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[l] at 12/2/22 2:25pm
Nearly 25 years ago, oil major Shell predicted in an internal 1998 report that a class-action lawsuit would be brought against fossil fuel companies following “a series of violent storms.” That prediction is finally coming true: A group of Puerto Rican communities, which were ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, are suing Shell and other fossil fuel producers in a first-of-its-kind, class action climate liability lawsuit.   The groundbreaking case — filed November 22 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico — is the first climate-related class action lawsuit in the United States filed against the fossil fuel industry to target the industry with federal charges of racketeering. It alleges that the fossil fuel defendants engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to promote climate denial and defraud consumers by concealing the climate consequences of fossil fuel products in order to inflate profits.   Sixteen Puerto Rican municipalities are suing as a class or representatives on behalf of the more than 60 municipalities on the island that all experienced devastating losses from the 2017 hurricanes. The case demands that fossil fuel companies pay for damages associated with catastrophic storms, beginning with the 2017 hurricanes, and their lingering impacts, arguing that these disasters are worsened by climate change. The more than 200-page complaint alleges that fossil fuel companies’ products and deceptive conduct greatly accelerated global warming, including warming oceans. Climate models predict that as oceans warm, hurricanes will become more intense, leading to more turbocharged storms like Maria and Irma.  The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, in which both Irma and Maria hit, saw six major hurricanes and resulted in nearly $300 billion of damage. In Puerto Rico, Maria alone caused almost 3,000 fatalities and more than $120 billion in damages, destroying the island’s power grid and devastating other critical infrastructure like roads and health care facilities. This September, almost five years to the day after Maria hit, Hurricane Fiona slammed Puerto Rico, again impacting infrastructure and compounding damages from the 2017 storms. With mounting climate-related disaster costs, the question becomes, how can Puerto Rico pay for this?  Through this new litigation, the island’s municipalities are trying to compel some of the world’s largest oil, gas, and coal companies to pay for the consequences of the climate crisis their products have fueled. As explained in a press release announcing the lawsuit, the companies’ “failure to disclose the truth about their products had disastrous effects for Puerto Rico, which was defenseless against the historically strong hurricanes that hit the island in 2017.” The Global Climate Risk Index report from 2020 noted that between 1999 and 2018, Puerto Rico was the country most affected by climate change, due in part to “exceptionally devastating” storms. Companies named as defendants in the lawsuit include BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, Occidental Petroleum, Motiva Enterprises, BHP, Arch Resources, Peabody Energy, and Rio Tinto. All are among the 90 corporate entities, or “carbon majors,” that research indicates are responsible for nearly two-thirds of carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution; the companies listed above together account for about 40 percent of industrial emissions from 1965 to 2017, according to the complaint.  The complaint, supported by excerpts from industry communications, delves into how oil companies knew over half a century ago about the potential catastrophic impacts of a warming planet, and that this warming resulted from the use of their products. It also details how they deliberately acted to conceal what they knew about climate impacts and to publicly disseminate disinformation, fund climate denial, and obstruct policy responses and attempts to shift to alternative energy sources.  “Instead of acting to limit the potential greenhouse gas emissions, they mobilized with the coal and fossil fuel dependent industries to manufacture and spread propaganda and deception about climate science, contrary to their own internal scientific conclusions, in order to ensure unabated emissions and the sale of their products to consumers worldwide and in Puerto Rico,” the complaint contends. As part of their disinformation and deception campaigns, fossil fuel companies funded various “free market” think tanks and front groups to amplify their misleading messaging. The lawsuit calls out a handful of these organizations, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which received more than $2 million from Exxon, the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, and Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which took funding from Exxon, Chevron, and Peabody.  Another group that the complaint alleges was central to the deception campaign was the Global Climate Coalition, an industry lobby organization formed in 1989 by companies and trade associations in carbon-intensive sectors such as fossil fuels, chemicals, automobiles, and electric utilities, to undermine climate science and thwart climate policies. The complaint details the GCC’s obstructionist role, which included the formation of a communications task force that in 1998 created the infamous “victory will be achieved when” internal memo that outlined the coalition’s objective to manipulate the public’s understanding of climate science.  Such conduct demonstrates an orchestrated attempt to obfuscate and obstruct, and this misleading behavior is ongoing, according to legal counsel for the municipalities.  “This is a laid out, multifaceted plan that was decades in the making that is still being perpetuated to this day,” Melissa Sims, an attorney with the law firm Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC, which is representing the Puerto Rican communities, told DeSmog.  A “New Front in the Climate Liability War” The lawsuit brings more than a dozen legal claims under federal and Puerto Rican law, such as consumer fraud, violation of Puerto Rican consumer protection rules, and violation of federal antitrust law. Notably, it also alleges violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal statute designed to fight organized crime or other corrupt conduct.  RICO has been successfully used to hold the tobacco industry accountable for lying about the health hazards of their products, and has been applied in litigation against opioid and auto manufactures. Until now, it had yet to be asserted in a climate liability lawsuit, although several Democratic senators have previously called for a federal probe of Big Oil that could result in potential racketeering litigation.  It’s past time for DOJ to investigate the fossil fuel industry for its decades of lies. DOJ brought a civil RICO investigation against the tobacco industry for a similar history of dissembling and won big.— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) July 15, 2022 Patrick Parenteau, emeritus professor of law and senior fellow for climate policy in the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law and Graduate School, said he had been expecting a RICO claim to arise in climate liability litigation.  “I think this opens a whole new front in the climate liability war,” he told DeSmog via email. “It sends yet another signal to the financial markets that fossil is a bad investment.”  Parenteau acknowledged that a racketeering claim adds extra challenges, since plaintiffs will need to prove collusion between the defendants. “But it ups the ante in terms of potential remedies and damages,” he explained.  Additionally, Parenteau explained that since the lawsuit was filed in federal court, it can avoid the venue disputes that have delayed the other climate liability lawsuits targeting fossil fuel companies.  Representatives for several of the oil company defendants said in emailed statements that this litigation is a “baseless distraction” and that climate solutions must be reached through “smart policy from governments” rather than courts.  “Addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach. We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change,” Shell spokesperson Anna Arata said in a statement.  A lawyer for Chevron also described the climate crisis as a societal challenge resulting from “worldwide conduct” of consumers, including Puerto Ricans. “Residents and public officials in Puerto Rico rely every day on oil and gas to live and work on the island, power their homes, become a tourist destination, and grow their economy. This lawsuit is one in a series of suits that attempt to punish a select group of energy companies for a challenge that is the result of worldwide conduct stretching back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,”  said Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, counsel for Chevron Corporation.  A 2021 peer-reviewed study by Harvard researchers Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran, however, suggests that these kinds of statements are part of a misleading narrative framing that downplays the gravity of the climate crisis, normalizes dependency on oil and gas, and focuses blame on individual consumers. According to the study, which examined communications from ExxonMobil, “These patterns mimic the tobacco industrys documented strategy of shifting responsibility away from corporations—which knowingly sold a deadly product while denying its harms—and onto consumers.” ExxonMobil did not respond to a request for comment on the new lawsuit from Puerto Rico. Boutrous added: “Chevron believes the claims alleged are legally and factually meritless, and will demonstrate that in court.” But if the federal racketeering litigation that determined that tobacco companies had committed fraud on a massive scale is any indication, the fossil fuel companies could be in real legal peril with this new RICO litigation. “Tobacco opened the door to using RICO, and let’s face it—RICO was enacted to fight organized crime,” said Sharon Eubanks, an attorney who previously led the U.S. Justice Department’s successful RICO litigation against Big Tobacco in United States v. Philip Morris USA, et al. “That seems to be what we have here with Big Oil as well.” The post Puerto Rican Cities Sue Fossil Fuel Companies in Major Class-Action, Climate Fraud Case appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/30/22 5:31pm
The Heartland Institute, a self-described free-market think tank notorious for its climate science denial efforts, is at it again. This time, Heartland is frantically spinning the results of a survey it commissioned in its latest attempt to dispute the robust scientific consensus on climate change.  To be clear, climate experts overwhelmingly agree that climate change is happening and that humans are primarily responsible. And there’s plenty of evidence about that consensus. For example, cognitive scientist John Cook and his colleagues examined almost 12,000 abstracts of scientific papers on climate change and global warming published over a 20-year span and found, among the abstracts expressing a position, that upward of 97% accepted that human activity is responsible for the recent increase in average global temperature. They published these results in 2013 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters. That result wasn’t a fluke, either. Multiple independent studies using different methods have consistently produced estimates of the extent of scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change among climate scientists. And these estimates converge in the neighborhood of 97%, endowing the number with a certain iconic status. Yet the headline of a recent Heartland Institute press release on its new survey blared, “97% consensus on climate change? Survey shows only 59% of scientists expect significant harm.” The survey in question was conducted by a survey research unit at Fairleigh Dickinson University — but the desperate contortions to spin its results are classic Heartland. The fun begins with Heartland’s definition of scientists. The various studies establishing the scientific consensus on climate change generally survey expert scientific opinion, by either inspecting articles on climate change that appear in the peer-reviewed scientific research literature or directly polling the authors of such articles, who typically have earned doctoral degrees in relevant areas of science. In the Heartland-commissioned survey, however, although the respondents were required to have earned degrees in climatology, meteorology, physics, geology, or hydrology, the majority of them — 76% — attained only a bachelor’s degree, and just 6% earned a Ph.D. Revealingly, only 11% of the 400 respondents reported that their professional activity was best described as research.  So comparing the results of the Heartland-commissioned survey with those of the studies establishing the scientific consensus on climate change is like comparing apples with oranges — equating the opinions of people with a modicum of past exposure to the relevant science with those of scientists currently engaged in advancing scientific knowledge about climate change. Even so, the survey report reveals that 96% of the respondents to the Heartland-commissioned survey accept that global climate change is occurring. Asked to estimate what percentage of climate change is due to human activity, 92% of the respondents selected a value between 51 and 100%, with the average estimate at 75%. These figures are, of course, not far from the iconic 97% consensus. The Heartland Institute is located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Credit: Jim Lakely, CC BY-SA 4.0 For a long time, the Heartland Institute has been heavily invested in disputing the scientific consensus on climate change — and not always tastefully. Back in 2012, it erected a billboard in a Chicago suburb, not far from its headquarters, featuring a glowering photograph of the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, whose bombing campaign killed three and injured nearly two dozen. The billboard read: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?” That stunt was offensive enough for the group to lose a number of its corporate backers. In 2017, in a campaign with a broader potential effect, the Heartland Institute mailed unsolicited packets of climate denial propaganda, including a booklet entitled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” to up to 200,000 public school teachers across the country. Thankfully, the main response of science teachers was to deposit the mailing in the nearest recycling bin. As a welcome side effect, the campaign motivated some educators to redouble their efforts to educate teachers about climate science. But now, in 2022, Heartland’s own commissioned survey undermines its central message, by confirming the 97% consensus. Amusingly, the Heartland representatives quoted in its press release can’t quite look the facts squarely in the face. “So, climate change? Yes. Humans responsible for most of it? The poll says, ‘yes,’” H. Sterling Burnett, Heartland’s environmental and climate policy center director says, as if he were mistrustful of his own poll. But that’s not all. Even the press release’s headline is a bait-and-switch. The fact that 59% of respondents to the survey think that global climate change will cause significant harm to people alive today is wholly irrelevant to the estimate of the extent of scientific consensus on climate change. None of the 97% research addressed the issue of the harmful effects of climate change. Yet Heartland focuses on this issue as it tries to snatch a delusive victory from the jaws of statistical defeat. Unfortunately for Heartland, there is ample evidence, albeit not from survey research, that there is a scientific consensus on the significant harm that climate change will cause — and indeed is causing. For example, in a report this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summarized that “Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond natural climate variability.” The IPCC’s reports are produced with the input of leading scientists around the world and undergo rigorous and comprehensive review: they represent expert scientific opinion.  The Heartland Institute, for its part, routinely dismisses the IPCC’s credibility — without any evidence — while disseminating publications produced by something misleadingly called the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a network that Heartland itself sponsors. In 2011, a news article in the journal Nature described the NIPCC as ignoring “mountains of evidence about the adverse effects of global warming.” That remains sadly accurate. The Heartland Institute’s recent press release represents yet another attempt to cloud the scientific consensus in order to delay, derail, or degrade action on climate change. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last — or, perhaps, the most absurd. Glenn Branch is deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit organization that defends and promotes the teaching of evolution and climate change. The post Heartland Institute’s Survey Actually Supports the 97% Climate Science Consensus It’s Trying to Attack appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/30/22 10:54am
On Tuesday, gas company Coterra Energy pleaded no contest to environmental crimes related to contaminated water supplies from fracking operations more than a decade ago. The plea is the culmination of a long saga that has left residents of a small Pennsylvania town without clean drinking water for 14 years, and it resulted in some semblance of accountability for a company that has long denied any wrongdoing. “We are here today because fundamentally Pennsylvanians have a right to clean air and pure water. And for too long, the good people of Dimock have waited to have the clean water that our constitution promises restored to them in their homes and throughout our community,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference on November 29. “More than a decade of waiting for a permanent plan for clean drinking water is far too long.” Dimock is a small town located in the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, and it sits atop the Marcellus shale formation, a prolific source of shale gas. In 2006, Cabot Oil & Gas — the corporate predecessor of Coterra — obtained the mineral rights from multiple residents of Dimock and began fracking operations. That is when problems with contaminated water began. “Almost immediately after drilling began, residents in the area began to experience changes to their water. Some homeowners began to see a great amount of effervescence in their water. Others started noticing considerable sediment,” a 2020 grand jury investigation found. One Dimock resident, Nolan Scott Ely, had six wells drilled on his property. He had worked in the oil and gas industry and had even worked at some of Cabot’s operations. He was confident that the drilling would not negatively impact his water. But his wife began experiencing nausea and skin blotches, and testing showed that the Ely’s water was contaminated with methane, according to the grand jury investigation. When Ely held a lighter up to a jug containing his tap water, it lit on fire. He was also able to light water coming out of his faucet on fire. A water well of another Dimock resident, Norma Fiorentino, exploded in January 2009. Scenes like this gained widespread attention after the 2010 Josh Fox documentary “Gasland,” and the town of Dimock became one of the most iconic and high-profile examples of water contamination from fracking. For years, Cabot Oil & Gas had denied that it was at fault. But a 2010 investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) concluded that Cabot’s drilling activities contaminated the water supplies of 19 homes on one stretch of Carter Road in Dimock. The agency and Cabot entered into a Consent Order and Settlement Agreement that year that demarcated a nine-mile “box” encompassing the homes in Dimock within which Cabot was no longer allowed to drill going forward. Some residents settled privately with Cabot in the years following the contamination, others decided to sue. A historic 2016 verdict ruled in favor of the Dimock residents and ordered Cabot to pay $4.24 million to two families, including Ely’s, but that decision was subsequently overturned by a Magistrate just a year later. But in 2020, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro brought criminal charges against Cabot following the grand jury investigation. That led to this week’s no contest plea by Coterra, which inherited Cabot’s legal woes when the company merged with another firm last year. Through it all, many of the affected Dimock households have still not had clean water restored to them after their water wells were contaminated over a decade earlier. A 2016 federal report confirmed that the water was unsafe to drink, showing worrying levels of chemicals such as arsenic and lithium, as well methane, metals, and salts. “The residents of Dimock serve as a stark reminder that when big corporations are not held accountable, then the people suffer,” Shapiro said. As part of the plea, Coterra will pay $16.29 million for the construction of a new public water line in the county, and the company will cover the cost of bottled water in the interim while the line is built. Coterra will also cover the water bills for impacted residents for the next 75 years. “After more than a decade of denials, of shirking responsibility and accountability, Coterra pleaded to their crime, and the people of Dimock finally had their day in court,” Shapiro said. LIVEI’m announcing a major development in a criminal case against an unconventional drilling company that will impact the people of Northeastern PA. https://t.co/Yo8lP4dVMl— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) November 29, 2022 He cautioned that state laws leave few legal tools to hold corporate polluters accountable. “Here in Pennsylvania, breaking criminal environmental laws sadly only yields small dollar fines compared to the damage that is caused and the havoc that is wreaked,” Shapiro said. But he stressed that the plea is “historic” both in terms of the penalty and because it will result in a permanent solution for Dimock. DeSmog has covered this story over the years, from the legal twists and turns, to the science that has steadily accumulated showing Cabot’s role in contaminating drinking water. Coterra did not respond to a request for comment from DeSmog. “12 years ago, these same folks were promised a water line by DEP and the Commonwealth, only to have it squashed. And for the next 12 years, these people had to find very creative ways to get water for their homes. Water for their families, their kids, their critters. And it was not pretty,” Victoria Switzer, a Dimock resident, said at the press conference. She said one neighbor had a child that went from kindergarten to college without ever having clean water from their tap. She credited Attorney General Shapiro for following through and getting results while other state officials and regulators did not. “Our own elected officials, DEP, EPA, failed us miserably,” Switzer said. Ray Kemble, another Dimock resident whose water was contaminated, also expressed relief in the plea, saying in a statement: “Dimock residents have known for 14 years that Cabot Oil & Gas is guilty of contaminating our water. Finally, some justice.” The post Fracking Company Pleads No Contest in Iconic Water Contamination Case in Dimock appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/29/22 1:01am
