By Paul Homewood
Anybody concerned that lottery funding is going to WWF might be even more alarmed about what they are up to in Cameroon.
By coincidence, we have this report today from Survival International:
A French logging company and official partner of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is deforesting a huge area of rainforest in southeast Cameroon without the consent of local Baka “Pygmies” who have lived there and managed the land for generations, Survival International has learned.
Rougier is described as an “integrated forest & trade company” and a large “forest operator” in a WWF press release and report. It is felling trees in an estimated 600,000 hectare area, which is more than is permitted under Cameroonian law.
Rougier has also been denounced by Friends of the Earth for its activities in Cameroon, which have included illegal price-fixing, illegal logging outside a concession, felling more trees than authorized, and illegally exporting rare timber.
WWF has stated that it would never partner with a company operating on indigenous land without the consent of the indigenous people. In entering this partnership with Rougier, it has violated its own policies on indigenous peoples.
Survival recently wrote to the CEO of Rougier asking whether he believed his company had acquired the Baka’s consent for the logging. In response Rougier simply said that: “Baka communities are aware of our existence and operation.”
Under Cameroonian law, the Baka are often criminalized as “poachers” when they hunt to feed their families. In a map produced by Rougier, all Baka forest camps within one concession are labelled as “poachers’ camps.”
Rougier has been clearing rainforest in eastern Cameroon for the construction of a dam.
In February, Survival filed an OECD complaint against WWF for funding abusive anti-poaching squads in Cameroon, who have used violence and intimidation to deny tribespeople access to their land.
According to a recent report produced by the EU, not a single logging company is operating legally in Cameroon. Experts say that no logging activities are being carried out at sustainable levels.
Evidence shows that tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. Despite this, WWF has preferred to partner with international corporations that destroy the environment’s best allies – tribal peoples.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “If further proof were needed that WWF is more interested in securing corporate cash than really looking out for the environment, here it is. The absurd language it has used to try and hide this partnership with a logging firm – calling Rougier a “leading producer of certified African tropical timber” – should fool no-one, and reveals a lot about the nature of this partnership. It’s a con. And it’s harming conservation. Survival is fighting these abuses, for tribes, for nature, for all humanity. Conservation organizations should be partnering with tribal peoples to protect the environment, not the companies destroying it to make a quick buck.”
Note: "Pygmy” is an umbrella term commonly used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Central Africa. The word is considered pejorative and avoided by some tribespeople, but used by others as a convenient and easily recognized way of describing themselves.
By Paul Homewood
h/t Joe Public
Many people play the People’s Postcode Lottery, which claims to have raised £118 million for charity in the UK, since starting up in 2005. Last year, according to their Annual Accounts, nearly £54 million was paid out to charities, some direct, and others via Postcode Trusts which they have set up.
Most of the money they raise goes to thoroughly worthy causes, such as the Battersea Dogs Home, PDSA, Riding for the Disabled Association, Dementia Adventure, and many, many more.
I wonder though whether many realise that millions are also sent to politically oriented charities like Friends of the Earth and WWF.
Not to mention the extremely dodgy Clinton Foundation.
By Paul Homewood
Poland has adopted a new law banning construction of wind farms close to dwellings and hiking project costs in a move which the industry says could hobble Poland’s move to renewables and away from coal.
Wind farms must be built at a distance from housing of at least 10 times the height of the turbine, or about 1.5 to 2 km, under the law which was adopted by the lower house of parliament on Friday.
The new regulations will also result in higher property taxes for wind farm owners, which the industry says could trigger bankruptcies.
"As a result, wind farms will disappear from the Polish landscape," said Wojciech Cetnarski, head of the Polish Wind Energy Association.
Czech utility CEZ, which is developing wind farm projects in Poland, said that if the law was enforced it would be forced to write down the value of some of its Polish assets and would consider seeking potential compensation.
Representatives of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), which designed the new regulations, said that it had to reform regulation of the industry and address citizens’ complaints about noise from wind farms.
"Because of the renewable energy madness we are reducing our GDP growth," Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said, referring to subsidies granted to renewable energy sources.
