Trump confirms that he is pulling America out of the Paris Climate Agreement – Al Jareera

 

 

Al Jazeera: With me in the studio is Tom Burke who is Chairman of the climate think tank E3G… In making this decision President Trump has gone against his Secretary of State, his defence Secretary and his National Security Adviser, so what are the implications there in terms of national security and geopolitics?

Tom Burke: That makes me much more worried about the future of geopolitics than it does about the future of the climate. Withdrawal from Paris will not have very big impact on what other countries are doing to get carbon emissions down, but the fact that the President of the United States has basically rejected the advice of his most senior and most important advisers on international affairs and the most respected of all the appointments that he has made. He is also rejecting all of the advice and urgings of all of Americas traditional allies. It just seems to me that is a really worrying sign about what kind of America we are going to see in future. And it does reflect a real victory of Steve Bannon and the really nationalist, return to the first half of the 20th century, politics that he has been preaching, and people should be quite worried about that.

Al Jazeera: There are concerns that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world right now, and America is the second largest carbon polluter, and it’s promise to cut emissions made up a significant portion of the overall agreement. What tangible impact will there be in terms of the strength of this agreement, and a possible domino effect on the behaviour of other countries?

Tom Burke: I think for other countries, it just leaves even more open the opportunity for building a low-carbon economy. It will encourage India, China and a lot of the countries that he was complaining about to get on with simply taking advantage of the space left in global markets for new technologies.

Al Jazeera:  In other words you have a very flourishing industry in solar power in China, if anything they are going to continue with that investment and then branch out into other areas of renewable energy.

Tom Burke: Yeah, and frankly they will be doing it with a lot of American money, private money from the America who sees where the opportunity is. What’s completely incomprehensible is the complete repudiation by a republican president of the signals that markets are giving him. We have just seen the board of Exxon told that it has to examine its climate risks, by the most significant voters in the HEM were BlackRock and the other big multinational financing firms, because they have begun to understand how serious these risks are to being able to make money. So, you have a republican president somehow trying to say that markets are wrong.

Al Jazeera:  Following on from that logic, there is nothing to worry about because markets, and the private sector, and businesses will ultimately dictate where the money goes, and it will stay in renewables and electric cars, and coal won’t be coming back any time soon.

Tom Burke: I wouldn’t say that there is nothing to worry about, because I think this slows down the pace at which we could go, but I don’t think that Mr Trump is going to find anybody interested in having another negotiation.

Al Jazeera:  I guess the central contradiction in all of this is the fact that he is pulling out of the deal, it’s a very bad deal, we are withdrawing and reasserting control over our own climate policy, but at the same time we want to re-negotiate a deal with nearly 200 countries.

Tom Burke: That’s the kind of thing that might make sense on a reality TV show but doesn’t make any sense in the real world. It assumes that all the other nations weren’t doing what they are doing because they had a real national interest in doing it, and the idea that they are now all about to say we were wrong all along and you were right, so we will join in, it is fantasy land.

Al Jazeera:  And we have been looking at some of the reactions that have been coming in, and we had already heard a sense of frustration from Brussels and from the G7 summit, Jean Claud Junker saying that it is going to take them years to pull out, Angela Merkel at the G7 summit pleading with Trump to stay in the Agreement, and city Mayors saying that it’s not going to affect anything that we do, in fact if anything it will galvanise them. Do you think that this could breathe new life into the Paris Accord rather than weaken it?

Tom Burke: I think that’s absolutely right, I think when you get this type of arbitrary and completely inexplicable intervention, what it tends to do is push other people together, rather like Margaret Thatcher did in British politics. By being very aggressive she made her opposition more united than it was, so I think that we will see some of that as we go forward. I think that tomorrow we are going to see a really striking agreement between the EU and China, so this will push the EU and China closer together, and from what I have seen from the draft texts that have leaked out, it is going to be really rather remarkable and very strong, and an immediate response in the real world to Mr Trump.

Al Jazeera:  Tom Burke, head of the climate think tank E3G, thanks you very, much for coming in and sharing your opinion and expertise with us.

