2) Net Zero has become a ‘new religion,’ says Iain Duncan Smith
The Independent, 9 March 2022
Former leader of the Conservative party Iain Duncan Smith has described the government’s pledge to reach net zero as a “new religion.”
“Dangerous moments in politics happen when the opinion of the political class coalesces and all debate is ended,” Duncan Smith posted on Twitter. “So it has been with the new religion of Net Zero.”
Duncan Smith said that under the banner of net zero the UK has allowed North Sea oil and gas exploration to “nigh on disappear” and has transitioned from being a net exporter of gas with lots of storage to a net importer with little storage.
He lamented that as the government “belatedly” accepts it has to acquire more North Sea gas, it is closing down existing land-based shale gas wells.
“It makes no strategic sense,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that the UK may have to increase its output of oil and gas in order to reduce dependency on Russian fossil fuels.
The Times has reported that Johnson is set to announce plans for new drilling in the North Sea for the first time in three years amid rising energy prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Independent has not verified the report.
Duncan Smith is among a small but outspoken number of Conservative MPs who have criticised the government’s roadmap to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In January, a group of MPs — that did not include Duncan Smith — wrote a letter to The Telegraph calling on the government to expand North Sea exploration and to support shale gas extraction.
Some politicians outside the Conservative party are also making their voices heard. In an indication that the subject is becoming increasingly politicised, Nigel Farage launched a campaign last weekend calling for a referendum on the government’s net zero aim.
3) Editorial: It’s time to drop the Net Zero agenda
The Spectator, 12 March 2022
For years British energy policy has been an exercise in wishful thinking.
We’ve been living in a fantasy world in which Britain can somehow achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050 without paying any serious economic price, and with no one significantly poorer as a result. ‘Not a hair-shirt in sight,’ said the Prime Minister, though most independent assessments said net zero would cost between £36,000 and £50,000 per household.
Reality, now, is biting. Reducing emissions is important but security of supply is vital, and Europe has been forced to come to terms with its dependence on Russian oil and gas. The dependence is so entrenched that it is possible Vladimir Putin thought that Europe would rather leave Ukraine undefended than impose sanctions. If this was Putin’s thinking, it was a miscalculation. Europe has collectively chosen pain. The question is now to ameliorate it.
Boris Johnson has proposed a new energy plan, due this month. The European Union has said it will cut Russian imports by two-thirds by the end of the year: quite an ambition, given that Russia supplies about half of Germany’s gas imports and almost all of that imported by Finland and the Baltic states. A frantic search for alternatives has begun which has ushered in a new era of energy realism. The German Greens are softening in their opposition to nuclear power, and there are signs that No. 10 is letting go of the net zero agenda.
Against this backdrop, net zero can’t last. The UK needs a grown-up energy policy instead
At present, it costs about £1,300 to heat the average home. By some estimates this will rise to £3,000 later this year, and that is before the other inflationary costs of food and basic shopping as a result of the sanctions. As Javier Blas argues in his article, the effect of the Ukraine war is all the greater because so many companies the world over are voluntarily imposing sanctions, compounding the effect of the official measures. Even if the conflict were to reach a swift resolution, relations with Russia are now so bad that sanctions are likely to remain in place for some time.
America is perhaps the least exposed of all western countries. More than a decade ago, it embraced hydraulic fracking technology to release its own gas supplies, and as a result is now self-sufficient in energy. It is no longer dependent on imports and is therefore less exposed to world energy turmoil. Britain had a great opportunity as a result of its huge shale reserves in the north of England. But local opposition inspired Johnson to impose a moratorium on fracking ahead of the 2019 election.
This has left Britain without many alternatives. The North Sea gas fields are run down, without any investment in storage facilities, leaving the UK completely at the mercy of a volatile global market in Liquid Natural Gas. Renewables have improved remarkably, and now generate about a third of domestic power. We have phased out coal. But we remain hugely dependent on gas – and horribly exposed to the staggering price increases. We can expect power cuts when the wind turbines we now rely on fail in calm weather. Against such a backdrop, net zero can’t last. The UK needs a grown-up energy policy instead.
