Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Net Zero Watch: Boris Johnson abandons green push, set to water down Net Zero plans amid cost-of-living crisis


In this newsletter:

1) Boris Johnson abandons Carrie-inspired green push and is set to water down  Net Zero target amid cost-of-living crisis
Daily Mail, 13 June 2022

2) Net Zero Britain heads for recession
The Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2022
3) UK desperate to keep coal-fired power station open
Financial Times, 13 June 2022

4) China ramps up coal power to boost post-lockdown growth
Financial Times, 13 June 2022
5) Paul Homewood: The energy crisis is a taste of what the IEA has in store for us
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 11 June 2022 

6) Exposing the ‘modern green religion’
The Catholic Standard, 15 May 2022
7) Supreme Court climate case might end regulation
E&E News, 13 June 2022
8) Alan Moran: Politicians have sabotaged the energy market
Spectator Australia, 13 June 2022 
9) And finally: Newspapers without opinions?
Steven Hayward, Power Line, 12 June 2022

Full details:

1) Boris Johnson abandons Carrie-inspired green push and is set to water down  Net Zero target amid cost-of-living crisis
Daily Mail, 13 June 2022


Boris Johnson is prepared to ditch green policies inspired by his environmental activist wife Carrie in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis.

Less than a year ago the PM hosted the UN Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow and urged the world to do a deal to reduce the impact of climate change.

He has also championed the UK becoming Net Zero in terms of emissions by 2050, under a swing to green advocacy said to have been driven by his third wife, a noted campaigner.

But today he is said to be preparing to water down the plans. Faced by soaring fuel and power bills for millions, and the rising cost of food, he is said to be jettisoning some of the moves he backed months ago.

His own weakened position after last week's confidence vote in his leadership, which saw 148 of his own MPs demand he quit, gives him less power to see off a powerful group of backbench MP who are against the plans.

Among the plans said to be watered down are a fund to pay farmers for 'rewilding' areas of land, which has been reduced from £800million to £50million.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove announced in 2019 that Leon founder Henry Dimbleby was to lead a review into England's food system to ensure it is 'safe, healthy and affordable' for all.

The review also aimed to investigate how the food system could help restore and enhance the natural environment, build a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector and contribute to urban and rural economies.

In his final report, published in 2021, Mr Dimbleby called on ministers to make sure the budget for payments for farmers to deliver environmental benefits - such as restoring nature, preventing floods and improving soils - was guaranteed until at least 2029.

But this appeared to have been ignored in the draft White Paper, with the Government instead repeating a pledge to maintain funding levels during the current parliament.

It came as the PM faced the fury of farmers over his post-Brexit food policies.

President of the National Farmers Union, Minette Batters, told The Observer she met with the Prime Minister on Friday and told him farmers were furious with post-Brexit policies they said left them at a disadvantage against foreign producers.

She said they included farmers in Tiverton and Honiton, where an important byelection is scheduled for June 23.

'We want to be eating more British and more local food but again I just ask how,' she told the paper.

'It's all very well to have words but it's got to have really meaningful delivery and we aren't seeing that yet in this document.'

Mr Johnson has faced increasing organised Tory opposition to his multi-billion-pound green energy plans amid a deepening cost of living crisis.

The Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) of backbenchers warned in February his plans to slash the UK's carbon output by 2050 are misplaced at a time when so many face a struggle with their energy bills.

Gas prices have fuelled huge increases in costs for families, exacerbated by inflation and a hike to National Insurance contributions introduced in April.

The Prime Minister's Net Zero plans are seen by many backbenchers as a sop to his wife Carrie, a noted environmental campaigner. She is a close friend of Zac Goldsmith, a foreign office minister who is also a campaigner on green issues.

But a new team in No10 brought in after the Partygate fiasco is less green and is steering the PM away from their influence, the Sunday Times reported. A source close to the PM's chief of staff, Steve Barclay, told the paper: 'As we're tackling the cost-of-living crisis, ministers are looking at where efficiencies can be made to deliver value for money.'

However other sources branded the former minister, and adviser David Canzini, 'useful idiots' for the farming lobby.

A leaked draft of a food strategy due to be released on Monday has been branded 'half-baked' and 'flatter than a pancake' by campaigners, with particular concern over the apparent rejection of a proposal for tax on sugar and salt.

