Saturday, March 28, 2015

Deadly Games that Nations Play.

                                                Comments due by April 3, 2015

Japan is at it again. Back in December, the country got caught trying to pass off $1 billion worth of investments in coal-fired power plants in Indonesia as "climate finance"—that is, funding to fight climate change. Coal plants, of course, are the world's single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.
Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance. The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment.
Tokyo argues that the projects are climate-friendly because the plants use technology that burns coal more efficiently, reducing their carbon emissions compared to older coal plants. Also, Japanese officials stress that developing countries need coal power to grow their economies and expand access to electricity.
Putting aside Japan's assumption that developing countries need coal-fired power plants (a view still under much debate by energy-focused development economists), the real issue here is that there isn't an official, internationally recognized definition of "climate finance." In broad strokes, it refers to money a country is spending to address the problem of climate change, through measures to either mitigate it (i.e., emit less carbon dioxide from power plants, vehicles, etc.) or adapt to it (building sea walls or developing drought-tolerant seeds, for example). But there remains little transparency or oversight for what exactly a country can count toward that end.
The reason that matters is because climate finance figures are a vital chip in international climate negotiations. At a UN climate meeting in Peru late last year, Japan announced that it had put $16 billion into climate finance since 2013. Likewise, President Barack Obama last year pledged $3 billion toward the UN's Green Climate Fund, plus several billion more for climate-related initiatives in his proposed budget. Other countries have made similar promises.
Each of these commitments is seen as a quantitative reflection of how seriously a country takes climate change and how far they're willing to go to address it, and there's always pressure to up the ante. And these promises from rich countries are especially important because in many cases the countries most affected by climate change impacts are developing ones that are the least equipped to do anything about it—and least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming in the first place. But the whole endeavor starts to look pretty hollow and meaningless if it turns out that "climate finance" actually refers to something as environmentally dubious as a coal plant.
These numbers will take on increasing significance in the run-up to the major climate summit in Paris in December, which is meant to produce a wide-reaching, meaningful international climate accord. So now more than ever, maximum transparency is vital.   (Mother Jones, Blue Marble) 

20 comments:

Geordi Taylor said...

There must be some sort stipulation that holds U.N. members who essentially lie about their climate finance figures accountable. Building a coal-fired plant that has lower emissions is not fighting climate change, it is simply delaying the inevitable. I also strongly disagree with the notion that the only way to grow a developing country's economy is through the use of cheap coal. There are numerous other ways, but society always searches for the easiest choice. I think education is the best way to grow an economy, but that is just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The fact that countries are essentially lying about their climate finance figures is, while appalling, not surprising either. Countries want to say that they are helping the problem of climate change by lowering emissions, but they also don't want to sacrifice economic gain and energy output in order to achieve this. Everything that is done is done for economic gain, not because it is beneficial to the environment. We need to hold countries accountable for their emissions, and we need to realize that building coal-fired plants that have lower emissions is not the answer to the problem of climate change.

-Marrina Gallant

Anonymous said...

Countries that lie about there climate finance numbers should be held accountable for this. The UN needs to do something and soon. It's a shame that many choices that countries make are about money and not about the world and making it environmentally safer. Coal-fired plants that lower emissions are not the best solution although they are a step in the right direction. The large and wealthy countries need to lead the charge in changing the way we treat the environment. Coal burning and putting massive amounts of Carbon Dioxide in the air is not the way. Our climate and the lower income countries are feeling the majority of this affect. We need a change.

-Neal Vincent Raimo

Anonymous said...

As others mentioned i simply don't understand why there is no way to hold officials responsible. Clearly certain governments like Japan either completely don't understand the environmental situation we are in or simply don't care. what is most saddening is countries like japan, a leader in technology, should be taking charge and helping to steer tech in the right direction.

Nick Stanton

Anonymous said...

It seems as though one of the only real solutions would be to punish those behind this, but as it's been mentioned, for some reason, it's not possible. The world is of course aware of how much we are all affecting the climate, but nobody's really doing anything but continuing on with what they were doing before. Everyone is all bark and no bite, we're full of empty promises. Why is it so impossible for people to do what they say?

-E. Piper Phillips

Chelsea Dow said...

It is indeed troubling to see countries using environmentally positive efforts, such as the "climate financing," to fund their environmentally degrading practices. There is no time when coal plants, oil, or any other methods of burning fossil fuels are "eco-friendly," as many companies like to advocate. There is no such thing as "clean coal." Burning coal and other fossil fuels, no matter how you look at it, increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, aiding in climate change. Using coal plants as a means for combating climate change is so preposterous that I cannot believe Japan thought it would actually work. The reason, unfortunately, why it did work, is because they sourced these coal plants in low income nations. This is not only an environmental issue, it is a social justice issue. Now Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India face even more degradation due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, all being nations that are already stricken with immense environmental degradation due to their economic stature. Thus, the consequences of Japans hidden, outsourced coal plants are devastating from an environmental and sociological scope.

Anonymous said...

Members that lie about the climate finance should not be allowed to strictly get away with an issue so big. I believe that if they are not being true by what they say, there should be consequences in response to their actions. Although it is hard to come up with such consequences in this type of situation. There is no such thing as an environmentally sustainable coal-fired power plant, even though it cause low emissions it is only delaying the problem and not actually dealing with it. Japans hidden CO2 disaster plan would and will only make things worse for the future of climate change.

-Katherine Murphy

Michael Giordano said...

