G20 countries triple coal power subsidies despite climate crisis

Major economies pledged a decade ago to phase out all aid for fossil fuels


A protest against the Drax power station in North Yorkshire. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex

G20 countries have almost tripled the subsidies they give to coal-fired power plants in recent years, despite the urgent need to cut the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis.

The bloc of major economies pledged a decade ago to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies.

The figures, published in a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and others, show that Japan is one of the biggest financial supporters of coal, despite the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, having said in September: “Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations … We must take more robust actions and reduce the use of fossil fuels.” The annual G20 meeting begins in Japan on Friday.

China and India give the biggest subsidies to coal, with Japan third, followed by South Africa, South Korea, Indonesia and the US. While the UK frequently runs its own electricity grid without any coal power at all, a parliamentary report in June criticised the billions of pounds used to help to build fossil fuel power plants overseas.

Global emissions must fall by half in the next decade to avoid significantly worsening drought, floods, extreme heatwave and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. But emissions are still increasing, with coal-fired power the biggest single contributor to the rise in 2018.

“It has now been 10 years since the G20 committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, yet astonishingly some governments are actually increasing the amount they give to coal power plants,” said Ipek Gençsü, research fellow at ODI and lead author of the report.

“Momentum is growing around the world for governments to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and ending subsidies to coal would bring benefits to all [including reduced air pollution] and help set a level playing field for clean energy,” she said.

The climate change lawsuit that could stop the U.S. government from supporting fossil fuels

A lawsuit filed on behalf of 21 kids alleges the U.S. government knowingly failed to protect them from climate change. If the plaintiffs win, it could mean massive changes for the use of fossil fuels

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Kelsey Juliana

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Of all the cases working their way through the federal court system, none is more interesting or potentially more life changing than Juliana versus the United States. To quote one federal judge, “This is no ordinary lawsuit.” It was filed back in 2015 on behalf of a group of kids who are trying to get the courts to block the U.S. government from continuing the use of fossil fuels. They say it’s causing climate change, endangering their future and violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. As we first reported earlier this year, when the lawsuit first began hardly anyone took it seriously, including the government’s lawyers, who have since watched the supreme court reject two of their motions to delay or dismiss the case. Four years in, it is still very much alive, in part because the plaintiffs have amassed a body of evidence that will surprise even the skeptics and have forced the government to admit that the crisis is real.

The case was born here in Eugene, Oregon, a tree-hugger’s paradise, and one of the cradles of environmental activism in the United States. The lead plaintiff, University of Oregon student Kelsey Juliana, was only five weeks old when her parents took her to her first rally to protect spotted owls. Today, her main concern is climate change, drought and the growing threat of wildfires in the surrounding Cascade Mountains.

Kelsey Juliana: There was a wildfire season that was so intense, we were advised not to go outside. The particulate matter in the smoke was literally off the charts. It was past severe, in terms of danger to health.

Steve Kroft: And you think that’s because of climate change.

Kelsey Juliana: That’s what scientists tell me.

It’s not just scientists. Even the federal government now acknowledges in its response to the lawsuit that the effects of climate change are already happening and likely to get worse, especially for young people who will have to deal with them for the long term.

“The government has known for over 50 years that burning fossil fuels would cause climate change. And they don’t dispute that we are in a danger zone on climate change.”

Steve Kroft: How important is this case to you?

Kelsey Juliana: This case is everything. This is the climate case. We have everything to lose, if we don’t act on climate change right now, my generation and all the generations to come.

She was 19 when the lawsuit was filed and the oldest of 21 plaintiffs. They come from ten different states and all claim to be affected or threatened by the consequences of climate change. The youngest, Levi Draheim, is in sixth grade. MORE

It’s time we took a seat ‘at your table’: Guterres calls on world youth to keep leading climate emergency response

Older generations have “failed to respond properly” to the climate emergency said the UN chief on Sunday, while the young are “stepping up to the challenge” and taking the lead to slow the destructive pace of global warming.

Lisboa +21 The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, at the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2019 and Youth Forum Lisboa+21, in Lisbon, Portugal

António Guterres was making the closing address at the UN-backed World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, and Youth Forum, in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, Lisboa+21.
António Guterres was making the closing address at the UN-backed World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, and Youth Forum, in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, Lisboa+21.

