Archive for the ‘DAILY ORATOR’ Category

Heritage Foundation offer Trump l’Oeil over Paris Agreement

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

by Felix von Geyer

The White House is split over whether or not to remain in the Paris Agreement to address climate change, according to one Capitol Hill source.

Where President Trump stated during his electoral campaign that any future Trump Administration would withdraw from the Paris Agreement while labelling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese, the reality is that key staff members are at odds with Trump over the Paris Agreement revealed the source, a former White House official under George Bush and Barack Obama.

Both the President’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are keen for the United States to remain in the Paris Agreement as are members of the National Security Counsel, Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency and even former ExxonMobil Chairman, Rex Tillerson US Secretary of State, according to the source.

However, the spanner in the works comes from the right-wing lobby think-tank, the Heritage Foundation , one of several climate denying and obfuscation organizations heavily linked to funding by the multi-billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.

The exact advice on offer from the Heritage Foundation former staffers remains unclear, however but the source, speaking under strict conditions of anonymity, described them as “lying to the President’s face.” At least eight Heritage Foundation members joined the original Trump transition team including appointments on his Executive Committee and within the US State Department and US Treasury departments.

The advantage of the US remaining in Paris is “that if you are already at the table, why would you wish to leave it?” the source added rhetorically.

A possible policy overture being considered by various staff members that could be made to persuade the President to remain in the Paris Agreement would be for the United States to withdraw its Intended Nationally Determined Commitment (INDC) to reduce its Greenhouse Gas Emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The US negotiated 2005 as the new baseline for reducing emissions versus the original 1990 levels set under the Kyoto Protocol at the 2007 Bali UNFCCC COP 13, partially as a measure to eliminate so-called Russian hot-air credits from any possible emissions trading schemes.

Asked by how the United Nations would feel should Washington propose to remain in the Paris Agreement under the proviso it could withdraw its INDC, the UNFCCC’s Communications Director, Nick Nuttall declined to comment over “conversations that may or may not be happening.

Sculpting a climate change accord

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

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by Felix von Geyer

As the Paris COP 21 climate talks continue into their second week in the political quest for a global climate accord that could rally the world’s governments to prevent the onset of serious climate change, Québec sculptress Sarah Marceau-Tremblay continues her second and final week of her climate change inspired exhibition, ‘La Robe de Sophie’ (Sophie’s Dress).

Indeed, La Robe de Sophie is itself a dialogic intercourse with the public and Marceau-Tremblay dresses up climate change as a collective human, cultural, intellectual and anthropological failure.

There is no coincidence between the idea of Sophie’s Dress and the similarly named philosophical novel Sophie’s World by Norwegian Jostein Gaarder that sought to bring Western philosophy to life for a young girl.

As a sculptural narrative or ‘conte sculpté’, Marceau-Tremblay’s works adorn Montreal’s Galerie Viaduc on Boulevard St Laurent as they depict key pages of the book in narrating the tale of humanity’s demise as a consequence of the inability to accept the reality of its relationship with the environment.

The works signify the breakdown of this relationship in similar fashion to the Stations of the Cross during the Easter Passion that narrate Christ’s journey to Calgary.

The sculptor herself remains faithful to her almost post-Frink style. She contrasts solidity with static stubbornness as the death of elegiac human beauty and movement caused by climate change drags all humanity into an infernal descent. This descent is effectively self-prophesied through the obstinacy of those unwilling to accept that any other economic, social and political path is either possible or necessary; let alone embrace it.

Canada’s energy strategy fails on imagination and vision

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

by Felix von Geyer

If Canadians want an energy revolution, a psephological earthquake at the federal elections is the best place to start.

Indeed, Canada`s ten provincial and territorial premiers were unanimous in calling for more involvement from Ottawa`s federal government before concluding their two-day meeting Friday with the production of a 40-page document that outlined the approach for a new energy strategy. The strategy`s consultative process started in the tar sands province of Alberta in 2013.

The repetitive and brittle communication spin surrounding the protracted document reveals the reality that Canada’s energy future is seriously grounded in the past, offering an old value proposition that will fail to provide environmental or climatic security as it looks to invest C$650 billion over the next decade in building Canada`s energy future.

Three themes inform the premiers` strategy: sustainability and conservation; technology and innovation and delivering energy to people. In each area, the debate is almost a decade old if not more.

In Canada the conversation was most alive in 2007 around the Harper government`s Clean Air Act was taken to task by the Liberal opposition party and Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez introduced the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act – prompting Harper’s former Environment Minister John Baird to declare that implementing Kyoto would create the largest recession Canada had ever seen.

The energy strategy`s own statistical out-takes seek to sell the economic benefits of Canada`s existing energy infrastructure and the need for energy security and stability to provide economic growth, but instead reveal that less than one per cent of Canadians are directly employed by the industry.

