The 'Energy Transition' Will Be Delayed a Bit

Perhaps the most scandalous aspect of environmental ideology is that its religious fervor for the Malthusian apocalypse requires its high priests to ignore data and science. The actual monitoring data for core environmental problems such as air and water quality, deforestation, and other genuine problems show that most environmental problems are improving all around the world, most conspicuously in prosperous nations that have market economies, embrace technological innovation, and protect property rights and the rule of law.

Presenting these data, from credible sources as various as Human Progress, Our World in Data, or Environmental Progress, or figures such as Bjorn Lomborg or Matt Ridley (to name just two), sends environmentalists into a rage of denunciation. For environmentalists, good news is bad news, akin to depriving a fundamentalist fire-and-brimstone preacher of original sin.

This is true even of the grand-daddy of all environmental scares: "climate change." The latest official “consensus” scientific estimates of climate change have been backing away from the most dire climate disaster predictions of a decade ago, though the media never notice, and the relentless climate campaign won’t admit it.

Malthus: Doomed, I tell you, doomed.

It is not just more congenial, but essential, that environmentalism suppresses all data that does not support the urgency of their latest disaster scenarios. The most scandalous example came this week with news that BP (formerly British Petroleum) is weighing whether to discontinue its annual “Statistical Review of World Energy.” This fabulously useful report, which BP has published for 71 years, provides detailed trend data for every country in the world in downloadable spreadsheets, enabling analysts to conduct independent analysis easily, often noting findings that BP omits to highlight in its own write-up. Surprise: BP’s data turns out to be uncongenial to the renewable energy cheerleaders. Therein lies a tale.

Why would BP think of abandoning this well-regarded report, which can’t be a huge expense or labor for a multinational of its size and expertise? The Reuters report that broke this story hints at the problem:

The report has been seen by some BP executives as detrimental to the company's new direction, sources told Reuters... "Put simply, it (Statistical Review) is bad PR," one company source said. The company has in recent years also cut its ties with several oil and gas associations and has sought to raise its profile as a clean energy provider.

Why would a detailed, data-rich report on actual energy trends be “bad PR” for a major oil company? Back in 2000, BP formally rebranded its company initials to stand for “Beyond Petroleum,” accompanied with a $200 million ad campaign conceived by Ogilvy and Mather, featuring splashy public pledges to "go green" to fight climate change. In the immediate term this meant becoming predominantly a natural gas company and phasing out of oil exploration and production along with new investments in wind and solar power.

BP quietly abandoned the “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 made a mockery of its virtue-signaling pretensions. It also quietly sold off its money-losing wind and solar power divisions, and suddenly returned to expanding oil and gas production.

But BP lately has returned to the fold of climate hysterics, and is once again pledging to become carbon-neutral by 2050 if not sooner, and a full partner in the “energy transition” that is the fever dream of the climate campaign. And that’s where the Statistical Review of World Energy becomes an inconvenience and PR problem: BP’s data show that the “energy transition” isn’t happening. While we are inundated with headlines and advocacy group celebrations of the rapid growth of “renewable energy,” the data show that hydrocarbon energy—especially coal—has been increasing more than renewable energy for the last decade.

Meanwhile, a mountain of energy lies right beneath your feet.

In 2021, BP’s figures show global coal use grew by 6.3 percent, while oil consumption increased 6.1 percent, and global greenhouse gas emissions rose 5.9 percent. Coal accounted for 51 percent of total new electricity generation around the world, and coal even grew in the U.S., after falling (irony alert!) during the Trump administration.

The data for 2022 (BP’s report comes out every year in June) are likely to be even more dismal for the greens, as the disruption of the world’s energy supply has exposed the green energy fantasy. Coal use everywhere is soaring. Right now Germany has a higher electricity carbon footprint than coal-heavy Poland, which is wisely resisted the romantic nonsense of the greens. No wonder the climate campaigners would like to see this bad news suppressed.

The return to energy reality the Ukrainian War has prompted merely sped up the inevitable consequences of green energy diktats by a decade. Suppressing the data demonstrating this reality isn’t going to change that. If BP dumps their annual report to appease their in-house climate campaigners, hopefully a more clear-headed energy company such as Liberty Energy will want to take it over.

When Your Enemy Threatens to Kill You, Believe Him

What more do you need to hear from the Rutabaga-in-Chief?

Also, Chump of the Year:

Sen. Joe Manchin Saturday demanded President Biden apologize for saying coal plants "all across America" will be shut down, in a scathing statement just days before crucial midterm elections.

"President Biden’s comments are not only outrageous and divorced from reality, they ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising energy costs," Manchin, D-W.Va., said. "Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden and instead believes he does not understand the need to have an all in energy policy that would keep our nation totally energy independent and secure."

Dear Rump Part of Virginia taken as a spoil of war from rebel slave state Virginia during the Civil War: think on your sins.