Ministers were accused of concocting a blueprint 'bordering on the preposterous', with the document suggesting they will shun key recommendations from a major review of the food system by Mr Dimbleby.

Ministers appear to be moving forward with some of Mr Dimbleby's proposals, including by consulting on mandatory food waste reporting for businesses of a certain size.

The Government has also agreed to trial a Community Eatwell programme, as announced in the Levelling Up White Paper, supporting those on low incomes to improve their diets.

The document said ministers would 'support progress on a wide range of issues, including alternative proteins', after the review urged the Government to 'nudge' consumers into changing their meat-eating habits.

But it suggested sustainable sources of protein do not have to 'displace traditional sectors'.

The paper said the Government would launch a call for evidence to better understand challenges in cutting methane emissions from farm animals such as cattle.

In his review, Mr Dimbleby had set a goal of reducing meat consumption by 30% over 10 years.

Louisa Casson, head of food and forests at Greenpeace UK, accused ministers of seemingly 'goading' UK farmers into producing more meat.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it did not comment on leaked documents, but a spokesperson added: 'We will be setting out the contents of our ambitious new food strategy in due course.' 
2) Net Zero Britain heads for recession
The Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2022

Sterling slumped while the FTSE 100 dropped to its lowest level in a month after the UK economy suffered a shock contraction in April.

The pound crashed 0.8pc against the dollar to $1.2214 after new data showed GDP shrank 0.3pc in April – worse than economists’ expectations.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 dropped 1.8pc to its lowest level since May 12, putting it on track for a fifth day of losses.

The lacklustre economic data fuelled fears Britain could be headed for a recession and clouded the outlook for the Bank of England, which had forecast 0.1pc GDP growth for the second quarter.

The Bank now faces the challenge of balancing surging prices with a slowdown in economic growth. The Monetary Policy Committee is expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.25pc at its meeting this week.

April’s decline in GDP was driven by the end of free Covid testing, which removed a major support for the economy, although there were contractions in all major sectors.

It also came as the energy price cap jumped 54pc and Rishi Sunak ramped up National Insurance payments, piling more pressure on household budgets as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.
Full story
3) UK desperate to keep coal-fired power station open
Financial Times, 13 June 2022

Ministers and EDF are finalising terms to ensure West Burton A power station can be used until March

The UK is poised to strike a deal to keep open a coal-fired power station that was set to close as the government rushes to strengthen its domestic energy security.

Ministers and EDF are expected to finalise plans this week to extend the life of the West Burton A power station in Nottinghamshire, which is run by the French energy company, from October to March.

The government would have a standby arrangement with EDF for the plant to remain available for back-up generation, providing enough power for about 1.5mn homes.

The deal was set to be signed last week but EDF is still negotiating the price with the government, energy regulator Ofgem and National Grid’s Electricity System Operator over how much the company would be paid.

Industry experts say the cost is likely to be tens of millions of pounds, with this being levied on consumers’ energy bills.

If finalised, the agreement will prompt a backlash from environmental groups which fear the government is set to backtrack on its net zero 2050 pledge. But the government insists that it will still close all coal-fired power stations by 2024 despite the temporary extension.

The West Burton A Power station was opened in 1966 and was due to close last year but has already had its life extended until September.

EDF will also need to import coal from South Africa, Australia or Kentucky — rather than Russia, from where it drew resources historically.
Full story
4) China ramps up coal power to boost post-lockdown growth
Financial Times, 13 June 2022

China’s decarbonisation drive has hit a roadblock after the delicate balance between economic growth and environmental protection has started to tip in favour of fossil fuel-powered infrastructure stimulus

At the end of 2021, authorities in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi fined one of China’s biggest coal companies for illegally mining at more than 50 sites.

Jinneng Holding Shanxi Coal Industry had flouted strict production limits, introduced following a series of mining accidents across the country. In one month, Jinneng dug up 400 per cent more coal at one mine than had been permitted.

But the fine did little to dent Jinneng’s growth. The group produced 380mn tonnes of coal in 2021, making it the second largest coal producer in China. And the public rebuke from Shanxi’s safety regulators did not stop the provincial government from giving Jinneng the green light to ramp up coal production.

