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Money and Politics Put World’s Biggest Climate Deal at Risk – BNN Bloomberg



(Bloomberg) — When Indonesia agreed last year to clean up its energy system with an estimated $20 billion of help from a coalition of wealthy countries and large financial institutions, world leaders hailed the deal as “extraordinary,” “realistic,” and “historically large.”

Almost 10 months later, as Southeast Asian leaders gather in Jakarta, the hosts have little to show off. A much-anticipated investment blueprint has been postponed. Parties have yet to agree on governance, baseline data or the funding required to curb greenhouse emissions and wean the world’s largest coal exporter off fossil fuels. The most ambitious of the Just Energy Transition Partnerships—the international finance projects designed to cut climate-warming emissions—is faltering.

One especially thorny issue is that Indonesia’s coal-dependency is greater and more complex than all sides initially acknowledged. A 362-page draft document reviewed by Bloomberg spotlights the rapid growth of a fleet of dedicated, “captive” coal-fired plants powering industrial expansion but not connected to the grid. Incomplete data, especially on new and planned facilities, means even the exact scale of the problem is unclear. 


“The process started top-down,” said Edo Mahendra, chair of the secretariat tasked with turning the JETP, as the climate package is known, into reality. “Once we do the bottom up, all the devils that lurk in the details come out.” 

How these issues are resolved will set a precedent for any future deals, determining to what extent the agreement can create “valuable lessons for the global community [that] can be replicated in other countries to help meet our shared climate goals through concrete collaborative actions,” as Indonesian president Joko Widodo put it in November, when he announced the deal in Bali alongside US President Joe Biden.

Indonesia is the biggest emitter in Southeast Asia by a long shot, thanks to vast coal reserves and a power-station construction boom over the past decade or so. But its regional neighbors and other emerging economies also depend on coal-fired plants that will need to be retired to prevent the worst consequences of global warming. Vietnam is advancing with its own JETP. Senegal struck a deal in June. 

In the end, the outcome in Indonesia will also reflect on the credibility of countries that enriched themselves through coal and other fossil fuels for centuries and now cite the need for global emissions cuts. It will test the claims of big private financial institutions that the capital markets can create solutions to the world’s biggest problems. 

Bloomberg reporters spoke with more than a dozen people with knowledge of the negotiations, most of whom asked to remain anonymous because the discussions are private and ongoing. They described deep gaps between all sides over even the most basic terms and the scope of the problem they have to fix.

The initial promise of peaking Indonesia’s power sector emissions by 2030 at no more than 290 million tons of carbon dioxide, about 20% below a baseline level for the year, looks out of the question. An alternate scenario laid out in the draft plan would raise the target maximum to 395 MT of CO2, to account for the construction of new captive plants to serve growing industrial power needs.

Read More: Just Energy Transition Partnerships and How They Work: QuickTake

Officials have said they are aiming to have a revised—perhaps final—investment plan before COP28 begins in Dubai at the end of November, taking on public feedback. But to do that, they will need to come to agreement on at least three major, interrelated issues: the money, the emissions target and the mechanics of the coal phaseout, including changes to Indonesian laws and policies that hold back wider green progress.

First, the funds. At around $21.5 billion, according to the latest figures, this is the biggest attempt to blend private and public capital to jump start the energy transition in the developing world, more than twice the size of the original deal struck with South Africa in 2021. The capital is supposed to come from two sources: $11.5 billion mostly in grants and concessional loans from the donors (the Group of Seven economies plus Denmark and Norway), the rest from private-sector investments, marshaled by members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.

But there may not yet be enough in either bucket. There is just $289 million in grants, with half earmarked for technical assistance—funding for experts, consultants and advisors to model and support the energy transition. Almost all of the rest is loans, at interest rates to be determined later.

For Indonesia, which is responsible for a tiny fraction of historical emissions relative to the donor countries, this adds up to a problem. JETPs are supposed to bring costs for emerging countries more in line with what already wealthy nations would pay, via grant financing or ultra-low-rate loans.  They are intended as catalysts, facilitating affordable investment. Otherwise, there’s little financial incentive for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to risk its own development to clean up the rich world’s mess, as Jakarta sees it, especially when interest rates are rising globally.