UPDATE: This statement from the White House circus janitors who have to clean up after Dementia Joe is priceless:

President Biden knows that the men and women of coal country built this nation:  they powered its steel mills and factories, kept its homes and schools and offices warm.  They made this the most productive and powerful nation on Earth.  He came to the White House to end years of big words but little action to help the coal-producing parts of our country.  Working closely with Senator Manchin, a tireless advocate for his state and the hard-working men and women who live there, President Biden has helped get this part of the country back to work:  the unemployment rate in West Virginia was 6.2% the last month before Joe Biden took office; now it is down to 4%.  The President’s plans are already bringing new energy and manufacturing jobs to the region, and in the years ahead, will continue to create new jobs with projects like hydrogen energy generation.  In fact, through the Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities, President Biden has already delivered more than $23 billion to energy communities across the country.

The President’s remarks yesterday have been twisted to suggest a meaning that was not intended; he regrets it if anyone hearing these remarks took offense.  The President was commenting on a fact of economics and technology:  as it has been from its earliest days as an energy superpower, America is once again in the midst of an energy transition.  Our goal as a nation is to combat climate change and increase our energy security by producing clean and efficient American energy.  Under President Biden, oil and natural gas production has increased, and we are on track to hit the highest production in our country’s history next year.  He is determined to make sure that this transition helps all Americans in all parts of the country, with more jobs and better opportunities; it’s a commitment he has advanced since Day One.  No one will be left behind.

White House to the American people: who are you going to believe, us or your lying ears?

 

The Greens' Cloud Cuckoo Land

And so into their fantasy world they go. Demolishing reliable coal-power stations and subsidizing intermittent sources of power. Bad enough that Western governments have swallowed the line that climate Armageddon is on the horizon. Worse, much worse, is what they’re doing about it. They seem unable to distinguish between dreams and reality. Two recent developments in Australia add to the overwhelming evidence that Western governments are living their deluisions. Of course, there are many more than two such developments. I’ve just picked two of them at random. The first concerns the Liddell coal power station in the Hunter region in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

Liddell is being closed down prematurely in April next year. Incidentally, Eraring, the largest power station in Australia (at 2.3GW), also in NSW, will close prematurely in 2025. The Australian Energy Market Operator expects more early closures. On cue, it’s been announced that the closure of Loy Yang, supplying 30 percent of the state of Victoria’s power, will be brought forward ten years to 2035. No odds are being offered on bets it will close earlier than that. It’s all part of the continuing shutdown of coal power stations in Australia. Meanwhile, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, et al, are still building them, and using heaps of Australian coal to power them. What to do? Weep.

Back to Liddell. It is to be replaced—for no good reason—by intermittent wind and solar. Intermittency; there’s the rub. Firming required. And, for the continuing avoidance of any doubt, to the extent of 100 percent. Envisaged to fill part of the gap is Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. It’s way behind schedule, way above budget, and not nearly as effective as claimed.

Liddell on the chopping block: icky old energy.

Then, risibly, there are batteries. To illustrate, it’s claimed that the largest battery in Australia, the 450MWh Big Battery in Victoria, can power over one million dwellings for half an hour. There are 2.5 million dwellings in Victoria and, of course, commerce and industry besides. Powering the whole state would leave the Big Battery flat after about 5 minutes. And then, from somewhere, it has to be charged up again. Enough said. Finally, there is the effective, if partial, firming coming via a new 600MWh gas-powered plant to be built by Snowy Hydro Limited, near and named after the small town of Kurri Kurri in the Hunter region of NSW. Sense and realism at last you might think. Think again.

Initially, the Labor Party was against Kurri Kurri. Fossil fuel and all that. But now in government, with responsibility to keep the lights on, it’s come around. But not without the dreaming in tow. It insists that the gas plant must run on 30 percent green hydrogen from the outset, scheduled for December 2023, and on 100 percent by 2030 or sooner. Enter Paul Broad, the (now ex-) CEO of Snowy Hydro Limited. Let him tell it: "While hydrogen is a wonderful opportunity, it is many, many years away from being commercial."

Not what the Government wanted to hear. Green dream interrupted. Broad resigned in August. Wanted: new CEO willing to suspend reality, live in dreamland, and conjure up commercial quantities of green hydrogen.

The second development comes out of the state of Queensland. The Labor Party is the governing party in Queensland. It runs a green-obsessed government. No surprise there. Governments of all six Australian states and its two territories and the nation itself are green-obsessed; including those (in NSW and Tasmania) run by the pretend-center-right Liberal Party. In fact, there’s no difference to speak of. We don’t have the grand variety that Ron DeSantis and some of his fellow Republican governors (and Republican legislators) bring to the United States. And they say size doesn’t matter.