Major investment funds available to UK consumers are marketing themselves as “sustainable” and “ethical” while financing fossil fuel companies, research has found. Numerous asset managers are using “green” terms in their branding despite investing in oil giants, with the worst performer being a fund managed by BlackRock, a report by the Ethical Consumer magazine shows. The news comes amid growing scrutiny of “greenwashing” in the investment world, with the Financial Conduct Authority currently consulting on new rules to tackle the issue and HSBC recently having a series of adverts banned for misleading customers about the bank’s environmental efforts. Edward Lander, the report’s lead author, said: “We are in an absurd situation in which asset managers can label funds as “sustainable” while still investing in the worlds largest fossil fuel companies. The lack of regulation makes for a Wild West of sustainable fund management”. Ten percent of the 108 funds examined had holdings in fossil fuel companies and a further 14 percent did not disclose all their holdings, preventing consumers from knowing whether their investments were financing oil, gas, or coal developments. Many of the funds analysed also had no clear policy for excluding fossil fuels from their portfolios or a commitment to actively invest in climate solutions, such as renewable energy. ‘Fuelling the Fire’ The research used investment websites Morning Star and Trustnet to identify funds with environmentally friendly terms in their branding, such as “sustainable”, “climate”, and “ethical”. Funds with over £500 million worth of assets under management were included, as well as 14 specifically climate focused funds previously investigated by Ethical Consumer.  Each fund was then cross-referenced with the Carbon Underground 200, a list of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world, Macroclimate 30, a list of the 30 largest coal-fired power plant owners in developed economies, China, and India, and a list of leading oil industry service providers. The fund with the most fossil fuel-linked holdings in its portfolio was iShares Dow Jones Global Sustainability Screened. The fund, managed by BlackRock, the world’s biggest investment company, says it is composed of “leaders in the sustainability field”. Despite this, it owns stakes in 17 companies on the Carbon Underground 200, including Royal Dutch Shell, TotalEnergies and ConocoPhillips. BlackRock has pledged to support the green transition following years of criticism over its financing of fossil fuels but still appears to back the oil and gas industry behind closed doors. Ethical Consumer collected data from publicly available sources and the companies themselves, starting in July. Funds were ranked from zero to five, with criteria including whether the fund’s literature contains “a clear commitment to exclude companies providing essential services/infrastructure for the fossil fuel industry”. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) – those traded on a stock exchange – were the worst-performing investment category in the research, with 30 percent of the ETFs analysed investing in companies on the three lists Ethical Consumer used. David Hayman, campaign director at Make My Money Matter, a campaign set up by film director Richard Curtis to stop banks and pension funds financing fossil fuel expansion, said: “We know that savers and citizens want to make their money matter. They want their pensions and their investments tackling the climate crisis, not fuelling the fire. But this report shows the massive gap between sustainable branding and serious impact, and highlights the nightmare consumers face navigating sustainable labelling.” “Sustainability isn’t a sales tactic and you can’t claim to be a climate leader while having so called green funds invested in the world’s worst polluters.” Engage or Divest There are currently over four hundred funds available to British consumers claiming to be sustainable or ethical, according to Ethical Consumer. But the absence of an agreed definition for such investments combined with a lack of regulatory scrutiny means investors could be bankrolling planet-warming fossil fuels without knowing. The research raises questions around whether sustainable funds should “divest” from fossil fuel companies or adopt an “engagement” strategy where they continue to invest in highly polluting companies and industries with the aim of pushing them in a greener direction.  Oscar Warwick Thompson, head of policy and communications at the UK Sustainable Finance and Investment Association, told DeSmog there needed to be strong oversight of investment funds to avoid the public being misled. “If a sustainable fund is invested in perhaps a small amount of oil and gas companies, but is looking to use mechanisms by which they can move towards a greener path or a more sustainable footing in the years ahead, then perhaps there is a case for that to be put in a sustainable fund. “But there need to be a lot of protections in place to make sure that we’re not misleading the consumer – that’s the key thing.”  The research also found that 15 percent of the pension funds analysed were invested in companies on either the Carbon Underground, Macroclimate 30 or top ten infrastructure list, with a further 21 percent failing to disclose sufficient information for researchers to determine the makeup of their portfolios. New Regulation Policymakers are increasingly seeking to regulate what can and cannot be deemed sustainable. The European Union brought in an important new framework for the finance sector last year but drew criticism for categorising gas and nuclear as green. The UK does not currently have regulations in place to determine what qualifies as a sustainable fund, but the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently consulting on how to tackle “exaggerated, misleading or unsubstantiated claims” that “damage confidence” in the products.  Last month, Sacha Sadan, the FCA’s Director of Environment Social and Governance, said: “Greenwashing misleads consumers and erodes trust in all ESG [environmental, social and governance] products. Consumers must be confident when products claim to be sustainable that they actually are.” A BlackRock spokesperson said its fund met its own screening criteria, excluding investments in sectors such as alcohol, gambling, and arms. Excluding fossil fuels is “not part of the fund’s investment objectives” and the company offers fossil-free funds “for clients that wish to invest in that way”, they said. The post Leading Sustainable Investment Funds Backing Fossil Fuels, Research Finds appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/23/22 1:17pm
“We decided to fight in courts instead of on the streets,” Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James, explained to me on a call, describing her faith-based community organization’s latest legal victory. The decisive free speech win follows other recent notable milestones for environmental justice advocates in the petrochemical and refinery-lined river parishes between Baton Rouge and New Orleans — an area known as “Cancer Alley,” where Lavigne lives. On November 17, a week before Thanksgiving, Tulane Law’s First Amendment Clinic, announced a favorable settlement on behalf of RISE. St. James after a two-year legal battle against the St. James Parish town of Gramercy and its mayor, Steve Nosacka, an outspoken supporter of the oil and gas industry. Back in the fall of 2020, RISE. St. James was planning to hold a protest march in Gramercy in an effort to stop an industry-friendly ballot initiative. The time was marked by heightened racial unrest following the murder of George Floyd, which sparked Black Lives Matter protests to spread spread across the country, including in New Orleans. Two days before RISE St. James’ march was set to take place, Lavigne learned that the town required her organization to post a $10,000 bond to obtain a permit for the march, money the group didn’t have access to on short notice. She and the other protest organizers weighed whether to hold the protest in Gramercy without a permit, she told me, but reasoned if they got arrested at the start of their march, it would prevent them from achieving their goal of helping to defeat Amendment 5, one of the ballot initiatives in the upcoming election. That amendment, if passed, would have allowed manufacturers to negotiate lower tax bills with local governments, giving the already dominant petrochemical industry a way to permanently avoid paying property taxes. RISE St. James and the group’s supporters who planned to participate in the protest, decided to get a permit to march in the neighboring town, Lutcher, and challenge Gramercy at a later date in court for trampling on their First Amendment rights. RISE St. James protest march in Lutcher, Louisiana, on October 17, 2020. Credit: Julie Dermansky So on October 17, 2020, the date of the planned protest, members of RISE St. James and its supporters marched without incident in Lutcher instead of Gramercy. Those at the front held a Black Lives Matter banner, as a couple dozen marched to spread awareness about Amendment 5, chanting intermittently, “Say no to Amendment 5” and “Black Lives Matter.” And on November 3, voters in Louisiana overwhelmingly rejected the ballot initiative. A few days later, RISE St. James, with the help of Tulane’s law clinic, fought to protect their constitutional right to protest in Gramercy. In a settlement announced this month, Gramercy agreed to pay $45,000 for legal fees plus $100 for damages. It also walked back restrictive rules on its books related to marches. Now citizens and groups like RISE St. James are exempt from the town’s $10,000 march permit bond requirement if they can prove they are unable to afford it, removing a financial barrier from the constitutionally protected right to protest. “The law is on our side,” Lavigne told me. RISE St. James plans to keep pursuing environmental justice in the courts if regulators continue to put the needs of the fossil fuel industry above the needs of fenceline communities in Cancer Alley. Lavigne expressed gratitude for the progress her group and other partnering organizations have already made but acknowledged there are still major battles ahead. Sharon Lavigne at a RISE St. James Black History event on February 2, 2022. Credit: Julie Dermansky This Thanksgiving, we can all celebrate and be thankful that our work has come to fruition,” Robert Taylor, the founder of Concerned Citizens of St. John, told me, reiterating Lavigne’s sentiments. I think we are in a great position to really move forward and get important overdue, life-or-death stuff done in Cancer Alley.”  Robert Taylor in a trailer provided by FEMA, in front of his storm-damaged home on February 12, 2022. Credit: Julie Dermansky Robert Taylor and Sharon Lavigne with Pat Bryant protesting in front of the Louisiana State Capitol on June 3, 2019. Credit: Julie Dermansky Taylor, a retired general contractor, was driven to form the community group in 2016 after learning that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had determined that those living in six census tracts closest to the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in St. John the Baptist Parish have a lifetime risk of cancer from air pollution that is 800 times higher than the national average. He and the other founding members of the concerned citizens grassroots organization find it unacceptable that their community is still subjected to levels of chloroprene exposure well above the EPA’s recommended emissions limits. The Denka facility, which produces the synthetic rubber neoprene, is one of numerous petrochemical plants in predominantly Black fenceline communities along the Mississippi River, which face some of the country’s highest risks of cancer from air pollution, according to EPA data.  Lydia Gerard, one of the founding members of the Concerned Citizens of St. John at a protest the group held near the Fifth Ward Elementary School on October 18, 2017. Credit: Julie Dermansky Aerial view of the Fifth Ward Elementary School that shows its proximity to the Denka Performance Elastomer Plant in Reserve, Louisiana. Credit: Julie Dermansky “I’m so thankful to the groups that are with us in this fight,” Taylor, who often works in tandem with RISE and other environmental justice advocates, said. His group remains focused on protecting the children at the Fifth Ward Elementary School, which shares a fence line with the Denka plant, from further exposure to chloroprene, a likely human carcinogen. Protester carrying a sign critical of the expanding LNG export industry at a Rise St. James protest march in Lutcher, Louisiana, on October 17, 2020. Credit: Julie Dermansky The current push to expand the petrochemical industry and increase LNG exports would lock in an increased demand for natural gas at a time of worsening climate change. Every stage of natural gas production and distribution releases methane pollution, a powerful greenhouse gas. Because of those methane leaks, consuming more natural gas spurs ever-faster and more dramatic climate changes. This growing awareness of the petrochemical industry’s role in contributing to climate change has also led to growing awareness of the environmental racism faced by fenceline communities in Cancer Alley. Their fight for environmental justice is garnering worldwide attention and an expanding network of supporters. In August, Taylor and other Cancer Alley residents traveled to Switzerland to tell a United Nations human rights body about their experiences with the expanding petrochemical industry and systemic environmental racism in south Louisiana. And earlier this month Lavigne, along with members of RISE St. James and other advocates from Louisiana traveled to the UN climate summit in Egypt to tell the world that their communities are not sacrifice zones. In January, Earthjustice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law submitted a civil rights complaint to the EPA on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of St. John and the Sierra Club. The complaint calls out the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and Louisiana Department of Health (LDOH) for their handling of air pollution and associated health impacts in St. John the Baptist Parish, alleging that the state agencies failed to protect the majority Black parish. In February Tulane’s Environmental Law Clinic filed a similar but separate civil rights complaint to the EPA against LDEQ on behalf of RISE St. James and other community groups. Those civil rights complaints helped prompt the EPA to open a civil rights investigation into the LDEQ and LDOH. On October 12, the EPA sent a 56-page letter of concern to those two agencies summarizing its initial findings. The highly critical letter states that the EPA’s analysis so far “raises concerns” about the agencies’ behavior, which “may have an adverse and disparate impact on Black residents” in Cancer Alley. The EPA’s letter cites multiple examples of DeSmog’s reporting, which includes documentation of Cancer Alley advocates’ many protests over inaction and videos of the LDEQ Secretary’s comments that are “inconsistent” with the agency’s claims about its responsibilities to regulate chloroprene. Greg Langley, LDEQ spokesperson, told DeSmog “We are in discussions with EPA about the Title VI [civil rights] complaint. We do not have a comment about it.” And LDOH communications director Alyson Neel said, “The Louisiana Department of Health takes these concerns very seriously and is committed to health equity — which is why we are fully cooperating with the EPAs investigation into Denka Performance Elastomer.” The Denka Performance Elastomer plant continues to challenge the EPA’s assessment of the health risks related to chloroprene emissions, and Jim Harris, spokesperson for the plant, asserted to the Lens, a local independent news source, that there is no evidence of increased levels of health impacts near the plant in St. John the Baptist. But a report based on a health study conducted by the University Network for Human Rights outlines evidence that show a pronounced risk of cancer and other negative health effects due to toxic chemicals in the air. Members of Concerned Citizens of St. John putting up a protest sign in Reserve, Louisiana, on July 17, 2017. Credit: Julie Dermansky Last November when EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited the Fifth Ward elementary school on his Journey to Justice tour, he promised the Concerned Citizens of St. John that he would use all the tools in his toolbox to protect the communitys children. Taylor says he hopes that the growing public scrutiny of the environmental racism against Cancer Alley residents will force regulators to finally protect the community’s children from further chloroprene exposure. While he and members of his organization appreciate additional air monitoring and health studies, they don’t believe any more evidence is needed before actions are taken to protect their children, whether that means sending them to a school outside the parish farther from the Denka plant’s chloroprene emissions, or shutting the plant down. Another source of hope for environmental justice advocates in the region came this September, with the news that two proposed petrochemical complexes in St. James Parish, South Louisiana Methanol and Formosa’s Sunshine Project, faced further setbacks. On September 1, the St. James Parish Council turned down South Louisiana Methanol’s request to rezone a neighborhood where the company purchased land to build its proposed $2.2 billion dollar complex. But just over a week later, the nearly decade-long fight over the project came to an end when the company failed to meet an LDEQ deadline. As a result, the agency withdrew the company’s application to modify its existing air permits. And on September 12, Baton Rouge District Judge Trudy White ruled in favor of RISE St. James and several other environmental groups in their legal challenge to LDEQ’s decision to issue air permits to Formosa Plastics (FG LA LLC) for its proposed $9.4 billion petrochemical complex in St. James, less than two miles from Lavigne’s home. Judge White found that, by the companys own calculations, the facility’s pollution would be in such high quantity and so harmful to the surrounding air that even brief exposure would pose a threat to human health in an area already notorious for higher-than-average cancer-causing toxins. And that if the complex were up and running, the air in parts of St. James Parish would violate the EPA’s standards for soot and ozone-forming nitrogen dioxide. “Simply put, LDEQ failed to address the core problem posed by FG LA’s model, the only record evidence on point: people working, living, travelling, or recreating in St. James Parish could suffer serious health consequences from breathing this air, even from short-run exposure,” White wrote in her decision. Because the agencys environmental justice analysis showed disregard for and was contrary to substantiated competent public evidence in the record, it was arbitrary and capricious. LDEQ’s Langley declined to comment on the district court’s ruling, citing ongoing litigation. However, Formosa Plastics group and its FG LA unit have shown no sign of backing away from their proposed plans to build the massive petrochemical complex in St. James Parish. “FG respectfully disagrees with Judge White’s conclusion,” Janile Parks, FG LA’s spokesperson, told DeSmog in an emailed statement. “We believe the permits issued to FG by LDEQ are sound and the agency properly performed its duty to protect the environment in the issuance of those air permits.” She added that the company “intends to construct and operate [the project] to meet all state and federal standards.” Environmental justice advocates hailed White’s ruling as groundbreaking, because it was the first time a state district court has ever thrown out an LDEQ air permit on environmental justice grounds.  But even with such victories, proposals for new fossil fuel projects, each seemingly more massive in scale than the next, keep popping up. On November 16, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Qatar Energy announced plans to build an $8.5-billion petrochemical plant on the Texas side of the Sabine River at the Louisiana border, an area where a growing number of LNG export facilities are being permitted. The environmental justice community groups in Cancer Alley are quickly learning that victories in the movement are temporary. After all, Formosa is appealing Judge White’s decision. “I still feel like we were victorious against Formosa,” Lavigne told me. “Theyre trying to find ways that they can go around the law and get this victory from us, but its not going to help. We not going to lay down and roll over. Were going to continue to fight.”  The post Fenceline Community Groups in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Celebrate Mounting Victories appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/23/22 10:38am
