Friday, March 4, 2022

Net Zero Watch: Putin's war forces Germany to rethink coal exit


In this newsletter:

1) Ukraine-Russia crisis forces Germany to rethink coal exit
Reuters, 2 March 2022
2) Germany considers firing-up closed coal power plants 
WAZ, 28 February 2022

3) Government has ‘no idea’ how much its net zero plans will cost Britain
The Daily Telegraph, 2 March 2022
4) Benny Peiser: The war in Ukraine is a wake up call. The whole energy policy of the last 30, 40 years has gone out of the window
GB News, 1 March 2022
5) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: It is time to drop an energy cluster bomb on the Kremlin
The Daily Telegraph, 1 March 2022
6) A Lesson in Energy Masochism
Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 2 March 2022
7) Christopher Barnard: Europe’s ‘green’ transition put it at Russia’s mercy
Spectator World, 25 February 2022 
8) Craig Mackinlay: European reliance on Russian gas will hurt us all
The Times, 2 March 2022 
9) Rex Murphy: 'Greenism' has helped Putin fuel his war machine
National Post, 1 March 2022
10) Craig Mackinlay MP: Putin leaves us weak on energy prices - time to use UK shale gas
Daily Express, 1 March 2022
11) Michael Shellenberger: The West’s Green Delusions Empowered Putin
Common Sense withBari Weiss, 1 March 2022 

12) Four ways the war in Ukraine might end
Atlantic Council, 1 March 2022

Full details:

1) Ukraine-Russia crisis forces Germany to rethink coal exit
Reuters, 2 March 2022

BERLIN, March 2 (Reuters) - Germany would consider a slower exit from coal-powered energy should Russia stop gas deliveries to Europe in response to sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Wednesday.

The remarks on public radio Deutschlandfunk are another sign of how the crisis in Ukraine has upended Germany's planned transition toward carbon neutrality, forcing the government to reconsider its planned nuclear and coal exits.

"Short term it may be that, as a precaution and in order to be prepared for the worst, we have to keep coal-powered plants on standby and maybe even let them operate," said Habeck in remarks that would have been unthinkable by a Greens minister a week ago.

"Pragmatism must trump every political commitment," he added, addressing fears of blackouts and rationing of gas for heating. "The security of supplies must be safeguarded."

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany has stopped certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to bring Russian gas to Germany. It has also announced plans for LNG terminals and for national gas and coal reserves to be tapped in case of a dearth of gas imports.

RWE (RWEG.DE), Germany's largest power producer, said it was open to the idea of relying on coal-fired power plants currently in reserve, reviving mothballed stations or delaying shutdowns planned for this year under Germany's coal exit plans.

The government had planned to shut its nuclear power plants by the end of 2022 and phase out coal-fired plants by 2030, but the Ukraine crisis has forced it to consider both keeping nuclear and extending the lifespan of coal plants.

Coal accounted for 27% of power production last year while 15% came from gas.

Scholz's government pledged after an election last year to double the share of power from renewables to 80% by the end of the decade.
2) Germany considers firing-up closed coal power plants 
WAZ, 28 February 2022

Will Germany's phase-out of nuclear and coal power plants be delayed because of the war in Ukraine? The Essen-based energy company RWE is considering restarting coal-fired power plants that have already been shut down.

In the debate about the best energy policy, Germany is pressing the reset button: no taboos, everything has to be put on the table again – that's what top politicians from the federal and state governments are saying in one way or another these days.

This also includes the thorny question of whether the nuclear phase-out planned for this year could be postponed and whether the coal phase-out should only take place after 2030. The energy politicians of all parties and the experts are all worried about gas supply from Russia. Natural gas from Putin's country currently covers more than half of Germany's gas requirements, and is essential for heating in private households and as fuel for industries, including power plants.

NRW Economics Minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) presented some theses to his counterparts from the other federal states on Monday, which were discussed in a special conference of economics ministers. Pinkwart is not at the forefront of those who want to postpone the nuclear phase-out, but believes that it should not be "ruled out without in-depth examination". A temporary extension of the running times should be "examined promptly by the federal government and discussed with the operators," said Pinkwart. He emphasizes that this can help to ensure security of supply without emitting significantly more greenhouse gases. This is currently happening because the coal-fired power plants are delivering more electricity.

The Federal Network Agency must “immediately check” whether the shutting down of hard coal and lignite power plants can continue at the planned pace and, if necessary, suspend shutdowns that have already been approved. Security of supply must now have top priority and not the exit date of 2030 favored by the federal coalition government.
3) Government has ‘no idea’ how much its net zero plans will cost Britain
The Daily Telegraph, 2 March 2022

The Government has no “reliable” idea of how much net zero will cost the nation, an influential committee of MPs has warned.

The UK has a target of reaching net zero by 2050, and plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars and gas boilers before then. However, a damning report has warned that its aims and targets are not backed by proper strategies and budgets.

Ministers have “no clear plan” for how to pay for the transition to electric heating and transport, and they may be overestimating consumer willingness to switch to heat pumps and electric cars, the Commons public accounts committee said.

The Government had “has no reliable estimate of what the process of implementing the net zero policy is actually likely to cost British consumers, households, businesses and [the] Government itself”, its report said, and was “relying heavily” on the public to choose greener options.

The report added: “At a time when people are worried about their energy bills, [the] Government must be clearer about the costs facing consumers, households and business of achieving its net zero objectives.”

The net zero targets are “hampered by vague performance measures, a lack of overall budget or plans to collate and report what it is spending and limited assessment of the cost impact on consumers”.
Full story
4) Benny Peiser: The war in Ukraine is a wake up call. The whole energy policy of the last 30, 40 years has gone out of the window
GB News, 1 March 2022


"The war against Ukraine is a wake up call. Everything has changed and within a few days, the whole energy policy of the last 30, 40 years has gone out of the window.” 
5) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: It is time to drop an energy cluster bomb on the Kremlin
The Daily Telegraph, 1 March 2022


Vladimir Putin’s terror tactics and alleged shelling of civilians in Kharkiv with cluster munitions force us to move up the escalation ladder. We should respond with an economic cluster bomb of symmetric ferocity.  
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says the West should cap imports of Russian gas, oil, and coal, one reason why the Kremlin has singled her out for particular abuse. 
The other reason is the under-appreciated and invaluable role of British military forces over recent months in helping to prepare the Ukrainian army for the onslaught.
Equally under-appreciated is the UK’s willingness to extend its formidable capability in cyberwarfare deterrence to all of European Nato.
The European Parliament will vote today on a comparable motion targeting energy, with a call to “use all possible gas depositories in order to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to the EU.” That implies fracking. 

