A week into the Climate negotiations at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt and there is consternation among civil society groups and green commentators about the record number of lobbyists from fossil fuel companies and interests who have infiltrated the conference.
An advocacy group Global Witness estimated that there were 636 of them, 25 per cent higher than the previous World Conference in Glasgow last year.
This is sheer irony. COP27 – or the Conference of Parties committed to reverse Climate Change – has pledged to phase out the use of fossil fuels. Yet you have hundreds of executives representing polluting companies tagging on to national delegations with free access to crucial negotiations. Gazprom of Russia, and Exxon, are all there.
The strange scenario reflects the immediate crisis in Climate negotiations. On one hand, the Ukraine war has created a huge energy crisis. On the other hand, oil and gas companies are making billions of dollars in windfall profits as energy costs spiral. The developed world is suddenly going slow in phasing out oil, gas and coal. The big sufferers in the new turmoil are the developing nations wanting to know why they should accept climate targets that deny them access to their own coal and oil assets.
After experiencing years of Climate Change havoc, world leaders had broadly committed to phasing out fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to burning coal and oil to generate energy. The process has however been slow with renewable energy like solar, wind and biofuels growing to just 28% of the energy pie, from 20 per cent in a decade – from 2011 to 2021.
The Ukraine war and the energy crisis have given a new boost to coal-based power plants. Coal energy generation has risen 1 per cent till August this year, and is today the world’s biggest source of electricity. Coal consumption has surged in Europe to replace shortfalls in hydro, nuclear and Russian gas.
The developed nations have provided nearly USD 700 billion in subsidies for coal, oil and gas production in 2021, according to Climate Policy Factbook released days ago by BloombergNEF and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Sample this: The UK government last October had rejected the development of the Jackdaw gas fields in the North Sea due to environmental concerns. It has now approved fresh plans by Shell to develop the offshore region to increase gas output so as reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.
But even as consumers pay back-breaking prices for gas and fuel at the retail pumps in Europe and the US, the big oil companies have been making windfall profits not seen in over a decade. Recent third-quarter results show ExxonMobil pulling in nearly $20 billion in profit. Chevron USD 11 billion, Shell USD 9.5 billion, and BP 8.5 billion. Saudi Aramco reported USD 42 billion profit this quarter.
This is not ‘phasing-out’ fossil fuels, it is not even ‘phasing-down’ production – the compromise term used in the Glasgow Climate talks; it is ‘phasing-up’. It’s the simple law of capitalism. The investment follows if money is to be made. For instance, the commitments by automakers to shift to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 might not materialize as the world’s biggest carmakers plan to build about 400million more diesel and petrol cars than what is sustainable to contain global heating.
This brings us to the final point. While the West is busy turning on emergency measures to exploit oil and gas to face the energy crisis, the developing world is supposed to fall in line and implement targets to phase-out fossil fuels drawn up at Climate Change conventions. This will never happen as the costs are too high for the poorer countries.
One of the oil lobbyists at Sharm El-Sheikh, Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim, representing the African Petroleum Producers Organization, quite frankly admitted he was there at the Climate talks to influence negotiators to support the development of oil and gas in Africa. He said there were 600 million people across the continent who don’t have access to electricity.
Dr Ibrahim’s argument is Africa cannot forgo its large fuel reserves for the mirage of renewable energy and funds from the West which may never come. Similarly, will India, which today imports 85% of its petroleum needs, be willing to forego a major oil and gas find in say the K-G basin?
Targets to phase out fossil fuels, especially for developing nations, will never be achieved unless the technology and funding for renewable energy are provided at a heavily subsidized cost, preferably zero cost.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley quite frankly told the rich nations at Sharm El-Sheikh that their prosperity was built on exploiting cheap coal and oil since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. It was at the expense of the poor; and now the poor nations were being forced to pay again, as victims of climate breakdown that they did not cause. In a one-sided world, It is difficult to see how fossil fuel phase-outs can be successful in the near future.
5) COP27: India thwarts attempt to club it with historical CO2 emitters
The Hindu, 14 November 2022
Supported by other developing countries, India blocked an attempt by rich nations to focus on all top 20 emitters of carbon dioxide during discussions on the ‘Mitigation Work Programme’ at the ongoing U.N. climate summit in Egypt, sources said on Monday.
During the first week of the climate talks, developed countries desired that all top 20 emitters, including India and China, discuss intense emission cuts and not just the rich nations which are historically responsible for climate change, they said.
