Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

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IvanV
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by IvanV » Tue Jun 08, 2021 8:54 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:28 pm
The IEA confirmed in its Net Zero by 2050 report that there can be no new oil and gas fields approved for development and no new coalmines or mine extensions in a pathway to 1.5°C. Renewable energies will need to expand at an unprecedented pace to become the largest source of energy supply by 2050, while fossil fuel use sees a “huge decline”.
None. Zero. Presumably governments have already updated their policies on approving such developments, to align with the science they claim to be led by, and the commitments they've made under international law.
This kind of thing can only apply in developed economies that have legal systems not captured by the state. And we've already seen the UK supreme court passing this kind of thing back to the government rather than doing it itself. So I expect only in some small number of countries of very good governance is this kind of thing going to happen.

And I don't see that it will have much global effect either. For example, Shell is a large oil producer in Nigeria. The Nigerian kleptocracy feeds off the income from that oil. They are not going to let Shell close it down. Shell might walk away from it, but it will carry on. And those who carry it on will probably make Shell look well-behaved in comparison.

The demonstration effect of the wealthier countries going low carbon is essential. Without it, we have no chance of persuading the rest of the world to be modest in their emissions. Unfortunately fairness between nations is also about the cumulative history of emissions. Britain has the highest cumulative emissions per person-year over the last couple of centuries, because of its early industrial expansion, with places like the US and Germany not far behind - though it's a little while since I last checked and we might have been overtaken recently. Places like China and India are still far behind by this metric.

The take-away is that we do have to demonstrate to the rest of the world what to do. But don't expect them to be too fast in following suit. Carbon emissions are still growing, and likely to continue to grow for quite some time even if the developed world succeeds in making large cuts in emissions. This does have consequences for what it is sensible for the developed world to do as its emissions get lower.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by FlammableFlower » Tue Jun 08, 2021 3:07 pm

Might be a bit late to register (as it's tonight at 6pm)... but some might be interested in this online lecture/talk: What is a green recovery?
Join us for a special lecture from Co-Leader of the Green Party and Green London Assembly Member, Sian Berry.
About this event
There is a wide consensus that recovery from the coronavirus pandemic must also address the urgent climate and ecological crises the world faces. But what is a green recovery and how can it close the gaps in our systems that the pandemic has exposed?

Sian’s lecture will look at the huge potential in the coming years for new ways of doing business, for measuring successful policies with new measures of wellbeing and sustainability, and for the bottom-up transformation of our economy through local and regional policymaking.

Speaker biography

Sian Berry is a London Assembly Member and local councillor in London and co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales since 2018.

She was recently re-elected to the London Assembly for a second term and achieved third place for the second time in the election for London Mayor. Sian has lived in London since 1997 and has worked as a medical copywriter, PA, website manager, project manager for a digital start-up, author and transport campaigner before being elected to the Assembly.

Sian has focused her policy work on housing, including the rights of renters and people who live on estates, as well as on green transport and human rights and policing, and as well as helping to win new funding for youth services in London.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Sciolus » Tue Jun 08, 2021 4:06 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue Jun 08, 2021 8:54 am
This kind of thing can only apply in developed economies that have legal systems not captured by the state. And we've already seen the UK supreme court passing this kind of thing back to the government rather than doing it itself. So I expect only in some small number of countries of very good governance is this kind of thing going to happen.
Funny you say that, because I was about to make a similar point:

A planning inspector has allowed the appeal by Stansted Airport to expand their passenger numbers. The inspector said that carbon emissions were the government's problem, government policy is to expand airports and it's up to the government to reconcile that policy with carbon commitments. Or "none of my business, guv".

With this and the recent coal mine kerfuffle, it is clear that the local TCPA planning system in England is completely unable to deal with carbon emissions as an issue. There are obvious ways to address this, so that carbon impacts are properly handled by the planning system; but I haven't heard that anyone is doing anything and it looks like we're going to continue bumbling along messing it up for the foreseeable future.

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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 Jun 09, 2021 11:36 am

IvanV wrote:
Tue Jun 08, 2021 8:54 am
The demonstration effect of the wealthier countries going low carbon is essential. Without it, we have no chance of persuading the rest of the world to be modest in their emissions. Unfortunately fairness between nations is also about the cumulative history of emissions. Britain has the highest cumulative emissions per person-year over the last couple of centuries, because of its early industrial expansion, with places like the US and Germany not far behind - though it's a little while since I last checked and we might have been overtaken recently. Places like China and India are still far behind by this metric.

