In The Seige of Miami, Elizabeth Kolbert writes: Not long ago, Kenneth Griffin, a hedge-fund billionaire, bought a penthouse in Miami Beach for sixty million dollars, the highest amount ever paid for a single-family residence in Miami-Dade County (and ten million dollars more than the original asking price). The penthouse, in a new building called[…]
Juliet Pinto and Susan Jacobson presented their environmental communication work related to Eyes on the Rise at a COSEE Florida Science Cafe on Communicating Science in Miami’s Changing Environment on Dec. 8. A full house of South Florida environmentalists gathered at Gramp’s Cafe in Wynwood for the talk.
This special series of posts is produced by Juliet Pinto (Florida International University) and Phaedra Pezzullo (University of Colorado-Boulder)
In collaboration with International Environmental Communication Association, FIU’s Sea Level Solutions Center, and eyesontherise.org. Both Pinto and Pezzullo are attending COP21 in Paris.
By Juliet Pinto, from Paris
At the opening remarks on Monday by the heads of state, 150 heads of state promised to move forward in positive ways for the climate, building on the 2009 promises to phase out fossil fuels. But those words masked innate contradictions. As Maeve McLynn from Climate Action Network–Europe said, “That can only be achieved if their own governments stop financing dirty fossil fuels, and there is really minimal movement in that direction. In fact, the main contradictions to decarbonization are the huge subsidies that governments give to fossil fuel industries.”
Indeed, at a panel on the subsidies developed countries currently offer fossil fuel companies, the G20 average for fossil fuel producers from 2013-2014 was more than $450 billion. As the panelists noted, subsides can include everything from direct government spending, to tax breaks, state-owned infrastructure, grants, loans and more. Every subsidy creates an incentive to keep producing fossil fuels, from locking in carbon risk by building infrastructure (particularly offshore oil rigs), to keeping coal mines running in the face of declining prices, to masking the risk for financial managers and creating incentives to keep investing in fossil fuels.
At the same time, the science is clear: Both the carbon we already have in the atmosphere, as well what we continue to put there, is a huge risk. As former vice-president Al Gore said today, “The climate crisis is the 800-pound gorilla running right through the middle of the world economy.” […]