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Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator: +44-7912 40 65 10 (UK mobile), or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator: +258 840 356 599 (Mozambique mobile) or email email@example.com
Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International: +385 98 17 95 690 (Croatian mobile number) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Energy Road-Map Offers Hope for Climate-Safe Planet
Today, ahead of United Nations climate talks where governments will discuss the world's energy system, Friends of the Earth International has released a new report outlining its vision of a climate-safe, sustainable and just energy system - and a road map to achieving it. 
The report, 'Good Energy, Bad Energy: Transforming the Energy System for People and the Planet' makes the case for the urgent transformation of our energy system and comes in the wake of stark warnings by the world's leading scientists about the scale of the planetary emergency and the threat of runaway climate change unless we take immediate action.
"Averting the worst consequences of climate change requires an urgent and drastic reduction of the greenhouse gases emitted by our energy system. This will not happen unless we stop dirty energy corporations and the destructive energy sources and false solutions they are peddling," said Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International coordinator of the Climate Justice and Energy Programme.
"This is fundamentally an issue of changing the balance of power: of stopping corporate and elite interests outweighing the power of ordinary citizens and communities," she added.
"The world's current energy system is driving climate change and many other social and environmental problems, from land grabbing, pollution, deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems, to human rights abuses, health problems, premature deaths, unsafe jobs and the collapse of local economies," said Sarah-Jayne Clifton, International coordinator of the Climate Justice and Energy programme.
"Fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are the biggest problem, but nuclear power, agrofuels, mega dams and incinerators are as bad as, and sometimes even more destructive, than fossil fuels," she added.
The new report examines the drivers of the current energy system and the destructive impacts of the energy sources on which the world currently depends.
It also looks at the risks and pitfalls of the much-needed rapid transition to renewable energy, and how these risks can be avoided, and sets out priority policies to drive forward the energy transition.
"Many communities are fighting for a just and sustainable energy system through local campaigns and struggles. All of these struggles are about living, building and embodying the world we want to see. Our task now is to challenge corporate power and exert real democratic control over our energy policies so that we can lend real muscle to these grassroots initiatives and accelerate the transition to a just, climate-safe, people-centred climate system," said Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International.
Friends of the Earth International is part of a global alliance of movements, networks and NGOs that have come together under the banner 'Reclaim Power' to raise public awareness about energy issues and climate change and fight for a new energy system. From 11 October to 11 November, these groups joined forces in a global month of action on energy. 
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REPORT:
Destructive energy sources:
The main fossil fuel-based energy sources on which the world is currently reliant (oil, gas and coal), and other energy sources that are misleadingly put forward as 'clean' alternatives (nuclear power, industrial agrofuels and biomass, mega hydroelectric dams and waste to-energy incineration) all have major destructive consequences for people, communities, the environment and the climate.
Who benefits, who pays?
Overall the vast majority of people are harmed, exploited or excluded by the current system, while a small minority take all the benefits. Groups that especially benefit from the current system include the senior executives and financiers of dirty energy companies and energy-intensive industries, and wealthy people who can afford energy. The people who pay the biggest price are people in the global South and rural communities everywhere who live in the places where most of our energy comes from, people in poverty who can't afford or access energy, and the ordinary workers in dirty energy industries whose jobs are often unsafe, insecure and poorly paid.
What needs to change? Key steps to transform the energy system include:
- Urgent investment in locally-appropriate, climate safe, affordable and low impact energy for all.
- Reducing energy dependence so that people don't need much energy to meet basic needs and live a good life.
- An end to new destructive energy projects and the phase out of existing destructive energy sources, all the while ensuring that the rights of affected communities and workers are respected and that their needs are provided for during the transition.
The report concludes that to make the transition happen requires a challenge to corporate power and the exertion of real democratic control over energy so that the needs and interests of ordinary people and the planet take priority over private profit.