Furthermore, it highlights that Canada is the world`s second largest producer of Uranium (mostly located in Saskatchewan) and and the paper is confusing in its promotion of the 73 per cent renewable (low or zero emissions) segment of Canada`s electricity. Hydroelectricity accounts for 63 per cent of Canada`s total electricity generation in one headline figure, where later the small print reveals the figure was 57 per cent in 2012.

But the devil himself must be starving in the lack of details proposed by the premiers’ energy strategy whose ten areas of focus include the need to promote energy efficiency and conservation and to transition to a lower carbon economy with no glimpse of a target. Normal palliatives to carbon pricing can be found in the absence of any vision of renewable energy targets and greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Canada`s pro-oil sands Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently submitted its Nationally Determined Commitment to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change to reduce the country`s greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The government has no plan in place that would achieve this.

Again, details are scarce in mentioning the need for accelerated development and deployment of research and technology to achieve more efficient production and transmission outside of further talk about the long-awaited East-West Grid allowing provinces to transmit electricity to other provinces. Quebec could sell its hydro to Ontario, preventing the latter from having to develop extra nuclear capacity.

Facilitating development of green or renewable resources is another vague area of focus but the need to speed-up regulatory approval and market liberalisation receive greater mention in offering a proactive and stable framework.

In the build-up to the Premiers’ meeting, Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall had publicly decried the demonization of Canada`s oil industry, claiming national benefits are derived through equalization payments distributed by Ottawa to poorer provinces.

The reality is far different. Oil and gas companies provide maybe one percent of Ottawa`s revenues. However, to place Wall`s words into perspective, Saskatchewan has the world`s highest GHG emissions per capita of any jurisdiction. At sixty tonnes of GHG emissions per head Saskatchewan outstrips Saudi Arabia’s 45 tonnes per capita.

Reliant on enhancing the oil recovery of its own end of life oil wells through carbon capture and storage to inject the CO2 into the wells to lift the oil, the province is also home to a portion of Canada`s tar sands. Saskatchewan is also a leading producer of uranium, an energy-intensive extraction process as well as the world’s largest producer of potash.

The Premiers meeting came at the same time as US scientists produced their annual report stating that the oceans would continue to warm for centuries as they are the main sink for absorbing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. It also came at the same time as reports leaked of a new double-walled pipeline owned by Nexen Inc spilled 5 million litres of oil sands crude in Alberta and a rail train carrying oil sands crude derailed in North-Eastern Montana.

In the meantime, new Albertan Premier Rachel Notley of the formerly left-wing New Democratic Party picked up where her Conservative predecessors have so far failed. Notley has asked Canadian Premiers to adopt the C$12 billion Energy East pipeline to carry oil sands crude from Alberta to the Eastern Maritime Province of Nova Scotia to be shipped to Europe. The European Union wants to become as energy independent as possible from Vladimir Putin`s Russia and hopes Eastern Canada can provide the shortfall with as much crude oil and LNG as possible. India is also a likely LNG customer.

So if Canada wants an energy future that is likely to deliver climate security and a stable environment on whose back its economy is drawn, its citizens will need to tell its policy-makers – and fast.

Peru climate summit to draft global climate business plan for next thirty to fifty years, says UN climate chief

Monday, September 29th, 2014

By Felix von Geyer

Energized by over 300,000 climate demonstrators who marched through New York ahead of United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon’s climate summit last week, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) told a Montreal audience on Friday to expect a draft global agreement in Peru this year to address climate change.

“We must, can and will” address climate change, Figueres told the 600 delegates assembled at the Principles for Responsible Investment conference on Friday morning before she listed a host of pledges and commitments that had poured from the New York summit earlier that week.

Three major pension funds committed to invest up to $31 billion into renewable energies to help decarbonize the energy sector in the battle against climate change was one major initiative. A further $100 billion of pension funds were likely to be divested from fossil fuels. The eagerness of 75 of the world’s governments alongside 1,000 global corporations to call for carbon pricing, whether through a cap and trade emissions trading scheme or carbon tax was another major step forward, said Figueres.

Moreover, if the Rockefeller brothers whose ancestor JD Rockefeller founded Standard Oil that later split into what is now Exxon Mobile and ChevronTexaco could divest the Rockefeller Foundation’s investments from oil as they announced last week, then “there is something in the air,” said Figueres.

Figueres asked PRI’s delegates to help her by undertaking three tasks in her quest to find a major global climate agreement in Paris in 15 months’ time.

“Help me to scrub the lobbying practices to avoid systemic risk and avoid human pain,” she said, referring to the lobbying process of the fossil-fuel industry that has helped prevent progress on addressing climate change beyond a broad commitment at the 2009 Copenhagen summit to avoid exceeding two degrees Celsius increase in average global temperatures.

