Investments tied to climate crisis are going to stay: EU official

News Investments tied to climate crisis are going to stay: EU...

(Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources)

One of the top officials at the European Union’s lending arm says investments connected with the climate crisis and the low-carbon transition are “clearly going to stay.”

Ambroise Fayolle, vice president of the European Investment Bank, was asked about the issue by National Observer while on stage at global clean energy talks hosted in Vancouver.

“It’s clearly going to stay. The needs are huge. We know that in Europe only, we would need to invest 400 billion euros ($602 billion) every year to catch up on the needs of energy efficiency,” Fayolle told National Observer managing editor Mike De Souza at a panel hosted at the Clean Energy Ministerial.

“So for this reason only, I think that they will stay. They (investors) need support from the public sector in order to finance very big projects or to take more risks. Often private investors say they would like to be more active, but it is either too costly for them in terms of capital, or they would need to have something more.”

The Clean Energy Ministerial conference, the 10th of its kind, brings together energy ministers from 25 countries as well as other officials from government, industry and non-governmental organizations that represent the bulk of clean energy investment.

This month, Canada’s central bank listed climate change as one of six vulnerabilities in the Canadian financial system, marking the first time the Bank of Canada has examined the issue as part of its regular analysis of risks to the nation’s financial stability.

Fayolle’s comments come on the heels of a different message delivered by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who told The Globe and Mail editorial board Friday that investor concerns over climate risk are the “flavour of the month.”

Kenney, the newly-elected premier of a province that contains the world’s third largest reserves of crude oil after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, said investors should focus as much on labour rights and other issues in non-democracies.

He repeated his assertions to reporters on Monday, according to The Star Edmonton, saying that focusing on one issue excludes other ethical issues worth considering.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi made his own announcement on Monday of a Canada-focused version of the initiative, dubbed Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada.

It is also expected to be a “public-private” initiative that will be run out of Natural Resources Canada and involve annual pitch events. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition includes people like Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson.

The minister announced over $15 million in clean energy funding for projects largely on the island of Haida Gwaii on the west coast of British Columbia, including $10.4 million to the Skidegate Band Council and the Old Massett Village Council for the island to go 100 per cent renewable.

On the panel, he said he felt that “Canadians are ahead of their politicians when it comes to taking action on climate change, because they see the impact on their daily lives.”

“This is about the survival of humankind,” said Sohi. “This is about the survival of the entire planet…there are no choices here, this is so fundamentally important and everyone needs to play their part.”

Sohi also said countries need to make sure that the low-carbon transition doesn’t leave behind workers, using a term — “just transition” — that the government has previously applied narrowly in its phase-out of coal-fired power plants nationwide by 2030.

“The only thing I would caution is that, as we move forward, we just can’t lose sight of the fact that there are people who are being impacted as we transition to a new economy. We cannot afford to leave those people behind, we need to bring those people along,” said Sohi.

“That’s why a responsible transition that looks after communities, that looks after workers, and pays proper attention to the well-being of workers and communities will be the proper, just transition that allows us to continue to have the kind of support that is necessary to take on the issues of climate change.”

While the minister did not explicitly refer to oil and gas workers, some environmental advocates have been looking to the government to expand its “just transition” approach to all fossil fuel workers along with just those in the coal industry.

(Article courtesy the National Observer)