Jinneng does not just extract coal, though. It also burns it to generate electricity and plans to build five new coal plants with a total capacity of 10GW during the current 2021-25 Five-Year Plan, according to research by data provider Global Energy Monitor. This production increase is larger than the entire existing coal power capacity in the UK.

Yu Aiqun, senior researcher focused on China’s coal industry at GEM, says Jinneng’s contradictory treatment at the hands of Shanxi authorities shows that “government departments have different and sometimes conflicting agendas”.

Jinneng — which has a dedicated division that releases daily filmed news bulletins on the company’s vast operations — did not respond to ­several requests from the Financial Times for an interview.

More broadly, China’s decarbonisation drive has hit a roadblock after the delicate balance between economic growth and environmental protection has started to tip in favour of fossil fuel-powered infrastructure stimulus, following the country’s bruising coronavirus lockdowns — though these have also contributed to a (probably temporary) fall in carbon emissions since mid-2021.

Beijing is far from the only government struggling to balance energy security, economic growth and climate action. However, the problem is particularly acute in China, given the scale of its industrial base and a heavy reliance on coal.

President Xi Jinping’s announcement in 2020 that China would be carbon neutral by 2060 meant political momentum was, for a time, with environmental planners. They were endowed with fresh powers to clamp down on polluting practices.

Large state-owned industrial enterprises were quick to step into line. A few months later, Baowu Steel, the country’s largest producer, announced its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. Then, in the following year, a subsidiary of Jinneng Group announced plans to expand solar and wind power farms.

The high-profile nature of Xi’s carbon pledge, made at the UN, and the ensuing domestic media fanfare gave climate activists hope that the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide — and its second-biggest economy — was starting to restructure its carbon-intensive economic base.

The high tide for this brief era of environmental action came when the National Energy Administration received a stunning public rebuke from a high-level government body tasked by Xi to ensure that his green agenda had been implemented. In January 2021, the body criticised the NEA for its “deteriorated political ecology” and failing to control excess coal power capacity.

Beijing’s emissions targets prompted local officials to curtail coal-fired power generation. But, then, last summer, China was struck by an energy shortage as economic recovery from the first phase of the pandemic and sweltering weather drove up electricity demand. Meanwhile, a price cap on electricity meant rising costs for coal and other inputs did not dampen that demand.

The energy crunch left policymakers acutely aware of the dangers of moving too quickly away from reliable but polluting coal, which still makes up about 60 per cent of China’s total electricity generation.

A resurgence of Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation. Following an outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant in March, lockdowns have caused havoc for the country’s industrial base, prompting policymakers to resort to the old playbook of infrastructure-heavy stimulus.

“The Covid crisis has distracted companies and the government from the climate agenda,” says Li Shuo, senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace East Asia. China is now “entering into a winter for climate politics” as officials greenlight carbon-intensive infrastructure projects to boost growth, Li says.
Full story
** Essential reading -- GWPF reports about China's real energy and geopolitical agenda:
* Patricia Adams: China's energy dream (pdf)
* Gwythian Prins: The work in the rose (pdf)
* Patricia Adams: The red and the Green: China's useful idiots (pdf)
* Jun Armia: Eco-Fundamentalism as grist for China's mills (pdf)
5) Paul Homewood: The energy crisis is a taste of what the IEA has in store for us
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 11 June 2022
Biden may call it the “Putin price hike”, but the root cause of our energy crisis has been festering for a few years now.
Tilak Doshi details how the oil and gas sector in the West has been starved of investment in this Forbes article. Governmental climate policies, pressure on banks from governments, central banks and regulators not to lend to fossil fuel companies, the activities of eco-activist investors, woke hedge funds and judicial decisions have all contributed to a gradual decline in new investment.

Instead oil companies are happier using surplus cash for dividends and share buy backs, or plough money into the heavily subsidised green trough. Anything for an easy life!
Unsurprisingly then supplies are tight and prices rocketing.

But at the moment the imbalance is still tiny – after all we can still buy the stuff. The frightening thing is that this major shock to the global economy is just a taster of what the Climate Alarmist Cult has in store for us.

