Category Archives: Climate Change

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

The Guardian (July 10, 2017)
by Tess Riley
@Tess Riley

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says.

A relatively small number of fossil fuel producers and their investors could hold the key to tackling climate change

oil rig from the guardian
An oil rig exploring for oil and gas. A new report says more than 50% of global industrial emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 companies. Photograph: Dazman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.

The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute.

Traditionally, large scale greenhouse gas emissions data is collected at a national level but this report focuses on fossil fuel producers. Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change.

The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report.

ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

While companies have a huge role to play in driving climate change, says Faria, the barrier is the “absolute tension” between short-term profitability and the urgent need to reduce emissions.

A Carbon Tracker study in 2015 found that fossil fuel companies risked wasting more than $2tn over the coming decade by pursuing coal, oil and gas projects that could be worthless in the face of international action on climate change and advances in renewables – in turn posing substantial threats to investor returns.

CDP says its aims with the carbon majors project are both to improve transparency among fossil fuel producers and to help investors understand the emissions associated with their fossil fuel holdings.

A fifth of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions are backed by public investment, according to the report. “That puts a significant responsibility on those investors to engage with carbon majors and urge them to disclose climate risk,” says Faria.

Investors should move out of fossil fuels, says Michael Brune, executive director of US environmental organisation the Sierra Club. “Not only is it morally risky, it’s economically risky. The world is moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy and is doing so at an accelerated pace. Those left holding investments in fossil fuel companies will find their investments becoming more and more risky over time.”

There is a “growing wave of companies that are acting in the opposite manner to the companies in this report,” says Brune. Nearly 100 companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Ikea have committed to 100% renewable power under the RE100 initiative. Volvo recently announced that all its cars would be electric or hybrid from 2019.

And oil and gas companies are also embarking on green investments. Shell set up a renewables arm in 2015 with a $1.7bn investment attached and a spokesperson for Chevron says it’s “committed to managing its [greenhouse gas] emissions” and is investing in two of the world’s largest carbon dioxide injection projects to capture and store carbon. A BP spokesperson says its “determined to be part of the solution” for climate change and is “investing in renewables and low-carbon innovation.” And ExxonMobil, which has faced heavy criticism for its environmental record, has been exploring carbon capture and storage.

But for many the sums involved and pace of change are nowhere near enough. A research paper published last year by Paul Stevens, an academic at think tank Chatham House, said international oil companies were no longer fit for purpose and warned these multinationals that they faced a “nasty, brutish and short” end within the next 10 years if they did not completely change their business models.

Investors now have a choice, according to Charlie Kronick, senior programme advisor at Greenpeace UK. “The future of the oil industry has already been written: the choice is will its decline be managed, returning capital to shareholders to be reinvested in the genuine industries of the future, or will they hold on, hoping not be the last one standing when the music stops?”

A list of the world’s Top 100 Polluters is available on line at The Guardian.

Climate Change-Poverty-Migration: The New, Inhuman ‘Bermuda Triangle’

by Baher Kamal
IPS News Service

crisis-lakechadbasin-sahel-5_-605x472
Unprecedented levels of population displacements in the Lake Chad Basin:  Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria. Credit: FAO

ROME, Jul 7 2017 (IPS) – World organisations, experts and scientists have been repeating it to satiety: climate change poses a major risk to the poorest rural populations in developing countries, dangerously threatening their lives and livelihoods and thus forcing them to migrate.

Also that the billions of dollars that the major industrialised powers—those who are the main responsible for climate change, spend on often illegal, inhumane measures aiming at impeding the arrival of migrants and refuges to their countries, could be devoted instead to preventing the root causes of massive human displacements.

One such a solution is to invest in sustainable agriculture. On this, the world’s leading body in the fields of food and agriculture has once again warned that climate change often leads to distress-driven migration, while stressing that promoting sustainable agriculture is an essential part of an effective policy response.

The “solution to this great challenge” lies in bolstering the economic activities that the vast majority of rural populations are already engaged in,” José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 6 July said.

