MAC: Mines and Communities

A very mixed climate for change

Published by MAC on 2015-05-25
Source: Statements, Climate Spectator, PlanetArk (2015-05-22)

* Thirty two companies are responsibile for nearly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

That's the conclusion reached by Thomson Reuters and BSD Consulting based on new research.

Russian giant, Gazprom leads the way, followed by Coal India. Then comes a slew of private enterprises, headed by UK-listed Gencore.

* Nine leading Australian professors have released an Open Letter directed at global banks, asking them not to play any part in financing one of the world's biggest proposed integrated coal projects.

The Galilee Basin mine-transport-export scheme in Queensland has already seen nearly a dozen commercial banks refuse to participate in backing the project, whose prime movers are India's Adani Enterprises and its partner, GVK.

Two months ago, according to World Coal magazine (April 2015) India's own State Bank declined to grant US$1 billion towards the minimal US$13 billion required for the project.

Nonetheless, as France' Credit Agricole (Calyon) also announced it was withdrawing investment from coal, London-based Standard Chartered bank said it was still standing behind the Galillee project.

* At first sight it seems highly unlikely - to say the least - that one of the world's biggest oil exporters is seriously contemplating an abandoment of fossil fuels in favour of solar power.

But that's not exactly what the Saudi oil minister has promised, since he hedges some recent remarks with a statement that this would "possibly" occur "around 2040-2050" - thus not any time soon.

32 companies responsible for 31% of global emissions

John Conroy

Climate Spectator

22 May 2015

Just 32 companies are responsible for 31% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, with their emissions rising 1.3% from 2010-2013, Reuters
reports.

According to the news service, at 1.26bn tonnes a year Russia's Gazprom is the biggest emitter with Coal India second, at 820mT, ahead of miner and energy trader Glencore, PetroChina, Russian oil firm Rosneft, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil.

The figures compiled by Thomson Reuters and BSD Consulting take into account the burning of all coal, oil and gas the companies produce, a change to usual carbon reporting guidelines which exclude emissions from the use of a company's products, Reuters said.

"This is not a naming and shaming exercise," the authors wrote in the report. "These are all companies that provide vital energy services to the global economy."

"They are also the companies that can provide the leadership for the next generation of low-carbon energy and or respond to the leadership from competitors, regulators or consumers.

Meanwhile, Glencore's chair says rich countries must do more to help developing countries industrialise in a more decarbonised manner.

"Rich countries need to support India's energy transition. We are asking them to pay more for their energy than they would otherwise have to because of what we have done in the past 50 years," Tony Hayward said, according to Reuters.

"...Unless what we deploy allows China and India to complete their industrialization in a different way than we industrialised, we are simply shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic," saying the world was still building conventional coal-fired power stations when more emissions-efficient models existed.


An open letter from Australian scientists to the world’s banks regarding investments in the Galilee Basin

Australian scientists

22 May 2015

We the undersigned call on banks and other financial institutions to desist from providing funding and financial services to all fossil fuel developments in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Development of the coal reserves of the basin would occur at a time when the world is beginning to shift away from fossil fuels in an attempt to avoid dangerous changes in the global climate system.

Based on current greenhouse gas emission trajectories, global average temperatures are on track to exceed 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, and may eventually increase to 6 degrees or more. The anticipated impacts of a 4 to 6-degree increase on the climate are disastrous by any measure. The development of the Galilee Basin would play a major part in widespread suffering over a century time scale and beyond.

– Millions of people will suffer, die and be displaced as a result of extreme heat waves, sea-level rise as much as 100cm by 2100 with continuing large rates of rise, and by more severe storms, droughts and floods.

– Much of the globe’s biodiversity will be affected, with the expected extinction of more than 1 million species by 2050 and the decimation of nearly all coral reefs by 2100.

– Natural feedback processes in the climate system, such as more greenhouse gas emissions from dying vegetation, methane releases from melting permafrost, and declining carbon absorption from warmer oceans, may lead to warming that is beyond human control.

– In addition to its role in warming the globe, the mining and burning of coal is known to have severe impacts on the health of miners, workers and local communities.

