Obama Isolated As U.S. Allies Join China’s New Coal Bank

World bankBeijing on Wednesday is officially announcing the founding members of its Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which will use initial capital of $50 billion — and eventually $100 billion — to invest in infrastructure projects across Asia. The U.S. has lobbied against the new institution, and to the surprise and embarrassment of the Obama administration, the list of participating nations includes nearly every major economy, except for the U.S. and Japan. –Don Lee, Los Ageles Times, 15 April 2015

American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States. The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy. This conflict is not merely playing out in the strategic maneuvering of the United States and China as they engage in a struggle for influence on the global stage. —Eduardo Porter, The New York Times, 14 April 2015

The Australian Cabinet has moved closer to Australia joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite US concerns about the Chinese using loans to ­extend their global influence and to cut across US-led lending ­policies limiting loans for clean-coal technology. On Monday, cabinet further discussed Australia joining the bank with 35 other nations after the Prime Minister changed his position on the matter, no longer accepting warnings from the US about the dangers of China’s ­influence and “excessive accommodation of China”. Mr Obama’s administration has been tightening internat­ional funding for coal-fired ­generation but the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is likely to be more sympathetic to the pleas of developing nations. –Dennis Shanahan, The Australian, 25 March 2015

Australia has joined forces with Japan in international ­forums to resist the US campaign of limiting lending to developing nations seeking more efficient coal-fired generation. The technology offers the promise of cheaper power. The moves follow Mr Obama’s climate change speech at the G20 summit in Brisbane last November. The US President’s remarks, which embarrassed Mr Abbott and angered his ministers, were seen as an ­attempt to push the administration’s climate change policies in Mr Obama’s final year in office. –Dennis Shanahan, The Australian, 25 March 2015

With environmentalists calling for divestment from fossil fuels, the former United Nations climate chief has gone against the grain and defended using the “Green Climate Fund” to finance coal projects. Yvo De Boer, the former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is not for no restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from coal. He said that countries should impose a carbon tax on emissions to fight global warming, but also to not unfairly ban any single fuel source. –Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, 14 April 2015

Coal [is] an essential part of the energy mix for many developing countries for decades to come. There are massive challenges in terms of poverty eradication where coal is a logical choice from a cost effectiveness point of view, and you really have to be in a position to offer those countries an economically viable alternative before you begin to rule out coal. It’s strange for me as a climate person to say that, but it’s an honest answer. –Yvo de Boer, former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Responding to Climate Change, 11 April 2015

German energy companies say that construction of over half the country’s planned power plants could be scuppered if the country goes ahead with a leaked plan to set emissions budgets for the country’s biggest polluters. The issue is fast becoming a test of the German government’s commitment to decarbonise its economy, with German trades unions threatening mass mobilisations against a measure that they say would put 100,000 jobs at risk. –Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 15 April 2015

As the Ontario government announces new unilateral climate policies, Canadian policymakers would be well advised to heed the lessons of Europe’s self-defeating green energy debacle. –Benny Peiser, Financial Post, 14 April 2015