To make matters more complicated, there are significant restrictions on how the public money can be used. Around $4.2 billion has already been allocated to specific projects, including two early coal-plant retirements currently underway. The remainder is more flexible—but only roughly a quarter is eligible for shutting down coal-fired power plants, a cornerstone policy that has failed to attract meaningful support in practice.

Read more: Closing Coal Plants Proves a Hard Sell for Big Global Banks

On the private side, people close to the bank partners say investors are waiting to see what their options are. So far, there’s been little appetite for funding phase-outs currently in more advanced negotiations, energy-sector and financing sources say, one a privately owned power plant in Cirebon, the other the state-owned facility in Pelabuhan Ratu. Risks are high, and coal exclusion policies remain in place for many large banks and funds. All fear accusations of greenwashing.

“We welcome the progress that has been made on the Indonesia JETP,” GFANZ said in an email. It declined to comment on ongoing negotiations.

Then there is the question of the emissions target agreed last year. People close to those discussions say negotiators sidestepped the impact of Indonesia’s growing fleet of captive coal-fired power plants, single-purpose engines built to support nickel production and other heavy industry in places the grid doesn’t reach. At best, the issue was dramatically underestimated, which may explain why the original deal included a loophole for new captive coal plants.

This is no mere detail. The captive plants underpin a nickel-processing boom that has placed Indonesia among the major suppliers of minerals critical to the global energy transition. Jokowi, as Indonesia’s president is known, hopes to parlay those reserves into domestic battery and electric-vehicle industries—manufacturing growth, in short, and jobs. The current system is geared to make the most of the country’s resources and fast, but it also means clean-energy ambitions at home and abroad are built on the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

 According to the draft, current captive capacity is around 13 gigawatts with another 21.5 in the pipeline, and almost half of that is already under construction. That is higher than previous assumptions—Indonesia’s total coal-power fleet is usually pegged at roughly 40 GW, so captive accounts for about a third—and points to a rate of growth at odds with the need to eliminate coal entirely by mid-century to hit global climate commitments.

Worse, the lack of centralized data casts doubt even on the new figures and makes credible estimates for a clean-up impossible.  There are questions around the age, size and function of captive coal plants, which are not part of the numbers published by the state utility and where few parties involved have incentives to be transparent.

All of this is before considering the policies in Indonesia that continue to hamper the transition, including a law governing the sale of state assets that complicates any sale at a loss. Without specific exclusions, executives risk jail, and the past experience of state-owned enterprise bosses offers little ground for comfort. The measure was an anti-corruption tool, designed to prevent directors from cutting sweetheart deals for personal gain, but it’s now also slowing down the reshaping of an economy that relies on coal for growth. 

To wind down plants owned by the state utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara, known as PLN, all parties have to agree on the market value of the facilities. Those are likely to be lower than what’s currently on the utility’s books—in 2015, it revalued the assets to help cope with heavy debts—so any kind of sale or refinancing tied to early retirement would register as a loss.

“This is the first constraint,” said President Director Edwin Syahruzad of state-owned infrastructure financing company PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur, or SMI, set to play a key role in the phaseout. “There’s no way we can have a transaction below the estimated book value because it will bring PLN to the risk of state losses.”

Indonesian officials hope to reassure PLN directors, and the draft proposal lobbies for legislative changes to provide official cover. That’s unlikely to happen soon, given the country is heading into an election year. Meanwhile, processes like the early phaseout of the Pelabuhan Ratu power plant, which PLN values between 12 trillion and 14 trillion rupiah ($790 million to $920 million), remain uncertain.

Of course, there are other pending questions. Will Indonesia negotiate with all of its partners as a group or with each individually? Where will the money come from to update and expand the power grid so it can eventually accommodate renewable energy? What about the government subsidies and other measures that keep coal power cheap, and limit investor interest in solar and wind projects? 