The UN specialised agency’s chief cited figures showing that since 2008 one person has been displaced every second by climate and weather disasters –an average of 26 million a year– and suggesting the trend is likely to intensify in the immediate future as rural areas struggle to cope with warmer weather and more erratic rainfall.

For his part, William Lacy Swing, director-general of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), also on July 6 said “Although less visible than extreme events like a hurricane, slow-onset climate change events tend to have a much greater impact over time.”

“Since 2008 one person has been displaced every second by climate and weather disasters”

Swing cited the drying up over 30 years of Lake Chad, now a food crisis hotspot. “Many migrants will come from rural areas, with a potentially major impact on agricultural production and food prices.”

FAO and IOM, chosen as co-chairs for 2018 of the Global Migration Group –an inter-agency group of 22 UN organisations– are collaborating on ways to tackle the root causes of migration, an increasingly pressing issue for the international community.

Drivers of Rural Migration
“Rural areas of developing countries, where often poor households have limited capacity to cope with and manage risks, are forecast to bear the brunt of higher average temperatures. Such vulnerabilities have been worsened by years of under-investment in rural areas.” Continue reading Climate Change-Poverty-Migration: The New, Inhuman ‘Bermuda Triangle’

Fossil Fuels: At What Price?

InterPress Service
By John Scales Avery
The author was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organising the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. He is Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen. He was chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy, and he is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century.env

A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK.| Author: John from wikipedia | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

OSLO, Sep 7 2016 (IPS) – We often read comparisons between the prices of solar energy or wind energy with the prices of fossil fuels. It is encouraging to see that renewables are rapidly becoming competitive, and are often cheaper than coal or oil. In fact, if coal, oil and natural gas were given their correct prices renewables would be recognized as being incomparably cheaper than fossil fuels.

Externalities in pricing
The concept of externalities in pricing was first put forward by two British economists, Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) and Arthur C. Pigou (1877-1959).
In his book “The Economics of Welfare”, published in 1920, Pigou further developed the concept of externalities in pricing which had earlier been introduced by Sidgwick. He proposed that a tax be introduced to correct pricing for the effect of externalities.

An externality is the cost or benefit of some unintended consequence of an economic action. For example, tobacco companies do not really wish for their customers to die from cancer, but a large percentage of them do, and the social costs of this slaughter ought to be reflected in the price of tobacco.

The true environmental costs of fossil fuel use are much greater than those of smoking. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels within one or two decades, we risk a situation where uncontrollable feedback loops will lead to catastrophic climate change regardless of human efforts to prevent the disaster.

If we do not act very quickly to replace fossil fuels by renewables, we risk initiating a 6th geological extinction event. This might even be comparable to the Permian-Triasic extinction, during which 96 per cent of all marine species and 70 per cent of all vertebrates were lost forever.

Subsidies to fossil fuel companies
Far from being penalized for destroying the global environment and threatening the future of all life on earth, fossil fuel companies currently receive approximately $500,000,000,000 per year in subsidies (as estimated by the IEA).
They use part of this vast sum to conduct advertising campaigns to convince the public that anthropogenic climate change is not real.

Betrayal by the mainstream media
If we turn on our television sets, almost nothing that we see informs us of the true predicament of human society and the biosphere.

env2
John Scales Avery

Programs like “Top Gear” promote automobile use. Programs depicting ordinary life show omnipresent motor cars and holiday air travel. There is nothing to remind us that we must rapidly renounce the use of fossil fuels.
A further betrayal by the mainstream media can be seen in their massive free coverage of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is an infamous climate change denier.
Despite the misinformation that we receive from the mainstream media, we must remember our urgent duty to leave fossil fuels in the ground. If threats to the future are taken into account, the price of these fuels is prohibitive.

The statements and views mentioned in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IPS.

Climate deal ‘to keep rises well below 2C’

BBC
Text of Paris Agreement

paris1
The French president (left) called on nations to adopt “the first universal agreement on climate”.

