Climate News - January 2020

Alan Moran 
A review and commentary on topical matters concerning the science, economics, and governance associated with climate change developments.
Alan Moran
2 January 2020
Weather and climate
Australia's December fires were far from unprecedented but have brought calls for increased measures to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions. In the forefront were NSW Environment Minister Matt Keen, 20,000 protesters and, of course, former PM Malcolm Turnbull. Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, said that only “pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies” link climate change with the current fire season. National emission levels could not conceivably influence national climate and as, Jack Weatherall shows, the only unprecedented thing about these fires is the hyperbole.

One of the Guardian’s resident climate Jeremiah’s predictably links climate change to the Australian bushfires.  As, of course does, 16 year old Greta. The Prime Minister took a contrary view and, amid claims about record Australian temperatures, Jo Nova has assembled this collection of historical temperature recordings.
Jo Nova also shows that in 2019 NSW wild fires burnt 20 times the area of controlled burns. 


Other level headed analysis comes from MP Craig Kelly, who juxtaposes this ABC headline (right),


with factual data about Melbourne temperatures (below).
Climate change is also blamed for the current drought in Australia as it was for the drought ten years ago that was followed by flooding.  Much the same was said of California three years ago but, as Willis Eschenbach demonstrates, rainfall across the US is trendless.
Climate Politics
As well as nation states, an astonishingly well-funded 2,330 NGOs, many with multiple delegates, attended the Madrid climate conference, a macabre festival designed to de-rate developed world economies and retard the growth of others. Marxist UN Sec. Gen., António Guterres, was disappointed that the conference failed to agree on further measures, even though attendees like Greta and Harrison Ford urged them to do so.

The Climate Action Network declared, “many countries — fronted by the United States, Australia and Brazil — once again exposed their apathy to the suffering of millions and a willful rejection of the science”. Alarmists used Kenyan climate campaigner Mohamad Adow to proclaim the Madrid outcome as “disastrous, profoundly distressing”.

Few countries increased their own commitments to emission reductions.  Rupert Darwall writes, “The Madrid conference was to have engendered …  a kind of competition of climate virtuousness. All it could manage was a statement expressing “serious concern” about the widening gap between the participating parties’ collective efforts and the ambitious emissions trajectory required to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.” 

But, unfortunately, green power lobbyist, Michael Liebreich is more accurate in his summary that in spite of setbacks, over the past three years, the Paris targets have been progressively more deeply embedded into the political, social and business landscape in nations around the world.”

This is corroborated by the ruling of the  Netherland’s Supreme Court that the Dutch state 'must, under the European Convention on Human Rights, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent of 1990 levels by the end of 2020.' The court claimed this to be in accord with “The consensus in climate science and in the international community.”  Greenpeace described the ruling as an 'immense victory for climate justice.'

Indeed, only the US has disavowed its previous commitments. US policy was  underlined by Congress commencing a phase-down of solar systems’ subsidies from 30 to 10 per cent of the investment cost, with the wind power subsidy of two cents per kilowatt hour to become zero in 2025. This might change if subsidy seekers/Green New Dealers force a change!

Australian Opposition spokesman, Mark Butler, said Australia ranks 61st of 61 nations in climate change policy adequacy.  This is hardly consistent with the regulator AEMO’s modelling which projects that, on existing policies, roof top solar could provide 13% to 22% of annual energy consumption by 2040.  Minister Angus Taylor claims that we are doing more than others and, having exceeded our Kyoto goals, are likely to exceed those we set for the Paris accord.  The Minister declined to say what the cost of this has been but cites Bloomberg reports of Australia having spent more per capita on “clean energy” than any other country.
Climate Economics and Finance
The EU Commission established a new standard for green investments but many countries (including France and the UK) have rejected this as it would discourage investment in coal and nuclear.

S&P Global found little difference in returns between portfolios focussing on firms with low greenhouse gas emissions compared to those that did not factor-in that feature, though the latter achieved marginally higher returns (9.56 per cent versus 8.83 per cent).
Activist-inspired charges by a biased NY State Attorney General against Exxon (the charges having been originated by the Exxon-endowed Rockefeller Foundation!) alleging it covered up the damage its emissions cause failed amid scathing criticism from a NY courtIn Australia, Royal Commissioner Hayne advocated reporting requirements that would have similar effects, with the initial support of the Australian Financial Review that was subsequently reversed

Business leaders are so intimidated by the cacophony of alarmist and vested interests that a titan of capitalism, BP’s boss Bob Dudley, was careful to announce his retirement before speaking out about the impossibility of renewables-rich economic success.
Whimsy
Time Magazine having previously designated as “person of the year” Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini, in 2019 welcomed into that pantheon Greta Thunberg, who summed up climate issues as “our house is on fire”.  The BBC “felt awkward” about flying a journalist to interview her in Sweden.

But move over Greta, there is now a younger wise head educating any remaining dinosaurian non-believers and fossil fuel shillers - ten-year-old Francisco Javier Vera who heads a Colombian youth activist group
Links to December articles on climate change issues
  • Climate change as the driver of irrigation policy in Quadrant;
  • Costs and bureaucracy Australia has created to administer its economically debilitating climate change policies, in the Spectator and in Catallaxy;
  • The Madrid Conference and its outcomes, in the Spectator

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