, while developers must demonstrate that concerns raised by the community are addressed and that the scheme “has their backing”.

These measures effectively give councillors and people living close to a wind farm a veto on new projects, contributing to a 98.5 per cent drop in planning applications since 2015.

The 2012 campaign against new onshore wind was coordinated by Chris Heaton-Harris, who was recently appointed Mr Johnson’s Chief Whip. He declined to comment on the policy change on Tuesday night.

A Whitehall source said on Tuesday that the 2015 changes had imposed "an effective moratorium" on onshore wind and that officials were now looking at ways for it to be eased. They added: “It is the quickest and cheapest form of energy generation."

Other wind farm projects that received planning permission before 2015 but require government subsidies to be built could also now be given the green light, following a separate rule change in 2020. At least 135 sites have planning permission and are awaiting construction.

Relaxing planning rules is likely to be unpopular with Tory MPs, many of whom represent rural or green belt constituencies that could face new developments in the coming months.

Bob Blackman, a senior backbench Conservative MP, said: “It would be a total disaster. It’s extremely unpopular, they're ugly, and they don’t necessarily produce enough energy.

“I do think if we start getting into energy supply, it should be fracking, not onshore wind.”

James Gray, the Tory MP for North Wiltshire, said: “I am in favour of renewable power, including wind farms and solar, in the right places.

“It must be local people who decide whether it is the right place or not. I respect the views of people in a town or a village who say they don’t want a huge wind farm on what are agricultural fields or a nice outlook. I think relaxing planning is altogether retrograde and shouldn't be done.”

With local elections looming, PM is sailing close to the wind

Wind farms? They couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding. So said Boris Johnson when, as Mayor of London, he insisted shale gas, not wind, was the answer to Britain’s energy gap.

Almost a decade later, Mr Johnson is in a rather different place, and he is preaching with the zeal of the convert.

Having told the Conservative Party Conference in 2020 that it was offshore wind power that “puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson”, Mr Johnson now wants to unpick the restrictions limiting onshore wind turbines that David Cameron imposed in 2015.

No-one would deny that energy security is a hugely pressing issue, brought into sharp focus by the worldwide oil and gas crisis prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As recently as Monday, Mr Johnson held a meeting with nuclear industry bosses which prompted reports that he is “gung-ho” about nuclear energy, and could favour as many as six new major nuclear power stations being built.

The problem with nuclear is cost: Toshiba and Hitachi have both walked away from planned nuclear plants in Britain in recent years because of the immense capital investment needed and the potential for cost overruns.

With onshore wind, the major barrier is not money, but politics. Tory voters, and Tory MPs, loathe them with a passion, and with local elections coming up in May, followed by a general election in 2024, Mr Johnson’s hopes of peppering the landscape with windmills will surely be dead on arrival.

Quite apart from the visual blight that turbines bring to the landscape (has any voter ever praised a wind farm for improving their view?) there is the question of subsidies: wind power only becomes competitive when carbon penalties are applied to power stations that use fossil fuels.

In 2012, no fewer than 101 Tory MPs revolted over onshore wind power, writing to Mr Cameron to demand a dramatic cut in the subsidies paid to the “inefficient” industry. It was this, in part, which led to Mr Cameron’s famous order to cut the “green crap” and to impose planning restrictions which effectively gave local people a veto over wind farms in their parishes.

At the start of this month, there were 11,091 wind turbines in the UK, giving Britain the sixth-largest wind power capacity of any country in the world. Less than half of the 24.6 gigawatts they produced came from offshore wind farms, yet there is research that suggests offshore wind alone could generate three times Britain’s electricity needs.

As of 2020, wind power provided almost 25 per cent of the country’s electricity, second only to gas, which generated 34.5 per cent of our electricity needs.

So the long-term future of electricity generation could lie offshore, but gas, often referred to as a “bridge” to a carbon-neutral future, is the obvious quick fix. Gas-fired power plants cost around one tenth the capital cost of offshore wind for each megawatt-hour of electricity produced, and Britain is sitting on untapped reserves of the fuel they use.

As the 2013 version of Boris Johnson said: "We now have the opportunity to get shale gas - let's look at it.”
3) Soaring energy and fuel bills ‘will kill businesses’
The Times, 22 March 2022

Britain’s largest business group has called on the chancellor to help companies with surging energy costs in tomorrow’s spring statement.

The Federation of Small Businesses published an “illustrative analysis” of energy bill inflation as it warned that “soaring fuel and utility bills will spell the end” for many companies unless they are given urgent assistance.

It said a bill for a small business in London with a commercial premises between February last year and February this year had risen from £4,724.73 to £11,589.89 for electricity, an increase of 145 per cent, and from £1,345.07 to £4,815.36 for gas, a rise of 258 per cent.

