02 June 2010

EDF to Win World Cup for Chutzpah?

In April I discussed the decision by the World Bank to extend a multi-billion dollar loan to Eskom to build a massive new coal-fired power plant in South Africa. At the time I wrote:
When GDP growth comes into conflict with emissions reduction goals, it is not going to be growth that is scaled back. Further, when rich countries wanting emissions reductions run into poorer countries wanting energy, it is not going to be rich countries who get their way. When energy access depends upon cheap energy, arguments to increase energy costs or deny energy access are not going to be very compelling. The South African coal plant decision well illustrates many of the political boundary conditions that shape climate policy. Policy design will have to accommodate these conditions, rather than ignore them or think that they will somehow go away.
In a story today in ClimateWire, the story of the Eskom coal plant went from an illustration of the political realities of energy access to an illustration of the farcical nature of international climate policy:
A South African utility company that recently won a $3.75 billion World Bank loan to build the world's fourth-largest coal-fired power plant now is seeking international carbon credits for making the plant more efficient.
If successful in qualifying for carbon credits -- and there is little reason to expect otherwise -- then Eskom is going to be paid for reducing emissions by building the world's fourth largest coal plant. This is of course a sort of magical solution that I have written about before. Of course a new coal plant, even if built with the best available technology is going to dramatically increase emissions, regardless of the accounting tricks of offsets and emissions trading. This alone is farcical, but it gets even better.

The Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental lobbying group, appears to understand the basic problem:

If Eskom ultimately wins CDM approval -- and potentially millions of dollars -- for avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by using more efficient technology, it won't be the first company to do so. But the move is provoking fury from environmentalists who have fought the plant. They insist Eskom should not be allowed to receive both World Bank aid and carbon credits to build a plant that will emit 25 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

"If there were a World Cup for chutzpah, Eskom would be the bettors' choice to win," said Jennifer Haverkamp, managing director for international climate policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. "First they go after scarce international public funds, now CDM credits. The Medupi Plant is becoming a poster child for how far we are from the road to a sustainable, climate-stable path for development."

But it is not just Eskom that is high up on the leagues tables for chutzpah; EDF is right up there as well. EDF is one of the main advocacy groups calling for passage of the American Power Act, the so-called Kerry-Lieberman bill in the Senate, which along with Waxman-Markey which passed the House, would create the ability for US companies to get emissions offset credits for doing things exactly like investing in the Eskom plant.

So EDF vigorously supports the use of international offsets as a mechanism of "emissions reductions," but at the same time doesn't want those mechanisms applied exactly as they are designed. The World Cup for chutzpah has some fierce competition.

11 comments:

  1. To me, it is very sad that you spend your days dancing on the grave of the vibrant planet that we used to inhabit. Evidence of ongoing human-induced environmental degradation is undeniable. While you revel in the conundrums of well-meaning attempts to avoid Easter Island outcomes, you seem to be happy to squander your intellect jousting with those who would find solutions. Many of those solution-seekers are both well-intentioned and insightful, albeit tilting against the power structure that you defend. Imputing motives and posturing as the arbiter of both science and policy, your postings reek of an emotional abandonment of the urgency of the moment. As a fellow engineer/scientist, I would urge godspeed towards solutions, not excuses for delay. The gulf, the biosphere, and the next generations would be a lot better off if the shielded dispassion of the pocket academic yielded to a willingness to toss some sandbags. Over-intellectualized and half-believed cover fire from the arrow-slits in the ivory tower is just digging the hole that much deeper by giving fellow reactionaries time to make off with the dwindling spoils.

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  2. Perhaps the problem is deeper. Perhaps the problem is that the NGO enviro industry is pushing bad solutions to trivial problems.
    Kudos for calling it right and for pointing out the arrogance and hypocrisy of those who stood in the way of S. Africa building a new power plant.

    Sam,
    I urge you to read some of the accurate history regarding how environmentalists have time after time over stated and mis-stated the risks our environment faces.

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  3. "If successful in qualifying for carbon credits -- and there is little reason to expect otherwise -- then Eskom is going to be paid for reducing emissions by building the world's fourth largest coal plant.
    ...
    This alone is farcical..."


    This is how Al Gore gets rich, thanks to suckers like us.

    There is a reason that G.E. has a bigger lobbying budget than all of the oil companies combined.

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  4. Sam -1-,

    I think we must live on different planets. Before we can find 'solutions' we need a problem to solve. CO2 is not a problem, and today's crisis in the Gulf will probably be mostly forgotten in 20 years, except in business and public relations case studies.

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  5. Sam - 1

    I find my self in disagreement with your finger wag of "dancing on the grave of the vibrant planet that we used to inhabit, and "happy to squander your intellect jousting with those who would find solutions." Then you go on to say "As a fellow engineer/scientist..."

    Even Dr. James Hansen finds the current US legislative effort to impose cap and trade as completely worthless to addressing climate change. So, what is a solution versus mere wishful thinking dusted with the powdered sugar of hope? I would hope that scientist/engineers would ask that critical question and re-establish connection between feet and ground when someone touts symbolism as a solution.

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  6. You need look no further to see how ludicrous beyond belief this as become:

    "A South African utility company that recently won a $3.75 billion World Bank loan to build the world's fourth-largest coal-fired power plant now is seeking international carbon credits for making the plant more efficient."

    Try and explain how a financial transaction can increase the efficiency electricity generation.

