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The OECD must take its chance to stop funding oil and gas

Mon, 11/06/2023 - 04:20

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is meeting in Paris this week for its annual forum. On the negotiating table is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to end the flow of public money into fossil fuels, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing about it.  

The OECD is made up of a group of primarily wealthy countries, who collectively set their own standards around big global issues like tax, trade and the environment.

Despite being one of the world’s most influential trade bodies, decisions at the OECD often happen behind closed doors.

Members say that this allows them to get on with “building better policies for better lives” without distraction.

The problem is that channelling billions of dollars of public money into fossil fuels each year doesn’t square with that aim. 

Forests, methane, finance: Where are the Cop26 pledges now? 

The OECD regulates its members’ “export credit agencies”. These are government-owned institutions that provide loans, guarantees, credit and other forms of financial services – often at subsidised rates – to large infrastructure projects around the world.

Between 2018 and 2020, OECD export credit agencies (ECAs) also provided more international public finance for fossil fuels ($41 billion) than any other type of public finance institution, including multilateral development banks like the World Bank. They spent five times more on fossil fuels than renewable energy projects every year.

Too much LNG

Without ECA support, many new oil and gas projects would not go ahead. Over the last decade, these institutions have pumped over $80 billion into liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, which receive the overwhelming majority of ECA support.

Projects include the Vaca Muerta gas pipeline in Argentina, a carbon bomb that threatens to release 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime; and $14 billion in loans and guarantees to a controversial LNG project in Mozambique. LNG is often cited as a bridge fuel in the clean energy transition, but the reality is the opposite. We already have more LNG infrastructure than we can use to stay within safe climate limits

Australia’s bid to host climate talks is welcome but must be matched with action

Every dollar spent on new fossil fuels puts the brakes on our clean energy transition. To keep global temperature rise to within 1.5C – as per the Paris Agreement goal – the International Energy Agency is clear there is “no need“ for investment in new supplies of coal, oil and gas.

Under the Paris Agreement, all countries promised to “make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development“, but the opaque governance structure of the OECD provides a loophole for oil and gas finance to keep flowing, via ECAs.

Public money

This isn’t a good way to spend public money. With peak demand for fossil fuels now expected as soon as 2030, any investment in new fossil fuel projects risks failing to deliver a return. Economists have estimated that around $1.4 trillion in oil and gas assets are at risk of becoming stranded.

Far from delivering energy security, public investment in fossil fuels exposes us to huge economic risks, whereas channeling this money into clean energy could open up new economic opportunities. Every dollar of investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than investment in fossil fuels.

Poll after poll shows that voters in OECD countries don’t want their money going into fossil fuels either. Almost two thirds of British and Canadian voters want their governments to stop subsidising fossil fuels.

In the United States there’s majority bipartisan support for ending fossil fuel subsidies.

Using public money to prop up a twilight industry isn’t in the public interest – it makes us all worse off. 

At the Glasgow climate conference, Cop26, a majority of OECD member countries committed to ending public fossil finance for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, including by driving multilateral negotiations through the OECD.


Despite this, some OECD countries have backtracked on their commitment. Research from Oil Change International shows that since 2021, the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan have approved at least $5.2 billion in new public finance for international fossil fuel projects.

Avoid our mistake: Don’t let World Bank host loss and damage fund

This year alone, the US, via its ECA, the United States Export-Import Bank (EXIM), provided $740 million to oil and gas projects around the world. If President Joe Biden is to become the climate leader he wants to be, there is clearly much more to do. 

OECD members already signalled the beginning of the end for public fossil fuel finance, by ending ECA support to coal-fired power in 2021.

The UK, EU and Canada proposals on the table represent a rare moment of leadership that must help set the stage for forging agreement on a global phase-out of fossil fuels at the upcoming climate conference in the United Arab Emirates.

They must not be shut down and strung out by OECD members still clutching onto fossil fuels such as Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Countries should use this week’s meeting to reform export credit agencies for good, so they catalyse the clean energy transition and preserve our planet, rather than destabilise it.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève is the co-president of The Club of Rome and co-lead of the Earth4All initiative

The post The OECD must take its chance to stop funding oil and gas appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Australia’s bid to host climate talks is welcome but must be matched with action

Sat, 11/04/2023 - 07:44

The Pacific Islands Forum next week will bring together nations who share what we call the Blue Pacific Continent, stretching from the hundreds of islands and atolls of Micronesia in the North all the way down to the Alpine like conditions of New Zealand’s Southern tip.

Together, we are custodians of almost a fifth of the earth’s surface, and at the great crossroads of strategic interest for many nations. We are also some of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change and have contributed the least.

One issue looms large and demands our attention. Our neighbour Australia is bidding to preside over Cop31, a crucial meeting of the world’s climate negotiators in 2026 in partnership with the Pacific.

As part of the United Nations group known as Western Europe and Others, it will be primarily European countries that decide whether that bid goes ahead. I urge that these countries consider not just Australia’s words, but its actions as it plans some of the largest fossil gas expansion in the world in the run up to 2050.

The host of Cop31 will be decided by the Western Europe and Others group (yellow) (Photo credit: Lokal_Profil)

This year’s ‘global stock take’ of decades of climate action will tell us what none of us wants to hear. That we have not, collectively, brought emissions under control – indeed the world’s CO2 emissions are set to rise by about 1% to new record in 2023 – when they need to fall very rapidly. It is beyond time that we did the one thing that we’ve not yet tried – keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

Australia has claimed it is “back in the tent” in international climate circles. Indeed, Pacific nations welcomed Australia’s renewed commitment to climate action after the 2022 election, where the government won on a platform of greater environmental responsibility. Yet after a year, Australia’s commitment to reduce emissions still falls short of what they promised by signing the Paris Agreement.

Pacific Island nations, including my home country, Vanuatu, sit on the front lines of the climate crisis. We face rising sea levels that threaten to swallow our homes and increasingly frequent and increasingly destructive weather events.

Our ability to adapt will be made impossible by Australia’s hypocritical gas expansion plans. Vanuatu has been at the forefront of climate action – we led a coalition of countries to secure an advisory opinion on climate change from the United Nations International Court of Justice, and we are working towards a fossil fuel free Pacific.

At great cost, we are decarbonising our shipping register. We understand that climate action may require short term adjustments and we are willing to do that. I’m not confident that all countries share our resolve.

Indonesia delays coal closure plans after finance row with rich nations

The Pacific Island nations are in desperate need of genuine allies who will stand with us in our fight for survival. Australia, with its financial resources and international influence, should be such an ally. However, for Australia to be seen as a credible leader of climate talks, it must first resolve glaring inconsistencies in its climate policies.

The fact is that Australia remains the world’s third-largest fossil fuel exporter, with 116 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline, some of which are slated to operate until at least 2070. This persistence in fossil fuel expansion is fundamentally at odds with the spirit of the Paris Agreement and poses a direct threat to the climate goals set by the international community.

Australia’s bid to lead Cop31 is a momentous opportunity for the nation to prove its dedication to addressing the global climate crisis. The world is watching, and the Pacific Island nations are looking for unwavering support, not empty promises.

And part of that must be conditionality attached to approving its Cop bid. We cannot afford another climate summit brought to you by the fossil fuel industry. The time has come to demonstrate that commitment to climate action is more than just rhetoric. It’s time to do the right thing, securing a climate safe future for all our countries.

Ralph Regenvanu is Vanuatu’s minister for climate change adaptation, energy, environment, meteorology, geohzards and disaster management

The post Australia’s bid to host climate talks is welcome but must be matched with action appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Forests, methane, finance: Where are the Cop26 pledges now?

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 08:40

At Cop26 in Glasgow, hundreds of governments and private institutions joined forces in a series of pledges promising ambitious goals on methane reduction, forest protection and the shift of finance away from fossil fuels.

Nearly two years on, Climate Home News looks at how these commitments are holding up to the test of time.


WHAT: Reduce human-made methane emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030. Cutting the amount of methane present in the atmosphere is important because it is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide despite having a shorter lifespan.

WHO: 104 countries, led by the US and the EU, signed up to the pledge when it was first announced at Cop26 in Glasgow. The number of signatories has since risen to 150. However, they only represent about half of global methane emissions as China, India and Russia – three of the world’s top four emitters – have not joined the coalition.

HOW IT IS GOING: The raw figures paint a fairly grim picture. Since Cop26, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere has kept rising fast and it is now more than two and a half times its pre-industrial level.

Over half of the emissions come from human activities, like fossil fuel extraction, farming and landfills, with the rest caused by natural sources. Under current trajectories, total human-made methane emissions could rise by up to 13% between 2020 and 2030 – the pledge’s timeframe.

This graph shows the globally-averaged, monthly atmospheric methane concentration since 1983. Image credit: NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory

Targeting the oil and gas sector is seen by many as the easiest and fastest way to bring down emissions in the near term. Experts say existing technologies already provide cheap and effective ways to plug leaky infrastructure like pipelines and gas storage tanks.

However, the technological developments have not yet been converted into real, widespread action. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), methane emissions from oil and gas remained “stubbornly high” in 2022 even as the energy companies’ bumper profits made actions to reduce them cheaper than ever. “There is just no excuse”, the IEA chief Fatih Birol commented.

Raft of initiatives

But judging the pledge’s progress on current numbers only tells half the story, argued Jonathan Banks, global director of the methane programme at the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). “Emissions are not going to turn around immediately,” he told Climate Home. “If you look at the work going into the pledge, building the funding and technical resources to bring emissions down, I think it could potentially be on track for success”.

A series of initiatives have been set up to help countries deliver on the pledge. The UN’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) is helping over 30 developed and developing countries to establish plans to achieve the 2030 target.

Canada has set out a strategy that it expects to reduce domestic methane emissions by “more than 35%” by 2030, compared to 2020.

Methane leaking from Chelmsford compressor station, UK on 15 October 2021, picked up by a special camera (Photo: Clean Air Task Force/ James Turitto)

The Global Methane Hub (GMH), a philanthropic organisation, is also supporting signatories of the methane pledge with technical assistance and funding. Carolina Urmeneta, a director at the GMH, told Climate Home News that over the last year, the group has focused its work on developing systems to monitor methane emissions rates from oil and gas and landfill installations using satellites.

She said reaching the 2030 target “is possible and cost-effective, but it is not easy. We need to improve data transparency and increase funding for projects with methane targets.”

Regulations drive

Some progress has also been made on the regulatory front. The USA introduced new rules to address methane emissions caused by oil and gas companies through the Inflation Reduction Act. Using a carrot-and-stick approach, it provides $1 billion in public subsidies to take action, while charging a fee for excessive emissions.

In May the European Parliament agreed on tougher measures to tackle methane emissions in the energy sector. The approved text calls for binding emission reduction targets, stronger obligations for fossil fuel operators to detect and repair leaky infrastructure and the application of the same measures to exporting countries outside of the bloc.

While the final rules are still being negotiated with the EU’s national governments, CATF’s Banks believes they could have a “huge global impact” if introduced in their current form. “The methane emissions associated with the gas Europe buys from the rest of the world is quite large, so such measures could really drive some change”.

New announcements are expected at Cop28 in Dubai, after the summit’s president Sultan Al Jaber set the phaseout of methane emissions in oil and gas by 2030 as one of his priorities. “More than 20 oil and gas companies have answered Cop28’s call,” he said this week. “And I see positive momentum as more are joining”. But the UAE has been accused of double standards as it failed to report methane emissions to the UN for a decade, as the Guardian reported.