The take-away is that we do have to demonstrate to the rest of the world what to do. But don't expect them to be too fast in following suit. Carbon emissions are still growing, and likely to continue to grow for quite some time even if the developed world succeeds in making large cuts in emissions. This does have consequences for what it is sensible for the developed world to do as its emissions get lower.
Yes, absolutely.

One thing that gives me a bit of hope is that similar arguments are playing out within the EU (with places like Poland refusing to quit coal), and within the USA (with a lot of oil-producing states resisting progress). Biden's plans look like they'll have the intention to centre a 'just transition', providing a carrot as well as a stick. The EU isn't quite there yet AFAICT.

Obviously if the rich countries do actually get on with decarbonising their own economies, forcing companies HQed there to sort out their entire supply chains and implementing border tariffs / carbon taxation, that will have a large effect on the profitability of fossil-fuel developments in general.

And equally obviously, poorer countries are less able to adapt to climate change than rich countries are, so finding ways to get them over the short-term hump of decarbonising/low-carbon development is absolutely in their long-term interests, and I think young people know that. The necessary political changes will probably be bottom-up.

We've got 9 years to make big cuts to avoid imminent catastrophe. Morally and practically, countries with higher cumulative emissions ought to be making the deepest cuts. There are arguments that funding low-carbon development might be a more efficient use of resources than, say, closing a fairly modern gas power station in the EU, but the accounting for "un-emitted emissions"is not remotely straightforward and prone to considerable gaming. So I really think the wealthy world needs to get its house in order ASAP.

I'm really hoping a lot of them are keeping highly ambitious plans in the bag to use as bargaining chips at this year's COP.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:44 am

Re: Shell, their CEO has done a public statement on LinkedIn.

While the appeal is going ahead, he does say:
The court has said its decision applies immediately and should not be suspended pending an appeal. For Shell, this ruling does not mean a change, but rather an acceleration of our strategy. We have a clear target to become a net-zero emissions business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement. We have set rigorous, short-term reduction targets along the way to make sure we achieve net zero.

But now we will seek ways to reduce emissions even further in a way that remains purposeful and profitable. That is likely to mean taking some bold but measured steps over the coming years.

In April this year we published our detailed Energy Transition Strategy. And in May, we became the first energy company to put its energy transition strategy to a vote of shareholders at our Annual General Meeting. It won 89% support. We will give our shareholders a chance to vote on our progress every year. The court did not consider this because the hearing that led to the ruling took place several months before we published this strategy and, of course, before major investors demonstrated their support at the AGM.

Our strategy shows how we will expand on the billions of dollars we have already invested in lower-carbon energy over recent years, including providing our customers with electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, power from wind and solar energy, and biofuels. We believe our total absolute carbon emissions will come down from their 2018 level and that our oil production peaked in 2019.
He also echoes Ivan's point:
But we need one more thing, now more than ever if we’re to accelerate our strategy. The energy transition is far too big a challenge for one company to tackle. No one country or even one continent could pull this off. We need to work together, with society, governments and our customers to achieve real, meaningful change in the worldwide energy system. And this change must address the demand for carbon-based energy, not just its supply.

To mention one, perhaps extreme scenario, imagine Shell decided to stop selling petrol and diesel today. This would certainly cut Shell’s carbon emissions. But it would not help the world one bit. Demand for fuel would not change. People would fill up their cars and delivery trucks at other service stations.

Society needs to take urgent action on climate change. But a court ordering one energy company to reduce its emissions – and the emissions of its customers – is not the answer. I believe Shell should work with our customers and their sectors to help them find their own pathways to achieve net-zero emissions. This will help grow demand for new low-carbon products. For companies to invest successfully, they also need bold, clear, and consistent government policies and regulations. Greater collaboration between governments, companies and customers will allow us and others to build up our low-carbon energy businesses in the fastest way.
After decades of lobbying against such changes, I hope this ruling means that Shell will now throw all its lobbying might behind bringing other companies up to the same standards.

Obviously, this case wasn't intended to solve climate change on its own, or to encourage voluntary changes by other corporations. It's been designed to set legal precedent that can be used to strong-arm other corporations, big and small, and to accelerate the already-present pressure from investors to hurry up with the transition.
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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 » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:44 am

Spot the deliberate mistake:
Screenshot_2021-06-10_11-42-41.png
Screenshot_2021-06-10_11-42-41.png (280.79 KiB) Viewed 117 times
Surely this is just trolling? Nobody's that stupid.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:07 am

I thought maybe that he had flown in there directly from some summit abroad. But no, it seems like he took the plane to travel from London.

a..eh.le.

