Miscellany – February

Bushfires still burn in Oz; Brexit vexited the Brits, and in America a new King was  crowned   by Republican Senators.  You could sense an uprising to  the elevation of  President Donald to King Donald. Tears flowed and jeers echoed on both sides of  the Atlantic, courtesy of  television. These were passionate  issues and sometimes you had to pause to  wonder who, or what, lay behind them.

But no worries,  because Down Under the Aussies showed that their sense of humour couldn’t be extinguished….

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From the Washington Post last month: ‘Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims  in the three years since  he took office The Post says ‘it’s a milestone that would have been unthinkable when we first created the Fact Checker’s database that analyses, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered’.

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Spirits of evil…

World War Two ended 75 years ago when Facism and Nationalism was, we thought, well and truly buried. And yet here’s  this  from German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He expressed his “deepest sorrow” for the Holocaust while warning that the “spirits of evil” are re-emerging in the form of modern anti-Semitism  Associated Press reports  .

Speaking  in Jerusalem  during  the 75th remembrance of  Auschwitz, he elaborated, saying: “The spirits of evil are emerging in a new guise, presenting their anti-Semitic, racist, authoritarian thinking as an answer for the future, a new solution to the problems of our age. And I wish I could say that we Germans have learned from history once and for all. But I cannot say that when hatred is spreading.”

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Bankrolling climate change…

If we thought accords and public opinion on climate change really matter, then perhaps it’s time to look deeper. We know  much of the  damage  done to the Earth’s climate comes from coal. But who funds its continued spread?

A report by Urgewald, BankTrack and 30 partner NGOs  has just published damning new research which  identifies the world’s top financiers and investors behind the expansion of the world’s coal plant fleet.

“The UN Secretary General, the IPCC and climate scientists worldwide have time and again called for a speedy phase-out of coal-based energy production, but most financial institutions are still turning a deaf ear.”

“Over the past three years, financial institutions have channelled US $745 billion to companies planning new coal power plants,” says Heffa Schuecking, director of Urgewald.

The NGOs’ data covers both lending and underwriting between January 2017 and September 2019 for all 258 coal plant developers identified on Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List.

Altogether, there are still over 1,000 new coal power stations or units in the pipeline. If built, these projects would add 570 GW to the global coal plant fleet, an increase of 28%.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.