Santander arranged billion-dollar oil bond after making green pledge

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Original article by Nimra Shahid Rob Soutar republished from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HSBC also helped on refinery deal that will boost Amazon oil production

The Pastaza River complex, the largest wetland in the Peruvian Amazon, is a hub of biodiversity. It is home to nearly 300 species of fish and rare birds, and a source of food for the numerous Indigenous communities that live there. Its freshwater tributaries, lakes and palm swamps offer a vital buffer against climate change and its international importance is recognised by Ramsar, the UN convention on wetlands conservation.

Slicing through this land is the Norperuano pipeline, a huge 1,100km structure owned by the national oil company PetroPerú. The pipeline has been the source of more than 53 oil leaks since 2013. PetroPerú spent more than $80m on cleaning up spills related to it between 2017 and 2020.

In December, PetroPerú hailed the completion of a $5bn, 10-year project revamping its Talara refinery on the country’s Pacific coast. This new-look facility will be the destination for huge amounts of oil being carried by the Norperuano pipeline across the country from the rainforest, where PetroPerú is set to drill at two controversial new sites. And working behind the scenes to aid the financing of this project have been major international banks that claim to hold strict green policies.

In 2021, Santander helped coordinate a bond that raised $1bn for PetroPerú, which sought funds to upgrade its Talara refinery and expand its capacity to process oil from the Amazon. Two years previously, it had ruled out providing finance or services for “projects or activities in recognised Ramsar sites”. HSBC, which has a similar policy restricting finance that affects wetlands, also worked on the deal.

The money raised by the bond was to be spent on the Talara upgrade, which PetroPerú says helped the facility “produce cleaner fuels” and expanded its processing capacity by nearly 50%, to 95,000 barrels of oil per day.

Much of that oil is likely to be transported through the Norperuano pipeline from the Peruvian Amazon, where PetroPerú has extraction contracts for two drilling sites, one of which also overlaps with the Pastaza wetlands.

“There can be no financing for a company that needs to expand oil production in areas as sensitive as Ramsar sites,” said Leila Salazar-López, executive director of Amazon Watch. She added that it was “difficult to understand” how a company that has demonstrated an inability to stop spills and repair its damage “can gain the confidence of ‘climate-responsible’ investors”.

Santander told TBIJ it did not comment on clients or transactions but said it “operates strict policies that govern our financing. This includes our social, environmental and climate change risk management policy, which governs our criteria to lend to sectors such as energy, mining, metals, and soft commodities.”

HSBC said: “We are committed to supporting a just transition in developing markets and are, therefore, engaging with clients on their transition plans and operating models. Our work with clients is in line with our policies which include specific standards for environmental and human rights considerations.”

Original article by Nimra Shahid Rob Soutar republished from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Continue ReadingSantander arranged billion-dollar oil bond after making green pledge

Green protesters to be charged with criminal damage over demonstration at Rishi Sunak’s home

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https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/climate-activists-rishi-sunak-damage-home-b2499247.html

Three people are set to be charged over a protest at Rishi Sunak’s home (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

Three people will be charged with criminal damage following a Greenpeace protest at Rishi Sunak’s home in North Yorkshire, prosecutors have said.

Mathieu Soete, 38, Amy Rugg-Easey, 33, and Alexandra Wilson, 32, will each be charged with one count of criminal damage over the protest last August in the prime minister’s Richmond constituency, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Mr Soete, of Hackney, and Ms Rugg-Easey and Ms Wilson, both from Shiremoor in North Tyneside, are due to appear at York Magistrates’ Court on 21 March, according to the CPS.

A fourth suspect is due to answer bail at a later date.

Activists were pictured last year atop the roof of Mr Sunak’s grade II-listed manor house in Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton, which they draped with oil-black fabric in protest over what they called a new fossil fuel drilling “frenzy”.

The prime minister was on holiday in California at the time of the demonstration.

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/climate-activists-rishi-sunak-damage-home-b2499247.html

Continue ReadingGreen protesters to be charged with criminal damage over demonstration at Rishi Sunak’s home

Chicago Joins ‘Historic Wave of Lawsuits’ Against Big Oil

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Original article by BRETT WILKINS republiahed from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Environmental activists march during the Global Climate Strike in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on September 15, 2023.  (Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images)

The city alleges the industry “funded, conceived, planned, and carried out a sustained and widespread campaign of denial and disinformation about the existence of climate change and their products’ contribution to it.”

