Climate Blame and Shame

Update February 15, 2017

The EU is already loading these reporting requirements onto pension funds.

IORP II applies to all the 14,358 registered EU pension funds, among which 160 have cross-border activities.

Member States (EU countries) have until January 13, 2019 to transpose IORP II into their national law, which was published early January in the Official Journal of the European Union. According to current projections, the implementation deadline should therefore fall before Brexit, an important fact considering that the UK accounts for 50 percent of the EU occupational pension fund sector, followed by the Netherlands (33 percent).

New EU Directive Requires Pension Funds to Assess Climate-related Risks

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board provides an insight into the expanding bureaucracy working to impose climatism on businesses around the world. Since Paris COP agreement is not legally binding, the effort is on forcing reporting on national commitments and pointing fingers at laggards.

At the microeconomic level, the mission is to load regulatory requirements onto corporations to force them into statements of belief and responsibility for mythical changes in future weather and climate.

The Mission is presented in Making Climate Disclosure the New Norm in Business

In short, the Task Force Recommendations report encourages all financial organizations, ranging from banks, insurance companies, to asset managers and asset owners, and companies with public debt or equity, to disclose in a transparent and consistent way their financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change.

Image: Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures

The report is the result of one year of work by the Task Force on climate-related financial disclosures, a business and investors-led initiative, launched at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, and convened by the Financial Stability Board.

The aim of the initiative is to drive the adoption of the recommendations across the G20 countries, as the final version of the report will be released in July and presented to the G20 leaders gathering in Hamburg. Having the support of the governments of the largest economies in the world would be the ultimate step to make climate disclosure the new norm.

The CDSB Board of Directors (all carrying climate activist resumes)

Pankaj Bhatia Director of GHG Protocol Initiative, World Resources Institute

Henry Derwent Honorary Vice President, International Emissions Trading Association

Dr Rodney Irwin Managing Director, Redefining Value & Education, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Mindy S. Lubber JD, MBA President, Ceres Director, Investor Network on Climate Risk

David Rosenheim Executive Director, The Climate Registry

Damian Ryan Acting CEO, The Climate Group

Richard Samans (Chairman) Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum

Paul Simpson Chief Executive Officer, CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project)

Gordon Wilson Senior Manager PwC, Chairman, Technical Working Group, Climate Disclosure Standards Board

Rough seas ahead for Captains of Industry

 

 

Precipitation Misunderstandings

 

A previous post on Temperature Misunderstandings addressed mistaken notions about the meaning of temperature measurements and records. This post looks at rainfall, the other primary determinant of climates. For this topic California provides the means for everyone to see how misconceptions arise, and how to see precipitation statistics in context.

Lessons learned from the end of California’s “permanent drought”

A report by Larry Kummer documents how extensively California’s recent shortage of water was proclaimed as a “permanent drought”. And it goes on to document how El Nino conditions have ended the water shortage.

Status of the California drought

“During the past week, a series of storms bringing widespread rain and snow showers impacted the states along the Pacific Coast and northern Rockies. In California, the cumulative effect of several months of abundant precipitation has significantly improved drought conditions across the state.”
— US Drought monitor – California, February 9.

Precipitation over California in the water year so far (October 1 to January 31) is 178% of average for this date. The snowpack is 179% of average, as of Feb 8. Our reservoirs are at 125% of average capacity. See the bottom line summary as of February 7, from the US Drought monitor for California.

The improvement has been tremendous. The area with exceptional drought conditions have gone year over year from 38% of California to 0%, extreme drought from 23% to 1%, severe drought from 20% to 10% — while dry and moderate drought went from 18% to 48%, and no drought from <1% to 41%. See the map below. And the rain continues to fall.

In addition there is the saga of Oroville dam threatened by its reservoir overfilling.

Confusing Weather and Climate

As with temperature, rainy weather is not climate. Neither is fair, sunny weather permanent. Precipitation is variable in any particular climate, with the seasons and on decadal and mult-decadal bases. For a context on precipitation patterns around the world see Here Comes the Rain Again.

