Climate change is killing nearly 400,000 people worldwide each year and it is already costing the global economy €930bn annually – warns think-tank
The European Investment Bank is greener than it used to be. It now lends half its annual energy pot to energy efficiency and renewables. But it is still lending to coal projects. This is inconsistent with European Union climate policies and must stop now. Some leading politicians, such as British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne are arguing that, given the continuing economic crisis, we cannot afford to 'go green' at the moment. This is a serious mistake. Climate change is not only an environmental problem; it is already causing death and want.
A recent report on vulnerability to the effects of climate change
found that climate change is killing nearly 400,000 people worldwide each year. And it is already costing the global economy €930bn each year. The EU's 2011 Energy Roadmap, a document laying out the union's aspirations that were backed by all member-states bar Poland, proposes the need for an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
New coal-fired power stations would make it impossible to meet this target, since they emit high levels of carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas. Taking account of the full life-cycle - including construction and decommissioning - coal plants emit around twice the amount of carbon dioxide per unit of electricity generated as gas plants do, eight times as much nuclear plants and 32 times as much as wind farms.
Since 2007, the EIB has lent a total of €1.88bn to three coal projects in Slovenia, three in Poland, two in Germany and one each in Romania, Italy and Greece. It is true that the EIB does take climate change into account when making investment decisions, to some extent. Its rule is that the new plant has to replace an existing coal or lignite plant and lead to a decrease of at least 20 per cent in emissions, compared to the old plant. It also has to be 'carbon capture ready', so that if carbon capture and storage proves to be effective at scale and affordable, it can be retrofitted to the plant. But that remains a very big 'if', and the EU's failure so far to award any money to a CCS demonstration does not bode well for rapid progress.
In practice, the requirement that a plant be carbon capture ready means little more than ensuring that a patch of land suitable for a CCS plant is left free near the new power station. Carbon emissions, like all forms of pollution, have externalities. The EU has a scheme to force the producers of the pollution to pay – the Emissions Trading System. But the price under this system is languishing below €8 per tonne. This is far too low to have any impact on investment decisions. To its credit, the EIB uses instead what it calls an 'economic price of carbon'. This is a calculation of the full costs to society of dealing with each tonne of carbon emitted, and is currently set at €30 per tonne. This will increase €1 every year from now on.
However, this does not prevent the EIB from lending to coal projects without CCS. So the economic price sounds a good policy instrument, but does not actually stop the EIB from lending to projects that they think will be financially profitable. This lending amounts to a massive subsidy to coal, which undermines the renewables target. The EIB currently takes decisions on energy projects based on the guidelines in its 2006 energy policy document. But it is consulting on a new approach, which it aims to adopt next year.
The science and understanding of climate change have moved on considerably since 2006, and the situation is much more urgent. A minimum of 2 degrees of warming now looks all but inevitable – driven largely by the burning of coal. The top priority for the EIB's new policy must be to stop lending to all coal and lignite plants unless they have CCS. Without this change, the EIB will continue to undermine the EU's climate policies.
Stephen Tindale is an associate fellow at the Centre for European Reform think-tank, which first published this article: Time to stop the EIB's carbon subsidies
Too late but keep trying you fear mongers. Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets ruled by corporations and trustworthy politicians. Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change-denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses. In all of the debates, Obama hadn't planned to mention climate change once. Meanwhile, the entire world of science, lazy copy and paste news editors and obedient journalists, had condemned our kids to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated 'crisis' and had allowed bank-funded and corporate-run 'carbon trading stock markets' to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and third world education for just over 26 years of insane attempts at climate control.
Al Bore - Canada
I would challenge the writer to produce a well-respected scientist and/or world body that absolutely confirms without any doubt that climate change is as a result of human emissions. Global warming and cooling is a natural cycle that the earth goes through.
Carbon dioxide levels have changed throughout geologic time and since the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has indeed increased, however, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming.
Ice cores dated over many thousands of years exhibit alternating CO2 levels moving up and down after the temperature has done so, and so is the result of, not the cause of warming. CO2 is also not the main greenhouse gas. While the minor gases are more effective as "greenhouse agents" than water vapour and clouds, the latter by their sheer volume are thought to be responsible for the majority of the "greenhouse effect".
Those attributing climate change to CO2 rarely mention this important fact. I do accept that we as a species produce agents which could potentially have an effect if the ecosystem is very finely balanced and that energy strategy should be based upon a wide portfolio of production, which includes renewables as much as possible.
The doom and gloom approach however, that the media and interested business/agencies portray of humans destroying the atmosphere is misleading and biased; serving only to feather their nests with government subsidies, while at the same time crippling the average consumer with extortionately high fuel bills and leading many into fuel poverty.
I suggest that energy companies in the UK should be renationalised and run on a not for profit basis, using renewables, coal-gas (with carbon capture) and nuclear technologies (including future fusion reactors) to provide efficient and affordable energy, that works for the citizens and not for a higher return to shareholders.
Devils Advocate - UK