Blogs

Schrumpfende Entwicklungshilfe... Andere Schwerpunkte?

Baustellen der Globalisierung - 12 April, 2019 - 10:34
Nach der neuesten ODA-Statistik der OECD war die Öffentliche Entwicklungshilfe im letzten Jahr erneut rückläufig. Insgesamt fielen die entwicklungspolitischen Finanzleistungen 2018 gegenüber 2017 um 2,7%. Gegenüber den am wenigsten entwickelten Ländern (LDCs) war der Rückgang mit 3% durchschnittlich noch stärker. Afrika erhielt 4% weniger; die Leistungen für humanitäre Hilfe fielen sogar um 8%. Der Abwärtstrend betrifft auch die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Hier lag die ODA-Quote, also der Anteil der Öffentlichen Hilfe am Bruttonationaleinkommen (BNE) 2018 bei nur noch 0,61%; 2017 waren es noch 0,67%.

Die schrumpfenden ODA-Leistungen hängen zwar auch mit einer restriktiveren Flüchtlingspolitik zusammen. Die Inlandsaufwendungen für Flüchtlinge hatte die Bundesregierung in den vergangenen Jahren dazu benutzt, um die ODA-Zahlen schönzurechnen. Dennoch ruft die negative Entwicklung erneut die NGOs auf den Plan, die zu Recht beklagen, dass Deutschland und viele andere Industrieländer ihrer internationalen Verantwortung nicht gerecht werden. Auf 4 Mrd. € beziffert der Dachverband VENRO die ODA-Finanzierungslücke bis zum Ende der laufenden Legislaturperiode, wenn das 0,7%-Ziel, wie es auch im Koalitionsvertrag steht, erreicht werden soll und die nachhaltigen Entwicklungsziele (SDGs) nicht scheitern sollen.
Es geht jedoch nicht nur um mehr Geld. Deshalb ist es zu begrüßen, dass Oxfam jetzt mit einer neuen Studie, Hitting the target. An agenda for aid in times of extreme inequality, herauskommt. Um die globale Armut zu überwinden, müssen die Industrieländer außerdem in der Entwicklungspolitik andere Schwerpunkte setzen, heißt es darin. Oxfam fordert von den Geberländern, sich in der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit auf Maßnahmen zu konzentrieren, die dazu beitragen, die soziale Ungleichheit zu verringern, weil diese der Überwindung von Armut im Wege steht. Dazu gehört insbesondere,
* den Aufbau guter Regierungsstrukturen in Partnerländern intensiver zu fördern, um vor Ort die Steuereinnahmen zu erhöhen, statt zunehmend Gelder für die Unterstützung entwicklungspolitisch zweifelhafter Privatinvestitionen aufzuwenden;
* zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen, insbesondere Frauenrechtsorganisationen, stärker zu unterstützen;
* mehr Mittel für Bildung, Gesundheit und soziale Sicherung bereitzustellen, die erwiesenermaßen helfen, soziale Ungleichheit zu verringern. Investitionen in diesem Bereich retten Leben und führen zu mehr Geschlechtergerechtigkeit, doch gerade hier ist die weltweite Finanzierung seit 2010 zurückgegangen. Zudem müsse die Entwicklungspolitik konsequent auf die Überwindung von Armut und Ungleichheit ausgerichtet sein, statt eigene wirtschafts- und sicherheitspolitische Interessen in den Vordergrund zu stellen.
Kategorien: Blogs

IWF/Weltbank-Tagung in Washington: Bad Governance

Baustellen der Globalisierung - 10 April, 2019 - 11:39
Erst kam Anfang der Woche der ‘Tiger’-Index von Financial Times und Brookings mit der Diagnose, dass sich die Weltwirtschaft in einem “synchronisierten Abschwung” befindet. Dabei steht die Abkürzung ‚Tiger‘ eigentlich für ‚Tracking Index of global economic recovery‘. Doch von einem globalen Wirtschaftsaufschwung kann derzeit nirgendwo die Rede sein. Zum wiederholten Male hat der IWF in seinem jüngsten World Economic Outlook die Wachstumsprognosen nach unten korrigiert. Verglichen mit den Prognosen vom letzten Oktober sind die Vorhersagen rückläufig, mit der einzigen Ausnahme von China, dessen Wachstum 2019 wieder leicht zulegen dürfte. Eine schwache Hoffnung ist es da, wenn die IWF-Ökonomen darauf spekulieren, dass die wirtschaftliche Stabilisierung in Emerging Economies wie der Türkei und Argentinien der Weltwirtschaft neuen Schwung geben könnte.

Doch der Hauptgrund der Stimmungseintrübung auf dieser Frühjahrstagung ist nicht wirtschaftlicher, sondern politischer Natur. Er liegt in der brachialen Machtpolitik, mit der die USA ihren Kandidaten David Malpass als Präsident der Weltbank durchgesetzt haben, wobei kein anderer Mitgliedsstaat protestierte oder auch nur einen Gegenkandidaten nominierte. Damit feiert jenes ‚Gentlemen’s Agreement‘ fröhliche Urständ‘, in dem sich die Hauptindustrieländer vor 75 Jahren darauf verständigt haben, dass die Weltbank jeweils von einem US-Amerikaner und der IWF von einem/r Europäer*in geführt wird. Bescheidene Reformhoffnungen kamen auf, als man sich nach dem Amtsantritt von Malpass‘ Vorgänger Jim Yong Kim darauf geeinigt zu haben schien, dass Auswahlverfahren künftig nach den Kriterien der Transparenz, der Qualifikation und Erfahrung der Kandidaten zu gestalten.
Ein krasseres Beispiel für ‚bad governance‘ an der Spitze einer internationalen Institution hätte man sich kaum vorstellen können. Dabei betrifft dies nicht nur das Procedere, wie die „Wahl“ von Malpass im Vorstand der Weltbank durchlief. Noch im Februar hatte die Regierung des Libanon mit Ziad Hayek einen Gegenkandidaten ins Rennen geschickt, diesen dann aber bald auf „politischen Druck“ anderer Regierungen hin wieder zurückgezogen. Malpass hat nicht nur eine schlechte Reputation, was wirtschaftliche Vorhersagen betrifft. In seiner Zeit bei der inzwischen bankrotten Bear Stearns-Bank hatte er kurz vor der Finanzkrise ein rosiges Bild gezeichnet und die Möglichkeit einer Großen Rezession zurückgewiesen. Es wäre schwierig, sich vorzustellen, dass die Suche nach einem qualifizierten Kandidaten mit einer Vision für die immer noch wichtigste Entwicklungsbank der Welt zur Nominierung des bisherigen Unterstaatssekretärs für internationale Finanzen David Malpass führen könnte, munkelten führende Kongressabgeordnete der Demokraten.
Was unter dem neuen Mann von der Weltbank zu erwarten ist, lässt sich schwer sagen. Die Spekulationen reichen von einer Abkehr von der Klimapolitik über eine noch stärkere Indienststellung der Bank für den privaten Sektor bis hin zur Instrumentalisierung der Kreditvergabe und eine konzeptionelle Umsteuerung gegen China. Keine dieser Perspektiven macht Lust, den in dieses Jahr fallenden 75. Jahrestag der Bretton-Woods-Zwillinge zu feiern.
Kategorien: Blogs

World Bank Financialization Strategy Serves Big Finance

Triple Crisis - 9 April, 2019 - 19:17

 By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis ChowdhuryCross-posted at Inter Press Service.

The World Bank has successfully built a coalition to effectively advance its ‘Maximizing Finance for Development’ (MFD) agenda. The October 2018 G20 Eminent Persons Group’s (EPG) report includes proposals to better coordinate various international financial institutions (IFIs) in promoting financialization.

MDB Midwives of Financialization The MFD approach wants multilateral development banks (MDBs) to actively re-shape developing countries’ financial systems to better ‘complement’ global finance. MDBs have already urged developing countries to encourage local institutional investors by redesigning pension systems along lines inspired by US private pensions. Thus, MDBs have been: •    influencing what projects are deemed ‘bankable’, probably prioritizing large infrastructure over smaller projects. •    enabling securitization to transform bankable projects into tradable securities, generating more revenues and strengthening global finance. •    persuading developing country governments to finance subsidies and other ‘de-risking’ measures designed by MDBs to guarantee private financial profits. •    determining how developing countries supply securities preferred by transnational banks and institutional investors. G20 Financialization Proposals The main G20 EPG proposals for collaboration to promote financialization include: •    IFIs working together to increase the supply of bankable projects and to share data and information to support infrastructure data platforms needed to securitize MDB loans. •    IFIs should provide risk insurance to increase the number of bankable projects stuck due to high political risk. This requires government guarantees against ‘political risks’ to be more attractive to re-insurers. As securitization of MDB loans involves tradable assets with different credit ratings for investors with diverse ‘risk appetites’, MDBs are being urged to securitize both private and sovereign loans, and to retain stakes in junior tranches to induce private investments. MDBs No Longer Development Banks? While MDBs should follow recent advice for issuers to remain stakeholders by retaining shares of securitized tranches on their balance sheets, the implications are quite different when MDBs, and not private banks, securitize loans. As originators, MDBs may politically pressure low- and middle-income country governments to provide de-risking instruments, including guaranteed income from securitized public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects. World Bank Guidance on PPP Contractual Provisions can burden states and citizens more than any trade or investment agreement or international law. States take on inordinate risk while its right to regulate in the public interest is fettered. New Washington Consensus? The Washington-based Center for Global Development (CGD) has similarly discouraged borrowing in its paper for the G20 EPG, ‘More mobilizing, less lending’. Instead, it proposes augmenting MDB private sector windows with special purpose vehicles (SPVs). The CDG also calls on MDBs to use sovereign lending to promote reforms to make projects financially viable and to help finance the public share of PPPs. Hence, MDBs are pressuring governments to support the MFD with their own fiscal resources. The recommendations will also make it more difficult to manage systemic vulnerabilities arising from the envisaged securities, repo and derivative markets to be officially promoted. Various options promoted by the CDG thus involve high risk, high leverage, financialized investors as partners in international development, exposing the MDBs themselves to the vulnerabilities of the MFD approach. Checks and Balances? The tendency towards concentration in asset management (with economies of scale and scope) is likely to result in US-based asset managers allocating finance globally using considerable institutional investments from developing countries. The G20 EPG is not unaware that its proposal — to transform developing country financial systems to contribute to the global supply of securities — involves significant systemic risks. Nevertheless, it claims to be seeking to secure the benefits of open financial markets while mitigating systemic vulnerabilities. Thus, it has called on the IMF to: develop and manage a framework for managing volatile capital flows; create a resilient global ‘safety net’ that can effectively mobilize resources to address financial fragilities; and integrate financial surveillance with an effective early warning system. However, the EPG paper does not make the shift to securitization conditional on mitigating systemic risks. As its proposed safeguards are largely unrealizable or ineffective, its financial instability concerns do not mean much. Although recognizing the dangers and vulnerabilities involved at both national and international levels, including the loss of effective sovereign control over financing conditions, the IMF supports the EPG proposals. Despite the experience of recent financial crises, the IMF continues to preach that freely floating exchange rates can effectively buffer capital flow volatility, while capital controls should only be used after exhausting all monetary and fiscal policy instruments. Anis Chowdhury, Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University & University of New South Wales (Australia), held senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.
Triple Crisis welcomes your comments. Please share your thoughts below.

Triple Crisis is published by

Kategorien: Blogs

New Pan-Agency Development Financing Report Suggests Major Economic Crisis Brewing

Triple Crisis - 5 April, 2019 - 23:01

By Jesse Griffiths

Cross-posted at ODI.

The 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development report from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Financing for Development was launched today.

For those – like me – who worry that the world is sleepwalking into another crisis, it’s not reassuring. It confirms that global debt is at record levels and ‘financial fragilities’ have built up across the globe. It’s also disappointingly light on solutions that could reverse these trends.

What is the IATF report?

The IATF is a group of fifty major international institutions that work on finance issues, including various United Nations bodies, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization.