 

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What impact will it have if Trump does pull out of the Paris Climate Deal? – Al Jazeera

 

 

Al Jazeera: Joining me now in the studio is Tom Burke, who is the chairman of the climate think tank E3G. So, we are awaiting and announcement from President Donald Trump, but reports suggest that he will indeed pull the US out of the Climate Change Deal. What impact to you think this will have on the agreement itself?

Tom Burke: On the deal itself, I think that it will slow things down a bit. What Paris did was put us on the right road to deal with climate change, but as was recognised at the time, it wasn’t going to take us far enough or fast enough, so it built in a mechanism for increasing its ambition every five years or so. I think Trump pulling out will slow down that acceleration that we need. But it won’t stop it, and as all the commentators have been saying, the fact that he pulls out, won’t change what is happening in the real economy, where the world had already started to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. Paris was one of the big initiators of that, so now you are seeing most of the investment in energy around the world, is going into renewables, is going into electric vehicles, and developing the low-carbon economy.

Al Jazeera:  Why then is there so much concern, because there is this agrument is that you can’t control what the private sector does, you can’t control what businesses invest in, you can’t control what options consumers will pick for their source of energy, and you do have electric cars and renewable sources of energy becoming more attractive, as prices go down, but if all that is the case then why is there so much concern about Trump doing this? Why is it so significant?

Tom Burke: Well, nobody can understand why, for all the reasons that you have just said, why Trump wants to do this, it is not in America’s interest to do it economically , and it is not in America’s interest to do it geopolitically. There is going to be quite a price to be paid for repudiating and agreement that everybody else in the world apart from Syria and Nicaragua has signed up to. He has just blown in the face of America’s most traditional allies, and said I don’t care what you think is important, I am going to go my own way, now if there was some reason for it, that people could make sense of, then people might be prepared to accommodate him. But just doing it in this arbitrary and in explicable way leaves everybody baffled about what exactly he is trying to accomplish? And where else will he be just as unpredictable.

Al Jazeera:  Well I suppose that the argument it that the restrictions and regulations that come with signing up to a deal like this, and other policies that the US currently has in place, are not good for the American economy and that they are hurting jobs, and that actually this will help, and this sends a very powerful signal, not just on the international stage, but also to businesses within the US that it would be worth investing in other industries in order to generate jobs in other areas.

Tom Burke: Well, his own most senior economic adviser has already publicly said, that pulling out of the Paris Agreement won’t help the coal industry. If you look at just simple numbers, there are fifty thousand coal miners in the United States, there are a quarter of a million people who are working in the solar industry alone. The markets have already made their minds up, what is extraordinary is to see a conservative president ignoring the clear signals that are coming from the market, about where the balance of economic advantage lies.

Al Jazeera:  Why is he such a cheerleader for the coal industry, he says “coal is a beautiful thing”, why does he say that?

Tom Burke: I can’t explain that any more than I can explain many other aspects of Mr Trumps behaviour, he is not something that we have ever seen before. He seems to me to be very ignorant about both energy policy and climate policy. He seems to live in an alternative reality, where things will happen just because he wishes them, now I can’t explain why he is like that, any more than I can explain why the American people voted for him.

Al Jazeera: Alright, Tom Burke, for now, thank you very much.

 

 

 

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What happens if Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement – BBC News

 

 

The Paris Agreement took us on to the right road, but it didn’t go far enough or fast enough in order to solve the problem. So Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement would slow down that process of getting up to speed, and getting there fast enough to tackle the problem.

 

 

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How much damage will it do if Trump does pull the US out of the Paris Agreement? BBC World News Television

 

BBC World News: Let’s get more analysis now on this in the Studio with me is Tom Burke, environmentalist and Chairman of E3G. Thank you so much for joining us Tom. Isn’t it interesting, who would have thought that we would be here a few years ago? That China would be at the forefront of all of this, and the United States would be pulling back on climate change?

Tom Burke: I agree, it’s a real switch around. For a long time China was the real back marker. What we saw in the run up to Paris, was the US and China really becoming the locomotive that drew the world forward. And what we are now seeing is president Trump trying to make the US the back marker, the brake, stalling the whole thing.

