Sunday, August 14, 2022

Europe’s heatwaves, droughts put focus on climate change risks

This is really brain-dead stuff. Have we forgotten that global warming is supposed to be global? And how many halves does the globe's atmosphere have? TWO. So if the Northern hemisphere droughts are caused by global warming, there must be similar droughts in the Southern hemisphere too.

Except that there aren't. I live in Australia in the Southern hemisphere. And Australia is being plagued by record and very damaging FLOODS. So globally, the weather is on average normal. Air and ocean currents move weather about so what seems to be happening is that they have moved Northern precipitation Southward, with no overall change involved

Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are enduring severe droughts this summer.

Italy’s worst drought in decades has reduced Lake Garda, the country’s largest, to near its lowest level ever recorded and warming the water to temperatures that approach the average in the Caribbean Sea.

Northern Italy has not seen significant rainfall for months, and snowfall this year was down 70 percent, drying up vital waterways such as the Po River, which flows across Italy’s agricultural and industrial heartland.

Successive heatwaves have also renewed the focus on climate change risks for Europe.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre warned this week that drought conditions will get worse and potentially affect 47 percent of the continent.

Andrea Toreti, a senior researcher at the European Drought Observatory, said a drought in 2018 was so extreme that there were no similar events in the last 500 years, “but this year, I think, it is really worse”.

For the next three months, “we see still a very high risk of dry conditions over Western and Central Europe, as well as the UK”, Toreti said.

Current conditions result from long periods of dry weather caused by changes in world weather systems, said meteorologist Peter Hoffmann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research near Berlin.

“It’s just that in summer we feel it the most,” he said. “But actually the drought builds up across the year.”

Climate change has lessened temperature differences between regions, sapping the forces that drive the jet stream, which normally brings wet Atlantic weather to Europe, he said.

A weaker or unstable jet stream can bring unusually hot air to Europe from North Africa, leading to prolonged periods of heat. The reverse is also true when a polar vortex of cold air from the Arctic can cause freezing conditions far south of where it would normally reach.

Hoffmann said observations in recent years have all been at the upper end of what existing climate models predicted.,47%20percent%20of%20the%20continent .


Climate warrior Dems silent on Manchin bill's oil and gas leasing provisions

Democrats who have loudly opposed Big Oil and fossil fuel development on public lands were silent Friday when asked about the Inflation Reduction Act's energy provisions.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced in late July, includes a series of provisions requiring the federal government to hold oil and gas lease sales spanning millions of acres on federal lands and waters. The legislation, which is backed by President Biden, was passed along party lines Sunday in the Senate.

"This is a climate suicide pact," Brett Hartl, the government affairs director at environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said after Manchin unveiled the bill. "It’s self-defeating to handcuff renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction."

"The new leasing required in this bill will fan the flames of the climate disasters torching our country, and it’s a slap in the face to the communities fighting to protect themselves from filthy fossil fuels," he continued.

The bill would require the federal government to reinstate Lease Sale 257, an offshore lease sale stretching across 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, and to hold three other offshore lease sales that the Biden administration abruptly canceled in May. The sales include one in the Cook Inlet of Alaska across 1.09 million acres.

Another provision of the bill tethers new renewable energy leases to additional fossil fuel leases. Under the bill, the Interior Department is prohibited from issuing wind or solar permits unless it issued an onshore oil and gas permit during the previous 120-day period and at least two million acres of land was leased for oil and gas development during the previous year.

Several environmental and conservation groups, in addition to the CBD, have also expressed their concern with the bill over the last two weeks. EarthJustice, the Climate Justice Alliance and Friends of the Earth ripped the provisions benefiting oil companies.

"Friends of the Earth stands in solidarity with the climate justice and environmental justice organizations and communities that are expressing deep concern or opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022," Erich Pica, the president of the environmental protection group, said last week. "Their voices must be honored and heard. The process of drafting this legislation was anti-democratic and non-transparent."

Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit last year challenging the Department of the Interior's plans to move forward with Lease Sale 257. In January, a federal court sided with Friends of the Earth and the Biden administration opted against appealing the ruling.

However, prominent Democratic lawmakers who have been critics of the oil industry have chosen to stay silent on the provisions.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks to extend life of state's last operating nuclear power plant

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to extend the life of the state’s last operating nuclear power plant by at least five to 10 years to maintain reliable power supplies in the climate change era.