COP27 has just ended and while the agreement to develop a loss and damage fund is a real victory for vulnerable nations already devastated by climate change impacts, UN climate talks once again failed to address the root cause of these impacts: fossil fuel production. We, African women on the front line, fear that the expansion of oil, coal, and especially gas will only reproduce historic inequalities, militarism, and war patterns. Presented as essential development tools for the African continent and the world, fossil fuels have demonstrated over more than 50 years of exploitation that they are weapons of mass destruction. Their pursuit systematically follows a violent pattern: appropriation of resource-rich land, exploitation of those resources, and then export of those resources by wealthy countries and corporations, to the detriment of local populations, their livelihoods, their cultures and, of course, their climate.  For women, fossil fuel impacts are even more devastating. Evidence and our experience show that women and girls are among those disproportionately impacted by climate change. In Cameroon, where the conflict is rooted in unequal access to fossil fuel resources, we have witnessed the government respond with increased investment in military and security forces. This move has increased gender-based and sexual violence and displacement. In addition, it has forced women to negotiate access to basic services, housing, and employment; to assume the role of sole parent; and organize to care for and protect our communities. Fossil fuels mean shattered hopes for African women and the whole continent.As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated, the impacts of fossil-fuel powered militarism and war has global repercussions, including and especially on the African continent. Armed conflict on the other side of the world has threatened food security and stability in African countries. The war in Ukraine has also contributed to the country’s steep increase in greenhouse gas emissions, further accelerating the climate crisis, disproportionately affecting our continent. There is no possibility of stopping climate change without reversing militarism and its consequent armed conflicts. Credit: WILPF Cameroon and Griote Similarly, Europe’s dash for gas in Africa as a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a new pretext for the expansion of gas production on the continent. In the face of this scramble, African leaders must maintain a firm NO to protect African populations, particularly women once again, from suffering an endless cycle of violence. From Senegal to Mozambique, German and French investment in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects or infrastructure will definitely end any possibility for Africa to build a fossil fuel–free future.  This is a critical moment for African leadership, and particularly for the leadership of African feminist peace movements, to finally stop repeating patterns of exploitation, militarism, and war, and to work for real security. Security is nothing more nor less than saving the planet from destruction. To pretend otherwise is to ensure our destruction. Based on our work in feminist peace movements, we know that women, girls, and other marginalized communities have unique knowledge and solutions to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to build sustainable alternatives based on solidarity, equality, and care.  On the second day of the UN’s COP27 negotiations, the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu became the second country to call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, joining its neighbor Vanuatu. As feminist peace activists, we see this as a historic call that must be heard within the climate negotiation forum and beyond. Because it puts the communities most impacted by the climate crisis and the fossil fuels that cause it — including women — at the heart of the treaty proposal. The treaty is a gender-responsive climate tool that can bring about a global just transition, to be undertaken by the communities and countries most vulnerable and least responsible for the climate crisis.  Such an international treaty is based on three core pillars: It would cease all new oil, gas, and coal expansion and production; phase out existing fossil fuel production — with the wealthiest nations and largest historical polluters leading the way; and support a just and peaceful transition to completely renewable energy sources while taking care of affected fossil fuel industry workers and communities. A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would end fossil fuel–induced violence against women, natural resources, and the climate. It is a bold new mechanism that would allow the African continent to stop increasing energy apartheid, harness its enormous renewable energy potential, and provide access to sustainable energy for the 600 million Africans who still lack it, taking into account human rights and gender perspectives.  COP27 is over but the opportunity to commit to a healthier, more peaceful future is not. Will you join us? Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo is a Cameroonian peace activist, Women International League Peace and Freedom’s (WILPF) Cameroon Section founder, and recently elected WILPF International President. Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Liberian peace activist responsible for leading the womens nonviolent peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. The post We Need a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to Stop Violence Against African Women and Our Continent appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/21/22 5:18pm
In recent years, communities across the United States increasingly have turned to the courts to hold oil and gas companies accountable for alleged fraud — which has worsened the climate crisis — and now those lawsuits are inching towards trial. Despite dogged attempts from industry lawyers to force the litigation into federal courts, where they see an easier path to dismissal, they continue to strike out as judges from California to Connecticut rule that state courts are the appropriate venues for these climate accountability lawsuits. The latest addition to the fossil fuel industry’s long procedural losing streak came on November 12 when a federal district judge decided that the District of Columbia’s climate liability lawsuit belongs in the local court, where it was originally filed in June 2020. As with other climate liability lawsuits, lawyers for the oil and gas companies in the District of Columbia case devised a multitude of arguments claiming that only federal courts have the jurisdiction or authority to handle such lawsuits. But federal courts have not been buying these legal theories. “Defendants raise seven theories for the Court’s subject-matter jurisdiction. Each, they say, is an independent ground for removal. None is,” Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in his recent opinion. He joins twelve other federal district judges and five appeals courts in dismissing all of the fossil fuel companies’ arguments for federal jurisdiction. Several of the appeals courts have even ruled twice to affirm that state courts are the right venue for these cases. I appreciate Judge Kelly’s ruling that our lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell belongs in our local court, before DC residents. We filed our lawsuit to expose these big oil companies’ rampant deception and stop it.Today our case takes an important step forward.— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) November 13, 2022 Statement from District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine on the recent federal ruling on his case. The District of Columbia’s case is among two dozen lawsuits filed by cities, counties, and states against the fossil fuel industry over its role in attacking climate science and spreading disinformation in order to stave off climate action and protect profits. A handful of coastal California communities brought the first of these cases in 2017. Since then, the lawsuits have been bogged down in procedural wrangling. Local and state governments are making claims under local and state laws, invoking issues such as product liability – used to hold manufacturers responsible for selling a defective or harmful product- and consumer protection – designed to protect against misleading marketing and fraud — and have filed their complaints in state courts. Fossil fuel companies are pushing the cases to federal courts, fighting tooth and nail to avoid litigating in state courts, where they could face discovery and trial. “Chevron respectfully disagrees with the district court’s decision remanding this climate change action to the District of Columbia municipal court. This case belongs in federal court because climate change is a global phenomenon that requires a coordinated federal policy response, not a patchwork of lawsuits brought in municipal and state courts,” Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, and counsel for Chevron Corporation, said in an emailed statement. “The industry’s efforts to keep the cases from proceeding in state court for almost six years now indicates that, contrary to its public messaging otherwise, it thinks there’s a reason to be worried,” Karen Sokol, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, told DeSmog via email. One advocate for polluter accountability suggested that these procedural maneuvers represent the fossil fuel industry’s strategic bid for swift dismissal of the cases through federal courts. “Once again, the courts have seen through Big Oils attempts to mischaracterize these cases, and now the people of D.C. are one step closer to having their day in court,” Alyssa Johl, vice president of legal at the Center for Climate Integrity – which campaigns for holding climate polluters accountable — said in an emailed statement. The District of Columbia case, brought by Attorney General Karl Racine two years ago, names oil majors BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell as defendants. It alleges they misled District consumers around the climate consequences of their products and continue to mislead through deceptive advertising and greenwashing. The lawsuit contends that this behavior violates the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act. #BREAKING: For decades, @exxonmobil @bp_plc @Chevron & @Shell spent millions to mislead consumers and discredit #ClimateChange science in pursuit of profits.Were suing these companies over deceptive practices that threaten DCs environment & residents: https://t.co/NhtrCjwV6e pic.twitter.com/L200pZZ93X— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) June 25, 2020 “Independently and through coordinated campaigns and industry front groups, Defendants have deceived D.C. consumers about how Defendants’ fossil fuel products warm the planet and disrupt the climate in a quest to drive profits through increased sales of gas and other fossil fuel products. Defendants continue to mislead D.C. consumers to this day,” the complaint states. The District of Columbia and others bringing these climate liability lawsuits say their claims are based on the deceptive conduct of the fossil fuel companies, not on the emissions or production of fossil fuels. The companies, however, have tried to paint the cases as attacking production. “We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change, but that smart policy from government, supported by action from all business sectors, including ours, and from civil society, is the appropriate way to reach solutions and drive progress,” said Natalie Gunnell, spokesperson for the Shell Group, which is named in the District of Columbia suit and several similar cases. However, Judge Kelly and other judges have pushed back against this framing that centers the cases in this way. “The ‘charged conduct’ here is Defendants’ false advertising – not fossil fuel production en masse,” Judge Kelly noted in his opinion. Similarly, in a ruling issued this April, an appellate court recognized that Baltimore was suing oil and gas companies not over the production and sale of fossil fuel products, but for mispresenting the climate harms of these products. As the court wrote, “it is the concealment and misrepresentation of the products’ known dangers – and the simultaneous promotion of their unrestrained use – that allegedly drove consumption, and thus greenhouse gas pollution, and thus climate change.” That Baltimore ruling followed a directive from the U.S. Supreme Court that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and three other appeals courts review all of the arguments for federal jurisdiction from the fossil fuel companies. Each appellate court has since rejected the companies’ additional arguments. Fossil fuel giants are now returning to the Supreme Court with renewed and additional petitions, hoping the highest court will overrule the lower courts’ decisions about where the climate cases should be tried. Read more from the DeSmog series: Tracking the Lawsuits Fighting for Climate Accountability Meanwhile, legal developments continue to frustrate the industry’s attempts to evade accountability. Cases filed by Hawaiian communities and by the state of Massachusetts are proceeding to the discovery phase in state courts, a pre-trial process of gathering evidence, during which internal industry documents could surface and shed new light on the extent of the industry’s deceptive behavior. Last month a federal district judge in California, who had previously tossed cases filed by Oakland and San Francisco, issued an order to send the cases, which were revived by a federal appeals court, back to state court. And New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin followed in the footsteps of seven other Democratic state prosecutors in filing a consumer fraud case against ExxonMobil and other oil majors. A spokesperson for Exxon did not respond to a request for comment. BP America declined to comment. Judge Kelly’s order to send the District of Columbia’s case back to the lower court is temporarily paused as the oil companies prepare an appeal, as they have every other time a federal judge made a similar ruling. “Chevron plans to appeal this ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Boutrous, Jr. said. None of these appeals, however, have been successful. Loyola University’s Sokol sees these repeated rejections as further affirmation that local and state governments have the right to try these claims in state courts. Johl agreed. “These cases were filed in state court to hold polluters accountable for climate deception under state law,” she said. “And thats where courts have unanimously agreed they should proceed.” The post Judge Deals Latest Blow to Big Oil in DC Climate Fraud Case appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/18/22 10:36am
On a January day in 2021, a fountain of fracking wastewater unexpectedly erupted from deep underground in Noble County, Ohio. Instead of remaining thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface, where the corrosive brine had been pumped for disposal, it had migrated into an idled oil and gas production well over two miles away. There, the liquid waste spewed out of the ground for four days, releasing an estimated 40,000 barrels of toxic slurry into eastern Ohio streams and killing hundreds of fish. This incident represents the growing problem with fracking waste injection wells in Ohio, a state that has become a dumping ground for oil and gas industry waste.   But a coalition of more than two dozen frontline community groups and environmental justice organizations in Ohio are trying to change that. These groups are asking the federal government to take control of the state’s oil and gas wastewater injection well program, arguing that Ohio has failed to effectively protect underground sources of drinking water. The “culture of permissiveness” at the state regulator — Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) — has meant that the oil and gas industry’s handling of fracking waste has led to chronic violations with few meaningful consequences, according to a petition submitted in October to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The petition documents specific instances in which oil and gas wastewater may pose dangers to drinking water, including waste injected underground that migrated outside of its intended location, spills at the surface, and even fracking waste that seeped into oil and gas wells, impacting production. Oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing are riddled with environmental and public health hazards. But after drilling, in addition to the fracking chemicals shot down the well with sand and water to release trapped oil and gas, enormous volumes of toxic and often radioactive wastewater also come up out of the well. Operators need to put this waste, a nasty substance called “brine,” somewhere, and either they or a contractor typically truck it to a separate location and pump it back underground in what are known as injection wells.  A fracking well pad in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. September 2021. Credit: Ted Auch. FracTracker Alliance. (CC BY-NC 2.0) The Appalachian region encompassing the Utica and Marcellus oil and gas fields in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia produces more than 35 billion cubic feet of gas per day, doubling in less than a decade. As a result, the amount of fracking wastewater injected underground in Ohio has surged from 690 million gallons in 2013 to 12.7 billion gallons in 2020, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility and FracTracker Alliance. Fracking waste is the unseen “connective tissue” that allows the industry to keep its costs low, Ted Auch, the Great Lakes program coordinator for FracTracker Alliance, a watchdog group, told DeSmog. Without cheap disposal, many small and medium-sized fracking companies would not be able to operate. Brine trucks will go to where disposal is cheapest, and Ohio has emerged as the de facto destination in the region, according to Auch.  The petition filed by Earthjustice, representing 27 organizations including Buckeye Environmental Network, FracTracker, Sierra Club, Between the Waters, Ohio Brine Task Force, Ohio Poor Peoples Campaign, and many others, alleges that Ohio runs a habitually dysfunctional regulatory regime for these injection wells and asks the EPA to begin a rulemaking process to revoke the state’s ability to oversee its own injection well program. Their petition identifies a long list of deficiencies in Ohio’s program. First, ODNR, the agency regulating injection wells, consistently refuses to enforce violations. Second, even if it wanted to, the state regulator has no authority to enact penalties. Instead, it needs to go to the state attorney general to take action, a cumbersome process. “As you can imagine, that makes it basically impossible for ODNR to take any timely enforcement action,” Megan Hunter, a senior attorney with Earthjustice, who co-authored the petition, told DeSmog. Despite repeated and ongoing violations from waste operators, ODNR has only followed through on enforcement of penalties six times in its 39-year history, according to the document. In a statement to DeSmog, a spokesperson said the agency “disagrees” with that statistic, but didn’t offer any more detail and said it could not comment further because of ongoing litigation.  Even in instances of egregious violations, ODNR cannot permanently suspend operations at an injection well. It can issue a temporary suspension, but once the company spells out how it will correct the issue, injection operations can proceed within days or weeks even if dangerous conditions are ongoing. Those shortcomings would be problems on their own, enough to hold back an earnest regulator. But, the petition suggests, ODNR largely acts as a rubber stamp for waste handling companies. State rules are “permissive,” and ODNR permits injection wells in places that are geologically “unsuitable,” according to the coalition petition.  Class II injection well. Morrow County, OH. Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2015. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The state agency has presided over an enormous increase in the number of injection wells. Ohio has an estimated 227 active injection wells, with most located in rural, lower-income Appalachian counties, raising environmental justice concerns. In fact, a 2018 peer-reviewed study conducted by Yale researchers found that the number of injection wells in an area tended to rise as median income dropped, even after controlling for other variables. In other words, disposal companies put fracking waste in poor areas, and ODNR allows that dynamic to play out. Critics characterize the agency as “captured” by industry. “Most of [ODNR’s] money comes from the oil and gas industry,” Teresa Mills, executive director of Buckeye Environmental Network, and a signatory of the petition, told DeSmog. “Theyre not going to cut off their nose to spite their face.”  “There are flagrant violations. And with no enforcement mechanism, the companies are just flipping ODNR the bird. ‘Youre not going to do anything to us, so were not going to pay attention to you,’” Mills said of the industry’s relationship with its regulator. Injecting Waste in Geologically “Unsuitable” Locations  The oil industry’s largest trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, claims that injection wells are safe and environmentally reliable, in part because the waste is going so far beneath the ground and far below sources of groundwater. But that assertion assumes the wastewater stays put. In 2019, wastewater injected into the Redbird #4 well in Washington County in southeast Ohio resurfaced through a couple of entirely separate oil and gas wells located five miles away, moving far outside of the permitted area.  “We’ve seen an increase in incidents recently where oil and gas waste is migrating underground and returning to the surface,” Hunter, the Earthjustice attorney, said. “If you have something traveling that far underground and then coming back up, then the shallower [groundwater] aquifers can be at risk.” Brine hauler and class II injection well. Morrow County, OH. Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2015. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) A technical analysis, commissioned by Earthjustice and conducted by Robert Rossi and Dominic DiGiulio, two research scientists with PSE Healthy Energy, a nonprofit energy science and policy research institute, documented a long list of problems with both the permitting and due diligence of ODNR regulators overseeing injection wells. The analysis looked at six injection wells, and the results of the study were submitted to the EPA along with the Earthjustice petition as evidence of ODNR’s failures.  Wastewater is supposed to be injected beneath an impermeable layer of rock, which would seal it off from drinking water aquifers higher up in the subsurface. But the scientists found that ODNR was allowing injection wells in shale formations that had a fractured network of rock, which allows wastewater to find fissures and travel far away from its intended location. The geologic conditions were therefore “unsuitable” for wastewater disposal, the analysis concluded.  Because the Redbird well’s wastewater traveled five miles laterally and almost 2,000 feet vertically, the report concluded, “it is exceedingly clear that the injection formation was not isolated and begs the question of if the geological suitability of this formation was even considered by the ODNR during permitting.” A second finding was that ODNR was allowing too many wells to be located near each other, resulting in “overpressurization” of the subsurface.  “Theres so much injection occurring, that [the formation] just cant support injection any longer and youre seeing things rise to the surface as a result of that,” Hunter said. Instead of looking at the cumulative impact of so much high-pressure wastewater shoved underground, ODNR assesses permits individually.  In a statement to DeSmog, Stephanie O’Grady, a spokesperson for ODNR, said that the U.S. EPA “has consistently reaffirmed that Ohio operates an effective regulatory program that meets federal standards and protects public health, safety, and the environment. The Division takes our responsibility to protect Ohio’s groundwater, surface water, and environment seriously, as demonstrated by our rigorous permitting process, regular inspections, and enforcement.”  New rules issued by ODNR at the start of 2022 dial back the approved pressure and volumes allowed for injection wells. But they still permit injection in the exact same shale formation that saw wastewater escape and migrate long distances underground. If toxic waste is moving so far beyond its intended locations, then sources of drinking water could be at risk, the petition alleges.    “How is it affecting us?” Even when everything goes right, the day-to-day of living next to a wastewater injection well has its downsides. Michele Garman lives in a rural area north of Youngstown, Ohio, not far from the Pennsylvania border. About six years ago, with very little public notice and against community opposition, a local company called Kleese Development drilled an injection well adjacent to her property and visible from her house.  Class II injection well in Vienna, OH. Credit: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2016. Aerial support provided by LightHawk. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) She said trucks bringing the wastewater for disposal run frequently and sometimes at odd hours. “I notice them more at two or three in the morning,” Garman told DeSmog. And she recalls, at one Fourth of July party, “We watched the trucks come in and out all day.” In addition, Garman said that at times there are terrible oily odors wafting from the well pad. While she opposed the injection well when it went in, she has largely learned to live with the trucks and smells. But those aren’t her only concerns. “The worrisome part is whats going on underneath us. The stuff you dont see or hear,” she said. Very little public information exists revealing specifically what is in the waste destined for injection wells like the one next to Garman’s land, but what is known is concerning.  “We know that the waste in the Marcellus/Utica region in particular is radioactive, highly radioactive,” Hunter said. “We know that it has PFAS in it. Of course, we already know that it is extremely salty and that it has heavy metals and other organics that are dangerous and harmful to human health and the environment.” (PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals” due to their long-lived nature and are linked to various potential health impacts.) But there is no requirement for operators to detail or disclose any specifics. Moreover, there are no studies on the human health impacts of wastewater injection wells, so the hazards are largely unknown. For Garman, all the uncertainty surrounding fracking wastewater is disconcerting. “Where is it all going? How is it affecting us?” she said. A brine hauler in Ashtabula County, OH. Credit: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2015. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Nearly a decade ago, eastern Ohio resident Tom McKnight said he saw people who were hauling brine bringing in paychecks that were “pretty doggone respectable.” With three kids to support, he decided to get into trucking as well. He worked as an oil and gas brine hauler in Ohio between 2014 and 2018, and in the first year made $70,000.  However, McKnight believes he was exposed to radiation from his years trucking fracking waste. “The most dirty, dangerous water I think that Ive ever been around is what they call the ‘flowback’ while they are bringing a new well online. That is some nasty, dirty stuff,” he said. Flowback is the water and chemical mixture that shoots up out of an oil and gas well after it has been fracked and the well is in the process of coming online.  He recalled one time when he was sucking wastewater out of some tanks, and he opened up the manhole and stuck his head in. “At the end of the day, between my gloves and my shirt sleeves, and my face and my v-neck on the chest, I looked like I had been out in the sun all day,” he said, thinking that his reddened skin was the result of exposure to radiation. “So Im pretty sure I got a pretty good dose that day.”  McKnight no longer works because he has Thymoma, a form of cancer of the thymus, a gland in the chest. He had several operations to remove part of his liver and a six-pound tumor from his chest. He also had throat cancer. But it’s not easy to definitively link workplace exposures like McKnight’s, and the appearance of cancer. “It could have come from anything, or the accumulation of everything,” he said. “It Was Going in Whether We Wanted it or Not” When Garman voiced opposition to the project next to her home in 2015, she felt like neither the company nor the state cared. “It was going in, whether we wanted it or not. That’s my general feeling,” she said. When a waste company applies for an injection well permit, its approval is essentially a foregone conclusion, environmental experts say, and whatever public notice happens appears to be lacking. “Typically, communities wouldnt even know theyre getting an injection well until a drilling rig shows up,” said Mills of the Buckeye Environmental Network.  Even when communities are aware of a proposed project and push back, the state agency largely ignores the complaints. “The problem with the [public] hearing is that even though the public provides input on safety issues and concerns with injection wells, the ODNR director has no discretion. As long as the permit is correctly filled out, their permit gets granted,” Lenny Eliason, Athens County (Ohio) Commissioner, said on a call with reporters in October. “So why have a public hearing? Why involve the public in a sham process when you’re not going to do anything about acting on the information that’s provided during that public hearing?” In a statement to DeSmog, O’Grady, the ODNR spokesperson, said that the agency “does believe that its permitting process has adequate public notification and input.” DeSmog followed up with specific questions asking for documentation on how many times the agency has denied injection well applications and enforced violations. O’Grady said the agency has denied 12 applications this year, but when asked for documentation, she sent denials to only four applications, and said ODNR could not comment further. ODNR also did not respond to a request for documentation on its history of enforcement. EPA vs. State “Primacy” The governance of wastewater injection wells falls under the Safe Drinking Water Act. While it is a federal law, it gives states leeway to apply for “primacy,” which is the ability for states to govern their own injection wells. Ohio successfully obtained primacy back in 1983, and as a result, has overseen the proliferation of injection wells over the past two decades with the boom in fracking. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has federal EPA supervision over its injection well program. Both states have extensive fracking operations, but because it is much easier to dispose of fracking waste in Ohio, convoys of brine trucks often haul toxic and low-level radioactive waste from drill sites in Pennsylvania across the border to Ohio.  McKnight trucked waste to and from well sites across much of eastern Ohio, as well as from oil and gas wells in southwest Pennsylvania to injection wells in Ohio. “It’s a big industry. It’s a big employer,” he said.  In fact, more than 40 percent of the waste injected underground in Ohio actually comes from out of state, according to data from FracTracker.  “Our state legislators will stand at the state line and just wave them on in. ‘Come on in. We love ya,’” Mills said, characterizing Ohio’s willingness to take huge quantities of waste from Pennsylvania. Class II injection well. Mahoning County, OH. Credit: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2019. Aerial support provided by LightHawk. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) But geologically speaking, there’s no reason Pennsylvania can’t dispose of its own fracking wastewater, said Ted Auch of FracTracker. He said the industry doesn’t have much interest in applying for permits in Pennsylvania because “they can rely on Ohio to dispose of its waste.” That puts added pressure on Ohio regulators to deal with this flood of fracking wastewater and the injection wells needed for its disposal, and the environmental and community coalition filing the petition to the EPA thinks the state isn’t keeping up with that responsibility. The coalition is calling on the federal agency to initiate a rulemaking process that would eventually lead to Ohio losing its “primacy” and having regulatory oversight revert back to the federal government. The process is lengthy and could take several years, if it succeeds at all. Ohio is not necessarily unique in this regard. Other states, including Idaho, Michigan, and Oklahoma, have wrestled with whether or not the state or the federal government should have primacy over injection wells. But revoking state primacy due to poor regulatory oversight would be unprecedented. In the meantime, the army of brine trucks will continue hauling fracking waste to injection wells in Ohio. Auch says the petition for the EPA to take over is “kind of the last hope” for reforming the problems documented with Ohio’s injection wells. “We know that the state doesnt collect good data. We know that the state rubber stamps injection wells,” he said. Looking at Pennsylvania, which has a more methodical permitting process due to EPA oversight, Auch said, “it’s like, maybe we should sign up for that.” The post Alleging ‘Failures’ to Protect Drinking Water, Coalition Urges EPA to Take Over Ohio Fracking Waste Wells appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/18/22 8:57am
The United Arab Emirates has been criticised for promoting oil and gas as a clean source of energy, and for backing “false solutions” such as carbon capture technology, at the UN COP27 climate summit in Egypt, ahead of hosting the event next year.  The Gulf petrostates pavilion features displays touting its “decarbonisation efforts” and its “climate action journey” – including a stand run by the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the world’s twelfth largest oil producing company. An interactive display promotes ADNOC’s Al-Reyadah carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility, which captures carbon dioxide (CO2) produced in steel manufacturing, then pumps the gas back into oilfields to extract more oil.  The stand claims that plans to expand the projects capacity from an annual 800,000 tonnes of CO2 today to five million tonnes by 2030 will capture the equivalent carbon of a forest “almost a third the size of the UAE”. Even if those plans were realised, however, that would absorb the equivalent of just over two percent of the country’s current overall emissions of about 220 million tonnes, which are projected to rise as it presses ahead with plans to open new gas fields. The UAE has been using PR companies to try to improve its reputation as it gears up to host COP28 next year, including by lobbying US politicians hostile to climate action, according to the Guardian.  UAE president Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan used the opening of the climate summit on November 7 to declare that his country – which sent over 1,000 delegates to COP27 – was a “responsible supplier” and would “continue playing this role for as long as the world is in need of oil and gas”. “There is no legitimacy in a COP president promoting gas and oil alongside false solutions like CCS”, said David Tong, global industry campaign manager at Oil Change International (OCI), who is attending COP27. “This is a distraction from the reality that we need to keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground.” Tong pointed to a recent OCI report that found that the UAE is on track to undergo one of the world’s largest expansions in CO2 emissions associated with oil and gas production between 2023 and 2025. “All of this expansion is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement,” Tong said. The International Energy Agency has said there should be no new investments in oil, gas and coal if warming is to be kept below the Paris Agreement target of 1.5C.  A stand at the UAE pavilion at COP27 promotes the countrys carbon capture projects. Credit: Adam Barnett Clean fossil fuels Ahead of last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the UAE pledged to cut emissions to net zero by 2050 – an enormous challenge in a country where around 30 percent of Gross Domestic Product is generated directly by oil and gas.  The UAE’s net zero plan includes what it calls “clean fossil fuels” produced by using CCS technologies of the kind promoted by ADNOC at COP27 to offset some of their associated emissions. Experts say that CCS cannot be said to create clean fossil fuels, since the projects only ever capture a fraction of the emissions caused by drilling, transporting, refining and burning the fuel. Environmental groups have warned that the enormous constraints in terms of cost, energy- and water-use, and technical feasibility facing CCS projects mean they may do more to extend the social licence of the fossil fuel industry than they will to slow climate change. “There’s no such thing as responsible oil drilling. More often than not CCS is used to pretend that the burning of fossil fuels can be carried out cleanly. This is a fantasy that’s being used to enable firms to carry on polluting,” said Friends of the Earth’s international climate campaigner, Rachel Kennerley. “Fossil fuels are driving both the climate and energy crises,” Kennerley said. “We need to leave gas, coal and oil in the ground and rapidly switch to green energy production that delivers for both people and the planet.” The United Arab Emirates – which describes itself as “one of the least carbon-intensive oil and gas producers in the world” – is the world’s fifth largest CO2 emitter per capita, at 193.5 metric tonnes in 2021, according to the European Commission’s emissions database. Along with concern over climate records, criticism is growing of the practice of staging COPs in countries with authoritarian governments and poor human rights records, such as Egypt and the UAE, with the case of British citizen Alaa Abd El Fattah’s imprisonment in Egypt, and hunger strike, gaining media attention.  Newly elected Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has called for the 2024 COP to be held in the Amazon.  The UAE’s climate envoy, ADNOC, and the UN climate body the UNFCCC did not respond to requests for comment. The post UAE Promotes Its State Oil Company at COP27 appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/18/22 2:12am
The number of delegates representing big agribusiness has more than doubled at the UN climate talks since last year, leading to concerns from campaigners at access enjoyed by high-carbon companies attending the Egypt summit.  DeSmog counted the number of registered COP27 delegates who were either directly linked to the world’s largest agribusiness firms – such as meatpackers JBS, food corporation Cargill, or biotech leaders Bayer – or participating in the UN talks as part of delegations that represent industry interests. The findings show that the number of delegates linked to powerful agribusiness interests has gone up steeply: from 76 in 2021 to at least 160 this year – double the presence at COP26 in Glasgow. The number of delegates linked to the world’s top five pesticide producers (which between them have 27 lobbyists registered this year), are greater than some country delegations, DeSmog’s research finds. The 35 delegates linked to the biggest meat and dairy companies and associated industry lobby groups are greater than the delegations of both Philippines and Haiti, which are among the countries most affected by climate breakdown.  Agribusiness delegates attending the climate talks at the Sharm el-Sheikh resort include the head of a U.S. meat lobby group that until recently claimed the extent of man-made climate change was “unknown”, as well as influential trade groups that have lobbied against climate action, DeSmog’s analysis found.  The world’s largest meat corporation JBS was also found to have gained privileged access to all negotiations, via the Brazil country delegation. “The agribusiness lobbyists are there to confuse the issue and block meaningful action,” says Monica Vargas Collazos from the non-profit GRAIN. “There is no way that we can deal with the climate crisis if our food system is in the hands of these corporations.” Agriculture – which is responsible for an estimated third of all global emissions – has been higher up the agenda than at any previous round of climate talks.  But recent investigations by DeSmog have exposed the industry’s promotion of “false solutions” (such as high-tech plans to lower the methane quotient of cow burps), which have been championed by the U.S.-led AIM for Climate coalition, which has publicised industry-friendly “climate-smart” innovations at COP27.  “It’s bad news that this COP is not only packed out with fossil fuel lobbyists but also with their friends in the big agribusiness industry,” says Veronica Oakeshott, head of the Forests Team at Global Witness, which uncovered last week that over 600 representatives for polluting energy firms were registered to attend COP27 – a 25 percent jump from the previous year. “These are some of the world’s most destructive companies, and they should only be included at COP with extreme caution,” she told DeSmog. “Such a big presence increases the chances of climate targets being watered down and drowns out the voices of others involved in agriculture, such as farmers, campaigners and smallholders’ organizations.” Growing pressure from polluters DeSmog’s analysis found an uptick in attendance by companies across the industrial food and farming sector. The world’s biggest meat and dairy corporations sent 11 delegates, up from 9 at the UN talks in Glasgow last year, while the number of delegates from major pesticides manufacturers more than doubled.  Representatives from industry lobby groups – representing meat, fertilisers, pesticides, dairy, and national farming associations – jumped from 63 to 130. The increase comes as the total number of COP27 delegates fell by 9 percent compared to the UN talks held last year. Dubbed “Africa’s COP”, this year’s conference has put farming in the spotlight and its dedicated ‘adaptation and agriculture’ day was a historic first. Hunger is rising on the continent where communities are among those most affected by climate breakdown – and the least protected from its impacts. In Somalia, record drought is expected to force more than 6.5 million people into acute food insecurity by the end of December. Yet negotiations have fallen short of what was hoped, according to campaigners. “COP conveners and governments are continuing to deprioritize the need to reduce emissions from the food system – including agriculture – by not tackling root causes,” nature-friendly food alliance Sustain writes on its website. “Large agribusiness and food corporations seemed to be given free rein to set the direction.”  DeSmog’s findings were produced through an analysis of the COP27 delegate list, which contains over 30,000 entries. Researchers queried the data for the names of major companies key to the industrial food system: the world’s largest meat and dairy firms, top pesticide and fertiliser companies, and other major agribusiness firms that work in areas such as food processing and commodity trading. In addition to identifying delegates sent by corporations, DeSmog also counted the number of delegates who travelled to Egypt as part of the global and regional trade bodies that brought their own delegations to COP27. Major trade bodies registered to attend include CropLife International, which lobbies on behalf of big corporations, and has pushed back against attempts to enact new climate measures. Senior executives in the industry were among the delegates who attended, along with professionals who worked in sustainability, PR, and communications roles. Big Meat and Dairy climate science denial The analysis shows that at least 35 delegates who represent the interests of big meat and dairy – an industry that is responsible for 14.5 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions – were registered to attend COP27. They included eight senior executives from meat giant JBS and food processor Cargill, alongside delegates of powerful meat and dairy trade groups such as the International Meat Secretariat, and Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.  Altogether at least seven lobby groups from the meat and dairy sector registered delegations for COP27, the analysis found; four were international, and three represented specific regions or countries, including major agricultural exporters such as New Zealand. Also present at COP27 were the International Meat Secretariat, which has downplayed the science on the climate impacts of the sector, arguing that criticism is “often based on poor, selective evidence and data”. High-profile U.S. meat lobbyist, Eric Mittenthaler was among those registered as  delegates of the Canadian Cattle Association, a North American industry group.  Mittenthaler also heads up the North American Meat Institute, which until recently questioned climate science on its website. It has also pushed back against attempts to tackle emissions. “Its reasonable to argue that an industry still questioning whether climate change exists –  and making false claims about what addresses climate change – does not deserve a seat at the table,” says U.S. academic Jennifer Jacquet.  “In general, both the fossil fuel companies and animal agriculture have responded to the threat of regulatory action in similar ways: they want to be seen as a major part of the solution, and they are willing to tinker with marginal changes rather than talking about the systemic change we so urgently need.” Privileged access for companies linked to deforestation Most corporations and lobby groups that attend the COP climate summits have “observer” status. However, nation states can choose to include industry representatives in their own country delegations, which grants members more privileges at the talks. The meat giant JBS, for example, gained access to all negotiations because it came as part of Brazil’s country delegation. A study released this week found that the methane emissions of JBS exceeded combined livestock emissions for France, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand. The company last week admitted to buying almost 9,000 cattle from “one of the biggest deforesters in Brazil”.  In 2021, Brazil’s delegation included global meat corporations Marfrig and Minerva Foods. Along with JBS, these companies account for 70 percent of all cattle raised in the Brazilian rainforest, according to the NGO Amazon Watch. Both Marfrig and Minerva Foods have also been linked to deforestation in their supply chains.  Other industry bodies granted access through country delegations at Sharm el-Sheikh include Brazil’s beef association ABIEC and Russia’s National Dairy Producers Union.  The Brazilian government was contacted for comment. A bigger presence DeSmog’s analysis only gives a snapshot of the industrial agriculture sector’s influence at COP27 and is likely to be a conservative estimate.  National agribusiness groups who did not bring their own delegation but attended under the umbrella of other business associations such as Chambers of Commerce, fell outside the scope of the research. So too did groups such as Business Europe, which represents agribusiness interests alongside those of other sectors.Other key food and farming delegations to COP27 include organisations such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), which, while not a trade body itself, maintains close ties with the sector.As well as including agribusiness representatives within its delegation, IICA has run a food and farming focussed pavilion (entitled the Home of Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas), which is sponsored by pesticide firms Bayer, Syngenta, the lobby group CropLife, and others.The UN’s official list of delegates also gives an incomplete picture. Sponsorship by high-emitting industries has been subject to increased scrutiny this week and at past COPs in recent years. Industry can also find a route to influence as participants in events. During COP27 the IICA hosted an online panel, which featured UC Davis professor Dr Frank Mitloehner, a high profile defender of the meat industry – which also funds his research, according to a recent investigation by Unearthed and The New York Times.  With additional research by Christopher Deane and Michaela Hermann. The post Big Ag Delegates More Than Double at COP27 appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/18/22 1:01am
