Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Oct 06, 2021 1:34 pm

Austria's Conservative-Green coalition are introducing a carbon levy:
Austria will implement a carbon levy of 30 euros per tonne next year as part of an overhaul of the tax system that officials said on Sunday would reward behaviour that helps protect the environment while cutting corporate and income taxes.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose conservatives govern in coalition with the Greens, called the package which will provide a cumulative 18 billion euros ($21 billion) of tax cuts through 2025 the biggest tax revamp in modern Austrian history.

The carbon levy will start in mid-2022 and rise to 55 euros per tonne in 2025.

The government will cushion the blow of higher travel and heating costs via regional "climate bonuses" of 100 euros per year for urban dwellers and up to 200 euros for people who live in the countryside, where public transport is less available.
https://www.reuters.com/business/energy ... 021-10-03/

They're using the money raised to drop corporation tax and higher income brackets, while also reducing health insurance costs and increasing child benefit.

So forward-thinking Conservatives can also achieve their policy goals (cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy) alongside introducing Paris-compliant measures - it needn't be an opportunity available only to the left. It's just a shame, for right-wingers and indeed the world, that so many conservative governments around the world hitched their wagon instead to denying science and trying to keep a dying industry on life support.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by bjn » Wed Oct 06, 2021 2:33 pm

That is somewhat regressive, it they made it revenue neutral and just handed the tax back on a per capita basis it would be much more effective and equitable. With a setup like that, markets can work wonders.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Oct 08, 2021 4:21 pm

BREAKING NEWS

UN Human Rights Council overwhelming votes to approve motion to recognise "clean, healthy and sustainable environment" as a fundamental human right! This could be big!

Just seeing tweets so far, e.g. https://twitter.com/duycks/status/1446465731592327202
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Oct 08, 2021 4:22 pm

42 yes
1 no (Russia)
3 abstentions (China, India, Japan)

No great surprises there. Nice to the see small, poor, extra-vulnerable nations who've been backing this get a win.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Oct 09, 2021 10:55 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -law-firms

Fossil fuel companies are losing huge sums of money to pay lawyers defending environmental cases.

And in general they're on the back foot and losing ground rapidly. Activist lawyers and citizens' movements are chucking a fair bit of grit in their wheels.

Plus, that's a lot of top lawyers wrapped up in setting precedents and understanding technical arguments from the inside out. Every now and then, some of them realise they've made more than enough blood money and semi-retire to the feel-good side. I heard some of them talking at the ClientEarth summit last week. They can achieve a lot of leverage because they know where to stick the levers.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:07 pm

From The Guardian: Leading UK fracking firm taken over by green energy group.
[Third Energy] has been taken over by Wolfland Group, a renewable energy company. It has halted all fossil fuel production from its conventional gas wells and has no plans for further exploration or development. Instead it will focus on green energy, including solar farms, and the use of existing wells for geothermal energy and the burial of captured carbon dioxide emissions.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 25, 2022 9:06 pm

Exxon being taken to court by Massachusetts's attorney general:
The Massachusetts high court on Tuesday ruled that the US’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, must face a trial over accusations that it lied about the climate crisis and covered up the fossil fuel industry’s role in worsening environmental devastation.

Exxon claimed the case brought by the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, was politically motived and amounted to an attempt to prevent the company from exercising its free speech rights. But the state’s supreme judicial court unanimously dismissed the claim in the latest blow to the oil industry’s attempts to head off a wave of lawsuits across the country over its part in causing global heating.

Healey’s lawsuit accuses Exxon of breaking the state’s consumer protection laws with a decades-long cover-up of what it knew about the impact on the climate of burning fossil fuels. The state also says the company deceived investors about the risks to its business posed by global heating.
It's true enough that they did hide knowledge of climate change from both the public and their investors. Will be interesting to see whether consumer protection laws are held to apply here - a consumer-led lawsuit seems much more idiomatically USian than pinko commie stuff like worrying about human rights and international law.

