Europe

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18 Vaccine Experts, Including Top FDA Scientists, Publish Review in The Lancet Saying Current Evidence Doesn’t Support Need for COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for the Fully Vaccinated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 1:55am in

Top international vaccine experts contend current evidence does not support a need for boosters for the fully vaccinated general population at this time and recommending instead directing doses to previously unvaccinated populations.

Affordable electricity Decarbonization in OECD countries? Part I

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 12:56pm in

After eight extensive posts about the Ontario electricity sector, I am expanding my geographic coverage to look at the electricity sectors in selected OECD countries. My focus will be on the historical and relative performance of each country’s sector with respect to decarbonization and prices. As in the case of Ontario, whole volumes could and have been written about each of these countries, and the electricity sector in general, including with respect to current and future reliability and technologies and preferred vs. feasible future decarbonization pathways and other matters. To keep this manageable, my analysis will be a high-level data-driven overview of past and current generation technology mix, sector emissions and prices only, all based on internationally-comparable data from reputable sources. Interested readers should check out my earlier posts and other writing as to why my focus on the question of affordable decarbonization. In this blog I start with Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Future editions will cover additional countries.

I look at data from 1990 to 2019/20 to ensure to ensure I capture trends in the sector, which, because of its capital intensity, tend to be relatively slow-moving. I look at electricity generation mix by country based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data. I present it in seven groups: nuclear, hydro, non-hydro renewables (this includes wind, solar), natural gas, petroleum products, coal products and biomass and waste. To control for aggregate generation changes over time within a country and for country size differences, I present these in percentage terms. But these technologies are just means to an end, which is sector decarbonization – I source sector emissions directly from the respective country National Inventory Reports (NIR) submitted annually to the Secretariat to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC format combines emissions from public electricity and heat, which is the same combined manner that the IEA presents emissions data. Ideally, we would only include public electricity emissions but relative few countries present this on a stand-alone basis. Public heat provision, generally in the form of district heat systems, is generally a few percentage points of public electricity. To control for differences over time and country differences I present sector emissions intensity (kg CO2/MWh). From an accounting perspective, so as to not “double count”, the UNFCCC does not allocate emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to electricity (the Energy Sector), but rather to the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. For this analysis, given that I am focussing on the electricity sector only, and not the economy as a whole, I include emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to the electricity sector. Lastly, I source household electricity prices from the IEA, which include base prices, plus any consumer-oriented or taxes and specific levies, in USD(PPP)/MWh. After I provide an overview of the countries I present some initial comparative analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis.

Country Overviews: Canada, France, Germany & Japan

Starting close to home, Figure 1 shows that the technology mix in Canada has been relatively stable over the last 30 years, with a high percentage (ranging between 70% to 80%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies (nuclear, hydro and non-hydro renewables). This has resulted in relatively low emissions intensity over the study period, with three phases: a decrease from the displacement of coal by nuclear and hydro from 1990 to 1996; an increase as some nuclear generation went off line from 1996 to 2003; and a steady decline from 2004 to 2019 as nuclear comes back on line and non-hydro renewables are introduced and expand to 6%, which together with gas increasingly displace coal. Household prices increased moderately during almost the entire period, but started to increase in 2015, primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables in Ontario (see my earlier blogs).

Crossing the Atlantic, Figure 2 shows that the technology mix in France has also been relatively stable over the last 30 years. France has had an even higher percentage (around 90%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies, resulting in relatively very low emissions intensity over the study period. Like in Canada, changes in emissions initially relate to the addition/subtraction of zero-emission technologies, but starting in the mid 2000’s there was also substitution away from higher-emitting coal to lower emitting gas. Household prices were stable until about 2009, after which they increased by about 6% per year in the ten years to 2020.

Moving north-east in Europe, Figure 3 shows that the technology mix in Germany has been much more dynamic over the last 30 years. For the period from 1990 to about 2016 Germany had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively very high emissions intensity. This is specially given the case that its largest emitting generation was coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to about 1999 as nuclear and hydro increased and gas displaced some coal and then stabilized over the next decade until the large policy-driven decrease in nuclear (in reaction to the Fukushima accident) in 2011 resulted in a large spike in emissions that were not bright back to trend by fast-increasing non-hydro renewables until 2015-16, which by 2020 accounted for 31% of generation. Household prices in Germany were stable until about 2000, after which they increased by more than 8% per year for 13 years to 2013, after which they increased moderately at 1% per year to 2020. As in Ontario, who modeled their Green Energy Act (GEA) on the Energiewende, the increase in prices in Germany are primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables.