People close to the process acknowledge that the issues are more complicated than they anticipated in the months leading up to the initial JETP agreement. They bemoan overly ambitions timelines and insufficient technical preparation.

South Africa’s JETP is also struggling with its own structural, financial and ultimately political issues, which is reassuring to some involved in Indonesia’s planning but ominous to others. 

“We really need to make sure we’re finding tools that are a little more of a wholesale approach to this,” said Jake Schmidt, a strategic director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a US-based advocacy group. “These have to succeed. We have to be able to figure out how to help some countries do an early retirement of their coal fleet.”

Despite the delays and hurdles in Indonesia, no one is yet walking away. The draft investment plan, however imperfect, is progress. Jokowi has made this one of the signature initiatives that will define his final term in office. For the US and its partners, including development banks and some of the financial sector’s biggest private institutions, success will give new credibility to their environmental commitments and burnish their influence in the Global South.

“In an ideal world, of course, there would have been a framework in place, the science would be done, there would be method in the madness,” said Aditya Lolla, the Asia Programme Lead for energy think tank Ember. “But top-down climate action is currently moving the debate, and we take what we can get. Of course, there is a lot of frustration, but there is no going back.”

( GFANZ is co-chaired by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who has been named chairman of Bloomberg’s board, and by Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.)

–With assistance from Clara Ferreira Marques, Norman Harsono and Yudith Ho.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics



The core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education

In the coming days, Canada will see heightened activity in the nation’s ongoing gender identity politics debate. The “1 Million March 4 Children” protest against how gender identity is taught in schools, is set to occur on Wednesday, with synchronized events in more than 50 cities countrywide. Two days later, separate Toronto rally will spotlight two figures prominent in the gender-critical movement: Chris Elston, colloquially known as “Billboard Chris” for his distinctive method of protesting against childhood medical transition, and Josh Alexander, a Renfrew, Ontario student who was expelled earlier this year after objecting in class to his school’s transgender washroom policy.

Organizers of these events bill them as a defense of the safety and wellbeing of children, though the protesters’ opinions span a wide spectrum of positions. While some desire personal discretion in how matters of gender identity are handled for their own children, others urge broader constraint on transgender-related discussion and accommodations for the entire student body. The perspectives reflect the diverse community backing the movement.


As parents’ voices grow louder, there’s a perception in the progressive left that all of these emerging movements are rooted and inspired by “far-right” extremism. Many in leftist circles suggest that parental rights advocacy is a dog-whistle: a veiled attempt to advance anti-transgender policies. A recently leaked video from an Ontario Federation of Labour meeting offers a glimpse into how some of the province’s most influential union members perceive these protests. As one member notably stated during the meeting: “The fascists are organizing in the streets … . This is far more than a far-right transphobic protest. They’re fundamentally racist, they’re fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally transphobic, and it’s just a matter of time before they come for us.”

Such language of a growing fascist movement, evoking images of 1933 Berlin, is more than a little unhinged, particularly when all they are discussing is parents uniting together to demand involvement in their children’s education. As a covert spectator in the union meeting, there was an undeniable sentiment among participants that if not for them democracy would surely collapse.

It’s a grave mistake to deride the parental collective pushing back against the status-quo as fascist sympathizers motivated by transgender hate. A glance past such alarmist rhetoric reveals that — while a fringe group of hate has always existed — the concerns many parents are championing are much more moderate than a “far-right” moniker suggests.

For many parents, the core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education. They want transparency about what is being taught, the option to excuse their child from content they believe doesn’t align with their values, and the discretion to determine age-appropriateness for activities, such as certain reading material or events like drag queen performances at schools. Perhaps least surprisingly, parents want to be involved in the key decisions of their own child undergoing a social transition in the classroom.

Many of these matters have been surfacing in school board meetings for several years, largely to be ignored by Trustees and Education Directors. The shared sentiment among these parents is the perception that the education system increasingly sidelines them, diminishing their role in their children’s upbringing. This sense of alienation is leading a growing number of parents to take a stand, even if it means confronting accusations of extremism.

