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’

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

Congressman: DOJ Investigation of Big Oil Is Now “Even More Urgent” Following Shell Revelations

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Original article by Emily Sanders, ExxonKnews republished from DeSmog.

Credit: Tess Abbot/ExxonKnews

With more proof of Shell’s climate deception, Rep. Ted Lieu is once again urging the Department of Justice to look into whether fossil fuel companies broke the law.

After new evidence emerged last week showing that oil major Shell internally acknowledged the dangers of their fossil fuel products decades ago, a member of Congress is renewing his previous call for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Shell and other Big Oil companies’ “alleged campaigns of climate deception” may have violated federal law.

The company documents, first unearthed by Dutch researcher Vatan Hüzeir and reported last week by DeSmog and Follow the Money, reveal Shell executives and employees predicting “major adverse changes” to the climate from fossil fuel emissions — and admitting Shell’s role in causing the problem. “Global warming could challenge the very fabric of the world’s ecological and economic systems,” warned Shell executive Ged Davis in one newly uncovered document from 1989. 

“This new set of documents further demonstrates that Shell privately knew about the dangers its products would cause to the environment yet continued to deceive the public in pursuit of company profits. This is wrong and potentially illegal,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led 20 members of Congress in a letter last year urging the Department of Justice to look deeper into evidence that Shell, ExxonMobil, and other fossil fuel majors “lied — and continue to lie — to the public about their central role in exacerbating the climate crisis.” 

“These new documents provide additional evidence and make our calls for an investigation even more urgent,” Lieu told ExxonKnews in response to the latest Shell revelations. 

The lawmakers’ July 25 letter cited an initial batch of internal Shell documents released by Hüzeir last March. The evidence, they wrote, should inspire the DOJ to “investigate Exxon, Shell, and other members of the fossil fuel industry to determine whether they violated RICO, consumer protection, truth in advertising, public health, or other laws.” 

A separate letter from U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Ed Markey (D-OR) urged the DOJ to go even further and “bring suits against the fossil fuel industry for its longstanding and carefully coordinated campaign to mislead consumers and discredit climate science in pursuit of massive profits.”

The latest documents add to an abundance of proof that Shell was well aware of the harm its products would cause — and acknowledged its culpability for the damage.

“If a product is used, as indicated by Shell, and annoying consequences nevertheless arise, Shell feels partly responsible,” representatives from Shell told researchers from the Dutch University of Leiden in 1970.

Those “annoying consequences” — which turned out to be more catastrophic and deadly than just annoying — were plainly elucidated by the company in the years to follow. In a 1985 journal article, Shell employee T.G. Wilkinson observed that the burning of fossil fuels has “upset the balance” of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and “will cause major adverse changes to some areas.” 

“The dilemma therefore remains as to whether to encourage the continued use of fossil fuels with the potential enormous effects on the world’s climate,” Wilkinson wrote.

Two years later, an internal Shell report titled “Air Pollution: an Oil Industry Perspective” noted that a rise in CO2 in the atmosphere “could lead to a higher average surface temperature on Earth, which could have far-reaching environmental, social and economic consequences.”

In 1989, Shell executive Davis warned that “Two groups who could bear particularly heavy costs will be: Future generations who would have to live with the costs of adaptation, and…Those in countries yet to industrialise who would face constraints on energy use.”

Davis is now executive chair of world energy scenarios at the World Energy Council.

Armed with the information it needed to steer the world toward cleaner sources of energy, Shell embarked on a campaign to undermine climate action instead. 

The same year Davis made his prediction in the OECD report, Shell helped found the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an oil industry lobbying group that worked to spread disinformation about climate science. 

A year later, in an internal publication, Shell admitted the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and embrace alternative sources of energy — but stated that “by the time the enhanced greenhouse effect has been conclusively proven, it may be too late to do anything about it.”

Shell went on to promote the idea that climate science was uncertain and downplayed the role of fossil fuels in the years to come. “It is very difficult to aportion [sic] the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations to any particular cause,” read one paper published by the company in 1992. 

