Sunday, October 27, 2019

Green Climate Fund short-changed by rich, polluting countries - Oxfam

The Green Climate Fund is not serious politics, thankfully

Rich, polluting countries such as Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States are short-changing poor countries of billions of dollars that they need to cut emissions and adapt to the climate crisis, Oxfam said today.

The two-day pledging conference to the Green Climate Fund begins in Paris today (Thursday).

To date, developed countries have pledged $7.5 billion to the Fund to cover the next four-year spending period. This is just half of the $15 billion that Oxfam believes should be the target for the replenishment process in order to meet the growing needs of developing countries, with more than 300 potential project proposals in the fund’s pipeline. 

Australia has indicated that it will join the United States and refuse to provide new funds in this round.

Canada, Austria and the Netherlands have contributed a third of what Oxfam calculates would be their fair share.

Countries such as Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Portugal and New Zealand have yet to announce their contribution.
By comparison, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Norway and Sweden have doubled their contributions since the first funding round in 2014-15.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change expert, Dr Simon Bradshaw, said it was shameful that Australia has joined the United States as one of only two countries walking away from the Green Climate Fund and turning its back on the world's poorest people – who will be hit first and worst by the climate crisis.

“We are dismayed that at a time when vulnerable communities – in particular our neighbours throughout the Pacific – are facing ever more grave threats to their livelihoods, security and wellbeing, that Australia would stop funding one of their most critical lifelines,” Dr Bradshaw said.

“The Green Climate Fund is both a vital source of support to those on the frontlines of the climate crisis and key to enabling developing countries to build the zero-carbon economies of the future.

“For Australia, walking away from the Green Climate Fund is particularly bizarre and self-defeating. Our Government played an active and positive role during the early years of the Fund, in particular working to ensure that it would better serve the unique challenges faced by Pacific island countries.

“While recognising the Government will continue to provide some assistance to countries directly through bilateral aid, the multilateral Green Climate Fund remains a key pillar of the support available to developing nations responding to the climate crisis. It’s at the heart of international cooperation under the Paris Agreement.

“Walking away will further undermine our waning international credibility and puts the Government squarely at odds with the millions of people across Australia and our region demanding we do more to respond to the climate crisis.”

The Green Climate Fund was established in 2010 and is the main multilateral channel through which rich countries can support poor countries to tackle the climate crisis. Over the past four years, more than 110 projects in developing countries have been allocated financial support from the fund for projects such as the expansion of solar power in Nigeria and Mali, the restoration of forests in Honduras, and the creation of more resilient agriculture systems in Bhutan and Belize.

Armelle Le Comte, Climate and Energy Advocacy Manager for Oxfam France, who is at the pledging conference, said, “The Green Climate Fund is a lifeline for poor countries that need help to cut emissions and adapt to an increasingly erratic and extreme climate. Global investments in oil, gas and coal supply and power generation topped US$933 billion in 2018 – we are spending 100 times more on fossil fuels than governments appear to be willing to put into the world’s flagship climate fund,” Ms Le Comte said.

Press release: Contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or

Breathe Free: Capitalism Helps Protect the Environment

A recent Rasmussen poll found 20% of voters feel we should eliminate capitalism to protect the environment. That’s like saying we should eliminate teachers to improve education.

Truth be told, capitalism has helped cleanse our planet—improving living standards while protecting the environment. Rather than eliminate capitalism, policymakers need to unleash it.

Markets incentivize efficiency by rewarding people for coming up with ways to do more or do better with less. People choose—and businesses make—more efficient products because it saves them money while delivering what customers want.

Over the past decade, market forces have driven a massive transition within the energy industry. In 2008, coal provided roughly half of the country’s electricity generation. Now, coal’s share is about a quarter. Increased production of natural gas has driven energy bills and emissions downward.

In direct response to cheap gas, the Nuclear Energy Institute organized nuclear power plants nationally to find operating efficiencies that have reduced costs by 19%, saving consumers $1.6 billion and keeping emissions-free electricity in the marketplace.

The energy industry is far from the only sector that has made positive economic and environmental contributions. For instance, the cement industry is collaborating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to explore how to refine its processes in ways that will improve resiliency, reduce emissions, and save lives. Investments in cement, steel, plastic, and other building materials will make our houses and highways sturdier and our products more durable—with a smaller environmental footprint.

All of these activities result directly from free enterprise—companies providing consumers with the goods and services they want while using fewer resources and emitting fewer unwanted emissions.

As a country prospers, its citizens are better able to care for the environment and reduce pollutants emitted from industrial growth. In fact, The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom and Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index show a strong correlation between a country’s environmental performance and economic freedom (i.e., its embrace of capitalism).

The bigger problem, typically, is that Washington can’t keep up. Policy and regulations significantly lag behind the pace of innovation, market trends, and consumer preferences. Thus, government ends up retarding economic and environmental progress.

