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The Paris Agreement: Have Oil Companies Got The Memo?

By David Powell, associate director, environment, at the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This article has been cross-posted from NEF.

If you’re the boss of BP, Chevron or Shell, how worried are you right now? 

171 governments put pen to paper last week, formally signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The New York event was an encouraging, albeit largely symbolic, confirmation of December’s commitment to limit temperature rises to two degrees or lower.

The world has spoken; the science is clear; the likes of Mark Carney continue to warn about the economic risk of drilling like there’s no tomorrow. Paris provokes a very simple acid test: most of the world’s known reserves of oil, coal and gas will have to be kept in the ground – and you can forget prospecting for more.

There’s only one problem: oil companies don’t seem to have noticed.

Six Years After Deepwater Horizon: Time For Serious Action

BP oil disaster by Julie Dermansky

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 will mark the six-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that claimed the lives of eleven men and caused the largest man-made oil spill in history.

The cleanup crews abandoned the Gulf Coast years ago, claiming that the damage from the spill was “gone” and the media quit paying attention shortly after the wellhead was capped at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite the lack of attention paid to the Gulf region in recent years, the lasting damage of the oil spill is something that remains fresh on the minds of everyone that calls this area home.

Shareholders Accuse BP of Failing to Live Up to Climate Promise

Shareholders accused oil giant BP of falling short on its promise to be more transparent about its impact on climate change and resilience to a low-carbon world during its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

During the 14 April shareholder meeting BP faced a number of questions on climate change from both institutional investors and activist shareholders.

In response, BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley said “we want to be part of the solution on climate change”.

However, the company’s response has been criticised as just “more of the same” – support for the Paris deal, a call for carbon pricing, and encouraging a switch from coal to gas.

BP’s Deep Sea Oil Exploration in South Australia Would Blow Huge Hole in Country’s Carbon Budget, Says Report

Plans by BP and other fossil fuel companies to drill for oil in the pristine waters off south Australia could take up a third of the country’s entire carbon budget if successful, a new report has estimated.
 
The Climate Analytics report, commissioned by conservation group The Wilderness Society, concluded that adding the oil from the Great Australian Bight (GAB) into the world’s energy system was “inconsistent with the global temperature and emission limits from the Paris agreement”.
 
Several fossil fuel firms, including Chevron and Santos, have plans to explore for oil in the GAB, but BP’s proposal to drill four exploration wells as much as 2,200 metres down on the ocean floor are the most advanced. 

Big Oil Hosts Conference to Promote Deepwater Drilling Despite High Costs and Paris Climate Deal

Oil and gas industry giants gathered this week in Pau, an historic city in southwest France, to discuss the future of deepwater drilling.

Over the course of the three-day MCE Deepwater Development (MCEDD) conference hosted by Total and sponsored by Shell, hundreds of industry professionals focused on how to cut costs during a time of record-low oil prices.

As Total described in a letter announcing the annual conference: “Our common objective is to reduce costs significantly in order for deepwater to remain competitive.”  

Corporate And Political Corruption: The Lessons Not Learned From The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

As we approach the six-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and devastated much of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, recent news stories paint a very clear picture that no one has learned anything from this disaster.
 
On Monday of this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that BP will pay $20 billion in civil and federal penalties and fines resulting from its role in the oil spill. This total amount was approved by Judge Carl Barbier who has overseen much of the litigation from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Judge Barbier ordered that the $20 billion, which includes a $5.5 billion Clean Water Act violation fine, be paid out over 16 years at a rate of $1.3 billion per year.
 
In response to the deal, Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the following statement: “Today’s action holds BP accountable with the largest environmental penalty of all time while launching one of the most extensive environmental restoration efforts ever undertaken.”
 
But here’s the story that the Justice Department didn’t want the public to know: 75% of this fine is tax deductible for BP, meaning that U.S. taxpayers will foot most of the bill for the largest oil spill in history.

Energy Giant BP is the UK's Single Biggest Lobbyist in Europe

Energy giant BP is the UK’s single biggest corporate lobbyist in Europe, new analysis by Lobby Facts reveals.

As the data released on 7 March shows, BP spent between £2.23 million and £2.3 million (€ 2.75m – € 2.99m) in lobbying European policy makers on energy and climate issues in 2014, the most recent figures available.

This represents a substantial increase, almost doubling BP’s declared lobby spend for the previous year, when it spent up to £1.16m (€ 1.5m).

During Paris Climate Summit, Obama Signed Exxon-, Koch-Backed Bill Expediting Pipeline Permits

Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.

The legal and conceptual framework for the fast-tracking provision on pipeline permitting arose during the fight over TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. President Barack Obama initially codified that concept via Executive Order 13604 — signed the same day as he signed an Executive Order to fast-track construction of Keystone XL's southern leg — and this provision “builds on the permit streamlining project launched by” Obama according to corporate law firm Holland & Knight.

Big Oil Argued for U.S. Crude Exports to Fend Off Iran, But First Exporter Vitol Group Also Exported Iran's Oil

The American Petroleum Institute (API) successfully lobbied for an end to the 40-year ban on exporting U.S.-produced crude oil in part by making a geopolitical argument: Iran and Russia have the ability to export their oil, so why not unleash America?

What API never mentioned — nor the politicians parroting its talking points — is that many of its member companies maintain ongoing business ties with both Russia and Iran.

And The Vitol Groupthe first company set to export U.S. crude after the lifting of the ban (in a tanker destined for Switzerland), has or had its own ties to both U.S. geopolitical rivals.

ExxonMobil, Peabody Coal Lobbying for Bill Preventing Climate Change Accounting in US Trade Deals

The day before global leaders and diplomats passed a climate change deal in Paris at the United Nations climate summit, the U.S. House of Representatives — in a 256-158 vote — authorized the final text of a bill that has a provision preventing climate change to be accounted for in all U.S. trade deals going forward.

That bill, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R.644), now may proceed for full-floor votes in both the House and the U.S. Senate after its conference report was agreed upon. A DeSmog review of lobbying records shows the bill has received heavy fossil fuel industry support. 

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