Chicago on Tuesday joined the growing list of U.S. cities and states suing Big Oil for lying to the public about how burning fossil fuels causes and exacerbates the climate emergency.

The administration of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, a progressive Democrat, filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and the industry lobby American Petroleum Institute, which “funded, conceived, planned, and carried out a sustained and widespread campaign of denial and disinformation about the existence of climate change and their products’ contribution to it.”

“The climate change impacts that Chicago has faced and will continue to face—including more frequent and intense storms, flooding, droughts, extreme heat events, and shoreline erosion—are felt throughout every part of the city and disproportionately in low-income communities,” the suit contends.

In a statement, Johnson said that “there is no justice without accountability.”

“From the unprecedented poor air quality that we experienced last summer to the basement floodings that our residents on the West Side experienced, the consequences of this crisis are severe, as are the costs of surviving them,” he added. “That is why we are seeking to hold these defendants accountable.”

Climate campaigners welcomed the lawsuit.

“Big Oil has lied to the American people for decades about the catastrophic climate risks of their products, and now Chicago and communities across the country are rightfully insisting they pay for the damage they’ve caused,” Center for Climate Integrity president Richard Wiles said in a statement.

“With Chicago, the nation’s third largest city, joining the fray, there is no doubt that we are witnessing a historic wave of lawsuits that could finally hold Big Oil accountable for the climate crisis they knowingly caused,” he added.

Chicago joins eight U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and numerous municipalities across the country that have sued to hold Big Oil accountable for deceiving the public about its role in the climate emergency.

“To date, eight federal appeals courts and dozens of federal district courts have unanimously ruled against the fossil fuel industry’s arguments to prevent these lawsuits from moving forward in state courts,” noted the Center for Climate Integrity. “In 2023, the U.S. Justice Department added its support for the communities. The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Big Oil petitions to consider the industry’s appeals of those lower court rulings three separate times, most recently in January.”

Angela Tovar, Chicago’s chief sustainability officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times that “the fossil fuel industry should be able to pay for the damage they’ve caused.”

“We have to see accountability for the climate crisis,” she added.

Original article by BRETT WILKINS republiahed from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue ReadingChicago Joins ‘Historic Wave of Lawsuits’ Against Big Oil

With $280 Billion in Profits, Oil Giants Are ‘Main Winners of the War in Ukraine’

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Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

A protester pretends to celebrate outside Shell’s London headquarters. (Photo: Greenpeace U.K./X)

“They have amassed untold wealth off the back of death, destruction, and spiraling energy prices,” a Global Witness investigator said of a new analysis.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches its second anniversary, one group has clearly benefited: the five biggest U.S. and European oil and gas companies.

BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies have made more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in profits since the war began, according to an analysis published by Global Witness on Monday.

“This analysis shows that regardless of what happens on the front lines, the fossil fuel majors are the main winners of the war in Ukraine,” Global Witness senior fossil fuels investigator Patrick Galey said in a statement. “They have amassed untold wealth off the back of death, destruction, and spiraling energy prices.”

Big Oil’s profits were fueled in part by high wholesale gas prices, which were already elevated before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and skyrocketed afterward. All five companies covered by the analysis reported record profits for 2022.

This bonanza came as the conflict killed more than 10,000 Ukrainian civilians.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been devastating for millions of people, from ordinary Ukrainians living under the shadow of war, to the households across Europe struggling to heat their homes,” Galey said.

During 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden accused Big Oil of “war profiteering.”

Global Witness calculated that BP and Shell have raked in enough since the war began—at £75 billion—to pay all British household electricity bills through July 2025. Chevron and ExxonMobil have made a combined $136 billion while Total has netted $50.4 billion.

These massive profits also come as the climate crisis, driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, continues to escalate. 2023 was the hottest year on record, and likely the hottest in 125,000 years. Yet instead of using their record profits to invest in renewable energy technology, the five major oil companies have cut back on their climate initiatives and handed massive payouts to shareholders.

“This is yet another way in which the fossil fuel industry is failing customers and the planet.”

Of the more than $280 billion the five companies have brought in since the war began, they returned what Global Witness said was an “unprecedented” $200 billion to shareholders. At the same time, Shell rescinded a promise to curb oil production by 2030 and said it would fire around 200 people employed by its green jobs division. BP, meanwhile, slashed its emissions reduction target from 35-40% of 2019 levels by 2030 to 20-30%.