It said that this had coincided with petrol and diesel prices hitting record highs this year.

Martin McTague, national chairman of the federation, said: “Whether it’s the electrician facing higher and higher charges to fill up to complete urgent jobs, or the restaurant which, after two years of trading restrictions, is trying to rebound as energy and food prices rocket, small firms right across the piece are in urgent need of support.

“As things stand, firms have no choice but to raise prices to cover overheads — by tackling the cost-of-doing-business crisis, the chancellor can help end the cost-of-living crisis.”

McTague urged Rishi Sunak to use the statement to cut fuel duty, assist the smallest companies with energy bills and reform business rates to take more businesses out of the commercial property tax system.
4) Biden's pursuit of Venezuelan oil while shunning US energy and Keystone XL slammed: 'climate craziness'
Fox Business, 21 March 2022


The Biden administration has flirted with lifting oil sanctions on once-shunned Venezuela to temper surging oil prices, yet it appears unwilling to encourage investment in domestic energy production. Critics slammed this move in comments to Fox News Digital.

White House and State Department officials traveled to Caracas earlier this month to meet with Venezuela’s authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro after Biden banned imports of Russian oil over Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

After some backlash, the State Department claimed that the visit had merely been about the release of detained Americans and "championing the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people."

Despite the State Department’s denial, a source briefed on the meeting in Caracas told The Financial Times that a partial lifting of oil sanctions had been on the agenda, after all.

Even if the Biden administration were to go ahead with lifting U.S. sanctions on Venezuela with the aim of securing an alternative oil supply, experts say the country is nowhere near being in a position to ramp up production in time to help temper the current price spike. The United States produces more than 12 million barrels of oil per day on average, while consuming about 19.5 to 20 million. Venezuela's output simply is not enough to make up much of what the U.S. economy needs.

Furthermore, Venezuela’s anemic oil industry is plagued by technical and political problems. So why would the Biden administration even consider the idea while better alternatives – ones that don’t empower authoritarian dictators – are on the table?

The Biden administration has had and continues to have an icy relationship with the oil industry, whom the president blames for profiteering off the current energy crisis. On day 1 of his presidency, Biden pulled the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported an estimated 840,000 barrels a day, displaced more than 600,000 barrels of Russia’s oil and employed thousands of workers in the U.S. and Canada. Canada's oil is also better suited for use in gasoline than Venezuela's.
Full story
5) Tim Newark: Pumped up energy strategy will unleash Britain’s prosperity
Daily Express, 23 March 2022


Boris Johnson's new energy policy must include more North Sea drilling, removing the moratorium on fracking and a drive towards lower-cost small modular nuclear reactors.

It's taken a cost-of-living crisis and a war in Ukraine, but Boris Johnson is right to say: "It is time to take back control of our energy supplies." "After years of short-termism and hand-to-mouth solutions," the Prime Minister told the Conservative Party spring conference at the weekend, "we are setting out a British energy security strategy and we will make better use of our own naturally occurring hydrocarbons rather than import them top dollar from abroad and put the money into Putin's bank account."

Hallelujah for that! “The Prime Minister is moving in the right direction, and he’s absolutely right that we’ve got to stop caving in to the net zero fanatics,” says Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative MPs.

Rocketing fuel pump prices and home heating bills require a new clarity when it comes to recalibrating UK energy policy to serve our hard-pressed families and not a foreign warlord.

Generating our own oil and gas means we will not only have plentiful supplies but we can sell this bounty to Europeans threatened by Russia.

For too long, net-zero ideology has dominated government departmental thinking and thrown bureaucratic hurdles in front of our oil and gas industries.

It’s good news that the positivity shown by Mr Johnson is encouraging Shell to look again at exploring the Cambo oil field off the west coast of Shetland with a potential reservoir of 170 million barrels of oil

COP26 summit, Shell feared the net-zero political atmosphere was too toxic for them to invest in carbon energy exploration.

However, the price of crude oil leaping from $70 a barrel to more than $100 is a real incentive to reconsider, plus the Government’s new enthusiasm for making the most of our own energy resources.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, shackled by her green alliance, is on the wrong side of history by still objecting to this exploration and is clearly more concerned about domestic party politics than securing her country’s independence from tyrannical regimes.

Last week, Shell resubmitted its application to develop the Jackdaw North Sea gas field off the east coast of Scotland after it was turned down because of environmental regulations.

Re-evaluating gas as a necessary transition fuel to net-zero should mean the Government can now see the sense of fast-tracking such requests to make these vast resources available sooner rather than later.

Mr Johnson’s begging-bowl visit last week to Saudi Arabia, asking the Middle East regime to pump more oil is not a good international stance to take.

US President Joe Biden has been rightly pilloried for asking pariah states such as Venezuela and Iran to sell more oil to America to keep pump prices down when he could be accessing cleaner energy through pipelines from Canada and Alaska.