I suspect that fast-moving events will lead to a total cut-off of every molecule of Russian hydrocarbons. It is no longer tenable for the West to drag this out as the slaughter unfolds: “if not now, when?” said Helima Croft from RBC Capital Markets.
The democracies have the means to muddle through provided we invoke national security powers over energy supply. But be under no illusions, and be wary of triumphalism just five days into the war. Russia has barely begun to deploy its military might
Fiona Hill, former Russia security guru at the White House, said Putin will retaliate in any way he can. He will not hesitate to bring the whole world crashing down with him, even to the point of nuclear Götterdämmerung. If you think he won’t do it, “yes, he will”, she said.
We are playing strategic poker for exorbitant stakes. The cynical Putin of the past was one thing: the millenarian emotional Putin of today is quite another. Russia remains a full-spectrum commodity superpower with influence over the supply chain for critical minerals as well as energy. We must expect him to exploit that leverage.  
However, the calculated gamble is that Moscow’s military and intelligence elites will precipitate a palace coup to stop him, once the price for Russia is high enough. One thing we all learned from his humiliation of the Russian security council - compelling them to dip their hands in Ukrainian blood on television, nolens volens - is how brittle his regime has become.
The sanctions against the Russian central bank agreed last weekend, after markets laughed off the original token measures, are already devastating for the financial system.
Governor Elvira Nabiullina, emerged in funereal black to tell the nation that a large part of the country’s $635bn foreign exchange reserves is henceforth unusable, either for rouble defence or to help banks and companies cover their dollar and euro liabilities.

But crippling the financial system is not enough. Putin can continue day to day operations with a revenue stream from hydrocarbons. Oil accounts for the lion’s share. 
Russia’s “heavy” Urals crude is not fully fungible on the global market. The Kremlin cannot easily switch to other buyers. It exports 4.3 million barrels a day (b/d), mostly to Europe.
Much of this is sold to refineries for diesel. It sells Europe a further 1.6m b/d of petroleum products such as aviation and shipping fuel. The US currently absorbs 700,000 b/d of Urals to replace heavy Venezuelan crude in its refineries. 
Sanctions against tanker owners and insurers could make Urals crude almost unmovable in Western waters. Russian exports cannot easily be switched to China, even assuming that the Chinese are willing to soak up the diverted barrels, which would amount to political endorsement of an invasion turning into a public relations disaster for the axis of autocracies.
We should not underestimate the havoc caused to the global crude market (100 million b/d) by the sudden loss of Russian barrels. It would be akin to the Opec embargo in 1973.

Washington would have to read the riot act to Saudi Arabia and Gulf petrostates, letting it be known that there will be unpalatable strategic consequences if they continue to withhold crude supplies in a crisis market.
Muddling through would require a temporary 55 mph/ 90 km speed limit across the West, with flight rationing (sorry airlines), and slower shipping speeds.
Oil would probably spike well above $150 but nothing cures high prices like high prices. Demand destruction would do its time-honoured work, as would the recessionary shock. Agile frackers in the Permian Basin would come back fast at triple-digit crude levels. US shale alone could cover a quarter of the Russian loss by the end of the year.

However, Europe has ample capacity for imports of seaborne liquefied natural gas, though not always in the right spot. It can bring in roughly 250 billion cubic metres (bcm), more than total Russian sales to Europe of 155 bcm.
Alan Riley, a professor of energy law at the Atlantic Council, said the US federal government has the power, in extremis, to force its LNG companies to redirect all gas shipments to Europe in a maritime version of the Berlin Airlift. 
The UK would play a critical role, rescuing Germany by mobilising its three large LNG plants to pump 20 bcm of gas through two interconnectors across the Channel. The interconnector skirmishing during Brexit seems a distant memory. We are one band of democratic brothers now.  
Full mobilisation of global LNG would come close to nullifying Putin’s gas weapon for the rest of this winter. Europe can get by until late April. Several weeks of mild weather and good wind have slowed the depletion rate of inventories enough to avert the worst.  
The imperative is to rebuild stocks over the low-demand months. Brussels is pushing for extra storage capacity in each country along the lines of Italy’s strategic gas reserve. The UK has no storage worth the name after closing Rough in 2018. The Government must remedy this weakness immediately.

Germany has shifted gears. The coalition has agreed to build its first two LNG terminals. The Greens - born out of anti-nuclear protest - have signalled that they may let the country keep its last three nuclear reactors open beyond December, and even to delay the phase-out from coal.
The Dutch are keeping the Groningen gas fields going for longer, doubling output this year.
Should the UK lift the fracking moratorium and invoke national security powers to revive drilling this year in the rich Bowland Basin? It is not an easy question. The UK still holds the presidency of COP26. What is needed today may be viewed as a retrograde in five years. 
On strict climate grounds, the objections are overstated. The pre-combustion CO2 footprint of British fracked gas is half that of LNG shipped from Texas or Qatar. Methane emissions under strict UK regulation would be orders of magnitude lower than in the Permian, where Texan wildcatters flare and vent gas with abandon. 
Given that we will need gas as the decarbonisation bridge fuel to displace coal and buttress wind, a case can be made that home-grown gas from fracking is the cleaner version.
Britain’s fracking saga has been a travesty. Cuadrilla was harassed to death with earthquake limits of 0.5 on the Richter scale. This is far less than tremors created by a normal building site.