Friends of the Earth fights for a more healthy and just world. Together we speak truth to power and expose those who endanger the health of people and the planet for corporate profit. We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature.(202) 783-7400
"Governments at the COP28 climate talks must take real action for a full, fair, funded, and fast phaseout of fossil fuels," one advocate said in response to the news.
It is "virtually certain" that 2023 will be the warmest year on record, the World Meteorological Organization concluded in its provisional State of the Global Climate report for the year.
That was only one of the broken records detailed in the report, which was released Thursday to coincide with the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates. The WMO documented a year of "extreme weather and climate events" that "had major impacts on all inhabited continents."
"Record heat. Deadly floods. Toxic air. It has never been clearer that the world must stop burning fossil fuels if we want a safe, livable planet," Oil Change International global policy manager Romain Ioualelen said in response to the findings. " And yet, the fossil fuel industry is pumping more and more gas and oil, expanding its business, lying to us, and raking in deadly profits, as millions of people are displaced, harmed, and killed. Governments at the COP28 climate talks must take real action for a full, fair, funded, and fast phaseout of fossil fuels."
As of October, 2023 was set to be the warmest year in 174 years of record-keeping, WMO confirmed. The body's findings come as scientists have previously said it will likely be the hottest year in 125,000 years as well. Mean near-surface temperatures during the first 10 months of the year were around 1.4°C above the average from 1850 to 1900, WMO found. Because 2016 and 2020, the two previous hottest years on record, came in at 1.29°C and 1.27°C above that average, it is unlikely that the last two months of 2023 would be cold enough to offset its lead.
Hottest year wasn't the only record broken in 2023. The year also saw the hottest monthly ocean temperatures on record from April through September, and the hottest land temperatures from July to October. Because July is typically the hottest month of the year, this July was the hottest month ever recorded.
Sea level rise reached a record height, and the rate of increase from 2013 to 2022 was more than double the rate from 1993 to 2002. Antarctic sea-ice extent also shrank to its lowest level on record in February and struggled to recover, measuring its lowest maximum extent on record in September.
"We urge governments to be ready now at the U.N. climate talks to take action commensurate with what the science is telling us."
Some markers for which 2023 data is not yet available broke records in 2022. This included atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—and ocean heat content.
"It's a deafening cacophony of broken records," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. "These are more than just statistics. We risk losing the race to save our glaciers and to rein in sea level rise."
The report also detailed how a warming climate is having a direct and devastating impact on human communities. Climate-fueled weather disasters this year included Storm Daniel, which brought severe flooding to much of the Mediterranean, with especially deadly consequences for Libya; a record wildfire season in Canada that shrouded major North American cities in toxic smoke; heat waves, which reached especially severe heights Southern Europe and North Africa; and flooding in the Horn of Africa following five years of drought that made the soil less able to absorb the rainfall. Many of these events forced people to flee their homes and made it harder for them to secure food.
"This year we have seen communities around the world pounded by fires, floods, and searing temperatures. Record global heat should send shivers down the spines of world leaders," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in response to the report.
Guterres and other climate advocates used the report to push world leaders to deliver ambitious climate action at COP28, which is mired in controversy following revelations that its president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is also the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, used the talks to push oil and gas deals.
"We have the roadmap to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 °C and avoid the worst of climate chaos. But we need leaders to fire the starting gun at COP28 on a race to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive," Guterres said.
He called for a commitment to phase out fossil fuels, triple renewable energy, double energy efficiency, set clear guidelines for the next round of pledges, and provide countries with the financial support they need to make them happen.
Ioualelen said that the delegates should pay attention to experts instead of fossil fuel companies.
"Rather than prioritizing lobbyists and corporations, we need leaders to make real change that tackles the root cause of the climate crisis, fossil fuels, and makes a better world for all of us—today and for generations to come," Ioualelen said. "We urge governments to be ready now at the U.N. climate talks to take action commensurate with what the science is telling us."
Taalas also called for action to avoid worsening extremes.
"We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries," he said.
The United States' contribution of $17.5 million, in particular, was denounced as "embarrassing" for the wealthiest country in the world.
