This week we’re getting updates on fossil fuel investments and subsidies. An island in the Bahamas is underwater. And just released is a publication by the Global Commission on Adaptation’s analysis on the huge sum of money we’re going to need to invest in adaptation strategies. Good news: there are amazing returns.
1. The finance sector is already moving away from fossil fuel investments!
Financial giants from Europe, China, Japan, the United States, Australia, and more, are seeing the devastating risks and the incredible rewards. And they’re not waiting for policymakers to take the lead this time. In 2018, loans for coal projects in Delhi mostly came from the government, while three-quarters of renewables financing came from private commercial banks. In Japan, banks and traders are abandoning coal for renewables. This shift by private banks has been the trend for a while now. Back in April, OCBC, the world’s largest investor in overseas coal projects, was the first Southeast Asian bank to rule out funding new coal power plants. However, because these financial institutions haven’t taken steps towards divestment, trillions of dollars are still financing carbon assets. In fact, according to the IEA, while coal investments have fallen, capital spending on oil, coal and gas bounced back in 2018. And investments in energy efficiency and renewables even stalled. The bigger picture is even scarier: the renewables boom translated into only 2% of global energy demand.
We need a clean break from fossil fuels, and we need it now.
2. EU countries are breaking pledges on fossil fuel subsidies, according to a study.
The new study analyses EU member states’ draft national energy and climate plans. It is the work of experts from the Overseas Development Institute, Climate Action Network and Friends of the Earth. Back in 2009, as part of the G20, EU governments committed to ending fossil fuel subsidies. However, the study finds that five EU countries plan to introduce new fossil fuel subsidies by 2030. And six member states, Denmark, France, Britain and the Netherlands included, claim they provide no subsidies even though the study finds that almost all EU states continue to provide some support.
Are we even surprised at this point?
3. Island of 50,000 people in the Bahamas is 70% under water.
It has been a week since Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas. It’s one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. Research shows that climate change is causing stronger, more deadly storms. Recent powerful hurricanes have also been increasingly stagnating once they make landfall. (However, the connection between stalled hurricanes and climate change is still being researched.) In any case, hurricanes are definitely getting stronger because of the climate breakdown. Denis McClean, a spokesperson for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, had this to say: “Hurricane Dorian crystallises the existential threat posed to small island developing states by the ongoing climate emergency. This is an enormous humanitarian and development challenge for the Bahamas.“ What’s worse is that apparently, the US is turning away some Bahamian evacuees, possibly because of Trump’s racist statements. Some people are even saying this is modern-day eco-apartheid.
It’s not just the Bahamas in danger, it’s all the small island developing states too.
4. Investing $1.8 trillion over the next decade could produce net benefits worth more than $7 trillion.
This is according to a global cost-benefit analysis setting out five adaptation strategies, carried out by a group of 34 leaders in politics, businesses and science. They’re saying the world urgently needs to be made more “climate change resilient”. They also highlight that those most affected by climate change “did least to cause the problem—making adaptation a human imperative”. The five strategies are: warning systems, infrastructure, improving dry-land agriculture, restoring and protecting mangroves and protecting water supplies. The commission says each of these investments would contribute to a “triple dividend”.
Meaning: avoiding future losses, generating positive economic gains, and delivering social and environmental benefits.
5. How are the 2020 Democrats planning to fight climate change?
Last week, we talked about how CNN organised a 7-hour climate change marathon for the 2020 hopefuls. During that marathon, each candidate highlighted their plans. Most of them agree climate change demands a policy response to bring the country’s emissions to zero. However, they differ in terms of methods. Whether or not they will draw on sources like nuclear power, how much federal government investment they’ll need, and the political levers they’ll use. Sanders, for example, has slapped the Green New Deal all over his proposal. (This requires a whopping $16.3 trillion.) Unlike Sanders, Warren decided against having one climate change plan. She’s incorporated it into her proposals for public lands, the military, trade, and more. Read all about their plans here.
It’s not just the US who needs to pressure their politicians. All politicians running for office, globally, should have climate change on their agendas too.
Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images via The Cut