The low limit was intended to stop British fracking ever getting off the ground. In America it is 4.0, hundreds of times greater on a logarithmic scale. 
Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan said he has been ordered to fill his successful wells with concrete and shut everything down. He could revive the project quickly if the Government were to lift the earthquake ceiling to 1.5 and rush through planning consent for fracking and drilling. “We could be ready to rock and roll with two wells within six months, and another two within 12 months,” he told me. 
That would feed usable gas straight into a mains pipeline close by, in time for the coming winter. Mr Egan said he could produce a quarter trillion bcf (billions of cubic feet) from 40 wells based on a single four-acre site.
There is enough gas in the Bowland as a whole to displace UK imports entirely and to plug much of Germany’s gas deficit over the next decade. It would change the map of gas supply in Europe - while ‘levelling up’ with Northern jobs for good measure.  
There is a valid argument for letting Cuadrilla, Ineos, and others, give it a go, to see what really lies in the Bowland. If necessary, the Government should put up co-funding, since it has driven away private investors. “I don’t think we would object if the Government took a 50pc stake,” said Mr Egan.
I have not made up my mind but the fracking debate should be reopened. If the German Greens can swallow nuclear reactors for the immediate cause of Western democracy, who can baulk at compromise?  We are at war.
6) A Lesson in Energy Masochism
Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 2 March 2022
Europe offers another reminder to the U.S. that blocking fossil-fuel development here won’t keep carbon “in the ground.” It merely hands a strategic weapon to dictators that they will turn around and use against us.
European governments are scrambling to shore up their natural gas supply if Russia cuts off exports. But one question worth raising: How in the world did Europe leave itself so vulnerable to Vladimir Putin’s energy extortion?
The chart [below] shows how Russian gas exports have increased in tandem with declining European production.

A mere 15 years ago, countries in the European Union produced more gas than Russia exported. Yet European production has plunged by more than half over the last decade. Mr. Putin has happily filled the supply gap.

In 2020 Russia exported nearly three times more gas than Europe produced. What’s amazing is that Europe increased its reliance on Russian gas even after Gazprom repeatedly suspended pipeline exports to Ukraine. Germany’s response: Build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to make itself less dependent on gas flowing through Ukraine.

Poland and Lithuania were smarter and built terminals to import liquefied natural gas (LNG). But Europe had another option: fracking. European gas production has naturally fallen as older fields get tapped out. But producers could use hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to exploit shale and squeeze more gas out of the ground, as they have in the U.S.

Europe had an estimated 966 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable wet natural gas resources as of 2013, about enough to supply the EU for some 60 years. Much of this is located in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. But France, U.K., the Netherlands and Germany are also sitting on shale deposits.
Mobil, Shell and TotalEnergies were exploring Europe’s unconventional gas deposits with ambitions to repeat the U.S. shale boom. Then protests against fracking erupted across the continent, and one by one European governments surrendered to Russian energy dominance.

Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen blamed Russia for fueling the fracking opposition. “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations—environmental organizations working against shale gas—to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas,” he noted in 2014.
Meantime, multinationals diversified by hopping into bed with Russia. BP acquired a 19.75% stake in Rosneft in 2013. The transaction “gives us a wonderful opportunity to forge a new partnership with a great Russian oil company,” BP’s then CEO Bob Dudley declared.
Shell and Exxon Mobil developed joint ventures with Gazprom and Rosneft. Exxon Mobil described its partnership with Rosneft in eastern Russia as “one of the largest single international direct investments in Russia and an excellent example of how advanced technologies are being applied to meet the challenges of the world’s growing energy demand.”
The point isn’t to shame Western energy companies for accepting Russia’s invitation to develop its energy resources, which Mr. Putin has now weaponized against Europe. BP and Shell will suffer hefty losses as they try to exit these investments amid pressure from their home governments. The point is to highlight Europe’s energy masochism.
Even as Gazprom slowed deliveries to Europe last fall, a British regulator nixed Shell’s plans to develop an enormous gas field in the North Sea. Reuters reported in January that the regulator has revived discussions with Shell as power prices climb. So maybe the cold, hard reality that Europe can’t run its economy on wind and solar is starting to set in.
Europe offers another reminder to the U.S. that blocking fossil-fuel development here won’t keep carbon “in the ground.” It merely hands a strategic weapon to dictators that they will turn around and use against us.
7) Christopher Barnard: Europe’s ‘green’ transition put it at Russia’s mercy
Spectator World, 25 February 2022 
By abandoning fracking, they didn’t give up fossil fuels; they just imported more from the east
Germany’s “halt” on the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Tuesday is a classic case of too little, too late — a fact made all the more painfully clear in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oil and gas still flow through Nord Stream 1 and many other Russian pipelines to Europe, and the continent has no choice but to keep importing the fossil fuels that finance Vladimir Putin’s offensive.
We all saw this coming. Europe’s supposed “green” energy transition disregarded energy security and common sense, and Ukraine is now paying the price. The world will never tackle climate change if it’s in a constant state of geopolitical energy insecurity, relying on authoritarian regimes like Russia and China to meet its basic needs.
Make no mistake about it — Europe’s dependence on Russia was a choice. When countries like Germany swiftly abandoned the generation of baseload sources of energy, such as natural gas and nuclear, in favor of renewable energy, they didn’t abandon fossil fuels; they just imported more from Russia. Domestic production of natural gas in Europe has nearly halved since 2010, while consumption has steadily increased in recent years.
At the same time, the United States took a different path. The Obama and Trump administrations recognized liquified natural gas as a necessary bridge for an effective energy transition and embraced the fracking boom. As a result, the United States became energy independent in 2019 for the first time since 1952. It’s no coincidence that we were entangled in numerous conflicts in the oil-rich Middle East during that sixty-seven-year period of dependence.
Our newfound prominence in the international LNG market also provided Europe with an alternate option that didn’t fatten the Kremlin’s pockets, but most of them said “no thanks.” The Trump administration aggressively urged these countries to buy more American gas to reduce their dependence on Russia, but Putin’s proven record of weaponizing energy supplies didn’t seem to worry European leaders.
One exception is Poland, which has entered into massive long-term contracts with American LNG producers since 2018 while building up its infrastructure to handle more imports. As a result, it has been able to decrease imports from Russia significantly while also re-selling some of that American gas to Ukraine, helping both countries break away from Russia’s stranglehold. On the other hand, Germany can’t even import the emergency LNG supplies currently sailing to Europe because it doesn’t have an LNG terminal capable of receiving them.
The widespread abandonment of nuclear power is another factor in Europe’s energy insecurity. Despite endless studies showing that nuclear is the safest, cleanest, and most reliable form of energy, most countries fell for anti-nuclear propaganda from powerful special interest groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Since the 1970s, these groups have waged war on nuclear energy, dismissing the facts to push their agendas.
Germany has been particularly susceptible to this narrative. After a tsunami caused Japan’s Fukushima plant to fail in 2011, the German government decided to shut down all of its nuclear plants. It immediately closed eight of its seventeen reactors that provided 25 percent of the country’s power, with the final three reactors set to close later this year.
Germany invested heavily in subsidizing renewable energy to make up for the energy shortfall, but wind and solar can’t be deployed fast enough to fill the nuclear gap, and also come with reliability concerns. As a result, Germany has been forced to rely on Russian fossil fuel imports. The country also has the highest electricity prices in Europe, and is unsurprisingly failing to meet its self-imposed climate goals.
If the rest of the world adopts Germany’s energy strategy, the result would be the quick expansion of authoritarian regimes and an inability to meet our climate goals. Ukraine and the rest of Europe are learning this lesson the hard way. Rarely has a crisis been so self-inflicted and needless. America’s energy independence has allowed for both substantial emissions reductions and geopolitical strength, while Europe is more vulnerable than it has been since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Perhaps Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was inevitable, but things will get much worse if our allies don’t learn their lesson. While it’s encouraging that Germany has canceled, at least temporarily, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in order to reduce its reliance on Russia, a smart, climate-forward energy strategy requires much more decisive action.
8) Craig Mackinlay: European reliance on Russian gas will hurt us all
The Times, 2 March 2022

