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September 22nd 2016 print

Alan Moran

One Good Thing About Trump…

Should he claim the White House on November 8, the US will reject the obligations of the Paris climate accord. Like him or not in regard to other of his stated goals and policies, a ferocious disdain for the economy-hobbling rent-seekers of Big Wind and the like is a powerful recommendation

turbine fireUnlike previous presidents, Barack Obama has no intention of going quietly into the night. His approval ratings remain above 50% and he’s using that clout to make the Paris climate agreement a key element of his perceived “legacy”, pursuing that goal with threats and blandishments. 

Under the Paris pact, most developed countries (including Australia) have agreed to reduce their emissions by 26-28% under Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC), ostensibly to limit global temperature increases to 2°C.  Most developing countries have only nominal emission-reduction requirements, though even these have proven too great to achieve for at least one of them, the Philippines[1], where President Duterte has rejected the soft targets agreed to by his predecessor.

The US and China have ratified the Paris agreement, the Obama Administration having bi-passed Congress to do so — a path made available because US negotiators stipulated that the language of the accord be couched so that, technically, it is not a treaty imposing binding obligations[2].  While ratification as far as China is concerned represents little more than agreeing to business as usual, at least until 2030, the US is a very serious supporter of emission reductions. Its taxpayers are very generous donors and supporters of the renewables lobby, having spent $176 billion on wind, solar and other green schemes [3].  The Obama Administration also has done what it can to inhibit shale developments and other innovative gas/oil extraction methods, simultaneously threatening new coal-power developments with prohibitive regulatory costs.

For each country’s INDC to come into force under the Paris Climate agreement, 55 signatories must ratify it — and those  need to represent 55% or more of all emissions.  As things stand,  60 countries, accounting for 48% of global emissions (China and the US representing almost all of this), have ratified.  Additional countries (including Japan, Australia and Canada) are expected to do likewise this calendar year, lifting the emission levels above the 55% trigger[4]. The race is on because, although presidential contender Hillary Clinton would retain the Obama policy, Donald Trump thinks global warming is overstated at best and, as he has also described it, “a hoax”. Whatever his precise view, Trump has indicated his intention to dismantle the machinery Obama has put in place to reduce US emissions[5].

The EU is not expected to get its act together to ratify this year. The matter did not even figure in the recent Bratislava Declaration following the meeting of the 27 heads of government[6].

However, British PM Teresa May says the UK (which represents 2% of global emissions) will ratify this year[7]. Doubtless the UK will have received some comfort from Obama/Clinton regarding a free-trade treaty in return for this and, by Number Ten’s reckoning, ratification will not prejudice Britain’s case if Trump emerges victorious from the first Tuesday in November.  The UK, still being technically part of the EU, may well not lodge a separate ratification by December. The goal of global emission reductions, irrespective of the need for them, is totally unachievable without the near unanimity of all nations — and  developing countries will not undertake abatement policies.

Arm-twisting by Obama and Brussels aside, why are politicians so disposed to back policies that impose higher energy costs on consumers and, especially in the case of countries like Australia, seriously downgrade their most competitive industries?

Among the reasons is that CO2 emissions have risen and all the dominant theories underwriting warmist orthodoxy insist that this brings global warming — a stance that, while being being steadily undermined by empirical observations of little or no change, remains the party line.

Many of these theories are based on the self-interest of scientists who, for the first time since the Manhattan Project, have been elevated into key areas of political decision making, with all the funding and frills this brings. There is also the self-interest of the renewable sector.  Like the promoters of tariff protection in days gone by, green rent-seekers offer the quid pro quo of financial support to politicians who secure their funding. The jobs lost as a consequence of high energy prices, plus the imposition of higher overheads, are far more difficult to discern than the smiles of bought-and-paid-for political hacks cutting ribbons at the latest wind farm or solar installation.

Moreover, politicians tend to be both highly economical and selective in the information they absorb.  So, when quack economists tell them their models demonstrate that the overall economic effects of carbon impositions will be negligible, they find it palatable to agree, especially since so many of the loudest political voices need no further convincing. Add to this the propaganda of those who swear “dinosaur energy sources” — think coal and nuclear — will be overtaken by renewables  tirelessly presented as inevitable.

All things considered, it is hard to see how the momentum to impose emission-reduction policies can be halted.  Teresa May’s statements indicate the change will not come from the UK, while the Chinese and Indians will do no more than pursue their business-as-usual policies. So that leaves Trump as the only disruptive political force with the potential to derail the green-power gravy train.

Alan Moran runs the website Regulation Economics (www.regulationeconomics.com).