While it has not signed the pledge, China is expected to announce its long-awaited methane plan at Cop28.


WHAT: End and reverse deforestation by 2030. Country leaders pledged to conserve forests, tackle wildfires, facilitate sustainable agriculture, support indigenous populations and “significantly” increase the provision of finance towards achieving those goals.

WHO: More than 140 countries joined the coalition. Signatories of the pledge – including large forest nations like Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – cover around 90% of the world’s forests. But major G20 powers such as India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and rainforest nations like Bolivia and Venezuela did not join the group.

HOW IT IS GOING:  Countries remain off track to reach the goal of the Glasgow pledge and end deforestation by 2030, according to an assessment done by a coalition of NGOs.

Across the world, tree loss recorded in 2022 was 21% higher than the level needed to be on course to reach zero in seven years’ time, the report said.


Source: Forest Declaration Assessment

In fact, the situation is getting worse. Global deforestation grew 4% last year, wiping out 6.6 million hectares of forest, according to the study. That’s a tree-covered area nearly as big as Ireland disappearing in one year.

“The world’s forests are in crisis. All these promises have been made to halt deforestation, to fund forest protection. But the opportunity to make progress is passing us by year after year,” said Erin Matson, a lead author of the Forest Declaration Assessment.

Saving the Three Basins means stopping fossil fuel expansion

There are important regional differences, however. While tropical Asia is faring better, with Indonesia and Malaysia on track to hit their targets, Latin America and the Caribbean are farthest off track.

The election of President Lula da Silva in Brazil has led to a reversal in the skyrocketing deforestation rates in the country, which hosts most of the Amazon rainforets.

But efforts to create a regional forest protection coalition have failed. At the Amazon summit in August, eight South American countries failed to agree on a pledge to end deforestation by 2030 following opposition from Bolivia and Venezuela.

An aerial view shows deforestation near a forest on the border between Amazonia and Cerrado in Nova Xavantina, Mato Grosso state, Brazil in 2021 (REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli)

While it included a larger number of countries, the Cop26 commitment was not entirely new: it repeated promises previously made in the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests, which by then had already failed to achieve some of its core targets.

Keen to avoid the same fate, self-declared “high ambition” countries launched a new initiative designed to deliver the pledge.

“High ambition” efforts

Chaired by the USA and Ghana, the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP) has promised to spur global action and provide accountability.

Only a fifth of the original 140 signatories have joined the group so far, with Russia and Indonesia among the most notable absentees.

Christine Dragisic, who leads the forest team at the US State Department, said the goal is to create a “high-level community” that brings together governments, indigenous people, philanthropies, civil society and the private sector to drive action forward and hit the 2030 target.

“Can we do it? Yes. Is it going to be hard? Definitely. Does it require everybody to be at the table? For sure”, Dragisic told Climate Home.

An Indonesian ranger patrols a forest protected through a carbon credit project. Photo: Dita Alangkara/CIFOR

Since its launch last year, the FCLP has worked on a number of initiatives offering technical and financial solutions to forest nations, looking at the role of carbon markets and the forest economy in averting tree loss.

Finance gaps

As with most climate actions, however, it ultimately comes down to the question of money. “The delivery of climate finance is very important to achieve a lot of these targets and that is still very much lacking”, Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, director of climate change at Ghana’s forestry commission and co-chair of the FCLP, told Climate Home.

“The kind of finance we need is not finance for today or tomorrow, it’s finance for yesterday. We are already behind schedule. If it gets delivered fast there’s lots that we can do to close the gap that is now quite wide,” she added.

The Cop26 pledge was accompanied by a commitment from a group of rich nations to provide $12 billion in forest-related climate finance between 2021 and 2025. The money should be channeled to developing countries enacting concrete steps to halt forest loss.

The donor countries reported last year that they had provided $2.6 billion – over a fifth of the target amount – in 2021. They are expected to provide an update at Cop28.


WHAT: End new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.

WHO: 34 countries and five development banks – predominantly from wealthy cuontries – signed up to the pledge at Cop26. These included the G7 nations – with the exception of Japan – and most EU member states.

HOW IT IS GOING: Among the signatories that give lots of money to the energy sector, the vast majority have introduced policies in line with the promise made in Glasgow.

The United Kingdom, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Finland and Sweden have stopped providing loans and guarantees for oil and gas extraction and processing overseas through their export credit agencies.

Their actions have shifted at least $5.7 billion per year in public finance out of fossil fuels and into clean energy, according to analysis by Oil Change International and E3G.

On the other hand, however, the USA, Italy and Germany have continued funding international fossil fuel projects in 2023 in breach of the pledge.

They were supposed to stop funding foreign fossil fuels by December 2022. But since then, they collectively approved over $3 billion in financial support to oil and gas overseas programmes.

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Most of the funding comes in the form of state-backed guarantees provided by export credit agencies. These products limit the risk taken by companies selling services and goods in other countries, influencing investment.

Among the projects receiving backing from the US and Italy was the expansion of an oil refining facility in Indonesia’s Borneo.

The US Export-Import Bank justified its backing of the project by claiming it would allow Indonesia to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. The Italian agency did not provide a motivation for the decision.

Germany and the US have also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into projects aiming to boost the production and trade of liquified natural gas (LNG), which has been more sought after since Russia invaded Ukraine and Europe cut back on Russian gas.

Political splits and carve-outs

In the US, efforts to comply with the Glasgow pledge have caused a split among senior officials in the Biden administration and in the federal agencies charged with disbursing the money, as Politico revealed.

The White House has drafted guidance underpinning the investments - without making it public -, but the final decisions are made by agencies like the US Export-Import Bank (Exim).

“It is a struggle to get US Exim to comply, so far they’ve ignored the Cop26 commitment”, says Nina Pusic from Oil Change International. “It will require a lot of political weight from the Biden administration and Congress.”

Indonesia delays coal closure plans after finance row with rich nations

Italy looks likely to keep funding fossil fuels overseas for years to come. Its policy guidance lays out a "gradual dismission of public support to new requests of fossil fuel projects", seeing support for gas extraction and production run into 2026. Oil processing and distribution projects should be excluded from the beginning of next year.

But Italy has also carved out a wide range of exceptions that allow its export credit agency to keep greenlighting support for fossil fuel projects on "national energy security" and "energy efficiency" grounds.

The FSRU Toscana LNG regasfication platform off the coast of Italy (Photo: OLT Offshore LNG Toscana)

Germany's main export credit agency has just introduced this month new policies restricting support for fossil fuel projects. However, it allows for financing the development of new gas fields and related transport facilities until 2025 when justified by "national security and in compliance with the Paris Agreement targets".

Investment in new coal, oil and gas production is regarded as incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5C, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a large number of climate scientists.

"Germany has a vast amount of fossil fuel transactions pending approval", says Oil Change International's Pusic. "The success of the new policy will be judged on the decisions made on those projects".


WHAT: Commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest by aligning their portfolios and investment practices with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

WHO: Over 650 institutions across the financial sector, including banks, insurers, asset owners, asset managers, financial service providers, and investment consultants. Gfanz members represent 40% of global private financial assets. They are grouped together under eight independent net-zero financial alliances focused on specific branches of finance.

HOW IT IS GOING: It is not easy to gauge the progress of a wide-ranging initiative with loosely defined targets and a constellation of constituent parts.

GFANZ says it has made progress over the last two years by raising the ambition of financial institutions and by providing tools and guidance to turn commitments into action.

"Two years ago, not a single bank had set a science-based 2030 target. Now nearly all global, systemically important banks have voluntarily and independently set 2030 targets for oil and gas", a GFANZ spokesperson said.

Above all, the mere fact that the alliance still exists at all is a first - albeit limited - marker of success, after an especially tumultuous year.

The prospect of ending up in legal hot waters in the US, where Republicans have driven an anti-climate investment backlash, has dampened the enthusiasm of many leading signatories. The result is that parts of the alliance have been hemorrhaging members, while other components have resorted to watering down their requirements to assuage concerns.

Mark Carney, former Bank of England governor, launched GFANZ at Cop26. Photo: World Economic Forum/Valeriano Di Domenico

Troubles started brewing in mid-2022 when a group of leading US banks threatened to pull out over fears of being sued because of having decarbonisation policies imposed by external parties. That's after US Republican politicians had accused financial institutions of breaching antitrust rules by grouping together in a climate cartel that limits opportunities for investors.

A month later, in October 2022, Gfanz dropped a key requirement for its members to sign up to the UN Race to Zero initiative - a verification body for corporate and financial sector pledges - which had been seen as a way to prevent greenwashing.

GFANZ told Climate Home that the alliances are still working with Race to Zero and "continue to note" its advice and guidance.

Heading for the door

Those US banks eventually ended up staying in but, despite the less stringent criteria, other influential members began heading for the door in droves soon after.

Vanguard, one of the world's biggest asset managers, quit the Net Zero Asset Managers' initiative - part of Gfanz - saying it wanted to "provide clarity to investors" and "speak independently on matters of importance" to them.

But it's the insurers' coalition, known as NZIA, that has suffered the biggest - nearly fatal - wounds. The group has lost nearly two-thirds of its members since the start of the year, with leading firms like Allianz, Zurich, Munich Re and Lloyd's of London throwing in the towel.

Again a major driver for the mass exit was a letter written in May by 23 Republican attorney generals accusing signatories of advancing "an activists climate agenda" with "serious detrimental effects on the residents" of their states. The spark for this was the alliance's initial obligation to its members to set emission reduction targets by the end of July.

Staring at the real prospect of shutting down, the insurers' alliance again watered down its requirements, becoming effectively toothless.

To triple renewable energy, the Global South needs finance

"NZIA member companies have no obligation to set or publish targets", wrote the UN Environment Programme (Unep) - convener of the initiative -  in a clarification letter. "Each company who chooses to be a member of the NZIA unilaterally and independently decides on the steps on its path towards net zero."

Meanwhile, GFANZ says its members have submitted over 300 interim targets "representing clear progress in implementing commitments" to divert finance in line with net zero goals.

But while plans have been announced, many GFANZ members are also being accused of not putting their money where their mouth is. 161 members of the coalition have collectively invested hundreds of billions of dollars into the expansion of the coal, oil and gas industries since they joined the group, according to research by campaigning group Reclaim Finance.

A GFANZ spokesperson said "it’s clear a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure the world is deploying capital consistent with a 1.5C pathway".

"GFANZ is helping to support financial institutions to each set their own sectoral targets and develop transition plans and release guidance on their plan for a managed phaseout of fossil fuels," they added.

The article was amended on 6/11 to add comments from GFANZ received after publication

The post Forests, methane, finance: Where are the Cop26 pledges now? appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Avoid our mistake: Don’t let World Bank host loss and damage fund

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 02:32

At talks in Abu Dhabi today, the US and EU are pushing for the new loss and damage fund to be hosted by the World Bank.

As a board committee member of a fund hosted by the World Bank, I want to warn them. Being hosted by the World Bank is expensive and it erodes your independence and identity.

I’m the civil society representative on the board finance committee of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which channels around $5 billion of funding to education projects in low and lower-middle income countries.

The fund has been hosted by the World Bank for about 20 years. For over twelve of those years, there have been recurrent board discussions about moving the fund out of the World Bank and the board will discuss this again next month.


The costs of being hosted by the World Bank are one of the most significant concerns. In recent years, the core administrative charge paid to the World Bank for hosting the GPE secretariat has been rising.

