I’ll be joining the Just Stop Oil protests in London on Monday if anyone cares to join or arrest me. Halloween Oo-oo
My last coming soon didn’t come soon. It happens like that sometimes. The coming soon posts are about posts that are on the way, under development so I’m much more likely to do this one.
I’m thinking about why governments are so unwilling to address the climate crisis and what can be done about it. Why do governments refuse to address climate despite it being so obvious and immediately urgent? Please let me know if you have thoughts on this.
[The situation on fracking has changed since this article was published 3 days ago. The new UK government under Rishi Sunak has made clear that fracking is not permitted in UK.] Republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
“Delay has cost lives. Chaos costs lives. And it will cost more lives this winter and every winter,” campaigners say. “No one benefits except the oil and gas profiteers.”
KENNY STANCILOctober 24, 2022
Hours after lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party voted to make Rishi Sunak the United Kingdom’s third prime minister this year, more than 30 climate and energy justice activists occupied the lobby of Parliament to demand that the government fund home insulation and renewable power generation through a more robust tax on oil and gas corporations’ windfall profits.
Almost seven million people in the U.K.—nearly a quarter of the country’s population—are facing fuel poverty as winter quickly approaches. Meanwhile, heavily subsidized fossil fuel giants are raking in record profits, which they use to block policies that would facilitate a green transition and rein in their destructive industry.
Greenpeace campaigners, armed with sky-high utility bills from across the country, read the testimonies of people struggling to make ends meet amid a historic cost-of-living crisis that Sunak’s right-wing predecessors—Boris Johnson and Liz Truss—and Tory colleagues have, according to progressive critics, exacerbated through adherence to neoliberal orthodoxy.
Stressing that “chaos costs lives,” activists made the case for simultaneously addressing soaring energy prices and the worsening climate emergency by taxing fossil fuel profits and using the revenue to invest in better residential insulation and expanded clean energy production.
“Thanks to spiraling gas prices and the oldest, coldest housing in Europe, millions of people are being pushed into fuel poverty,” Greenpeace U.K. noted in a blog post. “People across the country have waited for government after government to provide enough help to lower their energy bills—but mostly what we’ve had is political chaos.”
The group continued:
Rising energy bills and cold homes will cost lives. The U.K. already has the sixth highest rate of excess winter deaths in Europe. Higher bills also disproportionately impact disabled and older people, people of color, and those from impoverished communities. For instance, many medical and mobility devices require electricity. Meaning, on average, disabled people have much higher energy bills just for using equipment they need in their day-to-day lives. Political leaders have failed to put people first and provide sufficient support for the energy crisis.
It’s political choices that have caused the levels of inequality and fuel poverty we’re facing. If this government properly taxed record fossil fuel profits, it could help fund extra support for those in need, and help pay for a nationwide program to insulate homes. Instead, the last six weeks have seen u-turns on the Conservative manifesto pledge on fracking and new commitments to North Sea oil and gas, which will wreck our climate and won’t lower our bills.
Two months ago, the U.K. Treasury estimated that the nation’s energy firms are poised to enjoy up to £170 billion ($191.9 billion) in excess profits—defined as the gap between money made now and what would have been expected based on price forecasts prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—over the next two years.
A 25% windfall tax on oil and gas producers approved in July is expected to raise £5 billion ($5.6 billion) in its first year. However, the existing surtax on excess fossil fuel profits contains loopholes allowing companies to drastically reduce their tax bill by investing more in oil and gas extraction, which the industry claims will boost supply. The recently enacted windfall tax, which lasts through 2025, also exempts eletricity generators, even though Treasury officials attribute roughly two-fifths of the £170 billion in excess profits to such actors.
With winter energy bills projected to triple compared with last year, calls are growing in the U.K. to increase the windfall tax rate on excess fossil fuel profits and extend it to electricity generators benefiting from rising oil and gas prices.
While Truss vehemently opposed windfall taxes—asserting that they “send the wrong message to investors”—Sunak introduced the current windfall tax in May when he was Johnson’s chancellor of the exchequer.
According to Greenpeace, Monday’s action was meant to show Sunak that “he can’t ignore the almost seven million households facing fuel poverty.”
The life-threatening crises of surging utility bills and unmitigated greenhouse gas pollution are both caused by fossil fuel dependence, the group noted. Consequently, these problems have lifesaving solutions that are straightforward and aligned.