The number of delegates representing big agribusiness has more than doubled at the UN climate talks since last year, leading to concerns from campaigners at access enjoyed by high-carbon companies attending the Egypt summit.  DeSmog counted the number of registered COP27 delegates who were either directly linked to the world’s largest agribusiness firms – such as meatpackers JBS, food corporation Cargill, or biotech leaders Bayer – or participating in the UN talks as part of delegations that represent industry interests. The findings show that the number of delegates linked to powerful agribusiness interests has gone up steeply: from 76 in 2021 to at least 160 this year – double the presence at COP26 in Glasgow. The number of delegates linked to the world’s top five pesticide producers (which between them have 27 lobbyists registered this year), are greater than some country delegations, DeSmog’s research finds. The 35 delegates linked to the biggest meat and dairy companies and associated industry lobby groups are greater than the combined delegations of the Philippines and Haiti, which are among the countries most affected by climate breakdown.  Agribusiness delegates attending the climate talks at the Sharm el-Sheikh resort include the head of a U.S. meat lobby group that until recently claimed the extent of man-made climate change was “unknown”, as well as influential trade groups that have lobbied against climate action, DeSmog’s analysis found.  The world’s largest meat corporation JBS was also found to have gained privileged access to all negotiations, via the Brazil country delegation. “The agribusiness lobbyists are there to confuse the issue and block meaningful action,” comments Monica Vargas Collazos from the non-profit GRAIN. “There is no way that we can deal with the climate crisis if our food system is in the hands of these corporations.” Agriculture – which is responsible for an estimated third of all global emissions – has been higher up the agenda than at any previous round of climate talks.  But recent investigations by DeSmog have exposed the industry’s promotion of “false solutions” (such as high-tech plans to lower the methane quotient of cow burps), which have been championed by the U.S.-led AIM for Climate coalition, which has publicised industry-friendly “climate-smart” innovations at COP27.  “It’s bad news that this COP is not only packed out with fossil fuel lobbyists but also with their friends in the big agribusiness industry,” says Veronica Oakeshott, head of the Forests Team at Global Witness, which uncovered last week that over 600 representatives for polluting energy firms were registered to attend COP27 – a 25 percent jump from the previous year. “These are some of the world’s most destructive companies, and they should only be included at COP with extreme caution,” she told DeSmog. “Such a big presence increases the chances of climate targets being watered down and drowns out the voices of others involved in agriculture, such as farmers, campaigners and smallholders’ organizations.” Growing Pressure from Polluters DeSmog’s analysis found an uptick in attendance by companies across the industrial food and farming sector. The world’s biggest meat and dairy corporations sent 11 delegates, up from nine at the UN talks in Glasgow last year, while the number of delegates from major pesticides manufacturers more than doubled.  Representatives from industry lobby groups – representing meat, fertilisers, pesticides, dairy, and national farming associations – jumped from 63 to 130. The increase comes as the total number of COP27 delegates fell by nine percent compared to the UN talks held last year. Dubbed “Africa’s COP”, this year’s conference has put farming in the spotlight and its dedicated ‘adaptation and agriculture’ day was a historic first. Hunger is rising on the continent where communities are among those most affected by climate breakdown – and the least protected from its impacts. In Somalia, record drought is expected to force more than 6.5 million people into acute food insecurity by the end of December. Yet negotiations have fallen short of what was hoped, according to campaigners. “COP conveners and governments are continuing to deprioritize the need to reduce emissions from the food system – including agriculture – by not tackling root causes,” nature-friendly food alliance Sustain writes on its website. “Large agribusiness and food corporations seemed to be given free rein to set the direction.”  DeSmog’s findings were produced through an analysis of the COP27 delegate list, which contains over 30,000 entries. Researchers queried the data for the names of major companies key to the industrial food system: the world’s largest meat and dairy firms, top pesticide and fertiliser companies, and other major agribusiness firms that work in areas such as food processing and commodity trading. In addition to identifying delegates sent by corporations, DeSmog also counted the number of delegates who travelled to Egypt as part of the global and regional trade bodies that brought their own delegations to COP27. Major trade bodies registered to attend include CropLife International, which lobbies on behalf of big corporations, and has pushed back against attempts to enact new climate measures. Senior executives in the industry were among the delegates who attended, along with professionals who worked in sustainability, PR, and communications roles. Big Meat and Dairy Climate Science Denial The analysis shows that at least 35 delegates who represent the interests of big meat and dairy – an industry that is responsible for 14.5 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions – were registered to attend COP27. They included eight senior executives from meat giant JBS and food processor Cargill, alongside delegates of powerful meat and dairy trade groups such as the International Meat Secretariat, and Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.  Altogether at least seven lobby groups from the meat and dairy sector registered delegations for COP27, the analysis found; four were international, and three represented specific regions or countries, including major agricultural exporters such as New Zealand. Also present at COP27 were the International Meat Secretariat, which has downplayed the science on the climate impacts of the sector, arguing that criticism is “often based on poor, selective evidence and data”. High-profile U.S. meat lobbyist Eric Mittenthaler was among those registered as delegates of the Canadian Cattle Association, a North American industry group.  Mittenthaler also heads up the North American Meat Institute, which until recently questioned climate science on its website. It has also pushed back against attempts to tackle emissions. “Its reasonable to argue that an industry still questioning whether climate change exists –  and making false claims about what addresses climate change – does not deserve a seat at the table,” says U.S. academic Jennifer Jacquet.  “In general, both the fossil fuel companies and animal agriculture have responded to the threat of regulatory action in similar ways: they want to be seen as a major part of the solution, and they are willing to tinker with marginal changes rather than talking about the systemic change we so urgently need.” Privileged Access for Companies Linked to Deforestation Most corporations and lobby groups that attend the COP climate summits have “observer” status. However, nation states can choose to include industry representatives in their own country delegations, which grants members more privileges at the talks. The meat giant JBS, for example, gained access to all negotiations because it came as part of Brazil’s country delegation. A study released this week found that the methane emissions of JBS exceeded combined livestock emissions for France, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand. The company last week admitted to buying almost 9,000 cattle from “one of the biggest deforesters in Brazil”.  In 2021, Brazil’s delegation included global meat corporations Marfrig and Minerva Foods. Along with JBS, these companies account for 70 percent of all cattle raised in the Brazilian rainforest, according to the NGO Amazon Watch. Both Marfrig and Minerva Foods have also been linked to deforestation in their supply chains.  Other industry bodies granted access through country delegations at Sharm el-Sheikh include Brazil’s beef association ABIEC and Russia’s National Dairy Producers Union.  The Brazilian government was contacted for comment. A Bigger Presence DeSmog’s analysis only gives a snapshot of the industrial agriculture sector’s influence at COP27 and is likely to be a conservative estimate.  National agribusiness groups who did not bring their own delegation but attended under the umbrella of other business associations such as Chambers of Commerce, fell outside the scope of the research. So too did groups such as Business Europe, which represents agribusiness interests alongside those of other sectors. Other key food and farming delegations to COP27 include organisations such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), which, while not a trade body itself, maintains close ties with the sector. As well as including agribusiness representatives within its delegation, IICA has run a food and farming focussed pavilion (entitled the Home of Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas), which is sponsored by pesticide firms Bayer, Syngenta, the lobby group CropLife, and others. The UN’s official list of delegates also gives an incomplete picture. Sponsorship by high-emitting industries has been subject to increased scrutiny this week and at past COPs in recent years. Industry can also find a route to influence as participants in events. During COP27 the IICA hosted an online panel, which featured UC Davis professor Frank Mitloehner, a high profile defender of the meat industry – which also funds his research, according to a recent investigation by Unearthed and The New York Times.“Meat and dairy lobbyists are using the same tactics as the fossil fuel industry,” Greenpeaces Diana Ruiz told DeSmog. They are sowing public doubt through media campaigns and undermining scientific consensus on the livestock industry’s contribution to the climate crisis.“The sectors that are most responsible for climate crisis and that have worked for decades to delay climate action in order to continue business as usual – are seeking to co-opt the very international fora set up to address the systemic challenges the world now faces,” she said. With additional research by Christopher Deane and Michaela Herrmann. The post Big Ag Delegates More Than Double at COP27 appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/17/22 4:14pm
While the world’s top fertilizer producers report record profits and farmers worldwide face ongoing price spikes for chemical inputs, the agrochemical industry is touting innovation and increased efficiency as its solution to the economic and environmental impacts of its products.  It is a narrative that senior government officials, including those from the United States and the European Union, leaned into over the weekend at various agriculture-focused events at or on the sidelines of COP27, the annual United Nations climate negotiations, held this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. “We believe in the promise of improved production, precision agriculture, nutrient management, and enhanced efficiency fertilizers,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said on Saturday at the COP27 session titled “Global Fertilizer Challenge: Announcing New Funding for Fertilizer Efficiency and Soil Health.”  Vilsack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be contributing $25 million to new fertilizer efficiency initiatives, part of $109 million in new public funding from countries like the United States, Norway, and Germany to expand fertilizer access and improve fertilizer efficiency during a time of crisis in global fertilizer markets.  “We can increase productivity for small-scale farmers by using fertilizers in a smarter way,” Norway’s Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim said on a panel during that session hosted by the U.S. Center at COP27.  This climate summit has seen significant attention paid to issues around food and agriculture. A whole day was dedicated to the topic, it is included on the official agenda, and the summit features several food-and-ag-focused pavilions. As U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry noted during an event on “Adaptation and Agriculture Day” on November 12, “The future of our food systems is deeply entwined in the climate challenge.” Not only is climate change threatening food security worldwide; more than one-third of global emissions come from food and farming.  Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which are widely used in industrial agriculture, are a notable source of such emissions. These fertilizers are produced from fossil fuel feedstocks and have a significant climate impact, emitting greenhouse gasses at each stage of their life cycle. According to recent research, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers account for about 2 percent of global GHG emissions; reducing their use “offers large mitigation potential,” a peer-reviewed study published in August states.  Are governments going to be promoting a vision that tinkers around the edges, or one that is transformative? Shefali Sharma But curtailing chemical fertilizer production and use was not on the agenda at COP27. Instead, panels populated by industry reps and U.S. and EU government officials focused on promoting more efficient fertilizers. “Improving the efficiency of fertilizer is an industry talking point,” Ben Lilliston, director of rural strategies and climate change at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), told DeSmog. He said the push for more efficient fertilizers is partly based in fact, given the glaring problem with fertilizer overuse and nitrogen leaching that pollutes the environment. But initiatives that focus on fertilizer efficiency without addressing the larger problems inherent in industrialized food production miss the bigger picture, he explained. “From our perspective it’s not really addressing the core issue,” Lilliston said. “They’re still operating within the same farming system.” Lilliston and others say that whats needed instead is agroecology — the practice of applying ecological concepts and principles to the sustainable management of agricultural systems — and a transition to sustainable food systems, and that public and philanthropic support to prop up the fertilizer sector is misguided.  “Farmers are struggling yet the big fertiliser companies are making record profits. Governments need to stop using public funds to subsidise chemical fertilisers and support a shift towards agroecological farming practices that are better for farmers, consumers, and the planet,” David Calleb Otieno of the Kenya Peasants League said in a statement. “The real test is whether we’re creating a system change in agriculture’s climate footprint,” said Shefali Sharma, director of IATP’s European office. “Are governments going to be promoting a vision that tinkers around the edges, or one that is transformative, creating food systems that are resilient and restoring ecosystems?” Michael Fakhri, an independent UN expert or “Special Rapporteur” on the right to food, noted in a report to the UN General Assembly in July that the environmental degradation wrought by chemical fertilizers violates the right to a healthy and sustainable environment. He said the fundamental issue is not disruption in the accessibility of fertilizers, but rather “that so many farmers rely heavily on chemical fertilizers in the first place.” Lessening farmer dependency on these fertilizers must be the ultimate objective, he says.  Sponsors and partners for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agricultures Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas pavilion at COP27 includes many Big Ag sponsors and partners. Credit: Stella Levantesi Yet instead of scaling back subsidies for industrial agriculture and chemical fertilizers or introducing measures to discourage corporate profiteering or to promote alternative farming systems, the United States and other wealthy countries are doubling down on industry-driven narratives, input-intensive industrial agriculture, and promoting techno-fixes under the umbrella term “climate smart agriculture.”  Climate smart agriculture is among a series of buzzwords that GRAIN flags in an “agribusiness greenwashing glossary, explaining that the term emerged to counter support for agroecology. According to GRAIN, “The worlds largest fertiliser companies propelled it into the mainstream with a massive lobby campaign and the creation of a global alliance of corporations, governments and multilateral agencies, such as the World Bank and FAO.”  That influence continues to grow in the broader agriculture sector, as evidenced by the slew of new partnerships and programs promoting the “climate-smart” concept. These include the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) launched at COP26 last year and expanded this year, and a Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities that USDA announced in February. These initiatives were on display during “Agriculture Day” at COP27 on Saturday, with dedicated sessions highlighting milestones and new investments. One of those new investments, announced by Vilsack, is the establishment of a public-private research partnership called the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium. USDA is putting $5 million towards it, while the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (which is coordinating the consortium) is seeking to raise matching funds.  The Efficient Fertilizer Consortium is part of the Global Fertilizer Challenge, which was launched by U.S. President Joe Biden in June as an effort to address food insecurity and agricultural emissions through investments in fertilizer efficiency and alternative fertilizers and cropping systems. In addition to the $5 million to establish the consortium, the United States is spending $20 million on an initiative called “Fertilize Right” to advance fertilizer efficiency worldwide, starting in Pakistan, Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam. As of November 12, the Global Fertilizer Challenge, which will be implemented in partnership with AIM4C, has reached a total of $135 million in funding.  “I couldn’t be more thrilled by the Fertilizer Challenge that has been issued today,” US AID Administrator Samantha Power said during the Global Fertilizer Challenge COP27 session. She referenced working with the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) and with fertilizer firms like Yara. These agribusiness interests have had a notable presence at previous UN COP summits, and COP27 is no exception.  The majority of the solutions put forth and funded by governments and donors to address these problems are, in the long run, making things worse Bridget Mugambe One of the panels during the U.S.-hosted session on the Global Fertilizer Challenge included the head representative for the global fertilizer industry, IFA Director-General Alzbeta Klein, who spoke about addressing the availability and affordability of fertilizers as well as their sustainability. She excluded any mention of the industry’s substantial profiteering.  A new report from the nongovernmental organizations IATP and GRAIN, found that nine of the largest fertilizer companies are expected to rake in $57 billion in profit this year, more than quadrupling their earnings from 2020. The report examined corporate filings for nine fertilizer producers: Nutrien, Yara, Mosaic, CF Industries, ICL Group, PhosAgro, OCI, K+S, and OCP. It also looked at fertilizer import costs this year for 18 G20 countries and nine low- and middle-income countries, finding that these governments were paying double or triple what they paid in 2020 for fertilizer this year.  Several factors contributed to surging fertilizer prices, including supply chain disruptions and soaring fossil gas prices worsened by Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. Another factor, however, is the market power enjoyed by a handful of large fertilizer producers: The top 10 companies account for almost 40 percent of fertilizer sales, and in the United States just four firms control 75 percent of domestic nitrogen fertilizer production.  This level of concentration facilitates market manipulation and price gouging. “We’ve seen [fertilizer producers] raise their prices beyond the cost of inputs like gas,” Lilliston told DeSmog.  At a time when climate experts are calling for urgent transformations of all systems in society, including the food system, some environmental advocates are questioning the approach of enhancing fertilizer efficiency while maintaining the chemical-dependent model of industrialized agriculture. For instance, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a large, grassroots, civil society movement advocating for food sovereignty and ecologically-based farming in Africa, is pushing back against the input-intensive “green revolution” agricultural model that outside interests are exporting to Africa. “Today, the majority of the solutions put forth and funded by governments and donors to address these problems are, in the long run, making things worse,” Bridget Mugambe, AFSA’s program coordinator, said in a statement on the group’s website. “Industrial agricultural methods, dubbed ‘Climate Smart Agriculture,’ promote the use of excessive chemical inputs on plants and in the soil. Carbon credit programs are being developed to legitimize pollution and to uproot communities from their land. These are just a few examples of the false solutions brought by the rich and the powerful.” The post At COP27, US and Partners Announce More Funds for ‘Efficient’ Fertilizer as Industry Reports Massive Profits appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/16/22 3:50pm
