Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes: ‘Countries ignoring climate issue, pouring money into their fossil-fuel driven economies to stave off a devastating recession’


By: - Climate DepotNovember 11, 2020 11:57 AM

https://mailchi.mp/dab812bacb35/covid-recovery-plans-threaten-global-climate-hopes-179138?e=f4e33fdd1e

Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes

Countries are ignoring climate issue, pouring money into their fossil-fuel driven economies to stave off a devastating recession

1) Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes
The Guardian, 9 November 2020

2) Blackout alert from National Grid as Britain sails close to wind
The Times, 9 November 2020

3) Covid brings “seismic shift” away from public transport
Banbury Guardian, 10 November 2020

4) Remembrance Day warning: From climate hysteria to justifying green wars
GWPF, 11 November 2020

5) Biden administration expected to emphasise climate science over lunar exploration at NASA
Space News, 9 November 2020

6) Biden faces surge in US coal use and carbon emissions in first year
Financial Times, 11 November 2020

7) Tilak Doshi: The coming energy shocks under a Biden Administration
Forbes, 11 November 2020

8) China’s coal addiction clashes with Xi’s bold climate promise
Financial Times, 3 November 2020
9) Electric car batteries are catching fire and that could be a big turnoff to buyers
CNN Business, 10 November 2020

1) Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes
The Guardian, 9 November 2020

The prospect of a global green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is hanging in the balance, as countries pour money into the fossil fuel economy to stave off a devastating recession, an analysis for the Guardian reveals.

Meanwhile, promises of a low-carbon boost are failing to materialise. Only a handful of major countries are pumping rescue funds into low-carbon efforts such as renewable power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency.

A new Guardian ranking finds the EU is a frontrunner, devoting 30% of its €750bn (£677bn) Next Generation Recovery Fund to green ends. France and Germany have earmarked about €30bn and €50bn respectively of their own additional stimulus for environmental spending.

On the other end of the scale, China is faring the worst of the major economies, with only 0.3% of its package – about £1.1bn – slated for green projects. In the US, before the election, only about $26bn (£19.8bn), or just over 1%, of the announced spending was green.

In at least 18 of the world’s biggest economies, more than six months on from the first wave of lockdowns in the early spring, pandemic rescue packages are dominated by spending that has a harmful environmental impact, such as bailouts for oil or new high-carbon infrastructure, outweighing the positive climate benefits of any green spending, according to the analysis.

Only four countries – France, Spain, the UK and Germany – and the EU have packages that will produce a net environmental benefit.

“The natural environment and climate change have not been a core part of the thinking in the bulk of recovery plans,” said Jason Eis, chief executive of Vivid Economics, which compiled the index for the Guardian. “In the majority of countries we are not seeing a green recovery coming through at all.”

Full story

see also GWPF paper The Fatal Attraction Of A Post-Covid Green Deal (pdf)

2) Blackout alert from National Grid as Britain sails close to wind
The Times, 9 November 2020

The timing could hardly have been worse. Barely a week after Boris Johnson had backed a huge expansion of offshore wind farms to power every home in Britain, National Grid was forced to issue a rare warning. 

“Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced,” it said last month, warning of “tight margins” on Britain’s power grid in the days to come.

The alert was catnip to opponents of “windmills” — and there was more to follow. Last week, National Grid issued two electricity margin notices, the most serious security-of-supply alerts since 2016, both citing low wind farm output among the causes and urgently appealing for more power plants. To keep the lights on, Britain burnt coal in polluting old power stations that are due to close within a few years.

“The time has come to pause the blind rush into a renewable energy disaster,” claimed the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate-sceptic group that alleged “the risk of lights going out all over Britain is rising relentlessly”.

Even respected voices who support renewables expressed concern. Jonathan Marshall, of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the warnings showed that “the rapid transition in Britain’s electricity system is outpacing the changes in governance and regulation needed” to encourage technologies such as batteries, which could save surplus power generated when it’s windy for use when it’s not.

Full story (£)

see also Skirting Disaster: Britain’s electricity grid on the brink (pdf)

3) Covid brings “seismic shift” away from public transport
Banbury Guardian, 10 November 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a massive swing in drivers shunning public transport, according to the RAC, as growing numbers say having access to a car is more important than ever.