This report is its annual stocktake on progress towards meeting commitments to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s an impressive undertaking, covering all major financing sources, with a mandate to look at the global financial and economic system as a whole.

Three things stood out to me:

1. Debt risks continue to grow

First, both public and private debt continue to grow in all country categories. As the graph shows, emerging economies should be particularly worried about corporate debt, which is close to 100% of GDP. This high level of debt makes these economies highly vulnerable – changes in the internal or external environment could trigger bankruptcies that could lead to a full-blown financial crisis.

Meanwhile, more than a decade after the global crisis, developed countries continue to have record levels of government debt. Clearly public finances in this group would be badly placed to weather any future crisis.

2. The financial sector is on shaky ground

Second, global financial sector risks are very worrying. The graph shows how the financial sector has ‘deepened’ – grown relative to the size of the economy – in all categories of countries since the turn of century.

This can be a good thing for developing countries, but it depends on the way that the financial sector has developed. The report highlights that developing countries’ financial sectors have internationalised, with international banks now making up 40% of their banking sector – a share which has doubled since mid-1990s.

This can bring advantages, but it also makes them more vulnerable to the international financial system, where risks have continued to grow despite reforms taken after the global crash. For example, the report notes that ‘th­e global stock of high yield bonds and leveraged loans has doubled in size since the global financial crisis, driven by low borrowing costs, high risk appetite, and looser lending standards.’

Reports like this are prone to understatement. One conclusion it draws is that ‘In the current uncertain environment, financial markets are highly susceptible to a sudden shift in investors’ perception of market risk, which could result in a sharp and disorderly tightening of global financial conditions.’

In other words, it wouldn’t take much to precipitate a crash. Add to this the fact that three quarters of countries are found not to have a financial sector strategy, and it’s beginning to look like a warning cry.

3. Solutions are lacking

Third, as might be expected from a report that is essentially a compromise between the differing perspectives of a wide range of institutions, recommendations on what to do to prevent another major crisis hitting the global economy are thin on the ground.

One key area I’ve highlighted before is what to do about the increasing risk of a widespread public or ‘sovereign’ debt crisis.

The report devotes a chapter to debt, and does mention some potential solutions. It has a section on the idea of making debt contracts dependent upon the ability of the debtor government to pay – known in the trade as ‘state contingent debt instruments.’ The idea of reducing the repayment burden when, for example, states face recessions or natural catastrophes is a good one, as a recent ODI report explores.

However, on the central issue of how to rapidly and fairly resolve debt crises that do occur – to prevent the lost years (and often decades) that can result – the report is spectacularly unambitious, saying only that it might be time to revisit this issue.

Perhaps I am expecting too much of a report produced by major international bureaucracies: the internal wrangling over each issue is likely to stymie creative, solution-oriented thinking.

The time is therefore ripe for others to pick up this baton and produce the companion set of solutions to help prevent or resolve the problems highlighted by the report, and ensure that the world can meet the ambition of the SDGs without suffering another major crisis.

Jesse Griffiths is Head of Programme at ODI and a specialist in development finance and the international development finance architecture. He has done work for a range of national governments, international organisations, non–governmental organisations and think–tanks, and has published widely on these topics.

Triple Crisis welcomes your comments. Please share your thoughts below.

Triple Crisis is published by

Kategorien: Blogs

World Bank Financializing Development

Triple Crisis - 30 März, 2019 - 21:42

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Cross-posted at Inter Press Service.

The World Bank has successfully legitimized the notion that private finance is the solution to pressing development and welfare concerns, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Agenda 2030.

A recent McKinsey report estimates that the world needs to invest about US$3.3 trillion, or 3.8 per cent of world output yearly, in economic infrastructure, with about three-fifths in emerging market and other developing economies, to maintain current growth.

The world financing gap is about US$350 billion yearly. If new commitments, such as the SDGs, are considered, the gap would be about thrice the currently estimated gap as available public resources alone are not enough. Thus, for the Bank, the success of Agenda 2030 depends on massive private sector participation.

Maximizing finance
The Bank’s ‘Maximizing Finance for Development’ (MFD) strategy marks a new stage. It presumes that most developing countries cannot achieve the SDGs with their own limited fiscal resources and increasingly scarce donor overseas development assistance (ODA).

Bank prioritization of financial inclusion presumes that fintech-powered digital financial inclusion would increase growth, create jobs and promote entrepreneurship in developing countries.

The MFD purports to respond to the G20’s April 2017 Principles of MDBs’ strategy for Crowding-in Private Sector Finance for growth and sustainable development. The G20 has offered the Roadmap to Infrastructure as an Asset Class for energy, transport and water inter alia.

The 2017 MFD strategy recycled the Bank’s 2015 Billions to Trillions: Transforming Development Finance, arguing that MDBs should increase financial leverage via securitization to catalyse private investment, thus promoting capital markets by transforming bankable projects into liquid securities.

The MFD presumes that public money should mainly be used to leverage private finance, particularly institutional investments, to finance the purported US$5 trillion SDG funding gap.

Financialization coalition 
The MFD strategy seeks to enable financialization and transition to securities-based financial systems in developing countries, complementing other initiatives by the Bank, IMF and G20. Such initiatives are expected to encourage investors to use environmental, social and governance criteria to attract, mobilize and sustain needed financing.

The MFD presumes that public money should mainly be used to leverage private finance, particularly institutional investments to finance the funding gap. Government guarantees are deemed necessary to ‘de-risk’ projects, especially for public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Meanwhile, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a Bank subsidiary, is helping subsidize capital market involvement in infrastructure development; the MFD strategy envisages capital markets in ‘green bonds’, ‘social impact bonds’, infrastructure bonds and so on.

Securities markets are supposed to enable institutional investors to make desirable social and environmental impacts. MFD advocates claim that capital markets provide new solutions to development challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, and poor access to schooling, clean water, sanitation and housing.

The Financial Stability Board has also proposed measures to transform ‘shadow banking’ into securities-based finance, while the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance initiative seeks to similarly reorient institutional investors and asset managers.

Cascading financialization
The Bank’s ‘Cascade’ approach seeks to institutionalize this bias for private financing. It seeks to facilitate securities lending by enabling ‘repo’ market financing and hedging, and ‘rehypothecation’, i.e., allowing securities to be used repeatedly for new lending.

The Cascade approach seeks to accelerate financialization with measures to accommodate new asset classes, enable banks to engage in securities and derivatives markets with minimal regulation, deregulate financial institutions creating tradable assets from PPP projects, and facilitate capital flows ostensibly for development.

It presumes market imperfections and missing markets deter the private sector from financing sustainable development projects, and proposes to address such bottlenecks by ‘internalizing externalities’ and providing subsidies and guarantees to de-risk investments.

Tito Cordella notes that it prioritizes private finance even when a project is likely to be profitable if undertaken with public funds. He notes the tensions between maximizing private financing and optimizing financing for development, and some implications. Public options are only to be considered after all private options are exhausted or fail.

Thus, the Cascade approach presumes that the private sector is always more efficient, despite actual experiences. Clearly, it not only reflects an ideological preference for private finance, but also seeks to promote securities and derivatives markets, as market liquidity is among the core G20 Principles of MDBs’ strategy for crowding-in Private Sector Finance.

Hijacking development finance
The strategy would thus commit scarce public resources to ‘de-risking’ such financing arrangements to transform ‘bankable’ development projects into tradable assets. This means that governments will bear more of the likely costs of greater financial fragility and crises.

Such government measures will inadvertently undermine needed financial institutions such as development banks. There is no reason to believe that MFD will somehow create the capital market infrastructure to improve finance for SMEs or needed development transformations.

Once a project’s future revenue streams are securitized, the multilateral development banks’ environmental and social safeguards no longer apply. Contracts to repay securitized debt held by investors would be disconnected from the underlying project financed and its consequences.

Holders of these securities have no incentives to prioritize social or environmental goals. Private equity and hedge funds that have short-term incentives for profit-taking, including by asset-stripping, are not concerned with social, environmental or other public interests.

Not surprisingly, considerable doubt exists as to whether private capital markets and institutional investors can be incentivized to finance long-term public goods as these mechanisms serve the profit motive, not public welfare.

Anis Chowdhury, Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University & University of New South Wales (Australia), held senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.

Triple Crisis welcomes your comments. Please share your thoughts below.

Triple Crisis is published by

 

Kategorien: Blogs

Fridays for Future – was wissen wir über diese neue Protestbewegung?

Klima der Gerechtigkeit - 26 März, 2019 - 15:20

Die CO2-Emissionen haben mal wieder ein neues historisches Hoch erreicht. Die Internationale Energieagentur (IEA) stellt fest: Aufgrund einer wachsenden Energienachfrage, stiegen die globalen Emissionen aus dem Energiesektor 2018 um 1,7 % auf 33,1 Gt CO2.

Doch diesmal kann man zum Glück sagen: das Thema stößt auf Interesse. Und es regt sich Widerstand!

Am 15. März fanden unter dem Motto #FridaysForFuture weltweit in 98 Ländern und an 1325 Orten Demonstrationen für mehr Klimaschutz statt. Allein in Deutschland waren es ca. 300.000 Menschen in mehr als 230 Städten.

Über die neue Bewegung ist viel geschrieben und gesagt worden – vor allem wird ihr viel unterstellt. Denn so richtig genau hingeschaut und gefragt hatte bisher noch niemand, wer sich denn da jede Woche versammelt und vernetzt. Wer sind die Teilnehmenden der Fridays for Future Proteste? Welche Anliegen und politisches Interesse haben die Protestierenden? Welche Wege der Rekrutierung und des politischen Engagements nutzen sie? Was sind ihre politischen Einstellungen?

Zusammen mit Protestforscher/innen aus Schweden, dem Vereinigten Königreich, den Niederlanden, Belgien, Polen, der Schweiz, Österreich und Italien befragten Forscher/innen des Instituts für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung am 15. MärzProtestierende in Berlin und Bremen.

Die ersten Ergebnisse dieser annähernd repräsentativen Befragung haben sie heute gemeinsam mit der Otto Brenner Stiftung, der Stiftung 100% erneuerbar und der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Berlin vorgestellt.

Zusammenfassend kann man sagen

  • Es handelt sich zu einem Großteil um junge Menschen, die sich neu politisieren. Circa 30 % der befragten Schüler/innen geht zum ersten Mal auf eine Demonstration.
  • Es sind größtenteils gebildete Personen aus der Mittelschicht, die selber einen hohen Bildungsgrad haben (oder anstreben) oder deren Eltern einen besitzen.
  • Der Kontakt mit Freund/&innen ist ein wichtiger Weg der Mobilisierung.
  • Eine deutliche Mehrheit verortet sich im linken Spektrum, die Grünen bieten die stärkste Identifikation. Aber gut 40 % haben auch keine Parteipräferenz.
  • Der Protest wird als eine Art von politischer Selbstermächtigung verstanden. Zwar wird der Politik und den Unternehmen wenig Lösungskompetenz zugesprochen (da sehen die Jugendlichen viel mehr Handlungsspielräume und Möglichkeiten bei ihren eigenen Lebens- und Konsumstilen – Flugreisen, Energie- und Fleischkonsum etc.), fordern aber mit ihren Protesten ja genau die Politik auf, wieder Handlungskompetenz zu erlangen.

Barbara Unmüßig, Vorstand der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, macht noch einmal klar:

„Aus unserer Sicht haben auch und gerade Schüler und Schülerinnen jedes Recht der Welt, von ihren Grundrechten Gebrauch zu machen. Sie können ihr Demonstrations- und Streikrecht dazu nutzen, für ihre Zukunft auf die Straße zu gehen. Wir unterstützen gesellschaftspolitisches Engagement und die demokratische Willensbildung. Solche Demonstrationen sind eine wichtige ‚Schule der Demokratie‘ für die Jugendlichen. Aus der Befragung geht hervor, dass die Jugendlichen zwar sehr gut über den Klimawandel und die Ursachen der Krise informiert sind, aber trotzdem optimistisch in die Zukunft blicken. Diesen Zukunftsoptimismus und Wunsch nach Handeln darf die Politik nicht enttäuschen.“

Schade, dass sich die Debatte in den deutschen Medien bisher sehr stark auf die Frage nach „Streiken“ vs. „Schule schwänzen“ konzentriert hat. Mit der Vorstellung der heutigen Ergebnisse können wir uns hoffentlich endlich auf das Wesentliche konzentrieren, das die jungen Menschen zu Recht und lautstark einfordern – politische Lösungen.