It is purely green ideology that is stopping him from making the wiser choices.

Whatever one might think of Donald Trump’s administration, he at least called it right over becoming self-sufficient in oil and gas, making the US an energy net exporter during his presidency.

It’s also a fact – according to the US Clean Air Task Force – that Russian natural gas has a 65 percent higher density of greenhouse gas methane compared with Appalachian produced natural gas – with the lowest methane rate in the US.

We must do the same in the UK and it seems that the Prime Minister is finally learning the hard lessons made stark by the tragic war in Ukraine.

This new energy policy must include more North Sea drilling, removing the moratorium on fracking and a drive towards lower-cost small modular nuclear reactors.
6) German regulator prepares for potential energy rationing next winter
Financial Times, 22 March 2022

German authorities and power companies are preparing for a potential rationing of energy next winter in the event Vladimir Putin shuts off the pipelines that provide more than half of the natural gas consumed by Europe’s largest economy.

Large industrial groups have received letters from network operators asking them to outline their energy needs in anticipation of possible shortages, according to three people who have seen the requests. Two industrial companies with plants in the east and south-east of Germany told the Financial Times they had been warned by their local suppliers that gas deliveries could be curtailed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Federal Network Agency, the regulator that oversees Germany’s energy infrastructure, confirmed it was holding talks with businesses to prepare for “unavoidable shutdowns” if energy supply shortages occur.

The discussions were “about being prepared for a case that we hope will never happen”, said Klaus Müller, the agency’s president.

Under German law, companies deemed essential to the provision of the country’s basic goods and services would be prioritised in an emergency, alongside households. As a result, many of Germany’s largest corporations would be forced to cut their consumption, most likely by idling production.

“Although we have a law in place, we have not set out real criteria to decide which non-protected, ie industrial or commercial, customer will get cut off first . . . that makes the industry quite nervous,” said Christian Hampel, a BDO Legal partner advising some of the companies contacted by network operators.

The latter were also enquiring over “what would happen to the broader gas supply system if you shut off one particular company”, Hampel added.

Business groups including the body representing Germany’s chemical and pharmaceutical industry met with the Federal Network Agency on Friday to discuss such procedures, according to people briefed on the talks.

The chemical and pharmaceutical trade body warned policymakers attending the meeting that “almost all sectors — agriculture, food, automotive, cosmetics and hygiene, construction, pharmaceuticals or electronics” would be hit by forced cuts to production in the sector. The chemical and pharmaceutical sector, which includes companies such as BASF and Bayer, uses 27 per cent of Germany’s natural gas supply.

The preparations come as Germany’s ruling coalition strives to find alternative gas supplies to those coming from Russia.

Speaking after sealing an agreement with Qatar for the supplies of liquefied natural gas, economy minister Robert Habeck said that deal would not solve bottlenecks for next winter. He added the order of priority for the consumption of energy would be decided “politically” in the event of shortages.

Some German industrial groups have had to pause production due to soaring energy and raw material costs. The Lech steelworks in Bavaria, which uses the same amount of electricity as a city of 300,000 inhabitants, said this month that it had been forced to axe working shifts. Steelmaker Thyssenkrupp has warned of “economic turmoil” that could disrupt its manufacturing operations.

Full story
7) Net Zero or Zero Prosperity? Climate Costs and Solutions
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Friday, March 25, 2022
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Texas Public Policy Foundation
901 Congress Avenue | Austin, TX 78701
Online via Livestream
With gas prices on the rise, inflation out of control, and Russia’s stranglehold over Europe’s energy supply on the front page, Americans are more aware of our need for energy than ever. But progressive climate alarmists are continuing their crusade to destroy our most affordable, reliable sources of energy and push “net zero” at all costs. Climate policy experts Dr. Benny Peiser and Francis Menton of the Global Warming Policy Foundation join TPPF’s Life:Powered initiative to discuss the future of the green energy agenda in the United States and abroad — and what America needs to do to promote prosperity for all. Complimentary lunch will be provided for in-person attendees.


