Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Net Zero Watch: Green Britain's Road to Hell


In this newsletter:

1) Millions warned of power cuts and energy rationing this winter
The Times, 29 May 2022

2) Britain's National Grid told to prepare for coal this winter
The Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2022

3) Hundreds of public swimming pools face closure because rising energy bills means it’s too expensive to heat the water
Daily Mail, 28 May 2022
4) Vulnerable pensioners ‘spend a fifth of their income on energy bills’
Energy Live News, 27 May 2022
5) Windfall tax wipes £4bn from energy firms
The Times, 28 May 2022
6) Ben Pile: The green agenda is not about saving the planet, but gaining wealth and power
The Conservative Woman, 28 May 2022
7) America’s summer of rolling blackouts
The Wall Street Journal, 28 May 2022 

8) India to reopen coal mines as demand for energy soars
NA Democrat Gazette,, 29 May 2022
9) David Starkey: From Worms to woke
The Critic, June 2022
10) And finally: Past year has seen close to fewest hurricanes in more than 40 years
Roger Pielke Jr., 27 May 2022

Full details:

1) Millions of UK homes warned of power cuts and energy rationing this winter
The Times, 29 May 2022


Six million households could face blackouts this winter because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ministers have been warned, as they look to bolster electricity supplies by prolonging the life of coal and nuclear power stations.

The Times has been told that the government’s “reasonable” worst-case scenario, which has been drawn up by officials from across Whitehall, says that there could be widespread gas shortages if Russia goes further in cutting off supplies to the EU.

A minister said the briefing suggested that electricity could have to be rationed for up to six million homes at the start of next year, mostly at peaks in the morning and evening. The curbs could last more than a month, causing energy prices to rise again and leaving GDP lower than forecast for years to come.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, has written to the owners of Britain’s three remaining coal-fired power stations to ask them to stay open for longer than planned. They were due to close in September under plans to phase them out entirely by 2024 to reduce emissions.

Hinkley Point B, a nuclear power station in Somerset, could also be given an 18-month extension. The plant, which is nearly 50 years old, was due to be decommissioned this summer. Britain buys less than 4 per cent of its gas directly from Russia but is connected to European markets. The EU typically gets 40 per cent of its gas from Russia and its members have continued paying it hundreds of millions of euros a day since the invasion.

The worst-case scenario is understood to raise concerns that Norwegian imports of gas, on which Britain is reliant, could more than halve because of increased EU demand. Imports of liquefied natural gas, which are brought into Britain by tankers, could also halve because of greater competition.

The modelling is understood to assume that Britain will receive no imports of gas from “interconnectors” in the Netherlands and Belgium as both countries face their own emergencies.

The shortages would force Britain to implement its own gas emergency plans, which would lead to the closure of gas-fired power stations. Heavy industrial users of gas would also be told to stop using it.

The closure of the plants would lead to a shortage of electricity, forcing the government, in effect, to ration. It would be turned off on weekdays at peak times in the morning, between 7am and 10am, and in the evenings, between 4pm and 9pm. Gas supply to homes would be unaffected.

Officials are also said to have drawn up an even bleaker strategy in the event of Russia cutting off gas entirely to the EU. It suggests that energy blackouts could start in December and last for three months, with blackouts both on weekdays and weekends.

The government is in talks with Centrica about reopening a natural gas storage facility off the east coast of England, with more than £1 billion of subsidies. It was closed in 2017 after being deemed too costly to maintain.

There are concerns in government that gas prices could remain high next year as the war between Russia and Ukraine becomes more entrenched.

Last week Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, announced a £21 billion cost of living package to limit the impact of price rises this October, but has not ruled out taking further action next year.

Boris Johnson opened the cabinet meeting last week by asking ministers: “How many of you actually remember the 1970s?” The comments were widely interpreted as a tacit criticism of their youth. Sunak was born in the 1980s.

Miners picketed power stations in a pay dispute, leading to mass blackouts and forcing businesses to close. Edward Heath, the Conservative prime minister, introduced the three-day week in December 1973 to preserve stocks of coal. Nearly all businesses had to limit their electricity use to three days a week and were banned from operating for long hours on those days.

A Whitehall source said: “As a responsible government it is right that we plan for every single extreme scenario, however unlikely. Britain is well prepared for any supply disruptions. Unlike EU countries, our North Sea gas reserves are being pumped out at full pelt, Norwegian rigs are directly connected into the UK, and we have the second-largest LNG import infrastructure in Europe — whereas Germany has none. Given the EU’s historic dependence on Putin’s gas, the winter could be very hard for countries on the Continent.”
2) Britain's National Grid told to prepare for coal this winter
The Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2022


Kwasi Kwarteng has asked National Grid to bolster electricity supplies using coal this winter amid concerns Russia’s supply of gas to Europe will be cut off.