European Union rules call for Poland, which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal, to produce 15 percent of it from renewable sources by 2020 versus around 12 percent currently.
PiS says the new regulations will not pose a risk to Poland attaining that target.
By Paul Homewood
Pass around the good news – we’re all saved!
From the Culture and Climate Change organisation:
We are delighted to announce Emma Critchley, Lena Dobrowolska & Teo Ormond-Skeaping and Zoë Svendson as the selected artists for Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios.
Working with artists’ moving image, photography, installation, theatre and performance, the chosen artists will undertake a new kind of residency programme which embeds them within climate research and policy knowledge networks, rather than within one institution. They will engage with climate scenarios, and explore and extend the ways in which society engages with the range of possible future climates.
Announced at Jerwood Space last night, Shonagh Manson, Director of Jerwood Charitable Foundation said “These networked residencies will put culture and artistic practice at the heart of conversations about our climate futures. The artists selected have demonstrated a keen hunger for dialogue and exchange around these issues, which passionately inform their work. These residencies will harness the imaginations of talented artistic individuals for the benefit of the scenario planning network whilst simultaneously providing a unique research environment in which each artist can further their own practice and projects.”
Emma Critchley is an award-winning underwater visual artist working with photography, film, sound and installation who has exhibited internationally and nationally. Concerned with the human relationship with the underwater environment, She has recently undertaken residencies in New York, Barbados and Singapore. Critchley will use the residency to explore the psychological impacts of sudden flooding and how seismic events shift people’s perceptions of the world, especially within the scenario of the Anthropocene.
“This residency is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with a diverse reach of climate researchers, using scenarios as a way to distill the complex and multi-faceted research involved in climate change and create imagined spaces that allow room to stop, reflect and invite challenge and debate.”
Lena Dobrowolska & Teo Ormond-Skeaping are a Polish-British artist collaboration working with conceptual documentary photography and artists’ moving image who have won many awards and prizes, and exhibited across Europe. During the residency they will investigate their interests in glacial recession, climate induced migration, drowning islands, the psychological pressure of climate change and the prognosis of a difficult future scenario, amongst others.
“We are working with the Anthropocene and climate change as a cultural paradigm of our time that shapes the way in which we imagine our future. Over the course of the residency we intend to utilise current climate, environmental, geological, economic and socio-political phenomena to illustrate the visceral reality of different hypothetical future scenarios.”
Zoë Svendsen is an internationally renowned theatre director and dramaturg who creates research-driven interdisciplinary performance projects exploring contemporary political subjects. She has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Young Vic, New Wolsey Theatre where she is Associate Artist, TippingPoint and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin amongst many others. Following her recent performance project, World Factory, Svendsen will use her residency to further explore the relationship between ethics and action, the economics of climate change and the tragic absence of real action against it.
“I am very excited by the residency – both by the idea of the ‘network’, and also by the chance to think more fully about the future, and the implications for human interactions that are implied in climate change scenarios, but which often are not fully fleshed out.”
Underwater art? Would not the paint run? Still, I suppose the fishes will like it!
I also note that Mr Harrabin was joined by poet, Nick Drake, who read from his book Farewell Glacier, about glaciers in high Arctic. I wonder if Harrabin explained to the audience, not to mention the naive Mr Drake, that glaciers across the Arctic expanded massively during the Little Ice Age, in many cases to their largest extent since the ice age, and that they are now simply returning to their previous state?
Of course, to be fair to the good comrade, he probably knows little of this. In which case I recommend he starts to read Notalotofpeopleknowthat!
By Paul Homewood
As I noted at the time, it did not take Jeff Masters long to link the Alberta wildfire to climate change, helped along by statements like
The hot weather struck at an uncommonly bad time for wildfire risk: after winter snows had disappeared, but before the summer green-up had taken hold. Normally the window between these would be quite narrow, but snowfall was light this winter across the region, and it disappeared quickly during record warmth in April
I have been waiting for GISS to publish the April data, and these are the numbers for Banff, the only long running station with current data in the area.