For the past two weeks, delegates from Canada’s tar sands have been spreading a deceptively reassuring message at the United Nations COP27 climate talks in Egypt: the oil and gas producers responsible for causing the climate crisis are also capable of fixing it. “Theres a recognition that theres a massive decarbonization challenge ahead of us as Canadians and globally. No one party can do that on their own, we have to be working together,” Kendall Dilling, president of an industry organization known as the Pathways Alliance, told the Canadian Press. Alliance companies, which represent 95 percent of tar sands production, are promising to slash the industry’s annual emissions by 22 million tonnes within the decade. But a key Pathways Alliance member is telling a much less inspiring story in its communications to investors, according to disclosures reviewed by DeSmog. Suncor, the top producer in the tar sands and a founding member of the Pathways Alliance, says in those disclosures that even as it attempts to reduce its emissions the company “supports initiatives to gain access to new international markets in the next 5-10 yrs for our crude oil and refined products.” The Canadian oil and gas giant, which also operates a notoriously polluting oil refinery in Colorado, expresses skepticism about whether “adoption of alternative energy vehicles will accelerate” and assures investors that its climate-harming products are “easily transported into global markets” if oil alternatives take off in North America. As a result of these fossil fuel expansions, there is a very real chance that Suncor will completely fail to meet the aggressive climate targets that it’s been promoting at COP27 through the Pathways Alliance: “Planned growth projects to meet global energy demand may increase Suncor’s absolute emissions in the next decade.” And while the Pathways Alliance says it is responding in good faith to decarbonization pressure from green investors — “the financial community is demanding it,” Dilling told Canadian media — Suncor waved off that pressure in its CDP disclosure. “Notwithstanding the efforts of those few to divest from oil & gas, some new investors have entered oil and gas positions and some remaining investors have been willing to increase their investment in oil and gas, so the net impact on Suncor is negligible at this time,” it says. Neither Suncor nor the Pathways Alliance responded to a request for comment from DeSmog. “This is another example of how the oil and gas industry is knowingly lying,” Julia Levin, who has been attending the COP27 talks with the group Environmental Defence, told DeSmog. “They know that their contribution to the climate crisis is only going to increase and they still have the audacity to tell Canadians that they are climate leaders.” COP27 speakers at a Pathways Alliance event held at the Canada Pavilion, November 11, 2022. Photo credit: Environmental Defence Suncor’s frank admissions are contained in its Climate Change 2022 submission to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a nonprofit organization that for decades has collected and assessed environmental reporting from thousands of companies across the global economy. These voluntary disclosures are published on the CDP’s website and they are read by investors and customers who want to learn how specific companies are adjusting their business models to avoid destabilizing the climate. The tempered enthusiasm for carbon reductions contained in Suncor’s most recent CDP filing stands in contrast to the sweeping claims about decarbonization being made by the Pathways Alliance, whose president Dilling claimed last week at COP27 that “we’re moving aggressively on this.” The Pathways Alliance is promising delegates to United Nations talks in Sharm el-Sheikh that its members–which in addition to Suncor include Exxon-owned Imperial Oil, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Cenovus Energy, MEG Energy, and ConocoPhillips Canada–will capture the carbon emitted from their operations and bury it deep underground. The Alliance claims this will allow the industry to fully eliminate or neutralize the tar sands’ climate impacts by 2050, a state known as “net-zero.” It was a message repeated during events at the official Canada pavilion — and it was contained in advertisements that delegates to COP27 saw on their phones before downloading programmes at some events: “Canada’s oil sands. Net Zero by 2050.” But in its CDP filing Suncor was more specific about what that target actually means. It only applies to emissions produced by its oil and gas operations. Those operational emissions represent about 21.4 million tonnes of Suncor’s carbon footprint, according to the disclosure. Meanwhile the emissions that come from burning the gasoline, diesel and other products Suncor sells are as high as 123 million tonnes, which is roughly three times the entire annual carbon impact of the country of Sweden in 2018. Neither Suncor nor the Pathways Alliance has made any promise to reduce these much more substantial emissions, known as Scope 3 emissions. Those crucial caveats weren’t part of the Pathways Alliance ads that COP27 delegates saw these past two weeks. But in its disclosures to the CDP, Suncor has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that investors know the truth about its climate plans. “That’s why they have to be a lot more honest in these documents,” Keith Stewart, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, told DeSmog. The post Canadian Oil Companies ‘Lying’ About Their Net-Zero Targets, Says COP27 Delegate appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/16/22 1:39pm
By Alice Harrison, Pascoe Sabido, and Rachel Rose Jackson Tobacco lobbyists wandering around a conference on lung cancer. Arms dealers selling weapons at a peace conference. Drinks companies at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  Thankfully, the absurdity of these three scenarios is obvious to all. Yet 636 lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry are conspicuously present at this year’s crucial COP27 climate talks, according to an analysis of the delegates to COP27, compiled jointly by the NGOs Global Witness, Corporate Accountability, and Corporate Europe Observatory. The analysis reveals that there are well over 100 more lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry at Sharm el-Sheikh than at last year’s climate summit in Glasgow. In fact, there are more representatives of the polluting interests of oil and gas at COP27 than every single national delegation bar the United Arab Emirates — including all countries on the African continent.  So much for the “African COP.” It’s yet again a festival of polluters. As the world watches, expecting action from world leaders, the question has to be posed: How can COP27 succeed when those responsible for the climate crisis are allowed in? In 2018, fossil fuels and industry were responsible for 89 percent of global CO2 emissions. The climate crisis is overwhelmingly caused by the global addiction to oil, gas, and coal. The only way to protect our planet and its inhabitants from the dire consequences already being felt by so many is to stop burning them. The industry knows this. It is the very reason they register in droves for events like COP27 and spend millions every year trying to convince us as we scroll through Twitter and Instagram that they are clean and green. The reality is they are anything but. Public relations for this year’s COP is in fact being conducted by Hill+Knowlton, the PR firm notorious for inventing the “tobacco playbook,” which the fossil fuel industry then adopted to discredit the science regarding the harms of burning fossil fuels. To add salt to the wound, Hill+Knowlton also does PR for the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful fossil fuel lobby group, as well as Saudi Aramco and Exxon, two of the top five global polluters. As in prior years, the fossil fuel industry is using the annual climate summit to trumpet voluntary, non-binding, and often deeply ineffectual initiatives aimed at distracting from the urgent need for laws and policies that will keep fossil fuels in the ground. One such example are corporate “net zero” initiatives, which are fraught with conflicts of interest.  This is an industry that is desperately trying to cling on to its position of privilege and power in a world that increasingly understands the truth about its practices. And this is truer than ever as fossil fuel companies rake in the cash whilst citizens suffer from a broken energy system that is driving millions into poverty. Perhaps no continent demonstrates this better than Africa. Though contributing very little to the climate crisis, many African countries are being wracked by some of its most severe impacts. Fossil fuel corporations have historically extracted great natural wealth from these countries, and returned far more by way of climate harms than support for addressing the resulting loss and damage.  At COP27 global south voices are being drowned out, despite being among the worst affected. The NGO analysis reveals that there are more fossil fuel lobbyists registered than representatives of the 10 countries most affected by climate change: The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Haiti, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Thailand. In Europe, as millions struggle with rising energy bills that threaten to plunge them into poverty, companies like BP and Shell are racking up record profits, benefitting from the very same system that is causing hardships for so many. Meanwhile Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine, boasting a war chest that is almost half-funded by revenues from the country’s oil and gas industry.  And so the veil has been lifted: Renewable energy is now cheap and readily available but fossil fuel companies are clinging to power. Sadly, COP27 is providing a lifeline for the industry. This industry, and the governments that do its bidding, continue to argue that oil and gas companies are vital stakeholders in their own regulation, but what progress has this led to so far? What are the incentives for the industry and its proxies to transform the global energy system away from their core product? Do we not now have enough documentary evidence that this industry will lie, deceive, and bully any effort to genuinely rein in global emissions?  There is an important global precedent for insulating the international climate treaty from the industry that has made it necessary: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This global tobacco treaty is on track to save some 50 million lives by 2050, thanks to controls on tobacco industry interference. Civil society has put forward a comprehensive framework for the global climate treaty underlying the Paris Agreement that builds on this and other precedents. And organizations from across the globe are providing the public support to do what should have been done 30 years ago: kick big polluters out of climate talks.   At the start of COP27, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the world is on the “highway to climate hell.” He’s right. If we want to slam our feet on the brakes and turn this around, we need to cut fossil fuel interests out of climate policy.  Alice Harrison is a fossil fuels campaign leader at Global Witness, Pascoe Sabido is a researcher and campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory, and Rachel Rose Jackson is a director of climate research and policy at Corporate Accountability. The post Climate Diplomacy’s Biggest Meeting of the Year Needs to Be Insulated From Fossil Fuel Influence appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/16/22 10:05am
Eighteen of the 20 companies sponsoring U.N. climate talks in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh either directly support or partner with oil and gas companies, according to a new analysis shared with DeSmog.  The findings underscore concerns over the role of the fossil fuel industry at the negotiations, known as COP27, which have become a focal point for deals to exploit African natural gas.  “These findings underline the extent to which this COP has never been about the climate: It’s been about rehabilitating the gas industry and making sure that fossil fuels are on the agenda,” said Pascoe Sabido of Brussels-based Corporate Europe Observatory, which co-produced the analysis with Corporate Accountability, a nonprofit headquartered in Boston.  “These talks are supposed to be about moving us away from fossil fuels, phasing them out,” Sabido told DeSmog.  A previous analysis by the two organisations and research and advocacy group Global Witness identified at least 636 fossil lobbyists who have been granted access to COP27 – an increase of more than 25 percent compared to the previous COP26 talks held in Glasgow a year ago; and twice the number of delegates from a U.N. body representing indigenous peoples.   “This is part of the bigger problem which is linked to the overall corporate capture of the U.N. climate talks,” Sabido said. “We need to kick big polluters out.”  Social license As documented in the latest edition of DeSmog’s Gaslit column, fossil fuel sponsorship of COP27 represents an extension of a decades-long effort by oil and gas companies to buy social legitimacy by bankrolling sports, arts, and education around the world.  COP27 partner Hassan Allam Holding, one of the largest privately owned corporations in Egypt, has announced plans to invest  $17.1 billion to turn North Africa into a regional natural gas hub, and $830 million in oil projects over the next two years, the analysis found.  Sponsors also include Cairo-based Afreximbank, which plans to finance new oil and gas projects through the creation of a multi-billion dollar “energy bank”, and Mashreq, the oldest private bank in the United Arab Emirates, which refinances oil and gas projects.  Microsoft, which uses cloud-based artificial intelligence to help companies such as Chevron optimize oil and gas extraction, is a partner at COP27, along with rival Google.  Google says it has cracked down on climate misinformation on its platforms. But the company is still taking money from oil and gas companies to place adverts in search results that present their industry as environmentally friendly, a report found. German engineering company Siemens, another COP27 sponsor, services firms such as Cairo-based Orascom Construction, which built one of the world’s biggest gas power plants in Egypt in 2018. IBM, also a sponsor, works with pesticide and fertiliser companies to promote “carbon farming” – a carbon offsetting technique that generates carbon credits for storing carbon in soils. Many climate groups believe such practices will provide an excuse for big companies to continue polluting.  Conflict of interest The predominance of fossil fuel sponsorship at COP27 cuts a stark contrast with demands from countries facing an existential threat from climate change for urgent action to cut emissions. Last week, the island states of Vanuatu and Tuvalu became the first countries to back calls to cut greenhouse gas emissions at source by developing a treaty modeled on Cold War-era nuclear arms control agreements to wind down oil, gas and coal production. Advocates of the campaign for such a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, including a growing number of cities and municipalities, also want to ban fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship.  “We’ve got numerous countries calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and yet COP27 is sponsored by the same companies either directly funding them [fossil fuels], facilitating the extraction of oil and gas, or using their products,” Sabido said.  The Boston Consulting Group, an American consulting firm and one of the main COP27 partners, works with Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell. COP27 lead partner Coca-Cola, which relies on plastic bottles derived from hydrocarbons, was named the world’s top plastic polluter for five years in a row by the Break Free From Plastic movement in its annual brand audit. The oil industry is banking on expanding production of plastics and other petrochemicals for its future growth.  Only two out of the 20 COP27 sponsors, renewable energy provider Infinity Power and real estate developer Sodic, have no strong ties to the fossil fuel industry, the analysis  found.  Corporate Europe Observatory and Corporate Accountability are calling for the U.N. body that organises the annual climate negotiations to adopt a conflict of interest policy that would exclude fossil fuel companies and their partners from attending or sponsoring the events.  More than 450 organizations have already supported a campaign to Kick Big Polluters Out of COP27. “What we need to do is end big polluter sponsorships of the talks, they shouldnt be allowed to bankroll this process,” Sabido said. “They shouldnt be allowed to greenwash their image through their presence at COPs.”  The post Fossil Fuel-Linked Companies Dominate Sponsorship of COP27 appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/16/22 9:17am
Conservative donor Michael Hintze has resigned from the IEA – an influential free-market think tank criticised for inspiring Liz Truss’s ill-fated economic policies – days after joining the House of Lords.The Australian hedge fund manager, who has donated millions of pounds to the Conservative party over the years, resigned as a trustee of the Institute of Economic Affairs after a 17-year stint. The news follows increased scrutiny of the libertarian groups clustered around Tufton Street, located a short walk from parliament, after Truss’s budget of unfunded tax cuts led to market turmoil and her swift resignation as prime minister. Alongside his involvement in the IEA, Hintze is a long-time supporter and one of the few known funders of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which dismisses climate change and opposes measures to cut emissions. Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrats’ climate spokesperson, described Hintze’s peerage as “completely indefensible” after the “disastrous Trussonomics experiment”.  “In the midst of COP27, climate change deniers are being shoehorned into positions of power,” she said. “And while people choose between heating and eating, the man partly responsible is being rewarded by the Tory party.” Hintze, who financially backed the official pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign, was confirmed as a peer at the beginning of November after being nominated as part of Boris Johnson’s resignation honours. Last week, he gave up his position at the IEA, Companies House records show. Hintze was first rumoured to be in line for a peerage in June, a move Green MP Caroline Lucas called “utter hypocrisy” in light of the UK’s hosting of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow last year. Nominations to the House of Lords are vetted by an independent commission, whose requirements say that the individual should be “in good standing in the community” and their past conduct “would not reasonably be regarded as bringing the House of Lords into disrepute”. A spokesperson for the body said it could not comment on specific cases. Hintze is a supporter of Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who called the UK’s net zero goal “unilateral economic disarmament” during her party leadership bid over the summer but has since appeared to soften her stance. He was also previously listed as an advisor to the lobbying firm set up by Liz Truss’s chief of staff Mark Fullbrook, which DeSmog recently revealed had been working for a wind energy company advocating further North Sea oil drilling, to be powered by its turbines. There are no parliamentary rules forbidding affiliations with external organisations, and Hintze will be joining various other peers with ties to the GWPF and IEA. They include Nigel Lawson, the GWPF’s founder and chancellor under Margaret Thatcher; former GWPF trustees Peter Lilley and Charles Moore; and Matt Ridley, who sits on the GWPF’s academic advisory council. Nigel Vinson, the IEA’s “life vice president” and a funder of the GWPF, and Jamie Borwick, a member of its advisory council, are also both Conservative peers. Ruth Lea, a former GWPF trustee and “regulation fellow” at the IEA, was made a baroness at the end of October as part of the same series of honours as Hintze. Lea has been advising Conservative MP – and vocal opponent of climate action – Craig Mackinlay since at least 2017, records show. No interests have been registered yet by Hintze. Anti-Green Groups The IEA has faced criticism in recent weeks for its close relationship to Truss, who set up a group of pro-free-market Tory MPs with the think tank soon after being elected to parliament. Truss’s programme of tax cuts and high government borrowing, announced by her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, was praised as a “boost-up budget” by Mark Littlewood, director general of the IEA and a friend of Truss’s since university. Last week, Julian Jessop, one of Truss’s advisors and an IEA fellow, described her economic approach as a “fairly sound pro-growth strategy” but said it had been “really badly handled” and “badly explained”, according to reporting by Bloomberg. The IEA has played a leading role in opposing green policies in the UK and arguing in favour of increased fossil fuel production, including the controversial gas extraction technique fracking. The group, which has received funding from oil giant BP for decades, has made public pleas this year against windfall taxes on North Sea oil and gas producers.  The IEA’s chief operating officer called for the UK’s net zero target to be scrapped at the Conservative party conference last month and its head of policy has previously called green legislation “Soviet”. The group nevertheless says it accepts climate science and has backed solar farms and environmental reforms to farming. BP has repeatedly declined to say whether it still funds the group. Both the IEA and the GWPF’s campaigning wing are chaired by Neil Record, a currency trader who also chairs the remuneration committee of Nuffield College, Oxford. Hintze’s Climate Views Hintze’s CQS hedge fund states that ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations are “at the heart” of its “culture, business ethics and shared company values”. The investment firm is a member of numerous green initiatives and says it wants to help “deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement”. The same webpage says Hintze “personally supports many educational and research organisations which work on a broad range of issues” and that he “believes that in order to have a balanced and informed perspective, any complex topic is best understood with a 360 degree-view”. A now-deleted statement on his personal website said it was “highly likely” that rising emissions were “in part” due to human activity but that the “sole focus on [carbon dioxide] emissions is too narrow”. Hinzte is a major supporter of the arts whose £5 million donation to the Natural History Museum led to the central hall being renamed “Hintze Hall” and prompted criticism from climate campaigners. CQS was a sponsor of the Science Museum’s recent “Our Future Planet” exhibition. The company wrote of the “need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the most significant cause of climate change” and Hintze spoke at an event at the museum in June. A spokesperson for Hintze said he declined to comment on his resignation from the IEA and would not confirm whether Hintze still provides funding to the GWPF. The IEA and government did not respond to requests for comment. The post New Tory Peer Ditches Embattled Truss-Allied Think Tank appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/15/22 10:14am
