Tuesday, May 1, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Europe's Green Madness Goes OTT








Ireland Faces Annual EU Green Energy Fines Of €600 Million

In this newsletter:

1) Europe’s Green Madness Goes OTT: Ireland Faces Annual EU Green Energy Fines Of €600 Million
The Irish Independent, 30 April 2018
 
2) Madness II: EU Rule Could Leave Theatres Dark
The Guardian, 29 April 2018


 
3) Madness III: ‘Tsunami’ Of Renewable Energy Projects Threatens Europe’s Last Wild Rivers, Campaigners Warn
Reuters, 29 April 2018
 
4) Madness IV: The Embarrassing Truth About Germany’s Green Energy Transition
Daniel Wetzel, Die Welt, 20 March 2018
 
5) Madness V: After Tesla Debacle, Denmark Reconsiders Electric Car Subsidies For The Rich
Bloomberg, 29 April 2018
 
6) Satellite Data: 75% Of The World’s Beaches Are Stable Or Growing
The GWPF Observatory, 30 April 2018
 
7) As Old Divisions Return, Can UN Climate Meeting Bring Paris Agreement To Life?
AFP, 28 April 2018


Full details:

1) Europe’s Green Madness Goes OTT: Ireland Faces Annual EU Green Energy Fines Of €600 Million
The Irish Independent, 30 April 2018


Ireland faces fines of €600m a year from the EU for failing to meet renewable energy targets and cutting carbon emissions by 2020.

New, more ambitious targets for 2030 do not let Ireland off the hook for the 2020 measures, it has emerged.

A report for the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, which calculated the potential fines within two years, said they will be a matter for the European Court of Justice to impose.

Irish EU Commissioner Phil Hogan said there was confusion in some quarters that the 2020 targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive would be merged into the more ambitious targets for 2030. This would give the Government some breathing space and lessen the risk of punitive fines.

“But that is not the case. The 2020 target must be adhered to,” Mr Hogan said.

The commissioner urged the Government to be more proactive in developing wind and wave energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels in line with EU agreed targets.

Full story
 

2) Madness II: EU Rule Could Leave Theatres Dark
The Guardian, 29 April 2018


The president of the Association of Lighting Directors warns that a new directive could make all existing equipment obsolete

I am writing to you as the president of the Association of Lighting Designers, and as the Founder of Theatre Projects, an international theatre design company that for 60 years has been at the forefront of British theatre technology, responsible for the stage design of the National Theatre, and for over 1,500 theatre projects in 80 counties.

I have been a lighting designer for over 60 years. British theatre now faces an extraordinary crisis. On Saturday 7 May consultation on an amazing EU draft regulation – the Energy Directorate’s Eco-design Working Plan 2016-19 – will close. If confirmed, in 2020 virtually all stage lighting equipment used throughout the British Theatre and entertainment industry will be rendered obsolete and the lamps within that create the light be unobtainable.

British theatre and British lighting design leads the world. This month alone on Broadway, two productions, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, lit by Neil Austin, and Angels in America, lit by Paule Constable, have attracted universal critical acclaim.

This draft regulation not only bans incandescent lamps, but virtually all the discharge and LED light sources that have been developed in recent years to reduce the theatre’s carbon footprint. This is a very real crisis. No existing entertainment lighting equipment presently meets the new theoretical power requirement.

If, in 18 months, such equipment were to be invented – an aim apparently pushing beyond the boundaries of physics today – it would certainly cost as much as five to 10 times the equipment it replaces. This is, therefore, a potential financial disaster at best, and an artistic and practical catastrophe for every theatre in the land.

The eco-design plan must exempt entertainment lighting from this mistaken regulation. The alternative may be dark and bankrupt theatres everywhere. Never again will the glories of our stages be seen in a proper light.

