Why global green deals are so hard – POLITICO

FISHY BUSINESS — Good news: The World Trade Organization has reached a long-awaited deal to cut subsidies that have helped deplete fishing stocks to dangerously low levels in some parts of the world.

Bad news: The deal is much weaker than it could have been, after a process that illustrates the difficulty of getting to any kind of meaningful global environmental agreement — even on something as targeted and tangible as fish populations.

Countries around the world spend billions of dollars every year subsidizing their fishing industries. Tax breaks on gas, handouts for shipbuilding and improvements to dock facilities have made it easier to catch more fish than ever before — so much more, some say, that it threatens the future of a vital part of the global food chain.

WTO negotiators in Geneva last week agreed on a deal that will ban subsidies directed toward illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or on overfished stocks. But what they failed to do was put rules on broader subsidies that can lead to overcapacity — construction and acquisition of vessels, purchase of equipment, fuel assistance and market support.

A matter of fairness: Agreeing on environmental policy in the U.S. is hard enough, where legislation is subject to myriad competing corporate interests. The same applies at the global level, but for some countries it can be less about corporate profits and more about protecting livelihoods.

India had blocked the talks for a period, balking at demands that it phase out certain types of subsidies in seven years, arguing that developing countries be given 25 years instead.

Indian officials argued that their subsidies don’t benefit industrial-scale commercial fishing fleets as in China, Japan and European nations, where overcapacity is truly a problem, and said cutting the handouts would mean economic ruin for the small-scale operations that comprise its fishing industry.

“We don’t operate huge fishing fleets to exploit the resources indiscriminately like any other advanced fishing nation,” Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said in remarks at the meeting in Geneva.

The WTO episode is yet another lesson on why global efforts to tackle other issues like climate change will continue to be a slog.

Six months after the COP26 conference in Scotland yielded pledges to direct $100 billion in climate financing to developing countries, Russia’s war on Ukraine has sparked a global energy crisis that may make those promises difficult to keep.

Numerous studies show that pursuing environmentally sustainable policies or transitioning to clean energy can pay dividends in the long run, but sometimes the short-term costs are just too much to bear.

See: India’s reluctance to reshape its coal sector, which by some estimates directly employs 700,000 and indirectly helps another 10 million-15 million put food on the table.

“How can anyone expect that developing countries can make promises about phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies?” India’s environment minister and lead climate negotiator Bhuphender Yadav said at the end of the COP26 summit. “Developing countries have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication.”

The lessons from Glasgow and now Geneva show the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead. As international organizations and some governments push the idea of even more ambitious climate and environment goals, such as a global minimum tax on carbon emissions, the sensitivities of developing nations, and their calculations on social and political costs, will continue to be a major consideration.

Welcome to the Long Game, your source for news on how companies and governments are shaping our future. Team Sustainability is editor Greg Mott","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/gwmott","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Greg Mott, deputy editor Debra Kahn","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/debra_kahn","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Debra Kahn and reporters Lorraine Woellert","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/Woellert","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Lorraine Woellert and Jordan Wolman","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/jordanwolman","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Jordan Wolman. Reach us all at gmott@politico.com","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"mailto:gmott@politico.com","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0008","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0009","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>[email protected], dkahn@politico.com","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"mailto:dkahn@politico.com","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b000a","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b000b","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>[email protected], lwoellert@politico.com","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"mailto:lwoellert@politico.com","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b000c","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b000d","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>[email protected] and jwolman@politico.com","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"mailto:jwolman@politico.com","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b000e","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b000f","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>[email protected].

Want more? Don’t we all. Sign up for the Long Game","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/newsletters/the-long-game","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0010","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80b0011","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Sign up for the Long Game. Four days a week and still free!

QUIET PART OUT LOUD — An eagle-eyed reader alerted us to one","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-10-22/s71022-20130933-300018.pdf","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80d0000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80d0001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>one particularly interesting comment on the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule.

It’s an internal email from U-Haul International’s vice president of government relations, Joe Cook, asking employees to file comments as “concerned citizens” opposing the rule.

He laid out 11 talking points that employees could use, including “If driving adoption of company ESG scores limits business access to loans and the capital markets, companies will go out of business at the expense of specific woke agendas that are mislabeled as ‘green.'”

