In this newsletter:
1) Green Britain: Energy bills to wipe out almost three quarters of state pension
The Daily Telegraph, 28 August 2022
The Daily Telegraph, 29 August 2022
The Sunday Times, 28 August 2022
The Times, 29 August 2022
The Critic, 26 August, 2022
Prague Morning, 26 August 2022
Kyiv Post, 28 August 2022
The Daily Telegraph, 28 August 2022
Almost three quarters of the annual state pension will be eaten away by soaring energy bills next year amid forecasts that the price cap will breach £6,600, experts have warned.
Pensioners will be among the hardest hit during the cost of living crisis, as they will be left with just £3,000 to live on per year from the state pension once bills have been paid.
Last week, Ofgem confirmed that the energy price cap would jump by an unprecedented 80pc to £3,549 per year in October. However, Cornwall Insight, the energy consultant, expects the cap to surge to £5,387 in January before increasing again in April to £6,616.
Based on the forecasts, energy bills will account for 70pc of the average state pension even after the triple lock comes into force.
More than 12 million pensioners are on track to receive a record state pension increase under the triple lock next year after inflation hit 10.1pc in July. However, inflation is now expected to almost double to 18.6pc by spring, according to analysis by Citigroup.
The state-paid benefit rises under the “triple lock” each year, ensuring payments increase by the highest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5pc. It is expected to pay out an annual average of £9,623 after next April.
Pensioners face some of the highest bills in the country, as they spend a greater proportion of their incomes on heating their homes.
Four in 10 people over the age of 66 rely on the state pension as their main source of income, according to the Money and Pensions Service.
The Daily Telegraph, 29 August 2022
Nearly one in four adults plans never to turn their heating on this winter, polling suggests, with average bills are set to rocket while temperatures drop.
The figure is even higher for parents with children under 18, a Savanta ComRes survey – carried out before the new price cap was announced last week – reveals.
The pollsters asked more than 2,000 UK adults how they would respond to increasing energy prices over the winter. Twenty-three per cent said they would not turn their heating on at all, with the figure rising to 27 per cent among parents with under-18s.
Seven in 10 (69 per cent) said they would switch their heating on less, and 11 per cent said they would take out a loan, with the latter figure rising again for those with children under 18 to 17 per cent.
It comes amid warnings that people are in for a dire winter, with the energy price cap set to rise by 80 per cent by October, pushing the average household’s yearly bill up from £1,971 to £3,549.
Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor, has said he is working “flat out” to draw up options for a plan of action for the next prime minister so they can “hit the ground running” when they take office next month.
But some have accused the Government of being missing in action, while neither Tory leadership candidate has set out in full how they would help people ahead of the contest’s conclusion.
The Liberal Democrats, who commissioned the survey, warned that families are being forced to make “heartbreaking decisions”, with the country on the brink of the worst cost of living crisis in a century.
The party is calling for ministers to scrap the energy price cap rise in October, funded partly by a further windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
The polling, conducted between July 29 and July 30, also suggests that parents of under-18s are increasingly likely to put more on their credit cards because of rising energy bills (33 per cent compared with a national average of 23 per cent).
The survey results were weighted to be representative of the UK by age, sex, region and social grade.
The Sunday Times, 28 August 2022
The starkest estimates put the number of jobs at risk in hospitality at 500,000, while thousands more are under threat in industry and agriculture as employers increasingly find that it costs more to stay open than it does to close.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of lobby group UKHospitality, said 10,000 businesses could shut permanently in the next 18 months, which would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Of these workers, between 300,000 and 350,000 are employed in hospitality, with a further 200,000 in the supply chain dependent on hospitality for their income.
More businesses are talking about temporary closures over the winter or shutting their doors for one or two days a week to save money, slashing the hours for some of Britain’s lowest paid.
“Without government support, the hospitality industry will see a catastrophic loss of businesses. Based on our experience of Covid, we can expect the closure of around 10,000,” Nicholls said.
The Chemicals Industries Association said many factories would likely shut on certain days to keep energy costs down. ....
The Federation of Small Businesses said soaring energy bills on top of rampant inflation, rising production costs and the highest taxation for 70 years was creating an “existential threat”.
“Without urgent support, many thousands of small firms could close,” it said. Almost two thirds of private sector jobs in the UK are in SMEs, but this proportion is higher in smaller towns and rural areas.
The Times, 29 August 2022
Forty-seven per cent of Tory voters favour returning the energy companies to public ownership, with 28 per cent opposed to such a move and 25 per cent unsure. Among those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019, including many in the red wall seats of the northeast and the Midlands, the figure rises to 53 per cent in favour of renationalisation.