The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring shows that for the first time since 2002, fewer than half of motorists would consider using their car less, even if public transport was improved, with just 43 per cent saying it was an option, compared with 57 per cent in 2019.

4) Remembrance Day warning: From climate hysteria to justifying green wars
GWPF, 11 November 2020

“There is a just cause for war to prevent the future hazards of anthropogenic climate change.”

Earlier today, Extinction Rebellion carried out one of their most distasteful protests as they hijacked Remembrance Day memorial at the Cenotaph, moments before the 11 am silence with an XR wreath and banner reading “Honour their sacrifice; climate change means war.”

Yet, the real rationale for climate wars has been promoted by climate alarmists who argue “that there is a just cause for war to prevent the future hazards of anthropogenic climate change.”

A paper on ‘Preventive Environmental Wars‘ published two years ago in the Journal of Military Ethics lays out the reason why going to war against what alarmists believe to be enemy nations is a just cause.

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Preventive Environmental Wars

Adam Betz, Journal of Military Ethics, 12 November 2019

This article argues that there is a just cause for war to prevent the future hazards of anthropogenic climate change even if, because of what is known as the Non-Identity Problem, that cause is not grounded in the rights of future generations. The evidential demands for justifying preventive military action to forestall climate change have been met, as a majority of climate scientists affirm that climate change is underway and is likely to become seriously hazardous for future generations. The types and scale of prospective harms threatened by climate change are such that, were they to result from an armed attack, there would unequivocally be a just cause for war. Though the author argues that there is a just cause for preventive environmental war, such wars are probably unjustified, all things considered. At present, preventive environmental war would be counterproductive and would harm many non-liable people. Should non-coercive remedies fail, measures short of war, such as “soft war” and jus ad vim tactics, should then be attempted to coerce compliance by environmental wrongdoers. Should these remedies prove ineffective, preventive environmental war may be a necessary evil.

Full paper ($)

5) Biden administration expected to emphasise climate science over lunar exploration at NASA
Space News, 9 November 2020

WASHINGTON — A Biden administration is likely to place more emphasis on Earth sciences at NASA and slow down the agency’s plans to return humans to the moon, and do so with a new person at the helm of the agency.


Joe Biden may leave moon exploration to China, prioritising NASA as an Earth science agency

The Biden campaign declared victory in its presidential campaign Nov. 7 after multiple projections that Joe Biden would win Pennsylvania, giving the former vice president more than the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected president. The campaign of President Donald Trump has yet to concede, however.

With its declaration of victory, the Biden campaign has started to roll out its transition plans, including a website that outlines the incoming administration’s four priorities: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.

While the transition site doesn’t explicitly state its plans for NASA, many observers expect it to play a role in that fourth priority, climate change. That stems from a line in the Democratic Party platform from July that states, “Democrats additionally support strengthening NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth observation missions to better understand how climate change is impacting our home planet.”

Full story

6) Biden faces surge in US coal use and carbon emissions in first year
Financial Times, 11 November 2020

The first year of a Joe Biden administration is likely to be marked by a rebound in the burning of coal and a record increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the US, providing a sharp — if fleeting — contrast to the president-elect’s agenda for cleaning up the power sector. 

About 546m short tons of coal will be fed to power plants in 2021, up 23 per cent on this year and the most since the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to new forecasts from the US Energy Information Administration.

Greater demand for coal and oil would push up US emissions by 287m metric tonnes, the fastest annual rise in records dating to the 1970s, the agency said this week.

The prediction reflects the vagaries of commodities markets and anticipated recovery from the severe coronavirus downturn, not energy policy. In the near term, coal is set to gain an advantage because of higher prices for natural gas, a rival fuel to power grids.

Full story (£)

7) Tilak Doshi: The coming energy shocks under a Biden Administration
Forbes, 11 November 2020

There is a view that suggests that now that Joe Biden has (most likely) won the US presidential election, a modicum of pragmatism will prevail as the Democrats’ excessive  campaign promises face the cold light of day and as the real costs of policy decisions become apparent.