At one point, the bank charged an administrative fee for hosting the secretariat that amounted to 12% of the GPE secretariat’s costs.

A few years ago, this went up to 17% and then the bank tried to increase it to 24%. This provoked outrage from the GPE board who negotiated it down to 20.5%.

GPE are told this is an exceptional arrangement and that all other fund secretariats hosted by the World Bank are being charged an administrative fee of 24%.

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This figure could go up at any time. Once you agree to be hosted, it seems the World Bank can change the rules and increase the levies.

One of the main reasons the World Bank’s fees are going up is because because of a wider financing crisis in the World Bank owing to the cost of its final salary pension scheme from the 1970s to 1990s.

In effect some GPE funds, raised in the name of education, are paying for luxurious retirements for ex World Bank employees who left work before GPE was even created.

These direct costs are exacerbated by other costs. The GPE has to follow the excessive and hierarchical salary structure of the World Bank – with all staff being employees of the World Bank – and effectively having to pledge loyalty to the Bank.

The costs of having the main office in Washington DC are considerably higher than most other locations. The travel, security and insurance costs are also high – with most staff flying business class and staying in five-star hotels.

Not independent

In 2012, an independent review of the GPE’s hosting arrangements raised the problem of having a GPE secretariat serving two masters.

The GPE board is relatively democratic and it should be able to develop its own strategy, policies and procedures. Being hosted by the World Bank limits this.

When the GPE board agreed to expand the staffing of the GPE secretariat, this was directly blocked by the World Bank who had a recruitment freeze in place.

These issues of independence were partially addressed by a 2019 memorandum of understanding between the GPE and the World Bank relating to staffing issues but there are still challenges.

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Being hosted by the World Bank “means operating within the business model of the host” (as flagged in the 2012 review). This includes following very heavy procurement and recruitment processes.

While some see it as a benefit that funds can draw on the World Bank’s expertise, this is not always neutral and it often comes with a certain perspective and even ideological baggage.

For example, the GPE has a strong position about not supporting any for-profit education provision – but agreeing this position was difficult when the World Bank itself was supporting one of the most problematic for-profit actors.

Loss of identity

Being hosted by the World Bank takes away a fund’s identity it country level. Many see the GPE as just another World Bank project.

This seems to be a view also held by some World Bank country managers. One particularly problematic dimension of this is that when countries want World Bank funds for education, they are encouraged to use the GPE pot – displacing other funds for education.

Something similar could happen with loss and damage or wider climate finance. The World Bank could see itself as absolved of any wider responsibility if it takes on the loss and damage fund. 

Indonesia delays coal closure plans after finance row with rich nations

It is not a surprise that the US and Europeans are keen to see the loss and damage fund hosted by the World Bank.

It would give them more control. It would fit within their business model and comfort zone for such structures.

But it would be a disaster from the point of view of effective action on loss and damage. We must avoid the mistakes made by the GPE.

David Archer is Action Aid’s head of programmes, a former civil society representative on the board of the Global Partnership for Education and a current member of the board’s finance committee.

Correction: This article was updated on 6 November to clarify that the World Bank takes a percentage of the running costs of a fund’s secretariat on a cost recovery basis. It is not correct to say, as this article originally did, that if the loss and damage fund gets $100 billion a year, $24 billion would go to the World Bank. For the GPE, the combined cost of having the World Bank as host of the Secretariat and trustee of the fund amounts to around 1.5% of annual income.

The post Avoid our mistake: Don’t let World Bank host loss and damage fund appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Indonesia delays coal closure plans after finance row with rich nations

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 11:21

Indonesia has watered down plans to shut coal-fired power plants early after expressing disappointment at wealthy nations’ offers to help them do so.

At the G20 summit on the island of Bali last December, Indonesia and a group of rich countries and banks announced a $20 billion deal to move the Southeast Asian nation from coal to clean energy.

But this announcement left a lot of the details vague. Since then, Indonesia has been pushing for the funders to provide grants instead of loans, which add to the country’s debt burden.

Yesterday, Indonesia published its investment plan which revealed that some of its climate commitments had been watered down.

The reason is that the funding made available by international partners was not adequate, according to Fabby Tumiwa, director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) and part of a working group advising the Indonesian government.

“I am disappointed because we expected the plan could be aligned with Paris Agreement targets”, Tumiwa told Climate Home. “This pushes the JETP further away from that”.

Targets watered down

A draft plan seen by Climate Home in August said Indonesia would retire a sixth of its coal-fired power plant capacity by 2030.

But that target was dropped from yesterday’s final version. Instead, Indonesia now plans to start shutting down coal plants before their scheduled closure no earlier than 2035.

Meanwhile, it plans a massive scale-up of renewables and a reduction of the capacity of existing coal plants in order to get to its 2030 emission reduction target.

In September, an Indonesian government official told Reuters: “It is very clear that they [Western nations] are not eager to provide financing for early retirement”.

The government has also dropped a target to peak its power sector’s emissions at 290 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.

Captive plants headache

While the new target of 250 million tonnes looks more ambitious, Tumiwa said it is less so because it excludes coal power plants known as captive.

These are power plants that do not provide general electricity to the public but power specific industries like Indonesia’s fast-expanding nickel sector.

The blueprint unveiled this week excludes these so-called captive plants from its calculations altogether, as “more work is required to develop a viable decarbonization plan” for them, the document says.

Rich nations offer loans not grants for Vietnam’s coal transition

This issue, which delayed the publication of the plan in August, has been complicated by the use of wrong assumptions in the modelling for the targets agreed upon last year when the deal was first announced.

“The number of captive plants is way higher than what it previously thought”, said Tumiwa.

The consequence is that reaching the headline emission peaking target promised in the original commitment is “extremely difficult”, as the document now acknowledges.

“Indonesia’s power sector, accounting for the full extent of off-grid captive power, is likely to exceed this target”, it concluded.

Loans not grants

Despite Indonesia’s complaints, the investment plan reveals that the vast majority of the finance is in the form of loans and grants make up just 2.5% of the money.

About three-fifths of the money are loans on better than commercial terms while the rest is bank guarantees and ordinary loans at commercial interest rates.

The US is the biggest funder but its finance is dominated by commercial loans and a multilateral development bank guarantee.

The European Union and European nations like France, Germany – as well as Canada – are providing grants and concessional loans.

The investment plan is subject to public consultation so is not completely final.

The post Indonesia delays coal closure plans after finance row with rich nations appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

DRC hands gas rights to Canadian start-up that failed criteria

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 07:43

A Canadian start-up run from a private home was chosen by Democratic Republic of Congo for a technically complex project to extract methane from the deep waters of a volatile lake, despite the company not meeting the tender’s financial criteria, documents seen by Reuters show.

President Felix Tshisekedi, who is seeking re-election in December, has promised to shake off Congo’s reputation for opaque dealings as he pushes plans to develop dozens of oil and gas blocks – many of them in environmentally sensitive areas.

First to be auctioned were three methane blocks in Lake Kivu, sometimes dubbed a “killer lake” because of a risk of deadly eruption. The extraction project aims to supply gas for power generation, including to hundreds of thousands of people living on the lake’s shores.

The auction, which took place last year, was the first of its kind to be conducted in Congo under a law from 2015 that was designed to promote transparency in the oil and gas sector.

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Canada-based Alfajiri Energy Corporation was included in the auction although an evaluation report produced by a government-appointed commission in October 2022 found the company did not meet minimum financial requirements.

The report, along with two others, was obtained by Reuters in collaboration with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit news organisation. Reuters also independently interviewed three sources directly involved in the auction.

Additionally, a technical report assessing the bid, dated 8 December 2022, appeared to have been altered in Alfajiri’s favour, according to the documents and the sources. The documents do not show why Alfajiri was included in the auction, who requested that the report be edited, or why.

No financial records

Hydrocarbons Minister Didier Budimbu denied any problems with the tender process in an emailed response to questions from Reuters.

Rich nations offer loans not grants for Vietnam’s coal transition

“The process was very transparent and it will remain so. I will make sure of it,” he said in an earlier text message exchange.

Tshisekedi’s office declined to comment, saying any questions about the auction should be directed to Budimbu.

In a written reply on 23 October, Alfajiri’s founder and chief executive Christian Hamuli called the process “rigorous, transparent and credible.”

Congo-born Hamuli registered Alfajiri Energy Corporation on January 10, 2022, three weeks after plans for the auction were first announced, using the address of his home in Calgary, Canada’s company registry shows.

The hydrocarbons ministry’s call for expressions of interest in the project spelt out a clear stipulation, only companies with three years of financial records would be considered suitable, a requirement that reflected a clause in Congo’s new oil and gas regulations.

Specifically, articles 66 and 67 of the regulations say offers will be rejected if they do not meet certain conditions including “the presentation of balance sheets and statements from the last three financial years.”

First hurdle

The first hurdle to clear was the pre-selection stage where a panel of government oil sector officials and technical experts evaluated the suitability of the companies competing for the three blocks.

Having only existed for a few months, Alfajiri failed to produce the required financial records, according to the eight-page, Oct. 22 report from the committee. It showed the three rival applicants for the Lwandjofu block met the requirement.

Joseph Nzau was a lawyer for the ministry when the regulations governing the sector were drafted. He said the financial history requirement was created after several companies that signed previous oil and gas contracts ended up lacking the means to execute projects.

“The rule is clear. A company applying for pre-selection must provide proof of its accounts and balance sheets for the past three years,” he said. He declined to comment on the merits of individual companies.

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In his response to Reuters, Minister Budimbu denied Alfajiri’s lack of financial records should have disqualified it in the pre-selection phase, saying this amounted to a misinterpretation of the law.

Budimbu was responsible for organising the auction to find suitable operators. He was also in charge of forming the panel that drew up the bid assessment reports and passing the panel’s conclusions to the council of ministers, which approved the winner based on the recommendations.

He said Alfajiri scored highly enough to make it through the pre-selection stage despite its lack of paperwork.

Alfajiri’s Hamuli did not directly address questions about the lack of required financial records in Alfajiri’s bid. Alfajiri has “highly qualified and experienced professionals with integrity capable of developing the project in a secure manner,” he said.

The ministry has not announced the size of the investment in the blocks, how the project will be financed, or production goals.

“Killer lake”

Lake Kivu lies in the Rift Valley on Congo’s eastern border with Rwanda. Dissolved at great pressure in water hundreds of meters down near the lake’s bed are large methane reserves and even greater quantities of carbon dioxide.

Lake Kivu is one of three lakes in Africa scientists say are at risk of limnic eruption.

Extracting methane from Lake Kivu, located in one of Africa’s most heavily populated areas, could provide power to some of the 80% of Congolese who have no access to electricity, and potentially reduce the risks from the lake, the Congolese government and experts say.

However, some scientists, including vulcanologist Dario Tedesco, say failure to properly reinject water and by-products could increase the chances of eruptions of carbon dioxide and poisonous hydrogen sulfide, pollute the lake bottom and alter its delicate chemical and physical balance.

Moving on

Despite its lack of financial history, Alfajiri advanced in the process, and its bid for the Lwandjofu block was assessed alongside those of US firm Winds Exploration and Production and Congolese-Lebanese firm Ray Group.

Alfajiri’s bid performed badly on several criteria at this stage, and a report from the panel dated Dec. 8, 2022 showed it received the lowest suitability score among the three bidders.