The matter of social transition behind parents’ backs in particular is so condemning of their role in upbringing that it has thrust the entire gamut of gender identity matters into the national spotlight, revealing just how out of balance transgender accommodation has become. The manner in which the left has responded — by doubling down in their rhetoric and deriding parents as militant zealots, has played powerfully into the rapid growth of this grassroots movement.

Many parents, even amid those who will stand in protest, have little desire to limit other families’ decisions regarding gender teachings and expression for their children. They realize that their objective of ensuring their own parental autonomy is intertwined with safeguarding those same freedoms for other families as well.

Over time, the persistent branding of even modest parental rights positions as far-right extremism does injury. As the left cries foul each time they encounter a perspective they don’t like, they desensitize the meaning in such a label. By regularly branding modest parental concerns as extremist, progressives may very well be shoehorning the adoption and normalization of more hardline positions that do straddle the line of the parental rights of others. As grassroots gain traction, a vocal minority have now taken to calling for sweeping bans on gender affirming teaching and accommodation for all children and families alike within the public education system.

So where do we go from here? What might a balanced approach to parental rights look like within the nuanced landscape of gender identity politics? Fortunately, we need not start from scratch; history offers us a model for the coexistence of diverse ideologies within our educational institutions. Look no further than religion.

For years, Canada has upheld an educational system truly inclusive of students from all religious backgrounds. The classroom approach to religious topics is robust; it sidesteps direct religious instruction, and when religion intersects with the curriculum, it is presented academically rather than doctrinally. Instead of dictating what’s “true” in religious contexts, educators shed light on what various groups “believe,” cultivating an environment of both choice and critical thinking.

Amid religious diversity, we teach acceptance. Students are taught to make space for varied faith expression among their peers, whether through clothing or other customs, and with a strong desire to maintain neutral, religious symbols are not adorned by the institution. The lesson for students is to embrace and include, even where personal beliefs diverge; Meanwhile, the guiding principle for the institution is to avoid actions that display favouritism toward any specific religious doctrine.

Such a solution could address a significant portion of the concerns fuelling the rising parental unrest. Moderate parents would applaud such an education system, and this would still be inclusive of transgender students. But in order for this to be realized, the two factions moving ever further apart will first need to come to the table and talk. Given the recent rhetoric from progressive quarters, the prospect of this dialogue anytime soon appears distant.


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Ex-diplomat says Poland asked him to keep tabs on Alberta politician



A month after Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it was looking into claims that the Polish government asked one of its diplomats in Canada to gather information on a former Alberta cabinet minister, the dismissed consul general at the centre of the affair says he still hasn’t heard from the department on the matter.

Andrzej Mańkowski told CBC News the only official he has heard from is a B.C. bureaucrat who asked him to return his diplomatic licence plates and identification.

“[Officials with Global Affairs] haven’t tried talking to me,” he said.

Mańkowski showed CBC News a copy of a letter dated Aug. 31 he received from B.C.’s Chief of Protocol for Intergovernmental Relations Lucy Lobmeier asking him to turn in his identity card and to return his diplomatic plates “within 30 days of this letter.” She also thanked him for his service.


Mańkowski alleges he was dismissed from his post in late July after he refused to carry out orders from the Polish government to gather information about Thomas Lukaszuk, a former deputy premier of Alberta who often provides commentary to CBC News about the province’s politics.

“It’s clear that Polish diplomacy during Communist times, the main responsibility was to collect information, to gather information on some Polish representatives abroad,” Mańkowski said, adding he felt as if the request was a throwback to that time.

“The analogy’s extremely evident.”

Last month, Global Affairs Canada said it was taking the allegations seriously.

Spying allegations ‘out of this world’: ambassador

In August, Lukaszuk said he believed he had been targeted by Poland’s department of foreign affairs over his activism against a controversial Polish pastor, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who has private radio and television stations in Poland.

