Green Groups Protest ‘Nuclear Fairy Tale’ in Brussels

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

Greenpeace activists disrupt a pro-nuclear summit in Brussels on March 21, 2024.  (Photo: Guillaume Chauvin/Greenpeace

“All the evidence shows that nuclear power is too slow to build, too expensive, and it remains highly polluting and dangerous,” one activist said.

An international coalition of environmental groups dropped banners and blockaded roads to protest the International Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels on Thursday.

While the summit, hosted by the Belgian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), pushes nuclear energy as a replacement for fossil fuels, more than 600 climate action groups launched a declaration calling nuclear power plants a “distraction which slows down the energy transition.”

“We are in a climate emergency, so time is precious, and the governments here today are wasting it with nuclear energy fairy tales,” Greenpeace E.U. senior campaigner Lorelei Limousin said in a statement. “All the evidence shows that nuclear power is too slow to build, too expensive, and it remains highly polluting and dangerous.”

“The nuclear lobby camouflages itself beneath a climate-friendly facade, hoping to divert massive sums of money away from real climate solutions, at the expense of people and the planet.”

At the United Nations COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates last year, more than 20 countries pledged to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050. However, Greenpeace France calculated that achieving this would mean finishing 70 reactors each year between 2040 and 2050. This would be an unprecedented buildout in defiance of current trends: Between 2020 and 2023, 21 reactors were completed while 24 were shut down worldwide.

In the European Union specifically, many countries turned away from nuclear after 2011 in response to the Fukushima accident in Japan, according to Reuters. Germany shuttered its last three reactors for good in April 2023 following a successful anti-nuclear campaign there. In general, the nuclear share of the E.U. power mix dropped from 32.8% in 2000 to 22.8% in 2023, Greenpeace said.

Activists argue that nuclear still poses all the dangers the anti-nuclear movement has been warning about for decades and also cannot be ramped up quickly enough to prevent escalating climate extremes.

To reinforce this message, members of Greenpeace France blockaded the main roads to the Brussels summit using cars and bicycles. They also lit pink flares and threw pink powder as a motorcade of officials en route to the summit approached. The action succeeded in delaying the arrival of several delegations, Greenpeace E.U. said.

Other demonstrators dropped banners from the summit site at Brussels Expo reading, “Nuclear Fairy Tale,” while a group representing the 600 declaration signatories protested in front of an inflatable bouncy castle holding up a sign reading, “Nuclear fairy tales = climate crisis.”

The declaration was drafted by Climate Action Network Europe and signed by groups from at least 56 different countries and territories including Climate Action Network Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, CodePink, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and several, Fridays for Future, and Friends of the Earth affiliates.

“The nuclear lobby camouflages itself beneath a climate-friendly facade, hoping to divert massive sums of money away from real climate solutions, at the expense of people and the planet,” the declaration reads.

The signatories pointed out that, while the world must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, it would take longer than this for any new nuclear plant to come online.

At the same time, it costs significantly more money to increase nuclear capacity than renewable options like wind and solar, they stressed. A new reactor requires almost four times the funds of a new wind power installation.

“Governments need to invest in proven climate solutions, such as home insulation, public transport, and renewable energy, rather than expensive experiments, like small modular reactors, which have no guarantees of actually delivering,” the declaration says.

It also points to safety risks across the nuclear lifecycle, from uranium mining to waste storage. And it adds that those dangers would only increase as temperatures rise.

“The climate crisis also increases the risks involved in nuclear power, as increased heatwaves, droughts, storms, and flooding all pose significant threats to the plants themselves and to the systems that aim to prevent nuclear accidents,” the signatories argued.

Instead, the declaration proposes that governments focus on achieving 100% renewable energy while also improving efficiency.

“What we demand is a just transition toward a safe, renewable, and affordable energy system that secures jobs and protects life on our planet,” the declaration concludes.

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

Continue ReadingGreen Groups Protest ‘Nuclear Fairy Tale’ in Brussels

Corporate Media Fed COP 28 Carbon Capture Confusion

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Original article by OLIVIA RIGGIO republished from FAIR under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The COP 28 UN climate conference concluded with countries agreeing to a plan to transition away from fossil fuels, using language that fell short of calling for an explicit phaseout. In the debates over whether countries need to phase fossil fuels “out” or merely “down,” carbon capture and storage (CCS), a form of so-called fossil fuel “abatement,” played a central role.