Of the three submissions, Alfajiri initially received the lowest score – a total of 30.7 points out of a possible 100 – on a scale that assessed how well the bids met financial and technical criteria including their proposed partnership terms with Congo, work plan, and the qualifications of key personnel.

Of that score, it received just two of a possible 30 points in the financial portion of the assessment and 28.7 out of 70 points in the technical portion.

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Alfajiri failed to demonstrate it employed qualified staff, had not submitted a feasibility study or a timetable for the project and “had not taken account of public safety issues,” the report said.

Winds scored the highest of the three bidders, with 53.8 points, the report shows.

Score boosted

But then, an edited version of the report put Alfajiri in first place, the documents show.

The report’s second version – also dated 8 December and seen by Reuters – raised Alfajiri’s score to 55.75, putting it ahead of Winds.

In his response, Budimbu told Reuters the only version of the final report that mattered, and that he had received, was the one in which Alfajiri was awarded the highest score.

Although it gave a higher score, the final report added a number of concerns to the earlier version, including comments that Alfajiri had proposed insufficient financing for requisite state bonuses and social projects.

Saving the Three Basins means stopping fossil fuel expansion

Reuters was unable to establish the motive for the new scores in the second report.

Asked if he was aware about any irregular change to the results, Frank Ihekwoaba, chief executive of Winds said “we heard rumours” but had not wanted to escalate it to avoid souring relations with the government. He said the process seemed rigorous for Winds, which won another of the three blocks.

Ray Group did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Hamuli did not directly respond to Reuters’ questions about the changes in the report that led to it winning the block.

Regarding Alfajiri’s suitability for the project, he said Alfajiri was a start-up that would use a better extraction method than competitors, without giving further details on this method.

“I am very proud and confident of our team’s ability to bring the project to fruition,” Hamuli said by text message in September.

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Categories: H. Green News

Wars are closing down the window for climate action

Wed, 11/01/2023 - 06:43

The failure of the richest countries to meet their 2009 commitment to provide $100 billion in climate finance to impoverished and climate vulnerable countries has long sowed distrust and hindered climate negotiations.

The broken promise is even more stark, given President Biden’s request to Congress this October for $105 billion additional funding to pay for Israel’s devastating war on Gaza and to support Ukraine against Russia.

Resources that never materialise to address the climate emergency seem to be easily available when it comes to supporting wars. As we approach the UN climate talks in Dubai, the impact of war and the military on the climate can no longer be ignored.

Big emitters

The failure to assess the military contribution to climate change historically is partly deliberate.

The US government in 1997 said it would only sign the Kyoto agreement if the military were explicitly exempted from reporting and reducing emissions.

This exemption was lifted in 2015, but reporting still remains voluntary and limited.

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Yet military jets, ships and tanks are some of the biggest users of fossil fuels. Estimates of global military emissions suggest it makes up to 5.5% of total global emissions, more than double that of the civil aviation sector.

Compared to country emissions, the global military would rank as the fourth biggest polluter, with total emissions bigger than that of Russia.

Funds diverted

Emissions are only part of the picture. As Biden’s recent call for increased military aid to Ukraine and Israel makes clear, military spending also leads to diversion of potential resources from climate action.

Sometimes this happens very directly. In the wake of Russia’s invasion in 2022, the UK government announced that it would shift underspending from its climate finance budget to partially finance a £1bn ($1.2bn) military support package for Ukraine.

China objects to UN fund warnings on solar’s forced labour risks

More often, it’s represented in the way military spending – both for wars and to counter identified long-term strategic ‘threats’ – is consistently prioritised over climate spending.

The result has been rising tensions between major powers such as  the US and China and record global military spending, reaching a total of $2.3 trillion in 2022, even while the same countries consistently fail to raise finance to cut emissions and adapt to climate change.

Nato’s target

This looks set to get worse. The world’s largest military alliance, Nato, has committed for all its members to spend at least 2% of GDP on the military.

A recent report by Transnational Institute, StopWapenhandel and Tipping Point North South, Climate Crossfire, reveals that this would lead to a total spending of $11.8 trillion by 2028.

That’s enough to pay for the rich world’s promised $100 billion a year of climate finance for 118 years.

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It would also lead to estimated additional military emissions of 467 million tonnes, more than the amount emitted by the United Kingdom in one year. There are efforts to structurally embed these military financing efforts so they are difficult to reverse.

The EU Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP), adopted in July 2023, for example,  pushes for measures structurally to ‘reinforc[e] the competitiveness and resilience of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) in the field of ammunition and missiles’. The goal is to lock in military spending, which would also lock in carbon emissions for years to come.

Many costs of war

The key winners of this military bonanza are the arms and security companies, whose shares and profits have boomed in the last few years.

They are also using their increased political influence to expand their export markets, including to countries most impacted by climate change. NATO members, for example,  export arms to 39 of the 40 world’s most climate vulnerable nations.

These exports fuel conflicts and bolster authoritarian regimes which will only weaken the resilience of communities to deal with the immense costs of climate breakdown.

The terrible human toll of war should be enough to demand peace, but the evidence is growing that war is now also costing us the earth.

Rich nations offer loans not grants for Vietnam’s coal transition

That does not mean changing direction will be easy. Once started, wars tend to polarise opinion and deepen the divide and distrust.

Resolving them often involves addressing deep-seated historical injustices and requires fundamental shifts in foreign policy by major powers like the US and Russia.

However, the clear lesson of the climate crisis is that extreme weather knows no national boundary and does not distinguish by ethnicity or religion.  There is no military tank, naval ship or fighter jet that can protect us from climate breakdown.

At Cop28, it is time for the international community to confront the military ‘elephant’ in the room, demand ceasefires, and explore ways to divest from militarism and invest instead in building a planet that is just, peaceful and safe for everyone.

Nick Buxton is the knowledge hub co-ordinator of the Transnational Institute. Deborah Burton is the co-founder of Tipping Point North-South.

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Categories: H. Green News

Rich nations offer loans not grants for Vietnam’s coal transition

Mon, 10/30/2023 - 06:19

Members of the G7 group of wealthy nations offered Vietnam more than $300 million in grants to support plans to reduce coal use, documents seen by Reuters show, accounting for 2% of a financial package made up mostly of costly loans that Hanoi has been reluctant to accept.

The documents, which were finalised by donor countries in late October, reveal for the first time the breakdown of the $15.5 billion pledge that G7 countries and partners made in December to help the Southeast Asian manufacturing hub and heavy coal user reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Vietnam pushed for a large share of grants and cheap funding to smooth its planned costly phase-out of coal-fired power plants and replace them with wind farms and other renewables sources, but donors offered mostly expensive loans at market rates amid chronic delays in the country’s power projects.

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Donors have struggled in climate talks with other developing partners: an $8.5 billion plan for South Africa was adopted in 2021 but has yet to deliver concrete results, and Indonesia has delayed its investment plan linked to donors’ $20 billion pledges.

400+ projects

Vietnam remains committed to cooperating and has prepared a draft list, seen by Reuters, of reform commitments and over 400 projects which could receive G7 money, including 272 on energy infrastructure such as wind and solar farms, power grid upgrades and battery storage systems.

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference which begins on 30 November in Dubai, the list needs the approval of international partners who have asked for more ambitious regulatory reforms and the involvement of the civil society in decisions to fight climate change, one official from a donor partner said.

The authoritarian government of Vietnam has jailed five environmental campaigners in the last two years.

Vietnam’s ministries of finance and environment did not reply to requests for comment.

The current G7 offer, which was circulated among selected experts last week, includes $321.5 million in grants, almost entirely from the European Union and EU states, which together are the top financial supporters.

Another $2.7 billion are in concessional loans at low interest rates, of which about two-thirds are provided by the EU, Germany and France, and the other third by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – with a small portion from Canada.

The overall public funding was slightly increased to $8 billion from the $7.75 billion pledged in December, but over half is in commercial loans at market rates, which Vietnam has been reluctant to accept – especially in the current global context of high interest rates.

The remaining $7.5 billion are expected to come from private investors in costly loans, but those investments hinge on regulatory reforms and the quality of specific projects, the documents said.

Saving the Three Basins means stopping fossil fuel expansion

Washington and Hanoi upgraded their relations to the highest diplomatic status in September, and the United States has pledged $1 billion, almost exclusively in loans at market rates.

Coal generation rising

A climate expert, who declined to be named amid the crackdown in Vietnam on energy experts and activists, said the amount of grants was very low and may not be enough to convince Hanoi to phase out coal.

To finance its power generation plans Vietnam needs roughly $135 billion until 2030 and much more by mid-century, according to government estimates. G7 funds are for an initial three-five year period and are meant to attract much larger private investments.

Under Vietnam’s plans which raised eyebrows among donors when they were published in May, energy generated from coal will increase until 2030, before falling in the following two decades. As a share of total power output, however, coal is expected to drop to 20% in 2030 from 31% in 2020.

The post Rich nations offer loans not grants for Vietnam’s coal transition appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

To triple renewable energy, the Global South needs finance

Mon, 10/30/2023 - 06:00

With one month to go until Cop28, ministers meet in the UAE this week and a global target to triple renewable capacity by 2030 to over 11,000 gigawatts is poised to take centre stage.

This offers hope in our battle against climate chaos. The target is not only aligned with limiting temperature to 1.5C, it is reasonably likely to be agreed in Dubai.

But to realise this aspiration necessitates a significant increase in financial support and financial reform.

The good news is that upscaling renewable energy will to some extent displace fossil fuels by outperforming oil, coal and gas economically.

Yet, to phase out fossil fuels at the speed and scale needed to keep global warming to 1.5C, we need a managed decline and a decision and implementation plan to deliver the phase out.

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These decisions, and in particular the fast-tracked scale-up of renewable energy must be anchored with concrete processes and resources to implement it. Above all, this means finance for the Global South.

Along with a global target to triple renewable energy, G20 leaders acknowledged this needs a yearly investment of $4 trillion by 2030 in their communique – not a mundane reckoning.

Yet, the G20 went on to say that these goals would be met “within existing policies”, an absurd claim.

Flatlining finance

Surely, the G20 leaders are briefed well enough to know the opposite is true – rather some G20 leaders wanted to deflect pressure on updating their national targets by 2030. To not end up with a hollow renewable target and energy package at Cop, we need finance.

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Across the Global South outside of China, we are confronted with a stark reality: Investment in renewable energy has remained more or less flat since the Paris Agreement.

If we are to reach $4tn investment in renewables, numbers needs to more than double from the current $1.7 trillion allocated to clean energy.

Out of these $1.7tn, only about 15% are invested in the Global South outside China – despite that being where roughly 7 out of 10 humans live today.

The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2030 we will need around $1.9 trillion yearly investment in the Global South outside China.

It estimates that three-fifths ($1,14tn) of this will need to come from private and two-fifths ($760bn) from public sources. But what is hindering renewables really taking off in so many countries?

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It’s not low renewable energy potential. For example, Africa is home to three-fifths of the top solar sites in the world but in the last two decades just 2% of global investments in renewable energy were made in Africa.

In high-income countries, 81% of green investment is funded by the private sector. In emerging and developing countries, the private share is a mere 14%.

Structural injustice

There are structural and historical injustices pertaining to the global financial system, including debt and ongoing extractivism.

One aspect of this is the high cost of capital: The interest rate to finance renewable energy in rich countries has historically been around 3-4% while usually exceeding 10% in emerging and developing economies. This difference matters.