BBC World News:  How much of a setback will it be if president Trump decides to roll back on all of this?

Tom Burke: For the world, it will be a setback to climate diplomacy. Paris put us on the right road, but it didn’t go far enough and it didn’t go fast enough to really tackle the problem. So pulling out, if that’s what he does. It will slow down the effort to go faster and further. But it won’t stop what is already going on. And as we have heard from all kinds of commentators all over the world, in the real economy the transition is already well under-way, and that won’t be stopped by pulling out of the Paris agreement.

BBC World News:  And there is political will in the United States to push back on Washington’s line on this.

Tom Burke: I think that is absolutely right, you have most of the states, in fact if all the states that have made commitments to carry on tackling climate change were added together, they would be the fifth largest economy in the world. So we are seeing massive economic and political commitment irrespective of what President Trump does. This is not really about making America great again, this is about taking America back to the 1970’s. There are 50,000 US jobs employed in the mining industry, there are a quarter of a million employed in the solar industry alone. This isn’t about going forward to a better future, this is about going backwards to a world that we were quite happy to get away from.

BBC World News:  Indeed, because I have heard some critics say that this isn’t about right and wrong, this is about a White House that is full of climate change sceptics.

Tom Burke: I think that you are exactly right, I think that this is about people who are trying to live in an alternative reality and what comes out of an alternative reality are alternative facts. In order to believe what people like Steve Bannon, Steve Miller and others of Trump’s advisor believe, then you have to really believe that almost everybody else, that all the major businesses, all of the scientists in the world, and all of the other governments in the world, have all somehow been taken in on a giant hoax. Now you have to be living somewhere very strange to believe that. But I think what is much more worrying if Mr Trump pulls out, is that his most respected advisors, his Secretary of State, his Defence Secretary, his National Security Advisor, all think that this is a really major problem and a threat to America’s core interests, and he is repudiating them, just as he is repudiating all of America’s traditional allies. So there are more risks to President Trump’s administration than there are to the climate.

BBC World News: And I suppose, what you are alluding to is, China then taking a leadership role on this?

Tom Burke: We have seen exactly that. And what I think we will see tomorrow from the EU China Summit that is currently going on is a pretty vigorous statement, that identifies this as one of the imperatives to be challenged by the world going forward. And there is no doubt at all that one of the other consequences if Trump does pull out, is that, essentially, they have handed over leadership on a really central issue, to China.

BBC World News: Indeed, Tom Burke, really fascinating talking to you, and we will have to wait and see what happens in the next few hours when we hear from President Trump. Thanks so much.

 

 

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An Unsquared Circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In her Easter message, the Prime Minister spoke of ‘the opportunities that lie ahead’ for post-EU Britain. Neither she nor any of her Ministers have ever set out exactly what these opportunities are. Nor have they ever explained why we were unable to take them as members of the EU. Most economists remain doubtful that the value of these ‘opportunities’ will exceed the losses from our self-expulsion from the Single Market.

Be that as it may, the Government has been clear that taking these opportunities will require a ‘deep and special partnership’ with the EU. It will also demand the negotiation of an array of free trade agreements with other countries. Top of the Government’s targets for such an agreement is the United States. Hence the Prime Minister’s rather unseemly rush to be among the first to hold hands with the newly installed President.

As we have now learnt, one consequence of our forty year membership of the EU has been the loss of any significant pool of expertise on trade policy. This flowed from the Commission’s ‘sole competence’ on trade matters. All trade negotiations are handled by the European Commission acting on a mandate agreed by the member states.

This prevents any attempt by trade partners to play one country off against another. But it also means that there was no need to any of the member states to retain a large body of trade experts. This was an opportunity to cut civil servants we couldn’t resist. An often overlooked benefit of EU membership on this and other issues was the ability to share the cost of regulation with the other 27 members.

The downside, however, is that there is no political understanding in Britain of the impossibility of simultaneously negotiating free trade agreements with both the EU and the US. In the headlines free trade agreements are principally about tariff barriers. In the real world these are now much less important than the so called non-tariff trade barriers.

