climate change

Activists To Stage Mass Civil Disobedience In Nation’s Capital This Week

This week, thousands of Americans sick and tired of big money in politics and unfair voting laws are descending on the nation’s capital, ready to go to jail, if necessary, for their cause.

Some just arrived from a ten-day, 140-mile march that began in Philadelphia on April 2. Many others joined on Monday morning in Washington, D.C., kicking off a week of rallies and sit-ins at the Capitol building and its grounds while demanding that Congress take action to curb big money in politics and institute free and fair elections. Over 3,500 people have confirmed that they’re ready to risk arrest.

The Democracy Spring network of over 100 groups is demanding that Congress pass four bills to restore protections against voting discrimination, expand voting accessibility, overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and match small political contributions with public funds. The activists also want Congress to hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Oil Giants Spend $114m to Obstruct Climate Policy, But That’s Just the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

Despite the recent Paris Agreement on global warming, the fossil fuel industry is still systematically trying to stall progress, and using shareholder funds to do so,” warns a new report by London non-profit organisation InfluenceMap.

According to InfluenceMap’s research, last year international oil giants ExxonMobil and Shell, along with three powerful industry trade associations, spent US$114 million (£80.8m) in an effort to obstruct climate legislation.

These millions were spent on a range of activities including PR, social media, advertising, and lobbying, in order to influence American and European policy makers and manipulate public discourse on climate change.

Climate Change by Industry: Who Is Most at Risk?

This is a guest post by Aaron Viles of Care2.

When we talk about the effects of climate change, often the first place we look is the natural world. There are polar bears dying from starvation for lack of sea ice; there are forests in the American West catching fire and burning rapidly after years of drought have dried out the vegetation. There are human costs too: the damage to homes and communities from extreme weather events that happen with more frequency and severity as the planet warms. And there’s the poor air quality that causes and exacerbates health problems, especially for children and the elderly.
 
These are compelling arguments for those of us already concerned about our changing planet. However, some of the best arguments to win more supporters for climate action aren’t about the environment at all. Climate change is going to cost us real, hard dollars that we just can’t afford. It’s not just taxpayers on the hook for cleanup and resilience investments. Whole industries will have to change dramatically or disappear. Here are a few that are most at risk:

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.”  

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Alberta Minister Turned Coal Lobbyist

A complaint filed with Alberta’s Office of the Ethics Commissioner on Tuesday argues that the president of the Coal Association of Canada contravened the Conflict of Interest Act by lobbying for the coal industry shortly after leaving his post as an Alberta cabinet minister.

Until six months ago, coal lobbyist Robin Campbell served as Alberta’s finance minister. He previously held positions as minister of aboriginal relations and minister of environment and sustainable resource development.

The Conflicts of Interest Act bars a former minister from lobbying any public office holder for 12 months after their last day in office.

Progress Alberta, a non-profit progressive advocacy group, filed the ethics complaint, arguing that Campbell’s activity on behalf of the coal industry may contravene rules in the Lobbyist Act designed to prevent the use of “grassroots communication” to persuade members of the public to pressure public office holders.

Since his controversial appointment as Coal Association president, Campbell has visited communities across Alberta and spoken with media about the lobby group’s positions. At least one media report indicates Campbell called on audiences to get in touch with their elected officials.

As The Great Barrier Reef Bleaches White, Queensland Government Approves Australia's Biggest Coal Mine

The Queensland government’s approach to protecting the Great Barrier Reef seems a bit like that of a hypocritical anti-drugs campaigner who preaches the evils of heroin and cocaine while running a meth lab and bong factory in their basement.
 
The state’s left-wing Labor Government has been simultaneously regretting the lack of global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions that damage the reef while granting approvals for the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history.
 

$2.5 Trillion Worth of Global Financial Assets at Risk From Climate Change Impacts by End of Century, Study Warns

An average $2.5 trillion (£1.76trn) of the world’s financial assets would be at risk from climate change impacts if global temperatures are left to increase by 2.5°C by 2100, warns a new study by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind to produce a comprehensive estimate of the total value at risk from climate change impacts. So far most of the attention has focused on the risk of climate change to fossil fuel companies.

Under the Paris climate deal, nations have agreed to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C from pre-industrial levels. However, under business as usual emissions are set to increase global average temperatures by approximately 2.5°C.

Tapping Canada's Geothermal Potential

In the midst of controversy over B.C.’s Peace River Site C dam project, the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association released a study showing the province could get the same amount of energy more affordably from geothermal sources for about half the construction costs. Unlike Site C, geothermal wouldn’t require massive transmission upgrades, would be less environmentally disruptive and would create more jobs throughout the province rather than just in one area.

Despite the many benefits of geothermal, Canada is the only “Pacific Ring of Fire” country that doesn’t use it for commercial-scale energy. According to Desmog Canada, “New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States and Mexico all have commercial geothermal plants.” Iceland heats up to 90 per cent of its homes, and supplies 25 per cent of its electricity, with geothermal.

Nearly $1 Trillion Wasted Globally on Unnecessary New Coal Plants

Nearly $1 trillion (£700bn) is being invested in new coal-fired power plants worldwide despite the fact that the demand for electricity generated from coal has declined for two years in a row, shows a new report released today.

The report, by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm, warns that this problem of overbuilding is creating an “increasingly severe capacity bubble”.

Last year the global power sector added at least 84 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power capacity. This is a 25 percent increase from 2014.

Where Do The Remaining Presidential Candidates Stand On Climate Issues?

We are now officially through half of the United States Presidential election primary and caucus season, and there are currently 5 contenders left in the Republican and Democratic parties vying for their party’s respective nomination. Delegate math shows that Governor John Kasich has no chance to become the Republican nominee, so we’re left with four real candidates to examine.
 
The differences between the candidates of the two major parties could not be greater. On the Democratic side, there are two candidates who proudly embrace science and agree that action on climate issues is sorely needed. On the Republican side, both of the remaining candidates reject the scientific consensus and instead argue that climate change is nothing more than a series of unfortunate weather events.
 
It is important to remember that acceptance of climate science is not necessarily limited to one political party. Recent polls show that majorities of voters within both the Democratic and Republican parties (as well as Independent voters) accept that climate change is real and that human activity is a contributing factor. The discrepancy between the desires of voters and the views of the candidates can best be seen in the contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which will be described in detail later.
 
As for the candidates remaining in the race, only Republican frontrunner Donald Trump lacks a record to verify his statements on climate change. But judging on his statements alone, he will not be a friend to the environment if he secures the nomination and subsequently wins the White House.

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