Richard Pilbrow
President, Association of Lighting Designers
 

3) Madness III: ‘Tsunami’ Of Renewable Energy Projects Threatens Europe’s Last Wild Rivers, Campaigners Warn
Reuters, 29 April 2018


Plans to build about 3,000 hydropower plants in the Balkans in the next few years endanger Europe’s last wild rivers and some of the most important biodiversity hotspots on the continent, campaigners said on Saturday.


Source: RiverWatch

Stretching from Slovenia to Albania, critics say the hydropower boom threatens animal life, including endemic species of fish, and people’s access to water used for drinking, fishing and farming.

“There is a tsunami of hydropower dam constructions happening here and nobody really knows about it,” said Britton Caillouette, director of “Blue Heart”, a documentary that focuses on efforts to halt the hydropower plans.

“Blue Heart”, which had its world premiere on Saturday in a screening at the Idbar dam near Konjik, focuses on local people’s and campaigners’ efforts to halt the plans.

Investment in renewable energy projects is growing around the world as countries rush to meet clean energy goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The EU aims to source at least 27 percent of the bloc’s energy from renewables by 2030.

Western Balkan countries, including Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, plan to invest billions of euros in building new coal-fired plants to meet rising demand for electricity as old plants are being phased out.

Hydropower is already widely used across the region but environmentalists fear the investment in coal could backfire as governments may be forced to invest hundreds of millions of euros more to upgrade plants to meet European Union environmental standards as the countries progress toward membership of the bloc.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is funding some hydropower projects in the Balkans and has agreed to foster a transition towards sustainable, low-carbon economies int the region.

Ulrich Eichelmann, head of campaign group RiverWatch, said clean energy such as hydropower, could have negative effects on the environment.

“Just because it doesn’t emit CO2 it doesn’t mean it’s good,” Eichelmann told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Full story
 

4) Madness IV: The Embarrassing Truth About Germany’s Green Energy Transition
Daniel Wetzel, Die Welt, 20 March 2018


Germany, an ecological pioneer and model pupil in climate protection? That was probably never true. In the first global energy transition ranking, Germany is not even among the top ten in Europe.

The chief planners of the German “Energiewende” have already drawn the consequences: “Only together can France and Germany bring their respective energy transitions to success”, the Berlin institute Agora Energiewende surprisingly explain in a new study.

In a joint paper with the French Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) in Paris, the think-tank financed by private climate protection foundations warns that Germany and France will have to “move in unison” as far as the transition to green electricity is concerned, otherwise “distortions” and “imbalances” threaten.

However, this is new: from the promotion of green electricity through the Renewable Energy Sources Act to the phase-out of nuclear power and the coal phase-out plans, Germany, until now, has always pursued its energy transition on its own, without consulting its European neighbours.

Now the planners realise: It won’t go on like this. To “maintain security of supply at a high level in both countries”, there must be “closer cooperation between Germany and France”.

Pioneering role? My foot

The World Economic Forum (WEF) had already established in recent days that Germany alone cannot cope with the energy transition. At a conference in São Paulo, Brazil, the Forum presented the first global energy transition index.
For this comparative index, the management consultancy McKinsey & Company, together with the WEF, calculated the status of the energy transition in 114 countries using 40 indicators.

The result is embarrassing for those who have always claimed Germany’s international pioneering role in the transformation of green electricity and shocking for those who believed it. Germany is only 16th in the world list of the best energy transition countries, and even within Europe, the German ‘Energiewende’ is not even among the top ten.

The McKinsey ranking took into account a country’s natural energy resources only marginally. For example, the high proportion of hydropower in Norway is only included in the “System Performance” category.

However, the initial political, economic and social conditions were assessed completely independently of the geological advantages or disadvantages of a country in the “transition readiness” category. Weighted, both aspects together make up the total value in the ranking.

Position 110 of 114 in terms of structure

The most important component of the German ‘Energiewende’ is the state-guaranteed feed-in tariff for green electricity projects, which is anchored in the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). To date, all German governments have adhered to this law introduced by the Greens and Social Democrats in 2000, although it has only recently been extended by a cost-saving tendering model.