Another U-Haul employee subsequently filed a comment","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.sec.gov/comments/s7-10-22/s71022-300067.htm","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80d0002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80d0003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>comment objecting to the cost of the rule and “the amount of needless reporting that would not benefit the consumer.”

According to U-Haul spokesman Jeff Lockridge: “Joe Cook did not upload the comment, but it is an internal email that he sent to a small group within the company. The points in his email are self-explanatory and accurately reflect his stance on this matter.”

(H/t to Boston University law professor Madison Condon for flagging","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/madisonecondon/status/1537816383819501568?s=12","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80d0004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe80d0005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>flagging the comment originally.)

TO THE LEFT — Speaking of “woke agendas”: Mainstream environmental groups have moved to the left, embracing the post-George Floyd civil rights movement. It’s been messy, with plenty of internal battles along generational lines, as Zack Colman details.

Immigration reform, voting rights, reparations for Black Americans — it’s all now within the purview of environmental groups like the Sierra Club, if not necessarily the funders or politicians they’re trying to win over.

“Is reparations now part of the mission of the Sierra Club?” asked Guy Saperstein, a longtime Sierra Club member and donor. “I don’t know. I don’t know what the connection is and whether it should be.”

The big test of green groups’ strategy will come after the midterms, when Republicans are expected to win back one or both chambers of Congress. That could leave the environmental movement politically stranded.

“I don’t know that we are as a movement well-positioned to handle that — in fact, I think I feel safe saying we are not,” said Collin Rees, U.S. program manager at the environmental group Oil Change International. “That’s going to be a bit of a moment of reckoning.”

Read more from Zack here.

PENSION PUSHBACK — The fight to get the nation’s two largest public pension funds to divest from fossil fuels is hitting a make-or-break moment in California.

Senate Bill 1173, which would require the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest by the end of the decade, was scheduled for what environmental groups were expecting to be a big-hurdle hearing on Wednesday in the Assembly’s Public Employment and Retirement Committee. The bill, though, was taken off the committee’s agenda at the last minute.

The fight is in full swing, with conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council writing op-eds","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.ocregister.com/2022/06/09/fossil-fuel-divestment-spells-crisis-for-pensioners-and-taxpayers/","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>writing op-eds against the bill and environmental groups attacking CalPERS and CalSTRS’ arguments against divestment.

“Divesting from fossil fuels ignores the larger climate-change risks to the portfolio,” CalSTRS said in a statement. “CalSTRS’ approach is more holistic and includes measuring emissions, engaging directly with companies, working to expand government policies, and investing in solutions.”

The Climate Safe Pensions Network came out with a report last week","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://fossilfreeca.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/California-Pensions-Fail-to-Engage.pdf","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>with a report last week showing the two pension funds voted against all climate resolutions at American and Canadian banks this year, undermining their argument that engaging with companies yields better results than divesting. Fossil Free California released a separate report","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://fossilfreeca.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Hyperbole-in-the-Hearings.pdf","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>report arguing that the pension funds are exaggerating the costs of divestment.

California would be the second state to pass a bill mandating its pension funds divest from fossil fuels, after Maine last year.

Also:A California bill","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220SB260","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8130007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>A California bill requiring large companies to disclose their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions — effectively codifying the proposed SEC climate disclosure rule — will get a second Assembly committee hearing later Tuesday.

The New York Times has a story","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/21/us/new-mexico-wildfire-forest-service.html?referringSource=articleShare","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8160000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8160001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>The New York Times has a story examining the fallout from the prescribed burn that morphed into New Mexico’s biggest recorded wildfire.

— Renewable diesel plants coming online over the next three years won’t supply enough fuel to offset the loss of petroleum diesel production since 2019, according to a Reuters analysis","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/surge-us-renewable-diesel-supply-wont-offset-loss-petroleum-diesel-2022-06-21/","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8160002","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8160003","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>according to a Reuters analysis.

— California’s firefighters are suffering from PTSD, overwork and suicidal thoughts. CalMatters has a four-part series","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://calmatters.org/series/california-firefighters-trauma-wildfires/","_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8160004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000181-8757-d29c-abb9-8fdfe8160005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>four-part series.

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