By Paul Homewood
More hot air from Jillian Ambrose in yesterday’s Telegraph!
If the Paris accord was the spark igniting the global fight against climate change, then the latest round of talks, held in Bonn, served to fan the flames.
These were not talks intending to deliver bombshell moments for the 10,000 government delegates, 8,000 business and policy leaders or the 2,000 members of the media who gathered near the Rhine. These talks were about tightening the bolts on the Paris Agreement to drive momentum behind the global climate juggernaut.
It has been two years since 194 countries agreed to limit global warming to less than 2C above the Earth’s pre-industrial average. In an act of almost audacious ambition, the Paris accord aims to keep temperatures within 1.5C by reducing net carbon emissions to zero.
But this was two years ago. Since then the US, the world’s second greatest polluter, elected Donald Trump as president on the back of soaring campaign rhetoric over a coal renaissance for the forgotten pockets of the States.
Trump duly followed through on threats to withdraw from the accord, pull research funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and loosen federal regulation on coal use. But in an intriguing diplomatic twist Trump’s unilateral U-turn has proved to be the kindling for a fired-up climate agenda. Christiana Figueres, the UN’s chief climate negotiator, went as far as to say she thanks him.
“Trump’s announcement provoked an unparalleled wave of support for the treaty. He shored up the world’s resolve on climate action, and for that we can all be grateful,” she said.
The eagerness to stand against Trump’s backslide into high-carbon fossil fuels is more than political posturing, although there was plenty to be seen in Bonn. The stance in favour of a low-carbon future is increasingly backed by business.
Tom Delay, once an executive at Royal Dutch Shell, is now the chief executive of the Carbon Trust, a major UK climate advisory group. Not so long ago, he says the common riposte of chief executives was to “be realistic” about the potential of clean technologies. This is an argument fast being unwound. The falling cost of renewable energy and growing pool of investment waiting to flood into green growth has bolstered the confidence of business and finance leaders representing trillions of pounds.
“This is not about taking the moral high ground. There’s very little ‘morality’ in what is being argued. Quite simply, there’s now a business case to do something different and do it better,” he says.
“There’s a recognition that if you subscribe to the US agenda it is likely to be value destroying for your shareholders and self-defeating in terms of economic growth. Welcome to the new world.”
It’s a world Saker Nusseibeh, the chief executive of £30bn investor Hermes Investment Management, says the City is preparing for. He says the debate over tackling climate change has moved on from “if” to “how”.
“The focus is now on what to do, at what speed and within which time frames,” he says. “This transition represents a game-changing opportunity. We see growing interest for low-carbon investments reflected in the growth in low-carbon products, services and technology and a budding interest from institutional investors in investment solutions that not only account for climate risks but also tap into opportunities.”
Some 750 miles from the Bonn talks, Norway’s mammoth $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund deftly proved Nusseibeh’s point. The Norges Bank, built on Norway oil profits, is planning to turn its back on investments totalling almost £28bn in oil and gas companies.
The bank said its planned oil purge “will make the government’s wealth less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices”. Nusseibeh says there is still work to be done on equipping investors with the tools needed to understand the risk of a changing business landscape.
“However, in our view, the catalyst for portfolio decarbonisation will be when investors better understand the risks of transition and how they affect current business models, as well as identifying carbon and climate management opportunities,” he says.
The heavily heckled members of the US delegation felt the full brunt of the “enormous pushback” against their president’s policies. Few others there supported the views, meaning that instead of polarising the conference, the US stance served as a warning beacon for which side of the debate was safest.
“World leaders and businesses, were saying, ‘No, this is wrong, there is no way the Trump administration is going to save the US economy by offerings jobs in coal’. There were very few people trying to argue that what’s wrong, is right,” Delay says.
Opposition to Trump was perhaps fiercest from with his own country. Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is leading the charge, delivering a staggering broadside against the president via a climate action report, billed as the “first communication to the international community” of US climate goals, on a non-federal level, since Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement.
Bloomberg calls it the American Pledge, neatly reclaiming a commitment to tackling climate change as a national endeavour while alienating Trump as somehow “un-American” in this context.
“In Paris, the US pledged to measure and report our progress reducing emissions alongside every other nation. Through America’s Pledge, we’re doing just that, and we’re going to continue to uphold our end of the deal, with or without Washington,” he says.
The report finds that 20 US states, 110 US cities and some 1,400 businesses worth more than $25 trillion have adopted quantified emissions reduction targets despite the current administration’s views. The most ambitious of these targets, such as those adopted by California, mirror similar emissions cutting goals as national governments.
“The group of American cities, states, and businesses who remain committed to the Paris Agreement represents a bigger economy than any nation outside the US and China. Together they are helping deliver on the promise of the agreement and ensuring the US remains a global leader in the fight against climate change,” he adds.
