UN Climate Summit

Oil Industry Set Agenda During Climate Summit Meeting with Big Greens

Read time: 9 mins
Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of OGCI Climate Investments

Last week, as climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations Climate Action Summit, invited leaders from major environmental groups spent their day listening to the leaders of fossil fuel companies discuss how they want to respond to the climate crisis.

Depending on which room you were in, you would have heard two very different messages.

Is Natural Gas the New Coal?

Read time: 7 mins
Greenhouse gas emissions from flaring and venting a fracked gas well

At a recent natural gas industry conference in Houston, Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman warned his colleagues to avoid the fate of another fossil fuel, according to trade publication Natural Gas Intelligence.

The industry really is at a critical juncture,” Coleman said. “We run the risk of being demonized like that other fossil fuel out there called coal.”

Oil and gas companies have been feeling mounting pressure, as signs emerge that oil is losing favor, both with the public amid climate concerns and with some investors.

Greta’s UN Climate Summit Speech Successfully Predicted More Business as Usual From World Leaders

Read time: 7 mins
Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit

On Monday, the United Nations Climate Action Summit opened with a glossy video projected around the room. It hawked a hopeful message that climate catastrophe can be averted. With the lights turned down and music turned up, for a few minutes the summit felt like an IMAX movie experience. 

Unfortunately, the video is symbolic of the summit itself — all talk, little action,” Jesse Bragg, media director at Corporate Accountability, said via email.

A scathing speech by Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg and the passing presence of President Trump upstaged presentations from world leaders, who in some cases did announce pledges to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 but overall failed to offer visionary solutions for the rapid transition away from fossil fuels.

What Your New Liberal Majority Government Means for Climate, Environment, Science and Transparency

Read time: 6 mins

Holy smokes.

Polls are in and Canadians across the country are expressing surprise at the strong win for the federal Liberal party.

While there’s much ink to be spilled over former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s reign, he’s likely locked in a bathroom now, so we’ll save that for another, less change-y time.

Canada, you have a new Prime Minister. I would say 'go home, you’re drunk.' But don’t, because you’re not. This is actually happening.

But wait, what is actually happening? We have a new majority government. Before the fun gets away with us, let’s do a quick reality check for what the Liberal Party and incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been promising all y’all on some of our top DeSmog Canada topics: climate, environment, science and transparency.

David Suzuki: Climate Deniers All Over the Map

Read time: 4 mins

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

A little over a year ago, I wrote about a Heartland Institute conference in Las Vegas where climate change deniers engaged in a failed attempt to poke holes in the massive body of scientific evidence for human-caused climate change. I quoted Bloomberg News: “Heartland's strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.”

A recent study came to a similar conclusion about contrarian “scientific” efforts to do the same. “Learning from mistakes in climate research,” published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology, examined some of the tiny percentage of scientific papers that reject anthropogenic climate change, attempting to replicate their results.

In a Guardian article, co-author Dana Nuccitelli said their study found “no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming.” Instead, “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on.”

Europe Poised to Press Ahead on Drastic Greenhouse Gas Reductions As Other Nations Lag Behind

Read time: 3 mins
Solar farm

Pressure continues to grow for European politicians to agree to further reductions of greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030.

The European Union’s 2020 climate and energy package, which is binding legislation, calls for emissions to be cut by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. In addition, the plan calls for energy efficiency savings of 20 per cent and a 20 per cent increase in renewable energy technologies.

While the European Union seems largely on track to meet those targets, later this month politicians are going to vote on even greater emissions reductions, energy savings and growth in renewables by 2030.

In January, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, published the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy.

Despite six years of economic uncertainty, the plan includes targets to reduce EU domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below the 1990 level by 2030, which would ensure that Europe would meet its objective of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.

Doctors Remind Politicians of Health Consequences of Failure to Address Climate Change

Read time: 4 mins

Vote-hungry politicians reluctant to act on climate change because they are beholden to the powerful fossil fuel sector just received a poor prognosis from the medical profession.

Climate change is not only happening but it can exacerbate many environmental health risks familiar to clinicians and public health professionals, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Harm from climate change includes respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, food insecurity, and mental health disorders, said the JAMA study, Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health.

In Photos: Record-Breaking Crowd of 400K Marches For Climate Justice in New York

Read time: 2 mins
People's Climate March

More than 400,000 people took to the streets to have their voices heard at the People's Climate March yesterday in New York City. The record-breaking crowd took up 27 blocks in total, from West 86th street to Columbus Circle.

Photographer Zach Roberts was there to document the biggest climate change march in history for DeSmogBlog. Here are some of his best shots.

People's Climate March

Future of Our Climate Depends on Next Fifteen Years of Investment, New Report States

Read time: 5 mins
fossil fuel subsidies, clean energy, better growth better climate, kris krug

Investments in renewable energies and low-carbon infrastructure can help the environment and the economy at the same time, says a comprehensive new report released Tuesday.

The report — Better Growth Better Climate — found that about US $90 trillion will likely be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems over the next 15 years, unleashing multiple benefits including jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.

The decisions we make now will determine the future of our economy and our climate,” Nicholas Stern, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, said in a media release.

If we choose low-carbon investment we can generate strong, high-quality growth – not just in the future, but now. But if we continue down the high-carbon route, climate change will bring severe risks to long-term prosperity,” he said.

Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, said the report refutes the idea that humankind must choose between fighting climate change or growing the world’s economy.

That is a false dilemma,” Calderón said. “Today’s report details compelling evidence on how technological change is driving new opportunities to improve growth, create jobs, boost company profits and spur economic development. The report sends a clear message to government and private sector leaders: we can improve the economy and tackle climate change at the same time.”

The NSA and Climate Change Spying: What We Know So Far

Read time: 5 mins

This is a guest post by Joshua Eaton.

The carbon footprint for the new data center the National Security Agency (NSA) is building in the middle of the Utah desert must be massive. Despite its planned LEED Silver certification, the one-million-square-foot, $2-billion facility will draw 65 megawatts of power and use some 1.7 million gallons of water a day to cool its servers, according to Wired Magazine. When it comes to the NSA, however, many environmentalists have much bigger worries.

To begin with, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed the agency’s keen interest in the global fossil fuel industry. In November, The New York Times published a 2007 Strategic Mission List from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. One of the missions it lists is “Energy Security,” with a special focus on “threats to production and global distribution” of fossil fuels in “Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Russia and Nigeria.”

We now know that the NSA put that directive into practice by spying on the Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, OPEC, Russian energy companies and the French energy company Total. The Australian Signals Directorate — with which the NSA shares data and facilities — may even have helped an Australian coal company in a trade deal with Japan, though there is no evidence the NSA was involved in that operation.

But the NSA’s surveillance of the fossil fuel industry is just the tip of the iceberg. According to an article in the U.K. newspaper The Guardian last November, NSA and the Australian Signals Directorate used the 2007 UN Climate Change Conference in Bali to spy on Indonesian officials and map out the country’s communications networks. The article was one in a series of reports spread across multiple outlets that disclosed Australia’s surveillance of Indonesia and other Asian countries on behalf of the NSA.

Agency officials have repeatedly said the U.S. only uses its immense surveillance capabilities to monitor serious security threats such as terrorism or weapons proliferation. Among themselves, however, agency analysts admit this operation was a fishing expedition.

The goal of the development effort was to gain a solid understanding of the network structure,” says one internal NSA document quoted by The Guardian, “should collection be required in the event of an emergency.” It is unclear what sort of emergency they anticipated.

A New York Times article published on the same day as The Guardian’s describes the NSA’s surveillance of the 2007 conference as “a major eavesdropping effort.” While neither The Guardian nor the Times mention whether that effort extended to climate negotiations, there are reasons to suspect that it did.

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