And this case is part of a wider pattern:
In March, a federal court also refused to put a block on the state’s legal action and ruled that Exxon was obliged to turn over documents to investigators.

The oil industry suffered another defeat on Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit by Rhode Island against 21 fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, BP and Shell, can go ahead in state court. Fossil fuel companies are attempting to move cases into what they regard as the more friendly forum of federal courts.

Among other things, state systems often permit a much broader discovery process, which could force Exxon and other companies to hand over highly embarrassing documents revealing what they knew about the climate crisis and when, and how they responded.

At least 10 other federal courts across the country have rejected the industry’s attempts to get similar cases out of the state systems.
Hopefully a lot more cases to come. Well worth a read of the full article.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 25, 2022 9:18 pm

OTOH, economic instruments seem to be really lagging behind judicial ones right now, and I don't think that's just because I barely understand moneywords.

I note that Egypt wants it to be the top issue at this year's COP, after the lofty promises but subsequently tight fists from Glasgow last year.

Which it absolutely should be, for two reasons. One is justice: the world's poorer countries are responsible for fewer cumulative emissions, are bearing the brunt of the consequences already, and are least able to adapt. The latest IPCC WG3 report suggests many regions won't even be able to have economies with climate change in the 1.5-2°C range.

It's also important for practical terms. Even the fossil companies that claim to have Paris-compliant decarbonisation plans are investing huge sums of money in stopping the agreement from working:
The dozen biggest oil companies are on track to spend $103m a day for the rest of the decade exploiting new fields of oil and gas that cannot be burned if global heating is to be limited to well under 2C.

The Middle East and Russia often attract the most attention in relation to future oil and gas production but the US, Canada and Australia are among the countries with the biggest expansion plans and the highest number of carbon bombs. The US, Canada and Australia also give some of the world’s biggest subsidies for fossil fuels per capita.
Fossil fuels should not, in 2022, be an attractive (or even legal) investment. If successful businesses are still investing in, rather than dumping, fossil assets then the market isn't working properly.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Sciolus » Thu May 26, 2022 7:14 pm

One good bit of legal news: case law used to say that charities had to invest to maximise their financial returns, with the only exception being if the investments were directly contrary to the charity's specific aims. That exception has now been loosened so they can choose to only invest ethically. Commentary.
The proposed investment policy necessarily excluded more than half of publicly traded companies and many commercially available investment funds (a depressing indication of how fundamentally the financial system has to change to align the economy with a 1.5°C pathway).

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu May 26, 2022 7:42 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Thu May 26, 2022 7:14 pm
One good bit of legal news: case law used to say that charities had to invest to maximise their financial returns, with the only exception being if the investments were directly contrary to the charity's specific aims. That exception has now been loosened so they can choose to only invest ethically. Commentary.
The proposed investment policy necessarily excluded more than half of publicly traded companies and many commercially available investment funds (a depressing indication of how fundamentally the financial system has to change to align the economy with a 1.5°C pathway).
That's excellent news!

I love hearing about these odd roadblocks to progress being overcome. It's also nice to see ways that genuine systemic change can come about through piecemeal technocratic interventions. Keep em coming :D
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Sciolus » Fri May 27, 2022 6:16 pm

Now, if we can just get pension funds to realise that trashing the environment is exactly contrary to their core purpose...

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Fishnut » Fri May 27, 2022 6:28 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Fri May 27, 2022 6:16 pm
Now, if we can just get pension funds to realise that trashing the environment is exactly contrary to their core purpose...
But if old people die in heatwaves and severe cold snaps then they won't have to pay out so much in pensions.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 27, 2022 8:46 pm

There's some useful stuff here about moving to a "green" pension. Haven't gone through in detail as I don't have one, but maybe interesting for others.

https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/21x/
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Fri May 27, 2022 10:55 pm

There is also Divest UK which has a number of local subgroups/branches/whatever you want to call them: https://www.divest.org.uk/
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon May 30, 2022 12:19 pm

Some interesting work by activist investors - forcing Australian energy giant AGL to hang onto its coal plants, rather than "de-merging" them. As they are loss-making stranded assets, the hope is that by forcing the corporation to retain ownership they'll have to be shut down:
AGL had planned to “demerge” itself into two separate companies, with one taking responsibility for more than 4.5 million retail customers and the other its electricity generators – notably, its three ageing coal-fired power plants, the last of which isn’t due to shut until 2045.