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These interest rates can be broken down into micro-risks – those directly related to the project –  and macro-risks – those that account for risks like governments and currency risks.

The interest rates for a project itself (micro-risk) tend to be lower than in rich countries, but then you pay an additional 5-10% simply for investing in a certain country (macro-risk).

Usually, the cost of capital is unfairly biased against the Global South, not providing a “rational” cost of capital. For example, overestimating exchange risks.

Cop28 must underpin the tripling of renewables with tangible political commitments and processes to unlock finance: debt cancellation at scale, $100bn in concessional finance, and $200bn in grants yearly.

Grids and transmission lines are usually predominantly financed by public finance and illustrate clearly why public and private investments are heavily interdependent as private investment requires functioning grids.

Energy access

Another critical role of public investment will be providing energy access. Over 760 million people are suffering from a lack of access to electricity, the majority, 600 million on the African continent.

More than half (55%) of those households which are yet to gain access to electricity will require mini-grid and off-grid solutions. Clearly, decentralized renewable energy is the best-fit.

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This will need heavy public investment if we don’t want to leave these people by the mercy of revenue calculations.

Grids and access are just two examples of necessary investments at scale, which will need support of grants – even with significant debt cancellation. To reach $760bn public investment will need additional $500bn in public investment in renewables yearly in the Global South outside China.

If these $500bn are seen as highly concessional (reflected by a 40% grants ratio), one calculates this will need another $200bn+ in yearly grants.

Some of this is within the realm of Cop, some of this the United Nations climate convention can only call on to be set in motion.

One may say, this is politically impossible or there is no money. But such claims are both cynical and not grounded in facts.

The G20 countries alone provided $1.4 trillion in direct subsidies to fossil fuel companies, and global fossil fuel consumption subsidies last year.

The wealthiest 3m000 people work at the “edge of legality” preserving their obscene wealth, taxing it at only 2% – significantly below what such wealth is expected to provide in yearly returns – would provide $250bn each year.

There is no hope without vision. In fact, taking a step back one realizes the proposals above are less visionary than pragmatic. Global access to just and fair is very much possible.

Andreas Sieber is the associate director of global policy & campaigns at

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Categories: H. Green News

China objects to UN fund warnings on solar’s forced labour risks

Fri, 10/27/2023 - 08:11

China has opposed green projects by the UN’s flagship climate fund because their documents mentioned the risk of forced labour in the Chinese-dominated supply chains of solar panels.

At a meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), China’s board representative Yingzhi Liu objected to six projects because their risk assessments highlighted the potential of forced labour use in the production of solar panels.

The programmes, which included efforts to help vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone, Benin and Laos cope with the impact of climate change, were eventually approved following a majority vote.

China manufactures four-fifths of all the world’s solar panels, having a near-total monopoly over the production of some silicon parts which form the core of solar cells.

Forced labour allegations

Beijing has faced multiple accusations of using forced labour practices in solar panel manufacturing. Concerns have focused particularly on the Xinjiang region, where the Chinese government has committed “serious human rights violations” against the Uyghur population, according to a UN report.

Xinjiang is the source of up to two-fifths of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon, a key raw material in the solar panel supply chain.

In 2021 academics at Sheffield Hallam University said that the biggest polysilicon producers in the region reported their participation in “labour transfer” programmes administered “in an environment of unprecedented coercion”.

The Chinese government disputes the presence of forced labour in its supply chains, arguing that employment is voluntary.

Chinese opposition

At this week’s GCF board meeting, China’s Yingzhi Liu said he opposed “the unsubstantiated allegations of so-called forced labour allegations in the solar supply chains” included in the project documents.

“It is unacceptable to have this sort of presumption of guilt and stigmatisation of the PV [photovoltaic] supply chain”, he added. “Chinese PV should be treated in a fair, just and non-discriminatory manner in GCF projects”.

Small islands struggle to get help from UN’s flagship climate fund

None of the project documents seen by Climate Home News mentioned China or Chinese companies directly.

Potential forced labour risks in relation to the supply chains of solar panels featured in the ‘environmental and social action plans’ that accredited entities are required to submit in their funding applications. The assessment allows project developers to rate potential risks and suggest ways to minimise them.

Laos project

Among the proposals the Chinese board member took issues with was a project by Save the Children Australia to strengthen the climate resilience of the health system in Laos, one of Asia’s poorest countries.

The documents submitted to the board said that Save the Children “understands the risk of forced and child labour with procurement of these systems [solar panels]” and will manage the risk through the procurement process.

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Despite regarding the proposal as “good” overall, Liu opposed it for “singling out so-called forced labour” in the solar panel supply chain. The same happened with five more projects.

“They are all good projects with a high impact that will bring benefits,” he added at the end of the session.

Technical requirements

In response to Liu’s remarks, a representative of the GCF told board members that the fund “requires accredited entities to undertake due diligence to make sure there is no forced labour in primary supply chains”, in line with the performance standards set out by the International Finance Corporation – an arm of the World Bank.

The GCF added that all references made to forced labour are “technical” and “have no political dimension”. It also highlighted that the same risk assessments are applied to all supply chains and are not limited to the solar energy sector.

Climate Home found forced labour risks mentioned in projects not involving solar energy submitted to this week’s board meeting.

A proposal to increase climate-friendly rice production in Thailand included forced labour among the potential risks. The project proponents wrote that “although forced labour or child labour is not reported to be a serious problem in rice farming, measures need to be taken to inhibit these practices”. China did not object to that proposal.

The post China objects to UN fund warnings on solar’s forced labour risks appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Saving the Three Basins means stopping fossil fuel expansion

Thu, 10/26/2023 - 06:19

The president of the Republic of Congo will today host the Summit of the Three Basins alongside leaders from the Amazon, Congo, and Borneo-Mekong river basins with the aim of drumming up global support to preserve their forests and ecosystems.

In recent weeks, record drought has pushed the Amazon river to its lowest level in over a century affecting nearly half a million people and causing severe damage to ecosystems including the death of more than 100 river dolphins from high water temperatures.

The big elephant in the room in is fossil fuels, the main driver of these climate impacts, which are responsible for over 90% of carbon dioxide emissions.

The expansion of fossil fuels also threatens millions of vulnerable people and tropical forests across the three basins.

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Data from Earth Insight says that planned oil and gas blocks overlap with roughly 65 million hectares in the Amazon – an area the size of France. In the Congo, the figure is even bigger, 72 million and in Southeast Asia its 35 million.

The combination of exploiting fossil fuels and other industry activities driving deforestation with rising global temperatures could cause these ecosystems in these basins to collapse.

Breaching these tipping points could see these lush ecosystems transition into dry and degraded savannas unable to support biodiversity and releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide.

But there is hope. Remarkably, Ecuador became the first country last August to hold a referendum where voters overwhelmingly backed limiting oil exploitation in the mega-diverse Yasuní National Park.

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Despite facing the brunt of the climate emergency and having less responsibility for causing it, countries in the Global South appear to be leading the charge to confront it.

The Colombian government, which has been pushing for an end to oil development in the Amazon, has announced that it would not approve new oil and gas exploration projects and joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, and the  Powering Past Coal Alliance.

Antigua and Barbuda and Timor-Leste recently joined a growing number of governments, cities and other actors pushing for the negotiation of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This type of leadership required to end fossil fuel expansion, equitably phase out existing production and foster international cooperation to accelerate a transition is critical.

World Bank controversy sends loss and damage talks into overtime

Meanwhile, the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Norway are responsible for half of the planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050, despite their special responsibility and capacity to act given their historical contribution to global heating. BP, Shell and ExxonMobil have also recently scaled back their efforts to back renewable energy.

These developments ignore the warnings from the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists and the International Energy Agency, which say there can be no new oil and gas fields approved or new coal-fired power stations to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Rich countries and corporations need to lead the transition away from fossil fuel projects at home and work with countries in the Global South to equitably phase down fossil fuels and finance renewable energy alternatives.

China’s Belt and Road gets ‘green’ reboot and spending boost

International cooperation is required to establish a moratorium on all industrial activity in primary and priority forests in these areas until 2050 to protect critical ecosystems and while setting up adequate financing mechanisms like debt relief, payments for environmental services and redirecting subsidies to support countries to shift away from extractive industries.

The Global North must support developing countries with the transition. In Colombia, if national policymakers do not respond proactively to the global energy transition, the country could face lost economic output of more than USD 88 billion (or 27% of 2019 GDP) between now and 2050 in a world that de-carbonises in line with the Paris Agreement.

This is not only about reducing emissions but also supporting countries in the Global South with a just and orderly energy transition and managing the fiscal risks and restructuring of economies dependent on fossil fuels.

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Led by the richest countries, public subsidies to fossil fuels, which reached a record of US$7 trillion last year, must be drastically reduced and redirected to supporting renewable energy, reducing deforestation and boosting climate resilience in poorer countries.

The former UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, is calling for a US$25 billion global windfall levy on fossil fuel profits paid by the richest petrostates including Norway and the Gulf states, a mere 3% of the export earnings of these major producers.

At the UN climate talks (COP28) next month in Dubai, all countries must support a global commitment and specific dates to phase-out fossil fuels.

Rich countries should honour their pledges in 2021 to end international public finance for fossil fuels which continues to run into the billions of dollars.

Equally, the world’s 60 largest banks, which have poured $5.5 trillion into the fossil fuel industry since 2015 must align their financing with the 1.5°C limit.

The Global North and its corporations need to step up. Crucially, there is a brighter future possible as staying below 1.5°C would save the global economy US$12 trillion by 2050 and would create double the amount of jobs as would be lost in the fossil fuel industry.

While unlikely leaders in the Global South are taking the baton, the Global North is dithering with dire consequences for us all.

Guy Edwards is a PhD student at Sussex University, a former senior consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank and co-author of A Fragmented Continent: Latin America and the Global Politics of Climate Change.

Peter Newell is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex, co-founder and research director of the Rapid Transition Alliance and author of Power Shift: The Global Political Economy of Energy Transitions.

The post Saving the Three Basins means stopping fossil fuel expansion appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

The EU is about to revive a failed climate solution

Mon, 10/23/2023 - 08:46

Since their inception more than 30 years ago, carbon offsets have given false comfort to those seeking easy solutions to the climate crisis.

Encouraging one party to continue pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, while paying another to do the opposite has been a giant diversion: side-tracking us from decarbonising our economies and lives.

One scandal after another has engulfed carbon offset schemes. Their credibility has eroded as evidence has mounted that offset projects fail to deliver the climate gains that they promise.

An investigation earlier this year found that 90% of the rainforest protection schemes approved by the world’s largest carbon offsets standards agency, Verra, were “worthless” from a climate perspective. This point was reinforced by a new study from UC Berkeley, which found that the companies had greatly overstated the emissions their projects saved.

Inherently flawed

Another study investigating the largest forest offsetting schemes by companies, governments and the World Bank reached the same conclusion: all had inflated their impact.

The real problem with carbon offsetting schemes, however, lies less with their execution than with their inherent flaws.

This is especially true of land-based offsetting – where polluters claim the effects of their fossil fuel emissions have been neutralised because they’ve paid for trees to be planted, improved farming methods, or temporarily locked carbon into the land by another means.

Exposed: carbon offsets linked to high forest loss still on sale

These schemes are predicated on the promise of sucking vast amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere in the future: a future laden with variables and uncertainties. By contrast, every ton of emissions released now will certainly contribute to the floods, heat waves, wildfires and other climate-fuelled chaos unfolding across the planet.