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by shpalman » Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:27 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:44 am
Spot the deliberate mistake:
...
Surely this is just trolling? Nobody's that stupid.
Weird seeing that straight after this:
RAF-Luton-2106091933.jpg
RAF-Luton-2106091933.jpg (167.63 KiB) Viewed 88 times
molto tricky

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Gfamily » Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:51 pm

shpalman wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:27 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:44 am
Spot the deliberate mistake:
...
Surely this is just trolling? Nobody's that stupid.
Weird seeing that straight after this:

RAF-Luton-2106091933.jpg
I keep forgetting that RAF Luton is a parody account.
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
ETA 5/8/20: I've been advised that the result was correct, it was the initial interpretation that needed to be withdrawn
Meta? I'd say so!

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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:46 pm

Speaking of border tariffs and so on - and with relevance to the UK's ongoing quest for trade deals too - it's notable that environmental concerns are still not "mainstreamed" when forging economic agreements between nations.

For instance, the EU is very keen to strike a deal with Mercosur (the South American trade bloc), has has long been resisting calls to add some basic protections even as Bolsonaro in particular burns the Amazon and encourages attacks on indigenous people.

ClientEarth have been keeping an eye on things:
One of the biggest failings is that the deal was negotiated without conducting a timely sustainability impact assessment – a process that works out how to mitigate adverse human rights, environmental, and social impacts related to the agreement. It is supposed to be finalised before any trade negotiations conclude, but the final assessment was only recently published – two years late.

So last year, we took action against the Commission over its failure to ensure the agreement would not lead to social, economic, environmental degradation and human rights violations.

ClientEarth and organisations Fern, Veblen Institute, La Fondation Nicolas Hulot pour la Nature et l'Homme and International Federation for Human Rights filed a complaint to the European Ombudsman. We warned that the Commission did not properly consider the deal’s potential impact on issues such as the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, and the use of dangerous pesticides in farming.

In March, the Ombudsman found that the Commission’s failure to conduct a timely sustainability impact assessment before concluding the deal constituted ‘maladministration’. This is a clear rebuke of the Commission’s negotiation process.
These kinds of Sustainability Impact Assessments ought to be conducted in advance of negotiations, so that member states can ensure the deal would be congruent with their environmental concerns and commitments:
From the beginning of negotiations, serious concerns were raised over its environmental impacts. These include increases in deforestation and carbon emissions, erosion of biodiversity, and challenges for the protection of the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

The sustainability impact assessment is an important tool to make sure the Commission’s policy choices are based on scientific evidence, and that resulting trade agreements respect human rights and high economic, social and environmental standards. This is supposed to be a core instrument of EU trade policy, as it is key to ensuring transparency and appropriate involvement of all stakeholders in negotiations.

But when the Mercosur deal was agreed upon, only the first out of three phases of the sustainability impact assessment was conducted. This undermines the case that environmental and social concerns have been sufficiently addressed in the text of the deal.
And member states are not happy about how the EU has conducted itself, necessitating a last-ditch attempt to retrofit some sustainability safeguards to the deal:
A number of EU states and members of the European Parliament have indicated they will not support the deal as it stands, due to climate and deforestation concerns.

As a response to this, the Commission is seeking pre-ratification commitments from Mercosur countries on climate and deforestation. It hopes this extra step will be enough to move the deal forward, as it has been clear it will not reopen the text to further negotiation.

Little is known so far about the legal nature and content of this additional instrument.
It's been a real missed opportunity to use EU negotiating power to promote sustainable development, as it would have rewarded the adoption of scientific limits and targets in developing economies. And to be honest it's hard to see how anything with teeth can be tacked on at the end now.

Hopefully this is another example of institutions learning - a little too late - that pressures and priorities are rapidly changing, and future deals will be negotiated with sustainability at their core.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:59 pm

Further missed opportunities in how stock exchanges are regulated, according to UN research:
New research from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a body enabling businesses to set ambitious emissions reduction targets, reveals that none of the G7’s leading stock indexes are currently aligned with a 1.5°C or 2°C pathway and calls on the largest listed G7 companies to urgently increase climate action.

In the lead up to the G7 Summit, the analysis shows that the G7 countries’ leading indexes are on an average temperature pathway of 2.95°C, according to their constituents’ current corporate climate ambitions. Stock indexes, composed of stocks of the most significant companies listed on a country’s largest exchange, are vital benchmarks to understand market trends.