It is a mistake to call a temporary lack of rain a drought, or worse a permanent drought, and equally a mistake to call a return of rainfall the end of a drought. California’s history as a desert environment does not change just because politicians and the public have short memories.

H/T to Eric Simpson for reminding us of that history:

There is also this perceptive comment by tomholsinger

I wouldn’t be so quick about the drought ending. Droughts are ALWAYS multi-season events. I was very impressed by the references below, which made the point that the 20th Century average of ~200 million acre feet of precipitation in California (rain and snow combined) is way more than the average of ~140 million acre feet over the last 2000 years.

Drying of the West, National Geographic

The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us about Tomorrow, Ingram, B. Lynn, and Malamud-Roam, Frances, 2013, University of California Press

Tom goes on to quote himself from a Modesto Bee op-ed almost two years ago.

Global warming has nothing to do with this – history is bad enough. A long-standing pre-industrial regional climate fluctuation seems underway, returning us from the wettest century in the past 1000 years to at least the historic average of much less (~70%) rain and snow. Many paleoclimatologists believe we are entering a still worse mega-drought .

An extreme drought by historic standards means a drop to 35-40% of the 20th Century average for 10-20 years. California has experienced two centuries-long such extreme mega-droughts in the past 2000 years.

Our average 20th Century precipitation (rain and snow combined) produced about 200 million acre feet of water annually over the whole state. 118 million acre feet went to nature in 2000, and 82 million was allocated by humans – the first 39 million for federal mandates, 9 million was used by people and industry, and the last 34 million for irrigation. A drop to the historic average of ~140 million acre feet over the past 2000 years means extinction for California agriculture – it would bear almost all the burden of the decrease even if the federal water is released. An extreme drought means a drop to about 75 million acre feet, and we might be starting 1-2 centuries of that.

This is happening to the entire Southwest . ~20 million acre feet of the Southwest’s precipitation annually entered the Colorado River in the 20th Century, of which ~12 million is currently withdrawn by Americans. Colorado River flow too has averaged much less over the past 2000 years (12-14 million acre fee annually), and it drops to 7-8 million in droughts which sometimes last centuries.

A drop to only the historic average precipitation over the past 2000 years means catastrophe for the Southwest. 2/3 of the very wet 20th Century average is normal for the entire area. We can expect ALL of California’s allotment of Colorado River to be diverted to urban areas in Arizona and Nevada in the decades of drought the region seems to be entering.

Summary

As with temperatures, changes in precipitation are misinterpreted when taken out of historical context. This is usually done to hype a sociopolitical agenda by distracting people from the baseline realities to which we can only adapt, not prevent.

The rainfall measures above show that California enjoyed an unusually wet century and it would have been prudent to take advantage of it by storing water resources. As the fable tells us, grasshoppers live for today, ants prepare for tomorrow.

Arctic Ice Going and Coming

output_1ctjsm

As I said previously, most of the Arctic seas are now frozen solid, so all the action is confined to just two places where ice will grow or not, making the difference between this year and others.  There is a lot of fussing from alarmists about a storm bringing warm air from the North Atlantic, and this is indeed affecting the ice extent in Barents Sea, one of the two dynamic places at this point in the year.

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-18.40,68.10,459/loc=2.182,47.571

The wind pattern is visible in the nullschool image link above.  And we can see some ice retreating in Barents at this time.  However, Nature has a way of giving back when she takes away, and in this case, Baffin is growing more than Barents is losing.

In these two weeks, Barents first grew 144k km2 of ice up to 492k km2 extent, besieging Svalbard, then lost 53k km2.  At the same time, Baffin grew steadily to gain 240k km2 in 10 days to arrive at 1523k km2, more than 100k above average.

Similarly, both freezing and melting appear in the other dynamic place, the Pacific seas of Okhotsk and Bering.

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-195.48,46.95,606/loc=143.378,43.684

There a pair of subpolar gyres are diverting southern air away from Bering and Okhotsk, allowing normal freezing to return.

output_yoqh8a

In the Pacific, Okhotsk grew 154k km2 of ice to reach 1.2 M km2, 25% above the 11-year average, and then gave back 94k.  Meanwhile in the last 16 days, Bering first gained 69k km2, then lost 163k km2, then gained back 90k in the last 5 days, almost the same extent as the beginning.

Summary

The end result of the fluctuations is an overall  gain of 450k km2 in Arctic ice extent despite the influence of weather events.  The only place where Arctic ice extent is down this year is in Bering Sea, more than offset by Baffin and Okhotsk.

Footnote:
The nullschool image shows that Kamchatka Peninsula protects Okhotsk from prevailing wind, and may explain why ice formation is not inhibited there as it is in Bering.

 

 

 

AMO: Atlantic Climate Pulse

I was inspired by David Dilley’s weather forecasting based upon Atlantic water pulsing into the Arctic Ocean (see post: Global Weather Oscillations). So I went looking for that signal in the AMO dataset, our best long-term measure of sea surface temperature variations in the North Atlantic.

ATLANTIC MULTI-DECADAL OSCILLATION (AMO)

For this purpose, I downloaded the AMO Index from Kaplan SST v.2, the unaltered and untrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N.

For an overview the graph below presents a comparison between Annual, March and September averages from 1856 to 2016 inclusive.

amo-march-sept

We see about 4°C difference between the cold month of March, and warm September. The overall trend is slightly positive at 0.27°C per century, about 10% higher in September and 10% lower in March. It is also clear that monthly patterns resemble closely the annual pattern, so it is reasonable to look more closely into Annual variability.

The details of the Annual fluctuations in AMO reveal the pulse pattern suggested by Dilley.

amo-pulses-2

We note firstly the classic pattern of temperature cycles seen in all datasets featuring quality-controlled unadjusted data. The low in 1913, high in 1944, low in 1975, and high in 1998. Also evident are the matching El Nino years 1998, 2009 and 2016, indicating that what happens in the Pacific does not stay in the Pacific.

Most interesting are the periodic peaking of AMO in the 8 to 10 year time frame. The arrows indicate the peaks, which as Dilley describes produce a greater influx of warm Atlantic water under the Arctic ice. And as we know from historical records and naval ice charts, Arctic ice extents were indeed low in the 1930s, high in the 1970s, low in the 1990s and on a plateau presently.

Conclusion

I am intrigued but do not yet subscribe to the Lunarsolar explanation for these pulses, but the AMO index does provide impressive indication of the North Atlantic role as a climate pacemaker. Oceans make up 71% of the planet surface, so SSTs directly drive global mean temperatures (GMT). But beyond the math, Atlantic pulses set up oscillations in the Arctic that impact the world.

In the background is a large scale actor, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) which is the Atlantic part of the global “conveyor belt” moving warm water from the equatorial oceans to the poles and back again.  For more on this deep circulation pattern see Climate Pacemaker: The AMOC

Global Weather Oscillations

H/T to No Tricks Zone for posting (here) on the remarkable forecasting record of Global Weather Oscillations Inc. founded by David Dilley. The ability to predict storm activity demonstrates an understanding of earth’s climate system dynamics. The theory and supporting evidence are available to all in a free ebook Natural Climate Pulse

The heart of the matter seems to be Mr. Dilley’s extracting from very long term Milankovitch Cycles to determine decadal variations in weather activity. From the ebook pp. 16 ff.

Earth’s Natural Rhythm and Global Warming -Cooling Cycles

After researching various elements of the Milankovitch Cycles, Mr. Dilley found that specific sub-cycles which are called the “Lunisolar Precession” are a major factor in determining and maintaining the earth’s natural climate rhythm. It is the Lunisolar Precession that controls almost all of earth’s climate cycles, and it is well known throughout the climatological science community, that specific “Milankovitch Cycles” are the primary mechanism that controls glacial and interglacial periods on earth. If it were not for the gravitational tidal field of the moon, and the electromagnetic and gravitational tidal field of the sun, earth would spin out of control (ref: 23). It is these two bodies that keep earth’s orbit and tilt within certain limits, and provide earth’s climate cycles.