The figures, from a YouGov poll conducted for The Times, provide a stark illustration of the choices facing squeezed households after it was announced that energy bills will rise to an average of £3,549 a year from October. Economists and energy experts urged the government to take action to avoid widespread blackouts this winter.
5) James McSweeney: The British energy horror story
The Critic, 26 August, 2022
Frankenstein’s energy monster is composed of an assortment of quango nonsense, bureaucratic head-burying and clueless ministerial direction. Legislation created a regressive feedback loop by which ministers forced civil servants to mislead them and then made decisions based on poor data. State-funded activists behaved like activists.
Looking for a light read? Perhaps a fairy tale to settle the kids before bed?
If so, I highly recommend the publications page of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). You will find endless exciting tales about the near future. Stories of a high-tech world, in which humanity has “Built Back Greener” and enjoys prosperous existence in equilibrium with a revitalised natural world.
But perhaps fantasy is not your thing. Maybe you’d prefer something scary — a horror story to make your hair stand on end. Never fear — BEIS has you covered. As a fellow spookophile, I encourage you to scroll past the utopian titles, right to the bottom. Here we find the department’s “generation capacity” estimates.
Generation capacity is the amount of electricity our country can generate or import if supplied with sufficient fuel.
As with most horror stories, the setting will initially appear rosy. Aided by the world’s biggest offshore wind market, the amount of clean electricity the UK can generate is expected to soar ever upwards — hinting at a carbonless world just around the corner. Indeed, journals spanning from the Guardian to the Spectator have run glossy graphics to this effect.
But things are not as they seem. Look at the estimates of National Grid’s Energy Systems Operator (ESO) and you’ll begin to feel goosebumps. These projections “de-rate” energy generators based on how reliable they are (generators rarely run at 100 per cent efficiency). Applying this method nearly halves generation capacity — from 115 gigawatts to 62. At this level, supply is barely keeping level with demand.
Exclude intermittent sources like wind (which quite often doesn’t blow) and solar (which is reliably unavailable at night) and things get really spooky. Predicted peak demand exceeds supply this winter. In other words: if the wind does not blow at the right moment, there will be blackouts.
Official projections also assume the capacity of our interconnectors with the continent to import energy when needed. But these have repeatedly broken down and two projects key to meeting demand have been cancelled.
How real is the worry? Last winter, a broken interconnector and low wind speeds meant electricity generation passed within half a gigawatt of demand (for reference: the combined capacity of our scheduled-to-close coal plants is 6GW).
This summer, London narrowly avoided blackouts after an emergency appeal to Belgian suppliers. This winter, the ESO warns demand may exceed supply — forcing us to issue emergency notices to auxiliary and European suppliers.
With capacity due to fall further and an energy crisis gripping Europe, this is deeply troubling. No surprises, National Grid is currently experimenting with rationing household electricity, and the Greater London Authority is advising a halt to housebuilding.
Who created this horror?
Trawling though the last decade of reports, it is easy to conclude that British energy planners suffer recurring amnesia.
Back in 2012, an Energy Departmental policy paper noted that we’d need 26GW of new gas generated electricity by 2030 to replace retiring coal and nuclear plants. The then Secretary of State Ed Davey responded by promising 20 new gas plants. However, a 2015 plan downgraded the ambition to 14GW, and two years later this was dropped to 6GW. Last year, Boris Johnson updated the goal to zero. In all that time, Britain managed to build a whopping three gas power stations, with 4.4GW capacity, one of which is due to close next year.
There may be something to the amnesia hypothesis.
Ministers are rapidly shuffled around (since 2010, there have been eight Secretaries of State and 13 Ministers of State for Energy). At the same time, the Civil Service lost its experienced hands. The civil servant pay cap has meant the surest way to get a higher salary has become jumping between departments (the average manager moves on after only one and a half years).
A bigger problem, however, is incentives.
The Climate Act 2008 made the UK the first country to legally require itself to hit its CO2 reduction targets, with a target of 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 (since revised to 100%), and carbon budgets limiting the nation’s carbon output over 5-year periods. From this moment, the Department of Energy had two, potentially conflicting, statutory duties — to keep the lights on and cut carbon.
At first, things seemed to be going well. Conservatives were quick to grasp the PR opportunities of vast offshore wind farms, as well as the electoral importance of shielding voters from the costs of setting them up. The private sector was left to pick up the cost of new infrastructure, as well as a carbon tariff on heavier fuels.
