Polluters, as all those big energy producers (Big Oils, OPEC members and non members alike) are labelled, appeared to be ‘undermining’ UN climate Paris agreement. In effect, Oil, Gas and Coal world giants are exploiting a lack of conflict-of-interest protection at UN climate talks to push for continued fossil fuel use despite its contribution to catastrophic climate change through expensive lobbying campaigns because as it happens these oil, gas and coal giants could stand to waste trillions in a moderate world climate change. Patrick Galey elaborates on Phys.org.
The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
Two of the companies—Shell and Chevron—said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.
“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic programme of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.
“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”
The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.
At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change—composed of the world’s leading climate scientists—issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.
InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.
It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.
“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.
It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.
The report came one day after the European Parliament was urged to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access, after the US giant failed to attend a hearing where expert witnesses said the oil giant has knowingly misled the public over climate change.
“How can we accept that companies spending hundreds of millions on lobbying against the EU’s goal of reaching the Paris agreement are still granted privileged access to decision makers?” said Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher, who was not involved in the InfluenceMap report.
The report said Exxon alone spent $56 million a year on “climate branding” and $41 million annually on lobbying efforts.
In 2017 the company’s shareholders voted to push it to disclose what tougher emissions policies in the wake of Paris would mean for its portfolio.
With the exception of France’s Total, each oil major had largely focused climate lobbying expenditure in the US, the report said.
Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.
AFP contacted all five oil and gas companies mentioned in the report for comment.
“We disagree with the assertion that Chevron has engaged in ‘climate-related branding and lobbying’ that is ‘overwhelmingly in conflict’ with the Paris Agreement,” said a Chevron spokesman.
“We are taking action to address potential climate change risks to our business and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
A spokeswoman for Shell—which the report said spends $49 million annually on climate lobbying—said it “firmly rejected” the findings.
“We are very clear about our support for the Paris Agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy,” they told AFP.
BP, ExxonMobil and Total did not provide comment to AFP.
To date, nine cities have
sued the fossil industry for climate damages. California fisherman are going after oil companies for their role in warming the Pacific Ocean,
a process that soaks the Dungeness crabs they harvest with a dangerous neurotoxin.
Former acting New York state attorney general Barbara Underwood has
opened an investigation into whether ExxonMobil has misled its
shareholders about the risks it faces from climate change, a push current
Attorney General Leticia James has said she is eager to keep up. Massachusetts
attorney general Maura Healey opened an earlier investigation into
whether Exxon defrauded the public by spreading disinformation about climate
change, which various courts — including the Supreme Court — have refused to block despite the company’s pleas. And in Juliana vs. U.S., young people have filed suit against the
government for violating their constitutional rights by pursuing policies that
intensify global warming, hitting the dense ties between Big Oil and the state.
These are welcome attempts to hold the industry
responsible for its role in warming our earth. It’s time, however, to take this
series of legal proceedings to the next level: we should try fossil-fuel
executives for crimes against humanity.
a Reasonable Doubt
Just one hundred fossil fuel producers — including privately
held and state-owned companies — have been responsible for 71 percent of the
greenhouse gas emissions released since 1988, emissions that have already
killed at least tens of thousands of people through climate-fueled disasters
Green New Deal advocates have been right to focus
on the myriad ways that decarbonization can improve the lives of working-class Americans. But an important
complement to that is holding those most responsible for the crisis fully
accountable. It’s the right thing to do, and it makes clear to fossil-fuel
executives that they could face consequences beyond vanishing profits.
More immediately, a push to try fossil-fuel
executives for crimes against humanity could channel some much-needed populist
rage at the climate’s 1 percent, and render them persona non grata in
respectable society — let alone Congress or the UN, where they today enjoy
broad access. Making people like Exxon CEO Darren Woods or Shell CEO Ben van Beurden well known and widely reviled would put names
and faces to a problem too often discussed in the abstract. The climate fight
has clear villains. It’s long past time to name and shame them.
Left unchecked, the death toll of climate change
could easily creep up into the hundreds of millions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), in turn unleashing chaos and suffering that’s simply
impossible to project. An independent report commissioned by twenty governments in 2012
found that climate impacts are already causing an estimated four hundred
thousand deaths per year.