Mr. Dilley researched the Lunisolar Precession cycles for over 20 years, and correlated specific cycles to recurring cycles of climate. GWO incorporated his findings into climate – weather forecast models which provide a unique approach and extremely accurate long range cycle predictions for historical major earthquakes, regional hurricane landfalls many years in advance, historical floods, droughts, natural carbon dioxide cycles, global warming and global cooling cycles.

david-dilley-global-weather-cycles_image_16

Figure 16 shows the approximate 9-year Lunisolar gravitational cycle. It is this cycle that is a major contributor to earth’s climate cycles. (Created by Global Weather Oscillations Inc.)

During the 1998 Global Warming Peak, the warm pulse occurred from 1990-93 and again 2004-07,and warmed the Arctic waters below the ice caps up to 1 Degree Celsius above normal. The Arctic Boundary Current from the Atlantic provides the largest input of water, heat, and salt into the Arctic Ocean; the total quantity of heat is substantial, enough to melt the Arctic sea ice cover several times over.
Courtesy…Fate of Early 2000s Arctic Warm Water Pulse Aigor V. Polyakov, Vladmir A. Alexeeve et al, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 92 Number 5, May 2011

david-dilley-global-weather-cycles_image_17

Figure 17 shows the North Atlantic warm water pulse (Ref:41) that enters the Arctic Ocean in coincidence with the 9-year Lunisolar Pulse shown as the red dots in Figure 16.(Created by Global Weather Oscillations Inc.)

Thus it can be seen that it is likely the approximate 9-year Lunisolar gravitational tidal pulse that sets up a rhythm or heartbeat for earth. During the recurring 230-year global warming cycles a very strong gravitation pulse acts like a plunger in the North Atlantic, causing a warm water pulse surge to enter the Arctic Ocean. It takes the warm water 13-years to circulate around the Arctic Ocean (Ref:43), gradually cooling during the period as it mixes with cooler water. It is this pulse that melts the Arctic Ice from the bottom up and eventually causes open waters to appear as melting continues during the lifespan of the pulse.

david-dilley-global-weather-cycles_image_18

Figure 18 Shows the United States temperatures (red line) from 1880 on the left to the year 2008. Notice an approximate 9-year temperature rhythm for temperatures in the United States. Note the peaks in temperatures every 8 to 10 years, which are very similar to the 9-year Lunisolar. (Created by Global Weather Oscillations Inc.)

The strongest pulses are separated by 72-years during the 230-year global warming episode. For instance, a very warm water pulse caused 10-years of warm global temperatures in the 1930s, and a second very warm pulse 72-years later caused 10-years of warm global temperatures from 1998 to 2008. This approximate 9-year pulse also corresponds closely with temperature pulses around the world. If we extend the Lunisolar Precession 9-year Pulse out to an approximate 230-year pulse (full moon cycle only shown here), we get a clear picture of the relationship of the Lunisolar pulse to global warming cycles which occur approximately every 230 years.

Summary

Any theory stands or falls on the success of its predictions about the subject system’s behavior. Dilley is earning respect for his understanding of earth’s climate system. We should also note that his analysis anticipates a cooling period in the next decades, something not foreseen by any climate model builder.

Ice Dance in the Pacific

With the Arctic ice extent maximum due in March, there are only two places where ice will grow or not, making the difference between this year and others.  Yesterday, we looked at one of them Ice Taking Hold in Barents Sea and saw dramatic growth in a single week.

This post features the Pacific seas of Okhotsk and Bering, where a peculiar dance can be seen.  The images come from MASIE showing the difference between Feb. 1 and Feb. 4, yesterday.

pac-ice-day35

In those three days Okhotsk grew 103k km2 of ice, while Bering lost 33k km2.  Bering has the same extent now as on Jan. 19, having gained and then lost 140k km2 over those two weeks.  Okhotsk is now at 1.2 M km2, 25% above the 11-year average.