Waving giant euro banknotes splattered with the words “blood money”, African protesters at U.N. climate talks in Egypt demanded European governments halt a “dash” for the continent’s natural gas. German, Italian and other companies have been scouring Africa for alternatives to Russian supplies in the wake of the February invasion of Ukraine, raising fears that new projects will lock Africa into long-term dependence on fossil fuels.At least nine gas deals have been struck so far on the sidelines of the negotiations – known as COP27 – five involving Africa. In the run-up to the summit, Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany to expand liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity by 2050. Last week, Tanzania committed to a $40 billion LNG deal with Equinor and Shell, while Germany and the United States agreed to finance Egyptian renewables to free up gas for export.“European companies should not be here in Africa,” said Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, a South Africa-based campaigner for the Don’t Gas Africa coalition of advocacy groups, which rallied dozens of protesters in a designated space at the tightly-marshalled venue in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday. “They should back off,” Bhebhe added. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Senegal in May to back the development of a gas field due to go onstream in 2023, while Italy has struck gas deals with Angola, Algeria and the Republic of Congo. European Union officials have opened talks with the Nigerian government to increase flows of fossil fuels into Europe, according to a report by Don’t Gas Africa. “This is basically another scramble for Africa,” Koaile Monaheng, a consulting associate at Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based energy and climate think tank, told DeSmog. “The energy and petroleum ministers are misinformed because they view Russia, the Ukraine war and this idea of energy insecurity in Europe as an opportunity to now pillage the resources.” Different path The role of natural gas is a contested topic at the talks, where African delegates have emphasised the disproportionate impact of climate-fuelled droughts, heatwaves and floods on a continent that accounts for 3.8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Campaigners warn that new natural gas investment will undermine Africa’s chances of “leapfrogging” fossil fuels by rapidly developing renewable energy to serve the continent’s 600 million people without reliable access to electricity. “Nowhere has suffered more from the impact of burning fossil fuels so it is perfectly placed to show the world a different path to develop, freed from the shackles of a dirty energy system that has wrecked our climate,” said Joab Okanda, pan-African advocacy advisor at Christian Aid. “What’s so galling is that 89 percent of the liquified natural gas infrastructure being built in Africa is to export to Europe to bail them out of their addiction to Russian gas. We cannot be Europe’s gas station. Otherwise we will crash the climate,” Okanda said. European governments and African producers have sought to portray natural gas as a climate-friendly fuel – despite findings by scientists that new fossil fuel developments will make it impossible to fulfil the 2015 Paris Agreement to avoid catastrophic climate change.  In July, the European Parliament backed proposed new European Union rules on sustainable investment that would classify natural gas as a green fuel. Later that month, the African Union and other pan-African bodies said natural gas would play an essential short-to-medium term role. The Don’t Gas Africa report argues that African political leaders are misappropriating climate justice narratives to legitimize a profit-driven dash for gas.  “International oil companies and governments are working closely together, and theyre actually thinking that theres a common voice,” Power Shift Africas Monaheng said. “The African energy ministers think that this is their plan, this is their strategy, but in the biggest scheme of things, this is actually Europes plan.”  Lorraine Chiponda, co-facilitator at Dont Gas Africa, attended a protest at COP27 on Tuesday. Credit: Phoebe Cooke People are dying Campaigners point out that sub-Saharan natural gas exporters such as Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea have failed for decades to leverage their reserves to tackle chronic electricity shortages, while income from fossil fuels has fuelled rampant corruption.  Developing new gas infrastructure risks creating assets that could soon become stranded as the clean energy transition accelerates – while the associated pipelines and polluting infrastructure permanently damage health and livelihoods, displace communities and destroy wildlife, activists say.  “People are dying in Africa because of Europe’s use of gas,” said Kwami Kpondzo, a Don’t Gas Africa campaigner from Friends of the Earth Togo, who joined today’s rally, where protesters chanted “Don’t gas Africa.”  Lorraine Chiponda, co-facilitator at Don’t Gas Africa, urged heavily polluting nations to meet demands from African countries to pay reparations for the “loss and damage” caused by the climate crisis by financing investments in renewable energy.  “The solution for African people is to invest in renewable energy, which can be deployed to the 600 million people living in energy poverty,” Chiponda told DeSmog at the protest. “We are not begging, but we are appealing to the consciences of polluting nations to pay for the damage that they’ve caused.” The post Back Off: African Climate Groups Decry Europe’s Dash for Gas at COP27  appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 11/15/22 10:14am
Waving giant euro banknotes splattered with the words “blood money”, African protesters at U.N. climate talks in Egypt demanded European governments halt a “dash” for the continent’s natural gas. German, Italian and other companies have been scouring Africa for alternatives to Russian supplies in the wake of the February invasion of Ukraine, raising fears that new projects will lock Africa into long-term dependence on fossil fuels.At least nine gas deals have been struck so far on the sidelines of the negotiations – known as COP27 – five involving Africa. In the run-up to the summit, Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany to expand liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity by 2050. Last week, Tanzania committed to a $40 billion LNG deal with Equinor and Shell, while Germany and the United States agreed to finance Egyptian renewables to free up gas for export.“European companies should not be here in Africa,” said Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, a South Africa-based campaigner for the Don’t Gas Africa coalition of advocacy groups, which rallied dozens of protesters in a designated space at the tightly-marshalled venue in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday. “They should back off,” Bhebhe added. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Senegal in May to back the development of a gas field due to go onstream in 2023, while Italy has struck gas deals with Angola, Algeria and the Republic of Congo. European Union officials have opened talks with the Nigerian government to increase flows of fossil fuels into Europe, according to a report by Don’t Gas Africa. “This is basically another scramble for Africa,” Koaile Monaheng, a consulting associate at Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based energy and climate think tank, told DeSmog. “The energy and petroleum ministers are misinformed because they view Russia, the Ukraine war and this idea of energy insecurity in Europe as an opportunity to now pillage the resources.” Different path The role of natural gas is a contested topic at the talks, where African delegates have emphasised the disproportionate impact of climate-fuelled droughts, heatwaves and floods on a continent that accounts for 3.8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Campaigners warn that new natural gas investment will undermine Africa’s chances of “leapfrogging” fossil fuels by rapidly developing renewable energy to serve the continent’s 600 million people without reliable access to electricity. “Nowhere has suffered more from the impact of burning fossil fuels so it is perfectly placed to show the world a different path to develop, freed from the shackles of a dirty energy system that has wrecked our climate,” said Joab Okanda, pan-African advocacy advisor at Christian Aid. “What’s so galling is that 89 percent of the liquified natural gas infrastructure being built in Africa is to export to Europe to bail them out of their addiction to Russian gas. We cannot be Europe’s gas station. Otherwise we will crash the climate,” Okanda said. European governments and African producers have sought to portray natural gas as a climate-friendly fuel – despite findings by scientists that new fossil fuel developments will make it impossible to fulfil the 2015 Paris Agreement to avoid catastrophic climate change.  In July, the European Parliament backed proposed new European Union rules on sustainable investment that would classify natural gas as a green fuel. Later that month, the African Union and other pan-African bodies said natural gas would play an essential short-to-medium term role. The Don’t Gas Africa report argues that African political leaders are misappropriating climate justice narratives to legitimize a profit-driven dash for gas.  “International oil companies and governments are working closely together, and theyre actually thinking that theres a common voice,” Power Shift Africas Monaheng said. “The African energy ministers think that this is their plan, this is their strategy, but in the biggest scheme of things, this is actually Europes plan.”  People are dying Campaigners point out that sub-Saharan natural gas exporters such as Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea have failed for decades to leverage their reserves to tackle chronic electricity shortages, while income from fossil fuels has fuelled rampant corruption.  Developing new gas infrastructure risks creating assets that could soon become stranded as the clean energy transition accelerates – while the associated pipelines and polluting infrastructure permanently damage health and livelihoods, displace communities and destroy wildlife, activists say.  “People are dying in Africa because of Europe’s use of gas,” said Kwami Kpondzo, a Don’t Gas Africa campaigner from Friends of the Earth Togo, who joined today’s rally, where protesters chanted “Don’t gas Africa.”  Lorraine Chiponda, co-facilitator at Don’t Gas Africa, urged heavily polluting nations to meet demands from African countries to pay reparations for the “loss and damage” caused by the climate crisis by financing investments in renewable energy.  Lorraine Chiponda, co-facilitator at Dont Gas Africa, attended a protest at COP27 on Tuesday. Credit: Phoebe Cooke “The solution for African people is to invest in renewable energy, which can be deployed to the 600 million people living in energy poverty,” Chiponda told DeSmog at the protest. “We are not begging, but we are appealing to the consciences of polluting nations to pay for the damage that they’ve caused.” The post “Back Off”: African Climate Groups Decry Europe’s Dash for Gas at COP27  appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/12/22 4:43am
Russia has sent dozens of executives from the country’s vast fossil fuel industry to COP27, including two sanctioned oligarchs with significant interests in coal. Oleg Deripaska, who has large stakes in multiple coal companies, and Andrey Melnichenko, who transferred ownership of Russia’s largest coal producer to his wife in March as sanctions were brought in, are both set to attend. Sixteen other individuals listed as part of Russia’s official delegation are tied to businesspeople currently under Western sanctions, while six are representatives of oil and gas giant Gazprom, DeSmog analysis found. The presence of individuals who have helped fill the Kremlin’s coffers has sparked outrage from campaigners, who said the industry was at the talks “en masse” to persuade governments to continue supporting fossil fuels. Tatiana Sakharuk, executive director of Global Compact Network Ukraine, a United Nations initiative, said their attendance showed Russia was “looking for more opportunities to get easy money to be able to terrorise the whole world further.” Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Russian coal billionaires with close ties to Putin should be nowhere near the COP27 climate conference.  “Dirty fossil fuel money and influence isn’t going to solve the climate emergency – the only way to do so is to keep new fossil fuels firmly in the ground, and invest instead in the green economic transformation that is so urgently needed.” It follows the news that over 600 fossil fuel-linked delegates are expected to attend the summit underway in Egypt – more than were sent by the 10 most climate-impacted countries and a sharp rise since last year’s talks in Glasgow, Scotland. According to research led by human rights group Global Witness, Russia’s 33 fossil fuel delegates – over a fifth of its official delegation – came second only to the United Arab Emirates, which is set to host next year’s summit. Russia is apparently keeping a low profile at the U.N. conference this year, however. Putin is not planning to attend, and the country is not running a “pavilion” – an event space where countries, civil society groups and businesses display their efforts to tackle climate change – in contrast to last year when Russia focused on touting its nuclear industry as a solution to rising emissions. The U.N. body in charge of the summit did not clarify whether Russia had applied to host a pavilion when asked. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has nevertheless cast a shadow over proceedings, with fears that it could undermine climate action through increased energy and food insecurity. In a speech to world leaders at the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the war was destroying the worlds ability to work united for a common goal. Others say the conflict is speeding up the shift away from fossil fuels as countries increase investment in clean alternatives. Estimates suggest Russia earned over 158 billion euros ($157.6 billion) in energy exports in the first six months of the war, half of them destined for the European Union. Activists confronted the CEO of French oil giant TotalEnergies at COP27 on Friday for his company’s continued operations in the country, which he defended by saying “Europe needs gas”. Russia has faced criticism for its lack of action on climate change, with current policies rated as “critically insufficient” and “not at all consistent” with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature goal by Climate Action Tracker. Sanctioned Coal Delegates Three Russian delegates are from aluminium giant En+ Group, which describes itself as “a world leader in addressing climate change and environmental issues” but extracts millions of tonnes of coal every year and operates coal-fired power plants. Among them is its founder Oleg Deripaska, who has a significant, but no longer controlling, stake in the company. Deripaska is widely regarded as having close ties to Putin but has called for peace in Ukraine, stating that the war would bring 200 years of damnation to Russia. The billionaire industrialist was one of the first Russians to be sanctioned by the U.K. after the Ukraine invasion, because of his involvement in sectors “of strategic significance to the Russian government including energy, mining, and defence. He was charged by U.S. prosecutors in September for violating sanctions imposed in 2018. Last month, Graham Bonham-Carter, a British businessman and cousin of the actress, was arrested for allegedly facilitating sanctions evasion by Deripaska and is facing extradition to the U.S. Deripaska’s En+ Group has previously been under U.S. sanctions itself but these have now been lifted. The London Stock Exchange suspended trading in En+ in March but the U.K. government has refrained from imposing sanctions. The oligarch also has a major stake in EuroSibEnergo, a subsidiary of En+ with coal and hydropower assets that was previously subject to U.S. sanctions. Its CEO Mikhail Khardikov is also part of Russia’s COP27 delegation. Deripaska did not respond to a request for comment. Andrey Melnichenko, founder of the country’s largest coal producer, Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK), and fertiliser giant EuroChem, is also a Russian delegate. The billionaire hit the headlines in March when his £443 million superyacht was seized in Italy as part of European Union sanctions targeting businesspeople with “close connections to the Russian government. A spokesperson for Melnichenko said at the time that he had no relation to the tragic events in Ukraine and has no political affiliations. He did not respond to DeSmog’s request for comment. Melnichenko transferred ownership of both SUEK and EuroChem to his wife in March, the day before E.U. sanctions were imposed on him, according to Reuters. In addition to gas-derived fertiliser production, EuroChem states in its 2021 annual report that it also engages in exploration and development of “hydrocarbon fields”. In the U.N. delegate list – which is “provisional” and therefore not a guarantee that everyone named will go to Egypt – none of Deripaska or Melnichenko’s business interests are listed. Instead, their given affiliation is to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, an influential Moscow-based lobby group representing oil and gas interests, among others. Four other Russian delegates are listed as affiliated to the group, which promotes fossil fuels and has lobbied against E.U. climate legislation. Two of them are also connected to Melnichenko: Alexander Byrikhin, reportedly his head of public relations, and Sergei Tverdokhleb, who took over as CEO of EuroChem in March after his predecessor was sanctioned by the E.U. Oil and Gas Presence Russia’s delegation also includes executives from oil and gas companies Gazprom, Sibur, Tatneft, and Lukoil. State-owned oil and gas giant Gazprom, which has seen its share of the European market shrink since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, has sent six delegates. These include Konstantin Romanov, the CEO of Gazprom Hydrogen, which has been working with the government to implement a “roadmap” for the highly contested fuel announced last year.  Numerous Gazprom executives have been put under sanctions, including Mikhail Putin, a cousin of the president and deputy chairman of its management board. Three delegates are attending from Sibur, Russia’s largest petrochemicals company.  Dmitry Konov stepped down as Sibur’s CEO in March following his inclusion on E.U. and U.K. sanctions lists, a decision he is challenging. Two delegates are listed as attending on behalf of the National ESG Alliance, an industry group whose founders include Gazprom Neft, En+ Group, SUEK, EuroChem, and Sibur. The business association was formed last December with a commitment to “transparency in environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)”. Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK), which produces around a fifth of Russia’s steel and owns one of Russia’s largest coking coal plants in Siberia, “accounting for 15% of domestic coke production”, is also listed in the delegation. Russian steelmakers have so far largely avoided Western sanctions, but British trade bodies are urging the U.K. to close sanction loopholes, amid reports the industry is generating billions of dollars for Moscow. Responding to the findings, Louis Wilson, senior campaigner at Global Witness, said: “Russia’s war crimes are funded with petrodollars churned out by the fossil fuel companies that it has brought into the heart of COP27. “These vital talks have already been exposed by our research as awash with the interests of big polluters. Adding in the Russian oil and gas cash machines for Putins military makes further mockery of the UNs climate negotiations. Svitlana Romanko, director of Razom We Stand, a Ukrainian climate campaign group, said: “The transition to renewable energy is accelerating. We have the chance to turn the tide of history and put an end to fossil fuel addiction. That’s why Putin’s allies and the fossil fuel industry are frightened. Thats why they are here en masse at COP27 lobbying and trying to coerce governments to further expand fossil fuels. “It is abhorrent that these dirty dealers are allowed to meddle in climate talks. They are complicit in Russias war crimes.” The Russian government, and all of the fossil fuel-linked companies and organisations in the delegation were contacted for comment, apart from EuroSibEnergo, whose contact details could not be found. Additional research by Chris Deane. The post Sanctioned Coal Barons Among Russia’s COP27 Delegates appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/11/22 4:28pm
