Was COP26 Peak Snake Oil?

We’re publishing a guest post by journalist Chris Morrison asking whether COP26 was the high water mark of climate change alarmism.

One of the defining photo opportunities of the recent COP26 climate conference was the image of Tuvalu foreign minister Simon Kofe drawing attention to rising sea levels by addressing the assembly in two feet of water. Inexplicably missing from any commentary on the PR stunt was the welcome news that the Tuvaluan chain of islands actually grew in size from 1971 to 2014. Back in the real world, a 2018 paper by scientists from the University of Auckland found: “Results highlight a net increase in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5ha (2.9%), despite sea-level rise, and land area increase in eight of nine atolls.”

Coral reefs and sand banks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are not the most stable geological formations but numerous natural forces determine their size, apart from small rises or falls in sea levels. Using these islands and others such as the Maldives and the Marshall Islands, which are also increasing in size, is yet another example of faulty science being pressed into political service to advance the cause of net zero.

Was COP26 a success or failure? The always disappointed George Monbiot of the Guardian sounded the usual unhinged Marxist-Leninist call to arms in a piece entitled: “After the failure of COP26, there’s only one last hope for our survival.” “Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilising the 25% who can flip the system,” he wrote.

BBC presenter and activist Chris Packham was also underwhelmed by COP26: “Angry, scared and betrayed. We have been failed and scorned by the stupid, the greedy and the evil. Life is now in mortal danger. But it’s not over, it’s just down to us to do what needs to be done and we need to go to it now.”

Beijing Has Brought Western Environmental Activism Under Its Control

At COP26 China refused to promise to phase out coal and last week the nation broke its own daily record for coal production at 12.05 million tonnes. Bizarrely, China is not perceived as a villain by many of the West’s environmental activists, who instead put the blame for global warming on nations closer to home. The reason for this is likely because Beijing has infiltrated and seized control of much of the West’s environmental institutions, creating an army of ‘useful idiots’ who turn a blind eye to the sins of the Communist regime. The Daily Mail has the story.

Yesterday, green campaigners hailed some modest successes, such as pledges to reduce methane. But back in the real world, China, whose President, Xi Jinping, did not even turn up, is still building coal-fired power stations at a rate of knots and the ‘agreement’ it reached with America to ‘co-operate’ on global warming lacked any substance.

Yet the campaigners in Glasgow barely mentioned, let alone criticised, China. A spokesman for Insulate Britain told me: “We mustn’t use China as a scapegoat.”

Some campaigners even heap praise on China. So why is there such an apparent lack of concern? One answer lies in a book called Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World, by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg. Serialised in the Mail last year, it argues that China has extended its influence over certain institutions in Britain and other democracies in order to blind them to Beijing’s drive for supremacy.

China, the book says, seduces politicians, business people, academics and campaigners into supporting its aims. It regards them as ‘useful idiots’, unwitting instruments of its goal of becoming the world’s only superpower.

Evidence unearthed by this newspaper, working with researchers fluent in Mandarin, shows Western environmentalists have indeed become a target. Documents suggest they are enmeshed with bodies subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and staffed by figures from its most ruthless departments.

They include Xie Zhenhua, China’s Chief Climate Envoy. Until 2012, he was a member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which enforces state orthodoxy. According to Human Rights Watch, it has been responsible for illegal detention, torture and forced confessions.

“I’m dismayed that some leading Western environmentalists are talking up the CCP as the saviour of the world,” Hamilton says. Take, for example, Professor Lord Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, who advises the Government.

Having taught in China since 1998, in 2009 he told a Chinese magazine he had “close contacts” with CCP officials. In 2014, he wrote a paper for the World Economic Forum claiming China was “emerging as a global leader in climate policy”. In 2016 he claimed China’s emissions “may already have peaked”. They hadn’t. The following year, he insisted there was “compelling evidence” China’s coal use had also peaked.

Stern even praised President Jinping’s “personal commitment to driving climate action”, concluding: “The world is looking for a climate champion. In China, it has one.” But in March he sounded less optimistic, saying it is “crucial” China stops building new coal-fired power plants and stops increasing its emissions by 2025.

Nevertheless, Bob Ward, Stern’s Spokesman, told me China was taking “significant action” and the rate of increase in its emissions had slowed enormously. He said China was “keen to learn from the UK’s example of world-leading action on climate change”.

Worth reading in full.

And Finally…

In this week’s London Calling, James and I discuss the COP26 coal deal and wonder whether Greta Thunberg will stage a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm (fat chance); give a shout out to David Perry, the heroic taxi driver whose quick thinking thwarted the terrorist attack in Liverpool; doff our caps to John Cleese, whose self-cancellation forced the President of the Cambridge Union to do a reverse ferret on his proposal to black-list certain speakers in advance; and, in Culture Corner, The Brothers Karimazov, War of the Wolf, American Crime Story: Impeachment, Invasion and Midnight Mass, the new Netflix series which James says has taken a “weird turn”.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.