“To lower our bills long-term and reduce our emissions,” Greenpeace urged Sunak to do the following:
- Commit to investing £6 billion [$6.8 billion] immediately to kickstart a street-by-street insulation program to keep bills low for good;
- Shift to renewable energy, like wind and solar, which are cheaper and quicker to build than oil and gas; and
- Properly tax oil and gas companies’ excess profits so they pay their fair share, given how much money they’ve made off these crises.
“It’s time we have a government that brings down bills for good and plays its part in tackling the climate crisis,” the group added.
On social media, Greenpeace encouraged people to sign a petition imploring U.K. lawmakers to “keep people warm this winer.”
“Delay has cost lives. Chaos costs lives. And it will cost more lives this winter and every winter,” the group emphasized. “No one benefits except the oil and gas profiteers. If the government were on the people’s side, the U.K. really could get on track to quitting oil, gas, and sky-high energy bills, forever.”
Republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
“These alarming findings merit a transformative response at COP27,” said the president-designate of the upcoming climate talks.
JAKE JOHNSON October 26, 2022
A United Nations report published Wednesday ahead of November’s COP27 talks warns that planetary heating could reach a catastrophic 2.9°C by the end of the century without immediate action from the world’s largest polluters to dramatically rein in carbon emissions and transition away from fossil fuels.
The analysis by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) examines the climate commitments of the 193 national parties to the Paris climate accord, which sets out to limit warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels—an amount of heating that would still have devastating impacts across the world, particularly in poor and low-lying nations.
“Those who are expected to do more are far from doing enough, and the consequences of this is affecting lives and livelihoods across the globe.”
Even if countries meet their current climate targets—something many nations, including the United States, are not on track to achieve as climate advocates and scientists push for bolder action—global carbon emissions are projected to rise 10.6% by 2030 relative to 2010 levels and the planet is set to warm by an average of 2.1 to 2.9°C by 2100.
“The latest U.N. report is another reminder that we are still just throwing cups of water at a raging inferno,” Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, wrote on Twitter. “It’s past time for [U.S. President Joe Biden] to declare a climate emergency and use every power he has to get us off fossil fuels.”
The report notes that while “some progress” has been made toward reducing planet-warming emissions over the past year, “an urgent need for either a significant increase in the level of ambition of [nationally determined contributions] between now and 2030 or a significant overachievement” of climate action plans will be necessary to avert disastrous warming. The New York Times noted that “just 26 of 193 countries that agreed last year to step up their climate actions have followed through with more ambitious plans.”
“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year,” said Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of U.N. Climate Change. “But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5°C world.”
“To keep this goal alive,” Stiell added, “national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”
The report was published as extreme weather made more intense by the climate emergency continues to ravage large swaths of the globe, taking lives, destroying communities, and exacerbating the intertwined crises of poverty, hunger, and inequality. Millions are reeling from devastating flooding in Nigeria and Pakistan while East Africa is in the midst of a starvation crisis intensified by prolonged drought.
The potential impacts of 2.9°C of warming are stark. As Scott Kulp, a computational scientist at Climate Central, told Buzzfeed last year, “an estimated 12% of the current global population living on land could be threatened under long-term future sea level rise under the 3°C scenario.”
“So that amounts to 810 million people,” Kulp noted.
Another expert, Rutgers University climate scientist Robert Kopp, told the outlet that “the more we push the system above 2°C—but we don’t know how much—the more the chance we trigger ice sheet processes that could rapidly increase sea level rise.”
Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs and president-designate of the upcoming COP27 talks, said in a statement that the new UNFCCC report is further “testimony to the fact that we are off track on achieving the Paris climate goal and keeping the 1.5 degrees within reach.”
“Raising ambition and urgent implementation is indispensable for addressing the climate crisis,” said Shoukry. “This includes cutting and removing emissions faster and at wider scope of economic sectors, to protect us from more severe adverse climate impacts and devastating loss and damage.”
“This is a sobering moment, and we are in a race against time,” Shoukry added. “Several of those who are expected to do more are far from doing enough, and the consequences of this is affecting lives and livelihoods across the globe. I am conscious that it is and should be a continuum of action until 2030 then 2050. However, these alarming findings merit a transformative response at COP27.”
Republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).