Britain’s Climate ‘Present’ To Prez. Trump – UK accused of trying to ‘fiddle’ climate change targets


By: - Climate DepotJune 4, 2019 12:07 PM with 0 comments

 

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Britain’s Climate ‘Present’ To President Trump

UK Government Rejects Climate Change Committee Advice

The British government has been accused of trying to “fiddle” the country’s climate change targets after cabinet ministers agreed to carry forward past “overperformance” in emissions reductions to allow a potential breach of pollution limits in coming years. Ministers decided over the weekend to use past over-performance in emissions reductions by all sectors of the economy to relax the agreed limits up to 2027, ignoring a warning from the government’s climate advisory group. —Financial Times, 4 June 2019

Rather than taking concrete action on climate change, the UK looks set to use creative accounting to meet its legal obligations to tackle global warming. —New Scientist, 4 June 2019

1) UK Government Rejects Climate Change Committee Advice
Financial Times, 4 June 2019

2) Britain Looks Set To Use Legal Loophole To Meet Climate Targets
New Scientist, 4 June 2019

3) Green No More: After Election Defeat, Bruised Labor Party Embraces Coal
The Australian, 3 June 2019 

4) China Mulls Coal Price Cuts to Bring Down Cost Of Energy
Bloomberg News, 29 May 2019

5) Europe’s Green Slide Toward Irrelevance
Jakub Grygiel, The American Interest, 3 June 2019

1) UK Government Rejects Climate Change Committee Advice
Financial Times, 4 June 2019

Britain’s chancellor has rejected the advice by the Climate Change Committee for the first time since it was set up a decade ago.

The British government has been accused of trying to “fiddle” the country’s climate change targets after cabinet ministers agreed to carry forward past “overperformance” in emissions reductions to allow a potential breach of pollution limits in coming years.

The news comes as the UK is preparing to adopt one of the most ambitious long term carbon targets in the world of net zero emissions by 2050 and as London lobbies to host the UN climate talks in 2020.

Ministers decided over the weekend to use past over-performance in emissions reductions by all sectors of the economy to relax the agreed limits up to 2027, ignoring a warning from the government’s climate advisory group.

John Gummer, Lord Deben, the chair of the Committee on Climate Change, wrote to ministers in February urging them not to take advantage of the existing rule that allows the target to be changed in such circumstances.

But cabinet ministers are proceeding with the manoeuvre after Philip Hammond, the chancellor, wrote last week to colleagues urging them to reject the CCC’s advice for the first time since it was set up a decade ago. His proposal has been adopted by Greg Clark, business secretary, whose department is responsible for the policy.

The UK is already off track, in terms of meeting its carbon budget for the next period of 2023 — 2027, according to government projections. […]

There is a broad cabinet consensus on accepting the 2050 target, despite some ministers’ misgivings about the potential impact on the economy. Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, has argued that the decision should be left to the next prime minister given the economic implications…

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2) Britain Looks Set To Use Legal Loophole To Meet Climate Targets
New Scientist, 4 June 2019

Rather than taking concrete action on climate change, the UK looks set to use creative accounting to meet its legal obligations to tackle global warming.

The UK has a binding target of reducing emissions 80 per cent by 2050. To get there, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) sets rolling five-year carbon budgets. Between the second of those budgets – 2013-2017 – the UK overperformed and cut by more than needed.

On Tuesday it emerged ministers have controversially agreed to count those historical savings against future targets, which the UK is set to miss.

The move would be legal, as the Climate Change Act, which sets the binding target, permits the use of such ‘flexibilities’. But that does not make it a good idea.

The step would be a “clear case of gaming the system”, says Sam Fankhauser of the London School of Economics. “Allowing more emissions in the future instead of making actual progress on cutting emissions is short-term thinking.”

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3) Green No More: After Election Defeat, Bruised Labor Party Embraces Coal
The Australian, 3 June 2019 

New opposition resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has promised any mining project that does not need taxpayer funding and meets strict environmental tests will be backed by Labor, as the party ­embraces coal after its defeat at the federal election.

The regional NSW MP was one of several Labor members, ­including new opposition Treasury spokes­man Jim Chalmers, to come out in support of the coal ­industry yesterday.

Mr Fitzgibbon, who added the resources portfolio to his agriculture portfolio in the shadow cabinet shake-up, also conceded that the Australian people had rejected a carbon price.

He said Labor needed to “consider other paths” to lower emissions after Tony Burke, the party’s former environment spokesman, suggested a Tony Abbott-style ­direct action model could work.

Labor is reeling from its election loss, which was felt keenly in Queensland coalmining seats.

Coalmining is one of the main industries in Mr Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter, which he has held on to despite suffering a swing against him of 14.21 per cent.

“The Labor Party has always had a policy to support the mining of coal and the export of coal. We will continue to have that policy,” Mr Fitzgibbon told The Australian.

