Archive | Climate Change, Carbon Taxes and ENGOs

Why investing in coal is risky business – by Catherine McKenna (Globe and Mail – December 15, 2017)

Catherine McKenna is Minister for the Environment and Climate Change

This week, we marked the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate accord with big news. The Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was recently launched by Britain and Canada as a global effort to phase out coal-fired electricity, grew to more than 50 members, including 33 countries and 24 businesses.

But while momentum is clearly building to end pollution from burning coal, a change of that magnitude takes time. As environmental organizations reported this week, some Canadian companies are among those investing to expand coal power overseas.

While companies are responsible for their own decisions, this news does not represent the growing trend worldwide. Many other companies and investors are moving in the opposite direction. They see opportunities not in the expansion of coal burning – which is a hazard to our health and a driver of climate change – but in the economic opportunity of clean growth. Continue Reading →

Holler promises: Subsidising coal production is a really bad idea (The Economist – December 14, 2017)

WELCH AND WILLIAMSON, WEST VIRGINIA – ON A brisk early-autumn morning in Welch, seat of the poorest county in America’s third-poorest state, four young men methodically demolish an old car-parts factory. The men wielding sledgehammers are not vandals, but construction trainees hired by Coalfield Development, a local non-profit, and they are working hard.

The low, solid building has good bones, but has fallen into disrepair from extended disuse. The same is true of Welch itself. The beautiful stone and brick buildings, complete with carved mullions, stone flares along rooflines and other architectural flourishes, show that once upon a time this town had confidence and money. Discount shops and boarded-up shopfronts testify to a harder present.

McDowell County is the heart of Appalachia, a once-Democratic region that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump. Mr Trump won four of America’s top five coal-producing states (Illinois, with much of its population concentrated in and around liberal Chicago, was the exception). Continue Reading →

National Australia Bank stops all lending for new thermal coal projects – by Gabrielle Jackson (The Guardian – December 14, 2017)

National Australia Bank says it will halt all lending for new thermal coal mining projects, becoming the first major Australian bank to phase out support of thermal coal mining.

While the bank will continue providing finance for coal projects already on its books, NAB said an orderly transition to a low-carbon Australia was critical for the economy and for continued access to secure and affordable energy.

“While we will continue to support our existing customers across the mining and energy sectors, including those with existing coal assets, NAB will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects,” the bank said in a statement on Thursday. Continue Reading →

In Germany, miners and others prepare for a soft exit from hard coal – by Valerie Hamilton (U.S.A. Today – December 13, 2017)

For most people, the top of the mine shaft at the Prosper-Haniel coal mine in Bottrop, Germany, just looks like a big black hole. But Andre Niemann looked into that hole and saw the future.

Part 1: No regrets from this soon-to-be-ex-miner

Niemann leads the hydraulic engineering and water resources department at the University of Duisberg-Essen, in the heart of German coal country, western Germany’s Ruhr Valley. For more than 150 years, Germany mined millions of tons of anthracite, or hard coal, from coal mines here that at their peak employed half a million miners. But that’s history now — Germany’s government decided a decade ago to end subsidies that made German hard coal competitive with imports.

Now, the last of these mines are set to close at the end of 2018, ending an industry, a tradition and a culture. “Prosper-Haniel is really special,” Niemann says. “It’s the last mine in this region, and everyone is looking, ‘OK, what’s happening now?’” Continue Reading →

Canadian financial companies investing in coal overseas as feds push phase-out – by Mia Rabson (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2017)

THE CANADIAN PRESS: Canada’s national pension fund manager is among a group of Canadian companies that are undermining the federal government’s international anti-coal alliance by investing in new coal power plants overseas, an environmental organization says.

Friends of the Earth Canada joined with Germany’s Urgewald to release a report today looking at the top 100 private investors putting money down to expand coal-fired electricity – sometimes in places where there isn’t any coal-generated power at the moment.

The report lists six Canadian financial companies among the top 100 investors in new coal plants in the world. Together, Sun Life, Power Corporation, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, Royal Bank of Canada, Manulife Financial and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have pledged $2.9-billion towards building new coal plants overseas. Continue Reading →

The starving polar bear raises a question: Is fake news okay for a good cause? – by Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2017)

The video is shocking. An emaciated polar bear staggers across the tundra. She is nothing more than a bag of bones. It’s clear that she is on her last legs.

“My entire team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear,” wrote Paul Nicklen, a National Geographic photographer, on his Instagram post. “It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy.”

Mr. Nicklen’s heartbreaking video, posted a few days ago has now gone viral. It has received more than 1.3 million views, and the story has generated widespread news coverage.

He and his team at the conservation group SeaLegacy have done interviews from around the world. Continue Reading →

Macron Aims to Keep Paris Climate Deal Alive – by Mark Deen and Ewa Krukowska (Bloomberg News – December 11, 2017)

French President Emmanuel Macron this week will seek to breathe new life into the fight against global warming and sway debate away from skeptics of the process led by U.S. President Donald Trump.

At a series of events in Paris starting Monday, Macron along with leaders from the U.K., Norway, Mexico and Netherlands will draw attention to a dozen major projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. They’ll also give a push for increasing climate-related aid to developing nations, in step with a United Nations goal of channeling at least $100 billion a year by 2020. Trump is not scheduled to attend.

The meetings are designed to preserve the the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change sealed two years ago. That deal brought together some 200 nations including the U.S. and China in calling for limits on fossil fuel emissions everywhere for the first time. Continue Reading →

Canadian energy firms take issue with Trump administration’s nod to coal, nuclear power – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – December 9, 2017)

Canadian energy companies have entered a battle over the U.S. electricity market in which natural gas, hydroelectric and renewable-energy providers are opposing Trump administration efforts to favour coal-fired and nuclear generators with premium payments for “reliability.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has formally proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) impose rules creating new rate structures under which coal-fired and nuclear electricity generators could recover additional costs from consumers based on their contribution to system reliability.