As western leaders watch the events unfold in Ukraine, our immediate response to the hostilities must also be accompanied with a bout of soul-searching and an honest assessment of how our inaction contributed to President Putin’s aggression.

European dependence on Russian gas has emboldened the Russian tyrant, making us more reluctant to criticise him for minor incursions for fear of reprisals.

The German decision to suspend Nord Stream 2 reflects the realisation by the Bundestag that it would allow Russia to wield far too much influence over future foreign policy decisions. The purchase of Russian gas for foreign currency no longer makes geopolitical sense.

Despite being less reliant than many other European countries on Russian gas, we are nowhere near immune from the Kremlin’s game playing. Every year we import over three billion cubic metres of gas directly from Russia, propping up Putin’s war-chest in the process.

This is despite Britain having enough natural shale gas under our feet to keep us entirely self-sufficient for at least 50 years, maybe longer.

The sad thing is that, despite the fact shale gas is better for the environment than the gas piped and shipped from Russia, the government does not currently allow fracking in this country and prefers to meet our energy needs from the volatile world market — the same market which will be responsible for everyone’s gas bills going up in April.

In late 2019, pressure from politically motivated green lobby groups finally wore down the government and it announced a pause on all activities, and the unelected Oil and Gas Authority is now demanding that our only two viable shale gas wells be filled with concrete and abandoned.

It’s easy to see why Putin would be cheering at this decision. It decimates the British energy model and, if we don’t want the lights to go out, we will be forced to rely on the Russian-dominated energy markets.

In 2014 Nato warned the West that Putin was pumping money into green lobby groups that did all they could to stop the UK developing a thriving shale gas industry. Putting aside the fact that shale gas is a sensible way for the UK to transition towards net zero, these professional protesters became Putin’s useful idiots.

Nor were they indicative of local opinion. The police have previously reported that the small number of activists that frequented sites in the North West were not locals, but professional protesters on a day trip – most likely from London.

Despite this, they have been successful. Those who lose out are the communities that would have enjoyed millions in investment, and the 74,000 individuals who could have benefited from highly skilled jobs in the shale gas industry, according to the Institute of Directors. The chancellor would similarly have been cheered by positive tax receipts and the boost to our perpetual balance of payment woes.

The only winner from this situation is the Kremlin.

Because although only 5 per cent of our gas imports come direct from Russia, in reality the whole global system is fixed by Russian gas. By 2030 they could be supplying a third of all LNG, and their output tripled between 2016 and 2019 alone.

We should not be tying ourselves to this system. It is dominated by a tyrant and recent months have shown the price of volatility which accompanies it.

Yet this is precisely what we’re doing. Already 56 per cent of our gas is imported from the global market. By 2030 this is expected to be 70 per cent and by 2050 it will be 86 per cent.

Whether Europe unilaterally turns off the gas tap from Russia, or as a final act of self-harm Putin does the same remains to be seen as this crisis unfolds. A worldwide scrabble for gas will ensue, wholesale prices will skyrocket and resultantly so too do the energy bills that we’re all forced to pay.

On Thursday the prime minister said that we needed to stop “pointlessly importing” our energy from overseas and should focus on developing Britain’s hydrocarbon capacity.

The only way we can do this effectively is to reverse the poor decisions that have been taken in recent years with regards to shale gas. In the midst of war, the prime minister must answer the basic question as to whether future gas prices will be determined by Britain’s energy model, or by an overtly hostile Russian model.

Craig Mackinlay is MP for South Thanet
9) Rex Murphy: 'Greenism' has helped Putin fuel his war machine
National Post, 1 March 2022
Will the horror of what is occurring in Ukraine wake up the environmentally 'woke' governments of the world to their folly?

It can subdue every other interest, every other policy and issue, to its ordained cause. Apocalyptic certitudes of extinction and planetary collapse explicitly and implicitly bestow an absolutism on the cause.
For some environmentalists, nothing is more important — not industry, not employment, not national security, and certainly not national economies. Anything that “contributes to global warming” must yield to their first dogma — that if we do not obey their alarms and edicts, subscribe to their millenarian nightmares, we face nothing less than the end of things. It is the green version of the Bible’s Revelations.
Radical environmentalists are imperious. You must “obey” their science. You must degrade your economy in the service of dystopian visions. You must dismantle the energy systems of the world, the 21st-century communications and commercial systems sustained by oil and gas. The negative consequences which will ineluctably flow from this are unimportant, as to not submit to environmentalist scripture is to bring on the end of the world and the life upon it.

