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Net Zero Agenda Faltering: “Pie in the Sky”

April 2, 2021

By Paul Homewood



A round up of Net Zero news:



Yesterday, Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan warned that COP26 will end in failure without hundreds of billions in annual support from the rich West. Developing countries would need about $400 billion a year in climate finance support to shift towards low carbon development pathways, yet developed countries had failed to deliver the $100 billion a year of climate finance promised as part of the Paris agreement.

Now, India has come out fighting, calling the West’s 2050 Net Zero targets “pie in the sky.” India’s energy minister said poor nations want to continue using fossil fuels and the rich countries “can’t stop it”.

According to both the UK and US governments, at the UN climate summit in November all countries should adopt Net Zero emissions targets similar to those adopted by Western nations. The fundamental problem with this expectation is that it contravenes the Paris Climate Agreement which cements the UN’s key principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities.‘ This principle acknowledges that developing nations have different capabilities and differing responsibilities in reducing CO2 emissions.

In a recent interview, India’s climate negotiator Chandrashekhar Dasgupta made clear that the West’s Net Zero agenda undermined the principle of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities” of developed and developing countries. This position also explains why India is demanding that richer countries adopt “net negative” emissions targets.

India: Net zero targets are ‘pie in the sky’

Sharp divisions between the major global emitters have emerged at a series of meetings designed to make progress on climate change.

India lambasted the richer world’s carbon cutting plans, calling long term net zero targets, “pie in the sky.”

Their energy minister said poor nations want to continue using fossil fuels and the rich countries “can’t stop it”.

China meanwhile declined to attend a different climate event organised by the UK.

Trying to lead 197 countries forward on the critical global issue of climate change is not a job for the faint hearted, as the UK is currently finding out. […]

India, the world’s fourth largest emitter, doesn’t seem keen to join the club.

“2060 sounds good, but it is just that, it sounds good,” Raj Kumar Singh, India’s minister for power, told a meeting organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“I would call it, and I’m sorry to say this, but it is just a pie in the sky.”

To the discomfort of his fellow panellists, Mr Singh singled out developed countries where per capita emissions are much higher than in India.

“You have countries whose per capita emissions are four or five or 12 times the world average. The question is when are they going to come down?”

“What we hear is that by 2050 or 2060 we will become carbon neutral, 2060 is far away and if the people emit at the rate they are emitting the world won’t survive, so what are you going to do in the next five years that’s what the world wants to know.”


Meanwhile China continues to plough ahead with coal power:


Despite its pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, China continues to burn more coal than any other developed nation, relying on the fossil fuel to satisfy the nation’s surging demand for electricity.

According to a report released Monday by U.K.-based energy and climate research group Ember, China accounted for 53% of the world’s coal-powered electricity in 2020—nine percentage points higher than its share in 2015, when China joined the Paris Agreement.

“Despite some progress, China is still struggling to curb its coal generation growth,” Ember senior electricity policy analyst Muyi Yang said. “[F]ast-rising demand for electricity” in China continues to be satisfied by burning coal.

China’s electricity usage has surged 33% since 2015. According to the International Energy Agency, demand from China’s steel and cement industry—propped up by the state’s heavy infrastructure investment—is one of the primary drivers of electricity consumption, alongside increasing automation of the manufacturing industry.



And the climate agenda is slipping in France as Macron finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place!



  The politicians have all left Emmanuel Macron‘s La Republique en Marche (LREM) over the President’s lack of commitment to environmental and social issues. The French leader has failed to stick to his famous "make our planet great again" slogan from 2017, sparking the fury of those both in opposition and in his own party.

Jennifer De Temmerman, an MP and former LREM member, said the President’s commitment was "skin deep".

She told Politico: “It’s all communication, smoke and mirrors. He lectures others, but in reality, his actions in France don’t pass muster.”

Thousands of protesters took to the street of Paris on Sunday to demonstrate against the President’s climate bill, which environmental campaigners say falls too short of Mr Macron’s promises to change the world.

Ms De Temmerman said: “We were expecting a grand bill, a landmark piece of legislation, and it falls very short of our expectations.

France’s High Council on Climate, a body set up by The French President himself to advise on climate policy, said the measures will not “fill the gaps in France’s transition to low carbon.

They added the bill will only deliver “between a half and two-thirds of the cuts needed between 2019 and its [40 percent] target for 2030”.

