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CCNet 29/05/13

Tim Yeo: We Are All Climate Sceptics Now

Humans May Not Be Responsible For Global Warming Says Committee Chairman

 
 

Humans may not be responsible for global warming, the MP who oversees government policy on climate change has said. Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee, said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame. He said: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.” Mr Yeo has previously spoken with great certainty about the science of climate change. He said in 2009: "The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.” --Matthew Holehouse, The Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2013
 
 
 
 

 
As part of Germany’s switch to renewables, industry has been exempt from paying higher prices associated with solar and wind energy. The European Commission, however, believes the practice distorts competition on the Continent. Huge penalties could be in store. Energy-intensive industry, which plays an important role in the German industrial landscape, threatens to be "driven out of the country." The controversial law, with its billions in subsidies for green electricity, could hardly survive in its current form. --Spiegel Online, 29 May 2013
 

 
 
 
We can be sure that whatever proposals China makes will be all about the best possible economic growth path for China. Reducing global CO2 emissions is not a goal of the Chinese government. Fans of global carbon treaty fans are desperate for good news, having watched their pet issue move from the front pages at the time of the Copenhagen summit to the obscure back pages of the specialist journals. (How many people followed the recently concluded Bonn edition of the global climate talks?). This news out of China will be used to try to pump up the publicity machine, but a serious CO2 treaty remains a no-hoper. --Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia, 28 May 2013
 
 
 
 
 
The $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption. A review of 30,000 installations in Europe by the German solar monitoring firm Meteocontrol found 80 percent were underperforming.  --Todd Woody, The New York Times, 29 May 2013
 
 
 
 
The number of households insulating their homes has dramatically fallen this year, threatening to torpedo the Government’s energy efficiency drive and push utility bills even higher. According to industry figures obtained by The Times, cavity wall insulation was fitted in 1,138 homes last month, compared with almost 40,000 in April last year. The slump underlines the lack of consumer interest in the Government’s Green Deal programme, which ministers have billed as the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War. --Tim Webb, The Times, 29 May 2013
 
 
 
 
The UK and Germany are among four EU member states whose emissions from fossil fuel combustion are expected to have risen over 2012, despite the bloc seeing an average drop in CO2 output. New estimates from EU statistics agency Eurostat suggest UK CO2 emissions last year climbed by 3.9 per cent compared to 2011, while Germany saw a 0.9 per cent increase. The UK and Germany are also listed as having the highest absolute emissions from energy use in the EU, with the UK responsible for 472 million tons of CO2 over 2012, up by 17.7mt from 2011, and Germany 728mt. --Will Nichols, Business Green, 29 May 2013
 
 


GWPF CHANGE OF ADDRESS!

The GWPF office will be moving on Monday 3 June 2013.  The new address from that date will be:
10 Upper Bank Street
London E14 5NP
The new telephone number will be: 020 7006 5827.
 
 

1) Tim Yeo: We Are All Climate Sceptics Now - The Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2013

2) War On Subsidies: Brussels May Kill Germany’s Green Energy Revolution - Spiegel Online, 29 May 2013

3) 80% Of Europe’s Solar Panels Underperforming - The New York Times, 29 May 2013

4) China Gives Greens False Hope On Climate Treaty - Via Meadia, 28 May 2013

5) Green Deal Flops: Britons Go Cold On Home Insulation - The Times, 29 May 2013

6) Greenest Governments Ever: Britain & Germany See CO2 Emissions Rise - Business Green, 29 May 2013

7) Australian Coalition Plans To Abolish Green Investment Bank - The Guardian, 29 May 2013
 
 




 
 
1) Tim Yeo: We Are All Climate Sceptics Now
The Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2013

Matthew Holehouse

Humans may not be responsible for global warming, the MP who oversees government policy on climate change has said.

Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee, said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame.

Such a suggestion sits at odds with the scientific consensus. One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.

Mr Yeo, an environment minister under John Major, is one of the Conservative Party’s strongest advocates of radical action to cut carbon emissions. His comments are significant as he was one of the first senior figures to urge the party to take the issue of environmental change seriously.

He insisted such action is “prudent” given the threat climate change poses to living standards worldwide. But, he said, human action is merely a “possible cause”.

Asked on Tuesday night whether it was better to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change than to prevent it in the first place, he said: “The first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet has survived much bigger changes than any climate change that is happening now.

He went on: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

“But there is at least a risk that the increased concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is a possible cause. We’ve just gone through the 400 parts per million [a measure of the atmospheric concentration of CO2] this year. I think a prudent policy would say if we can do things about that which are no-regrets polices like being efficient in the use of energy, looking at none-fossil fuel sources, I think that’s prudent to do so."

Mr Yeo has previously spoken with great certainty about the science of climate change. He said in 2009: "A significant number of core Conservative voters – mostly among older people – are reluctant to accept the evidence. I don’t think they [doubting Tory MPs] will be a significant influence in the next parliament and will gradually diminish in the population.

"The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.”