The money paid to shareholders is also money that could have been paid to help communities adapt to the climate crisis or recover from the damage it has already caused. The $111 billion that the five companies paid to shareholders in 2023 alone is 158 times more than the money pledged to climate-vulnerable nations at COP28, and the €15 billion that TotalEnergies rewarded shareholders with was more than the €10 billion that France needed to recover from droughts and storms in 2022.

Galey said the companies were now “spending their gains on investor handouts and ever more oil and gas production, which Europe doesn’t need and the climate cannot take.”

“This is yet another way in which the fossil fuel industry is failing customers and the planet,” Galey said.

Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Rishi Sunak offers huge fossil fuel subsidies to develop fossil fuel extraction in UK.
Rishi Sunak offers huge fossil fuel subsidies to develop fossil fuel extraction in UK.

Investigating the so-called ‘windfall tax’

Continue ReadingWith $280 Billion in Profits, Oil Giants Are ‘Main Winners of the War in Ukraine’

Swiss Climate Activists Set Sights on Wealthy with Inheritance Tax Proposal

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https://bnnbreaking.com/politics/swiss-climate-activists-set-sights-on-wealthy-with-inheritance-tax-proposal/

Switzerland’s Young Socialists propose a 50% tax on inheritances exceeding 50 million francs, aiming to generate funds for climate.

Switzerland, a nation known for its political stability and economic prosperity, is witnessing a significant political movement steered by the Young Socialists, the youth wing of the Social Democrats, the country’s second-largest party. They have successfully collected enough signatures to trigger a national referendum. Their target? The wealthy population of the country. Their proposal seeks to impose a hefty 50% tax on inheritances exceeding 50 million francs (approximately $59 million).

A Green Cause at Heart

The Young Socialists’ initiative is driven by a compelling intent: to generate funds for combating climate change. They believe that the affluent can and should contribute more to the climate cause. Their proposition, if successful, could generate an estimated 6 billion francs annually. These funds would be allocated exclusively for climate protection measures, contributing significantly to Switzerland’s efforts to combat global warming and transition to more sustainable practices.

Reflecting a Global Trend

This move doesn’t stand in isolation. It reflects a broader global trend of increased activism and policy initiatives aimed at addressing environmental concerns, particularly the financial aspects of combating climate change. From protests on the streets to policy proposals in the halls of power, the climate change struggle is increasingly becoming a central issue in contemporary politics. The Young Socialists’ proposition underscores this shift, signifying a push towards leveraging the wealth of the richest individuals in society to finance the transition to more sustainable practices and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

https://bnnbreaking.com/politics/swiss-climate-activists-set-sights-on-wealthy-with-inheritance-tax-proposal/

Continue ReadingSwiss Climate Activists Set Sights on Wealthy with Inheritance Tax Proposal

Big Oil, Plastics Industry Led ‘Campaign of Deception’ to Push Recycling Fraud

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Original article by Olivia Rosane republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

More than 90% of plastics disposed of between 1950 and 2015 were not recycled. (Photo: Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

“The oil industry’s lies are at the heart of the two most catastrophic pollution crises in human history,” one advocate said.

The petrochemical industry—including major oil companies like ExxonMobil—knew for decades that recycling was not a sustainable solution to the problem of plastic waste, yet continued to promote it in order to avoid regulation and deceive consumers into continuing to buy and use their products, a report released Thursday by the Center for Climate Integrity reveals.

The report, titled The Fraud of Plastic Recycling: How Big Oil and the Plastics Industry Deceived the Public for Decades and Caused the Plastic Waste Crisis, includes newly disclosed industry documents proving that companies and trade groups knew that plastics could not be recycled indefinitely in the 1980s and 90s even as they launched a massive public relations campaign to sell voters and policymakers on the process.

“This evidence shows that many of the same fossil fuel companies that knew and lied for decades about how their products cause climate change have also known and lied to the public about plastic recycling,” Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) president Richard Wiles said in a statement. “The oil industry’s lies are at the heart of the two most catastrophic pollution crises in human history.”

Plastic pollution is a major environmental and public health crisis. If current trends continue, plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050, and the toxic fumes from plastic production facilities and incineration are a major environmental justice hazard for frontline communities. Humans in general also ingest an estimated credit-card’s worth of plastic each week, with unknown but potentially serious health impacts.

Recycling is often touted as a solution for keeping plastic out of the environment, but this has proven to be ineffective and insufficient: More than 90% of the plastics disposed of between 1950 and 2015 were either burnt, sent to landfills, or dumped into the environment. There are several technical and economic reasons why plastic recycling doesn’t work at scale. Plastics lose quality as they are recycled and can only really be reused once or potentially twice. The decline in quality also means that recycled plastics are more likely to leach toxins added during production or picked up from other waste items. Economically, it is cheaper to produce new plastics than recycle older ones, and only two types of plastic—PET and HDPE—actually attract markets that will recycle them.

The industry has long been aware of these limitations. In 1969, the American Chemical Society declared, “It is always possible that scientists and engineers will learn to recycle or dispose of wastes at a profit, but that does not seem likely to happen soon on a broad basis.”

“We are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results.”

Despite this, petrochemical companies and their trade groups began to push plastic recycling in the 1980s and 90s as a response to growing public concern over plastic waste, and the threat that this would lead to bans on plastic products.

“No doubt about it, legislation is the single most important reason why we are looking at recycling,” Wayne Pearson, the executive director of industry front group the Plastics Recycling Foundation and a DuPont marketing director, said in 1988.

The plastics industry used various strategies to sell the public on recycling, according to the report. These included:

  1. Funding front groups to promote recycling;
  2. Running ad and PR campaigns;
  3. Investing in recycling research to convince the public that it was taking action;
  4. Setting unrealistic internal recycling goals;
  5. Writing educational material promoting recycling to school children;
  6. Advocating for “advanced recycling,” a term for breaking plastics down to chemical components that can theoretically be reused but are not in practice; and
  7. Claiming, against evidence, that recycling can be part of a “circular economy.”

CCI provides new evidence that, while the industry was employing these strategies, it was simultaneously aware of recycling’s limitations.

For example, a report from the Vinyl Institute trade group concluded in 1986 that “recycling cannot be considered a permanent solid waste solution, as it merely prolongs the time until an item is disposed of.”

In 1994, Exxon Chemical Vice President Irwin Levowitz told employees of the American Plastics Council that “we are committed to the activities, but not committed to the results.”

CCI argued that the petrochemical industry should face legal consequences for its “campaign of deception” similar to suits brought against tobacco and opioid companies.

“When corporations and trade groups know that their products pose grave risks to society, and then lie to the public and policymakers about it, they must be held accountable,” Wiles said. “Accountability means stopping the lying, telling the truth, and paying for the damage they’ve caused.”

CCI vice president of legal and general counsel Alyssa Johl added: “Big Oil and the plastics industry’s decades-long campaign to deceive the public about plastic recycling has likely violated laws designed to protect consumers and the public from corporate misconduct and pollution.”

“Attorneys general and other officials should carefully consider the evidence that these companies defrauded the public and take appropriate action to hold them accountable,” Johl said.

Original article by Olivia Rosane republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue ReadingBig Oil, Plastics Industry Led ‘Campaign of Deception’ to Push Recycling Fraud

February on course to break unprecedented number of heat records

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https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/feb/17/february-on-course-to-break-unprecedented-number-of-heat-records

Experts struggle to explain how rises in sea-surface temperatures have accelerated so quickly. Photograph: PPAMPicture/Getty Images

Rapid ocean warming and unusually hot winter days recorded as human-made global heating combines with El Niño

February is on course to break a record number of heat records, meteorologists say, as human-made global heating and the natural El Niño climate pattern drive up temperatures on land and oceans around the world.

A little over halfway into the shortest month of the year, the heating spike has become so pronounced that climate charts are entering new territory, particularly for sea-surface temperatures that have persisted and accelerated to the point where expert observers are struggling to explain how the change is happening.

“The planet is warming at an accelerating rate. We are seeing rapid temperature increases in the ocean, the climate’s largest reservoir of heat,” said Dr Joel Hirschi, the associate head of marine systems modelling at the UK National Oceanography Centre. “The amplitude by which previous sea surface temperatures records were beaten in 2023 and now 2024 exceed expectations, though understanding why this is, is the subject of ongoing research.”

Humanity is on a trajectory to experience the hottest February in recorded history, after a record January, December, November, October, September, August, July, June and May, according to the Berkeley Earth scientist Zeke Hausfather.