“Any mining project, wherever it is, has to be able to stand on its own two feet without taxpayer subsidies, it must pass the most stringent environmental tests, but any project which can pass those two tests should have the support of the Australian Labor Party.”

Mr Chalmers, who holds the southeast Queensland seat of Rankin, yesterday said his vision for Australia’s economy included new thermal coalmines, as well as a transition to renewable energy.

“I’ve also pointed out, as a very proud Queenslander, that coal is an important part of our industrial base, it’s an important part of our export base, the money that we make from the rest of the world,” he said. “So when it comes to thermal coal, and when it comes to any particular mine or another, we do need to be conscious of that.

“That’s why, for example, when it came to Adani, we had what is ­effectively the same position as the government, which is that it ­needed to get over the environmental and commercial hurdles.”

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4) China Mulls Coal Price Cuts to Bring Down Cost Of Energy
Bloomberg News, 29 May 2019

China is seeking to lower domestic coal prices to aid power producers, and has proposed that miners bring the benchmark grade to below 600 yuan ($87) a ton, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The National Development & Reform Commission made the proposal to coal producers after six major utilities sought the government’s help to reduce their raw material costs in order to deliver a cut to power prices, the people said. China plans to lower electricity prices for industrial and commercial users by 10% this year.

The top economic planning agency wants to bring monthly contract prices down to a so-called “yellow zone” and is targeting benchmark coal with energy value of 5,500 kcal/kg coal at less than 600 yuan, the people said. A final decision has not been made, according to the people.

NDRC didn’t respond to a fax seeking comment.

The step isn’t unusual. China is the world’s largest user and producer of coal, and has previously sought to balance the needs of its power enterprises with those of miners by securing a price range of about 500 to 570 yuan. Domestic coal has risen this year, spurred by mine inspections and import restrictions that crimped supply.

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5) Europe’s Green Slide Toward Irrelevance
Jakub Grygiel, The American Interest, 3 June 2019

If the European Union continues on its green path, it will slide into geopolitical irrelevance

Elections for the European parliament, regardless of the results, are always a celebration of the EU project. Blue flags with the 12 golden stars are omnipresent when a “European electorate” casts its vote in what is considered the largest election in the world outside India. But the most recent elections are important for a different reason: They are part of a longer trend that is pushing Europe toward global irrelevance.

Two election results in particular are striking, not because of their novelty but because they demonstrate the resilience of certain political forces that are leading to Europe’s withdrawal from the global chessboard.

First, the rise of the “greens” in Europe. While not a new political force, the “green” movement is no longer an afterthought. In Germany it is now the second-largest party, replacing the Social Democrats. These results reflect a continent-wide drift toward environmental concerns instead of “social justice.”

Essentially, they show the greening of the Left; the social justice warriors are now climate change worriers.

It is possible that this is just a momentary uptick in the political importance of the greens, driven by fashionable protests to save the planet. Over the past few months, for instance, teenagers across Europe happily joined a movement that invited them to skip school on Fridays to advocate for drastic policies to change the climate and save the planet. Of course, it remains to be seen whether truancy or the planet was the real motivation for these actions. But, in the end, the electoral gains of the “greens” mean that European states will come under pressure to impose even higher costs on the economies by phasing out coal and reducing emissions.

Beyond the added burden this will place on already weak economies, the increased heft of the “green” political bloc will also increase Europe’s (and especially some states’) dependency on Russian gas. Various environmental think tanks, for example, have called for the elimination of coal in ten years in order to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Germany plans to dramatically decrease its reliance on coal in the coming years, and the decline of the Social Democrats (SPD) at the hands of the Greens will reinvigorate the pursuit of this goal. The outcome is that Germany, having already abandoned nuclear energy, will increase its dependence on Russian gas, pushing it toward a posture that is even more pro-Moscow. The rise of the “greens” in Europe, and in Germany in particular, is a huge victory for Russia.

Other countries in Europe, notably Poland, will likely resist abandoning coal for domestic reasons but also because of security concerns. Such a policy will pit Poland as well as other Central European states from Slovenia to Bulgaria against EU authorities, creating another line of fracture in Europe. The choice is to be coal-free but Russia-dependent, or to be anti-“green” but strategically independent.

A “greener” EU will weaken Europe. As Europe cuts its emissions, hostile powers are making it more dependent. Moreover, while European societies are enthralled by the environmentally friendly truancy of their teenagers, Russia is arming, Iran is belligerent, and China is buying its way into the Continent.

The“greens” claim they are concerned with global challenges, but in effect they are turning Europe into the weakest link in a rapidly accelerating great power competition.

If the European Union continues on this path, it will slide into geopolitical irrelevance while being at the forefront of a nonexistent global fight to solve global challenges. […]

The EU elections, then, did little to arrest Europe’s long slide toward geopolitical impotence. Each European nation will have to make its own calculation as to how to adapt to this reality: by ignoring it, accepting it, or by seeking its own strategic independence through a different configuration of alliances.

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