Joe Oliver: The climate alarmists are keeping poor people in the dark — literally

From The Financial Post

Special to Financial Post Joe Oliver

Residents are seen in the village of Hanuabada in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where just 13 per cent of the country’s population has access to electricity, Joe Oliver writes.Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

I recently returned from a Petroleum and Energy Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), which put into stark relief the moral imperative of developing fossil fuels, especially for the poorest people in developing countries. By implication, it reinforced the profoundly unethical stand of climate-change alarmists who are working to rid the world of hydrocarbons, irrespective of the harm to economic growth, employment and a decent standard of living for billions of people.

A mere 13 per cent of Papua New Guineans have access to electricity. The government’s goal is to extend electrification to 70 per cent by 2030, an ambitious precondition to substantially raising GDP per capita above its current $2,400.

PNG is far behind in electricity usage among larger Asia-Pacific countries. There is a strong correlation between GDP and energy consumption, which requires affordable power sources. Energy mix varies considerably in the region and has been critical to growth. For example, coal supplies 64 per cent of energy in Australia and 55 per cent in Indonesia, while gas represents 63 per cent in Thailand.

Hundreds of millions of people have escaped from dire poverty in China and India, thanks to fossil fuels

PNG imports heavy fuel oil and diesel for 40 per cent of its energy, but does not access its abundant coal reserves. Yet coal is an important source of inexpensive energy in south-east Asia. Over 2,500 coal plants, with total generating power of around 2,000,000 megawatts (mw), are operating or in development in Asian signatory countries of the Paris Accord. For context, Canada’s 100 largest generating stations have a combined capacity of 100,829 mw.

PNG is now debating development of its coal resources. It will take into account safety and economic advantages for its citizens. It should not consider global climate consequences because they will be infinitesimal.

Over a billion people lack access to electricity and another billion and a quarter have insecure access. It is impossible to elevate people in dire need to a decent standard of living without very inexpensive electricity. Depriving them of the opportunity to escape grinding poverty would be inexcusable, without an existential justification.

Read the full article here.

59 thoughts on “Joe Oliver: The climate alarmists are keeping poor people in the dark — literally

  1. You are absolutely right, but unfortunately existential is this year’s popular adjective among alarmists, when used in conjunction with ‘threat’. A full stop after inexcusable fixes it.

    • A fly on the wall in 1988, during backroom meetings in the UN overheard of the need to establish a pseudo scientific committee (the IPCC) in order to manufacture a hobgoblin to combat the growing threat of overpopulation in the face of limited resources given that third world countries were making demands to industrialize and bring their people out of poverty.

      Something had to be done along the lines of mass hypnosis to convince the worlds populations that resources usage needed to be curbed and that would require societal sacrifice. The IPCC create the perfect boogieman. Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming. The planet is going to burn unless we stop burning fossil fuel. No fuel for you third world.

  2. The Greens go to bed at night with the gnawing fear that somewhere, somehow there are healthy, happy, prosperous dark skinned people….

    • TG McCoy

      Many of them look at that photograph and wish for a simple, hand to mouth existence, with no heating/air conditioning or healthcare, dentistry, vegan McDonalds meals, fresh clean running water and sanitation, and long to enjoy the life.

      Just like the people in the photograph, they also long to enjoy their life but we don’t see the greens flooding there offering to exchange their miserable existence in their luxury homes for abject poverty.

      I can’t think of a term more expressive than hypocrite to describe the likes of AOC, I wish I could.

      • HotScot you forgot to mention a very important part of subsistance living that is also craved by those wanting the freedom of the simple life. This is simply home births, you know, pain free, relatively low risk hygenic pop them out on the dirt floor stuff. If the child doesn’t make it, build another, if the wife doesn’t make it, buy another. Wonderful.

        • 2017 Infant Mortality Rate (children who die before age 1)
          Papua New Guinea was 41.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.
          United States was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

          2015 Under Five Mortality Rate
          Papua New Guinea was 53.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.
          United States was 6.53 deaths per 1,000 live births.