Counting a wider range of casualties attributed to
burning fossil fuels — air pollution, indoor smoke, occupational hazards, and
skin cancer — that figure jumps to nearly 5 million a year. By 2030, annual
climate and carbon-related deaths are expected to reach nearly 6 million.
That’s the rough equivalent of one Holocaust every year, which in just a few
short years could surpass the total number of people killed in World War II.
All caused by the fossil-fuel industry.
Knowing full well the deadly consequences of
continued drilling, the individuals at the helm of fossil-fuel companies each
day choose to seek out new reserves to burn as quickly as possible to keep
their shareholders happy. They use every possible tool — and they have many —
to sabotage regulatory action.
That we need to instead strip fossil fuels from the
global economy isn’t up for debate. Without the increasingly distant-seeming
deployment of speculative, so-called negative emissions technologies, coal
usage will have to decline by 97 percent, oil by 87 percent, and gas by 74
percent by 2050 for us to have a halfway decent shot at keeping warming below
1.5 degrees celsius. That’s what it will take to avert pervasive, catastrophic
climate impacts that will destabilize the very foundations of society. (Keeping
warming to a more dangerous 2.0 degrees celsius will require decarbonization
that’s almost as abrupt.)
A recent report by
Oil Change International detailing the climate costs of continued drilling lays
the problem out in simple terms: either we embark on a managed decline of the
fossil-fuel industry, or we face economic and ecological ruin. Simply put, the
business model of the fossil-fuel industry is incompatible with the continued
existence of anything we might recognize as human civilization.
Barring a major course correction, that business
model — and more specifically, the executives who have designed and executed it
— will be responsible for untold suffering within many of our lifetimes, with
the youngest and poorest among us bearing a disproportionate burden, along with
people of color and residents of the Global South.
As recent research and reporting have documented,
some of the world’s biggest polluters have known for decades about the deadly
threat of global warming and the role their products play in fueling it. Some
companies began research into climate change as early as the 1950s. These days,
none can claim not to know the mortal danger posed by their ongoing extraction.
Crime Against Humanity
Technically speaking, what fossil-fuel companies do
isn’t genocide. Low-lying islands and communities around the world are and will
continue to be the worst hit by climate impacts.
Still, the case against the fossil-fuel industry is
not that their executives are targeting specific “national, ethnical, racial,
or religious” groups for annihilation, per the Rome Statute,
which enumerates the various types of human rights abuses that can be heard
before the International Criminal Court. Rather, the fossil industry’s behavior
constitutes a Crime Against Humanity in the classical sense: “a widespread or
systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of
the attack,” including murder and extermination. Unlike genocide, the UN
clarifies, in the case of crimes against humanity,
it is not necessary to prove that there is an
overall specific intent. It suffices for there to be a simple intent to commit
any of the acts listed…The perpetrator must also act with knowledge of the
attack against the civilian population and that his/her action is part of that
Fossil-fuel executives may not have intended to destroy the world as we know it. And climate change may not look like the kinds of attacks we’re used to. But they’ve known what their industry is doing to the planet for a long time, and the effects are likely to be still more brutal if the causes are allowed to continue.
Energy Reporters posting an article on Libya’s oil chief being bullish amid his country’s chaos that does seem to be wanting to end.
aims to more than double its oil production to 2.1 million
barrels per day (bpd) by 2021 provided security and stability are boosted, said Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of
the state oil company, the National Oil Corporation (NOC).
The war-torn state produces 953,000 bpd, compared
to its pre-war capacity of 1.6 million bpd, according to Sanalla.
The oil boss demanded increased security at El Sharara oil field to ensure the
315,000 bpd site – which on December 8 was overrun by tribal activists, protesters and
security guards demanding unpaid wages – could return to production.
El Sharara, around 750km southwest of the capital Tripoli, is the country’s
largest oil field. Until recently it was producing about 270,000 barrels of oil
per day, more than a quarter of Libya’s daily oil production.
The oil activists demanded the rebuilding of cities and towns affected by
post-2011 armed conflict and providing liquidity for banks in the south to
boost recovery efforts.