These are the regulatory hurdles on public or animal health or the environment which goods and services must jump to get access to markets. The EU, for example, bans the import of beef that has been fed growth hormones and chickens that have been treated with chlorine, both of which are legal in the United States. One of the most fiercely fought trade issues of recent years was the EU’s eventually unsuccessful effort to ban the import from North America of oil produced from tar sands because of its higher carbon burden.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been clear that one of the key conditions for a future UK free trade agreement with the EU will be the inclusion of ‘safeguards against unfair competitive advantages through…..environmental dumping’. Essentially, Britain will have to conform not just to the existing environmental aquis as the price of a free trade agreement but will also have to keep up with future development of EU environmental policy.

For Britain to secure a free trade agreement with the US, the Congress will have to agree to it. It is not hard to see what the UK might get, economically and politically, from such an agreement, but far less easy to see where the advantages are for the US. The negotiations will inevitably be somewhat lop-sided.

Even an environment friendly fully Democratic Congress would have been expected by its businesses to strike a hard bargain.

This would likely have required some compromises over environmental standards. The current Congress, egged on by an Administration rolling back environmental safeguards as fast as it can, will be looking for something closer to total surrender to US levels of environmental protection. This will not be acceptable to the EU.

One of the enduring lessons from my time as a Special Advisor was of the extraordinary elasticity of the English language. This can be used as a cosmetic to conceal a whole host of policy infelicities. However, such is the gulf between current EU and US approaches on the environment that it is likely to prove stretch too far for even this legendary skill.

Britain will have to make a choice. We can have a free trade agreement with the EU or we can have one with the US. We cannot have both. Contrary to their rhetoric, political leaders do not relish making clear choices. Like our present Foreign Secretary, they prefer to have their cake and eat it.

Faced with the unpalatable prospect of actually making a choice the first reflex of Ministers is to produce a fog of ambiguity. The intent is to delay the choice for as long as possible. This is bad for both business and the environment.

For business it prolongs uncertainty, threatening regulatory instability and freezing investment. For the environment, it prolongs the suspicion, fanned by the Daily Telegraph’s anti-regulatory campaign, that the Government intends to sell out the environment for a free trade agreement with the US.

The belief that we can have comprehensive free trade agreements with both the EU and the US is a delusion. Both British business and its environment would be better off if we decided clearly which one to pursue. The Government thinks this circle can be squared. It needs to explain how.

 

Tom Burke

London

April 17th 2017

 

An Unsquared Circle was first published in Business Green

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Britain’s first 24 hours without coal for 135 years – Sky News

 

 

 

 

It was a real birthday present for the earth yesterday that we saw the first day in 135 years when Britain wasn’t producing any electricity from coal. I think that is a pretty remarkable day, and it really does point to the future, which is a really low-carbon future, in which we are basically using renewables, smart meters, and a much more efficient system, which will be good for the economy, good for consumers, good for the climate, and incidentally good for the National Health Service.

 

 

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Socking The Puppet – The decline in the legitimacy of Britain’s political parties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Government is increasingly seeking to constrain dissenting voices from civil society organisations by limiting their ability to inform the electorate, constraining their role in the planning system and closing off access to judicial review of government decisions. This is a recipe for conflict and confusion that will damage  Britain’s economy as  well as its environment. Paradoxically, it is doing so at time when political parties are becoming increasingly unrepresentative of society as a whole.

 

SOCKING THE PUPPET

 

One of the most striking features of public life in today’s Britain is the decline in the legitimacy of our political parties. Just after the war about 1 in 12 of us was a member of a political party. Now it is just 1 in 120.

At the same time membership of voluntary organisations has grown dramatically. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has twice as many members as all the political parties combined. The National Trust is three times bigger than that. Some 15 million Britons volunteer at least once a month. Volunteering contributes about £45 billion a year to the economy, the same as we will spend on defence this year.

These numbers raise an interesting question of who is best placed to speak for the people of Britain. Neither elected representatives nor unelected editors have anything like the intimate connection that civil society organisations have to the hopes and fears, needs and wants, of the public.