Knapp 58 % der Befragten waren übrigens weiblich. Und über 50 % zwischen 14 und 19 Jahre alt (unter 14-Jährige dürfen in Deutschland nicht befragt werden bei solchen Untersuchungen).

Für diese junge weibliche Bewegung ist eine klare Vorbildrolle von Greta Thunberg (die am kommenden Freitag auch in Berlin dabei sein wird!) feststellbar:

 

 

 

 

 

Unterstützung bekommt #FridaysForFuture inzwischen nicht nur von den #ParentsforFuture, sondern auch auch von Hunderten von Wissenschaftler/innen. Scientists for Future schreiben in ihrer Stellungnahme:

„Zurzeit demonstrieren regelmäßig viele junge Menschen für Klimaschutz und den Er­halt unserer natürlichen Lebensgrundlagen. Als Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissen­schaftler erklären wir auf Grundlage gesicherter wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse: Diese Anliegen sind berechtigt und gut begründet. Die derzeitigen Maßnahmen zum Klima-, Arten-, Wald-, Meeres- und Bodenschutz reichen bei weitem nicht aus. […] Die jungen Menschen fordern zu Recht, dass sich unsere Gesellschaft ohne weiteres Zögern auf Nachhaltigkeit ausrichtet. Ohne tiefgreifenden und konsequenten Wandel ist ihre Zukunft in Gefahr.“

Und auf die Frage, warum sie zum Protest gegangen sind, haben die jungen Menschen auch eine klare Antwort:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kategorien: Blogs

China’s Belt and Road Initiative vs. the Washington Consensus

Triple Crisis - 26 März, 2019 - 14:24

Cross-posted at Inter Press Service.

With the Washington Consensus from the 1980s being challenged, President Donald Trump withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and China pursuing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), most notably with its own initiatives such as the multilateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the political and economic landscape in East Asia continues to evolve. Jomo Kwame Sundaram was interviewed about likely implications for developing countries in the region and beyond.

IPS: What do you think of world growth prospects and China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Jomo: Although there are some hopeful signs here and there, there are few grounds for much optimism around the North Atlantic (US and Europe) for various reasons. Unconventional monetary policies, especially quantitative easing (QE), have helped achieve a modest recovery in the US, but appears less likely to succeed elsewhere. Such measures have also accelerated massive wealth concentration, which is why a few of the world’s richest men own more than the bottom half of the world’s population.

The situation is more promising in East Asia due to China’s diminished but sustained growth, and its almost unique rising labour share of national income. Most importantly for others, China has been willing to finance massive infrastructure projects, although this has given rise to a host of problems. For example, Chinese contractors are known for using Chinese material and human resources as far as possible, minimizing multiplier benefits for host economies. A few years ago, China’s ambassador to Tanzania publicly apologized for the conduct of Chinese firms in Africa, but most others tend to see all Chinese in monolithic terms. Meanwhile, US, European, Japanese, Indian and other competition for influence has helped increased options for other developing countries. However, it is not yet clear that China’s BRI and ‘alternative globalization’ will be enough to sustain rapid progress in the region.

Trade Liberalization?

IPS: You once said that “If President…Trump lives up to his campaign rhetoric, all plurilateral and multilateral free trade agreements will be affected.” Now, with the US having withdrawn from the TPP, why are the Japanese, Australians and Singaporeans still pushing for the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive TPP) with all the others without the US?

Jomo: It must be emphasized that the US, the EU and Japan have done little to advance trade multilateralism and keep the promise of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, flawed as they are against developing country interests. Meanwhile, the Japanese, Australians and Singaporeans are trying to hype up the CPTPP as a political counterweight to China. But as a trade agreement, it will not do much except to strengthen foreign corporate power and further weaken governments, e.g., through its investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions.

IPS: Why will the CPTPP have little impact on growth, but will strengthen the power of foreign enterprises?

Jomo: Let us be clear that even with the original TPP, all projections, including the most optimistic ones by the Peterson Institute, projected very modest economic growth attributable to trade liberalization. US government projections were much more modest. About 85 percent of the Peterson Institute’s projected ‘growth gains’ were attributed to ‘non-trade measures’, mainly broadening and strengthening intellectual property rights (IPRs) and foreign corporate legal rights against host governments with its ISDS provisions, which they are promoting as features for so-called 21st century free trade agreements. So, for example, if stronger IPRs raise the prices of medicines, the value of trade will also rise! With ISDS, if a government decides to ban the use of a toxic agrochemical to protect farm workers and consumers for instance, it will have to compensate the supplier for loss of profits!

International Financial Institutions

IPS: Do you think the Washington Consensus is threatened by South-led financial institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank?

Jomo: Although still very influential, the Washington Consensus is acknowledged to have been superseded by new policy prescriptions. Despite recent ethno-nationalist Western reactions, all too many developing country governments still believe that further trade liberalization will boost growth. Meanwhile, financial globalization continues despite its adverse effects for growth, stability and equity.

Now, digital globalization is supposed to have wonderful progressive effects when it has clearly accelerated concentration of power and wealth, albeit with the rapid ascendance of innovative new players able to quickly consolidate lucrative monopolies.

I wish the new multilateral development banks would be bolder, but thus far, they have largely chosen to work within the dominant framework shaped by the Washington Consensus, probably to secure market confidence.

Credit from China’s banks, usually benefiting China’s corporations, is far more important than what the AIIB and NDB offer. Of course, lending by China’s banks has undermined the BWIs’ monopolies, and this has already been reflected by new policy initiatives by the West and Japan, e.g., to more generously provide infrastructure finance.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has aligned itself more closely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in order to provide its new initiatives to promote market-based private finance such as securities and derivatives besides public private partnerships.

Capital Controls

IPS: You have pointed out that both portfolio investment inflows to developing countries have in recent years. Do you think it appropriate to resume capital controls, as Malaysia did during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, to counter capital outflows?

Jomo: With even China reintroducing capital controls, it is important to consider such options. I have long advocated counter-cyclical ‘capital account management’ to smoothen financial cycles, rather than to only impose controls after a crisis, as effective capital account management must be pro-active, agile, and flexible.

Almost by definition, capital account management is context specific. There are few ‘one size fits all’ rules. What I specifically called for in the early and mid-1990s is probably no longer relevant or appropriate. The challenge is not to expect the last crisis to recur, but to protect national economic progress from likely future threats.

Capital inflows to sustainably enhance the real economy should be prioritized, not portfolio flows which tend to be speculative, easily reversible, and do not enhance the real economy.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

Triple Crisis welcomes your comments. Please share your thoughts below.

Triple Crisis is published by

 

Kategorien: Blogs

Europe’s finest: what to learn from the old world’s unsung champions of climate protection

Energiewende Blog - 25 März, 2019 - 15:00

Germany is often cited as Europe’s renewable energy wunderkind, and indeed many of its laurels are well deserved. But it is no means alone on the cutting edge of climate protection, and indeed of late the Teutons have fallen behind in places. Other European countries excel in specific areas, offering best practices for the rest of the continent and beyond. In the final analysis, though, the meta-champion is the EU, says Paul Hockenos.

Wind turbines from a bird’s eye view (Public Domain)

Sweden: Gold Medal in Sustainable Development

Sweden is ranked number one in sustainability surveys, and on track to be the first nation worldwide to fulfill the UN’s SDGs, perhaps as early as 2030. Among its strongest suits is renewable energy – wind, bioenergy, hydroelectric – that accounts for more than half (55%) of gross energy consumption, followed by Finland (41%), Latvia (39%), Denmark (36%) and Austria (33%). It is determined to push up efficient energy use by 50% in the next decade and finish with a 100% renewable-energy supply in 2040. The newly re-elected leftist government should meet its target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Keys to Success: high level of citizen involvement, smart investment, engaged red-green national governments.

Portugal: Iberian Dark Horse

Last year in May, Portugal ran the country for three days in a row on renewable energy alone and even managed to export power during the streak. Little known even in Europe, Portugal has a higher share of fluctuating renewables in its supply than Germany, and steeper clean-energy growth rates, too. Renewables are expected to cover 80% of electricity consumption in Portugal in 2030, a goal that a massive, ongoing roll out of solar PV will help facilitate. According to The Portugal News, Green energy currently saves the country around €750 million in fossil fuel imports.

“The growth of renewables in Portugal is now so fast that officials are questioning planned investments in gas infrastructure,” says R. Andreas Kraemer of the Berlin-based think tank Ecologic Institute. The rapid shift to renewables has endowed Portugal with “a wealth of experience in the operational management of grid, including forecasting,” he says.

Keys to Success: Incredible natural resources, engineering prowess. Portugal has no fossil extraction industry.

Denmark : Wind Power Pioneer

Denmark, the cradle of European wind power, generates close to half of its electricity consumption (43.4%) from its stiff sea breezes.

Source: Dansk Energi

And the Danes’ security of supply is among the highest in Europe at 99.995%. Denmark is home to Europe’s largest wind turbine maker, Vestas, and the most sought-after offshore wind farm developer, Orsted. Vestas has installed over 60,000 turbines across 76 countries.

Keys to Success: Early pioneer in the field, wind galore, extensive district heating systems, dense crossborder grid.

United Kingdom: King of Offshore Wind Power

The U.K. is home to 39 of Europe’s 105 offshore wind parks with a total of 1,957 operational turbines. Since 2016, the U.K. has generated more power from the wind (sea- and land-based) than from coal, its traditional mainstay.

The five floating turbines at Hywind Scotland Pilot Park are the first of their kind in operation. Hywind’s turbines are about 253 meters in height, about a third of which is beneath the water. Each of the towers is tethered to the sea floor by chains weighing in 1,323 tons. At full capacity, the park will generate enough electricity to supply 20,000 homes.

Source: European Environment Agency

In 2017, the latest numbers available, the UK posted (in terms of absolute changes) by far the largest decrease in GHG emissions in the EU. The drop was a result of shifting from coal and natural gas to renewable energies. In relative terms, the largest decline happened in Denmark (5.3 %), followed by Finland (4.6 %) and the U.K. (2.6 %).

Keys to Success: a record 52% drop in coal use in 2016 followed by a further 19% decrease in 2017. U.K. has committed to end coal use by 2025. But also: many manufacturing facilities have moved overseas.

Norway: Future of the Fjords

The Norse capital of Oslo, and the rest of the country right behind it, is the hands-down world number one in electric transportation: half of all new car sales are electric or hybrid. And all new car sales should be zero emission by 2025 – the most ambitious goal in the world. Norway is also out in front on battery-powered shipping, a neglected sector until now. Its entire ferry fleet, which navigates the fjords and islands, is going electric, as are, more slowly, the larger tourist berths (see photo below of the electric catamaran Future of the Fjords.)

Downtown Oslo maintains that the only thing better than e-cars is no cars at all. The city center is largely car-free as of 2019, and apparently it’s working out fine, so far.

Oddly, Norway doesn’t have a car manufacturer today. The Nissan Leaf is the most popular all-electric automobile there.

Keys to Success: Strong environmental consciousness, deft civic planning, extensive green transportation infrastructure, lavish incentive scheme. Norway rewards e-car buyers with hefty rebates and other perks worth thousands of euros. Moreover, urban drivers can avail themselves to an array of perks such as free parking, access to bus lanes, and toll-free travel.

The European Union: The Most Unsung Champion

The EU has led the way on so many climate and energy issues that its impact over the years vastly outstrips that of any one state or region. Europe’s renewable energy boom, for example, is unthinkable without the EU’s opening of energy markets and the prying apart of energy production and distribution sectors (called “unbundling“) in the 1990s. In Germany, for example, the dismantling of the energy-market monopoly of four giant utilities paved the way for tens of thousands of small producers, citizen’s collectives, localities, and cooperatives to forge ahead with renewable energy generation, known as the Energiewende.