I think that the international community needs to come together and clarify the meaning of climate funding so that we can accurately gauge the contribution that each country is making. Additionally, it is mind boggling that Japan considers funding coal fired plants as contributing to climate financing. The whole idea about climate change is that we need to move away from carbon emissions and move toward clean energy that doesn't emit carbon. For Japan to claim that their $1 billion worth of investments to coal fired plants that burn less carbon emissions is absurd and completely irrational. Just because the coal fired plants emit less carbon, doesn't make them clean renewable energy that are needed to fight climate change. The U.N. must clarify these misunderstandings of oversight and what climate financing really means if there is any chance for the international community to come together at the climate accord in Paris in December with a solid, tangible plan to move forward on fighting climate change.

Anonymous said...

If you look at it you can see that most of the developing countries are rapidly destroying our clean environment so that drastically climate change. It is not only UN responsibility to save the environment. It is absolutely vital to come up whole world with one agenda “save environment.” I agree with this “The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment.” Also Tokyo argues that the projects are climate positive because the plants use high technology that burns coal more efficiently, reducing their carbon emissions compared to older coal plants. Also, Japanese officials stated that developing countries need coal power to grow their economies and expand access to electricity.

Anonymous said...

It's concerning that people would resort to lying and deception in order to be seen in a certain light. This kind of action can have a greater effect on the environmental movement than people realize. I think that they should be held accountable and not hide behind their claim that this type of coal burning is "cleaner". Coal is not clean, ever. To prevent this from happening again, there should be one agreed upon definition of "climate finance" and hopefully strides are made in Paris.
-Emma Weis

Sulana Robinson said...

It just goes to show that people refuse to improve the lives of others just to live in wealth for the rest of theirs. Every decision alike this impacts everyone. We don't all live in seperate worlds where our decisions only play consequence on ourselves. And it's not as if these consequences are minor, not at this point at least. Things are changing rapidly and continuing to do so since most people of higher power chose to turn the other way in the face of true environmental problems. So that theres less guilt? It's not only them, of course, they make profit off the fact that they rely on us (below them?) to feed into the product. It's like a cycle in a sense, it can't all be blamed on those "higher" in power, we allow them to remain in that position as long as we choose to be blind as well.

Anonymous said...

An interesting point reviewed in the article is that nations around the world are contributing to funds to assist countries "most affected" by climate change. I think this is the wrong course of action to take. With all of the money we are contributing to funds to help these nations, we can be investing in clean energy infrastructure.
Japan announced that it contributed $16 billion to climate change finance. This is good, but they are also building coal power plants. In my opinion, this seems to be counter-productive. It is the same in the U.S. where we have pledged 3 billion but still consume huge amounts of fossil fuels. I think that only by changing our outlook on fixing the problem through new methods that are not focused on money, will we be able to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

-Frazer Winsted

Anonymous said...

Although Japan claims that they are being environmentally friendly by lowering the coal burning emissions, the fact of the matter remains that in order to make progress there should be no coal emissions, not just less. Drastic changes need to be made if change is ever to be reached. Also, it is untrue that the burning of coal is needed in order to develop. There are other ways to create energy, and they should be explored instead of making excuses and sticking to the same old harmful habits.

Rachael Pepper

Anonymous said...

In order to rid the process of lying and deceptive practices, they need to make it more lucrative to tell the truth. While ideally governments would be leading virtuous lives with consideration to the greater good, but we are well aware that this is often opposite of reality. The cost of lying needs to be high enough that the truth becomes a better business tactic.
Creating consequences for countries is difficult for political reasons. Who would enforce consequences and how would they enforce them without creating tensions? Additionally, while the world has historically used coal-burning plants to fuel industrialization, it is nothing but harmful for developing countries to utilize this same method today. Unfortunately it becomes a moral debate of whether to better the lives of humans who are already alive and suffering, or to better the lives of future generations that do not yet exist.

-Nadya Hall

Michael Tierney said...

It is total crap that Japanese officials say that everyone needs coal power in order to make rises in their economies. We started with coal and so have many other countries yet I do not see a single country that is getting their power entirely from renewable energy. Also, we started with coal and our economy hasn't held steady or even seemed to fully plateau ever. If we really want to be sustainable, then we need to start that way. We can't keep acting as if there is no problem with countries doing this sort of stuff. I think the UN needs to have a special group that helps countries make the right decisions, and not in the way that they have total power, but in a way that can sway a countries interest to be sustainable.
--Michael Tierney

Joan Podolski said...

I agree with the fact to try and help the environment with the climate finance, however i do not agree with the lying of the numbers. How does someone even lie about their finance figures? Clearly there is some funding going into the project, but it should be like anything else. If it is not voted on or doesn't work, then it cant be done. The coal is not the best solution regardless considering that coal releases extremely toxic chemicals. They need to figure out a better way to go about this and then revisit it, because lying is not going to get them where they would like to be.

Kobe Yank-Jacobs said...

If they are improving the efficiency of the coal they would otherwise burn, then that's an improvement worth making. However, it should not count towards finance of climate friendly energy sources. I think this highlights the importance of defining what is climate friendly in Paris this year. Without clear guidelines and legally binding agreements, with repercussions, Paris will be a missed opportunity and perhaps one of our last.

Christina Cranwell said...

In essence Japan didn't lie about it being climate funding. If they claim that these plants will eliminate much of the harmful wastes then they are still making steps in the right direction. They could have taken the extra step and updated their existing factories with this technology instead of creating new ones but, their need for these plants is understandable.
To avoid future confusion/dispute the UN really needs to set a standard for what can be considered climate funds.

Anonymous said...

I am terrified by their reasonings for using the leading cause in health, environmental, economic, and ecological problems because they believe that they need to.

If they switched to solar, or ocean current based power, then so many problems would simply disappear.

This is why I am so confused about how the UN can just let this happen. To raise funds for environmental concerns, there should be a law that states that a country, or nation cannot use the reason that the environment is hurting to fund the future.

You cannot take from the future to give to the present without a repercussion. That will normally be negative and visible in a lifetime.

Beverly Levine

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