Continue ReadingFebruary on course to break unprecedented number of heat records

UK Government’s New Low Pay Advisor Heads Climate Denial Network

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Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Philippa Stroud, chair of the government’s Low Pay Commission, and CEO of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship. Credit: ARC (CC0 1.0 DEED)

Tory peer Philippa Stroud, who has close ties to the funders of GB News, has been elevated to a senior advisory role by the government.

A new government advisor on the minimum wage is the head of an international network of climate crisis deniers funded by the owners of GB News, DeSmog can reveal.

Philippa Stroud was appointed chair of the Low Pay Commission, a body reporting to Kemi Badenoch’s Department of Business and Trade, on 30 January. The government-appointed role pays £530 per day for three days of work per month (£19,114 per year).

The Conservative peer is the CEO of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), a new pressure group that shares its funders with GB News and is linked to some of the world’s most prominent climate crisis deniers, including psychologist Jordan Peterson. Stroud has been described by The Telegraph as “the most powerful right-winger you’ve never heard of”.

The appointment comes as senior Conservative Party figures continue to embrace anti-climate politics. On 6 February, former prime minister Liz Truss attacked “net zero zealots” at the launch of her new Popular Conservatism faction. 

Last month, Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Clare Coutinho met with and praised fuel pricing lobbyist Howard Cox, a Reform UK candidate who wants to “scrap net zero” and claims that “man is not responsible for global warming”.

The government is also pushing ahead with legislation that would require the awarding of annual North Sea oil and gas licences. The Climate Change Committee, the independent body that advises the government on its net zero policies, warned on 30 January that mixed messages, including new fossil fuel projects, have damaged the UK’s international climate standing.

Last year was the first on record to see consistent global warming of 1.5C, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. 

DeSmog has previously revealed that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million in donations from fossil fuel interests and climate science deniers in 2022.

Stroud’s appointment also cements the relationship between the Conservative Party and GB News. On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took part in an hour-long town hall event on GB News, following the example of several Conservative MPs who are regular guests and presenters on the right-wing broadcaster. 

Stroud’s ARC project is run by hedge fund manager Paul Marshall and the UAE-based Legatum Group, GB News’s principal backers. The Legatum Institute, a think tank funded by the Legatum Group, gave £50,000 to a faction of the Conservative Party in December. Before taking up her post at ARC, Stroud was CEO of the Legatum Institute. 

“Anti-science climate change denialism has become the secret handshake that ushers in the faithful and bars the door to unbelievers,” Jolyon Maugham, executive director of the Good Law Project, told DeSmog. “This is an appalling betrayal of the principles of sound government – and of our children who need us to be led by science and not by the financial interests of wealthy Tory donors.”

ARC, Stroud, the Legatum Group, and the Low Pay Commission were approached for comment. 

ARC and Legatum

Philippa Stroud was made a life peer by then prime minister David Cameron (now foreign secretary) in 2015, after failing to win a parliamentary seat in 2010. 

The Legatum Group, which has employed Stroud both directly and indirectly since 2016, is one of the largest shareholders in GB News, which frequently attacks climate science and policies. A DeSmog investigation found that one in three GB News hosts spread climate denial on air in 2022. 

GB News’s other major owner is British billionaire Paul Marshall, chairman and chief investment officer of the hedge fund Marshall Wace. DeSmog revealed that, as of June 2023, Marshall Wace owned shares worth $2.2 billion (£1.8 billion) in fossil fuel firms. This included a $213 million (£175.6 million) shareholding in the oil and gas supermajor Chevron, as well as stakes in Shell, Equinor, and 109 other fossil fuel companies. 

In her statement announcing the launch of ARC, Stroud took aim at climate policies, writing that “we risk driving policy interventions to address environmental concerns without having an honest conversation about the trade-offs for the poor at home or in developing and emerging nations”.

Poor and indigenous groups in developing countries will be hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, while those suffering from poverty at home have seen their energy bills soar as successive governments have failed to implement green reforms. 

ARC is fronted by Canadian author Jordan Peterson, who regularly posts about “climate apocalypse insanity” and “eco fascists” to his millions of online followers. Peterson has promoted fringe climate crisis deniers on his YouTube channel and, as revealed by DeSmog, plans to open a new online school also featuring several climate crisis deniers. 

ARC’s advisory board includes writers Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger, both of whom have written books downplaying the threats posed by climate change, as well as Tony Abbott, the former prime minister of Australia and a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s principal climate science denial group. 

