The 48th G7 summit took place in Germany from 26 to 28 June 2022. The G7 is an informal grouping of seven of the world’s advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the European Union (EU), which is a supranational state. The leaders of Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal, South Africa Ukraine were invited as guests to the meeting.
The focus of the meeting was primarily on punishing Russia for its use of military force in Ukraine. It took place against the backdrop of an increasingly challenging environment where countries face soaring food and energy prices. Geopolitical conflict is at play and manifests through the energy starvation across European countries.
This was unavoidable because Russia’s retaliation was always going to put pressure on Western Europe’s energy security and commitment to the incongruous imperial climate change agenda. The hypocritical nature of those who always talked about ‘clean’ sources has been exposed. The climate change agenda proved difficult for the G7 leaders, who released a statement littered with double-speak.
Nevertheless, climate change is a generally divisive subject that is central to the current world problems, especially when it comes to the expectations placed on developing countries such as South Africa to switch from coal to renewables with dire consequences. For example, the country presently experiences rolling blackouts as the struggle to change Eskom’s operating model continues.
The G7 countries, except Japan, previously took a decision to ban investments in new coal-fired power plants. However, some of these countries, including Germany, are back to using coal following the natural gas shortages and cite the Russo-Ukraine conflict as the primary reason for the sudden change. German chancellor Olaf Scholz urged the group to reconsider its pledge to end finance for foreign gas projects as a “response to the current crisis”.
Whereas many observers believe this unexpected embrace of fossils is only temporary, the evidence suggests otherwise. Attempts by the European countries to reach out to oil producers as part of the strategy to reduce dependency on Russian gas are proving complicated. OPEC, a cartel of oil-producing nations, is struggling to meet oil production targets. There are now calls to get the ‘axis of evil’ Iran and Venezuela aboard after many years of economic isolation by the US and its partners.
Notwithstanding the rhetoric, the climate change agenda is part of neoliberalism and has little or nothing to do with the claims about a warming planet. One commentator criticises the neoliberal global order as a programme aiming “to remove sovereignty from national governments, to implant a new ideology into mass consciousness and impose new standards of behaviour and new thoughts.”
The climate change debate is part of culture wars – the game of dominance is behind the ideas. Climate change fundamentalists have always been boisterous about renewables and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions. All this time, however, they knew that fossils provided reliable baseload and stability in electricity generation. Anyone with a dissenting view is dismissed either as a pagan or a climate Luddite.
Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, about 200 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2C, or ideally 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels “to avoid triggering catastrophic weather events”. MIT academics Iris Crawford and Adam Schlosser pose a crucial question: When scientists say the Earth has warmed by 1C, which parts of the planet are being measured?
Simply put, they question how these scientists measure global average surface temperatures since “the world is a huge place, including deep oceans and layers of atmosphere extending many miles into space”. No one has provided a clear explanation of how they arrive at these global average surface temperatures.
Now that the champions of the climate change agenda are doing what they deem essential to protect their economies without seeing a need to notify the likes of South Africa, the hypocrisy is laid bare to see. Their coal usage proves that developed countries use their power to do what they like.
On the other hand, the rich countries are also ramping up their drive to coerce developing countries to take weaker energy options. In addition to South Africa, the G7 statement declared that more “just energy transition partnership” agreements are currently being pursued with India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Senegal.
Not everybody is pleased with the rich countries’ decision to burn coal. Both the adherents of the climate change dogma and developing nations are feeling hard done by the rich states, but for different reasons. Climate change campaigners say the G7 summit is “between backsliding and just stalling altogether”. It appears that climate change activists have suddenly lost friends.
As stated above, the rich countries have also been vociferous in compelling Third World countries to adhere to the 2015 Paris Agreement and its provisions. Today, these poorer countries are stuck with unsustainable renewable energy programmes, unstable energy supplies and falling economies.
With the EU in an ongoing energy crisis, the entire climate change agenda is falling apart.
