Continuing Ridley’s account of the impact of climate policy on the poor and related absurdities in Climate Science: The Facts. Consider these impacts in addition to the outlays of a trillion or two worldwide reported by Lomborg.
He started with ethanol subsidies which cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives in poor nations. (We have a regulation for ethanol in petrol in NSW which is one of the obsessions of Alan Jones, along with opposing coal seam gas extraction.) On top of that there are claims that there are more emissions from ethanol enhanced petrol than from the standard product. There is even a claim that Al Gore has admitted that it was a mistake, with the implication that he only promoted it to get votes from corn farmers in his election campaign.
Ridley went on to criticise biodiesel programs and the promotion of diesel cars. Then he mentioned one of the most outlandish schemes – the clearing of forests on the west coast of the US to convert into wood pellets to burn in British furnaces instead of coal to generate electricity. The Daily Mail reported that this was one of the legacies of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne.
Mr Huhne, who served in the coalition government and was later jailed for perverting the course of justice, championed the energy source in office and is now European chairmen of Zilka Biomass, a US supplier of wood pellets.
Nice work if you can get it.
And then there are the household biomass furnaces in Britain, promoted by Huhne under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme whereby businesses and households pay for a renewable energy boiler upfront then receive payments for up to 20 years depending on the amount of heat they produce.
Some unscrupulous homeowners can double the amount they produce by using heat generated under the RHI to dry wood or other materials.
This can then be fed back into the boiler to burn it and generate even more heat – and money from the public purse.
The scheme was started in 2011 by Chris Huhne, then Liberal Democrat energy secretary, for businesses then extended to domestic customers three years later. Households and firms can apply for grants to switch from fossil fuel heating systems to renewable ones such as biomass boilers, which burn wood pellets, chips or logs.
As the scheme is open to applications until 2021, final payments to participants will run to at least 2041. By this time, the bill for taxpayers is expected to hit £23billion.
Closely related is the the Irish “Cash for Ash” scandal that paid more than the cost of the fuel. An orgy of corruption was sparked by renewables in Spain and there was the strange phenomenon of solar power generated in the dark because the Spanish subsidy was initially so generous is was worthwhile to shine diesel-powered lights on the panels overnight.
Ridley had harsh words for wind and solar farms for the usual reasons including destruction of birds and wildlife habitats. He could have mentioned the problem of getting rid of elderly wind turbines and the danger as they fall apart.
He noted the growing incidence of fuel poverty and the winter deaths that follow.
Moving on to the Third World he roasted western governments and agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that are unwilling to fund hydrocarbon fuel projects while millions die prematurely due to the cooking smoke from biomass. He cited the example of Niger, the fourth poorest nation on earth with one tiny coal-fired plant, some diesel power stations and an interconnector from Nigeria. Over 90% of the population depend on wood or other biomass. Butane gas is available but low-income households cannot afford the accessories to use it. The International Renewable Energy Agency wants to see Niger “embrace renewables as a part of a longer-term energy vision” but wood is not the renewable that they have in mind. Wind and solar are supposed to be the way to go.