The consequence was a resounding climate victory. Energy prices for British heavy industry rose 57% between 2010 and 2020 — 91% above the Western European average — forcing many businesses to relocate their operations (and nasty emissions) onto some other country’s balance sheet.
Another tactic was to build interconnectors with other countries — allowing us to feed off their energy generation without it counting towards our emissions. Of course, this could not happen fast enough to keep up with the enthusiastic cull of UK energy. 94 per cent of coal, two thirds of oil and a third of gas electricity generation was cut between 2010-2020.
In time, however, things became more difficult. By the end of the 2010s, Britain’s once-substantial surplus of energy generation had been eaten up and the UK had few heavy industries left to offshore. With ministers making ever more ambitious climate pledges and energy projections looking increasingly dire, civil servants reached for the one tool they had left: making stuff up.
In 2021’s Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, civil servants were given the unenviable task of demonstrating how the grid would be carbon-free by 2035. In the real world, this would require us to build 25 Hinkley C-style nuclear EP reactors in a decade, which is impossible. Caught between reality and statutory obligation, civil servants duly responded with accounting tricks. At one point, for example, the report claims we could have an additional 13GW intraday energy storage capacity by 2030 — an exciting possibility.
However, a cursory look at the methodology reveals civil servants simply invented this figure using input-based program which can’t make predictions. The (separately published) appendix makes clear this method “does not attempt to determine whether the market, or potential support mechanisms, would deliver this level of flexibility.” To hit their targets, therefore, civil servants simply imaged what technological innovation would be needed and told a computer to predict it.
Increasingly energetic head-burying is evident
Increasingly energetic head-burying is even evident in the tone of BEIS reports. From 2017, Energy Department projection papers embraced a new editorial style. Gone was the neutral, technical jargon of civil servants, in came exciting LinkedIn-friendly buzz phrases like “seizing the opportunities of clean growth” and unprompted reassurances that Britain is “amongst most successful countries in the developed world in growing our economy while reducing emissions”.
At the same time the government was forcing civil servants to fudge the figures, it was also busy channelling money to experts likely to give it the thumbs up. Enter the Climate Change Committee (CCC) — a quango staffed by activists, tasked with advising the government on energy planning.
When figures needed to be found, the CCC was more than happy to supply “independent advice”. Last year, after a lengthy court battle with an activist group, the Committee, was forced to reveal the basis for the wind energy estimates it had supplied the government. As it turns out, they had assumed that annual windless days would drop by 2,000 per cent, even though scientists predict that windless days will become more frequent. When asked for their reasoning, the CCC refused to clarify. In short: the UK Government had based its wind energy strategy on falsehoods.
Shockingly, the revelation didn’t even make the 8 o’clock news. Presumably motivated by a desire to avoid bad PR, the government didn’t pursue any lawsuits and continues to cite the CCC as a model of good governance. In a sign no lessons were learned, the new Energy Bill would give control of energy planning to a CCC-esque “Independent System Operator and Planner” (ISOP), with a statutory duty to promote net zero.
The CCC has also helped insulate the Government from criticism. When, in 2016 the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) sounded the alarm about the UK’s “electricity gap”, the ministers were able to point to their CCC-modelling to reassure the public everything was okay.
So, that’s the backstory. Frankenstein’s energy monster is composed of an assortment of quango nonsense, bureaucratic head-burying and clueless ministerial direction. Legislation created a regressive feedback loop by which ministers forced civil servants to mislead them and then made decisions based on poor data. Job switching and an over-reliance on quango advice robbed the system of accountability and the ability to take a joined-up, long-term view of planning. State-funded activists behaved like activists.
What’s to be done?
There is no silver bullet to kill this monster, but disaster may be avoided if we’re prepared to acknowledge it exists. Blackouts remain unlikely if electricity demand is constrained, which means the government must abandon its plans for the grid to go green by 2035, along with the aim to switch to electric cars and heat pumps. Coal stations will need to keep burning, and mothballed generators may require re-recommissioning. Whilst it is too late to build the necessary plants in the next few years, the government can save future pain by loosening restrictions on new gas-fired power plants. It should also be prepared to finance new projects directly (60% of the bill for Hinkley C is borrowing costs, due to the government’s refusal to provide direct funding).
Above all, the Government must tackle the perverse incentives which lead it to walk blindly into this mess. The CCC must be abolished, or at least matched by another quango responsible for scrutinizing climate policy’s impact on energy security. CCC members who might have misled the public should be investigated. Legal requirements to meet impossible climate targets must also go — if the department can meet targets, that’s good, but its priority has to be to keep the lights on. Finally, civil servant pay caps must be removed to promote continuity in departments.