Late last year, speaking on the outskirts of ARC’s launch conference in London, Abbott claimed climate change has “nothing to do with mankind’s emissions”. ARC advisor Vivek Ramaswamy, who also spoke at the conference, has called climate change a “hoax” and has said that “real emergency isn’t climate change, it’s the man-made disaster of climate change policies that threaten US prosperity.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate science body, states it is “unequivocal” that human influence has caused “unprecedented” global warming. 

Kemi Badenoch, whose department appointed Stroud to her new advisory role, also spoke at the ARC conference alongside Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove. The pair were joined by a number of Conservative MPs. 

Stroud’s appointment to the government’s Low Pay Commission was first trailed by The Telegraph in December. A “Whitehall source” told the paper that Stroud was selected for the three-year post to block a possible left-wing appointment by a Labour government.

Carla Denyer, Green Party co-leader and its parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central said that Stroud’s appointment was “hardly the most appropriate” and that “the Conservatives seem set on placing their people across the quango world before the general election.”

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Rishi Sunak on stopping Rosebank says that any chancellor can stop his huge 91% subsidy to build Rosebank, that Keir Starmer is as bad as him for sucking up to Murdoch and other plutocrats and that we (the plebs) need to get organised to elect MPs that will stop Rosebank.
Rishi Sunak on stopping Rosebank says that any chancellor can stop his huge 91% subsidy to build Rosebank, that Keir Starmer is as bad as him for sucking up to Murdoch and other plutocrats and that we (the plebs) need to get organised to elect MPs that will stop Rosebank.
Continue ReadingUK Government’s New Low Pay Advisor Heads Climate Denial Network

Interview: Why global support for climate action is ‘systematically underestimated’

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Original article by SIMON EVANS republished from Carbon Brief under a CC license

There is near-universal global public support for climate action, yet people systematically underestimate the commitment of their peers, according to a new study.

The research, published in Nature Climate Change, is based on a globally-representative sample of nearly 130,000 people in 125 countries.

It finds that 86% of people “support pro-climate social norms” and 89% would like their governments to do more to tackle warming. Moreover, 69% say they would be willing to contribute 1% of their income to addressing climate change.

Yet respondents also “systematically underestimate the willingness of their fellow citizens to act”, according to the paper, creating a potentially challenging “perception gap”.

Carbon Brief interviewed the authors of the study to find out more. The questions and their answers are reproduced in full, below. An abridged version of the transcript was first published in DeBriefed, Carbon Brief’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up for free.

Carbon Brief: Your survey of nearly 130,000 people in 125 countries found “almost universal” support (86%) for climate action, with 89% wanting more from governments. Were you surprised? 

Prof Peter Andre, Prof Teodora Boneva, Prof Felix Chopra and Prof Armin Falk: While we did expect to find high levels of approval for climate action in some of the countries that we studied, we were indeed surprised to find that the percentage of the population approving of pro-climate social norms and demanding more political action from their national government is very high in almost all countries in our sample. In 119 of 125 countries, the proportion of individuals who state that people in their country “should try to fight global warming” exceeds two-thirds. In more than half the countries in our sample, the demand for more government action even exceeds 90%.

We were probably misled by the same pessimism that we found to be so widespread across the globe. 69% of the world’s population is willing to contribute 1% of their monthly income to fight global warming. A broad majority of people across the globe is willing to pay a personal cost. In fact, in 114 out of 125 countries, a majority of respondents is willing to fight climate change. However, in 110 out of 125 countries, the majority thinks that they are in the minority: When asked about how many people in their country are willing to contribute, most respondents think that less than half of their fellow citizens would be willing to contribute.

[The figure below, taken from the new paper, shows: (top left) the share of respondents willing to contribute none, up to 1% or at least 1% of their income to tackling climate change; (top right) the same result broken down by country; (middle panel) the share believing that “people should try to fight global warming”; (lower panel) the share wanting governments to do more.]

The figure, taken from the new paper, shows: (top left) the share of respondents willing to contribute none, up to 1% or at least 1% of their income to tackling climate change; (top right) the same result broken down by country; (middle panel) the share believing that “people should try to fight global warming”; (lower panel) the share wanting governments to do more.
Top panel: Willingness to contribute to climate action, %. Middle: Share agreeing that “people should try to fight global warming”. Bottom: Share wanting governments to do more. Each panel shows global (left) and national averages (right). Credit: Andre et al. (2024).