The summit comes 21 years after the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, and provides a place for national governments to talk about progress made with young people directly, and well as introducing new approaches to empowering youth in politics and decision-making.

Building on an argument he has been making for some months now in the face of the existential threat posed by climate change, enshrined in the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the Secretary-General said that it’s “not enough to listen to young people and provide a seat at the table – we need to take a seat at your table”.

The summit comes 21 years after the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, and provides a place for national governments to talk about progress made with young people directly, and well as introducing new approaches to empowering youth in politics and decision-making.

Building on an argument he has been making for some months now in the face of the existential threat posed by climate change, enshrined in the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the Secretary-General said that it’s “not enough to listen to young people and provide a seat at the table – we need to take a seat at your table”.

The summit comes 21 years after the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, and provides a place for national governments to talk about progress made with young people directly, and well as introducing new approaches to empowering youth in politics and decision-making.

Building on an argument he has been making for some months now in the face of the existential threat posed by climate change, enshrined in the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the Secretary-General said that it’s “not enough to listen to young people and provide a seat at the table – we need to take a seat at your table”. MORE

David Suzuki decries pipeline approval, calls for unity on ‘existential crisis’ of climate change

‘If the Raptors could get all of Canada united, then what the hell?’ says Suzuki


Environmentalist David Suzuki joins Green Party Leader Elizabeth May during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, June 14, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Environmentalist David Suzuki says Canadians have little time to reach greenhouse gas emissions targets recommended by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last October.

The report detailed that annual carbon dioxide pollution levels, which are still rising now, would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050.

“We’ve got very little time to make a major shift in our energy use … basically reduce our emissions by 50 per cent. That’s a big ask,” Suzuki said.

Speaking with Cross Country Checkup on Sunday, Suzuki, host of CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things, criticized the federal government for re-approving an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan on Tuesday.

That announcement came just a day after the House of Commons passed a non-binding motion declaring that Canada is in the midst of a “national climate emergency.”

Suzuki spoke with Checkup host Duncan McCue on Sunday about the politics of climate change and he took calls from listeners.

Here’s part of that conversation.

What was your reaction when the Canadian government re-approved the Trans Mountain pipeline?

I didn’t know what the hell is going on. I mean, we have our Parliament now declaring a climate emergency, which is right on, and at the same time, approving pipelines.

So long as we’re down there discussing pipelines — and the threats to the southern resident whales, the possibility of spills, carbon taxes being too big — we’re not going to do what has to be done.

Your caller Geoffrey said it right at the beginning: read the IPCC report that came out in October of last year. And that said, we’ve got very little time to make a major shift in our energy use … basically reduce our emissions by 50 per cent.

That’s a big ask.

Environmentalist David Suzuki says Canadians have little time to reach greenhouse gas emissions targets recommended by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last October.

The report detailed that annual carbon dioxide pollution levels, which are still rising now, would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050.

“We’ve got very little time to make a major shift in our energy use … basically reduce our emissions by 50 per cent. That’s a big ask,” Suzuki said.

Speaking with Cross Country Checkup on Sunday, Suzuki, host of CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things, criticized the federal government for re-approving an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan on Tuesday.

That announcement came just a day after the House of Commons passed a non-binding motion declaring that Canada is in the midst of a “national climate emergency.”

Suzuki spoke with Checkup host Duncan McCue on Sunday about the politics of climate change and he took calls from listeners.

Here’s part of that conversation.

What was your reaction when the Canadian government re-approved the Trans Mountain pipeline?

I didn’t know what the hell is going on. I mean, we have our Parliament now declaring a climate emergency, which is right on, and at the same time, approving pipelines.

So long as we’re down there discussing pipelines — and the threats to the southern resident whales, the possibility of spills, carbon taxes being too big — we’re not going to do what has to be done.

Your caller Geoffrey said it right at the beginning: read the IPCC report that came out in October of last year. And that said, we’ve got very little time to make a major shift in our energy use … basically reduce our emissions by 50 per cent.

That’s a big ask.


Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Canadian government’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project lies at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C., on June 18, 2019. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says there’s no inconsistency: we can expand Trans Mountain and meet Paris emissions targets. What do you make of that?

As long as we’re in the political arena, then we’re not going to be serious about dealing with the IPCC challenge.

The problem, you see, is that the issue now, the timeframes are so long.

Even [former prime minister Stephen] Harper, who was someone that didn’t want to even talk about climate, was forced ultimately to set a target — but he set it way the hell away. He knew he wouldn’t be around when the time came to say, ‘Have we met these targets?’

The Liberals accepted the Harper targets and … we’ve never met any of the targets we’ve declared that we’re committed to and we punt. We put off the decisions.

Well, time has run out. We don’t have time to wade through the next election and then have an argument to the next election after that. We’ve got to start now and we’ve got to make the commitment.

This is no longer a partisan issue. If the Raptors could get all of Canada united, then what the hell? Why can’t we all be united on an existential crisis now? This is no longer a political issue.

I agree with Jason Kenney. He needs a war room, but he’s got his guns aimed the wrong way. MORE

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Over 110 Alberta businesses pledge to maintain $15 minimum wage as youth wage cut takes effect Wednesday


Katy Ingraham, owner of the neighbourhood pub Cartago, is a vocal advocate of paying all employees a living wage. ED KAISER / POSTMEDIA

A growing coalition of businesses in Alberta have pledged not to cut youth employees’ pay when UCP government changes to the minimum wage for youth take effect on Wednesday.

The UCP-championed changes will make it legal for employers to pay $13 per hour to students under 18, compared with $15 for non-students and adults. The government has said the lower rate is designed to address an unemployment problem among young Albertans by giving businesses a greater incentive to hire youth.

But the more than 110 businesses — from Costco to small auto shops and restaurants — have signed onto Alberta15, a public online pledge to maintain a $15 minimum wage for all employees, rejecting the notion that youth should be paid less for the same work.

“Everybody deserves a liveable wage,” said Andrew Cowan, co-owner of restaurant Northern Chicken, on June 10. “And you can’t discriminate based on age or anything like that.”

Brian MacKay built the online Alberta15 platform — where consumers can view a list of companies who have signed onto the pledge and employees can anonymously report violations — after a Reddit post about the UCP decision in late May “struck a chord.” Having moved out at age 16, MacKay said he knows what it’s like to be a young employee working to pay his own bills.

“I was one of those kids working in a restaurant (and) I know how hard it is to get out of that hole,” said McKay, who owns the Edmonton-based web design company Tooq. “It’s really tough to get an education when you’re barely scraping by.”

Katy Ingraham, co-owner of Cartago restaurant in Edmonton, said she supports the pledge and sees a living wage as “integral” to reducing poverty. She also noted that $15 per hour is just the beginning, as a recent study sad it is not even a living wage in Edmonton or Calgary.

“We’re going to keep being vocal and letting everyone know that (wage cuts) aren’t something we support,” she said. MORE

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BEIS Strategy Committee question Extinction Rebellion

The UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee hears from Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion, Isabella O’Dowd, Climate and Energy Specialist, WWF and Baroness Bryony Worthington, of the Environmental Defense Fund on Tuesday 18 June, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, London , UK

Following the Prime Minister’s commitment to the UK cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) report, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee examine the rationale for going faster to hit the net zero target, hearing from witnesses including Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion, Isabella O’Dowd, Climate and Energy Specialist, WWF, and Baroness Bryony Worthington, Environmental Defense Fund. The session tests whether the CCC’s net zero advice, and the draft net zero legislation laid by the Prime Minister, go far enough to fulfil the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and to protect our environment for current and future generations. It also scrutinises the rationale for, and feasibility of, alternative targets proposed by environmental organisations. On Wednesday 8th May, the BEIS Committee questioned the CCC and business stakeholders on the net zero target and actions needed to achieve net zero emissions. A hearing on net zero with a Government Minister will be scheduled for a later date. The hearings are part of the Committee’s ongoing work on the Clean Growth Strategy and complement its current inquiries on financing energy infrastructure and on energy efficiency. The Committee has also carried out inquiries on Carbon Capture Usage and Storage and on Electric Vehicles. SOURCE