Furthermore, one would have to note that there are limits as to what even a US Presidency – the world’s most powerful executive office — can do within constitutional limits. There is the likelihood that the US Senate will remain Republican and hence provide a check on the more extreme pledges made in the name of ‘net zero’ emissions in the power sector by 2035 and in the entire economy by 2050.

Energy Policy Discontinuities

But don’t be lulled by soothing thoughts of policy continuity under a Biden-Harris administration. The contrast in Republican and Democratic world-views of fossil fuels and global energy geopolitics could not be more stark. And nowhere are the costs as extravagant as in the promises made regarding the Green New Deal. The adverse impacts on US domestic affairs will be as profound as they will be on the global stage. The policy discontinuity expected to take place in the oil and gas sectors under a Biden administration is about as radical as one can contemplate in US and global affairs.

The Biden Plan for a “100% clean energy economy [which] reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050” will require his administration to sign in its own words “a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track”. The 4-year, $1.7 trillion Biden plan – reflecting an even more aggressive “climate crisis” action plan set out by the House Democrats — includes banning fracking in federal lands and waters, denying federal permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, and ensuring 100% clean renewable energy by 2035 in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation.

Joe Biden flip-flopped during the campaign trial over his proposed ban on fracking, depending on whether his audience was in an oil and gas-producing state like Pennsylvania or in environmentally-obsessed California. But, as President, ‘where the buck stops’, Biden will have to handle, for example, the situation in New Mexico where Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has repeatedly tried to reassure constituents of her support for the state’s mainstay oil and natural gas industry.

Will a Democrat-run New Mexico – which depends heavily on oil and gas production on federal lands — be somehow “exempted” from the anti-fracking ban in federal lands of a Biden administration? Or will the oil and gas workers in that state be sacrificial lambs for the global climate cause? An analysis by the state’s oil and gas association projects New Mexico to be among the states potentially hardest hit by a Biden presidency, losing over 62,000 jobs by 2022.

Taking a page from the previous Obama-Biden playbook, a politicized Environmental Protection Agency under Biden would block oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure by enabling activists to launch interminable legal suits as in the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline. A Biden Administration would also likely resurrect the Obama EPA’s “sue and settle “ practices — deals through which radical environmental groups file lawsuits against federal agencies so that court-ordered “consent decrees” are issued based upon a prearranged settlement agreement collaboratively crafted together by like-minded climate advocates in advance behind closed doors.

Re-joining The Paris Agreement

At the international level, Biden is committed to immediately re-join the Paris Agreement if elected president. At a stroke, a Biden-Harris administration will advantage key global energy players which have been sorely tested by President Trump’s “energy dominance” and “America First” agendas. A Biden presidency which would relinquish the role of the U.S. as the world’s leading oil and gas producer would no doubt be welcomed by Russia and the OPEC oil and gas exporters struggling with low energy prices. For oil and gas companies such as Russia’s Gazprom and Rosneft or Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the prospect of a US government-induced degradation of its own country’s prolific shale oil and gas production as part of a climate change commitment would be like music to the ears.

A Biden-Harris administration intent on renewable energy and climate change priorities by constraining US oil and gas production would achieve, at a stroke, the long-sought and common objectives of Russia,  Saudi Arabia and other OPEC oil and gas producers. It would achieve results that Saudi policy since 2014 had consistently failed to attain by engaging in an all-out price war against a resilient and resurgent US oil and gas sector.

The Middle East: Wary of a Biden Presidency

But Biden is no unalloyed blessing for the Middle East. While assisting Russia, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the OPEC+ group by hobbling US oil and gas production, a Biden administration will also consider easing President Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran. Biden’s loyalty to President Obama’s legacy project to rehabilitate Iran is well known, and he has stated that he would return to the 2015 nuclear deal if Tehran “resumes compliance”. A potential resumption of Iranian exports of over 2.5 million barrels per day (its peak export level in 2018 before President Trump’s oil sanctions were imposed) would make it impossible for the OPEC+ group to balance supply and demand. The OPEC+ cutback agreement of 9.7 million b/d would be at the risk of collapse, along with oil prices from their already low sub-$40/barrel levels.

