Archive | Climate Change, Carbon Taxes and ENGOs

Spain Nears Life Without Coal Sooner Than Anyone Thought – by Akshat Rathi and Jeremy Hodges (Bloomberg News – January 22, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — From Galicia in the north to Andalucia in the south — Spain’s old coal plants are running out of steam. The Iberian nation last year cut use of the dirtiest fossil fuel faster than anyone else in western Europe as renewable energy and cleaner natural gas take over.

The combustible rock, which has kept the region humming through world wars and economic boom times, is increasingly out of favor with lawmakers and executives under pressure to do more to stop global warming.

“We are in a hurry, we have to move fast, everybody has to move fast,’’ Iberdrola SA Chief Executive Officer Ignacio Galan said on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Spanish utility plans to permanently shut its two remaining coal-fired power stations this year, replacing them with new wind and solar capacity. Continue Reading →

The Limits of Environmental Activism From BlackRock’s Larry Fink – by Nathaniel Taplin (Wall Street Journal – January 21, 2020)

https://www.wsj.com/

The world’s largest active manager has taken a meaningful step, but corporate finance is relatively powerless to curb carbon emission as coal assets move into state hands

Saving the planet needs coordination from Washington and Beijing, not New York and Hong Kong. Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, BLK -1.02% made waves last week with his pledge to push environmental concerns up the corporate agenda. The world’s largest asset manager will drop major power-coal producers from its actively managed funds by mid-2020, among other plans.

This is no mere publicity stunt: Even a modest change to the composition of $7 trillion under management is nothing to sniff at. But if BlackRock really wants to avoid coal, it needs to sharpen its divestment criteria.

And if other money managers don’t follow suit—particularly on the debt side—then the impact will be limited. Wall Street also has minimal ability to influence state-owned companies, which are now among the top coal producers. Continue Reading →

Exit stage left: the big miners moving away from coal – by Umar Ali (Mining Technology – January 21, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

Rio Tinto sold its last coal mines in 2018, becoming the first mining major to go coal-free. Since then other mining companies have followed Rio Tinto’s lead and exited the coal industry; could the days of mining majors investing in coal be numbered? We round up the big names leaving coal behind.

Anglo-Australian mining major Rio Tinto is the world’s second-largest mining company, and the first big mining company to divest from coal. It completed its exit from coal in August 2018 with the sale of its assets in Queensland, Australia.

The company sold its interests in the Hail Creek coal mine and Valeria coal development project to British-Swiss multinational Glencore for A$1.7bn, as well as its 80% interest in the Kestrel underground coal mine to a consortium comprising EMR Capital and PT Adaro Energy for A$2.25bn. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Australia’s big bet on coal is about to go from economic saviour to liability as the country burns – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – January 18, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The Australian economy shares a few sorry traits with Canada’s. Both countries dig enormous amounts of dirty hydrocarbons out of the ground for export. Both made fortunes doing so, for decades. And both might now be questioning whether those wonder products were too much of a good thing as rising temperatures damage, and potentially devastate, natural systems.

Canada’s hydrocarbons come primarily from the oil in the oil sands, more accurately called the “tar sands” by Europeans. The oil sands enjoy sacred status in Alberta and in Ottawa.

The Janus-faced federal government imposes a carbon tax and promises to meet the carbon-reduction targets set out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement yet creates the conditions, such as nationalizing a pipeline, to allow – make that encourage – the oil sands to expand. Continue Reading →

How Hard Is It to Quit Coal? For Germany, 18 Years and $44 Billion – by Somini Sengupta and Melissa Eddy (New York Times – January 16, 2020)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Germany announced on Thursday that it would spend $44.5 billion to quit coal — but not for another 18 years, by 2038. The move shows how expensive it is to stop burning the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, despite a broad consensus that keeping coal in the ground is vital to averting a climate crisis, and how politically complicated it is.

Coal, when burned, produces huge amounts of the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming. Germany doesn’t have shale gas, as the United States does, which has led to the rapid decline of coal use in America, despite President Trump’s support for coal.