We just need to recall what the IEA proposed last year:


And here it was from the horse’s mouth:



An immediate ban on all new oil and gas projects would be absolutely catastrophic for global energy markets.
According to the anti-fossil fuel Global Witness, such a ban would quickly lead to substantial cuts in production. By 2030, it will have fallen by 40%:



It does not take an Einstein to work out the effect this would have on markets, prices and consumers. Not least when world demand would have continued to rise, Paris Agreement or no Paris Agreement.
It would be impossible to predict how much prices would rise, as we would be in totally uncharted territory. What is certain though is that those who could not afford energy would have to go without.
Those of us old enough will recall the oil crisis of 1974, caused by the oil embargo, which followed the Arab-Israeli War. Global prices tripled, yet curiously global oil production actually rose slightly in 1974, (though for some reason fell by 5% in 1975). Nevertheless we were on the verge of petrol rationing in the UK; I still remember getting ration coupons.
Less memorable, for some reason, was the 1979 oil crisis, precipitated by the Iranian revolution, which led to a 4% decline in oil output. Crude oil prices doubled, and there were fuel shortages and long queues at petrol stations.
This energy crisis was in large part responsible for the global recession of the early 1980s.
But both of these short term crises were tea parties compared to the global shock which the IEA’s policies would instigate. Those earlier crises were quickly nipped in the bud by new oil fields being brought on stream to make up for shortages. Global oil production, for instance, was already 22% higher in 1979 than it had been in 1972, before the Arab- Israeli War.
But in the IEA’s world, there will be no such recovery, only a long, continued contraction. In the IEA’s fantasy world, none of this matters because we will get all of the energy we need from wind and solar power.
But in the real world the results will be cataclysmic. So far we have only been talking about abstract numbers, but with such a collapse in the supply of energy however, the effects will go way beyond a hit to our wallets, or even a bit of rationing.  There will inevitably be civil disorder and riots, poverty and starvation. Societies will be destabilised and governments overthrown.
And all in the name of a baseless fear.
Fortunately, I suspect that most of the world will refuse to follow the West down its suicidal path. But if they were ever in any doubt, the past 12 months have surely been a warning of what lies in store.
6) Exposing the ‘modern green religion’
The Catholic Standard, 15 May 2022
By Catherine Sheehan

Professor Ian Plimer considers the new ‘green religion’ as part of a wider socialist agenda, the “new face of socialism” in the West. He recommends studies conducted by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK as the “best studies” on climate science.

Professor Ian Plimer has written his most recent book on what he believes is a worrying trend in the debate over the science of climate change. He argues that the movement claiming human activity is responsible for  global warming has been transformed into a “modern green religion” filling the void left by the decline of traditional Christianity in first-world western countries.

Recently in Hobart to talk about his latest book, Green Murder, at the invitation of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, Professor Plimer spoke about this phenomenon.
As a respected geologist and professor emeritus of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Plimer said his professional interest is in science, not beliefs. In regard to science he made clear that:

“I don’t have opinions. I don’t believe. I have conclusions based on fact. And so, I’m very, very different from the modern green religion.”

For 25 years Professor Plimer has been asking fellow scientists to provide even one study that clearly shows  human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing global warming. To date, he maintains no such proof has been offered.

“I have looked and looked and looked. I had Senator Malcolm Roberts in Senate Estimates ask CSIRO this question… with all of their scientists they couldn’t provide any evidence.”

“The only conclusion you can make is, where there’s no evidence, then the phenomenon doesn’t exist.”

But what about the IPCC? Hasn’t it claimed that there is a 95% probability that human activity is causing climate change?

“The IPCC is a UN political organisation with the brief to show that humans drive climate change,” Plimer responded.

“They do not mention the thousands of scientific papers that have evidence to the contrary.”

Plimer recommends studies conducted by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK as the “best studies” on climate science.

He argues the “modern green religion” is based on several basic fallacies. Firstly, that carbon dioxide is a dangerous chemical fuelling dangerous global warming.

“Carbon dioxide is the gas of life… the air has always had carbon dioxide in it,” he said.

“It’s a trace gas in the atmosphere, and we breathe in 0.04 percent carbon dioxide and we breathe out 4 percent.”

“If we didn’t have carbon dioxide, we’d have no plants. And if we had no plants, we’d have no animals. So, if we didn’t have this gas of life, there would be no life on earth. We cannot have net zero [carbon emissions], that is just scientifically daft.”

Currently, human emissions of carbon dioxide constitute only three percent of total emissions, he said. The other 97 percent are naturally occurring emissions from ocean degassing, which doesn’t drive global warming.