Today, however, eleven countries in Europe alone have an energy system that is more ecologically friendly than Germany: Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Austria, the UK and France. When Germany ranks twelfth here, this is mainly due to the poor rating in the category “Structure of the energy system”: Here, Germany ranks 110th out of 114.

“This is mainly due to Germany’s dependence on coal-fired power: its share is still 42 percent – not least because it has made a major contribution to baseload supply since the decision to phase out nuclear power,” states the WEF-McKinsey study: “In the category ‘Environment and climate protection’, Germany ranks 61st worldwide – mainly because of its high CO2 emissions.

Emissions in Germany last amounted to 906 million tonnes: “This means that the figure has stagnated at an unchanged high level since 2014”.

Germany lies behind Paraguay or Indonesia

In the category “System Performance”, which measures the progress of the energy transition in the dimensions of environmental and climate protection, economic efficiency and supply security, Germany ranks 44th – behind countries such as Paraguay, Slovakia and Indonesia. Among other things, the high electricity prices for private households (82nd place) and smaller industrial customers (110th place) are responsible for this.

Against the background of non-declining CO2 emissions, the ‘Energiewende’ costs are extremely high by global standards, the McKinsey experts state: German private households currently pay 30.8 cents per kilowatt hour, 46.6 percent more than their European neighbours.

Industrial electricity prices in Germany recently rose by 0.7 percent, while prices in Europe fell by 0.5 percent. Overall a serious competitive disadvantage: The price level here of 9.72 cents per kilowatt hour is already 14.8 percent above the European average for industrial customers.

Germany should above all strengthen emissions trading, which ensures the most economically efficient measures for CO2 reduction across borders, says McKinsey. Within the European emissions trading scheme, Germany could learn how to improve from Denmark (fifth in the global ranking) and the UK (seventh) in particular.

But there are also points for nuclear power

Both countries had successfully reduced their dependence on coal: Denmark from 91 to 28 percent, Great Britain from 65 to nine percent. At the same time, both countries increased their flexible power generation from gas and hydropower. The UK will also greatly increase its share of nuclear power in the future.

Denmark was even without nuclear power and hydropower resources, successful in reducing per capita emissions by almost 44 percent within ten years – Germany only managed 6.5 percent during this period. One of the most important measures in the UK is the introduction of a national minimum CO2 price for electricity generation.

Another positive aspect is that the UK has established a capacity market for safe electricity generation: “Both measures complement each other and support the phase-out of coal by 2025, which was decided in 2015”.

Germany’s self-imposed targets are considered unrealistic

Overall, Germany is only mediocre in the international ranking despite good general conditions, the McKinsey experts conclude. In the overall global ranking, Costa Rica, celebrated by climate protectors for its green electricity policy, still ranks 20th behind Germany.

The USA ranks 25th, Italy 35th, Turkey 58th, Poland 67th, Russia 70th, Venezuela, South Africa and Zimbabwe at the bottom.

In addition to the international evaluation, McKinsey also measures the progress of the German energy transition every six months using 14 indicators. In the latest update of the German Energy Turn Index, eight out of 14 policy targets in this area were classified as “unrealistic”, only five as “realistic”, while in one area, the construction of cross-border power lines, there was a “slight need for adjustment”.

Full story (in German)
 

5) Madness V: After Tesla Debacle, Denmark Reconsiders Electric Car Subsidies For The Rich
Bloomberg, 29 April 2018


Denmark may be open to financial incentives to buy electric cars after seeing a dramatic drop in sales of non-polluting vehicles, according to Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.



“We have tax incentives for electric cars, and you could discuss if they should be bigger. I will not exclude that,” Rasmussen said in an interview in Copenhagen. Any new incentives would be announced along with a government plan to boost clean-energy consumption after the summer, he said.

