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The accounting profession is failing us all on climate change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 5:46pm in

Tags 

Environment

The FT has this to say this morning:

The research is by Carbon Tracker and I cannot, as yet, find it on their site, but I have previously discussed it with them.

The message is clear and is summarised in a chart by Carbon Tracker:

Companies are issuing misleading accounts when it comes to climate change.

An announcement a few days ago from the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) makes it clear that there is absolutely no intention to address this as yet by making it clear it is leaving all decision making to companies and their auditors for the time being.

The result is that on this biggest issue of our time the accounting profession is ducking out of responsibility despite having demanded the right to set accosting standards for the world. The similarity with its approach to tax and country-by-country reporting, where alternatives approaches have had to be taken to get the standard that is needed, cannot be avoided.

My resolve to work to deliver sustainable cost accounting increases.

IFAC said it in its statement:

Professional accountants have a critical role in

  1. Aligning and integrating climate-related information and disclosures with company climate commitments, targets, and strategic decisions.

  2. Quantifying, wherever appropriate, financial impacts of climate issues.

  3. Ensuring climate-related reporting complies with reporting requirements without material omissions or misstatements, based on a company-specific materiality determination.

  4. Supporting global initiatives to enhance climate and broader sustainability-related reporting through standards set by a new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) that will address material impacts on a company’s enterprise value.

I agree with the first three.

I am quite sure that the ISSB is not going to deliver the required standards, precisely because it is being set up in a fashion that ensures that its reporting does not overlap with that required in the numbers in financial statements.

The evidence shows that IFAC and the accounting profession are failing. There is a lot to do to address that failing. It’s time accountants joined in.

The fictional markets in environmental assets that the financiers are dreaming up are not going to solve the climate crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 5:18pm in

One of the features of sustainable cost accounting that its critics are not to keen on is my suggestion that offsetting not be permitted within a company’s plans to become net zero carbon unless it actually already has ownership of the assets that will be required for that offset to take place.

There was good reason for this suggestion, which is that I believe that the cost of offsetting will increase considerably as all those who say they are going to use it realise that there is a world shortage of assets to make that offset possible.

As if evidence of my belief was required take this from the FT this morning:

It is already the case that the financial services sector is piling in to make money out of offset. And since scarcity will pay them rich rewards you can be sure that they are going to restrict supply. In that case assuming the availability of offset opportunities when suggesting a route to net zero is naive at best, and profoundly misleading at worst.

We have to get to net zero by eliminating emissions - not by pretending we have, or worse still by trading them. The fictional markets in environmental assets that the financiers are dreaming up are not going to solve the climate crisis.

Meet the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Soccer Club

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 6:00pm in

The initial reaction among soccer fans to the vegan menu at the stadium food stand was outrage. “Some said they wouldn’t eat anything,” club chairman Dale Vince, 59, remembers with a laugh. 

Instead of hot dogs and cheeseburgers, attendees of Forest Green Rovers games in Gloucestershire, UK, found themselves confronted with a meatless menu of shiitake burgers, katsu pickled vegetables and vegan Q-pie. “It’s a bit unusual,” the trim entrepreneur admits, “but I say, you only come to games once every two weeks, you might as well try something you haven’t tried before.” 

The Forest Green Rovers are an anomaly in the world of European football, a sport not typically known for its progressive bona fides. Though its moniker was actually inspired by the neighborhood of its origin — a tiny village in Gloucestershire — the club, founded in 1889, could hardly have been more aptly named. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, recently recognized the Forest Green Rovers as the greenest soccer club in the world. The United Nations has certified the FGR as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club. It is also the first and only vegan pro soccer club on the planet. 

“Every day we all make decisions about how we power our homes, how we travel, what we eat and how we choose to spend our money,” says Vince. “If we go in a different direction, we can get a different outcome.”

Algae and oat milk

FGR’s stadium, “The New Lawn,” is powered with 100 percent renewable energy from the solar panels on its roof and windmills on a nearby hill. A solar-powered robot mows the lawn. The field itself is managed entirely without artificial fertilizer — the groundskeeper sprinkles Scottish sea algae and rips out weeds by hand, making it far greener than your typical pesticide-soaked soccer pitch. 

Photo courtesy of Forest Green Rovers

“Of course, the stereotype is that soccer fans wouldn’t be receptive to this at all, but this made it all the more compelling to me,” says Vince via Zoom from his fortress-like home in Stroud, walking distance from the stadium. “People told me I’d be killing the club, and nobody would come. I thought to myself, that means we’d be taking our message, our work in sustainability, to a new audience, one that’s relatively untouched by this kind of stuff, the world of soccer fans. Soccer gives us a fantastic platform to promote sustainability.”

Vince gets a kick out of discussing his innovations with fans at the stadium, such as the practice of recycling cooking oil from the vegan kitchen into biofuel. He remembers meeting a “crestfallen fan” who couldn’t believe there was no milk to put in his tea. “I explained to him how they take the baby cows away shortly after birth and he was completely shocked. He’d never heard that before. I said, hey, we have oat milk, soy milk, rice milk, try it!” 

It’s not just the fans who forgo meat — a vegan nutrition coach advises the players on building muscles with nut butters and tofu. And though some tabloids gleefully posted paparazzi pictures of players biting into fried chicken in their free time,  many of them have embraced the vegan diet. “I feel way more energy,” FGR midfielder Dan Sweeney says, “and recovery time is faster.” They’re in good company: Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan and tennis star Venus Williams have all achieved athletic superstardom on plant-based diets. 

“The club was in trouble”

Vince first arrived in Stroud in the 1990s as a new-age hippie living in an old army van. The son of a truck driver, he had dropped out of school at 15. He used a small windmill on top of his van to power his habitat, and liked the area so much that he eventually built a bigger windmill on the hill. Today, his renewable energy company Ecotricity is one of Stroud’s biggest employers with 700 workers. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Forest Green Rovers (@fgrfc_official)

Initially, when the Green Rovers were seeking financial help in 2010, “the club was in trouble and needed rescuing.” Vince, a soccer fan, “wanted to help out a local soccer club that was 120 years old and an important part of my community.” But at their first meeting, the long-term vegan was horrified by the amount of meat lasagna served. “That made me part of the meat trade, so I asked them to change it on the spot.” They did. “Then I bumped into all kinds of things I couldn’t tolerate.” Vince set out to change them one by one, “to build a new kind of soccer club.”

Two years ago, the club joined the United Nations’ Climate Neutral Now program, which involves three steps: “Measure our carbon footprint, reduce it as far as we can and offset the residual,” Vince explains. He built the cost for the carbon offset into the ticket price, about $1 per ticket. “It’s a way we get to talk to fans about an issue that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.” About 250 sports organizations around the world have now signed up for the UN program. “They represent every sport that you could possibly name, and there’s an awful lot of momentum there,” Vince says. “Between us, we can reach billions of people.” He believes his club will reach carbon neutrality without offsetting by next year.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Forest Green Rovers (@fgrfc_official)

To get there, he established eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) accreditation, the gold standard of environmental management. He encourages ride-sharing and outfitted the stadium with electric car charging facilities so fans can travel to games sustainably. Even the fizz in the carbonated drinks is funneled directly from the CO2-capturing facility on the stadium roof, a new venture from Vince who also uses the CO2 to make carbon-negative diamonds. “It fits perfectly with our message that living a green life isn’t about giving stuff up. Whether it’s burgers, cars, soccer, or even diamonds, it’s about doing it in a different way.”

The players wear neon green jerseys manufactured from discarded coffee grounds and recycled plastic. “When I learned that most soccer shirts were made from plastic, I was shocked,” he says. “Apart from the sustainability issue, it’s all kinds of wrong to wear plastic to play soccer.” The new shirts “perform much better,” he has found, and this is a point he stresses repeatedly about becoming the vanguard of eco-consciousness in sports. “Our food has to taste better, and our field has to be better than your average field,” he says. “When you go green and offer an alternative to the conventional, you have to be better. Otherwise people say, yeah, I get that it’s green, but…” 

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It’s working. The Green Rover’s catering service, the Little Green Devils, has won numerous awards for its vegan pies and is serving 3,000 school meals outside the stadium every day. FIFA and several soccer clubs have sent representatives to learn how they, too, can move their stadiums and kitchens toward carbon neutrality. The next step: the world’s first stadium built entirely from recycled wood, designed by the late award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, which Vince is currently seeking the permits to build.

Even the players have improved. Since switching to vegan food and other climate-friendly routines, the club has started winning and was promoted to League Two in 2017. The number of visitors has quadrupled, the amount of food sold at the stadium has quintupled, and the club now has 100 fan clubs in 20 countries. “In the last year, we had six billion social media impressions,” Vince says. The club has just added a women’s team which will play under the same roof, and Vince hired a woman to lead the club’s Academy.

Vince believes that he not only created a new kind of soccer club, but “a new kind of soccer fan. These people bond with the club because of our stance on the environment.”

His prediction for what comes next? “I think we get to League One this season.”

The post Meet the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Soccer Club appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Evolutionary biologist urges us to save what’s left of our natural bushland

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 2:31pm in

Tags 

Environment

The University of Western Australia media statement Why do kookaburras laugh? Why are fairy wrens so blue? Why do cicadas click in unison? Professor Leigh Simmons, an evolutionary biologist from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, explores the answers to all these questions and many more in a new book, Naturalist on the Bibbulmun. Over the…

The post Evolutionary biologist urges us to save what’s left of our natural bushland appeared first on The AIM Network.

Affordable electricity Decarbonization in OECD countries? Part I

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 12:56pm in

After eight extensive posts about the Ontario electricity sector, I am expanding my geographic coverage to look at the electricity sectors in selected OECD countries. My focus will be on the historical and relative performance of each country’s sector with respect to decarbonization and prices. As in the case of Ontario, whole volumes could and have been written about each of these countries, and the electricity sector in general, including with respect to current and future reliability and technologies and preferred vs. feasible future decarbonization pathways and other matters. To keep this manageable, my analysis will be a high-level data-driven overview of past and current generation technology mix, sector emissions and prices only, all based on internationally-comparable data from reputable sources. Interested readers should check out my earlier posts and other writing as to why my focus on the question of affordable decarbonization. In this blog I start with Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Future editions will cover additional countries.

I look at data from 1990 to 2019/20 to ensure to ensure I capture trends in the sector, which, because of its capital intensity, tend to be relatively slow-moving. I look at electricity generation mix by country based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data. I present it in seven groups: nuclear, hydro, non-hydro renewables (this includes wind, solar), natural gas, petroleum products, coal products and biomass and waste. To control for aggregate generation changes over time within a country and for country size differences, I present these in percentage terms. But these technologies are just means to an end, which is sector decarbonization – I source sector emissions directly from the respective country National Inventory Reports (NIR) submitted annually to the Secretariat to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC format combines emissions from public electricity and heat, which is the same combined manner that the IEA presents emissions data. Ideally, we would only include public electricity emissions but relative few countries present this on a stand-alone basis. Public heat provision, generally in the form of district heat systems, is generally a few percentage points of public electricity. To control for differences over time and country differences I present sector emissions intensity (kg CO2/MWh). From an accounting perspective, so as to not “double count”, the UNFCCC does not allocate emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to electricity (the Energy Sector), but rather to the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. For this analysis, given that I am focussing on the electricity sector only, and not the economy as a whole, I include emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to the electricity sector. Lastly, I source household electricity prices from the IEA, which include base prices, plus any consumer-oriented or taxes and specific levies, in USD(PPP)/MWh. After I provide an overview of the countries I present some initial comparative analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis.

Country Overviews: Canada, France, Germany & Japan

Starting close to home, Figure 1 shows that the technology mix in Canada has been relatively stable over the last 30 years, with a high percentage (ranging between 70% to 80%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies (nuclear, hydro and non-hydro renewables). This has resulted in relatively low emissions intensity over the study period, with three phases: a decrease from the displacement of coal by nuclear and hydro from 1990 to 1996; an increase as some nuclear generation went off line from 1996 to 2003; and a steady decline from 2004 to 2019 as nuclear comes back on line and non-hydro renewables are introduced and expand to 6%, which together with gas increasingly displace coal. Household prices increased moderately during almost the entire period, but started to increase in 2015, primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables in Ontario (see my earlier blogs).

Crossing the Atlantic, Figure 2 shows that the technology mix in France has also been relatively stable over the last 30 years. France has had an even higher percentage (around 90%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies, resulting in relatively very low emissions intensity over the study period. Like in Canada, changes in emissions initially relate to the addition/subtraction of zero-emission technologies, but starting in the mid 2000’s there was also substitution away from higher-emitting coal to lower emitting gas. Household prices were stable until about 2009, after which they increased by about 6% per year in the ten years to 2020.

Moving north-east in Europe, Figure 3 shows that the technology mix in Germany has been much more dynamic over the last 30 years. For the period from 1990 to about 2016 Germany had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively very high emissions intensity. This is specially given the case that its largest emitting generation was coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to about 1999 as nuclear and hydro increased and gas displaced some coal and then stabilized over the next decade until the large policy-driven decrease in nuclear (in reaction to the Fukushima accident) in 2011 resulted in a large spike in emissions that were not bright back to trend by fast-increasing non-hydro renewables until 2015-16, which by 2020 accounted for 31% of generation. Household prices in Germany were stable until about 2000, after which they increased by more than 8% per year for 13 years to 2013, after which they increased moderately at 1% per year to 2020. As in Ontario, who modeled their Green Energy Act (GEA) on the Energiewende, the increase in prices in Germany are primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables.

Heading to Asia, Figure 4 shows that the technology mix in Japan has also been relatively dynamic. For the period from 1990 to about 2010 Japan had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively high emissions intensity. It was lower than Germany, however, because it relied on relatively lower-emitting gas and oil and less on higher-emitting coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to1999 as nuclear increased and then increased moderately as nuclear decreased slightly until 2010. As a policy matter in reaction to the Fukushima accident in 2011, however, Japan took most of its nuclear generation offline. This decrease resulted in a very large spike in emissions, as zero-emission generation dipped to only 10%. Emissions decreased moderately to 2019 as some nuclear was brought back on line and non-hydro renewables increased to 9% of generation. By 2019 zero-emission generation, at 21% was only half of what Japan had achieved in 1998. Household prices increased moderately until after 2011, when they increased at 4% per year to 2019.

Comparative Analysis and Discussion

Figure 5 shows the emissions intensity for the four countries from 1990 to 2019. It confirms that due to their large legacy zero-emission generation grids of 70%-80% for Canada and 90% for France these are the countries that have already deeply decarbonized their electricity sectors, both hovering around 100 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. After relatively stable but relatively very high emissions for most of the study period, Germany finally broke through the 550 kgCO2/MWh threshold in 2015 and has reduced emissions intensity by 6% since then to reach 420 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. Japan had been unable to make much progress from 350 00 kgCO2/MWh before 2011, after which emissions spiked and have since slowly been reduced to about 400 kgCO2/MW.

Figure 6 plots emissions intensity against the % of zero-emission generation for every year and country in the study. To give a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. The strong negative correlation (downward sloping trendline) confirms the almost linear tradeoff between the amount of zero-emission generation and emissions. The time progression, with the exception of Japan, is from higher emission down and to the right. I am interested in seeing whether this linearity holds for the USA, a country for which much of the decarbonization has been attributed to the switch from higher–emitting coal to lower-emitting gas. Stay tuned for future blogs.

Figure 7 shows household prices for the four countries from 1990 to 2020 and confirms our earlier observation that while all prices have increased after a period of relative stability, the prices in some countries began increasing earlier and faster than in others. Germany is the outlier in this respect, where prices have almost tripled since 1990.

I am interested in exploring affordable decarbonization. From this perspective, both Canada and France had already achieved this by 1990 and so the process of decarbonization, and whether it was affordable, would involve looking further back in time. For Canada that may be 1960s to 1980s when many of current large hydro-electric projects and nuclear generation stations came online to displaced emitting technologies. For France it would be from the mid 1970’s to 1990 when its nuclear fleet displaced fossil technologies. In both cases, however, given that both countries started the period as the two lowest-priced countries in the sample, it is reasonable to assume that the transition was likely affordable, and certainly no less unaffordable than the approaches adopted in Germany and Japan prior to 1990. After that year and specially for Germany from 2000 and the coming into law of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the introduction of high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables, we see very significant price increases to 2015 but no reductions in emissions until that year because, as discussed above, Germany was in parallel reducing nuclear generation.

In these last two figures I start an initial correlation analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis. In my previous blogs I have discussed studies showing that any increases in electricity prices have been mostly due to the introduction and growth of non-hydro renewables, due to their higher-than market contracted prices and broader integration costs. This is certainly the case in Ontario, Canada and Germany. I am interested if this holds in other countries and what is the likely scale of the impact. I begin with the simple correlation analyses in Figures 9 and 10.

Figures 9 and 10 separate out zero-emission generation into dispatchable nuclear and hydro and intermittent non-hydro renewables and plots them against prices to examine any corresponding correlation. To also provide a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. Figure 9 shows a generally negative (downward sloping) correlation, indicating that nuclear and hydro are correlated with lower prices. Figure 10, on the other hand, shows a generally positive (upward sloping) correlation, indicating that non-hydro renewable are correlated with higher prices. Based on prior studies, we knew that for Canada (via Ontario) and Germany this non-hydro renewables/higher price association had been shown to be stronger, of statistical significance suggesting causation, but it is good to replicate this via a simple correlation analysis. Looking at Figure 9 and 10 together, this correlation also holds for France and to lesser extent Japan. Note to my inner econometrician – there could be some time effect in the last decade or two (for example the introduction of liberalized electricity markets) that could separately be contributing to higher prices and thus could be a confounding variable to the simple non-hydro renewables/higher price association… That statistical question to be resolved down the road once I review a larger number of countries.

Next Steps

I am expecting to be able to cover four other OECD countries in the edition of this series, hopefully to come out in a few weeks, time permitting. I am aiming to include the USA, either Australia or New Zealand, and two countries in Europe.

Affordable electricity Decarbonization in OECD countries? Part I

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 12:56pm in

After eight extensive posts about the Ontario electricity sector, I am expanding my geographic coverage to look at the electricity sectors in selected OECD countries. My focus will be on the historical and relative performance of each country’s sector with respect to decarbonization and prices. As in the case of Ontario, whole volumes could and have been written about each of these countries, and the electricity sector in general, including with respect to current and future reliability and technologies and preferred vs. feasible future decarbonization pathways and other matters. To keep this manageable, my analysis will be a high-level data-driven overview of past and current generation technology mix, sector emissions and prices only, all based on internationally-comparable data from reputable sources. Interested readers should check out my earlier posts and other writing as to why my focus on the question of affordable decarbonization. In this blog I start with Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Future editions will cover additional countries.

I look at data from 1990 to 2019/20 to ensure to ensure I capture trends in the sector, which, because of its capital intensity, tend to be relatively slow-moving. I look at electricity generation mix by country based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data. I present it in seven groups: nuclear, hydro, non-hydro renewables (this includes wind, solar), natural gas, petroleum products, coal products and biomass and waste. To control for aggregate generation changes over time within a country and for country size differences, I present these in percentage terms. But these technologies are just means to an end, which is sector decarbonization – I source sector emissions directly from the respective country National Inventory Reports (NIR) submitted annually to the Secretariat to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC format combines emissions from public electricity and heat, which is the same combined manner that the IEA presents emissions data. Ideally, we would only include public electricity emissions but relative few countries present this on a stand-alone basis. Public heat provision, generally in the form of district heat systems, is generally a few percentage points of public electricity. To control for differences over time and country differences I present sector emissions intensity (kg CO2/MWh). From an accounting perspective, so as to not “double count”, the UNFCCC does not allocate emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to electricity (the Energy Sector), but rather to the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. For this analysis, given that I am focussing on the electricity sector only, and not the economy as a whole, I include emissions from the generation of electricity from the combustion of biomass to the electricity sector. Lastly, I source household electricity prices from the IEA, which include base prices, plus any consumer-oriented or taxes and specific levies, in USD(PPP)/MWh. After I provide an overview of the countries I present some initial comparative analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis.

Country Overviews: Canada, France, Germany & Japan

Starting close to home, Figure 1 shows that the technology mix in Canada has been relatively stable over the last 30 years, with a high percentage (ranging between 70% to 80%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies (nuclear, hydro and non-hydro renewables). This has resulted in relatively low emissions intensity over the study period, with three phases: a decrease from the displacement of coal by nuclear and hydro from 1990 to 1996; an increase as some nuclear generation went off line from 1996 to 2003; and a steady decline from 2004 to 2019 as nuclear comes back on line and non-hydro renewables are introduced and expand to 6%, which together with gas increasingly displace coal. Household prices increased moderately during almost the entire period, but started to increase in 2015, primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables in Ontario (see my earlier blogs).

Crossing the Atlantic, Figure 2 shows that the technology mix in France has also been relatively stable over the last 30 years. France has had an even higher percentage (around 90%) of generation coming from zero-emissions technologies, resulting in relatively very low emissions intensity over the study period. Like in Canada, changes in emissions initially relate to the addition/subtraction of zero-emission technologies, but starting in the mid 2000’s there was also substitution away from higher-emitting coal to lower emitting gas. Household prices were stable until about 2009, after which they increased by about 6% per year in the ten years to 2020.

Moving north-east in Europe, Figure 3 shows that the technology mix in Germany has been much more dynamic over the last 30 years. For the period from 1990 to about 2016 Germany had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively very high emissions intensity. This is specially given the case that its largest emitting generation was coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to about 1999 as nuclear and hydro increased and gas displaced some coal and then stabilized over the next decade until the large policy-driven decrease in nuclear (in reaction to the Fukushima accident) in 2011 resulted in a large spike in emissions that were not bright back to trend by fast-increasing non-hydro renewables until 2015-16, which by 2020 accounted for 31% of generation. Household prices in Germany were stable until about 2000, after which they increased by more than 8% per year for 13 years to 2013, after which they increased moderately at 1% per year to 2020. As in Ontario, who modeled their Green Energy Act (GEA) on the Energiewende, the increase in prices in Germany are primarily due to the increase in high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables.

Heading to Asia, Figure 4 shows that the technology mix in Japan has also been relatively dynamic. For the period from 1990 to about 2010 Japan had a relatively low percentage (between 30% to 40%) zero-emission generation, resulting in relatively high emissions intensity. It was lower than Germany, however, because it relied on relatively lower-emitting gas and oil and less on higher-emitting coal. Emissions decreased from 1990 to1999 as nuclear increased and then increased moderately as nuclear decreased slightly until 2010. As a policy matter in reaction to the Fukushima accident in 2011, however, Japan took most of its nuclear generation offline. This decrease resulted in a very large spike in emissions, as zero-emission generation dipped to only 10%. Emissions decreased moderately to 2019 as some nuclear was brought back on line and non-hydro renewables increased to 9% of generation. By 2019 zero-emission generation, at 21% was only half of what Japan had achieved in 1998. Household prices increased moderately until after 2011, when they increased at 4% per year to 2019.

Comparative Analysis and Discussion

Figure 5 shows the emissions intensity for the four countries from 1990 to 2019. It confirms that due to their large legacy zero-emission generation grids of 70%-80% for Canada and 90% for France these are the countries that have already deeply decarbonized their electricity sectors, both hovering around 100 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. After relatively stable but relatively very high emissions for most of the study period, Germany finally broke through the 550 kgCO2/MWh threshold in 2015 and has reduced emissions intensity by 6% since then to reach 420 kgCO2/MWh in 2019. Japan had been unable to make much progress from 350 00 kgCO2/MWh before 2011, after which emissions spiked and have since slowly been reduced to about 400 kgCO2/MW.

Figure 6 plots emissions intensity against the % of zero-emission generation for every year and country in the study. To give a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. The strong negative correlation (downward sloping trendline) confirms the almost linear tradeoff between the amount of zero-emission generation and emissions. The time progression, with the exception of Japan, is from higher emission down and to the right. I am interested in seeing whether this linearity holds for the USA, a country for which much of the decarbonization has been attributed to the switch from higher–emitting coal to lower-emitting gas. Stay tuned for future blogs.

Figure 7 shows household prices for the four countries from 1990 to 2020 and confirms our earlier observation that while all prices have increased after a period of relative stability, the prices in some countries began increasing earlier and faster than in others. Germany is the outlier in this respect, where prices have almost tripled since 1990.

I am interested in exploring affordable decarbonization. From this perspective, both Canada and France had already achieved this by 1990 and so the process of decarbonization, and whether it was affordable, would involve looking further back in time. For Canada that may be 1960s to 1980s when many of current large hydro-electric projects and nuclear generation stations came online to displaced emitting technologies. For France it would be from the mid 1970’s to 1990 when its nuclear fleet displaced fossil technologies. In both cases, however, given that both countries started the period as the two lowest-priced countries in the sample, it is reasonable to assume that the transition was likely affordable, and certainly no less unaffordable than the approaches adopted in Germany and Japan prior to 1990. After that year and specially for Germany from 2000 and the coming into law of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and the introduction of high-contracted-priced non-hydro renewables, we see very significant price increases to 2015 but no reductions in emissions until that year because, as discussed above, Germany was in parallel reducing nuclear generation.

In these last two figures I start an initial correlation analysis, which I expect to fine tune as I cover more countries in future blogs, including with more sophisticated multivariate regression analysis. In my previous blogs I have discussed studies showing that any increases in electricity prices have been mostly due to the introduction and growth of non-hydro renewables, due to their higher-than market contracted prices and broader integration costs. This is certainly the case in Ontario, Canada and Germany. I am interested if this holds in other countries and what is the likely scale of the impact. I begin with the simple correlation analyses in Figures 9 and 10.

Figures 9 and 10 separate out zero-emission generation into dispatchable nuclear and hydro and intermittent non-hydro renewables and plots them against prices to examine any corresponding correlation. To also provide a sense of the direction of the movement in this two-dimensional space, I identify years 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2019 for each country. Figure 9 shows a generally negative (downward sloping) correlation, indicating that nuclear and hydro are correlated with lower prices. Figure 10, on the other hand, shows a generally positive (upward sloping) correlation, indicating that non-hydro renewable are correlated with higher prices. Based on prior studies, we knew that for Canada (via Ontario) and Germany this non-hydro renewables/higher price association had been shown to be stronger, of statistical significance suggesting causation, but it is good to replicate this via a simple correlation analysis. Looking at Figure 9 and 10 together, this correlation also holds for France and to lesser extent Japan. Note to my inner econometrician – there could be some time effect in the last decade or two (for example the introduction of liberalized electricity markets) that could separately be contributing to higher prices and thus could be a confounding variable to the simple non-hydro renewables/higher price association… That statistical question to be resolved down the road once I review a larger number of countries.

Next Steps

I am expecting to be able to cover four other OECD countries in the edition of this series, hopefully to come out in a few weeks, time permitting. I am aiming to include the USA, either Australia or New Zealand, and two countries in Europe.

Indigenous Resistance Instrumental in Stopping High-Profile Fossil Fuel Projects, Says Report

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 6:12am in

"The longer you fight them, the better chance you have."

Yes, They Are “A Bunch Of Partisan Hacks”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 4:43am in

Click to share this on FacebookYes, They Are “A Bunch Of Partisan Hacks”

War is peace, freedom is slavery, and the Supreme Court is a dispassionate nonpartisan branch of government free of bias — this is the Orwellian fable that Justice Amy Coney Barrett is now asking Americans to believe.

And Barrett is asking us to believe it not merely after the court’s wildly partisan ruling on abortion rights, but also just months after she promoted climate denialism to a national audience, and refused to recuse herself as she helped secure a legal victory for the fossil fuel giant that employed her father for decades.

This is a tale not just of cartoonish hypocrisy but also of deception — a frantic attempt to try to prevent more of the country from realizing the court is a corporate star chamber that has become one of the most powerful partisan weapons in American politics.

