Britain Spent 'Twice As Much On Overseas Fossil Fuels As Renewables'

A vendor weighs coal for a customer in Lucknow, India. The country has been one of the top five beneficiaries of UK energy support this decade. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

By Arthur Neslen for The Guardian – The UK has spent more than twice as much overseas support on fossil fuels projects as on renewable ones so far this decade, according to research commissioned by the Catholic aid agency Cafod. The Overseas Development Institute, which analysed the figures, found that 46% of Britain’s £6.1bn energy spending in developing countries between 2010 and 2014 went on oil, coal and gas-fired schemes, compared with 22% for renewable energy projects. Overall, fossil fuel support increased by nearly £1bn this decade compared with the previous five years, with a staggering 99.4% of UK export finance support directed towards “dirty” energy investments. Cafod called on the government to clarify how it would bring public support for overseas projects into line with climate commitments under the Paris agreement. Dr Sarah Wykes, Cafod’s lead energy analyst, said: “To tackle climate change we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground and switch rapidly to renewable sources of energy. “Yet the UK carrying on a business as usual spending pattern overseas in recent years suggests a huge inconsistency in policy and a missed opportunity to promote greater investment in renewable technologies, as the Department for International Development (DfID) has tried to do through its spending.”

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are A Staggering $5 Tn Per Year

In this photo taken on November 19, 2015, smoke belches from a coal-fired power station near Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

By John Abraham for The Guardian – Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences. Second, fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives. A study was just published in the journal World Development that quantifies the amount of subsidies directed toward fossil fuels globally, and the results are shocking. The authors work at the IMF and are well-skilled to quantify the subsidies discussed in the paper. Let’s give the final numbers and then back up to dig into the details. The subsidies were $4.9 tn in 2013 and they rose to $5.3 tn just two years later. According to the authors, these subsidies are important because first, they promote fossil fuel use which damages the environment. Second, these are fiscally costly.

It’s Here Now: Cheap 100% Renewable Energy

Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy leapt in 2014. Photo credit: Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany/Licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Stuart Jeanne Bramhall for Dissident Voices – George Goodall’s The Switch: How Solar Storage and New Technology Means Cheap Power for All was enormously valuable in rectifying many of my prior misconceptions about renewable energy. First and foremost was my erroneous belief that high production costs would make renewable energy far more expensive than fossil fuels – that the renewable energy revolution would require either a) a major reduction in population or b) major sacrifice in terms of lifestyle choices. Both turn out to be totally untrue. Renewable energy (mainly photo-voltaic solar energy) is already cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world. By 2040 the low cost of producing renewable energy will make fossil fuels virtually obsolete. The first section of the book focuses on a mathematical explanation of what he refers to as the “experience curve.” Energy economists use this formula to explain the rapid decrease in the cost of manufacturing PV cells, solar panels and solar batters. The same process can be used to predict future costs of manufacture. Which is one of the main reasons Wall Street financiers are refusing to invest in new coal and gas-fired power plants. They know the electricity they produce will never compete with the low cost and efficiency of renewable energy.

Fossil Fuel Corruption Shown In ‘Vote’ To Restore FERC Quorum

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By Drew Hudson and the Beyond Extreme Energy crew. Standing alone in the Well of the Senate on Thursday night, just after 6pm and moments before the Senate adjourned for August recess, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski committed a deft coup d’etat on behalf of the oil and gas industry. The vote to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was anything but un-controversial, and was a serious breach of regular order. Just hours earlier, seven activists were arrested in front of Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. They had refused to leave until the Minority Leader spoke out about the dangers of FERC nominees and an energy bill that would dramatically expand FERC’s powers. The activists, including several of Schumer’s constituents, had delivered a letter backed by more than 30,000 comments of support asking him to vote no on FERC nominees and no on the energy bill. Hours later, Schumer and every member of the Democratic Caucus, including 3 senators who had previously voted against the nominees in committee, stood silent as Murkowski rammed through the nominations on a voice vote with no other members present, no accountability, and no opportunity for citizens to call or contact their senators to voice concerns.

Health Costs Of Fossil Fuels Six Times Greater Than Subsidies

Pollution in Harbin: Bad air kills 1.6m people prematurely each year.in China.
Image: By Fredrik Rubensson via Wikimedia Commons

By Alex Kirby for Climate News Network – LONDON, 31 July, 2017 – Health campaigners say the energy policies of the world’s richest countries are inflicting a double burden on their citizens, not only using their taxes to pay fossil fuel subsidies, but also loading huge health costs on them. The work of the Health and Environment Alliance, HEAL, the report says that although fossil fuel combustion causes deadly air pollution and climate change, virtually all governments spend vast sums of public money – their citizens’ taxes – on supporting the oil, gas and coal industry in fossil fuel energy production. A report by HEAL says the health costs associated with fossil fuels are over six times higher than the subsidies the industry receives in the G20 group of the globe’s leading industrialised countries. The G20 agreed in 2009 to phase out the subsidies, but HEAL says that on average, in countries belonging to the bloc, the health costs associated with fossil fuels are far greater than the subsidies: US$2,758bn against $444bn. HEAL cites a 2015 report by the UK-based think tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which finds that “G20 country governments’ support to fossil fuel production marries bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for climate change.”

