This is a brief follow-up to “Oil Is Dead. Long Live Oil.i That piece ended with a reference to an articleii in the Guardian written by George Monbiot. I won’t reprise the whole argument, so as to avoid repetition, but will refer to a couple of quotes:

The various impacts have a common cause: the sheer volume of economic activity. We are doing too much of almost everything, and the world’s living systems cannot bear it.

And:

We have no hope of emerging from this full-spectrum crisis unless we dramatically reduce economic activity. Wealth must be distributed – a constrained world cannot afford the rich – but it must also be reduced. Sustaining our life-support systems means doing less of almost everything.

This, it seems to me, goes way beyond James Delingpole’s “Watermelons” argument, that climate worriers are “green on the outside but red on the inside”. Certainly some no doubt seek to use climate change policies as a lever towards wealth redistribution, and I have no problem with that, so long as it’s open and above board. I do have an issue, though, with advocating for policies, ostensibly for one reason, but in reality for another. That’s not how democracy should work.

So, it’s refreshing to see one of the most ardent campaigners being explicit about what he thinks all this involves. It would be useful if that was picked up by the mainstream media, and the outcome of all this was made clear. Then, however, there might be rather less support for it, especially given what is potentially looming on the horizon.

With blackouts looming, German government holds disaster preparation day, promotes ‘cooking without electricity’

That is the headline to an articleiii on RTs (Russia Today) website. I am always cautious about linking to RT because, just as the Guardian has its agenda, I suspect that RT has an agenda of causing mischief among the western allies. And in this case it may be making a mountain out of a molehill, since there is surely wisdom in Germany’s Civil Protection Office being prepared for all eventualities (would that our glorious leaders in the UK were this organised). Still:

High demand and the transition to green power has left much of Europe at risk of blackouts. In Germany, state authorities are teaching the public to heat their homes with candles and get used to “cooking without electricity.”

State authorities in North-Rhine Westphalia will hold their first ‘Disaster Protection Day’ on Saturday, with instructors in the city of Bonn teaching citizens how to get by “in the event of a long power failure” An advert by the federal Civil Protection Office gives a hint of what’s in store, and features an elderly woman wearing several layers of clothing, heating her apartment with candles burning under an upturned flower pot and sealing her windows with reflective foil.

The Civil Protection Office on Friday unveiled an ad campaign focusing on all aspects of crisis preparation, and will soon release a targeted strategy addressing “stockpiling, extreme weather, power failure and emergency baggage.’ Meanwhile, officials will present a new book entitled ‘Cooking Without Electricity’ at the event in Bonn on Saturday.

As it happens, I don’t share RT’s confidence that “[b]ased on these official communications, blackouts are coming to Germany soon.”However, I do think it means that the German authorities recognise that blackouts are a real possibility, especially given this:

[T]he German government plans on eliminating nuclear power by next year and coal by 2038.

Combined, nuclear and coal account for 39% of all electricity generated in Germany. Unless the country can dramatically expand its renewable sector, and count on the wind to power it, their elimination will likely result in even higher prices, and more ‘Disaster Protection Days’ in the coming years.

I expect something similar in Britain before long, but without the contingency planning….

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way, and in some countries it isn’t.

China’s Coal Miners Told to Produce Even If They’re Over Quotas

That is the heading to an articleiv on the Bloomberg website, and it is evident that having already experienced blackouts this autumn, the PRC will do whatever it takes to avoid more. No wonder the Chinese leadership (and the Indian, come to that, along with lots of others around the world) haven’t been in a hurry to update their NDCs ahead of COP 26.

China’s leadership has told the country’s state-owned miners to produce coal at full capacity for the rest of the year even if they exceed annual quota limits as they struggle with the deepening power crisis.

The directive, along with other measures to secure energy supplies for this winter at all costs, was emphasized during emergency meetings this week in Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter. Boosting domestic thermal coal production is critical, said the people, asking not to be named as the discussions aren’t public.

The government has been holding a series of meetings with company executives this week in a sign of how serious the situation in China has become. Many regions have had to curtail the supply of electricity to the industrial sector, while some residential areas have lost power due to the energy crisis that’s gripped the world’s second-biggest economy.

So, it’s full steam ahead in China to ensure that the lights come back on as soon as possible. What attitude do our glorious leaders in the UK take to things like lights, I wonder?

Climate change: Lord Deben says street lights not needed in rural areas

The BBC (among much of the media) on 16th September 2021v reported a glorious Marie-Antoinette “let them eat cake” moment from the chair of the Climate Change Committee, with his “let them use torches” gaffe.

Street lights should not be installed in rural areas where people could use a torch instead, an influential climate adviser said.

Lord Deben chairs the Climate Change Committee, which advises the government on emissions targets.

He also said councils should not allow housing developments where residents would commute by car.

