Climate Loss and Damage, Legal House of Cards

The big news out of COP27 Sharm El-Sheikh concerns funding for climate “loss and damage.”

Reuters  At COP27, climate ‘loss and damage’ funding makes it on the table

Columbia Climate School Loss and Damage: What Is It, and Will There Be Progress at COP27?

CarbonBrief COP27: Why is addressing ‘loss and damage’ crucial for climate justice?

Etc., Etc., Etc.

Mike Hulme explained the house of cards underlying the claims for compensation from extreme weather loss and damage.  He addressed this directly in his 2016 article Can (and Should) “Loss and Damage” be Attributed to Climate Change?.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

One of the outcomes of the eighteenth negotiating session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Doha last December, was the agreement to establish institutional arrangements to “address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change.” This opens up new possibilities for allocating international climate adaptation finance to developing countries. A meeting this week in Bonn (25–27 February), co-organized by the UN University Institute for Environmental and Human Security and the Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative, is bringing together various scholars and policymakers to consider how this decision might be implemented, possibly by as early as 2015.

At the heart of the loss and damage (L&D) agenda is the idea of attribution—that specific losses and damages in developing countries can be “associated with the impacts of climate change,” where “climate change” means human-caused alterations to climate. It is therefore not just any L&D that qualify for financial assistance under the Convention; it is L&D attributable to or “associated with” a very specific causal pathway.

Developing countries face some serious difficulties—at best, ambiguities—
with this approach to directing climate adaptation finance.

This is particularly so given the argument that the new science of weather attribution opens the possibility for a framework of legal liability for L&D, which has recently gained prominence (see here and here). Weather attribution science seeks to generate model-based estimates of the likelihood that human influence on the climate caused specific weather extremes.

Weather attribution should not, however, be used to make the funding of climate adaptation in developing countries dependent on proving liability for weather extremes.

There are four specific problems with using the post-Doha negotiations on L&D to advance the legal liability paradigm for climate adaptation. First, with what level of confidence can it be shown that specific weather or climate hazards in particular places are caused by anthropogenic climate change, as opposed to a naturally varying climate? Weather attribution scientists claim that such knowledge is achievable, but this knowledge will be partial, probabilistic, and open to contestation in the courts.

Second, even if such scientific claims were defendable, how will we define “anthropogenic?” Weather attribution science—if it is to be used to support a legal liability paradigm—needs to be capable of distinguishing between the meteorological effects of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and those from land use change, and between the effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, black carbon (soot), and aerosol emissions. Each of these sources and types of climate-altering agents implicates different social and political actors and interests, so to establish liability in the courts, any given weather or climate hazard would need to be broken down into a profile of multiple fractional attributions. This adds a further layer of complexity and contestation to the approach.

Third, L&D may often be as much—or more—a function of levels of social and infrastructural development as it is a function of weather or climate hazard. Whether or not an atmospheric hazard is (partially) attributable to a liable human actor or institution is hardly the determining factor on the extent of the L&D. A legal liability framework based on attribution science promotes a “pollutionist approach” to climate adaptation and human welfare rather than a “developmentalist approach.” Under a pollutionist approach, adaptation is primarily about avoiding the dangers of human-induced climate change rather than building human resilience to a range of weather risks irrespective of cause. This approach has very specific political ramifications, serving some interests rather than others (e.g., technocratic and centralized control of adaptation funding over values-centered and decentralized control).

Finally, if such a legal framework were to be adopted, then what account should be taken of “gains and benefits” that might accrue to developing countries as a result of the impacts of climate change? Not all changes in weather and climate hazard as a result of human influence are detrimental to human welfare, and the principle of symmetry would demand that a full cost-benefit analysis lie at the heart of such a legal framework. This introduces another tier of complexity and contestation.

Following Doha and the COP18, the loss and damage agenda now has institutional force, and the coming months and years will see rounds of technical and political negotiation about how it may be put into operation. This agenda, however, should not place climate adaptation funding into the framework of legal liability backed by the new science of weather attribution.

Hulme goes more deeply into the Loss and Damage difficulties in his 2014 paper Attributing Weather Extremes to ‘Climate Change’: a Review.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In this third and final review I survey the nascent science of extreme weather event attribution. The article proceeds by examining the field in four stages: motivations for extreme weather attribution, methods of attribution, some example case studies and the politics of weather event Attribution.

Hulme concludes by discussing the political hunger for scientific proof in support of policy actions.

But Hulme et al. (2011) show why such ambitious claims are unlikely to be realised. Investment in climate adaptation, they claim, is most needed “… where vulnerability to meteorological hazard is high, not where meteorological hazards are most attributable to human influence” (p.765). Extreme weather attribution says nothing about how damages are attributable to meteorological hazard as opposed to exposure to risk; it says nothing about the complex political, social and economic structures which mediate physical hazards.

And separating weather into two categories — ‘human-caused’ weather and ‘tough-luck’ weather – raises practical and ethical concerns about any subsequent investment allocation guidelines which excluded the victims of ‘tough-luck weather’ from benefiting from adaptation funds.

Contrary to the claims of some weather attribution scientists, the loss and damage agenda of the UNFCCC, as it is currently emerging, makes no distinction between ‘human-caused’ and ‘tough-luck’ weather. “Loss and damage impacts fall along a continuum, ranging from ‘events’ associated with variability around current climatic norms (e.g., weather-related natural hazards) to [slow-onset] ‘processes’ associated with future anticipated changes in climatic norms” (Warner et al., 2012:21). Although definitions and protocols have not yet been formally ratified, it seems unlikely that there will be a role for the sort of forensic science being offered by extreme weather attribution science.

Synopsis of this paper is at X-Weathermen are Back!

Integrated Storm Activity Annually over the Continental U.S. (ISAAC)

See also Data vs. Models #3: Disasters

 

 

 

 

Briefing for Sharm El-Sheikh COP 2022

 

Presently the next climate Conference of Parties is scheduled for Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt this November.  Post Covid pandemic, this gathering could well exceed the estimated record attendance of 40,000 at Glasgow last year. 

Some of the pitfalls this time are suggested by a Yahoo News article :‘Disappointed’ Egypt worried UK will renege on climate promises.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

AFP – KHALED DESOUKI

Some 90 heads of state have been confirmed for next month’s UN climate conference, with host country Egypt sending a warning shot to Britain – from whom it will inherit the Cop27 presidency – not to backtrack on its commitments to fight global warming.

An Egyptian government spokesperson said Cairo was “disappointed” by reports that King Charles III, who’d been due to give a speech at the event, had been told not to attend by British Prime Minister Liz Truss.

“The Egyptian presidency of the climate conference acknowledges the longstanding and strong commitment of His Majesty to the climate cause, and believes that his presence would have been of great added value to the visibility of climate action at this critical moment,” the spokesperson said.

“We hope that this doesn’t indicate that the UK is backtracking from the global climate agenda after presiding over Cop26.”

Concerns over net zero

The comments come amid concerns that Britain’s new leadership is less committed to the country’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Truss is already looking to increase domestic gas supplies through increased North Sea drilling

It is hoped that Cop27, taking place from 6-18 November in the resort city of Sharm el Sheikh, will see richer nations finally commit to financing climate adaptation and mitigation efforts in poorer countries already reeling from the impacts of rising temperatures.

Will climate justice be yet another victim of the energy crisis?

Despite climate stress, Africa is in ‘unique’ position to fight global warming

Egypt is pushing to include the so-called “loss and damage” compensation on the summit’s formal agenda.  Securing that money is a thorny issue, with the United States and the European Union last year rejecting calls for a compensation fund at Cop26 in Glasgow.

“We strongly believe that we need all the political will and momentum and direction coming from heads of state to push the process forward,” said Wael Aboulmagd, special representative for the Cop27 presidency, adding the funding issue had become “very, very adversarial”.

Why a COP Briefing?

