The End of Green Dreams? (Updated)

Every day brings fresh news of the how the edifice of “green energy” has hit the wall. It turns out that when nations recognize they need more energy, they are all turning to . . . energy that actually works at scale.

And yet the Al Gores of the world persist:

Al Gore’s $36 Billion Fund Sees New Urgency to Cut Off Oil Money

Five years. That’s roughly how much time the investment universe has left to stop feeding capital to greenhouse-gas emitters before it’s too late, according to the co-founder of Generation Investment Management LLP.

David Blood, a long-time top executive at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s asset-management unit before starting an investment fund with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore more than 15 years ago, says that efforts over the past two decades to fight climate change are “not going to be enough.”

Five years. Good to know. Except I’m so old that I can remember when Al Gore said the Arctic Ocean would be ice free by 2013. That was back in 2009.*

Meanwhile, back in the real world, governments everywhere are facing shortages and soaring costs for electricity and are turning rapidly to . . . fossil fuels! California and other jurisdictions here and abroad are waiving conventional air pollution regulations so that power companies can use diesel generators to fill the gap. Somehow all those solar panels and windmills just aren’t cutting it.

Slowly you can see the entire climate edifice melting away:

Gripped by Energy Crisis, Europe Considers Breaking Climate Promises and Turning to Coal

Europe is in the grip of an energy crisis amid rising prices for natural gas, increased demand for fossil fuels and the approach of the winter that will make access to fuel even more urgent.

The price of natural gas on the continent has risen sharply over the past year with the European benchmark up nearly 600 percent as of Thursday and the European Union(EU) seeking more gas supply from Russian energy firm Gazprom, which is already Europe’s largest supplier, providing 35 percent of the continent’s needs. . .

Rising costs have been driven by increased demand in Asia and other parts of the world as economies reopen after shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing difficulties with gas supply and costs have reopened questions about the use of coal.

Here at home, where the Biden Administration is doing its best to suppress oil and natural gas production while asking OPEC to pump more oil, we’re starting to see headlines like this:

Sharp surge in energy prices threatens economic recovery and is already slowing growth

Energy prices are surging, and the economy is already feeling the pinch of higher fuel costs though it is far from stalling out.

There is an unusual coincidence of much higher oil, natural gas and coal prices, combined with other rising commodities and supply chain disruptions. That perfect storm of shortages and higher prices begs the question of whether the economy could go into a serious tailspin or even a recession.

(This is as good a time as any to remind readers of the work of James Hamilton, who persuasively argues that energy price shocks often trigger recessions in the U.S.)

The whole scene is so absurd we get headlines like these:

North Korean Companies Smuggle Coal To China Amid Growing Electricity Crisis

Amid China’s chronic power crisis, North Korean companies are breaking UN nuclear sanctions by allegedly smuggling coal to Beijing. According to Radio Free Asia, China’s coal shortfall is the result of lower imports and lower local output as Beijing strives to balance rising energy demand with a goal to minimise pollution and carbon emissions. The smuggling companies are controlled by powerful government organisations, reported Radio Free Asia cited a trade official from North Pyongan province in North Korea.

The news smuggling comes as the United Nations banned coal exports in 2017. Meanwhile, according to media reports, China is experiencing an electricity crisis, which is pushing factories to curtail operations and power use, as well as resulting in outright blackouts in several areas.

You know things are crazy when North Korea is exporting something (aside from terrorism and counterfeit dollars). And speaking of China:

China’s plan to build more coal-fired plants deals blow to UK’s Cop26 ambitions

China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will rethink its timetable to slash emissions, in a significant blow to the UK’s ambitions for securing a global agreement on phasing out coal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

In a statement after a meeting of Beijing’s National Energy Commission, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, stressed the importance of regular energy supply, after swathes of the country were plunged into darkness by rolling blackouts that hit factories and homes.

While China has published plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, the statement hinted that the energy crisis had led the Communist party to rethink the timing of this ambition, with a new “phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions”.

And it’s not just China!

US coal use is rebounding under Biden like it never did with Trump

Donald Trump vowed to revive the coal industry, but it’s President Joe Biden who’s seeing a big comeback of the dirtiest fossil fuel.

U.S. power plants are on track to burn 23% more coal this year, the first increase since 2013, despite Biden’s ambitious plan to eliminate carbon emissions from the power grid. The rebound comes after consumption by utilities plunged 36% under Trump, who slashed environmental regulations in an unsuccessful effort to boost the fuel.

That’s going to increase emissions at a time when Biden and other world leaders prepare to gather in Scotland in a few weeks, hoping to reach a deal on curbing fossil fuels in a last-ditch effort to save the world from climate change. The boom is being driven by surging natural gas prices and a global energy crisis that’s forcing countries to burn dirtier fuels to keep up with demand. It’s also a stark reminder that government policy can steer energy markets, but it can’t control them. 

Way to go, Brandon!

Over in Norway (which has just elected a left-leaning government that says it aims to end Norway’s North Sea oil and gas production that pays for most of Norway’s welfare state—yeah, let’s see how this goes):

Norway Reindeer Herders May Force Dismantling of 151 Wind Plants

Statkraft AS may have to tear down as many as 151 turbines at one of Europe’s biggest wind farms following a supreme court ruling in favor of Sami reindeer owners.

The ruling covers two wind farms built on traditional reindeer pastures in central Norway that the Sami people claim violates their indigenous rights. They have now won a key decision in the supreme court that leaves the operator Statkraft AS in limbo about the future of one of its biggest onshore wind power facilities.

Count me on Team Reindeer.

* Just how is Arctic ice looking these days? Turns out the latest data show this year’s ice cover coming in somewhere around the middle of the data runs from the last 40 years, but in the upper bound of the last 10 years—almost as if a declining trend has reversed. I’m sure this is a huge disappointment to the climatistas, who need unrelenting bad news to be happy.

UPDATE: So the Biden Administration is now trying comedy:

White House asking companies for help lowering gas prices: report

White House officials have reportedly been in touch with representatives from major U.S. oil and gas companies about how to bring down prices in the U.S., Reuters reported Wednesday.

The Biden administration has been in touch with industry representatives after crude oil hit a seven-year high of $80 this week, according to Reuters, citing two sources with knowledge of the conversations.

The reported conversations occurred days after oil prices in the U.S. hit $81.50 a barrel, the first time since October 2014 that U.S. crude closed at more than $80.

Here’s an idea for Brandon: Take your boot of the neck of the hydrocarbon industry. It’s so crazy it just might work!

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