The EU has pushed hard on many fronts, such as the stubborn transportation sector, where its directives on lowering emissions for cars and trucks sets the bar in Europe (much to the consternation of Chancellor Merkel and German automobile manufacturers.)

Among the most salient measures of all, last year the EU agreed that renewables must make up 32% of energy consumed in Europe by 2030 (binding target) and that by there be a 33% increase in energy efficiency. Thanks to its targets and pressure – as well as communism’s fall and the financial crisis — the EU as a whole has already hit its 2020 goal of sinking greenhouse gas emissions by 20% (compared to 1990.) And the EU has pledged that from 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro of the EU budget — one trillion euros ($1.2 trillon dollars) — will go toward climate protection.

For Europeans concerned about climate change, and polls show it’s the vast majority, these are solid reasons to back pro-EU and climate-serious parties in the May European Parliament elections.

Kategorien: Blogs

Greening the New Deal

Triple Crisis - 22 März, 2019 - 21:24
By Shaun Ferguson (guest post)

The Green New Deal is desperately needed, and arguing about a price tag is like Henry Ford wondering if the country will be able to afford his brand new automobile.  With the introduction of a House Resolution by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), a debate has surged across the country on the affordability of the Green New Deal. The sheer distraction of the affordability discussion is enough to ensure that very few people will pay attention to what is really at stake. For when the bigger fish eat up this little fish we will need to remember how we got here and what matters most.  As the bright young critics have quickly observed, the Green New Deal could hardly be too green. Time is wearing thin and we need to make haste.

But there can be no greening that abstracts from political economy realities and while the tug of war taking place in the media at the moment is all about the so-called economy-of-it-all, there is next to no analysis on the political constraints of sustainably embarking on another New Deal when the first one withered away long ago. After World War II, the ambition of a nationwide spending program was quickly replicated on an international scale as the country rightly observed that in a vacuum the United States would be hard pressed to expand its economy and that what it needed to make large projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority which introduced unprecedented stimulus, sustainable in the long run was the integration of the United States capital stock’s capacity to produce output with a global trend of expanding markets.  Unless the United States comes to terms with the global characteristics of its (not to mention everyone else’s) economy, we will all the rest of us more than likely pay the brunt of another American adventure.  How does America exact these payments?  By imposing continued low growth trajectories, low wage growth,  contractionary balance of payments adjustments, and what Keynes called “forced exports”, which is basically what we call today narrow and specialized development: all opposed to diversification.

 

If the truth be told, the heavy handed unilateral approach of the United States renders the rest of the global economy akin to something that can be thrown off the back of a train to pay for America’s projects. By America’s choice, the world has pursued a most exclusionary development path with low growth trajectories being imposed on much of the world’s population, even Europe’s, to ensure the political dominance of one country, which itself is willing to sacrifice the high growth it could enjoy itself along with the rest of the world through inclusive multilateralism. The decision for this can be traced back to 1951, two years after what has sometimes been referred to as ‘the Kaldor Report’ was discussed at ECOSOC.  This would be the last serious consideration for institutionalizing Full Employment at the international level, which is to say that it was the last serious effort to institutionalize multilateral trading in support of an expansive global economy.

 

It is this author’s opinion that this would have required the mediatory institutions sought by John Maynard Keynes.  As he confided to his compatriots, “the difficulties are thoroughly shirked” (Keynes, 1980: 325), “The two Institutions have become different from what we were expecting.” (Ibid: 232)  These statements  commence a long line of lament by those working in the official institutions of international development.  Contrary to the less than exhaustive investigations by the most powerful parties involved in the post-War framing, certain extensive and earnest treatments of the rationale for full employment have been attempted.  The tensions that constituted the political sequence which framed the post-War economic institutions were all but resolved. They can fruitfully be resubmitted to thought.

 

The ability of the USA to pay for the Green New Deal is inherently connected to its relation to the global economy, at the broadest level. It can flounder on uninviting seas and when needed release its fury spanking the waves after Xerxes, or it can take stock of what Keynes called the “high ways of the real world”, and awake to the rough realities it has imposed around the globe. To the extent that America’s low growth trajectory displaces demand in the global economy— or to the extent that its low wage growth policy is the only way it manages to insert itself into the global economy, its longstanding policy of aggressive bilateralism will continue.  The world’s economies are intimately interlinked and what is needed is not an American scheme but a global one — which picks up the multilateralism that once wanted to be born.

 

Shaun Ferguson has worked in development economics at various United Nations agencies including UNCTAD, ESCWA and UNSCO since 2002. He has a doctoral degree in Economics at the New School for Social Research.

Kategorien: Blogs

#ExxonKnew – auch in Europa: morgen findet die erste Anhörung zur Klimalügenmaschinerie des Ölgiganten in Brüssel statt

Klima der Gerechtigkeit - 20 März, 2019 - 21:41

Am 21. März 2019 gibt es die erste öffentliche Anhörung zur Rolle von Exxon bei der Finanzierung von Klimaskeptikern und der Verhinderung effektiver Klimapolitikin Europa – undzwar im Europäischen Parlament. Aber Exxon selber wird nicht vertreten sein – der Großkonzern verweigert die Aussage.

Dabei ist die Lügen- und Lobbymaschinerie des Öl-Giganten (Stichwort #ExxonKnew) schon seit Jahren gut belegt und auch Inhalt verschiedener staatsanwaltschaftlicher Untersuchungen und Klimaklagen, vor allem in den USA.

#ExxonKnew – Hintergrund:

https://exxonknew.org/

https://www.smokeandfumes.org/

https://climateinvestigations.org/

https://exxonsecrets.org/html/index.php

Aus Anlass der anstehenden Anhörung in Brüssel hat Corporate Europe Observatory eine neue Recherche veröffentlich, die detailliert belegt, wie die Exxon-Lobby-Maschine in Europa funktioniert.

Climate Arson: The strategies and impact of ExxonMobil’s dangerous EU lobbying enthält auch konkrete Forderungen an die Europäische Kommission und das Parlament:

„Starting with removing their lobby badge, the European Parliament, in partnership with the European Commission, should systematically reduce ExxonMobil’s influence on EU climate and energy policy-making by:

  • Revoking the six Parliament access badges currently held by ExxonMobil lobbyists;
  • Preventing the company from participating in events held on Parliament or Commission premises;
  • Demanding the Commission exclude all ExxonMobil lobbyists from its expert groups;
  • Placing a moratorium on Commission officials and MEPs appearing alongside ExxonMobil at events;
  • Closing the revolving door between ExxonMobil and the EU institutions;
  • Restricting any interaction between ExxonMobil and MEPs, their staff and Commission officials involved in climate and energy policy-making to an absolute minimum.“

Praktische Infos zur Anhörung:

THE HEARING: The hearing will take place on Thursday 21 March, 10:30-12:30, European Parliament, József Antall building, Room 4Q1 (JAN4Q1), and will be live-streamed here. The draft agenda can be found HERE. To register and get access to the Parliament, please email your request stating your name, nationality, date of birth and passport number to peti-secretariat@europarl.europa.eu

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: There will be a media stunt before the hearing with spokespeople on site, taking place at 09:30 at the Espace Simone Veil entrance of the Altiero Spinelli building of the EU Parliament.

PRESS CONFERENCE: After the hearing, Climate Science Historian Dr. Geoffrey Supran (Harvard University & MIT), MEPs Eleonora Evi and Molly Scott Cato, and Frida Kieninger (Food & Water Europe) will answer press questions at 13:00 at the Politikovskaya Room, PHS 0A50.

 

 

Kategorien: Blogs

The age of Czech solar power: after years of stagnation, is a rebirth imminent?

Energiewende Blog - 20 März, 2019 - 10:00

No other energy resource in the Czech Republic has been as discussed in the media and political debate as solar has been in recent years. The technology entered the Czech energy sector in 2010 with a big initial bounce, but its development stagnated during the next decade. Those interested in Czech photovoltaic technology are now attempting to revive it, says Martin Sedlák.

Within the economic potential, the installed capacity of solar plants could increase up to 3,5 GW in 2030 (Public Domain)

Czech photovoltaic cells – a wild history

Over the past decade, ministers of industry in the Czech Republic have alleged that solar has no potential and is expensive. However, a wave of interest in solar did come to the Czech Republic from the dynamic global developments in this unique technology – and the Czech system was not prepared. The first wave in 2009 sparked solar growth and was followed by exponentially increased growth in 2010. The Czech Republic suddenly had almost 2 000 MW of solar capacity installed.

This jump-start of growth was also projected into the cost of electricity, given that consumers in particular were paying for state support of solar. The problem was not how the amount of such support was set up. However, the Czech Republic had no aims for how many new renewable projects should be brought online per year.

Unfortunately, solar park owners became labeled as the culprits, and politicians began using the derogatory label “solar barons” for them in the media. Today this shorthand is exploited mainly by Czech President Miloš Zeman, but in the past it was also commonly part of statements made, for example, by the chair of the Energy Regulatory Authority. The main problem was, however, a mistake made by the regulation. However, nobody was looking for it there.

As a corrective measure, the previous administration pushed through a special solar charge, the so-called solar tax of 26 % imposed on installations dating from 2009 and 2010. The charge was to have applied for three years, during which project owners lost part of their state support. The charge was then extended for solar parks dating from 2010, set at 10 % for as long as they drew on state support.

Solar owners believed the measure was not just retroactive, but contradicted the aim of increasing renewables. However, their lawsuit failed before the Constitutional Court. Several international arbitrations are still underway.

The impact of these moves on solar has been merciless: Since 2011, no big solar projects have been implemented in the Czech Republic. What is annually growing is rooftop solar, with a capacity of 6 MW to date.

Support for small installations

2018 appears to have been slight promising: Rooftop solar growth has doubled year-on-year. During the first 11 months of 2018 there have been more than 1 500 applications for support paid out with a capacity of 6 MW.

From the perspective of new project growth in other European countries, the Czech example appears embarrassingly small. Nevertheless, domestically it appears to be a success after the years of decline. Firms performing installations now enjoy a predictable, stable environment. They are able to offer solar solutions for heating water, either alone or in combination with batteries or heat pumps. Families are able to request support for installations, depending on the type of system, that ranges from CZK 30 000 to CZK 150 000 (EUR 1 150 – 5 770) from the New Green Savings program.

Bigger projects of up to 1 MW of capacity can also be commercially implemented. The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry has already issued two calls through which firms can request investment into photovoltaic electricity generators. However, the condition is that the power generated be used directly on the firm’s own premises and that the equipment be installed on that particular building. During 2018 several projects on the order of hundreds of kilowatts have been built. Unfortunately, no other call has been announced and the companies are thus postponing their investments into renewables.

Opportunities for Czech solar have exponentially increased

The solar energy association has presented a study mapping the potential for solar in the Czech Republic. From its calculations, contributed by the renowned consultancy EGÚ Brno, it follows that there is technical potential for as much as 39 GW of solar. This includes opportunities to install panels on facades and rooftops as well as the building of photovoltaic electricity generation projects in brownfields. In total, this could mean up to 2,2 million solar systems (<10 kW) on rooftops and thousands of bigger installations

Within the economic (i.e. feasible) potential, the installed capacity of solar plants could increase up to 3,5 GW in 2030 and 5,5 GW in 2040.

For the repeated startup of such constructions, however, bigger solar projects in the Czech Republic lack two basic things: Good laws and political support. The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry is currently drafting an amendment to the law on state-supported energy. After about a year of debate with experts, a bill has been drafted to introduce auctions for new renewable projects, inspired by a German law which began a very interesting reduction to the costs of new projects there, especially for photovoltaic parks. However, the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry bill does not count on auction opportunities for new solar parks.

According to associations of modern energy professionals, the Czech ministry’s move makes no sense. In the associations’ view, the law should be neutral with respect to technology. Moreover, it is exactly solar that has the greatest chance of offering consumers cheap electricity, which would be advantageous.