          2018 Maternal mortality rates
          Papua New Guinea is 1 in 120 women. → 833 per 100,000
          United States is 20 per 100,000 women.

          None of this is nearly as bad as 200 years ago.
          200 years ago, if you counted out 100 babies, before they reached age 5, 57 of them would be dead.
          I have 4 children; now adults, and all of them are still alive.
          If I had birthed those 4 children 200 years ago, chances are 2 or maybe 3 would be dead, before age 5.
          I consider myself a lucky one, to be living in this place and time, after the industrial revolution, with 4 children, who all survived.

    • No, no, no … the noble savages of Papua New Guiana are ALREADY happy and prosperous … in their native state. They are BETTER than us. Because they live in “harmony” with Gaia. They are FREE from the oppressive technology and industry that enslave us 1st worlders. They are FREE from the banal consumerism that enslave us 1st worlders. The UN wants us to live like them, not the inverse. We are to be pitied, and loathed. We need to undo all the “harm” we’ve done. THIS is the message from AOC and all the other worldwide Marxists. Oh, but the politbureau will still live in total 1st world luxury.

  3. They should develop coal for export, & power generation in the few large towns. However the
    topography & the flora of PNG makes large scale distribution by polls & wires almost impossible to the very scattered village population. However that same topography & climate makes small village scale hydro systems easily viable.

    Perhaps the best aid we could offer PNG, the Solomons & other Pacific island nations would be to develop & supply a compact turn key hydro system suitable to supply 50 to 100 hut villages. Multiples of such systems could supply larger villages.

    I saw a number of such systems of the back yard type engineering used by some inventive plantation owners. The mountainous terrain & regular rain made the systems quite successful.

    • You are 100% correct about developing small hydro where it is feasible and PNG is an ideal place for such hilly and mountainous terrain. Using larger scale water pumps as off the shelf turbines is a very efficient and economical use for a turbine. You just have to reverse engineer the pump curve to pick the right pump for maximum efficiency, and run the water though the pump backwards. For example, a small 8″ x 10″ pump will deliver net 200 Kw on about 200 foot of head and 17-18 CFS. Or in metric, 62 M x .5 m3/s x (6.9) efficiency = 213.9 Kw. That is barely a small creek in a mountainous rain forest that PNG has in spades. Plus 200 Kw is a small chunk of electricity that would electrify a small village. That would be a lot of solar panels (or diesel) to produce that same amount of electricity 24/7.

      If you don’t have to pay a small fortune for labor, or spend a ridiculous amount on red tape for environmental permitting, property taxes or water licence issues, this type of very efficient small hydro can be built for under $1000/Kw. And that is for 24/7 output as long as you have enough flowing water, which can be captured with a very small weir and using HDPE for penstock. Most villages and small towns in these mountains of PNG are already on some type of flowing water source and can supply gravity feed pressurized running water as well if incorporated into the overall engineered design.

      • Hydro sounds ideal for PNG, but what about maintenance? It is an issue where technological skills are limited to hammer and nail technology.

        It’s not an insurmountable problem, but it would require planning for the assigning of reliable, trained people responsible for keeping the small hydro plants running, and of course a supply of quickly dispatchable spares.

        It’s not enough to drop and plop hydro in place without assuring each village has an electrician and a maintenance person to keep it all going.

        Just my opinion, but installing hydro all over PNG would be relatively easy. Keeping it operable will be difficult.

      • Ohhhh mamma … you are calling for the wanton destruction of the virgin forests, wild waterways, and a bevy of environmental offenses. You are inviting topsoil erosion and siltation. Your ruse of calling these “small scale” power generators is disingenuous … you KNOW they cause widespread disruption of the noble, peaceful social fabric of these wonderful native peoples in their natural state.

