Category Archives: Climate Change

Fossil Fuels: At What Price?

InterPress Service
By John Scales Avery
The author was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organising the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. He is Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen. He was chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy, and he is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century.env

A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK.| Author: John from wikipedia | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

OSLO, Sep 7 2016 (IPS) – We often read comparisons between the prices of solar energy or wind energy with the prices of fossil fuels. It is encouraging to see that renewables are rapidly becoming competitive, and are often cheaper than coal or oil. In fact, if coal, oil and natural gas were given their correct prices renewables would be recognized as being incomparably cheaper than fossil fuels.

Externalities in pricing
The concept of externalities in pricing was first put forward by two British economists, Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) and Arthur C. Pigou (1877-1959).
In his book “The Economics of Welfare”, published in 1920, Pigou further developed the concept of externalities in pricing which had earlier been introduced by Sidgwick. He proposed that a tax be introduced to correct pricing for the effect of externalities.

An externality is the cost or benefit of some unintended consequence of an economic action. For example, tobacco companies do not really wish for their customers to die from cancer, but a large percentage of them do, and the social costs of this slaughter ought to be reflected in the price of tobacco.

The true environmental costs of fossil fuel use are much greater than those of smoking. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels within one or two decades, we risk a situation where uncontrollable feedback loops will lead to catastrophic climate change regardless of human efforts to prevent the disaster.

If we do not act very quickly to replace fossil fuels by renewables, we risk initiating a 6th geological extinction event. This might even be comparable to the Permian-Triasic extinction, during which 96 per cent of all marine species and 70 per cent of all vertebrates were lost forever.

Subsidies to fossil fuel companies
Far from being penalized for destroying the global environment and threatening the future of all life on earth, fossil fuel companies currently receive approximately $500,000,000,000 per year in subsidies (as estimated by the IEA).
They use part of this vast sum to conduct advertising campaigns to convince the public that anthropogenic climate change is not real.

Betrayal by the mainstream media
If we turn on our television sets, almost nothing that we see informs us of the true predicament of human society and the biosphere.

env2
John Scales Avery

Programs like “Top Gear” promote automobile use. Programs depicting ordinary life show omnipresent motor cars and holiday air travel. There is nothing to remind us that we must rapidly renounce the use of fossil fuels.
A further betrayal by the mainstream media can be seen in their massive free coverage of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is an infamous climate change denier.
Despite the misinformation that we receive from the mainstream media, we must remember our urgent duty to leave fossil fuels in the ground. If threats to the future are taken into account, the price of these fuels is prohibitive.

The statements and views mentioned in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IPS.

Climate deal ‘to keep rises well below 2C’

BBC
Text of Paris Agreement

paris1
The French president (left) called on nations to adopt “the first universal agreement on climate”.

Organizers of climate talks in Paris have released details of a proposed landmark deal to curb climate change.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the final draft of the deal was fair, “legally binding” and would limit warming to “well below 2C”. Continue reading Climate deal ‘to keep rises well below 2C’

Invited by Vatican, Naomi Klein Makes Moral Case for World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Common Dreams

Activist and author praises ‘courageous’ invitation by Pope in face of fossil fuel industry’s power

Nadia Prupis

Author and activist Naomi Klein spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday, calling climate change a "moral crisis" that should unite all people. (Photo: Adolfo Lujan/flickr/cc)
Author and activist Naomi Klein spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday, calling climate change a “moral crisis” that should unite all people. (Photo: Adolfo Lujan/flickr/cc)

Naomi Klein—activist, author, and self-described “secular Jewish feminist”—spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday where she championed the Pope’s message for global action on climate change and made the case for “the beautiful world” beyond fossil fuel addiction.

Klein, who was invited to speak by the Vatican, gave her speech ahead of a two-day conference to discuss the Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the environment and the threat of the global economic system—subjects that the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate knows well.

The encyclical has garnered praise from environmental campaigners like Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo, who called it a “clarion call for bold, urgent action.”

“Pope Francis writes early on that Laudato Si’ is not only a teaching for the Catholic world but for ‘every person living on this planet.’ And I can say that as a secular Jewish feminist who was rather surprised to be invited to the Vatican, it certainly spoke to me,” Klein told reporters ahead of the conference, which is called People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.

She praised what she described as “the core message of interconnection at the heart of the encyclical.”