The same ministry is pushing the Czech Government to support new nuclear reactors, which are exponentially less advantageous than solar for consumers.

Unfortunately, chances to build new solar parks, whether located in brownfields or on the grounds of spacious industrial campuses, are also not part of the Czech climate-energy plan the Government is meant to send to the European Commission by the end of the year to present its strategy for fulfilling its emissions-reduction obligations by 2030. According to the versions of the plan that have leaked to date, the Industry Ministry only wants to support solar projects with a capacity of 30 kilowatts or less.

Despite these small steps forward, the Czech solar energy sector is still waiting for somebody with a clear political vision to arrive on the scene. For the time being the Industry Minister, Marta Nováková, unfortunately remains behind the current energy trends.

Martin Sedlák is program director of The Modern Energy Union (Svaz moderní energetiky), the Union contributes to national debates in Czech Republic. He is as well an author for the Blog Aktuálne.cz.

Kategorien: Blogs

Gas wars part one: let’s be honest about Germany’s growing dependence on fossil gas

Energiewende Blog - 19 März, 2019 - 13:00

With the ink barely dry on Germany’s Coal Commission report recommending a phase out by 2038, the oil and gas industry is breaking out the champagne. While environmentalists criticize the plan’s particulars, the other side is celebrating the slaying of their strongest competitor. And they’re translating that joy into furious lobbying aimed at ensuring that renewables don’t fill the majority of the void as coal plants are shuttered. L. Michael Buchsbaum explains.

Fossil gas is essentially methane, which constitutes at least one-third of global warming (Public Domain)

Gas infrastructure set to expand in all directions

With the environmental community and media otherwise focused on the Commission’s report, in late January Chancellor Angel Merkel (CDU) addressed the 49th Annual World Economic Meeting and let the cat out of the proverbial bag: “if we phase out coal and nuclear energy, then we have to be honest and tell people that we’ll need more natural gas.”

Calling the growing tug-of-war over where that future gas supply comes from “a bit over the top,”she reassured the gathered industry and politicians that gas will “play a greater role for another few decades. We’re thus expanding infrastructure in all directions.”

Merkel’s candor and bluntness might be rather shocking for those more accustomed to her usual opaque pronouncements. But the fact that coal’s demise was really just a smokescreen for a gas play shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone who has followed the US’ rapid transition from billion-ton-a-year-coal-burner to the world’s largest oil and gas producer. As new technologies came into play, beginning in 2005, fracking companies there covertly funded the nascent “Beyond Coal” movement, directly or indirectly, while ensuring the media labeled fossil gas as a natural bridge fuel to renewables.

It was a very successful campaign, as evidenced by the fact that today coal is slipping to only 25% of total US electrical generation, as gas closes in on 40%. Its meteoric growth has always been framed as clean energy, blunting the demand for non-hydro renewables, which have been politically fenced in to only 10% of total capacity.

The German playbook’s version similarly calls for bottling up burgeoning wind and solar capacities to about 50% and then ensuring that gas takes up the capacity that coal will eventually leave behind.

The “gas bridge” scam

One of the key components of this play is repeating ad nauseum that burning fossil gas produces only half as much CO2 in comparison to hard coal or lignite, the most polluting of all coals. Until recently, little media attention was given to the fact that fossil gas is essentially methane, which constitutes at least one-third of global warming and is leaking into the atmosphere all across the gas production and delivery chain. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in the first 20 years after its release, methane causes an approximately 87 times greater negative climate effect in the atmosphere than CO2. For a period of 100 years, the climate effect would still be 36 times greater compared to CO2.

In order for the world to meet its Paris-pledged goals of ensuring less than a 1.5 degree temperature rise, gas usage will have to decrease slightly through 2025 and decrease sharply thereafter. But that’s nowhere near current trends.

Instead, throughout the US, 60 percent more fugitive methane was being released into the atmosphere through leaky oil and gas production than previously measured, the journal Science reports. In retrospect, when “including methane emissions released during production and transport, in particular the massive fracking emissions which have quickly increased, natural gas is no better than coal,” said climate researcher Niklas Höhne of the NewClimate Institute in Cologne in an interview with Germany’s Deutsche Welle. “If all emissions are considered, natural gas could actually be worse,” he said.

Germany’s Federal Environmental Ministry (BMU) came to this same conclusion as well (in German here). “We assume that natural gas imported by fracking and imported by LNG (liquefied natural gas) will generally not reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal,” stated BMU to DW. While piped-in gas from Russia might be a bit better compared to LNG, the country barely has any fugitive methane controls, and is the leading producer and shipper of gas to Europe and Germany.

Don’t let gas cut out renewables

Sitting in the middle of Europe, Germany is already the world’s largest importer of fossil gas. Though only partially used for generating electricity (about 13% of total), its historically high prices lead many energy experts to assume that it won’t be able to compete with ever-cheaper renewables and take over the space left behind as coal is phased out.

But current trends indicate that green energy expansion is in fact, being deliberately fenced in. While on and offshore wind expansion slows, Nordstream 2 and a plethora of other new pipelines from Russia and newly discovered gas fields in the Middle East as well as the construction of a fleet of new LNG ships and terminals are set to flood the European gas market, dropping gas prices dramatically.

Thereafter, cheap gas will enable a business case for simply switching from one fossil fuel to another, allowing existing under-utilized gas plants more generating capacity and convincing lenders to finance more retrofits of coal plants or the building of new “cleaner” gas plants. Once that infrastructure is built, fossil gas use “will only be prolonged, ensuring it’s harder for renewable energies” to expand said Green Bundestag member Julia Verlinden.

Under this scenario, German gas usage could actually rise by up to 8 percent through 2022 alone according to gas lobbying group Zukunft Erdgas. Coal currently provides about 40% of total capacity. As the first cuts take place under the Coal Commission’s plans by 2022, the gas industry is already planning on jumping into that space.

Likewise, executives at utility Uniper, Germany’s single biggest customer of imported Russian gas and a partner in the Nordstream2 pipeline and various LNG terminal projects, are assuming “that there will be additional gas import demand of 150 billion cubic metres per year by 2030 in Europe,” chief financial officer Christopher Delbrueck said at a news conference on the presentation of the company’s 2018 earnings. Evident of the new gas rush: shipments of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) have also increased through March following Russia’s record gas flows to Europe in 2018.

So why again does anyone wonder why school kids throughout Europe and worldwide are striking for the future climate?

Kategorien: Blogs

Promoting Privatization

Triple Crisis - 18 März, 2019 - 17:09

Cross-posted at Inter Press Service.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Privatization has been central to the ‘neo-liberal’ counter-revolution from the 1970s against government economic interventions associated with Roosevelt and Keynes as well as post-colonial state-led economic development.

Many developing countries were forced to accept privatization policies as a condition for credit or loan support from the World Bank and other international financial institutions, especially after the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s. Other countries voluntarily embraced privatization, often on the pretext of fiscal and debt constraints, in their efforts to mimic new Anglo-American criteria of economic progress.

Demonizing SOEs

Globally, inflation was attributed to excessive government intervention, public sector expansion and state-owned enterprise (SOE) inefficiency. It was claimed, with uneven and dubious evidence, that SOEs were inherently likely to be inefficient, corrupt, subject to abuse, and so on.
In the 1970s, the motives of many involved in the preceding public sector expansion – enabled by high commodity prices and earnings as well as low real interest rates due to easy credit, with the need to ‘recycle petro-dollars’ (invest revenues from petroleum exports) – were developmental and noble.

Regardless of their original rationale or intent, many SOEs become problematic and often inefficient. Yet, privatization is not, and has never been a universal panacea for the myriad problems faced by SOEs.

Only more pragmatic and appropriate approaches — recognizing their origins, roles, functioning, impacts and problems — can realistically expect to address and overcome the burdens they have come to impose on many developing economies.

Various meanings

Privatization usually refers to a change of ownership from public to private hands. Over recent decades, the term has been used more loosely. For example, it may only involve minority private ownership after the corporatization of an SOE, and the sale of a minority share of its stock, or even a majority share with control remaining in state hands by various means such as the use of a ‘golden share’.

It sometimes also refers to contracting out services previously undertaken solely by the government. The definition may include cases where private enterprises are awarded licenses to participate in activities previously reserved for the public sector.

Strictly speaking, however, privatization involves the transfer of at least a majority share of and a controlling interest in a public enterprise or SOE and its assets, or an entity (such as a government department, a statutory body or a government company) previously controlled and typically at least majority-owned by the government, either directly or indirectly.

Mainstreaming privatization

Following the oil price shocks of the mid- and late 1970s, inflation spread through much of the world. US President Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker as Chairman of the US Federal Reserve in 1980. The US Fed sharply raised interest rates to stem inflation, which precipitated the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s in many parts of the world, especially in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.

The unexpected sovereign debt crises forced many countries to seek emergency financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), both headquartered in Washington, DC. The IMF provided emergency credit facilities requiring (price) stabilization programmes to bring down inflation, typically blamed on ‘deficit financing’ due to ‘macroeconomic populism’.

Generally, the WB worked closely to provide medium- and long-term credit to these governments on condition that they adopted structural adjustment programmes (SAPs). The SAPs generally prescribed economic globalization (especially of international trade and finance), national (or domestic) deregulation and privatization.

Since then, these international financial institutions have been more powerful in relation to developing countries than ever before. Soon, privatization became a standard requirement of SAPs. Thus, many governments of developing countries were forced to privatize by the SAPs’ loan conditions.

Many other governments voluntarily adopted such policies which became standard pillars of the emerging ‘Washington Consensus’ associated with the WB, the IMF and the US policy consensus of the 1980s. Privatization in developing countries was preceded by the political ‘counter-revolution’ associated with the rise and election of Margaret Thatcher as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan as the President of the United States of America.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

Kategorien: Blogs

Cool kids for a cool earth

Energiewende Blog - 18 März, 2019 - 15:00

On Friday, March 15, an estimated 1.4 million pupils worldwide skipped school to protest climate change. The Fridays for the Future protests mark the onset of a global mass movement based on civil disobedience. What’s next? asks Paul Hockenos.

“Why should we learn when there’s no future?” (Photo by Paul Hockenos)

I’ve never seen anything quite like it before: so many young faces – mostly teenagers but younger children, too – acting with purpose and political vision.

This display of determination – over 20,000 overflowed from Invalidenpark in Berlin as part of the worldwide school strike for climate justice – turned our cultural order on its head: children were acting more maturely, more responsibly than their parents, even scolding their elders for their self-centered, reckless behavior. The kids loudly called out their parents’ (and grandparents’) generations, but they went further than that, too.

Kids walked out of their classrooms in 222 cities in Germany, and 2.000 cities and towns in 120 countries worldwide, breaking the law to protest climate change. The demos of March 15, 2019, may well prove a seminal moment in the history of the fight against global warming: the start of an international mass movement of young people that relies on civil disobedience. In contrast to some of the media reports, there was nothing naïve or amateurish about it.

Demonstrators at Invalidenpark in Berlin (Photo by Paul Hockenos)

The political savvy, energy, and creativity on display showed why these young citizens will be taken seriously and why March 15 wasn’t a one-off event but rather the beginning of something with staying power.

Take, for example, the site of the Berlin branch’s demo: downtown Berlin next to the Natural History Museum, where speakers and musicians underscored in every speech, song, and chant that the future of the planet is at stake.

And take the astounding scope and organization: the coordination of well over a thousand such demos across the globe. The Berlin leg, which police and the organizers expected to attract just 5,000 activists, brought out five times that number – and oodles of media. The youngsters know exactly how to use social media for maximum impact, and how to get coverage that landed them on the front pages of newspapers and on the evening news just everywhere in the world.

The chants and signs exhibited originality and wit that I haven’t experienced at a demonstration in a long time, certainly not at the dour events that climate NGOs hold regularly. The kids fully realize how dire the situation, is but the sea of hand-made posters weren’t glum. On the contrary, in Berlin these messages floated above the kids’ heads: “System change, not climate change,“ “Make the planet Greta again!,” “Why go to school if there’s no future?,” “The oceans are rising and so are we!,” “Cool kids for a cool Earth,” and “Make Earth cool again.”

