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Entries in Climate: WG3 (203)


Paris and the risk of green judges

@Robin Hutton under CC licence. Click for link.Paris has been and gone and attention has mostly moved on to the latest eccentric claim about what the climate is going to do to us next (intoxicated fish anyone?). But a few outlets are still asking questions. Yesterday Carbon Brief explained that the timetable for ratification is almost impossibly vague:

Click to read more ...


US usurps EU's role of climate fool

In the Wall Street Journal, Benny Peiser explains (£) that the outcome of Paris appears to be that the EU has allowed itself leeway to move in a more rational direction on climate energy policy, while the USA is going in precisely the opposite direction.

The toothless nature of the Paris agreement finally allows EU member states to abandon unilateral decarbonization policies that have damaged Europe’s economies and its international competitiveness. Under such circumstances, the unconditional climate policies of President Obama would be left out in the cold. The U.S. administration has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 26%-28% by 2025, no matter what China, India and the rest of the world do in coming decades.



Kaye sera sera

I was on the Kaye Adams show this morning, talking about Paris and what one can do about one's personal carbon footprint. Also featured was BH favourite Louise Gray, although we didn't get a chance to interact.

We touched on energy, recycling, the global warming movement and green gestures although I'm not sure Ms Adams realised I was a "bad person" until rather late in the day. It was great fun.

Audio should be available here this afternoon (climate segment was from the top of the show, with me on after about half an hour).


Cold light of day is earlier than usual

As predicted in our lighthearted look at the COPs, the breakthrough moment at COP21 was reached yesterday. The cold light of day appears to have been reached almost immediately afterwards.

Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments


Bill Gates and the strings he attaches

I seem to detect something of a theme emerging ahead of the Paris conference, namely the idea of technological solutions to climate change. There has been something of a buzz on Twitter in recent days, and today comes an announcement that a bunch of eco-minded billionaires are calling for a big spending spree on energy technologies. The group is headed by Bill Gates and they are offering up some of their own money, but with strings attached:

Led by Gates, about 20 private business leaders have signed on to the initiative, making their pledges conditional on governments also pledging more money, said a former U.S. government official who is familiar with the plan.

This is rather odd. If the planet is under threat, and these guys have money burning a hole in their pockets, surely spending it on tech fixes is the right thing to do regardless of what the government does? Why does it only become the right thing to do if much poorer people, who may have different and more immediate priorities, are forced to contribute too?


The size of the prize Lomborg has a new paper out today in the journal Global Policy. Taking a leaf out of Christopher Monckton's book he assesses the effect that all the policy measures promised at Paris are going to have on global temperatures. As the press release explains this effect is small/tiny/minute/barely discernable:


  • ...if we measure the impact of every nation fulfilling every promise by 2030, the total temperature reduction will be 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100.
  • Even if we assume that these promises would be extended for another 70 years, there is still little impact: if every nation fulfills every promise by 2030, and continues to fulfill these promises faithfully until the end of the century, and there is no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris promises will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17°C (0.306°F) by 2100.
  • US climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.031°C (0.057°F) by 2100.
  • EU climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.053°C (0.096°F) by 2100.
  • China climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100.
  • The rest of the world’s climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.036°C (0.064°F) by 2100.

Is that another bout of Lomborg derangement syndrome I hear from our green friends?

The paper should appear here.


Is good news actually news at all?

Over the weekend there was a minor kerfuffle when the Sunday Times' Jonathan Leake breached the embargo on a press release about the latest GWPF report. Ho hum.

The report itself is by Indur Goklany and is about the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels - increased crop yields and a general greening of the planet being the principal ones. Richard Betts has been taking a look and has come up with some interesting and some not so interesting points.

For example, he reckons that Goklany is inconsistent, accepting climate model predictions of a reduced threat from water shortages but pointing to the failures of climate models in general. This doesn't seem an unreasonable point to make, although neither do I think it unreasonable of Goklany to point out that even the models, flawed though they may be, are predicting benefits from global warming.

Richard also notes that the IPCC discusses carbon dioxide fertilisation in its reports and reckons Goklany's contribution is therefore not newsworthy.



This is true, but I'm not sure that represents a criticism of Goklany's report. I'm struggling to recall an occasion on which the IPCC has proclaimed the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels to the general public, so the new report represents a valuable contribution to the public debate, filling in the bits the IPCC didn't want to discuss in public.

I hope Richard welcomes the public gaining a deeper understanding of climate science, both the bad news and the good news.


The carneyage of Mystic Mark

It is said that once people start laughing at you, you are completely finished. I think Mark Carney may have reached that point:

The scene is the governor’s office at the Bank of England. Mark Carney is talking to an aide.

Governor, about your forthcoming speech to the chambers of commerce.


It seems to be about alien life forms.

You’ve seen the news from Mars?

I have, but this speech is supposed to be about labour flexibility and the downside risks to productivity.

You don’t see the downside risks from extremophile bacteria in the briny water on Mars?

Not in the short to medium term, Governor.

Read the whole thing...


CCS projects may be uninsurable

While looking to see what the insurance industry made of Mark Carney's speech (they seem to have ignored it so far) I chanced upon an article in Insurance Times about CCS.

Insurers will be reluctant to cover projects that capture carbon emissions and store them permanently underground, or they may charge “large risk premiums”, according to Royal Dutch Shell.

“Insurance will be able to address only part of the financial risk exposure,” Shell said in a report on its planned Peterhouse Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) project that the company posted on the Department of Energy & Climate Change website.

