Why California is Taking Big Oil to Court — and Why it Matters

Spread the love

Original article by Dana Drugmand republished from DeSmog.

The sweeping complaint details the fossil fuel industry’s coordinated campaign to deceive the public about the dangers of fossil fuels.

Canadian wildfire 2023
Canadian wildfire 2023

“This is a historic moment,” Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, told reporters on Sunday, as he stood alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom on the opening day of Climate Week NYC.  The pair of California leaders were there to discuss the lawsuit the state had recently filed against Big Oil on behalf of the people of California to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the effects of climate change.

While it is not the first to seek accountability from the fossil fuel industry for its role in fueling the climate crisis, California’s lawsuit stands out in several ways: The state has a reputation for leading on climate policy; it is on the frontlines of climate change; it is a producer of oil and gas; and it is, to date, the most politically and economically powerful state to sue Big Oil.

More than three dozen states and cities are suing oil, gas, and coal companies over their role in causing climate change. But California is the first fossil-fuel-producing state to do so. That sends a clear political message that the industry “is less powerful and trusted than before,” Nick Caleb, a climate and energy attorney with Breach Collective, told DeSmog. It may signal that fossil fuel companies do not have much of a future powering the state’s economy, Caleb said. 

California is facing major economic and humanitarian costs from the climate emergency. The state, with a population of nearly 40 million people, has racked up several billions of dollars in climate-related damages on top of the tragic costs to human lives. Some insurance companies are backing away from the state due to the outsized risks. 

“It’s incalculable in terms of the dollars, the lives lost, the funerals, and dead bodies in Paradise, California,” Newsom said on Sunday. In 2018, the Camp Fire decimated the northern California community and killed at least 85 people.

“We all know how California has suffered from climate impacts,” Christiana Figueres, one of the key architects of the Paris Agreement, told journalists at a Covering Climate Now conference at Columbia Journalism School in New York City on Thursday. She called California’s lawsuit “a major, major upgrade … in the liabilities and in the reach that climate litigation can have.” 

The lawsuit names five companies — ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips — and one lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute. It asserts that the companies knew about the climate risks associated with burning fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, yet underplayed them to the public, and it argues that the climate disasters and devastation California is experiencing could have been largely avoided or mitigated were it not for the lies and deceit of the fossil fuel industry. “California is in the throes of a climate crisis,” the case contends.  

The 135-page complaint, filed Friday in superior court in San Francisco, lays out the evidence of the alleged deception in great detail. Bonta called it the “most sweeping complaint thus far.”

“You cannot read it without crawling out of your skin,” Newsom added at Sunday’s press briefing.

Many of the details and revelations are known, but are worth recapping as they explain why major oil companies are facing similar lawsuits from so many  states and municipalities.

A Public Campaign of Deception

First, as the complaint notes, “Defendants have known about the potential warming effects of GHG emissions since as early as the 1950s.” Nuclear physicist Edward Teller warned the oil industry at an API event in 1959 that global warming might melt the polar ice caps and submerge coastal cities. 

In the late 1960s, as the complaint details, the Stanford Research Institute issued reports that accurately predicted the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in 2000. The reports, commissioned by API, further warned of the Antarctic ice cap melt, and explicitly connected CO2 rise to fossil fuel combustion. 

More warnings came from industry scientists in the 1970s, but these were not disseminated publicly. Instead, Exxon realized that legislation affecting its business could take shape and decided to closely monitor the science but not publicly acknowledge or act on it. “In 1979, API and its members, including the Fossil Fuel Defendants, convened a Task Force to monitor and share cutting-edge climate research among members of the oil industry,” the complaint explains. This close assessment of potential climate impacts and climate modeling continued into the 1980s. 

In 1988, an internal Shell report titled “The Greenhouse Effect” further pointed to fossil fuels as the cause of rising CO2 concentrations and warned of the devastating impacts on society.

The very real prospect of legislation and international action to combat climate change in the late 1980s and early 1990s, prompted a U-turn within the industry. The industry shifted tactics “from general research and internal discussion on climate change to a public campaign aimed at deceiving consumers and the public, including the inhabitants of California,” the complaint states. In publications and advertorials, the industry directly contradicted what it had known for decades about the role of fossil fuels in increasing CO2 emissions and temperature rise. During this time the Global Climate Coalition actively worked to undermine the public’s understanding of climate science and even to manipulate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN’s climate science body.

Exxon and other oil majors also funded “fringe scientists” to peddle their views and  funded dozens of think tanks and front groups to promote climate denial. The complaint calls out a few of these groups, including: the Heritage FoundationHeartland InstituteCompetitive Enterprise InstituteFrontiers of Freedom, and Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

A Conspiracy to “Conceal and Misrepresent”

The California lawsuit does not bring racketeering charges as some recent climate accountability lawsuits have. It does, however, refer to a conspiracy. According to the complaint, the defendants, through their trade associations and front groups like the Global Climate Coalition, “conspired to conceal and misrepresent the known dangers of burning fossil fuels.” While conspiracy is not charged, the lawsuit references it “for the purposes of establishing that California state court is the correct jurisdiction and venue for this case,” Caleb explained. 

“Although the Fossil Fuel Defendants were competitors in the marketplace, they combined and collaborated with each other and with API on this public campaign to misdirect and stifle public knowledge in order to increase sales and protect profits,” the complaint argues. 