Full story
 
 
 
2) War On Subsidies: Brussels May Kill Germany’s Green Energy Revolution
Spiegel Online, 29 May 2013

Frank Dohmen, Christoph Pauly and Gerald Traufetter, Spiegel Online

As part of Germany’s switch to renewables, industry has been exempt from paying higher prices associated with solar and wind energy. The European Commission, however, believes the practice distorts competition on the Continent. Huge penalties could be in store.

The audience was small and exclusive, which helps explain why little has emerged thus far of what European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said at the Hotel Stanhope in Brussels on May 6. It was enough to cause something of a stir among his listeners.

For the European Commission and for Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, Oettinger said during a dinner event, it is clear that price concessions for energy-intensive companies in Germany amount to an inadmissible subsidy. In the best-case scenario, he said, the Commission would ban such subsidies. But, he added, the worst case could see Brussels demanding that such companies pay back the money they had saved as a result of the discounts they have received.Competitors and neighboring countries had filed an official complaint about these benefits with the European Commission, prompting the EU competition authority to launch an investigation. The German commissioner had sought to assure industry representatives that the process was only just beginning and the outcome remained unclear.

That, though, seems to only have been partly accurate, which helps explain the current agitation. The scenario Oettinger outlined at the Brussels dinner is a horrifying one for parts of German industry and for the government in Berlin. The prospect of having to repay several billion euros is certainly a daunting one. Even worse, though, is that the competitiveness of entire industrial sectors would be put at risk. Also at stake is the Renewable Energies Act (EEG), a central component of Berlin’s shift away from nuclear power and toward green energy, also known as the Energiewende.

Since 2000, Germany has used the EEG to promote the expansion of renewable forms of energy. To ensure that the construction of expensive solar and wind farms is worthwhile for private individuals and investors, they receive a guarantee that the electricity they produce will be purchased at a fixed price for a period of several years.

Alternate Reality

The costs of start-up financing for green energy and the compensation for expansion of the power grid are added to customers’ electricity bills in the form of a special tax. The entire subsidy system is supposed to come to an end when green energy becomes competitive. That, at least, is the theory.


Graphic: Climbing European energy prices.

But the reality is different. No longer can one simply describe the tax as a way to get renewable energies off the ground. Indeed, following Berlin’s decision two years ago to shelve nuclear energy and accelerate the expansion of renewables, the EEG has become a giant redistribution machine.

Owners of wind and solar farms were paid about €14 billion ($18 billion) last year alone. This is the difference between the guaranteed EEG price and the proceeds actually achieved on the market for the electricity they fed into the grid. Experts with the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne estimate that consumers will have to pay more than €100 billion by 2022 for renewable energy facilities that have already been installed. Of the 28 cents household customers pay per kilowatt-hour of electricity today, 5.28 cents already applies to the EEG levy, and that figure is growing. [...]


The foray comes at an inopportune time for the German government.

The Energiewende has stalled, as it becomes clear that ambitious schedules for the construction of energy storage systems and offshore wind farms cannot be met. At the same time, the costs of green electricity are skyrocketing.

"Should Brussels now force German companies to fully or partially repay the relief resulting from the EEG levy and grid charges, industry acceptance of expensive green energy subsidies and the transformation of the energy supply would be over once and for all," says Joachim Pfeiffer, the economic policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives. In addition, says Pfeiffer, energy-intensive industry, which plays an important role in the German industrial landscape, threatens to be "driven out of the country." The controversial EEG, with its billions in subsidies for green electricity, could hardly survive in its current form.

Full story
 
 

3) 80% Of Europe’s Solar Panels Underperforming
The New York Times, 29 May 2013

Todd Woody

The $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption. A review of 30,000 installations in Europe by the German solar monitoring firm Meteocontrol found 80 percent were underperforming. 

The solar panels covering a vast warehouse roof in the sun-soaked Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles were only two years into their expected 25-year life span when they began to fail.Coatings that protect the panels disintegrated while other defects caused two fires that took the system offline for two years, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

It was not an isolated incident. Worldwide, testing labs, developers, financiers and insurers are reporting similar problems and say the $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption.No one is sure how pervasive the problem is.

There are no industrywide figures about defective solar panels. And when defects are discovered, confidentiality agreements often keep the manufacturer’s identity secret, making accountability in the industry all the more difficult.But at stake are billions of dollars that have financed solar installations, from desert power plants to suburban rooftops, on the premise that solar panels will more than pay for themselves over a quarter century. [...]

All solar panels degrade and gradually generate less electricity over time. But a review of 30,000 installations in Europe by the German solar monitoring firm Meteocontrol found 80 percent were underperforming. Testing of six manufacturers’ solar panels at two Spanish power plants by Enertis Solar in 2010 found defect rates as high as 34.5 percent. [...]

First Solar, one of the United States’ biggest manufacturers, has set aside $271.2 million to cover the costs of replacing defective modules it made in 2008 and 2009.

Full story
 

4) China Gives Greens False Hope On Climate Treaty
Via Meadia, 28 May 2013

Walter Russell Mead

Beijing’s leadership is getting tough on environmental issues. Last week, President Xi Jinping vowed to hold officials who harm the environment “accountable for a lifetime.” And top officials have proposed a cap on carbon emissions for China’s next five-year plan, starting in 2016.  That news has greens in a tizzy, and has boosted their hopes for a global climate treaty.

