What’s Fuelling The Media’s Climate Coverage?

You might have noticed the age old barrier separating advertising and editorial in your news weakening recently.

The Guardian’s Rugby World Cup coverage is sponsored by Heineken, The Telegraph’s is brought to you by Dove Men Care.

We’ve also seen the rise of something called native advertising, where brands work with media organisations directly to produce content. Hailed by some as the saviour of the media industry, Interactive Advertising Bureau report that in the US it will generate $21 billion in ad spending by 2018.

Fossil Fuel Companies Dominate EU Meetings on Climate and Energy Policy, Report Shows

Big energy and fossil fuel companies are enjoying privileged access to the EU’s top climate policy decision makers in the run-up to December’s Paris climate conference a new report reveals.

The report by transparency research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) looks at all meetings held by Commissioners Miguel Arias Cañete and Maros Šefčovič during their first year in office. In total, energy companies make up 30 per cent of all lobby encounters with the commissioners and their cabinets.

When it comes to discussing climate and energy policy, three-quarters of the European Commission’s encounters with the energy industry were with fossil fuel companies including BP, Statoil, and Shell.

Are Oil Giants Backing a Climate Solution That Will Never Happen?

Oil and gas giants are betting the shop on a carbon price being implemented in order to tackle climate change. But experts speaking at today's Economist Energy Summit in London agreed that an effective global carbon price just isn’t going to happen.

Last month ten major fossil fuel companies, including Shell, Total, BP, and Statoil, announced a joint climate declaration recognising the need to limit the global average temperature rise to 2C. In order to achieve this, a “widespread and effective pricing of carbon emissions” is needed alongside more gas and renewables, they argued.

But as Henry Tricks, energy and commodities editor at the Economist, put to executives at BP, Statoil and Total: “You’re all basing a lot of your future scenarios on the idea that there will be a carbon price. You’re calling for it, and yet most people don’t agree that it’s going to happen on a global scale. What is needed for it to happen?”

Six Commitments Missing From the Oil and Gas Major’s Climate Declaration

Major fossil fuel companies have today released a Joint Collaborative Declaration under the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) recognising the need to limit global average temperature rise to 2⁰C. Launched in Paris this morning, they are calling for an “effective climate change agreement at COP21”.

In the declaration, ten oil and gas giants call for “widespread and effective pricing of carbon emissions”. Signatories include the CEOs of Total, Statoil, BP, Shell, BG Group, Saudi Aramco, Pemex, Sinopec, Eni, Reliance, and Repsol.

The companies also back natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal and want to see more research and development into renewables and carbon capture and storage.  However, the declaration has been criticised for lacking concrete targets.

How Shell Lobbied to Stop EU Renewable Energy Targets

This has been cross-posted from Energydesk.

A group of the EU’s largest energy companies – including oil and gas giants Shell and Norway’s Statoil – formed an alliance to lobby against a new EU renewable target according to documents seen by Energydesk.

The lobbying group may surprise few, but comes after it was revealed that Shell started lobbying the EU two years earlier for a policy which favoured gas over renewables, claiming “Gas is good for Europe”.

That claim, however, came before the Ukraine crisis raised concerns about gas supply in EU countries.

Statoil to Drill Canada's First Deepwater Offshore Oil Well After Bailing on Alberta's Tar Sands

Climate campaigners and tar sands blockaders widely celebrated the announcement last month that the Norwegian energy company Statoil was halting plans for a multi-billion dollar tar sands project in Alberta, Canada. The company cited rising costs of labor and materials in Alberta, and also blamed “limited pipeline access” for “squeezing away the Alberta margins a little bit,” a point that anti-Keystone XL activists have taken as a clear sign of victory.

Don’t take your eyes off of Statoil, however. The company is quietly reallocating the estimated $2 billion investment to pursue a massive deepwater offshore project off the east coast of Newfoundland, in harsh, sub-Arctic conditions adjacent to an area drillers refer to as “iceberg alley.”

Tide Turning Against Global Coal Industry: New Report

Coal plant

Coal, the fossil fuel that largely sparked the industrial revolution, may be facing the beginning of the end — at least in terms of generating electricity.

There are increasing signs of the demise of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, from a global oversupply to plummeting prices to China starting to clean up its polluted air.

Last week, the Carbon Tracker Initiative published an analysis — Carbon Supply Cost Curves: Evaluating Financial Risk to Coal Capital Expenditures — identifying major financial risks for investors in coal producers around the world.

