Smoke behind the sheen: With $15 billion in financing for fossil fuel projects since 2015 now in the open, the World Bank's commitment to climate action is again under the spotlight | Photo: The Khaama

World Bank poured $2 billion into fossil fuel projects in past two years, $12 billion since 2015

Germany’s environmental lobby group Urgewald found that the World Bank has financed fossil fuel projects worth $2 billion in the past two years and poured $12 billion into the sector since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. The findings show that about $10.5 billion of the funds were used to finance new projects, which the World Bank has defended as being necessary for “resource-dependent developing countries”. It has also justified some of its latest funding on the grounds of “preventing and fighting COVID-19”, for which hospitals and other care facilities would need “clean, reliable and affordable energy”.

US and UK lead G20’s continued investment in fossil fuels 

A new global energy investments tracker has uncovered that the US and the UK are leading the G20 in new fossil fuel investments, with the two nations having invested $72.35 billion and $39.35 billion respectively since the beginning of 2020. The tracker also reports that out of the G20’s overall funding of $171.56 billion to new fossil projects, $156.76 billion (91%) is “unconditional”, which means it disregards any climate targets or pollution standards. 

Interestingly, the UK is set to host next year’s UN Conference of Parties (COP) and is working to switch its economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy. 

India: 15 of 38 auctioned coal blocks received no bids, no methodology behind employment claim

Data released by India’s coal ministry shows that 15 of the 38 mines auctioned (two-fifths) attracted no bids at all, while only 20 of them got more than one bidder to respond. The auction was part of the Centre’s plan to rejuvenate the country’s coal sector, which has been battling falling demand for coal-fired power and mounting legal challenges to thermal power plants’ impact on air quality. 

The auction and the subsequent mining of coal has also been billed as an avenue to create 2.8 lakh jobs across the country, even though the coal ministry has clarified that there was no methodology or study used to arrive at the figure. Interestingly, Adani Enterprises was one of the bidders, even though a month earlier it had said it was not interested in the auction. 

India tweaks natural gas marketing policy to curb dependence on imports

The Indian government has updated its policies on marketing of natural gas to curb the country’s dependence on imports. Under the new rules volumes will be offered on a new e-bidding platform to be suggested by the Director General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) to producing companies to decide on an agreeable model. While guidelines for bidding are also yet to be released, initial reports suggest that while producing companies will not be allowed to partake in bidding, the process will be open to affiliates and other players.

BP’s share price tumbles to lowest since 1995 as new chief reiterates net-zero ambition 

British Petroleum (BP)’s share price has fallen to its lowest since October 1995 as the oil giant’s new CEO, Bernard Looney, has reiterated to its investors and shareholders that the firm is committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. Looney has promised that the move would return 8-10% on its “green” investments, which although not as high as returns from oil and gas, are still touted to be attractive enough in the long term. 

The pitch to its investors seems to be backed by Looney’s belief that the world has reached its peak oil demand of 100 million barrels a day, and that the figure will only plummet, perhaps to as low as 25 million barrels a day by 2050. At this rate, BP believes that the 1.7 trillion barrels of unexplored oil reserves may never be needed, and the firm is instead keen to invest $5 billion a year in expanding its portfolio of renewables. It is also said to have communicated to the UK government to bring forward the date to ban the sale of new IC-engined cars from 2035 to 2030, as it expects the electric car’s share to have grown substantially by that time. 

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