A draft bill obtained Friday by The Associated Press said the plan would allow the plant to continue operating beyond a scheduled closing by 2025.

The draft proposal also includes a possible loan for operator Pacific Gas & Electric for up to $1.4 billion.

The proposal was confirmed by Newsom spokesman Anthony York. The bill says impacts of climate change are occurring sooner than anticipated and are simultaneously driving up electrical demand while reducing power supplies.

The draft was obtained ahead of a California Energy Commission meeting on the state’s energy needs and the role the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant could play.


Green Energy Credits are Currently a Tax Shelter for Wall Street Banks

Tax credits have been a go-to move for the U.S. government to incentivize renewable energy project developers for years. Yet substantial profits are ending up in the pockets of the corporate banking industry.

As of last year, the renewable tax equity market represents a $20 billion industry for big banks.

The timing is auspicious for financial lenders since President Joe Biden’s retooled Build Back Better Act includes an additional $550 billion in clean energy incentives.

Historically, credits for renewable projects have been used to entice new investors to jump on the green energy bandwagon.

Yet because of the lack of practical use on the front end, many entrepreneurs seek tax equity investment partners in exchange for working capital to get the project rolling.

“Similar situation as the movie industry; you need the banks to fund the projects, so they get the tax breaks,” certified public accountant (CPA) Paul Miller told The Epoch Times.

Miller is the managing partner of Miller & Co, and explained energy projects can cost billions of dollars and it’s challenging to develop them without having a financial institution on board.

“If you were an investor, you’d benefit from these tax savings, which again why a lot of billionaires are [involved] in these investments.”

When it comes to tax breaks, new companies looking to get into green energy usually don’t owe money when they start building. So many solar and wind farm companies enter with a clean slate.

That means if the developers want to get any mileage out of the credits the government is offering, a third party financial partner—generally known as a tax equity partner—is needed.

And the majority of these are key players in the corporate banking industry.

Between 2020 and 2021, more than 50 percent of the tax equity market was controlled by two banks: JP Morgan and Bank of America.

Other legacy financial institutions with sizeable investments in the tax equity market include Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Credit Suisse.

“All tax credits in the United States are geared towards the largest taxpayers … This is because the tax code contains significant hurdles,” Warren Kirshenbaum told The Epoch Times.

Kirshenbaum is the CEO of Cherry Tree Group, which specializes in helping people sell their tax credits while getting individuals, trusts, and closely-held corporations the same benefits enjoyed by more prominent financial players.

He explained larger taxpayers have routinely used the vast majority of available tax credits, making it harder for companies who pay fewer taxes to qualify and secure the incentive credits.

“This has led to smaller developers not being able to secure tax equity financing, which can affect the marketplace,” Kirshenbaum said.

Some industry experts think the current structure for tax credits is a hindrance for small developers and community-scale projects.

“With the current set-up, most developers don’t have the option to keep the credits,” tax specialist Kari Brummond told The Epoch Times.

Brummond says developers usually need cash upfront for their projects, but if they were able to keep the credits, they would end up with more money in the long run.

“They end up losing a lot in fees when they sell the credits to investors,” she said.

Bank investors usually snap up low-income housing and historic tax credits first. However, Kirshenbaum notes that renewable energy credits have become a more popular investment in recent years because it’s claimable in one tax year. Low-income housing and historic tax credits are 10-year and five-year credits, respectively.

“Additionally, the accelerated and bonus depreciation rules for solar assets allow the claiming of an enormous amount of depreciation in the first year or two which is quite advantageous to taxpayers,” Kirshenbaum said.

And while many experts assert big banks have been offered an unintentional tax shelter in the form of green energy incentives, some disagree.

Director of renewable energy and sustainable technologies for the tax equity investment firm Foss & Company, Bryen Alperin, told The Epoch Times the government is still incentivizing renewable energy projects, which was the ultimate goal a the end of the day.

“They [the government] have determined that rather than collecting the tax revenue, then writing cash grants to renewable energy projects, it’s more efficient to incentivize taxpayers to directly invest in the renewable energy projects.

“The taxpayer is still paying into the ‘social good’ with their money, they just have more control over how it is used,” Alperin said.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Floods in the southern hemisphere? Did the drought doomsayers also neglect to remember the floods in the U.S. this year? It wasn't a volcano than closed the roads in Yellowstone and made all the rivers flood. It wasn't drought that flooded St. Louis and a number of towns and cities across Kentucky.