Rather than exposing CCS as the greenwashing ploy it essentially is, some reporting placed disproportionate significance on the technology, adding to the confusion and misunderstandings about climate change that fossil fuel companies have been funding for decades.

An excuse to not eliminate

Scientific American: Don’t Fall for Big Oil’s Carbon Capture Deceptions

“Don’t be fooled,” writes Jonathan Foley in Scientific American (12/4/23): Carbon capture is “mostly a distraction from what we really need to do right now: phase out fossil fuels and deploy more effective climate solutions.”

Before COP 28 even began, climate activists were not hopeful. The conference, held in Dubai, capital of the oil-dependent United Arab Emirates, reeked of almost comedic irony. The conference’s president, Sultan Al Jaber, is the head of the petrostate’s national oil company.

During a November livestream event, Al Jaber falsely claimed there was “no science” indicating a phaseout of fossil fuels was necessary to keep warming levels below the 1.5°C threshold set by the Paris Agreement. He added that phasing out fossil fuels would “take the world back to the caves” (Guardian12/3/23).

CCS technology—which involves capturing carbon from sources like power plants and steel mills, and storing it underground—has become a key part of the fossil fuel industry’s arguments against the elimination of its environmentally devastating product. Instead of rapidly ending the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, the claim goes, we can simply “abate” the emissions with CCS.

The reality is that even optimistic estimates see CCS (also known as carbon capture and sequestration) as playing only a limited role in mitigating emissions from difficult-to-decarbonize sectors. But polluters aggrandize its potential contributions in order to keep expanding fossil fuel extraction while at the same time claiming to take action on climate (Scientific American12/4/23). In fact, most successful CCS projects are actually used to force more oil out from underground, in a process called “enhanced oil recovery” (Washington Post10/25/23).

Given the chokehold the fossil fuel industry had on this COP and subsequent conversations about climate change mitigation, journalists must be clear and realistic in their reporting about the capabilities of carbon capture, and its role in both climate crisis solutions and fossil fuel industry greenwashing.

‘A valuable role’

NYT: Can Carbon Capture Live Up to the Hype?

To back up the idea that carbon capture is a “valuable tool,” the New York Times (12/6/23) links to a study whose headline calls it “Too Little, Too Late, Too Slow.”

The New York Times’ headline, “Can Carbon Capture Live Up to the Hype?” (12/6/23), could have been most easily and accurately answered by a short “no.” Instead, the subheading misled about CCS’s plausibility as a climate change solution, claiming that “experts say it could play a valuable role.”

But what’s the evidence on offer? The article mostly described the failures of expensive carbon capture projects to even get off the ground. The only reference to that supposedly “valuable role” linked to three studies or reports. The titles of two were “[Carbon Capture]—Too Little, Too Late, Too Slow—It’s No Panacea” (S&P Global10/18/23) and “Heavy Dependence on Carbon Capture and Storage ‘Highly Economically Damaging,’ Says Oxford Report” (SSEE, 12/4/23).

A third, seemingly more optimistic, report came from the International Energy Agency (11/27/23). But that agency’s latest report actually offered the opposite message, its executive director explained (Toronto Star11/23/23): Oil companies’ plan to achieve “net zero”—removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as they emit—by capturing emissions while increasing production is an “illusion” based on “implausibly large amounts of carbon capture.” Lucky for those companies, New York Times headline writers are here to keep up that illusion.

The Times article itself even noted that “total fossil fuel use will have to fall sharply no matter what to keep global warming at relatively low levels,” and that carbon capture is “no silver bullet.” It cited the IEA’s roadmap to lowering carbon emissions to net zero by mid-century, noting that even in this ideal plan, CCS would account for just 8% of the world’s total emissions cuts, and that “the vast majority of reductions would come from countries shifting away from fossil fuels entirely.”

While CCS could play a part in mitigating emissions from industries like cement, steel and fertilizers, the benefit can only be realized if the technology’s logistical and financial limitations are addressed, explained Jonathan Foley in a piece for Scientific American (12/4/23). Food and Water Watch (7/20/21) characterizes CCS as an “expensive failure” that’s energy intensive and actually increases emissions.