A significant obstacle to investment in producing or switching to cleaner energy sources is the lack of infrastructure needed to deliver the energy to would-be customers. Natural gas offers a cheaper, cleaner alternative to home heating oil; however, pipeline capacity is lacking in America’s Northeast. Of the 5.7 million American households still relying on oil heat, 85% are in the Northeast, where nimbyism and opposition to any carbon-based fuel run strong.

The obstructionism isn’t limited to conventional fuels, either. Efficiently siting and permitting new transmission lines could expand the consumption of renewable power from, say, Canada, which enjoys a surplus of hydroelectric power. Additional infrastructure would also allow energy-intensive manufacturing processes, like the cement industry, to switch to cleaner, cheaper fuel.

Another sound policy would be to make immediate expensing a permanent fixture of the tax code. This would allow newer equipment to come online faster, improving energy efficiency and the overall economy. The current system of depreciation raises the cost of capital and discourages companies from hiring more workers and increasing wages for existing employees.

Too often, we use phrases like “balancing economic growth and environmental protections.” This suggests that more growth necessarily degrades the environment. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

When America and the rest of the world embrace policies rooted in economic freedom, both prosperity and the environment flourish. In this instance, you really can have your cake and eat it, too.


The presidential debates and China

Climate change, we are relentless told, is the urgent existential threat to the entire planet, even more so than the nuclear arms race we all grew up with. Yet the Democratic candidate who tried to make this the centerpiece of his campaign, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, was one of the first to drop out, having never broken 1% in the polls. Steve Milloy notes a pattern here about the most recent Democratic debate:

CNN and New York Times reporters did not ask any candidate any question about climate change and its offspring, the Green New Deal. It was a surprising omission. In the abstract, climate has polled as a very high priority among Democrat voters, so much so that in September, CNN televised a seven-and-one-half hour town hall meeting on climate for the candidates.

This week, both Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer briefly protested the lack of attention to climate, but to no avail. A few other candidates mentioned the term “climate” in passing (Andrew Yang, Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar), but the CNN and New York Times reporters did not take the bait. . .

The omission of climate did draw the attention of New York Times climate reporter Lisa Friedman. Noting a TV ad run during the debate by the climate skeptic Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that criticized the Green New Deal, Friedman tweeted, “That CEI ad against the Green New Deal is officially the longest discussion of climate change during the 4th #DemDebate.”

China now burns more coal than the rest of the world combined:

With China threatening to end life as we know it on planet earth, just what do climate-conscious Democrats propose? When are we going to attack China’s coal plants?

China feeds coal addiction with 17 new mines this year

China is expanding its coal power infrastructure despite pledges to curb carbon emissions. Analysis reveals that the amount allocated to large infrastructure projects by Beijing has doubled this year, with airports and high-speed rail lines among 21 schemes allocated a total of £83.9 billion. Included in the new allocations is funding for 17 new coal mines across China, despite Beijing’s pledges to reduce reliance on the power source.

China’s pledges to reduce emissions appear to be about as credible as their pledges to abide by trade rules.


Coal is still best for poor nations

Many western donors love the idea that instead of dirty, coal-fired power-plants, poor nations should ‘leapfrog’ straight to cleaner energy sources such as off-grid solar technology.

The World Bank is at the forefront of these efforts, no longer funding coal energy projects.

Off-grid solar projects begin with grand intentions, but too often end with recipients barely better off. We can see this in the small Pacific island nation of Fiji, where the government — advocates of strong global climate policy — teamed up with a Japanese technology company to deliver off-grid solar power.

In the village of Naceva, individual household solar energy systems were provided. But only 15 households out of 42 took part, because the installation fee (about $US50) was far too high for the locals to afford. In Fiji, nearly half of the population lives on less than $5.50 a day.

In Rukua, a centralised solar unit was provided. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama proudly declared he had “no doubt that a number of development opportunities will be unlocked” by the provision of “a reliable source of energy”.

Coal fired power: the harsh reality is that it still represents the best choice for the developing world. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
Coal fired power: the harsh reality is that it still represents the best choice for the developing world. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
Understandably, all of Rukua was thrilled to get energy access and wanted to take full advantage. So more than 30 households purchased fridges.

Unfortunately, the off-grid solar energy system was incapable of powering more than three fridges at a time, so every night the power would be completely drained.

That led to six households buying diesel generators. According to researchers who studied this project, “Rukua is now using about three times the amount of fossil fuel for electricity that was used prior to installation of the renewable energy system.”

In rather understated language, the researchers conclude that the project did not “meet the resilience building needs” of either village.

This experience isn’t unique. When Greenpeace created the first 100 per cent-solar powered community in Dharnai, India, it provided locals with expensive power that drained the system’s batteries within hours. Dharnai residents protested at being given “fake electricity”, and demanded successfully that the government supply it with “real electricity” from the coal-powered electricity grid.