When Shell left the GCC, citing its opposition to the Kyoto climate agreement, it explained in a 1998 report that “The Shell view is that prudent precautionary measures are called for.”

Hüzeir, the researcher who unearthed these reports, told DeSmog that documents like this could help litigators make the case against Shell in a growing wave of lawsuits seeking to hold the company accountable for knowingly fueling climate chaos. “Shell’s deepening embrace of the precautionary principle, as revealed in this document, shows that Shell was well aware of the crisis ahead,” he said. “What else did they know?”

The documents add to a heap of evidence that could spur the country’s most powerful public interest law firm to investigate Big Oil.

“If the allegations against ExxonMobil, Shell, and other major fossil fuel companies are true, their coordinated efforts to deceive Americans constitute the most consequential deception campaign in history, with potentially existential consequences for our planet,” Lieu and other members of Congress wrote in their July letter to the DOJ. “We respectfully request that the DOJ investigate whether these actions violated federal law.”

Since that letter was sent last year, more state and local governments have taken the companies to court for that deception. California — the most populous state in the nation and one of the world’s largest economies — sued Shell and other fossil fuel majors for climate damages and consumer fraud. Two Indigenous tribal governments in Washington State, forced to spend millions relocating their communities due to rising seas, filed their own lawsuit against oil giants. Honolulu’s climate accountability lawsuit cleared motions to dismiss the case by fossil fuel defendants, putting it on a path to be the first case of its kind to go to trial. 

The stakes of these legal efforts are only getting higher, as climate disasters continue to batter many of the same communities awaiting their day in court. The DOJ threw its support behind the plaintiffs in a U.S. Supreme Court brief the agency filed last March, but it hasn’t yet taken independent action against the fossil fuel industry.

“It’s time to hold polluters accountable for their lies, which could have existential consequences for our planet,” Lieu said.

Original article by Emily Sanders, ExxonKnews republished from DeSmog.

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Continue ReadingCongressman: DOJ Investigation of Big Oil Is Now “Even More Urgent” Following Shell Revelations

Supreme Court Rejects Bid by API, Exxon, and Koch to Kill Climate Case

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

An oil and petroleum refinery is shown in St. Paul Park, Minnesota. (Photo: jferrer/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

“Big Oil companies will continue fighting to escape justice, but for the third time in a year, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied their desperate pleas,” said one campaigner.

For the third time in less than a year, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed a key case against the fossil fuel industry to proceed in state court, delivering a win for the movement to make polluters pay for driving the climate emergency.

“This decision is another step forward for Minnesota’s efforts to hold fossil fuel giants accountable for their climate lies and the harm they’ve caused,” said Center for Climate Integrity president Richard Wiles, pointing to the previous denials of other cases last April and May.

“Big Oil companies will continue fighting to escape justice, but for the third time in a year, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied their desperate pleas to overturn the unanimous rulings of every single court to consider this issue,” he continued.

“It’s time for these polluters to give up their failed arguments to escape state courts.”

As legal leaders of dozens of U.S. states and municipalities have launched climate lawsuits in recent years, the fossil fuel industry has attempted to evade accountability by shifting the cases to federal court—a strategy that’s proven unsuccessful.

Wiles argued that “after three strikes, it’s time for these polluters to give up their failed arguments to escape state courts and prepare to face the evidence of their climate deception at trial.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday decision came in a case filed in 2020 by Democratic Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison against ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute (API), based on the state’s consumer protection laws.

“The fraud, deceptive advertising, and other violations of Minnesota state law and common law that the lawsuit shows they perpetrated have harmed Minnesotans’ health and our state’s environment, infrastructure, and economy,” Ellison said at the time.

The justices declined Big Oil’s request to review the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ March decision that the case belongs in state court. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, an appointee of former GOP President Donald Trump, would have taken the case, in line with his position last year.

“I appreciate the court’s consideration and decision,” Ellison said in a statement Monday. “It aligns with 25 federal court decisions across the country, all of which have found that cases like ours rest on these defendants’ failures to warn and their campaigns of deception around their products’ contributions to the climate crisis. The court’s decision confirms these cases are properly filed in state courts.”