Rydzyk, who has ties to the Polish government, has been criticized for delivering sermons featuring homophobic and anti-Semitic views and for preaching against the European Union.

Lukaszuk also shared what he said were encrypted messages Polish government officials sent to Mańkowski asking him over the course of a year to prepare notes on the former Alberta politician.

CBC News has not independently verified these messages were official government communications. Mańkowski did not dispute their veracity in his interview.

“Asking for my opinion about Lukaszuk was just a kind of trap, was just a political test of my loyalty,” he said.

Polish Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski has dismissed the claim that his government tried to get a diplomat to keep tabs on a former Alberta politician. (Darryl G. Smart/CBC News)

Poland’s Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski called the allegation “totally absurd.”

“The idea of Polish diplomacy spying on a former provincial politician … it’s really out of this world,” Dzielski said.

He said he has never met Lukaszuk and did not know of his previous career in politics before Lukaszuk emailed him about an unrelated consular matter long before the reports about Mańkowski came out.

Dzielski said that if the notes cited by Lukaszuk are real, they were leaked illegally because they would constitute private diplomatic communications.

The affair has captured attention in Polish media, where the story first broke.

In July, Polish opposition politicians cited the messages released by Lukaszuk when they asked Piotr Wawrzyk, a secretary of state in the government’s foreign affairs department, whether Mańkowski was dismissed because he refused to spy on Lukaszuk.

In reply, Wawrzyk said the government could recall a diplomat who refused to carry out an assignment.

Wawrzyk, who was also a deputy foreign minister, has since been fired himself over an unrelated matter both local media outlets and Reuters have linked to a clandestine scheme awarding migrants visas in exchange for cash.

On Saturday, The Associated Press noted he had been hospitalized following an apparent sucide attempt. 

“The minister, Wawrzyk, was laid off because of a totally different subject,” Dzielski said.

He pointed out that those documents were cited by opposition politicians in the context of a heated election campaign.

Dzielski� also said it’s normal for diplomats to be asked to gather information on notable members of diaspora communities.

‘A very marginal conversation’

“We are working very closely with them,” he said. “It is obvious and natural, and it is an element of diplomatic workshops, that we provide and we build ourselves opinions about the quality of cooperation with particular actors.”

He said Global Affairs has spoken to him about the allegations. “We had a very marginal conversation on this which reflects the level of seriousness of this topic,” he said.

A NATO member, Poland has worked closely with Canada to help out its neighbour Ukraine ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.

Asked for comment, Global Affairs said in a media statement it “continues to work closely with security and intelligence community partners to assess the situation and identify next steps as appropriate.”

The department said last month it had contacted Lukaszuk and that it took the responsibility of protecting Canadians from “transnational repression” very seriously.



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Put politics aside to solve housing crisis, or your kids might never own a home: Raitt




The Current20:05Putting politics aside to tackle the housing crisis


Political leaders of all stripes must find a way to work together to solve the housing and climate crises impacting Canadians, says former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.


“Toronto is the best example. NDP mayor, provincial premier who’s Conservative, federal Liberal who’s the prime minister,” said Raitt, co-lead of the new non-governmental Task Force for Housing and Climate, which launched Tuesday.

“And if they don’t figure this out, one voter is going to punish them all.”

The new task force is concerned with accelerating the construction of new homes, while ensuring that’s done in a sustainable way. In a press release, the group of former city mayors, planners, developers, economists and affordable housing advocates said it intends to convene until April 2024 to develop policy recommendations. The work is supported by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation.

Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. But as co-lead of the task force, Raitt said she won’t engage in the political partisanship that she thinks “poisons the well” around these issues.

“Part of the reason why we’re coming together as the task force is to have a real pragmatic and practical conversation about these issues instead of weaponizing it into a political arena, and finger pointing back and forth,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Trudeau pledges more housing as pressure mounts over affordability


Justin Trudeau announced funding to build more housing in London, Ont., as he and Liberal MPs kicked off their caucus retreat. The agreement comes as the government faces growing pressure to help make housing more affordable.