Even while outlining CCS’s “limitations,” the Times managed to both-sides the issue:

One big dispute is over how big a role this technology, known as carbon capture and storage, should play in the fight against global warming. Some oil and gas producers say it should be central in planning for the future. Others, including many activists and world leaders, dismiss carbon capture as too unproven and too risky.

In a “dispute” about how to cut carbon emissions, oil and gas producers’ arguments should certainly not be taken at face value. And, while “activists and world leaders” are among those who “dismiss carbon capture,”crucially,  so are scientists.

The Times piece played down the many economic and logistical failures of CCS as “limitations.” While removing carbon will likely play a necessary—albeit small—role in meeting climate goals, CCS’s  success hinges on our abilities to phase out fossil fuels. The tone of the piece’s headline is overly optimistic, offering a false sense of hope—and “hype”—for a technology that’s used more as a fossil fuel fig leaf than a climate change solution.

‘Vital…but falling short’

Bloomberg: Why Carbon Capture Is Seen as Vital in Climate Fight But Falling Short

Bloomberg (12/6/23) notes without rebuttal that “CCS has been discussed as a way to limit the damage caused by fossil fuels without having to abandon them.”

An explanatory Bloomberg piece (12/6/23) about carbon capture, headlined, “Why Carbon Capture Is Seen as Vital in Climate Fight but Falling Short,” used similarly weak language.

In addition to CCS, the piece highlighted direct air capture (DAC), another carbon capture technology that removes carbon that is already in the atmosphere, rather than at the site of emission, and also performs at a tiny fraction of the scale that would be necessary for it to be an actual solution. According to the article, the largest DAC hub in the world, found in Iceland, only removes the equivalent of the annual emissions of 250 average US citizens.

For more context, the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs that Biden’s Department of Energy is supporting are anticipated to suck only about 1 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually. In 2022, global emissions of CO2 were 40.5 billion metric tons (Scientific American12/4/23)–adding more than 40,000 times as much carbon as the hubs are supposed to take out.

To say these technologies are “falling short” is quite the understatement.

To say they’re “vital” requires context. The Bloomberg piece explained:

Even if solar and wind energy largely supplant fossil fuels, holding temperatures down will require capturing large amounts of emissions produced by activities that are hard to decarbonize, such as making cement.

That much is true. However, it leaves out the most important part: Carbon capture can only make a difference in a world that drastically cuts emissions. Without that priority being met, its impacts are marginal at best—and, at worst, a distraction that permits fossil fuel companies to increase emissions and worsen the crisis.

In a press briefing with Covering Climate Now (11/9/23) regarding CCS and carbon dioxide removal, David King, former chief science adviser to the British government, emphasized that reducing greenhouse gas emissions was still the No. 1 priority, as human activity continues to emit the equivalent of about 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

‘Some environmentalists’

WaPo: The two words island nations are begging to see in a global climate pact

Washington Post (12/11/23) attributes the idea that carbon capture is a “false climate solution” to “some environmentalists.”

Washington Post report (12/11/23), leading with the tearful remarks of Mona Ainuu, a climate activist from Niue, a small island nation, described the ultimate, disappointing outcome of the COP: The draft agreement to come out of the conference called not for the phaseout of fossil fuels, but for the mealy-mouthed “reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.”

The agreement also called for the rapid phase-down of “unabated coal.” The Post explained carbon capture and sequestration:

Some environmentalists view CCS as a false climate solution, saying it could prolong the life of polluting facilities for decades to come. They note that the International Energy Agency has warned that humanity cannot build any new fossil fuel infrastructure if it hopes to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Like the Times report, the Post framing failed to give readers the unvarnished truth they need, that CCS is only seen as a key climate solution by industries whose profitability depends upon the further burning of fossil fuels. No further information on the IEA report was given, or any information about the other litany of scientific studies, reports and information on the failures of CCS, allowing the specific concerns of “some environmentalists” to go unmentioned.

All of these pieces fail to mention why the fossil fuel industry is so gung ho about this dubious technology: While oil companies’ greenwashed PR campaigns tout CCS, corporations and governments continue to ramp up extraction.

