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Charge of the lightweight brigade

09 Mar 2022 | News Roundup

Into the valley of death rides… Bill McKibben with a claim that “From Lagos to Las Vegas, youth climate activists rally to Ukraine’s side with a call to quit fossil fuel. The great German leader @Luisamneubauer: ‘There will be no real freedom or sustainable peace anywhere as long as there’s dependency on fossil fuels’”. What a comfort for Ukrainians to know the world’s climate activists applaud them from faraway Las Vegas as they run out of energy, not to mention food, clothing, building supplies and other necessities. Theirs not to make reply, nor to reason why Europe abandoning its domestic hydrocarbon infrastructure and becoming dependent on Putin’s gas and oil would be the key to world peace. Never mind Javelins, missiles or ammunition. Maybe Germany could send the Ukrainians some more climate protest placards.

Sometimes things get stuck in the silt in the lower layers of our inbox, only to emerge from the ooze at a strangely appropriate time. For instance a Conversation item from way back on Feb. 2 about how the new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, wanted the G7 to become a “carbon club” that would club nitwits like Australia who thought hydrocarbon energy was still important. And yes, obviously, the piece was published before Putin invaded Ukraine and Germany was caught with its power plants down. But it encapsulated the madness that made Putin’s current death grip on Europe possible. Putin’s actions only made real a threat that was long present for countries determined to eliminate fossil energy from the free world while the planet’s tyrants lock in their energy advantages.

Nor do the climate-obsessed show any signs of re-thinking things. On March 4 the New York Times “Climate Forward” (it seems to have gotten all its letters back under its new editor) clued in that “How do you ensure energy security on a hotter planet? That’s the thorny new question that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents to many countries, most immediately in Europe.” Naturally it concluded that you dig your hole deeper: “The leaders of the European Union are expected to announce a proposal next week that would ‘accelerate the clean energy transition and reduce permanently our dependence on imports of natural gas.’” And to these deep minds there’s only one real question: “Why did it take a full-blown attack on civilians to speed up climate action?”

Oddly the “Climate Forward” piece goes on to discuss ways American natural gas might replace the Russian kind in Europe, which isn’t strictly speaking the same as ceasing to use the stuff. And it included the classic line “Britain, meanwhile, has said it intends to continue drilling in its part of the North Sea, but its secretary for business and energy, Kwasi Kwarteng, said this week that his country’s energy security would ultimately have to come from renewables, which in Britain includes nuclear power.” And perhaps the innocents at “Climate Forward” are not familiar with the spectacle of a politician talking out of both sides of his mouth without engaging either half of his brain.

Climate Home News, in a piece also discussed elsewhere in this Newsletter, takes the same view that everything having changed changes nothing: “The invasion has triggered a drastic rethink of European reliance on Russian gas. With Ukrainian officials begging the world not to fund Vladimir Putin’s war by buying Russian energy, there is a scramble to find alternative sources – clean or dirty, but with an emphasis on the freedom brought by renewables and energy efficiency.” To which we retort “Freedom from what?” Lights that go on and tanks that go forward?

Naturally the Conversation article by a Research Fellow at Griffith University with a PhD in International Relations and Affairs and a BA in “Cultural Studies/Critical Theory and Analysis” suggested that his sovereign homeland give in at once to international bullies. “The proposal should ring alarm bells in Canberra. It is likely to mean economic and diplomatic costs for Australia, and further isolate this nation as a climate laggard on the world stage. To avoid this, Australia should at least match the climate ambition of G7 countries, by pledging to halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade.”

We won’t even get into the protectionist intricacies of this club, in which “Members would harmonise their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work toward a shared goal. And nations that do not meet their global obligations would incur penalties, such as a levy on exports to club member nations.” Assuming they don’t invade you and take over first.

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