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100 Days Before The UN Climate Talks – Reasons To Be Cheerful. And Reasons Not To

This article by Alice Bell, writer and researcher on science, technology and the environment, has been reposted from The Road to Paris.

It’s less than 100 days before the big UN climate talks in Paris. How does that feel? Concerned, excited, or just a bit meh?

Are we kneeling at the seat of history? Are we finally about to save the planet? Or is it all the same business as usual which we know is already hurtling us to six degree warming? Here’s four reasons to feel good about the Paris climate talks, and four reasons for concern.

Big Oil Can Survive Low Prices, The Climate Can’t

This is a guest post by Lukas Ross from Friends of the Earth.

Last week seemed like a bad time to be Big Oil.

As the world’s biggest energy companies announced their quarterly results, billions in profits still managed to disappoint shareholders. ExxonMobil and Chevron both missed their targets, Shell prepared for steep spending cuts, and BP took a well-deserved hosing on news of its latest Deepwater Horizon penalty.

The price of crude, half of what it was a year ago, definitely made for some lower numbers. But does bad news for the oil industry mean good news for the climate? Absolutely not.

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.

Costa Rica Aims For Carbon Neutrality By 2021, But Plans $1.5 Billion Oil Refinery

This is a guest post by Diego Arguedas Ortiz.

Costa Rica’s plan to build a $1.5 billion oil refinery, a joint venture with China’s state-owned petroleum company China National Petroleum Corporation, continues to cast doubt on the country’s path toward a low-carbon future and the feasibility of its self-imposed goal of being carbon neutral by 2021.

The project — sold to the public as a mechanism to lower oil costs in the Central American republic — is financed by a $900-million loan to Costa Rica from the China Development Bank and another $600 million provided by both countries.

The project has sparked a heated national debate on energy policies, the congruency of the nation’s environmental discourse and the thoroughness of its own feasibility study.

Richard Tol's Gremlins Continue to Undermine His Work

This is a guest post by Brandon Shollenberger 

Global warming is, if you'll forgive the pun, possibly the most heated topic of debate this century.  While most debate over it focuses on extreme weather, sea level rise and climatic events, there is another part.  This is the part that focuses on the economics of global warming.  That is, how will global warming affect our wallets?

At the forefront of this debate is Richard Tol, professor of economics at the University of Sussex.  His work on the economics of global warming is relied upon by climate skeptics like Matt Ridley, who has used it to argue, “Climate change has done more good than harm so far and is likely to continue doing so for most of this century,” based on graphs like:

Former Dept. of Justice Official Says Exxon News Worsens Liability Picture

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart, Senior Fellow at the Climate Investigations Center

The former Department of Justice lawyer who led the watershed lawsuit against tobacco companies, says that the news out today about oil giant ExxonMobil knowing as early as 1981 about the threat posed by climate change could worsen the fossil fuel industry's liability picture. 

Zero Carbon Emissions: The New Language Of Climate Change

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

If nothing else, the G7 countries’ recent agreement to end fossil fuel use for energy by 2100 signals a shift in the way we talk and think about global warming. Previous agreements were about reducing carbon emissions from burning coal, oil and gas. This takes matters a step further by envisioning a fossil fuel–free future.

A Brief Guide to Southeastern Anti-Solar Front Groups

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart of Climate Investigations Center

No one who reads this space regularly would be surprised to hear that the big utility companies employ front groups to further their political agendas in the states in which they operate.

After all, we’ve reported here on a scientist who was little more than a pseudo-scientific front for a big power company — Willie Soon, whom Southern Company, which is heavily-dependent on carbon dioxide-rich coal for its power plants, clandestinely funded to do research pointing away from human-produced CO2 as a cause of global warming.

Now an investigation by two Environment & Energy (E&E) reporters has traced a network of industry fronts and astroturf grassroots organizations spreading across the southeastern United States, all united in attacking state laws or regulatory or other efforts to make rooftop solar panels economical to use by allowing customers to sell any surplus electricity back to the grid. 

Two Minutes To Safeguard Our Future

This is an guest op-ed by Alex Lenferna, Diego Arguedas Ortiz, Leehi Yona and Chris Wright.

Two minutes.

Once a year, global youth are given two minutes to provide input on global climate policy during the fortnight-long United Nations Climate Summit. While country negotiators deliberate back and forth for days, youth representatives receive 120 seconds to deliver a ceremonial speech that means both nothing and everything.

How can you convey how important your future is when you only have two minutes?

Are Coal, Oil and Gas the Subprime Assets of the Future?

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart

That question was actually asked by British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey last year, and its ramifications are extensively explored in a provocative report released today by the Center for International Environmental Law, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

According to CIEL, the answer to Davey’s question is a resounding “yes.”