Those who once supported the French President’s green ambitions, now recognise the "contradictions" in his policies.



It strikes me that the world has actually made little progress (if that is the right word!) since Copenhagen in 2009. Back then the developed world had to agree to allow developing nations the right to carry on increasing emissions, as well as giving them hundreds of billions of dollars. Very little of that money has actually appeared.

Fast forward, and developing nations are still increasing emissions, while demanding ever larger sums of money. Meanwhile the West is finding that the transition to a low carbon world is going to be extremely painful.

No doubt at COP26 in Glasgow (rumoured that it may be postponed again because of the pandemic), the usual fudges will be made. There will be vague promises from poorer countries to “do something” at a time several decades in the future. These will of course be utterly worthless, and be no more binding than their Paris pledges.

The BBC will proclaim that the world has been saved (before reading the small print in a few years time). And a year later, Prince Charles will warn us that we only have X years to save the planet!


Same Old!

  1. April 2, 2021 10:48 am

    There is no proof that spending any money at all on decarbonisation will significantly, usefully, benefit the world’s climate.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      April 2, 2021 4:14 pm

      In reality trying (futilely) to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere is more likely to be a disbenefit to the world’s climate.

      We need to keep hammering at the twin pillars of cynical opportunistic activism —

      1.There is no real world evidence that increased CO2 levels are capable of having the effect which the climate activists claim;

      2. If it were so they would be on the streets demanding more nuclear power stations.

      “Climate” activism has nothing to do with climate!

  2. April 2, 2021 10:52 am

    The Paris Agreement is just so much bureaucratic verbiage. There is no there there.

  3. John Palmer permalink
    April 2, 2021 11:15 am

    it’s ‘deyjar voo’ all over again!

  4. April 2, 2021 11:19 am

    9am Radio Lincolnshire news
    “You might see work ongoing off the Lincolnshire coast today
    to connect a huge power cable to Denmark
    to top up the UK grid when there is not enough wind & solar”

    My thought was I thought the Denmark grid was mostly all wind
    so how can it top up our grid ? If it’s not windy here it’s not wind in Denmark either.
    By 10am other wording was being used
    “There’s ongoing off the Lincolnshire coast today
    to connect a huge power cable to Denmark
    to top us up when there is not enough *power* on the UK grid”

    clip “Yes the work has been going on for years and we start cable laying at the end of May start of June”

    • April 2, 2021 11:43 am

      typo “There’s *work* ongoing off the Lincolnshire coast today..”

  5. April 2, 2021 11:41 am

    Remember “Net Zero” is a PR word
    #1 It’s used on electric cars to imply they reduce air pollution
    – but petrol/ diesel engines get ever cleaner with design & emit very few nasties
    – whereas electric vehicles cerate extra tyre and road dust due them being heavier cos of the battery.
    Neither are they zero CO2 emission cos they have manufacturing/disposal CO2, as well as much of their grid power coming from fossil fuels.

    #2 Solar and wind power are never “Net Zero” CO2
    All that steel and concrete and mining, and digging up peatland releases CO2
    And that increases CO2 over not not consuming at all.
    The argument is that a grid system with them is lower CO2 cos less fossil fuels are directly burnt
    but even then there are extra CO2 outputs through the extra infrastructure connections and the way the fossil fuel plants have to be operated at lower efficiency, cos you keep switching them on and off with the wind.

    • Lorde Late permalink
      April 2, 2021 12:19 pm

      And you tell that to the mainstream, they dont believe a word of it!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      April 2, 2021 10:39 pm

      On a completely different angle, there are reported breakthroughs of thermo electric generator efficiency using nano technology and graphene. The “sweet spot” temperature range is handily about exhaust temperature from internal combustion engines meaning waste heat can be directly converted to electricity to charge a hybrid battery. Double digit efficiencies are being claimed with a target of reaching 20% efficiency. Whilst that may not sound a lot that would represent a fifth of the 60% wasted energy so about an extra 12% power. That in turn reduces power required from the primary engine hence less weight and hugely greater MPG. Giving up on the internal combustion engine if favour of a battery seems extremely premature.

    • April 3, 2021 8:49 am


      not most but all due to the way the grid works. Balancing demand is met by gas and coal (Generally in the winter); extra demand which is what evs are is met by extra fossil fuel generation.

      I wrote to the Department for Transport challenging their zero emissions description of evs and after several e-mails my question has been passed on to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy, I.e they couldn’t answer me directly.

