Europe’s New Climate Rebels: Germany, Italy, Hungary & Poland Reject Net-Zero Climate Target


By: - Climate DepotMay 8, 2019 1:05 PM with 0 comments

https://mailchi.mp/e27403bd2156/europes-new-climate-rebels?e=f4e33fdd1e

Europe’s New Climate Rebels
Germany, Italy, Hungary & Poland Reject Net-Zero Climate Target

Confidential documents prepared in advance of a two-day EU summit in Brussels have exposed an East-West divide in Europe on climate change, with Germany siding with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in their refusal to commit to climate neutrality by 2050. —EurActiv, 7 May 2019

1) Europe’s New Climate Rebels: Germany, Italy, Hungary & Poland Reject Net-Zero Climate Target
EurActiv, 7 May 2019

2) EU Elections: Europe’s Populist Parties Target Climate Policies
Thomas Grose, U.S. News, 8 May 2019

3) Europe’s Dramatic Decline Of Renewable Energy Uptake
Ed Hoskins, 8 May 2019 

4) Prof Michael Kelly: Decarbonisation And The Command Economy
Global Warming Policy Forum, 8 May 2019 

5) Rupert Darwall: Guilt-Tripping Britain To Net Zero
CapX, 7 May 2019 

6) And Finally: Anti-Fracking EU Promises To Double U.S. Shale Gas Imports Within 5 Years
OilPrice.com, 6 May 2019  

1) Europe’s New Climate Rebels: Germany, Italy, Hungary & Poland Reject Net-Zero Climate Target
EurActiv, 7 May 2019 

Confidential documents prepared in advance of a two-day EU summit in Brussels have exposed an East-West (sic) divide in Europe on climate change, with Germany siding with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in their refusal to commit to climate neutrality by 2050.

The governments of France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg have launched an appeal to boost EU climate action ahead of a major summit on the future of Europe taking place in Romania next Thursday (9 May).

A leaked “non-paper” by the eight countries calls on the European Union to step up the fight against climate change and sign up to a European Commission plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions “by 2050 at the latest”.

Germany, Italy and Poland were notably absent from the list of signatories of the leaked document, obtained by EURACTIV, echoing divisions at a recent EU summit.

Confidential documents prepared in advance of a two-day EU summit in Brussels have exposed an East-West divide in Europe on climate change, with Germany siding with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in their refusal to commit to climate neutrality by 2050.

The “non-paper” also calls on the EU to raise its greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, ahead of a special United Nations climate summit in New York next September where world leaders will take stock of their emission reduction pledges, in line with the Paris climate agreement.

“The EU must make ambitious announcements during the UNSG Summit, preferably on setting a target for the EU to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest,” the document reads, calling on EU countries to “enhance” their national contributions for 2030 as well.

A special UN summit scheduled in New York next September will provide “an essential opportunity to mobilise political will to raise global ambition” on climate change, according to a draft EU statement due to be adopted on Monday (18 February).

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2) EU Elections: Europe’s Populist Parties Target Climate Policies
Thomas Grose, U.S. News, 8 May 2019

LONDON – TWO YEARS AGO, the Finns Party, which like most far-right, populist parties in Europe has largely focused on opposition to immigration, seemed like a spent force in Finnish politics. It was one of three right-wing parties that formed a government in 2015 that proved unpopular, and the party splintered in 2017 with half its members of parliament (MPs) quitting.

But ahead of last month’s general election in Finland, the party found an additional hobby horse to ride to electoral success: resistance to policies that combat climate change.

It worked. When the final results were tabulated on April 14, the nationalist Finns Party captured 17.5% of the vote, only a fraction less than the 17.7% won by the top-placing Social Democrats.

The Finns Party doesn’t deny climate science. Instead, it says the solutions to fight it are too costly and place an unfair burden on Finns, particularly the rural and working-class voters that comprise its base.

“Their attitude got more extreme when they discovered they could win more votes by opposing climate policy,” explains Stella Schaller, a global-climate policy expert at Adelphi, a public policy think tank in Berlin that focuses on climate issues.

And while there is no empirical evidence beyond the Finnish election that arguing against policies to thwart climate change will be a vote-getter for nationalist parties around the European Union, many of them are likely to give it a go as electioneering ramps up ahead of the May 23 elections for the European Parliament.

“It is becoming a campaign issue, that’s for sure,” Schaller says, especially “since immigration may be losing its explosiveness” with voters.

Preserving Sovereignty Rallies the Right

Nationalist parties have long voiced skepticism toward climate policies, says Bernhard Forchtner, an expert on far-right politics at the University of Leicester, “but no one was paying attention before.” As immigration loses some of its power as a hot-button issue, “it gives them another tool to repeat their overall message, that ‘the elites control us.'”