Organizers of climate talks in Paris have released details of a proposed landmark deal to curb climate change.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the final draft of the deal was fair, “legally binding” and would limit warming to “well below 2C”. Continue reading Climate deal ‘to keep rises well below 2C’

Invited by Vatican, Naomi Klein Makes Moral Case for World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Common Dreams

Activist and author praises ‘courageous’ invitation by Pope in face of fossil fuel industry’s power

Nadia Prupis

Author and activist Naomi Klein spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday, calling climate change a "moral crisis" that should unite all people. (Photo: Adolfo Lujan/flickr/cc)
Author and activist Naomi Klein spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday, calling climate change a “moral crisis” that should unite all people. (Photo: Adolfo Lujan/flickr/cc)

Naomi Klein—activist, author, and self-described “secular Jewish feminist”—spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday where she championed the Pope’s message for global action on climate change and made the case for “the beautiful world” beyond fossil fuel addiction.

Klein, who was invited to speak by the Vatican, gave her speech ahead of a two-day conference to discuss the Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the environment and the threat of the global economic system—subjects that the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate knows well.

The encyclical has garnered praise from environmental campaigners like Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo, who called it a “clarion call for bold, urgent action.”

“Pope Francis writes early on that Laudato Si’ is not only a teaching for the Catholic world but for ‘every person living on this planet.’ And I can say that as a secular Jewish feminist who was rather surprised to be invited to the Vatican, it certainly spoke to me,” Klein told reporters ahead of the conference, which is called People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.

She praised what she described as “the core message of interconnection at the heart of the encyclical.”

Klein also expanded on what may appear to be an unlikely alliance with the leader of the Catholic Church. Continue reading Invited by Vatican, Naomi Klein Makes Moral Case for World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Georgetown University Announces End to Endowment Investments in Coal Mining Companies

Ignatian Solidarity Network

Georgetown University and Georgetown University’s Board of Directors passed a resolution announcing the end to direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is mining coal for use in energy production.
Georgetown University and Georgetown University’s Board of Directors passed a resolution announcing the end to direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is mining coal for use in energy production.

WASHINGTON, DC – On June 4, 2015, the Board of Directors of Georgetown University passed a  resolution stating that the university will not make or continue any direct investments of endowment funds in companies whose principal business is mining coal for use in energy production.

The board resolution emphasizes Georgetown’s Jesuit Catholic mission as an impetus to “lead on issues of justice and the common good such as environmental protection and sustainability.”  It also states clearly that climate change is “real and poses a serious threat.”  They also identified the efforts of Georgetown University Fossil Free and the University’s Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility.

“The work of understanding and responding to the demands of climate change is urgent and complex,” said John J. DeGioia, Ph.D., president of Georgetown University in a university statement. DeGioia continued, “It requires our most serious attention. As a university community, we can best respond to this evolving and ongoing challenge when we acknowledge the tensions embedded in this work – and the variety of perspectives that are present in this moment.”

This announcement comes from Georgetown as another Jesuit university is considering a call from faculty to divest from fossil fuel related industries.  Earlier this year over 200 Loyola University Chicago faculty members expressed their support of the movement to divest led by Loyola president Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J.  The issue will be addressed by university administrators and the board of directors in the coming weeks.

Action on both campuses comes just a couple weeks before Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change will be promulgated.  Earlier today the Vatican announced that it will be shared publicly on June 18th.

Six Things to Expect When Francis Goes to Washington

AMERICA MAGAZINE / THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REVIEW
By David Gibson (RNS)

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Credit: America Magazine)
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Credit: America Magazine)

Everyone wants Congress to stop fighting and get working, and that includes Pope Francis, a top adviser said on April 29 in a preview of the pope’s upcoming U.S. trip.

The Argentine-born pontiff has never been to the U.S., but he will make history in September as the first pope to address a joint meeting of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

“The pope will come humbly but will talk clearly,” Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top adviser to Francis, told an audience at Georgetown University. More…