The Honorable Jason Isaac (Moderator) – Director of Life:Powered, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Francis Menton (Panelist) – President, American Friends of the GWPF
Dr. Benny Peiser (Panelist) – Director, Global Warming Policy Foundation

The livestream can be viewed Friday, 3/25 at 12PM CT via the following links. Watch via YouTube to submit your questions during the live Q&A
8) Tilak Doshi: With the Ukraine war, the green chickens have come home to roost
Forbes, 22 March 2022

By propelling energy security to a central place in the policy agenda, the Ukraine war has brought some semblance of energy realism back into popular discourse. Yet, the “climate emergency” narrative is far from being dethroned in elite policy circles.
A cursory survey of recent media headlines reveals a profound shift for analysts and commentators of energy sector issues. The baseline over the past three or four decades has been an endless stream of articles vilifying, deprecating and demonizing the fossil fuel industry as responsible for “wrecking the planet” a la Greta Thunberg. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it would seem that we are at the crossroads of global significance:
Reuters (February 28th): Nuclear, coal, LNG: 'no taboos' in Germany's energy about-face
Reuters (March 13th): German finance minister open to new oil, gas drilling in North Sea
The Times (UK, March 14th): Plan to keep coal power plants open
Express (UK, March 20th): Boris Johnson hints at fracking return as he vows to ‘take back control’ of energy

CNBC (US, March 9th): U.S. Energy Secretary Granholm calls on oil and gas companies to raise output
How The Energy World Has Changed
My, how the world has changed! From a constant barrage of calls to end fossil fuels and “transition” to “renewable fuels” such as solar, wind and batteries (but not nuclear) that inundated media headlines over many years, the leading advocates of Western Europe’s “Green Deal” (and Green New Deal in the US) and “Net Zero by 2050” are now calling for coal and nuclear plants to remain operating, resuscitating oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, allowing fracking in the UK, and urging US oil and gas companies to “produce more”.
We are on a war footing — an emergency — and we have to responsibly increase short-term [oil and gas] supply where we can right now to stabilize the market and to minimize harm to American families…. And that means you producing more right now, where and if you can….So yes, right now, we need oil and gas production to rise to meet current demand…
This is from a key member of an administration that upon assuming office immediately declared a regulatory war against US oil and gas producers. From shutting down or blocking new oil and gas pipelines, to stopping oil and gas drilling on federal lands, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, to pushing banks to cease funding for oil and gas investments, the Biden administration made “fighting climate change” its central objective.
When this led to falling poll numbers for President Biden as gasoline prices at the pump rose to multi-year highs, the Biden administration resorted to imploring the OPEC+ group of oil producers to increase their output. This perverse state of oil diplomacy has deepened as the administration is looking to Venezuela and Iran as potential sources of increased oil supply.

For energy analysts not sold on modelled predictions of “climate emergency” and magical thinking on unreliable renewables, the expectation prior to the Ukraine conflict was of a slow war of attrition between two forces. On one side is the juggernaut of the climate industrial complex decades in the making, amalgamating a confluence of elite interests and organizations in the West. These range from activist environmental NGOs spreading climate alarmism, renewable energy lobbies pursuing favourable government mandates and subsidies, and international organizations such as the International Energy Agency and the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change that spend more time advocating a radical global energy agenda than critically analysing trade-offs and establishing objective policy choices for human welfare.

On the other side in the war of attrition are the hoi polloi — the inchoate mass of working poor and aspiring middle classes who cannot afford virtue signalling — that are increasingly inflicted with escalating energy prices and higher costs of living. This is becoming increasingly evident in countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom which are at the forefront of the move to “net zero” emissions by 2050. The impact of high electricity prices and unaffordable costs of heating and transport on poorer households in Europe became increasingly apparent during this winter’s energy crisis brought on by reliance on Russian energy imports, surging natural gas and oil prices and an extended period of little or no wind causing renewable energy supplies to plummet.

A Semblance of Energy Realism
The invasion of Ukraine changed all that. At a stroke, a refreshing energy realism dawned upon European political elites, in particular on the German Green party which is a major component of the coalition government. Economy Minister Robert Halbeck said that “there were no taboos in deliberations”, and was considering options to extend the operations of the country’s coal and nuclear power stations and importing liquified natural gas (LNG).
Halbeck is a member of the Green party for which climate purity is a central tenet in its political faith. Repeating the “no taboos” refrain, even Frans Timmermans — the EU's Green Deal chief and leading proponent of Germany’s monumentally-expensive Energiewende policies forcing the transition to a “low carbon future” — said countries planning to burn coal as an alternative to Russian gas could do so in line with the EU's climate goals. Similarly in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “made it clear that he is giving the green light to Britain using its gas and oil resources going forward with insiders suggesting that a U-turn to allow fracking is coming”.

By propelling energy security to a central place in the policy agenda, the Ukraine war has brought some semblance of energy realism back into popular discourse. Yet, the “climate emergency” narrative is far from being dethroned in elite policy circles. Speaking to an audience via video link on Monday, UN Secretary General António Guterres highlighted how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatened to become a huge setback for the concerted effort to speed up climate action. “Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use,” Mr. Guterres insisted. “This is madness.”
While many might disagree on just where this “madness” resides, Mr. Guterres reflects the same sort of tone deafness exhibited by John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, who bemoaned that the Ukraine invasion was distracting people, including Russian President Putin, from the “fight against climate change”. In another interview he said the war was “very tough for the climate agenda, there’s no question about it.”
These comments show policy elites to be ideologically blinkered not only from the actual day-to-day problems of ordinary people. They are also blind to the fact that it were the very anti-fossil fuel policies in Europe and the U.S. that helped Russia gain such a stranglehold on energy supplies to Europe.