“What happened in El Sharara discourages foreign companies,” said Sanalla, who
announced a visit to China in early 2018 to discuss oil investment
“The legitimate and rightful concerns of the southern Libyan communities are
being hijacked and abused by armed gangs, who instead of protecting the field
to generate wealth for all Libyans, are actually enabling its exploitation and
looting,” said Sanalla.
He also confirmed the improved security conditions in the Sirte basin in
central Libya which would enable the launch of production at the Farigh gas
field to 24 million cubic feet per day in three months, with an eventual output
goal of 270 million cubic feet per day, Sanalla said.
Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj (pictured) recently agreed to set up funds in
excess of US$700 million for the development of southern Libya, which has
suffered from decades of neglect after talks with the El Sharara militants. The
talks followed a warning from Sanalla that the government should not encourage
the militant groups at El Sharara with concessions as this would set a
dangerous precedent for other direct action.
Despite security problems, the NOC said it expected full-year revenue to surge
by 76 per cent to US$24.2 billion for 2018.
Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Libya’s oil
producers struggle with security challenges, making the war-torn state an
unreliable member of Opec. Picture credit: Wikimedia
Fossil fuels have a wide range of applications including generation of electricity, transport fuels, making products like plastics, cosmetics, and even certain medicines. But why scientists and environmentalist are fighting to end the use of fossil fuels and promoting solar and wind energy instead? The damage that fossil fuel cause to the environment is affecting the entire ecosystem. The impact is disastrous and haunting for the health of our planet. These damages are in some cases easy to see and evaluate such as pollution and land degradation. However, the damage can take various forms and be hidden and difficult to measure such as asthma and cancer or even the impact on sea level rise.
Environmental impact of fossil fuels
In order to better understand the environmental impact of fossil fuels, it is essential to be aware of the production and transmission systems of this industry. In fact, fossil fuels are limited natural resources and the human being will eventually be forced to find another source of energy. The fossil fuels include crude oil, coal, natural gas or heavy oils, which are made up of partially or completely decomposed plants and animals. These plants and animals died millions of years ago and, over long periods of time, they became a part of the earth’s crust and were exposed to heat and pressure which, through carbon chemistry, turned them into fossil fuels and sources of energy for people.
Fossil fuels, when burnt, release gases and particles, which can cause pollution if not managed correctly. Carbon dioxide, one of the gases released from burning fossil fuels is one of the major contributors to global warming.
Rapidly changing Earth
The environmental impact of the production, transmission and consumption of fossil fuel energy can be clearly noticed in the recent statistical reports on climate change. Our planet is rapidly changing. February 2016 was the warmest February since record keeping began in 1880, and was the warmest month in recorded history (in terms of its deviation from average). May 2016, the warmest May on record, was the 13th consecutive record-breaking month.
The impact of fossil fuel industry can be visualized during its whole supply chain network (85% of the CO2 emissions come from fossil fuel combustion). According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the extraction processes can generate air and water pollution, and harm local communities, transportation fuels from the mine or oil well can cause air pollution and lead to serious accidents and spills.
The burning process of fuels emits toxins and global warming emissions. The whole procedure of fossil fuel produces a hazardous waste that harms public health and the environment we live in.
Consequences on sustainable development
The fossil fuel industry including coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear fuels has a negative impact the biodiversity of the planet and a big factor in the climate change. Fossil fuels generates, in general, consequences on the economic, environmental and social level. In fact, according to a research study conducted by Olson and Lenzmann from the Netherlands, the impact of fossil fuels cannot be limited to the amount of CO2 emissions as it is advertised to the public.
Fossil fuels have consequences on the three pillars of sustainable development. In their paper entitled the social and economic consequences of the fossil fuel supply chain: “Fuels are resources that can be used to ﬁll the needs of society. So it would intuitively follow that an abundance of these resources would lead to improved economies and more stable nations. But this is in fact clearly not the case for oil & gas resources. Of the 34 countries who are able to derive more than 5% of their GDP from oil exports, only 9 are ranked as stable nations”
Catastrophic risk for economy
Currently 80 percent of the global primary energy demand is based on fossil fuels and the energy system is considered the source of two thirds of global CO2 emissions in average. Unfortunately, if the current production and consumption of energy is going on the same rates, the demand will double by the year 2050 and emissions will greatly surpass the amount of carbon that can be emitted if the global average temperature rise is to be limited to 2C (according to a study by unchronicled). This level of CO2 emissions would be frightful and have disastrous climate consequences on the planet earth.