The Business Secretary has instructed National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO) to work with the industry to make sure extra generating capacity not fuelled by gas is available.

Last month Mr Kwarteng wrote to the owners of the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations to ask them to stay open longer than planned.

In a letter to Fintan Slye, executive director of the ESO, this week, Mr Kwarteng warned of “high levels of uncertainty and volatility expected in energy markets over the winter”.

He said: “While we are in no way dependent on gas from Russia, I am mindful that a shortage of gas in Europe could put considerable pressure on the European gas market and suppliers of liquefied natural gas, with the potential for additional, consequential impact on electricity markets.

“We must therefore consider all prudent steps to mitigate these risks and bolster our energy security this winter. These risks would be best mitigated by significantly increasing the amount of capacity that is available over the winter, particularly non-gas-fired capacity.

“To this end, I request that you work with industry to explore and seek to deliver frameworks to support the operations of additional non-gas-fired capacity over the coming winter that would otherwise not be available."

The letter is likely to add to concerns about prolonged high gas and electricity prices. On Thursday, the Government introduced a windfall tax on oil and gas producers to help provide support for households struggling with energy bills.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has raised the prospect that the tax could be widened to electricity generators profiting from high energy prices, although Mr Kwarteng is believed to be opposed to the idea.

Full story
3) Hundreds of public swimming pools face closure because rising energy bills means it’s too expensive to heat the water
Daily Mail, 28 May 2022


Hundreds of swimming pools across Britain are facing closure because they are unable to cope with rising energy bills.

Pool operators are planning to reduce opening hours, turn down the temperature of the water and even ask swimmers to reduce the time they spend in the showers to save money.

Almost nine in ten public pool operators said they would need to reduce their service in the next six months, according to leisure and swimming body UKActive. Two-thirds said they would probably need to cut staff number to cope.

UKActive chief executive Huw Edwards described the results of the survey as ‘stark’ and predicted that without government assistance there would be permanent closures.

‘They [the operators] are really struggling,’ he said. ‘They have been trying to put a plaster on this over the past couple of months. But the reality is they can’t see a way through this unless there is Government intervention.

‘I would like to see a real change in urgency around this. We are talking about hundreds of facilities that support hundreds of thousands of visitors, if not millions, each week.’

It has been calculated the cost of heating Britain’s pools could rise to £1.25 billion this year, from £500 million in 2019.

Even before the energy crisis, a 2019 report found that about 1,800 of the UK’s 4,000-plus pools would have to shut by 2030 as they became too old and expensive to upgrade. The situation has only worsened with debts piling up because of Covid closures.

A coalition of bodies is preparing to send a letter to Culture and Sport Secretary Nadine Dorries and Communities Minister Michael Gove on Monday. It will cite the problem facing pools, leisure facilities and gyms and is expected to be supported by Swim England and other bodies including the Local Government Association.

Edwards said: ‘We are saying that discussion needs to happen in the coming days with central government, local government and industry leaders.

‘We need to set out the enormity of this situation and set all options on the table. The shadow hanging over all this is that we are hosting the Commonwealth Games [in Birmingham] in July and August. We can’t be in a position of celebrating one of the biggest sporting events in the world while community facilities across the country are under the threat of closure.’

Mark Sesnan, chief executive of leisure firm GLL, which operates 135 facilities with public pools, told the Financial Times the situation was a ‘nightmare’, ‘harder than the Covid challenge’ and ‘an existential threat to swimming’.

Full story
4) Vulnerable pensioners ‘spend a fifth of their income on energy bills’
Energy Live News, 27 May 2022

Those pensioners on the very lowest incomes are spending almost a fifth of their after-tax household income on energy bills.

The warning comes from the latest report by charity Age UK, which suggests the new price cap rise in April brought more financial pressure on elderly people.

The findings of the report reveal almost 29% of older households in England are ‘fuel stressed’, spending more than 10% of their income on energy bills.

Earlier this week, the energy regulator predicted that energy bills could rise even further in October with a new price cap “in the range of £2,800”.

Yesterday, the government unveiled a new £15 billion cost of living support package for customers struggling to pay their bills amid the energy crisis.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Older people aren’t stupid and they realise that if they are struggling to keep their heads above water as things stand, the chances are they’ll slip under altogether in a few months’ time.