That’s because those generating stations provide base-load power and maintain a 90-day source of fuel on site, unlike those providing electricity from other sources. Continue Reading →

U.S. repeal of carbon rule criticized in coal country – by Kara Van Pelt (Reuters U.S. – November 28, 2017)

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Reuters) – Health groups, environmentalists and a former coal miner criticized the Trump administration’s proposal to dismantle an Obama-era rule to slash carbon emissions from power plants at a public hearing held in the heart of coal country on Tuesday.

The hearing also heard from many coal supporters who said that the plan would cost utilities billion of dollars, which would likely result in mining job cuts.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted the two-day hearing in West Virginia on its proposal to axe the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s strategy on climate change. It was the only meeting scheduled on the rule, which President Donald Trump has said would devastate the coal industry. Continue Reading →

Coal Back as Flashpoint in Climate-Change Fight – by Jess Shankleman (Bloomberg News – November 18, 2017)

Coal emerged as the surprise winner from two weeks of international climate talks in Germany, with leaders of the host country and neighboring Poland joining Donald Trump in support of the dirtiest fossil fuel.

While more than 20 nations, led by Britain and Canada, pledged to stop burning coal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her country’s use of the fuel and the need to preserve jobs in the industry. Meanwhile Poland’s continued and extensive use of coal raised concerns that the next meeting, to be held in the nation’s mining heartland of Katowice, could thwart progress.

“People don’t have total confidence that Poland wants to increase ambition, to put it plainly,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. “They’re 80 percent dependent on coal, they’ve been pushing back against European Union proposals to increase ambition.” Continue Reading →

Canada’s pathetic, empty-headed crusade against coal – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – November 15, 2017)

Of all the empty gestures in the pathetic history of global climate policy-making, few match the air-headedness of Canada’s intent — to be officially announced Thursday at the United Nations COP23 climate conference in Bonn — to lead a global campaign to rid the world of carbon-emitting coal.

By any measure, Canada is a nobody in the coal business, ranking near the bottom of all global measures of the industry, worth less than one per cent of global production and consumption. Canada is a non-player, a zero, an insignificant speck on the great world coal market.

But that isn’t stopping Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, donning her Climate Crusader Halloween outfit, from swooshing into COP23 to take on the world. “Canada is committed to phasing out coal,” she said. Continue Reading →

At same time U.S. hosts Bonn event praising coal, Canada’s environment minister goes on Twitter to blast its use – by Mia Rabson (National Post – November 14, 2017)

CANADIAN PRESS – OTTAWA — A U.S. effort to stoke the fires of coal-powered electricity didn’t escape the attention of Canada’s environment minister Monday as Catherine McKenna used her Twitter account to troll the carbon-based fuel just as American officials were extolling its virtues.

McKenna is in Bonn, Germany, for the 2017 United Nations climate change talks, where the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris accord are being hammered out — and where she and British counterpart Claire Perry hope to convince the world to abandon coal-fired power.

By contrast, the United States — with President Donald Trump at its helm — has famously promised to “end the war on coal.” Continue Reading →

Canada, Britain to tout coal phase-out as U.S. champions fossil fuels – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – November 13, 2017)

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and her British counterpart, Claire Perry, will launch an international alliance to phase out coal-fired electricity at the Bonn climate summit this week, signalling a sharp contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s promotion of coal as an important global energy source.

Ms. McKenna will take the stage at the annual United Nations climate summit to showcase Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including a national carbon pricing plan and federal-provincial moves to shut down traditional coal-fired power by 2030.

As the minister touts Canada’s record at the UN summit, some critics at home argue the Trudeau government is not living up its lofty rhetoric on climate change. Continue Reading →

Excerpt: Exposing the totalitarian roots of the climate industrial complex – by Rupert Darwall (Financial Post – November 7, 2017)

Were it not for its impact on industrialized societies’ reliance on hydrocarbon energy, theories of man-made climate change would principally be of limited academic interest. In fact, these theories were first politicized precisely because of the demands they make to decarbonize energy.

Sweden debuted global warming as part of its war on coal when Al Gore was still at law school. It was meant to have ushered in an age of nuclear power. The reason it didn’t, instead becoming an age of wind and solar, is principally because of Germany.

Despite being Europe’s premier industrial economy, German culture harbours an irrational, nihilistic reaction against industrialization, evident before and during the Nazi era. It disappeared after Hitler’s defeat and only bubbled up again in the terrorism and antinuclear protests of the 1970s and the formation of the Green Party in 1980. Continue Reading →

The Green Opportunity: Having our cake and eating it too – by Bjorn Lomborg (National Post – November 3, 2017)

One can admit that cutting CO₂ has a cost, but argue the climate benefits are still worth it. But we need to be honest there’s a trade-off

The concept of trade-offs has become unfashionable. Politicians around the world like to pretend that their choices will bring us nothing but superlative benefits.

Nowhere is this whitewashing more pervasive or accepted than in climate change. There is a prevalent, comforting notion that we can have our cake and eat it too: that cutting carbon need not involve financial sacrifice.

We hear this rhetoric so often that we almost don’t notice it. In announcing plans to make the UK a global hub for “green finance,” the British minister of state for climate change and industry Claire Perry said, “The transition to a low carbon economy is a multi-billion pound investment opportunity.” Norway’s Prime Minister recently claimed climate change offers “an opportunity for development and growth.” Continue Reading →