The only place where Arctic ice extent is down this year is in Bering Sea.

Update February 6

Pethefin provides in his comment an informative link to the current wind patterns over these seas:
https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-195.48,46.95,606/loc=143.378,43.684

As the nullschool graphic shows, the polar gyres are pulling southern air up and over Bering Sea.  The Kamchatka Peninsula protects Okhotsk from that pattern, and may explain why ice formation is not inhibited as it is in Bering.

Meanwhile, on the Atlantic side, nullschool shows why Barents has been gaining ice.  The gyre is positioned southwest of Iceland and drawing most of the southern air away from Barents.

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-18.40,68.10,459/loc=2.182,47.571

 

 

Climate Poppycock

Definition
pop·py·cock ˈpäpēˌkäk/informal noun meaning nonsense.
Synonyms: nonsense, rubbish, claptrap, balderdash, blather, moonshine, garbage;

Origin: mid 19th century: from Dutch dialect pappekak, from pap ‘soft’ + kak ‘dung.’

This is obviously the linguistically correct term for most of the articles on climate published in the mainstream media. And it serves to describe perfectly the output from alarmist activists.

Exhibit A is provided by Ken Ward, leader of the “valve turners” and defendant facing felony charges in Washington state.

This week he succeeded to convince a juror to refuse him conviction because in his defense he “put up a map of Skagit County, about a third of which will be under water in 2050.”

I call “Poppycock.”  A study from U. of Washington came up with a range of 1″ to 18″ SLR by 2050 for coastal Washington state. Not only will that not flood the place, the range tells you they are shooting in the dark.

http://www.cses.washington.edu/db/pdf/moteetalslr579.pdf

For a deeper look into this phenomenon, see Post-Truth Climatism

Ice Taking Hold in Barents Sea

In just the last week, the progression of ice extents in Barents Sea is impressive.  The first image from MASIE is January 27, 2017.  h/t Pethefin

google-ice-day-27

Then a week later on February 3 we see that Svalbard is almost enclosed.

google-ice-day-34

In that one week Arctic ice gained 240k km2 up to 14.3 M km2, including Barents Sea adding 145k km2.  Thanks to MASIE we can see Arctic ice growing before our eyes.

One Week in Barents Sea shows Svalbard under siege.

output_sym66e

 

Jury Hangs Instead of Climate Activist

 

Sitting in the Skagit County Courthouse in the middle of the so-called “valve turners,” Ken Ward had this to say just hours before a jury decided his fate.

“I’m feeling pretty relaxed,” Ward said.

He testified Tuesday about the day he and four others shut off tar sands oil pipelines across the country.

“It was a fabulous opportunity to explain to the jurors pretty succinctly why I did it. I put up a map of Skagit County, about a third of which will be under water in 2050. That’s why I did it,” Ward said.

“I thought they would just convict me, but they didn’t,” said Ward, who was facing up to 20 years on charges of burglary and sabotage.

“It’s not immediately obvious what a hung jury means,” he said. “But as we were sitting there we realized: Wait a minute. No, this is not just a moment of confusion. This means a jury presented with a video of exactly what I did wasn’t willing to convict. That’s huge.”

“Apparently they cared more about climate cataclysm than enforcing the law. It’s quite astounding.”

Four others involved in the Oct. 11 shutdown of tar-sands oil pipelines still face trial in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, Ward said.

Ward said he expects more citizen dissent, and widespread acts of civil disobedience to push back against Trump’s embrace for more mining, drilling and transport of fossil fuels.

On February 9, prosecutors will announce whether or not they will retry the case.

More details from Seattle Times (here)

Conclusion

It is a triumph of fear over facts. We know what a hung jury means. Out of twelve people, one had drunk the same koolaid as Ward and refused to convict him. Do we now have post-normal law (an oxymoron for sure), just as perverted as post-normal science?

Background in Previous Post: Climate Case: Judge Defends Rule of Law

Some time ago, climate activists noticed they were not winning over the American public, whose opinion was deeply divided on global warming/climate change. They turned to legal venues to promote their agenda, including shareholder proposals and legal complaints.

