The good news is that the head of the U.S. is determined to act on climate change in the twilight of his presidency. It appears corporate America is following suit, further demonstrating the influence of the economic, military, political and environmental superpower.
This week, the American president Barack Obama vetoed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline from Canada and through the American mid-west to the Gulf of Mexico, would have, according to The Guardian, increased the rate of extraction of the world’s dirtiest fuels. The Presidential Veto was met with the expected howls of protest from political opponents and Keystone supporters. It is also put the need to address climate change at the forefront of public affairs in the country. “Hopefully the ongoing legislative charade has strengthened his commitment to do the right thing,” said Bill McKibben, a founder of the group 350.org, which has led the campaign to urge Mr. Obama to reject the pipeline, told the New York Times.
Another symbol of incremental change in corporate America on climate change, is that US banking giant Citigroup plans to lend, invest and facilitate deals worth $US100 billion ($128 billion) by 2025 to support projects that will fight climate change and protect the environment, As the Sydney Morning Herald reports "the effort builds on an earlier goal to arrange $US50 billion in deals that the bank set for itself in 2007 and achieved in 2013, three years ahead of schedule. Citigroup's new target puts it well ahead of other financial companies, including Bank of America Corp., which said in 2012 it would support $US50 billion in deals for low-carbon initiatives, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which announced a $US40 billion program the same year," according to the report.
Back home Renew Economy reported that South Australia took another step to solidify its position as a leader in renewable energy. It reported that Origin Energy and Zen Energy Systems would build a 3MW solar system on the rooftop of the old Mitsubishi factory in Adelaide, in what will be the largest rooftop solar array in the country. Significantly, Origin Energy managing director Grant King told Renew Economy the company is “changing its view” on electricity markets, and is particularly interested in the economics of utility-scale solar in Australia. The announcement led Renew Economy to speculate on the prospects for utility scale solar saying Australia could be on the verge on a surge of developments.
In Canberra, Parliament resumed and with it came Senate Estimates Hearings, which allow members of all parties to grill Ministers and bureaucrats on just about everything. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a hearing involving the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) was told that "the Abbott government's efforts to scale back the renewable energy target (RET) have set the industry back 12 years". ""The amount of investment within the large sector for renewable energy is about back to the same level it was in 2002," CEFC Chief Executive, Oliver Yates, told the Senators.
Finally, international environment protection campaigner, Paul Gilding, predicted that 2015 will go down in history as a landmark year for addressing in climate change. "This is the year the climate “dam of denial” will break and the momentum for action will become an unstoppable flood. It will be messy, confusing and endlessly debated but with historical hindsight, 2015 will be the year. The year the world turned; primarily because the market woke up to the economic threat posed by climate change and the economic opportunity in the inevitable decline of fossil fuels. That shift will in turn unlock government policy and public opinion because the previous resistance to action argued on economic grounds, will reverse to favour action on economic grounds." Renew Economy outlined the reasons for his optimism.
Here's to 2015 and all the hope, opportunity and activity it can inspire.
This Week in Climate Change (formally The Week That Was), a weekly review of climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm