1. What is going on with Brexit?
Bloomberg tells us that Boris Johnson is engulfed by chaos over his plan to renege on a treaty with the European Union by rewriting the Brexit deal with the EU, by breaking his promise and international law in selling the Irish down the river.
What he did was to promise the Democratic Unionist party there would be no border down the Irish Sea, then signed a withdrawal agreement that entails exactly that, and now proposes a bill that would break the very treaty he had signed.
According to Jonathon Freedland at The Guardian:
- Put simply, if the UK leaves the single market and the customs union, there has to be a meaningful border (and border checks) between the UK and the EU. That border either divides the island of Ireland, reinflaming the conflict healed by the Good Friday agreement; or it falls in the Irish Sea, separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain and thereby splitting the United Kingdom.
There is no solution, so there should have been no Brexit.
Except there is, and if there is now no trade deal with the EU, then I expect there will be a hard land border.
Freedland says that the Tories failed to understand that the Irish problem was only ever solved because both Britain and Ireland were in the EU, so Northern Islanders could be Irish and British at the same time.
Johnson doesn’t seem to understand that people can’t deal with you if you habitually tell lies.
Now the rightwing press are down on him and some uncharitable people think he is being crushed by the job, his illness and worries about money. Some say his wife used to run his life for him, but he has divorced her for a new partner who doesn’t.
Ian Dunt says the parliament is voting to put the government above the law.
Of course, countering COVID has also been problematic, with government messaging confused and wrong, and only 2,000 of half a million frontline NHS staff tested to date.
2. The West is burning
Lethal Heating in Stark New Imagery Reveals The Scary Extent Of West Coast Wildfires shows the movement of smoke off the fires over the ocean on 6 September.
There are umpteen articles about the effect of climate change on wildfires, like this one from National Geographic.
NBC talks to a scientist who worries that the future scientists warned about is here.
However, if we settle for a warming of 1.5°C and then fail to take action preventing 3°C or more, we do need to think about the implications. Even with 1.5°C the future will be worse again than the present.
This 2018 NASA article looks at trends in wildfires in the US after analyzing more than 40,000 fires from Colorado to California between 1950 and 2017. They found six trends:
1. There are more fires.
2. Those fires are longer.
3. However, only a small percentage of the West has burned.
4. The same areas keep burning.
5. Recent fires are burning more coniferous forests than other types of landscape.
6. Forecasting the future.
This map shows the forecast increase in the weeks where conditions will be conducive to very large fires by 2041-2070 compared to 1971-2000:
Apart from smoke and stress to the US’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure, effects include:
- Wildfires on rangelands are expected to disrupt the U.S.’s agricultural productivity, creating challenges to livestock health, declining crop yields and quality, and affecting sustainable food security and price stability.
- Increased wildfire activity is “expected to decrease the ability of U.S. forests to support economic activity, recreation, and subsistence activities.”
More photos at LiveScience.
At the same time Predictions for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season just got worse.
3. Australia’s 300 year climate plan
I tuned into John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations to check what he had gathered together about Morrison’s gas recovery plan.
First up was a republishing of Ketan Joshi’s RenewEconomy article of 18 September Morrison thinks gas is the new coal, and it’s just as big a climate threat. Even better is Joshi’s Scott Morrison’s three hundred year climate plan is a dark moment for Australia. I’ll post more on this separately, but here is a single chart:
The red line is where Labor said we should go before the last election. It still says the same now, Joel Fitzgibbon notwithstanding, as this path conforms with the mainstream IPCC advice.
Purple represents what the Coalition offered as its Paris commitment.
Blue is what Morrison is now offering. Green is where he is actually going if he does what he says.
It’s all based on lies, cherry-picked data, some of which is false, politics and spin. He has kicked coal under the bed, but replaced it with gas in a way that may pacify his climate deniers while more than likely wedging Labor, and locking us into a dystopian future.