Although last month’s mean of 7.0C was well above normal, it was not as hot as April 1934, when it reached 7.4C. April 1915 was also nearly as warm with 6.8C.
It is also not immediately apparent that April temperatures in the last decade, other than this year, are in any way out of the ordinary.
We can also take a look at winter and spring temperature trends at Banff:
Although we obviously don’t have data for this spring yet, it is clearly preposterous to suggest that global warming is heating up Alberta.
By Paul Homewood
As mentioned earlier, from the BBC:
Approval for fracking in North Yorkshire has raised the prospect of the controversial technique being allowed at other sites and restarted an intense debate.
Councillors in North Yorkshire on Monday voted to allow fracking near the village of Kirby Misperton.
The decision, greeted by jeers, has been called a "victory for pragmatism" by those in favour.
It is the first application approved since 2011.
Fracking is a way of extracting oil or gas from rocks by pumping liquid into them at high pressure.
New licences for the technique, seen by the government as crucial for future energy needs, had been stalled since 2011 after tests on the Fylde coast, in Lancashire, were found to have been the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area.
Two applications to frack at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton in Lancashire were rejected by councillors and are now the subject of appeals.
The county council rejected both planning applications last year on the grounds of noise and traffic impact.
Other areas of concern for those opposed include fears that the technique can contaminate the water supply.
The application to drill was granted to the UK firm Third Energy to frack for shale gas at an existing drilling site using an existing two-mile deep well – called KM8 – drilled in 2013.
Chief executive Rasik Valand said the company now had a "huge responsibility" to deliver on its commitment "to undertake this operation safely and without impacting on the local environment."
The council’s planning committee voted seven to four in favour. Anti-fracking campaigners are now considering a possible legal challenge.
A number of objections from people opposed to the plans were heard over the course of two days prior to the decision.
Supporters including landowners, farmers and Third Energy employees also had their say.
Campaign group Frack Off has warned the plans could pave the way for thousands of fracking wells to spread across Yorkshire and many other parts of the country.
Industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas said it was an important first step for frackers, an industry which attracts fierce local opposition whenever a site is chosen for fracking but which has strong government backing.
The government has said it is going "all out for shale" to boost energy security and the economy.
Professor Paul Ekins, professor of resources and environmental policy at University College London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the decision was a "political watershed".
He said there were still planning conditions that the company would have to comply with, so fracking at the site would not start immediately.
Opponents are exploring whether or not the move can be blocked.
Friends of the Earth called the decision a "travesty" and will see if the move can be challenged.
Greenpeace accused the government of having a "pro-fracking bias", which they said made the outcome inevitable.
Craig Bennett chief executive of Friends of the Earth told the Today programme: "In 2016 we should not be building new oil and gas structures, we should be moving away from oil and gas as fast as possible."
Ken Cronin chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas said it was the right thing to move towards renewable energy but it could not happen overnight. He also said that whatever the type of energy the country attempted to produce there were local planning objectors: "The situation is that in the UK we have a problem whether it’s wind or shale. Getting through the planning system involves a number of objectors."
Note that the disgraceful BBC are still showing this grossly misleading graphic, giving the impression that the shale is only a few feet below the water table:
Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth let the cat out of the bag, when he said "In 2016 we should not be building new oil and gas structures, we should be moving away from oil and gas as fast as possible."
The BBC’s Look North news programme paid an inordinate amount of time to the handful of protestors outside the council offices. North Yorkshire has a population over over 600,000, so why anybody should pay the slightest attention to a small ragbag of protestors. (Far from the “hundreds” mentioned, Look North reporters on site reckoned only 200).
Of course locals will be up in arms about any development, but, as Professor Ian Fells pointed out, at any inquiry the antis tend to be the most vocal, whereas those in broad agreement don’t turn up.
As the BBC could not be bothered to give the proper scientific background to fracking, here is what Professor Robert Mair, Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cambridge University had to say in 2013. Professor Mair was appointed in 2012 to chair a joint committee, set up by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, to analyse the environmental, health and safety risks associated with shale gas exploration in Britain.