        /sarc. mocking the ACUAL thoughts and beliefs of comfortable, worry-free, eco-zealots, is really quite easy. I know these people well … they’re my SF Bay Area neighbors who are busy turning my Golden State into a 3rd world shithole. Eco-policies, and open borders have created large energy-free homeless encampments that rival the total number of PNG dirt poor natives. PNG “culture” is alive and well … under every freeway overpass in the State of CA. Congrats leftists! We see the outcome of your policies every day.

        • I’ve enjoyed watching lectures by Victor Hanson about how many (Mexican) immigrants flock to Walmarts during a heat wave and essentially spend the day in there because air conditioning is out of their reach at home. The Sierra Club just doesn’t give a flying toss about them.

    • thats what I was going to write, theyd have a damned hard time finding a stable area to build . but they have abundant rain and hydro abilities. theyd be better off using those and mining coal to sell to raise funds for healthcare schools and fixing roads as a start. if the got ahead on their own it would save Aus billions in handouts for all the above, and they’d have working populace as a bonus not the handout mentality.

  4. If environmental and climate alarmist activists were to attempt to (and succeed in) persuading the PNG govt to not access its domestic energy resources and not build traditional power plants for its people, their hypocrisy is exposed for the whole world to see.

    Staking a claim to some kind of moral superiority on one hand while keeping the people of PNG and other countries mired in poverty on the other demonstrates a priority list that is arranged in the wrong order. I suggest eco- and climate activists put themselves in the shoes of the poor in PNG and elsewhere. To me, it seems fairly obvious that poor people of the Third World will care little or nothing about the climate and environment until their basic human needs are met and they enjoy a decent standard of living.

    That eco- and climate activists do not seem to understand this gets downright infuriating.

  5. Mr. Oliver

    Thank you for this well-written and concise piece. I really wish you could have published it when you were an MP and a minister of the crown. I think you might have found a lot more support out there in the general population than you might have expected.

    But, as they say, better late than never.

  6. I pray the Pope could hear this. But he can’t, poor fella. His loss, and ours, and so many others.
    ============================

  7. Interestingly, I’ve been to Port Moresby. Not too far out of town you travel from 3rd world to bone-in-the-nose-grass skirts … pulled right from the pages of National Geographic.
    Electricity would be nice. Literacy probably comes first.
    It doesn’t help too much to place modern electrical equipment into the hands of people unable to operate and maintain it.

    • Agree. PNG became ‘Independent’ of Australia in 1976 and was hopelessly ill-prepared for it in just about event way. But divesting lingering colonial-era vestiges was the done thing in the 1970s. If PNG Independence had not occurred back then New Guinea would have continued to develop alongside Australia, as would have many Pacific Islands. But since 1976 it’s all been up to them to do it and they did as well as could be expected, given their abiding lack of readiness to become an Independent state. If they were using their head they would have realized that remaining part of Australia until say the year 2000, would have produced a much better developed and more able Independent PNG. They really blew a golden opportunity to get much further ahead, before becoming independent. As it is now PNG is still more or less a dependent on foreign aid, and this makes them vulnerable to Chinese loan-sharks and to losing their token Independence and Sovereign capacities.

  8. It should not consider global climate consequences ….. because there are none. The ‘climate crisis’ exists only in faulty climate simulations with no relation to the real world.

  9. PNG can’t afford to build a grid to deliver that electricity from fossil fuel plants… it could easily deliver electricity from solar power plus batteries to rural, poor locations at a fraction of the cost of a coal plant plus (the won’t be built anyway) grid connections…

    This is already a reality in Kenya and many parts of India.

    some other examples here:
    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/03/28/connecting-the-unconnected-reflections-on-using-subsidies-for-rural-electrification/

    (though I’m not sold on main thrust of the article)

    • Griff:

      https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/oceania/papuanewguinea/pgland.htm

      “…Much of the country is mountainous and covered in tropical rainforests, as the New Guinea Highlands, a chain of mountains and river valleys, runs the length of the New Guinea island….”