Bloomberg is not alone in striving to stake a claim to global climate leadership territory. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, was expected to use his political clout and the legacy of the accord to establish his country’s green credentials. And he did not let the diplomatic opportunity pass.
“The point of no return has been crossed,” he told delegates at the conference. “Climate effects have been multiplied and are becoming ever more intense.” He added that France was “obsessed” with reducing its carbon emissions and reaffirming the country’s plan to phase out coal-fired power by 2021.
In an embarrassing rebuke to Trump’s vow to cut funding for the IPCC research group, Macron told delegates of the conference that France would ensure the US’ $2m annual funding would be covered. “I hope Europe can replace the US as a climate leader and I can tell you that France is ready for that,” he said.
“I propose that Europe replaces America, and France will meet that challenge. I would like to see the European countries at our side all together. We can compensate for the loss of US funding. I can guarantee that starting in 2018 the IPCC will have all the money that it needs and enhance our decision-making.”
It was a low-risk, shoestring pledge of little practical importance but still a deft political manoeuvre of enormous symbolism. The UK and Canada both scrambled to join the funding pledge alongside their own initiative to end the use of coal-fired power.
The “powering past coal” initiative builds on energy minister Claire Perry’s vow to phase out coal-fired power from the UK energy system by 2025. Already the move away from coal has helped the UK reduce its emissions faster than any other country in the last four years by cutting carbon from the power sector by 80pc.
Britain has climbed from a 2012 ranking of 20th out of 33 industrialised countries to seventh on the low-carbon electricity league table. Perry says the alliance “will signal to the world that the time of coal has passed”, adding: “The UK is committed to completely phasing out unabated coal-fired power generation no later than 2025 and we hope to inspire others”.
Already France, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, Denmark, Ecuador and Mexico have joined the alliance. In another dig at Trump, the states of Washington and Oregon also signed up. In 2018, the talks will be held in heart of Poland’s coal mining industry in Katowice. Bonn has proved that a lot can happen in a year.
It is the usual mix of virtue signalling politicians and wealth funds out for the next quick buck.
Unfortunately Ms Ambrose forgets to mention some very inconvenient facts.
For a start, there is this chart, which was in the print version but not online:
Far from Ambrose’s claim that 194 countries agreed to limit global warming to less than 2C above the Earth’s pre-industrial average, the Paris Agreement did nothing at all to actually cut emissions. Instead emissions would carry on rising at the same rate as before.
Nothing that Bloomberg, Macron or the rest will do can alter that fact.
There is much talk about how wonderful, efficient and cheap these new “clean” technologies are. Yet if that were true, there would be no need for 20000 bureaucrats, green lobbyists and rent seekers to descend on Bonn for a fortnight. The energy revolution would happen on its own anyway without any help.
There is also deliberate misreporting about Trump’s strategy. It is claimed that all he wants to do is prop up the coal industry. In reality he is trying to increase energy production across the US, by freeing it up from unnecessary regulation and pointless political interference, whether oil, gas or coal.
Given that renewable energy can do little more than make dent in global energy needs for the foreseeable future, the rest of the world should be grateful that plentiful supplies of fossil fuels are reliably available.
Much play is made of the “powering past coal” initiative. So far nineteen countries have signed up, promising to phase out coal power generation. The list includes global powerhouses, such as Fiji, Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands and Niue. (No, I have not either!)
[Apparently our potty Climate Minister, Claire Perry is behind this. On the BEIS press release, she makes this extraordinary claim:
Unabated coal is the dirtiest, most polluting way of generating electricity. (Unabated coal is the generation of electricity from a coal plant without any treatment to reduce substantially the emissions of carbon dioxide.)
If she does not know that coal is “dirty”, with or without the CO2, she should not be doing the job.]
But back to the “initiative”. It is revealing to note that the nineteen countries mentioned account for only 2% of the world’s coal consumption. I might be more impressed if China and India signed up!
Ambrose could have mentioned the fact that 273 GW of new coal fired capacity is being built around the world, which will add 14% to current capacity. Another 570 GW is in the pipeline.
She could have mentioned the fact that Germany’s energiewende is coming off the rails, as costs spiral and emission targets became ever more unattainable.
She could have mentioned the fact that global CO2 emissions continue to rise.
She could have mentioned the fact that globally wind and solar power only supply 2% of the world’s energy. Or that nobody has yet found a way to run the world on unreliable renewable energy.
She could have mentioned the fact that the UK Climate Change Act will cost bill payers £9.4bn next year, and that the cumulative cost between now and 2030 will be an astonishing £216bn.
Instead, as one commenter described Ambrose’s piece, “this article reads like a press release. It is not journalism.”
It is ironic that on the same day, Booker’s newly shrunken column gets only few paragraphs to highlight the BBC’s lack of objectivity. Meanwhile, Jillian Ambrose is given a whole page to regurgitate green propaganda.
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
November 20, 2017 at 08:10AM