“Taken together, the defendants’ behavior has delayed the transition to alternative energy sources and a lower-carbon economy, resulting in dire impacts on Minnesota’s environment and enormous costs to Minnesotans and the world,” he stressed. “Now, the case can move forward in state court, where it was properly filed, and we can begin to hold these companies accountable for their wrongful conduct.”

Cassidy DiPaola, communications director for Fossil Free Media and the Make Polluters Pay campaign, declared Monday that “today’s decision is an important step forward for accountability and justice.”

“The Supreme Court has now laid out an unmistakable path forward,” she added, “for not only Minnesota’s consumer protection case against ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and API, but the dozens of cases against the fossil fuel industry popping up across the county.”

This post has been updated with comment from Keith Ellison.

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

Continue ReadingSupreme Court Rejects Bid by API, Exxon, and Koch to Kill Climate Case

Fossil Fuel Giants to Lavish Shareholders With Record Paydays as Climate Crisis Deepens

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

Greenpeace activists display a billboard during a protest outside Shell headquarters on July 27, 2023 in London.  (Photo: Handout/Chris J. Ratcliffe for Greenpeace via Getty Images)

“The global energy crisis has been a giant cash grab for fossil fuel firms,” said one campaigner. “And instead of investing their record profits in clean energy, these companies are doubling down on oil, gas, and shareholder payouts.”

The year 2023 was marked by weather events that made it increasingly clear that the Earth has entered what United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called the “era of global boiling,” with wildfires and prolonged heatwaves impacting millions of people and scientists confirming their suffering was the direct result of fossil fuel extraction and planetary heating.

But for the world’s five largest oil giants, the year marked record profits and the approval of several major new fossil fuel projects, allowing the companies to lavish their shareholders with payouts that are expected to exceed $100 billion—signaling that executives have little anxiety that demand for their products will fall, said one economist.

The companies—BP, Shell, Chevron,ExxonMobil, and TotalEnergies—spent $104 billion on shareholder payouts in 2022, and are expected to reward investors with even more in buybacks and dividends for 2023, The Guardian reported.

Shell announced plans in November to pay investors at least $23 billion—more than six times the amount it planned to spend on renewable energy projects—while BP promised shareholders a 10% raise in dividends and Chevron could exceed the $75 billion stock buyback it announced early last year.

Alice Harrison, a campaigner for Global Witness, noted that fossil fuel shareholders will be enjoying their paydays as households across Europe struggle with fuel poverty and the world faces the rising threat of climate disasters brought on by the industry.

“The global energy crisis has been a giant cash grab for fossil fuel firms,” Harrison told The Guardian. “And instead of investing their record profits in clean energy, these companies are doubling down on oil, gas, and shareholder payouts. Yet again millions of families won’t be able to afford to heat their homes this winter, and countries around the world will continue to suffer the extreme weather events of climate collapse. This is the fossil fuel economy, and it’s rigged in favor of the rich.”

In 2023 campaigners intensified their demands for accountability from the oil, gas, and coal industries, and as of last month had successfully pressured more than 1,600 universities, pension funds, and other institutions to divest from fossil fuels. In the U.S., provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, which has been touted as the “largest investment in climate and energy in American history,” went into effect.

But Dieter Helm, a professor of economic policy at the University of Oxford, The Guardian that if the industry were truly fearful of policymakers phasing out fossil fuel extraction and expediting a transition to renewable sources, they would be spending far less on new projects and shareholder payouts.

“For this to be the case you would have to believe that the energy transition is happening, and that demand for fossil fuels is going to fall,” Helm told The Guardian.

In 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden infuriated climate campaigners by approving the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska, which could lead to roughly 280 million metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. His administration also included in a debt limit deal language that would expedite the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which could emit the equivalent of more than 89 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, while the U.K. government greenlit a massive oil drilling field in the North Sea and French company TotalEnergies continued to construct the 900-mile-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline, which would transport up to 230,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

“These companies are investing a huge amount in new projects, and they’re handing out bigger dividends because they are confident that they’re going to make big returns,” Helm said. “And when we look at the state of our current climate progress, who’s to say they’re wrong?”

