Rail fare increase: Green Party calls for fare freeze and for railways to be taken into public ownership

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Green Party’s co-leader Adrian Ramsay.

The Green Party of England and Wales has called for rail fares to be frozen on the day the government has announced that regulated fares will increase in January 2024.

Ramsay said: “This government is moving in completely the wrong direction. Fuel duty has been frozen since 2011, while air passenger duty cuts this year will be a disaster for the climate crisis by encouraging people to fly more. This is despite the fact UK rail passengers are already paying more to travel by train than flying and are faced with some of the most expensive tickets in Europe.

“Emissions from transport are higher than for any other sector of the economy. If the UK is to meet its climate commitments, then we need more people choosing trains over cars and planes, and we need more commuters opting for public transport and active travel to get to work. Making train travel more expensive, while closing rail ticket offices that support travellers to get the best deal, would underscore the government’s contempt for climate action and the travelling public.


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Top oil and gas companies have made “almost no progress” towards Paris Agreement goals: report 

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The CDP’s Oil and Gas Benchmark report assessed 100 oil and gas companies on low-carbon transition and just transition indicators.

Top oil and gas companies have made “almost no progress” in reaching the climate goals agreed as part of the 2015 Paris climate summit, environmental disclosure non-profit CDP said on Thursday.  

The CDP’s Oil and Gas Benchmark report, published with the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), assessed 100 oil and gas companies. The assessment was based on low-carbon transition and social and just transition indicators.  

While none of the companies perform well on all indicators, Finland-based Neste is ranked first, followed by French company Engie, oil giant TotalEnergies, Spain’s Naturgy Energy and Italy’s Eni. In May this year, TotalEnergies announced its plan to keep its scope 3 emissions below 400 million tonnes. However, the company scored 19.4 out of 60 on CDP’s low-carbon transition indicator, and 9.4 out of 20 on just transition.  

According to the report, the operating emissions from the oil and gas sector added up to 5.1 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO₂ in 2022. None of the companies assessed by CDP can cut their emissions “at a rate sufficient to align with a 1.5°C pathway over the next five years”, it said. 

The report observes that most companies fail to disclose their capital investment in low-carbon technologies. Currently Neste is the only one with investments sufficient to meet the climate goals. Further, despite seven major oil companies disclosing a profit of $380bn in 2022, investments in low-carbon transition fall short significantly.  


Continue ReadingTop oil and gas companies have made “almost no progress” towards Paris Agreement goals: report 

Extinction Rebellion UK target Wood Group for “utter contempt” for UK taxpayers

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Extinction Rebellion UK protest at Wood Group Aberdeen 3 July 2023
Extinction Rebellion UK protest at Wood Group Aberdeen 3 July 2023

Extinction Rebellion are protesting the Wood Group’s Aberdeen and Staines offices after Wood Group significantly reduced it’s renewables operations and expanded it’s fossil fuel operations weeks after receiving a £430m government-backed “green transition loan” in 2021.


… After receiving the £430m loan, Wood grew its upstream oil and gas business by 17% so that it accounted for more than $3bn (£2.4bn) in revenue in 2022, up from $2.6bn in 2021, according to an analysis of the company’s financial results by the Guardian and the investigative journalism organisation Point Source.

Over the same period the company reduced the size of its renewable, hydrogen, and carbon capture business units by 35% so that they only accounted for revenues of $222.8m in 2022, down from $344.6m in 2021.

The five-year loan, which was the first of its kind and was designed to help Wood transition away from fossil fuels, was announced in August 2021 by Liz Truss when she was international trade secretary.

At the time, Truss said the engineering company had “already made great strides in repositioning its business for a low-carbon future”.

After being awarded the loan, Wood announced a string of at least 20 major contract awards for work on oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure.

Continue ReadingExtinction Rebellion UK target Wood Group for “utter contempt” for UK taxpayers

Tory minister makes baffling defence of water privatisation

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… MPs from different parties lined up to quiz the minister on how the government will tackle the crisis gripping the water sector. Among those to question Pow was Green MP Caroline Lucas.