International campaigners who for years have demanded a global "loss and damage" fund to help developing countries confront the climate emergency were encouraged on Thursday as the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference began with an agreement to make the fund operational—but said the details of the deal made clear that wealthy countries are still largely abandoning communities that have contributed the least fossil fuel emissions, only to suffer the worst climate injustices.
A recent study from the University of Delaware showed that "the unweighted percentage of global GDP lost" due to climate impacts such as long-lasting drought , catastrophic flooding , and wildfires is estimated at 1.8%, or about $1.5 trillion, and low- and middle-income countries " have experienced $2.1 trillion in produced capital losses due to climate change."
To meet the need, developing countries have said they already require about $400 billion annually in a loss and damage fund that could help governments rebuild communities, restore crucial wildlife habitats, or relocate people who have been displaced by the climate emergency—so advocates on Thursday were left wondering why the fund agreed upon at COP28 was expected to provide only about $100 billion per year by 2030.
The shortfall threatened to ensure the loss and damage fund will remain "an empty promise,"
Fanny Petitbon, head of advocacy for Care France.
"We hope the agreement will result in rapid delivery of support for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis," said Petitbon. "However, it has many shortcomings. It enables historical emitters to evade their responsibility. It also fails to establish the scale of finance needed and ensure that the fund is anchored in human rights principles."
"We urgently call on all governments who are most responsible for the climate emergency and have the capacity to contribute to announce significant pledges in the form of grants," she added. "Historical emitters must lead the way."
The United States, the largest historical contributor of the planet-heating emissions that scientists agree are fueling the climate crisis, has objected to tying loss and damage funding to each wealthy nation's emissions—perhaps partially explaining why the Biden administration pledged only $17.5 million to the fund.
Such contributions are "a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the need they are to address," said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa.
"In particular, the amount announced by the U.S. is embarrassing for President [Joe] Biden and [Special Presidential Climate Envoy] John Kerry," said Adow. "It just shows how this must be just the start."
Campaigners also objected to the agreement's stipulation that the World Bank will host the fund for the first four years—a demand that had been made by the U.S. and other wealthy countries—with voluntary payments from powerful governments that will be "invited," not required, to contribute.
"Although rules have been agreed regarding how the fund will operate there are no hard deadlines, no targets, and countries are not obligated to pay into it, despite the whole point being for rich, high-polluting nations to support vulnerable communities who have suffered from climate impacts," said Adow.
"The most pressing issue now is to get money flowing into the fund and to the people that need it," he added. "The pledged funds must not just be repackaged commitments. We need new money, in the form of grants, not loans, otherwise it will just pile more debt onto some of the poorest countries in the world, defeating the point of a fund designed to improve lives."
The United Arab Emirates, which is hosting COP28, pledged $100 million to the fund, a sum that was matched by Germany. The United Kingdom committed to contributing 60 million British pounds, or about $75 million, while Japan pledged $10 billion. The U.S. also said it would provide $4.5 million to the Pacific Resilience Facility, which will offer loss and damage funding to Pacific Island nations, and $2.5 million for the Santiago Network, which will provide technical support to developing countries.
Izzie McIntosh, climate campaign manager at U.K.-based Global Justice Now, called the creation of the global loss and damage fund was
a "welcome, yet long overdue, step forward for our climate," and one that "reflects the utter devastation caused by climate change in the global south, and the need for rich countries to pay what they owe for their role in it."
Rich countries, however, "have weakened the commitment they made to climate justice by insisting on the World Bank as interim host," added McIntosh. "This decision risks both excluding countries due to its outdated rules and deepening the debt crisis if support is provided through loans, not grants. If loss and damage funding is to be truly impactful, it must be funded and designed adequately, or risk being all talk and no action."
At COP27 in Egypt one year ago, noted Christian Aid global advocacy lead Mariana Paoli, policymakers did not even place the loss and damage fund on the agenda.
