By Paul Homewood

h/t Dennis Ambler

We have an early candidate for hypocrite of the year award!

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A Canadian company that employs UN climate finance envoy Mark Carney as vice-chair has invested billions of dollars in fossil fuel projects, including a coal port and an oil sands pipeline.

Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, is now Boris Johnson’s finance adviser for the COP26 climate summit in addition to his high-profile role for the UN. He joined Brookfield Asset Management last August with special responsibility for environmental, social and governance issues.

Earlier this month, Carney told Bloomberg TV that Brookfield is “net zero across its $575 billion asset portfolio”. He said that although Brookfield owns companies “across the spectrum”, it has achieved net-zero status because “we have this enormous renewables business that we’ve built up and all of the avoided emissions that come with that.”

But an Unearthed analysis has identified five major fossil fuel infrastructure projects in which Brookfield is a leading shareholder, including significant projects in the highly polluting coal and oil sands sectors.

Bill Hare, director at Climate Analytics, an NGO, warned that offsetting fossil fuel projects against “avoided emissions”, as Carney appeared to do, was “not a reasonable definition of net zero”.

The fossil fuel projects identified by Unearthed are:

With a 49% stake worth an estimated $600 million, Brookfield is the largest shareholder in the coal terminal. The port primarily deals in coal burned for steelmaking, an industry which is harder to decarbonise than the power sector but Hare argued: “We know that metallurgical coal also needs to be phased out relatively quickly and replaced by clean alternatives using, for example, green hydrogen and that investments to increase the potential for this are badly needed.”

Alongside Kinder Morgan, Brookfield is the joint-largest shareholder in the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, which runs pipelines from the Gulf of Mexico and the Permian Basin in Texas to Chicago. The firm holds 37.5% of the company.

Brookfield reportedly currently owns 20% of the oil sands pipeline operator and is in the midst of a hostile takeover of the company, aiming to buy the remaining shares. The Financial Post said Brookfield is “spending billions of dollars buying up hydrocarbons infrastructure in Western Canada.” In 2020, Brookfield Infrastructure generated 15% of its cash flows from its midstream business, including the Inter Pipeline.

Brookfield is part of a consortium of financial institutions that have taken a 49% stake (worth $10 billion) in the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s gas infrastructure.

Brookfield acquired the pipeline – which carries gas from the country’s south east to Gujarat in the west – for $2 billion in 2019, taking 90% of the equity.

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In his Bloomberg interview, Carney clarified: “Just because we’re net zero doesn’t mean everything’s green.”

“We have assets that span the spectrum and we have a commitment that we will manage those assets and work to decarbonise those assets over time very transparently and provide the information that the market needs in order to judge that.”

There is anxiety in the financial sector over Carney’s use of the term, concerned that other banks may use this disputed argument to make similar claims while continuing to fund projects that support the fossil fuel industry.

Hare concluded: “I don’t think this is a reasonable definition of net zero using avoided emissions from a counterfactual baseline to offset actual emissions. This could begin to look like a giant carbon Ponzi scheme.”

Unearthed is a Greenpeace project, and for once they are absolutely right. Carney has for years been urging the financial sector to cut back on investment in fossil fuels, for instance here. 

Simply because Brookfield also owns renewable assets does not mean they should be immune from divesting in oil and gas.

As for the ludicrous claim that these renewable assets make Brookfield “Net Zero”, surely this could apply to the UK too. We now have plenty of renewable energy, so can’t we call ourselves Net Zero, and save ourselves a fortune in future?

via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

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March 1, 2021 at 08:24AM