Monday, 1 March 2021

Climate News - March 2021



Alan Moran

1 March 2021

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

Climate change politics

Bjorn Lomborg writes, President Biden has promised to spend $500 billion each year on climate — about 13 percent of the entire federal revenue. The European Union will spend 25 percent of its budget on climate. Only one country, New Zealand, has estimated the costs, which it optimistically puts at 16 percent of its GDP.

 

Sterling Burnett notes that the Biden Administration’s placing of climate change at its policy centre means it will need to compromise with China on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Uighers etc. But to ensure continued economic growth, China will only adopt cosmetic anti-coal policies.

 

The Biden administration has restored the Obama requirements that major project proposals be examined in the context of their effect on greenhouse gas emissions. It is creating a number of new senior climate change positions including in Treasury.

 

A paper from Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, suggest the social cost of carbon (i.e. the carbon tax) should be $100 per ton, a figure that they argue is, unlike the $8 per ton used by the Trump Administration, not just made up. Biden has announced a figure of $51 per ton, while Obama used $60 per ton. That of Australia’s Gillard government in 2013 was $US ~15 per ton.

 

Although the US, EU and UK have all indicated support for carbon border taxes, the UKhas now formally rejected the notion. It did not feature in the recent G7 meeting of major nations. 

Climate change and energy policies

In Texas, cold weather and storms knocked out half of the windfarms that supply 23 per cent of the state’s electricity leading to blackouts covering 75 per cent of the state.

Some commentators blamed gas unavailability

But the story told by the data shows a collapse in wind availability, a small fall in coal and nuclear and an increase in gas. 

Tucker Carlson excoriated the wind/solar supporting elites for supporting less efficient, more expensive and unreliable energy. The Wall Street Journal encapsulate the issue as “the paradox of the left’s climate agenda: The less we use fossil fuels, the more we need them.” But President Biden has put reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas at the centre of US foreign and domestic policy, though the Guardian worries that some $1.9 trillion of investments planned by state owned hydrocarbon businesses could frustrate the Administration’s goal of suppressing fossil fuels.

 

John Constable, pointing out that Mr. Biden wishes to “double” offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030, shows claims of falling costs are false and that new UK offshore wind requires subsidies that are four times the electricity wholesale price.

 

It became more expensive to build offshore UK windfarms between 2000 and 2010, in part due to the move to deeper waters. Since then, costs have remained in the range £3–5m/MW.  Advocates claim costs are falling but this is not borne out by the evidence collected by Andrew Montford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

John Kerry claimed that there will be more and better paid new green jobs than the coal jobs they replace but the pro-Biden Washington Post gave the statement “2 Pinocchios”; green jobs pay on average 15 per cent less than coal jobs and replace only one fifth of those lost.

 

The UK Government had set aside £2 billion in £5,000 grants for people to improve their homes’ energy efficiency; only 15 per cent was utilised and the scheme is to be discontinued.

 

Germany, where renewable policies have brought very high electricity prices is considering scrapping consumer subsidies, "Large institutional investors are desperate for the opportunity to invest in green, sustainable bonds," it’s just that they want subsidies to do so! Germany’s RWE is suing the Dutch Government for $2 billion in compensation for forcing the closure by 2030 of a coal plant built in 2015 with Government encouragement.  Germany’s coal phase out is 8 years later and is said to include appropriate compensation.

 

The Australian Government is establishing yet another subsidy to shore up the devastating effect on the electricity grid caused by government policies.  The scheme’s $1b Grid Reliability Fund has already bankrolled a major battery system, which I covered here. The fund may also invest in gas (but not, as some MPs want, coal) to allow renewables to work

 

The Indian Government has re-asserted support for coal, claiming it is the "backbone of the country" and is rapidly expanding domestic production. Russia, the world’s fourth-biggest carbon emitter, also has no plan to transition away from fossil fuels,

 

Mexico, a third world leader in emissions suppression, following renewables having caused a grid collapse in December is now shifting to coal and gas with less wind and solar.

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) in Germany showed that the lockdowns imposed by COVID-19, reduced CO2 emissions worldwide by 8% in 2020, but measurements so far have revealed no CO2 decrease in the atmosphere. The study said that reaching the Paris Accord goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require an additional 2020 reduction every year to 2030.

 

Paul Homewood examines the data about climate emergencies published by the US National Centers for Climate Emergency. Not only does he reproduce this data to demonstrate no increase in US hurricanes but he tracks and inflation-adjusts the costs of damage showing the average cost per hurricane to have risen from $3bn to $5.7bn, which provides ‘strong evidence that it is increasing wealth which is driving the rising cost of disasters, not the impact of climate.’

The UN’s environmental synthesis report, “Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies has a Foreword bythe UN Secretary-General claiming, “Humanity is waging war on nature” with the consequences “already apparent in human suffering, towering economic losses and the accelerating erosion of life on Earth”. The alarmist report calls for “reducing per capita consumption and production in some regions and human population growth in others”.

 

UN climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, is displeased. She says, “Collectively, updated national targets will only reduce emissions 0.5% by 2030 from 2010, far from the 45% scientists say is needed to hold warming to 1.5C”.  A study by the University of Washington gives only a 5 per cent chance of existing Paris Agreement commitments limiting global warming to below the goal of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

 

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) was thought to be weakening as a result of greenhouse gases affecting salinity.  The outcome of this would be a fall in temperatures.  A new study has refuted previous evidence of any modern weakening.

Whimsy

27 February was International Polar Bear Day.  The BBC features WWF agitprop about a climate change-induced fragility of the species, while zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford explains that population surveys and the scientific literature don’t support such a conclusion.

 

With Glasgow to host the 26th Climate Change Conference the Scotsman shows us “a more sustainable” approach to cooking and eating.

 

The infection’s tentacles know no bounds! Tottenham Hotspur has agreed a deal for VivoPower International as the soccer club moves towards becoming net zero carbon.

Articles relating to Climate Change published in February: