Paris Climate Talks – Fossil Fuel Subsidies Called “Absurd”

 

 

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“A price on carbon and fossil fuel subsidies are two opposing forces.”  — Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency  Credit: IISD

At the “Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Climate Change” side event last evening a range of energy experts said continuing to pour  hundreds of billions of dollars of public money into subsidizing fossil fuels was “absurd”, “incoherent”, “unacceptable” and more.

Only 3% of Fossil Fuel Subsidies reaches the poorest 20% of households, said Felipe Calderón, Chair, Global Commission on Economy and Climate.  As often claimed these subsidies do not help poor families nor improve energy access he said.

A few more comments and some startling facts:

The carbon price in Europe is approximately US$10, yet incentives for fossil fuel use, equate to a global average of US$110 per tonne of carbon…an “absurd situation” …

— Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Association (IEA)

Each hour, US$8 million is spent on Fossil Fuel Subsidies

–Scott Vaughan, President, IISD

 Fossil Fuel Subsidies amount to five times the global annual climate finance commitment of US$100 billion.

— Børge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

…partial phase out of Fossil Fuel Subsidies would generate 12 percent of the global abatement needed by 2020 to achieve a 2ºC pathway.

— Doris Leuthard, Head, Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland

First published on the Climate News Mosaic Paris Climate Talks Live Blog available here:

Nuclear Energy and the ‘Mother of all Subsidies’

[The two year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster  is March 11. Little has changed from this 2011 article (except cleanup costs may be higher at $250 billion). Generations of Japanese taxpayers will have to cover those costs. Other countries also have liability caps which means the public provides ‘free insurance’ to the industry. As this article shows it’d be cheaper to give interest-free loans to solar or wind industry. — Stephen.]

“…it is basically insanity to shoulder the public with risk to get relatively small amount of electricity…”

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 6, 2011 (IPS)

The nuclear energy industry only exists thanks to what insurance experts call the “mother of all subsidies”, and the public is largely unaware that every nuclear power plant in the world has a strict cap on how much the industry might have to pay out in case of an accident.

In Canada, this liability cap is an astonishingly low 75 million dollars. In India, it is 110 million dollars and in Britain 220 million dollars. If there is an accident, governments – i.e. the public – are on the hook for all costs exceeding those caps.

Japan has a higher liability cap of 1.2 billion dollars, but that is not nearly enough for the estimated 25 to 150 billion dollars in decommissioning and liability costs for what is still an ongoing disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Seven weeks after the tsunami caused the disaster, radiation levels continued to spike higher.

No one knows when the reactors will finally be in cold shutdown, or when the costs of the Fukushima disaster will stop piling up. One report suggests decommissioning will take 30 years.

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Japan’s credit rating was downgraded because of the accident, noted Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy and nuclear policy analyst who has worked in Japan. “The Japanese know it’s just a matter of time before another large earthquake occurs,” Schneider told IPS.

“Japan will never build another nuclear plant.
Continue reading

Last week the Japanese govt injected $billions into Tepco, owners of the damaged Fukushima nuke plant that still poses a huge threat. Many more billions are needed to make it safe.

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 6, 2011 (IPS)

The nuclear energy industry only exists thanks to what insurance experts call the “mother of all subsidies”, and the public is largely unaware that every nuclear power plant in the world has a strict cap on how much the industry might have to pay out in case of an accident.

In Canada, this liability cap is an astonishingly low 75 million dollars. In India, it is 110 million dollars and in Britain 220 million dollars. If there is an accident, governments – i.e. the public – are on the hook for all costs exceeding those caps.

Japan has a higher liability cap of 1.2 billion dollars, but that is not nearly enough for the estimated 25 to 150 billion dollars in decommissioning and liability costs for what is still an ongoing disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Seven weeks…

View original post 913 more words

Nuclear Energy Steals Billions from Other Technologies

By Stephen Leahy*

Costs of nuclear skyrocket while costs of renewables falling quickly say energy experts

BERLIN, Jul 31, 2009 (IPS)

Why is nuclear energy back on the table?