From the worlds biggest soccer championship to soccer training for kids, from major universities to music festivals and art galleries to — if you can name it, fossil fuel companies have probably sponsored it. TotalEnergies will sponsor the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Aramco has partnered with Spain’s Laguna de El Hito Nature Reserve to conserve bird species. Chevron partnered with a “Community Inclusion” social project in Brazil. BP has donated to the British Museum in London since 1996.   Big Oil sponsorships can even be found at the heart of international climate negotiations. Hassan Allam, an Egyptian private corporation with a mission of “transforming the country into a regional hub for natural gas” is a sponsor of the annual United Nations climate conference, known as COP27,  being held this year in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has polished its public image by using donations and sponsorships to associate itself with feel-good events and causes. As pressure on the industry grows to phase out dirty energy and take responsibility for the climate crisis, buying goodwill may be a better marketing investment than ever. “Awareness on the harm of fossil fuel products is increasing and so they have the need to maintain the social license to operate,” says Italian social scientist Marco Grasso. Grasso recently resigned from his post as director of the “Anthropocene” research unit at Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, over the university’s joint research agreement with Eni, one of the world’s biggest and richest oil and gas companies. Fossil fuel sponsorships “are all initiatives with which these companies buy and renegotiate the social legitimacy they need to continue to operate with a dangerous product,” Grasso believes, as well as “washing its conscience, through actions that aren’t related to the bad and ugly fossil fuel, but to things that are socially appreciated.” Fossil fuel companies know that “they still need sponsorships to keep that social legitimacy in the public’s mind,” writes artist, activist, and author Mel Evans in her 2015 book ArtWash: Big Oil and the Arts. “These companies are desperate to not be held accountable in the way that they should be as the continuing drivers of climate chaos.”  Evans suggests that fossil fuel sponsorships have filled the gap left after tobacco companies were held accountable for their decades of deception, and became socially unacceptable funding partners. “A cultural artifact that was once background noise became a screaming anathema over the course of a twenty-year period of intense debate and criticism,” Evans writes in ArtWash.  Sponsorships are especially effective marketing efforts because they get “under the radar and under the skin” more insidiously than regular advertising, says Andrew Simms, co-founder of the New Weather Institute. “There’s an atmosphere of benevolence about it,” says Simms. “If you see a sponsorship deal, you assume the [organization] you identify with has positive feelings about it and is benefiting from the company sponsoring it.” Capitalizing on Arts and Culture In the Netherlands, Shell is setting up cultural partnerships where the “gas and oil industry have an interest in employing people or soothing them” in the wake of protests or backlash for fossil fuel projects, said Femke Sleegers, coordinator of Reclame Fossielvrij, a global campaign to ban fossil fuel ads.  According to Sleegers, the PR agency Edelman advised Shell and other fossil fuel companies to “hook onto” what societies identify as precious. In the Netherlands, where Shell has sponsored children’s festivals and museums, that includes education and the arts.  A 2021 study by Dutch researchers found that oil and gas companies use museum sponsorships to promote “a particular type of ‘energy literacy’a narrative that is favorable to the agenda of the gas and oil sector.”  According to the Dutch study, through “fairly limited investment” companies gain influence within the cultural heritage sector which is “generally perceived by the public as reliable and independent.”  Sleeger says museum sponsorships also have a “halo effect,” because they imply the companies are “protectors” of something highly valuable to the Dutch. The companies are “hooking onto the national identity,” she says, and “presenting themselves as an integral piece of our history.”  In Italy, Eni sponsored the 2022 edition of Sanremo, a nationwide Italian music festival broadcast every February to millions of viewers. The company also partners with 10 universities, research centers, and academic institutions across the country. According to Grasso, in Italy fossil fuel sponsorships like these have high “capillarity” across the country and are met with very little controversy. Did you know peanuts helped revolutionize the transportation sector? A century later, we’re working with Texas A&M AgriLife to further explore the peanuts potentialThis may sound nutty so learn more here: https://t.co/pMuSsT5CLD— Chevron (@Chevron) October 19, 2022 Sponsorships and partnerships with academic institutions, educational initiatives, and schools “reinforce this idea that they are someone whose expertise, skills, [and] information we should be relying on,” says Silvia Pastorelli, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace EU. “Basically what it does is legitimize the presence [of the fossil fuel industry] in this decision making bubble, and again, misrepresents them in a way that they appear as the ones that decision makers have to rely on for the solutions to the energy transition.”  In the United States, the American Geophysical Union has been criticized by some of its member scientists for accepting conference sponsorships from oil majors including ExxonMobil and Chevron. The group’s annual meeting, which is attended by thousands of scientists and hundreds of journalists from around the world, is one of the science world’s biggest events. “It baffles us that the American Geophysical Union (AGU) continues to accept money from ExxonMobil,” wrote climate scientists Michael Mann of Penn State, Kerry Emanuel of MIT, and Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes in 2016. “The more than half a million dollars of ExxonMobil money that AGU has accepted over the past 15 years violates AGU’s own policy on accepting funding from groups that peddle misinformation.” “I am an AGU member and I feel disgusted that my professional organization still maintains these ties,” says climate scientist Peter Kalmus. “To me, it’s just completely morally indefensible that these institutions of respect and legitimacy within our society still maintain ties with the fossil fuel industryit provides them a level of legitimacy and social license that we can’t afford to let them have any longer.”  In the United States, fossil fuel companies also have a long history of sponsoring teaching materials and other educational resources to influence elementary, high school, and university curricula. As the Drilled podcast has reported, oil companies have used these tactics since the 1920s “to shape how American kids think about society, the economy and the environment.” Filling in For Governments Fossil fuel sponsorships are often attempts by companies “to rebuild trust following an accident or opposition,” according to ArtWash author Evans. In Central and South America,“the [sponsorship] is a necessary expenditure for the companies” to maintain legitimacy and trust, “considering that the reality of their activity is often the displacement of peoples and communities, and pollution of local waterways, land and air,” says Colombia-based Alex Rafalowicz, executive director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. Rafalowicz’s campaign advocates with city and local councils around the world to phase out fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships. The organization has also documented efforts by fossil fuel firms to undermine each of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals. Sponsorships with governments are also common, sometimes filling holes in funding for arts, education, or cultural programs. In Argentina, for example, TotalEnergies and Pan American Energy are official sponsors of a government-partner music foundation. Pan American Energy is also a partner of PAE, a government-promoted education scholarship initiative.  In Brazil, Petrobras has played a key role in social and education funding. And in Peru, Pluspetrol has widely sponsored the cultural sector.  According to Diego di Risio, Latin America and Caribbean manager for the Global Gas & Oil Network, “it is pretty common that fossil fuel companies fill the gap [left by] the state, especially since some of them operate in rather distant or marginal communities. “In the case of national oil companies, they complement the state by directly funding social or educational programs,” di Risio added.  “A Sea of High-Carbon Sponsorship” Examples of sponsorships in the sports world are nearly endless. In just some of the more high-profile and recent examples, QatarEnergy is sponsoring the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Shell is partnering with British Cycling, and Saudi Aramco sponsors the International Cricket Council (ICC). Until February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the country’s state oil company Gazprom sponsored the Union of European Football Associations.  Sports is “floating in a sea of high-carbon sponsorship,” says Simms from the New Weather Institute, in part because sports coverage consumes more “column inches and broadcast minutes” than almost any other news topic. “It’s so ubiquitous that it’s almost invisible,” he says. Simms is also a founder of the “Badvertising” campaign advocating an end to fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships, which in October called for British Cycling to drop Shell as a sponsor. According to a new report by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), fossil fuel sponsorships of Australian sports are worth between $14 and $18 million a year. Most deals include putting the company’s name on team uniforms or in stadiums.  Callout for support Please add your name to the petition and share widely so we keep putting public pressure until @BritishCycling drop its new deal with Shell ! Together we can win this https://t.co/6OTGtExShC— badvertising (@badvertising11) October 13, 2022 With this funding, fossil fuel firms “attach themselves to that emotional connection” between fans and their favorite clubs, teams, and athletes, says Simms, giving the sponsor company “a layer of emotional insulation” from attacks. Sports also carries perceptions and feelings of vigor, health, and youth, he says, one reason why the tobacco industry was also so keen to sponsor sports. This “reputational sportswash,” Simms adds, is why sport sponsorships are such a “prized asset” for fossil fuel companies, which also use them to promote the false narrative of individual responsibility for environmental pollution and climate change. For example, the ICC has said that Aramco will install recycling machines at all match venues, and convert the collected plastic into clothing. “That is classic misdirection. It’s ‘look at the little sparrow’ when there’s a fire breathing dragon over your left shoulder behind you,” says Simms. “Given the sheer size and scale of Aramco, the reserves that they have and the fossil fuels that they are intentionally burning, you could recycle from now until the end of time and it wouldn’t scratch the surface of the damage that they are doing in the process.” Banning Fossil Fuel Sponsorships and Ads Civil society and activist groups around the world are targeting fossil fuel sponsorships and the organizations that accept them. The campaign to Ban Fossil Fuel Ads, a Europe-wide effort that involves more than 40 environmental organizations and grassroots groups, has underscored that fossil fuel companies use sponsorships to “promote false solutions,” “mislead the public by presenting themselves as climate friendly,” and — intentionally or not — “encourage an increase in emissions.” A ban on fossil fuel ads and sponsorships, says Sleegers, would “shift norms and understanding that you can’t cooperate with these [fossil fuel] companies, this destructive industry.” The British Medical Journal and The Guardian are among a few publications around the world that have phased out fossil fuel sponsorships and ads. And there is some progress in the sports world as well. “Increasingly our much loved arts, sports, and cultural events and institutions are refusing money from fossil fuel companies,” says Lucy Manne, CEO of 350 Australia. “In the past year [in Australia], there have been a number of successful campaigns from communities to get events and festivals to cut ties with coal and gas companies, including Fringe World in Perth, the Australian Open in Melbourne, and the Darwin Festival. This is sending a clear message that associating with fossil fuels is just as toxic as being sponsored by a cigarette company.” Across the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, more than 400 ad agencies have signed a pledge to stop working with oil and gas companies — a campaign organized by Clean Creatives and the nonprofit Fossil Free Media. Clean Creatives has also organized hundreds of scientists to sign a letter asking Hill+Knowlton, the PR company managing communications for COP27, to cut ties with its fossil fuel clients, including Aramco, Exxon, and Shell.  “Because companies haven’t been held accountable” for climate change or damages, “they can continue to greenwash,” says artist, activist, and frontline defender Ina Maria Shikongo.  “But it is only a matter of time until the people see through them,” adds Shikongo.” Then they will be the ones sitting where the tobacco industry — and others like Monsanto — were sitting just some years ago.” The post How the Fossil Fuel Industry Buys Goodwill appeared first on DeSmog.

[Category: Energy]

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[l] at 11/11/22 4:08pm
When climate talks in Egypt turn to the future of food on Saturday, the U.S. government will be on hand to champion a new coalition of feed, livestock and agrochemical companies as the vanguard of transformational change.  We can expect to hear a lot about how the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate, or Aim4C, will be harnessing new technology – from big data to precision fertilizer – to slow ballooning emissions from agribusiness, and fight worsening global hunger.   But there are other topics that Big Ag may be less eager to discuss: Growing concern among campaigners that the U.S. government’s embrace of “climate-smart” agriculture at COP27 will serve primarily to add a green veneer to plans to double down on polluting business as usual.  With food systems producing a third of global greenhouse emissions, any chance of preserving a stable climate hinges on a wholesale rethink, scientists say.  But the U.S. government’s long history of aggressively backing industrial agriculture; close ties between industry and senior officials, and its opposition to the European Union’s Farm To Fork policy for nature-friendlier farming, have left experts questioning its commitment to even modest reform.  Karen Hansen-Kuhn, programme director at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy nonprofit, said the Aim4C coalition was effectively an extension of the U.S. government’s long-standing drive to open up new agricultural markets at the expense of environmental protection and small-scale farmers. “Given the moment we’ve been in since the Ukraine war started, with input prices going up so much, it seems so foolish to be promoting more fertilizers and agrochemicals, and not looking at solutions on the ground,” Hansen-Kuhn told DeSmog. Protecting the Industrial Agriculture Status Quo With agriculture higher up the agenda than at any previous round of climate talks, the COP27 taking place from Nov. 6-18 in the resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh is shaping up to be a battleground between rival visions of farming.  The US will be promoting its vision through Aim4C with a high-level and high-profile Ministerial meeting on Saturday, hosted by the Egyptian government. The US-led coalition Aim4C has already come under criticism for the strong representation of multinational corporations among its 300 partners, which also include 40 states, research institutes and philanthropic organziations.   Corporate partners include Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, agrochemicals lobby groups such as CropLife International, and powerful US farm associations as the North American Meat Institute and the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which have links to climate science denial. These companies represent the pillars of an industrial, intensive food and farming system — an approach the U.S. has championed as the best way to feed the world’s growing population efficiently that is heavily reliant on chemical inputs to produce food.  Industrial agriculture is carbon intensive – and polluting. It’s overwhelmingly responsible for farming’s emissions – by some estimates the top five animal agriculture companies alone emit more greenhouse gases than Exxon-Mobil, Shell, or BP.  Overall, the agriculture sector accounts for up to one third of greenhouse gasses – and is also a primary driver of biodiversity loss. Powerful companies within the sector have also come under scrutiny for lobbying against climate action and disputing climate science. Experts say that to bring down agricultural emissions and conserve nature, we must pivot away from industrial farming. But the United States has pushed back against this approach, focusing instead on finding greater efficiencies within the current, industrial farming system. One notable example of this pushback is the United States’s vocal opposition to Farm to Fork. A key plank of the EU’s Green Deal, the strategy aims to transform farming and align the sector with the bloc’s climate and biodiversity targets. Its measures include slashing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and boosting more organic, nature-friendly farming. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack — a former CEO of a major dairy industry lobbying firm — has emphasized that the United States and EU agree on the needs to meet climate goals – but have different ideas on how to get there. Vilsack told the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City in September 2021 that the US “cant let our European friends dominate this conversation”, before going on to articulate the United States’ administration’s belief in a route to zero emissions agriculture via “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system”. In his remarks – where he also announced the formation of Aim4C – Vilsack spoke of his efforts to build a “coalition of nations” aligned to an approach that would not pose barriers to trade.  U.S. Fears Trade Impacts of Environmental Policies While Aim4C puts climate and food concerns front and center, the initiative appears to be inextricably linked to the U.S. government’s broader agenda to dismantle potential obstacles to its farm exports.  The United States is the largest agricultural exporter in the world. The sector contributed over $1 trillion to US GDP in 2020 — and accounts for 11 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. More stringent nature-friendly requirements for food production — such as rules to use fewer agrochemicals to grow food — could create obstacles for U.S. exporters.  Under Farm to Fork targets, for example, demand for agrochemicals would decrease from the EU, taking a large market out of the game for U.S. agribusinesses that currently sell their chemical products in member states. Vilsack wasn’t the first high-ranking official to recognize this risk. His predecessor as agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, called Farm to Fork a “protectionist” policy which could prove “extremely problematic” for trade. When Perdue was leading the USDA, the Department published an “impact study” that concluded Farm To Fork could have devastating consequences for food security. (Campaigners pointed to major methodological flaws in the study, which they characterized as part of a series of attempts by the United States and industry to “derail” the EU’s green strategy) “Reducing pesticides dramatically, thats a very commendable part of Farm to Fork. And thats something that the U.S. found to be immensely threatening,” says Molly Anderson of IPES-Food. Ricardo Salvador, an agronomist at the Union of Concerned Scientists says the US is actively opposed to alternative models of agriculture. “If Farm to Fork is successful,” he explains, “then that means claims by the U.S. agribusiness sector do not hold up — that, in fact, it is possible to have a completely different system than we have right now.”  Very close ties to industry The U.S. government’s credibility as a champion of climate-friendly farming has been further undermined by the revolving-door relationship between agribusiness and officialdom. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – who is spearheading Aim4C — came into his post after a four year spell at the helm of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). A key focus of Vilsack’s role was opening new markets for trade of U.S. dairy products for USDEC members, which include major producers such as Dairy Farmers of America, Inc, and subsidiaries of dairy giants Lactalis and Saputo. While his appointment by President Joe Biden was praised by industry groups, Vilsack faced opposition, including from small farmers who criticized his record on failing to address market concentration by big business while Greenpeace characterized his selection as “choosing a wolf to guard the hen house”. Vilsack oversaw a number of policy shifts that favoured industry interests during his previous term in office under President Barack Obama. He approved the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically engineered alfalfa – developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics – in the face of stiff opposition.  His term also loosened the regulation of meat packing plants. Under his tenure the USDA upped the maximum processing speed for poultry and weakened inspection regimes, despite data suggesting that worker safety could be compromised. Sustainable food advocates say Vilsack’s move from industry to government is indicative of a wider revolving door culture at the USDA, described as “extraordinary” by IPES-Food’s Molly Anderson. “It’s not just ties to industry, it’s very close ties,” she says. Al Avanza, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator who greenlighted Vilsack’s reforms later went on to work for the Brazilian meat giant JBS. Vilsack’s predecessor, Sonny Perdue, has faced questions about conflicts of interest over his multimillion dollar agricultural business holdings. A spokesperson at the time said Secretary Perdue had complied with all ethics agreements, and had followed the advice of USDA ethics advisers to restructure his business A total of 634 agricultural lobbyists have previously worked in U.S. departments or agencies according to 2022 data from OpenSecrets, a Washington D.C.- based nonprofit that tracks data on campaign finance and lobbying. It calculates the industry has spent more than $3 billion lobbying Washington decision-makers since 1998. “Corporations have the ear of and influence over elected lawmakers and the Administration’s agency directors, when they should instead be listening to the constituents they serve,” says Simone Adler of Pesticides Action Network North America (PANNA). “And that is why corporate-driven initiatives and policies take precedence over proactive regulation.” “Here you have a former CEO of one of the largest lobbying groups in the dairy industry, and he’s now, for a second term, the USDA Secretary – a very high position,” says Diana Ruiz from Greenpeace USA. “It not only sets the agenda for the United States; the United States sets the agenda globally. That is very clear. And that is what’s so dangerous about what’s happening here.” The USDA was contacted for comment. Business as usual Aim4C innovation sprints released so far appear to show a bias towards industry-friendly climate initiatives. The coalition aims to raise up to $8 billion for the initiatives, which are aimed at finding ways to cut emissions produced by food systems while boosting production. The twelve programmes published on the Aim4C to date have majored on technological solutions. They include precision farming (e.g. tractors hooked up with big data and artificial intelligence), the disputed notion of carbon farming (investing in the soil’s ability to store carbon) and elaborate schemes to lower the methane quotient of cow burps. Notably absent is any talk of cutting production of emissions-intensive meat and dairy – which accounts for 14 percent of global emissions. Events hosted by Vilsack and other officials at COP27 this week included an event on “Pathways to dairy net zero,” with the industry bodies the Global Dairy Platform and International Dairy Federation, and an event on innovations in plant science, with panelists from three of the world’s largest pesticides manufacturers (Bayer, Corteva and BASF) and the industry’s leading lobby group, CropLife. Advocates of a growing “agroecology” movement are calling for investment in different agricultural models at COP27. They want to move away from input-heavy, intensive production towards more sustainable farming techniques pioneered by Indigenous communities and small-holders that favour crop diversity, natural fertilizers and shorter food chains. “Focusing on technology can make big profits for multinational companies but it doesn’t serve small-holder farmers,” said Anne Maina, of the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, a Nairobi-based network of civil society groups working in environment, health, farming and animal welfare. “Africa has workable, sustainable alternatives right here at home.” A spokesperson for Aim4C said by email: “The goal of AIM for Climate is to increase and accelerate agriculture and food systems innovation in support of climate action. To achieve the goal, AIM for Climate participants intend to catalyze greater investment in, and/or other support for, agricultural innovation to help to raise global ambition and underpin more rapid and transformative action.” But Greenpeace campaigner Diana Ruiz doubts Aim4C will provide real solutions. “Industrial agriculture and livestock farming has massive impacts on the climate,”  Ruiz told DeSmog. “Programmes like AIM for Climate are just proposing to continue that same model of production. It’s not about truly addressing the climate crisis.” The post U.S. Embrace of ‘Climate-Smart’ Agriculture at COP27 Faces Scrutiny appeared first on DeSmog.

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