Carbon capture and removal will likely play a small role in avoiding the most devastating effects of climate change, but it’s spitting in the ocean without a fossil fuel phaseout. It is journalists’ job to explain this accurately, while reminding audiences to not forget the No. 1 priority: eliminating fossil fuels.

Original article by OLIVIA RIGGIO republished from FAIR under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Addition by dizzy: When Rishi Sunak says that every last drop of oil should be taken from the North Sea, he is showing his full support to the oil industry and it’s CCS misdirection. CCS or it’s original name ‘enhanced oil recovery’ is needed to get every last drop.

Continue ReadingCorporate Media Fed COP 28 Carbon Capture Confusion

World Leaders Failed Us, But We Have the Power to End the Era of Fossil Fuels

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Original article by RABBI JACOB SIEGEL republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Extinction Rebellion climate activists hold a banner in Lincoln’s Inn Fields before a march on November 13, 2021 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Over 1,600 institutions, including hundreds of faith-based organizations, have now joined the fight to move money away from polluting fossil fuels and toward clean energy solutions—yours should be next.

Last month saw an historic, albeit altogether insufficient, step forward to avoid climate catastrophe.

At the annual global UN-backed climate change conference in Dubai, known as COP28, countries for the first time unanimously acknowledged the necessity of “transitioning away from fossil fuels”: coal, oil, and gas. While short of an endorsement of a full fossil fuel phaseout—what scientists tell us is needed to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis—it is a milestone, decades in the making.

Yet even this tepid sign of progress faced pushback from fossil fuel executives and the politicians who do their bidding.

The story of COP28 is one of the power and perniciousness of the fossil fuel industry. The CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ oil company (the 12th largest in the world) served as conference chair, and industry lobbyists outnumbered delegates from nearly every country. The final text is full of industry-friendly loopholes, giving fossil fuel corporations leeway to continue to profit off dirty energy.

Trying to address the climate crisis while expanding drilling, mining, and fracking operations is like offering chemotherapy to a lung cancer patient while handing them pack after pack of Marlboro Reds.

It’s clear we are at the end of the fossil fuel era. Solar and wind energy are the cheapest forms of energy to build.

Like tobacco companies before them, fossil fuel corporations have known for years (with shocking accuracy) about the science: their products, when used as directed, would harm the health of the planet and cause widespread devastation. But the industry has time and again blocked significant action or sought to delay it through false promises. They did so again at COP28.

As the future is at stake, it falls to the rest of us to take urgent action. Indeed, civil society institutions are not waiting. Last week marked a major achievement: 1600 institutions across the world representing more than $40 trillion (with a “T”) have now pledged to move money away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.

Finance represents a critical lever for climate action. Fossil fuel corporations rely on an open spigot of funds – project finance through underwriting and loans from major banks, plus investment capital and approval for continued fossil fuel expansion from investors, including the world’s largest firms, BlackRock and Vanguard.

When investors move their money en masse, fossil fuel corporations face reputational and brand risk that can have knock-on effects, including lower credit ratings and challenges with securing financing for projects and operations. Crucially, doing so also erodes fossil fuel corporations’ social license to expand their operations.

The 1600 institutions that have committed to move their money include groups like the National Academy of Medicine, because profiting from burning fossil fuels violates the medical ethic of “first, do no harm.” They include universities like Brandeis, rooted in Jewish history, experience, and values, whose students and administration recognize the climate crisis as an existential threat to their future.

It’s clear we are at the end of the fossil fuel era. Solar and wind energy are the cheapest forms of energy to build. The market itself is acting on this imperative. Fossil fuels as a sector have performed worse financially over the past decade than the rest of the market. Over the last 30 years, they have shrunk from a quarter of the market to around 5%. According to a recent report, six public pensions could be $21 billion richer if they had ditched investments in coal, oil, and gas a decade ago.

As the future is at stake, it falls to the rest of us to take urgent action.

Faith-based institutions, representing more than a third of the commitments, are at the forefront of this movement for change. As Pope Francis has encouraged, we “must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel.”

One year ago, my organization, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, released a report about the investment capital of major Jewish institutions. The report found that these institutions had a substantial opportunity to move more than $3 billion in capital out of fossil fuels and into clean energy, and offered a roadmap to achieve this goal. Since last year, the climate crisis has grown more urgent, and so has the power of our faith and moral voice.