The Creator of the 1.5C Climate Target has Admitted That the “Simple Number” Was Invented for the Benefit of Politicians

We’re publishing a guest post today by journalist Chris Morrison about the 1.5°C target, the climate change models and the way in which ambitious politicians, self-described ‘scientists’ and rent-seeking industrialists have leapt on the bandwagon to end all bandwagons.

Politics, not science, lies behind the drive to keep global temperatures to 1.5°C. Not the thoughts of your correspondent, but the clear implication of words spoken in 2010 by the so-called father of 2°C, an earlier IPCC target, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. Interviewed by the Der Speigel, Mr Schellnhuber, the IPCC lead author and at the time Angela Merkel’s Climate Adviser, was asked why he had imposed the “magical limit” to which all countries must slavishly adhere. He said: “Politicians like to have clear targets and a simple number is easier to handle.”

Of course, the push to net zero and the ‘settled’ science that is claimed to support the move is political. It is in fact the great political debate of the age, which makes it surprising to see the head of the BBC Tim Davie attempt last week to promote the impartiality of the Corporation by suggesting that climate change is no longer a political issue. To which it might be tempting to reply that Mr Davie no longer fears the approaching climate fireball, because he has already relocated to another planet. Perhaps he hasn’t seen the BBC’s climate editor Justin Rowlett become increasingly agitated with Boris Johnson because the Prime Minister refused to commit to shut down all coal mining. Or read the one-sided output of Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s Energy and Environment Analyst, whom Charles Moore suggests would be happier in a pulpit.

Almost two weeks ago, Jon Snow fronted an hour long Channel 4 News shaking with emotion as he introduced stories featuring fire, flood and climate collapse of almost biblical proportion. Last week he attributed a large plant blocking the rail tracks on his way to Glasgow to climate change. His behaviour might call to mind George Orwell’s famous quote that some ideas are so stupid “that only intellectuals believe them”, but Mr Snow is actually at the cutting edge of new academic research trying to shift the political narrative from global warming to “extreme” weather.

In 2020 the IPCC lead author Professor Reto Knutti published a paper entitled “Climate change now detectable from any single day of weather on a global scale”. This of course is the Holy Grail of climate activism. The last two decades have seen little actual global warming despite higher levels of mostly naturally produced CO2 entering the atmosphere. According to satellite readings published last month, the global temperatures haven’t moved for seven years. In fact, the current high points in the record correspond to the peak of the brief warming in the 1980s and 1990s, suggesting temperatures haven’t really risen for almost 25 years. Perhaps because of this, the move to demonise bad weather, or “extreme” weather, continues apace.

The Follies of ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Risk Consigning Millions to Energy Poverty

There follows a guest post by Ian Hore-Lacy, Senior Adviser to the World Nuclear Association, who is based in Melbourne, Australia, and is concerned about the direction of travel in his home country as it begins to take seriously cutting CO₂ emissions following COP26. Ian was recently interviewed on the Titans of Nuclear podcast (also available on iTunes and Spotify).

In Australia, media reporting of COP26 in Glasgow has been doubling down on reporting every anomalous weather event or sea-level concern as due to climate change, despite some fairly clear scientific findings in the AR6 science report showing such attribution as nonsense. Having spent the best part of two days looking at the AR6 science it is quite clear that we can live with the likely scenarios. The report itself notes that the very high emission and warming scenario SSP5-8.5 “has been debated in light of recent developments in the energy sector” and discounted but cannot be entirely ruled out. It projects a very great increase in coal use and has been carried forward from earlier modelling without real modification. Including this highly improbable, obsolete and extreme scenario, however, has fed a lot of extreme rhetoric by people who should know better, including the head of IPCC, António Guterres.

The language of crisis and catastrophe is used uncritically and without justification. It’s becoming evident that no panic measures will emerge from the Glasgow theatrics, but perhaps a steady focus on improvement, to minimise human contribution to CO₂ levels. In Europe the media focus has been on the current energy crisis, especially in the U.K. Australian PM Scott Morrison did well in Glasgow; he now needs to flesh out the ’technology’ that will save us. He needs to avoid a fight with the opposition Labor party, but somehow prevail in his fight with the renewables rent-seekers who are adding $7 billion per year to Australia’s electricity bills for little effect.

Dodgy Climate Models Should be Discarded

There follows a guest post by journalist Chris Morrison looking at a recent paper by the physicist Nicola Scafetta. It suggests that the main climate models used to predict rising global temperatures aren’t fit for purpose.

A devastating indictment of the accuracy of climate models is contained in a paper just published by the highly credentialed Physicist Nicola Scafetta from the University of Naples. Professor Scafetta analysed 38 of the main models and found that most had over-estimated global warming over the last 40 years and many of them should be “dismissed and not used by policymakers”.

But the majority still are. In the absence of conclusive proof that humans are causing all or most global warming, the science is deemed to be settled almost entirely on the basis of forecasts from models that have never been correct. And of course this lies at the heart of a drive to so-called net zero and the removal from human use of the one cheap and efficient fuel we all rely on to sustain a comfortable, healthy, modern lifestyle – namely, fossil fuel.