Climate campaigner Vanessa Nakate pointed out that the shareholder paydays are expected following a deal on a loss and damage fund at the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, aimed at helping developing countries to fight the climate emergency. That fund was hailed as “historic” and included a commitment of $700 million from wealthy countries—a sum that is expected to be dwarfed by fossil fuel investors’ profits.

“They have picked people’s pockets, fueled inflation and pollution, and deepened poverty,” U.K. House of Lords member and Tax Justice Network co-founder Prem Sikka said of the oil giants. “Governments do nothing to end their monopolistic control. Need to break-up this cartel.”

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

Continue ReadingFossil Fuel Giants to Lavish Shareholders With Record Paydays as Climate Crisis Deepens

What does it mean to be a climate denier?

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In the ‘coming soon’ notice announcing this article I said that “[t]here aren’t any real climate deniers anymore”. I was mistaken and there are a very few people like Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers Corbyn. I’ve only met and spoken with him once but I’m satisfied that he’s genuine in his beliefs despite them being misguided. He and others like him have the right to believe whatever they like and he’s harmless enough – while he may persuade a few people the vast majority will understand that he’s mistaken and wrong.

Image of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reads 1% RICHEST 100% CLIMATE DENIER
Image of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reads 1% RICHEST 100% CLIMATE DENIER

So apart from Piers Corbyn and a few similar people, there is no such thing as a climate denier nowadays. The Capitalists profiting from climate destruction have known for 60 years of more that they were profiting from destroying the planet and were forcing future generations to endure intolerable climate conditions, annihilating many thousands of species of plants and animals and generally totally fekking everything.

Governments are controlled, directed, owned by a very few extremely rich and powerful people, the very people that are profiting and maintaining their wealth, power and influence from destroying the planet. According to this perspective we do not exist in a democracy and it is instead a pretence hiding the influence of the rich and powerful. We exist in a plutocracy – we have a wealthy ruling class that politicians serve.

It cannot be accepted that politicians like UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or our expected next Prime Minister Keir Starmer and the like are mistaken true believers like Piers Corbyn believes. Rather they are climate deniers in the sense of the fossil fuel industries – Exxon, Shell and BP – who know fully well that they are destroying the planet but deceive and mislead to continue making a filthy profit. It’s obvious to see that these politician cnuts serve this rich elite’s interests – Tory and Labour UK governments have answered to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, sucking up to him, grateful to accept his orders.

Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil's You May Find Yourself... art auction. Featuring Rishi Sunak, Fossil Fuels and Rupert Murdoch.
Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil’s You May Find Yourself… art auction. Featuring Rishi Sunak, Fossil Fuels and Rupert Murdoch.

Sunak, despite being fully aware of the climate crisis is continuing to destroy the planet. Announcing the go-ahead for the Rosebank oil field he said that he intends to get every last drop of North Sea oil.

All the media companies attacking climate activists – GB News, the Mail, Express, etc – represent filthy rich interests profiting from climate destruction.

Continue ReadingWhat does it mean to be a climate denier?

Tribes Sue Six Oil Giants for Climate Deception

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

A Chevron refinery in Richmond, California is seen on September 12, 2017.  (Photo: Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

“These oil companies knew their products were dangerous, yet they did nothing to mitigate those dangers or warn any of us about them, for decades,” said the chairwoman of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe.

Two Indigenous tribes in Washington state said Wednesday that they intend to force several oil giants “to help pay for the high costs of surviving the catastrophe caused by the climate crisis,” as they filed lawsuits in the state’s largest trial court.

The Makah Indian Tribe and Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe filed two separate complaints in King County Superior Court against ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Phillips 66, saying the defendants must be held “accountable for their deceptive and unfair conduct, and pay for the damage their deceptive conduct has caused and will cause for decades to come.”