Regime shifting. The climate change agenda is a political programme of the developed world like digital trade, free-market ideology, democracy, trade liberalisation, Fourth Industrial Revolution, etc., designed to marginalise developing countries. Thankfully, significant events are coming to our rescue.
In the early 1970s, Richard Nixon and the US were aware of the rising industrial powers in Germany and Japan. Also, they understood the threat these two countries posed to the American hegemony. The Nixon administration did away with Bretton Woods protocols: floated the dollar, ended the gold standard, and increased tariffs. Among other things, this led to the devaluation of currencies like the yen and the Deutsche mark. This marked the most important era for economic liberalism, which altered the fortunes of the Third World.
In her book Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950, Helen Tilley argues that the Third World represents spaces where new forms of political, social, economic and environmental order could be tried out. Essentially, they are “living laboratories” where expectation, experimentation and experience collide in efforts to remake the world. The global sphere is designed to further the interests of the powerful at the expense of Third World’s peoples.
The climate change agenda follows along the same lines and aims to cushion the developed countries from the competition from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It operates under the guise of saving the world from high CO2 emissions. But when it comes to a push, the very same developed countries throw away the rule book. South Africa already feels the pinch and will go down in history as the most notable victim of climate science rooted in colonialism, European imperialism, and toxic capitalism.
Interestingly, Europeans import coal from South Africa and other developing countries, as it has done throughout its blighted history of resource exploitation. The resource-rich territories are currently being forced to abandon coal as a source of energy and export it to the developed world instead. South Africa moved from excess capacity, which also benefitted the neighbouring countries, to a world’s laughingstock for its blackouts.
Last month, COP26 President Alok Sharma recently visited South Africa to talk about just energy transition and to persuade the African country to implement the agreement on discarding ‘dirty coal’, which is sponsored by Germany, the UK, and the US. He uttered no word about the strong showing of coal in these countries in recent months.
Most people do not even realise that electric vehicles could come to a grinding halt because European countries are worried about cold winters due to the ongoing energy crunch. Russian energy company, Gazprom, has already cut-off several EU countries like Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, as well as the Netherlands and Denmark, “for allegedly failing to comply with its demands to use a new rouble payment mechanism”. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), cautions that Europe is at risk of energy rationing this winter.
The reinstatement of coal exposes the hypocrisy of the climate change agenda, which thrives on the back of electricity grids which provide stable baseload that renewables are not capable of. With the Russians pulling the carpet from under Europe’s feet, the huge energy drive to reinstate coal is understandable because wind and sunshine have no solutions.
Equally, there is also no love lost between Joe Biden and large energy companies – the likes of Chevron are forcing the US to rethink its approach towards using non-renewables. Biden championed the American return to the Paris climate pact with serious consequences for the fossil fuel industry and the US. The US faces soaring energy prices, and gasoline is now at a whopping USD5 per gallon.
With the war not showing signs of ending and the West supplying ammunition to Ukraine, fears of a recession are soon to become real. The supreme decision has bolstered the fight back on curbing coal usage in the US. Developing countries should be taking note, but they fear repercussions.
The UK is in no man’s land as it desperately seeks urgent solutions to the power crunch. Less than a year ago, the government declared its commitment to annihilating coal at the COP26 climate summit. Skyrocketing energy prices are occurring in tandem with the cost of basic goods and services. The economics of net-zero is under pressure, hence the scaling back on the heroism displayed at Glasgow. But the likes of South Africa are still to decarbonise at all costs, while the developed countries freely combust fuels to address their energy challenges.
It is panic all over, yet Sharma travelled to the Dark Continent instead of going to Germany, the US and other countries to tell them about just energy transition and the Paris Agreement. Probably, Donald Trump is enjoying himself, wherever he is, as the drama unfolds. He may not have been as naive as he was made out to be by global media houses.
The climate change agenda is a political tool to frustrate developing economies, which repeatedly experience natural disasters, droughts and poverty. Yet, they have never shot a single drop of silver iodide at passing clouds or sold GMOs and toxic fertilisers that damage the environment.
Siya yi banga le economy!