In recent weeks, the Sussex village of Balcombe has found itself at the centre of the argument around hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. This debate has become heavily polarised, and there has been much speculation around the environmental risks of shale-gas extraction, concerning water contamination and earth tremors.
There are many factors that policy-makers and local people must consider before deciding whether or not they are in favour of fracking – but I believe that the scientific and engineering evidence should play a key part in that decision. Everyone deserves to know the evidence, as it currently stands.
Over the past 30 years, more than 2,000 onshore wells have been drilled in Britain, approximately 200 of which have used techniques similar to fracking to enhance the recovery of oil or gas. Chief among these is Wytch Farm in Dorset – Europe’s largest onshore oil field, located in one of England’s most famous regions of outstanding natural beauty and special scientific interest, and therefore an area where the aesthetic and environmental impact of drilling are highly sensitive issues.
Last year, I chaired a joint committee set up by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to analyse the environmental, health and safety risks associated with shale gas exploration in Britain. We came up with a set of recommendations for the Government to make it as safe as possible, if they decided to go ahead. The report concluded that these risks could be managed effectively as long as operational best practices were implemented, and enforced through regulation. The Government has accepted all the report’s recommendations.
Fracking in Britain would take place at depths of many hundreds of metres or several kilometres. So far the only shale gas fracking in this country has been at depths of 1.06 miles (1.7km) and 1.93 miles (3.1km), equivalent to the height of many London Shards placed on top of each other. It would be highly unlikely for water contamination to occur by means of fractures extending upwards from these deep shales and intercepting an aquifer, since the two are separated by a vast cover of rock. Even if it were possible, pressure conditions mean that the fracking water would not flow that far upwards.
If there is water contamination, it is much more likely to be due to poorly constructed and regulated wells. These are lined with a steel casing, which is sealed into the ground by cement: ensuring the well’s integrity is very important if the risk of contamination is to be kept to an absolute minimum. Here in Britain, we have a long history of world-class oil and gas industry regulation, plus a unique examination scheme to ensure that the design, construction and abandonment of wells is reviewed by independent, specialist experts.
The other main potential cause of environmental contamination is poor site construction at the surface. However, any risks can again be minimised by best practice and good regulation, which Britain has a good track record of upholding. For example, every company must disclose the contents of the fracturing fluid they use, which is not mandatory in America.
There has also been concern about fracking causing earth tremors – but the evidence indicates that this will not be a big issue in Britain. Coal operations have been causing barely noticeable levels of seismicity for many years, and we expect that those caused by fracking will be at an even lower level, no more severe at the surface than the passing of a truck.
Another allegation against fracking in America is that it can result in methane leakage. We must therefore start to monitor methane emissions and groundwater composition at potential sites now, before any fracking takes place (as well as during and after such operations). This baseline monitoring is vital, since methane can be present in groundwater naturally. Such data will be the only way of keeping close track of the environmental impacts of fracking in situ, and should be submitted to regulators to inform local planning processes and address wider concerns.
Shale gas companies must also play their part in building public confidence. It should be mandatory for operators to conduct Environmental Risk Assessments. Local communities should be involved and informed from the very start. People need have a say in the planning process and to feel their concerns are being addressed.
In our report, we did not assess the climate risks associated with shale gas exploration, although we recommended that the Government should do so. The chief scientific adviser to the Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently leading a study on the potential for methane and other greenhouse gas leakages during extraction. The results will help form a clearer idea of the overall carbon footprint associated with shale gas.
Difficult decisions lie ahead for the Government. Opinions on all sides of the debate must be heard and considered, and uncertainties explored. However, at the heart of any judgment should be evidence-based science and engineering, which will help to ensure that the best decisions are made, unswayed by preconceived notions of risk or benefit.
By Paul Homewood
Fracking got the go yesterday from North Yorkshire County Council, on which more later.
But you really must watch this gem from Look North, the BBC regional news programme, last night. Energy expert, Professor Ian Fells is interviewed at 5 minutes in.
Watch the po-faced interviewer get her cumuppance!
I bet they don’t invite him back on any time soon!
By Paul Homewood
Bob Ward has responded to news, that MPs are calling for decarbonisation targets for 2028-32 postponed, with a typically misleading reply.