The lawsuits—among dozens filed against Big Oil since 2017—detail the extent to which the companies have long known that their fossil fuel extraction would drive planetary heating and the resulting sea-level rise, extreme weather, public health crises, and other impacts of the climate crisis, which now costs the U.S. roughly $150 billion per year just in damages from hurricanes and other weather disasters.

“We are seeing the effects of the climate crisis on our people, our land, and our resources. The costs and consequences to us are overwhelming,” said Timothy Greene Sr., chairman of the Makah Tribal Council. “We intend to hold these companies accountable for hiding the truth about climate change and the effects of burning fossil fuels.”

“We are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to relocate our community to higher ground and protect our people, our property, and our heritage. These companies need to be held accountable for that.”

Newly uncovered documents revealed earlier this year that scientists at Shell warned executives of the climate impact of the company’s products in the 1980s, and an analysis published in Science in January showed that 63-83% of the global warming projections documented by Exxon scientists between 1977 and 2003 were accurate.

“These oil companies knew their products were dangerous, yet they did nothing to mitigate those dangers or warn any of us about them, for decades,” said Charlene Nelson, chairwoman of the Shoalwater Bay tribe. “Now we are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to relocate our community to higher ground and protect our people, our property, and our heritage. These companies need to be held accountable for that.”

The tribes said in their complaints that they are “particularly vulnerable” to rising sea levels because their reservations are adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, and they have already incurred “significant costs” as they try to mitigate its risk by preparing to build and move housing and government buildings to higher ground.

The tribes accused the companies of creating a “public nuisance” and violating Washington’s Products Liability Act by misrepresenting and intentionally concealing the risks involved in their fossil fuel extraction activities. They asked the court for jury trials and requested that the court order the companies to fund “an abatement fund to be managed by the tribe[s] to remediate and adapt [their] Reservation lands, natural resources, and infrastructure.”

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

Continue ReadingTribes Sue Six Oil Giants for Climate Deception

Most US Voters Agree: Make Big Oil Pay for Climate Damage

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

Two-thirds of U.S. voters surveyed by Data for Progress support making fossil fuel companies pay for the damage their products cause to the climate.  (Photo: rmitsch/Getty Images)

“Voters resoundingly endorse fossil fuel companies contributing their fair share to address a crisis they helped manufacture and still refuse to help fix,” said one campaigner.

As yet another United Nations Climate Change Conference winds down without a meaningful agreement on phasing out fossil fuels, polling released Tuesday by Data for Progress revealed strong bipartisan support among U.S. voters for legislation forcing oil and gas companies to pay for their role in fueling the planetary emergency.

The survey of 1,279 U.S. voters, conducted November 3-6, found that around two-thirds of all likely voters support such legislation, a +40-point net margin. Among Democrats, support for the proposed bill is 88%, while 61% of Independent and 46% of Republicans either strongly or somewhat back the proposal.

“In a resounding call for accountability, two-thirds of the American people support legislation demanding industry titans like Exxon and Shell shoulder their fair share of the climate damages inflicted by fossil fuels.”

Asked if they were more or less likely to support elected officials who prioritize making Big Oil pay for its climate pollution, 64% of overall respondents, 89% of Democrats, and 58% of Independents answered “more likely.” Republicans were the only group whose members were less likely to back officials who would make oil and gas companies pay for their pollution.

“In a resounding call for accountability, two-thirds of the American people support legislation demanding industry titans like Exxon and Shell shoulder their fair share of the climate damages inflicted by fossil fuels,” Fossil Free Media communications director Cassidy DiPaola said in a statement.

“With COP spotlighting the towering price tag of climate change, voters resoundingly endorse fossil fuel companies contributing their fair share to address a crisis they helped manufacture and still refuse to help fix,” she added, referencing the U.N. summit.

The poll follows the September launch of the “Make Polluters Pay” campaign, a public relations blitz meant to drum up public support for suing fossil fuel corporations—which knew that their products caused climate change decades before publicly saying so.

That month, California joined dozens of states and municipalities that have targeted fossil fuel giants in court,suing five fossil fuel giants—ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron—over their decadeslong effort to deceive the public about their products’ role in fueling global heating.