The Paris Agreement signed in December 2015 has solidiﬁed agreement that the world must address climate change and has resounded the warning that inaction on climate change carries potentially catastrophic risk for the global economy.
Although most governments are increasingly embracing renewable energy, fossil fuels are still the world’s dominant energy source due to their high energy density. Therefore understanding the danger of fossil fuels is important to truly measure the impact of this industry on our lives and the life of our planet. It is now essential to make a change and start elaborating a new future of energy production and transmission.
Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas. Union of Concerned Scientists.
Andrew J.Chapman, Kenshi Itaoka Energy transition to a future low-carbon energy society in Japan’s liberalizing electricity market: Precedents, policies and factors of successful transition. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 81, Part 2, January 2018, Pages 2019-2027
The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels. The true costs of coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels aren’t always obvious but their impacts can be disastrous. Union of Concerned Scientists
Under current policies, said the IEA this week, the world would see increasing strains on almost all aspects of energy security and “a major additional rise” in energy-related carbon emissions.
And under a new policies scenario, incorporating measures and targets already announced by governments worldwide, global energy demand would still grow by more than a quarter through 2040, leading to increased demand for oil.
Even under a sustainable development scenario, aimed at achieving the energy goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda and the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement, renewables growth falls short of delivering a climate change cure.
Instead, said the IEA, society would also need to rely on energy efficiency and largely untested technologies such as renewable hydrogen synthesis and carbon capture, utilization and storage, as well as write off current investments in new coal plants.
“Most emissions linked to energy infrastructure are already essentially locked in,” the IEA explained in a press release. “In particular, coal-fired power plants, which account for one third of energy-related CO2 emissions today, represent more than a third of cumulative locked-in emissions to 2040.”
The situation is particularly grave in Asia, where coal plants have an average age of 11 years old and are supposed to carry on running for decades, compared to the 40-year average age of coal-fired generation assets in the U.S. and Europe, said the IEA.
In press materials, the IEA’s executive director Dr. Fatih Birol said the agency had reviewed all current and under-construction energy infrastructure around the world and found it would account for around 95 percent of all emissions permitted under international climate targets.
“This means that if the world is serious about meeting its climate targets, then, as of today, there needs to be a systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies,” Birol said.
“But we also need to be much smarter about the way that we use our existing energy system,” he said. “To be successful, this will need an unprecedented global political and economic effort.”
In the IEA’s sustainable development scenario, electrification grows strongly, but so too does the direct use of renewables such as bioenergy, solar and geothermal to provide heat and mobility.
The share of renewables in the power mix would need to rise from a quarter today to two-thirds in 2040. For heating it would need to go up from 10 percent today to 25 percent in 2040, and in transport it would need to rise from 3.5 percent to 19 percent.
The scenario foresees vast increases in wind and solar PV generation, up from 1.5 petawatt-hours a year in 2017 to 14.1 petawatt-hours in 2040. Electric vehicle adoption would also have to soar, from 9.2 million cars in 2017 to more than 933 million in 2040.
Wind, solar and electric vehicles are all commercially viable industries, though.
What is perhaps more worrying about the IEA’s sustainable development scenario is that it relies heavily on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), a technology which has yet to reach commercial scale and which Wood Mackenzie believes will have a “limited impact on achieving future targets.”
Under the sustainable development scenario, CCUS would have to go from capturing 22.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2017 to more than 2,364 gigatons in 2040, or more than a hundredfold increase in 23 years.
Even organizations that stood to gain under the IEA scenarios offered guarded responses to the latest World Energy Outlook.
Noting that the IEA has shortened the length of time in its forecast at which wind would become the largest grid power source in Europe, Giles Dickson, CEO at the industry body WindEurope, said, “While it’ll be good to be No. 1 in electricity, electricity is only 24 percent of Europe’s energy.”
“To decarbonize the whole energy system, we’re going have to start getting large amounts of wind and other renewables into heating, transport and industrial processes,” he added.
