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German elections sound death knell for 'decarbonization'

By Scott Shepard
web posted November 6, 2023

The decarbonization of world, or even western, economies just isn't going to happen. Probably ever. And everything will be fine.

There are many, many reasons for this. The most important one is that decarbonization, or even "net-zero," which itself includes so many gimmicks as to be meaningless, is simply impossible – under any scenario, and given any scale. As has long been clear to the sentient, electrifying cars and other modern necessities doesn't eliminate carbon emissions, it just shifts them. And it shifts them in intensely inefficient ways, as the carbon production at the power plant occurs much further away from a car than the carbon production at the tail pipe, and therefore requires long transmission lines and consequent energy losses. The real effect of electrifying cars, at least for now, is to make them much less good at their job as cars, while wildly increasing their total costs.

Spread that model across the whole economy and you get much, much poorer people worldwide, to the point of the genuine likelihood of mass starvation and a global standard of immiseration. But even if most living humans and the whole modern economy were to be sacrificed to Gaia in the name of decarbonization, it still wouldn't happen; even the stuff that pre-modern people used to get dry and to keep warm, so far as they could, emitted carbon.

Then of course there's the fact that the gigantic producers of carbon in the modern world, including especially China, India and Russia, have no intention whatever even of lowering their carbon output. Chairman Xi came right out and said recently that full decarbonization is impossible and that any decarbonization should not diminish living standards, effectively aligning his public stance with what has been clear on the ground for a long time now: that China will soon have more than half of the world's coal-generation capacity, while continuing to add plants every quarter. (Only people who are paid by climate catastrophists to misunderstand basic facts, like reporters at Bloomberg, have been in any doubt about this for a long time.)

So net-zero won't be done and can't be done, and nothing the West – or its would-be unelected masters in Davos or at BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard – can do can make the slightest bit of difference, except to drive down living standards in the West and the developing world. (Why our self-appointed betters would want to do that is a matter that requires significant consideration.)

And just recently we may have seen clear proof that no one anywhere in the West is going to be willing to shiver in the dark for no purpose other than to feed the neuroses of the greens and the egos of the Davosians. In German state-level elections in Bavaria and Hesse, conservative parties that oppose Germany's long drift into decarbonized economic development won, collectively, smashing victories. In Bavaria – a fairly important German electorate – three conservative parties collectively won about two-thirds of the vote. All of them oppose the decarbonization agenda, with the ruling Conservatives – who under Mutti Merkel had signed up for national decarbicide – having turned around entirely: it rightly labeled the Green party an enemy – of the Conservatives and of the German people. The remaining major parties, all of which are members of the current national coalition government, shared the remnant shards of the vote. The results were slightly less dramatic in Hesse, as there was one fewer conservative party on the ballot, but the message remained clear.

There are the to-be-sures, of course. To be sure, the disaster of decarbonization is not the only issue pushing voters to the right. Immigration is also a big one. And to be sure, much of the media's response to the elections was to froth about significant gains made by the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party – which is either where conservatives dismayed by the statist centrism of Merkel went, or the second coming of the black shirts, depending on the source. I'm not qualified to say if Merkel's absolute refusal even to consider going into power with AfD was proper, posturing or poisoning. (Heaven knows that in the United States in 2023, hysterical claims about "far-right extremism" have to be met with something between deep skepticism and a presumption of falsity.) But whether the conservatives can govern alone after the next federal election or they need allies, it's certain that the Greens won't be part of the coalition and that promises to drop debilitating decarbonization measures will be a central plank of the winning platform.

Germany's not alone. After unexpectedly winning a by-election mostly on the strength of opposing green fever dreams, the otherwise befuddled British Conservatives are backing quickly away from expensive decarbonization measures, even if P.M. Rishi Sunak keeps up the rhetorical flourishes. Everywhere you look, in fact, except in the dregs of the West (e.g., California), reality is biting back and net-zero dreams are dissolving.

As recently as the beginning of this year BlackRock was still claiming that it must force corporations to decarbonize because the governments of 95 percent of the world's population were requiring it, and would resolutely continue to. That was nonsense then. To act on such a premise now would be … worthy of judicial note. ESR

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Director of its Free Enterprise Project. This was initially published at RealClearMarkets.



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