June Newsletter: The standout stories so far

July 1, 2020
By: Onset Advisors

In May, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen heeded to calls from various climate activists and public servants, including a call from the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to centralise climate change in the post-Covid-19 economic stimulus packages.  At the global scale, on the 18th June 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA), in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), presented a case for a $3 trillion global clean energy stimulus package. The UK oil and gas industry on the other hand made a commitment to cut its carbon emissions, while the bankruptcy of Murray Energy cast further doubts on the future of coal.  June also saw various protests around the world against racial injustices, driven by the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked again by the killing of George Floyd, followed by calls from some climate activists to merge movements. The calls note that the climate justice cannot be achieved outside racial justice as well

Below are the stories that stood out in the month of June.

IEA makes case for $3-trillion global clean-energy stimulus plan. On the 18th June 2020, the International Energy Agency released a sustainability report, in collaboration with the IMF where they outline and make a case for a $3 trillion green stimulus package to repair the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. They argue that investing $1 trillion a year from 2021 to 2023 has the potential of expanding global growth by 3.5 percent in 2023, above the GDP level that would have been attained without the stimulus in place. The would also result in an acceleration of the deployment of renewable energy and the creation of 9 million jobs (Mining weekly).

‘A Just Transition can and should be at the centre of all climate policy’.  Holly Cairns, Irish Social Democrat spokesperson on agriculture, food, and the marine, highlights the importance of having a Just Transition and creativity at the centre of agriculture and fishing.  She highlights that government climate action has not been satisfactory and that more ambitious climate actions need to be taken, which has led the farming and fishing communities to not know whether to be fearful of climate action or climate change (AgriLand).  This initiative follows the footsteps of the European Union (EU)’s farm to fork strategy, proposed on 20 May 2020, where the Union seeks to put in place a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system (EC)

Merging movements — pursuing a just and green future should be done together.  In an opinion piece, Shawn McCarthy reflects on the current crises.  These being: the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to stimulate the economy due its negative effects, climate change and the anti-racism protests that have filled the streets of North America. Canada is already gearing up for a stimulus package that has a green economy focus. Prioritising economic justice in the proposed green stimulus, means that the present times provide an opportunity to address climate change whilst addressing deep, structural inequalities that stem from colonialism, racism, and unrestrained capitalism (ipolitics).  This view is in effect supported by the Sunrise Movement’s Washington Hub, whose members highlight their intention to fully integrate racial justice in their climate change and Green New Deal work.  Evidently, Whiney Tomes, executive of a green diversity initiative, called Green 2.0, highlights that the Sunrise Movement is giving hope that change is coming given the centring of equality and justice in all policies (inside climate news).  Other activists posit that, simply, racial justice is climate justice and therefore climate justice cannot be achieved separate to ensuring racial justice (wbur).

UK Oil and Gas Industry Association: offshore oil and gas industry outlines plan to cut emissions as talks on transformational sector deal formally begin.  The UK oil and gas industry has of 16 June 2020 committed to cutting carbon emissions by half by 2030, thereby pathing its commitment to becoming a net zero emissions industry by 2050.  The industry is also one of the pioneers in the UK to commit to industry-wide carbon reductions and has outlined steps of how these will be achieved. The transformation is centred on jobs, supply chain and energy, and will seek to support a green recovery (MarketScreener).

Murray Energy bankruptcy still casts shadow on coal’s economic viability. In an opinion piece, Kathiann Kowaski brings to light that the Murray Energy bankruptcy case doesn’t resolve questions about the life expectancy of coal given the competition from natural gas and renewables. Howard Learner, president and executive director at the US based Environmental Law and Policy Centre, stipulates that the bankruptcy of Murray Energy is indicative of how uncompetitive coal is in comparison to renewable energy (Energy News Network). Cheaper renewables in comparison to coal have the potential to contribute to growth given the lower production costs market participants would encounter.

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