Africa Climate Summit links 'unfair' debt burden with calls to make … – Carbon Brief

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Kenyan president William Ruto, hosting the African Climate Summit, has been among those raising the issue of debt relief in relation to climate action by African nations, according to the Associated Press. Speaking at the summit, he also called for a global conversation about a carbon tax on polluters, stating “those who produce the garbage refuse to pay their bills”, the article continues. Ruto and other leaders “urged reforms to the global financial structures that have left African nations paying about five times more to borrow money than others, worsening the debt crisis for many”. The Financial Times notes that Ruto called for a global debt relief deal to help indebted African nations address climate change, telling the newspaper: “If you don’t solve the debt issue, you can’t solve the climate issue.” The Standard, a Kenyan newspaper, quotes Ruto saying: “This is the continent that has the highest potential; however, we are limited by high-interest rates for development capital. Many of our countries are already in debt distress.” He asked multilateral banks to consider reviewing their terms in relation to loans lent to African countries, the article adds. It also notes that this call was supported by statements by UN secretary-general António Guterres, who said Africa should have an effective debt-relief mechanism to help with climate change financing. Another Kenyan newspaper, the Star, also reports on Ruto’s speech on the second day of the summit. The president said his nation has been forced to divert resources that are meant for economic growth into dealing with the effects of climate change, it explains. 
Speaking at the summit, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pitched carbon pricing and “true carbon credits” as important tools to accelerate the net-zero transition in Africa, Politico reports. She told attendees that “setting a price on carbon emissions is one of the most efficient and one of the most effective tools in our hands”. Asked about the Kenyan president’s call for a discussion of a global carbon tax, US climate envoy John Kerry replied that president Joe Biden has “not yet embraced any particular carbon pricing mechanism”, according to Africa News. The news outlet also quotes Kerry saying that the clean-energy transition “is going to happen, in my judgement because the private sector gets involved in a much greater degree than today”. Separately, China Dialogue has an article questioning who will fund the controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), as various financiers back out over climate concerns.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, Reuters reports that Biden will focus on reforming the World Bank and urging other multilateral development banks to boost lending for climate change and infrastructure projects. The Hindustan Times reports that a draft G20 communique circulating “has raised concerns on whether the G20 will provide clear goals on a peaking year for emissions globally”.
People in England have been promised lower energy bills if they consent to windfarms near where they live, the Times reports in a frontpage story. The news comes after reports that an effective “ban” on onshore wind turbines in England had been relaxed by the government “in a deal with Tory rebels” related to the passage of the new UK energy bill, the newspaper notes. It says that planning rules were changed to “make it clear that a single local objection cannot block onshore wind”. However, it adds that onshore wind will remain harder to build than other energy technologies, with “updated planning guidance retaining a presumption against windfarms unless they have local consent”. City AM reports that the new rules add the option for communities to identify local sites for future developments. However, it adds that the government only “slightly amended” requirements for projects to show community backing and still left the power with local authorities. The Guardian explains that onshore wind turbines will still be confined to “suitable” areas in the country, even though the government is loosening what it defines as suitable. “Other infrastructure projects are not confined to certain places in this way,” it notes. The i newspaper also emphasises that planning rules still make it difficult to build turbines, describing the latest move as a “compromise designed to avoid Tory rebellions”. Former COP26 president Alok Sharma said that he and the other Conservative rebels who signed an amendment to the energy bill that forced the government to act had wanted to see a “much more permissive planning regime” on onshore wind, the Guardian reports. Bloomberg reports that renewable energy trade association RenewableUK said developers’ appetite for onshore wind in England had “virtually ground to a halt” since the Conservatives under former prime minister David Cameron introduced the “ban” in 2015. It notes that only six commercial onshore wind projects in England are likely to come through the UK planning system following the relaxation of the rules. By contrast, local governments have rejected 27 commercial scale onshore wind projects, amounting to 430 megawatts (MW) of capacity, since the ban came into effect, it adds. The Daily Telegraph has developed a tool to help its readers identify if they live near one of the roughly 50 windfarms that have been proposed across England since 2015. Meanwhile, the Economist has an article titled “Britain is losing its way in cutting carbon”, which explains how this week the results of the government’s latest renewable-energy auction are due. “In contrast to previous rounds…few if any offshore wind projects [rather than onshore wind] are expected to win contracts,” it says.
In more news on the energy bill, the Press Association reports that some Conservative MPs have warned that it is a “recipe for energy disaster” that risks making customers pay more to deliver “cultish” eco-policies. The bill cleared the House of Commons – the lower house of UK parliament –  after MPs voted 280 to 19 to approve it. Nine Conservative MPs, including former business and energy secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Craig Mackinlay, chair of the climate-sceptic Net Zero Scrutiny Group, rebelled to oppose it, according to the newswire. Another Times story reports that Worcester Bosch, the UK’s biggest boiler manufacturer, has said that it will raise the price of gas boilers by as much as £300 due to the government’s proposed clean heat market mechanism to spur heat pump installations. [The company’s figures assume that, after around 55,000 heat pumps were sold last year, the market drops to zero in 2024.]
Finally, the Times reports that up to 14 new oil-and-gas fields could be given the greenlight in the North Sea next year, including the controversial Rosebank and Cambo fields, according to the consultancy Rystad Energy. This would be “the most in a decade” and “comes despite persistent warnings from the industry over negative impacts of the windfall tax”, it adds. Yet, at the same time, the Daily Telegraph covers a new report from the trade association Offshore Energies UK that warns “windfall tax and the threat of a Labour victory at the next election had seriously destabilised the industry”, with North Sea oil production “plung[ing]”.
Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi that: “I very much hope that in the COP28 coming through, US and China … would leave aside their tensions – geopolitical and economic.”, the Agence France-Presse reports. The Singapore-based Strait Times reports that, at the same “landmark” summit convened by African leaders, the US climate envoy John Kerry said that he hopes the US and China “could come together” in the fight against global warming.
Separately, the Chinese state broadcaster CGTN  writes that, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), new energy vehicles (NEVs, mainly electric cars) made up 27.6% of the market, having “entered a state of explosive growth”. The state news agency Xinhua reports carries an interview with Tesla China’s chief, who says that the company is expecting further advancements in China’s NEV market. Bloomberg writes that western automakers are “set to lose a fifth of their global market share due to the unstoppable rise of more-affordable, cheaper-to-produce Chinese electric vehicles (EVs)”, citing analysts from investment bank UBS.
In other news, Bloomberg’s “Energy Daily” newsletter says that the “health of China’s economy” will be the driving force for the APPEC annual event in Singapore, a conference for the oil and gas industry in Asia. The Conversation carries a comment by Sven Teske, research director at the University of Sydney, who writes that “getting to net-zero is not going to be the same in each country”. He highlights that “countries which have industrialised later, such as  Mexico, China, Argentina, Turkey, India and Indonesia, are sitting below their fair carbon budgets”. Finally, the state-run newspaper China Daily quotes Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, saying: “China has played a vital role in meteorology and climate-related initiatives.”
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon fell 66% in August to its lowest level for the month since 2018, according to a statement by environment minister Marina Silva reported in Reuters. The newswire described this as “a significant mark” for Brazil’s environmental policy as “destruction often spikes this time of year”. In the first eight months of the year, satellite data from the Brazilian space research agency INPE shows that deforestation has fallen a cumulative 48% from the same period of 2022, it continues. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the Brazilian government has announced that it will provide financial support to municipalities that have reduced deforestation rates the most, “in a bid to slow deforestation in the Amazon”. During the country´s Amazon Day, president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva officially recognized two Indigenous territories, “granting them legal protection as reservations to defend against invasions by illegal loggers, gold miners and cattle ranchers”, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, BBC News reports that at least 21 people have died in southern Brazil after a cyclone made landfall in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
In other news, Spanish news outlet EFEVerde reports that 88% of Latin Americans are in favour of governments applying stricter policies to address climate change, according to a survey by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The EU’s new climate chief, Wopke Hoekstra, has been given a mandate to explore carbon capture in an effort to tackle climate change, the Financial Times reports. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has written a letter to Hoekstra – a former employee of oil giant Shell – saying he should “intensify efforts” to present “an ambitious, forward looking strategy” for the technology when he takes up his role, the paper says. This comes “as the bloc countries debate whether to make allowances for the controversial technology in upcoming UN negotiations to end the use of fossil fuels”,  the article adds. It says this comes as the EU prepares to publish a roadmap for how carbon capture can be used in heavy industry, such as steel and cement making, before the end of this year.
