Author Archives: Jennifer Haverkamp

G-20 misses opportunity to tackle world's dependence on fossil fuels

UPDATE JUNE 29  |  Reuters AlertNet invited me to write an extended blog post on this, which you can now read here: G-20 misses opportunity to tackle world's dependence on fossil fuels. My original post is below.

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico should have been a call to action for the G-20 leaders meeting in Toronto to take serious steps to begin immediate reductions in the world's dependence on fossil fuels and encourage a more rapid move to clean energy technology and jobs.

While the G-20 leaders deserve some credit for not backtracking on urging nations to phase out wasteful fossil fuel subsidies in the medium term, world leaders once again missed a critical opportunity to seriously tackle the world's dependence on fossil fuels or to encourage a more rapid move to clean energy technology and jobs.

There is no way we can watch the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and consider it rational policy that most developed nations continue to reward oil companies with tax breaks and other subsidies.

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G-20 should look to BP disaster for lessons on fossil fuel subsidies

World leaders gathering at the G-20 summit in Toronto this weekend need look no further than the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to recognize the need to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

The dark ooze coating the coastal marshes and pelicans are grim symbols of why the world needs to encourage greater investment in clean energy sources.  Fossil fuel subsidies — such as tax breaks for oil and coal companies — do nothing but undermine incentives for developing clean energy sources and encourage the world to stay on its grimy diet of coal, oil and gas.

Early indications are that the G-20 — despite the horrendous economic and environmental disaster unfolding to their south — is going to renege on last September’s pledge in Pittsburgh to “phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest.”

A leaked draft of this year’s communiqué being widely reported in the news media offers this anemic pledge: “We reviewed progress made to date in identifying inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and we agree to continue working to develop voluntary, member-specific approaches for the rationalization and phase-out of such measures.”

That would be an extraordinarily short-sighted approach:  There is no better solution for any nation’s economic woes than creating low-carbon economies that will create new jobs and enhance national security for each country.

It’s time for the G-20 to be leaders, not laggards, on climate.  The world is watching.

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Disappointing Disconnect Between World Bank General Capital Increase, Need for Low-Carbon Development

The World Bank announced Sunday at the end of its Spring Meetings its intent to seek more than $86 billion for a general capital increase from its donor countries with additional funds going toward new strategic priorities following the global recession.

With the Bank having granted internal approval for the increase, the additional funding will now need to be approved by the finance ministries of the World Bank’s individual donor countries.  (Funding from the United States is proposed by the U.S. Treasury and submitted to the U.S. Congress for approval.)

While in its announcement the Bank included climate change among its areas for strategic focus, it did not address NGOs' call to condition capital increases in sustainable energy financing.

In a statement released Sunday and distributed to finance ministries around the world, nearly 90 international organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund and development, environment, faith-based, science, women's, and indigenous groups, called for international financial institutions to stop using public resources to subsidize the fossil fuel industry.

While World Bank funding is limited and the need for electricity for economic development is critical, funding should be directed towards renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Until policies phasing out carbon-intensive infrastructure are approved, the statement says,

countries should direct funds requested by the Bank and other institutions for general capital increases to other financing mechanisms for supporting sustainable development, poverty reduction and clean energy.

EDF strongly encourages the U.S. Congress and Treasury to help shift World Bank resources and strategy towards a fundamental rethinking of development policies to favor strictly low- or no-carbon energy sources, both by providing sufficient funding for the Bank’s dedicated Clean Investment Funds and by reorienting the Bank’s overall lending portfolio toward low-carbon development.

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Bangkok talks make progress but long way to go

Climate talks in Bangkok wound down Friday, but with just three weeks until the upcoming Barcelona session, negotiators were clearly positioning for the next round.
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