Charles Moore praises Trump using misinformation about energy

An ode to Donald Trump published yesterday (2 June 2018) in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ praises his policy of inaction on climate change, but is riddled with inaccurate and misleading claims.

The article by Charles Moore, the newspaper’s former editor, neglects to mention that he is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the lobby group created by Lord Lawson to campaign against policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel use.

It is now standard practice for Lord Lawson’s allies not to declare their affiliation to the Foundation when promoting climate change denial. Mr Moore’s many articles for ‘The Daily Telegraph’ about climate change do not mention his connection. Viscount Ridley never tells readers of ‘The Times’ that he is a member of the Foundation’s “Academic Advisory Council”. Perhaps they are embarrassed by the Foundation’s reputation as an old boy’s club: there is only one woman among its 10 trustees, and all 27 members of its Council are men.

Given that the Foundation has already been sanctioned by the Charity Commission for its propaganda about climate change, it is surprising that ‘The Daily Telegraph’ does not fact check Moore’s articles about climate change. Perhaps its comment desk is afraid of challenging the former editor, or maybe they know that it would be a lengthy process to correct all of his mistakes.

Moore’s latest article started by claiming that the United States is the answer to the question: “Which major country in the world has most successfully reduced its CO2 emissions?” He was not right, of course.

The latest figures published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency shows its annual emissions of carbon dioxide were 13.4 per cent lower in 2016 than in 2005, the country’s preferred benchmark year. But the UK’s annual emissions decreased by 31.5 per cent during that period.

Mr Moore suggested that “US emissions hit a 25-year low last year”. He appears to be referring to provisional estimates by the United States Energy Information Administration of annual emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide only, which were at their lowest point in 2017 since 1992. However, the 14.2 per cent reduction compared with 2005 was still much smaller than the 33.7 per cent drop in the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions over the same period.

Mr Moore added that the fall in emissions in the United States was due to “the shale revolution”. However, this was only partially true. As the Environmental Protection Agency pointed out, the switch from coal to both natural gas and renewables for electricity generation was the primary cause of the decline in energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide.

Next Mr Moore stated that “energy prices are falling”. This was simply not true. The latest analysis by the Energy Information Administration shows that electricity prices have been climbing across all sectors over the past decade.

However, Mr Moore’s article was not only filled with errors about the United States. He claimed that “Germany and Japan are increasing their carbon footprint because they have run away from nuclear”. This was also false.

The latest figures published by the German Government show that annual greenhouse gas emissions increased by 0.4 per cent between 2015 and 2016, but the output from the energy industry fell by 1 per cent. Overall emissions fell during the two previous years and were still 8.7 per cent lower in 2016 than in 2005.

In Japan, annual emissions of greenhouse gases increased between 2009 and 2013, but have fallen every year since, and in 2016 were 4.6 per cent lower than in 2005.

Mr Moore’s article was also wrong about the Paris Agreement, which he described as “failing”. Although President Trump has initiated the withdrawal of the United States, it cannot be completed until 4 November 2020, the day after the next Presidential election. But 174 other countries have already ratified the Agreement. Nine American States and 260 cities and counties have already pledged that “we are still in”and will implement the Agreement despite President Trump.

Not content with ignoring the success of the UK in reducing its emissions, Mr Moore added a few falsehoods about its energy system. He claimed that the nine per cent of average annual dual fuel bills that are due to climate change and energy efficiency policies would leave people “screwed”, but he neglected to mention that a recent analysis by the Committee on Climate Change found that household energy bills were lower in 2016 than in 2008.

Mr Moore was also hopelessly misinformed about the UK’s consumption of coal, suggesting that “we shall probably have to run after the stuff to keep the lights on”. In fact, the latest statistics published by the Government indicate that coal’s share of electricity supply plummeted from 38.3 per cent in 2012 to 6.5 per cent last year without Mr Moore being plunged into darkness.

He also criticised Claire Perry, the Minister of State Energy and Clean Growth, for “green showmanship” and noted that she “has a lot less power than Rick Perry, Mr Trump’s Energy Secretary”. Predictably Mr Moore omitted any reference to a White House statement on Friday calling on Mr Perry to use his power to bail out uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants.

It is perhaps predictable that climate change deniers have now adopted President Trump as their champion. And while Mr Moore and his fellow propagandists at the Global warming Policy Foundation can still rely on newspapers like ‘The Daily Telegraph’ to spread their misinformation, only the most ill-informed readers will not be able to spot that their arguments are bogus.

 

Bob Ward is policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.