Furthermore, he argues the claim that the planet is warming is highly debatable, and depends on your reference points.

“In the last 38 years the temperature hasn’t changed. In the last 150 years we’ve had three events of warming and three events of very slight cooling. The total warming in that period has been 0.7 degrees Celsius.”

“If we look at the last 1,000 years, we’ve had five degrees of cooling. If we look at the last 2,000 years, we’ve had about five degrees of cooling. If we look at the last 4,000 years, we’ve probably had about seven degrees of cooling.”

The other key plank of the ‘green religion’, he argues, is the belief in so-called ‘green energy’. Contrary to green policies, wind and solar power are not efficient or environmentally friendly, he said.

“Solar destroys good farmlands. When they get rid of the solar panels it adds heavy metal contaminants to soils and water.

“Wind is very similar, it spoils the landscape, you add toxins from the blades to the soils and waterways when they get dumped because there’s no recycling.

“And then, of course, if you want to have an electric car, then you are using child slave labour to produce the cobalt that you need for an electric car.

“Ninety percent of the world’s cobalt is mined from the Congo. Pretty well all of the world’s cobalt goes into electric vehicles. The miners in the Congo are black children who are slaves, who work underground, dealing with toxins and unsafe mines that collapse on them.

“That is, to me, green murder.”

Plimer has also raised concerns about the approach taken in Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’, with regard to its endorsement of  wind and solar energy, which he asserts only further impoverishes people in third-world countries. While he shares the pope’s commitment to care for creation, he maintains that the scientific advice provided to the  pope was deficient.

“These people [advising the Holy Father] are well known in the climate industry as being socialists who are pushing a certain agenda… these green activists have got into his ear rather than the pope getting a balanced view on it.”

“Net zero emissions to someone in India or Africa is the difference between eating or starving. It’s the difference between your kids remaining as slave labour or getting an education.”

Plimer considers the new ‘green religion’ as part of a wider socialist agenda, the “new face of socialism” in the West.

“In the last 50 years in the West we’ve been attacking everything that’s been precious. We’ve been attacking the education system, which is grossly dumbed-down. We’ve been attacking religion. And this is the new green religion, where people are wanting to believe in something.”
* See also the reflex outrage by red-green activists:  Archbishop accused of promoting climate change denier's views on anniversary of Pope's landmark letter

7) Supreme Court climate case might end regulation
E&E News, 13 June 2022
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the coming days or weeks that could curtail EPA’s ability to drive down carbon emissions at power plants.

But it could go much further than that.

Legal experts are waiting to see if the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA begins to chip away at the ability of federal agencies — all of them, not just EPA — to write and enforce regulations. It would foreshadow a power shift with profound consequences, not just for climate policy but virtually everything the executive branch does, from directing air traffic to protecting investors.

The scope of the decision might not be immediately obvious, said Sambhav Sankar, Earthjustice’s senior vice president for programs.

“Everybody is going to be reading tea leaves when it comes out,” he said.

At issue is a petition by coal companies and Republican state attorneys general to bar EPA from writing a rule to require more energy be derived from low-carbon sources like wind, solar and nuclear, and less from coal. They’re targeting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan — a climate rule that was never put into effect and which has been disavowed by EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

That made the high court’s decision last year to take up the case unusual. It might be explained, some legal experts surmise, as an attempt by the court’s expanded conservative majority to say something new about regulation. Maybe the decision will make “systemwide” climate rules on power plants off limits for good — an echo of what has already happened with the Clean Power Plan.

But others say there could be a deeper impact. Indeed, an orbit-altering transformation to regulations.

The most conservative members of the high court might use West Virginia v. EPA as an opportunity to signal — perhaps in a concurring opinion that goes further than the majority opinion — that federal agencies can no longer expect deference from the court when they write rules that expand on the instructions given to them by Congress.

“The broader picture of what may be happening is that the Court is firing a shot across the bow of the regulatory state to say, ‘Stop thinking about new problems or improved solutions to old ones, just think of your job narrowly and imagine yourself back at the time when Congress wrote the enabling statute — even if that was 1970,’” said Sankar, who clerked for Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2006.

There are two legal doctrines that get at this broad theme: Because Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives “all legislative powers” to Congress, it must guide regulation while the executive branch’s primary role is to implement and enforce it.