Germany also faces intense opposition to nuclear power. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, that opposition prompted the government to start shutting down the country’s nuclear plants, a transition that should be complete by 2022. Continue Reading →

Mark Carney ‘absolutely’ opposes oil divestment – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – January 15, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

One of Fink’s sentences is worth repeating: “The technology does not
yet exist to cost-effectively replace many of today’s essential uses
of hydrocarbons.” It may be even more complicated than lack of
technology. Some scientists say the physics and essential properties
of energy production make any known fossil fuel substitutes — such
as wind and solar — unrealistic alternatives.

I have some welcome news for Canada’s fossil fuel industry. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, soon to be the UN envoy on climate finance, will not be joining the fossil fuel divestment movement. “I absolutely disagree with divestment campaigns,” Carney said in an email to an FP Comment column reader in Calgary.

Carney’s categorical rejection of divestment clarifies what has appeared to some as the central banker’s ambiguous position on the global campaign to get investment firms, pension funds and other financial institutions to remove carbon-emitting energy corporations from their portfolios.

Many in Canada’s energy sector have expressed concerns about Carney’s views, which will play a key role in policy circles when he returns to Canada this year to take up his new UN role. Continue Reading →

Adani’s coal mine plans, and why coal is still so lucrative – by Jeannette Cwienk (Deutsche Welle – January 16, 2020)

https://www.dw.com/en/

According to the MCC, there are 256 coal-fired power plants with a
capacity of 246 gigawatts being built worldwide, as well as another
359 power plants with a capacity of 311 gigawatts in the planning phase.

Siemens’ support for Adani’s coal mine in Australia has outraged environmentalists, but it’s not a unique case. Hundreds of companies and countries around the world are planning to expand their coal activities. But why?

An estimated 500 tankers a year will travel back and forth between Australia and India in the future. Fully loaded with coal, they’ll sail right through the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, which is already under threat.

And that’s just one reason why environmental activists are outraged by Indian Adani Group’s plans for mining coal. Once completed, its Carmichael mine in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland will be one of the largest in the world, emitting 705 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere each year, according to climate protection alliance Fridays for Future. Continue Reading →

Joe Biden Thinks Coal Miners Should Learn to Code. A Real Just Transition Demands Far More. – by Mindy Isser (InTheseTimes.com – January 15, 2020)

https://inthesetimes.com

As of 2016, there were only 50,000 coal miners in the United States, and yet they occupy so much of our political imagination and conversation around jobs, unions and climate change. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump ran on bringing coal jobs back to the United States, and Joe Biden said on December 30 that miners should learn to code, as those are the “jobs of the future.” His comments, made to a crowd in Derry, New Hampshire, were reportedly met with silence.

While coal miners aren’t the only workers in our society, coal miners’ voices do matter, and we can’t leave anyone behind. And it’s clear that they are hurting, a point illustrated by the coal miners currently blocking a train carrying coal in eastern Kentucky, demanding back pay from Quest Energy.

The coal industry is in decline, and mining jobs are disappearing. And the science shows that the vast majority of coal needs to stay in the ground if we want to have a shot at stemming climate change. But does that mean miners need to learn to code in order to earn a living? Coding isn’t necessarily bad or unimportant, and it could potentially be one of many retraining opportunities. Continue Reading →

New Coal-Killing Energy Storage Challenge Also Dings Natural Gas – by Tina Casey (CleanTechnica.com – Janaury 9, 2020)

https://cleantechnica.com/

It’s no secret that the Trump Administration has presided over the collapse of the US coal industry, but do they have to rub it in? The answer appears to be yes. On Wednesday, newly minted Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette announced an all-hands-on-deck initiative to push the energy storage envelope farther into coal-killing territory. For good measure, the new $153 million “Energy Storage Grand Challenge” will probably bump off natural gas, too. And all this under a President* who pledged to save coal jobs!

The Jig Is Up: Trump Hates Coal, Loves Energy Storage

Considering all the promises Trump made to coal miners, their families, and their communities, one would think that a major coal-killing announcement would get buried in a Friday evening news dump. After all, energy storage is the key that accelerates the renewable energy revolution.

Nope. Secretary Brouillette made the announcement in the brilliant light of day exactly in the middle of the week, on Wednesday afternoon at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The annual event, which is owned and produced by the US Consumer Technology Association, bills itself as “the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.” Continue Reading →

OPINION: BlackRock’s green investing strategy is not a moral awakening – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – January 15, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Larry Fink, arguably the world’s most powerful investor, has just delivered his annual letter to chief executives. This year, the chairman of giant money manager BlackRock Inc. used his institutional pulpit to thunder about the mounting dangers of climate change and preach the virtues of sustainable investing.