Any jurisdiction, like Massachusetts or the UK, who enacted reductions of fossil fuel emissions will be subject to legal suits for not achieving emission targets. In such court proceedings, global warming/climate change, temperature changes, extreme weather etc. are all of them beside the point. Once such a law is in place, the belief has served only as a cover to compel energy policies no longer needing any reference to climate science or its uncertainties.

Washington state is one of the most liberal in the US, and thus a hotbed of climate alarm and activism. In the November general election, the state was the first to vote on imposing a carbon tax. The measure was defeated, but only because social justice groups and many environmental activists argued it did not go far enough in promoting clean energy.
Washington State Voters Reject Nation’s First Carbon Tax

Last November, children were recruited to bring a case against the federal government for not stopping climate change, and the judge in that case agreed to hear their complaint. Washington Youth Sue Over Climate Change

In this context, we have a brave judge standing up for the rule of law in a case of civil disobedience.  The defendant Ken Ward is an Oregon-based environmental activist who turned off an oil pipeline in Washington state last October 11. He does not dispute his criminal behavior, but claims his actions were necessary to defend the planet.

The 60-year-old Corbett, Ore. man faces three felony charges and one misdemeanor for shutting off a valve on the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Burlington, Wash, which transports Canadian Tar Sands crude oil into the state for refinement.

At a pre-trial hearing on January 24 in Skagit County, Washington, a judge denied Ward’s defense strategy, known as the necessity defense.

Judge Michael E Rickert said: “I don’t know what everybody’s beliefs are on [climate change], but I know that there’s tremendous controversy over the fact whether it even exists. And even if people believe that it does or it doesn’t, the extent of what we’re doing to ourselves and our climate and our planet, there’s great controversy over that.”

There have been some victories for the necessity defense in the UK and in Massachusetts where a prosecutor in 2014 dropped charges against Ward and another activist who blocked a coal shipment, stating that “climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced”.

But Rickert, an elected judge in Skagit county, north of Seattle, sided with state prosecutors who argued against the necessity defense and have alleged that Ward, co-founder of Climate Disobedience Center, committed burglary, criminal trespass and sabotage.

While explaining the standards for permitting a necessity defense, Rickert said: “It does need to have some immediacy, some imminence, more so than this particular threat and harm, which is climatic change, global warming, whatever.”

He later added that with climate change, there’s “great controversy” with “over half of our political leaders”. (Critics have slammed the GOP as the “only major party in the advanced world” to deny climate change).

Interestingly, only the report in The Guardian (here) quoted Judge Rickert so that readers might hear what he said (the news). But the journalist’s bias came out in several adjectives and parenthetical asides intended to assert his own opinion (fake news) to undermine the judge’s authority.

Ward’s action was a planned act of protest done in conjunction with other “valve turners” in other states. At the same time in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, fellow environmentalists turned off oil pipelines. They broke the law because they believed that the federal government gave them no other choice: by its inaction on climate change issues, they chose to cut off the flow of oil into the country. Williamette Week (here)

Summary

Finally a judge stands up for the rule of law. No religious belief, be it Seventh Day Adventism, or Catastrophic Climatism can be imposed on others, nor be a justification for illegal actions against lawful enterprises. At least the Adventists respect social justice by seeking only to persuade others through discussion rather than by force or violence.

Postscript:

A year ago was another loss in the courts for climate activists on January 15, 2016 in Seattle.

Activists lose criminal case on climate change defense – but judge praises effort

The ‘Delta 5’ had attempted to illegally block trains carrying crude oil near Seattle, and had hoped that their trial would mark the first time that a US jury was allowed to consider the “necessity defense” in a case of climate activism.

But after allowing two days of expert testimony on topics ranging from the Paris climate talks to railway safety standards and the health impacts of particulate matter, Judge Anthony E Howard ruled that the defense had failed to present sufficient evidence to show that the defendants had “no reasonable legal alternative” to trespassing on a private rail yard and blocking trains.