Big Oil Overturns Portland’s Landmark Fossil Fuel Ban

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By Nick Caleb for The Real News Network – Sharmini Peries: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Back in December last year, we all hailed the city of Portland for taking a remarkable step by banning new fossil fuel infrastructure projects within city limits. With this move, it became the first city in the US to take such a bold step forward. Portland mayor, Charlie Hales at the time, said this is the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast. Then the zoning ordinance drew a challenge from the oil industry and the Portland Business Alliance. This week, the fossil fuel expansion ban got overturned by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. With us to discuss the fossil fuel interest behind this and what’s next for the city, we are going to speak with Nicholas Caleb. He is from Portland, Oregon. He is an attorney with the Center for Sustainable Economy, the organization that intervened in the recent appeals case. Thanks for joining us, Nick. Nicholas Caleb: Nice to be here. Sharmini Peries: Nick, the city of Portland had already decided what was good for the city and its citizens, so who was behind overturning the decision and will the decision stand?

NC Demonstrators Rally For ‘Independence’ From Fossil Fuels

Activists demand that the COP20 government delegates approve measures to foment investment in renewable energies and eliminate their huge subsidies for fossil fuels. Credit: Joshua Wiese/IPS

By Darren Botelho for ABC News 13 – ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — A protest against Duke Energy brought dozens of demonstrators to Lake Julian on Tuesday. They called for independence from fossil fuels on Independence Day—promoting renewable energy, like wind and solar. “For a long time people have talked about the need for a clean energy revolution in our country. The good news is, in a lot of ways, it’s already underway,” Buncombe County Commissioner Brownie Newman, who spoke at the event, said. Newman helped fire up more than a hundred people at Lake Julian Park. “At our last county commission meeting, with the encouragement of some of the people that are here today, I along with county commissioners Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Ellen Frost, and Al Whitesides proposed to establish a 100 percent clean and renewable goal for Buncombe County,” Newman said. Pro-environmental group Community Roots hosted the event and eventually led the crowd to the water. Tyler Garrison, a board member with Community Roots, then led the paddle towards the Duke Energy plant. “We hope number one we’ll accomplish, which we already have accomplished, a greater sense of solidarity in the community [which we're] all pushing for [and] what we all want to see,” Garrison said, “[to] stop the oppression of the fossil fuel empire that’s currently got their hands around our necks.”

Don’t Be Fooled By Rosy Renewables Projections

From ecowatch.com

By Wenonah Hauter for Eco Watch – To the casual observer, we are making tremendous progress moving off fossil fuels and developing a clean, renewable energy system. The good news seems to be everywhere: The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution calling for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, and legislation passed in the California Senate to mandate 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. After Trump announced he was backing out of the Paris climate agreement, communities across the country pledged to meet its goals. The cost of renewable energy is dropping fast, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” seems to show that renewables are surpassing nuclear power. All of this might give the impression that, even with the Trump administration aggressively pushing fossil fuels, a renewable energy future is a forgone conclusion. But the reality is that while we certainly have momentum, we still need massive political action, because we still have a long way to go—and not a lot of time left. Beyond the sunny headlines, the numbers speak for themselves, especially when you don’t mix hydroelectric and biogas in renewable energy estimates.

The Pacific Northwest Is Proving Grassroots Action Against Fossil Fuels Can Work

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By Renee Lewis for Fusion – The Pacific Northwest is proving that grassroots action against the fossil fuel industry can work, and the strategies they’re using can be used anywhere. The region has seen a tsunami of fossil fuel infrastructure proposals in the last few years—from coal export, oil-by-rail, liquefied natural gas, and more. “And what we have seen happen very much to everyone’s surprise is that local grassroots opposition stopped every single project they fought against,” said Eric de Place, Sightline Institute’s policy director on energy policy. Sightline Institute is a sustainability research and communications center in the Pacific Northwest. The fossil fuel industry may dominate in Congress but we crush them at the local level. “The fossil fuel industry may dominate in Congress but we crush them at the local level,” de Place said. “I think it’s a tremendously powerful technique.” That opposition at the local level was summed up by one million comments —all from a public opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in their communities. The comments were delivered to Washington Governor Jay Inslee on May 11 by a coalition of groups in the Pacific Northwest…

