18 December 2015
Because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the next Cooler Heads Digest will be published on January 8th. Happy holidays!
In the News
Obama Claims the Paris Climate Agreement Is Not a Treaty. Huh?
Marlo Lewis, Open Market, 18 December 2015
Obama Turns Bear Grylls Show into Self-Congratulatory Global Warming Yuck Fest
Dylan Gwinn, NewsBusters, 18 December 2015
Cap-and-Trade Program Touted by EPA Is Not Driving Down Emissions
Andrew Follett, Daily Caller, 16 December 2015
Obama’s Useful Idiot Jonathan Chait Declares Paris Climate Talks a Massive Success
James Delingpole, Breitbart, 15 December 2015
Study: Lettuce Has 3 Times the Carbon Footprint of Bacon
Cheyenne MacDonald, Daily Mail, 15 December 2015
India Says Paris Climate Deal Won’t Affect Plans to Double Coal Output
Krishna Das & Tommy Wilkes, Reuters, 14 December 2015
News You Can Use
NOAA’s Reliance on Low-Quality Weather Stations Skews Temperatures Up
A new study finds that the 30-year surface temperature warming trend in the continental United States (CONUS) since 1979 is about one-third lower than in NOAA’s official trends.
The study, led by Anthony Watts of surfacestations.org, compares the temperature trend of 410 “unperturbed” weather stations that have not been moved, had equipment changes, or changes in time of observations, and thus require no “adjustments” to their temperature record, with the temperature trend in hundreds of poorly-sited U.S. weather stations as well as NOAA’s adjusted trend for all 1218 stations. Bizarrely, NOAA’s adjusted trend is the warmest of the three trends—warmer even than the trend of poorly-sited stations.
Inside the Beltway
Republican House and Senate Give Huge Victory to President Obama’s Climate Agenda
The House and Senate on 18th September passed omnibus appropriations legislation that provides $1.15 trillion to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2016. Attached to the omnibus was a $620-plus billion package of tax cut extenders. The final bill dropped riders to prevent implementation of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants and to prevent funds in the State Department budget from being transferred into the Green Climate Fund. However, Congress appropriated no funds for the Green Climate Fund.
The tax extenders package includes multi-year re-authorizations for the Wind Production Tax Credit and the Solar Investment Tax Credit. The wind credit was extended to 2019, but declines by 20% for facilities that begin construction in 2017 and then 20% more each year thereafter. The credits will still apply to the first ten years of production for all wind facilities that start construction before 2020.
The solar credit remains at 30% of construction costs through 2019 and then declines to 23% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% in 2022 for non-residential and third-party-owned residential installations. The credit for solar installations by homeowners drops to zero in 2022. The renewal of renewable energy subsidies shows that crony corporate welfare still flourishes in the Republican 114th Congress.
The omnibus package does include a provision that lifts the 42-year-old ban on crude oil exports. The U. S. is the only country in the world that bans crude oil exports.
The final vote in the House on H. R. 2029 was 316 to 113, with 5 not voting. One-hundred fifty Republicans and 166 Democrats voted Yes, while 95 Republicans and 18 Democrats voted No. An earlier House vote of 318 to 109 attached the tax package to the omnibus appropriations bill.
In the Senate, the vote was 65 to 33. Twenty-seven Republicans and 38 Democrats voted Yes, while 26 Republicans and 7 Democrats voted No. Two Senators missed the vote.
The omnibus and tax extenders package is a huge victory for President Obama’s climate agenda. Unfortunately, most conservative Republicans who supported the EPA and GCF riders and opposed the renewable tax subsidies had little leverage in the behind-the-scenes negotiations because they had already announced that they would vote against the omnibus. A Senate Appropriations Committee staffer told me that this allowed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call the shots in the negotiations. He added that he had never seen anything like it; and he concurred that conservatives were primarily responsible for their own ineffectiveness.
Around the World
COP-21 Adopts Big, New Paris Climate Treaty (But We’re Not Supposed To Call It a Treaty)
COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) concluded in Paris only one day late on Saturday, 12th December, with the adoption of a new climate treaty at 7:29 PM CET. The new “Paris Agreement,” as it is being called in order to conceal the fact that it is a treaty, represents a significant victory for President Barack Obama and the European Union. It is the result of several years of intensive negotiations that were initiated with the adoption of the Durban Platform at COP-21 in 2011. This “successful” outcome, so different from the collapse of COP-15 in 2009 in Copenhagen, was at the end made possible by the skill of the French diplomats, particularly French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who ran the final negotiations.