Actually, climate hysteria is like a seasonal sickness.  Each year a contagion of anxiety and fear is created by disinformation going viral in both legacy and social media in the run up to the autumnal COP (postponed in 2020 due to pandemic travel restrictions).  Now that climatists have put themselves at the controls of the formidable US federal government, we can expect the public will be hugely hosed with alarms over the next few months.  Before the distress signals go full tilt, individuals need to inoculate themselves against the false claims, in order to build some herd immunity against the nonsense the media will promulgate. This post is offered as a means to that end.

Media Climate Hype is a Cover Up

Back in 2015 in the run up to Paris COP, French mathematicians published a thorough critique of the raison d’etre of the whole crusade. They said:

Fighting Global Warming is Absurd, Costly and Pointless.

  • Absurd because of no reliable evidence that anything unusual is happening in our climate.
  • Costly because trillions of dollars are wasted on immature, inefficient technologies that serve only to make cheap, reliable energy expensive and intermittent.
  • Pointless because we do not control the weather anyway.

The prestigious Société de Calcul Mathématique (Society for Mathematical Calculation) issued a detailed 195-page White Paper presenting a blistering point-by-point critique of the key dogmas of global warming. The synopsis with links to the entire document is at COP Briefing for Realists

Even without attending to their documentation, you can tell they are right because all the media climate hype is concentrated against those three points.

Finding: Nothing unusual is happening with our weather and climate.
Hype: Every metric or weather event is “unprecedented,” or “worse than we thought.”

Finding: Proposed solutions will cost many trillions of dollars for little effect or benefit.
Hype: Zero carbon will lead the world to do the right thing.  Anyway, the planet must be saved at any cost.

Finding: Nature operates without caring what humans do or think.
Hype: Any destructive natural event is blamed on humans burning fossil fuels.

How the Media Throws Up Flak to Defend False Suppositions

The Absurd Media:  Climate is Dangerous Today, Yesterday It was Ideal.

Billions of dollars have been spent researching any and all negative effects from a warming world: Everything from Acne to Zika virus.  A recent Climate Report repeats the usual litany of calamities to be feared and avoided by submitting to IPCC demands. The evidence does not support these claims. An example:

 It is scientifically established that human activities produce GHG emissions, which accumulate in the atmosphere and the oceans, resulting in warming of Earth’s surface and the oceans, acidification of the oceans, increased variability of climate, with a higher incidence of extreme weather events, and other changes in the climate.

Moreover, leading experts believe that there is already more than enough excess heat in the climate system to do severe damage and that 2C of warming would have very significant adverse effects, including resulting in multi-meter sea level rise.

Experts have observed an increased incidence of climate-related extreme weather events, including increased frequency and intensity of extreme heat and heavy precipitation events and more severe droughts and associated heatwaves. Experts have also observed an increased incidence of large forest fires; and reduced snowpack affecting water resources in the western U.S. The most recent National Climate Assessment projects these climate impacts will continue to worsen in the future as global temperatures increase.

Alarming Weather and Wildfires

But: Weather is not more extreme.


And Wildfires were worse in the past.
But: Sea Level Rise is not accelerating.

post-glacial_sea_level

Litany of Changes

Seven of the ten hottest years on record have occurred within the last decade; wildfires are at an all-time high, while Arctic Sea ice is rapidly diminishing.

We are seeing one-in-a-thousand-year floods with astonishing frequency.

When it rains really hard, it’s harder than ever.

We’re seeing glaciers melting, sea level rising.

The length and the intensity of heatwaves has gone up dramatically.

Plants and trees are flowering earlier in the year. Birds are moving polewards.

We’re seeing more intense storms.

But: Arctic Ice has not declined since 2007.

 

But: All of these are within the range of past variability.In fact our climate is remarkably stable, compared to the range of daily temperatures during a year where I live.

And many aspects follow quasi-60 year cycles.

The Impractical Media:  Money is No Object in Saving the Planet.

Here it is blithely assumed that the court can rule the seas to stop rising, heat waves to cease, and Arctic ice to grow (though why we would want that is debatable).  All this will be achieved by leaving fossil fuels in the ground and powering civilization with windmills and solar panels.  While admitting that our way of life depends on fossil fuels, they ignore the inadequacy of renewable energy sources at their present immaturity.

 

An Example:
The choice between incurring manageable costs now and the incalculable, perhaps even irreparable, burden Youth Plaintiffs and Affected Children will face if Defendants fail to rapidly transition to a non-fossil fuel economy is clear. While the full costs of the climate damages that would result from maintaining a fossil fuel-based economy may be incalculable, there is already ample evidence concerning the lower bound of such costs, and with these minimum estimates, it is already clear that the cost of transitioning to a low/no carbon economy are far less than the benefits of such a transition. No rational calculus could come to an alternative conclusion. Defendants must act with all deliberate speed and immediately cease the subsidization of fossil fuels and any new fossil fuel projects, and implement policies to rapidly transition the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels.

But CO2 relation to Temperature is Inconsistent.

But: The planet is greener because of rising CO2.

But: Modern nations (G20) depend on fossil fuels for nearly 90% of their energy.

But: Renewables are not ready for prime time.

People need to know that adding renewables to an electrical grid presents both technical and economic challenges.  Experience shows that adding intermittent power more than 10% of the baseload makes precarious the reliability of the supply.  South Australia is demonstrating this with a series of blackouts when the grid cannot be balanced.  Germany got to a higher % by dumping its excess renewable generation onto neighboring countries until the EU finally woke up and stopped them. Texas got up to 29% by dumping onto neighboring states, and some like Georgia are having problems.

But more dangerous is the way renewables destroy the economics of electrical power.  Seasoned energy analyst Gail Tverberg writes:

In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.

These issues are discussed in more detail in the post Climateers Tilting at Windmills

The Irrational Media:  Whatever Happens in Nature is Our Fault.

An Example:

Other potential examples include agricultural losses. Whether or not insurance
reimburses farmers for their crops, there can be food shortages that lead to higher food
prices (that will be borne by consumers, that is, Youth Plaintiffs and Affected Children).
There is a further risk that as our climate and land use pattern changes, disease vectors
may also move (e.g., diseases formerly only in tropical climates move northward).36 This
could lead to material increases in public health costs

But: Actual climate zones are local and regional in scope, and they show little boundary change.

But: Ice cores show that it was warmer in the past, not due to humans.

The hype is produced by computer programs designed to frighten and distract children and the uninformed.  For example, there was mention above of “multi-meter” sea level rise.  It is all done with computer models.  For example, below is San Francisco.  More at USCS Warnings of Coastal Floodings

In addition, there is no mention that GCMs projections are running about twice as hot as observations.

Omitted is the fact GCMs correctly replicate tropospheric temperature observations only when CO2 warming is turned off.

Figure 5. Simplification of IPCC AR5 shown above in Fig. 4. The colored lines represent the range of results for the models and observations. The trends here represent trends at different levels of the tropical atmosphere from the surface up to 50,000 ft. The gray lines are the bounds for the range of observations, the blue for the range of IPCC model results without extra GHGs and the red for IPCC model results with extra GHGs.The key point displayed is the lack of overlap between the GHG model results (red) and the observations (gray). The nonGHG model runs (blue) overlap the observations almost completely.

In the effort to proclaim scientific certainty, neither the media nor IPCC discuss the lack of warming since the 1998 El Nino, despite two additional El Ninos in 2010 and 2016.

Further they exclude comparisons between fossil fuel consumption and temperature changes. The legal methodology for discerning causation regarding work environments or medicine side effects insists that the correlation be strong and consistent over time, and there be no confounding additional factors. As long as there is another equally or more likely explanation for a set of facts, the claimed causation is unproven. Such is the null hypothesis in legal terms: Things happen for many reasons unless you can prove one reason is dominant.

Finally, advocates and IPCC are picking on the wrong molecule. The climate is controlled not by CO2 but by H20. Oceans make climate through the massive movement of energy involved in water’s phase changes from solid to liquid to gas and back again. From those heat transfers come all that we call weather and climate: Clouds, Snow, Rain, Winds, and Storms.