Furthermore, two decades of austerity have not only increased stress within society, they have also reduced the Government’s capacity to deal with this additional stress. Swingeing cuts in Departmental budgets mean that there is now often more policy expertise in the voluntary sector than within Whitehall.

Up until the election of the Coalition in 2010 there was a developing partnership between the state and civil society organisations. After WWII, the state took over the basic provision of welfare services that had previously relied on voluntary efforts. The voluntary sector filled gaps in that provision and became a source of informed analysis and innovation.

As a more affluent, confident and better educated citizenry emerged in the last quarter of the 20th Century the voluntary sector developed an additional role. It became an advocate. Expertise founded in practical experience gave voice to those failed by the state. New or neglected issues, such as the environment, were forced onto the political agenda.

This created a more complex, and somewhat tenser, relationship between the state and the voluntary sector. One the one hand there was close partnership in the delivery of services with the state often finding the voluntary sector to be a more effective vehicle than the public sector. On the other hand, voluntary sector criticism of policy and political failure became ever more vocal and well targeted.

For several decades this tension was managed by an explicit compact between the state and voluntary organisations. The state accepted that informed criticism of government policy was legitimately in the public interest and thus could be consistent with charitable purposes. The voluntary sector accepted that its commentary on public policy must be non-partisan. This allowed civil society to not only act directly on social problems but also to act on their causes.

This compact has begun to break down. There has been a sustained effort to constrain the room for the voluntary sector to intervene in both the formal and informal debates on public policy. Formal constraints have included major changes in the planning system to reduce public participation and limits on access to the courts for judicial review. Less formally, there has been a persistent effort by the Charities Commission to limit campaigning by charities.

Perhaps the most egregious step to prevent voluntary bodies giving potent expression to the public voice was the Coalition’s Lobbying Act. Intended to constrain the activities of commercial lobbyists, in which it failed, it tightly limits the role of non-governmental organisations in speaking out during elections.

These, and similar changes, are not fortuitous. They are being driven by a view emerging from the right in politics that political parties are the only legitimate voice in public policy debates. Voluntary bodies are increasingly seen from this perspective as a barrier to economic success and thus to be silenced.

This is view that is at odds with a long standing compact between governments of all complexions and the voluntary sector. It is also at odds with the deeply democratic reflexes of Britain’s political culture. As Britain moves further through one of the most disruptive social changes in its history, marginalising those voices that have a real connection to the base of society seems a recipe for turning dissent into disaster.

 

Tom Burke

London

March 7th 2017

 

This article was originally published by the Civil Exchange in a report called ‘A Shared Society?

 

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A WAR ON REASON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a paragraph everyone should read. It will seem quite familiar, if slightly out of true, as if from a half forgotten newspaper article. It is in fact from a 35 year old book. Even so, to grasp the full depth of the nightmare that is Trump you need to read it.

“It had really begun. The issues were drawn, false issues; the real issues were post war fear and uncertainty. Around the country he flew, reckless and audacious, stopping long enough to make a new charge, to exhibit a new list, a good newsworthy press conference at the airport, hail fellow well met with the reporters, and then on to the next stop, the emptiness of the charges never catching up with him, the American press exploited in its false sense of objectivity (if a high official said something, then it was news, if not fact, and the role of the reporter was to print it straight without commenting, without assaulting the credibility of the incredulous, that was objectivity). It was like a circus; he was always on the move, his figures varied, his work was erratic and sloppy, he seemed to have no genuine interest in any true nature of security. It sometimes seemed as if he too were surprised by the whole thing, how easy it was, how little resistance he met, and so he hurtled forward to newer, larger charges. But if they did not stick, and they did not, his charges had an equally damaging effect: they poisoned. Where there was smoke, there must be fire. He wouldn’t be saying these things unless there was something to it. And so the contamination remained after the facts, or lack of them, evaporated; long after the specifics had faded into obscurity, the stain remained.” 

This is from David Halberstam’s book “The Best and the Brightest”. He is writing about Senator Joe McCarthy. McCarthy led the notorious campaign against alleged communist traitors in The United States at the beginning of the fifties. The populist poison he fomented is as virulent today as it was then.