The first step would be to dramatically increase production of our own oil and gas. Fields in the North Sea need to be brought back onstream, and we need urgently to restart fracking and exploiting the vast reserves of oil and gas in the north of England. Jobs and tax revenues would follow, and so as well as providing energy security, this might also be an opportunity to level up.
Advances in technology have already helped Britain reduce its carbon emissions more over the past decade than any other G20 country. The free market and innovation give us new ways to get more from less. Cars need far less petrol to travel the same distance, and the entire economy is becoming less energy-intensive. It’s far from clear that massive green levies and huge government bribes are the only way to achieve a cleaner, greener future – especially given the increasing consumer demand for low-carbon, low-waste lifestyles.
The UK should retain its status as a world leader in reducing carbon emissions, but it should not try to go further and faster than our major industrial rivals. That would come at too great a political and economic cost, with no significant benefit to the planet. We need a joined-up energy policy that combines security of supply, economic stability and geopolitical realism. Electric cars and heat pumps can wait until they are affordable for the average household.
The need for a new energy plan presents the Prime Minister with an opportunity. If Robert Habeck, the leader of the German Greens, can find it within himself to put in place plans for a strategic coal reserve to wean his country off Russian gas, than surely Johnson – a politician with the lightest of ideological baggage – can move on from his commitment to net zero. He doesn’t need to disavow it; he can just let it drop. There are new priorities now, and we can lose no time in addressing them.
4) Benny Peiser: Europe is paying a heavy price for its ‘Unilateral Energy Disarmament’
Power Hungry, 8 March 2022
Benny Peiser talks about Europe’s “unilateral energy disarmament,” the “cult” of climate-change activism, how Germany led the anti-hydrocarbon campaign in Europe, Britain’s shale gas potential, and why Europe needs to reverse its opposition to hydraulic fracturing and begin drilling for oil and gas immediately.
Click here to watch the full interview
5) Tim Newark: Drill for victory in fight for energy independence
Daily Express, 9 March 2022
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is right to call for a “climate change pass” to combat Vladimir Putin’s stranglehold on European energy supplies and phase out all oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022.
Currently, we may only import four per cent of our gas needs from Russia but that amounts to £2billion a year going into Putin’s warmongering pockets. The NHS spent £77million of taxpayers’ money on buying energy from Russian corporate giant Gazprom last year. We must stop funding gangster states and start producing more of our own gas and oil.
It follows US President Biden banning all imports of Russian oil and gas – the only message that will get through to Putin.
Last week, the former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, called for an immediate lifting of our fracking moratorium. “I applaud the objective, as we all do, to move to Net-Zero,” he said, “but we need a policy that is practical and achievable. And of course gas, the sort of quality gas the Americans produce through fracking, is going to be the transfer fuel of the future.”
It’s no good setting up international sanctions against Russia to punish it for invading Ukraine if we promptly undermine that action by continuing to buy Putin’s gas and oil. Germany imports 48 per cent of its gas from Russia and is finally recognising the folly of this by deciding to reopen its coal-fired power stations and nuclear reactors.
For too long Chancellor Angela Merkel cosied up to Putin because she believed she could keep the peace and follow a green agenda by buying gas from him. That has been exposed as weakness.
Without doubt, COP26 put out a powerful message to Putin last year that Net-Zero matters more to Boris and other Western leaders than energy security, putting Russia in a very strong position as the chief provider of carbon energy to Europe.
That, combined with President Biden’s chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan, revealed that the West was weak and gave him the window of opportunity to invade Ukraine.
But not only would home-produced energy give us greater security and deny funds to Russia, it would also generate the wealth we need to recover from two years of lockdowns.
Energy prices are at an all-time high and the UK should be making the most of that, just as the US is, by exporting our own energy to other nations needy for power that would usually come from Russia.