"It's a testament to the determination of developing country negotiators that we now already have the fund agreed and established," she said . "It's now vital we see the fund filled. People who have contributed the least to the climate crisis are already suffering climate losses and damages. The longer they are forced to wait for financial support to cover these costs, the greater the injustice."
Before COP28 wraps up on December 12, Paoli added, campaigners are hoping they will "see significant new and additional pledges of money to the loss and damage fund, and not just repackaged climate finance that has already been committed."
A fully funded, impactful loss and damage fund must be paired with a commitment by countries to end fossil fuel expansion,
Romain Ioualalen, global policy manager at
Oil Change International
, with rich countries "redirecting trillions in fossil industry handouts to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency."
"We have had enough delays," said Ioualalen, "and this must happen now to secure a livable future."
"Without robust wealth and inheritance taxes," said one analyst, "the children and grandchildren of today's billionaires will dominate our future politics, economy, culture, and philanthropy."
The Swiss bank UBS released a report Thursday showing that a massive transfer of wealth from billionaire business founders to their heirs is underway and accelerating, with trillions of dollars in assets moving from those who accumulated fortunes through entrepreneurship to family members whose vast riches are owed to the simple accident of birth.
In the 12-month period between April 2022 and April 2023, newly created billionaires acquired more wealth through inheritance than entrepreneurship for the first time since UBS began studying billionaire wealth trends in 2015. The bank, a friend of the super-rich , said that 53 heirs inherited nearly $151 billion in wealth during the study period, exceeding the $140.7 billion amassed by billionaire entrepreneurs.
"This year's report found that the majority of billionaires that accumulated wealth in the last year did so through inheritance as opposed to entrepreneurship," Benjamin Cavalli, head of strategic clients at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a statement. "This is a theme we expect to see more of over the next 20 years."
The latest edition of the Billionaire Ambitions Report estimates that the number of global billionaires rose by 7% during the one-year period analyzed by UBS, up from 2,376 to 2,544. The U.S. alone had 751 billionaires as of April 2023, 20 more than it had in 2022.
After falling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—during which billionaire wealth soared as millions died across the globe—billionaires' collective net worth "recovered by 9% in nominal terms from USD 11.0 trillion to USD 12.0 trillion," UBS found.
UBS estimates that more than 1,000 billionaires are over the age of 70 and poised to hand a combined $5.2 trillion down to their heirs over the next several decades, perpetuating inequality that is eroding democracies and fueling social uprisings worldwide.
"While this great wealth handover has long been anticipated," UBS said, "data suggests that it is now gathering momentum."
"A new, powerful, and unaccountable aristocracy is being created in front of our eyes."
Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), told Common Dreams that "this is how wealth dynasties are formed."
"The so-called 'self-made' billionaires invest in 'wealth defense' to pass as much wealth to future generations within their families," he said.
Collins argued that this ongoing wealth transfer "should be an occasion for substantial inheritance taxes, but given the porous and weak state of such taxes, we're seeing dynastic oligarchies grow."
"Without robust wealth and inheritance taxes, these intergenerational concentrations of wealth and power will grow," said Collins. "The children and grandchildren of today’s billionaires will dominate our future politics, economy, culture, and philanthropy—with huge billion-dollar legacy foundations. It is true that a small segment of the next generation will redeploy and redistribute some of this wealth to more socially positive ventures and organizations. But at this point, this is a tiny percent and not a substitute for a progressive tax system where the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes."
The UBS report notes that billionaires with inherited wealth "seem more reticent" than first-generation billionaires to pledge their fortunes to philanthropy, which the ultra-rich often use to avoid taxes .
According to UBS, just under a quarter of first- and later-generation billionaires said they are concerned about "developments in taxation," an indication that they don't believe world leaders will heed growing global calls for new taxes targeting the fortunes of the mega-rich and their offspring.
Oxfam International observed earlier this year that two-thirds of countries don't have any inheritance taxes and half of the world's billionaires live in those countries , allowing them to pass huge wealth down to future generations tax-free.
"A new, powerful, and unaccountable aristocracy is being created in front of our eyes," the group said.