Esteemed climate scientist Richard Lindzen ended a very fine recent presentation with this description of the climate system:

I haven’t spent much time on the details of the science, but there is one thing that should spark skepticism in any intelligent reader. The system we are looking at consists in two turbulent fluids interacting with each other. They are on a rotating planet that is differentially heated by the sun. A vital constituent of the atmospheric component is water in the liquid, solid and vapor phases, and the changes in phase have vast energetic ramifications. The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 200 watts per square meter. Doubling CO2 involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. In this complex multifactor system, what is the likelihood of the climate (which, itself, consists in many variables and not just globally averaged temperature anomaly) is controlled by this 2% perturbation in a single variable? Believing this is pretty close to believing in magic. Instead, you are told that it is believing in ‘science.’ Such a claim should be a tip-off that something is amiss. After all, science is a mode of inquiry rather than a belief structure.

Summary:  From this we learn three things:

Climate warms and cools without any help from humans.

Warming is good and cooling is bad.

The hypothetical warming from CO2 would be a good thing.

 

SEC Not Climate Change Enforcer

It should junk its proposed disclosure rule, which is clearly unconstitutional
as per West Virginia v. EPA.

The Supreme Court’s June decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency was a shot across the bow of the administrative state. The decision implicates many executive and independent agencies’ rulemakings, but perhaps none more so than the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate-disclosure rule. The proposal would convert the federal securities regulator into a greenhouse-gas enforcer looking over the shoulders of exchange-listed companies’ directors. Much like the EPA regulation the justices struck down, the new SEC proposal would exceed the authority Congress granted to the agency. If the SEC were wise, it would rethink its rule, lest it face a similar fate in court and see its rulemaking effort thrown into the regulatory waste bin.

Writing for a 6-3 majority in West Virginia, Chief Justice John Roberts invalidated the EPA’s Clean Power Plan under the “major questions” doctrine, which limits an agency’s power to act on issues of “economic and political significance” without clear authorization from Congress.

The court’s doctrine is a species of the separation of powers—specifically the nondelegation principle, which bars the legislature from giving lawmaking power to the executive branch. James Madison argued the point forcefully in the Federalist Papers and in the First Congress. The early Supreme Court let Congress allow the executive to “fill up the details” of “general provisions” of legislation but emphasized that “important subjects . . . must be entirely regulated by the legislature itself.”

In keeping with this principle, the modern Supreme Court has refused to allow administrative agencies “to ‘work around’ the legislative process” to resolve questions “of great political significance,” as Justice Neil Gorsuch noted in his West Virginia concurrence. Court decisions over the past three decades have blocked agencies’ efforts to resolve policy disputes without clear congressional authorization. Those cases range from regulating tobacco to changing telecommunications rate regulation—and, during the Covid pandemic forestalling tenant evictions and broadly mandating vaccines.

The SEC’s regulation is of a piece with those the court has struck down. We warned in a June 16 comment letter to the agency that Congress never assigned the SEC the task of overseeing environmental concerns.

Yet that’s exactly what it sets out to do in its climate rule.

As GOP-appointed SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce noted in a March dissent, the agency is attempting to mandate that companies disclose a host of “climate-related risks; climate-related effects on strategy, business model, and outlook; board and management oversight of climate-related issues; processes for identifying, assessing, and managing climate risks; plans for [climate change] transition; financial statement metrics related to climate; greenhouse gas emissions; and climate targets and goals.”

By sweeping upstream and downstream contractors into its proposed rule, the SEC seeks to regulate companies that aren’t traded on public stock exchanges and therefore should be wholly outside the commission’s regulatory reach. The proposed rule would casually toss aside the “materiality” standard, which limits mandated disclosures to financially material information.

The proposed rule would also implicitly reallocate power from corporate boards and order them to bring climate-related risks to the fore of company priorities—in direct conflict with longstanding state corporate law. Though Congress could pre-empt state law concerning corporate governance, an agency on its own has no such power.

In other words, the SEC’s proposal contravenes foundational principles of separation of powers and federalism. As Justice Gorsuch observed in West Virginia, the major-questions doctrine comes into play “when an agency seeks to intrude into an area that is the particular domain of state law.” The Supreme Court made clear 45 years ago in Santa Fe Industries v. Green (1977) that “absent a clear indication of federal intent, the Court should be reluctant to federalize the substantial portion of the law of corporations that deals with transactions in securities, particularly where established state policies of corporate regulation would be overridden.”

The SEC didn’t acknowledge or seriously engage any of these issues in its 490-page proposal. Though the agency lacks environmental expertise, it employs talented legal minds who understand these legal constraints and could have counseled against venturing beyond delegated authority. If such advice was given, it evidently wasn’t heeded.

But perhaps that will soon change. West Virginia v. EPA provides the SEC with the incentive to revise its approach and focus on the parameters of its authority before finalizing its proposed climate rule, which the agency initially suggested would be released in October. It may well be that the SEC needs to update the guidance on climate-change disclosures it issued over a decade ago. But in doing so, it needs to follow the law—and leave the big issues to the legislative branch, as the Constitution requires.

Mr. Sharfman is a senior corporate governance fellow with the RealClearFoundation. Mr. Copland is a senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The Unelected: How an Unaccountable Elite Is Governing America.”

 

No Stopping Wind and Solar in Cal and NY States

Hecate Energy, a developer, owner and operator of renewable power projects and energy storage solutions, has received state approval of its siting application for the 500 MW Cider Solar Farm in New York.

Wondering where will be spent hundreds of billions of US$ from the climate bill?  Two states have the inside track by abolishing citizens’ rights regarding siting of renewables projects. Matthew Eisenson explains at the Columbia Climate Law Blog New California Law Allows State to Bypass Local Restrictions in Siting Large-Scale Renewables.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

On June 30, 2022, the State of California joined the State of New York in adopting legislation that allows state authorities to bypass local laws in permitting large-scale renewable energy projects.

California’s new law, AB 205, gives the California Energy Commission (the “commission”) exclusive authority to issue a certificate for any:

(a) photovoltaic solar facility, on-shore wind facility, or thermal energy facility not powered by fossil fuels or nuclear fuels, with a generating capacity of at least 50 megawatts (MW);
(b) energy storage system with a storage capacity of least 200 megawatt hours;
(c) electric transmission line from any such generating or storage facility to an interconnected transmission system; and
(d) facility that manufactures, produces, or assembles wind, solar, or storage systems, with a capital investment of at least $250,000,000 over a period of 5 years. See California Public Resources Code § 25545(b).

AB 205 explicitly supersedes local permitting and local ordinances.

Specifically, it provides that the commission’s issuance of a certificate shall:

“be in lieu of any permit, certificate, or similar document required by any state, local, or regional agency,” id. § 25545.1(b)(1) (emphasis added); and
“supersede any applicable statute, ordinance, or regulation of any state, local, or regional agency,” id. (emphasis added).

The law further requires that applications be decided expeditiously, providing that:

“[w]ithin 30 days of the submission of the application, the commission shall review the application and make a determination of completeness,” id. § 25545.4(a) (emphasis added); and
“no later than 270 days after the application is deemed complete, or as soon as practicable thereafter, the commission shall determine whether to certify the environmental impact report and to issue a certificate” unless an exception applies, id. § 25545.4(e)(1) 

July 26, 2022 Cider Solar Farm is to be built on nearly 3,000 acres across the towns of Elba and Oakfield. Hecate Energy anticipates starting construction on the solar farm by 2023.

In New York State likewise the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act of 2020, as codified at New York Executive Law § 94-c, charges the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) with responsibility for permitting “major renewable energy facilities,” which include: (a) renewable energy facilities of at least 25 MW; (b) co-located energy storage systems; and (c) associated electric transmission systems less than 10 miles in length. See Exec. Law § 94-c(2)(h). Developers of renewable energy facilities of at least 20 MW but less than 25 MW may also submit applications to ORES. Id. § 94-c(4)(g).