The first is the nondelegation doctrine, which holds that Congress cannot ask federal agencies to write regulations that have the force of law. That’s Congress’ job alone, it asserts.

The nondelgation doctrine has a long history. In the 1930s, the Supreme Court cited it when ruling against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policies — until he threatened to use his Democratic supermajority to expand the court and dilute the power of its conservative justices.

“But the argument is still there. It’s been floating for decades,” said Kimberly Wehle, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and an expert on the nondelegation doctrine.

There is some disagreement about whether the interveners in West Virginia v. EPA are asking the court to consider the nondelegation doctrine or whether they’re suggesting it take up a related — but murkier — question.

That would be the major questions doctrine. It holds that federal agencies aren’t entitled to deference when they craft rules that are economically or politically significant for which Congress has not — in a court’s opinion — provided explicit enough guidance.

In the West Virginia case, petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to reverse a January 2021 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which threw out a Trump-era rewrite of the power plant rule because it was based on an interpretation of EPA’s Clean Air Act authority that, the court found, was narrower than the statute.

The West Virginia petitioners argued in their petition last year that the D.C. Circuit “purported to find grounds for EPA to dictate huge shifts in most sectors of the economy even though nothing in the statute approaches the clear language Congress must use to assign such vast policymaking authority — assuming, of course, it can delegate enormous powers like these in the first place.”

Wehle, the University of Baltimore law professor, said that was an invitation for the court to rule on the nondelegation doctrine — something its most conservative members, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, might be inclined to do.

“It’s an intellectually honest argument,” said Wehle, if not a pragmatic one. The Constitution does give Congress alone the authority to make laws, and regulations do carry the force of law, she noted.

Full story
8) Alan Moran: Politicians have sabotaged the energy market
Spectator Australia, 13 June 2022


Both Labor and Coalition politicians have, for the most part, listened to activists and subsidy-seekers and drunk the kool-ade that wind/solar is not only necessary to save humanity but is also cheaper.
‘After a decade of denial and delay, Australia deserves a better future – one with cheaper power, more jobs, and less emissions,’ said Energy Minister Chris Bowen, in his last media release prior to gaining government.
Mr Bowen advocated replacing coal generators with wind and solar, with their shares of electricity supply to increase from 30 per cent to 82 per cent by 2030. To facilitate this, he proposed spending $80 billion on transmission, thereby quadrupling its present costs.