There are developing countries in the top 20 emitters, including India, that are not responsible for warming that has already occurred.
According to the sources, India pushed back the attempt with the support of like-minded developing countries, including China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
The “MWP should not lead to the reopening of the Paris Agreement” which clearly mentions that climate commitments of countries have to be nationally determined based on circumstances, India and other developing countries reportedly said.
At COP26 in Glasgow last year, parties acknowledged that a 45% reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2030 (as compared to 2010 levels) is required to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius.
Accordingly, they agreed to develop a Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) to “urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation”. Mitigation means reducing emissions, ambition means setting stronger targets and implementation means meeting new and existing goals.
Coming into COP27, developing countries had raised concerns that rich nations, through the MWP, will push them to revise their climate targets without enhancing the supply of technology and finance.
In the run-up to COP27, India had said the MWP cannot be allowed to “change the goal posts” set by the Paris Agreement.
“In the Mitigation Work Programme, best practices, new technologies and new modes of collaboration for technology transfer and capacity building may be discussed fruitfully,” the Union Environment Ministry had said.
6) Green Britain: Millions face poverty and destitution
Reuters, 16 November 2022
BURNLEY, England, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Skipping lunch each day and watching television in blankets to keep warm is not how Ann and Keith Hartley envisaged their retirement in Burnley, the northern English town hit hardest by Britain’s cost of living crisis.
Now in their 70s, the Hartleys are even rationing cups of tea in the face of soaring energy bills, driven higher by the Ukraine war, and double-digit inflation in the shops.
While millions in Britain face a difficult winter, the Centre for Cities think tank says the nearly 95,000 residents of Burnley are most exposed to the shockwaves ripping through the economy.
Burnley’s rows of 19th Century terraced houses, built during the Industrial Revolution, are some of the most energy-inefficient homes in Britain.
People here also face the highest effective rate of inflation in mainland Britain, according to Centre for Cities, as they spend more of their income on essential goods which have seen the sharpest increases in prices.
Consumers in Burnley saw prices rise 11.7% in the year to September, the think tank estimates, compared with 10.1% nationally, and 9.1% in London.
With Britain sliding into what is expected to be a prolonged recession, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government will announce a raft of tax rises and spending cuts on Thursday that it says will ultimately deliver a quicker return to economic growth.
But few households are looking that far ahead. The Hartleys get by on a combined pension of just over 1,000 pounds ($1,173) a month.
“I don’t know if it’s because we’re that much older, but we’ve both noticed it. It’s terribly cold. We’ve cut it down to roughly two meals a day,” said Ann Hartley, 71, a former personal assistant.
Other generations in Burnley are also feeling the screw tighten financially.
Wendy Pollard, 42, a self-employed bookseller and a mother of two, expressed shock that she was now paying for bread and milk out of savings built up to take her children on holiday.
“Who actually thought five years ago that you would be sitting, shivering on a settee with a hot water bottle, trying to work out the best and most efficient way of drying your washing?” she said.
Pollard’s sense of disbelief is shared by many who struggle to reconcile Britain’s status as the world’s sixth-largest economy against the fact so many face destitution.
7) Green Britain: Oil and gas producers may no longer invest in UK over windfall tax
Aberdeen Live, 15 November 2022
Offshore Energies UK, the oil and gas sector’s trade body, said its members were shocked at reports that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was planning to raise the windfall tax to 35%
Oil and gas producers could be driven out of investing in British waters, including the North Sea, if Chancellor Jeremy Hunt imposes a 35% hike on the windfall tax.
Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said its members were concerned about the proposed increase and said operators were already paying a 40% tax rate on profits from oil and gas production. This was before an additional 25% levy was imposed earlier this year.
According to OEUK, if the UK Government added another 10% to the levy, it would push the rate to 75%, meaning that producers would have to reconsider billions of pounds worth of investment.
Ahead of this Thursday’s autumn statement, an OEUK spokesperson said about the reports of a 35% levy: “We’re completely taken aback by this, coming just days before the chancellor gives his fiscal statement.
“Our industry plays a critical role in providing reliable and responsible supplies of energy to the UK – with all the benefits that brings in generating taxes, secure energy and jobs.
“Imposing sudden extra taxes will make it even harder for these companies to invest in UK energy production – both the gas and oil we need today, and the wind, hydrogen and other low-carbon energies we need to reach net-zero by 2050.
“Driving investment out of UK waters into other countries will increase reliance on imported energy, reduce the tax flow to the Exchequer, and make it even harder to increase our domestic production of lower-carbon energies.