Danish sales of electric vehicles have fallen dramatically — from nearly 5,000 in 2015 to around 700 in 2017 — since Rasmussen’s center-right government phased out subsidies such as those offered in Norway and Germany.

With diesel having fallen out of favor across Europe in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, Denmark is now debating which vehicle types to promote and which to discourage.

The government has come under fire for its indiscriminate cuts to registration taxes, which have eroded incentives to buy green vehicles rather than those powered by fossil-fuels. Denmark has no car industry of its own and has one of the highest import duties in the world.

Adding to pressure on the government, the opposition Social Democrats grabbed the limelight last week by announcing plans to ban the sale of diesel vehicles by 2030, if they win elections due to be held by June 2019.

Full post

see also GWPF coverage of  EV subsidies for rich virtue signallers

6) Satellite Data: 75% Of The World’s Beaches Are Stable Or Growing
The GWPF Observatory, 30 April 2018

Analysis of satellite derived shoreline data indicates that 24% of the world’s sandy beaches are eroding at rates exceeding 0.5m/yr, while 28% are accreting and 48% are stable.



The State of the World’s Beaches

Arjen Luijendijk et al. (2018) Scientific Reports 8: 6641 (2018), doi:10.1038/s41598-018-24630-6

Abstract — Coastal zones constitute one of the most heavily populated and developed land zones in the world. Despite the utility and economic benefits that coasts provide, there is no reliable global-scale assessment of historical shoreline change trends. Here, via the use of freely available optical satellite images captured since 1984, in conjunction with sophisticated image interrogation and analysis methods, we present a global-scale assessment of the occurrence of sandy beaches and rates of shoreline change therein. Applying pixel-based supervised classification, we found that 31% of the world’s ice-free shoreline are sandy. The application of an automated shoreline detection method to the sandy shorelines thus identified resulted in a global dataset of shoreline change rates for the 33 year period 1984–2016. Analysis of the satellite derived shoreline data indicates that 24% of the world’s sandy beaches are eroding at rates exceeding 0.5 m/yr, while 28% are accreting and 48% are stable. The majority of the sandy shorelines in marine protected areas are eroding, raising cause for serious concern.

Full paper 
 

7) As Old Divisions Return, Can UN Climate Meeting Bring Paris Agreement To Life?
AFP, 28 April 2018


Front-line negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather for climate talks in Bonn on Monday. They face a daunting task: bring the 2015 Paris Agreement to life. The rift between rich and developing countries that stymied climate talks for more than two decades before the 2015 accord put all nations on the same page has reemerged.

 The world’s only climate treaty pledges to cap global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius and prevent manmade CO2 from leeching into the atmosphere by century’s end. But it left a mountain of critical rules and procedures to be worked out.

“This may sound like a technical exercise, but it matters,” Todd Stern, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and the top climate diplomat under Barack Obama, said in a recent speech. “Guidelines have a lot to do with how strong the regime becomes.”

The deadline for completing this “rule book” is the November climate summit in Katowice, Poland. The agreement itself goes live in 2020. Negotiators have had more than two years to hammer out the fine print but — as per usual — have procrastinated.

“It’s no secret that things have not been going swimmingly so far,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based advocacy and research group.

How quickly the world weans itself from fossil fuels, improves energy efficiency, and learns how to suck CO2 out of the air will determine whether climate change remains manageable or unleashes a maelstrom of human misery. […]

Voluntary national pledges made under the treaty to cut carbon pollution, if fulfilled, would yield no better than a 3C world. Once-every-five-year reviews of these commitments don’t kick in until 2023. Negotiators know this is too late.

“The scale and pace of climate action must increase dramatically, and immediately so,” reads a UN summary of written submissions to the Fiji-inspired Talanoa Dialogue, designed to inspire more ambitious CO2-slashing pledges.

Still, negotiations have bogged down. Under pressure, the rift between rich and developing countries that stymied climate talks for more than two decades before the 2015 accord put all nations on the same page has reemerged.

Full post


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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