      Sorry Griff, but I somehow think that a largely mountainous country with a lot of rain forests will not lend itself well to vast stretches of solar farms–with or without batteries. Seems to me that flat lands
      would work a lot better. Hydroelectric plants (if PNG gets plenty of rain annually with their tropical climate) would seem much more suitable.

      Griff, you might want to consider saving yourself a lot of embarrassment by doing some homework (and some thinking once in a while) before you post thoughtless comments like the one above. With each thoughtless comment you post, you just make yourself look more and more foolish.

      Excuse me for asking Griff, but have you ever taken an I.Q. test?

    • I’ve been to both Kenya and PNG. Whilst in Kenya I had some conversations with individuals in some ‘small localities’ you mention that would benefit from small scale “off grid” electrical production. The primary need for this small village was keeping the water pump, which filled their water tank, operational. As there was no infrastructure connecting this village I suggested small scale solar with batteries to save money on petrol which was also expensive to transport there.
      It quickly became apparent that even if a fully functional system were to fall from the sky it would quickly fall into disrepair as NONE of the most educated individuals in the village could operate and maintain such a system.
      Those I met in PNG were even less educated.

      • We’ve been bringing students from PNG and Pacific Islands to Australia for decades to learn how to make their society and available technology work back home. But as young adults the all want to emigrate to Australia, rather then stay in a village, where there’s nothing coming soon, unless you bring it yourself, and hope no one steals it, or just smashes it out of unadulterated violent jealousy alone.

    • And of course the advent of Solar with Batteries will also allow for their children to go to work in Cobalt and Lithium mines to supply the materials necessary.

  10. UN should dismantle Ipcc and send the money to PNG to get the cleanest coal power plant in the Word.

  11. What are climate alarmist activists? You have all you need to meet and exceed any GHG emissions without touching the power plant The US as one uses MASSIVE energy and natural resource waste responding to symptoms.

    Urban Heat Islands are urban heat generators first. Canada’s PM Trudeau and Harper before him didn’t share it with the UN. 100s of billions in immediate economy knocking the waste off the grid easily. Here are 2 time-lapsed IR videos. https://youtu.be/EA3py3us5VM

    When is this forum and these professionals going to talk about microwaving the atmosphere from space down and smart meters up. Basic physics is the high speed microwave EMFs will cause excitation and generate heat that changes climate.

    Here is global warming in the winter without any emissions being produced, just the heat emissions from the building. http://thermoguy.com/20110203-global-warming-in-winter/

  12. PNG must proceed with development of the resources they have immediately available: Low cost hydro and coal fired electrical generation and distribution. It works reliably, everywhere it has been implemented on this planet. Anything else would be ‘waste, fraud, and abuse’ at the hands of the climate change grifters.

  13. Stumping poor people is the Left’s (green and otherwise) specialty. If I lived in PNG I would tell them to F off. If the politicians of PNG don’t do that they are part of the problem. Coal is only a problem if you don’t scrub the particulates and sulfur. As to running lines its very possible. Not always cheap but technically possible.

    The time for politeness has passed. The time for real conversations about and with the opposition has arrived. The GND in the USA and the coming national political campaign have opened the door to their political destruction for a generation. We must now steel ourselves to burst through it.

    • Running large transmission lines and distribution lines require clearing a path 20 – 100′ wide to maintain space between the trees and energized wires and would be needed to build any stable grid no matter the generating source.
      Placing Wind Turbines requires clearing paths and building roads to allow for construction and maintenance of the monstrosities and to allow for no Tree caused wind shadowing, in addition to the transmission lines and distribution line clearing.
      Placing Solar Farms also requires clearing not just acres but square miles of trees in addition to the clearing necessary for the transmission and distribution of electricity.
      Fossil Fuel plants (gas or coal) require little acreage clearing for generating plant placement in addition to the needed transmission and distribution line clearings.
      Even small scale solar installations to power small villages will require large scale ground clearing to eliminate tree shadowing along their southern extremities

      • Power density is one of the insoluble problems of so-called ‘renewable’ energy sources like wind and solar. The other is intermittency; energy storage won’t solve that one because of losses when storing.
        =========================

      • Distributing electricity is one thing – important, yes. But your electric transmission line doesn’t do a blasted thing for distributing food, medical care, clothing, building materials, the other necessities for a reasonably decent life.

