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.

Groups Call On Obama To End Crude Oil Exports In Wake Of Paris Climate Agreement Signing

175 nations signed the Paris Climate Agreement last Friday, setting a record for the most countries to sign a U.N. agreement on opening day.

Earlier in the week, even before Secretary of State John Kerry officially signed on behalf of the U.S. with his granddaughter in his lap, more than 300 environmental, faith, health and social justice organizations filed a legal petition calling on the Obama Administration to declare a national emergency and end all U.S. crude oil exports as a means of meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

According to the groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity and Food & Water Watch, President Obama could immediately halt the export of crude oil under executive legal authority granted to him by the 2016 Appropriations Act and the National Emergencies Act.

We’re Easily Confused About What Experts Really Think, New Research Shows

I’m not a scientist. And chances are, neither are you.
 
That likely means we both find ourselves deferring to the opinion of others, of experts who know more about complex matters — like health or nuclear safety or vaccinations or climate change — than we do.
 
But heck, even scientists have to rely on the expertise of others (unless they’re some sort of super scientist with infinite knowledge of all things. Ahem, Neil deGrasse Tyson).
 
But for the rest of us intellectual Joes, we rely heavily on what we think the experts think. As it happens, figuring out what the experts think isn’t so easy, not even in those instances where the majority of experts agree on a subject.
 
Take for example, the issue of climate change, which is just what cognitive scientist Derek J. Koehler had in mind when he launched a recent pair of experiments designed to investigate what factors might contribute to our collective failure to grasp expert consensus.

Bill Nye the Science Guy Takes On Climate Denialist Joe Bastardi the ‘Goebbels’ Guy

You might have heard that quote from outspoken American author Upton Sinclair, who once wrote: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
 
The quote is often used to illustrate how people’s allegiances can sometimes gum up their cognitive ability or just cause them to ignore truths inconvenient to their cause, or their customer’s cause.
 
TV presenter and science advocate Bill Nye “the Science Guy” dusted off Sinclair’s 1935 quote in a new video, in which he challenged climate science denialist and weatherman Joe Bastardi to two $10,000 bets. Nye bet Bastardi, a regular guest on conservative media, that 2016 would be one of the top ten hottest years on record. 
 
He also bet Bastardi that the current decade would the hottest on record (Nye was responding to this November 2015 from Bastardi, published in the Patriot Post).

Top Shale Fracking Executive: We Won't Frack the Rich

Fracking companies deliberately keep their wells away from the “big houses” of wealthy and potentially influential people, a top executive from one of the country's most prominent shale drilling companies told a gathering of attorneys at a seminar on oil and gas environmental law earlier this month, according the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“'We heard Range Resources say it sites its shale gas wells away from large homes where wealthy people live and who might have the money to fight such drilling and fracking operations,' said Patrick Grenter, an attorney and Center for Coalfield Justice executive director, who attended the lawyers’ forum,” the Post-Gazette reported. “A handful of attorneys in the audience confirmed that account,” and added that the Range Resources official had prefaced his remarks by saying “To be frank”.

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