At the heart of the climate model problem is determining the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). This is defined in climate science as the increase in the global mean surface temperature that follows a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Nobody knows what this figure is – the science for this crucial piece of the jigsaw is missing, unsettled you may say. So guesses are made and they usually range from 1C to as high as 6C. Models that use a higher figure invariably run hot and Professor Scafetta has proved them to be the least accurate in their forecasts.

Scafetta demonstrates this clearly in the graph (below). The thick green line is the actual average global temperature and all the other lines are the models’ projections. The red lines show the models that put the temperature at 6C. Interestingly, the models started to go haywire at a time when global warming was gaining political traction and debate on the science started to be discouraged. Perish the thought, of course, that the two are in any way related. Scafetta also goes into great detail about the performance of models in all latitudes and concludes “significant model data discrepancies are still observed over extended world regions for all models”.

And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James Delingpole and I devote the best part of an hour to taking the Mickey out of COP26. I challenge James to identify the biggest climate hypocrite of the week: Joe Biden, who brought five passenger jets with him; Dana Strong, the CEO of Sky, which is one of the main sponsors of the conference and who spent the first six months of her job ‘commuting’ to London from her home in Philadelphia on a private jet; or the organisers of COP26, who’ve had to rig up oil-fuelled generators to power the fleet of 260 electric Range Rover they’ve laid on to transport the VIPs from the nearest private jet landing strip to the conference centre. We also just manage to squeeze in a discussion of King Richard, Dune and season three of Succession.

You can listen to the episode here and subscribe on iTunes here.

Cop26 Proves that for the Billionaire Class and their Political Bag-Carriers, Virtue-Signalling is More Important than Being Virtuous

I’ve written a piece for Mail+ about the galactic levels of hypocrisy being exhibited by the billionaires, politicians and celebrities attending COP26. Here is an extract.

If hypocrisy were a type of fuel, the 20,000 attendees at Cop26 in Glasgow would have solved the climate crisis at a stroke.

Yesterday, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos flew in to Glasgow in his £4 8million Gulfstream jet, leading a 400-strong parade of private aircraft transporting billionaires to the climate conference.

The jets, which included one carrying Prince Charles and his entourage from Rome, will disgorge more carbon into the atmosphere in a few days than 1600 Scots burn through in a year.

And the reason these plutocrats are flying in to Glasgow, of course, is to wag their fingers at ordinary people, insisting we reduce our carbon emissions or face the wrath of the next generation.

“It’s one minute to midnight,” Boris Johnson warned, neglecting to mention that he has taken more than 20 private flights since becoming Prime Minister.

I would say this means irony is dead, but climate change hypocrisy is a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Every time you think these rich and powerful do-gooders have inflicted a mortal wound on their moral credibility, they carry on as if nothing has happened.

Perhaps the ultimate example of these double standards is Sky chief executive Dana Strong. The broadcaster is one of the main sponsors of Cop26 and Ms Strong has not been shy about lecturing her rivals for not doing enough to promote the green agenda.

So is she leading by example? Not exactly.

For the first six months of her term as chief executive, Dana Strong ‘commuted’ to Sky’s London headquarters from her home in Philadelphia via private jet. That meant she completed the 7,000-mile round trip multiple times before she relocated to London in June.

Worth reading in full.

CNN Reports on COP26, But Gets City Wrong

Much hilarity on Twitter today after CNN’s Wolf Blitzer posted a photograph of himself with Edinburgh Castle in the background, accompanied by the words: “I’m now reporting from Edinburgh in Scotland where 20,00 world leaders have gathered for the COP26 climate summit.” Just one small problem Wolf: COP26 is being held in Glasgow, not Edinburgh.

If CNN can’t even be bothered to check which city COP26 is in, how confident can we be that the broadcaster will check any other ‘facts’ it broadcasts about the ‘Climate Breakdown’?

Why Aren’t Journalists and Politicians More Sceptical About the ‘Net Zero’ Policy, Given that it’s Based on the Outputs of Unreliable Models?

We’re publishing a guest post on the eve of COP26 by journalist Chris Morrison that asks why journalists and politicians are so willing to accept at face value a scientific hypothesis that relies on the outputs of climate models, given that the track record of those models in predicting the future has so far proved to be very poor?

Delegates gathering in Glasgow for COP26 to try to stop the climate heating up face the rather inconvenient truth that the average temperature in Scotland hasn’t moved for about 15 years. Indeed IPCC members might wish to cast a new hockey temperature stick. With the handle now stretched along the horizontal, rather than the vertical, it can replace the previous climate mascot – long gone after some unseemly disputes over the surprise abolition of the medieval warming period and the subsequent mini ice age.

The delegates plan to stay for two weeks. One must hope they have packed warm clothing. For years, average November temperatures in Scotland have been dropping like a stone. It’s so bad that temperatures are falling to levels last seen in the ‘90s – the 1890s.

These trends are not confined to Scotland. Met Office figures show a similar pattern for the U.K. In fact, the 2010s were colder across the U.K. than the 2000s – a fall in average temperature from 9.3C to 9.17C, again according to official Met Office figures. On a global level, both highly accurate satellite measurements and surface measurements show that there has been no warming for seven years – and counting.