She said: “Water companies had no debt when they were privatised. Since [then], they have borrowed £53 billion, and much of that has been used to help pay the £72 billion in dividends. Meanwhile, we have this appalling sewage scandal – particularly in the South East of England. We have a failing water company – the Southern Water company – that my constituents have no choice but to rely on and it’s considering raising bills by £279 per year by 2030, largely to pay for the investment that they should have been making in the previous years.

“Doesn’t that just show that the privatisation of water was a serious mistake and it needs to be permanently rectified?”

In an unbelievable response, Pow came back: “What I would say is that privatisation has enabled clean and plentiful water to come out of our taps.”


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Public Pension Funds Have Lost Billions on Their Fossil Fuel Investments: New Analysis

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Orifginal article by Dana Drugmand republished from DeSmog

Six major US retirement funds would be worth a combined $21 billion more today if they had divested a decade ago, University of Waterloo researchers find.

US public pension funds would be worth billions more if they divested from fossil fuels, researchers have found. Credit: Climate Clock

For U.S. public pension funds, divesting from oil, coal, and gas would result in overall higher financial value.

That is the key takeaway from a new study examining the past decade’s portfolio performance for several of the largest public pension funds in the country. The analysis by researchers at the University of Waterloo, published today in partnership with the organization Stand.earth, has found that the total cumulative value of six major U.S. public pension funds would have been about 13 percent higher had they divested from fossil fuel holdings ten years ago – equivalent to around $21 million in earnings.

Using Bloomberg Terminal data, the researchers looked at the actual portfolio performance between December 31, 2012 and December 31, 2022 of six funds: the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, California Public Employees’ Retirement System, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, Oregon Public Employees’ Retirement Fund, and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

Then they analyzed how the funds would have done over the same time period if the fossil fuel investments had been divested, and their value spread evenly among the remaining holdings.

The analysis found that while the total actual value of the six funds was $402.8 billion at the end of 2022, they would have been worth $424.6 without the fossil fuel holdings. 

“Financially it doesn’t make sense to stay invested [in fossil fuels],” Olaf Weber, a University of Waterloo sustainable finance professor and co-author of the study, told DeSmog.

He said the findings are consistent with other similar studies, such as a 2019 analysis which found that California and Colorado’s public pension funds would have been a combined $19 billion richer had they divested from fossil fuel holdings in 2009.

Although major fossil fuel companies have reported record profits over the past year, this growing body of research suggests that it has not significantly boosted the value of pension funds that remain invested in these companies. 

Experts have pointed out that in addition to the great volatility of the fossil fuel industry’s value,  the sector appears to be bound for long-term, perhaps even permanent, decline.

“Today the oil and gas sector is in a pitched battle for last place in the stock market,” said Tom Sanzillo, director of financial analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, during an April webinar timed to the release of a report calling for major hospital systems to divest from the industry. 

While the fossil fuel sector commanded about 28 percent of the stock market in 1980, it now accounts for about 5 percent or less of the market, Sanzillo said during the event.

Oil and gas sector profits “are unsustainable,” he said, “and their future is on shaky ground.”

Fossil Fuel Divestment ‘a Win-Win Situation’

One often-used argument for staying invested in fossil fuels is that it allows investors to try influencing companies through shareholder engagement. The problem with this argument is that shareholder engagement has not been very effective at compelling big polluters to take serious climate action. 

“The results show there is not really an effect of engagement because if [investors] put pressure on the fossil fuel companies to reduce production, it will have a negative impact on the share price as well,” Weber said. “So that’s kind of a conflict.”  

Weber and his colleagues also looked at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the public equity investments of eight U.S. pension funds: the same six plus the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association and the Alaska Retirement Management Board. They found that if the funds had divested from fossil fuel holdings ten years ago, their cumulative carbon spew would have been about 16.6 percent or nearly 280 million tons lower  – the equivalent of the annual energy use of 35 million homes.  

“[Fossil fuel] divestments are able to create a win-win situation with higher financial returns and lower carbon footprints,” the researchers concluded.

Orifginal article by Dana Drugmand republished from DeSmog

Continue ReadingPublic Pension Funds Have Lost Billions on Their Fossil Fuel Investments: New Analysis