For some environmentalists, nothing is more important
How relentlessly have you heard from every high bishop of the environmentalist creed that “the future of our planet is a stake?” From Elizabeth May, to the young Greta, to the vapid Al Gore, to the sublimely ridiculous John Kerry (who publicly worried that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could damage its “commitment” to reducing emissions), their voices are as one. They are on a “mission,” which is nothing less than “saving the planet.” They have a “calling.”
The embrace of this ideology by governments, world leaders, the world’s press and the rich and famous has been the great folly of our time. It has led to great economic injury, instability, graft and — in my view — the greatest infusion of pure propaganda over three decades that we have ever seen.

From schools to colleges, from great companies to national governments, the networks of television giants and an amoeba-like profusion of so-called non-governmental organizations, activist behemoths like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, and of course those humongous gatherings of the true believers, the annual festivals of the Conference of the Parties — from all of these the preachments have flowed, to the immense detriment of our well-being and future.
It is under this environmentalist banner, to bring this matter to particular illustration, that the continent of Europe tied its economies and energy to the ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The armies now invading Ukraine were financed by Russian oil. Germany built windmills so that Putin’s treasury could grow fat, and the dictator could pursue his cruel war.

The logic of “Greenism” led to the fallback to so-called renewables, and the predictable failure of the latter in the countries that closed energy plants, banned coal, closed pipelines and fought against any other form of energy, leading inescapably to the acceleration in the price of oil and gas, and the necessity of buying from Russia, and feeding Russia’s economy. All to the benefit of Vladimir Putin.
Our government and its environmentalist allies want to landlock Alberta’s energy. Our eastern Canadian provinces and Quebec piously determined not to buy “the world’s dirtiest oil” from the companion province of Alberta in favour of importing from (among other countries) the dictatorship of Russia, thereby — however the thought might offend, in the present moment — contributing to Putin’s bellicose ambitions.
Note this well. Of all the governments of the world who share the fierce and heedless ideology of global environmentalism, none has been on the knee more reverently, none — none — has advertised and self-praised its commitment to the fight against global warming than the hollow, immature, amateur assembly currently chasing the bank accounts of truckers, which we know as the Trudeau administration.
They must look on the murderous doings in Ukraine today — indirectly as it may be, and distant from their intent — as yet, something to which their blind and obsessed full embrace of a totalizing ideology, Greenism, has contributed. Could they blush they would also note, far closer to home, they have built a division in our Confederation, and fostered estrangement in the West.
Will the shock and horror of what is occurring in Ukraine wake up the environmentally “woke” governments of the world to their folly, and convince them to walk away from this dangerous delusion?
10) Craig Mackinlay MP: Putin leaves us weak on energy prices - time to use UK shale gas
Daily Express, 1 March 2022


How on earth can it be entertained for much longer that we will simply turn up our noses at a golden chance for greater energy independence, high-skilled jobs and the prospect of lower prices for gas? It is cruel, and it leaves us weaker in opposing Putin’s aggression.
The decision by Germany to suspend the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is the right one. It's time to get serious about opposing Putin's shameful warmongering in Ukraine, and that must involve a recognition that we need greater independence from relying on Russian gas.

However, this principled decision will not be pain-free for European consumers. We have already been facing steep rises in the price of gas and now face the prospect of further increases. At a time of rampant inflation, this will hurt all the more.

We surely now have no choice but to use our own shale gas reserves to protect ourselves from the implications of these developments.

How on earth can it be entertained for much longer that we will simply turn up our noses at a golden chance for greater energy independence, high-skilled jobs and the prospect of lower prices for gas? It is cruel, and it leaves us weaker in opposing Putin’s aggression.

Now has to be the moment to end the shale gas moratorium and show a continent that it does not have to be so reliant on Russian gas.

Many in Whitehall are still defending this incoherent policy. Their go-to argument is that shale gas will not make any difference to prices because there is a global market for gas, but this doesn’t justify the continuing moratorium and it does not explain the huge difference between gas prices in Europe and the USA.

It also makes a complete mockery of the concept of ‘levelling up’ if we decide at this moment to deny the Red Wall this golden opportunity. That 75,000 prospective jobs, dreams, livelihoods, and with it a healthy amount of tax to the Treasury can be cancelled on a whim like this, is appalling.

Perversely, whilst reducing domestic gas production by half over the past twenty years, we’ve similarly reduced gas storage with the closure of Centrica’s Rough storage field in 2017. We’re now left with a mere 3 days of storage capacity and with it the ability to buy when cheap to smooth short-term price hikes.

Investing in greater storage capacity, alongside increasing our own domestic gas production, can make us less reliant on imported LNG, which has a far higher CO2 footprint across production, refrigeration and transport and give us greater access to forward contracts for gas that ensure price stability.

Of course, people are free to speculate as to how much of an impact shale gas would have on prices, but this doesn’t justify a ban on any conceivable basis.

It is not for politicians to guess what might happen to prices; you’d have thought our experience of the 1970s and the collapsed command economies around the world would have taught us that. No, it is for the market to discover. Grass-roots Conservatives know this and are dismayed by the direction the Government is taking.

The shale gas moratorium cannot be justified on any scientific basis either. In 2012, the Royal Society published the results of its review into hydraulic fracturing, which assessed whether shale gas could be managed safely and effectively here in the UK. The report had been commissioned by Chief Scientific Adviser at the time, Sir John Beddington FRS, and it debunked many of the conspiracy theories associated with the technology.

On the issue of potential earthquakes, the findings were clear: “seismic risks are low”. Any seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing, the report concluded, is likely to be of smaller magnitude than the UK’s largest natural seismic events and those induced by coal mining.

Many every-day occurrences will create more noticeable tremors than any that have been caused by fracking. It is also worth remembering that 1.7 million wells in the U.S. have now been completed, safely, while creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans, and supporting those of many more.