Heading to Asia, Figure 4 shows that the technology mix in Japan has also been relatively dynamic. For the period from 1990 to about 2010 Japan had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively high emissions intensity. It was lower than Germany, however, because it relied on relatively lower-emitting gas and oil and less on higher-emitting coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to1999 as nuclear increased and then increased moderately as nuclear decreased slightly until 2010. As a policy matter in reaction to the Fukushima accident in 2011, however, Japan took most of its nuclear generation offline. This decrease resulted in a very large spike in emissions, as zero-emission generation dipped to only 10%. Emissions decreased moderately to 2019 as some nuclear was brought back on line and non-hydro renewables increased to 9% of generation. By 2019 zero-emission generation, at 21% was only half of what Japan had achieved in 1998. Household prices increased moderately until after 2011, when they increased at 4% per year to 2019.

Comparative Analysis and Discussion

Figure 5 shows the emissions intensity for the four countries from 1990 to 2019. It confirms that due to their large legacy zero-emission generation grids of 70%-80% for Canada and 90% for France these are the countries that have already deeply decarbonized their electricity sectors, both hovering around 100 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. After relatively stable but relatively very high emissions for most of the study period, Germany finally broke through the 550 kgCO2/MWh threshold in 2015 and has reduced emissions intensity by 6% since then to reach 420 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. Japan had been unable to make much progress from 350 00 kgCO2/MWh before 2011, after which emissions spiked and have since slowly been reduced to about 400 kgCO2/MW.

Figure 6 plots emissions intensity against the % of zero-emission generation for every year and country in the study. To give a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. The strong negative correlation (downward sloping trendline) confirms the almost linear tradeoff between the amount of zero-emission generation and emissions. The time progression, with the exception of Japan, is from higher emission down and to the right. I am interested in seeing whether this linearity holds for the USA, a country for which much of the decarbonization has been attributed to the switch from higher–emitting coal to lower-emitting gas. Stay tuned for future blogs.

Figure 7 shows household prices for the four countries from 1990 to 2020 and confirms our earlier observation that while all prices have increased after a period of relative stability, the prices in some countries began increasing earlier and faster than in others. Germany is the outlier in this respect, where prices have almost tripled since 1990.

I am interested in exploring affordable decarbonization. From this perspective, both Canada and France had already achieved this by 1990 and so the process of decarbonization, and whether it was affordable, would involve looking further back in time. For Canada that may be 1960s to 1980s when many of current large hydro-electric projects and nuclear generation stations came online to displaced emitting technologies. For France it would be from the mid 1970’s to 1990 when its nuclear fleet displaced fossil technologies. In both cases, however, given that both countries started the period as the two lowest-priced countries in the sample, it is reasonable to assume that the transition was likely affordable, and certainly no less unaffordable than the approaches adopted in Germany and Japan prior to 1990. After that year and specially for Germany from 2000 and the coming into law of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the introduction of high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables, we see very significant price increases to 2015 but no reductions in emissions until that year because, as discussed above, Germany was in parallel reducing nuclear generation.

In these last two figures I start an initial correlation analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis. In my previous blogs I have discussed studies showing that any increases in electricity prices have been mostly due to the introduction and growth of non-hydro renewables, due to their higher-than market contracted prices and broader integration costs. This is certainly the case in Ontario, Canada and Germany. I am interested if this holds in other countries and what is the likely scale of the impact. I begin with the simple correlation analyses in Figures 9 and 10.