Wake-up call for adults

And, yet, there was anger too, directed at the generations of parents and politicians who let things get as bad as they are. One felt more than a little spirit of the 1968 student protests in their brutal critiques of their elders. The kids directed their rebuke at the broadly defined generation that has the largest carbon footprint ever to its name, that knew about climate change for decades, that invented renewable energy, but that couldn’t bring itself to change lifestyles and economic systems fast enough to make a difference for them. The chant that rippled through the crowd all day: “Wir sind hier, wir sind laut, weil ihr unsere Zukunft klaut!” (We are here, we are loud, because you’re robbing us of our future!”) Among the signs, many pointed fingers: “You save banks but destroy the planet,” “You’ve fallen asleep, we’re the alarm clock,” and “Grandpa, what’s a snowman?”

“It is our future” (Photo by Paul Hockenos)

But the Berlin demo, and those that I saw on television and the Internet, weren’t just bitter tirades against parents. The kids were directing much of their frustration and emotion toward politicians who have the power to take serious climate action, but haven’t done so.

The speakers on the podium talked about the Paris treaty, the promise of renewable energy, the footprint of our transportation and agriculture sectors, and individual responsibility. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student who triggered the movement, did so by camping out on the steps of Sweden’s parliament to demand that her country reduce carbon emissions. Then she was alone. That was two short months ago.

The hail of critique that has rained down on the kids for skipping school truly misses the point. Had the young people staged the protests only during their free time, they wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact – or message. By being truant, they broke the law, underscoring how important their cause is and, implicitly, that they’ll break the law in the future too, if they’re not taken seriously.

Support from scientists, politicians

And as for naivety, this barb was dispelled by the new Scientists for the Future group, namely 23,000 German scientists and other experts who supported the strike. A handful of them were at the demo, and from the podium they told the students that they are right. They get the point. Countries like Germany, they said, were going in the right direction but not nearly fast enough. It has to happen five times so fast, said renewable energy expert Volker Quashning of Berlin’s Technical University. Keep it up, kids, they told them, science is on your side.

Indeed, the kids get it, namely the existential threat of global warning. And that they are the last generation that will have the opportunity to do something about it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of the few world leaders that dared to praised them (once again in the face of her own conservative party, most of which shook their fingers at the naughty truants); and she seems intent on doing more for the climate in her final years in office. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, also commended them, promising he’ll double his efforts to bring leaders together in September for a climate action summit in order to limit global warming to 1.5C.
This, though, is not nearly enough for Greta Thunberg and her peers who announced themselves as a critical new part of the global climate protection movement. They may not be old enough to vote, but they are obviously capable of serious civic action, this much they proved on Friday beyond a doubt.

But skipping school alone will not further their aims. They have to take their cause to the offices of the politicians, business and industry leaders, and, of course, their teachers and principals too. Civil disobedience is now integral to their movement and they have to find new ways to wield it. Occupying offices and buildings, the way the Central America movement did in the US in the 1980s, is one option. But these tuned-in youngsters will surely come up with better ideas. They’ve already proven they’re capable of that.

Kategorien: Blogs

UNEA-4 zu Plastik: Fast alle Länder (aber nicht die USA) wollen weg von der Wegwerfgesellschaft und ein verbindliches globales Plastikabkommen

Klima der Gerechtigkeit - 15 März, 2019 - 20:12

Vom 11. bis 15. März tagte im kenianischen Nairobi zum 4. Mal die Umweltversammlung der Vereinten Nationen (UNEA 4). In diesem Jahr befasste sich das höchste Entscheidungsgremium der UN in Umweltfragen unter anderem mit dem Thema Plastik. Was genau ist dabei herausgekommen?

„UNEA fordert weltweite Abkehr von Wegwerfgesellschaft“ – so titelt das deutsche Umweltministerium heute in einer Pressemitteilung. Das ist eine optimistische Sichtweise auf das Thema. Denn diese Position ist in Nairobi auf massiven Widerstand – vor allem der USA – gestoßen.

„Partikularinteressen bremsen internationale Bemühungen gegen die Plastikverschmutzung“ – so fasst es die Break Free From Plastic Bewegung zusammen, ein zivilgesellschaftliches Netzwerk, in dem wir auch als Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung mitarbeiten.

Was ist die UNEA?

Das Umweltprogramm der Vereinten Nationen (UN Environment), gegründet 1972, ist ein Unterorgan der Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen (UNGA). Im Nachgang des Rio+20-Gipfels 2012 wurde der Verwaltungsrat (Governing Council) aufgewertet und hat nun die universelle Mitgliedschaft aller UN-Mitgliedstaaten. Außerdem wurde das Entscheidungsgremium umbenannt in UN-Umweltversammlung (UN Environment Assembly, UNEA).

Die erste UNEA fand im Juni 2014, die zweite im Mai 2016 und die dritte im Dezember 2017 statt – jeweils in Nairobi, dem Sitz von UN Environment. Die behandelten Themen reichten von Luftreinhaltung über die Zusammenarbeit zwischen verschiedenen Biodiversitäts-Abkommen, die Schnittstelle zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik, bis hin zu Chemikalien in der Umwelt und Plastikmüll im Meer. So wurden viele wichtige Themen der internationalen Umweltpolitik behandelt und in Resolutionen gegossen.

Was die UNEA zu einem attraktiven Ort für die internationale Umweltbewegung macht, ist die Tatsache, dass die Umweltversammlung den Startschuss für Verhandlungen über völkerrechtlich verbindliche Abkommen erteilen kann und bestimmte Themen zur Debatte und Entscheidung in die Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen einspeisen kann. Beides sind Wege, identifizierte Lücken und Schwachstellen in der Regulierung von Umweltproblemen zu schließen.

Bei der UNEA-4 hätten die Mitgliedstaaten des UN-Umweltprogramms Maßnahmen gegen die stetige wachsende Plastikmüll-Krise beschließen sollen, die unsere Gewässer, Ökosysteme und Gesundheit bedroht. Doch sie ließen diese Chance ungenützt. Den Staatenvertretern bei der UNEA-4 lagen mehrere Resolutionsentwürfe vor, wie die internationalen Anstrengungen gegen die Plastikverschmutzung gesteigert werden könnten:

Der erste, von Norwegen, Japan und Sri Lanka eingebrachte Vorschlag zielte darauf ab, die internationale Zusammenarbeit und Koordinierung gegen die Verschmutzung der Meere mit Makro- und Mikroplastik zu stärken. Unter anderem sollte die Möglichkeit eines neuen, international verbindlichen Abkommens in Erwägung gezogen werden. Der zweite Vorschlag seitens Indiens wollte das weltweite Ende des Einwegplastiks auf den Weg bringen.

Trotz der übereinstimmenden Ansicht der Mehrheit der Staaten, dass ambitionierte, weltweite Maßnahmen dringend erforderlich sind, die von der Produktion über die Nutzung bis zur Entsorgung von Plastik reichen, gelang es einer kleinen, von den USA angeführten Minderheit, stringente Texte zu blockieren und die Verhandlungen zu verzögern.

Mit einer starken Industrielobby im Rücken, die auf mehr als 200 Milliarden Dollar an Investitionen in petrochemische Komplexe für eine massive Steigerung der Plastikproduktion verwies, vereitelten die USA jeden Fortschritt und verwässerten die Resolutionen. Von vielen Ländern, darunter jenen, die am stärksten unter der Plastikverschmutzung leiden, wie die pazifischen Inselstaaten, die Philippinen, Malaysia und Senegal, wurde dies heftig kritisiert.

Handlungsorientierte Mitgliedstaaten konnten aber zumindest die Grundelemente retten, auf denen zukünftige Maßnahmen aufbauen können und die auf der gemeinsamen Vision beruhen, welche die überwältigende Mehrheit der Staaten in den Diskussionen entwickelt hatte.

Das wichtigste ist dabei die Mandatsverlängerung für die Expertenarbeitsgruppe, die durch die UNEA-3 eingerichtet worden war. Zu diesem Mandat zählt die Prüfung technischer und finanzieller Möglichkeiten und ein Bericht über Handlungsoptionen an die UNEA-5 im Februar 2021. Mit dieser Mandatsverlängerung bleibt das Plastikthema zumindest auf der internationalen Agenda und Vorarbeiten für ein künftiges verbindliches Abkommen können weitergehen.

Schön zu hören war heute, dass sich Deutschland – so jedenfalls Umwelt-Staatssekretär Jochen Flasbarth gegenüber dem WWF – für eine internationale, verbindliche Konvention einsetzen wird. Das sah vor wenigen Wochen noch nicht so aus.

Und so steht wie bei vielen anderen Themen der UNEA auch (siehe z.B. Geoengineering Governance) mal wieder die USA (und einige wenige übliche oder auch unübliche Verbündete) gegen den Rest der Welt. Aber je sichtbarer und spürbarer sich die Plastikverschmutzung als globale Gesundheitskrise und als dringendes Umweltproblem in das öffentliche Bewusstsein brennt, desto weniger wird es einigen wenigen Regierungen gelingen, die Interessen der petrochemischen Industrie und anderer Großkonzerne vor die Interesse der Verbraucher/innen und Bürger/innen zu stellen.

Kategorien: Blogs

UK Prime Minister backs offshore wind industry in wake of sector deal

Energiewende Blog - 14 März, 2019 - 15:00

The United Kingdom’s embattled Prime Minister, Theresa May, promised on Friday that “Brexit will not be a race to the bottom” for the country as she spoke at Danish energy giant Orsted’s offshore wind factory in Grimsby, heralding the importance of offshore wind to the future of the country a day after her government had launched its long-awaited Offshore Wind Sector Deal. Joshua Hill takes a look.

The Sector Deal was also unsurprisingly hugely appreciated by companies of all sizes across the United Kingdom (Photo by Raul Mee, CC BY 2.0)

As reported last week, the UK finally launched its long-awaited Offshore Wind Sector Deal which will see the country’s offshore industry invest at least £250 million so as to ensure offshore wind generates more than 30% of the country’s electricity by 2030. The plan also calls to triple “green collar” jobs by 2030 and ensure that at least a third of all these jobs are held by women.

“This new Sector Deal will drive a surge in the clean, green offshore wind revolution that is powering homes and businesses across the UK, bringing investment into coastal communities and ensuring we maintain our position as global leaders in this growing sector,” said Claire Perry, Energy & Clean Growth Minister. “By 2030 a third of our electricity will come from offshore wind, generating thousands of high-quality jobs across the UK, a strong UK supply chain, and a fivefold increase in exports. This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action.”

A day later, UK Prime Minister Theresa May toured Orsted’s Grimsby offshore wind factory and gave a speech regarding the country’s much-ballyhooed Brexit — its disastrously messy attempt to leave the European Union.

“Your work in offshore wind does not just provide skilled jobs here in Grimsby, it makes a direct contribution to the UK’s efforts to reduce our carbon emissions and protect our environment,” said May. “Achieving the economic benefits of the global shift to sustainable green growth is one of the four Grand Challenges in our Modern Industrial Strategy,” — of which the country’s several Sector Deals — “Partnerships between the government and industry on sector-specific issues can create significant opportunities to boost productivity, employment, innovation, and skills” — are a key part.

“The UK is the world-leader in offshore wind, and yesterday we launched our Offshore Wind Sector Deal to build on that success,” May added.

The focus of May’s speech, however, was on the impact of Brexit on the country. “We have … committed to protecting the rights and standards currently set at the EU level – from workers’ rights to environmental protections,” May said, adding that “Brexit will not be a race to the bottom.”

“In fact in most of these areas the UK has led the way, ahead of the EU. And this week we have said that if the EU expands workers’ rights, we will debate those measures in Parliament and decide if we want to follow suit.”