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  7. Creative Government 101

    1) Establish a 'baseline' that includes expected annual increases
    2) Establish a program that somehow 'cuts' from the rate of growth of the baseline.
    3) Explain to the interest groups demanding cuts that you have in fact made cuts.

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  8. Harrywr2 -7-

    Sounds like the "decarbonization" measurement of success touted here.

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  9. "If successful in qualifying for carbon credits -- and there is little reason to expect otherwise -- then Eskom is going to be paid for reducing emissions by building the world's fourth largest coal plant."

    That is my fundamental position. Carbon markets have created unlimited opportunities for what amounts to dishonest dealing. No surprise that EDF and the rest of the fossil fuel lobby are members of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the biggest lobbying group at Copenhagen

    Its members include :-

    BP, Conoco Philips, Shell, E.ON AG (coal power stations owner, EDF (one of the largest participants in the global coal market), Gazprom (Russian oil and gas), Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley..

    http://www.ieta.org/ieta/www/pages/index.php?IdSiteTree=1249

    Here is another example of how the fraudulant carbon credits system works


    Carbon credits bring Lakshmi Mittal £1bn bonanza

    LAKSHMI MITTAL, Britain’s richest man, stands to benefit from a £1 billion windfall from a European scheme to curb global warming. His company ArcelorMittal, the steel business where he is chairman and chief executive, will make the gain on “carbon credits” given to it under the European emissions trading scheme (ETS).


    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/industrials/article6945991.ece

    There is a lot more carbon trading info on my site (it's better than creating a long post)

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sealed/gw/business.htm

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  10. Environmentalist hate carbon trading, but continue to support AGW because it is so profitable for NGOs like the aforementioned Environmental Defense Fund who have an income of $100 million, and who's Board of Trustees is (unsurprisingly) dominated by Wall Street figures.



    Board of Trustees

    Carl Ferenbach Chair-Managing Director, Berkshire Partners, LLC

    Arthur P. Cooley*
    Secretary
    Naturalist and former Expedition Leader, Lindblad Expeditions

    G. Leonard Baker, Jr.
    Managing Director, Sutter Hill Ventures

    Rod Beckstrom
    President and CEO, ICANN

    James W. B. Benkard
    Senior Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell

    Sally G. Bingham, M.Div.
    President, The Regeneration Project

    Shelby W. Bonnie
    Co-founder, CNET Networks

    William K. Bowes, Jr.
    Founding Partner, U.S. Venture Partners

    Lewis B. Cullman
    Chairman Emeritus, Chess-in-the-Schools

    Ann Doerr
    Philanthropist

    Stanley Druckenmiller
    Chairman and CEO, Duquesne Capital Management

    Roger Enrico
    Chairman, DreamWorks Animation, SKG; former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.

    Kirsten J. Feldman
    Former Managing Director, Morgan Stanley

    Jeanne Donovan Fisher
    True Love Productions

    Lynn R. Goldman, M.D., M.P.H.
    Pediatrician; Professor, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

    Charles J. Hamilton, Jr.
    Partner, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, LLP (retired)

    The Honorable Thomas H. Kean
    Chairman, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    Arthur Kern
    Investor

    Sarah Liao Sau-tung, Ph.D.
    Former Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Hong Kong SAR Government

    Frank Loy
    Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

    Susan Mandel
    Community Advocate

    Kathryn Murdoch
    Director of Strategy and Communications, Clinton Climate Initiative

    N. J. Nicholas, Jr.
    Investor

    David O'Connor
    Managing Partner, Creative Artists Agency

    Signe Ostby
    Advisor, Center for Brand and Product Management, University of Wisconsin at Madison; Director, The Intuit Scholarship Foundation

    Stephen W. Pacala, Ph.D.
    Petrie Professor of Biology in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, Princeton University; Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute

    Robert M. Perkowitz
    Managing Partner, VivaTerra, LLC; President, ecoAmerica

    Julian H. Robertson, Jr.
    Founder and Chairman, Tiger Management, LLC

    E. John Rosenwald, Jr.
    Vice Chairman Emeritus, J.P. Morgan

    Peggy M. Shepard
    Co-founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice

    Douglas W. Shorenstein
    Chair and CEO, Shorenstein Properties, LLC

    Sam Rawlings Walton
    Boatman, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur

    Paul Junger Witt
    Partner, Witt Thomas Productions

    Joanne Woodward
    Actress, Director, Producer

    Charles F. Wurster, Ph.D.*
    Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, Marine Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook

    HONORARY TRUSTEES

    Roland C. Clement
    Gene E. Likens, Ph.D.
    George G. Montgomery, Jr.
    John H. T. Wilson
    George M. Woodwell, Ph.D.*

    *Founding Trustees


    http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=365

    ReplyDelete
  11. To me, it is very sad that you spend your days dancing on the grave of the vibrant planet that we used to inhabit.

    More of us are alive than ever, and on average we live better than ever, with the exception of Africa. And there we see the actual problem - poor political systems kill people, not growth. In fact lack of growth is the problem in Africa.

    You can drive round "despoiled" Western Europe and be amazed by how beautiful it is. Industrialisation is not incompatible with a living earth.

    The trick will not be to pretend the earth is dying, but to ensure that it does not. That means actively stopping pollution, sure. It does not need hair shirt policies, based on romantic notions that all industrialisation is bad.

    ReplyDelete