Figures 9 and 10 separate out zero-emission generation into dispatchable nuclear and hydro and intermittent non-hydro renewables and plots them against prices to examine any corresponding correlation. To also provide a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. Figure 9 shows a generally negative (downward sloping) correlation, indicating that nuclear and hydro are correlated with lower prices. Figure 10, on the other hand, shows a generally positive (upward sloping) correlation, indicating that non-hydro renewable are correlated with higher prices. Based on prior studies, we knew that for Canada (via Ontario) and Germany this non-hydro renewables/higher price association had been shown to be stronger, of statistical significance suggesting causation, but it is good to replicate this via a simple correlation analysis. Looking at Figure 9 and 10 together, this correlation also holds for France and to lesser extent Japan. Note to my inner econometrician – there could be some time effect in the last decade or two (for example the introduction of liberalized electricity markets) that could separately be contributing to higher prices and thus could be a confounding variable to the simple non-hydro renewables/higher price association… That statistical question to be resolved down the road once I review a larger number of countries.

Next Steps

I am expecting to be able to cover four other OECD countries in the edition of this series, hopefully to come out in a few weeks, time permitting. I am aiming to include the USA, either Australia or New Zealand, and two countries in Europe.

Affordable electricity Decarbonization in OECD countries? Part I

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 12:56pm in

After eight extensive posts about the Ontario electricity sector, I am expanding my geographic coverage to look at the electricity sectors in selected OECD countries. My focus will be on the historical and relative performance of each country’s sector with respect to decarbonization and prices. As in the case of Ontario, whole volumes could and have been written about each of these countries, and the electricity sector in general, including with respect to current and future reliability and technologies and preferred vs. feasible future decarbonization pathways and other matters. To keep this manageable, my analysis will be a high-level data-driven overview of past and current generation technology mix, sector emissions and prices only, all based on internationally-comparable data from reputable sources. Interested readers should check out my earlier posts and other writing as to why my focus on the question of affordable decarbonization. In this blog I start with Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Future editions will cover additional countries.

I look at data from 1990 to 2019/20 to ensure to ensure I capture trends in the sector, which, because of its capital intensity, tend to be relatively slow-moving. I look at electricity generation mix by country based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data. I present it in seven groups: nuclear, hydro, non-hydro renewables (this includes wind, solar), natural gas, petroleum products, coal products and biomass and waste. To control for aggregate generation changes over time within a country and for country size differences, I present these in percentage terms. But these technologies are just means to an end, which is sector decarbonization – I source sector emissions directly from the respective country National Inventory Reports (NIR) submitted annually to the Secretariat to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC format combines emissions from public electricity and heat, which is the same combined manner that the IEA presents emissions data. Ideally, we would only include public electricity emissions but relative few countries present this on a stand-alone basis. Public heat provision, generally in the form of district heat systems, is generally a few percentage points of public electricity. To control for differences over time and country differences I present sector emissions intensity (kg CO2/MWh). From an accounting perspective, so as to not “double count”, the UNFCCC does not allocate emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to electricity (the Energy Sector), but rather to the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. For this analysis, given that I am focussing on the electricity sector only, and not the economy as a whole, I include emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to the electricity sector. Lastly, I source household electricity prices from the IEA, which include base prices, plus any consumer-oriented or taxes and specific levies, in USD(PPP)/MWh. After I provide an overview of the countries I present some initial comparative analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis.

Country Overviews: Canada, France, Germany & Japan

Starting close to home, Figure 1 shows that the technology mix in Canada has been relatively stable over the last 30 years, with a high percentage (ranging between 70% to 80%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies (nuclear, hydro and non-hydro renewables). This has resulted in relatively low emissions intensity over the study period, with three phases: a decrease from the displacement of coal by nuclear and hydro from 1990 to 1996; an increase as some nuclear generation went off line from 1996 to 2003; and a steady decline from 2004 to 2019 as nuclear comes back on line and non-hydro renewables are introduced and expand to 6%, which together with gas increasingly displace coal. Household prices increased moderately during almost the entire period, but started to increase in 2015, primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables in Ontario (see my earlier blogs).

Crossing the Atlantic, Figure 2 shows that the technology mix in France has also been relatively stable over the last 30 years. France has had an even higher percentage (around 90%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies, resulting in relatively very low emissions intensity over the study period. Like in Canada, changes in emissions initially relate to the addition/subtraction of zero-emission technologies, but starting in the mid 2000’s there was also substitution away from higher-emitting coal to lower emitting gas. Household prices were stable until about 2009, after which they increased by about 6% per year in the ten years to 2020.