It is all good, praiseworthy stuff from a company with nearly US$7-trillion in assets under management. Just don’t assume it means a major shift in policy.

Take, for example, Mr. Fink’s announcement that BlackRock’s actively managed funds are in the process of dumping bonds or stocks issued by companies that generate more than 25 per cent of their revenue from thermal coal production. Continue Reading →

Billionaire Targeted by Greta Thunberg Undeterred by Coal Protesters – by P R Sanjai (Bloomberg News – January 13, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — The Indian conglomerate coming under increasing pressure over its controversial coal mine in Australia said it won’t let protests dissuade it from completing the project.

The group, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, is responding to an uptick in scrutiny over the Carmichael development, including from high-profile teen activist Greta Thunberg.

While the mine and rail project has been a target of environmentalists since it was proposed in 2010, its facing fresh global attention as Australia suffers unprecedented brushfires and as Germany’s Siemens AG comes under attack for its contract to provide rail signaling systems. The Munich-based company said Sunday that it will honor that commitment, defying demands of demonstrators in Germany. Continue Reading →

The burden of proof rests on Mark Carney, and he hasn’t made his case against fossil fuels – by John Constable (Financial Post – January 10, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Opinion: If any investments are likely to be stranded, it is those such as wind and solar, not fossil fuels

Mark Carney is using his final days as governor of the Bank of England to intimidate institutional financial managers by suggesting that investments in conventional energy are high-risk adventures requiring special justification.

However, consideration of the state of the global energy supply over the past 30 years suggests that if anyone has some explaining to do it is Carney himself.

Climate policy failure followed by distressed correction seems more probable than other outcomes, and if any investments are likely to be stranded, it is those such as wind and solar that are in effect wagers on the success of current carbon-reduction strategies. Continue Reading →

Mark Carney’s war against the fossil fuel industry is just the beginning – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – January 9, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

The corporatist left is scheming to control the flow of money and cut off funding to business activities that may be contributing to the climate emergency

It is hard to imagine the global policy environment around climate change can get any wonkier through 2020 than it has been through 2019.

The Oxford Dictionary declared the two-word slogan “climate emergency” to be the 2019 Word of the Year, although that was before the crash-and-burnout of the 25th United Nations’ intergovernmental Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid. It’s a climate emergency, but let’s put the whole thing off until COP26 next November in Glasgow.

Propelled by Greta Thunberg, who attempts to live without consuming energy, the 2019 extremist policy options range from $250-a-tonne carbon levies to new climate taxes on ice cream, restaurant dining, meat and alcohol. Continue Reading →

London, New York mayors urge cities to divest from fossil fuels – by Rachel Savage (Reuters – January 8, 2020)

http://news.trust.org/

LONDON, Jan 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The mayors of New York City and London have urged other cities to divest their pension funds from fossil fuel producers, as they introduced a toolkit to help cities shift investments away from companies that drive climate change.

New York City said in January 2018 that over five years it would remove fossil fuel investments from its public pension funds, which then had $189 billion in assets under management. London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to do so in his 2016 election campaign.

Investors with $11 trillion in assets under management have pledged to divest from fossil fuels, campaign group 350.org said in a September report. Continue Reading →

Australia’s wildfires should get us finally thinking rationally about nuclear power – by Kelly McParland (National Post – January 8, 2020)

https://nationalpost.com/

One attitude change that might help would be a re-evaluation of nuclear, which is emission-free but hobbled by public fears

I was watching a TV news report on the wildfires in Australia the other day when the announcer suddenly veered off on a tangent.

Until then the report had focused on the astounding images: people huddling on beaches or bobbing offshore on boats, desperately spraying homes with garden hoses against backdrops of burnt-orange skies out of an apocalyptic nightmare.

No doubt there was more to tell, but without warning the host launched into a finger-pointing session on global warming. There was nothing new or different, more a case of claiming victory. Hah, people are suffering! See! We were right! Admit it, this is all your fault! Continue Reading →