CB: A large majority (69%) said they would be willing to contribute 1% of their income to fight global warming. Do you think this would hold for specific policies, such as a carbon tax? 

PA, TB, FC and AF: The popular support for specific policies will depend on many details that we had to abstract from in the global survey. How effective is the policy? Is it perceived as fair? Who supports the policy in the public debate? So one cannot simply equate support in the survey with support for specific policy proposals. In a representative US sample, we do find that the general demand for more political action is strongly correlated with demand for specific climate policies, such as a carbon tax on fossil fuels, regulatory limits on the CO2 emissions of coal-fired plants, or funding for research on renewable energy. Overall, we think the important conclusion is the following: The large majority of people across the world expresses a general willingness to make costly contributions to fight climate change. This means that we can move the debate forward and focus on how we can best tap into this broad willingness to contribute to best tackle the challenges posed by climate change. 

CB: There has been a resurgence of anti-climate rhetoric from politicians and the media in many countries. Do you think public opinion has shifted since your survey in 2021-22? 

PA, TB, FC and AF: We do not detect any clear time trend within our samples from 2021 and 2022, but do not have data for the most recent months. If we were to speculate, we would not want to fall victim to the same pessimism one more time. We would expect that a large majority would still be in favor of climate action today, and this seems to be in line with more recent research. The year 2023 has been confirmed as the warmest calendar year in global temperature data records going back to 1850. In our study, we find that annual average temperatures strongly correlate with the proportion of people being willing to support climate action. Our best guess is that the support for climate action has increased rather than decreased in the last two years.

CB: You found stronger willingness to contribute among respondents in poorer, hotter and more vulnerable countries. Why do you think richer people are less willing to pay their way? 

PA, TB, FC and AF: Two potential explanations come to mind. First, richer countries are still strongly dependent on fossil fuels. The adaptation costs could therefore be perceived as relatively high and the required lifestyle changes as too drastic. At the same time, richer countries may be more resilient: A country’s GDP per capita reflects its economic capacity to cope with climate change. The most direct and immediate consequences are likely to be concentrated in more vulnerable countries, which have fewer resources to mitigate the negative consequences of the climate crisis. However, it’s important to stress the positive message: the support for climate action is large even in the richest countries in our sample. In the wealthiest quintile of countries, the average proportion of people willing to contribute 1% is 62%. 

CB: You found people systematically underestimated the willingness of their peers to contribute to climate action. Why do you think that is – and how could it be changed? 

PA, TB, FC and AF: The reasons for this perception gap are likely to be manifold. In the past, media and public discussions have given a lot of focus to the small number of climate change sceptics and have fallen prey to the efforts of special interest groups. Moreover, climate change is difficult to tackle. People might mistakenly infer that the slow progress in combating climate change is due to a widespread lack of personal commitment. 

In our view, correcting this perception gap is more important than understanding its origin. Humans are (what behavioral scientists call) “conditional cooperators”. They contribute more to the public good if they believe that others contribute as well. For this reason, pessimism about others’ contributions is harmful. It can constitute a critical obstacle for climate action. We thus conclude in the paper that, “[r]ather than echoing the concerns of a vocal minority that opposes any form of climate action, we need to effectively communicate that the vast majority of people around the world are willing to act against climate change and expect their national government to act”. We hope that our study sparks a debate on this topic, and increases awareness about the large global support for climate action.

Original article by SIMON EVANS republished from Carbon Brief under a CC license

Continue ReadingInterview: Why global support for climate action is ‘systematically underestimated’

Pro-Coal MP Appointed to Lead Influential Cross-Party Environment Group

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Original article by Phoebe Cooke and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Conservative MP Trudy Harrison. Credit: Justin Goff/UK Government (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Conservatives accused of a “stitch up” as Trudy Harrison replaces Green Tory Chris Skidmore.

A Tory MP who backed the UK’s first new coal mine in over 30 years has been elected to chair the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on environment.

Desk-banging and jeering were heard in the House of Commons committee room on Wednesday night as lawmakers voted in Trudy Harrison, who represents Copeland in West Cumbria – where the proposed mine in Whitehaven is located. 

Harrison replaces former Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, who resigned from the Commons in January in protest at the government’s move to issue new North Sea Oil and gas licences.

The Copeland MP’s selection was welcomed on social media by the all-party group, which tweeted: “We look forward to working with Trudy as we continue to provide an ambitious, cross-party voice for climate and nature in Parliament.”