Canada needs to build an extra 3.5 million new units by the end of the decade, over and above what’s already in the works, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. A report this week showed rental costs have increased 9.6 per cent from Aug. 2022 to 2023, to an average now of $2,117 a month.

This week, the federal government announced it would cut the federal goods and services tax (GST) from the construction of new rental apartments, in an effort to spur new development. The Liberal government also pledged $74 million to build thousands of homes in London, Ont., — the first in what it hopes will be a series of agreements to accelerate housing construction.

Speaking in London on Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser called on municipalities to “legalize housing,” urging them to remove “sluggish permit-approval processes” and zoning obstacles if they expect federal investment in housing construction.

Poilievre slams PM on housing, says Trudeau ‘funds gatekeepers’


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s housing plans Thursday, saying the Liberal government’s ‘inflationary deficits’ and ‘taxes and bureaucracy’ are holding back construction of new homes.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the government’s plans as not going far enough, while pointing out it echoes some of his party’s proposals. He’s proposed measures that tie federal funding to the number of housing starts. Funding would be withheld from cities that fail to increase the number of homes built by 15 per cent, while cities that pass that threshold would receive bonuses.

Poilievre’s proposals also include a “NIMBY” fine on municipalities that block construction because of opposition from local residents, and the sale of 15 per cent of federally owned buildings so the land can be used to build affordable homes.

Don Iveson, former mayor of Edmonton and co-lead of the task force, said he understands why partisan politics can creep into the debate — but Canadians expect more.

He said the task force intends “to help all orders of government” understand what’s needed to tackle these problems from an economic, technical and planning perspective.

“We’re not going to be able to solve the housing crisis [by] building housing the way we built it for the last several generations,” said said Iveson, who was mayor of Edmonton from 2013 to 2021.

A woman stands in the House of Commons in Ottawa, with people sitting in the background.
Lisa Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Your kids need a place to live: Raitt

Iveson said the challenge of scaling up housing construction will require some new ways of thinking.

That might mean a greater emphasis on automation and building houses from components prefabricated off-site, which he described as “essentially a more factory approach” that could also reduce construction costs.

Raitt said the task force will examine where houses are built, and in what kind of density, to ensure scaling up can “get the most bang for the buck.”

That might mean Canadians might need to have difficult conversations, including whether to build multi-storey buildings instead of single-family homes.

Raitt said older Canadians who already own their own homes might not like the idea of taller buildings going up around them, but they should speak to their kids about it.


Strangers buy homes together to combat unaffordable housing.


CBC’s Sohrab Sandhu reports on an unorthodox strategy where some people are deciding to buy homes with strangers.

“They don’t care if it’s going to be four, six storeys in a residential neighbourhood. They just want a place that they know that they can purchase,” she said.

“Talk about whether or not our kids are going to have a place to live, let alone rent, let alone own, let alone a house in the communities where they were brought up, because right now it’s not looking so good.”

Counting the cost of climate change

When it comes to climate change and sustainability, the task force’s goals come down to a “very simple equation,” Raitt said.

“Whatever we’re building now is going to be here in 2050. So if it’s going to be part of the calculation of our net-zero aspirations, whatever they’re going to be,” she said.

She said the task force will work to formulate ways to build housing that take emissions into account, but don’t include prohibitive costs that slow down the rate of construction.

“It’s going to be a little bit more costly to build with climate indications built in … but you’ve got to make sure that there’s policies surrounding that to make sure it still makes it affordable,” she said.


Visuals of homes destroyed by wildfire in Upper Tantallon, N.S.


Officials say the fire, which is burning out of control as of Monday morning, is expected to grow.

Iveson said wildfires, floods, heat domes and extreme weather events are already disrupting the economy, as well as posing huge financial burdens for the Canadians caught up in them.

“Climate change is already costing us a fortune,” he told Galloway.

Building without those climate considerations “maybe seems affordable in the short term, but it’s false economy when it comes to the real costs ahead of us,” he said.



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