The retail business should have a bright future. The coal plants don’t. The idea was to separate them to boost the former by separating it from the declining value of the latter. AGL management said the split would “unlock value for shareholders”.

The demerger was due to go to a shareholder vote next month, and needed 75% support to pass. AGL management has now conceded it has no chance of reaching that, having been stymied by the software billionaire and renewable energy investor Mike Cannon-Brookes, who earlier this month took control of 11.3% of its shares.

Cannon-Brookes wants the company to stay as one, shut its coal plants by 2030 and spend up big on renewable energy and energy storage, arguing it is the best way to keep electricity prices down for consumers while turning a profit. He successfully made the case to enough major shareholders that a demerger would be, in his words, a “terrible outcome for shareholders, communities and the climate”.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... looks-like
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by bjn » Mon May 30, 2022 12:56 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon May 30, 2022 12:19 pm
Some interesting work by activist investors - forcing Australian energy giant AGL to hang onto its coal plants, rather than "de-merging" them. As they are loss-making stranded assets, the hope is that by forcing the corporation to retain ownership they'll have to be shut down:
AGL had planned to “demerge” itself into two separate companies, with one taking responsibility for more than 4.5 million retail customers and the other its electricity generators – notably, its three ageing coal-fired power plants, the last of which isn’t due to shut until 2045.

The retail business should have a bright future. The coal plants don’t. The idea was to separate them to boost the former by separating it from the declining value of the latter. AGL management said the split would “unlock value for shareholders”.

The demerger was due to go to a shareholder vote next month, and needed 75% support to pass. AGL management has now conceded it has no chance of reaching that, having been stymied by the software billionaire and renewable energy investor Mike Cannon-Brookes, who earlier this month took control of 11.3% of its shares.

Cannon-Brookes wants the company to stay as one, shut its coal plants by 2030 and spend up big on renewable energy and energy storage, arguing it is the best way to keep electricity prices down for consumers while turning a profit. He successfully made the case to enough major shareholders that a demerger would be, in his words, a “terrible outcome for shareholders, communities and the climate”.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... looks-like
Nice to see a billionaire who isn't a total arsehat.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Sciolus » Fri Aug 12, 2022 6:13 pm

This might be encouraging. Some oil wells were given planning permission, despite not including scope 3 (downstream) carbon emissions in their EIA. That is clearly an inadequate EIA and is obvious grounds for refusal. So far, the courts have refused appeals against the permission, but the Supreme Court has now agreed to hear it.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by IvanV » Mon Aug 15, 2022 2:03 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Fri Aug 12, 2022 6:13 pm
This might be encouraging. Some oil wells were given planning permission, despite not including scope 3 (downstream) carbon emissions in their EIA. That is clearly an inadequate EIA and is obvious grounds for refusal. So far, the courts have refused appeals against the permission, but the Supreme Court has now agreed to hear it.
A very faint "might", would be my suspicion.

The Supreme Court has recently bent over backwards to prevent this kind of thing overturning consents. The Heathrow 3rd runway consent is the case in point. The lower court did overturn the consent, seemingly on very strong and powerful grounds, but the Supreme Court found some clever legal wiggle-room through that and reversed it.

I'm a bit surprised the Supreme Court will even hear it. But maybe they are worried that this is a can of worms, since downstream emissions have been routinely ignored, and they want to make quite clear that's no grounds for overturning the consent.

Or I could be wrong.

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