Emerging #2

July 7th, 2020

Good afternoon!

I’ve just spent a ridiculously long morning finding contact details for various financial institutions (who’d have thought…?!), writing to people only to discover the emails returned by the Mail Delivery System, so re-sending to different addresses…

Anyway, I seem at last to have successfully written to the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the CDC Group plc. 

Our government is a major funder of both the first two; and the third (formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation, challenging in itself…) is the UK government’s own development bank, which finances projects such as a huge beef feedlot in Ethiopia and poultry companies in Niger and Uganda.

Basically, despite the clear link between industrial/factory farms and global heating world banks are financing them.

These institutions are finally realising ‘it pays not to pollute’ (quoting Philippe Le Houerou at the IFC) and are starting to divest from fossil fuel projects.

Now they need to do the same in the realms of agriculture, distancing themselves from industrial farms and meat companies.

Hopefully, things can really change.

The global gas market is collapsing, along with the oil one….

Multibillion-dollar liquified natural gas (LNG) projects are in danger of being abandoned.

Ted Nace, of Global Energy Monitor, said: “Modelling shows that renewable packages (don’t you just love finance-speak?! – my ‘aside’…) are already outcompeting imported gas in South Korea. And every year that goes by, renewables get more competitive.” Excellent!

A decade ago LNG was considered by many to be a ‘green’ investment (I vaguely remember that claim…), because burning gas for power emits roughly half the emissions as burning coal. However, many countries have since adopted renewable energy at a quicker than expected rate. So now the European Investment Bank’s vice-president has concluded that investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure including LNG is “increasingly an economically unsound decision”.

Here’s a bit of info that is interesting (well, I think so!) – the UK (Scotland and Ireland more than England, it seems..) is doing OK on the renewable energy front, with wind power (the go-ahead has just been given to a giant wind farm project off the Norfolk coast, good news!); 

but Iceland generates the most clean electricity per person on earth – it derives all of its energy for home heating from geothermal and hydroelectric power plants. Maybe some of you have even visited the geothermal plant at the Blue Lagoon (by train and ferry of course?!)….

And Costa Rica and Nicaragua use their volcanoes to produce geothermal energy.

I’ll stay with the travelling theme – coming out of lockdown, so many people are craving a change of scene…

Please consider not going away by plane.

Government advice is currently not to travel by public transport, but no such guidance is being applied to aircraft.

Once upon a time, the big public health crisis was smoking. The tobacco industry was powerful and effective in its lobbying of the government – much like the aviation industry is today. Airlines have received multi-million pound bailouts in recent months with no green strings attached, even though this is a golden opportunity for a green transition: many of the highly-skilled workers currently being made redundant at companies such as Airbus could be effectively re-deployed in the renewable energy sector (so many such projects are ‘shovel-ready’, I keep reading – they simply need investment…).

I’m quoting from ‘Flight Free UK’ with that paragraph. They go on to say: “In the same way as we once did not understand the health impacts of smoking, many of us are still unaware of the harmful impact of aviation.”

One day I hope, along with them, climate warnings will be added to boarding passes, with carbon information given at the time of booking. Or just turn your backs on aeroplanes altogether (unless you have family to see on the other side of the world, or a funeral to go to….)?

‘Possible’ has posted an amazing video interview/speech on its latest newsletter – an airline pilot, Todd Smith, talking passionately about why he’s stopped flying; and urging us to put pressure on government before it’s too late. I think you can find the clip by following ‘Possible’, ‘what’s it like being an airline pilot during the climate emergency?’ or ‘plant based pilot’…..

Now to our disappointing government again – tomorrow a full announcement is due for ‘greening the recovery’; but already it looks pitiful in its lack of ambition.

And lack of understanding about the scale of emergency we’re in… I keep hearing Boris Johnson’s voice in my head: he claimed back in February when he sacked the woman leader of COP26, so ignorantly/arrogantly (both…?), that he didn’t ‘get’ climate change….

£3bn is being promised, mainly to insulate buildings (the UK’s homes are the draughtiest in Europe). This is in contrast with the German government’s £36bn investment in measures to boost the economy while cutting emissions, with France spending £13.5bn to the same end. “Surely this  is just a downpayment?”, asked Rosie Rogers, head of green recovery at Greenpeace UK. Ed Matthew, of the E3G environmental thinktank, said £18bn was needed in the next 10 years to make all buildings energy efficient. That’s an under-estimate, considering the 2050 zero-emissions target is too late…

Anyway, hopefully some people will apply for Rishi Sunak’s ‘vouchers’, (I admire you if you do) but he seems to be relying too much on home-owners’ motivation ‘to do the right thing’; and what about tenants, the rented sector?….

More dragging of heels here – everything else hinges on a green, healthy planet: when will that be acknowledged?

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