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Francis Menton: Who Is Winning The Climate Wars?

Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian

Fewer and fewer people pay any attention whatsoever to the absurd climate apocalypse rhetoric.

A few weeks ago (November 22), in a post titled “Who Is Winning The Climate Wars?”, I undertook to begin documenting the ever-growing chasm between the unhinged rhetoric of climate campaigners and the reality out there in the world. Let’s collect a few data points over the past several weeks.

You probably know that the UN held its annual big climate conference this year in Madrid during the first two weeks of December. That event provided the occasion for many campaigners to ramp up the volume of their claims, trying once again to stampede government representatives into agreeing to impoverish their people. A few examples:

On November 26, in the run-up to the Madrid confab, the UN Environment Program came out with its annual Emissions Gap Report. Summary (from the New York Times of that date):  “With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously. ‘The summary findings are bleak,’ said the annual assessment. . . . The result, the authors added, is that ‘deeper and faster cuts are now required.’”

Two days later, on November 28, there was another cry of alarm from activists claiming to be “scientists,” published in the journal Nature. Summary (from CNN of that date): “The Earth is heading toward a ‘global tipping point’ if the climate crisis continues on its current path, scientists have warned, as they called for urgent action to avoid ‘an existential threat to civilization.’ The group of researchers, who published a commentary in the journal Nature, say there is growing evidence to suggest that irreversible changes to the Earth’s environmental systems are already taking place, and that we are now in a ‘state of planetary emergency.’” (The people at Nature and CNN don’t seem to remember that dozens of previous climate “tipping points” have come to nothing. To take the ten-part Manhattan Contrarian Climate Tipping Points Quiz, go here.)

On December 4, the hard left New York Times ran a big piece with the headline “Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change.” Introduction: “More devastating fires in California. Persistent drought in the Southwest. Record flooding in Europe and Africa. A heat wave, of all things, in Greenland. Climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate related disasters piling up, season after season.  ‘Things are getting worse,’ said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, which on Tuesday issued its annual state of the global climate report, concluding a decade of what it called exceptional global heat.” The Times article was accompanied by a great picture that you will not want to miss:

Climate Change Accelerating.jpg

And then on December 11, there was Greta Thunberg winning Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” award. (Did you even know that Time Magazine still exists?) One of the many quotes from Thunberg in the Time article: “‘I want you to panic,’ she told the annual convention of CEOs and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. ‘I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.’”

Well, that’s the rhetoric. Shall we check in on the reality? For this portion of the post I am grateful to Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Forum, who has put out a good roundup just today. Highlights:

** The UN’s Madrid climate conference ended in what can only be called a total failure. No new compulsory agreements of any sort were reached. From the Washington Times, December 16:

The annual climate fest was widely panned as a failure after wrapping up Sunday with no agreement on hot-button issues such as the Green Climate Fund, an international carbon market, ‘common metrics’ for measuring non-CO2 emissions, and reimbursement to poorer nations for ‘loss and damage caused by man-made climate change.’ . . . After two weeks, delegates from about 200 countries could only agree that there is an ‘urgent need’ to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement, despite pressure from activists who swarmed the Madrid gathering.”

** From Rupert Darwall at RealClearEnergy, December 16:

Talk doesn’t cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The UN Environment Programme describes the last ten years as a lost decade, in terms of curbing global emissions. ‘There has been no real change in the global emissions pathway in the last decade,’ UNEP says. Global emissions have risen at an average of 1.5% a year over the last ten years, pausing in 2016 but resuming the upward trend in 2017. Emissions have now reached a new record, with no sign yet of a peak. The underlying driver is the strong economic growth of non-OECD economies, which have grown at more than 4.5% a year, compared with only 2% a year for OECD members.”

* In a piece for the GWPF on December 12, Vijay Raj Jayaraj summarized the approach of India toward the UN’s carbon-emissions-cutting efforts as a “fossil fuel first attitude.” Excerpt:

The Indian government has adopted a fossil-fuel-first attitude and has made clear it will not compromise on India’s developmental goals. . . . India’s . . . proposed actions [under the Paris agreement] include no significant measures to curb India’s fossil fuel use or production. Moreover, the NDC states that the country reserves the right to overturn its commitments if the proposed climate mitigatory actions cause any impedance to the growth of individual economic sectors.”

* And worldwide, is use of coal increasing or decreasing? It’s increasing, of course. From The Hindu, December 17:

Coal consumption is set to rise in the coming years as growing demand for electricity in developing countries outpaces a shift to cleaner sources of electricity in industrialised nations. . . . [T]he International Energy Agency anticipates steady increases [in coal consumption] in the next five years. . . .  [G]lobal coal consumption is likely to rise over the coming years, driven by demand in India, China and Southeast Asia. Power generation from coal rose almost 2% in 2018 to reach an all-time high, remaining the world’s largest source of electricity.” 

* And finally, there are also increasing signs of sanity even outside the developing countries. Britain’s Tories have never been known as a climate skeptic party, and have largely gone along with “green” initiatives. However, in the recent election, they chose to make an issue out of how much Labour’s proposed climate policies would cost average consumers in increased energy prices. From the Telegraph, December 15:

The Conservatives targeted voters in the country’s most marginal seats with tailored Facebook and Instagram advertisements featuring warnings about how a Labour government would increase the cost of petrol and heating. . . .  A final Facebook assault launched last weekend included advertisements warning that Labour’s plans would put petrol up by 16p, heating bills up by £65. . . .” Obviously, this did not cost the Tories politically, and may well have substantially helped them.

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