        The nice thing about building transmission lines, though, is that you have to build the road first.

        • In a way, distributing energy does allow for better distribution of necessities (food, clothing, medical care, etc.) as it allows for their production closer to the source of need

      • ” . . . tree shadowing along their southern extremities . . .”

        Port Moresby is about 9.5°S. Lat., with most of PNG north of that.

        Clouds might be more of an issue than trees.

      • solar prob wouldnt cope with torntial rains hail and rooftops not on when the abode is a hut that wont take the weight or fittings;-)
        they get some hairy winds and storms so birdshredders are out as well

  14. I’m afraid there is the typical “western” blind spot glaringly on display. (Correct me if necessary).
    China-Papua New Guinea ties to rapidly grow: ambassador From 2018-11-14 .
    PNG is the first Pacific Island country to join the BRI – Belt and Road Initiative, known also as the New Silk Road.

    China knows how to deal with poverty with 700 million people saved in 10 years.

    With characters like Steve Bannon trying to stop the BRI, playing the old British game it is very interesting that Italy simply ignores that “game” and even Macron has also signed onto the BRI.
    So PNG is on that road – great news.

    • When the “capitalist” won’t teach you how to fish, there’s not much option but to sell yourself into slavery hoping the masters will keep giving you a fish. I don’t applaud PNG, I pity them.

    • Yea, yea, we know. China is only interested in saving humanity from itself, while the US is only interested in keeping people in the dark.
      Oh yea, according to you the US invasion of Venezuela should have started by now.

      • Even Brazil’s Bolsonaro had to decline any form of military action against Venezuela, much to Bolton’s chagrin, no doubt. Pompeo is yelling at Russia to keep out of the hemisphere, and China too. A Ukraine replay anyone?

  15. Do you think PNG matters. I wouldn’t make that case. BRI is what it is. A modern day version of the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere fiasco. Sure, The West is often myopic but thus far has proven far from blind. After all my friend. It takes serious skill to stay on top of the ball for hundreds of years. And we ain’t getting off any time soon.

    • Some 350K American casualties alone to deal with that “fiasco,” tens of millions among all parties. How many to deal with this one, if we had the will to do so?

    • yeah so explain that to our permier in Vic who alone in all Aus signed OUR state into that!
      labor..blithering fool hes all over agw soalr farms n birdshredders as well
      daniel andrews- may he rot!!

  16. People die for all sorts of reasons Writing Observer. Fighting off the dark for a generation or two is worth the cost. I put my oblivion to that test. I encouraged my children to do the same. They did.

  17. I spent 18 years of my life in PNG as a Police Officer. It was one of the last Colonial outposts.

    The villages I visited, all over the country, from Stone age, bones in the nose and grass skirts, were clean and the houses of local material were well built and comfortable.

    They lived a simple life with the women doing most of the work, in the gardens plus of course bringing up the numerous children. Men did the heavy stuff such as clearing the forest for new gardens while the old ones were left to recover.

    But the men still considered themselves to be “Warriors” although their idea of fighting was to usually to yell at each other from a safe distance, injury was rare.

    Such “Wars” war advertised, and many became tourist events. I recall one American lady ending up with a arrow in the leg, but that was rare.

    If thee village had a income from selling food to a nearby town, then they could afford basics such as soap and kerosene for lamps. Otherwise it was dark at night.

