Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fossil Fuel Industry Sustained by ‘Toxic Triangle’ that Puts 400 Million at Risk

Despite progress, proposed carbon emission reduction measures do not go far enough, according to Oxfam.  (Credit: Peter Andrews/Reuters) Click to enlarge.
Political inertia, financial short-termism and vested fossil fuel interests have formed a “toxic triangle” that threatens to push up global temperatures, putting 400 million people at risk of hunger and drought by 2060, Oxfam said on Friday, a week before a European Union summit to finalize a new climate and energy policy framework.

In its Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance report , Oxfam warned that EU leaders must resist pressure from the fossil fuel industry, which spends at least €44 million (£35m) a year on lobbying the European bloc.  The report also urged leaders to commit to cuts of at least 55% in carbon dioxide emissions, energy savings of at least 40%, and an increase in the use of sustainable renewable energy to at least 45% of the energy mix.

EU leaders meet in Brussels on October 23-24 to agree on targets for emissions cuts by 2030, deployment of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.  The meeting comes ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris next year.  The leaders are expected to agree an emissions cut target of 40% over 1990 levels, but Oxfam said this would not be enough for Europe to make a fair contribution to tackling climate change. The EU emits about 10% of global carbon dioxide .

“The fossil fuel industry has conjured a toxic triangle that is trapping us into a warming world.  Governments and investors are helping the industry to recklessly protect its own profits at the expense of us all.  The world’s poorest are already being hit hardest and millions more will be made hungry by climate change,” the Oxfam chief executive, Mark Goldring, said.

Oxfam says the “toxic triangle” supported spending of more than $674bn on fossil fuels in 2012.  Investment in the industry was propped up by tax breaks, government incentives and an estimated $1.9tn of subsidies a year.  More than $500,000 a day was being spent on lobbying of US and EU governments, it says.

Progress has been made, the report says, citing the proposal of the US president, Barack Obama, to cut carbon emissions in the power sector by 30% over 2005 levels by 2030, and discussions in China on “an absolute carbon cap” after 2016.

“These commitments and proposals all demonstrate that the international community is beginning to wake up to the reality of climate change and adopt the necessary rhetoric. Yet carbon emission reduction offers on the table so far are not significant enough to advance the necessary transition, and thereby shift private and public finance accordingly,” the report says.

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