Along with Peter Saintsbury’s Sunday environmental roundup which tells of a:
- One in four chance that global warming will exceed 1.5oC at least once in next five years, and floods, water scarcity and food insecurity are set to create more displaced persons.
John Hewson – Scott Morrison’s gas plan is an arrogant, irresponsible disaster
Mark Diesendorf – A Government Program to lock-in Fossil Fuels
Gary Moorhead – It’s a gas, gas, gas.
Meanwhile there is more to what Morrison announced last Thursday, not all of it bad. You will be pleased to know that despite attacking Labor over its 2018 election promise to spend $57 million on increasing the number of electric vehicles across the county, Morrison announced more than $70 million to incentivise the building of regional charging or refuelling stations for electric, hydrogen and bio vehicles.
By the way, Queensland has just added 13 charging stations to its Electric Super Highway from Coolangatta to Port Douglas.
The Queensland Country Life still publishes copy from the AAP, so we have Energy plan will weaken renewables agency, experts warn. One of the experts is Richie Merzian, director of the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program, who says talk of technology neutrality always ends up favouring gas:
- “The government champions ‘clean hydrogen’, which is just clean coal 2.0, using the same failed technology of carbon capture and storage to support the same high-polluting fuels of coal and gas.”
How come country folk get something other than Rupert’s propaganda?
4. Where will leadership come from?
Certainly Joe Biden If President Will Push Allies Like Australia To Do More On Climate, Adviser Says. However, Biden’s chances may be fading, as Trump hatches a plan to sabotage the presidential election, so that the result will end up in the Supreme Court, where he will try to engineer a favourable
In all the chaos around the world, we have AFR’s Hans van Leeuwen reporting a clarion call from the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen:
In her first annual “State of the European Union” address to the bloc’s parliament on Wednesday, Dr von der Leyen fired off broadsides at the US, China, Russia and Britain, and sought to position the EU as the defender of the world’s multilateral rules-based order.
“In the face of the crisis, some around the world choose to retreat into isolation. Others actively destabilise the system,” she said.
“Our global system has grown into a creeping paralysis. Major powers are either pulling out of institutions or taking them hostage for their own interests. Neither road will lead us anywhere. Yes, we want change. But change by design – not by destruction.”
The EU would lead reform of the World Trade Organisation and the World Health Organisation, she said, but its leadership “is not about self-serving propaganda. It is not about Europe First”.
Brussels’ chief bureaucrat also used her 80-minute speech to bid for ‘more Europe’ in member-state policymaking areas such as pandemic preparedness, biomedical research, minimum wages, fiscal support and cloud computing.
She promised to bring in a digital tax on American tech giants if the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development could not find a solution that won US approval, and a carbon border tax to push other countries towards cutting emissions.
The speech signalled that Brussels will continue its conscious effort to use its economic heft to act as a de facto standard setter in areas such as data, artificial intelligence and environmental policies.
“Without any doubt, there is a clear need for Europe to take clear positions and quick actions on global affairs,” Dr von der Leyen said.
Earlier this year van Leeuwen wrote about Anu Bradford, a Finn and director of the European Legal Studies Centre at New York’s Columbia University, who believes that people underestimate the EU’s influence.
If you want to do business worldwide, you can’t avoid Europe, and you can’t normally run two systems. Rationality and ethics still seem to count in Europe, in the main, definitely not in all of it.
Of course von der Leyen is a bureaucrat rather than a politician. The politicians and bureaucrats together have been working on an investment agreement with China for six years. A conference at Leipzig was to be the final chapter of Angela Merkel’s career. The virus changed that to a shorter video session. Germany’s Angela Merkel says ‘political will’ exists to wrap up EU-China investment deal says the South China Morning Post.
Reports are hard to find, but Foreign Policy, before it shut shop on me, was not impressed. I think they take the view that you don’t do deals with a state that treats the Uighars the way they do unless they stop.
These talks will take time.
There is a similar issue, but not on the same scale, with a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
The real world is quite intractable.
A word comes to mind:
a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.
“commercial realpolitik had won the day”
Definitions from Oxford Languages