Meanwhile, another Financial Times story quotes Belgian energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten, who states it is “absolutely necessary” that the bloc meets its goal of weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels by 2027 to prevent it “being held hostage” by Moscow.
In other news from Europe, the Associated Press reports that “at least seven” people have died after severe rainstorms triggered flooding in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. It says some areas of Greece saw 75cm of rain on Tuesday, compared with a yearly average of 40cm in the Athens region. The newswire adds: “Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis blamed both the wildfires and storms on climate change, while conceding that his centre-right government ‘clearly didn’t manage things as well as we would have liked’ on the wildfire front.”
A Times editorial considers the latest developments in UK energy policy, particularly the government’s move to loosen onshore wind permitting. It harks back to recent concerns that the Conservative government was planning to roll back its net-zero agenda. “That has not happened. [Prime minister] Rishi Sunak knows that voters are worried about climate change:…But cleaning up the economy is expensive; and that is, understandably, a concern,” it states. The editorial frames the decision to “reverse” the eight-year “moratorium” on onshore wind as an effort to walk the line between climate action and saving money, as onshore wind is so much cheaper to build than the offshore variety. It concludes: “Britain was once in the vanguard of the transition to green energy but is now lagging. If it is to regain momentum, green policies must retain popular consent. For that to happen, the expense for both individuals and the nation needs to be minimised.” Meanwhile, BusinessGreen editor James Murray is less optimistic about the current state of UK climate policy, with a piece titled: “How conflicting net-zero signals have left green businesses confused and concerned.” He says that, in fact, the “lifting” of the onshore windfarm ban will not result in many more turbines being built. Murray frames this within a broader picture that means the government is “still failing to pull many of the available levers that could curb fossil fuel imports and enhance domestic energy security. And all because a handful of Tory MPs don’t like how wind turbines look and don’t think governments should encourage people to save energy”. He adds that “the result is an absence of clear investment signals and a constantly changing patchwork of underfunded policies that make it much harder than it should be for businesses to make the long term green infrastructure investments the UK desperately needs”.
Meanwhile, in the Daily Mail, veteran climate sceptic Rupert Darwall, who has links to the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has a piece titled: “Rishi Sunak has been bullied into a catastrophic onshore wind U-turn by a cabal of rebel Tories in thrall to Europe’s eco-zealots.” He writes: “By caving in to mutineers at yesterday’s energy bill debate, the prime minister has done enormous damage both to the countryside and to Britain’s hopes of securing reliable, low-cost electricity. It is a shameful exhibition of short-term political expediency.” [In fact, onshore wind is one of the UK’s cheapest forms of power.] The Daily Telegraph has an article by energy consultant Kathryn Porter, who also has links to GWPF. She claims that parts of the US are currently experiencing blackouts because of “prematurely clos[ed]” coal, gas and nuclear power stations.
Environmental sociologist Dr Adam Standring writes in the Guardian about the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its political neutrality. He begins by praising the IPCC, and then writes: “But as climate politics has become more complex, more diverse and more pressing, the IPCC is increasingly called upon to fulfil roles not envisaged at its creation – and to which it is not well suited.” He says that with the election of a new chair, UK climate scientist Prof Jim Skea, the time is right to reassess its role and function. He lays out a variety of options, from diversifying the inputs into the IPCC to “embrac[ing] a wholly new role as an advocate for change”. He concludes: “Each scenario of the IPCC’s future contains different advantages and potential pitfalls. In the context of continuing climate-related disasters, the IPCC must first look to see whether it remains fit for purpose, whether it serves policy and public needs, and whether it is receptive to meeting new challenges rather than resting on past successes.”
A new “advanced review” considers the topic of carbon tax policy and the “moral issues” that arise over its implementation. The author “discusses the moral drivers for estimates of the social cost of carbon” and “explains how national self-interest can block climate action and suggests international policies – carbon border tax adjustments and carbon clubs – that can help address these concerns”. The paper also “introduces some of the social science literature about the political acceptability of carbon taxes before addressing a couple common public concerns about carbon taxes”. The author introduces four “carbon revenue usage options” and argues that “redistributive and climate compensation measures are most morally justified”.
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