“We need a diverse range of offshore operator and supply-chain companies with the skills and people to build the low-carbon energy future we all want to see.
“It deeply concerns us that that the complexity of the UK offshore energy sector is not being considered when we are on the cusp of such an important transition.”
8) Chris Mitchell: Journalists blind to facts as climate pantomime rolls on
The Australian, 13 November 2022
Journalists who have followed the United Nations torturous path towards a global climate change deal have known for years its real bottom line is wealth transfer from the First World to poorer nations.
Political manipulation of the science by the UN was discussed in this column on October 23. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s AR6 report, released before last year’s Glasgow COP26, actually presented less scary scenarios than AR5 but was sold by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a former Socialist Party Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, as “code red for the planet”.
This column has long argued forecasts of imminent climate emergency are not supported by the IPCC’s assessment reports and are about using fear to create political and media consensus. It all looks ever more silly as countries are urged at COP each year to make ever earlier commitments to net zero emissions of CO2 and each year the world burns ever more fossil fuels.
It should be obvious to all but the most naive catastrophist journalists that national leaders, presiding over a 6 per cent rise in global emissions this past year, don’t actually believe in an imminent emergency. Nor will many national leaders fall for the reparations line that is being repackaged as “loss and damage” payments at this year’s COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Even former Tory PM Boris Johnson, who risked his prime ministership and his country’s economic security in the name of climate action, has said the UK does not have the financial resources to pay reparations to low-income countries affected by climate change, according to a report in the London Financial Times on November 7.
But there’s a better reason for scepticism about “loss and damage”. The Daily Telegraph in London the same day reported: “China has emitted more carbon dioxide over the past eight years than the UK has since the start of the industrial revolution. Between 1750 and 2020 the UK emitted 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide … compared with China’s emissions of 80 billion tonnes since 2013.”
This newspaper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd described the real UN climate agenda in 2011 when reporting that year’s COP17 in Durban, South Africa, ignominiously dubbed “Flop 17”. Lloyd wrote that much of the Durban conference looked like “an exercise in extravagant foreplay with a very messy ending”, until the situation was rescued by a commitment from developed countries for a $US100bn a year fund “to finance mitigation and adaptation in the developing world”.
Nothing much has come of that; hence the focus in Egypt. Most journalists, especially those at the ABC and Guardian Australia, refuse to call all this out for the diplomatic pantomime it is. Yet the general public is starting to understand fossil fuels are not being abandoned in most countries and the UN’s preferred power sources – wind and solar power – are not proving cheap or reliable.
RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas seemed surprised by the point former Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott made during an on-air interview last Monday morning. Karvelas wanted to discuss Schott’s proposed appointment by Grok Ventures’ Mike Cannon-Brookes to the board of AGL, which Cannon-Brookes hopes to wean off fossil fuels earlier than present management plans.
Asked by Karvelas to comment on a warning the previous week by AGL chair Patricia McKenzie that closing all the company’s generators early would destroy the reliability of the electricity grid because replacement capacity cannot be built in time, Schott said: “Well I think it may not be possible but I think we’ve got to try.”
This column, looking at Cannon-Brookes’s bid for AGL at the time, interviewed Schott last February. She said intermittent wind and solar could only be firmed by building thousands of kilometres of new poles and wires across the continent so power could be fed to major population centres from wherever the sun was shining and the wind blowing. That network infrastructure would need to be backed up by billions of dollars of new pumped hydro projects because batteries only harmonise the network and cannot yet store power for long periods.
It’s time journalists reported what is really happening. Copenhagen Consensus president Bjorn Lomborg in this newspaper on October 1 wrote: “Even the Biden administration expects the world in 2050 to be dependent on fossil fuels for 70 per cent of energy.
“Rich countries are showcasing the policies to avoid. Germany is on track to spend more than $US500bn ($A770bn) on climate policies (per year) by 2025, yet has managed to reduce fossil fuel dependency from 84 per cent in 2000 to only 77 per cent today.”
Wind and solar account for about 10 per cent of global power supply despite global investment of about $US1 trillion in such renewables every year.
So what does the future hold for the climate and for the business of climate reporting? In the digital age it is a business strategy aimed at securing clicks from vulnerable young media consumers who have not seen and read all the doomsday scenarios for 30 years and understood they never arrive.