If global temperature increases are to be kept within 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels, around 80% of the world’s coal reserves must be left in the ground – 90% in Australia’s case. Limiting warming to 2 degrees is official policy of the Australian government, yet plans are being made to open up one of the biggest coal reserves in the world in the Galilee Basin. We draw your attention to several important facts about the Galilee Basin.

The coal reserves of the basin, predominantly thermal coal, are estimated to total tens of billions of tonnes.

At peak production, the nine proposed projects in the Galilee Basin would extract 330 million tonnes of coal each year, resulting in 705 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, more than the current carbon dioxide emissions of Australia or the United Kingdom.

The likely first mine would be dug by Adani Enterprises’ Carmichael Coal Mines and Rail Project. Producing 60 million tonnes of coal each year at peak production, the project would be the biggest ever seen in Australia. Covering a huge area of 28,000 hectares, the mine would be seven times bigger than Sydney Harbour.

In addition to its enduring damage to the world’s climate system, the Carmichael mine would see millions of cubic metres of sea-bed dredged up from inside the World Heritage Area to make way for more coal ships and a port dredging and additional port expansion would be detrimental to the reef not least because much higher sea traffic would pose serious risks of ship groundings and spills.

The Carmichael mine would require 12 billion litres of water each year from local rivers and underground aquifers, enough drinking water for every Queenslander for three years. Even 10km away, water tables are expected to drop by over 1m.

The cumulative regional impacts of Galilee Basin exploitation – dredging, increased shipping, coal dust from mining – pose a severe threat to the outstanding universal value of the reef.

Projects such as the Carmichael Mine would not be able to achieve financial closure without the support of banks to both finance and advise on its construction. Banking institutions are therefore in a unique position to influence decisions vital to the future health of the planet and its peoples. Consistent with the guidelines for responsible investing embodied in the Equator Principles, banks have a responsibility to consider the suffering and irreversible damage to Earth systems that the opening up of the Galilee Basin would help bring about.

We call on banks and other financial institutions to play no part in facilitating the development of the Galilee Basin. Eleven international banks including BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole have already committed not to finance coal mining in the Galilee Basin and any of the related infrastructure, due to its environmental harms. We commend them for taking an ethical stance and strongly urge all banks and financial institutions to follow their lead.

Signatories

Professor David Karoly, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Melbourne

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland

Professor Matthew England, FAA, ARC Laureate Fellow, Deputy Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales

Emeritus Professor Ann Henderson-Sellers, Macquarie University

Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology, Macquarie University

Professor Will Steffen, Adjunct Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University

Professor Peter Doherty, AC, FAA, FRS, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne, Nobel Laureate and former Australian of the Year

Professor Fiona Stanley AC, FAA, FASSA, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Western Australia and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne, and former Australian of the Year

Professor Michael Archer, AM, FAA, DistFRSN, FRZSNSW, FACE, FWAAS, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales


Crédit Agricole announces end to global coal mining finance at AGM

Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack press release

20 May 2015

Paris - Crédit Agricole announced today at its annual general meeting in Lille that it is ending its multi-million euro funding for coal mining projects and companies. Less than seven months before the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris (COP 21), Crédit Agricole has become the second major bank in the world – after Bank of America [1] – to cut its funding for the coal mining sector. Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack have welcomed this step forward and now call on Crédit Agricole to deliver in full for the climate by signing the 'Paris Pledge' and thus end completely the bank's support to the coal industry.

Lucie Pinson, private finance campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, commented:
"Following its recent commitment not to finance the Galilee Basin mining projects in Australia [2], Crédit Agricole now seems on track to establish itself as a leader in the financial sector when it comes to climate policy. The bank's response to our questioning today was certainly more convincing than the responses we've had from Société Générale [3] or BNP Paribas [4] at their recent AGMs."

"By pulling out of coal mining, Crédit Agricole is acknowledging that we must leave 80% of our coal reserves in the ground if we're to keep global warming below 2°C."

Paul Corbit Brown, from the US organisation Keepers of the Mountains and present at the Crédit Agricole AGM today to ask the bank to decisively end its support for the barbaric mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining technique used in the Appalachian mountains, said:

"Crédit Agricole is going even further than Bank of America with its recent announcement that it will reduce but not end its investments in coal mining. Notable too is that Crédit Agricole's commitment covers much of its financial support, including finance for projects, for companies and underwriting services."