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A Climate Denier Helping Her Dad’s Industry

First, the blatant hypocrisy: In an event that seems torn out of the pages of The Onion, Barrett this weekend appeared with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at a celebration of a University of Louisville facility he named after himself. After being introduced by the most partisan Senate leader in American history, Barrett declared that the Supreme Court — which now includes 3 people who worked directly on the Republican campaign to pilfer the 2000 election — “is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.”

If that wasn’t absurd enough, Barrett then declared that judges must be “hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too.”

That demand for ethical vigilance came less than four months after Barrett discarded her own past recusal list and opted to participate in the adjudication of a major climate case against Shell Oil — the fossil fuel giant that employed her father for nearly three decades. Barrett declined to recuse herself even though an amicus brief was filed in the case by the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying group that her father helped steer — and even though one prominent supporter of the case said her father could be subpoenaed for a deposition because of his “direct knowledge of and operational involvement in how Shell managed climate threats.

But no recusal came — and with Barrett’s help, the Supreme Court sided with Shell and other fossil fuel giants, delivering a big procedural win for the oil and gas industry.

Barrett’s participation in that case followed her Senate confirmation hearing, in which she refused to acknowledge the undisputed science of climate change (and in which flaccid Democrats decided not to bother to push her on recusal). She cast her position as an attempt to avoid being opinionated about the matter, but of course refusing to stipulate basic scientific fact is the opposite of dispassionate. It is an ideological and partisan expression of Republican orthodoxy wholly disconnected from empirical data.

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And in case you thought Barrett’s zealotry, hypocrisy and conflicts of interest are only germane to one isolated case, remember that in the coming years, the fossil fuel industry will be asking the high court to shield it from legal consequences for its climate crimes.

An Attempt To Fortify The Crumbling Myth Of The Apolitical Court

Barrett’s motives here, though, are not just about war-is-peace-ing her way through her own ridiculously obvious conflicts of interest. She is also trying to preserve the image of the Supreme Court as a transcendent fount of apolitical morality at a time when more and more Americans may be finally — belatedly — realizing that the panel is, in fact, made up of hacks.

As The Daily Poster has been reporting for quite a while, the panel has become the most conservative Supreme Court in modern history. This is a group of judges who now loyally rubber stamp legal requests from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate groups bankrolling the politicians and the nomination campaigns that install right-wing appointees on the court. The justices have become so politically brazen that they now quietly issue landmark rulings in total secrecy through a so-called “shadow docket.”

Despite this, corporate media has typically portrayed the court as a moderating force above politics, and even putatively liberal pundits have periodically touted some of the most right-wing justices of all.

This propaganda campaign has worked — even as the court exacerbates the climate crisis, restricts abortion rights, tramples voting rights and issues ever-more-extreme rulings helping corporations crush workers, nearly two thirds of Americans say they approve of the court’s work, according to the latest survey.

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However, that’s down a sizable 6 points since last year — which suggests that more of the country is beginning to realize that a fetid form of corporatism and partisanship is quietly rotting the judiciary from within.

Barrett rightly senses that this realization threatens the perceived legitimacy of the justice system, and therefore could create momentum for real reform — whether it means term limits for Supreme Court judges or an expansion of the court.

Any of those reforms are a threat to her power, and the power of all the corporate forces that bought high-court jobs for right-wing justices. And so she’s trying to do whatever she can to prevent America from continuing to realize how nefarious the Supreme Court has become.

That’s what her speech was really all about — and we shouldn’t be fooled. We should be emboldened behind the cause of finally fixing a star chamber that is causing so much harm throughout the country and the world.

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Organic Farming is the Nature-Based Solution to combat climate change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/09/2021 - 2:04pm in

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Environment

Centre for Organic Research & Education: Media Release The effects of global climate change have become more apparent and devastating in recent years, through changes in average temperatures and more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as severe droughts and floods. This creates a severe impact on global food systems which reduces food production in drier regions.…

The post Organic Farming is the Nature-Based Solution to combat climate change appeared first on The AIM Network.

There’s One Surefire Way to End Big Sewage Spills: End Big Sewage

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/09/2021 - 7:55pm in

Massive, centralized facilities make for massive, centralized catastrophes — and the risk of public health and ecological disasters.

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