The report, prepared by CDP and the UN Global Compact on behalf of the SBTi, finds that four of the seven indexes are on dangerous temperature pathways of 3°C or above. Notably, fossil fuels are a key contributor to the emissions of all seven indexes, making up 70% of Canada’s SPTSX 60 3.1°C temperature rating and almost 50% of Italy’s FTSE MIB 2.7°C rating.
So far, this is all based on companies' voluntary commitments to become Paris compliant. As Shell have just found out, many of them - whether they have made inadequate commitments or none at all - are currently risking being found in breach of human rights legislation, and potentially other legal problems from future cases, along with the accelerating risk of asset stranding.

The report makes some recommendations for G7 leaders, which hopefully they'll be discussing in Cornwall the moment:
Today’s report also identifies four urgent climate actions for financial institutions, corporate actors, investors and governments. Firstly, businesses and governments must collaborate to harness the “ambition loop”, a positive feedback cycle in which private sector action and government policies reinforce one another, such as the recent Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk by the US Government that introduced a requirement for major federal suppliers to set science-based targets.

Secondly, corporations must work to decarbonise supply chains by engaging with suppliers. Thirdly, investors should embed science-based targets into sustainability-linked bonds and climate financial standards.

Finally, financial institutions should aim to create a domino effect in all sectors of the economy through setting portfolio-level science-based targets and engagement with underlying assets. One such example is the CDP Science-Based Targets campaign, which coordinates global financial institutions to engage the world's highest impact companies to set 1.5°C-aligned science-based targets.
The idea of an "ambition loop" is a powerful one: we need governments to create conditions such that the market genuinely optimises over an appropriate parameter space, rather than burdening humanity (especially its poorer and younger members) with a huge expensive pile of externalities from other people's earnings to sort out. I'm hopefully that by hitting some of the most powerful entities (e.g. Shell) hard, those corporations in turn will therefore want to see their competitors held to the same standard, i.e. increasing the sector's appetite for regulation.

I'd also love to see more Paris-aligned financial products - where are the Paris-aligned bank accounts, pensions, savings portfolios? They are few and far between, and I don't think any mainstream bank offers anything. Which means that everybody's savings and pensions are making the world worse.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:05 pm

For completeness' sake, there's another Climate Change Human Rights case just launched, this one in Poland:
Among the claimants in the Polish case is 56-year-old Piotr Nowakowski, who lives in a forest in the Greater Poland region. Nowakowski has seen how stronger storms and forest fires are increasingly becoming a threat to him and his home, while he has to dig deeper wells to find water. He’s taking the Polish government to court because it is failing him, his children and grandchildren, he says.
I like these kinds of cases, because they offer a valuable rejoinder to the claim that caring about sustainability is only for a wealthy urban elite or whatever. The reality is that normal people doing normal rural jobs are already suffering climate impacts, and are concerned that things are going to be much worse for their offspring.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Fri Jun 11, 2021 6:15 pm

I'm a bit wary of non-binding ratings systems (I.e. where a crap rating doesn't really lead to anything, it's just for info on the assumption that the 'market' will lead to better outcomes) but while we're not really currently in a position to dictate that every pension portfolio must be totally emission free (I'm not saying they shouldn't, just that it doesn't seem likely to happen overnight) I wonder whether some kind of 'official' ratings system would be helpful as either a temporary or partial measure? Speaking of which my employer is switching pension provider as of next month, first I heard they were even doing it was when they announced who we were moving to. Apparently they have better social responsibility credentials than the current one but I don't know much about it. The union has been a bit quiet lately too so I might see if I can prod someone.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jun 11, 2021 6:40 pm

It's not exactly 'official', but there are some reports out there. Ethical Consumer have one for UK banks: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/money-f ... ings-banks and possibly others on their website with a bit of rummaging.

But it's early days, hardly any banks even report the carbon intensity of their portfolios and none of the big ones are much good.

I'd expect there to be a decent amount of correlation across the board between climate and other forms of social responsibility, fwiw.
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Re: Tackling the Climate Emergency:Economic and judicial instruments

Post by discovolante » Fri Jun 11, 2021 7:06 pm

Yeah, there are unofficial and self-ratings but I was thinking of something 'official' because if done properly (lol) it could probably be used as a tool for other things too, and you can mandate publication of ratings etc.

As for personal investment, I'm not sure how many people could afford the investment Triodos seems to require.
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