He also ridiculed a Morrison government that ‘does not believe renewables are the cheapest form of energy, or that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity’.
Following the May election – the ALP, along with Greens and Teals – received all their Christmas presents at once with an energy supply shortage where a third of the coal generators were out of action, bringing an eight-fold increase in wholesale prices.
After two weeks in office, the new government is now silent on its ludicrous claim that its replacement of coal with high-cost wind/solar generation will save households $275 a year.
The June 8 meeting of energy ministers endorsed the transmission part of the ALP plan only to see this undermined the very next day with the announcement of delays in a crucial element – the conversion of the Snowy Hydro system into a renewables-supportive pumped hydro facility.
Panicked by the tenfold increase in electricity prices, the energy ministers announced measures to patch up the wounds in the market caused by the very political controls they were amplifying. These included giving regulators powers to trade gas, with no consideration of the effects of this on other suppliers’ actions.
Energy ministers also announced replacing the existing ‘energy only’ market with a UK-style ‘capacity market’. Such a system ostensibly offers more funding to controllable supplies like those from coal, gas, and hydro.
But it is less effective and more expensive than having decisions on supply reliability made by retailers who need to balance contracts between many different sources. Western Australia operates with a ‘capacity market’ and it has added costs without improving availability.
The recent bankruptcy of half of the UK’s energy retailers demonstrates that a capacity market does not give greater security.
Fundamental harm has been done to the energy system as a result of politicians meddling in commercial matters. The creation of the National Electricity Market and privatisations two decades ago has brought to Australia the world’s most efficient, lowest-cost electricity supply.
There are two reasons why it has since gone pear-shaped.
First, governments have subsidised wind and solar, making coal and gas generators unprofitable and forcing their closure. Governments made it clear that coal generators, which supply 60-70 per cent of our electricity, have a very limited social license to operate. They inhibited access to new coal supplies, accepted activists’ attacks on coal, and closed their eyes to policies of banks that refused loans and of insurance companies that refused cover.
Secondly, governments have foreclosed exploration and development of abundantly available gas in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. Astonishingly, in face of consequent shortages, the Victorian energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, advocated diverting Queensland gas to Victoria. In response to criticism of this policy, Premier Daniel Andrews suggested it was only possible for Victoria to supply gas if we ‘frack up the joint’ which he claims (contrary to all the evidence) will harm our prime agricultural land. The state Liberal Party shares the same policy to the great detriment of the people the politicians supposedly represent. 
The industry has been treated as the playground of politicians. They have compounded their own errors in subsidising renewables that undermine the whole system by funding the will-o’-the-wisp (which is hydrogen power) and by appointing activists to bloated regulatory agencies and to their own departments.
Creating the damage is easier than repairing it.
The subsidies to wind and solar will continue to poison efficient supply for many years to come. But as a start, governments must abandon all subsidies, free up regulatory restraints, and disengage from controls over retailers and generators. Efficient electricity supply, like that of groceries, telephony, and cars, requires market – not government – control. As has been demonstrated, the latter brings especially perverse outcomes when it seeks to specify particular technologies.
Rectifying the damage also requires restoring the social licence to build new coal power stations and nuclear power. This involves correcting an environment whereby financiers have joined regulators and activists in preventing new investment.
Government leadership is required to undo this damage, including by upholding laws that prevent trespass, abandoning requirements on firms to conform to concocted environmental pressures, and making all businesses aware that discrimination against energy suppliers is alien to government policy. 
This will not be easy.
Ministerial statements demonstrate an ignorance in blaming the cause of the current crisis on gas and coal. Both Labor and Coalition politicians have, for the most part, listened to activists and subsidy-seekers and drunk the kool-ade that wind/solar is not only necessary to save humanity but is also cheaper. It seems the situation will need to deteriorate even further before there is a realistic chance of policy reversals.
9) And finally: Newspapers without opinions?
Steven Hayward, Power Line, 12 June 2022
The Washington Post reports this week that Gannett, owner of USA Today and 250 other papers, has decided to scale back its opinion and op-ed pages, and reduce the number of columnists, because “its opinion pages are alienating readers and becoming obsolete.”
"The company has been pushing for the cutbacks for years, and they have become increasingly visible to readers since a committee of editors formally recommended them at a meeting in April. “Readers don’t want us to tell them what to think,” the editors, who come from Gannett newsrooms across the country, declared in an internal presentation. “They don’t believe we have the expertise to tell anyone what to think on most issues. They perceive us as having a biased agenda.”
As soon as I stop laughing, I’ll give you my simpler theory of the real reason for this step (beyond an easy cost-cutting move for a failing industry).

Okay, I’ve finished laughing, and run out of today’s ration of popcorn. There’s a clear hint later in story:

"Opinion pages began to appear widely in U.S. newspapers in the 19th century, and most papers have since built a code of ethics around them, including firewalls to prevent opinion columnists and editorial writers from influencing news reporters and news editors who often work in the same building. While news-side journalists are generally discouraged from sharing their opinions on topics they cover, their opinion-side counterparts can supplement their reports with analysis, commentary, political endorsements and sometimes-regrettable hot takes on social media.

The Gannett committee, however, argued that the traditional model is confusing and repelling readers."
The last sentence gets to the heart of the matter: most readers can’t discern the difference between the “news” pages and the opinion pages of most newspapers.
The Post story admits a much: “Younger readers, according to the company, often can’t tell the difference between news reporting and opinion. . . ‘Today’s contemporary audiences frequently are unable to distinguish between objective news reporting and Opinion content,’ the editorial committee wrote in an earlier iteration of its recommendations in 2018.”

And the “news” side of papers probably doesn’t like the competition, which is acknowledged in the part of the sentence above that reads “opinion-side counterparts can supplement their reports with analysis, commentary, political endorsements and sometimes-regrettable hot takes on social media.”

Actually lots of new-side reporters give “hot-takes” on social media. Like Felicia Sonmez, for example. Or Maggie Haberman at the NY Times.

Gannett lost $670 million in 2020, and $135 million last year. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal editorial page still helps that paper sell subscriptions. And that’s not fake news. You’d think there might be a lesson in this, but not to the morons trying to preserve the media equivalent of buggy whips.

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

No comments: