Three old mistakes revived!

In three recent posts, Craig Kelly MP has repeated comments he has made previously about climate change and renewable energy. All three contain obvious mistakes and inaccuracies, and I have reported on all three previously. Here is a quick outline of all three.

In brief …..

Mr Kelly has made the following mistakes:

  • He uses wrong data and ignores information that would alter his conclusions on European energy.
  • He ignores that Australia’s record on coal generation per capita is worse than China’s.
  • He ignores data and facts on climate-related deaths that show his conclusion is incorrect.

Fact checking continues to show that Mr Kelly’s posts are almost always inaccurate and/or misleading, and not to be trusted.

The claims

March 28: Europe and renewables

He says only 15% of Europe’s total energy supply comes from ‘renewables’, the vast majority of this being biomass (wood). Wind and Solar provided just 2% and 1% of Europe’s energy in 2019. “We’ve had people in Australia fooled into believing the delusion that in a few short years we can run our entire economy on Chinese solar panels and wind turbines. The world is laughing at us.”

March 28: China and coal

He says China is laughing at us because it generates far more coal-fired power than Australia does.

March 28: Climate related deaths

He says: “We are 99% safer from climatic events than a century ago.”


Europe and renewables

Renewables can refer to electricity generation (“power”), or all energy use (which includes transport, heating and other non-electrical energy). Europe does use wood burning for electricity and heating but ….

The figures quoted by Mr Kelly appear to be in error.

It appears that wood burning supplies less than 10% of Europe’s electrical power (about 5% according to Ember) and 37% of total energy. Wind and solar provide 20% of electricity and about 12% of total energy. These figures are considerably better than Australia’s.

I have checked about half a dozen sources and Mr Kelly’s figures seem to be quite wrong. (2% and 1% for wind and solar are simply not correct.)

Wood burning isn’t as bad as you’d think

Wood burning releases large amounts of carbon, more even than coal. But the wood burnt is generally a by-product from managed forests, and when the new growth of trees and the absorption of carbon is considered, the whole operation is close to carbon neutral. This was a surprise to me.

However there are still problems with wood burning, and many believe Europe should be more aggressively moving away from wood burning as a major energy source.

The world isn’t laughing at us

The world is concerned that we are not pulling our weight, and there is talk of trade penalties from Europe and increased pressure from the US.

China and coal

Of course China uses more coal than Australia – it has more than 50 times the population! The important figure is energy generation per capita.

Using Mr Kelly’s own figures, China’s per capita coal generation capacity is about 25% less than Australia’s and its renewable generation is significantly larger percentage than Australia’s. Australia has the 3rd highest per capita carbon emissions in the world whereas China is only 13th.

Like most countries in the world, China needs to improve its rate of conversion to renewable energy, but Australia’s record is worse.

Climate related disasters

I have looked at the graph Mt Kelly shows before, and it is misleading because he ignores data in the database. Here are the two graphs, with the second showing the data before 1920 that Mr Kelly ignored.

Mr Kelly’s graph, 1920-2000.
Climate related deaths graph
The full dataset, 1900-2000.

As I discuss in this post, the extra data before 1920 changes the whole picture. The number of climate-related deaths is biased by a few massive natural disasters, several of which occurred in the period 1928-1965, and were not strongly related to climate.

The world is undoubtedly safer from climate disasters than in the past, but this is primarily because of improved flood and storm warning, greater preparedness, better infrastructure and quicker responses to disasters.

The climate is making some events worse (e.g. the 2019/20 bushfires in eastern Australia), but improved warnings, preparedness and fire-fighting kept the number of deaths lower than in previous fires that weren’t as severe.


Mr Kelly continues to promote wrong data, cherry-picked data and biased conclusions that misrepresent the facts. It is probably because there are very few genuine facts and truthful conclusions that support the views he holds about climate.

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Graphic: Pinocchio in Wikimedia Commons. Pinocchio is a fictional character in a nineteenth century novel whose nose grew when he said something that wasn’t true. Any apparent resemblance between Pinocchio and any living person will depend on your assessment of whether repeated inaccurate statements constitute untruths.

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