Unintended Consequences – GWPF Report 16

I have followed the GWPF for some time and have been very impressed with the quality of their reports. This latest paper is damning of “carbon” reduction policies designed to be ethical and proving to be exactly the opposite in practice.

Some quotations and the odd comment, emphasis given is mine:

Meanwhile, fossil fuel production was actively discouraged by raising the prices borne by consumers. For example, the Supplementary Charge – a su- pertax on UK oil and gas fields – was raised from 10% in 2002 to 32% today. Together with corporation tax, these rates mean that some oil and gas fields now suffer a marginal tax rate of 81%.

So we should not be surprised that marginal oil and gas fields suddenly become uneconomic and jobs are shed at an alarming rate. No amount of coercion on the part of policy makers will allow energy companies to escape this trap. Either the tax rates are reduced or the subsidies for renewables are removed to make fossil fuel energy competitive – and in the process allow the poorest to keep heating their homes.

On biofuels:

The result has been the felling of large areas of rainforest, with Indonesia alone reporting the clearing of as much as ten million acres – an area approx- imately twice the size of Wales – to make way for palm trees.

The biofuels researcher Timothy Searchinger has calculated that once the massive release of greenhouse gases caused by converting grassland and rainforest into cropland is taken into account, introduction of biofuels produces increases in greenhouse emissions, the size of the rise being as much as a doubling for corn ethanol production.

This theme comes up again and again, policies design to reduce CO2 emissions actually have the opposite effect. And on their impact on food prices:

However, it is undoubtedly true that prices are now higher than they would have been with- out the biofuels mandates and tax incentives.

One study has estimated that biofuels could be causing as many as 192,000 excess deaths per year.

And on switching power stations to biofuel:

Many UK-based generators expect to import wood chips from the USA, where a decline in demand for roundwood as a result of the economic downturn has caused a temporary increase in supply. It has long been recognised that the low-energy density of biomass makes transport over large distances uneconomic, but with the Renewables Obligation in place these isues can be overlooked by generators.

Indeed, there are reports that clearcutting of North American forests has already begun.

On wind farms, tourism and wildlife:

The result is that energy generators that were previously operating at optimum efficiency become much less efficient and produce more carbon dioxide emissions than they would have done previously.

By 2012, Scotland had installed nearly 3000 turbines and with applications coming in at nearly seven each day, and new surveys suggesting that as many as a quarter of visitors were being put off by the industrialisation of the landscape, tourism chiefs felt moved to act.

Researchers have found that the passing of a turbine blade causes a sudden pressure drop that is of such a magnitude that it can cause bats’ lungs to explode.

On solar:

Keeping the toxic contents of photovoltaic cells out of the natural environment requires careful recycling at the end of their lives.44 Although some manufacturers have instituted such recycling schemes, it is unclear at present whether this will ever be an economic proposition, and it may be that as governments’ willingness to support solar PV projects wanes, the toxic cells will simply be abandoned.

The feed-in-tariffs regime gives the operators of renewables plant returns far above market prices for the power they generate. In some countries with similar regimes for renewables, the absurdly high prices have led to considerable levels of fraud. In the past, operators have found it profitable to use diesel generators to produce electricity, which they sold on to the grid on the pre- tence that it had come from a solar array. This fraud was only detected when regulators noticed that operators were able to generate electricity at night.

On the the Clean Development Mechanism policy to pay manufacturers to destroy HFC23 (a by product of producing refrigerants):

The upshot of this influx of western money was to completely change the behaviour of the refrigerant manufacturers. Instead of HFC23 being merely a by-product of their manufacturing process, it came to represent their principal product, with refrigerants an inconvenient low-margin sideline. The factories were in effect being incentivised to produce this most powerful of greenhouse gases and, inevitably, output was ramped up accordingly. Before long HFC23 schemes came to dominate the Clean Development Mechanism, accounting for around 60% of CERS issued.

On the the EU Emissions Trading Scheme:

In the early phases of the scheme, big fossil fuel users – energy companies and big manufacturing concerns – were handed large numbers of free permits to emit greenhouse gases, at a volume that was often far in excess of their actual needs. These companies were then able to make enormous wind-fall profits by selling their permits on. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has reported that this allocation of free permits is likely to continue, possibly until 2020.

The ETS scheme has also been subject to extraordinary levels of fraud. In one example, rogue carbon traders charged VAT when they sold permits, but did not pass on the tax to the UK authorities, instead diverting it to privately held accounts in the Middle East. This particular scheme cost the taxpayer £38 million, but estimates for the total cost of these frauds across the EU is of the order of £3 billion per annum.

And on fuel poverty, where the major political parties and greens should hang their heads in shame:

Fuel poverty is not simply a matter of discomfort for those affected. For many, particularly the elderly, it can be a matter of life and death. In England and Wales there are typically of the order of 25,000 excess deaths each year in winter and an official study of the problem conservatively estimated that 10% of these might be attributed to fuel poverty. These two or three thousand individuals are direct victims of climate change policy, and their number is only expected to increase.

Full paper with references here.

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