[1] http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/07/25/duterte-addressing-climate-change-is-top-priority-for-philippines/

Comments [19]

  1. Peter OBrien says:

    Alan,

    an extract from a recent Quadrant Online article of mine (http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2016/09/creed-climate-scientist/)

    CAGW will end either because of a gradual and growing acceptance that the empirical data do not support the proposition of catastrophic warming (i.e. the science, the genuine science, at last triumphs) or, alternatively, there may be some, as yet unpredictable, watershed event (a Berlin Wall if you like) that causes the edifice to come tumbling down. Regrettably, all the portents are that we will have to rely on the latter.

    I agree that the election of Trump could be that event, assuming he keeps his promise. It is hard to imagine what a Trump presidency would look like. Who will form his Executive? Having achieved his goal will he become part of the establishment? It’s hard to imagine him not having at least some experienced insiders in his cabinet, insiders who might weaken his resolve on Paris.

  2. ianl says:

    > “All things considered, it is hard to see how the momentum to impose emission-reduction policies can be halted”

    I have thought so for quite some years now, as the various combinations of MSM and politico-bureaucracy have enormous, swollen inertia, constantly egged on by a number of hypocritical, disingenuous scientists who most certainly know better.

    The real weakness in this essay is the reasons proffered for these forces being so disposed to prosecute savage economic regression. Of course, the green NGO’s, banks and windmill/solar panel manufacturers perceive an increasingly captive market, but what zealotry drives those without vested financial interest ? The answer, unpalatable to most people of goodwill, is the ancient one of Noble Cause Corruption. We have observed this vain perniciousness in varying degrees across the human spectrum (I remember a SA Police Commissioner under oath finally admitting he had deliberately lied to Cabinet because he had a higher duty), but the sheer seductive strength of “saving the planet” is far too strong to resist. It reminds me irresistibly of the appeal to an actor of emotionally meaty ham-it-up roles.

    Empirical evidence, hard won through the Enlightenment as the gold standard, now takes second or third place to hypothesis masquerading as theory. Emotional appeals to non-existent threats easily sway the mass of the populace; empirical evidence demonstrating the emptiness of such appeals is either undisseminated by deliberate MSM design or remains deliberately unarchived and inaccessible. Those who would try to open this to public knowledge are viciously abused in public and shown the meaning of the old custom known as “beyond the pale”.

    It is a version of the Dark Ages, revisited. And now unavoidable, in my view.

    Now cue MacDougall, in dudgeon, … 3 … 2 … 1 …

  3. Bill Martin says:

    They, the catastrophian ACGW cohort are petrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency, which they considered impossible until recently. No telling how far they are prepared to go to prevent it. There is considerable concern that they are now encouraging the level of civil unrest to the point where Obama declares a state of emergency and cancels the election. Desperate people do desperate things.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Clinton is so keen to stop Trump that she recently hinted rather strongly that it wouldn’t be so bad if someone assassinated him. I’m sure she said that.

      • Jody says:

        Yeah, it was Trump who said it alright!!! This rooster will be a feather duster sooner rather than later. But I do feel for Americans – theirs is a ‘hobson’s choice’ election.

        • Ian MacDougall says:

          Jody:
          Greetings.
          Every election I have been involved in has been a search through the names on the ballot paper for the least-worst candidate. But if I was a US voter, it would be relatively easy. In fact, a lay-down misere. That assassination call of Trump’s was total irresponsibility; from an apparently irresponsible man; or should that be overgrown child?

          • nfw says:

            Trump did not say that did he? Could we have the quote? What he said was if she is so anti guns and a gun control freak then she should tell her phalanx of body guards to disarm and then see what happens. The point he was making and you well know it, is that she is afraid of not having guns to protect her but doesn’t want anybody else to have them. A lie of omission of the facts in your simplistic and misleading statement, what do they call it, oh I know, a lie. Clinton is the archetypical “progressive” (aka Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, the Kim Dynasty freak show in North Korea: mass murderers all) who wants protection for herself but not others she wants to control. Now back to the quote please, may we have it?

  4. en passant says:

    I think Michael Crichton said it rather well in the following article:

    http://www.michaelcrichton.com/why-politicized-science-is-dangerous/

    Curiously, I note that Eugenics is making a comeback with some scientists pointing out it was not 100% wrong … (like a stopped clock that is right twice a day). It just needs to be refined. Send me a grant of OPM.

    The druids and wiccans are also back, plus Marxism is gaining strength again thanks to our propaganda schools, for children and even mild questioning of the Part Line consensus is ‘hateful’. And let’s not forget that the Australian musicologist from Graz mused that we need to reestablish death camps for deniers.