On the plus side, though, the IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook scenarios have historically been criticized for underestimating renewables growth.
The Eindhoven University of Technology researcher Auke Hoekstra, for example, has shown that World Energy Outlook reference and new policy scenarios for solar energy capacity additions have been massively beneath what has happened in real life.
Policymakers may be hoping the same is true this year. But it might be necessary not to wait too long to find out.
After our publishing of Huge Impact of Stranded Fossil Fuel Assets, we would like to reiterate on if the Fossil Fuels lose all their value after worldwide disenchantment with this kind of energy procurement, it will cost the global economy $4 trillion. The “time bomb” due to this “Carbon Bubble” from investment in fossil fuels which is likely to burst, wiping off trillions of Dollars from the global economy, according to this research published in Nature Climate Change. Here is now Out-Law.com which based on a recent Lloyds’s of London study, adds that Climate change losses will continue to grow.
Potential economic losses from climate change and extreme weather events will continue to grow in the world’s largest cities, which are already facing an estimated annual average loss of $123 billion, according to a new report.12 Jun 2018
Climate change risks account for around one fifth of potential lost GDP covered by the 2018 Lloyd’s City Risk Index, produced in conjunction with the Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge University. The most severe risks connected to climate change tracked by the report are tropical windstorms and flooding, which account for $62.6bn and $42.9bn of total tracked risk respectively.
Average global GDP at risk from the threats tracked by the report now exceeds $540bn, or 1.54% of world GDP 2018, up from 1.48% of world GDP at risk in the 2017 report. This figure is not a ‘worst case’ economic loss, but rather combines the size of losses with their likelihoods to arrive at an estimated annual loss.
The report groups threats into five ‘classes’: natural catastrophes; financial, economics and trade; technology and space; geopolitics and security; and health and humanity. Of these, natural catastrophes accounted for the highest overall loss value. However, geopolitics and security risks have grown more rapidly than other threat classes in recent years, with a 40% increase since 2015. This category includes risks such as interstate conflict, civil conflict, terrorism and social unrest.
The report tracks the potential impact of these threats on the world’s largest 279 cities, which together account for 41% of global GDP. Of those, the 10 cities with the highest exposure together account for $127bn worth of potential loss, or almost a quarter of the total. Many of the cities facing the greatest losses, such as Tokyo and London, are also labelled the most “resilient” by the report. However, if every city in the world were to improve its resilience to “very strong”, global risk would reduce by $73.4bn, according to the report.
“The Lloyd’s City Risk Index 2018, which has evolved since its first launch in 2015, is important for insurers and their underwriters in – at least attempting to – understand what the future risk landscape may look like,” said insurance law expert Elaine Quinn of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.
“It is clear that resilience needs to develop in the market around climate-related risk in particular. The report confirms these risks are likely to increase in frequency and severity – in 2017, we witnessed some of the highest insured losses ever from natural catastrophe events. Although much climate-related risk today remains uninsured, growing awareness and pressure means we are seeing the industry really waking up and paying attention, both to its role in closing the protection gap and to its responsibility in proactively mitigating climate change impacts where possible,” she said.
Taken together, man-made risks remain a bigger threat to global economic output than natural disasters, accounting for $320.1bn, or 59% of the total, according to the report. Market crash is the top threat tracked by the report, putting $103.33bn of total GDP at risk; followed by interstate conflict, under which $80bn of total GDP is at risk. Cyber crime is now the 7th most serious threat, putting $36.54bn of global GDP at risk.
The report highlights the role that insurance can play in providing “cash injection following a catastrophic event, allowing cities to rebuild and recover more quickly”. It also recommends that insurers and brokers “invest in developing new products”, particularly in relation to difficult-to-quantify man-made risks.
However, Lloyd’s chair Bruce Carnegie-Brown stressed that cities should also be investing in resilience measures, as well as effective insurance cover.
“The index shows that investing in resilience – from physical flood defences to digital firewalls and enhanced cyber security, combined with insurance – will help significantly reduce the impact of extreme events on cities, improve economic stability and enhance prosperity for all,” he said. “I urge insurers, governments and businesses to look at the index, and work together to reduce these exposures by building more resilient infrastructure and institutions.”