UCSB Chancellor Backs Call To Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies

A crowd gathered in the cold near Wall Street on Friday to call for New York’s divestment from fossil fuels. (Flickr / 350)

By Staff for Pacific Coast Business Times – After a four-day sit-in, UC Santa Barbara students won the endorsement of Chancellor Henry Yang on the divestiture of the University of California’s $2.8 billion in its endowment from fossil fuel companies. Margaret Klawunn, vice president of student affairs, delivered the statement May 11 on behalf of the chancellor at Cheadle Hall, where around 400 students, faculty and staff took part in the sit-in. “In the coming week, I look forward to working with my fellow chancellors in support of a thorough and transparent discussion on divestment from fossil fuels as part of the UC’s approach to combating the climate crisis,” Yang’s statement said. Investments should instead go toward more sustainable companies, said Cassie Macy, a spokeswoman for the student group Fossil Free UCSB that organized the protest. The first step is to get out of fossil fuels, Macy said, but “we’ve shown them that investments in sustainable companies have almost no difference in financial results. So we think that it’s very important that we invest in these companies that will better our future.” The effects of climate change affect marginalized communities most strongly, said fellow spokeswoman Celeste Argueta, including air quality and coastal erosion.

Building A Trump-Free, Fossil-Free Future

Climate March in DC April 29 2017

By Jeremy Brecher for Waging Nonviolence. As the thousands of foot-weary protesters leave the April 29 Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C. — and its scores of sister marches around the country — one question will no doubt be foremost on their minds: How can a march, or indeed any other action they take, force a reversal in the world’s hurtle to climate doom? After all, a single march, no matter how large, is not going to force President Trump and his administration of fossil-fuel company executives and climate-change deniers to reverse course. They have already cancelled the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, authorized drilling and mining on public lands, and gutted regulations that protect local people and environments against the extraction of fossil fuels. He has cleared the way for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. His allies in Congress are whetting their knives to gut the Clean Air, Clean Water and Environmental Policy Acts. The fossil fuel industry is lining up for permits to build new infrastructure that will accelerate global warming and threaten local environments to boot.

Harvard ‘Pausing’ Investments In Some Fossil Fuels

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By Oliver Milman for The Guardian – Harvard University is “pausing” investments in some fossil fuel interests following a five-year campaign by some students and environment groups to pressure the university to divest itself from coal, oil and gas. The elite university has come under fire for investing its $36bn endowment in a portfolio that contains fossil fuel companies and has until now resisted a concerted divestment campaign that has also targeted other US universities. However, Colin Butterfield, head of natural resources at the Harvard Management Company, said that climate change is a “huge problem” and that “for now, we are pausing minerals and oil and gas.” Butterfield said that Harvard indirectly invests in fossil fuels through outside funds, although the management company has previously signalled that it is moving away from coal due to a lack of profitability. “What I can tell you is, from my area, I could honestly say that I doubt – I can’t say never, because never say never – but I doubt that we would ever make a direct investment with fossil fuels,” he said.

Clean Energy Employs More People Than Fossil Fuels In Nearly Every U.S. State

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

By Natasha Geiling for Think Progress – Nationally, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, according to a new Sierra Club analysis of Department of Energy jobs data. And when it comes to coal and gas — two sectors President Donald Trump has promised to bolster through his upcoming executive order on energy regulation — clean energy jobs outnumber jobs dealing with those two fossil fuels by 5 to 1. “Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement.

Fossil Fuel Industry Hired Guns Now Staffing Trump’s Federal Agencies

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By Steve Horn for Desmog Blog – On March 8, ProPublica obtained “beachhead team” rosters with the names of hundreds of temporary staffers the Trump administration has installed in federal agencies, including the Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Energy (DOE), the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and others. A DeSmog investigation shows that this list of staffers, largely undisclosed before this week, includes former operatives allied with Koch Industries, oil and coal industry employees, a former employee of a prominent climate denial group, and an advocate for a pro-trophy hunting organization funded by oil and gas.

The Real Radicals Are Running The Fossil Fuel Companies, But I May Be Facing Felony Charges For Shutting Off Pipeline Valve

www.shutitdown.today

By Emily Johnston for AlterNet – I’ve been thinking a lot about risk lately—what we’re willing to risk, and why. I was one of five activists who turned off the major tar sands pipelines coming into the United States on Oct. 11, 2016. As a result, I’m risking prison time, ostensibly for property damage (we cut a few chains to access the valves), but really for being disobedient to business as usual. It’s also possible they’ll file a restitution suit, for temporarily disrupting a pipeline that’s highly profitable for some, at the expense of all others. I took part in the action in full awareness of these risks—in dread of them, to some degree—because of the risk that Enbridge and the other companies engaged in the extraction…