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Meanwhile back on the real Earth

23 Nov 2022 | OP ED Watch

If you’re looking for a real climate crisis, forget Sharm el-Sheik and look at the damage climate change policy is doing to real people. For instance “Brits are paying the highest electricity bills in the entire world”. Having narrowly edged out the Republic of Ireland. And by a remarkable coincidence, “UK faces biggest fall in living standards on record”. Not, arguably, the best time to try to give away billions to pay for bad weather on the other side of the world while continuing to hammer your own energy industry.

The BBC, which made the living standards announcement, waved its arms about the cause. “The UK faces its biggest drop in living standards on record as the surging cost of living eats into people's wages.” And it found an expert willing to say “Surging global energy prices have made the UK a poorer country” before newsitorializing that “Energy and food bills have shot up due to the war in Ukraine and pandemic, and are squeezing household budgets.”

No. Energy bills have shot up because of a decades-long program of shutting down reliable affordable energy for the costly intermittent kind. It is no coincidence that Britain has the highest effective carbon price in the OECD according to that august body.

The BBC also said that the Office for Budget Responsibility “said price rises were likely to peak at 11% in the final three months of this year, thanks largely to the government's energy price guarantee scheme which limits bills.” But of course that “scheme” doesn’t limit the real cost, just transfers it away from households either to taxpayers, who are thus no better off really (and as the story admits were already getting pounded), or to producers, who are then less able to invest in power over the long run leaving everyone up the spout.

It doesn’t help that monetary policy is finally tightening as the game of printing real claims on make-believe wealth brought the predictable disaster of galloping inflation and the predictable pain of being flung off as it is reined in. At some point, surely, someone is going to understand that the real standard of living depends on the amount of real wealth being produced, and that energy is a crucial form of wealth. But it may take some time.

Thus the leader of Canada’s socialist party, the NDP, was for some reason in Germany a couple of weeks ago and announced to general indifference that “In the afternoon, Jagmeet, Charlie and Heather will discuss the climate emergency with the Deputy Speaker for Climate Protection and Energy, Bengt Bergt.” (For those not familiar with the repellent pseudo-folksiness of Canadian politics, that would be party leader Jagmeet Singh and MPs Charlie Angus and Heather McPherson.) But the climate emergency in Germany isn’t the weather. It’s energy prices.

As Euronews noted shortly before COP27 opened, “Leaders from across the European Union are gearing up for the COP27, the UN Climate Change Conference that aims to put the brakes on climate change and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a theoretical aspiration that has become increasingly detached from the reality on the ground.”

What they meant was “There is "no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place," a UN environmental report concluded last month.” But as the story subsequently added, “Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece and Hungary have all announced plans to extend the lifetime of coal plants, re-open those that have been closed or lift the cap on coal-burning hours. Austria, which celebrated the closure of its last coal plant in 2020, also proposed to re-activate its system to cope with emergency shortages.”

Over at Bloomberg, in a section called “Green/COP27”, they had complained a day earlier that “Coal Was Meant to Be History. Instead, Its Use Is Soaring/ The demise of the dirtiest fossil fuel has been delayed as power shortages and the war in Ukraine drive consumption, while China and India construct new plants.”

The reality is hitting the power plant situation across the developed world. In late October, for instance, a story warned that in one of Canada’s poorer Atlantic provinces “Nova Scotia’s government introduced legislation last week that would effectively freeze electricity rates – a move observers said could delay retirement plans for the province’s coal-fired power plants.” Why? Because coal is cheap and renewables are not no matter how often someone with a lavish public-sector income says they are.

P.S. The countries with the highest electricity costs are all in the woke West; Spain is 3rd, Belgium 4th, Japan 5th, Australia 6th, Switzerland 7th, the Netherlands 8th, Germany 9th and the Czech Republic 10th. We did it to ourselves.

3 comments on “Meanwhile back on the real Earth”

  1. No path to 1.5 is correct. After 20 years of zero temp rise and unabated C02 rise we probably won't get up to 1.2 or 1.3.

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