Podesta’s Aussie Players: Why the climate movement misunderstands “clean energy”
In my November 2016 post titled “Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke I explained how the development of carbon capture and storage has been helped along by a global group of leaders working under the banner of “clean energy”.
“There is a global group called the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) which holds forums, events and discussions for energy ministers and secretaries. Within this arrangement there is the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, this is where the real “clean energy” action happens.”
Martin Ferguson attended these forums when he was resources minister. He also launched the project which he now chairs called CO2-CRC which is currently pumping CO2 under the Otway Ranges.
The term “clean energy” has been promulgated by the agents of financial elites since at least 2006 when the Clinton Global Initiative – Annual Meeting hosted a two-part panel discussion, moderated by John Podesta and titled ‘Energy and Climate Change: Financing Clean Energy’. The first portion of the panel discussion was titled ‘Clean Energy Investment Boom’ and featured Goldman Sachs economist Abby Joseph Cohen, venture capitalist John Doerr, and carbon trader extraordinaire John Paul Moscarella.
The ClimateWorks Foundation is John Podesta’s baby. He developed its networks into political and financial elite circles including the think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies who in 2007 published a report titled ‘The Age of Consequences” in which Podesta coauthored a section with his colleague at the Center for American Progress Peter Ogden titled ‘Security Implications of Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change Over Next 30 Years’.
“Rather, the question is whether coal will continue to be a driver of climate change or if the development and implementation of clean coal and, in particular, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology can make it a viable fuel source in a carbon-constrained economy. A 2007 MIT study, “The Future of Coal,” found that, in spite of the lead times involved, CCS technology can in fact be deployed on a wide enough scale to reduce significantly the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2050, though only if a global carbon emissions restriction or tax is in place and near-term government investment in R&D is increased.”
Earlier in 2007 the Climateworks Foundation published a report titled ‘DESIGN TO WIN PHILANTHROPY’S ROLE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING’. In the section titled ‘Dethroning King Coal’ we find a planned capitulation to the might of coal – if only we can find a way to sequester the CO2.
“Reduce emissions from unavoidable coal through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Even under the sunniest of scenarios, efficiency gains and expanded use of alternative energy sources won’t displace enough coal in the next two decades to forestall catastrophic climate change, so we must find a way to separate CO2 emissions from coal plants and store them beneath the earth. CCS, which remains in its infancy, deserves a critical push from philanthropy so that it can be rapidly deployed where demand for coal power is the greatest.”
Who are Podesta’s players?
Anna Skarbek is the CEO of ClimateWorks Australia and board member of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. In her 2014 article written for The Conversation titled ‘Direct Action’s here, but how will Australia cut carbon after 2020?’ she echoed the broad vision articulated by John Podesta in 2007. You can see her extensive networks here.
“Alternatively, a mix of renewables, carbon capture and storage and/or nuclear could be used. This low carbon electricity could then replace petrol and diesel in cars and passenger transport and replace gas used for cooking, heating and cooling buildings. Gas would be used in trucks replacing diesel, and gas would be the main fossil fuel used in industry. Some of this can be shifted to bioenergy or sequestered with carbon capture and storage, and the rest sequestered with carbon forestry.”
In the disclosure statement Skarbek reveals at least one very hawkish financial supporter.
“Anna Skarbek works for ClimateWorks which is funded by philanthropy and Monash University. Additional funding was received for the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project from ARENA, Accenture, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, TransGrid and the Mullum Trust.”
The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute is an unabashed supporter of all new carbon capture and storage projects especially coal and enhanced oil recovery projects. This organisation is based in Australia and is the acknowledged leader in supporting the development of carbon capture and storage globally.
In 2016 Skarbek was invited by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) to join its ‘Leadership Forum on Energy Transition for Australia’ along with 2 members of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The forum was charged with developing a “blueprint for energy transition”, and very much like the Australian Renewable Energy Agency the plan is to manage the “transition”. The kind of transition Skarbek advocates requires a decades long (minimum) phase of transition in order to develop the necessary renewables. This transition phase would be comprised of a massive growth in ‘clean coal’, “clean gas”, industrial CCS for oil refineries and CO2 utilization projects, CO2 enhanced oil recovery, biomass (wood chip) burning, deep-sea storage, and saline aquifer storage.
The ACF are the current lead agency in the #StopAdani coalition. This puts them squarely in the field of climate activism. It is only possible for ACF to support the development of a blueprint that will influence the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because ACF and their allies in the climate movement do not acknowledge the reality of “clean energy”.
John Hepburn is the founder and executive director of the Sunrise Project, he is also a coauthor of the 2010 impact funded climate activism plan called ‘Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom’. The Sunrise Project is funded by a collection of foundations lead by the Sandler Foundation and specialist impact funders all connected to John Podesta and the ClimateWorks Foundation. Email exchanges between Hepburn and various Sandler Foundation officials revealed in the Wikileaks Podesta Emails show a high commitment to masking the source of funding for the Sunrise Project which seems to be the real strategic centre of climate activism. In an email to Sandler Foundation colleagues that was forwarded to John Podesta, Hepburn’s contact Sergio Knaebel made this investor like statement about the Sunrise Project.
“I’m starting to think that our high tolerance for risk on this project is paying off!”
In another email that passed through Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth, and philanthropist and former banker Herbert Sandler before it found its way to Podesta, Hepburn explains in colourful terms how much he would like to not reveal the organisation’s funding.
“4. If I refuse, the maximum penalty is 6 months in jail. If I didn’t have children I’d be happy to tell them where to go (on principle) but it isn’t really an option;
5. This potentially creates a situation where we may need to disclose our funding and grant agreements;”
Calling the shots.
In my November 2016 post titled “Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke I described “clean energy” like this:
““Clean Energy” is a rhetorical device of unprecedented scope. A poorly defined but effective shield for any pundit, mouthpiece or messaging agent to use when speaking of a seemingly uncertain energy future.”
Yesterday’s statements by Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg reveal just how crucial our perception and understanding of “clean energy” is in manufacturing consent for carbon capture and storage. This statement by the Frydenberg is the most telling.
“The CEFC is after all not the renewable energy finance corporation, but one that is explicitly encouraged under part six of the Act to also invest in energy efficiency and low emission alternatives.”
Yes, “clean energy” is not the same as renewable energy. They are not interchangeable terms, but you could be forgiven for thinking they were. Nobody has taken it upon themselves to explain the difference because there is no gain to be made from doing so. The climate movement in its various forms have no interest in revealing the pre-emptive capitulations of those who make high level funding decisions. John Podesta sits at the wellspring of funding for climate activism and the political will for clean energy finance, and has done so for more than a decade. The sooner we can recognise and sideline the organisations and players he has helped install the sooner we can begin to seriously fight the development of the Galilee basin.