“As the risk can currently neither be defined nor quantified, no insurance solutions are available,” Shell said.

(They mean Peterhead rather than Peterhouse I think). Another nail in the coffin, I would say.


Kelly on Stern

Mike Kelly has a long piece in Standpoint magazine looking at Lord Stern's magnum opus and some of the big questions of the climate debate:

Those building the biblical Tower of Babel, intending to reach heaven, did not know where heaven was and hence when the project would be finished, or at what cost. Those setting out to solve the climate change problem now are in the same position. If we were to spend 10 or even 100 trillion dollars mitigating carbon dioxide emissions, what would happen to the climate? If we can’t evaluate whether reversing climate change would be value for money, why should we bother, when we can clearly identify many and better investments for such huge resources? The forthcoming Paris meeting on climate change will be setting out to build a modern Tower of Babel.

Well worth a read.


Destroy the planet to save the planet

A new paper in Nature (some readers may prefer to discount the paper on those grounds alone) finds that efforts to abate emissions of two key greenhouse gases that are emitted as industrial wastes have managed to create incentives to produce more of them.

Carbon markets are considered a key policy tool to achieve cost-effective climate mitigation1, 2. Project-based carbon market mechanisms allow private sector entities to earn tradable emissions reduction credits from mitigation projects. The environmental integrity of project-based mechanisms has been subject to controversial debate and extensive research1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, in particular for projects abating industrial waste gases with a high global warming potential (GWP). For such projects, revenues from credits can significantly exceed abatement costs, creating perverse incentives to increase production or generation of waste gases as a means to increase credit revenues from waste gas abatement10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Here we show that all projects abating HFC-23 and SF6 under the Kyoto Protocols Joint Implementation mechanism in Russia increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas. Our results suggest that perverse incentives can substantially undermine the environmental integrity of project-based mechanisms and that adequate regulatory oversight is crucial. Our findings are critical for mechanisms in both national jurisdictions and under international agreements.

Oh well done Gaia lovers, well done. It seems that we have to destroy the planet to save the planet.


In BBC world, only anti-capitalist opinions are valued

The BBC's new logoThe BBC's love of anticapitalist campaigners knows few bounds and there's a smashing example this morning in the shape of Matt McGrath's article about the UN climate talks. McGrath is riffing on the developing world's demands for "compensation for extreme weather events that they link to large scale carbon emissions".

Demonstrating an almost heroic ability to ignore the elephant in the room, McGrath manages to overlook the almost complete absence of any increase in extreme weather than might affect the developing world. East Pacific hurricanes for example. Or drought. Or flood.

But if McGrath cannot bring himself to note such inconvenient facts, he can always bring himself to find out what anticapitalist campaigners have to say. In his article, there are quotes from two of them:

  • Julie-Ann Richards is a climate campaigner for Oxfam, whose campaigners are generally anti-capitalists, according to this insider.
  • Harjeet Singh is from Action Aid, described here as "the most anti-capitalist of all the major development charities".

No other opinions seem to have been sought.


Another view that must not be heard

The BBC's Matt McGrath has been looking at a new report by a green think tank called the Stockholm Environment Institute. No surprise there - there is a general acceptance among BBC environment journalists that green think tanks are the ones that publish interesting stuff.

The report looks quite good, describing how many of the carbon credits awarded to Russia and Ukraine are actually fraudulent. This is, in itself, not surprising either - I made a similar point in the report I wrote for GWPF on the unintended consequences of climate policy.

Click to read more ...


The wit and wisdom of Dr Glikson

A few days ago, there was a rather good article in the Conversation about fossil fuels and development. Written by Jonathan Symons, it covered themes that are favourites at BH, most notably that there is a trade-off between expanding access to electricity in the developing world and emissions targets:

...if the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation were allowed to invest in natural gas projects (not just renewables) it could roughly triple the number of people who gained electricity access from a US$10 billion investment. Whereas a renewables-only portfolio could supply 30 million people, natural gas could reach 90 million and generate around ten times as much electricity.

The comments thread featured a series of critical responses from Andrew Glikson, an Australian geologist who has caught the eye before, most notably when he protested the willingness of an Australian theatre to put on a performance of Richard Bean's The Heretic. This earlier thread also bears looking at. The thrust of his comments can be summarised as "But climate", but they are worth looking at in more detail because Dr Glikson has some truly astonishing views:

A very large part of the poor populations referred to in the article live in low river valleys and delta prone to flooding extreme rainfall, torrents originating from mountain regions and sea level rise, as is the case of mega-floods in Pakistan, Bangladesh and low-lying islands, associated with climate change. The “option” of developing higher standards of living based on fossil fuels is therefore short sighted and no more than a Faustian bargain....

Click to read more ...


The madness of the greens

The ability of green issues to make otherwise kind and decent people lose their grip on reality is always something to behold and there was an extraordinary example in the Guardian at the end of last week.

Take a look.

In a speech in Washington DC Rachel Kyte, the head of climate change at the World Bank, argued that the destitute of the developing world, who currently cook on wood and dung fires, would suffer increased levels of respiratory diseases if they got access to coal-fired grid electricity:

Do I think coal is the solution to poverty? There are more than 1 billion people today who have no access to energy,” Kyte said. Hooking them up to a coal-fired grid would not on its own wreck the planet, she went on. But Kyte added: “If they all had access to coal-fired power tomorrow their respiratory illness rates would go up, etc, etc …

In her defence she does seem to insinuate that this would be a price worth paying, but it's hard not to be left open-jawed at her believing something quite so preposterous.