Around 40 MPs and peers elected Harrison in the raucous voting session, which was open to all members of the Commons and Lords. 

DeSmog understands that a large number of Conservatives turned out to sway the vote in Harrison’s favour, with several people in the room reporting a frenetic atmosphere. “Hordes of Tories” were said to outnumber Labour MPs, many of whom were running late and barred from entry.

“They clearly felt it a point of principle that they keep control of the chair, regardless who the candidate was – the whole thing was a stitch-up,” a source said, adding: “I think if the public saw how things really work here they would be horrified.”

All-party parliamentary groups have no formal role in Parliament but can often act as an influential forum for debate, and also produce reports, and make policy recommendations. The chair is a pivotal role, tasked with providing direction to the secretariat – the body that formally runs the APPG – as well as leading on the execution of its agenda. 

The appointment of a pro-coal MP in this role comes after a week of shattered climate pledges from both main Westminster parties. On Thursday, the Labour Party announced it would scrap its commitment to spend £28 billion a year on green investments, days after it was reported the Conservatives are poised to ditch a mechanism that could slash emissions from domestic heating.

In January, DeSmog revealed energy secretary Claire Coutinho had accepted thousands of pounds from Michael Hintze, one of the early backers of the UK’s main climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. A member of the group’s board was also appointed to a parliamentary committee on climate change.

“Slowly, slowly, fossil fuel interests are taking over our institutions,” Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project told DeSmog. 

Alice Harrison, head of fossil fuels campaigning at Global Witness, said: “it seems the new chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Environment is also a big fan of coal. The Conservatives want to take us back to the 19th century.”

Coal mine controversy

Harrison, who served as an environment minister until November last year, advocated passionately for the proposed mine in Whitehaven as it became a political flashpoint in discussions over the UK’s commitment to net zero. 

At the 2021 planning inquiry she described the coal as an “environmentally friendly” domestic source for steel. She characterised opposition to the mine as “simply gesture politics”, adding that the coal would help “build the technologies powering us to net zero”.

Levelling up Secretary Michael Gove finally approved plans for the mine in 2022, but it remains deeply controversial. 

Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, releasing more carbon dioxide than oil or gas when burnt. It also produces toxic elements like mercury, arsenic and soot, which contribute to air pollution. If it went ahead, the mine would emit nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 15,000 tonnes of methane a year.

Despite the green light, the mine still only has four percent of the funding required to operate, according to campaigners. A number of legal challenges are also pending.

Scenarios laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make it clear that global coal use has to collapse to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees and avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. This week, it was reported that global heating had for the first time  averaged more than this temperature over a 12-month period.

Harrison, like other supporters of the mine in Whitehaven, has argued that the “coking” coal from this mine is suitable for use by the UK steel industry. But industry bosses have said that the Cumbrian coal is too high in sulphur, which rules it out for use  in British and European steelworks. 

West Cumbria Mining, the company behind the project, claims the project will create around 500 jobs. However, Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said the government was giving the false hope of jobs for political reasons. The jobs, he said, would be short term because the mine’s business case “didn’t stack up”.

Anne Harris from Coal Action Network told DeSmog: “This appointment makes a mockery of the Environment APPG and shows that this government can never be trusted with this enormous crisis facing humanity.

“In supporting a new coal mine in Cumbria, Harrison is in a minority, and out of touch with the full impacts of climate change and how fossil fuels cause it. It’s a lie to say the proposed coal mine in West Cumbria would be anything other than a climate disaster.”

The all-party parliamentary group exists to “strengthen the influence of parliamentarians on public policy and public debate on the environment, and to assist parliamentarians by improving their access to specialist information.”

Prior to its latest meeting, the Environment APPG had 25 officers (MPs and peers) who participated in its work. These included Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Shadow Minister for Energy Security Alan Whitehead, Liberal Democrat energy and climate spokesperson Wera Hobhouse, and former Labour environment minister Barry Gardiner. 

Harrison, and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero did not respond to requests for comment. The APPG for Environment declined to comment.

Original article by Phoebe Cooke and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog.

Rishi Sunak offers huge fossil fuel subsidies to develop fossil fuel extraction in UK.
Rishi Sunak offers huge fossil fuel subsidies to develop fossil fuel extraction in UK.
Continue ReadingPro-Coal MP Appointed to Lead Influential Cross-Party Environment Group