Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 20.11.16


Spanish Banks: These are not famous for being scrupulous. Their latest ploy - taking advantage of the Spanish preference for doing things face to face - is to pressurise their advisers to get you to buy their potentially useless shares.

RENFE: There are conflicting reports about the need to go to a train station to register your credit/debit card before you can book on line with the national operator. Has any reader actually experienced this in Spain recently?


Catalan Independence: There's encouraging news for Spain's version of the Gibraltar Rock, President Rajoy. Ahead of another referendum on this next year, it seems support for secession has dropped quite a bit. More on this here.


Brexit: A Transitional Arrangement?: Richard North is ambivalent here about The Guardian belatedly coming to the conclusion that the situation is so complex such a deal is inescapable. That a national newspaper, years later, now feels the need to highlight many of the same points we have stressed says a great deal about the febrile nature of the Brexit debate, and the superficiality with which it has been treated.

Good News for (Some) Brits in Spain?: HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for the report that: Compromis, an opposition party in Benissa, Alicante, says it has enough support to put through a motion in the town hall to ‘alleviate as far as possible the likely consequences of Brexit for British citizens living in Benissa and also for the people of the town who work and / or study in the United Kingdom’. Other local towns working on similar motions include Calpe, Torrevieja, Parcent and Teulada. Jávea has already passed a similar motion, as have other towns in Spain with appreciable numbers of British residents.


British Low Ethics: The government - but apparently not the insurance industry - is again promising to do something about the plague of false whiplash claims which raise premiums by an average of £82 for everyone. In 2015, there were 770,971 of these, accounting for 75% of all personal injury claims. Which compares with 3% in France. The government says it will cap claims at a relatively low level. Good luck to it.

Global Warming

Natural or Man-Made?: Whichever side you're on, the article at the end of this post makes for thought-provoking reading. Especially in the light of Trump's (nonsense) claim that it's a all a Chinese con trick.


Pensions: Galicia's are, on average, 14% below those of Spain as a whole.

Fiestas: My barrio of Poio - actually the parish of San Martiño - have come with another gastronomic event. It's called Carneiro, so I guess it centres on meat. As I've said a few a few times, the Spanish are never more inventive and efficient than when it comes to fiestas.



Ex President Felipe González: The administration of this Andalucian politician became a byword for post-Franco/Transition corruption. So perhaps it's no great surprise to read that he and numerous relatives of his are great beneficiaries of something called The Agency for Innovation and Development down in spain's poorest - and most corrupt - region. If you read Spanish, click here and here. Something will come along in English soon, I expect. Apparently, despite retrenchment elsewhere, the Agency continues to take on staff. Some of whom are not related to González.

Juan Antonio Roca: When I came to Spain there was a larger than life chap called Jésus Gil who blatantly flaunted his vast corrupt activites down in said Andalucia. He's now worm fodder but one of his main operators in Marbella - Sr Roca - has been languishing in jail for 10 years now. Prior to this encarceration - as the planning officer - he'd amassed a small fortune worthy of America’s super-rich family. So, it must sadden him, if not us, to see that: Now everything must go – the vast portfolio of palatial properties, the Mercedes cars, boats and thoroughbred horses, the prestige watches, the armoury of guns and even the Picasso. This is because he has to pay his fines and civil liability responsibilities. The poor chap


My Stupid Cat: I just got it down from the tree - again - by the expedient of hooking its collar and dragging it out of the branches. Once again, no bloody gratitude! Next time I'll simply shoot it. Getting soaking wet and breaking a finger nail is quite enough!


Trump is dumping the climate fetish. What about you, Mrs May? Dominic Lawson. The Times

The piercing call to prayer of the muezzin is a familiar sound to anyone who has spent time in Marrakesh. But a different wailing rent the air there last week. It came from the 20,000 or so people who had jetted in for the annual UN Climate Change Conference.

To describe those delegates and attendant lobbyists as most upset by Donald Trump’s victory in the battle for the US presidency does no justice to their grief. The Guardian’s man at this colossal carbon-fest reported that many were in tears. One told him: “My heart is absolutely broken at the election of Trump.” Another lamented: “Everyone is in shock.”

The reason for this mass nervous breakdown of environmentalists is obvious. Trump has declared that the “concept of global warming” was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive”. In this spirit, he has pledged to reverse President Obama’s signing of the Paris agreement, in which the US for the first time committed itself to CO2 emission reductions under a UN-regulated scheme.