“This makes it a horrible time for them, as they see their modest expectation of living decently in retirement slipping out of reach, certainly temporarily, possibly forever.”
5) Windfall tax wipes £4bn from energy firms
The Times, 28 May 2022

Billions were wiped off the value of UK-focused energy groups this week after the government’s oil and gas windfall tax plans threatened to suck in other power providers.

More than £4 billion has been lost from the combined value of seven London-listed groups over the past week as details have emerged of the 25 per cent energy profits levy on the North Sea industry and of the chancellor’s plans to extend it imminently to electricity generators.

Serica Energy, a North Sea producer, has fallen by 24 per cent since last Friday while Enquest is down 17 per cent and Harbour 15 per cent.

Centrica, the British Gas owner that has operations in the North Sea and co-owns nuclear plants, has fallen by 12 per cent. Other power plant owners have also been hit, with Drax down almost 18 per cent, SSE 8 per cent lower and Greencoat UK Wind down by 4 per cent.

Their combined market capitalisations have fallen by just over £4 billion.
Full story
6) Ben Pile: The green agenda is not about saving the planet, but gaining wealth and power
The Conservative Woman, 28 May 2022
A few days ago we published Ben Pile’s alarming analysis of the true scale of the government’s net zero and green agenda on inflation and the cost of living crisis. 
Today we are republishing the film he made which illustrates and explains how misguided energy and climate policies have been contributing to this accelerating economic crisis for years. The full transcript follows the film.

In the last year, people around the world have suffered huge rises in the cost of energy. Petrol, diesel, and domestic electricity and natural gas prices are now past the point that many people can afford.

The problem is affecting all businesses, with consequences for the wider economy, jobs and the cost of living.
In poorer and developing economies, these problems are intensified, and are having deeper and tragic consequences.
There is a growing risk that the progress the world has seen in dealing with poverty, hunger and communicable diseases since the 1990s will be reversed. 
So what is behind these problems, what caused them, what are governments doing about it, and when can we look forward to a return to normality? 
Click on image to watch the video

7) America’s summer of rolling blackouts
The Wall Street Journal, 28 May 2022
Green energy policies are making the nation’s electric-power grid increasingly unstable.
Summer is around the corner, and we suggest you prepare by buying an emergency generator, if you can find one in stock. Last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned that two-thirds of the U.S. could experience blackouts this summer. Welcome to the “green energy transition.”
We’ve been warning for years that climate policies would make the grid more vulnerable to vacillations in supply and demand. And here we are. Some of the mainstream press are belatedly catching on that blackouts are coming, but they still don’t grasp the real problem: The forced transition to green energy is distorting energy markets and destabilizing the grid.

Progressives blame the grid problems on climate change. There’s no doubt that drought in the western U.S. is a contributing factor. NERC’s report notes that hydropower generators in the western U.S. are running at lower levels, and output from thermal (i.e., nuclear and fossil fuel) generators that use the Missouri River for cooling may be affected this summer.
But the U.S. has experienced bad droughts in the past. The problem now is the loss of baseload generators that can provide reliable power 24/7. Solar and wind are rapidly increasing, but they’re as erratic as the weather and can’t be commanded to ramp up when electricity demand surges.