Crédit Agricole had previously announced in 2013 an end to its MTR financing , yet it had remained involved in the financing of the most active MTR companies via its underwriting services. [5]

While campaigners welcomed Crédit Agricole's announcement today, they also pointed out its limitations. One principal drawback is that the new Crédit Agricole policy applies only to companies that are focused specifically on coal extraction. Therefore the bank can continue to finance coal extraction via support for multi-nationals such as BHP Billiton, Glencore or Anglo American. A further caveat is that Crédit Agricole has announced nothing concerning its financing of coal power plant projects and producers of electricity derived from coal, a sector that the bank supported with more than 4.7 billion euros between 2005 and April 2014. [6]

Thomas Mnguni, a South African who attended today's AGM to inform Crédit Agricole that coal is an obsolete energy form both in the north and the south, commented:
"You can't talk about 'small support' or projects with 'minor impacts' when you talk about coal. Whether it's extraction or combustion in power plants, coal destroys the climate and the livelihoods of entire communities. In 2009, Crédit Agricole participated in the financing of the massive Medupi and Kusile coal plant projects in South Africa which have only reinforced inequality in the country. Today I asked Crédit Agricole to refrain from making the same mistake and to commit to not provide finance for new coal plants, in particular for the Thabametsi plant being developed by Engie in South Africa. Instead, as South Africa has one of the best potentials for renewable energy in the world, the bank should be supporting this sector's development."

Yann Louvel, BankTrack's Climate and Energy coordinator, said:
"After ten years of campaigning from Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack, we welcome this breakthrough from Crédit Agricole. We now call on the bank to go further by signing the Paris Pledge [7] and ending its support for the coal sector completely. This should start with Crédit Agricole pulling out of the Plomin C coal plant project in Croatia and extend to no future financing of any coal plant. The bank now has seven months to quit coal."

Notes for editors:

1. Bank of America announced on May 6 this year that its updated coal policy now includes a commitment to reduce its lending to coal mining companies worldwide. See Rainforest Action Network's press release.

2. At the end of March this year, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale committed to not finance coal mining projects and associated infrastructure in the Galilee Basin, the second biggest zone for potential coal development in the world. See our press release.

3. New briefings describing the coal financing of BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale are available at:

BNP Paribas briefing http://bit.ly/1R37BY5
Crédit Agricole briefing http://bit.ly/1KjCUgn
Société Générale briefing http://bit.ly/1cOLju2

4. See the reaction from Friends of the Earth France and BankTrack to the recent BNP Paribas AGM.

5. See the Friends of the Earth Article 'A policy to end MTR? Crédit Agricole makes us mad!'

6. According to the 'Banking on Coal 2014' report from BankTrack, published in October 2014, and available at.

7. See this page for more details about the Paris Pledge.

For further inquiries and interview requests, please contact:
Lucie Pinson – Les Amis de la Terre – lucie.pinson[at]amisdelaterre.org
Yann Louvel – BankTrack – yann[at]banktrack.org


Greenpeace activists protest Standard Chartered’s role in Reef wrecking coal mine

Greenpeace press release

6 May 2015

Hong Kong - Twenty Greenpeace Hong Kong activists took action at Standard Chartered’s Hong Kong headquarters today, just hours before the company’s annual general meeting in London, urging the bank to end its association with one of the world’s largest coal mines threatening the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. Activists displayed a stair banner using a dead fish in a new spin on the bank’s logo in front of the building.

“Scientists have long warned that coal expansion is not compatible with a healthy reef and climate change is the greatest long-term threat to one of the world’s great natural wonders. Standard Chartered must live up to its own sustainability policies and follow other global banks that are distancing themselves from this destructive mega coal mine,” said Greenpeace’s Senior Business Advisor Elsa Lee.

“Besides the obvious environmental problems arising from the Carmichael mine, the financial advisory role that Standard Chartered is playing for the project carries massive economic and reputational risks for the bank and its shareholders. This issue ought to be on top of Mr Bill Winters agenda as he gets ready to take the top job at Standard Chartered later this month.”

