After leaving everyone with bated breath, Italy too eventually signs an agreement together with 22 other countries to block, by the end of 2022, new investments abroad related to energy from coal, oil and gas. But the document speaks of ‘unabated fossil fuels’, whose emissions, that is, they cannot be cut down through technologies such as, for example, the capture and storage of carbon dioxide (Carbon capture and Storage, CCS). Translated: Eni will be able to receive public subsidies for capture and storage projects outside Italy, receiving special treatment, after article 127 of the Budget law which provides for a Fund for the industrial transition from 150 million. The latter are intended for companies “with particular regard to those operating in energy-intensive sectors” and for investments also in “CO2 capture, sequestration and reuse” projects. Just like what Eni wants to achieve in Ravenna, pumping liquid carbon dioxide in depleted gas fields off the coast. Thus, if NGOs and associations agree that the one signed in Glasgow is anyway a positive agreement for the decarbonisation objectives, some possible shortcuts are also underlined. Italy, however, has avoided falling behind even with respect to the United Kingdom, together with which it organized the COP26. The document was also signed by the USA, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, Slovenia together with the Republic of Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Fiji, Mali, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Moldova, South Sudan, Gambia and Zambia. And public financial institutions, such as the European Investment Bank. Many important absences weigh heavily. Not only China, India, Russia, but also Japan, Korea, France and Germany. The reasons behind the numbers on foreign investments in these countries.
SIGNATURES FOR POSITIVE NGOs, BUT DIFFERENT LOOPS – According to Oil Change International “if implemented effectively, this initiative could steal more than 17 billion dollars a year from the fossil industry”, as well as going in the direction desired by the International Energy Agency (IEA). ReCommon emphasizes a series of “loopholes to monitor and for which strong international pressure will be needed ”. In addition to the fact that the document provides for ‘exceptions in clear and circumscribed circumstances’ left to the discretion of the signatories, the question of time. “A year is long and the agenda of Sace (the Italian public export credit agency) is full of assessments regarding possible financing for devastating fossil projects, some of which are already in an advanced phase and others in a preliminary phase” explains ReCommon . These include the Arctic LNG-2 in the Russian Arctic, a mega-project for the liquefaction of natural gas in the Gydan peninsula, the EACOP pipeline, which should cut Uganda and Tanzania in two. “Will Draghi be able to put his hands in Sace’s pockets and not in those of Italian towns and citizens? Will he be able to get in the way of business as usual for Eni, Snam, Saipem and Nuovo Pignone? ” comments Simone Ogno of ReCommon.
THE ‘CAPTURE AND STORAGE’ KNOT – And then there is that term ‘unabated‘, “A huge loophole for all those fossil societies – writes ReCommon – that they would like to continue with business as usual thanks to technologies still under development such as carbon capture and storage “. “This is a very significant initiative because it concerns not only coal but all fossil fuels” explains to ilfattoquotidiano.it Mariagrazia Midulla, Wwf Italy’s Climate and Energy Manager, according to which, however, there is no ” support for CO2 capture and storage “, but” a formula that is normally used in these cases “has been included. And he adds: “Of course, this is a pleasure for Eni”. Chiara, then, her position on the theme: “The projects of abatement of emissions they are very few, very expensive and often bankrupt “. Precisely for this reason they cannot stand “without the intervention of the State – he explains – but it is not clear why taxpayers’ money must go to support the past and not the technologies of the present and the future”. Also recalling the debate in Italy, already in a press briefing, the Climate and Energy manager of WWF Italia commented: “Rather than continuing to say that we need to invest in nuclear power or in carbon capture and storage, let us tell us how they are the money invested so far in these projects has been spent and with what results ”.
INVESTMENTS – A lot of important absences weigh. Even that of Germany (until the last ‘undecided’), which even in April 2021 had announced (together with Great Britain, Spain, Holland, Denmark and Sweden) the stop to public guarantees for those who invest abroad in fossils. But which also has an interest in gas. Starting with those in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which from Russia will double gas supplies to Europe. Berlin also shares with Paris (which also has not signed) the suspended choice on the Arctic LNG-2 for the extraction of gas in one of the areas with the most fragile ecosystem of the entire Siberian Arctic.
In short, to understand the reasons for the choices of many nations, just take a look at those that in recent years have invested the most abroad, precisely in projects related to coal, oil and gas. A few days ago, research by Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth US revealed that between 2018 and 2020, financial institutions international public bodies of the G20 countries and multilateral development banks have supported fossil fuel-related projects abroad with at least 188 billion dollars (an average of 63 billion per year). Support is two and a half times higher than that for renewable energies (on average of 26 billion dollars a year). 51% of international public finances for fossil fuels went into gas projects ($ 32 billion a year, more than all renewable energy funding combined). Coal received $ 8 billion a year. Italy, for example, has funded projects for $ 2.8 billion a year. Among those who have not signed are Japan (10.9 billion dollars a year), Korea (10.6 billion) and China (7.6 billion dollars / year), which are the largest providers of public funding. for fossil fuels in the G20. The report also brings up an interesting aspect: “Most of the flow of funding for fossil fuels has gone to richer countries”, disproving the fossil industry’s claims “that this money supports access to energy or development. “.