The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk (locally pronounced as Pala-shay), announced her green dream under the heading of the “world’s biggest pumped hydro for Queensland,” on September 28. Some of its elements:

On the drawing board: clean green power!

Apropos coal. Snapshot, October 7, 6.15pm, coal power is supplying 78 percent of Queensland’s electricity; 5,588MW out of 7,201MW (natural gas 14 percent, hydro 4 percent, wind and solar 2.6 percent). In case she’s missed it, someone might remind the Premier that 2035 is only thirteen short years away. Rome wasn’t built in thirteen years. And neither are new dams, pumped hydro stations, green hydrogen plants, many square miles of wind and solar farms, and the accompanying transmission infrastructure. But she won’t listen. Her reality is in her head and her head is in the clouds:

This plan is about cheaper, cleaner and secure energy for Queenslanders…It is about turbo-charging new investment in new minerals, batteries and manufacturing…Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy…This plan makes Queensland the renewable energy capital of the world.

Queensland is only the third largest Australian state. Population 5.3 million. Yet, destined to become the renewable energy capital of the world? If you say so Ms. Palaszczuk. Clearly her (world domination) plan is delusional. Something the climate activists in the bureaucracy thought up. It’s a reverie with no practical possibility of being realized; at least the building part. It’s quick and easy to blow things up; like, say, coal power stations. And what then, I wonder?

Time to panic. Leap for the lifeboats. But where to head?  Maybe you speak Chinese. No green dreams there; just the realistic ambition of world domination, this one backed up by a two-million-man army and gunboats. Nothing green about that.

Which Came First? The Idiots or the Eggs?

I recently noticed a dwindled supply of eggs at the local supermarkets. Various reasons have been given. For instance, it’s claimed that hens lay fewer eggs in cold weather and, perplexingly, despite global warming, it’s been uncommonly cold on the range in south-eastern Australia. Put that together with a rising preference for free-range eggs and Bob’s your uncle, fewer eggs for sale. Maybe.

One of the miracles of capitalism is the way in which the pattern of demand is mirrored by the pattern of production and supply, day in and day out. No-one controls it. Trying wouldn’t work. It’s too complex; too ever-changing. Of course, what Hayek called the pretence of knowledge will forever persuade intelligent fools, like the Davos crowd, that it can be controlled and managed from on high. Point all you like to shortages and queues for the staples of life in command-and-control regimes. The fools are not for turning. Like the Lady, sans the sense.

Juxtapose capitalism and shortages of staples, e.g., eggs or infant formula in the U.S., and you know something has gone badly wrong. Perhaps hens do lay fewer eggs in colder weather, I’m insufficiently bucolic to know. But you can bet your life that when there are material shortages, you’ll be able to find government regulations and bureaucrats wielding them. In the case of eggs, the likely culprit is egregious Covid lockdowns, which led to hens being culled when restaurants and cafes were prevented from opening and, thus, buying eggs.

The cause of all our misfortune.

Governments and their apparatchiks apparently think they can abruptly stop economic life and then just turn it back on again. Having insufficient hubris is not one of their shortcomings. And so it is that they believe they can defy physics and market forces and produce 24x7 base-load power using wind and solar as the principal sources. You might demur. Surely shortages and blackouts will occur with increasing frequency and length? Not in their modelling world, they don’t.

The Australian government is legislating a reduction in CO2 emissions by 43 percent (versus 2005) by 2030. Numbers of countries have put their climate targets into law. Canada, the U.K., Denmark, among others. Mostly it’s a net-zero-by-2050 law. The Australian law has the advantage of reaching its denouement when most of us are still alive. I dare say some of us have only an academic interest in what governments promise to do by 2050.

The laws are exercises in Canutism with a hint of Descartes. We say, therefore it shall be. But will it? Reducing emissions of CO2, and now, fashionably, nitrous oxide by extolling the virtues of bugs over beef, will be achieved only by replacing efficient fossil fuels with unreliable renewable energy and by switching our culinary tastes towards entomophagy. Leaving aside the delights of locust-eating, energy deprivation lies ahead and not too far ahead.

Good for the planet, too.

Coal-power capacity is being turned off in Australia. Twelve power stations have closed in the last ten years; none commissioned. Sixteen power stations with a total capacity of 23GW remain in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Incidentally, no surprise, China has approximately 1,064GW of coal power. Australia’s NEM times 46 and rising.

Liddell coal-power station at 1.5GW will be turned off next year. Eraring at 2.8GW in 2025. That will leave less than 19GW in the NEM. And, we are told by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to expect more early closures. Why? The fleet is aging, in poor repair, and facing crippling fair-weather competition from wind and solar. Apparently, intermittent renewables, short-life batteries, yet-to-be-built pumped hydro and expensive natural gas will fill the breach. Hypothetical Hydrogen in due course.