Energy exporter Norway has the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world with over $1.3trillion in assets derived from the surplus revenues of its North Sea oil rigs, which works out at $250,000 per Norwegian citizen. Three per cent of this is withdrawn by the Norwegian government every year to be used on essential projects.
With international energy prices rising, the Norwegian government has said it will subsidise 80 per cent of electricity costs for domestic consumers. Why aren’t we doing that?
We have a huge untapped reservoir of gas and oil energy beneath our land and seas and that should be used in a British sovereign wealth fund to help cover the extraordinary current cost of household energy. The terrible truth is that the British government has mishandled our potential energy bonanza in the pursuit of a green Net-Zero agenda that has made us weaker, poorer and colder.
It is good news then that our Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are finally waking up to this predicament by encouraging the exploration of
North Sea oil and gas fields and banning Russian energy, although Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon in a desperate political alliance with the Green Party is proving reluctant on this front.
It is a terrible scandal that next week Boris looks set on concreting over the last two shale gas sites we have left in this country in Lancashire, following the Tory fracking moratorium of 2019.
It is a disgrace that the PM is betraying hard-working families faced with sky-rocketing bills just to appease a handful of well-heeled environmental protesters who flock to any fracking site.
Our national survival and prosperity should surely be his uppermost concern, not burnishing his green credentials with wealthy pals such as Lord Goldsmith. Enough of this Tory green cabal that is sapping our national wellbeing and aiding our international enemies.
It is time to start drilling to protect us all and bring peace and prosperity to the world. As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rightly says, “We cannot pay for oil and gas with the blood of Ukraine.” And the only way we can ensure that is by being energy independent.
6) Putin outsmarted: Four huge gas reserves identified in UK to avoid energy crisis
Daily Express, 8 March 2022
BRITAIN could swerve the impacts of Vladimir Putin’s threat to cut Europe’s gas by accessing four huge reserves in the UK, which may help slash dependency on foreign imports.
Russia has threatened to “mirror” the EU’s plot to “phase out all use of Russian gas and oil” immediately by slashing deliveries to Europe. While the UK only gets around three percent of its gas from Russia, the move would likely send prices of global imports soaring due to the nature of the integrated market. Britain also imports some Russian gas indirectly from the Netherlands and Belgium, while Norway remains the biggest exporter of gas to the UK.
According to some estimates, Britain is expected to fork out £2billion for Russian imports of natural gas imports this year.
Official figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy also suggest reliance on Russian gas has doubled in just four years.
But the UK may be able to avoid having to fork out that extra cash if it focuses on its domestic reserves.
As prices rise, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to address these domestic supplies, which critics say are being pushed aside over his climate policies.
Currently, the country’s production of natural gas from conventional reserves do not meet domestic demand (typically 70–80 billion cubic metres per year).
But after coming under fire, Mr Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference on Monday that Britain would take a look at using more domestic energy resources as part of an “energy supply strategy”.
This could involve accessing four key areas with huge potential for shale gas extraction.
These include the Carboniferous Bowland–Hodder area in northwest England (Lancashire and the Midlands) and the Carboniferous Midland Valley in Scotland.
It also includes the Jurassic Weald Basin in south England, and the Wessex area in south England.
Recent analysis in 2019 suggested Bowland–Hodder holds around four trillion cubic metres (tcm) of gas.
A 2014 study estimated that the Midland Valley has around 1.4–3.8 tcm that could be accessed.
But an obstacle stands in the way of accessing those supplies.
Shale gas is extracted through a process called fracking, but this was banned by the Government back in 2019 after scientists raised concerns about earthquakes and the threats it posed to local communities.
A review published in March 2020 by Warwick Business School said fracking could produce between 90 and 330 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas between 2020 and 2050.
Now, the Government has been urged to lift the ban so Britain can access more of its domestic reserves and avoid the huge price increases for gas imports.