This tale speaks to a deep dysfunctionality at the heart of the system. Keeping the lights on is a basic function of modern government, and we are close to critical failure. The next PM’s first task must be to exorcise vested interests and create clear lines of accountability. If the eco-blob cannot be tamed, the future of the country looks dark.
6) The crucial cause behind energy crisis is ‘green fanaticism,’ says Czech President
Prague Morning, 26 August 2022
“Whether it’s called the Green Deal or whatever, I’m afraid. However, I won’t be here anymore when we find out where the green madness will take us. The abolition of cars with internal combustion engines will lead to the advent of far more demanding electromobility. The biggest consumers of electricity will be electric cars with a short range and a high price,” said Zeman while receiving Czech ambassadors at Prague Castle on Tuesday.
According to Zeman, the solution to the energy crisis is not to succumb to the Green Deal and to pursue a sovereign foreign policy. He considers it crucial that issues affecting the country’s sovereignty continue to be voted on unanimously in the European Union.
Kyiv Post, 28 August 2022
By Jaroslw Martyniuk
The West’s ill-conceived green policies and pursuit of a carbon-free environment undoubtedly contributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24, thus advancing his goals of resurrecting the defunct Soviet Union.
Putin likely calculated that Western preoccupation with a climate control agenda provided a unique opportunity to exploit weaknesses brought on by a self-defeating energy and environmental path.
Months before the invasion of Ukraine, an Oct. 2021, a Wall Street Journal editorial warned bluntly that the West’s, and particularly Germany’s, counterproductive climate policies allowed Putin to hold them hostage. Then, only days after the invasion of Ukraine, on March 1, Michael Schellenberger, a U.S. author and environmental policy writer, noted that the West’s green delusion empowered Russia to carry out a full-scale assault on Ukraine.
Climate orthodoxy vs. climate skeptics
For a generation, we have been told that the science regarding global warming has been “settled” and that it is anthropogenic, i.e., manmade. The mainstream media and environmental activists alleged that to save the planet, we must take drastic measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions, because we are on the brink of extinction and have only until 2030 to do something about it. Short of that, it would make our planet uninhabitable.
Fighting climate change, therefore, had become an obsession; moreover a threat to national security overriding geopolitical threats posed by Russia and other bad actors.
The alarmist nature of Green movements in the U.S. and Europe has taken on the religious fervor of an apocoliptic cult. Its core belief has been that man’s activities, notably the burning of fossil fuels and, more recently, the release of bovine methane, are causing global warming.
To counter this view, a spate of books and scientific papers have challenged the climate change orthodoxy and the assumption that warming temperatures are the result of man. They argue that the adverse effects of global warming have been vastly exaggerated and, importantly, that other non-human factors, over which we have no control, may be at play.
One of the most influential works questioning the conventional wisdom on climate change has been written by Stephen Koonin, the former Chief Scientist in the Obama Administration and a singularly credible source. In “Unsettled” (2021), Koonin notes that climate alarmism has come to dominate U.S. politics and has become increasingly divorced from science.
Earlier this year, Bjorn Lomborg published “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions.” Like Koonin, Lomborg states, “the rhetoric on climate change has become ever more extreme and irrational and less moored to the actual science.” The establishment scientists, media, and politicians with an agenda have fanned a panic beyond what can be explained by good sense. Lomborg notes that while “climate change may be real, it is not apocalyptic.” Media headlines such as “Climate Change Could End Human Civilization by 2050” are outrageously over the top and contribute to the panic.
Both scientists, in effect, accuse the establishment of creating a hoax. In the same vein, Bruce Bunker’s “The Mythology of Climate Change” (2019) noted that we don’t have reliable data to claim with any degree of certainty that there is a climate crisis. These scientists argue that climate is a cyclical phenomenon that has been changing for millennia. More significantly, other factors beyond our control may be contributing to global warming.
Earlier this year the Golbal Climate Intelligence Group (Clintel), composed of 1,100 scientits and professionals from 25 counties, issued a declaration entitled “There is no Climate Emergency,” essentially substantiating the arguments of authors cited above.” They maintain that:
Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause planetary warming and that it’s happening far slower than predicted;
Climate models have serious shortcomings that cast doubt on their reliability;
Global warming has not increased natural disasters such as huricanes, floods and doughts;
Climate policies must respect scientific and economic policies.
Climate change politics and the war in Ukraine
Although the link may not appear obvious at first, it is clear that the pursuit of net zero policies (and similar) have had the unintended consequence of weakening the West’s hand to counter Russian aggression. It has been “a self-inflicted disaster years in the making,” opined the Wall Street Journal in Oct. 2021. The editorial concluded that Europe’s willingness to harm itself in the name of unachievable climate goals was one of the greatest acts of self-sabotage in history.