Recent flooding of mines in northern New South Wales caused a shortage of coal. Natural gas prices spiked. AEMO stepped in to regulate gas prices and to temporarily suspend the market for wholesale electricity. Governments, federal and state, went in a trice from demonising coal to unabashedly calling for more, as I covered in a previous Pipeline piece. You will notice that blackouts and threatened blackouts, wherever occurring, are blamed on untoward weather or external events.

Uncommonly cold weather in Texas icing up turbines. Extremely hot weather in California, home to Death Valley. Then there’s the Ukraine and Putin’s energy price hikes. These are mere harbingers of what lies ahead as coal is driven from the system and onerous legal obstacles impede or prevent the development of new oil and natural-gas projects. A tipping point is on the horizon in Australia and no doubt elsewhere. We won’t have to wait until 2030.

Oops.

Coal power can’t survive for much longer. Can’t compete with wind and solar on windy sunny days. And legislating emission targets, ineffective in itself, will make it even harder for new oil or gas projects to survive lawfare. Whether any new project is consistent with the legislated target for emissions will become subject to evolving common law. Activist lawyers will have a field day. Woke judges will delight in having an iron-clad rationale for siding with well-organised, well-funded, indefatigable green litigants. Game over; except, that is, for the realities of life. Apropos a warning from my friend Rafe Champion, who closely monitors these things, writing in the Spectator:

If we lose more fossil fuel capacity from the grid, Australia’s power supply will fail every time there is not enough wind or solar power available to meet the peak demands at breakfast and dinnertime. The records show quite clearly that these renewable energy droughts happen often and there will not be enough power.

Envision an upward sloping line depicting demand for electricity through time and a downward sloping line depicting declining capacity to deliver 24x7 base-load power sourced from fossil fuels. Once the lines cross, the pain begins. Windless days and sunless nights will quickly drain the batteries flat and reveal a yawning gap.

Capitalism is akin to a living system; defying entropy by taking in complex inputs; constantly renewing itself, growing and developing. It’s resilient. But as with natural living systems, like us, for example, it needs energy. Deprive it of energy and it becomes listless, malnourished, dead eventually.

At one level it’s inexplicable that nearly all governments and their apparatchiks, believe they can starve capitalism of affordable and reliable energy and yet will it continue to thrive. However, it’s explicable if you inhabit a hypothetical world, as they do, in which modelling prevails. Modelling; configured and constrained to show how it will be done, not whether it can be done.

Another Big Win: the Court Clips Regulatory State's Claws

On its last day of the current session the Supreme Court by a 6-3 majority finally clipped the talons of the Environmental Protection Agency, denying the agency power to issue broad regulations regarding "climate change." In the process, the Court sent a warning shot to the administrative state and Congress: legislation on broad matters (“major questions”) must come from the legislative branch (Congress), not from the executive branch via "regulation." The decision upends decades of government rule by D.C. bureaucrats, a practice set in operation by Franklin D. Roosevelt who created and empowered some 70 offices and agencies under presidential control. The EPA was established by Richard Nixon in 1970.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal regulators exceeded their authority in seeking to limit emissions from coal plants in a decision that sharply curtails the executive branch’s authority to make policy actions on a range of issues without congressional direction. In a blockbuster 6-3 decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the Environmental Protection Agency had overstepped when it devised the Obama-era regulatory scheme, known as the Clean Power Plan. The plan had been challenged by West Virginia and others.

The court said that when federal agencies issue regulations with sweeping economic and political consequences—in this case, rules to address climate change—the regulations are presumptively invalid unless Congress has specifically authorized the action.

The case, which must certainly be electrifying the D.C. poohbahs, is West Virginia, et al v. EPA et al. It is a clear threat of a continuing unraveling of the administrative state. How big a deal is this? Far bigger than the earlier decision on abortion (Dobbs v. Jackson), which simply returned the power to regulate abortion to the states. This decision, however, does something arguably even more important to our democracy: it forces Congress to start taking its job seriously again.

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The case began six years ago and has continued through a series of shifts occasioned by a change in presidents, traveled upward to the Supreme Court following a number of court proceedings ,and clarified the capacity of affected parties to sue in the face of indefinite suspension of the regulation to which they object.  The issue was first joined when the Obama administration's EPA issued a plan for reducing carbon dioxide from power plants. Under this "Clean Power Plan," plants would get credits for generating more power from lower-emitting sources. A coalition made up of states and coal companies sued on the ground that the Clean Air Act, the purported authorization for these regulations, gave the EPA only authority to restrict pollution at steam-generating coal power plants, not to require power companies to adopt the government's choices of fuel.

Not so tough anymore.

The Supreme Court blocked enforcement of that rule. Then President Trump changed the rules. Under his administration EPA could only regulate emissions from individual coal-fired steam plants (the Affordable Clean Energy Rule). This shift was challenged by a different coalition made up of environmental groups. The new rules were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, leaving the area open for the Biden administration to act.

