Monday, 1 February 2021

Climate News - February 2021


Alan Moran

1 February 2021

A review and commentary on topical matters concerning the science, economics, and governance associated with climate change developments.


Climate politics: the consequences of the Biden presidency


President Biden cancelled a slew of the Trump administration’s environmental policies, including revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline; reversing the rollbacks to vehicle emissions standards; undoing decisions to slash the size of several national monuments (heritage areas); a moratorium on oil and natural gas leases but not coal leases (West Virginian Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, heads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee). Biden re-established a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses and the Pentagon is instructed to go woke and recognise climate change in its planning. 


Trump had previously eased the Obama regulations on coal power emissions; the Courts prevented an attempt to lock this in.


Biden Administration appointments include: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin, who has worked on “climate customs unions” that would hit recalcitrant nations with tariffs; former Environment Protection Agency (EPA) head, Gina McCarthy as National Climate Adviser and John Kerry as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Kerry said that the US will make up for its deficiencies in climate matters over the past four years. Kamala Harris believes that regulations that increase the costs and reduce the reliability of energy means more jobs but only 33 per cent of Americans agree that rejoining the Paris Agreement won’t cost jobs. The re-joining will require a 30 per cent reduction in emissions with wind/solar replacing fossil fuels; one estimateput the cost at $30,000 per family.


Biden has also appointed other climate change warriors to head powerful agencies, including the new the EPA head, Michael Regan and Deb Haarland (a Green New Deal proponent) as Secretary of the Interior. He began purging skeptics with the firing from the EPA of David Legates from the Office of Science and Technology Policy.


French oil giant Total rescinded its membership of the American Petroleum Institute, citing API’s support for the rolling back of U.S. methane emissions on oil and gas operations, and its opposition to subsidies for electric vehicles and to carbon pricing. API’s annual “State of American Energy” said it wants to work with Mr. Biden on emissions limits and trade policy, but said more taxes and regulations could hurt consumers and workers. The Business Roundtable is onside with the Biden program. It supports reducing GHG emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. It favours a “price on carbon” (a carbon tax) and, to ensure US firms are not disadvantaged, “rebates, allowances and/or border adjustments — consistent with U.S. international obligations”. 


Astonishingly, the Australian government is claiming it will come under no climate pressures from the Biden Administration.


Australians - former prime minister Kevin Rudd, former NSW premier and foreign minister Bob Carr and former Dow Chemicals CEO Andrew Liveris - are among 154 signatories to a letter calling on Joe Biden to become the Climate Change President.


Like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin, the EU plans to introduce a carbon border tariff that countries will be able to avoid only if their climate policies match that of Europe. The European Commission says such measures are essential to the survival of the EU’s industries and the European Council urged it to accelerate work on this, while Germany’s agriculture ministry is seeking a carbon border tax to protect farmers’ livelihoods. German support to poorer countries is being re-oriented from productive assistance to “climate adaptation” as part of the Climate Adaptation Summit which the US has also agreed to support.


EU foreign ministers also agreed to a policy of no more investment in coal unless it incorporates carbon capture and storage, and "an immediate end to all financing of new coal infrastructure in (other) countries."

Replacing fossil fuels

EU renewables overtook fossil fuels in power generation during 2020.  Wind and solar was 19.6 per cent (Australia including roof-top is about 22 per cent). 

Blomberg ($) reports that Germany last year gave consumers a record $38 billion in subsidies for renewables. Germany, which has the highest cost electricity in Europe, has a 46 per cent green electricity supply share. The government plans to pay one third of consumers’ bills. 

A major UK Parliamentary committee has urged the Bank of England to follow the advice of its former Governor Mark Carney and require major companies to do more in forcing a green recovery from COVID.


BlackRock is seeking to ensure that investments are not made in fossil fuels and has written to major firms asking, "how their business model will be compatible with a net-zero economy".

Developments in Science

Roy Spencer has shown that the climate data used by the official research institutes contain an urban heat island effect. Reproducing the data for the USA and making the adjustments to eliminate this, he finds that for the period 1973-2011 there was no rise in temperature. 

In spite of the hype about wildfires in Australia and California, they are in fact declining!

A series of studies published over the past year show that Iceland is now colder than at any time over the past 8000 years, save for a period in the 19th Century.

This was not part of the narrative!  Spain records lowest temperature ever at -34C.



Scotch whisky promises to be net zero by 2040.


It had to happen, the Big Issue has found someone titled Professor to advocate a cessation of road building to fight climate change.

The Audubon society channels its inner Tim Flannery ('Australia's dams will never fill again') in saying that climate change will bring a pemanent water shortage in the US west.

Last Chance Saloon:  If not cancelled, the Glasgow climate summit in November is expected to bring in 30,000 delegates.