Standard Chartered is currently advising the coal miner Adani, which plans to develop the Carmichael mine in Australia and expand the Abbot Point coal port in north-east Australia by dredging up millions of tonnes of seafloor in the World Heritage Area. The expanded port would also send hundreds of extra coal ships through the Reef, increasing the risk of accidents and oil spills.

The World Heritage site is already under enormous threat from climate change and any additional coal industry project along the Great Barrier Reef will significantly contribute to its decline and negatively impact on the health of its precious underwater ecosystem.

“There is growing concern about the future of coal and smart money is pulling out of the sector to avoid their capital from becoming stranded. Only short-sighted banks and investors would continue to turn a blind eye to the risks of continued fossil fuel extraction,” said Elsa Lee.

Indeed, 11 international banks, including Standard Chartered’s competitor HSBC and Morgan Stanley have publicly stated that they will not finance the Carmichael coal mine if they were asked to.

The annual general meeting of Standard Chartered will take place in London later today, where shareholders of the bank will meet with top management to discuss the bank’s performance.

Photo link: http://bit.ly/reef-action

The 11 international banks include Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Citi Group, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and Barclays.

For further inquiries and interview requests, please contact:
Elsa Lee, Greenpeace Senior Business Advisor
Email: else.lee[at]greenpeace.org

Polly Wong, Greenpeace Communications Officer
Email: polly.wong[at]greenpeace.org


Saudi oil minister: 'Fossil fuels doomed, we're switching to solar

John Conroy

Climate Spectator

22 May 2015

Saudi Arabia's oil minister has said the country will switch its energy focus to solar power as the nation envisages an end to fossil fuels, possibly around 2040-2050, Reuters reports.

"In Saudi Arabia, we recognise that eventually, one of these days, we are not going to need fossil fuels, I don't know when, in 2040, 2050... so we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy," Ali Al-Naimi told a business and climate conference in Paris, the news service reports.

"Hopefully, one of these days, instead of exporting fossil fuels, we will be exporting gigawatts, electric ones. Does that sound good?"

Reuters reports that the minster added that he still expected the world's energy mix to be dominated by fossil fuels in the near future.

The Boston Globe adds that the minister said oil prices as low as $US30-$40 a barrel would not make solar power uneconomic.


Investment fund CEOs call for long-term greenhouse gas cuts

Alister Doyle

PlanetArk

27 May 2015

Olso - Some of the world's biggest investment funds urged the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Tuesday to commit to a long-term goal to cut world greenhouse gas emissions as part of a U.N. climate deal due to be agreed in December.

Cuts in emissions would give investors more certainty, promote research and development and new technologies, and help create jobs, fund chiefs said.

"We believe climate change is one of the biggest systemic risks we face," the fund managers, who oversee more than $12 trillion in assets, said in an open letter to G7 finance ministers. The letter was signed by 120 CEOs of investment funds, including Henderson Global Investors, Schroders and pension plans for French civil servants and Ontario teachers.

"The benefits of addressing climate change outweigh the costs," they said.

The letter was sent ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Dresden, Germany, on Wednesday. Last week top European companies also urged governments to set a goal for slashing greenhouse emissions, saying that going green can bring profits rather than costs.

Senior officials from nearly 200 nations will attend a United Nations' conference in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to try to nail down an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, after talks collapsed at the last minute at the last global climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

The fund managers did not specify an exact goal but said the cuts should ensure that average global temperatures rise by less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrialized levels in the 19th century, a U.N. target adopted in 2010.

"We believe that a long-term emissions reduction goal, carbon pricing, and strong national-level plans are critical to send clear market signals," Anne Stausboll, CEO of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), said in a statement.

"The world needs $53 trillion of energy investment by 2035 to avoid dangerous climate change," said Philippe Desfosses, head of ERAFP, the pension fund for French civil servants. "A low-carbon future is an imperative."

Studies by the U.N. panel of climate scientists suggest that world emissions will have to fall to net zero by 2100 to avert the worst of rising temperatures, such as more floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

Net zero means that any lingering emissions of greenhouse gases would be offset, for instance by planting trees that soak up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow or by yet-to-be-developed technologies to extract emissions from the atmosphere.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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