Globally, the International Energy Agency expects that 195 million people with off-grid solar will get a meagre 170kWh per year — that’s half of what one US flat-screen TV uses in a year.

The first rigorous test published on the impact of solar panels on the lives of poor people found they got a little bit more electricity, but otherwise there was no measurable impact on their lives: they did not increase savings or spending, did not work more or start more businesses, and their children did not study more.

Off-grid solar panels can power a single light or a cell phone. In some situations, especially where fossil fuel solutions can’t reach, that can play an important but limited role. The benefits of solar are higher than zero. But in Rwanda, researchers recently found that the household’s benefits of solar energy (their so-called “willingness to pay”) were much less — between 30 and 41 per cent — of their cost. Developing country households will of course accept solar panels if handed out for free, but they are doing less good than their cost.

Moreover, solar panels are mostly useless for tackling the main power challenges of the world’s poor. Three billion people continue to suffer from the dangerous effects of indoor air pollution, burning dirty fuels like wood and dung to cook and keep warm. Solar panels don’t solve that problem because they are too weak to power clean stoves and heaters. Nor can off-grid solar panels power machinery for agriculture or factories that create jobs and pathways out of poverty.

Fiji is famous for its bounteous sunshine, but even so, solar power experiments have had poor outcomes for the Pacific nation.
Fiji is famous for its bounteous sunshine, but even so, solar power experiments have had poor outcomes for the Pacific nation.
Indeed, a study in Tanzania found almost 90 per cent of households with off-grid electricity wanted — like the citizens of Dharnai — to be hooked up to the national grid, typically powered by fossil fuels. Prime Minister Bainimarama’s faith that off-grid energy could unlock development opportunities was always misplaced.

Many Westerners would love to believe that solar outcompetes fossil fuels, but typical case studies highlighted by boosters only look at the costs when the sun is shining, ignoring what to do at night when citizens in Fiji and Dharnai ran out of power. The International Energy Agency finds that when correcting for intermittency, existing coal power remains cheaper than new solar everywhere at least until 2040.

Moreover, there is a strong, direct connection between more power and less poverty. A study in Bangladesh showed that grid electrification has significant positive impacts on household income, expenditure, and education. Electrified households experienced a 21 per cent average jump in income and a 1.5 per cent reduction in poverty each year.

If we want to solve global warming, we should invest much more in research and development to innovate down the real cost of renewables below fossil fuels. That way everyone will eventually switch. But telling the world’s poor to live with unreliable, expensive, weak power is an insult.


Carbon fears put heat on festivals

I must say that I see no loss for Australia in a pack of gullible Leftists deciding not to visit us

International artists and writers are snubbing Australia as a journey too far, turning down expenses-paid invitations from leading festivals and events because of their desire to reduce carbon emissions.

While artists in Europe and North America can opt for rail over air travel to minimise their carbon footprint, the prospect of long, fossil fuel-burning flights to Australia means some are simply refining to come. The Swedish buzzword newly circulating among Australian arts groups is flygskam, or "flight shame" — a taboo on polluting the atmosphere with jet travel.

Adelaide Writers Week director Jo Dyer said three authors recently had turned down invitations, including Pulitzer Prize-winning Eliza Griswold, who declined on environmental grounds.
British natural history writer Robert Macfarlane reportedly will not fly to Australia because of his carbon footprint, and another writer had accepted an invitation to Adelaide but then had a "crisis of conscience".

While there may be other reasons why authors decide not to travel, Dyer said, "a number of authors this year are saying that they do not want to expand their carbon footprints".

Jonathan Holloway, a former director of the Melbourne and Perth festivals, could not name specific instances of artists refusing to travel but said: "I am sure it has been a factor for some people." "I think there has been a sea change about travel ... and people are considering the environmental impacts of what they do," he said.

The Adelaide Festival's co-artistic director, Rachel Healy, mentioned renowned Canadian,. choreographer Crystal Pite as an artist who was sensitive about reducing her carbon footprint. Pite's agent, Jim Smith, said Pite continued to use air travel but her company, Kidd Pivot, considered the financial and carbon impacts of its touring activity.

"The company is trying to raise awareness that there is a need to work collaboratively in terms of touring a production, to ensure that carbon footprint of the tour is being considered," Smith said.

Dyer, formerly chief executive of the Sydney Writers Festival, said concern about reducing carbon emissions had emerged as a potential new barrier to Australia's cultural dialogue with the world.

From "The Weekend Australian" of 26/10/2019


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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"That’s like saying we should eliminate teachers to improve education."

Actually, considering the dismal products of our colleges of education, eliminating teachers - or at least teacher 'certification' - might well constitute an improvement. So would telling the Teachers' Unions to take up some less socially damaging business, such as highway robbery or smuggling heroin.