    Whilst we Colonials ran things they had Law and Order, and the basics of a health system. Those on the coast had the better time as by fishing and trading, via small sailing craft they did quite well.

    The big problem was religion, to get over competition if where you were born was say Catholic, then you were a Catholic, same goes for the other variations of faith. For example the Island of Dare, Western District, was run by the London Missionary Society, and unusual in PNG all of the natives spoke English.

    But of course the “Good Book” says “Be fruitful and multiply” so they did.

    In the Highlands we the Police, white officers only , were invited and were asked to settle Land Disputes between tribes. We the whites were considered to be Neutral. No way would they accept a native officer, as he was not of either tribe. Its a 100 % tribal society with 600 “Languages” with Place talk, with possibly only a hundred words.

    PNG was one of the very few places in the world where the people did not want Independence, they wanted us to stay and run things. Sadly since we have left its broken down and a state of war exists between many of he different language groups. They have a bridging language, Pidgin English, which they, not us, created. English is the official language.

    Regarding Hydro, yes its the answer, with proper development they could be one hundred per cent Hydro., but as mentioned education is the big problem.

    Just as here in Australia when dealing with those Abridges who choose to livein the bush, but expect the government to supply the essentials of life, no educated Aboriginal wants to live in what is still almost a stone adage culture where alcohol is a major problem.

    So as always first Education, then condoms as population is the major problem in third world countries.

    MJE VK5ELL

    • PNG is ideal for hydro in terms of geography and rainfall, but not so given the region is prone to quakes.

  18. Do some people have to insist on showing their poor education at every possible occasion? Megawatts are ALWAYS shown as “MW”, not “mw” as in the article. Metric system has rules how the symbols of units are written, so if your school did not teach you the correct ways, check it out on Internet. Sure you can use Google.

  19. It’s racism. It’s all racism. Environmentalism is the last socially acceptable form of racism.

  20. Yes earthquakes can be a problem, but not all that much, Rabaul for example had one major eruption a few years ago, but it was a long time since the previous one. They had a safety valve, a small crater Matapi simmering away. .

    As in say Los Angelus , good engineering can fix that. Alternately the use of village style small hydro projects could work. The small town of Mendi in the Southern Highlands is a good example.
    But it will need Western money and engineers, or Chinese to do all of these things.

    MJE VK5ELL

  21. Namatanai was a small village on the west coast of New Ireland, a very undeveloped part of PNG. In the 70s some of the west coast of new Ireland was still shown in dotted lines on the marine charts.

    Then in the early 70s their local member became a minister in the PNG government. Namatanai then got a power house. It was still just a collection of thatched huts, & a couple of trade stores, but it had power. It was rather amusing to see power poles & wires in a local village, connected to village huts.

    I never heard of any locals getting electrocuted, despite most villagers having almost no education.

    Today it is the second largest town on New Ireland, with considerable development, & is joined to Kavieng the capital by over 200 kilometres of highway, where only tracks existed.

    Kimbe was a small village on the coast of New Britain. A company started a small palm oil industry, building an oil extraction plant, with attendant power house. Today that industry & the power it brought stretches for a hundred kilometres in all direction, & hundreds of kilometres of roads provide transport where no roads existed before.

    Again the people have had no problem adapting to having electricity, they just need it to be developed.

  22. Yes, just as long a there is a man to fix things when they need to be fixed, and yes he will need to be paid, which is a problem in PNG.

    MJE VK5ELL

  23. Re. the town of Namatani in New Island and the “Track ” to Kavieng.
    That is odd as in the 1960 tees I used to drive a police car to there with no
    trouble at all. It was a perfectly good road.

    The German administration prior to 1914 made sure that the villagers kept
    the road which they built in good condition.

    Perhaps following the 1975 Independence day it was allowed to revert to a
    track.

    One of the odd things about this small town was their use of “Meis” shell
    money.

    MJE VK5ELL

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