Faith groups are leading. They are making prudent, long-term decisions that will protect their communities. Join us before it is too late.

Original article by RABBI JACOB SIEGEL republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingWorld Leaders Failed Us, But We Have the Power to End the Era of Fossil Fuels

‘Huge’: 1,600+ Institutions Holding $41 Trillion in Assets Have Now Divested From Fossil Fuels

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A divestment message is shared on the Climate Clock in Union Square in New York City in June 2023.  (Photo: Climate Clock Union Square)

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

The milestone, one campaigner said, should “give hope to folks that we are making an impact.”

An earlier version of this story said that 16,000 institutions had divested. The correct number is 1,600 and it has been updated to reflect that.

More than 1,600 institutions like universities, pension funds, and governments that hold more than $40.6 trillion in assets have now divested from fossil fuels, the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement announced Friday.

The announcement comes days after the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped with a call for “transitioning away from fossil fuels” but stopped short of agreeing to the stronger “phaseout” of oil, gas, and coal backed by climate advocates and frontline communities.

“This number is huge,” Amy Gray, climate finance associate director and coordinator of the Climate Safe Pensions Network, told Common Dreams. To put it in perspective, $40.6 trillion is equal to a little less than half of global gross domestic product.

The scale of the divestments to date, said Gray, “should show and give hope to folks that we are making an impact and we are making a difference and changing things for the better, regardless of these elitist events where the everyday person and the folks in the Global South and other places are discounted.”

A Decade of Divestment

Friday’s update to the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitments Database reflects around a decade of organizing, Gray said. Organizers at started tracking divestment commitments when Gray and current climate finance director Richard Brooks worked there. When the pair moved to launch a climate finance team at, they brought the database with them.

While the divestment movement has seen ups and downs over that decade, Gray said it had picked up momentum over the last five or six years. In less than two years, the number of institutions divesting jumped by 120, holding a combined $1.4 trillion in assets.

“We’ve definitely seen a massive increase in divestment commitments as the divestment movement has built itself out and gotten stronger,” Gray said.

“This milestone follows years of attempted shareholder engagement, now a proven futile strategy, with fossil fuel corporations hell-bent on our destruction.”

Notable victories in 2023 included PMT, the largest private pension in the Netherlands; New York University, the National Academy of Medicine, and the Church of England.

The Church of England divestment was especially notable, Gray said, because of the statement that accompanied it. The church emphasized that it had tried to engage with the oil and gas companies it was invested in and urged them to adopt policies in line with the Paris agreement, but the companies did not change.

“The decision to disinvest was not taken lightly,” Alan Smith, first church estates commissioner, said at the time. “Soberingly, the energy majors have not listened to significant voices in the societies and markets they serve and are not moving quickly enough on the transition. If any of these energy companies come into alignment with our criteria in the future, we would reconsider our position. Indeed, that is something we would hope for.”

Gray remembered thinking at the time that it was the best divestment statement she’d ever read.

“It was really powerful,” she said.

The Church of England wasn’t the only institution that thought it could persuade Big Oil to change its ways without divesting.

“This milestone follows years of attempted shareholder engagement, now a proven futile strategy, with fossil fuel corporations hell-bent on our destruction,” Brooks said in a statement. “Instead of financing climate chaos-causing fossil fuels, violence, and extraction, financial institutions like big banks and pension funds must protect people and planet alike, cutting ties with fossil fuels and reinvesting in proven community-led climate-safe solutions.”

People vs. Fossil Fuels

The success of the divestment movement has been driven by “people power, 100%,” Gray said.

This includes larger organizations like or the Sierra Club and big-name activists like Bill McKibben or former New York Comptroller Tom Sanzillo, but ultimately comes down to smaller grassroots efforts.

“It’s the little group in Wisconsin that’s working on divesting their pension fund,” Gray said. “It’s a small group in the Bay Area who is pressuring Citi or one of the big banks, and it’s the kids at the colleges.”

“Oil companies are finding it increasingly difficult to raise financing amid rising ESG and sustainability concerns.”

There’s evidence that all this activism is making a difference for the industry. The “cost of capital” for funding new fossil fuel projects has risen steeply in the last decade, from 8% to 10% to around 20% as of 2021, according to Bloomberg.

