Disclosure for thee but not for me?


This op-ed in the Globe and Mail depends in large part on the uncritical acceptance of the conclusions of a Fraser Institute report. So it might have been nice if the Globe had disclosed that the column's author, Gwyn Morgan, is both a serious financial donor to the Fraser Institute and a member of its board of directors. Perhaps if we spread a rumour that Morgan is secretly a political blogger, the paper's editors would take more interest in these things.

Let's take a quick look at one small part of Morgan's column:

Germany has given away $130-billion, mostly to solar-power companies. Yet solar power makes up a minuscule 0.3 per cent of German power supply, while doing almost nothing toward the original objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In February, Germany's Minister of Economics and Technology, Philipp Roesler, announced a pullback from green-power subsidies saying the cost was "a threat to the economy."

It's true that Germany is making serious reductions to their feed-in tariff rates but Morgan makes it sound as though it's because the original policy was a failure. There seems to be another side to the story.

The government has explained its decision as a way of slowing the rapid growth in the sector, saying it was one of Germany's success stories, but had been allowed to grow too fast and had been too heavily subsidised.

Where Morgan claims that solar supplies only 0.3% of electricity in Germany, there may be another side to that story too.

The sun provides from 3.2% to - on sunny days at midday- up to 25% of Germany's energy.

As for Germany's GHG emissions, something has certainly reduced them.

Germany's emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) were 2.1 percent down year-on-year in 2011 at 916.7 million tonnes, as the impact of more renewable energy kicked in and mild weather cut heating fuels use, data from government agency Umweltbundesamt (UBA) showed on Thursday.

The emissions of six gases - widely blamed for global warming - were down by 26.5 percent from the reference year 1990, exceeding a target for Germany to lower emissions by 21 percent under the Kyoto climate protocol in that period.

I can't be sure whether I should be taking the facts and figures from the Guardian and Reuters at face value. More research would be in order before reaching a definitive conclusion. But I'm pretty sure I can't take Gwyn Morgan and the Globe and Mail at face value since Morgan's quoting a report he helped pay for without ever disclosing that fact.

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Dave Roberts at Grist blogs about various energy topics, including solar power in Germany:

A year old article:


And he recently linked to a report from this website, which says:

"The proportion of solar energy contributing to the German power supply is still low but is continuously rising. Around 2.3 million photovoltaic and solar thermal systems are currently installed in Germany. In 2011, photovoltaic systems produced 19.0 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, and thereby covered 3.1 percent of total electricity consumption. Solar thermal systems produced 5.6 billion kilowatt hours, a share of 0.4 percent of the total German heat requirements..."


Roberts' article, about US solar development:

"...2. If 100 million people had residential rooftop solar, they’d still only be producing roughly 2 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S. But electricity generation isn’t the only story here. That’s almost a third of the U.S. population!

That means a whole lot of voters — voters in Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada — with direct experience being energy producers as well as consumers. They will come to understand the value of local, distributed energy in a tangible way and serve as a political force for its expansion. That’s what has happened in Germany. Smart energy policy doesn’t just create energy; it creates a constituency..."


This reminds me of something interesting I read on the Vancouver Observer the other day, about the amount of money the Fraser Institute gets in foreign donations.

The Harper government is talking about reviewing the charitable status of organizations that are involved in political activism. I wonder if that means the Fraser Institute is going to get its books looked at? After all, "Tax Freedom Day" seems pretty political to me, as does its advocating free trade deals or a bigger role for the private sector in health care.

Or is the review only going to be done to charities that say things the government doesn't like?

And if so, I wonder if the Conservatives realize what a dangerous precedent that's setting. If the Liberals ever get back into office, or the NDP take power, what's going to stop them from using all these discretionary powers and reviews to cause problems for their ideological opponents?

Or is the review only going to be done to charities that say things the government doesn't like?

Is that a rhetorical question?

I wonder if the Conservatives realize what a dangerous precedent that's setting.

That would require both thinking in the long term and acknowledging that all this propaganda about Canada becoming more conservative is really just propaganda.

Is that a rhetorical question?

Sadly, yes.

That would require both thinking in the long term and acknowledging that all this propaganda about Canada becoming more conservative is really just propaganda.

Even Alberta is closer to the centre than most people want to admit. No less than Danielle Smith alluded that the Wildrose will have to review some of its policies (notably ones related to the "firewall" letter penned by our former Prime Minister and the Wildrose campaign manager, among others, over ten years ago) which most of us out here decided we didn't like.

While the Wildrose did gain a number of seats, I'd bet dollars to donuts that most of that support came from Albertans who were pissed off at issues like the bills regarding land expropriation to build new powerlines (something that really, really angered a lot of rural landowners in this province) and the size of the deficit, rather than anything against gay marriage or massive support for firewall policies.

Yes, the land issue is important to some, but there is also a general feeling that the Conservatives have been in power much too long. It's just that enough people realized Wildrose would not be an improvement, and that they are actually kind of scary.


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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on April 30, 2012 9:12 AM.

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