Tom Switzer guest post. Russia and China copout

Net Zero By 2050? Don’t Plan on It

Politicians promise an unrealistic transformation that would deny poor countries a chance to grow.

As leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow for the United Nations climate-change conference, you may think the world has agreed to reduce and eventually eliminate its dependency on fossil fuels, stepping up its reliance on renewable energy. Even Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who won an election opposing costly climate policies, now proudly embraces net-zero emissions by 2050.

But the timeline for the transformation is entirely unrealistic. The politicians who make promises about how energy will be delivered within three decades can be fairly certain that they will be merely footnotes in history. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims that all cars sold in Britain will be electric by 2030. But he doesn’t acknowledge that on current trend there won’t be enough electricity to power all of these cars.

Climate enthusiasts admit that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 presents some difficulties. But they quickly shift to talking up the exciting technological challenge, because, according to Australia’s iron-ore billionaire Andrew Forrest, “there are tens of billions of dollars around the world looking to invest in renewables” and eventually in industries such as hydrogen. Activists also suggest that dissent is an affront to international opinion.

Yet as the West strives to cut emissions, the developing world doesn’t, particularly India and China, the two most populated countries on the planet. Global energy consumption is expected to increase 50% by 2050, a rise fueled mostly by developing countries that want energy not to spite the planet or to offend international opinion, but to raise living standards as best they can.

For decades the developed world has implored these countries to trade with the West and not simply rely on handouts from richer countries. In many cases, these rising countries can trade thanks to manufacturing processes and energy sources no longer considered acceptable in polite Western society, namely coal.

The West would do well to remember that it became prosperous through industrialization, a process that relied heavily on fossil fuels. When Britain led the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it did so entirely on the basis of coal, which powered its factories and later its railways.

Other countries did the same. Now the West uses its supposed moral and economic superiority to lecture other countries on the need to curb their behavior, even if it means retarding their own economic progress and making themselves more dependent on richer countries. This is a form of colonialism, which makes the left’s attraction to it all the more bizarre.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, aren’t up to the job of powering the world’s economies. There isn’t enough wind in much of the world to get the turbines turning. Fossil fuels may well be damaging to the health of the planet, but the retreat around the world from nuclear power was shortsighted, especially in countries that lack viable alternatives.

Europe is weathering an energy crisis because of the caprice and spite of Vladimir Putin, who is manipulating the price of the gas Russia provides to Germany and other parts of Europe. This has pushed prices up to a point where not only domestic customers but industrial ones find energy costs reaching prohibitive levels. In Britain, ceramics manufacturers have told a hapless government that they may have to shut down because they can’t afford Mr. Putin’s prices.

In Australia, Mr. Morrison feels compelled to announce net zero so he doesn’t let down Canberra’s Aukus partners, the U.K. and the U.S., which enthusiastically support unilateral decarbonization. Yet by weakening the economies of the West, net zero is a boost to a rising China.

Instead of rhetoric designed to make environmentalists feel smug, Western governments need proper contingency plans for their own energy supplies. Politicians should avoid relying too heavily on renewables, even if that means using coal to power generators or a renaissance of nuclear power to keep the world’s lights on. And the developing world deserves the same chance the developed one had.

One day, with technological breakthroughs, it will be possible to power the world without fossil fuels. But that day isn’t coming soon, and it’s foolish to pretend otherwise.

Mr. Switzer is executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and a presenter at the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

18 responses to “Tom Switzer guest post. Russia and China copout”

  1. Zatara Avatar

    US freshman Congressman Byron Donalds throws the bullshit flag

    Dem chaired Congressional committee spends the day attempting to intimidate oil company executives into supporting their new green world agenda, gets schooled on reality by newest member.

    Encouraging to see that not everyone in high elected office has their head up their anal orifice.

  2. bemused Avatar

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims that all cars sold in Britain will be electric by 2030.

    They may well be, but not likely driving on the roads.

    And Putin is doing everyone a favour, showing what happens when you go green.

  3. Roger Avatar

    Why, it’s almost as though it’s not about th climate at all but is rather a plan to transfer wealth from Western nations to the rest of the world.

    I understand South Africa is rocking up to Glasgow with a request for $270b in aid to render their ecnomy “carbon neutral”.

  4. Lee Avatar

    Why, it’s almost as though it’s not about th climate at all but is rather a plan to transfer wealth from Western nations to the rest of the world.

    Reminds me of a Shimon Peres quote:
    “We take money from poor people in rich countries and give it to rich people in poor countries.”

  5. mem Avatar

    Today according to the AEMO site some 60% of fuel supplying the eastern states’ demands for electricity, (Qld, NSW, Vic Tas and SA) was supplied by coal fuel (49% black coal and 11% brown coal).Despite all the investment in renewables over the past 20 years solar only made up 11% (excluding rooftop) and wind 17%. Yet I have yet to hear any reasonable logistics plan for how we are to replace 60% of the supply provided by coal by 2050 and any estimate of what this might cost. How many turbines, where they will be located and how long will it take to build them might be a good start. And surely turning off the coal supply before this planning has even been done is sheer madness. You don’t pull the roof of your house until the replacement roof is ordered and ready to be installed do you!

  6. JC Avatar

    Tom, great to see you. Welcome and lots of happy returns.

    Excellent post by the way.

  7. Bruce in WA Avatar
    Bruce in WA

    • As they stand now and in the foreseeable future, renewables can never supply the energy requirements of this world. They are also a massive pollutant.

    • As things stand now, nuclear is the only way forward. Procrastination now is going to make the future bleak. For Australia, the time to have started the shift to nuclear energy was yesterday.

