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.

Climate change making for sour grapes

“The reality is, one person can do a lot and if we get more and more people to start thinking about this, it will make a huge difference to the planet.”
—Caroline Granger, Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery


BRUCE BELL Caroline Granger, of the Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery in Hillier, inspects some of the vines at the Closson Road vineyard. Granger said climate change is making grapes difficult to grow. JPG, BI

HILLIER — The owner of a winery here is hoping Prince Edward County council is taking pleas to help the environment seriously.

Caroline Granger has operated the Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery for almost two decades, but it wasn’t until her daughter Maggie got involved with the operation in 2012 did things begin to change.

“Maggie was the driving force behind it because when she joined me here, she simply said we have to stop producing garbage — no ifs, ands or buts about it — we need to stop,” Granger said with a laugh. “Immediately we reduced our garbage by 85 per cent and we only have one bag of garbage every two weeks. That was Maggie’s initiative and I’m proud of it because we’ve been able to stick to it and, in fact, most of that one bag of garbage is from trash people leave when they are visiting here.”

Granger said the weather in four of the last five years has more than convinced her it is time for immediate action.

“On May 23, 2015 the vines had four little leaves on them and were doing extremely well, but that all changed in a matter of 70 minutes overnight,” she said. “Then by 4:15  in the morning the temperature had dropped to -5.5 C and by 5:30 (a.m.) the damage was done — we lost 90 cent of the plants. It wasn’t as bad for some people, but for others it was a complete loss.”

…Granger said the municipality’s council needs to consider carefully what steps can be taken to reduce the County’s carbon footprint going forward.

“I’ll be the first to admit that this concept is extremely intimidating because this is a huge world we live in and it’s really easy to feel like… what can I as one person do?” she said. “The reality is, one person can do a lot and if we get more and more people to start thinking about this, it will make a huge difference to the planet. We’re hearing from the United Nations that we have very little time to change before the damage being done to the planet becomes irreversible and I really do think people are becoming frightened, but the idea that you need to change the climate of the planet is too big of an idea for many.”

 

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Republicans are the real threat to hamburgers, not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

GOP climate inaction will drive megadroughts that make beef a scarce commodity.

CLIMATE CHANGE-FUELED DROUGHTS ARE A MUCH BIGGER THREAT TO CATTLE THAN THE GREEN NEW DEAL. (CREDIT: SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES)

One of the most common Republican attack lines since the Green New Deal resolution was introduced last month is that Democrats, namely Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), “want to take away your hamburgers.”

In the past week, Republican House members have staged a press conference during which they ate hamburgers in front of the U.S. Capitol. Republican senators have quipped, “maybe the chicken caucus is in favor of getting rid of cows.” And right-wing media outlets have run pun-filled headlines, like the Washington Times,’ “Sizzling anti-burger narrative puts Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal in a pickle.”

But the truth is, the real threat to hamburgers — and to food supplies in general — is Republican inaction on climate change.

The overheated, drought-riddled world their policies are driving us toward will be devastating to cattle. Red meat will become a scarce commodity — as it did during the severe drought in Texas earlier this decade. MORE

Investors Join Calls for a Food Revolution to Fight Climate Change

A series of new reports shows how climate change is intertwined with the world’s worsening health, and suggests changes in the global food production system.

Fast food burger. Credit: Cate Gillon/Getty Images
New reports describe how food choices and farming practices can exacerbate climate change, and they argue for changes and even an international treaty. Investors are also calling for greenhouse gas reductions from the fast-food industry. Credit: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

scientific study published Monday also shows how “food production shocks” linked to climate change have been rising globally, putting food security at risk. The researchers identified nearly 230 food production shocks, in 134 countries, from 1961 to 2013, and said the frequency of crop production shocks driven by extreme weather had been increasing steadily. Food shocks threaten to destabilize the global food supply and drive up global hunger rates, which have started to tick up in recent years.

“Land-based crop and livestock production are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events such as drought, which are expected to become more frequent and intense with climate change,” said Richard Cottrell of the University of Tasmania, the report’s lead author.

“The dominant diets that the world has been producing and eating for the past 50 years are no longer nutritionally optimal, are a major contributor to climate change, and are accelerating erosion of natural biodiversity.”

The drumbeat for change in food and nutrition gained volume this month with the release of a detailed plan by an international commission organized by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The plan urges a major overhaul in food production and diets, or what one of the report’s authors called “nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.” MORE