A recent Adelphi study of 21 of the largest far-right parties in Europe found that seven of them are ardent climate-deniers, including the UK Independence Party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Netherland’s Party for Freedom. While several of the other parties have pro-green platforms, like Hungary’s governing Fidesz, most of the rest tend to accept climate science while rejecting climate policies, the same tactic of the Finns Party. Two out of three nationalist members regularly voted against climate legislation in the EU parliament, according to Adelphi.

Many of the parties tend to blur the line on climate skepticism. For instance, National Rally (formerly the National Front) once labeled the United Nation’s climate panel a “communist project,” but in recent years it’s not entirely denied the science behind global warming and has promoted the development of “domestic renewables.” Yet, it’s also one of the nationalist parties whose members have over the last five years regularly voted against climate bills.

“It’s not homogenous,” Forchtner says of climate denialism among far-right movements. “There’s a tendency among the hard-right parties to be skeptics, while others are not as outspoken, are not saying so explicitly.” But the overarching view that tends to link the parties is that most climate solutions “require international cooperation, and that means giving up some sovereignty, and that’s a key argument for nationalists. They have real ideological reasons to oppose climate fixes.”

“Climate is a topic that can be easily exploited,” Schaller says, because it allows right-wing parties to rail against elites, science, inequitable costs, big government and international cooperation. While the populist Yellow Vest demonstrators who have engulfed France in a series of sometimes violent protests since last November have embraced a mélange of right- and left-wing demands, they began the movement to protest higher fuel taxes earmarked to pay for green policies. “It proves that climate can be a polarizing, wedge issue,” she says.[…]

Forecasts of Growing Leverage for Nationalist Parties

Nevertheless, Adelphi cites forecasts that indicate that nationalist parties are likely to capture up to 25% of the 751 EU Parliament seats up for grabs — up from 15% now — for a total of around 188. That won’t give them enough votes to defeat climate bills, especially since they don’t always vote as a bloc on the issue. But their growing numbers will give them more leverage to potentially water down legislation before it goes to a formal vote.

“Their sphere of influence grows as their voter shares increase,” Schaller says. That’s because they’ll be allocated more funding and longer speaking times, and they’ll be able to chair committees and file motions. “They can introduce more skeptical arguments and so toss sand into the gears.”

There’s also a greater likelihood that mainstream parties of both the center-right and center-left may feel pressured to cooperate more with far-right parties they would have shunned in the past.

“The risk,” Schaller says, “is they can set the tone for the debates.”

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3) Europe’s Dramatic Decline Of Renewable Energy Uptake
Ed Hoskins, 8 May 2019 

The rate of renewable energy installations in the EU in 2018 was less than half the maximum level achieved in 2010.  Both onshore Wind power and Solar PV are demising rapidly.

In 2017 the EU28 represented only ~10% of the global CO2 emissions and power generation in the EU only accounted for about one quarter of those CO2 emissions, transport, industry and space heating accounting for the remainder.

The ~10% EU28 proportion of global emissions will diminish further as India, China and all other developing nations continue to use coal as their cheapest fuel for electricity generation, in contradiction to the spirit of the Paris Climate Accord. […]

EurObservER is a Renewables promoting organisation supported by the European Union.  They publish as promotional material for Renewables, the installations and output achieved on an annual basis.  These data have been collated since 2008 to develop this post.

The current time series EurObservER data up till 2018 shows a significant diminution of Weather Dependent Renewable installations.  The 2018 installation rate is less than half the maximum level achieved in 2010.  Both onshore Wind power and Solar PV are demising rapidly.

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4) Prof Michael Kelly: Decarbonisation And The Command Economy
Global Warming Policy Forum, 8 May 2019 

The costs of retrofitting exiting domestic buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, compared with the savings on energy bills, represent a wholly unsatisfactory return on investment from a family perspective.  A command economy would be required to make any serious inroads on the challenge as proposed by the Committee on Climate Change.

In its recent (February 2019) report, ‘UK Housing: Fit for the Future?’, the 29 million existing homes must be made low-carbon, low-energy and resilient to climate change.

This note is an abbreviated update of a study[1] I prepared subsequent to a three-year appointment as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Communities and Local Government during 2006–9.   I also delivered an ‘amateur’ prospectus to the Council, University, Business and Entrepreneurial sectors of the City of Cambridge, with an estimated bill of £0.7–1 billion to retrofit the 49,000 houses and 5500 other buildings within the city boundaries to halve the net CO2 emissions.