The new survey’s findings also came as so-called “loss and damage”—the harm caused by anthropogenic climate change—features prominently at COP28. However, climate campaigners were once again disappointed as the United States and other top polluters failed to make meaningful contributions to the fund.

The rich nations most responsible for the climate catastrophe pledged just $700 million between them, the equivalent of under 0.2% of the irreversible losses Global South countries suffer each year during the worsening planetary crisis. The United States pledged a paltry $17.5 million.

“Every year, we travel across oceans to come to these negotiations and we continue to get only drops of ambition,” Drue Slatter, a Fijian climate campaigner attending COP28, wrote in an opinion piece published Tuesday by Common Dreams.

“Facing the catastrophic effects of extreme weather at home and watching the slow progress of the negotiations, it was hard not to be pessimistic before we even arrived at COP28,” Slatter added. “But the point is that we can’t afford not to be here, we can’t afford to stop fighting because what’s at stake is our very survival.”

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

Continue ReadingMost US Voters Agree: Make Big Oil Pay for Climate Damage

Give Climate Change the Name It Deserves: Fossil-Fueled Destruction

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Original article by Mark Shapiro, Capital & Main republished from DeSmog.

“Climate Crisis” only identifies the symptoms of oil and gas dependence. As time runs out, we need a term that focuses on what — and who — is to blame.

A delegation of youth activists from the Middle East and North Africa, sponsored by Greenpeace, protested at COP28 for an end to fossil fuel use.Credit: © Marie Jacquemin / Greenpeace

This article by Capital & Main is published here as part of the global journalism collaboration Covering Climate Now.

There’s always a lag between a rupture of the status quo and settling on a word for it. The planet is heating at a life-threatening pace. And yet the two words we use to describe this rupture — “climate” and “change” — are beginning to seem too stiff and one-dimensional for conveying the violence to life-sustaining ecosystems that threaten the world as we have known it. 

As delegates from 196 countries attempt, for the 28th time, to reach a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, it is time for a new language. The violence of the atmospheric shifts, their deeply uneven impacts and the implications of mass extinctions that are expected at current emission levels, add up to much more than “climate change.” The 28th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates is being held in a region much of which could, according to current climate modeling, be uninhabitable by mid-century. It is time to more sharply focus the attention on those responsible for the violence of the changes underway.

Linguistic theory holds that words enable us to imagine a thing; it’s the words that come first. First there was the “greenhouse effect” — a phenomenon identified as early as 1856 by a largely unheralded woman scientist, Eunice Foote, who reported at the time that glass jars filled with air laced with carbon dioxide heated up much quicker than air without it. More than a century later, at a 1988 congressional hearing, James Hansen, then director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies, would testify about the links between rising temperatures on Earth and rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and point the finger at those responsible: humans. The term “global warming” stuck. Over the 170 years since Foote’s discovery, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has leapt from 290 parts per million to more than 400 ppm today.

By the early 21st century, the effects of all that extra CO2 began to be widely felt. Scientists came to recognize that “warming” sets off a cascade of changes — from shifts in rainfall patterns to volatile swings between rain and drought, and heat and cold, as well as major disruptions to the flow of ocean currents. “Climate change” seemed to encompass more possibilities for derangements of the global ecosystem. And that term is rapidly being outrun by the speed of the changes. 

“Climate emergency” was chosen as the Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year’’ in 2019. That was two years after the Guardian led the world’s newspapers in adopting the term “climate crisis,” to be used interchangeably with “emergency.” The Guardian was far ahead of the curve in evoking the urgency of reporting on the scale of disruptions triggered by greenhouse gases. That tonal change drove home the point that this was not merely a phenomenon to be described, but a tectonic shift demanding ongoing reporting. Nothing, however, can stay ahead of the curve for long; soon enough the curve curves. It’s time for journalists, and everyone else, to consider some additional words and subordinate clauses that evoke the violence of the changes in the present, and identify those accountable for the upending of the status quo now underway in full throttle.