But greens would do well to put their celebrations on hold: This move has nothing to do with emissions, and everything to do with political savvy and China’s economic future. It has been clear for a long time that China is going to have to take on air pollution, among many other environmental issues. It’s also clear that China wants to reduce the energy intensity of its economy—the need to import more and more energy as the economy expands is a huge expense and a strategic vulnerability. Moreover, the commoditization of manufacturing, and the prospect that the terms of trade for manufacturers will continue to worsen, have long had smart Chinese planners looking for a way to shift the country’s economy up from the metal-bashing, stuff-making economy into something more high-tech and high value-added.
What all this means is that the scary “boogeyman” charts that greens draw up, projecting

China’s energy growth out to infinity, have consistently overstated future CO2 projections. China must change its behavior for reasons that have zero—repeat, zero—to do with any threat of global warming.

However, given that these changes are coming, China is not averse to winning some PR points by spinning these impending policy changes as a noble effort to stop the scourge of global warming. China’s masses are becoming more and more restive over the country’s environmental woes; these changes could put Beijing’s leadership on firmer footing with an ever more demanding populace.

China isn’t giving specific numbers at this point because the prospect of changes to energy and environmental policy sets off huge political battles, in which coal-belching state industries in relatively backward provinces vie with the more advanced southern coastal provinces where people are rich enough to worry more about pollution than about GDP.
But we can be sure that whatever proposals China makes will be all about the best possible economic growth path for China. Reducing global CO2 emissions is not a goal of the Chinese government. It will be at most an ancillary consequence of other decisions and policies put in place for quite different reasons.

Fans of global carbon treaty fans are desperate for good news, having watched their pet issue move from the front pages at the time of the Copenhagen summit to the obscure back pages of the specialist journals. (How many people followed the recently concluded Bonn edition of the global climate talks?). This news out of China will be used to try to pump up the publicity machine, but a serious CO2 treaty remains a no-hoper.
 
 

5) Green Deal Flops: Britons Go Cold On Home Insulation
The Times, 29 May 2013

Tim Webb

The number of households insulating their homes has dramatically fallen this year, threatening to torpedo the Government’s energy efficiency drive and push utility bills even higher.

According to industry figures obtained by The Times, cavity wall insulation was fitted in 1,138 homes last month, compared with almost 40,000 in April last year.

About 47,000 installations need to be carried out each month until the end of the decade to meet targets to reduce energy consumption and cap household bills.

Cavity wall insulation is regarded as the cheapest and most effective mass-scale energy efficiency measure available to households. The slump underlines the lack of consumer interest in the Government’s Green Deal programme, which ministers have billed as the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War.

Under the scheme, which was belatedly launched at the end of January, people may borrow to fund the upfront cost of insulating their homes. It is hoped that consumers will apply for funds on the promise that the expected savings on their energy bills will be greater than their loan repayments.

Consumers have been reluctant to sign up to the scheme, though, put off by interest rates as high as 7 per cent, the inconvenience of having the work done and confusion over how it works.

Full story (subscription required)
 

6) Greenest Governments Ever: Britain & Germany See CO2 Emissions Rise
Business Green, 29 May 2013

Will Nichols

The UK and Germany are among four EU member states whose emissions from fossil fuel combustion are expected to have risen over 2012, despite the bloc seeing an average drop in CO2 output.

New estimates from EU statistics agency Eurostat suggest UK CO2 emissions last year climbed by 3.9 per cent compared to 2011, while Germany saw a 0.9 per cent increase. Malta saw a 6.3 per cent rise in emissions, while Lithuania's output rose by 1.7 per cent.

The UK and Germany are also listed as having the highest absolute emissions from energy use in the EU, with the UK responsible for 472 million tons of CO2 over 2012, up by 17.7mt from 2011, and Germany 728mt. Italy is the third largest emitter on 366mt, followed by France on 332mt, Poland on 297mt, and Spain on 258mt - together, these six nations accounted for more than 70 per cent of the total emissions of the 27-state bloc during 2012.

However, the overall trend for emissions was downwards, with the EU27 recording an average 2.1 per cent decrease in emissions, which chimes with official figures released earlier this month

Full story
 
 
7) Australian Coalition Plans To Abolish Green Investment Bank
The Guardian, 29 May 2013

Lenore Taylor

The [Australian] government’s new $10bn green investment bank claims the Coalition is asking it to act illegally by urging it not to carry out its statutory duties ahead of September’s election.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) says the Coalition is also suggesting it could act illegally itself, as it takes steps towards its planned abolition of the bank – which lends on commercial terms but which the Coalition has labelled a “giant slush fund”.
In his budget-in-reply speech, Tony Abbott revealed he was counting on the abolition to deliver $1.2bn in savings over the next three years.

The shadow finance minister, Andrew Robb, and shadow environment minister, Greg Hunt, wrote to the CEFC chief executive, former Macquarie bank executive Oliver Yates, in February, urging him to make no funding commitments prior to the election on the basis the Coalition would abolish it.

Full story
 

 

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