We need to ask ourselves a serious question – would we prefer to help finance new tanks and missiles for an ever more belligerent President Putin, who threatens Ukraine funded by gas sold to Europe, or consider any minor inconveniences and the many economic benefits of domestic gas production as infinitely preferable?

This self-indulgent and puritanical refusal to use our own shale gas is costing us more with every day that passes. Far from saving the planet this is actually increasing our emissions from imported LNG, while leaving us weaker economically and geopolitically.

The alternative is staring us in the face, or at least it’s right under our feet. It’s time to lead the way and extend the benefits of the shale gas revolution across Europe.
11) Michael Shellenberger: The West’s Green Delusions Empowered Putin
Common Sense withBari Weiss, 1 March 2022

How has Vladimir Putin — a man ruling a country with an economy smaller than that of Texas, with an average life expectancy 10 years lower than that of France — managed to launch an unprovoked full-scale assault on Ukraine?
There is a deep psychological, political and almost civilizational answer to that question: He wants Ukraine to be part of Russia more than the West wants it to be free. He is willing to risk tremendous loss of life and treasure to get it. There are serious limits to how much the U.S. and Europe are willing to do militarily. And Putin knows it.
Missing from that explanation, though, is a story about material reality and basic economics—two things that Putin seems to understand far better than his counterparts in the free world and especially in Europe. 
Putin knows that Europe produces 3.6 million barrels of oil a day but uses 15 million barrels of oil a day. Putin knows that Europe produces 230 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year but uses 560 billion cubic meters. He knows that Europe uses 950 million tons of coal a year but produces half that.
The former KGB agent knows Russia produces 11 million barrels of oil per day but only uses 3.4 million. He knows Russia now produces over 700 billion cubic meters of gas a year but only uses around 400 billion. Russia mines 800 million tons of coal each year but uses 300.
That’s how Russia ends up supplying about 20 percent of Europe’s oil, 40 percent of its gas, and 20 percent of its coal. 
The math is simple. A child could do it.
The reason Europe didn’t have a muscular deterrent threat to prevent Russian aggression—and in fact prevented the U.S. from getting allies to do more—is that it needs Putin’s oil and gas. 

The question is why. 
How is it possible that European countries, Germany especially, allowed themselves to become so dependent on an authoritarian country over the 30 years since the end of the Cold War? 
Here’s how: These countries are in the grips of a delusional ideology that makes them incapable of understanding the hard realities of energy production.
Green ideology insists we don’t need nuclear and that we don’t need fracking. It insists that it’s just a matter of will and money to switch to all-renewables—and fast. It insists that we need “degrowth” of the economy, and that we face looming human “extinction.” (I would know. I myself was once a true believer.)

John Kerry, the United States’ climate envoy, perfectly captured the myopia of this view when he said, in the days before the war, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “could have a profound negative impact on the climate, obviously. You have a war, and obviously you’re going to have massive emissions consequences to the war. But equally importantly, you’re going to lose people’s focus.”

But it was the West’s focus on healing the planet with “soft energy” renewables, and moving away from natural gas and nuclear, that allowed Putin to gain a stranglehold over Europe’s energy supply. 
As the West fell into a hypnotic trance about healing its relationship with nature, averting climate apocalypse and worshiping a teenager named Greta, Vladimir Putin made his moves.
While he expanded nuclear energy at home so Russia could export its precious oil and gas to Europe, Western governments spent their time and energy obsessing over “carbon footprints,” a term created by an advertising firm working for British Petroleum. They banned plastic straws because of a 9-year-old Canadian child’s science homework. They paid for hours of “climate anxiety” therapy
While Putin expanded Russia’s oil production, expanded natural gas production, and then doubled nuclear energy production to allow more exports of its precious gas, Europe, led by Germany, shut down its nuclear power plants, closed gas fields, and refused to develop more through advanced methods like fracking. 
The numbers tell the story best. In 2016, 30 percent of the natural gas consumed by the European Union came from Russia. In 2018, that figure jumped to 40 percent. By 2020, it was nearly 44 percent, and by early 2021, it was nearly 47 percent. 
For all his fawning over Putin, Donald Trump, back in 2018, defied diplomatic protocol to call out Germany publicly for its dependence on Moscow. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said. This prompted Germany’s then-chancellor, Angela Merkel, who had been widely praised in polite circles for being the last serious leader in the West, to say that her country “can make our own policies and make our own decisions.”
The result has been the worst global energy crisis since 1973, driving prices for electricity and gasoline higher around the world. It is a crisis, fundamentally, of inadequate supply. But the scarcity is entirely manufactured.
Europeans—led by figures like Greta Thunberg and European Green Party leaders, and supported by Americans like John Kerry—believed that a healthy relationship with the Earth requires making energy scarce.
By turning to renewables, they would show the world how to live without harming the planet. But this was a pipe dream. You can’t power a whole grid with solar and wind, because the sun and the wind are inconstant, and currently existing batteries aren’t even cheap enough to store large quantities of electricity overnight, much less across whole seasons. 
In service to green ideology, they made the perfect the enemy of the good—and of Ukraine. 

