Climate Politics Threatens an Era of Energy Poverty

By Vijay Jayaraj

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for aggressive action against a so-called climate crisis at the United Nations presages similar statements that surely will be made by the dangerously misinformed in the coming months and augurs disastrous energy policy.

Humanity has to “grow up” and tackle climate change, the prime minister told world leaders assembled in New York, predicting catastrophe if warnings are ignored.

“We will see desertification, drought, crop failure, and mass movements of humanity on a scale not seen before,” said Johnson, whose predictions surely will be as wrong as those of Al Gore’s visions of flooding coastlines but who will nonetheless host the U.N.’s November Conference of Parties 26 (COP26) in Glasgow.

Attending COP26 will be world leaders who want to persuade more countries to adopt the CO2 emissions goal of “Net Zero by 2050.” Key conference speakers include Pope Francis, Her Majesty Queen of England, Greta Thunberg, and Sir David Attenborough, none of whom is a climate scientist or with an academic background in the subject.

COP26 is the first major international climate conference since the Biden administration took power in the U.S., a key player in international climate politics. Biden made the U.S. rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and has vowed to make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2025 — a physical impossibility.

It is also the first climate conference to follow pandemic-induced lockdowns, which some have suggested are an opportunity to introduce restrictions on energy use. The World Economic Forum (WEF) website, for example, says that “there will be no point in rebuilding economies and lives if we sacrifice the future of the planet” by failing to have nations reduce emissions.

“Emissions fell during lockdown. Let’s keep it that way,” says the WEF, which plays a key role in shaping global, regional and industry agendas. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has stated that pandemic-like lockdowns may be needed every two years to control emissions.

Considering apocalyptic musings of world leaders like Johnson and Biden, the apparent naiveté of many COP26 attendees and the affinity of some for lockdowns, the pronouncements of the Glasgow conference are likely to be both unprecedented and immature. Whether countries follow through with conference resolutions is a subject for another day, but the proposals at COP26 will affect the future of the energy sector.

Hostility toward fossil fuels in the West is already having an adverse effect on individual access to energy and on economies in general. The U.K., which has adopted an anti-fossil fuel stance, is facing severe increases in natural gas prices.

“Wholesale gas prices have surged by 250% this year, including a 70% rise since August,” reported Sky News. This is a major blow for 22 million households that are dependent on gas for heating and cooking. In addition, gas is a key fuel for electricity generation and industrial processes.

One immediate impact could be felt by food processors, who uses carbon dioxide derived from natural gas for carbonation of drinks, refrigeration and animal slaughter. The chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association said that product could be disappearing from supermarket shelves in two weeks.

So, what led to the U.K. gas crisis? Part of the answer lies with government policy to not extract the country’s massive gas reserves, depending instead on imports.

Difficulties in U.K.’s power sector has been exacerbated by an overreliance on wind power. Wind production — usually a source of pride for the prime minister — dropped considerably during the past three weeks, requiring greater use of gas and coal.

The situation in the U.K. should be a warning to U.S. energy planners, who might face a similar situation if Biden moves ahead with his carbon-reduction proposals and replaces U.S. energy independence with a renewed dependence on imports. Additional commitments made at COP-2  can only put U.S. energy security at further risk.

In addition to instilling fear with climate alarmism, politicians are threatening an era of energy poverty for billions around the world.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Va., and holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, England. He resides in Bengaluru, India.

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October 11, 2021 at 08:24PM

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