Mr Johnson has also been faced with calls by members of his own party to reverse the Oil and Gas Authority’s order to shut off two shale gas wells in Lancashire.
More than 30 Tory MPs and four peers sent a joint letter addressed to the Prime Minister.
The two sites are the country’s last remaining locations for fracking in England.
The MPs are being led by Craig Mackinlay and Steve Baker, the chairman and deputy chairman of the Conservative Net Zero Scrutiny Group.
Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, said: “At a time of increasing insecurity over fuel supplies, we should be using the huge shale gas resources right under our feet.
“I firmly believe fracking can lead to lower fuel prices, but we have effectively banned it on spurious safety grounds.
“Despite bogus claims to the contrary, fracking can quite safely take place without causing earthquakes or polluting aquifers.”
And it appears these comments may have been taken on board.
7) Energy bills could rise to £4,000 a year
Wales Online, 9 March 2022
The only fixed-rate energy bills being offered by energy providers are now approaching £4,000 a year and there are warnings average bills for all could rise to £4,000.
The uncertainty about the energy market means most of the UK’s domestic energy suppliers have either stopped offering customers the chance to move to a fixed-price tariff or they are priced at £3,800 and above.
Former minister Robert Jenrick told BBC Newsnight: “We could be looking at an energy crisis unrivalled since the 1970s … it looks as if this is going to be the most difficult economic year that we’ve seen in my lifetime.”
High demand for gas and reduced supply is behind the surge in wholesale prices. Whilst prices were at record lows as countries locked down and demand fell during Covid-19, the speed of change since then is unprecedented. Wholesale UK electricity prices are the highest they’ve been since the market was formed in 1990. Gas prices are the highest they’ve been for 15 years – up 250% since January.
In September 2021 the average UK energy bill was £95 per month, or £1,138 a year.
Dual fuel gas and electricity bills are already set to rise more than 50% to an average of just under £2,000 per household on April 1. However, analysts had warned that the war in Ukraine could lead to a further 50% increase when the cap changes again in October, leaving households facing the prospect of paying £3,000 a year.
There are now reports that could escalate to £4,000 a year.
8) Nickel price surge could add $1,000 to production of an electric vehicle: Morgan Stanley
Yahoo Finance, 8 March 2022
Nickel is one of the hottest corners of the market right now. And it could spell a lot of trouble for automakers.
Nickel surged above $100,000 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, prompting a trading halt.
There are a number of reasons for the recent spike in prices (the metal is up 250% in the past two days), but a driving factor is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is one of the largest producers of nickel in the world, with miner Norilsk Nickel the number one producer of top-grade nickel globally. If the metal were added to the sanctions list, it could severely limit its flow to Western suppliers and manufacturers.
Nickel is used for a number of purposes, notably for making stainless steel and for its use in many electric vehicle (EV) batteries — which are one of largest costs in producing an EV.
In a note today to clients, analysts at Morgan Stanley (MS) lead by Adam Jonas wrote today’s move in nickel alone would result in the input costs of making an EV to rise by around $1,000.
Morgan Stanley notes the firm was predicting a nickel shortfall by 2026 that would keep growing through the end of the decade — and this was before the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
With the next biggest source of nickel being lower-grade Indonesian supply, and new nickel mines years away from build out, the only logical conclusion from Jonas and the Morgan Stanley team is it’s “probably time for investors to take auto company earnings forecasts down.”
9) Jeremy Warner: Gas shipments cannot save Europe from the folly of its pact with Putin
The Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2022
It would require 1,250 new ships carrying LNG to fully replace the piped Russian fuel sent to the Continent
This is going to hurt. The idea that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is somehow not our war has been shattered by the horrors of the past week and the dawning reality of the most serious energy crisis since the oil embargo of the 1970s.
In all but name, we are already effectively in World War Three, only it is a conflict fought as much through the prism of energy dependency, central bank incapacitation and digital manipulation as the military hardware deployed on the Ukrainian steppe.