Klein also expanded on what may appear to be an unlikely alliance with the leader of the Catholic Church. Continue reading Invited by Vatican, Naomi Klein Makes Moral Case for World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Georgetown University Announces End to Endowment Investments in Coal Mining Companies

Ignatian Solidarity Network

Georgetown University and Georgetown University’s Board of Directors passed a resolution announcing the end to direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is mining coal for use in energy production.
Georgetown University and Georgetown University’s Board of Directors passed a resolution announcing the end to direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is mining coal for use in energy production.

WASHINGTON, DC – On June 4, 2015, the Board of Directors of Georgetown University passed a  resolution stating that the university will not make or continue any direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is mining coal for use in energy production.

The board resolution emphasizes Georgetown’s Jesuit Catholic mission as an impetus to “lead on issues of justice and the common good such as environmental protection and sustainability.”  It also states clearly that climate change is “real and poses a serious threat.”  They also identified the efforts of Georgetown University Fossil Free and the University’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility.

“The work of understanding and responding to the demands of climate change is urgent and complex,” said John J. DeGioia, Ph.D., president of Georgetown University in a university statement. DeGioia continued, “It requires our most serious attention. As a university community, we can best respond to this evolving and ongoing challenge when we acknowledge the tensions embedded in this work – and the variety of perspectives that are present in this moment.”

This announcement comes from Georgetown as another Jesuit university is considering a call from faculty to divest from fossil fuel related industries.  Earlier this year over 200 Loyola University Chicago faculty members expressed their support of the movement to divest led by Loyola president Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J.  The issue will be addressed by university administrators and the board of directors in the coming weeks.

Action on both campuses comes just a couple weeks before Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change will be promulgated.  Earlier today the Vatican announced that it will be shared publicly on June 18th.

Six Things to Expect When Francis Goes to Washington

AMERICA MAGAZINE / THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REVIEW
By David Gibson (RNS)

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Credit: America Magazine)
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Credit: America Magazine)

Everyone wants Congress to stop fighting and get working, and that includes Pope Francis, a top adviser said on April 29 in a preview of the pope’s upcoming U.S. trip.

The Argentine-born pontiff has never been to the U.S., but he will make history in September as the first pope to address a joint meeting of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

“The pope will come humbly but will talk clearly,” Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top adviser to Francis, told an audience at Georgetown University. More…

The TPP Is a Grave Threat to Climate Action

COMMON DREAMS

By Naomi Klein

This changes Everything

MoveOn.org sent out the following message and accompanying petition its members on May 21.

Existing trade deals and World Trade Organization rules are already being used to block subsidies for renewable energy and other supports for the clean energy sector. And the expansion of such agreements has gone hand in hand with the accelerating rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
Existing trade deals and World Trade Organization rules are already being used to block subsidies for renewable energy and other supports for the clean energy sector. And the expansion of such agreements has gone hand in hand with the accelerating rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dear MoveOn member,

I’m writing because President Obama and the U.S. Congress need to hear from you before they rush toward approving a massive new trade agreement that would benefit corporations and undercut serious efforts to fight climate change.

This deal—the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP—has been called “NAFTA on steroids.” It’s the latest and largest in a series of international agreements that have attacked working women and men, fueled mindless and carbon-intensive consumption, and prevented governments from enforcing their own laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

NAFTA-esque deals around the world have been a disaster for democracy, good jobs, and environmental justice, which is why I hope you’ll click here and sign the petition to stop the TPP from being rushed through Congress. More…

Pope Francis & Climate Change: Making Huge Bets

IGNATION SOLIDARITY NETWORK
By Christopher Kerr

Google Images/NBC Nightly News
Google Images/NBC Nightly News

There is an old adage that “any press is good press.”

Watching some of the recent media coverage on Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change made me wonder if this is really true. In just two minutes during a recent segment on Fox News, analysts used phrases like “creating controversy” and “aligning himself with enemies” as well as accusing Pope Francis of jumping on the “climate change bandwagon.”

It’s one thing to be critical, but it’s another thing when news media seek to create controversy where it doesn’t exist or misrepresent the goodwill of an individual.

Watch this special report

But remember, “any press is good press.” So let me offer my own perspective as a Catholic who is tremendously excited for the prophetic voice Pope Francis will offer the Church and the world on the issue of climate change. More…