Let’s ignore the fact that the Committee on Climate Change is neither independent or expert. They are no more than a bunch of committed alarmists, and any pronouncements from them needs to be viewed in that light.
Let’s instead start by looking at what the CCC actually say in the Fifth Carbon Budget:
By Paul Homewood
Last week, I ran a post about the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, showing how more than two thirds of their revenue came from ROC subsidies.
Booker takes this as a starting point for a hard hitting piece on wind power in today’s Telegraph:
Eleven miles off the Norfolk coast 88 giant wind turbines rise 446 feet above the sea, taller than the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. This is the Sheringham Shoal windfarm, built at a cost of £1 billion by the Norwegian state, which has just published its accounts for 2015.
Last year it earned its owners £140 million, all paid for through our electricity bills. But more than two thirds of this – nearly £100 million – came through subsidies. In return for which we got, intermittently, only a comparatively tiny amount of power, averaging just 113 megawatts. This is barely a 20th of the 2,000MW available whenever needed, at less than a third of the price, from the German-owned gas-fired power station in Pembroke, Wales, which cost the same money to build four years ago.
So much tax does the Government now wish to impose on gas-fired electricity, because it comes from fossil-fuels, that we are unlikely to get any more Pembrokes. Offshore wind, in which we “lead the world”, is now the absolute centrepiece of the Government’s energy policy. The 26 offshore windfarms already built are almost all foreign-owned, led by the Norwegians and the Danes, so that virtually all their profits end up abroad.
The companies making fortunes from the world’s most generous “low carbon” subsidies may largely be foreign-owned. But at least some of the crumbs from that lavishly spread table are staying in good old British hands.
But a few Britons are doing well out of this multi-billion-pound bonanza – led by four former ministers of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) who helped to shape this policy. No sooner, for instance, had Charles Hendry stepped down as minister of state for energy and climate change in 2012 than he became chairman of Forewind, another largely Norwegian-owned firm, given permission by the DECC last year to build the world’s largest offshore windfarm over hundreds of square miles of the Dogger Bank.
Hendry succeeded Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), who had to stand down when David Cameron appointed him to chair the supposedly “independent” Climate Change Committee, the group of climate alarmists which advises the Government on its energy policy.
Because Hendry was then still an MP, bound to declare his financial interests, we can see that in 2014, as chairman of Forewind, he was paid £3,300 a day for one day’s work a month, totalling £48,000. In addition he received £18,000 for 36 hours advising another company, Atlantic Superconnection, which, under a deal arranged while Hendry was still in office, plans to bring electricity made from the heat of Icelandic volcanoes 650 miles to Britain. Hendry also that year earned £35,000 for 47 hours as consultant to another energy company, Vitol.
Since he left Parliament, we no longer know what Mr Hendry earns from his renewable energy interests, any more than we do what our former Lib Dem energy secretaries Chris Huhne and Ed Davey receive for their services to various “low carbon” energy firms which benefit from policies adopted while they were at the DECC – or that other former minister, Greg (now Lord) Barker, now busy on behalf of the solar energy industry which benefits from a policy he championed while in office.
The companies making fortunes from the world’s most generous “low carbon” subsidies may largely be foreign-owned. But at least some of the crumbs from that lavishly spread table are staying in good old British hands. Isn’t it odd how rarely we hear any MPs questioning this?
By Paul Homewood
Leo DiCaprio picked up an environmental award in NYC this week — but hypocritically expanded his carbon footprint by 8,000 miles when he obtained the honor, by taking a private jet from Cannes, then flying straight back to France on another jet for a model-packed fund-raiser a night later.
DiCaprio was at the Cannes Film Festival this week, and was spotted there partying at club Gotha on Monday with model Georgia Fowler, then jetted back to New York for the Riverkeeper Fishermen’s Ball at Chelsea Piers on Wednesday, where he was honored by the clean-water advocacy group and Robert De Niro.
Just 24 hours later, DiCaprio reappeared back in France for amfAR’s glitzy Cinema Against AIDS gala, where he gave a speech.