The focus for many in the UK at the moment, albeit briefly, remains on the mammoth Offshore Wind Sector Deal announced last week, which will see the UK offshore wind industry invest £250 million, including new an Offshore Wind Growth Partnership to develop the UK supply chain — as global exports are set to increase five-fold to £2.6 billion by 2030 — which will help to triple the number of industry jobs to 27,000 by 2030.

“Now that we’ve sealed this transformative deal with our partners in government, as a key part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, offshore wind is set to take its place at the heart of our low-carbon, affordable and reliable electricity system of the future,” said Benj Sykes, Ørsted UK Country Manager for Offshore and Co-Chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), which was involved in negotiations with the Government.

“This relentlessly innovative sector is revitalising parts of the country which have never seen opportunities like this for years, especially coastal communities from Wick in the northern Scotland to the Isle of Wight, and from Barrow-in-Furness to the Humber. Companies are burgeoning in clusters, creating new centres of excellence in this clean growth boom. The Sector Deal will ensure that even more of these companies win work not only on here, but around the world in a global offshore wind market set to be worth £30 billion a year by 2030.”

The news was unsurprisingly welcomed by the country’s renewable energy groups.

“The Sector Deal is about creating opportunities for the people who will be part of our 27,000-strong offshore wind workforce,” added Chief Executive of RenewableUK, Hugh McNeal. “We’re setting up a new body to develop the right skills for years to come, not only by offering apprenticeships, but also by helping experienced people from other parts of the energy sector, as well as the military, to make the change into offshore wind. We also want to ensure far more diversity in the industry, by reaching a target of at least  33% women employees by 2030, and by recruiting people from a wider variety of ethnic backgrounds.”

The Sector Deal was also unsurprisingly hugely appreciated by companies of all sizes across the United Kingdom.

“The Sector Deal marks the coming of age of offshore wind as both a significant part of the UK’s energy transformation and an industrial powerhouse driving economic growth,” said Matthew Wright, UK Managing Director at Ørsted. “We should see the offshore wind industry as a huge UK success story. Costs have been driven down dramatically so that offshore wind is now competitive with conventional forms of energy generation, and at the same time the sector has delivered jobs, investment and growth across northern towns and cities. Ørsted alone will have invested over £13 billion in the UK by the end of 2021. This transformative Sector Deal will unlock significant additional investment from the whole industry and put offshore wind at the front and centre of the UK’s Industrial Strategy.”

“Today’s launch of the Sector Deal sets the long term context for MHI Vestas’ continued growth and job creation in the UK by putting the UK on a path to deliver at least 30GW by 2030,” said Julian Brown, Vice President and UK Country Manager of MHI Vestas Offshore Wind. “Our recent investment on the Isle of Wight is already delivering on the Sector Deal ambitions, creating nearly 400 new highly skilled jobs in 2019, exporting over three quarters of our 2019 output and investing £1 million in a four-year skills programme. I’m excited that MHI Vestas will play an important part in the UK’s offshore wind revolution in the next decade.”

“Siemens Gamesa (SGRE) welcomes the Sector Deal as recognition that Offshore Wind can be a key driver in a buoyant low carbon economy for generations to come,” said Clark MacFarlane, Managing Director of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy UK. “It confirms the confidence we had to invest in our Hull facility, now employing over 1,100 people. The Sector Deal elements of innovation, developing skills, creating a more diverse work force and supporting local people is in the DNA of our company.”

RenewableUK, the country’s trade body for wind (both onshore and offshore) and marine technologies, collated a number of comments from its association members, found here

Joshua S Hill is author of CleanTechnica and writes about clean power and renewable energies.
This article has been republished from CleanTechnica
.

Kategorien: Blogs

Geoengineering-Governance bei der UNEA-4 in Nairobi: Warum weitergehende Schritte für die Regulierung von Geoengineering vorerst gescheitert sind

Klima der Gerechtigkeit - 14 März, 2019 - 11:35

Zivilgesellschaft bekräftigt Forderung nach internationalem Verbot von Geoengineering

Ein Beitrag von Linda Schneider und Lili Fuhr, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

In der vierten UN-Umweltversammlung, UNEA-4, die in dieser Woche in Nairobi tagt, ist ein Vorstoß für weitergehende Schritte, Regulierung von Geoengineering-Technologien auf UN-Ebene zu etablieren, am massiven Widerstand einiger hochemittierender, ölproduzierender Regierungen gescheitert. Die Schweiz, zusammen mit 11 weiteren Ländern aus unterschiedlichen Regionen, darunter Mikronesien, Senegal und Neuseeland, hatte einen Resolutionsvorschlag vorgelegt, der einen Bericht mandatieren sollte, der Informationen zum Stand der Forschung, den Risiken und möglichen Regulierungsoptionen zusammentragen sollte. Nach beinahe zwei Wochen kontroverser Verhandlungen zog die Schweizer Regierung die Resolution am Mittwochabend zurück, weil trotz intensivsten Bemühungen keine Einigung abzusehen war.

Der Ausgang der UNEA-Verhandlungen ist bedauerlich, weil er aufgezeigt hat, wie stark sich gerade diejenigen Regierungen, die Geoengineering-Forschung und -projekte im eigenen oder im Interesse der fossilen Industrie vorantreiben, gegen stärkere Kontrolle und Regulierung sträuben. Und das, obwohl es zu diesem Zeitpunkt lediglich um eine Begutachtung von Geoengineering-Technologien, ihren Risiken und Regulierungsmöglichkeiten ging – von rechtlich bindenden Vereinbarungen war dieser Resolutionsentwurf also weit entfernt. Dennoch hätte er, unter den richtigen Vorzeichen, den Ausgangspunkt bilden können für Regulierungsansätze unter der UNEA, dem höchsten UN-Gremium in Umweltfragen.

Die dringende Notwendigkeit, diese Risikotechnologien international zu regulieren, bleibt somit bestehen. Denn: Die Erforschung und Entwicklung von Geoengineering-Technologien wird aktuell bereits massiv vorangetrieben – durch Forschungsprogramme, Freilandexperimente und Pilotprojekte, durch finanzielle Anreize von staatlicher Seite und durch massive Investitionen aus Silicon Valley, der fossilen Industrie sowie der Bergbauindustrie.

Eine internationale Debatte, wie diese Risikotechnologien mit planetaren Auswirkungen effektiv und restriktiv reguliert werden können, sollte also besser früher als später beginnen – und keinesfalls erst, wenn die voranschreitende Technologieentwicklung bereits Fakten geschaffen hat.

Die gute Nachricht ist dennoch: Das 2010 in der UN-Biodiversitätskonvention (CBD) beschlossene Moratorium auf Geoengineering hat unverändert Bestand, ebenso wie die Regulierungsansätze für marines Geoengineering im London Protocol des London-Übereinkommens zur Verhütung der Meeresverschmutzung (LP/LC). Letzteres verbietet bereits die sogenannte Meeresdüngung aufgrund ihrer negativen Auswirkungen auf die marine Umwelt und hat einen Bewertungsgerüst etabliert, mit dem weitere Technologien des marinen Geoengineerings zukünftig reguliert werden können. Der erst diese Woche erschienene neue Bericht der GESAMP-Expertengruppe zum Schutz der marinen Umwelt legt erneut eine kritische Bewertung von Technologien des marinen Geoengineerings vor, auf die weitere Regulierungsschritte folgen könnten.

Um den großmaßstäblichen, vielschichtigen Risiken, die mit Geoengineering einhergehen – neben Risiken für Klimawandel(politik) sind tiefgreifende Auswirkungen und Risiken für Biodiversität, Ökosysteme, Ernährungssicherheit, Menschen- und Landrechte und internationale Sicherheit absehbar – gerecht zu werden, braucht es die sinnvolle Zusammenarbeit und aktive Einbeziehung verschiedener relevanter UN-Institutionen mit unterschiedlicher Expertise und Mandat.

Die Gegner/innen der Resolution bei den UNEA-Verhandlungen hatten aber anderes im Sinn. Insbesondere die USA und Saudi Arabien argumentierten, dass sich vor allem und allein der Weltklimarat IPCC in seinem nächsten großen Sachstandsbericht (AR6) dem Thema umfassend und ausreichend widmen würde. Jedoch ist in Anbetracht seines Mandats und seiner Expertise primär zu Fragen des Klimawandels klar, dass der IPCC keinesfalls alle Risikodimensionen dieses Themas abdecken kann und wird.

Zudem kommt ein Großteil der Literatur, die absehbar in den 6. Sachstandsbericht des IPCC einfließen wird, aus dem Kreis der sogenannten „Geoclique“ – einer Gruppe von Forscher/innen, die seit Jahrzehnten zu Geoengineering forscht, teilweise Patente auf einzelne Technologien hält und/oder anderweitige Eigeninteressen darin verfolgt. Und nicht zuletzt: Einer der beiden Coordinating Lead Authors (also der primären Kapitelverantwortlichen) des Geoengineering-Kapitels im 6. Sachstandsbericht ist ein Vertreter von Saudi Aramco, dem saudischen Ölunternehmen – dem nebenbei größten Ölproduzenten der Welt. Das wirft ernsthafte Fragen nach Interessenskonflikten und Objektivität der Bewertung auf, die der IPCC in diesem Zusammenhang erstellen wird.

Eine umfassende und ausgewogene Beurteilung muss die tiefgreifenden und multiplen Risiken von Geoengineering für die internationale Gemeinschaft und die lokale sowie globale Umwelt einbeziehen. Ihr Ausmaß sprengt ganz klar den Rahmen von Klimawissenschaft und -politik. Damit ist das Thema (allein) im IPCC und der Klimarahmenkonvention (UNFCCC) nicht gut aufgehoben.

Es braucht dafür auch die aktive Beteiligung und Anerkennung der Positionen der Zivilgesellschaft und insbesondere auch derjenigen Bevölkerungsgruppen, die potentiell von den Risiken am stärksten betroffen sind.

Die internationale Zivilgesellschaft bekräftigt daher ihre Forderung nach einem internationalen Verbot von Geoengineering. Basierend auf den existierenden Moratorien und Regulierungsansätzen in der CBD und dem LP/LC sowie dem im internationalen Umweltrecht verankerten Vorsorgeprinzip sollten sich gerade diejenigen Regierungen, die sich aktuell in der UNEA-4 für eine stärkere Kontrolle und restriktive Regulierung eingesetzt haben, nun konsequent die nächsten Schritte hin zu einem Verbot auf UN-Ebene gehen.

Kategorien: Blogs

Violation of democratic rights at the expense of mining in Colombia

Energiewende Blog - 13 März, 2019 - 15:00

On February 13th, the Colombian Constitutional Court decided to abolish local referendums on land use in Colombia. Kathrin Meyer elaborates on the consequences of this development and whether the international community should act.

El Cerrejón is one of the largest open pit coal mines in the world (Photo by Tanenhaus, CC BY 2.0)

The Mining Engine

Colombia is one of the major coal exporters in the world. Since its liberalization, the mineral-rich country has increasingly relied on extractivist projects. Extractive mega-projects within Colombia have great repercussions for local human rights. The most important export commodity of the mining industry is hard coal, which is at the same time a main contributor to the destruction of local livelihoods.

Colombia’s resource policy has been shaped by extractive mega-projects for decades. Foreign investment and projects of transnational companies within the mining sector are now typical. El Cerrejón, a well-known mining project in the northern part of Colombia, incorporates one of the largest hard coal mines in the world. The vast majority of entrepreneurs are appointed by foreign companies aiming at further expanding the booming mining business in Colombia while representing the interests of their own national energy sector.

In addition, unequal trade agreements in the past contributed to low commodity prices. This, in turn, has a negative impact on the development of national processing industries, hence promoting Colombia’s greater dependence on resources.

Expropriation, Expulsion and Environmental Damage

The open-cast mining taking place in Columbia is based on constant expansion of new coal mines. Those residents who are not forced out by coercive relocation have to leave to escape water and land scarcity. In recent years, this development has led to a significant deterioration in local living conditions.

The resistance towards those extensive mining activities is constantly growing among the Colombian society. Since 2015 democratic referendums, also referred to as consultas populares, have been increasingly used to initiate local votes against extractive mega-projects. Thus social movements had to gather more than twenty percent (20%) of the respective electoral census in order to initiate such votes.