One problem is that subsidies enable wind and solar generators to turn a profit even when the supply of electricity exceeds demand. Coal and nuclear plants, on the other hand, can’t make money running only some of the time, so many have shut down. Natural-gas-fired plants can help pick up the slack, but there aren’t enough of them to back up all of the renewables coming onto the grid.
California last August scrambled to install five emergency gas-fired generators to avert blackouts, but its grid overseer recently warned of power outages this summer. The Golden State in past summers has relied on power imports from neighboring states. But coal plants across the West have been shutting down as renewables grow.
The risk is greater if there are wildfires, which could disrupt transmission lines. Progressives say building more transmission lines to bring renewable power from rural areas to cities and suburbs will make the grid more resilient. But this may create new vulnerabilities. A tornado this winter damaged a transmission line in the Midwest and raised the risk of power outages this summer as repairs continue.
Manufacturers in the Midwest have relied on cheap and reliable power, but that may be a thing of the past. NERC says the Midwest this summer is at very high risk of power outages, especially if there’s little wind. That’s because 3,200 MW in net generation capacity—mostly coal and nuclear—have shut down since last summer. That’s enough to power about 2.4 million homes.
The threat to the Midwest grid will increase in coming years as more coal and nuclear plants shut down. Electricity supplier Vistra has announced it will retire 6,800 MW of coal power by 2027, blaming an “irreparably dysfunctional” market and the state renewable subsidies. The former is partly a result of the latter.
“We don’t have the opportunity to just shut down a facility for four hours or six hours or eight hours a lot of time,” Illinois Manufacturers’ Association CEO Mark Denzler recently told the Center Square newsletter. “If you’re making certain products, take a food product for example, you can’t just shut down and have that food remain on the line.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said recently he didn’t expect power outages since the state could buy power from neighbors. He’d better read the NERC report. Most Democrats don’t seem to recognize or care that their climate policies are making the grid less resilient and reliable. Instead they’re doubling down.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick last week brushed aside NERC’s warnings: “I think the argument about going back to the way it used to be 30 years ago—that’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’re moving forward” with the green energy transition. Believe it or not, FERC is the agency in charge of ensuring the grid is reliable.
President Biden has renominated Mr. Glick for a second five-year term, and he’s counting on the FERC chairman to midwife his climate agenda. This winter he and the two other Democratic Commissioners imposed regulation requiring an analysis of greenhouse-gas emissions for gas pipelines even as Russia troops amassed at Ukraine’s border.
Mr. Glick shelved the policy after sharp criticism from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, but he’s likely to revive it once reconfirmed. His renomination is a clear and present danger to the U.S. electricity supply. The war in Ukraine and surging energy prices haven’t deterred Democrats from their anti-fossil fuels campaign. Will widespread power outages?
8) India to reopen coal mines as demand for energy soars
NA Democrat Gazette,, 29 May 2022


NEW DELHI -- In the past month, as India broiled under a historic heat wave and consumed a record amount of electricity for cooling, the Coal Ministry announced it would reopen old mines and increase output by 100 million tons.

As cities went into rolling blackouts because of electricity shortages, the Power Ministry ordered plants that burn imported coal to run at full capacity.

The environment ministry has given coal mines permission to boost production by up to 50% without seeking new permits, according to a May 7 memo. The memo attributed the relaxed environmental regulations to "huge pressure on domestic coal supply in the country" and said "all efforts are being made to meet the demand of coal."

The developments highlight the persistent, even growing, reliance on coal in the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases -- and one of the foremost victims of climate change.

Although analysts acknowledge that India faces a genuine dilemma in how to meet its soaring energy demands, many say the government is sending mixed policy signals by promoting coal mining and power generation as it trumpets its green ambitions on the international stage. In the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to install 175 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2022. He later raised that target to 450 gigawatts by 2030.

Full story
9) David Starkey: From Worms to woke
The Critic, June 2022
The resemblance between woke and the Reformation goes beyond means to content

Have we been here before? Now, in 2022, with war abroad and woke at home, we contemplate the bitter dissolution of the hopes of the late twentieth century. Five hundred years ago, in 1521, Martin Luther’s appearance at the Diet of Worms signalled the death of the brave new world promised by the Year of Jubilee in 1500. There was even, in the Dutch scholar Erasmus, a Fukuyama-like figure who had formulated the hopes in their most extravagant form. Is history repeating? Or only alliterating?

When Pope Alexander VI proclaimed the Year of Jubilee there was good reason to believe its promise. The city of Rome itself was arising from its medieval squalor. The Roman empire was about to be reconstituted under the house of Habsburg. The physical glories of Greece and Rome were being matched and sometimes exceeded by the artists and architects of the Renaissance. And the literature and thought of the classical world were being recovered by Renaissance scholarship and given wider dissemination than ever by the new medium of printing.

Borne aloft by this achievement, the supreme exponent of the new scholarship, Desiderius Erasmus, could even dream of an international republic of letters, the end of war and a new era of universal peace. In 1518 the dream became reality when the ancient enemies of England and France signed a Treaty of Perpetual and Universal Peace and invited the other European powers to join.

A mere three years later, however, the dream was shattered. For the future, it turned out, would belong not to the fastidious, cosmopolitan, pacific Erasmus, but to the brutal brawler Martin Luther. Passionate, proudly provincial, equally hot in love and hate, Luther might have been forged (as in one of his mine-owner father’s smelting furnaces) as the perfect instrument to fulfil Christ’s terrible saying:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother … And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10: 34-36)

What had happened beyond a clash of two diametrically opposed characters? How to explain it to a modern audience? And how, in particular, to shake them out of the lazy assumption that the Renaissance and Reformation were an undifferentiated “Good Thing”?

Five years ago, I thought I had the answer. I was presenting the BBC2 documentary to mark the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing up (or not!) of the 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. And I decided to begin with a shot of the shocking scene in which Isis terrorists burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot in a cage.