      I had also written to the BEIS on the same matter, apart from an acknowledgement fo my e-mail, I’m still waiting.

      Incidentally exactly the same effect will occur with the increase in heat pumps being mandated for new build housing.

      Compounding this is a loss of 6 Gwatts of old nuclear this decade and 4 Gwatts of coal by 2025 I think. This is a significant proportion of our grid capacity.

      • MikeHig permalink
        April 3, 2021 12:31 pm

        “extra demand which is what evs are is met by extra fossil fuel generation.”

        Spot on!
        This point needs to be made as loudly and often as possible. It is especially relevant in the context of emissions comparisons between EV and ICE cars. The EV advocates use the grid average or even claim 100% renewable from their tariff. It is a very steep uphill struggle to get them to even consider the reality that their demand is incremental and will be met by the least CO2-efficient source.

        It would a big help if there was something like the Gridwatch plots which also showed the CO2 output for the power generation at that moment, in both cumulative terms and as an overall average.
        That would show very clearly that, whenever demand exceeds the output of nuclear + renewables (nearly all the time), CO2 emissions rise proportionally.

        Btw, the remaining 2 coal stations are due to close before 2025: one this September and the other in September 2021.
        As you say, all of the old nukes will be shut by 2030, mitigated in part by the start-up of Hinckley C in 2026/7 – hopefully – and some new gas capacity which is under construction but I don’t have any details.
        Then there’s a lot of hype about the interconnectors but they have a max capacity of 5 GW. While that is due to increase, it won’t be enough to fill the potential shortfall.
        However the crucial question is whether there will be power available for us to import when we need it. France’s nuclear output will be constrained by their huge refurb programme until at least 2025. Meanwhile, Germany will close their remaining 7 nukes (9.5 GW) in 2022 followed by Belgium (5.5 GW) 2025 and possibly Sweden (7 GW) soon after.

  6. Thomas Carr permalink
    April 2, 2021 11:58 am

    Marvellous bar chart from Fortune. Deserves much wider circulation.
    Strange how countries looking forward to cash receipts from the ‘West’ to help them to finance climate support manage to afford their own space programmes. About 10% of the population of India is estimated to live in extreme poverty ( Source: Factfulness by Hans Rosling) .

    In passing — Mr Harrabin seems a bit shy about being associated with the BBC News headline above. No attribution to anyone suggests a fear of pariah status.

  7. Jack Broughton permalink
    April 2, 2021 12:20 pm

    The underlying issue is that if CO2 were as deadly as the 1990s claims, (and those of many luminaries since) we would now be cooked or drowned, and the coal and gas fired power stations of the world would lie in ruins. RIP climate science and HH Lamb.

    As Orwell would have said, “doublethink and duckspeak rule”.

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    April 2, 2021 12:44 pm

    Further delay to COP 26 seems almost inevitable now. The alternative will be to attempt to turn it into a unification against a doubtless absent China, but that seems unlikely to work either. Progress will only eventually be made when it is realised that the whole charade needs to be unwound.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 2, 2021 1:51 pm

      That will be a blessing and a saving of a large amount of money that we don’t have.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      April 2, 2021 7:14 pm

      On the other hand, IDAP, it would suit many in COP to see the UK fail at their COP Chairmanship so that they can pile in on their need to punish us – pour encourager les autres.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        April 2, 2021 8:13 pm

        It would suit most of us here too, I surmise. Perhaps our politicos would then have a hissy fit and refuse to play any more. This cynical old engineer can dream…

    • Jordan permalink
      April 3, 2021 4:51 pm

      If they hold it and there is some form of agreement, it will be a “COPulation”.
      If they fall out and cannot get what they want, it will be a case of “good COP bad COP”
      If they cannot hold it, it will be a “COP out”.

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 2, 2021 3:55 pm

    No doubt NATO will be sending a strongly worded letter about unnecessary CO2 emissions.

    • Mack permalink
      April 2, 2021 6:11 pm

      Indeed, I’m sure the Ruskis will be absolutely terrified at facing NATO’s forthcoming range of Scalextric tanks and soldiers who self-identify as big girls’ blouses.

  10. tom0mason permalink
    April 3, 2021 2:02 am

    And may China and India look after their nations’ populations, while the so called ‘developed’ nations pretend that they can save the world by impoverishing their national populous.
    Nationalism (without oppressing other nations) and exploitation (of natural resources), are apparently dirty words.

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