Unlike Trump’s better-known pledge to introduce protectionist measures against Chinese imports via steeply increased tariffs, this would be one with no downside for American consumers. And, given Obama had used an “executive agreement” to give US consent to the Paris accord, rather than seek the approval of Congress, it would hardly be inappropriate if his successor was similarly imperial in revoking it. Trump’s team has also indicated — to make matters clearer still — that it might simply withdraw America from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Chinese government is rattled by this (though not breaking down in sobs). Its senior climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, responded to Trump’s election by declaring: “A wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends. If they resist this trend, I don’t think they’ll win the support of their people.” It is most unusual for the Chinese government to comment on foreign election results, sensitive as it is to any external criticism of its own political processes.
Actually Trump was wrong. The UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change was not a Chinese plan to boost its own exporters at the expense of the West’s industrial base; it was a plan by western governments to penalise their own industrial base, to the benefit of the economies of China and the rest of the developing world.

The larger economies of the EU in particular have imposed costly carbon-emission-reduction programmes on their own industries — while China has been building coal plants at the rate of two a week. Given that coal is the cheapest (and most carbon-intensive) large-scale form of energy generation and China has become the world’s largest economy as a result of this breakneck industrialisation, Trump, in his cartoonish way, was on to something.

Perhaps the cabinet might question Westminster’s religious faith in the Climate Change Act
His position on this was actually the main reason why he broke the Democrats’ hold on the so-called Rust Belt states — and thus won the presidency. Behind big posters with the legend “Trump digs coal”, he declared in rallies: “We’re going to save the coal industry. Believe me, I love those people.” Then he would put on a miner’s helmet and make digging motions.

In fact, it is not emission-reduction programmes that have been the principal cause of more than 30,000 coalminers losing their jobs during the Obama presidency; that industry’s bane has been the rise of the US shale gas sector, which has tapped into vast reserves made accessible by new drilling techniques. The effect has been to cut US emissions at a rate much faster than Europe has achieved by its quixotic wind-power programme, because gas, though a fossil fuel, emits half coal’s CO2 per unit of energy.

Only last week the US Geological Survey revealed the discovery of the largest continuous oil and gas deposit in the country’s history: it estimated that a swathe of west Texas known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20bn barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Remember that the principal consumer-based argument given for “decarbonisation” by our own Department of Energy and Climate Change under prime ministers Blair, Brown and Cameron was that gas would become ever more expensive and therefore wind power would soon require no subsidies. This was a colossal misjudgment, caused by what is politely termed confirmation bias.
Seven years ago I wrote that this desire to dupe the public into thinking decarbonisation would save the nation money would only outsource chunks of our manufacturing industry to China. This was exemplified by the subsequent crisis at our largest remaining steel plant at Port Talbot. Its owner, Tata, had long been imploring the government to reconsider a “climate-change policy” under which prices of electricity for British industrial users are twice the EU average.

As this column noted at the time, it all stemmed from the Climate Change Act 2008, which mandated the UK to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% — a commitment no other country has come near to making. So keen was our legislature to take part in this act of virtue-signalling, it passed Ed Miliband’s bizarrely uncosted measure by 463 votes to 3. Of those intellectually brave dissidents only Peter Lilley continues to press the matter in parliament; and even he was caught unawares last week when the Paris agreement passed its 21-day period of scrutiny by our legislature without a single member of the Commons or Lords raising a question, let alone an objection.

But if Trump does pull the US out of the futile UN programme to prevent manmade climate change — it’s an impossible objective with the developing world continuing rapidly to increase its exploitation and consumption of coal — perhaps a British cabinet might dare to question Westminster’s religious faith in the Climate Change Act.

The opposition won’t, of course: last week Labour’s shadow business secretary, Clive Lewis, said Trump’s policies could mean “game over for our planet”. (The planet is doing just fine, actually: over the past three decades the Earth’s vegetation has expanded by 14%. About 70% of this welcome “greening” of the planet is thought to be the result of the rise in manmade CO2 emissions.)

I have faint hopes that Theresa May, with her commitment to an “industrial policy”, might see the light, especially as her chief of staff, Nick Timothy, described the Climate Change Act as a “unilateral and monstrous act of self-harm” in April, when he was a columnist for the ConservativeHome website. 

Actually, who am I kidding? The scale of the vested interests in said unilateral and monstrous act of self-harm, involving countless civil servants across every department of state, academics, environmental lobby groups, wind energy providers, solar panel installers — you name it — will deter the prime minister from the necessary act of courage. Besides, she doubtless feels that this is no time to be making new enemies.

It’s a shame, though. Because if Mrs May ever wanted to demonstrate real substance in her stated desire to represent the interests of “the just-managing ordinary workers” over the concerns of the “Westminster elite”, scrapping the Climate Change Act would hit the bullseye. Ask the Donald.

1 comment:

Perry said...

May isn't up to the Brexit task in my opinion. The HS2 nonsense continues & whilst this colossal waste of money continues, there is no hope for the suffering taxpayer.

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