Moreover, Figueres called on investors to maximize their ability to influence Finance Ministers around the world and make them realize that any draft text Peru’s Environment Minister is looking to craft for agreement in Paris in December 2015 is “not an environment agreement but a major technological, economic and risk opportunity,” she said.

Only the previous day, the PRI members had made the ‘Montreal Carbon Pledge’ to track the carbon intensity and profile of $3 trillion of its funds that are otherwise estimated at a total of $22 trillion. Figueres’ third request was direct: “Take that Montreal Carbon Pledge to $22 trillion,” she stated.

Ultimately replacing the old fossil fuel infrastructure with a new energy infrastructure would transition to a better quality of life for everybody by reducing energy insecurities; immigration costs; transportation costs and health costs.

“To get there, we must have the future very, very clear,” said Figueres as she called for “global peaking (of emissions) over the next ten years and then carbon neutrality to restore what the Industrial Revolution disturbed.”

Later during a lunchtime talk at CORIM, the Montreal Council for International Relations, Figueres spoke of further commitments made in New York: the forestry sector pledged to halve deforestation by 2020; palm oil producers committed to zero net deforestation by 2020 while 500 million farmers worldwide sought to move to smart agriculture. Furthermore, an 8,000 kilometre energy corridor through Africa would provide renewable energy and six transnational oil companies were committed to best practices and reporting in acknowledgement that “We’re part of the problem but we can be part of the solution,” Figueres told the diners.

Any global climate agreement in Paris would need to chart the course for the next thirty to fifty years – “way beyond the electoral cycles of anyone,” stressed Figueres who asked the room to put pressure on their subnational governments to address climate change and not to give up on national governments.

“Here’s the truth: the transformation in the energy sector and other sectors will be so huge that we cannot afford to leave behind a country, a family or a person,” the UN’s climate chief declared.

Quoting Montreal-born singer/songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Everybody Knows,’ Figueres added that “Everybody knows – that we can do it. And everybody knows that deep in your heart that we have a choice about the future,” she said, stressing society had a choice to move into a low-carbon future either by crashing into physics or developing its policies.

“And everybody knows that it’s in everybody’s interest to move into that future with fifteen months to get this right. If not, it will take ten years to get around the table again and we will have economic disruption and a political crisis,” predicted figueres.

Solar to lead the way as leading renewable technology to 2050 says IEA

Monday, September 29th, 2014

by Felix von Geyer

Twenty-seven percent of the world’s primary energy supply should come from two-types of solar technology by 2050, the International Energy Agency said Monday in its new Technology Roadmaps.

The Paris-based organization said solar photovoltaic energy (PV) will lead the way at least until 2030 by which time solar thermal energy (STE) such as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) that uses the sun to heat towers of water that produce steam to drive turbines will be increasingly deployed.

Since 2010, the world has added more solar PV capacity than in the previous four decades taking global to over 150 gigawatts GW in early 2014. China is expected to lead the way in deploying solar PV that globally will grow at a rate of 100 Megawatts per day. Over half of this capacity is at the site of consumption such as residential, commercial and industrial. By the time solar PV comprises up to 15 percent of global primary demand, STE is expected to expand, particularly in very sunlit areas with clear skies, making STE a major opportunity for Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States.

To achieve the roadmap’s projections, total installed PV capacity must increase from 36 GW in 2013 to 124 GW per year on average, possibly peaking at 200 GW per year between 2025 and 2040. PV electricity costs will likely converge in different parts of the world as markets develop, with projected average cost reductions of 25% by 2020, 45% by 2030, and 65% by 2050 spreading the costs of PV between $40 to 160 per MW/hour at an assumed cost of capital of 8%.

However, to prevent stop-start cycles in solar investment that prevent solar achieving so-called ‘socket parity’ between prices for solar electricity and electricity from conventional energy grids, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven stated that “We want to be read by governments and we want this to be used by governments” during a press conference. This would require governments to adopt three policies: a long-term approach; market design that includes fair rules for residential and commercial use in a system approach; and to de-risk finance by reducing capital expenditure by lowering the cost of capital, said van der Hoeven.

Global fossil fuel subsidies are worth over $500 billion annually, prompting van der Hoeven to state that countries are “burning their oil, burning their gas and burning their money” whereas socket parity has already occurred without any subsidies.

Consequently greater investment in solar, particularly into STE technology and roll-out could also help generate alternative fuels. In September, an International Civil Aviation Organization seminar on Fuelling Aviation with Green Technology estimated that Solar to Liquids technology that used solar energy to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water and create a synthetic gas for aviation fuel could be produced for as little as $1.30 per litre.