It was feared the new administration would simply resurrect the earlier Obama approach and require a shift to so-called "renewables." As you might expect, leaving such matters to administrative agencies creates a kind of legal roller coaster, the very sort of thing impossible to contend with in industries that require extensive planning and tremendous capital outlays. Such a fear prompted this case. The West Virginia-led coalition contended that the EPA was seeking to dictate “the big picture of how the nation generates its electricity.” Which was, of course, true.

Like the abortion ruling in Dobbs, this decision is a return to federalism. In Dobbs the power to regulate abortions was returned to the states. In this case the power to regulate power plant fuel is returned to Congress. Imagine congressional debates and action now, in an era when "climate change" polls poorly, and will continue to do so because the costs—the price of gas, home heating, all transported goods—continue to rise as a direct result of  the energy constraints of this fantasy. The responsibility for such nonsense and the pain consumers endure would be squarely on them.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, doesn’t have to imagine.  He knows this is a disaster for his party. With a paper-thin majority in both houses (one currently in jeopardy in the tied Senate as senator Patrick Leahy currently is sidelined with a broken hip), a predicted red wave in November, and the country already in a recession, passage of a law to  curb inexpensive energy in order to meet a posited "climate emergency" is not likely.

Pelosi and Schumer: over a barrel.

Politico reports:" Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that 'just like last week’s dangerously misguided and abhorrent decisions on gun safety and abortion, the extremist MAGA Court’s ruling today in West Virginia v. EPA will cause more needless deaths — in this instance because of more pollution that will exacerbate the climate crisis and make our air and water less clean and safe.'" It's more likely, in my opinion, that the decision will lead to fewer opportunities for graft and the deaths of some Democratic careers. As professor  Jonathan Turley tweets,  

It is a curious sight of a congressional leader denouncing a decision that prevents the circumvention of Congress. It is a virtual statement of self-loathing like a player complaining of being sent back into the game by the coach... This is not the first time that Democrats have called for a president to usurp the authority of their own branch. It undermines the faith held by figures like Madison that ambition would combat ambition in the protection of the separation of powers.

Of course, in reality they are not complaining that they’ve been given more power. They know their side is not in a position to deliver what its green base demands. How far from reality is the Democrat saber rattling on this issue? This far according to Politico:

 Congressional Democrats whose efforts to pass legislation to fight climate change have been blocked for years — both by Republicans and, more recently, by Democrats’ own troubles unifying their razor-thin Senate majority — said their party must take action in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the party has so far failed to garner the 50 votes in the Senate needed to move climate legislation amid resistance from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and supporters see the next few weeks as the last chance to pass a measure.

It's not just the EPA which should be drawing in its belt. This is a significant reduction in the power and grasp of the administrative state. Professor Jonathan Adler notes: "This is also a warning for other federal agencies, including FERC and the SEC. It makes clear that if the federal government is going to take meaningful action to mitigate the threat of climate change (as it should) that action will have to come from Congress."

The Democrats can see the political chessboard as clearly as can I, that’s why you won’t see any debate on "climate change" legislation this year. Instead they’ll be demagoguing about packing the Supreme Court, something even their idol FDR was unable to pull off. Anything to avoid accepting public accountability, and thus scrutiny, for their actions.

China Upping Its Use of Coal

The joke's on you, suckers: as the United States and Europe struggle with energy shortages because they've restricted the use and production of conventional fuels, China ups its use of coal, doubtless laughing at the western idiots who bought the disinformational "climate change" hoax.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told representatives from its biggest coal-producing region, Inner Mongolia, that China "could not part from reality" and that it is "rich in coal, poor in oil and short of gas," Reuters reported.

China will make full use of coal as a vital part of its energy strategy, leaders and officials said during the nation's annual gathering of parliament this week, as it bids to balance economic stability with its longer-term climate goals. Following a speech by President Xi Jinping reiterating the importance of coal, delegates from across the country called for more investment in coal technology and new policies to shore up profits for coal enterprises.

Xi told a National People's Congress delegation from the top coal-producing region of Inner Mongolia that China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, was "rich in coal, poor in oil and short of gas" and "could not part from reality".

Reason, and economic reality, and "energy security" will overcome "green energy" fantasies every time. "Climate change" can wait indefinitely.

China to World: Take Your 'Global Warming' and Shove It

Climate change? What climate change? That's the attitude of China, a country not bent on national suicide, when it comes to the choice between reducing its "carbon footprint" -- an imaginary concept, but let that pass for now -- and keeping its people warm and its industries humming:

China, under fire for approving new coal power stations as other countries try to curb greenhouse gases, has completed the first 1,000-megawatt unit of the Shanghaimiao plant, the biggest of its kind under construction in the country. Its operator, the Guodian Power Shanghaimiao Corporation, a subsidiary of the central government-run China Energy Investment Corporation, said on Tuesday that the plant's technology was the world's most efficient, with the lowest rates of coal and water consumption.