While those applying for a permit to construct a major renewable energy facility in New York must “consult[] with the municipality or political subdivision where the project is proposed to be located . . . [concerning] the procedural and substantive requirements of local law,” ORES is authorized to set aside local laws on a case by case basis when deciding whether or not to grant a permit. Specifically, the law provides that ORES:

“may elect not to apply, in whole or in part, any local law or ordinance which would otherwise be applicable if it makes a finding that, as applied to the proposed major renewable energy facility, it is unreasonably burdensome in view of the CLCPA targets and the environmental benefits of the proposed major renewable energy facility.”

Id. § 94-c(5)(e) (emphasis added).

In addition, New York’s siting law, like California’s new siting law, requires that applications for large-scale renewables be decided expeditiously. In particular, ORES must:

determine within 60 days whether the application is complete, id. § 94-c(5)(b); and
make a final determination on a siting permit within one year of determining that an application is complete or within six months if the project is to be sited on an existing or abandoned commercial use, id. § 94-c(5)(f).

Notwithstanding these two laws, local restrictions remain a major impediment
to siting renewable energy projects in the United States.

As of March 2022, the Sabin Center had identified 121 local ordinances across the country to block or restrict renewable energy facilities. These policies range from outright bans to temporary moratoria to zoning restrictions so severe that they effectively preclude renewable energy projects. State authorities in California and New York now have the power to bypass such restrictions. However, in most states, there is no legislation allowing state authorities to do so.

Replacing the now closed Indian point nuclear power plant with wind turbines would require land the size of Albany county NY. (320,000 acres)

 

 

Legal Brief: Biden Climate Order Unscientific, Inhumane and Unconstitutional

Last month the above brief was put on record in a case challenging the legality of the Biden Executive Order requiring the entire federal government to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  Excerpts of text in italics with my bolds.  H/T  WUWT Weekly Climate and Energy New Roundup

Brief of Amicus Curiae Dr. William Happer, Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, and the CO2 Coalition in Support of the Plaintiff-Appellee States.

As career physicists, it is our opinion for the scientific reasons detailed below, the District Court’s preliminary injunction should be reinstated because the SCC TSD Rule1 and Executive Order 13990 section 5 are scientifically invalid, and will be disastrous for the poor, people worldwide, future generations and the United States.

I.  Reliable scientific theories come from validating theoretical predictions with observations, not from consensus, government opinion, peer review or manipulated data.

II. The Social Cost of Carbon Rule and Executive Order 13990 are scientifically invalid and disastrous for people worldwide and the United States, and thus the preliminary injunction against them should be reinstated.

A. The SCC TSD Rule and Executive Order 13990 are Scientifically Invalid for Omitting the Enormous Social Benefits of CO2

Executive Order 13990 section 5 dictates that only the social costs of CO2 and GHGs be considered, stating “it is essential that agencies capture the full cost of [CO2 and other] greenhouse gas emissions,” and “accurately determine the social benefits of reducing [CO2 and other] greenhouse gas emissions,” violating basic scientific method by excluding the enormous social benefits of CO2 and greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The IWG estimated the social cost of carbon by combining three models, DICE, PAGE and FUND, together called Integrated Assessment Models (IAMS). However, two of the three models, DICE and PAGE, only computed the social costs of CO2 and excluded data on the enormous social benefits of CO2 (detailed in Part III below).2

This is an example of violating scientific method by omitting unfavorable data. It is like promoting the theory the world is flat by only considering observations as far as the eye can see, excluding all the evidence the world is round.

For this reason alone, the SCC TSD Rule and Executive Order 13990 section 5 mandating that the social benefits of GHGs not be considered violate scientific method and the preliminary injunction against both should be reinstated.

B. The SCC TSD Rule is Scientifically Invalid for Relying on Consensus and Peer Review

The SCC TSD Rule expressly explained it relied on peer review and consensus, not scientific method, to determine its estimates:

“In developing the SC-GHG estimates in 2010, 2013, and 2016 the IWG used consensus-based decision making, relied on peer-reviewed literature and models …. Going forward the IWG commits to maintaining a consensus driven process for making evidence-based decisions that are guided by the best available science and input from the public, stakeholders, and peer reviewers.” Id. P. 36 (emphasis added).

As explained, peer review and consensus do not determine scientific knowledge, scientific method does.

Accordingly, for this reason alone, the SCC TSD Rule is scientifically invalid and the preliminary injunction should be reinstated.

C. The SCC TSD Rule is Scientifically Invalid Because the IPCC CMIP and Other Models Fail to Reliably Predict Temperatures and Thus Should Be Scientifically Rejected

The IWG estimated the SCC as noted, using three climate models abbreviated DICE, PAGE and FUND combined with an economic model, together called Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). The key variable in the climate model is called the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS). The SCC TSD Rule explained the ECS numbers used in the IAM model calculations were based on models used in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report in 2007 (IPCC AR4), which were “confirm[ed] and strengthen[ed]” by recent assessments by the IPCC, US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the National Academies.

IPCC AR4, in turn, to compute the ECS, used what is called the Coupled Model Inter Comparison Project Phase 4 (CMIP4). Since models are a type of scientific theory, their scientific validity is determined by comparing their predictions with observations to see if they work. If they don’t “work,” they are “wrong” and invalid as science.

The CMIP models don’t “work” and are thus invalid as science, demonstrated next.

IPCC CMIP Models. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), the dominant source of models, explained that its “Assessments of climate risks … [are] based on climate model simulations [predictions] that are part of the fifth and sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase (CMIP5, CMIP6).” IPCC. Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Summary For Policymakers (2022), p. SPM-6.

CMIP5.

John Christy, PhD, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama, applied the scientific method to CMIP5 102 predictions of temperatures 1979-2016 by models from 32 institutions. He explained he used “the traditional scientific method in which a claim (hypothesis) is made and is tested against independent information to see if the claim can be sustained,” and produced the following chart:3

At the bottom, the blue, purple and green lines show the actual reality temperature observations against which the models’ predictions were tested. The dotted lines are 102 temperature “simulations” (predictions) made by the models from 32 institutions for the period 1979-2016. The red line is the consensus of the models, their average. The graph clearly shows that 101 of the 102 predictions by the models (dotted lines) and their consensus average (red line) fail miserably to predict reality.4

Focusing on the consensus red line, he concluded:

“When the ‘scientific method’ is applied to the output from climate models of the IPCC AR5, specifically the bulk atmospheric temperature trends since 1979 (a key variable with a strong and obvious theoretical response to increasing GHGs in this period), I demonstrate that the consensus of the models [red line] fails the test to match the real-world observations by a significant margin. As such, the average of the models is considered to be untruthful in representing the recent decades of climate variation and change, and thus would be inappropriate for use in predicting future changes in the climate or related policy decisions.” Id., p. 13.

Thus, the models that produced the 101 predictions fail the Feynman test. They do not “work,” therefore they are “wrong.” Scientifically, they all should be abandoned. Rejecting science, the IPCC governments keep using CMIP models, including CMIP6 even though it is no better.

[Note 4: The one model that closely predicted the temperatures actually observed is a Russian model and is the only model that should be used in science. However, the IPCC did not use it but used the models that it should have rejected]

CMIP6.

Steven Koonin, Ph.D., a Cal-Tech physicist, professor at New York University and author of Unsettled (2021), concluded:

“One stunning problem is that … the later generation of [CMIP] models are actually more uncertain than the earlier one[s].” “The CMIP6 models that inform the IPCC’s upcoming AR6 [Climate Change reports] don’t perform any better than those of CMIP5.” Id. pp. 87, 90.

He elaborated CMIP6’s failure using the scientific method in detail:

“An analysis of 267 simulations run by 29 different CMIP6 models created by 19 modeling groups around the world shows that they do a very poor job [1] describing warming since 1950 and … [2] underestimate the rate of warming in the early twentieth century.” Id. p. 90 (emphasis added).  “Comparisons among the [29] models [show] … model results differed dramatically both from each other and from observations … [and] disagree wildly with each other.” Id. p. 90.