Western Oil and Gas Companies Under Attack
The oil and gas companies in the West that have been belittled and vilified for decades with social stigma and ESG strictures are now under attack for not ramping up production enough and quickly! Only slightly tongue-in-cheek, energy author and journalist Terry Etam describes the message cast by Western political leaders to the industry as follows:

Hydrocarbon industry, just shut up and raise production, we know it is easy and you just choose not to. We don’t want to hear from you, you have no future, and you are outdated dinosaurs that are still wrecking the planet. But due to an unforeseen war, we just need to use you for a few more years, and if you don’t ramp up production immediately well, that means you just don’t support the people of Ukraine.

While international oil and gas companies such as BP and Shell are busy deconstructing their business models in favour of renewable technologies and the “energy transition” to satisfy their activist stakeholders, Saudi Aramco has doubled its 2021 net income to $110 billion, allowing it to issue bonus shares. With profits expected to be even higher in 2022, the national oil company is planning to boost its upstream capital expenditure by $40 - $50 billion to further expand its production capacity and cement its role as a global swing supplier. In its view, the world, particularly developing countries accounting for 80% of the global population, will need its oil for decades to come.

The Russia-Ukraine war has caused much bloodshed, ruin and tragedy for millions of displaced people. It also has made the green chickens come home to roost.
9) Francis Menton: More confirmation of the infeasibility of a fully Wind/Solar/Storage electricity system
Manhattan Contrarian, 21 March 2022

Many recent posts on this blog have dealt with the theme of the infeasibility of a fully wind/solar/storage electricity system. Today I will deal with another study of the subject, this one from German authors Oliver Ruhnau and Staffan Qvist, titled “Storage requirements in a 100% renewable electricity system: Extreme events and inter-annual variability.”
The Ruhnau/Qvist study does not have a date other than “2021,” although it appears to have come out toward the end of that year.

Although Ruhnau and Qvist do not say it explicitly, my conclusion from their paper is that it is a further demonstration of the complete infeasibility — indeed the complete absurdity — of attempting in the short term to replace all fossil fuel electricity generation in a modern economy with only wind, solar and storage.

The background of this issue is that large numbers of green activists, up to and including the current President of the United States, make regular statements indicating that they believe that fossil fuels can be eliminated from the modern economy by simply building sufficient capacity of wind and solar electricity generation. Such statements rarely consider or mention the necessity of energy storage, or the feasibility or cost of same. And yet any serious consideration of the intermittency of wind and solar inevitably leads to the conclusion that without dispatchable backup (fossil fuel or nuclear) they require vast amounts of energy storage to cover the periods of intermittency. Understanding the amount of storage required, its physical characteristics, and its cost, is completely essential to answering the question of whether a fully wind/solar/storage system is feasible.

And yet our governments are currently marching ahead with religious zeal with plans for “net zero” electricity generation, based almost entirely on wind and sun, without any serious consideration of the amount of storage required or of the cost or feasibility of the project. Nor has there ever been a demonstration of a workable prototype system that could achieve net zero emissions with only wind, sun and storage, even for a small town or an island.

Previous posts at Manhattan Contrarian on this subject have reviewed detailed work by Roger Andrews and by Ken Gregory. In this post from November 2018, I reviewed work by Andrews dealing with actual wind and solar generation data from the two cases of California and Germany. Andrews concluded that due to seasonal patterns of wind and solar generation, either California or Germany would require approximately 30 full days of energy storage to back up a fully wind/solar generation system. Based on current costs of lithium-ion batteries, Andrews calculated that building sufficient wind and solar generation plus sufficient batteries would lead to a multiplication of the cost of electricity by approximately a factor of between 14 and 22.
In this post from January 2022, I reviewed work by Gregory dealing with actual wind/solar generation for the case of the entire United States. Gregory considered how much storage would suffice as the sole back up where the U.S. had fully electrified all currently non-electrified sectors (e.g., transport, home heat, industry, agriculture), thus essentially tripling electricity demand from the current level. His conclusion was that the batteries alone would cost about $400 trillion — about 20 times the full GDP of the United States.

Clearly, if either Andrews or Gregory is anywhere near right, converting a modern economy to fully wind, solar and storage is not remotely feasible.

Into this mix now come Ruhnau and Qvist. The focus of R&Q is once again the amount of storage needed to back up a fully wind/solar generation system, once fossil fuels have been eliminated as a back up option. The R&Q study deals only with the case of Germany, and only with supplying its current level of electricity demand, rather than demand that may be tripled or more by economy-wide electrification of transport, heating, and so forth.