    When civilisation becomes too comfortable an ‘inner city Green’ it is easy to dislocate reality from fantasy so that the vast majority never realise, or even know that meat comes from abattoirs, death factories for animals, vegetables and fruit come from irrigated farms that diverted water from ‘wild rivers’ and that the level of CO2 our political elites seek will cause plant growth to fail and result in the destruction of millions of people and species. With a big enough grant I can prove it is true.
    (Actually, it is true, but as there is no kumbayah Omm, Omm and it does not fit the green tinted glasses I am not expecting any accolades any time soon).

  5. Anthony Cox says:

    Alarmism, for that is what it is, has no evidence at all; what there is a scintilla of barely relevant physical properties which include CO2, under Earth conditions, being capable of absorbing photons from a limited part of the EM spectrum. That’s about it. Climate on this planet is dominated by the Sun and its proxy water in all its forms. Alarmism persists because of the money, the egos and the ideology much of which is misanthropic.

    Alarmism has corrupted science, diverted $100s of billions towards dead ends like renewables and bankrupted national economies like Spain, Denmark and with the continued bidding war between the dumb and dumber of the coalition and the ALP, possibly Australia.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Alarmism has corrupted science, diverted $100s of billions towards dead ends like renewables and bankrupted national economies like Spain, Denmark… etc

      These climate fraudsters have no scruples whatever. First starting over 100 years ago they get a bodgie chemist like that dumb Swede Arrhenius to cook up this scam, then they start persuading gullible scientific organisations like the AAAS, the Royal Society and the CSIRO to buy into it. Well, the only convincing those shysters need is about the huge piles of money to be made. (“Grants! Think of the grants!”
      “Say no more, mate. We’re in!”)
      In no time at all, politicians are all over it like BBQ flies on some leftover sausage. Except the few clear-sighted ones like Tony Abbott who are not buying any of it. But unfortunately for Australia, the world and beyond, Tony got torpedoed by that treacherous Turnbull and his gang of climate wimps in the Coalition.
      So what’s next? The markets for coal starting to dry up?
      Meanwhile, in their smoke-filled back rooms, the alarmist egotists, card-sharps, bankers and leftist ideologues build extra layers of detail into their scam; laughing their heads off as governments go bonkers and banko.
      “What’s it all coming to?” some cackle, as they take another swig of Bolly from the bottle.
      “More! More! More! Give us more!” say the lab-coated mountebanks, the crooks of Climategate and the charlatans in their taxpayer-funded sedan chairs.
      Like the Universe, it will just go on forever. What’s to stop it?

      • nfw says:

        Oh dear. It must be a wonderful but sad world you inhabit with the unicorns and fairies. Could we have a discussion about union thugs and corruption as well? Perhaps one day somebody might make up a story about a federal politician taking Chinese money to pay his bills. No, that would never happen. What about the backroom boys and girls using the credit cards funded by poor and lowly paid workers so they can have private schools for their children? Perhaps the contents of the Climategate emails might be a talking point. I know, how about the fact all the pollie bears are dying. Oh, no that’s wrong as they are actually doing very well according to the real experts. I know, I know, how about Tim Flim Flammery’s “it will never rain again” while Warragamba Dam spills? The there was the latest ship of fools in the Arctic which almost came to grief due to all the ice. Not to mention the ship of fools which had to be rescued, was that using hydrocarbon fuel, in the Antarctic a few years ago. They are always good talking points. And don’t forget the famous 97%, that’s always a good laugh.

        • Jody says:

          Do you think these issues are an ‘either/or’ paradigm? The truth often resides somewhere in the middle, I find. I wonder why you’ve dragged so many peripheral issues into the ‘discussion’. (I wonder if I wonder.)

        • Ian MacDougall says:

          “Could we have a discussion about union thugs and corruption as well?”
          Certainly. If you put a bit of meat down in front of a blowfly, no prizes for guessing what will happen. Who said union officials are saints? Or politicians? I never did.
          If Tim Flannery actually did say “it will never rain again” he would have been most foolish. The world’s weather is determined by processes in an essentially chaotic ocean-atmosphere system. The despised computer models are good at short-term prediction, but the further out we go the more imprecise it all becomes. And ‘never’ is a helluva long way out.
          But none the less, the world is warming, and at rates that show that it can’t have been going on for long in terms of human historical time.

        • Lawrie Ayres says:

          I have to take you to task over the private school issue. Taxpayers pay the equivalent of 5/8ths the amount to private school students compared to public school children. The families of private school children subsidize the rest not as you infer. Why are private schools awash in stadia, swimming pools and tennis courts; because past students contribute to fund raisers. There must be successful ex students from public schools so why do they not subscribe to a new pool or a new basketball court? Because they were told it was free and they expect all improvements to be “free”; taxpayer funded.

      • Another Maunder Minimum. At my age I doubt if I’ll experience one, but my grandchildren will see the death of ‘dangerous AGW’.