Located in Ordos in the coal-rich northwestern region of Inner Mongolia, the plant will eventually have four generating units, and is designed to deliver power to the eastern coastal Shandong province via a long-distance ultra-high voltage grid. China is responsible for more than half of global coal-fired power generation and is expected to see a 9% year-on-year increase in 2021, an International Energy Agency report published this month said.

Good for China. As Covid-19 hysteria begins to fade in the West (which actually is hell-bent on suicide), look for the phantom menace of "climate change" to return to the Davos front-burner as the globalist totalitarians continue their war on their own nations. Because the Chinese don't care:

Beijing has pledged to start reducing coal consumption, but will do so only after 2025, giving developers considerable leeway to raise capacity further in the coming four years. A report published this month by researchers at China's State Grid Corporation said energy security concerns mean the country is likely to build as much as 150 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity over the 2021-2025 period, bringing the total to 1,230 GW.

In other words, kiss our carbon footprint, bite our emissions on the bum, and take your "global warning" and shove it. Amazing what totalitarian countries can get away with.

 

 

 

Coal is King, Again

To save the world from carbon dioxide emissions that they claim will heat us to a crisp, the environmentalists have targeted “fossil fuels” -- coal, petroleum (oil), natural gas, oil shales, bitumens, and tar sands and heavy oils. This was after they and their political puppets pretty much killed nuclear-powered electrical production, the  cleanest source of energy production, by  making new construction impossible and reducing existing capacity.

Of all the fossil fuels, natural gas releases the least amount of CO2, but it remains a target here and in Europe. Its major source is Russia, and thanks to rising demand, the cost has risen precipitously this winter just when Europe has it greatest need for it.

European power climbed to a fresh record as France faces a winter crunch, spurring the region’s top aluminum smelter to curb output. Electricity for delivery next year surged as much as 6.4 percent to an all-time high in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. France, which usually exports power, will need to suck up supplies from neighboring countries to keep the lights on as severe nuclear outages curb generation in the coldest months of the year. The crunch is so severe that it’s forcing factories to curb output or shut down altogether.

The consequence for the world of Western governments’ fanciful energy views and absurd policy proscriptions is that coal, almost pure carbon, which when utilized emits not only carbon but also “sulfur dioxides, particulates, and nitrogen oxides” is being used in record amounts. While new technology can reduce these emissions somewhat, coal remains the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. One cannot escape laughing at the irony—according to the International Energy agency (IEA) after all the government mucking about on greening energy production, coal production is set to hit an all-time high. Large Asian nations (mostly China and India) need it and gas shortages in Europe are revving up coal demand.

 Germany has had to rely on coal and nuclear power for electricity generation throughout 2021. This meant the contribution of coal and nuclear power for energy production reached 40 percent this year, compared to 35 percent in 2020, with renewables accounting for 41 percent compared to 44 percent last year. At present, Germany is planning to end nuclear power production by the end of 2022 and phase out coal by 2030. Even the U.K., which pledged to end coal production a year earlier than anticipated by 2024, had to fire up coal plants in September to meet electricity demand in the face of gas shortages and surging prices. During this time, coal contributed 3 percent of national power, rather than the average 2.2 percent. This was following a landmark period of time in which the U.K. run coal-free for three days in August.

It seems that private investment will be needed to get industry to convert more rapidly to non-coal sources in the absence of substantial government financial incentives to do so. I’d consider that a crap shoot for any investor. Who knows what bright ideas governments will dream up next to muck up energy  production and supplies? And why should anyone assume that this time with even more private money down that rathole, "renewables" will fill the void of burgeoning energy demand?

On the contrary, the only bright spot on the energy horizon I’ve seen this week is a report that fifteen states are rebelling against banks which are refusing financing to fossil fuel producers. Together these states have $600 billion in assets they pledge to take elsewhere unless the banks relent.  It’s a nice  counter-play to the Biden administration’s pressuring Wall Street to refuse financial backing for fossil fuel producers.

Morrison Fiddles While Australia Burns

Do you ever make a promise that you know you won’t keep? Keep, discard? Discard, keep? I dare say you might, at least every New Year. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised that he’ll stick with Australia’s target set in the Paris Agreement of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent on 2005 levels by 2030. He knows he won’t keep it. Politicians don’t worry too much about that sort of thing. That’s why they’re politicians.

Developed countries made up their own targets as part of the Paris Agreement. Some, like the U.S. and Canada, anchored their targets to the base year of 1990. It’s a dog’s breakfast. Whatever target countries set in 2015, they were supposed to up the ante after five years. They didn’t and haven’t but have promised to consider doing so by the time next year’s Egyptian COP27 rolls around.

As it stands, Australia is seemingly on course to better its target. Therefore, Morrison, if he's still in office, will grab the costless kudos in Egypt of upping the target. He just won’t say so now. He wants to win the upcoming election. He’ll try to force the opposition Labor Party into making a bid of say 40 or 45 percent. Then, gotcha! You coal-mine closers and job killers. It’s the way he won last time. Why change a winning formula?

Re-election ho!

It’s all political theatre. Coal’s good one day, tomorrow belongs to net-zero. Electric cars will destroy motoring as we know it (election campaign 2019) to here’s a heap of government money ($250 million plus another $500 million of public and private money) to build public charging stations. Morrison plays the climate game like the fiddle it is. He doesn’t have a position on the climate at all. I doubt he’s thought about it and most certainly not read about it. He has position on keeping his job. And that cynicism carries over to Australia’s newly-released modelling of its net-zero plans.

A vainglorious quest to cool the planet has taken over all reason. The gains explored in the modelling have little to do with saving Australia or the planet from the incipient ravages of climate change. They have mostly do with warding off the ire of international financiers; who, in their wokeness, would take a dim view of Australian climate recalcitrance. They would punish us to the tune of from 100 to 300 basis points, according to Treasury mandarins. In turn, this would wreak havoc on investment and reduce living standards. And there’s more. Countries and their citizens would take umbrage, likely impose trade barriers: and, thus, buy less of our produce. Result: misery.

So, you see, the substantive gain from committing to net-zero, more properly, from announcing the commitment to net-zearo, is the avoidance of penalising international action. Australia will be part of a quite novel bootstraps movement which is likely to sweep all before it; China, India and other so-termed gigantic but still-developing nations excepted. Action designed to combat global warming will, in fact, be driven by the imperative to combat being singled out for not taking action to combat global warming. If you follow my drift.

Notice something about the climate plans of governments, whichever government. They all dance on the surface and hope no one queries the unseen details and consequences. Reading Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) might help.

Take electric cars. The Australian government wants 30 percent of all new cars sold by 2030 to be electric or hybrid. The aim is to have 1,000 public charging stations. Currently there are about 6,500 refuelling stations in Australia. Fewer per capita than in the U.S. or Canada, more than in the U.K. Geography and demography tell the tale. They also tell the tale whether you’re driving an internal-combustion vehicle or an electric one. One thousand public charging stations, if they’re ever built, scratch the surface. Whence comes the rest; who’ll foot the bill?

They say people will charge their cars overnight in their garages. Which people? Or is that rich people? When I drive around inner suburbs of Sydney, I see cars parked, packed, along every suburban street. When I return to my birthplace in Liverpool England, I see the same. It may come as a surprise to the rich and famous but not everyone has off-street parking let alone a garage. Where are they to charge their cars?

How is Mrs. Robinson to refuel her flattened-battery EV parked outside her home in order to get to work, ten miles away? She might just make it to her closest charging station five miles away. Wait in line, as others like her, as each vehicle in front of her takes about 30 minutes to recharge. She’ll be very late for work; that is, unless she rises at 4 am. Complain not, comrade citizen. You’re gonna get your mind right for the sake of the planet.

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson.

Any plan or modelling of electric cars should set out the life cycle of a typical vehicle; it’s upstream, downstream, and side-stream implications and consequences. We can handle the truth. But I don’t think they know the truth or care about finding it. They certainly don’t include it in any modelling I’ve seen.

Electric cars are being foisted on populations to save the planet apparently. Why then doesn’t modelling show the human, environmental and extraction costs of mining sufficient rare earths in China and, say, Madagascar. Why doesn’t it evaluate the (internal and external) transport and manufacturing costs, the eventual disposal costs, and the costs of providing a refuelling network? The effects of scale on electricity generation? How about the fire-service costs of dealing with unextinguishable electric-vehicle fires?

The fundamental problem here is the replacement of the free market with crony capitalism, aka the Great Reset. Morrison says that we Australians will rely on technology and the market to deliver solutions. But it’s not the market, here or elsewhere. On one side is government, on the other packs of rent-seekers, snake-oil salesmen, and purveyors of boondoggles vile and various.

The free market goes down dead ends many times. The difference is that it quickly reverses course in the face of financial penalties. Government-subsidised and -funded dead ends can be very long and debilitating. And they will be.

Final thought. Wake in fright in the Anglosphere.  Biden, Trudeau, Johnson and Ardern are far worse than Morrison.

Green is the New Black

The entire industrial world is suffering from needless energy shortages caused by efforts to  precipitously switch from conventional  fossil fuels. It’s not true that simply mandating a switch from reliable power sources to intermittent wind, sun, and water will make the change workable when we need it. There’s scarcely a place in the modern world that will not be feeling the high cost and discomfort of a shortage of energy supplies and their increasingly soaring prices. Lebanon already is. Due to a shortage of oil, the two power plants that supply 40 percent of that country’s electricity simply shut down recently.