Thus, the IPCC CMIP models used by SCC TSD Rule fail the fundamental test of scientific method, they do not work. Accordingly, for this reason alone, the SCC TSD Rule is scientifically invalid and the preliminary injunction should be reinstated.

D. The SCC TSD Rule is Scientifically Invalid for Relying On IPCC Government Dictated Opinions

The SCC TSD Rule also explained that key numbers it used in its estimates were based in part, as noted, on the  IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report in 2007 (IPCC AR4) and that four “recent scientific assessments by the IPCC.” Id. p. 32.

However, unknown to most, two IPCC rules require that IPCC governments control what is published in its Summaries for Policymakers (“SPMs”), which in turn controls what is published in IPCC full reports.  This is not how scientific knowledge is determined. In science, as the Lysenko experience chillingly underscores, and Richard Feynman, as noted,

“No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles.”

The two IPCC rules dictating IPCC governments’ control of what is written in the SPMs and IPCC reports, line by line, are:

IPCC SPM Rule No.1: All Summaries for Policymakers (SPMs) Are Approved Line by Line by Member Governments

“IPCC Fact Sheet: How does the IPCC approve reports? ‘Approval’ is the process used for IPCC Summaries for Policymakers (SPMs). Approval signifies that the material has been subject to detailed, line-by-line discussion, leading to agreement among the participating IPCC member countries, in consultation with the scientists responsible for drafting the report.”6

Since governments control the SPMs, the SPMs are merely government opinions and therefore, have no value as scientific evidence.

What about the thousands of pages in the IPCC reports? A second IPCC rule requires that everything in an IPCC published report must be consistent with what the governments agree to in the SPMs about CO2 and fossil fuels. Any drafts the independent scientists write are rewritten as necessary to be consistent with the SPM.

IPCC Reports Rule No. 2: Government SPMs Override Any Inconsistent Conclusions Scientists Write for IPCC Reports IPCC Fact Sheet:

“’Acceptance’ is the process used for the full underlying report in a Working Group Assessment Report or a Special Report after its SPM has been approved…. Changes …are limited to those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers.” IPCC Fact Sheet, supra.

IPCC governments’ control of full reports using Rule No. 2 is poignantly demonstrated by the IPCC’s rewrite of the scientific conclusions reached by independent scientists in their draft of Chapter 8 of the IPCC report Climate Change 1995, The Science of Climate Change (“1995 Science Report”).

The draft by the independent scientists concluded: “No study to date has positively attributed all or part (of the climate warming observed) to (manmade) causes.” Frederick Seitz, “A Major Deception on Climate Warming,” Wall Street Journal (June 12, 1996).

However, the government written SPM proclaimed the exact opposite: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” 1995 Science Report SPM, p. 4.

What happened to the independent scientists’ draft? IPCC Rule No. 2 was applied, and their draft was rewritten to be consistent with the SPM in numerous ways:

Their draft language was deleted; the SPM’s opposite language was inserted in the published version of Chapter 8 in the 1995 Science Report, on page 439: “The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8 … now points towards a discernible human influence on global climate.”

Thus, IPCC SPM and findings used in the SCC TSD Rule have no value as scientific evidence because they are government dictated opinions, like Lysenko’s. For this reason alone, relying on IPCC government dictated publications contaminates the science in the SCC TSD Rule and renders it scientifically invalid, and therefore the preliminary injunction should be reinstated.

III.  There is overwhelming scientific evidence that fossil fuels and CO2 provide enormous social benefits for the poor, people worldwide, future generations and the United States, and therefore it would be disastrous to reduce or eliminate them.

The SCC TSD Rule, as noted, does not consider the enormous social benefits of CO2, GHGs and fossil fuels.

A. CO2 is Essential to Food, and Thus to Life on Earth.

Nearly all of the food we eat comes ultimately from photosynthesis on the land or in the oceans. The oxygen we breathe was produced by photosynthesis over the geological history of the Earth. In the process of photosynthesis, energy from sunlight forces molecules of water, H2O, and molecules of carbon dioxide and CO2 to combine to make sugars and other organic molecules. A molecule of oxygen, O2, is released to the atmosphere for every molecule of CO2 converted to sugar.

All green plants grow faster with more atmospheric CO2, including the CO2 released by the combustion of fossil fuels, which is almost identical to the CO2 respired by human beings and other living creatures.

What happens with a doubling of CO2? Many experiments and studies confirm that when CO2 is doubled, agricultural yields are increased significantly, especially in arid regions where more CO2 increases the resistance of plants to droughts. Greenhouse operators routinely pay to double or triple the concentrations of CO2 over their plants. The improved yield and quality of fruits and flowers more than pay for the cost of more CO2, with only small and beneficial warming.

Thus we owe our existence to green plants that, through photosynthesis, convert CO2 and water, H2O, to carbohydrates with the aid of sunlight, and release oxygen. Land plants get the carbon they need from the CO2 in the air. Other essential nutrients — water, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc. — come from the soil. Just as plants grow better in fertilized, well-watered soils, they grow better in air with several times higher CO2 concentrations than present values. As far as green plants are concerned, CO2 is part of their daily bread—like water, sunlight, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other essential elements.

B. Greenhouse Gases Prevent Us from Freezing to Death

Greenhouse gases hinder the escape of thermal radiation to space. We should be grateful for them. Greenhouse gases keep the Earth’s surface temperature warm enough and moderate enough to sustain life on our verdant planet. Without them, we’d freeze to death.

To quote John Tyndall, the Anglo-Irish physicist who discovered greenhouse gases in the 1850s:

Aqueous vapor is a blanket, more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man. Remove for a single summer-night the aqueous vapor from the air which overspreads this country, and you would assuredly destroy every plant capable of being destroyed by a freezing temperature. The warmth of our fields and gardens would pour itself unrequited into space, and the sun would rise upon an island held fast in the iron grip of frost.” John Tyndall, Heat, a Mode of Motion pp. 359-360 (5th Ed. 1875).

Tyndall identified “aqueous vapor” (water vapor) as the most important greenhouse gas. Water vapor, and clouds which condense from it, are the dominant greenhouse agents of Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, CO2, is also a greenhouse gas, and does cause a small amount of warming of our planet. But it is far less effective than water vapor and clouds as previously explained.

Without the greenhouse warming of CO2 and its more potent partners, water vapor and clouds, the earth would be too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. We would freeze.

C. Fossil Fuels have Enormous Social Benefits

Contrary to the incessant attack on fossil fuels, affordable, abundant fossil fuels have given ordinary people the sort of freedom, prosperity and health that were reserved for kings in ages past. The following chart of the GDP per person for the last 2,000 years powerfully illustrates what has happened:8

In the mid-1800s, CO2 levels that averaged over 1,000 ppm over 600 million years were at a very low level, about 280 ppm. The great news is that CO2 emissions from nature and fossil fuels resulted in CO2 levels rising from this low level to about 415 ppm today.

As a result, crop yields have increased by more than 15% over the past century. Better crop varieties, better use of fertilizer, better water management, etc., have all contributed. But the fact remains that a substantial part of the increase is due to the increase in CO2 from about 300 ppm in 1850 to about 415 ppm from fossil fuels.

Mathematically, the growth rate of plants is approximately proportional to the square root of the CO2 concentration. Thus, the increase in CO2 concentration from about 280 ppm (300 ppm rounded) to 415 ppm over the past century increased growth rates by a factor of about √(4/3) = 1.15, or 15%.

As to temperature, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas as a matter of radiation physics can only modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Specifically, physics proves that doubling the CO2 concentration from our current 415 ppm to 830 ppm will directly cause about 1⁰ C in warming.