We are living in the climate warp. Yet it is admittedly difficult to clarify in a word or a phrase the vast scope of impacts, which range from the epic to the highly specific. Climate-induced drought was one of the triggers to the Syrian civil war and also fuels the current battle between California and its neighbors over access to the Colorado River. It is helping drive the decimation of farmer livelihoods that is leading to the crush of new immigrants on America’s and Europe’s borders. It contributed to the record-breaking heat that caused the untimely death of a Taylor Swift fan in Rio de Janeiro. Such conflicts and record-breakers are happening hourly somewhere in the world. 

“Climate change” describes only the result of fossil fuel-based greenhouse gases. A term like “fossil fueled-destruction” would name the cause as well as the effect. 

There are two tools now available to journalists to more clearly show who can be held accountable for the devastating impacts of the changing climate. Major advances in the attribution sciences provide ever-more sensitive understanding of how the overheated atmosphere is disrupting conditions here on Earth. And, critically, ever more precise research into the history of greenhouse gas emissions establishes who can be held accountable.

During this last season of record-breaking summer and fall temperatures, one meteorologist suggested naming the heat waves after those responsible, as in, the “Amoco heatwave,” or the “Exxon hurricane” or the “Chevron drought.” While droughts have been in California’s backbeat for as long as there are historical records, Chevron’s global emissions of some 725 million tons of greenhouse gases including CO2 in 2022 directly contribute to their increasing breadth and duration, as they do to increasing water scarcity pressures in other parts of the world. (The company’s “offsets” of those emissions were found recently to be “mostly junk.”)

We know who is responsible for the overwhelming share of greenhouse gas emissions, and thus for the massive chaos being wrought. They are not hidden behind tax shelters or front companies. They are polluting in plain sight. A new language might incorporate that knowledge: At least one of the 90 companies responsible for practically all greenhouse gas emissions since 1850 is operating a refinery near you, or distributing its greenhouse gas emitting products at a gas station, seaport or airport in the neighborhood.

Cognitive Dissonance Ahead

We consumers also bear some responsibility; we’ve been driving around in those gas-powered cars since James Hansen delivered the news 25 years ago. But we’ve also been driving through a fog of disinformation. The fossil fuel industry hid for decades what it knew about the impacts of its products. Those “deceptions,” California alleges in a historic lawsuit against the top five oil companies in the state, “caused a delayed societal response to global warming. And their misconduct has resulted in tremendous costs to people, property, and natural resources, which continue to unfold each day.” 

A recent study of the four largest U.S. and European oil companies (ExxonMobil and Chevron, BP and Shell) in the science journal PLOS One found a widening gap between what they say they are doing in response to the climate crisis and what they continue to do to cause it. The study concludes with a classic of scientific understatement: “[T]he magnitude of investments and actions does not match the discourse.” In the climate lexicon, it is hard to beat the term “greenwashing,” which is no doubt on abundant display in Dubai. But that study and countless others like it are a warning shot for journalists and the public to cast a wary eye on fossil fuel companies’ claim that they are working towards the “energy transition” away from the old dinosaur bones they’ve been mining that are polluting the world. 

While COP28 in Dubai is awash in fossil fuel lobbyists, it has also established the world’s first “loss and damage” fund, and will likely be coming up with some actual money to assist the 90% of the world’s population that did not produce the greenhouse gas emissions but are suffering their consequences. A new word may also soon enter the popular lexicon, if it’s not there already: “incremental.” Which may not be revolutionary, but also has real impacts. Every incremental reduction in greenhouse gases, or incremental increase in funding, could mean the difference between a coastal community being inundated or not, of another year saved from a 10th of a degree Celsius increase, of another year spent on a sub-Saharan grassland before it turns to desert. Such increments are the new climate currency.

And for those of us in the fortunate climes, it means more fall seasons that feel like spring, more 65 Fahrenheit winters that should no longer be termed “unseasonably warm.” The writer Stevie Chedid calls it “warning weather.” A disquieting warning in the humid warming air.

Original article by Mark Shapiro, Capital & Main republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingGive Climate Change the Name It Deserves: Fossil-Fueled Destruction