Banks Decide for Themselves How Net-Zero Works in Carney’s $130-Trillion Alliance

November 3, 2021: UN climate finance envoy Mark Carney’s Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero only brought together a highly-touted US$130 trillion in global financial clout over 30 years by assuring participating institutions they could set their own pathways to achieving net-zero, with or without a commitment to end fossil fuel investment, then counting on sustained public attention to keep them on track.

The rules guiding the formation of the Glasgow Financial Alliance (GFANZ) make no explicit mention of a fossil investment phaseout “because the rules are outcome-specific rather than process-specific,” a spokesperson told The Mix. “The overall commitment is to reduce your emissions in line with a 1.5°C trajectory, and it’s up to individual banks to do that.” But “there’s not a rule about fossil fuel financing because it’s up to individual banks how to get to that trajectory.”

At a news conference Wednesday morning organized by Climate Action Network-International, a panelist said some GFANZ signatories had approved new fossil fuel investments since joining the alliance.

The alliance spokesperson said the initiative’s underlying assumption is that “no one knows a bank’s portfolio like they do.” It’s also been “really tricky to get these banks onboard,” he told The Mix, with key decision-makers within major financial institutions worried about their fiduciary duty and responsibility to shareholders.

That cautious, incremental tone was nowhere to be found in the triumphant announcements that marked yesterday’s Finance Day sessions at COP 26. 

“Today,” GFANZ said in a release, “over US$130 trillion of private capital is committed to transforming the economy for net zero. These commitments, from over 450 firms across 45 countries, can deliver the estimated $100 trillion of finance needed for net-zero over the next three decades.”

“It’s a mammoth transition,” Carney, a former governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of Canada, told CBC in Glasgow. “We have banks, asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies from around the world,” so “one of the key messages of this COP is: the money is there.”

Last week, Carney had joined GFANZ co-chair and billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg in an op ed that spotlighted the scope of the challenge. “Ramping up adoption of clean energy and other sustainable infrastructure fast enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change will require trillions of dollars in new investment—likely in the ballpark of $100 trillion,” they wrote. “Most of that will have to come from the private sector, especially after the enormous toll that the pandemic has taken on governmental budgets.”

But the GFANZ release said that work is already in motion. “Firms are turning ambition into action that will align their portfolios with 1.5°C,” with more than 90 of the alliance’s founding members—including 29 asset owners and 43 asset management firms—already committed to 2025 or 2030 emission reduction targets. The spokesperson said new members of the alliance get 12 to 18 months to set their initial emission goals, with the expectation that they’ll continue ratcheting those targets down in five-year increments.

“To support the deployment of this capital, the global financial system is being transformed through 24 major initiatives for COP 26 that have been delivered for the summit,” the release added. “This work has significantly strengthened the information, the tools, and the markets needed for the financial system to support the transformation of the global economy for net-zero.”

But the results of all that activity will still depend on decisions by each individual GFANZ member. Under the alliance rules, “each institution will find the proper way forward, rather than trying to fit into a common standard,” the spokesperson said. After that, the purpose of the public accountability process built into the GFANZ mandate “is that their progress is there for the world to see.”

The spokesperson acknowledged that approach could put a lot of pressure on financial institutions that are searching for reliable guidance, at a time when fossil companies are reassuring them about unproven carbon capture technologies that ultimately delay clean energy investments and distract from ever-louder calls to rapidly phase down fossil fuels. “That’s a really good question,” he said, but alliance organizers ultimately opted to “give them an outcome to deliver on, and be scrutinized for it.”

Alliance members will have access to an advisory board that provides “independent perspectives” on net-zero pathways, including a wide variety of environmental non-profits, the spokesperson added.

And none too soon, with Bloomberg Green warning yesterday that the bankers committing to net-zero targets don’t agree on what the concept means.

“‘Net-zero’ has quickly become part of the lexicon on Wall Street and in the City of London, but there’s no consensus on what it means, laying the foundation for misrepresentation and confusion,” writes Bloomberg reporter Alastair Marsh. The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), itself a target of concerns about standard-setting and potential greenwash, “published a report on Wednesday aimed at providing a foundation for reaching consensus,” Marsh writes, but it’s just a first step in developing a “science-based net-zero standard” for financial institutions.

That work matters because the “lack of consistent principles, definitions, metrics, and evidence of effective strategies to meet the targets limits the ability of financial institutions to support the reduction of emissions in the real economy that is needed to stabilize temperatures at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” the SBTi report said.

The inconsistency around what net-zero even means “allows for financial institutions to claim they are doing more than they are and makes verification of any claims impossible,” said SBTi technical director and founding partner Cynthia Cummis.

Some of those concerns were at play in the skeptical response the GFANZ announcement received from some of the civil society groups monitoring the talks. A release from Global Witness cited its own recent report that showed global banks and investors pocketing US$1.74 billion in income from agribusiness investments.

“Banks and financiers are the lifeblood of the fossil fuel companies and destructive agribusinesses fuelling the climate crisis—so it’s right that focus should be on them at COP 26,” said Veronica Oakeshott, the organization’s head of forests policy and advocacy. “However, today’s announcement by banks risks amounting to more greenwashing if it’s not legally binding.”

“Global leaders can no longer trust financial institutions to regulate themselves,” Oakeshott added. “Banks will not stop funding deforestation unless there is strong and binding legislation that makes it illegal for them to do so.”

A report released this week by Reclaim Finance criticized the Carney initiative for failing to address fossil fuel expansion or drive reductions in absolute emissions. “Employing weak metrics, ducking the hard questions of offsets and absolute emissions, and resolutely ignoring the elephant in the room that is fossil fuels, these financial alliances are failing to address the urgency of the climate crisis,” said Senior Analyst Patrick McCully. “If this really is the ‘finance COP’, Mark Carney & Co. need to lead from the front.”

“This announcement yet again ignores the biggest elephant in the room, fossil fuel companies,” added Stand.earth Climate Finance Director Richard Brooks. “There is no mention of the ‘F words’ at all in this new declaration from the net-zero clubs. We ca not keep under 1.5° if financial institutions don’t stop funding coal, oil, and gas companies particularly those actively applying for and building new fossil fuel infrastructure like coal mines, tar sands pipelines, and deep sea drilling.”

Billionaire e-commerce operator, philanthropist, and space travel hobbyist Jeff Bezos also came in criticism after committing $2 billion for nature restoration. “A billionaire addresses a climate change conference on his self-funded space flight as representatives from sinking countries look on is not a thing I thought I’d write this week #COP26,” tweeted Agence France-Presse correspondent Patrick Galey.

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‘Fantasy PowerPoint Designs’ Won’t Deliver Nuclear Power in Time to Solve Climate Change

October 7, 2021: Governments have no time to waste on “fantasy PowerPoint designs” of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) that could never be built in time to save humanity from the climate crisis, said the author of an annual status report on the world nuclear industry.

Mycle Schneider said the governments of Britain, Canada, China, Russia and the United States are wasting time and money on plans for these reactors when affordable renewable energy solutions to the climate crisis are readily available.

“There is no SMR promoter suggesting a prototype could be licenced, built, and operating by the end of this decade,” he told a webinar this week hosted by the University of British Columbia. “That means—if ever, likely not—a commercialization could start only in the second half of the 2030s. That said, the industry has never kept its promises on schedules and budgets. We have no time, money, and brainpower to waste on fantasy PowerPoint designs.”

Professor MV Ramana, director of UBC’s Liu Centre for Global Issues, said a whole load of “rich people” including philanthropist Bill Gates have spent millions of dollars and more than a decade developing silver bullet nuclear solutions that have made little or no progress.

“It is as if they can wave a magic wand and solve the problem,” he said. “In fact, they are just buying time to keep the existing system going a little longer.”

Ramana added paper designs are cheap until they’re actually being built. The word modular was to describe a reactor whose costs could be controlled by building parts in a factory and then assembling them on site, like Lego. That idea echoed claims for previous US reactors that “could be built in 36 months,” but in reality took much longer. The average construction time for new reactors was 10 years after the first concrete had been poured, not including planning and licencing processes which took much longer.

The symposium followed the publication of Schneider’s World Nuclear Status Report 2021 [pdf], which shows a dramatic drop in the amount of electricity generated from nuclear energy in 2021. This was partly down to the COVID pandemic creating difficulties in maintaining nuclear facilities because of staff overcrowding, but also reflected aging reactors needing much longer outages for repairs than originally planned.

The report documents a dramatic reduction in output in France, where the average age of reactors is 35.6. In the United States, they are even older, at 40.2 years. Excluding China, nuclear power generation dropped to its lowest level since 1995, and in France to 1985. China has now become the second-largest producer of nuclear energy in the world, after the United States, with France dropping into third place.

The report emphasizes the need to look at nuclear power over a long period. The two decades from 2001 to 2020 saw 95 reactors start up and 98 shut down in the world. As there were 47 start-ups and no closures in China over the period, the 98 closures outside China were only matched by 48 start-ups, a drastic decline of 50 units.

Despite this clear evidence that the nuclear industry is in decline, newspapers all over Europe and the United States have been full of articles about the bright prospects of SMRs to solve the climate crisis.

This “power of promise” was offered against the background of higher gas and oil prices, which appeared to make nuclear power more economic.

But Schneider, lead author of the report, said the media reports were “giving the impression of a vibrant industry with great prospects which had nothing to do with the deep reality of what was happening on the ground.”

The fact is that large reactors have failed and become irrelevant in the fight against climate change, he said. Instead, they have been replaced by ideas of fantasy reactors that are cheap to build, produce little or no waste, or in some cases even eat waste. He said the nuclear industry is clutching at SMRs as a drowning person might clutch at a straw.

“It is a new way to cash in subsidies, and then ask for handouts to keep non-economic reactors operating—all for the climate, of course,” he said. But “small modular reactors would never be ready in time to make a difference to the climate crisis. Even if they worked, it would take centuries to build enough to make a difference.”

Rare Pacific Footballfish Washes Up on California Beach for Third Time This Year

For the third time this year, a rare deep-sea fish has washed up on a California beach.

The Pacific footballfish, one of the largest species of anglerfish, was found on Swami’s Beach in Encinitas in San Diego County on December 10, CBSLA reported. Lifeguards alerted scientists, who took it to be studied at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


“The fact that a few washed up this year might just be serendipity for us,” Ben Frable, an ichthyologist and the Collection Manager of Fishes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told The Guardian.

Pacific footballfish usually live thousands of feet below the ocean and, like other anglerfish, are known for using a bioluminescent bulb that hangs from their heads to attract prey. Only the females use this novel technique, however; male anglerfish attach themselves to their mates and lose all of their internal organs including their eyes. Anglerfish gained above-sea fame in the Pixar movie Finding Nemo.

“So if you’ve seen ‘Finding Nemo,’ this is portrayed in ‘Finding Nemo’ where Dory sees a very beautiful light, swims to it, it’s a giant anglerfish, very scary, they almost get eaten,” Frable told CBSLA.

This particular Pacific footballfish is a mature female nearly 13 inches long and 5.5 pounds, according to Scripps. Only 31 specimens of this fish have ever been collected, but the strange thing is that two of those collections occurred in California this year.

In May, one of these rare fish washed up along Crystal Cove State Park and eventually ended up displayed at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, CBSLA reported. Another was photographed on San Diego County’s Black’s Beach November 13, but was never collected.

“Experts don’t have any evidence to theorize why several deep-sea fish have washed ashore recently, but are interested in learning more about the specimens that have been collected, as well as any new ones that might wash up,” Scripps tweeted.

However, Frable told The Guardian that he didn’t think the finds were a sign that anything was wrong, because then many more would be showing up dead. Instead, he saw the occurrence as a chance to learn more about a rare and unusual species.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about this species in general,” he said. “It is exactly the type of thing we want to put on display so people can see it and learn about the world around them and about the strange creatures that are in their own backyard.”

Behind Manchin’s Opposition, a Long History of Fighting Climate Measures

Senator Joe Manchin III noted climate policy when he said he would vote against the Build Back Better Act. In his life and career, West Virginia coal has loomed large.
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60 Minutes on Kentucky’s Tornado “Beast”

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Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art


Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art

Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCLer Peterson Toscano. Browse all our past episode recaps here, or listen to past episodes here, and check out the latest episode in the post below. 

How can we help the public embrace the science that reveals our climate has been changing dramatically and very quickly? And more than that, how do we make them feel and experience the data so profoundly that it causes them to respond? 

These are the questions UK-born artist Caroline Roberts brings to this month’s episode of Citizens’ Climate Radio, and to her art installation, the present of my life looks different under trees. This piece is an immersive installation of cyanotypes that has been exhibited at BOX13 ArtSpace and HCC Southwest in Houston, TX.

Originally from the UK, Caroline moved to Houston, Texas, 18 years ago. She explains that a story about drowned forest thousands of years ago in the UK, along with recent flooding in her city, inspires and informs her artistic work. 

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art

“The installation consists of 60 11-feet high panels, each one representing a year of Houston weather data and encircling the Back BOX like a grove of trees. Each varies in width based on the rainfall intensity, as measured by the number of days on which the total rainfall was greater than three inches: the point at which street flooding occurs. The panel color, from ice-blue to blue-black, represents the average nighttime temperature for that year. At first glance the immersive nature of this cyanotype installation provides a cool environment as Houston temperatures fall into autumn. However, a closer look gives the bigger picture: more shocking than any graph, this forest-like environment shows the story of rising temperatures and intensifying rain events.”

While Caroline started her career as a chemical engineer with the faith that science would save the environment, she soon realized that many fields and talents could contribute to environmental advocacy. Caroline has always relied on science, and after crunching the numbers about the future of the country’s coastline due to climate-related flooding, she found herself in a state of horror and shock for weeks.

Caroline wanted people’s jaws to drop when they saw her art, which visualizes the overwhelming information she has seen predicted for the near future. As environmental conditions over time have grown worse, her installation’s fabric coincides, growing heavy and darker and colder as the fabric winds through history and to the present.

Caroline says that viewers were “gobsmacked” by her forest of fabric, and hopes that all who see her piece will contemplate the view of their own life under trees.

Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art

For more information on the data behind this installation please continue to the story and data page.

Listen Now!

The Art House

For this month’s segment, you will hear a dramatic reading of Kamil Haque’s play, “Confessions of the Little Match Girl to the Star.” Kamil explains that in creating this piece, he chose to fracture a fairy tale, a nursery rhyme and the calling out to one’s “mama.” These common symbols of innocence form the spine of the play. 

To create the heart and soul of this piece, Kamil examined and extracted pieces from the transcripts of Greta Thunberg’s 2019 U.N.’s Climate Action Summit and George Floyd’s final moments in 2020. Through these channels he explores how two people on opposite ends of the age and racial spectrum express grief and anguish at their circumstances. How might their spirit and the spirit of their message live on literally and metaphorically?

“Confessions of the Little Match Girl to the Star” was performed at The BTS Center’s Climate Change Theatre Action 2021 event. It is read by Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, a public health expert and the chair of Citizens’ Climate Education board. 

You can hear standalone versions of The Art House at Artists and Climate Change.

Good News Report

Our good news story this month comes from Solemi Herandez, the Southeast coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She tells us about her experiences at COP26 and shares good news about Climate Empowerment Article 12 of the Paris agreement. Solemi is hopeful for the future because of the involvement that she saw at COP26, and is hoping that more citizens will get engaged in climate work. 

We always welcome your thoughts, questions, suggestions, good news, and recommendations for the show. Leave a voice mail at (518) 595-9414 (+1 if calling from outside the USA). You can email your answers to radio @ citizensclimate.org.  

You can hear Citizens’ Climate Radio on:

Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.

The post Citizens’ Climate Radio Ep. 67: Experiencing climate data through art appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

U.S. Raises Targets For Fuel Efficiency

The Biden administration raised fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks, saying the new standards will reduce pollution and save consumers billions of dollars at the gas pump.

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CCL pushes to keep climate in center of ongoing Build Back Better negotiations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CCL pushes to keep climate in center of ongoing Build Back Better negotiations

Dec. 20, 2021 – In a statement yesterday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) indicated he “cannot move forward” with the Build Back Better Act. But today, Majority Leader Schumer announced that the Senate will hold a vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act “very early in the new year.” Citizens’ Climate Lobby will continue to push hard to keep climate a central issue in the negotiations and for a carbon price to be added to the legislation.

One of Sen. Manchin’s reasons for not supporting the legislation was that “the energy transition [his] colleagues seek is already well underway in the United States of America.” Though the energy transition is underway, it is not moving nearly fast enough to protect Americans from the worst impacts of climate change.

President Biden pledged to the world that America will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030. CCL VP of Government Affairs Dr. Danny Richter said, “Without climate policies like those in the Build Back Better Act and a robust price on carbon, we will fall short of that critical goal. Our lawmakers must continue to try to reach agreement on these policies.”

Many Democratic Senators are publicly reiterating their commitment to ongoing negotiations and the importance of climate policies. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told CNN, “The planet is not going to pause its warming process while we sort our politics out. We owe it to future generations to figure out what can pass, and pass it.” Sen. Martin Heinrich said on Twitter, “No one will stop me from taking action on the climate crisis. […] Our President and many Democrats in Congress […] are more motivated than ever. Let’s stay fired up and find our opportunities for change.”

They’re right. No matter where political negotiations stand, the stability of our climate should not be a bargaining chip.

Majority Leader Schumer seems to agree. His statement today acknowledged that “our planet is warming so fast that extreme weather disasters are now commonplace in America and across the world.” He said clearly, “We were elected to address these many needs and we will not stop fighting until we do.”

CCL President Madeleine Para said, “When Congress returns in January, Citizens’ Climate Lobby will advocate for climate policies to be a centerpiece of whatever reconciliation package continues to be debated, and for inclusion of a carbon price. We will remind Congress and the White House of President Biden’s commitment to reduce emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and we will continue trying to get Republicans to walk faster toward climate action.”

Americans across the country are more concerned about climate change than they’ve ever been. Our grassroots organization is working to make sure every member of Congress understands this concern and shares their constituents’ sense of urgency to solve the problem.

Para added, “No matter what, this one particular bill is not the end for action on climate. It is part of an ongoing effort to enact policies that will ensure we return to a healthy climate.”

CONTACT: CCL Communications Director Flannery Winchester, 615-337-3642, *protected email*

The post CCL pushes to keep climate in center of ongoing Build Back Better negotiations appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Turkey’s Borrowing Costs Soar as Crisis Enters New Phase

The lira’s dizzying fall is amplifying concerns among investors and economists that Turkey’s heavily dollarized financial system could be headed for a banking crisis. The currency has lost more than half its value this year, wiping out much of Turks’ savings and triggering sporadic protests.

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Davos Economic Forum Is Postponed as Omicron Leads to More Cancellations, Travel Bans

As the Covid-19 variant spreads, Israel is set to bar its citizens from traveling to the U.S. and Canada and the World Economic Forum said it would postpone next month’s annual meeting for the second successive year.

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