In summary, the social benefits for people and life all over the world are enormous: 

  • since CO2 is a plant fertilizer, agricultural and forestry yields have risen substantially over the last hundred years. 
  • economies have grown substantially, so that many people have prospered, and poverty has been reduced. 
  • electricity has become more affordable and available to many more people worldwide. 
  • and there has been a small but beneficial warming of the planet, about 2° Fahrenheit. This warming has been caused by a combination of natural causes and CO2 increasing from its low level in 1850 and other greenhouse gases.
Science Conclusion

Contrary to what is commonly reported, CO2 is essential to life on earth. Without CO2, there would be no photosynthesis, and thus no plant food and not enough oxygen to breathe. Moreover, without fossil fuels there will be no reliable, low-cost energy worldwide and less CO2 for photosynthesis making food. Eliminating fossil fuels and reducing CO2 emissions will be disastrous for the United States and the rest of the word, especially for lower-income people.

For the scientific reasons detailed above, in Amici’ opinion the District Court’s preliminary injunction should be reinstated because the SCC TSD Rule and Executive Order 13990 section 5 are based on multiple violations of scientific method and will be disastrous for the poor, people worldwide, future generations and the United States.

Footnote:

The brief goes on to describe how the Biden order assumes legislative authority which belongs to congress, thus is unconstitutional as well.

 

 

Massachusetts v. EPA: Where are we now? (the left view)

Pamela King reports for the Green Wire Massachusetts v. EPA: Where are we now?.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Environmentalist David Bookbinder:  We’re in a really good position because we’ve defined a word (“air pollutant”), and courts are reluctant to redefine a word.”

In a scathing dissent yesterday, Justice Elena Kagan rebuked her conservative colleagues for chipping away at a key 2007 finding that is foundational to environmental law.

Kagan rebuked her conservative colleagues who formed the six-member majority in West Virginia v. EPA, which said that the federal government exceeded its authority with the 2015 Clean Power Plan, which set systemwide requirements aimed at shifting the power sector from coal to renewable generation.

To reach its conclusion, the majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, applied the major questions doctrine, which says Congress must speak clearly when allowing agencies to decide matters of “vast economic and political significance”.

Climate activists protesting outside the Supreme Court yesterday after the court announced its decision in West Virginia v. EPA. Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO

Kagan punctuated her introductory sentence with a citation: Massachusetts v. EPA.

West Virginia did not overturn Massachusetts, which in 2007 recognized greenhouse gases as “air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act and that states can sue EPA if it fails to regulate them.

Kagan cites or refers to Massachusetts five times in her dissent. Neither the majority nor a concurring opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch mentions the case at all.

But West Virginia did take off the table one regulatory option for EPA — the power to determine under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act that the “best system of emission reduction” was for coal-fired plants to either reduce production or shift to renewable generation sources.

The Obama administration had taken that approach in the Clean Power Plan, which was put on hold by the Supreme Court in 2016 and never actually took effect. The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday invalidated the regulation.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” Roberts wrote for the majority.

Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown University law professor who crafted the winning argument for states and environmentalists in Massachusetts, said she is “struck by how far we’ve come” since the 2007 case. “And I don’t mean that in a good way,” she added.

Heinzerling said that while she doesn’t expect the Supreme Court to overturn Massachusetts, the conservative wing seems willing to strip away meaningful avenues for EPA to regulate emissions from the power sector, the second-biggest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gases.

And the implications go far beyond EPA, she said.

“Any agency rule right now that takes on a new problem in a creative way has a bull’s-eye on it,” she said.

Paul Seby, a shareholder at the firm Greenberg Traurig who represented North Dakota in the West Virginia case, said the Peace Garden State and other challengers have “no bone to pick” with Massachusetts.

It is well-established that greenhouse gas emissions are air pollutants subject to regulation by EPA and the states, he said. The question in this case, he added, concerned states’ role under Clean Air Act Section 111(d) in making greenhouse gas regulatory decisions for existing sources within their borders.

EPA’s role, Seby said, is to issue guidelines for emissions control by the states and provide support and information about tools to achieve the Clean Air Act’s aims — not act as a national energy regulator.

“We accept the premise of Massachusetts v. EPA,” Seby said. “It’s just a question of who implements that in the provisions of the statute.”

‘Hard look’ at EPA

The Supreme Court has taken on other EPA climate cases in the years since Massachusetts.

In the 2011 case American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court said EPA authority’s climate authority preempted a litany of public nuisance lawsuits against corporations for greenhouse gas emissions. And in 2014’s Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the Supreme Court cabined the agency’s authority by finding that its regulation of vehicle emissions did not automatically trigger permitting requirements for stationary sources.

Yesterday’s ruling in West Virginia is in keeping with the trajectory of these cases, said Allison Wood, a partner at the firm McGuireWoods who was involved in Massachusetts, AEP and UARG.

“The court is willing to allow the regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act — that’s Massachusetts — but it’s going to take a hard look at what EPA tries to do under the Clean Air Act and make sure that it hews closely to the statute,” she said. “And here in the West Virginia case, they found that what the Obama EPA was trying to do in the Clean Power Plan went too far.”

But environmental lawyers have expressed concern that the Supreme Court’s six-justice conservative majority could find ways in future cases to upend the Massachusetts decision.

Jeffrey Bossert Clark, the lawyer whose lower court victory in Massachusetts was later overturned by the Supreme Court, wrote on Twitter yesterday that West Virginia was “a July 4th birthday present” for the nation.

As head of the Justice Department’s environment division under former President Donald Trump, Clark oversaw the defense of the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which gutted the Clean Power Plan and was later struck down by a federal appeals court, paving the way for the West Virginia case.

He now faces allegations that he worked with the former president to pursue baseless fraud claims in the 2020 election (E&E Daily, June 24).

[Baseless?  Take your heads out of the sand!]

Clark added on Twitter yesterday that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts might have “come out the other way” under the major questions doctrine and called for the case to be “reconsidered.”

Concerns about the stability of settled law were heightened last week after the court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent recognizing the constitutional right to an abortion (Greenwire, June 24).

Massachusetts is “slowly becoming insulated as precedent, but we’ve seen what this court thinks about precedent,” said David Bookbinder, chief counsel at the Niskanen Center. “I’d be more confident about that if Dobbs hadn’t been decided last week.”

But Bookbinder, who represented environmentalists in Massachusetts, drew a distinction between constitutional issues in cases like Dobbs and fights over the definitions of terms in statutes — such as “air pollutant” in the Clean Air Act.

“Dobbs makes me uneasy because they’re really cavalier about precedent,” he said, “but we’re in a really good position because we’ve defined a word, and courts are reluctant to redefine a word.”

Postscript

So CO2, the stuff of life for plants and animals, including humans, lawyers now term an “air pollutant.”  Add it to the list of things that have been turned upside down by progressive would-be tyrants playing word games.

Progressive, instead of Socialist or Marxist

Woke, instead of Brainwashed

They, instead of Gender Confused

Mansplain, instead of Point Taken

Latinx, instead of Hispanic

Antifa, instead of Leftist Hoodlums

Inclusive, instead of Tolerant

Social Justice, instead of Endless Conflict

Top Surgery and Bottom Surgery, instead of Sexual Mutilation

Unvaccinated, instead of Herd Immunity

Racist, instead of Color Blind

Birthing Person, instead of Mother

And so on, and so on. . .

 

 

Finland’s Self-imposed Climate Lockdown

You’d think that politicians had learned to forego climate virtue-signaling after seeing the lawfare tactics that they will suffer.  And yet, Finland bravely goes where smarter angels fear to tread.  As the Helsinki Times reports New Climate Change Act into force in July.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Climate Change Act lays the foundation for national work on climate change in Finland. The reformed Act sets emission reductions targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050. Now the target of a carbon-neutral Finland by 2035 has for the first time been laid down by law.

The Government submitted the bill for approval on 9 June. The President of the Republic is to approve the Act on 10 June and it will enter into force on 1 July 2022.

“The new Climate Change Act is vital for Finland. The Climate Change Act ensures that ambitious climate work will continue across government terms. The Act shows the world how we can built a carbon-neutral welfare state by 2035. It is also a strong signal for companies that in Finland clean solutions are well worth investing in,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo.