…He said street lighting in rural areas was unnecessary, adding: “When people move into the countryside you just have to say to them, ‘this is not the town, we do not have street lighting in this village, you have a torch, that’s just how we do it’.”

But Lord Deben, who was environment minister under John Major and Suffolk Coastal MP until 2010, said street lighting was important in towns where it can make people feel safer and more likely to walk.

So there you have it. It’s official. If you live in a town, you can have street lights, but you’re expected to walk everywhere. If you live in the countryside (peasants!) don’t expect street lights, for goodness’ sake.

I’m off to check my supply of batteries and candles.

Endnotes

i https://cliscep.com/2021/09/30/oil-is-dead-long-live-oil/

ii https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/29/green-growth-economic-activity-environment

iii https://www.rt.com/news/536361-germany-blackouts-power-ad/

iv https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-01/china-s-coal-miners-told-to-produce-even-if-they-re-over-quotas

v https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-58585374

10 Comments

  1. “With blackouts looming, German government holds disaster preparation day, promotes ‘cooking without electricity’”

    A decade ago Putin trolled Germans for their eco-suicide:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read that German wind capacity expansion has stalled (!). Apparently lots of old turbines are being shut down as they are no longer economic without subsidies and that retiring capacity is around the same as new capacity coming onstream.

    So there is a growing business in demolishing and scrapping these ageing turbines – where there is funding as some may not have any money accrued for the purpose.
    Disposal/re-use of the concrete and metal is routine but the blades pose a problem. One solution – the height of irony – is to grind them to powder and use it to fuel cement plants!

    Like

  3. MikeH

    “Disposal/re-use of the concrete and metal is routine but the blades pose a problem.”

    Surely the Germans could simply excavate bloody great pits in lignite rock, and dump them there?

    Heck, instead of being left with pit spoil, they could use the excavated material to burn in power stations to make dispatchable electricity. Win-Win.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting that comments have focused on Germany. I think that’s perfectly reasonable.

    I’m sure most people are aware of the film, The Manchurian Candidate, where the Chinese groomed a candidate to be President of the USA. I occasionally muse on the possibility that Merkel might be the Siberian candidate. I find it bizarre the way she is hero-worshipped. Just look at what she has done. Destabilised by the EU by inviting (with no consultation with EU partner countries) over 1M refugees to Germany, causing chaos all over the Balkans and eastern Europe en route. Further destabilised the EU by facilitating Brexit, when she declined to have anything to do with Cameron’s attempts to renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership ahead of the Brexit referendum. Closing down nuclear power stations for no good reason. Pressing ahead with NordStream 2, despite opposition from within the EU, thus making Germany heavily dependent on Russia if it’s to keep the lights on and its people warm. It all looks like a pretty shabby record to me, but one that suits Putin very nicely. Is she incompetent, or is she a Russian stooge?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Other than church candles, which are traditionally beeswax, aren’t most candles made of paraffin wax?
    Hardly CO2-neutral, I would have thought.

    Like

  6. time for some “fun” BBC Windbags –

    Life at sea by world’s largest offshore wind farm
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-58761725

    Could Scotland’s unwanted wind turbines be turned into playparks?
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-58542905

    snippet from the last link –

    “However, Fred Olsen Renewables hopes to “repower” the site – removing the existing turbines and replacing them with new, more powerful machines, using existing tracks and infrastructure on the hillside.”

    so Fred has his finger in many pie’s, he must have sails on the next cruise ship & able to retrofit !!!

    Like

  7. To add to no street lights in villages:

    “Building strategy to look at embodied carbon, says government
    By Roger Harrabin
    BBC energy and environment analyst”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58878192

    “The government is looking at how to tackle “embodied carbon” as part of an upcoming building strategy.

    Developers may have won praise in the past for demolishing draughty buildings for energy-efficient replacements.

    But engineers now say existing buildings should be kept standing due to the amount of carbon emitted when original building materials were made – known as embodied carbon.

    A government spokeswoman said they were working on this issue.

    And Business minister Lord Callanan told a recent conference that it was “one of the areas we want to look at”.

    But despite the peer saying the government was in “the final stages” of creating its new heat and building strategy, neither gave more detail about what measures may appear.

    Making steel, concrete and bricks for buildings creates a lot of carbon, with concrete alone causing 8% of global emissions.

    As a result, climate experts are urging ministers to make it hard for developers to demolish buildings without first exploring ways to refurbish and extend them.

    The chairman of the government’s advisory climate change committee, Lord Deben, said the government had been slow to accept this reversal of established thinking and ministers had not had “the will and the clout to develop these policies”.

    “We need to think differently,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to pull buildings down like this. We have to learn to make do and mend.””

    Coming to you soon, courtesy of Lord Deben and the CCC – make do and mend.

    Like

  8. Making steel, concrete and bricks for buildings creates a lot of carbon

    My respect for Harrabin grows by the article.

    Like

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