The pledge of net zero gas emissions by 2050 had led to the closing of coal power plants while at the same time pouring billions into dubious solar and wind projects, renewable sources of energy that would meet only a small fraction of Europe’s energy needs. Erratic cloud cover, unpredictable wind conditions, and the intractable problem of storing the energy they produce, pose insurmountable obstacles that make these projects of marginal value. Others put it bluntly: the belief that renewables will replace fossil fuels is wishful thinking verging on insanity.
Even more harmful has been the phasing out of nuclear-powered electric stations, generally considered as one of the safest and most reliable carbon free sources of energy. But Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg said nuclear power is “extremely dangerous and expensive” – a claim that the German Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock chose to take seriously.
In addition to shutting three of its six remaining nuclear power plants, Baerbock announced that the last three will be taken offline by the end of the year – a catastrophically wrongheaded decision. By comparison, the French appear consummately wiser, having generated an overwhelming share of their electiricy (about 75 percent) using nuclear power, with plans for more.
Nevertheless, the general trend of abandoning coal, spurning nuclear and investing in small-scale renewables has led Europeans, and Germany in particular, to become excessively reliant on Russian oil and gas. Since Russia supplied about half of the continent’s needs prior to Feb. 24, the EU has gifted Putin a weapon to blackmail them with and transformed green policies into reasons why Putin ultimately chose to invade Ukraine. He calculated that the EU’s energy needs and green poclies would force them to meekly concede Ukriane to Russia, and that the U.S. would not be able to mobilize a united front.
Is global warming anthropogenic?
On this issue, experts are divided. One side maintains that global warming is due entirely to human activity, and anyone challenging that belief is labeled a “climate denier,” a stigma comparable to a “Holocaust denier.”
Questioning such orthodoxy has become as dangerous as Galileo maintaining that the Earth revolved around the sun, for which he was tried, forced to repent, and spent the last eight years of his life under house arrest. A latter day Galieo, Michael Griffin, former head of NASA, merely stated “global warming may be a long-term problem” and “not one we must wrestle with today.” For that he was forced to resign.
Another group of scientists maintain that global climate is a connected system of sun, earth and oceans; wind, rain and snow; forests, deserts and savannas; and everything people do. They conclude that that CO2 emissions at most contribute marginally to global warming.
It is beyond the scope of this article to fully elaborate on the natural non-human factors that impact on global warming. They are numerous and complex, but ignoring them, Kooney writes, casts severe doubts on the science of climate change. However, to apperiate their significance they need to be mentioned, if only briefly:
Changes in the sun’s intensity linked to sunspot activity have correlated closely with heating and cooling periods since 1900;
The energy produced by the sun is not constant.
Currently, the Earth is experiencing the high-temperature end of the latest Ice Age cycle associated with long-term solar cycles;
Periodic changes in Earth’s orbit and the tilt of its axis influence how much sunlight the Earth’s poles receive from the sun and how it is distributed;
Variations in Earth’s magnetic field can cause shifts in Earth’s north and south poles, while even a slight tilt in Earth’s axis will cause huge changes in our weather;
The position of Earth’s magnetic north pole, first located in 1831, has drifted by more than 600 miles (1000 kilometers) to the northwest;
El Niño oscillations have an inordinate effect on global changes in temperature and rainfall. El Niños, however, have been around since Incas observed them, if not longer.
Hardly any of the climate models reflect these factors in their calculations. Thus, even if emissions of greenhouse gases exact a warming influence on the planet, it is practically impossible to disentangle them from other parts of the climate system.
Worse, goverments in pursuit of “green energy” and “net zero” emissions policies are doubling down on their war on fossil fuels as if the real world did not exist. In mid-August, the U.S. Congress passed the grotesquely misnamed $740 billion Inflation Reduction package, $370 billion of which is dedicated to green energy programs.
The cost of green energy policies can now be counted in the trillions.
For Ukraine, the consequences of the delusional green agenda have been even more devastating: they enabled Putin’s genocidal war of aggression against Ukriane, loss of 20 percent of its territory, reducing cities to rubble with casuaties in the tens of thousands and millions fleeing the country.
Jaroslaw Martyniuk is a former energy and environmental economist with the International Energy Agency (IEA)/Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developed Countries (OECD) in Paris. He is also a retired researcher associated with Radio Liberty in Munich and Washington D.C., and the author of “Monte Rosa: Memoir of an Accidental Spy.”