From global leader to global wrecking ball?

Yet just as the evidence is hardening around land-based offsets’ fundamental flaws, the European Union (EU) could be on the cusp of agreeing a law that would bolster the market. This would signal a serious reversal of the EU’s status as a global climate leader.

EU countries hammer out joint stance for Cop28 climate summit

The EU chose to exclude forest offsets from its Emissions Trading System (ETS), because of concerns about the problems plaguing the voluntary carbon offset market – that projects could be manipulated to overstate their climate impact.

Now, with potentially disastrous consequences, conservative EU lawmakers are paving the way to reverse this.

Their proposed EU Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF), aimed at establishing new standards for calculating carbon dioxide removals from forests, farms, or yet-to-be developed projects for industrial carbon capture, will also include forest offsets.

Cooking the books: cookstove offsets produce millions of fake emission cuts

The CRCF would encourage private, self-regulating agencies like Verra to create tradable carbon credits based on agreed standards, allowing the use of carbon removals to offset ongoing emissions by the entities that buy the credits, rather than ensuring companies are obligated to both reduce their emissions and pay for activities that remove carbon.

This dangerous proposal, which is currently before the European Parliament, would reward offsetters with an EU stamp of approval. It would also create the false impression that the use of tradable carbon credits, developed under new EU rules and misleadingly described as “carbon removals”, will result in lower total emissions.

The opposite is more likely to occur.

A stark choice

Like other speculative markets, from crypto currencies to derivatives, the carbon offset market is plagued by cycles of boom and bust. It is currently in a swoon. As the risks of being held liable for false claims have risen, many companies have stopped buying. The price for land-based carbon credits has fallen tenfold since the start of 2022.

Those championing land-based carbon offsetting as a climate solution are trying to resuscitate the carbon offset market. A major reason, as a new report co-authored by Kathleen McAfee asserts, is that carbon trading has become a self-perpetuating industry rife with conflicts of interest and a bias for producing success stories.

In their quest to revive their industry, the carbon marketeers seem to have found powerful allies among a sizeable number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

This week, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee will vote on the CRCF. If MEPs are serious about tackling the climate emergency, then they must call for the EU to ban the sale of carbon credits which would enable climate action to be delayed.

As the world has just endured the hottest July, August and September on record, it is clear that the EU faces a stark choice. It can either give a false climate solution a new lease of life – or face up to the reality that offsets simply don’t work.

Dr Kate Dooley is a Research Fellow in the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Dr Kathleen McAfee is Professor Emerita in International Relations at San Francisco State University.

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Categories: H. Green News

Small islands struggle to get help from UN’s flagship climate fund

Fri, 10/20/2023 - 06:00

Government officials from small island developing states (Sids) have said they find it difficult to get money from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for projects to help them adapt to climate change.

The GCF was set up in 2010 to distribute money from rich countries to poorer ones to help them cut emissions and adapt to climate change.

The fund is supposed to pay particular attention to the needs of small islands as well as the world’s poorest countries (LDCs) and African countries.

Small island officials told the authors of a new ODI report that getting money from the GCF was preferable to getting it from other sources like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund or the private sector.

Polish election result improves prospects for EU climate ambition

But, they said that GCF money was handed out too slowly, the process of applying is too difficult for nations with small civil services and a number of requirements discriminate against smaller nations.

Emily Wilkinson is the lead author of the report, which was shared exclusively with Climate Home. She said that “small island developing states really value the GCF, there’s nothing like it”.

But, she said, “the fact that a third of the proposals of all countries that we spoke to have been in the pipeline for over three years is quite staggering”.

Beneficiary metrics

With funding from rich nations stagnating, the GCF is looking to do as much as it can with its limited money. That’s made things harder for small islands.

Colin Young is a former government official from Belize and is now the head of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, which has worked with the GCF on projects in Barbados.

He told Climate Home that when they apply for projects, the GCF is increasingly telling them they need to get the cost per person helped down.

ODI report author Emily Wilkinson told Climate Home that one small island was told by the GCF that “the investment figures are very large compared to the beneficiary population and the climate impact”.

Africa and India push rich nations to phase out fossil fuels faster

The GCF’s investment criteria lists “impact potential” as one metric. As an example, it mentions “number of beneficiaries, number of people affected by climate impacts”.

As small island nations tend to have small populations, the number of beneficiaries is often in the low thousands.

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"How do we say in a small country that is in the middle of a hurricane belt, droughts and floods - where people are impacted on the frontlines of climate change - and say that your project we have difficulty funding it because each person is going to get too much per capita from the resources?" Young asked.

Dominica was devastated by a hurricane in 2019. Its environment minister Cozier Frederick said that "adaptation and resilience funding needs are naturally higher for small island states compared to projects in other developing nations".

"Consequently," he said, "there is constant push back from the GCF on costs when applications are submitted".

A GCF spokesperson told Climate Home that number of beneficiaries was one of its "core indicators" but that there was no minimum threshold that has to be met.

Grants vs loans

The report found that one thing small islands like about the GCF is that it offers grants as well as loans.

But, with funding scarce, the report found the GCF is increasingly looking more to loans, so it gets its money back and can lend it out for another projects.

Renewable energy projects tend to be funded through loans, as the solar and wind panels generate electricity which can be sold, generating money to pay back the loan.

But, while that might work for a big solar farm in a large middle-income country like China, not every renewable energy project will make money.

World Bank approves green reforms, appeals for more money

Young said that for small islands, solar panels are often more about resilience to weather extremes than about reducing emissions.

For example, he said, solar panels can provide back-up energy to hospitals or water pumping stations when a storm knocks out the fossil fuel-powered electricity generator. But those solar panels won't make enough money to pay back the cost of installing them.

He said that the GCF's "increasing desire" to use loans not grants comes from the fact that the needs of developing countries "are clearly much greater than the resources the GCF has".

Nevertheless, he said small islands and the least developed countries "should not be lumped into the category with countries that clearly have less vulnerabilities in terms of size and geography and population".

Getting better

While problems remain, ODI's report found the GCF has taken measures to help small islands get funds.

In particular, small islands appreciated a GCF programme which gives each government $1 million to train staff and engage stakeholders to access GCF funds without relying on private consultants.

One anonymous Pacific interviewee described this as "super important" while a Caribbean official said it "has certainly helped us".

Most of the report's fieldwork was done before Mafalda Duarte took over as head of the GCF in August 2023.

A GCF spokesperson said the GCF gives half its funding to adaptation and half of that goes to LDCs, Sids and African states.

They added that the GCF is a "strong partner for Sids because of the eligiblity challenges small island developing states face with other sources of finance".

They said that there are "processes in place ensure that once a project is brought to the Board for approval GCF is confident of its impact potential. Processes are rigourous for that very reason."

They acknowledged that the GCF must speed up and simplify its process and said it had an "ambitious reform agenda".

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Categories: H. Green News

World Bank controversy sends loss and damage talks into overtime

Fri, 10/20/2023 - 03:58

The president of the next UN climate summit, Cop28, has told government negotiators they must agree how to set up a new loss and damage fund before leaving the Egyptian city of Aswan.

The United Arab Emirates’ Sultan Al Jaber addressed the 24 members of the transitional committee by video link on Friday morning, the last official day of talks.

At Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, governments tasked the committee with working out what a new loss and damage fund for climate victims should look like and present their proposals to Cop28 in November.

The fund is supposed to channel money to people who have suffered loss and damage caused by climate change. This could mean rebuilding homes after a hurricane or supporting farmers displaced by recurrent drought. Failure to reach consensus risks delaying support to those in need.

But developing countries were incensed by a proposal to host the fund at the World Bank, painting it as a US power grab. And rich-poor divides persisted on how to define the “vulnerable” groups eligible for funds and who gets to control spending.

Al Jaber accused the negotiators of dragging their feet and told them not to leave this task to ministers. “I expect you to deliver,” he said. “If I don’t see real and tangible results, that will not be acceptable.”

The committee was supposed to have three meetings this year but added a fourth to try and resolve deep splits between developed and developing countries.

As open negotiations resumed on Friday afternoon, that extra meeting was expected to run into extra time. Al Jaber said the Egyptian hosts could facilitate “extra hours or even an extra day in Aswan”.

Deal with the devil

Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta is a Cuban diplomat and chair of the G77+China bloc, which represents all the developing countries.

Speaking from Aswan, he told reporters on Thursday: “At this late hour, a small group of nations responsible for the most significant proportion of the stock of greenhouse gases have tried to bargain potential support for a Fund on one side with eligibility and administrative arrangements.”

Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta represents 136 developing countries (Photo credit: UN Geneva)

Referring to the 16th century tale of Dr. Faustus, who sold his soul to the devil, he said: “Accepting this Faustian bargain now would break the Cop when we need the greatest internationalism and solidarity to solve climate and other global challenges”

He told reporters that he did not want to single out any country but “since you’re asking, we have been confronted with an elephant in the room – and that elephant is the US”. He said they came to the talks with a “fixed idea” that the World Bank should host the fund.

World Bank controversy

Developing nations have argued that the World bank is too slow, inefficient, unaccountable and lacks the organisational culture to tackle climate change.

World Bank officials addressed negotiators questions in a closed-door meeting in Aswan on Tuesday but Cuesta was not impressed.

He said that consultations with the Washington-DC based bank had “displayed clearly” that it was “not fit for purpose in relation to what we’re looking for” and the fund should be set up as part of the United Nations instead.

China’s Belt and Road gets ‘green’ reboot and spending boost

He pointed out that the World Bank only added tackling climate change to its mission last week and said this showed they lacked the “operational culture” of climate action.

With the World Bank as host, he said, the fund would not be legally or operationally independent from the bank.

“We know the history”

The bank was set up by the US and its allies after the second world war and the US is still its biggest shareholder and chooses who leads it. “We know the history. We know the politics. We know the manipulation,” said Cuesta.

He added that, under the bank, the fund also wouldn’t be accountable to all governments through the Cop climate talks and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Developed countries have argued that setting up a new independent fund would take longer than having the World Bank host it. But Cuesta said it would be “naive” to believe that speed is  rich nations’ real motivation.

The talks’ co-chairs released a draft text on Friday morning. Climate Home has seen it and it includes four options.

The fund could be hosted by the World Bank, with or without conditions. It could be an independent institution or there could be an open process to select the fund host.

Who benefits?

The second main division is over which countries are prioritised for funding. Developed countries want the funds to be allocated “based on vulnerability”.

There is no clear definition of vulnerability and Cuesta said this criteria would impede the fund’s ability to respond to recent climate-related floods in middle-income countries like Pakistan and Libya.

Developing countries fear that in practice “vulnerability” criteria mean funds will be restricted to just the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) and small islands developing states (Sids).

The 46 LDCS are mostly in Africa and parts of Asia. Major nations like China, India, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa are neither LDCs or Sids.

A map of the world’s least developed countries, as defined by the UN. The map does not include Sids. (Photo credit: Unctad)

Further splits include developing nations wanting a target of $100 billion of funding a year by 2030 to be included and developed countries wanting to earmark budgets for slow onset events, recovery and reconstruction and small countries.

Negotiators have almost agreed one thorny issue though. The US had pushed for the fund’s board to include seats for nations that paid into the fund, sparking accusations that they were trying to rig the board in rich nations’ favour.

Friday morning’s draft said there would be 12 board members from developed countries and 14 from developing ones. There could also be non-voting members representing indigenous peoples and climate-induced migrants, although negotiators have yet to agree that.

Update: Negotiators worked until 1.30am but left Aswan without agreement. They will meet again in Abu Dhabi on November 3-5 to continue discussions.

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Categories: H. Green News

China’s Belt and Road gets ‘green’ reboot and spending boost

Thu, 10/19/2023 - 05:28

China has raised clean energy among the priorities of its flagship international investment programme, while promising an extra $100 billion in development funding.

President Xi Jinping said China will “further deepen cooperation” in green infrastructure and energy projects with developing countries as part of a reboot of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Xi unveiled his plans at a glitzy summit celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the infrastructure-focused initiative, which has built power plants, roads, and railways around the world and extended China’s sphere of influence in over a hundred emerging economies.

It has also faced accusations of pushing low-income borrowers into unsustainable debt.

‘Smaller and greener’

The revamp will attempt to breathe new life into the initiative after a lull. Lending levels plummeted over the last couple of years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and China’s internal economic troubles.

Now Beijing wants to make the Belt and Road smaller and greener, shifting the focus away from colossal and polluting projects and into high-tech and clean energy.

Africa and India push rich nations to phase out fossil fuels faster

Dimitri de Boer, regional director for Asia at ClientEarth, said the summit reinforced the idea that “green is the base colour” of the BRI. “There is a major opportunity here for advancing the global energy transition to mitigate climate change,” he told Climate Home.

Chatham House’s Bernice Lee says the real litmus test is whether the updated Belt and Road can support multiple objectives, beyond simply economic growth. “It is helpful that at a time when so many countries cut their aid spending someone is putting more into the pot, even though the proof is in the pudding as to whether it delivers long-term, lasting benefits”, she added.

The green pivot is not an overnight move and comes two years after Xi pledged China would stop building coal power plants overseas.

Clean energy pivot

Fossil fuel infrastructure had absorbed nearly two-thirds of the energy-related funding committed through the Belt and Road up until then. Dozens of coal plants were built in countries like Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam, locking in carbon-intensive energy production for potentially decades.

According to an analysis by Boston University, Chinese-financed power plants emit more than 245 million tons of CO2 each year – roughly equivalent to Spain’s annual carbon footprint.

Since Xi’s 2021 promise, however, no new coal plants have been developed and investment in renewables has taken off. In the first half of 2023, solar, wind and hydro took up about 55% of energy-related construction and investment facilitated by the Belt and Road, according to Beijing-based Green Finance and Development Centre.

<alt=”China’s clean energy program Belt and Road gets ‘greet’ reboot”>

Observers hope the trend will continue, as China pumps cash into its overseas investment programme. Xi said on Wednesday 780 billion yuan ($106 billion) will be made available through Chinese-backed development banks to support Belt and Road projects.

JETP rival

Beijing has also announced the launch of a clean energy initiative seen as China’s response to the Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) struck up by rich Western nations and South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam and Senegal.

Few details about the Green Investment and Finance Partnership (GIFP) have been revealed and no concrete deals have been announced. But Boston University’s Kevin Gallagher, who attended the summit, told Climate Home that the focus will be on “green energy pathways” and not on decommissioning existing fossil fuel plants, like in the Jetp.

Polish election result improves prospects for EU climate ambition

He added the programme will enable partner countries to receive technical assistance on project design and investment from a consortium of participating Chinese financial institutions.

“Beijing’s initiatives are a complement, not an alternative, but hopefully they will spark healthy competition,” said Gallagher. “The JETPs have had trouble getting off the ground and developing countries worry they will accentuate debt burdens. It remains to be seen if GIFPs can be cheaper and faster.”

Vulnerable countries watching

The plans are being watched with interest by emerging and low-income economies that struggle to access the level of finance needed to clean up their energy systems.

Attended by representatives from 130 countries, largely from the Global South, the summit saw repeated appeals from leaders of climate-vulnerable nations for more money to fund climate action.

World Bank approves green reforms, appeals for more money

Sara Jane Ahmed, who represented the V20 coalition of vulnerable nations in Beijing, said the group can work more closely with China through a “green” Belt and Road. “China has launched a program that will truly matter,” she told Climate Home. “What we are seeing more clearly from China is a recognition of collective gains and of shared prosperity aims and this is being driven by technology leaders and long-term partners.”

No talks of ‘climate’

Amid all the green rhetoric, one word remained largely absent from any of the speeches made by the Chinese leadership in relation to finance: climate.

This is no accident, says Li Shuo, global policy advisor for Greepeace East Asia. “China certainly see some of its Belt and Road projects as contributing to the world’s decarbonisation efforts. But it won’t label them as climate finance, so that it is not in any way confused as a potential Chinese contribution to UNFCCC climate finance targets,” he added.

The provision of UN-mandated climate finance has become an increasingly thorny issue. While developed nations have not yet delivered on a pledge to provide $100 billion in climate finance annually by 2020, they are increasingly pushing to expand the donor base beyond historical polluters.

China strongly maintains that it is the responsibility of developed countries to provide climate finance labeled as such.

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Categories: H. Green News

Polish election result improves prospects for EU climate ambition

Wed, 10/18/2023 - 10:25

Poland’s opposition parties scored a surprise win in a general election on Sunday, boosting the prospects for renewables in Poland and for ambitious EU climate policy.

After ruling for eight years, the right-wing Law and Justice party got 35% of the vote – the biggest share for a single party but not enough to stay in power. The opposition is expected to form a government by the end of December.

Robert Tomaszewski, a senior energy analyst at Warsaw-based think tank Polityka Insight told Climate Home the results, driven by a high turnout, came as a surprise to many observers and felt like “spring in the autumn”.

But while Tomaszewski and Forum Energii analyst Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk said that the new government was likely to speed up Poland’s renewable roll-out and cooperate better with the rest of Europe, it was unlikely to take on the country’s powerful coal mining unions directly.

Block removed

The outgoing Polish government, led by the Law and Justice party, has been a brake on the European Union’s climate ambition, opposing several measures.

In June, it threatened to take the European Union to court to try and stop its phase-out of polluting vehicles and other climate laws. The new government is likely to withdraw this legal challenge, Tomaszewski and Gawlikowska-Fyk said.

Africa and India push rich nations to phase out fossil fuels faster

Polish ministers and state-owned utilities also launched a misinformation campaign against the EU’s climate policies, writing opinion pieces and putting up billboards blaming the EU’s carbon pricing system for the rising cost of energy.

The head of E3G’s Brussels office Manon Dufour told Climate Home that the change in government would raise the chances of the EU’s 2040 emissions reduction target being ambitious. The EU’s scientific advisers have said it should be 90-95% below 1990 levels.

No coal fight

Tomaszewski and Gawlikowska-Fyk said that the outgoing government had taken some steps to encourage renewables and the new government was likely to go further, working with the EU and private investors.

Tomaszewski said the new government was likely to change the rules around onshore wind turbines, to make them easier to build.

Gawlikowska-Fyk said that investment was needed to integrate these renewables into Poland’s energy system. “It’s grids, grids, grids,” she said.

World Bank approves green reforms, appeals for more money

On the other hand neither expected the new government to take on the coal mining unions. Local and European elections are scheduled for next year and the government will not want miners  to protest during the election campaign, they said.

Poland is among Europe’s most coal-dependent countries – both for electricity and for heating – and under a deal signed with the mining unions in 2020 does not plan to stop coal mining until 2049.

Tomaszewski said that, while it would cause a political headache, pushing this date forward wouldn’t help the climate because market forces would phase out coal way before 2049 anyway.

Gawlikowska-Fyk agreed. “There’s an awareness in Poland that 2049 is impossible,” she said, as the EU’s carbon trading scheme means licences to pollute will become scarce and expensive for coal power plants.

The post Polish election result improves prospects for EU climate ambition appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

EU countries hammer out joint stance for Cop28 climate summit

Tue, 10/17/2023 - 09:52

EU countries on Monday (16 October) adopted a common stance for the United Nations Cop28 international climate conference but language on the EU’s emissions reduction target and fossil fuel exit goal was softened to reach a unanimous decision.

The EU’s 27 environment ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday to agree on the EU’s stance for the Cop28 summit opening in Dubai on 30 November, throwing their weight behind a goal to triple global renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

The European Union will also push for a “predominantly fossil-free” global energy sector “well before 2050” and strive to reach a “fully or predominantly decarbonised power system in the 2030s,” according to wording agreed by the bloc’s environment ministers.

However, the most ambitious countries had to accept watered-down language on the EU’s push to phase out fossil fuels and reduce emissions as the decision needed to be taken by unanimity.

“Would [the Commission and Presidency] have been able to go even further? Absolutely. And yet, you know, this is a Union where, in the end, we create a mandate with 27 countries,” said EU climate chief Wopke Hoekstra after the meeting.

The European Commission and EU presidency holder Spain pushed for stronger language on emissions reduction, saying the EU’s updated legislation would raise the bloc’s climate target from a 55% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to a 57% reduction.

But they had to bow to pressure from Eastern EU countries, which have a more significant challenge decarbonising their economies because of their heavier reliance on coal.

“Texts adopted by unanimity always take a little longer to agree. European countries have quite different energy situations, with some still very dependent on coal,” explained a source in the cabinet of French energy transition minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

Updated pledge, but no new target

EU member states will go to Cop28 stressing the importance of scaling up the global ambition to remain within the 1.5ºC global warming limit, said a statement released after the meeting.

While the EU will not come with a new emissions reduction target, it will update its pledge to reflect the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package of legislation adopted to meet its 2030 climate goals.

According to the European Commission, fully implementing the package will result in a 57% reduction in net emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, more than the initial 55% goal agreed two years ago.

The higher objective reflects the EU’s ambition to grow its carbon sinks and increased level of ambition on renewables and energy efficiency, pushed forward last year in reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

But according to Ribera, some countries had concerns about putting this figure to paper. “The main argument was that they did not want to create any confusion. It was not a new goal,” she explained.

In the end, a compromise formulation stipulates that “the Fit for 55 package, when fully implemented, could enable the EU to exceed its target of at least -55%,” said the French ministerial source.

Environmental activists, for their part, want the EU to support a Cop28 outcome that is grounded in science, and to recognise that more must be done to align climate action and finance with Europe’s historical responsibilities.

“For the EU’s climate targets, this means the EU needs to commit to substantially overshoot its current target of -55% net emission cuts and achieve at least -65% gross, or -76% net emission cuts by 2030 and net zero emissions no later than by 2040,” said Sven Harmeling, international climate policy coordinator at the NGO group Climate Action Network Europe.

“Unabated” fossil fuels

The EU’s Cop28 position also includes calls to peak emissions this decade and phase out “unabated” fossil fuels, a controversial term referring to carbon capture and storage technologies.

“We still have this idea that we have to try and avoid using fossil fuels if they have no abatement system and that the long term objective is that they should be phased out of our energy mix as we try to promote decarbonisation,” Ribera explained.

“The agreement in the Council conclusions is that these [abatement technologies] are technologies which should be tied to those sectors where it’s going to be difficult for them to engage in decarbonisation, where it’s difficult to wean themselves off fossil fuels,” she added.

Here too, a compromise solution was found in order to reach a unanimous decision among the 27 member states.

“The term ‘unabated’ appeared twice. There was a compromise: we kept it once in the second line of paragraph 14 and deleted it the second time,” the French source said.

