Friday, December 02, 2016

How Obama's Climate Change Legacy Is Weakened by US Investment in Dirty Fuel

Eskom’s Kusile power plant in South Africa. (Photograph Credit: James Oatway for the Guardian) Click to Enlarge.
Since January 2009, the US Export-Import Bank has signed almost $34bn worth of low-interest loans and guarantees to companies and foreign governments to build, expand, and promote fossil fuel projects abroad.

That’s about three times more financing than the taxpayer-backed bank provided during George W Bush’s two terms, and almost twice the amount financed with loans and guarantees under the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and Bill Clinton – combined.

The bank, which operates within Obama’s administration, provides US exporters with financing to sell goods and services overseas.  Bank officials say it supports US jobs and fills a financing gap by allowing companies to access funding when private lenders will not.

Since 2009, it has financed 70 fossil fuel projects.  When they are all completed and operating at full capacity, the bank estimates they will push 164m metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year – about the same output as the 95 currently operating coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma.
Since 2014, the bank has made an effort to become more climate-conscious.  Indeed, the vast majority of the bank’s fossil fuel financing took place before December 2013, when it adopted the president’s climate action plan and announced its intention to stop financing coal in all but the poorest countries.

But environmental critics say that in its zeal to increase exports after the 2008 financial crisis, the bank – which financed the construction of two liquid natural gas plants on an island in the Great Barrier Reef, two of the largest coalmines on the planet, and more than a dozen refineries and petrochemical plants in countries such as Saudi Arabia, India and Turkey – has put a permanent stain on the president’s environmental legacy.

Read more at How Obama's Climate Change Legacy Is Weakened by US Investment in Dirty Fuel

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