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo at a press event in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA

The Act lays down provisions on the climate change policy plans. The scope of the Act will be extended to also cover emissions from the land use sector, i.e. land use, forestry and agriculture, and it will for the first time include the objective to strengthen carbon sinks.

“Including land use in the Climate Change Act is a significant improvement. We have a lot of opportunities to reduce emissions and strengthen carbon sinks in the land use sector – in forests, construction and agriculture,” Minister Ohisalo says.

The previous Climate Change Act entered into force in 2015, and it set an emission reduction target only for 2050. The new Climate Change Act will include emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 that are based on the recommendations of the Finnish Climate Change Panel, and the target for 2050 will be updated.

The emission reduction targets are -60% by 2030, -80% by 2040 and at least -90% but aiming at -95% by 2050, compared to the levels in 1990.

Finns have lost any room to maneuver, or to walk back ill-advised policies should the future be cooler rather than the warming of which they are so certain.  The lawyers will be all over them to prevent any escape.  To use another metaphor, they are lobsters who put themselves into the pots; there will be no getting out or going free.

 

See Also Dutch Judges Dictate Energy Policy

See Also Climate Tyranny By Way of Criminal Law

 

 

 

DOJ Office of Environmental Justice: What’s Wrong?

I can think of five major things wrong with this initiative  But first the announcement news from various sources:

AG Garland:  “Consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, we are issuing a comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy,” Garland said. “I am pleased to announce that we are launching the Justice Department’s first-ever Office of Environmental Justice to oversee and help guide the Justice Department’s wide-ranging environmental justice efforts. Like all parts of government, it will get its own acronym: OEJ.”

On Thursday, Garland said the department will prioritize cases that create the greatest impact on communities “most overburdened by environmental harm.”

“Although violations of our environmental laws can happen anywhere, communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities often bear the brunt of the harm caused by environmental crime, pollution, and climate change,” Garland said.

According to The Hill, the Office of Environmental Justice will work with “communities that have been the victims of environmental crimes and requires all 93 U.S. attorneys across the country to designate an environmental justice coordinator to find ‘areas of concern’ in their communities.”

Since taking office, President Biden has launched the “Justice40” initiative, which aims to provide 40% of the benefits of government climate and clean energy investments to “historically disadvantaged communities.”  

What’s wrong with this?  Let’s count five ways.

Distracts from More Pressing Priorities

How about stopping the flood of illegal immigration through the wide-open border controlled by drug cartels?
What about reducing the worst rates of crime in US cities since the 1990s?
Shouldn’t DOJ focus on ending the cruel and unusual punishment of people expressing their free speech rights on January 6, 2020?

Just three examples of widespread injustices ignored or exacerbated by this DOJ.  We could add treating parents of school children as “domestic terrorists”.  Also firing workers and discharging soldiers for their vaccine status.  And so on, and so on.

Actually Enforcing Existing Laws Solves the Stated Problem 

Garland:  “Although violations of our environmental laws can happen anywhere, communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities often bear the brunt of the harm caused by environmental crime, pollution, and climate change”

Garland’s remarks represent contemptible propaganda. As if smog and air pollution are wafting through cities, only affecting citizens with darker skin pigmentation. And, as if the communities referenced by Garland aren’t interspersed with other groups, at all, living exclusively in homogeneous neighborhoods. Such total nonsense and rubbish.

Every state already has an environmental state protection agency and access to the EPA. Anyone who finds or thinks they have discovered an environmental problem, can call these agencies, and the agencies will send some one to investigate. Currently the EPA investigates & gives evidence to the U.S. Attorneys Office in their District. It is examined & determined if there is enough evidence for a case to be brought against the individuals involved.

If what he says about “anywhere” is true, how about just enforcing the existing laws, with the existing agencies and offices, and without the expansion, expense, and bloat that he proposes? Such enforcement would, by its nature, address these problems in minority communities in proportion to their spatial distribution and criticality.

I have absolutely no idea what this new agency will do, except using more taxpayer money to fund it. What I suspect is that they’ll give more money to low income areas, for what exactly, will never be explained.

Covers for an Agenda to Cancel Climatist Dissenters

A naïve person might think is that this would “merely” be some kind of ecological jihad against “dirty” things like power lines, gas lines, and other things that prop up the modern world and keep America’s economy humming. But of course this is thinking too small,  underestimating the awfulness Garland and minions have in store for us.

So instead we have another paean to Gaia with the old “Climate Change” nonsense, thus bringing the DOJ into obviously redistributionist grounds, and turf that you’d expect would be the purview of the EPA. Because what we really needed in Current Year with political prisoners from Jan 6th still rotting away is yet another batch of heretics to harass and disappear.

There is no coherent definition of “environmental justice”. That is deliberate. It provides a means by which the government can act against any citizen for any reason it wants. It is the establishment of yet another department of the American Stasi, just like biden’s ministry of “truth”.

WOTUS (Waters of the US) EPA rule is still murky after all these years. And what, pray tell, is the definition of “environmental crime” and “environmental justice”, what is the legal and judicial rationale for establishing such an agency and why is such a redundant agency an imperative now when no such need has ever been identified and implemented before?

Be warned, ESG (environmental, social and governance) standards for corporations are being developed as we speak. They are being worked on internationally and created out of thin air. The DOJ and our government will beat us all – organizations and individuals – into submission with this.

Turns a Blind Eye to Real Environmental Degradation by Wind and Solar Farms

I am assuming the penalty for killing a tree will be harsher then the penalties for robbery and assault by Dem AGs. So will hunting and fishing be listed as crimes against the environment. Things just keep getting more and more weird. I hope the silent majority is paying attention and votes like their life depends on it this November.

Even if wind power curbs CO2 emissions, wind installations injure, maim, and kill hundreds of thousands of birds each year in clear violation of federal law. Any marginal reduction in emissions comes at the expense of protected bird species, including bald and golden eagles

To put this in perspective, powering the entire nation with wind and solar would require over 42 million acres — 18 times the size of Yellowstone National Park! This is at least 10 times the land footprint of our current energy system. The environmental destruction this effort would cause cannot be overstated.

But wait, there’s more! Both wind and solar generation also require massive amounts of elements like lithium, cobalt, and neodymium that are difficult and environmentally hazardous to mine. The tales of rare earth mines leaving behind lakes of toxic sludge in China and children as young as four mining cobalt in the Congo are chilling.

Unfortunately, most wind turbines and solar panels are expected to last only 20 to 30 years, and recycling them is still prohibitively expensive. A recent study estimates a whopping 8 million tons of solar panels will be sent to landfills by 2030, ballooning to 80 million tons by 2050. If renewable energy use grows at the projected scale, solar panels alone will represent 10% of global electronic waste — potentially leaching toxic chemicals all the while.

Another Excuse to Expand Governmental Social Control and Bureaucracy

This new office is nothing but wasting more money of the taxpayer. It appears Biden is creating more government jobs for his democrat friends.

But the real danger of an “environmental justice” office is, as with anything having to do with the enforcement of environmental laws, the government’s tendency to wildly overregulate with no means for private citizens or companies to correct the overreach.  It won’t be long before we’re writing about some OEJ idiocy that demonstrates why fanatics and ideologues should never be put in any position where they can exercise power.

With an Office for Environmental Justice, we are one step closer to a chinese-style social credit system. This is worse the the Ministry Of Truth down the street at Homeland Security because they can sue. 

FERC Aims to Decarbonize, Shoots Down Energy Security

Marlo Lewis explains the Biden regime push to undermine critical energy supply in pursuit of climate virtue in his CEI article Why FERC’s Greenhouse Gas Regulatory Policy Cannot Pass a Cost-Benefit Test.  Excerpt in italics with my bolds.

Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) proposal to consider climate change impacts in reviews of infrastructure projects under the Natural Gas Act (NGA). The comments were jointly submitted by my CEI colleague Patrick Michaels; Heritage Foundation Chief Statistician, Data Scientist, and Senior Research Fellow Kevin Dayaratna (commenting as an independent scholar rather than as a representative of any organization); and yours truly.