Moving north-east in Europe, Figure 3 shows that the technology mix in Germany has been much more dynamic over the last 30 years. For the period from 1990 to about 2016 Germany had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively very high emissions intensity. This is specially given the case that its largest emitting generation was coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to about 1999 as nuclear and hydro increased and gas displaced some coal and then stabilized over the next decade until the large policy-driven decrease in nuclear (in reaction to the Fukushima accident) in 2011 resulted in a large spike in emissions that were not bright back to trend by fast-increasing non-hydro renewables until 2015-16, which by 2020 accounted for 31% of generation. Household prices in Germany were stable until about 2000, after which they increased by more than 8% per year for 13 years to 2013, after which they increased moderately at 1% per year to 2020. As in Ontario, who modeled their Green Energy Act (GEA) on the Energiewende, the increase in prices in Germany are primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables.

Heading to Asia, Figure 4 shows that the technology mix in Japan has also been relatively dynamic. For the period from 1990 to about 2010 Japan had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively high emissions intensity. It was lower than Germany, however, because it relied on relatively lower-emitting gas and oil and less on higher-emitting coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to1999 as nuclear increased and then increased moderately as nuclear decreased slightly until 2010. As a policy matter in reaction to the Fukushima accident in 2011, however, Japan took most of its nuclear generation offline. This decrease resulted in a very large spike in emissions, as zero-emission generation dipped to only 10%. Emissions decreased moderately to 2019 as some nuclear was brought back on line and non-hydro renewables increased to 9% of generation. By 2019 zero-emission generation, at 21% was only half of what Japan had achieved in 1998. Household prices increased moderately until after 2011, when they increased at 4% per year to 2019.

Comparative Analysis and Discussion

Figure 5 shows the emissions intensity for the four countries from 1990 to 2019. It confirms that due to their large legacy zero-emission generation grids of 70%-80% for Canada and 90% for France these are the countries that have already deeply decarbonized their electricity sectors, both hovering around 100 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. After relatively stable but relatively very high emissions for most of the study period, Germany finally broke through the 550 kgCO2/MWh threshold in 2015 and has reduced emissions intensity by 6% since then to reach 420 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. Japan had been unable to make much progress from 350 00 kgCO2/MWh before 2011, after which emissions spiked and have since slowly been reduced to about 400 kgCO2/MW.

Figure 6 plots emissions intensity against the % of zero-emission generation for every year and country in the study. To give a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. The strong negative correlation (downward sloping trendline) confirms the almost linear tradeoff between the amount of zero-emission generation and emissions. The time progression, with the exception of Japan, is from higher emission down and to the right. I am interested in seeing whether this linearity holds for the USA, a country for which much of the decarbonization has been attributed to the switch from higher–emitting coal to lower-emitting gas. Stay tuned for future blogs.

Figure 7 shows household prices for the four countries from 1990 to 2020 and confirms our earlier observation that while all prices have increased after a period of relative stability, the prices in some countries began increasing earlier and faster than in others. Germany is the outlier in this respect, where prices have almost tripled since 1990.

I am interested in exploring affordable decarbonization. From this perspective, both Canada and France had already achieved this by 1990 and so the process of decarbonization, and whether it was affordable, would involve looking further back in time. For Canada that may be 1960s to 1980s when many of current large hydro-electric projects and nuclear generation stations came online to displaced emitting technologies. For France it would be from the mid 1970’s to 1990 when its nuclear fleet displaced fossil technologies. In both cases, however, given that both countries started the period as the two lowest-priced countries in the sample, it is reasonable to assume that the transition was likely affordable, and certainly no less unaffordable than the approaches adopted in Germany and Japan prior to 1990. After that year and specially for Germany from 2000 and the coming into law of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the introduction of high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables, we see very significant price increases to 2015 but no reductions in emissions until that year because, as discussed above, Germany was in parallel reducing nuclear generation.

In these last two figures I start an initial correlation analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis. In my previous blogs I have discussed studies showing that any increases in electricity prices have been mostly due to the introduction and growth of non-hydro renewables, due to their higher-than market contracted prices and broader integration costs. This is certainly the case in Ontario, Canada and Germany. I am interested if this holds in other countries and what is the likely scale of the impact. I begin with the simple correlation analyses in Figures 9 and 10.