The case is a blow to environmental campaigners but marks the furthest defendants have managed to go in an American courtroom using the so-called “necessity” defense that argues such actions are justified to combat catastrophic climate change.

The activists progressed unusually far because Howard allowed them to call expert witnesses to testify to the harms of climate change, even though he later felt compelled to instruct the jury to disregard their evidence. The judge appeared to do so reluctantly, expressing some sympathy for the activists in a court on Thursday.

“Frankly the court is convinced that the defendants are far from the problem and are part of the solution to the problem of climate change,” Howard said from the bench. But, he added: “I am bound by legal precedent, no matter what my personal beliefs might be.”

That’s two brave judges.  It appears many more courageous judges will be needed.

Ontario Coal Phase-out: All Pain, No Gain


Thanks to Dr. Ross McKitrick for telling the story: It’s official—Ontario’s coal phase-out was all for nothing which appeared in the Financial Post, January 17, 2017.  Excerpts below.

The federal Liberal government plans to impose a national coal phase-out, based on the same faulty arguments used in Ontario, namely that such a move will yield significant environmental benefits and reduce health-care costs. One problem—those arguments never made sense, and now with the Ontario phase-out complete, we can verify not only that they were invalid but that the Ontario government knew it.

First, ample data at the time showed that coal use had little effect on Ontario air quality. Environment Canada’s emissions inventories showed that the Ontario power generation sector was responsible for only a tiny fraction (about one per cent) of provincial particulate emissions, a common measure of air pollution.

Taken together these reports provided a credible basis for predicting that a coal phase-out would only have a small effect on our air quality. They also showed, based on the results of retrofits then underway at the power plants, that the same air quality improvements could be obtained at a fraction of the cost by installing scrubbers on the smokestacks, rather than shutting the coal-fired plants down.

Second, the government’s claims about the health effects of phasing out coal were highly implausible. It stated (and continues to assert) that coal plant emissions cost the province more than $3 billion annually in health-care costs. But this was at a time when the total provincial health-care budget was only about $35 billion annually. In other words, they claimed that nearly one-tenth of all health-care spending was due to illnesses and mortality arising from power plants that, again, were responsible for only about one per cent of annual particulate emissions.

Dr. Aliakbari and I analysed data for the cities of Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa over the 2002-2014 interval. Our statistical model allowed us to isolate the effects of declining Ontario coal use compared to changing emissions from other Canadian and U.S. sources and effects due to weather. In line with our expectations and the prior evidence, we found that phasing out coal was responsible for only very small changes in Ontario air pollution levels.

We did not look at greenhouse gases because they are not local air pollutants, only matter on a global level, and emissions could be offset by purchasing credits anywhere in the world. The climate issue was, and remains, a red herring in the discussion about the costs and benefits of eliminating coal.

Summary

Ontario is suffering a crisis of high and rising electricity costs that’s causing real, long-lasting damage to households and businesses. The province insists the pain is worth it because of the environmental improvements. The numbers show otherwise. Phasing out coal had almost no effect on Ontario’s air pollution levels—and the government at Queen’s Park knew this was likely to be the case. It has all been for nothing.


Ross McKitrick
Professor of Economics, University of Guelph

Two additional points

Firstly, in both the US and Canada, the real motivation is virtue-signalling, posing as fighters of climate change.  The US EPA is also infamous for bogus estimates of public health and air quality benefits to justify costly and onerous energy regulations.

When Ontario government rejected the anti-pollution scrubbers mentioned in the article above, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said: “We’re not going to spend $1.6 billion on technology that doesn’t help climate change. That’s just dumb.”

Secondly, the result was worse than nothing. Ontario’s electricity rates are the fastest rising and among the highest in North America. Ratepayers are being mugged by the once friendly Reddy Kilowatt.

Ontario’s Hall of Pain

Ontario Climate Policy Refugees

Ontario Jammed by Rent-seekers and Ratepayers

Electrical Madness in Green Ontario