The invasion has been a massive wake-up call for a West that has grown complacent, lazy and over-reliant on others over more than three decades of globalisation.
Big sacrifices lie ahead, starting with an energy-induced recession, at least in Europe and the UK, and if the oil price reaches $200 a barrel and stays there, possibly the US too.
Even Putin’s new best friend, Xi Jinping’s China – whose industries are hugely energy intensive – won’t escape the latest oil price shock unscathed, whatever carve-outs Beijing manages to extract from the Kremlin in cheap energy deals. A global recession, encompassing all major economies, has become a real possibility.
Once the full impact on Chinese jobs of a global recession begins to bite, the “no limits” partnership president Xi has forged with Putin won’t look quite so pleasing for a Communist elite that clings to power only by promising the teeming masses eternal growth.
Energy lies at the heart of this modern conflict and its repercussions are likely to be profound. As in the financial crisis, the world is shown to be an inextricably entwined network of inter-dependencies that are seemingly impossible to disentangle at short notice.
European dependency on Russian oil and gas has provided Putin with a potentially killer hand that prevents meaningful sanctions and makes European consumers the unwitting financiers of his murderous assault on Ukraine.
A few facts and figures tell us just why Olaf Scholz, Germany’s chancellor, and Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, have this week said that as things stand it is virtually impossible for Europe to impose an embargo on Russian oil and gas.
Of the two, oil is by far the bigger earner for Russia, but it is not as powerful a weapon as gas. In extremis, alternative suppliers of oil can no doubt be found, even if at a price. The same is not true of natural gas, which though not as important to Russia in economic terms as oil, is Putin’s main hold over his near neighbours.
The European Commission insists that the Continent can erase a huge share of its dependency on Russia over the next year by tapping new gas supplies, ramping up reserves for next winter and accelerating efforts to be more energy efficient.
I’ll believe it when I see it, and in any case, Ukraine hasn’t got the year Europe says it needs to make amends.
Europe consumes approximately 550bn cubic metres of natural gas a year, of which around 40pc comes from Russia, overwhelmingly via a tapestry of around 30 different pipelines.
To immediately replace this supply with LNG from the rest of the world is a non-starter, and even in the longer term would take massive new investment in shipping, terminals and associated infrastructure, such as to virtually bankrupt some of Europe’s smaller nations.
The fact that such investment would also divert resources away from net zero goals is almost by the by.
Back of the envelope calculations, taking account of the amount of gas that is carried in each shipment, suggest that to replace all the gas supplied by Russia to Europe via pipelines would require around 4,500 shipments a year and an additional 1,250 new LNG ships, each costing around $200m (£153m) to construct.
Total worldwide capacity at the moment is around 650 ships, 90pc of which are already booked solid for the next five years. To service these shipments would also require the provision of a multitude of new deep-sea terminals, together with associated infrastructure. The Milford Haven LNG facility in Wales cost around $1bn to construct back in 2004.
Small wonder that at around the same time, when relations with Putin’s Russia were still relatively good, Germany opted for Nord Stream 2 as the more economic form of delivery. At the time, it made little sense to build out the same amount of LNG capacity.
The upshot is that Putin has got Europe by the proverbial. With the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to see what he has been up to. From about February last year, Russia began to slowly starve the European market of supply, with the result that storage capacity exhausted by winter demand was not replenished as usual over the summer months.
11) Rupert Darwall: There is no climate crisis
Spectator World, 7 March 2022
If there were, the IPCC wouldn’t be quietly turning the dial towards one
“No climate crisis” is, of course, not the spin the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is putting on its new 3,676-page report released last month. “The choices we make in the next decade will determine our future,” the IPCC says. “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”
It could hardly be plainer. The report is political advocacy barely masquerading as science.
The IPCC Working Group II report is not meant to be about policy; that’s the job of Working Group III, which has yet to produce its contribution to the sixth assessment report. “The focus of our new report is on solutions,” the IPCC says of the Working Group II report.