Figures 9 and 10 separate out zero-emission generation into dispatchable nuclear and hydro and intermittent non-hydro renewables and plots them against prices to examine any corresponding correlation. To also provide a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. Figure 9 shows a generally negative (downward sloping) correlation, indicating that nuclear and hydro are correlated with lower prices. Figure 10, on the other hand, shows a generally positive (upward sloping) correlation, indicating that non-hydro renewable are correlated with higher prices. Based on prior studies, we knew that for Canada (via Ontario) and Germany this non-hydro renewables/higher price association had been shown to be stronger, of statistical significance suggesting causation, but it is good to replicate this via a simple correlation analysis. Looking at Figure 9 and 10 together, this correlation also holds for France and to lesser extent Japan. Note to my inner econometrician – there could be some time effect in the last decade or two (for example the introduction of liberalized electricity markets) that could separately be contributing to higher prices and thus could be a confounding variable to the simple non-hydro renewables/higher price association… That statistical question to be resolved down the road once I review a larger number of countries.

Next Steps

I am expecting to be able to cover four other OECD countries in the edition of this series, hopefully to come out in a few weeks, time permitting. I am aiming to include the USA, either Australia or New Zealand, and two countries in Europe.

Worker ownership in post-Brexit Britain

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/09/2021 - 5:24pm in

Giovanni Marcora, Italian Industry Minister 1981-82

An interesting debate was opened by Labour’s MP for Neath, Christina Rees, in Parliament’s Westminster Hall last week on Italy’s “Marcora Law”. This is the legislation introduced there in 1985 to allow workers’ threatened with redundancy the option of exercising a right to purchase the company. Two government-administered funds provide the loan capital needed to the workers, and the law has been credited with saving 13,000 jobs in the years after the financial crisis.

There are two points to note here. First, although co-operative and worker ownership sector in the UK is a fraction of those in Europe and North America, it has been growing rapidly in the last few years, helped along by some recent changes to legislation. 250 new employee-owned business have been established since 2019, taking the total to 720 across the UK: a fraction of the 2m or so registered businesses in the UK, but including at least one very large employer, John Lewis Partnership, and with notable growth in manufacturing firms in particular.

Second, there is a potential here for a government outside the EU to do something radical with this. The original Marcora Law provided for significant government support to those wanting to move a threatened firm into employee ownership, with the Italian state offering to put in up to three times as much additional start up capital as the workers. The European Commission ruled that this was in breach of EU competition law, handing (in its view) an unfair advantage to worker-owned businesses relative to more conventional ownership. But the reality is that this was a clash of two very different conceptions of what a business is. The Commission took (and takes) a pure neoliberal view: that a business is there to benefit its shareholders only, and any one kind of shareholder – someone’s granny with share certificates; your ISA; Black Rock – is much the same as any other. There is, in this view, no case for offering cheap loans to any one type of business over another, solely on the basis of its form of ownership.

That, of course, radically reduces the appeal of worker ownership, and opens up the standard neoliberal objection. If you are employed by a company, you are exposed only to one kind of risk – that the business could fail, and you lose your job. But if you are not only an employee, but a shareholder in the company, you face two kinds of risk: if the business fails, you lose your job – and also whatever capital you have invested. It’s this double risk that tends to weigh heavily against worker buyouts, particularly where employees also face having to borrow money at standard commercial rates.

But there is another way to view a business. Instead of seeing a firm as operating solely for the benefit of its shareholders, we could view it as a social institution in its own right: that whatever a business does includes not only the profit it makes, but the quantity and quality of the work it generates, its impact – good or ill – on the environment, the other businesses and employment it sustains through its purchases, and so on. The evidence that worker ownership performs better on these broader measures of successes is clear: worker-owned firms tend to be more productive, tend to create and sustain more and better jobs, and tend to act as better stewards for the environment.

In this view of a firm as a social institution, government could become a necessary partner, acting as guardian of the broader interests of society alongside those of the workers and any additional shareholders. It would be natural for this additional partner to also take a stake and offer support to a company working in this way. This would be a breach of the neoliberal conception of the company, but would be far closer to the actual

Neoliberalism in law

United Kingdom company law doesn’t think like this. The last major change was the Companies Act 2006, enacted by the Labour government, which did create a weak requirement for directors to “have regard to” environmental and social impacts, but left the basics of shareholder supremacy in place, turning existing common law practice into hard legislation. And for as long as the UK was in the EU, this neoliberal bias reinforced by the EU’s own strict laws and regulations around competition and ownership. Steering around them was possible, but would be an additional hurdle for an economy like the UK if it sought to significantly boost worker ownership.

But outside of the EU, and now subject only to the loose constraints of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a UK government has more freedom to intervene in the domestic economy. Support for worker ownership could be radically improved, and with the option for further support for specific areas and regions of the country. Cheap capital could be provided at scale for employee ownership schemes; and the opportunity for major expansion is there, too, with potentially thousands of viable small businesses facing closure or sale as their baby-boomer owners approach retirement: nearly two-thirds of UK small business owners are over 50, and two-thirds of them have no succession plan for their businesses. It’s the sort of thing that might appeal to the supposedly “Brexity Hezza” in No.10, but if the government’s response to Rees is any guide, they’ll let it slip. Time for Labour to seize the moment?

The post Worker ownership in post-Brexit Britain appeared first on The Progressive Economy Forum.

Iran’s Huge Caspian Gas Find Is A Geopolitical Gamechanger

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/08/2021 - 3:03pm in

A new Iran gas find has the potential to supply 20% of Europe's needs. But its pricing and delivery will be coordinated with Russia.

If the food supply chain collapses will the public finally see through Brexit?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/08/2021 - 5:18pm in

This tweet is worth sharing. I have checked the story in Motor Transport, which appears reputable:

https://twitter.com/bloggerheads/status/1422536917380440065?s=21

So, what is happening?

First, it would seem as if a D notice has been issued to prevent this story being discussed. That the supply chain might get worse is not being mentioned in the media.

Second, if the Road Haulage Association is to be believed the government is doing nothing to prevent this crisis.

Third, you might almost believe that the government wants a story that is very clearly related to Brexit to be related to Covid instead.

What is actually happening? It would seem that three things are.

First, there is denial in government of the scale of the issue that they have unleashed with Brexit.

Second, there is willing to make excuses, rathe than take action.

Third, I rather strongly suspect that they think that they can sacrifice Grant Shapps to this one, and Johnson will survive again.

But if food supply moves from being an inconvenience, which it is now, to becoming a serious issue, which it seems that the Road Haulage Association thinks it might be, will the public be foolish enough to just think this the result of the pingdemic when simultaneously it is claimed that the number of cases is falling and the sensitivity of contacting has been reduced? I doubt it. I think they will smell a rat and decide that this is not  a Covid issue.

All governments have to ride their luck. Johnson certainly has. However, evidence from Conservative Home suggests that even within the Tories Johnson’s own popularity is waning now. In that case it is very likely it is elsewhere.

So, will the backlash against a government whose ability to keep any promise is so obviously limited begin when food shortages become real, and the panic the media are obviously trying to avoid sets in? It may.

I just hope that it is understood that the issue is Brexit though, because it is. This is not  Covid issue. Time will tell.

Tourism Begins to Recover in Europe, But Is It Just a Dead Cat Bounce?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/06/2021 - 8:49pm in

Warning signs are already flashing that Europe's reopening to the outside world may be short lived.

Brexit delivers Ireland a trade surplus with the UK, for the first time ever

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/06/2021 - 8:23pm in

As The Independent has reported:

A collapse in British exports to the Irish Republic since Brexit has handed Dublin an extraordinary trade surplus with London, new figures show.

The Irish government says new trading red tape explains a €2 billion plunge in the value of goods sales – 47.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the start of 2020.

The data published by the Irish government shows this:

That is a staggering change in fortunes. The collapse of trade direct from the UK is extraordinary.

My attention was drawn to this article by Dr Tim Rideout. I think it worth sharing his comments on it:

UK Office for National Statistics stats don’t, I understand, separate out Ireland, so you probably won’t see this if you look at our data. Probably the majority of the Ireland to EU transit traffic that used to go via Holyhead and Fishguard is now going direct to France on one of the many multi-times per day services that have been running since January. There is bound, in due course, to be a big impact on Wales – Ireland ferry services and ports in due course as just one of the consequences.

I agree with Tim. The consequences of what is happening are staggering for British business, and those who depend on this trade.

I will ask, yet again, what are the benefits of Brexit supposed to be?