We submitted comments back in January on FERC’s November 2021 technical conference on the same issues. We advised FERC to steer clear of climate policy, for three main reasons.

1.  Decarbonizing Goals Conflict with Natural Gas Act Purpose

First, the Biden administration’s NetZero agenda to decarbonize and degasify the U.S. electric power sector cannot lawfully be aligned with the Natural Gas Act. Biden’s goals conflict with the NGA’s “principal purpose,” which is to:

 “encourage the orderly development of plentiful supplies
of electricity and natural gas at reasonable prices.”

In addition, climate change is not a factor Congress authorized FERC to consider. The words “climate,” “carbon,” “greenhouse,” “global,” “warming,” “mitigate,” or any of their cognates do not occur in the Act.

2.  Infrastructure Emissions Do Not Threaten the Environment

Second, although the direct and indirect emissions of natural gas infrastructure may be “reasonably foreseeable,” the climate effects are not. FERC’s project reviews are governed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires scrutiny of major federal actions “significantly affecting the human environment.” Even the emissions of the largest natural gas projects are too small to discernibly affect global climate, and no project’s “carbon footprint” is big enough to influence the fate or fortunes of any community, business, or human being anywhere in the world.

3.  Social Cost of Carbon Is Speculative and Subjective

Third, the social cost of carbon (SCC)—an estimate of the present value of the cumulative climate damages of an incremental ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—is too speculative and subjective, and too easily manipulated for political purposes, to be weighed in the same scales with an infrastructure project’s estimated economic benefits. The Biden administration’s SCC estimates are egregiously biased in favor of climate alarm and regulatory ambition, rendering any agency action that relies on them arbitrary and capricious.

Unsurprisingly, FERC did not take our advice, and proceeded in February to adopt an “interim” policy statement on NGA project review and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That stirred up controversy, including pushback by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY). As a result, FERC in March demoted its GHG policy statement from “interim” to “draft,” and extended the comment period until today, April 25.

Unlike several presenters at FERC’s November 2021 technical conference, the draft GHG policy statement does not advocate requiring SCC analysis in NGA determinations of public convenience and necessity. Neither, however, does FERC disavow an intent to require it in later policy statements. The Commission may simply be waiting for the Biden administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) to finalize its interim SCC estimates, or for courts to resolve Louisiana’s challenge to federal agencies’ use of those metrics.

The Commission’s draft GHG policy statement establishes a “rebuttable presumption that proposed projects with 100,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) emissions will be deemed to have a significant impact on climate change.” FERC also implies that it may condition project approval on the sponsor’s plans to “mitigate all or a portion of the project’s climate change impacts.”

The camel’s nose is already under the tent.

It is not hard to guess where this is going if FERC does not quickly reverse course. The usual suspects will pressure the Commission to:

(1) progressively lower climate significance thresholds,
(2) monetize undetectably small project-related climate “impacts” using agenda-driven SCC estimates, and
(3) either reject needed natural gas infrastructure projects outright or impose mitigation requirements that render them uneconomic.

This is bad policy, as Michaels, Dayaratna, and I explained in our January 7 comments. If an infrastructure project is commercially viable and helps ensure plentiful supplies of electricity and natural gas at reasonable prices (the NGA’s principal purpose), the Commission knows in advance that the project’s economic benefits far exceed its climate-related externalities. Therefore, no further investigation of the project’s GHG emissions is required, nor does it make sense to condition the certificate of public convenience and necessity on the project’s adoption of mitigation measures.

Conclusion

New research by Dayaratna (hereafter “Heritage analysis”) further confirms that conclusion. Using the U.S. government’s leading energy and climate policy models, the Heritage analysis demonstrates that banning construction of new U.S. pipelines would have a negligible effect on U.S. annual CO2 emissions through 2050 and, thus, a similarly negligible effect on global temperatures through 2100. The policy implication for FERC is clear. No level of overregulation or prohibition that regulators might apply to the development of U.S. natural gas pipelines could meaningfully affect the Earth’s climate.

Consequently, no regulation or prohibition of new natural gas pipelines could possibly be worth the economic losses imposed on construction companies, natural gas producers, and energy consumers.

See Also Seeking Climate and Energy Security

Supply Chains Doomed by Carbon Accounting

Vince Bielski explains how proposed SEC accounting for CO2 emissions will grind product supply chains to a halt.  His Real Clear Investigations article is The Green U.S. Supply-Chain Rules Set to Unspool and Rattle the Global Economy. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Making a box of Cocoa Puffs is a complicated global affair. It could start with cocoa farms in Africa, corn fields in the U.S. or sugar plantations in Latin America. Then thousands of processors, transporters, packagers, distributors, office workers and retailers join the supply chain before a kid in Minnesota, where General Mills is based, pours the cereal into a bowl.

Now imagine the challenge that General Mills faces in counting the greenhouse gas emissions from all of these people, machines, vehicles, buildings and other products involved in this Cocoa Puff supply chain – then multiply that by the 100-plus brands belonging to the food giant.

Thousands of public companies may soon have such a daunting task to comply with a new set of climate rules proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Hailed by prominent environmental groups as a long sought victory, the sweeping plan released in late March would force companies to grapple with the unpredictable impact of climate change by disclosing reams of new information to investors. What are your company’s climate risks, such as severe weather, and the possible financial impacts? How have the threats affected your business strategies and what’s the plan to avoid the dangers? The most consequential and controversial piece of the SEC’s proposed regulations would require corporations to calculate their total greenhouse gas footprint, including from the supply chain.

The regulations also carry political weight for Democrats in the runup to the midterms in November. The Biden administration and centrist Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia are trying once again to breathe life into clean energy legislation that died earlier this year amid a feud between them. If this latest effort at compromise fails – with Manchin reportedly looking for federal support for fossil fuels as well as renewable energy – then much of President Biden’s ambitious climate agenda will be left riding on the SEC proposal.

SEC head Gary Gensler says shareholders are demanding climate risk disclosures to make smarter investment decisions and hold companies accountable for “greenwashing” their operations. The regulations will also provide investors in the Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) movement more leverage in their ongoing campaigns to pressure companies to reduce their carbon footprints.

While many companies like Walmart and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce generally support the idea of required climate disclosures, they object to what they see as the SEC’s heavy-handedness in standardizing rules across the economy. The Chamber is calling for flexibility so companies can customize their climate disclosures based on what’s relevant to their businesses and investors.

Measuring the global supply chain is a tall order — “mind-boggling and certainly unprecedented.” Pixabay

The biggest beef from companies is the rule that would require them to calculate and disclose supply chain emissions, called Scope 3.

Big companies have thousands of suppliers operating in hundreds of countries, making the task of coming up with a reasonable accounting enormously complicated. First of all, many suppliers of products and services are private companies not under the control of the SEC. They may refuse to cooperate in a count because of the costs and the implications that they might have to change their business practices to reduce emissions, said Professor Gerald Patchell, who has analyzed the problems of supply chain reporting.

Another obstacle is that many smaller suppliers, like General Mills’ cocoa farmers in Africa, don’t have the capacity to measure the emissions from their own fertilizers, tractors and farming practices. So companies will have to rely on broad country or industry averages that likely don’t reflect the actual emissions created by the suppliers, according to researchers.

“The data that companies will be asked to collect from thousands of suppliers is mind-boggling and certainly unprecedented,” said Patchell, who researches environmental policy and business. “It’s an idealized concept of what can actually be done by a company.”

The upshot is that regulations meant to bring clarity to investors on climate risk may end up providing highly unreliable emissions disclosures, leaving them “worse off,” wrote SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, a Trump appointee who voted against the 500-page proposal. It “forces investors to view companies through the eyes of a vocal set of stakeholders, for whom a company’s climate reputation is of equal or greater importance than a company’s financial performance.”

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” — Ronald Reagan

Resources

SEC Agency Aims to Legislate US Climate Policy

SEC Warned Off Climate Disclosures Rule