According to one newswire report, key members of OPEC “are wary that strains in the OPEC+ alliance could re-emerge with Joe Biden as U.S. President” and “would miss President Donald Trump who went from criticizing the group to helping bring about a record oil output cut”. While President Trump brokered a deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia that brought about a record oil output cut by the OPEC+ group, a future President Biden would likely re-assess US ties to Saudi Arabia (called by Biden a “pariah” state) and Russia (which he considers to be the most serious security threat to US interests).

The surge in U.S. oil and gas exports which gathered pace in the past decade allowed President Trump to pursue an  “energy dominance” agenda which made the U.S. less vulnerable to political and social upheavals in the Middle East. It increased its foreign policy leverage in achieving strategic objectives, giving the Trump administration greater latitude to support allies and sanction rivals. It made it easier for President Trump to impose export sanctions on oil-producing adversaries such as Venezuela and Iran without the fear of a resulting spike in global oil prices.

A Biden presidency committed to the radical decarbonization agenda would undermine these achievements, and in the process, make the US and the rest of the world far more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of volatile energy markets and political instability in the Middle East.

Whether the energy shock emanates from the eclipse of the US as the world’s leading oil and gas producer (leading to high oil and gas prices) or from the collapse of the OPEC+ production cut agreement brought about by the re-emergence of unconstrained Iranian exports (leading to very low oil and gas prices), a Biden presidency presents some dangerous scenarios in global energy affairs.

8) China’s coal addiction clashes with Xi’s bold climate promise
Financial Times, 3 November 2020

China’s president has set a deadline of 2060 to be ‘net-zero’ for emissions but new coal-fired power plants keep springing up

Cranes and diggers busily prepare land beneath the red and white-striped chimneys of the Mengtai Group coal-fired power plant at the northern city limits of Ordos, in northern China’s Inner Mongolia.

Privately owned Mengtai will soon add another two smoke stacks to the sprawling complex in an expansion that is the group’s biggest investment in its 20-year history. The new unit will burn coal to provide heating to nearby neighbourhoods as part of a regional policy unveiled in March that will add 5 gigawatts of coal power to western Inner Mongolia this year.

The resource-rich region, a swath of grassland, desert and forest that spans most of China’s northern border with Mongolia, is trapped between China’s heavy industrial past and the bold low-carbon future vision of the nation’s leaders.

Mengtai’s proposal for a new plant was agreed by the local energy bureau in May, one of 17 units recently given the go-ahead by authorities in Inner Mongolia — six have won approval this year alone as part of efforts by local governments to stimulate their pandemic-hit economies. The region has the most pending facilities of any province in China, according to data from the Global Energy Monitor, a non-governmental organisation that tracks global fossil fuel projects.

So at a time when the world is shifting away from coal — and Beijing has indicated that it will eventually do the same — China still accounts for the vast majority of newly commissioned projects globally.

“Coal is just so important in China from an energy supply and security point of view, and local governments don’t believe it is possible to get rid of coal immediately,” says Yang Yingxia, a senior fellow at the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. “I don’t think the Chinese government has a crystal clear sense of how to get to carbon neutrality by 2060.”

9) Electric car batteries are catching fire and that could be a big turnoff to buyers
CNN Business, 10 November 2020

(CNN) Automakers seeking to forge ahead in the electric vehicle market have been hitting a bump in the road recently: batteries keep catching fire.

At the end of September, BMW initiated a recall in the United States of 10 different BMW and Mini plug-in hybrid models because of a risk of fire caused by debris that may have gotten into battery cells during manufacturing.

Then, in early October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into reports of apparently spontaneous battery fires in Chevrolet Bolt EVs. GM says it is cooperating with the investigation.

A few days later, Hyundai announced that it was recalling 6,700 Kona Electric SUVs in the United States, among about 75,000 of that model to be recalled worldwide, after it had received numerous reports of vehicles catching fire while parked.

By all indications, electric car battery fires remain infrequent occurrences, even compared to gasoline and diesel fires. But they get attention because electric vehicle technology is still considered relatively new.

And that has the potential to turn prospective buyers away from the burgeoning market for electric cars, said Michelle Krebs, director of automotive relations at AutoTrader.

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