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Sri Lanka: A Warning for the West // China's Solar Industry Falters // Major LNG Producer Asks White House to Drop Pollution Rule

Sri Lanka: A Warning for the West

Sri Lanka boasted one of the highest ESG scores in the world--98. For comparison, America scores a meager 51. It was seen as a pioneer in leap-frogging the industry and fossil fuel-heavy path of development. In 2016, the American economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote, "Given its education levels, Sri Lanka may be able to move directly into more technologically advanced sectors, high‐productivity organic farming, and higher‐end tourism." And that's exactly what the country attempted. Now, the country has fallen apart--it's officially bankrupt, its government has scattered, and it has plunged into total social chaos. 

Having fallen under the spell of Indian anti-pesticides activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, President Rajapaska banned chemical fertilizers last year. 

Shiva is something of an intellectual superstar--and like most intellectual superstars, a fraud with financial ties to Western NGOs. In this case, Shiva has a close relationship with Peter Buffett's Novo Foundation, which has colonized the small town of Kingston, NY, and bankrolls various degrowth intellectuals like Martin Kirk and Jason Hickel. In fact, both Kirk and Shiva are thanked in Hickel's book, Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World

For a closer look at this well-heeled network of anti-growth Malthusians this well-researched video from Fox Green, who lives in Kingston, NY, outlines its major players and their intellectual origins:

So, it was Shiva's organization that persuaded the Sri Lankan government to forego chemical fertilizers and pesticides based on the natural fallacy--natural things are good because they're natural. Unnatural things are modern poisons, slowly killing us despite their obvious and measurable benefits. 

So, this transition has predictably, tragically backfired. Michael Shellenberger writes, "Over 90% of Sri Lanka’s farmers had used chemical fertilizers and, after the ban, 85% of experienced crop losses. While there are 2 million farmers in Sri Lanka, 70% of the nation’s 22 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on farming. After the fertilizer ban, rice production fell 20% and prices skyrocketed 50 percent in just six months. Sri Lanka had to import $450 million worth of rice despite having been self-sufficient in the grain just months earlier. The price of carrots and tomatoes rose five-fold. Tea, the nation’s main export, also suffered, thereby undermining the nation’s foreign currency and ability to purchase products from abroad."

In short, the country is in tatters and the wave of human suffering has just barely begun its crest. Sri Lankans face tough years ahead. And what has happened there should wake up those of us in the West--the Sri Lankan tragedy could not have happened without backing from elites and activists in our midst. They will not, as they have not for over half a century, learn from this. They are already pursuing these policies here. 

China's Solar Industry Falters

Key materials for solar panels are hitting decade-highs in China, which is rippling out into the rest of the global solar industry as China makes 40% of the world polysilicon and 80% of solar panels contain Chinese polysilicon. 

"The average price of the most expensive grade of polysilicon reached 268.5 yuan ($40) a kilogram on Wednesday, according to the China Silicon Industry Association," reports Bloomberg. "Last year, it soared threefold to as much as 272.2 yuan, the highest since 2011, as demand outran supply."

The price increases are hurting manufacturing and developers worldwide. “It is tough on developers who have signed power purchase agreements at low prices in 2019, 2020 and early 2021, and are now trying to actually build projects which make little economic sense," said Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst at BloombergNEF. 

More polysilicon capacity is expected to come online in Q4, which many expect to lower prices. 

Major LNG Producer Asks White House to Drop Pollution Rule

Chenier Energy Inc has asked the Biden administration to ease up on their restrictions on cancer-causing pollutants. 

Reuters reports that Chenier is arguing that the regulations "would force the top U.S. exporter of liquefied natural gas to shut for an extended period and endanger the country's efforts to ramp up supplies to Europe."

Denying Chenier's request could for months or even years and severely exacerbate the energy crisis in Europe In March, Biden promised to greatly expand LNG exports to Europe by 2030. But honoring Chenier's request would also rile the green wind of the Democratic Party, which, historically, does not value compromise and reads any deviation from its desires as betrayal. 

"The Houston-based company, which accounts for around 50% of U.S. shipments of the supercooled fuel," reports Reuters, "told the EPA in a series of emails this spring that its two LNG facilities in Louisiana and Texas use a unique turbine design that cannot be easily equipped with pollution controls."

Chenier argues that its facilities were built in adherence to the regulations at the time they were built. But it has also decided to use electric rather than gas power turbines for the planned expansion of its Corpus Christi facility. 

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Conversation Starters

  • This one goes out to Stuart Kirk, who recently resigned from HSBC after giving an internally vetted speech criticizing ESG. The firm responded to the public backlash by disciplining him. You can watch it here. On his LinkedIn profile, Kirk announced that he's working on "the greatest sustainable investment idea ever conceived. A whole new asset class." We wish him the best of luck.

  • The UK's National Grid has announced a 54 billion GBP wind power network upgrade. "Power lines from Anglesey to Swansea, Grimsby to Hertfordshire, and Loch Buidhe to Spittal would be built to pull electricity from the sea to the mainland then to homes and businesses," reports BBC.

  • Texas's electric grid is getting pushed to the brink during pro-longed heatwave.

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