by: Peter C. Glover, Energy Tribune
If ever proof were needed that capitalism works for the interest of the poorest and most vulnerable (and for all of us) while leftist social engineering works against those interests, consider the escalating green war on coal.
It’s a war being conducted from the very top. President Obama, the European Union, even the United Nations are among those doing their level best to prevent the exploitation of one of the most ubiquitous, and thus cheap, energy resource available to us. In vain pursuit of controlling the global climate via the doomed war on man-made carbon dioxide emissions, social engineers are prepared to ignore both the economy-busting cost and, ultimately, the human cost.
But if the recent ignominious dumping of Australia’s carbon-tax-imposing Labour Government teaches anything, it’s that, in a democracy, it’s the people that call the shots in the global marketplace, not governments. Just ask Julia Gillard (who imposed the disastrous Oz carbon tax) and Kevin Rudd (who pushed her aside then tried to run with it). Quite simply, the message to democratic governments worldwide is straightforward enough: an industry and society crippling carbon tax is a step too far. Democratic governments can take their chances. We cannot, however, take the same view when it comes to the world’s millions still living in poverty. Not that they appear to factor in the ideological calculations of the unelected ‘greenist’ elites at the European Union Commission or United Nations (or greens generally).
Social engineers are rarely fans of democracy. They know well enough that electorates will allow them only so much rope; precisely why greens prefer ‘backdoor’ means, such as procuring regulations from government quangos. Apart from getting fellow green ideologues into key government roles, it usually means lobbying for policies that skew the free marketplace. In the case of energy, they lobby against hydrocarbon resources while contriving to represent renewable energy as a commercially economic alternative. Joe Average, for a while at least, is duly taken in. Unfortunately, as the world’s first government to impose a carbon tax just found out, you can fool some of the people some of the time…
Don’t think for one moment, however, that the social engineers are prepared to bow to the will of the people. It’s not in their DNA. Which is precisely why they have been lobbying hard for the world’s banks to step in and cut the usual investments and loans to hydrocarbon energy industry businesses; and lately, with some success. Investment loans are crucial to enable economically viable electricity generating power plants to be built in developing states.
In May 2013, World Bank President Jim Young Kim was robustly defending his organisation’s investment in coal-fired power plants to help end poverty by bringing electricity to millions. By July, however, in the face of massive criticism of its perceived lack of commitment towards ‘fighting climate change’, especially by Barack Obama, the World Bank agreed to a “new energy strategy” that would limit the financing of coal-fired plants except in “rare circumstances”. Of its funding to poorer nations, around eight percent or $18 billion between 2007-12 was being channelled into sectors that include energy. Much of that funding will now be diverted towards non-viable (without on-going subsidy) renewable energy projects. In early September the World Bank moved up another gear. It announced that it would now be taking “aggressive action” to ensure funds go towards the climate fight and not fossil-fuelled power plants. They claim the move will promote public health and crop growth. It will do neither. At a stroke the World Bank has effectively negated a key founding principle: that which aims to lift countless millions out of poverty.
We know this because a similar policy is already in place at the European Investment Bank (EIB) where the negative impact on populations has had devastating results. Long targeted by campaign groups who want fossil fuel loans stopped, the EIB enacted a highly controversial pro-biofuels policy which is now being blamed for pushing large sectors of African populations into poverty. As a direct result of its policy, six million hectares of sub-Saharan Africa are now under the control of European companies all vying for a slice of the EU biofuel ‘slush fund’ action. This has instigated a significant shift away from food crop production to crop production to manufacture biofuels, and largely for use in the affluent West. In July, the Europe’s Parliamentary Environment Committee (EPEC) was forced to admit its policy was having a serious impact on global food stocks. A fact fleshed out by an ActionAid report Broken Promises.
The report cited the example of the Addax bioenergy project in Sierra Leone which was shown to have adversely affected the lives of 13,000 people in 60 villages. 90 percent of those interviewed by Actionaid confirmed that spreading local hunger was directly attributable to Addax acquiring lands to grow biofuel crops, and without compensation. As the author of Actionaid’s report put it, “The fact that this is done in the name of the EU ‘green’ policies is shocking.” The EPEC duly voted to reduce the cap of 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable from sources by 2020 to 5.5 percent. The European Parliament eventually voted to confirm a reduction to 6 percent on September 11. The environmental lobbies had wanted it kept at 8.5 percent. The policy, however, remains in place to the detriment of those for whom food crops matter much more.
Nor do environmental NGOs, including the WWF, SEE Change Net and Bankwatch, have any compunction about keeping much of the world in power-less poverty. Having jetted into Serbia for yet another ‘consultation’ jaunt in September, the NGOs decided to submit a 17,000 strong petition demanding that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) stop lending cash for coal projects, too.
Industrializing nations and communities don’t want lectures about an alarmist climate change theory with more holes in it than in Lennon’s “Blackburn, Lancashire” (a mere 4,000, if you were wondering). Nor do they want to remain in an eco-activist-styled ‘quaint’ but distinctly poverty-stricken community. What they need is food crops, full stomachs and poverty-alleviating electrical power. And that means utilizing hydrocarbon-fuelled power. When it comes to poverty-alleviation, capitalism – and specifically the lending of global investment banks to build workable power plants – is not the chief hope for the world’s poor, it’s their only hope.