For the real climate, warming oceans will increase evaporation and rainfall, but the IPCC is clear no single weather event can be attributed directly to climate change. Tropical storm data shows cyclones and hurricanes are becoming less frequent in the Pacific and Atlantic. Some evidence suggests such storms may be becoming more powerful.
Weather patterns such as this country’s east coast La Nina since 2020 will come occasionally but always have done. The La Nina events from 1954-56 and 2010-12 killed more in floods than this La Nina.
Global temperature sits about 1.2C above the pre-industrial era, which also coincided with a little ice age.
Evidence suggests temperatures were higher during the Medieval Warming and the Roman Warming. Latest research suggests climate is less sensitive to CO2 than previously thought. Media consumers seldom see these facts.
The world will need to build for resilience, but no serious scientist expects a climate emergency by 2030: the IPCC has essentially abandoned the scam RCP8.5 warming scenario upon which that scare campaign was based.
Coal and gas will continue to be burned in advanced countries, we will continue to export both because our fuels are cleaner than those extracted elsewhere but Australia will lose almost all of its domestic manufacturing industry, which will move to countries with lower emissions standards as we drive towards more renewable, less reliable power.
The political right here will be disappointed because Australia will never go down the nuclear path, even though it should.
But Australia will continue to export uranium to countries that see the obvious benefits of clean, emissions-free, baseload power.
Finally, while Australia will most likely pay climate bribes to Pacific Islands, the public will eventually find out what the ABC Fact Check unit confirmed in December 2018: most island nations in the Pacific are growing rather than shrinking. Don’t expect ABC reporters to admit that or to challenge Pacific Island leaders complaining about CO2 but taking Chinese money when China is the biggest contributor to global emissions.
9) Alexandra Marshall: This is war: Renewables vs the West
Spectator Australia, 14 November 2022
The future of renewable energy is laid out before us, bound by inevitable consequences and engineering restraints. It is a failure of concept, buoyed by trillions of dollars in public money and the artificial destruction of its market competitors. The result is an energy crisis which is hastening the end of virtue-seeking energy systems that have benefited nobody except crafty investors and billionaire green playboys.
The public will pick up the bill for their hubris, as is always the case with political errors. Australians have been left sitting at the table with the scraps of the meal that was ‘renewable energy’ – bones picked clean by bankers, mining giants, bureaucrats, and diplomats.
State Premiers lie whenever they describe solar and wind as ‘cheap energy’, conveniently restricting their costings to the initial construction of the project while ignoring the required backup battery farms, re-wiring of the grid, and cyclic nightmare of the ‘rip out and replace’ reality of technology with a 20-year lifespan. Experts call this ‘re-powering’. Normal people call it madness.
This delusion is how we end up with the embarrassing antics of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declaring Brisbane Airport will be running on ‘100 per cent’ renewable energy for the bargain deal of $4.5 billion – except for the planes, of course. And no, the airport is not going to operate on an isolated renewables-only grid to prove the point. Are you crazy? What if the wind died in the middle of the night?
The ABC are too friendly with green ideology to ask the obvious question: why are the Pacific Islands and other third-world despots asking for billions in reparations while selling their fossil fuel and rare earths assets under the table to the world’s largest polluter, China? Or the follow-up: what happens if we end up at war with China over Taiwan and they won’t sell us any solar panels? Or the follow-up to the follow-up: will Australia be able to defend the Pacific with a ‘made in China’ sticker on our power grid?
It is a contradiction that speaks to profit, not apocalypse. The insulting paternalism of Labor’s attitude toward ‘those poor people’ on ‘sinking flooded islands’ leaves Australia as a victim of politicians who are more concerned with ‘looking good’ and shaking all the right hands at the United Nations than taking care of the Australian people, whose money they throw away like confetti at the monstrous wedding of globalism and eco-fascism.
As the human population grows, civilisation requires an energy grid with a dense fuel source – something that takes up as little of our productive land as possible. Covering river deltas and prime agricultural fields with solar panels and wind turbines is the work of morons who have confused steel bird mincers with chapel steeples. These are not monuments to the Green religion, they are symbols of inexhaustible human idiocy that will be rusting long after the climate apocalypse fails to manifest.
Why must we be polite about the vandalism of Western Civilisation? Why do conservatives tolerate the gutless, mute, spineless, and soulless Liberal Party playing along because they are too embarrassed to apologise for trying to gain political traction from the same green fibs as Labor?
