As Kerry Touts U.S. Climate Diplomacy, Biden Is Urged to End Dirty Energy Subsidies
By Kenny Stancil
While President Joe Biden's top climate envoy John Kerry told world leaders at a virtual climate summit that the U.S. will fulfill its commitment to provide financial support to developing countries as they grapple with the deadly consequences of a warming planet, campaigners are urging the U.S. to follow the lead of European Union officials who on Monday pledged to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and instead invest in a just transition toward clean energy.
"Ending government support for fossil fuels is a no-brainer," Laurie van der Burg of Oil Change International said Monday in a statement responding to the EU's newly stated commitment to phasing out dirty energy subsidies and helping to fund a global push toward renewable energy. "Globally, governments are still propping up fossil fuels with huge sums of public money, behavior that is incompatible with keeping global warming below 1.5ºC."
Oil Change International's Collin Rees said that "today's commitment by the EU to end overseas investment in oil, gas, and coal projects is yet another indication that the fossil fuel era is over. As a new administration takes power in Washington, this is a powerful signal that clean energy is ascendant and that the EU stands willing to work with President Biden and others to end all finance for dirty energy."
Noting that Biden "has committed to end fossil fuel subsidies and dirty energy finance," van der Burg pointed out that the UK in December "announced an end to their overseas public finance for fossil fuel."
According to van der Burg, "This creates a powerful opportunity for the EU, UK, and U.S. to collaborate to finally end government-backed finance for oil, gas, and coal ahead of the UK-hosted UN climate summit in November."
Rees argued that "Biden should act boldly on his campaign commitments to end finance for dirty energy projects."
"By building on past commitments to end coal finance and extending this to oil and gas," Rees added, "Biden can join the EU and UK in transforming international finance to address the challenges of the next century, not prop up the remnants of the last century's infrastructure."
Speaking at the Netherlands-hosted Climate Adaptation Summit just days after Biden issued an executive order re-entering the 2015 Paris agreement — the emissions reduction treaty the country had abandoned under former President Donald Trump — Kerry said the U.S. "was 'proud to be back' in the global climate discussion," Reuters reported Monday.
"We intend to make good on our climate finance pledge," Kerry said. According to Reuters, the U.S. "has delivered only $1 billion of the $3 billion it pledged under former President Barack Obama to the UN Green Climate Fund, set up to help vulnerable countries transition to clean energy and adapt to a warmer future."
Three billion dollars is a tiny fraction of what impoverished countries will need to shield their populations from the risks of heatwaves, droughts, fires, floods, and other disasters that have intensified as a result of global warming.
According to a UN report published earlier this month, developing countries alone will need to spend roughly $70 billion per year to combat the climate crisis, and those annual costs could surge to $140 billion to $300 billion by 2030 and $280 billion to $500 billion by 2050.
Kerry said the Biden administration "also intends to make significant investments in climate action" in the U.S. and abroad, Reuters reported. "He did not give details about those investments, but promised Washington would soon announce a new target for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that 'meets the urgency of the challenge.'"
Given that the world's most vulnerable people who have done the least to contribute to the climate emergency are likely to bear the brunt of the damage unless drastic steps are taken to transform society, as well as the disproportionate role played by rich nations — and especially the wealthy classes within them — in causing the crisis, climate justice advocates have called on affluent countries that are capable of doing more to step up.
Van der Burg emphasized the importance of wealthy nations taking action domestically — not just in the international arena of climate finance — to drastically reduce emissions and address the root causes of climate disruption.
Although referring specifically to the EU, her message applies as well to the UK and the U.S.: "For effective diplomacy on this issue, the EU must take action at home, and close loopholes for continued EU support for fossil fuels, including for gas," she said. "For the EU to lead this agenda at the international level, it must set the right example and phase out all government support for fossil fuels."
In a letter to Kerry and other world leaders ahead of Monday's climate summit, a group of 3,000 scientists warned that if governments fail to adequately invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation now, "the results will be increasing poverty, water shortages, agricultural losses, and soaring levels of migration with an enormous toll on human life."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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