“It highlights the importance of fundamental changes in society.” The solution to climate change, the IPCC claims, is renewable energy, circular economies, healthy diets, universal health coverage and social protection. The only surprise is that the IPCC didn’t include abolishing the Second Amendment in its climate catechism.
“Scientific evidence shows that addressing the risks and impacts of climate change successfully involves a more a diverse set of actors than previously thought” and involves partnerships with “traditionally marginalized groups, including women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and ethnic minorities (high confidence).”
How on earth did the IPCC exclude the LBGTQ+ community? “Different interests, values and worldviews can be reconciled if everyone works together,” the IPCC says. This isn’t science. It’s climate kumbaya.
Small islands were the poster child of net zero as they claimed they risked sinking beneath the waves thanks to rising sea levels. They successfully lobbied for the adoption of the target in the Paris climate agreement to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC therefore includes them in a list of global hotspots of high human vulnerability, asserting that their vulnerability will increase in the context of sea level rise. Yet only four years ago, the IPCC in its 1.5 degree Celsius special report stated that “observations, models and other evidence” indicate that unconstrained Pacific atolls have kept pace with sea level rises and that there had been “little reduction in size or net gain in land.”
In a blog post, Roger Pielke Jr. of the department of environmental studies at the University of Colorado Boulder notes that the IPCC lifts projections of future climate damages from studies that eliminate the choice of adapting to climate change, a practice Pielke calls “misleading at best.” Yet buried in the report is a study showing that adequate flood protection, i.e. adaptation, could avoid 95 percent of projected flood damages.
Pielke is even more critical of the report’s extensive use of the RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 8.5 ultra-high emissions climate scenario to project future damages. The report mentions RCP 8.5 more times than all the other scenarios put together. The proportion of RCP 8.5 mentions is sharply up on the Working Group II’s 2014 report, even though its implausibility as a description of the future is greater now than it was eight years ago. In Pielke’s words, the RCP 8.5 scenario is infused throughout the report, fundamentally damaging its credibility.
If there were a genuine climate crisis, the IPCC wouldn’t feel impelled to surreptitiously turn the dial to claim that there is one. The data wouldn’t need the IPCC’s helping hand by making nonsensical assumptions such as ignoring the possibility of future adaptation to climate change or using the widely discredited RCP 8.5 climate scenario, which even the Grantham Institute’s Bob Ward calls “extreme.” The fact that it does so constitutes strong evidence for the non-existence of a climate crisis.
In this regard, the IPCC’s behavior is similar to that of Covid modelers back in December, who hugely over-forecast hospitalizations and mortality from the Omicron variant, forecasts that in Britain came within a hair’s breadth of pushing the country into a third lockdown. The government’s modeling effort was led by Graham Medley, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Challenged on Twitter by The Spectator’s editor Fraser Nelson as to why the Sage modeling group hadn’t included a less alarming and quite plausible scenario, Medley responded that decision-makers are only interested in situations where decisions have to be made. “We model the scenarios that are useful to decisions,” Medley said. Similarly, the IPCC, with its latest climate report, is in the business of basing their findings on scenarios that advance the policies it wants, namely drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
In 1953, the British epidemiologist Richard Doll, one of the first researchers to establish the link between smoking and lung cancer, attempted to forecast the number of lung cancer deaths there would be in Britain in 1973, estimating that the number might be as great as 25,000. The actual number was 26,000. It was a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the strength of the evidence on the dangers of smoking.
Doll was a true scientist who never let his hostility to smoking or his political beliefs — he was a lifelong communist — contaminate his scientific work. Doll’s fidelity to the principles of scientific objectivity shames today’s climate scientists, who juice up climate science to fabricate a narrative in support of their favored policies.
The sole value of the new report is that it shows just how deeply the IPCC has sunk into the anti-scientific business of advocacy and green ideology. With its declaration that net zero creates the opportunity for societal transformation, the IPCC’s 1.5-degree special report was bad. This new one is even worse.