One reason is a powerful U.S. lobby where 14 energy companies spent 48 million dollars in 2007 alone to convince American politicians to give the industry huge loan guarantees because they cannot get financing anywhere else, says Ellen Vancko, a nuclear energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based non governmental organisation (NGO).

This lavish lobbying effort by the energy and nuclear power sector has been ongoing since the mid-1990s, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a U.S. NGO and now totals at least 953 million dollars.

Even more has been spent to convince the public that nuclear is one of the keys to energy security so that there is significant public support for new reactors, a Gallup Environment Poll reported this year.

“There are lots of senators and members of congress talking about nuclear as a clean, renewable energy resource,” Vancko says.

The other reason is the French. Continue reading

Lavish US Lobbying Pushes Nuclear Energy — Taxpayers on the hook for 360 billion to 1.6 trillion dollars (again)

windmill winter poniesBy Stephen Leahy*

BERLIN, Jul 31 (IPS)

Climate change and the resulting need for low-carbon energy sources is driving the current interest in nuclear energy despite the industry’s near universal legacy of staggering cost-overruns, technical difficulties and dependence on enormous government subsidies.

Government interest in new nuclear energy plants seems far more political than practical or economic in light of the fact that Europe’s latest nuclear plant under construction in Finland is four years behind schedule and 50 to 70 percent over budget.

Any claims that nuclear is a viable low-carbon or clean energy source are negated by its extraordinary costs that have increased at least five-fold in the past decade.

Nuclear energy has always been heavily subsidised by governments around the world,” Ellen Vancko, a nuclear energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based non governmental organisation.

Under proposed U.S. legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Waxman-Markey Energy Bill), billions more dollars are headed the nuclear industry’s way in the form of research and development funding, production tax credits, and 20 billion dollars in loan guarantees.

Added to that a major push by some politicians in the U.S. Senate to dramatically expand government-backed loan guarantees to subsidise the construction of 100 new nuclear plants in the U.S. over the next 20 years, Vancko told IPS.

“The U.S. taxpayer could be on the hook for 360 billion to 1.6 trillion dollars. This potentially is as large or larger than the U.S. financial crisis,” she says. Continue reading

Massive subsidies to oil companies continue – Podcast

redeyePodcast from REDEYE RADIO:

Oil companies are some of the most profitable corporations in the world. Yet they receive between 20 and 40 billion dollars a year in subsidies, according to a report produced for the OECD by Earth Track, an independent energy information research organisation in Boston, Massachusetts.

LORRAINE CHISHOLM interviews Stephen Leahy an environmental journalist who documented these facts in a recent article. Listen to podcast

Read article: ‘Bailout’ for Oil Companies $20-40 Billion (and maybe more) every year

Speaking of subsidies, here’s my articles on ethanol and biofuels :

Quotes From Six Experts On Ethanol

Biofuels: Another Good Reason to Hate American Policy

Ethanol: The Great Big Green Fraud

Record $Financing For Biofuels, Not Food


Only Green Part of Most Biofuels is the Wealth (Subsidies) They Generate

sugar-cane-field-oz-rslpix1By Stephen Leahy

Feb 4 (IPS) – Biofuels have quickly turned from environmental saviour to just another mega-scale get-rich quick scheme. Countries and regions without their own oil reserves to tap now see their farms, peatlands and forests as potential “oil fields” — shallow but renewable lakes of green oil.

Renewable does not mean sustainable, and in most cases the only green part of biofuel is the wealth they generate.

Not surprisingly, given the record high oil prices, worldwide investment in bioenergy reached 21 billion dollars in 2007, according to the U.N. Environment Programme. The Inter-American Development Bank announced 3 billion dollars for investment in private sector biofuel projects — mainly in Brazil — while the World Bank said it had 10 billion dollars available in 2007.

Meanwhile development assistance for food-producing agriculture had fallen to 3.4 billion dollars in 2004 — with the World Bank’s share less than 1 billion dollars, according to the Bank’s own World Development Report on Agriculture released in October 2007. And most of this financial assistance was spent on subsidising use of chemical fertilisers. Continue reading