Indeed it is the same poison. The vicious manipulation of fear and hatred practised by McCarthy then and by Trump today share a lineage. The witchfinder general of McCarthy’s assault on reason was a young lawyer named Roy Cohn. When McCarthy’s campaign imploded from its surfeit of excess the young lawyer withdrew to New York.

There, in the seventies he became a friend and mentor to rising real estate mogul Donald Trump. Cohn was both gay and homophobic – an unusual combination. He had a clear philosophy: always deny, never settle, always countersue. As we see, it has been fully absorbed by his apprentice.

Cohn died of AIDS in 1986. His place as a Trump guru has been taken by Stephen Bannon, now the chief political strategist in the White House. Bannon is reputed to be the intellectual driving force, such as there is, of the Trump Administration. Journalists have taken to reporting the books he reads.

Among them is Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest”; which is how I came to be re-reading it and so discovered the paragraph above. A New York Times journalist spotted him reading it at an airport. “I’m having everyone in the transition read it” said Bannon. Ironically, the book is an 800 page treatise on why fervour and confidence is no substitute for expertise for those in high office.

The Trump we see is the one we are going to get for the next four years. The American people have played a monumental joke on their own history by reincarnating Joe McCarthy as President. Trump will not change. McCarthyism is written into the DNA of his Administration. But like his doppelganger he will fail, drowned by his own excesses.

However, if we permit it, his failure will leave an indelible stain on the world. He has declared a war on reason. It is a war that could last well beyond his years in the White House. Churchill believed that in war “truth must wear a bodyguard of lies”. To win this war on reason we must build a wall of truth, a bodyguard of facts, to contain the toxic vomit of doubt and confusion, nacht und nebel, which is Trump’s preferred weapon.

We can start by being direct about the things he says that are not true. They are deliberate, witting, attempts to divide and mislead. Editors and politicians, priests, professors and the rest of us should not be squeamish about calling them what they are: lies. A war on reason is a war on democracy. It is not one the environment and those who speak for it can afford to lose.

 

Tom Burke

London

March 19th 2017

 

 

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Debate with Myron Ebell on Trump and climate policy – BBC World News – 21 FEB 17

 

 

BBC World News: President Trump is preparing two executive orders, aimed at scaling back Obama era policies on climate and water pollution, according to reports that we are seeing in the US media. Over the weekend hundreds of scientists, young and old, rallied because they were concerned over President Trump’s disregard for science and his denial of the impact of climate change. There is lots of talk about this, all over the world, about what a Trump administration is going to mean now for the environment and for our planet.

So, let’s talk about it, I am Join from Washington by Myron Ebell who is Donald Trump’s former advisor on climate change, and a well-known climate change sceptic. And here in the studio with me is Tom Burke, chairman of E3G or Third Generation Environmentalism, an environmental think tank. Myron, if I can start with you, you advised Donald Trump on climate change before he was elected, during the campaign. We are still not sure what to expect from President Trump, can you enlighten us?

Myron Ebell: President Trump promised during the campaign to withdrawn from the Paris Climate Treaty, defund United Nations climate programs, and undo all the executive and regulatory actions that President Obama undertook on climate policy, without the approval or involvement of the US congress.

BBC World News: And you expect him to follow through on all of those, now that he is the president?

Myron Ebell: Yes, I don’t know that he will do everything today or get everything started today, but it has been reported that some of his promises will begin to be fulfilled with executive actions today, now that we have an EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, who was confirmed last week.

BBC World News: And Myron, can you confirm for us that Donald Trump is in fact genuinely a climate change sceptic? He doesn’t believe that it is man-made?

Myron Ebell: President Trump said a number of things during the campaign, ranging from it’s a hoax, which he later walked back from, to just saying that he is not a big believer in it. He doesn’t think that it’s a major problem, and he doesn’t think that it’s a crisis.

BBC World News: Ok, Tom 97% of scientists, we saw some of them on the streets of America over the weekend, disagree with the president, they are worried about the views that he has expressed, are you worried?