It’s an extreme case, but even the United Kingdom, the E.U., the U.S., and China are running up against diminishing ability to obtain the necessary energy supplies to keep things running smoothly. Nature has a way of fouling up such plans. Some of the shortages are due to accidents, like the cutting of an undersea cable to the U.K.; some are due to flooding of mines (China has closed down some mines because of it);some are due to draught in other places like America’s West which at the best of times has limited hydropower; some is due to extreme cold or lack of wind that has limited wind power; some is due to hurricanes which shutdown Gulf oil refineries.

These things are not exceptional occurrences, but reasons why redundancy must be built into energy planning. But most of these shortages are due to green policies and stupid political choices, ironically shutting down oil and gas-fired power plants and fossil fuel exploitation and transport at the demand of the greens, who grossly overestimate both global warming and the ability of air, sun, and water to take their place. Indeed, just today the Biden administration announced a new federal project to develop wind farms in American waters, including one near New York City.

Hard to kill King Coal.

Ironically, this means coal -- the dirtiest possible fuel -- is back in huge demand. The U.S. has lots of it, but the greens forced closing of most of the mines and mining is today a highly skilled job requiring substantial training. The miners who left for other work, are not easily replaced so that source is now not readily available to take up the demand.

Despite an import ban on Australian coal, China relented and has begun unloading Australian coal because of an extreme power crunch. Coal is now in demand in Europe as gas prices soar and the E.U.’s energy policies are in large responsible:

The ideological split will drive a wedge between the European Union, a long-time champion of a coal phaseout, and corporate interests as market conditions favour gas-to-coal switching. The switching ratio has slid in coal’s favour in the last weeks of June 2021 and judging by the current futures structure, it will stay in place until at least Q2-2022...

The current coal demand surge should force the European Union to reconsider its position on coal -- as polluting as it might be, it could still help alleviate energy crunches across Europe when the situation demands it. As things stand today, the upcoming four years would see at least seven countries phasing out coal: Portugal (2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Greece (all 2025). As Europe has seen nine consecutive year-on-year increases in aggregate coal burns, perhaps more switching flexibility and less bans could still be the way forward.

It’s no secret that the cleanest most reliable fuel – nuclear -- was murdered by the greens (except in France where Macron refuses to shut it down). Then natural gas, the second cleanest, became their target, so now many places are desperate for coal, the dirtiest option.

Was there any point to the war on fossil fuels? Probably not. Judith Curry, one of the most reliable climate researchers, explains how even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits finally that the dire climate models off of which they were working were in substantial error.  The latest report from the IPCC indicates previous models were predicting a hotter climate than warranted.

A substantial number of the CMIP6 models are running way too hot, which has been noted in many publications. In its projections of 21st century global mean surface temperatures, the [report] provides ‘constrained’ projections (including climate models with reasonable values of climate sensitivity that reasonably simulate the 20th century).

GCMs [Global Climate Models] clearly have an important role to play particularly in scientific research.  However, driven by the urgent needs of policy makers, the advancement of climate science is arguably being slowed by the focus of resources on this one path of climate modeling.  The numerous problems with GCMs, and concerns that these problems will not be addressed in the near future given the current development path, suggest that alternative frameworks should be explored.

The shortage of energy supplies is causing food prices to rise, in fact, everything from food to  gasoline to heating and cooling is becoming more expensive. Inflation is not the only rational worry connected to energy shortages. Scarcities in everything from adhesives and paints to auto parts  are already showing up. Russia which is now a major natural gas supplier for Europe  is not only growing richer for the reduction of its usual  energy sources from elsewhere (and Europe’s incomprehensible reduction of its conventional sources) but it has now a more powerful lever to bend the gas dependent E.U. to its will. 

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.

Polling to date has shown people are generally in accord with their propagandized perception of the ill-considered green agenda, but unwilling to pay higher prices and undergo impoverishment to fund it . Expect continued pressure on the government leaders who bowed to the green propaganda (often because it allowed them to shovel government revenues to favored friends and donors) to now shift gears. Even the pork-rich proposed budget framework of the Democrats, contains a unanimously adopted provision to bar implementation of the Green New Deal, an amendment to prevent the promulgation of regulation to ban hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- which made this country a global leader in oil and gas production, and two amendments barring the Agriculture Department from denying financing to fossil-fuel burning power plants and regulating emissions from farm animals.

It’s a small beginning to what will likely be a multi-national citizen pushback against this nonsense. The one thing politicians worldwide prize over everything else is retaining their personal power, and it’s looking more and more like the Green New Deal will either falter or a lot of political leaders who fell for this irrational program will be shortly out of office.