The bottom line is that the result of the R&Q study is approximately in line with the findings of Andrews and Gregory. Where Andrews and Gregory had calculated that about 30 days of storage would be required to back up a fully wind/solar system, R&Q come up with 24 days. However, to get to the 24 day result, R&Q require massive overbuilding of the wind/solar system, to the point where its nameplate “capacity” is about triple Germany’s peak electricity demand, and five times average demand. The result is a system where vast amounts of surplus electricity on sunny/windy days must be discarded or “curtailed.” However, R&Q say that their model is based on cost minimization, because building vast excess capacity and discarding electricity by the terawatt hour is actually cheaper than adding additional storage.
Full post
10) US Republican lawmaker calls for heads of green groups to testify to Congress about their funding over claims Putin has poured money into the climate agenda
Daily Mail, 22 March 2022

The Indiana lawmaker claims that Kremlin-bankrolled environmental organizations in the US are 'undermining national security'
Top Republican House Rep. Jim Banks said on Tuesday that he'll call for U.S.-based environmentalist groups allegedly receiving Kremlin dollars to answer to Congress if his party wins back control after November's midterm elections.

It comes after he signed onto a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding that she look into reports of Russian cash bankrolling prominent green groups with an aim of undermining the American energy sector.

'When we get the majority next January, I hope that we call these groups -- force these groups to testify before Congress,' Banks said in an interview with

He claimed such groups were 'undermining national security' and influencing the Biden administration's green policies as the White House promotes clean energy as a replacement for Russian oil and gas.

Representatives from organizations like Sea Change and the Sierra Club would need to answer to multiple committees, Banks explained, including the House Judiciary and Oversight panels.

'We need to force these groups and their leaders to come before these committees and testify and explain their entanglements with our adversaries like Russia, and the money that they've received ... that puts Russia first and America last,' the congressman said.

The Indiana lawmaker, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, also demanded that environmental groups benefiting from Moscow's cash register themselves under the Foreign Agents Registration Act 'due to the sheer amount of money -- the millions of dollars -- that these groups have received from Russian oligarchs.'

GOP lawmakers have been sounding the alarm on such claims since at least 2017, though they gained fresh urgency after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in late February.

Banks claimed that Russian-funded environmental groups are influencing President Joe Biden's climate policy, which he warned would undermine the US response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine

The unprovoked and brutal attack threw the global energy supply chain into chaos, with the price of fuel reaching crippling record-highs in the US and Europe before easing slightly.

Moscow's aim in allegedly funneling cash to green groups is to undercut US fossil fuel production while maintaining Russia's, whose economy depends more heavily on energy exports. The massive country is among the top oil and gas producers in the world.

Banks' letter sent earlier this month, which is also signed by Reps. Bill Johnson of Ohio and Ted Budd of North Carolina, points to a 2015 Washington Free Beacon report that alleges a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oil interests transferred $23 million to California group Sea Change Foundation in 2010 and 2011, citing IRS tax documents.

Sea Change also reportedly donated money to well-known organizations like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), and the Center for American Progress during those years.
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11) Joe Oliver:  Ukraine invasion shows Trudeau's green agenda needs a reset
Toronto Sun, 20 March 2022

Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has clarified for the world, except those wilfully blind, that green policies weakened Europe and emboldened the ruthless dictator to reclaim territory of the former Soviet Empire.

Here at home, the Liberal government’s obsession with a climate emergency has become so divorced from common sense and deleterious to Canada’s national interests that it urgently needs a fundamental reset which prioritizes adaptation over unachievable and increasingly unaffordable mitigation.

The first law of holes is that when you are digging to nowhere, stop digging. Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down on his ideological dogmatism — he’s about to bring back the ‘Just(in) Transition” strategy — with enduring harm to national unity.

His virtue-signalling policies run counter to employment, funding for social programs, economic growth, energy security, our role as a reliable ally and ironically preclude an opportunity to reduce net global emissions by selling to Asia oil and gas that could be substituted for higher emitting coal. Furthermore, they disproportionately harm Indigenous peoples, racialized communities and the economically disadvantaged.

While Canada’s government remains oblivious to reality, an energy crisis awakened Europe to the self-destructive consequences of its environmental policies before Russia’s aggression.

Germany’s colossal strategic blunder is illustrative of the consequences of wishful thinking about renewables. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to get off both nuclear power, after the Fukushima accident, and coal.

Now Germany is desperate to maintain the two-thirds of its gas coming from the Russian Federation and to import coal and may restart domestic coal plants to increase production from 26 to 34 gigawatts, a difference coincidentally equivalent to the elimination of coal usage in Ontario. The result is compromised energy security, dramatically higher energy bills and increased GHG emissions.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing public outrage from prohibitively high cost green initiatives, like banning new gas boilers, leading to a painful “heat or eat” choice for poor Brits and deindustrialization due to uncompetitive energy prices. He is now set to remove a two year-old moratorium on fracking, while former Brexit leader Nigel Farage is campaigning for a referendum on net zero.

U.S. President Joe Biden is under pressure to revisit his decision to block Keystone XL, originally taken to appease his left-wing base. Recently, he urged producers to unleash shale production, begged OPEC to pump more oil and is reduced to scrounging for fossil fuel from the hostile autocracies of Iran and Venezuela.

Justin Trudeau is missing in action but not for photo shoots. His hollow vow to help Europe with its energy crisis is transparent theatre without LNG export terminals or pipelines to tidewater, which he persistently blocked.

An example is last month’s rejection of GNL Quebec Energie Saguenay’s liquified natural gas export facility that could have exported 11 million tons of LNG annually. To Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping, Canada is a useful idiot for buying into green ideology and believing that China someday will promise to do something about its emissions.

It is hard to think of a more effective way to deliberately damage Canada, especially when combined with fiscal profligacy. High inflation, driven by massive stimulus spending and ballooning energy costs, is hurting the middle class and making life unaffordable for many lower income Canadians.

The loss in income, employment and equity partnerships has especially penalized Indigenous peoples, most of whom support energy projects near them.

China poses a far greater intermediate and long term challenge to the world’s democracies than Russia, but it also benefits from their uncompetitive approach to energy security and economic growth. Our allies are starting to take heed. When will Canada?

Joe Oliver is a former minister of natural resources and minister of finance in the government of Stephen Harper.
12) Alan Moran: Will war end the climate alarmist zeal of the central banks?
Spectator Australia, 21 March 2022
The world has certainly changed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Among other lessons, this has shown many politicians that calls for decarbonisation were luxuries that cannot be indulged in the dangerous world which Putin’s actions have revealed we inhabit.
Faced with implacable opposition from the Senate, Sarah Bloom Raskin, President Biden’s pick for supervising banks within the Federal Reserve (Fed), has withdrawn her candidature. During the Obama administration, she was one of the Fed’s seven governors and a Treasury deputy secretary.

Her rejection by the Senate was a result of her expressed intent ‘to incentivise a rapid, orderly, and just transition from fossil fuels and other high-emission investments’.

Not so long ago, that opinion would have not been a barrier to the job – indeed her appointments under Obama faced little opposition. But such views became more controversial with Biden’s re-installation of Obama’s anti-oil and gas regulations and the consequent return of the US to becoming a net importer.
The Ukrainian war brought home the serious strategic implications of impeding fossil fuel production and last week the swing Senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, pulled the plug on Raskin.

There have been few central bankers as woke as climate activist Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of England, who is now with investment conglomerate Brookfield. At Brookfield, Carney joined fellow activist Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian in bidding for AGL with a view to expediting the firm’s departure from fossil fuels.

Though Carney may have been a stand-out, most banking bureaucrats are infected with alarmist zeal and central banks are coordinating internationally to press their philosophy through the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

In this respect, Australia may have dodged a bullet with the departure from the Reserve Bank of Guy Debelle, who had been the heir-presumptive Governor. He was described as a ‘green energy crusader’ even by fellow hydrocarbon haters at the AFR. Debelle will now help Twiggy Forrest’s Fortesque tilt at windmills, postulate about hydrogen as a future fuel and trumpet pie-in-the-sky $210 billion schemes, like that linking Singapore with an Australian desert paved with solar panels.

Perhaps Debelle was pushed out of contention for the Reserve Bank’s top job or maybe he recognised a growing unease within governments about climate fanatics occupying high places.

The USA and EU between them have spent an estimated $5 trillion on renewable energy over the past 20 years (Australia has spent relatively more). Almost all of renewable energy installations have relied on the support of subsidies, and while the subsidies have savaged the economics of fossil fuel, its share of total energy use has fallen by just two per cent to 84 per cent.

The world has certainly changed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Among other lessons, this has shown many politicians that calls for decarbonisation were luxuries that cannot be indulged in the dangerous world which Putin’s actions have revealed we inhabit.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under pressure, is reneging on his 2021 green exhortations and walking, crab-like, towards permitting new oil and gas fields – even to allowing fracking for gas – and re-opening coal generators.

In this context, it is doubtful that the Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey, would today deliver a speech like that he gave in 20 November last year. In that speech Bailey outlined a range of further actions necessary to meet the net zero emissions goals of the Bank of England, goals that are broadly shared by all other democratic nations’ central banks. The Bank’s measures included ensuring that the 1,500 financial intermediaries that it regulates ‘hold capital against material climate-related financial risks’. The Governor foreshadowed a ‘wider supervisory toolkit’ to incentivise firms to take meaningful actions in support of climate transition, adding, ‘Where progress is insufficient and assurance or remediation is needed, the (Bank’s Prudential Regulatory Authority) will request clear plans and, where appropriate, exercise its powers,’ to ensure this is rectified.