Saying the demand for thermal coal in China, the world’s largest emitter of toxic greenhouse gases, could peak as early as 2016, the analysis also highlights $112 billion of future coal mine expansion and development that is excess to requirements under lower demand forecasts.

"Frackademia" By Law: Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 Exposed

With the school year starting for many this week, it's another year of academia for professors across the United States - and another year of “frackademia” for an increasingly large swath of “frackademics” under federal law. 

“Frackademia” is best defined as flawed but seemingly legitimate science and economic studies on the controversial oil and gas horizontal drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), but done with industry funding and/or industry-tied academics (“frackademics”). 

While the “frackademia” phenomenon has received much media coverage, a critical piece missing from the discussion is the role played by Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Although merely ten pages out of the massive 551-page bill, Section 999 created the U.S. Department of Energy-run Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), a “non-profit corporation formed by a consortium of premier U.S. energy research universities, industry and independent research organizations.” 

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, RPSEA receives $1 billion of funding - $100 million per year - between 2007 and 2016. On top of that, Section 999 creates an “Oil and Gas Lease Income” fund “from any Federal royalties, rents, and bonuses derived from Federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leases.” The federal government put $50 million in the latter pot to get the ball rolling. 

The Energy Policy Act of 2005's ”Halliburton Loophole” - which created an enforcement exemption from the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act for fracking, and made the chemicals found within fracking fluid a “trade secret” - is by far the bill's most notorious legacy for close followers of fracking.

These provisions were helped along by then-Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Policy Task Force, which entailed countless meetings between Big Oil lobbyists and executives and members of President George W. Bush's cabinet. Together, these lobbyists and appointees hammered out the details behind closed doors of what became the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a bill receiving a “yes” vote by then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Former Clinton and Bush Cabinet Members, Now Oil and Gas Lobbyists, Expect Keystone XL Green Light

The Tar Sands Blockade of TransCanada Corporation's “Keystone XL South” continues in Texas, but former members of the Clinton and George W. Bush cabinets believe the northern half will soon be green-lighted by President Barack Obama. 

In a Nov. 13 conference call led by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), an oil and gas industry front group, CEA Counsel John Northington said he believes a “Keystone XL North” rubber stamp is in the works by the Obama Administration. 

I think the Keystone will be approved in fairly short order by the administration,” Northington said on the call.

Northington has worn many hats during his long career:

[He] served in the Clinton Administration at the Department of the Interior as Senior Advisor to the Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Mr. Northington also served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management with energy policy responsibility for the former Minerals Management Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Mr. Northington began his government service at the Department of Energy, where he served as White House Liaison, Chief of Staff for the Office of Fossil Energy and Senior Advisor for Oil and Natural Gas Policy.

After his tenure working for the Clinton Administration, he walked through the revolving door and became a lobbyist, representing many clients over the past decade, including the oil and gas industry. Northington has represented ExxonMobil, Devon Energy, CONSOL Energy, and Statoil. ExxonMobil, Devon and Statoil all have a major stake in the tar sands. 

Delaware Tax Haven: The Other Shale Gas Industry Loophole

Most people think of downtown Houston, Texas as ground zero for the oil and gas industry. Houston, after all, serves as home base for corporate headquarters of oil and gas giants, including the likes of BP America, ConocoPhillips, and Shell Oil Company, to name a few.

Comparably speaking, few would think of Wilmington, Delaware in a similar vein. But perhaps they should, according to a recent New York Times investigative report by Leslie Wayne.

Wayne's story revealed that Delaware serves as what journalist Nicholas Shaxson calls a “Treasure Island” in his recent book by that namesake. It's an “onshore tax haven” and an even more robust one than the Caymen Islands, to boot.

The Delaware “Island” is heavily utilized by oil and gas majors, all of which are part of the “two-thirds of the Fortune 500” corporations parking their money in The First State.

Delaware is an outlier in the way it does business,” David Brunori, a professor at George Washington Law School told The Times. “What it offers is an opportunity to game the system and do it legally.”

The numbers are astounding. “Over the last decade, the Delaware loophole has enabled corporations to reduce the taxes paid to other states by an estimated $9.5 billion,” Wayne wrote

“More than 900,000 business entities choose Delaware as a location to incorporate,” explained another report. “The number…exceeds Delaware's human population of 850,000.”


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