  8. Roger Avatar

    Reminds me of a Shimon Peres quote:
    “We take money from poor people in rich countries and give it to rich people in poor countries.”

    That’s about the sum of it.

  9. Tom Avatar

    Russia and China copout

    It’s not a copout at all. Both are Stalinist states – one with the genocidal Chinese Communist Party in charge of implementing a Big Brother social credit system (while its major adversary looks the other way after the family of the US President accepted billions in bribes from the CCP); and the other with a former lieutenant colonel in the Soviet-era KGB secret police in charge.

    COP26 is a co-ordinated effort by its enemies in the communist and communist-aligned world to bring down free market capitalism in the West and replace it with Marxism commanded by government. The only people who don’t know it are the useful Western idiots who think it’s about the weather.

  10. Eddystone Avatar

    Fossil fuels are nothing but concentrated, stored solar energy.

    They’re like a gigantic solar battery that can be extracted, transported and stored, and used in any amount as and when required. We have the technology to do all that, have had it for hundreds of years, it is a refined, mature and sophisticated technology.

    Releasing the carbon from fossil fuels back into the atmosphere is simply restoring the original, pristine state of the planet.

  11. mem Avatar

    October 29, 2021 at 5:51 pm
    Fossil fuels are nothing but concentrated, stored solar energy.

    Now there is a slogan for the industry.

  12. OldOzzie Avatar

    Net Tyranny by 2050

    Vale democracy

    Maurice Newman

    It’s net curtains

    Empty shelves beckon in a net zero world

    Matt Canavan

  13. Milosh Avatar

    Reasonable summary by Tom, except for falling for the ‘Putin bad’ mantra, which is total bunkum. Putin has articulated as recently as the the plenary session of Russian Energy Week (REW) international forum Future of Russian fuel and energy industry in mid-October, stating clearly and concisely that the problem of current extortion-level gas prices in Europe are solely the responsibility of the EU, who have been shutting down their own coal, as well as nuclear power supplies, while deciding not to lock in long-term nat gas contracts with Russia but by on the spot market, at the behest of UK energy traders!!

    Well whadayaknow. Exposing your economy to spot pricing is fraught with danger if you (i.e. the EU) are outbid by other buyers, such as India and China, which is exactly what has happened. That is why the US has reduced its supply of LNG to the EU by 50% over the last few months because they can get better prices for LNG from, you guessed it, China and India.

    So the sky-high gas prices in the EU are due to the EU’s own miserable planning and short-sightedness, and taking poor advice from UK energy traders, who convinced EU that prices on the spot market will be cheaper than long-term contract prices with Gasprom, and nothing to do with Russia or Putin. Ironic isn’t it. Russia is blamed each and every way. I guess that is called ‘projection’.

    Tom, you really need to do your homework if you are to be taken seriously as your knowledge outside the anglo-sphere is most limiting.

  14. Rex Anger Avatar
    Rex Anger

    Tom, you really need to do your homework if you are to be taken seriously as your knowledge outside the anglo-sphere is most limiting.

    Yes yes, bot.

    Russia OK.

    Debbil-debbil Westerners bad.

    Let’s all pretend that exploiting an internal crisis with predatory pricing to force an agenda is perfectly reasonable behaviour. It works for your Comrade trolls in Beijing, after all…

  15. jupes Avatar

    Fossil fuels may well be damaging to the health of the planet

    No. CO2 is vital for the “health of the planet”.

  16. Kneel Avatar

    “Let’s all pretend that exploiting an internal crisis with predatory pricing to force an agenda is perfectly reasonable behaviour. “

    I seem to recall that many (maybe even you Rex) have complained about gas pricing here in Aus. We export plenty of the stuff – indeed many complaints are that the contracts with China forced the local supplies to be curtailed, and prices to rise. China has the contract and gets the good price, we do not and get stung.
    Seems to me the the post is correct – contracts would have resulted in predictable and cheaper prices for EU consumes, and less profits for spot market speculators. The same spot market speculators who convinced everyone that no contracts was going to be better. Of course, the didn’t say the “quiet part” – better for THEM.

    Funny how that works, eh? Those who make the most money are the “experts” government gets “advice” from. The advice they give results in them bettering their financial position at the expense of consumers – surprise! Who saw that coming, eh? Who would have guessed that “successful” greedy evil bastards would want things run in such a way as to make themselves even richer?
    Maybe it’s the same thing with vaxes, yeah? The “experts” all want them, and get rich from them being used. Plenty here rail against that, but shrug at the exact same thing happening with gas. More self interest, presumably. In which case, the experts you rail against believe the same as you – I’m alright, stuff you Jack!

    Just sayin’…

  17. Milosh Avatar

    “Yes yes, bot.
    Russia OK.
    Debbil-debbil Westerners bad.”

    Hey Rex, when you can’t take down the message, attack the messenger right? It appears that Tom isn’t alone in projecting, you are exhibiting those very traits yourself. Sad. Actually, worse than sad.

    FYI, I have followed both new and old Catallaxy blog for many years and never commented until this article. Why? Because I only want to comment when I can contribute to honest conversation and have some knowledge of what I wish to convey. I stand by my comment 100% because I have researched this area extensively over many years.

    If you want to educate yourself on what the European gas market is truly about, many I recommend the attached article which, though looking at the gas market through the lense of Poland’s failures, is fully representative of the overall EU mis-calculation in relying on spot energy pricing, to the detriment of their populations.

    Berhard, is a German analyst and his analysis supports my previous statement. Over to you.

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