Many commentators immediately opined that the new treaty is of little consequence and poses few dangers to the global or U. S. economies. The most confident assertion (as well as detailed analysis) from conservative commentators that I have read that the Paris Agreement is a “welcome fizzle” was by Rich Lowry in National Review. I don’t agree with his analysis or conclusions. Although many issues remain to be worked out in future negotiations and decided at future COPs, the treaty poses multiple threats to the economy, and which together constitute a big step on the road to a global energy-rationing regime. I will write more about the treaty’s provisions in future articles in the Digest. For now, I will only note that, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, it is a perpetual agreement that includes automatic reviews of greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets and timetables every five years.
The Obama Administration claims that the new treaty is not a treaty in order to avoid certain defeat in a Senate ratification vote. Nonetheless, as my CEI colleague Chris Horner has noted, it is just as much a treaty as the underlying UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. No one disputed that they were treaties that required ratification. In my view, a lot depends on whether the Senate and the American people let President Obama get away with claiming that it is not a treaty, but somehow binds his successors, future Congresses, and the federal courts.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin, published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, provides a comprehensive summary of COP-21 here. The UNFCCC’s official text of the Paris Climate Treaty can be found here.
Obama Administration at COP-21 Emphasizes the Irrelevance of Congress
My CEI colleagues and I were among over 36,000 officially-accredited delegates attending COP-21 in Paris. I was there for the second week beginning 7th December. Besides the many official meetings and plenary sessions, there are hundreds of side events put on by national delegations and a wide variety of NGOs—environmental, indigenous peoples, women, business, and research. It is impossible to attend more than a tiny fraction of these events. This year I concentrated on side events put on or hosted by the U. S. State Department. That’s because I wanted to see how the Obama Administration was going to respond to congressional opposition to the President’s climate agenda.
I wasn’t disappointed. The point was made at several events that the Congress is irrelevant and therefore should be ignored. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke at two events I attended. At an event on 8th December, she stated emphatically that the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants had gone through an unprecedentedly thorough rulemaking process, that everyone had been consulted, and that the two rules had therefore been bullet-proofed from being overturned by the courts. She then added, Yes, there are votes in Congress. But yes, there are also presidential vetoes. (I haven’t put this in quotes because it’s unlikely I got her words down exactly.) McCarthy was followed by a panel of utility executives from PG&E, Exelon, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy who enthusiastically endorsed the so-called “Clean Power” Plan.
At an event on Saturday, 5th December, which I didn’t attend because I had not yet arrived in Paris, McCarthy was joined by Brian Wolff, executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of investor-owned utilities. Wolff announced that EEI supported the “Clean Power” Plan.
Other events featured state officials pledging their support for the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules. California Governor Jerry Brown and billionaire political donor Tom Steyer were listed as speakers at one of these events I attended, but for some reason did not appear. We had to settle for the president of the California Senate and the speaker of the California Assembly. No mention was made of the 27 States that are suing to overturn the “Clean Power” Plan.
The reason that the Administration and their allies in business and environmental pressure groups worked so hard to explain the irrelevance of Congress is because several Republican House and Senate staffers attending COP-21 were meeting with other delegations and explaining that both the House and Senate had voted for resolutions to block the EPA’s rules (which admittedly will be vetoed) and that the Congress was not going to appropriate the $500 million requested by President as the first U. S. contribution to the Green Climate Fund. The staffers did what they could, but I’m afraid their efforts were overwhelmed by the Obama Administration’s offensive. Unfortunately, the congressional schedule prevented any Republican Senators or Representatives from flying to Paris and holding a press conference at COP-21.
“UN climate change goal? We’re there now” – John Christy
Every month John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, report global temperature data from their satellite monitoring program, known as the UAH record in the scientific literature.
Their just published year-end report features the decadal trends in Global, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and Tropical temperatures over the 37-year satellite record.
So here’s some very good news for the holiday season. The global climate system, all on its own with no help from the Paris Climate Treaty, is on track to meet the treaty’s goal of avoiding 2°C of warming above pre-industrial temperatures.
From the UAH press release:
“The average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere has warmed just over four-tenths of a degree Celsius (almost three-fourths of a degree Fahrenheit) during the past 37 years, with the greatest warming over the Arctic Ocean and Australia, said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Microwave sounding units on board NOAA and NASA satellites completed 37 complete years of collecting temperature data in November, giving us nearly global coverage of climate change during that time.
“If that trend was to continue for another 63 years, the composite warming for the globe would be 1.1°C (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) for the century, Christy said. That would put the average global temperature change over 100 years well under the 2.0°C (3.6 degrees F) goal set recently at the climate change summit in Paris.”
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.