Climate Change has drifted into a religion of convenience – an ‘Edenism’ that ignores basic geological history and makes unkeepable promises about the fate of humanity. We have transferred our personal fear of mortality onto the Earth, terrified of a terra hellfire (or is it another Noah-style flood?) instead of the metaphoric flames of the old religions.
The planet is not a sentient being, it is a self-destructive rock that cares very little for our survival and would sooner hurl an asteroid or open a flood basalt rift than thank us for the sacrifice of university virgins.
Try telling that to a screaming activist glued to a Renoir with bits of horse and petroleum…
Instead of transferring the innards of third-world mountains to Australian landfills – or listening to scientists talk about melting wind turbines down into gummy bears for our children to eat – why not skip to the end?
The answer to our energy woes was revealed last century – a solution so simple, clean, and practical that its existence threatens the survival of all other energy sources. Nuclear. With billions of years in fuel reserves, nuclear will outlive humanity.
It doesn’t matter that the argument in favour of nuclear is unshakable, whether you believe in the apocalypse or simply want to restore light to the West, nuclear must first win the culture war that was started by jealous fossil fuels companies and is being continued by renewables barons.
10) Dominic Lawson: If broadcasters fail to challenge the hysterical claims of the eco-zealots, they might as well join them on the M25
Daily Mail, 14 November 2022
We are all, I’m sure, grateful to the tiny organisation known as Just Stop Oil for suspending their disruption of the M25.
Above all, it will come as a relief to those using London’s orbital motorway for getting to the work that feeds their families, and to the essential services for whom it is a vital speedy route to hospitals.
I am in neither of those categories. But I am still relieved that (at least until their next stunt) I won’t have to see television news presenters treating the occasionally hysterical young demonstrators as if they were unchallengeable experts on the risks of climate change.
Perhaps the only one who showed any exasperation, last week, was the Sky News presenter Mark Austin, when he pleaded with one Indigo Rumbelow to ‘please stop shouting at me’. She was, too. Though in his position, I would have been more discomfited by the wide staring eyes of the fanatic, which she also displayed.
Throughout the interview, the experienced presenter kept asking the activist whether she thought the nature of the Just Stop Oil protests was damaging the group’s message. But he never questioned any of her assertions.
So when Rumbelow declared that the Government’s decision to license more drilling in the North Sea (mostly for gas) ‘will kill millions of people’, his response was: ‘Yes, but what about your tactics?’
‘Yes, but …’? How about: No, the British Government will not kill ‘millions of people’ as a result of such prospecting. It might, however, lead to fewer old people freezing in their homes.
But this is all about ‘the children’. Or, as Rumbelow put it to Austin: ‘Do you love your children more than you love fossil fuels?’ This was followed by the even more bizarre question: ‘Would you like to destroy much of life on Earth, including everything you know and love?’
It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Austin had responded: ‘Indigo, please tell me where the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change actually says that life on Earth will be destroyed by global warming?’
Because the IPCC has never claimed that, or anything remotely like it. Nor does it say ‘we are going to plummet towards total destruction’, as his interviewee exclaimed, again without contradiction.
Similarly, the IPCC does not claim that ‘all our liberties are at risk’ because of global warming. But that’s what Rumbelow — yet again not challenged — told the viewers of the Sky News Hour.
A similar encounter took place on Newsnight between the normally razor-sharp Victoria Derbyshire and another young Just Stop Oil demonstrator, Phoebe Plummer. This student had gained the desired attention a few weeks ago when she threw a can of Heinz tomato soup at Van Gogh’s painting Sunflowers in the National Gallery: a terrible waste of perfectly decent soup.
Ms Plummer’s line was to take the Government’s allegedly inadequate response to climate change as a personal affront, saying it was ‘an act of betrayal against me’ and that ‘civil resistance is the only chance to ensure I have a future’. And she went on to say that ‘the renewable future is not happening in policy . . . which is murderous’.
If Ms Plummer were one of Derbyshire’s usual guests, I would have expected the presenter to say something like: ‘What are you talking about? This country has invested countless billions in wind power and has all but eliminated coal from the energy supply mix.
‘Our CO2 emissions, per capita, are the lowest level since the 1850s. What about China, which is increasing its coal production, and now burns more of the stuff than all the other countries in the world put together?’
Instead, after Newsnight’s guest had finished her tirade about how the British Government had destroyed her future and been engaged in deliberate mass killing (she presumably sees herself as one of those due to be ‘murdered’), Derbyshire just said, in the deeply respectful tone usually accorded by interviewers to victims of real crimes: ‘Phoebe Plummer, thank you so much.’