Another complex issue related to subsidies for fossil fuels, which is sensitive for Eastern EU member states like Poland where coal makes up 70% of the electricity mix.

“There, we found a sentence that says: ‘calls for a phase out of fossil fuel subsidies’,” the French source explained. “We removed the word ‘inefficient’ because we believe that all fossil fuel subsidies are inefficient,” he added.

Similarly, the EU text does specify an exact date for when coal power should be phased out. “But we did say that there is an objective of achieving a completely or predominantly decarbonised energy system during the 2030s, ‘leaving no room for new coal power’,” the French source said.

“This is a compromise formulation – there is no EU date for a total phase-out of coal. But given that many countries use a lot of coal, it’s still a significant result.”

According to Ribera, fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or the just transition should also be phased out “as soon as possible”.

Greens slam EU climate commissioner ‘crash landing’

Environmental campaigners and the Greens in the European Parliament were quick to criticise the Council’s Cop28 conclusions, with German Green lawmaker Michael Bloss calling it a “crash landing” for climate commissioner Wopke Hoekstra who is entering his second week in office.

“The new climate commissioner has promised a lot and not delivered,” Bloss said, referring to the final outcome on EU’s target and the references to unabated fossil fuels.

“The fossil industry will use this loophole to continue burning coal, oil and gas without regard to climate protection. But climate protection is only possible without fossil energies!” he said, adding Hoekstra will need to be more assertive in Dubai. “The NGO group Climate Action Network Europe also called for the EU to strengthen its stance.

The EU has collectively missed the mark by calling only for a global phaseout of ‘unabated’ fossil fuels,” said the group’s director Chiara Martinelli.

“Instead of throwing a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and placing a risky bet on an unproven, highly expensive method of capturing their carbon emissions, it is far more cost-effective to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and intensify efforts to build a fully renewable energy system,” she added.

This article was produced by Euractiv and republished under a content sharing agreement. Read the original here.

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Categories: H. Green News

Africa and India push rich nations to phase out fossil fuels faster

Mon, 10/16/2023 - 08:55

Six weeks ahead of the Cop28 climate talks, negotiators from Africa and India have set out separate plans to push developed countries to do more to move away from fossil fuels.

The African Group of negotiators want rich countries to stop greenlighting new fossil fuel production projects by 2030 while India is calling on them to go beyond net zero and start sucking carbon out of the atmosphere by 2050.

The proposals play on a key principle of United Nations climate talks, “common but differentiated responsibilities”, where the wealthy countries who are most responsible for causing climate change take a lead in tackling it.

But rich nations like the European Union are focused on promoting global goals, like a tripling of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and a global phase out of fossil fuels “well ahead of 2050”.

Fossil fuel production

While many developed countries have restricted support for fossil fuel production projects abroad, major nations like the US, UK, Australia and Norway have continued to approve oil and gas pumping at home and have not set end dates for fossil fuel production.

To challenge this, the African Group of Negotiators has called for “differentiated pathways for countries in the pursuit of net zero and fossil fuel phasedown”.

World Bank approves green reforms, appeals for more money

In a submission to the UN global stocktake, the African Group said that these pathways should include “where no further exploration of fossil fuels in developed countries is targeted well ahead of 2030, whilst affording developing countries the opportunity to close the global supply gap in the short term”.

The submission was included in the United Nations’ 65-page list of “elements” which government negotiators will debate ahead of and at Cop28. While Cop decisions are not binding, agreement would heap moral pressure on rich countries to stop producing fossil fuels.

No supply gap

Despite the African Group’s claims of a fossil fuel supply gap, a 2021 UN report found that the world’s governments plan to produce more than twice as much fossil fuels in 2030 than would be compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Most of this production growth comes from developing – but not African – nations like Saudi Arabia, Russia and India. The US, Canada and Australia also plan to produce more oil and gas.

While production is set to fall in the UK and Norway, the Unep report says this is more because they are running out of oil and gas than because of intentionally aligning production with a decarbonised future.

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A small group of nations led by Denmark and Costa Rica have formed the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, promising to stop producing those two two fossil fuels.

Thuli Makama, an African climate campaigner from Oil Change International, told Climate Home that "no new fossil fuel extraction projects should be approved in Africa or anywhere".

She said that fossil fuels do not bring development and that African fossil fuels will block development of the continent's renewable energy and green economy sectors while mainly benefitting companies from wealthy countries.

The African Group has also called for rich nations to agree to give more money to developing countries to help them tackle and adapt to climate change and address the loss and damage it causes.

The group told the UN it wanted Cop28 to agree that rich nations would provide by 2030 $200-400 billion a year for loss and damage and $400 billion a year for adapting to climate change on top of funding to reduce emissions.

Net negative by 2050

India's submission to the UN stocktake says that "developed countries should have already peaked their emissions and must be on their way to becoming net negative, with peaking to come later for developing countries".

Two anonymous Indian government officials fleshed this proposal out, telling Reuters that developed countries should be net negative by 2050. One said this would "enable the world to achieve the target of global net-zero by that year while allowing developing nations to use the available natural resources for growth".

Avantika Goswami, climate change manager at the Centre for Science and Environment think tank, told Climate Home that India's demand "seems reasonable".

World Bank targets dirty subsidies to fund climate action

"There is no doubt that developed countries have overstayed their welcome in using the remaining carbon budget," she said.

She added: "We are likely to blow past 1.5C soon, and that will not be the fault of the developing world, many parts of which are still struggling to overcome historical inequalities and meet basic citizen needs."

India's call is similar to that made in March by the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, who said that developed nations should reach net zero by 2040. Most developed nations plan to reach that target by 2050.

But Guterres said too that developing nations should reach net zero by 2050. Countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia aim to reach that target by 2060 while India targets 2070. His proposal was largely ignored by both developed and developing nations.

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One developed nation that does plan to be net negative by 2050 is Denmark, which has asked companies to suck carbon from the air and store it under the North Sea in old oil and gas fields.

The post Africa and India push rich nations to phase out fossil fuels faster appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Could you be the next editor of Climate Home News?

Mon, 10/16/2023 - 06:54

Climate Home News is looking for an editor to lead its award-winning team. 

This is a unique opportunity to set the news agenda internationally on a topic of intense public interest. 

Since 2012, Climate Home News has built a reputation as the go-to news source for original reporting on the international politics and diplomacy of the climate crisis. 

Climate Home’s core audience includes climate diplomats, policymakers, researchers, practitioners and activists across the globe. We reach hundreds of thousands of generalist readers too. 

Initially centred on the UN climate negotiations, our beat broadened to how the Paris Agreement is playing out in the real world. As climate journalism entered the mainstream, we honed our focus on where we could add value: authoritative reporting on multilateral affairs and collaborative investigations. 

The successful candidate will build on this legacy and steer Climate Home through its next phase. You will navigate industry-wide trends such as news avoidance, stagnating social media engagement and the rise of AI tools. You will have big ambitions for climate journalism and a track record to back them up. 

Location: Remote 

Salary: £50,000 – £70,000 FTE depending on experience and location

Terms: Full time or part time/job share negotiable 

Contract type: Permanent 

Start date: As soon as possible after 2 January 2024 

  • Lead the editorial strategy for Climate Home News 
  • Manage a team of journalists 
  • Maintain the high quality of journalism for which Climate Home is known 
  • Uphold industry best practice in ethical and responsible reporting 
  • Mitigate legal risks 
  • Work with the CEO and operations manager to secure resources to sustain Climate Home’s original journalism 
Role Requirements 


  • A minimum of five years’ journalism experience, including at least two years in an editorial capacity 
  • A vision for advancing independent climate journalism 
  • Keen interest in the climate crisis, its causes and solutions 
  • A track record of producing hard-hitting news and investigative stories 
  • Proven ability to secure resources to sustain quality journalism 
  • Networking prowess 
  • Awareness of audience trends and their implications for news publishers 
  • Understanding of media law and industry standards 
  • Excellent written and spoken English 
  • Willingness to work remotely 


  • Deep knowledge of the climate crisis and multilateral efforts to tackle it 
  • Existing networks in the climate journalism space 
  • Experience of managing people 
  • Multimedia experience 
  • Additional languages 
Application process 

To apply for this role, please send a CV and one-page covering letter to outlining your editorial vision for Climate Home News and how your experience equips you to deliver it. Attach or link to published work that you have reported or edited. Include contact details for two referees, who will only be contacted with your prior permission. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview with CEO and publisher James Ramsey, editor Megan Darby and an external panel member tbc. 

Deadline for applications: 09:00 GMT, Monday 6 November 2023 

Interviews will take place the week beginning: 13 November 

The post Could you be the next editor of Climate Home News? appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Climate Home News is hiring a finance and operations manager

Mon, 10/16/2023 - 06:53

Are you a highly organised individual looking for a flexible part-time job with a purpose? 

Climate Home News needs a finance and operations manager to support our work. We deliver original journalism that informs and inspires action to tackle the global climate crisis. 

The finance and operations manager will ensure the smooth and effective running of Climate Home News, leading on finance, human resources, administrative and information systems.   

As a member of a small team, your role will span everything from processing invoices to guiding strategy. 

You will report to the CEO and work closely with the editor to solve problems and create the conditions for the organisation to flourish. 

There will be opportunities to develop the role in lockstep with Climate Home’s growth. 

Location: Remote, UK 

Salary: £40,000 – £45,000 FTE depending on experience 

Terms: Flexible, 0.4 FTE/16 hours a week 

Contract type: Permanent 

Start date: 2 January 2024 

  • Developing our finance systems, including taking a lead on budgeting, planning and oversight of book-keeping 
  • Handling the financial relationship with corporate and philanthropic partners, fulfilling their compliance and reporting requirements 
  • Processing invoices and making international payments through PayPal, Wise or the bank as needed 
  • Coordinating with the payroll provider to process staff salaries 
  • Ensuring compliance with legal requirements and voluntary regulatory schemes such as IMPRESS 
  • Supporting the governance of Climate Home News Ltd, for example by organising meetings of the advisory board 
  • Contracting and managing operational support as required, including web development services and travel planning for staff to attend international conferences 
  • Designing and implementing HR processes and policies including contracts, recruitment and onboarding 
  • Developing organisational strategy alongside the editor and CEO 
Role Requirements 


  • Three years’ experience of financial management (including overseeing budgets and financial planning) 
  • Proven ability to establish effective processes and systems (HR, finance and others) to support the needs of a small and growing organization 
  • Experience of managing staff and familiarity with UK workplace legislation 
  • Experience of contracting and managing freelance employees and external providers
  • Proven ability to set priorities and manage multiple tasks and react positively in light of shifting and competing timelines 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills 
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team-oriented, collaborative manner 
  • Willingness to work remotely 


  • Experience working in climate or media 
  • Technical proficiency in QuickBooks or equivalent accounting software 
  • A degree (Bachelors or Master’s) in a relevant subject 
  • A track record of networking and establishing productive relationships with new partners and other key stakeholders 
  • Experience of fundraising, grant writing, monitoring/evaluation or grant reporting 
Application process 

To apply for this role, please send a CV and one-page covering letter to identifying why you are a good fit. Include contact details for two referees, who will only be contacted with your prior permission. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview with CEO and publisher James Ramsey, editor Megan Darby and an external panel member tbc. 

Deadline for applications: 09:00 GMT, Monday 6 November 2023 

Interviews will take place the week beginning: 13 November

The post Climate Home News is hiring a finance and operations manager appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News


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