Take Germany.
Green campaigns have succeeded in destroying German energy independence—they call it Energiewende, or “energy turnaround”—by successfully selling policymakers on a peculiar version of environmentalism. It calls climate change a near-term apocalyptic threat to human survival while turning up its nose at the technologies that can help address climate change most and soonest: nuclear and natural gas.
At the turn of the millennium, Germany’s electricity was around 30 percent nuclear-powered. But Germany has been sacking its reliable, inexpensive nuclear plants. (Thunberg called nuclear power “extremely dangerous, expensive, and time-consuming” despite the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change deeming it necessary and every major scientific review deeming nuclear the safest way to make reliable power.)
By 2020, Germany had reduced its nuclear share from 30 percent to 11 percent. Then, on the last day of 2021, Germany shut down half of its remaining six nuclear reactors. The other three are slated for shutdown at the end of this year. (Compare this to nextdoor France, which fulfills 70 percent of its electricity needs with carbon-free nuclear plants.)
Germany has also spent lavishly on weather-dependent renewables—to the tune of $36 billion a year—mainly solar panels and industrial wind turbines. But those have their problems. Solar panels have to go somewhere, and a solar plant in Europe needs 400 to 800 times more land than natural gas or nuclear plants to make the same amount of power. Farmland has to be cut apart to host solar. And solar energy is getting cheaper these days mainly because Europe’s supply of solar panels is produced by slave labor in concentration camps as part of China’s genocide against Uighur Muslims.
The upshot here is that you can’t spend enough on climate initiatives to fix things if you ignore nuclear and gas. Between 2015 and 2025, Germany’s efforts to green its energy production will have cost $580 billion. Yet despite this enormous investment, German electricity still costs 50 percent more than nuclear-friendly France’s, and generating it produces eight times more carbon emissions per unit. Plus, Germany is getting over a third of its energy from Russia.
Germany has trapped itself. It could burn more coal and undermine its commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Or it could use more natural gas, which generates half the carbon emissions of coal, but at the cost of dependence on imported Russian gas. Berlin was faced with a choice between unleashing the wrath of Putin on neighboring countries or inviting the wrath of Greta Thunberg. They chose Putin.
Because of these policy choices, Vladimir Putin could turn off the gas flows to Germany, and quickly threaten Germans’ ability to cook or stay warm. He or his successor will hold this power for every foreseeable winter barring big changes. It’s as if you knew that hackers had stolen your banking details, but you won’t change your password.
This is why Germany successfully begged the incoming Biden administration not to oppose a contentious new gas pipeline from Russia called Nord Stream 2. This cut against the priorities of green-minded governance: On day one of Biden’s presidency, one of the new administration’'s first acts was to shut down the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. in service to climate ideology. But Russia’s pipeline was too important to get the same treatment given how dependent Germany is on Russian imports. (Once Russia invaded, Germany was finally dragged into nixing Nord Stream 2, for now.) 

Naturally, when American sanctions on Russia’s biggest banks were finally announced in concert with European allies last week, they specifically exempted energy products so Russia and Europe can keep doing that dirty business. A few voices called for what would really hit Russia where it hurts: cutting off energy imports. But what actually happened was that European energy utilities jumped to buy more contracts for the Russian oil and gas that flows through Ukraine. That’s because they have no other good options right now, after green activism’s attacks on nuclear and importing fracked gas from America. There’s no current plan for powering Europe that doesn’t involve buying from Putin.

We should take Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a wake-up call. Standing up for Western civilization this time requires cheap, abundant, and reliable energy supplies produced at home or in allied nations. National security, economic growth, and sustainability requires greater reliance on nuclear and natural gas, and less on solar panels and wind turbines, which make electricity too expensive.

The first and most obvious thing that should be done is for President Biden to call on German Chancellor Scholz to restart the three nuclear reactors that Germany closed in December. A key step in the right direction came on Sunday when Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, the economy and climate minister, announced that Germany would at least consider stopping its phaseout of nuclear. If Germany turns these three on and cancels plans to turn off the three others, those six should produce enough electricity to replace 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year—an eighth of Germany’s current needs.
Second, we need concerted action led by Biden, Congress, and their Canadian counterparts to significantly expand oil and natural gas output from North America to ensure the energy security of our allies in Europe and Asia. North America is more energy-rich than anyone dreamed. Yes, it will be more expensive than Russian gas sent by pipeline. But it would mean Europe could address Putin’s war on Ukraine, rather than financing it.
Exporting gas by ship requires special terminals at ports to liquify (by cooling) natural gas; environmentalists oppose these terminals because of their ideological objection to any combustible fuel. So it’s a good sign that Chancellor Sholz announced plans on Sunday to build two of these terminals to receive North American gas, along with announcing major new military spending to counter Russia.
Third, the U.S. must stop shutting down nuclear plants and start building them. Every country should invest in next-generation nuclear fuel technology while recognizing that the current generation of light-water reactors are our best tool for creating energy at home, with no emissions, right now. What you’ve heard about waste is mostly pseudoscience. Storing used fuel rods is a trivial problem, already solved around the world by keeping them in steel and concrete cans. The more nuclear power we generate, the less oil and gas we have to burn. And the less the West will have to buy from Russia.
Putin’s relentless focus on energy reality has left him in a stronger position than he should ever have been allowed to find himself. It’s not too late for the rest of the West to save the world from tyrannical regimes that have been empowered by our own energy superstitions.
12) Four ways the war in Ukraine might end
Atlantic Council, 1 March 2022

By Barry Pavel, Peter Engelke, and Jeffrey Cimmino

The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has spurred Europe’s worst security crisis in decades. But while most analysis is rightly focused on the immediate situation, it is equally important to forecast the war’s multiple possible trajectories and outcomes. Anticipating the uncertainties that this war will bring is a critical step toward successfully navigating its possible consequences.

Although the situation in Ukraine is fluid, the scenarios outlined here offer four plausible ways in which the conflict might end. Even the rosiest of these possibilities—which we’ve dubbed the “Miracle on the Dnipro”—is fraught with danger. The United States, its transatlantic allies and partners, and indeed the entire world now likely face a difficult period of sustained contestation with Russia.

Scenario 1: Miracle on the Dnipro
Bolstered by defensive assistance from NATO members, Ukraine’s military and civilian resistance overcome the odds and grind Moscow’s advance to a halt, preventing Russian President Vladimir Putin from toppling Kyiv’s democratic government and establishing a puppet regime. The determination and skill of the Ukrainian resistance forces a stalemate on the battlefield that favors the defenders.

Soon, it becomes obvious to the Kremlin that Russia will pay an exorbitant price for its adventurism—including the prospect of a long and costly slog in Ukraine, coupled with economic collapse and diplomatic isolation. Putin sullenly orders a withdrawal of his troops. Ukraine remains a sovereign democracy, while Moscow’s defeat accelerates domestic discontent that has already begun emerging across Russia. Putin turns to focusing on the growing internal threats to his power. Meanwhile, NATO is faced with an improved security situation, as Russia is chastened and Ukraine grows ever closer to the West.