“Exactly 500 years ago”, I intoned, “a breach within Christianity tore Europe and the Church apart. … It was our very own Jihad. It’s called the Reformation.”

The analogy of Jihad works well, especially for the physical horrors of the Reformation: the burnings at the stake, the massacres, the terrorist murders and would-be murders of monarchs and princes by religious fanatics, the iconoclasm and wholesale destruction of works of art. But it doesn’t explain how this now-alien behaviour took hold in our own society.

I came nearer the mark later in the film when I looked at the contrasting ways in which Erasmus and Luther had used the new medium of printing.

Erasmus’s books were learned, beautifully printed Latin tomes. Luther’s most important works, on the other hand, were short pamphlets. Enlivened with illustrations and irreverent and frequently dirty jokes, they were dashed off in the heat of the moment and quickly and cheaply printed. Above all, they were in German.

Another modern comparison was irresistible. “We,” I declared to camera, “are living through a media revolution too — with the rise and rise of the social media.” “So think of the Reformation and the printing press,” I continued, “as the ultimate Twitter storm with Luther … as its natural star”.

How innocent I was! I’d never used Twitter (I still haven’t) and something had to be faked up on my phone. I didn’t know (how could I?) that three years later I would be on the receiving end of a Luther-style Twitter storm and cancellation myself. And I’d barely heard of woke.

All of which means a recent article by Jonathan Haidt’s in The Atlantic hit me as both a personal and historical revelation. Haidt argues that the triumph of woke is datable and due to the introduction of specific features on Facebook and Twitter: the “Share” button on the former and the “Retweet” on the latter.

Combined with algorithms to maximise the sharing of content, the effect of the changes was to create the machinery of the Twitter storm, which in turn is the principal disseminator and enforcer of woke. Too late, one of the engineers who had worked on the “Retweet” button awoke to what he had done: “As he watched Twitter mobs forming through the use of the new tool, he thought to himself, ‘We might just have handed a four-year-old a loaded weapon.’”

Following Haidt’s chronology, the rise of Twitter takes about eight years: from 2013, when the specific features he identifies took full effect, to the summer of 2021, when Bari Weiss resigned from the New York Times and declared that it had franchised its editorship to Twitter.

Luther’s rise, astonishingly for the age and its technological resources, takes about half that time: from an obscure academic theologian in 1517 to the most famous man in Europe in 1521. One of its shrewdest contemporary observers was the Englishman Cuthbert Tunstall, the future bishop of Durham and defender of orthodoxy at the court of Henry VIII against Thomas Cromwell’s Lutheranism.

Tunstall was then the King’s ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and as such witnessed the opening of the Diet of Worms. He drew the following lesson for Henry’s all-powerful minister, Cardinal Wolsey: “Call before you the printers and booksellers and give them a straight charge that they bring none of [Luther’s] books into England, nor that they translate none of them into English.” Because printing and the vernacular was how Luther’s ideas had become viral.

Haidt and Tunstall are separated by five centuries. But they analyse the same phenomenon of dissemination — or, to use a more modish vocabulary, how ideas become viral — with the same tools.

But the resemblance between woke and the Reformation goes beyond means to content. Both begin in universities. Both have a strong streak of solipsism: “my truth” now; Luther’s straining at the stool for an understanding of God’s grace then. Both are consciously elite movements: the “elect” then and the woke now. Both obsess about the minutiae of language. And both take an academic idea and use it to delegitimate the targeted power structure.

Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone rendered the whole structure of the late medieval Church redundant, since it was based on the idea that salvation was earned by good works or indeed bought by hard cash. Similarly the woke attempt to frame Black slavery as the original sin of the Anglo-Saxon world is intended to destroy the claim of either the American constitution or British history to embody a just political settlement.

Two principal conclusions arise. First, that the neo-religious aspects of woke, noted by many observers, are not accidental but substantial and intrinsic. In other words that woke (whether you like it or not) is a real Puritan reformation. Which would suggest in turn that our culture wars are all too likely to turn into real ones too.

The signs are clear in the USA. Here we can console ourselves that the Puritan victory in the seventeenth-century Civil Wars was a brief and Pyrrhic one before the Erastianism of the English state, inherited from Henry VIII, put religion back in its place. So may it be with woke!
10) And finally: Past year has seen close to fewest hurricanes in more than 40 years
Roger Pielke Jr., 27 May 2022
The past 12 months have seen close to the fewest tropical cyclones of major hurricane frequency in more than 40 years

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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