On the basis of a presentation I made to the then Science Minister, Lord Drayson, in 2008, the Government launched a pilot ‘Retrofit for the Future’ programme, with £150,000 devoted to over 100 houses in the housing association sector.

This programme, and its outcomes[2], did not rate a mention in the recent CCC report. However, I have visited one of these, and seen a 60% (the target was 80%) reduction in CO2 emissions after the retrofit: full wall insulation, underfloor insulation, use of the newest appliances etc.  At this rate of spend, the 29 million existing homes across the UK would cost £4.3 trillion to retrofit.   If the typical energy bill of £2000 per year were to be halved, the saving would be £29 billion per year and the payback time would be 150 years!  Who would lend/invest on that basis?

In fact, the £150,000 limit was set to ensure that the end target of 80% CO2 emissions could be met[3], on the understanding that economies of scale and learning by doing would reduce the cost per household by at most 3–5-fold.  However, how much reduction in cost is required before private individuals would invest in improving the energy efficiency of their home?  This would be limited by the conditions set by lenders, and they want a payback of 3-4 years on most investments, stretching to say 7-8 years on infrastructure investments in the home.  The implied ceiling of lending of £10,000 per house goes nowhere on energy efficiency measures and would not give a 50%, let alone 80%, energy reduction.

Only if there is a Government direction to spend this scale of money on this issue will any significant inroads be made in energy reductions in existing houses. No political party would commit to this level of spend on a national retrofit programme until the need is pressing and urgent, not on a distant horizon.  There is no ducking or diving from this conclusion.

The progress since the 2010 CCC report on housing[4] is nugatory, and a third report will be rewritten again in 10 years, with similar pleas.

Michael Kelly is Prince Philip Professor of Technology (emeritus) at the University of Cambridge and a former chief scientist at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Full post & footnotes

5) Rupert Darwall: Guilt-Tripping Britain To Net Zero
CapX, 7 May 2019 

“To boldly go where no economy has been before” was the theme of the Committee on Climate Change’s net zero report released last week — but with fingers cross behind backs. No industrialised economy has completely decarbonised, as the committee recommended.

Going to net-zero is necessary, feasible and cost effective, the committee’s chair Lord Deben asserts about Britain’s leap into the unknown. Yet a few pages later, the report acknowledges that the easy steps have already been taken; that there is still no credible plan for decarbonising the way people heat their homes and that current policy is insufficient to meet even existing targets.

Going to net zero requires a significant ramp up in policy, i.e. even more cost, hardship and disruption. The ban on petrol and diesel cars will have to be brought forward. One fifth of Britain’s farmland is to be converted to forest or given over to growing crops for fuel. “Societal choices” will be made (how?) so people eat less beef, lamb and dairy. People will need to make changes inside their homes.

Decisions on the split between electrification and the development of a new hydrogen economy are going to be taken and co-ordinated centrally. If you think Chris Grayling and Department for Transport can’t run a railway, just wait until we have Greg Clark and his mammoth department trying to get the shiny, new hydrogen economy up and running.

The committee suggests tearing up British and EU competition rules to encourage cartelisation of heavy industry so firms can pass on higher energy costs to consumers. Another of the committee’s brilliant ideas is carbon tariffs. Quite how any of this would be legal under any Brexit variant short of no deal, the report doesn’t say.

The committee envisages little room for Britain’s manufacturers in a net-zero economy. Economies in the rest of the world are expected to grow faster whereas the development of the UK economy is based more on the service sector, making it easier to get to net zero. It is evident that the path to net zero is by de-industrialising.

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6) And Finally: Anti-Fracking EU Promises To Double U.S. Shale Gas Imports Within 5 Years
OilPrice.com, 6 May 2019 

The European Union has promised to double its intake of U.S. liquefied natural gas over the next five years with the annual total reaching the equivalent of 8 billion cubic meters in 2023, double the current annual rate of imports, Forbes’ Dave Keating reported last week, citing an announcement by the European Commission.

The news is good for both sides. For U.S. LNG producers, a growing export market is always good news. For the European Union, this pledge to buy more U.S. LNG will defuse a tariff bomb that President Trump threatened to blow up last year: he said he would slap import tariffs on German cars if the EU did not play nice. With few options available, this is exactly what the EU has done.

But the increase in U.S. LNG imports is good news for the European Union in more than one way. It will also reduce its reliance on Russian gas—something that has been a thorn in the side of several central European EU members, most notably Poland and the Baltic States. These, by the way, are already the chief buyers of U.S. LNG and builders of import terminals. However, they are small potatoes compared with Germany, the EU’s largest energy consumer and gas importer.

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