During the same time, the cost for financing renewables has dropped from that same 8% to 10% to between 3% and 5%.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Will Hares laid the divergence at the feet of the push for environmental and social governance (ESG) in investing.

“Oil companies are finding it increasingly difficult to raise financing amid rising ESG and sustainability concerns, while banks are under pressure from their own investors to reduce or eliminate fossil-fuel financing,” Hares said.

Gray also added that Indigenous-led movements such as the Wet’suwet’en struggle against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Canada have had a material impact on the industry.

The pipeline’s costs have more than doubled during that time from an estimated $6.6 billion to $14.5 billion, CBC News reported this month.

At the same time, divesting from fossil fuels is actually a financial win for pension funds and other institutions: A study released this year by the University of Waterloo found that six U.S. pension funds would actually be $21 billion richer today if they had quit fossil fuels 10 years ago.

The Next 1,600

In the context of a disappointing outcome at COP28, President Joe Biden’s greenlighting of drilling projects, and the specter of a second Trump presidency, the success of the divestment movement offers hope that climate campaigners can shift the world away from fossil fuels without needing to rely on international agreements or national legislation.

“It’s not necessary to enact the change we need to see,” Gray said. “We can change these systems of oppression from within.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Gray thinks there’s a good chance that California will finally pass legislation to divest its two pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, from fossil fuels. The two funds, the largest public pensions in the country, control a total of $685 billion, including more than $42 billion in fossil fuels.

“Even the person with the smallest amount of investments can get involved.”

If California does pass the legislation, it will “cause a massive ripple effect,” Gray said.

“If we’re able to divest the two largest pension funds in the country, there’s nothing we can’t divest.”

Another thing Gray expects to see is more coordination between the efforts to divest from both fossil fuels and the weapons industry, as more and more people react with shock watching U.S.-made and -funded arms devastating the people of Gaza.

“War is a climate issue,” Gray said.

For people not yet involved in the divestment movement, Gray recommends signing up for email updates from or the Climate Safe Pensions Network and looking up local climate groups and going to a meeting.

“Even the person with the smallest amount of investments can get involved,” Gray said. “Anybody can join the climate movement, and we’re always ready to help folks take that step.”

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

Continue Reading‘Huge’: 1,600+ Institutions Holding $41 Trillion in Assets Have Now Divested From Fossil Fuels

Failure of Cop28 on fossil fuel phase-out is ‘devastating’, say scientists

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The deal was hailed as historic as it was the first citing of fossil fuels, the root cause of the climate crisis, in 30 years of climate negotiations. But scientists said the agreement contained many loopholes and did not match the severity of the climate emergency.

“The lack of an agreement to phase out fossil fuels was devastating,” said Prof Michael Mann, a climatologist and geophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania in the US. “To ‘transition away from fossil fuels’ was weak tea at best. It’s like promising your doctor that you will ‘transition away from doughnuts’ after being diagnosed with diabetes.”

Dr Magdalena Skipper, the editor in chief of the science journal Nature, said: “The science is clear – fossil fuels must go. World leaders will fail their people and the planet unless they accept this reality.”

Scientists protest at UK Parliament 5 September 2023.
Scientists protest at UK Parliament 5 September 2023.

An editorial in Nature said the failure over the phase-out was “more than a missed opportunity”, it was “dangerous” and ran “counter to the core goals laid down in the 2015 Paris climate agreement” of limiting global heating to 1.5C (2.7F) above preindustrial levels.

“The climate doesn’t care who emits greenhouse gases,” the editorial continued. “There is only one viable path forward, and that is for everybody to phase out almost all fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”

Sir David King, the chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group and a former UK chief scientific adviser, said: “The wording of the deal is feeble. Ensuring 1.5C remains viable will require total commitment to a range of far-reaching measures, including full fossil fuel phase-out.”

There was a chasm between the stark statement of the emissions cuts needed and the action proposed to deliver those reductions, he said: “The Cop28 text recognises there is a need for ‘deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’ to stay in line with 1.5C. But then it lists a whole bunch of efforts that don’t have a chance of achieving that.”

Just Stop Oil protesting in London 6 December 2022.
Just Stop Oil protesting in London 6 December 2022.
Continue ReadingFailure of Cop28 on fossil fuel phase-out is ‘devastating’, say scientists