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In-depth: BP’s Global Data for 2017 Shows Record Highs for Coal and Renewables

Read time: 10 mins
Piles of coal and polluted water in India's Meghalaya State

By Simon Evans, Carbon Brief. Originally posted on Carbon BriefCC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Renewable energy grew by the largest amount ever last year, while coal-fired electricity also reached a record high, according to new global data from oil giant BP.

However, set against continued rapid rises in energy demand fuelled by oil and gas, renewables were not enough to prevent global CO2 emissions rising significantly for the first time in four years, the figures show.

Mapped: Cambridge Analytica’s Ties to the Fossil Fuel Industry

Read time: 3 mins
Network map

Revelations continue to emerge about Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that has found itself embroiled in a scandal around data privacy and electoral manipulation.

Three whistleblowers have gone public in the Guardian and Observer to outline how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to influence the outcomes of the US presidential election and Brexit referendum.

DeSmog UK has previously mapped how the company ties to climate science denial through its Brexit and Trump connections. Now, Nafeez Ahmed over at Motherboard has outlined how Cambridge Analytica has ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests

Read time: 12 mins
A Lakota man locked himself to construction equipment building the Dakota Access pipeline

On the heels of Iowa and Ohio, Wyoming has become the third state to introduce a bill criminalizing the type of activities undertaken by past oil and gas pipeline protesters. 

One of the Wyoming bill's co-sponsors even says it was inspired by the protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access pipeline, and a sheriff involved in policing those protests testified in support of the bill at a recent hearing. Wyoming's bill is essentially a copy-paste version of template legislation produced by the conservative, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

New York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies

Read time: 6 mins
Simulation showing flooding in New York City

Today New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a goal to divest New York City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. This makes New York the first major American city to announce such a move.

According to a statement, the city’s five pension funds have approximately $5 billion invested in over 190 fossil fuel companies.

“New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major U.S. city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.”

Republicans Pushing Oil-Friendly Tax Bill Received Significant Donations from BP Employees

Read time: 6 mins
BP sign

Several top Republican lawmakers behind the new US tax bill received donations from oil giant BP’s employee political action committee (PAC), data shows. The bill gives big corporations in America a hefty tax break and opens up oil drilling in the Arctic.

Official documents from the Federal Election Committee and data from The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit and nonpartisan research group which tracks the effects of lobbying on elections and is also known as Open Secrets, show the BP employee PAC financed some of the key lawmakers sponsoring the bill adopted at the beginning of December.

PAC donations are part of a wider lobbying strategy and in this instance BP’s staff are supporting lawmakers with a questionable record on climate change. 

India May Ban Petcoke, One of Dirtiest Fossil Fuels Exported by Koch Brothers

Read time: 5 mins
Petcoke stockpiles

While U.S. power plants have considered petroleum coke or “petcoke to be too dirty to burn, India, on the other hand, has been importing this coal by-product of tar sands refining for years. However, it may be seeing its last days in the country which has served as its biggest importer.

In the aftermath of an Associated Press investigation published on December 1, India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said the country is formulating plans to phase out petcoke imports. The AP investigation, filed from New Delhi, revealed that citizens who live near petcoke refining facilities have come down with a range of air pollution-related illnesses in recent months and years.

The AP also points out that among the largest exporters of U.S. petcoke are Koch Industries subsidiary Koch Carbon and Oxbow Carbon, the latter of which is owned by the twin brother of David Koch, Bill Koch. The advocacy group Oil Change International referred to petcoke as “the coal hiding in the tar sands” in a 2013 report documenting the carbon footprint of petcoke production and combustion.

Shell, BP Climate Disclosures 'Just a Marketing Tool' — Report

Read time: 3 mins
Shell, BP shareholder climate resolutions

Two years after BP and Shell shareholders resoundingly passed resolutions requiring the oil majors to factor climate change risks into their corporate strategy and accounting, the two companies are disclosing no more than bare minimum, a new report has found.

The report, published by responsible investment nonprofit ShareAction – which was involved in the push to pass these climate resolutions in 2015 – found that while they have taken the necessary steps to meet their new disclosure commitments, the two oil companies are failing to plan for a more rapid transition to a low-carbon economy.

As ShareAction’s report argues, the companies may be publicly supporting the Paris Agreement, but their actions are not living up to their words.

Fossil Fuel Industry Steps in to Help Save Paris Climate Deal for All the Wrong Reasons

Read time: 3 mins
Money clenched in a person's hand

In May of 2016, six months before the U.S. presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump said that he would “cancel” the United States’ involvement in the Paris climate accord. Immediately following his election, however, Trump appeared to back-track slightly, saying he had “an open mind” about the agreement. And just this week, his administration canceled a much-hyped meeting to discuss the deal’s future in the U.S.

The back and forth from the administration likely stems from the fact that officials within it are split, with people like senior adviser Stephen Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt urging the president to withdraw from the deal, and people like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that the U.S. should remain in it.

Pressure to stay in the Paris agreement isn’t just coming from members of the White House, either. Polls show that 71 percent of the American public supports the deal, so pulling out would prove to be highly unpopular with American voters. But another faction is begging the president to keep the deal in place: American businesses and fossil fuel companies.

Architect of Energy Secretary Rick Perry's Political Comeback Now Lobbies for Dakota Access Owner

Read time: 3 mins
Rick Perry

Federal lobbying disclosure forms for the first quarter of 2017 show that Jeff Miller, campaign manager for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry's 2016 Republican presidential bid, now lobbies for the company which owns the Dakota Access pipeline.

The forms show that Miller is lobbying on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) on “Issues associated with pipeline infrastructure development, midstream sector environmental compliance, and pipeline safety. Issues associated with partnership taxation.” Perry, after bowing out of the 2016 race, was named to ETP's Board of Directors. He stepped down from that role after being nominated by President Donald Trump as Energy Secretary.

Miller — formerly a lobbyist in California and adviser to both former California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and current Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — is credited as the architect of Perry's political comeback and foray into the national political scene. After serving as the longest-tenured governor of Texas from 2000–2014, Perry was indicted by a grand jury in August 2014 on corruptions charges in Travis County, Texas, for abuse of power. Those charges were dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas in February 2016. 

Have Oil Majors Changed Their Tune on Climate Change?

Read time: 6 mins
Oil rig by wind turbines

This is the biggest challenge as we have at the moment as a company,” Ben van Beurden, chief executive of oil giant Shell, said recently. “The fact that societal acceptance of the energy system as we have it is just disappearing.”

Speaking at the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston on March 9, van Beurden described the growing tensions between his industry, which has created our fossil fuel dependent energy system, and the public, which is demanding a switch to clean energy: “I do think trust has been eroded to the point where it starts to become a serious issue for our long-term future.”

The world’s largest oil companies are increasingly faced with public pressure to do something about their impact on climate change. And increasingly we’re seeing their chief executives responding. The question is though, how much is for real and what's just greenwash?

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