However, the security situation in Europe does not return to the prewar status quo. The short war has claimed thousands of lives on both sides, leaving widespread bitterness in its wake. And although a democratic Ukraine emerges intact if not unscathed, its still-dangerous neighbor faces an uncertain future with the Russian political landscape at a tipping point. Whether the country leans toward greater authoritarianism under Putin, or away from him altogether, will largely determine how Russia behaves with the rest of the world.

Scenario 2: A quagmire
After weeks of intense fighting in Kyiv and other major cities, Russia manages to topple Ukraine’s government and install a puppet regime. However, neither Ukraine’s armed forces nor its population are ready to surrender. Far from it: Instead, the Ukrainian population mounts a broad-based, well-armed, and well-coordinated insurgency against the invaders. Although Ukraine’s regular forces are diminished over time, and although major cities such as Kyiv are occupied, Russia’s victory is a pyrrhic one.

Repeating a pattern seen elsewhere in the world, the Ukrainian insurgency forces a significant, sustained human and financial toll on Russia—which is forced to devote far more of its resources over a much longer period of time than it had anticipated. Its headache is compounded by external support for the insurgents, with NATO countries providing covert but very robust defensive assistance to the Ukrainian resistance. The conflict drains Moscow’s coffers and resolve, ultimately forcing a withdrawal after much violence and death.

Putin and senior Russian elites realize they are having their own “Brezhnev moment,” having overreached in their pursuit of maximalist aims in Ukraine. Just as Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev led his country’s forces into a long, costly slog in Afghanistan, Russia has once again fought an unwinnable war, the proverbial quagmire that has trapped many powerful states through history. Just as badly, in the eyes of most of the world, Russia has become a pariah state: Ukraine might be devastated, but Putin’s prestige suffers and his domestic position becomes precarious as elites doubt his judgment and the broader populace expresses anger at Russia’s economic situation and reduced global standing.

Scenario 3: A new Iron Curtain
Ukraine eventually collapses under the weight of the Russian invasion. Despite intense opposition, Russian forces manage to take control of the country through the use of increasingly heavy-handed weapons and tactics. Resistance against a Putin-installed puppet government is simmering and omnipresent, but it is put down with brutal force and does not prove strong enough to pose a significant challenge to the substantial Russian forces that remain in Ukraine. A new Iron Curtain descends in Eastern Europe, running along the borders of the Baltic states in the north through those of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania in the south.

While Russia faces steep economic costs, Putin solidifies his hold on power internally, quashing domestic dissent even more forcefully. NATO is more united in the face of an emboldened Moscow, but is forced to accept that it has very limited options to reverse the loss of Ukraine. In the wake of the crisis, Sweden and Finland join the Alliance to bolster their security against Moscow’s revanchist designs.

As with the first Iron Curtain, the new schism through the heart of Europe brings with it a familiar list of dangers and uncertainties. Newly suspicious NATO and Russian troops now stare at one another across a suddenly militarized border, once again raising the prospects of direct conflict by accident or design. Intermittent security crises ebb and flow, as Russia repeatedly launches additional military adventures and much more aggressive hybrid warfare operations against NATO allies. The antagonists prepare themselves for a long, bumpy standoff, with no clear outcome and no guarantee of a peaceful resolution.

Scenario 4: A NATO-Russia war
The most dangerous scenario for the future of Europe and the global order is one in which the Ukraine conflict sets the stage for a direct military conflict between NATO and Russia. There are multiple pathways toward such an outcome, including:

NATO could decide to escalate its involvement in Ukraine by, for example, attempting to implement a no-fly zone or another form of direct intervention. For now, the United States and other NATO allies have rejected implementing a no-fly zone—but that calculus could change if Russia continues to escalate its bombardment of civilians. Russia would be forced to decide whether to back down or directly engage alliance military forces. If it chooses the latter, the risk of an escalating armed conflict between NATO and Russia would increase substantially.

Russia could inadvertently strike a NATO member’s territory—for example, through imprecise targeting or erroneous identification of friend and foe—prompting countermeasures from the alliance. (Russia already has attacked targets close to the Polish border.) As the Russian military’s stock of precision-guided munitions starts to dwindle, the risk of such an accident leading to an inadvertent escalation with NATO rises. This scenario would see the beginnings of direct conflict, perhaps air-to-air or air-to-ground, in border regions of Ukraine. In turn, this could set off a tit-for-tat cycle of strike and counterstrike leading to open hostilities.

A fearful prospect concerns the possibility that Putin has broader designs well beyond Ukraine. If Russian forces make rapid progress in Ukraine and achieve effective control over the country, Putin may turn his attention to states that he covets as part of a desire to reconstitute a sphere of influence that broadly aligns with the territory of the former Soviet Union. The obvious candidates to test his designs, and the resolve of NATO itself, would be the Baltic states (all of which are members of the Alliance). Putin might harbor a belief that NATO will back down if pushed; NATO insists it will fight any Russian military incursion on a member state.

The fog of war
Early evidence suggests that this war is turning in the West’s favor for three reasons. The raw aggression of the Russian invasion and the spirited Ukrainian resistance have inspired popular support for Ukraine across Europe. Russia and Putin appear to have badly underestimated both Ukraine’s determination and the global outrage against Moscow. Finally, democratic governments on both sides of the Atlantic have made far-reaching policy choices—economic, financial, diplomatic, and security—that reflect a boldness of purpose and a newfound solidarity.

Yet the world remains in a dangerous and highly uncertain moment. What happens after this conflict is as much a question mark as how, when, and where the fighting ends. These four scenarios reflect plausible outcomes—but they hardly exhaust all possibilities. Putin could end up strengthened or weakened within Russia, depending on domestic developments (a popular uprising or coup) and external ones (China bolstering or reducing its support for Putin himself). He could make a play for Moldova or Georgia, or even attempt to take the Suwalki gap between Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus.

Wars, once begun, rarely follow a script. More frequently, they lead combatants and non-combatants alike down unanticipated pathways, with occasionally world-changing results. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine appears to have the seeds of such a conflict. What its outcome will mean for Ukraine and the world remains to be seen.

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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