Amersham and Chesham will not be the last to note the phenomenal cost of Brexit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/06/2021 - 6:29pm in

Tags 

Europe, Politics

I quote this from the Guardian news summary email this morning:

British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021, with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.

Overall food and drink exports to Ireland fell by 70.8% year on year, to Spain by 63%, Italy 61% and Germany 55%. The HMRC figures show dairy products down more than 90% and exports of cheese down by two-thirds compared with 2020. Whisky fell 32%, chocolate 37% and lamb and mutton 14%.

Please don’t tell me that Brexit is a success.

And please don’t tell me that these losses can be recovered from new trade deals. That is impossible.

Brexit is a simple act of economic sabotage in pursuit of racist goals.

The racist goals can never be justified.

The cost is very real.

And this can only get worse.

Amersham and Chesham will not be the last to notice.

I am ashamed of Johnson, and at least as fearful of what he might yet do

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/06/2021 - 4:39pm in

I wrote quite a number of tweets yesterday whilst watching the various press conferences that closed the G7 summit. The most popular was this:

It took seconds, but it summed up a moment in history. The reason it succeeded was that it reflected a dire weekend that a reasonably competent UK prime minister could so easily have turned into a diplomatic success.

Instead there were disasters. Johnson failed to avert the vaccine disaster, which I wrote about when I first heard the plan, saying:

Gordon Brown was right to pick up on this. As visions for the world go this one fell very far short. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning there are reports of hospitals being overwhelmed by delta variant Covid cases. This was preventable. It could have been avoided if Johnson had permitted the Oxford Universty vaccine to have been open source, as those who developed it wanted. But he refused that. It because the AZ vaccine instead, and now millions, if not billions, will not get vaccines on time as a result. The consequence will be an untold number of deaths. Johnson failed to avert tens of millions of deaths this weekend by not throwing all his effort at this.

The summit also failed on climate change. Nothing of consequence happened on coal.

And it failed on human rights. Nothing of consequence happened on China.

But it could reasonably be said that much of this was down to Johnson because what he quite deliberately put on the table was Brexit. Or rather, he put his own refusal to comply with Brexit on the table.

The Brexit row is easily summarised. The former Treasury solicitor, Sir Jonathan Jones, who resigned over Brexit, summarised the issue in one tweet, saying:

That is what is in dispute, in summary. Johnson says he refuses to recognise part 2 of this. But he signed up to such an arrangement in the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol, and the world and the EU (not unreasonably) want him to abide by his word.

Johnson does not abide by his word. That is not what he thinks is required of him. He is wrong. Quite literally, the world only works when people abide by their word. That is why we place a lot of importance on people doing so. The expectation that they will is the basis of which almost all human behaviour is based, with the knowledge that the hurt resulting from people’s failure to do so is high.

That hurt will, in this case, be very high. Not only does it make it virtually impossible to deal with the UK in a diplomatic sense, which is, I am quite sure, the sentiment the remaining six within the G7 will have taken away from the summit this weekend, but there are invariably other consequences.

In the current case that failure undermines the Good Friday Agreement, which so vitally removed the border in Ireland, which in turn delivered the longest peace that island has enjoyed for a very long time.

There is no one who can doubt the consequences of this. President Biden knows it all too well. But I suspect Johnson is willing to breach that deal. And to provide cover for doing so I am quite sure he will happily watch Unionist paramilitaries create violent situations, believing, incorrectly, that this will precipitate the EU caving in.

It won’t. It’s will just show the world the sort of man we have in Downing Street.

I live in fear on this issue.

Fear for Ireland, as a whole.

Fear for the integrity of UK politics, where Johnson is so willing to lie about what was agreed, and where there will be a willingness to hear his view amongst some.

Fear for the UK as it becomes an outcast in international communities, and rightly so, which some will, however,  welcome.

Fear too for the social consequences within the UK as the stress from this escalates, or rather is deliberately escalated.

Fear too that the reasons for all this remain incomprehensible, because no one has ever as yet explained what Brexit is all about, unless its only and sole purpose is the generation of pointless division, of which this crisis is but one example.

Fear too as to where this will lead.

I am ashamed of Johnson. But that does not mean that I am not fearful of what he might do. The worst, by far, is yet come.

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