Harnessing information and network meetings, citizens were informed about the relevance of the issue, subsequently seizing their right to vote regarding future extractive projects. A number of referendums even resulted in the complete rejection of intended mega-projects, such as in 2017, when the Cumaral municipality in Meta prevented a project of the oil company Mansarovar Energy.

However, the oil producing company Mansarover Energy,which was restricted by a referendum held in the municipality of Cumaral, filed a suit against the vote and finally won the case at the Colombian Constitutional Court in October last year. The notion arose that local consultas populares should not determine the implementation of national mining projects. After the judgment of the case, the court found in general that there were no appropriate mechanisms to ensure both civic participation and the way to reconcile the principles of coordination and interaction of the nation and territorial units in Colombia. Therefore, the Congress of the Republic was asked to introduce new mechanisms as soon as possible.

At the national level has been an effort to propagate the superiority of national over local interests. For example, Colombian President Ivan Duque’s election program devalued the effectiveness and legitimacy of consultas populares. Likewise, the Congress proposed a law that referendums on land management were no longer legal, which was then passed on 13 February 2019 by the Colombian Constitutional Court.

This verdict invalidates Law 136, allowing citizens of municipalities to hold consultations when the development of tourism, mining or other projects has resulted in a significant change in local land use. Hindrance of social participation regarding mining questions leads both human rights violations and the continuation of a vicious cycle of increased national dependence on natural resources and further environmental damage.

This means that now, the only remaining option for consultations is through referendums initiated by mayors. But due to the known cases of corruption among politicians, this approach reduces social participation and cannot be considered constructive.

International Responsibility

While politicians of the Global North perceive themselves as sustainable and promote national coal phase-outs, coal extraction continues within other countries such as Colombia. This further increases greenhouse gas emissions, not only on the national level, but also in the international context.

However, if global CO2 emissions were to be assessed on the basis of mining company ownership and not the country in which they are emitted, countries that are significantly involved in mining sites in Latin America, Africa or Asia would score immensely higher. German companies such as RWE and E.ON or the Australian-British raw materials group BHP are just a few of many international companies involved in the mining of Colombian hard coal and thus making a significant contribution to CO2 emissions. While Germany and Australia show off with sustainable guidelines, national companies simply shift their CO2 output to other countries. This hypocritical policy continues in order for the Global North to maintain their own energy security.

Looking at the international context, it becomes clear that the abolition of consultas populares in Colombia is not a decision based on only local and national dynamics. It was also a decision determined by economic dependence on international investors.

The abolition of consultas populares and the associated devaluation of democratic participation is a step towards increasing extractive activities, and hence towards rising C02 emissions. This responsibility for this dramatic development, however, should not only be seen within Colombia itself, but worldwide.

Kategorien: Blogs

Privatisierung der SDGs in der Kritik

Baustellen der Globalisierung - 13 März, 2019 - 12:17
Die immer engere Verquickung von staatlicher Entwicklungs-zusammenarbeit mit Finanzinvestoren und Agrarkonzernen stößt zunehmend auf Kritik. So kommt eine neue Studie von FIAN und INKOTA mit dem Titel „Agrarkonzerne und Finanzindustrie: Die neuen Lieblinge der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit?“ zu dem Ergebnis, dass der wachsende Einsatz privater Gelder nicht geeignet ist, um Hunger und Armut strukturell zu bekämpfen. Die Autoren widersprechen auch der Aussage, wonach nur mit Investitionen des Privatsektors die nach-haltigen Entwicklungsziele (SDGs) erreicht werden können. Sie kritisieren, dass das Entwicklungsministerium mit seinem Schwerpunkt auf Privatinvestitionen die eigentlichen Zielgruppen – marginalisierte Bevölkerungsgruppen – aus dem Blick verliere. Da es meist keine Informationen über die finalen EmpfängerInnen der Gelder gebe, seien konkrete menschenrechtliche Wirkungen in der Regel unbekannt.

Der offizielle Diskurs um die SDGs enthält die Botschaft enthalten, dass zu ihrer Umsetzung gewaltige 2,5 Billionen Dollar pro Jahr fehlen und nur privates Geld dieses Loch stopfen könne. Diese Botschaft wird nicht hinterfragt. Dies führe zur Neuausrichtung der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit und habe damit möglicherweise mehr Wirkkraft entfaltet als die Entwicklungsziele selbst, meint etwa Roman Herre von FIAN. Ein konkreter Aspekt, der von den Autoren kritisch betrachtet wird, ist die zunehmende Kooperation mit Agrarkonzernen, mit der die Landwirtschaft – vor allem auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent – zu marktförmigen und inputintensiven Systemen umstrukturiert werden soll. Diese Kooperation werde im Rahmen einer Vielzahl von Initiativen realisiert, darunter die Allianz für eine Grüne Revolution in Afrika (AGRA) oder die Neue Allianz für Ernährungssicherung der G7-Staaten. Lena Michelsen, Agrarreferentin von der Entwicklungsorganisation INKOTA kommentiert: Initiativen wie AGRA setzen für Lena Michelsen von INKOTA vor allem auf den Einsatz von chemischen Düngemitteln und Hybridsaatgut und dienen damit in erster Linie den Expansionsbestrebungen großer Konzerne wie Yara und Bayer. Kleinbauern und -bäuerinnen geraten in immer stärkere Abhängigkeiten, und auch die Umwelt leidet unter dem längst gescheiterten Modell der Grünen Revolution. Die von der Bundesregierung zugesagte Förderung in Höhe von zehn Millionen Euro sei „eine völlige Fehlinvestition“.

Ein weiterer Kritikpunkt betrifft die Intransparenz der Finanzinstitutionen. Allein die DEG, Tochter der staatlichen Entwicklungsbank KfW, hat mehr als die Hälfte ihrer 7,2 Mrd. € Entwicklungsgelder an Finanzinstitute vergeben. Auch haben sich Kredite und Beteiligungen der DEG an Unternehmen in Finanzoasen – darunter den Kaimaninseln oder Mauritius – innerhalb von zehn Jahren verfünffacht. Zur Legitimierung solcher Konstrukte werden oft fragwürdige Kennzahlen und indirekte Wirkungen herangezogen. So erklärt die DEG in ihrem jüngsten Jahresabschluss, dass „DEG-Kunden rund 1,5 Millionen Menschen beschäftigen“. Die beiden NGOs fordern: „Aus entwicklungspolitischer und menschenrechtlicher Perspektive müsste untersucht werden, ob durch solche Finanzierungen auch Arbeitsplätze abgebaut wurden. Dies ist besonders bei Agrarfinanzierungen im globalen Süden ein bedeutender Aspekt: Die dortige kleinbäuerliche Landwirtschaft beschäftigt je nach Region 70-80% der Bevölkerung. Werden Menschen hieraus verdrängt – wie besonders bei großflächigen Agrarinvestitionen – dann verlieren sie oftmals ihre Lebensgrundlagen.“
Kategorien: Blogs

We can be a carbon-neutral nation by 2050, if we just get on with it

Energiewende Blog - 11 März, 2019 - 15:00

Australia’s path to a carbon-neutral nation could be leveled by 2050. To achieve this, however, Australia has to take drastic actions in the area of reducing CO2 emissions. An analysis written by Anna Skarb and Anna Malos provide clarity.

Renewable energies help to achieve the international climate goals (Public Domain)

This is part of a major series called Advancing Australia, in which leading academics examine the key issues facing Australia in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election and beyond. Read the other pieces in the series here.

Strong action on climate change is vital if Australia is to thrive in the future. Lack of consensus on climate policy over the past two decades has cost us dearly. It has harmed our natural environment, our international reputation and our economic prospects in a future low-carbon world.

The next two years will be crucial if Australia is to meet its commitment, along with the rest of the world, to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst ravages of global warming.

In 2015, nearly all nations signed the Paris climate agreement. They pledged to limit global warming to well below 2℃ and to reach net zero emissions. By our calculations, Australia needs to reach net zero before 2050 to do its part.

As a first step, Australia has committed to reduce its total emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Under the Paris Agreement it will have to submit progressively stronger targets every five years. Unfortunately, Australia is not yet on track to meet even its comparatively modest 2030 goal.

Falling short

Analysis by ClimateWorks Australia found that although Australia’s emissions have fallen by around 11% economy-wide since 2005, emissions have been steadily climbing again since 2013. In 2013 Australia emitted the equivalent of 520 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. By 2016 that had bounced back up to 533 million tonnes.

While some parts of the economy cut emissions at certain times, no sector improved consistently at the rate needed to hit the overall 2030 target.

Emissions are still above 2005 levels in the building, industrial and transport sectors, and only 3% below in the electricity sector, based on 2016 figures, the latest available. The overall fall was mainly delivered by the land sector, thanks to a combination of reduced land clearing and increased forestation. Increased energy efficiency and the growth of renewable energy also made modest contributions.

Unfortunately, progress in reducing emissions has now stalled in most sectors and reversed overall.

How fast should we be cutting emissions?

We calculate that Australia needs to double its emissions reduction progress to deliver on the 2030 target. We will have to triple it to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Hitting net zero by 2050 means going much further than the Coalition government’s 2030 target of 26-28%, or the 45% proposed by federal Labor. Australia would need to cut total emissions by 55% below 2005 levels by 2030 (the middle of the range recommended by the Climate Change Authority) to get there without undue economic disruption.

Fortunately, there are enough opportunities for further emission reductions in all sectors to meet our Paris targets. We can probably do better than that, given the falling costs of many key technologies.

The gap to the 2030 target could be more than covered by further activity in the land sector alone, or by the electricity sector alone, or by the combined potential of the building, industrial and transport sectors. Emission reductions from energy efficiency – through better buildings, vehicles and white goods – can even save money in the long term.

Clearly, not all sectors have the same potential to reduce emissions based on current technological progress, but all have significant room for improvement.

We calculated that:

  • the electricity sector was on track to cut its emissions by 21% by 2030, but could cut them by nearly 70%
  • transport sector emissions are set to be 29% above 2005 levels by 2030, but with projected technology improvements could be 4% below
  • the land sector is set to hit 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, but with more support for planting could be 103% below – well into “negative emissions” territory. The land sector would then be sucking up carbon and making up for emissions from other sectors.

How do we get there?

To ensure a smooth, cost-effective transition to a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050, some sectors will need to do more sooner, to avoid putting too much onus on other sectors where emissions savings are harder and more expensive.

This will require major upgrades to Australia’s current policy settings. Since 2013 Australia’s efforts to cut emissions have focused largely on the land sector via the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and the electricity sector through the Renewable Energy Target. With the ERF due to run out of funds soon and no clear energy policy even as our ageing power stations shut down, policy certainty is urgently needed in both these areas to encourage investors.

Renewable energy is powering ahead and starting to tap into Australia’s huge potential in clean energy resources. However, ongoing policy support is needed to ensure our energy remains affordable and reliable through the transition.

Despite the importance of the electricity and land sectors, we need emission reductions throughout the economy. Fortunately, there is plenty that Australia can do to cut emissions further, in many different ways:

  • in the land sector through revegetation and forestation
  • in electricity by increasing renewables and phasing out coal
  • in industry by bolstering energy efficiency, fuel switching and reducing non-energy emissions
  • in transport by introducing vehicle emission standards and shifting to electric vehicles and low-carbon fuels
  • in construction by increasing standards for buildings and appliances.

With well-targeted policies across all sectors of the economy, we can get back on track and meet our Paris targets.

Australia’s states and businesses are recognising how much they can and should do. For instance, 80% of Australia’s emissions are in states and territories with goals to reach net zero emissions by 2050, while many large companies and universities are pledging to be carbon-neutral or use 100% renewable energy.

There is more than enough opportunity, but we have to act now.

Anna Skarbek is CEO at ClimateWorks Australia and writes about climate and energy.

Anna Malos is Project Manager of ClimateWorks Australia and wirtes about climate and energy policy.

This article has been republished from The Conversation.

Kategorien: Blogs

Seiten