Even if such thunderous admonitions will now be diluted, repairing the damage will be slow.

It will be slower still for Australia where, almost daily, Energy Minister Angus Taylor issues press releases that pontificate about how government action is securing the future of steel through renewable energy, increasing (subsidised) rooftop energy, causing firms to raise ‘the bar for corporate emissions accountability’, as well as providing additional handouts for hydrogen and emissions reductions. As if this were not bad enough, Taylor would correctly warn us that, if in May we have an ALP Government, the damaging policies would worsen.

Changing course for Australia is proving a more laborious process than in the rest of the world. But everywhere, the accumulation of central bank regulations, procedures, recruitments and policy directives leave a powerful residue that will continue to hamper the redirection of capital towards commercial energy. In doing so, central bank directives, alongside other similar policies, will leave western democracies less able to confront the dangerous world that recent events have revealed.
13) Jason L. Riley: Environmental alarmism has hardly changed since the ’60s
The Wall Street Journal, 22 March 2022


Population then, climate change now—the scare tactics are the same and the predictions equally outlandish.

The White House has tried to fill top positions at the Federal Reserve Board with people who want the Fed to restrict capital flowing to fossil fuels, as if Chairman Jerome Powell and company don’t have their hands full fighting four-decade-high inflation rates. The Securities and Exchange Commission, meanwhile, wants to force companies to report detailed data on their carbon emissions, which Republican Sen. Pat Toomey correctly describes as “a thinly veiled effort to have unelected financial regulators set climate and energy policy for America.”

To understand the Biden administration’s stubbornness, it helps to appreciate how long environmental alarmism has been capturing the imagination of our intellectual elites. Before global warming, overpopulation was the existential threat du jour. The modern green movement dates to the 1960s and apocalyptic predictions have long been the coin of this realm. In 1967, brothers William and Paul Paddock wrote “Famine 1975!” In 1968, Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” declared that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death despite any crash programs embarked upon now.”

In 1969, President Nixon called for a task force to examine the effects of population growth. And 50 years ago this month, the Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth and the American Future released its findings. The document predicted a seemingly endless string of catastrophes that a more populous America would have to confront. More droughts, famines and pollution were in store. Energy shortages, mineral depletion and deforestation were inevitable. Higher poverty rates and fewer job opportunities were unavoidable. “In short, we find no convincing economic argument for continued national population growth,” it concluded. “Recognizing that our population cannot grow indefinitely . . . the Commission recommends that the nation welcome and plan for a stabilized population.”

Five decades on, these predictions have not aged well. The U.S. population now numbers more than 330 million, up from around 200 million in 1970. Yet Americans breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water than they did 50 years ago. Poverty rates are lower, obesity is a bigger problem than hunger, and the current unemployment rate if anything reflects a labor shortage. Internationally, the trends have likewise been favorable, even as the world’s population has doubled over the past half-century. The International Monetary Fund has tracked the quality of air, water, fisheries and natural habitats in 180 countries for more than a decade, and 178 of them have shown improvement. Between 1990 and 2014, the proportion of land set aside for wildlife reserves, national parks and the like grew by 80%, and marine conservation areas more than doubled.

Today’s green activists tend to focus on climate change rather than population growth, but they employ the same scare tactics and their predictions are just as outlandish. “What we’re playing for now is to see if we can limit climate change to the point where we don’t wipe out civilizations,” said climate activist Bill McKibben. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the Atlantic magazine in 2019 that “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” 
The New York Times reports that “climate change is already hurting the availability of food” and that “if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, so will food costs.”

In reality, since the 1960s the global production of food calories has risen dramatically and can easily satisfy the nutritional needs of everyone on the planet. And since 1980 the world-wide number of annual deaths from famine has been 90% to 95% lower than the first half of the 20th century. But ideological environmentalism isn’t about following the data and the science. It’s about frightening others into accepting your way of thinking. It’s about curtailing the freedom of other people to make decisions for themselves and live their lives as they see fit. In the end, the White House and its green allies aren’t really trying to win over public sentiment through facts and reason. For them, public sentiment and the legislative process are obstacles to overcome by whatever means necessary.

More disturbing is that the administration’s environmental priorities seem unaffected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting upheaval in global energy markets. At a time when domestic fossil-fuel production could provide the U.S. with all manner of leverage in helping allies in the region rebuff Vladimir Putin’s aggression, Mr. Biden has been reluctant to change course. Geopolitical considerations take a back seat to fighting global warming, even if it means thousands die, millions are displaced, and autocracies like Russia, China and Iran gain the upper hand.

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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