Adapting to Climate Change & Green the Economy

Adapting to Climate Change & Green the Economy

Don’t hold your breath, but there is a possibility that the G20 summit in Toronto this weekend will take action to reduce government subsidisation of the fossil fuel industry and to level the playing field for clean and renewable fuels. Meanwhile the peak climate change adaptation research organisations will unite to host next week Australia’s first international conference dedicated solely to preparing for, and adapting to, the impacts of climate change on the Gold Coast (29 June-1 July).

From the World Bank (21 June 2010):

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Toronto this weekend to focus their incoming summit on development and green growth in promoting global economic recovery.

“Based on our collective experience, the best way to enhance the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth is to put development front and centre, and to invest in a green economic recovery for all,” Ban said in an open letter to the leaders.

“Economic recovery will be more sustainable if it is embedded in a global green new deal,”

The UN chief asked world leaders to undertake international initiatives that supported national investment plans, women’s economic empowerment and measures to expand access to credit and savings for the poor.

“We must also build further momentum on education for all with a special focus on girls’ education,” he said, while also underlining the need to conclude an international trade deal that “takes into account the needs of the poorest nations by enhancing their market access.

Ban Ki-moon also asked investments in global health and health systems, such as the Joint Action Plan for Women’s and Children’s Health, and fully funding programmes like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Sanitation and Water for All Initiative.

The Global Fund requires USD 17 billion over the next three years to meet current and projected needs.

The UN chief also called on nations to deliver on $30 billion in fast-start funding for developing countries dealing with climate change over the next three years and ensuring that the climate finance pledged in Copenhagen is delivered.

“The G20 showed leadership in calling for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and I encourage all to work individually and collectively to do so as soon as possible,” he said.


By Terry McDonald for Energy Boom on (16 June 2010)

Don’t hold your breath, but there is a possibility that the G20 summit in Toronto next week will take action to reduce government subsidization of the fossil fuel industry and to level the playing field for clean and renewable fuels.

So far, the G20 has been focusing on the US$500 billion of fossil fuel consumption subsidies, but the public’s anger at the Gulf Oil spill disaster is an opportunity for President Obama and other G20 politicians to take action against tax breaks and lax regulations that put additional billions of dollars into the pocketbooks of the companies that find, produce and process fossil fuels.

The President’s Oval Office address last evening promised action in the Gulf and an energy policy that accelerates the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Let’s see what actually happens.

Obviously, this is a huge issue for clean sector companies and their investors. We all understand that existing government subsidies to clean companies are necessary to support the economy’s transition from fossil fuels and energy waste to cleaner, more efficient and more secure sources of energy.

But they can also be big time turnoffs to investors. Investors believe if companies need government subsidies to compete, then how sound can their real financial propositions be? Furthermore, what happens when the political mood shifts or if economic circumstances force the government to reduce or eliminate subsidies?

However, action from the G20 could change everything. Investors would see that, to a considerable extent, clean energy needs subsidies because the fossil fuel sector gets subsidies. Maybe the financial community will begin to treat the renewable energy sector with new respect. This, in turn, would bring more non-government capital to this sector.

Here’s some background:

The G20 summit in Toronto June 26-27 is scheduled to deal with a commitment from the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh September 24-25, 2009 to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.”

A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) prepared for the Toronto summit says fossil fuel consumption subsidies were US$557 billion in 2008, up from US$342 billion in 2007. Data for 2009 and 2010 is not included, but the EIA expects current levels to be marginally lower than 2008.

IEA modeling indicates that phasing out fossil fuel consumption subsidies between 2011 and 2020 would:

“Cut primary global energy demand by 5.8% by 2020. This is equivalent to the current energy consumption of Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand combined.

Cut global oil demand by 6.5 million barrels per day in 2020, predominately in the transport sector. This is around one-third of current U.S. oil demand.”

The IEA report says Iran accounted for more than US$100 billion in consumption subsidies in 2008, and other leading subsidizing countries in the top five are Russia, Saudi Arabia, India and China.

Eight G20 countries are included in this data, but not the U.S., the EU, the UK or Canada. Neither are other non-G20 oil producers on this list, including Norway.

Curiously, government subsidies to the production side of fossil fuel industry by the U.S. and Canada and other producing countries are not on the Toronto G20 agenda.

The Obama administration’s 2011 budget proposes to eliminate nine different tax expenditures that primarily benefit oil and gas companies. Cutting these special tax deductions, preferences, and credits would save the government about US$45 billion over the next 10 years.

The American Petroleum Institute has a different view. It argues that President’s Obama’s budget proposals are not a formula for energy independence/security and are an US$80 billion taxation hit on the oil and natural gas industry that will cost American jobs.

In G20 host country Canada, where environmental groups claim government subsidies or tax incentives benefit the oil and gas industry by US$2 billion a year, an internal Canadian government memorandum states that preferential subsidies for the oil industrial need to be adjusted to level the playing field for clean energy alternatives.



Australia’s peak climate change adaptation research organisations will unite to host Australia’s

first international Conference dedicated solely to preparing for, and adapting to, the impacts of

climate change.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and CSIRO Climate

Adaptation Flagship will hold the International Climate Adaptation Futures Conference on

Queensland’s Gold Coast from June 29-July 1.

NCCARF Director Professor Jean Palutikof said international interest in the event was intense,

with almost 900 abstracts received from 55 countries.

“The Conference has attracted some of the world’s leading climate change adaptation experts in

agriculture, community development, policy, economics, coastal and urban planning, health and

ecology as well as other researchers working on the adaptation challenge,” she said.

Guest speakers include:

• Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner

• UNEP Chief Scientist, Joseph Alcamo

• Leading figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International

Institute for Environment and Development

• Leading Australian scientists including past Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery.

CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Director Dr Andrew Ash said the Conference would focus

the attention of the global climate adaptation research community on Australia.

“While previous conferences have focussed on ‘mitigating’ climate change by reducing emissions

to minimise human-induced climate change, this event looks at adapting our way of life to cope

with impacts that can no longer be avoided,” he said.

“It will provide an opportunity for scientists and government decision makers to share research

methods, experiences and results on effective ways to adapt and prepare for climate change.”

Associated Conference events will include field trips exploring on-the-ground challenges and

solutions around Queensland as well as opportunities for the wider community to get involved

through student events and a public seminar.

Co-hosted by Australia’s National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, this conference will be one of the first international forums to focus solely on climate impacts and adaptation. It will bring together scientists and decision makers from developed and developing countries to share research approaches, methods and results. It will explore the way forward in a world where impacts are increasingly observable and adaptation actions are increasingly required.

The Climate Adaptation Futures Conference will showcase leading impacts and adaptation research from around the world. It will explore the contribution of adaptation science to planning and policy making, and how robust adaptation decision making can proceed in the face of uncertainty about climate change and its impacts.


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