Tom Burke: It’s not just scientists, the whole of the American intelligence community is worried about it, and has put climate change as one of the top threats to security for the world going forward. Most American people disagree with both the President and Myron Ebell. In fact, most of Trump’s own supporters disagree, a recent poll from Yale showed. So, what I suspect we will see is even further walking back by the president. I doubt that he will leave the Paris Agreement, to do so he would have to over-rule his own newly appointed secretary of state, who said that America should keep a seat at the table. So, I suspect that there will be quite a lot of headlines, but not necessarily all that much action.

BBC World News: What about Scott Pruitt heading up the EPA, fiercely critical of the agency that he is now in control of.

Tom Burke: I think Scott Pruitt will do a lot of damage to the American environment, and I think that he will try to slow down environmental regulations, particularly those on climate change, as much as he can. But actually, what’s really driving the change in emissions is not so much government policy, it’s actually opportunity seeking, by people like Elon Musk, by the people who are wanting to build the low-carbon economy, and are making lots of money out of it. It’s a very interesting thing, that now renewable energy in the united states employs about four times as many people as the fossil fuel industry. That’s really what’s going to drive the change.

BBC World News: So, there is an economic argument there as well. Myron if we can come back to you, listening to Tom, and some of the figures that are being bandied about, about who does believe in climate change and who doesn’t, and the scientific community involved in that as well. People would really like to understand your thinking, and the presidents thinking as well, why are you a sceptic? What is it that you disagree with exactly?

Myron Ebell: I think that the ‘climate crisis’ is overblown, I don’t think that we have an imminent crisis. I think that we have very modest warming, with very modest impacts, I think that’s the scientific consensus.  I think that there is a small alarmist community that is pushing this on behalf of very large economic interests, the climate industrial complex, that is getting rich off the backs of taxpayers and consumers. Elon Musk is a classic example, his solar business is based on huge federal subsidies, and in many cases state mandates, that require people to have renewable energy. So, all of this stuff about employment numbers, yeah, a lot of people work in the renewable energy industry, but they don’t earn a lot of money, these are largely low-paid workers. So, this is not a booming renewable economy, if you take away the taxpayer subsidies and the mandates.

BBC World News:  What would you say to that Tom?

Tom Burke: Well, I would say, if you took away the fossil fuel subsidies you would have a level playing field, coal would be gone, gas would be in trouble. Which is what we are seeing around the world now already…

Myron Ebell: This is rubbish…This is rubbish…

Tom Burke: Well, I’m sorry, just don’t be rude Myron, you will get a chance speak without being rude…

Myron Ebell: President Obama discovered four billion dollar per year for the oil and gas industry, total subsidy, four billion dollars…

Tom Burke: The fossil fuel industry receives ten million dollars a minute in subsidies, and that is an IMF figure. You can choose to believe your alternative facts if you like, but the reality is investment….

Myron Ebell: You’re confusing subsidies in countries that produce oil, like Saudi Arabia, that subsidise the price of gasoline for their consumers. That has nothing to do with what goes on in the West, in the United States and Europe. Yes, in Venezuela gas costs seventy-five cents per gallon, or something, but that’s what they do to buy off their own people in the petrostates. That has nothing to do with the subsidies in the United States or Europe, which are massive for renewable energy.

BBC World News:  Tom, I just wanted to leave with a final thought from you, about what the world feels about the US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement?

Tom Burke: It’s not that bothered, frankly. The rest of the world will go on doing what they are doing. What countries were doing by signing the Paris Agreement was pursuing their national interest, as they see it. It would be much better if America joined the rest of the world, but if America wants to be last, why should we worry?

BBC World News: Tom and Myron, I was expecting it to be feisty, it was indeed. Thanks very much for joining us.

 

 

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Toshiba scales back on nuclear – Channel 4 News – 14 Feb 17

 

 

Toshiba is basically bust, and it has been broken, in fact, by a nuclear project. So the idea that it won’t want to get rid of Moorside for whatever value it can realise, seems to be very, very unlikely.  They will try to sell it, I’m not sure that they will find a buyer.

What there is a real risk of here, is pouring good money after bad, because the headlines would be so awful if they just said that they were giving up.

 

 

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