The industry’s alleged deception delayed a transition to alternative and cleaner forms of energy and enabled a much greater buildup of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than otherwise would have occurred, the lawsuit argues, adding: “Defendants could have chosen a different path.”

Ben Franta, head of the Climate Litigation Lab at Oxford University and one of the key researchers to uncover evidence of the industry’s early climate change awareness and subsequent efforts to deceive, told DeSmog: “The bottom line is that major fossil fuel companies knew decades ago that their own products, unless replaced with safe energy sources, would cause catastrophic damage in the 21st century. They concealed their knowledge and misled the public about the reality, seriousness, cause, and solutions to the problem in order to keep selling fossil fuels and increase industry profits.” 

API was instrumental to the execution of this plan. The trade association “played a key role in creating climate denialist organizations such as the Global Climate Coalition,” Franta said. 

In response, API called California’s lawsuit part of an “ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits” against the oil and gas industry. 

The Western States Petroleum Association, the main industry lobby for the western region including California, is not a named defendant in the complaint. Franta said API and WSPA have “both played key roles in deceiving the public about climate change and worsening climate damages,” but that “much more research to date has been conducted on API.” 

Nevertheless, “their contributions to climate change are significant and actionable under California law,” Caleb told DeSmog, adding that WSPA “deserves to be held accountable” for greenwashing and deceptive conduct. WSPA has been named as a defendant in a climate lawsuit filed in June by Multnomah County, Oregon, the first such case to do so.  

Industry’s Misleading Behavior Has “Not Stopped”

The complaint says the companies’ “efforts to mislead the public about climate change have not stopped.” In recent years, the oil and gas industry has shifted to prolific greenwashing. It portrays its products as “cleaner” or “low carbon,” and claims the industry is driving climate solutions.

“Just as tobacco companies promoted ‘low-tar’ and ‘light’ cigarettes … so too do Defendants peddle ‘low-carbon’ and ‘emissions-reducing’ fossil fuel products,” the complaint notes.

Yet Big Oil is now retreating on its meager climate commitments and doubling down on oil and gas production, even after raking in record profits in 2022. For instance, in June, Shell announced it would not follow through on its earlier promise to gradually decrease oil production through 2030.

“The fact that they’re still at it, rolling back ambition in real time … is shameful,” Newsom said on Sunday.

“They need to be held accountable. They need to pay for the damage that they’ve caused. They knew, they knew for years,” Bonta added. 

In an emailed statement, a Shell spokesperson said the company’s “position on climate change has been a matter of public record for decades”, adding: “We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change.”

ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lawsuit Opens the “Floodgates”

Newsom and Bonta made clear on Sunday that they’re hoping the state’s decision to sue Big Oil could therefore encourage other jurisdictions to do the same. California’s actions on climate have often broken new ground and inspired other states to follow suit — a phenomenon is called the “California effect.” For example, the state has set  increasingly stringent vehicle tailpipe emissions standards, implemented the country’s first economy-wide cap-and-trade program, and has recently passed a first-in-the-nation law requiring large companies to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, 

Climate lawyers and activists called California’s move to sue Big Oil “historic” and “decisive.”

“The California lawsuit is the most significant litigation against the industry that’s happened yet,” said Steven Donziger, an environmental and human rights attorney who successfully sued Chevron and faced retaliation for it. “All of these lawsuits together collectively can really force the phaseout of the industry. They’re important.”

“California’s lawsuit provides major momentum in the race to protect a livable planet,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in an emailed statement. “This case opens a new avenue for California to lead the nation in ending deadly fossil fuels.”

Geoffrey Supran, associate professor of environmental science and policy and director of the Climate Accountability Lab at University of Miami, noted that California “is a bellwether for U.S. environmental action,” and that momentum to hold Big Oil accountable through litigation has been mounting for several years.

“Now that the fifth largest economy in the world has waded in, the floodgates are truly open,” he said.

As a state that still produces oil and gas, however, some say California is still not moving quickly enough to sever ties with the industry it is now suing. Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, said that California “can do a lot more, faster,” noting the state continues to permit fossil gas usage in buildings, has not banned oil and gas drilling, and plans to phase out new gasoline-powered vehicles only by 2035, which is “five years after we need to transition 80 percent of the world away from fossil fuels.”  

Campaign Demands “Polluters Pay”

A new activist campaign called “Make Polluters Pay,” which launched Monday in New York City, with a Times Square billboard and a six-figure digital ad buy and online petition, is supporting California’s call for more climate accountability lawsuits.

The “Make Polluters Pay” campaign billboard in New York’s Time Square on September 18, 2023. Credit: Jamie Henn, Fossil Free Media
The “Make Polluters Pay” campaign billboard in New York’s Time Square on September 18, 2023. Credit: Jamie Henn, Fossil Free Media

“Make Polluters Pay will be the first big public-facing campaign to build support for these climate lawsuits and the broader effort to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for the damage they are doing to our health, climate and communities,” Jamie Henn, founder of Fossil Free Media, told DeSmog.

“I think California’s lawsuit is going to turn these climate liability cases into a serious movement that not only excites environmental lawyers, but the public writ large,” he added. “A few hundred million Americans experienced the brutal heat waves and other climate disasters this summer and they’re looking for someone to hold responsible. And when it comes to climate destruction, the answer is clear: it’s Big Oil.”  

Original article by Dana Drugmand republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingWhy California is Taking Big Oil to Court — and Why it Matters

Congressional Dems Request DOJ Investigation into Big Oil’s Climate Deception

Spread the love

Original article by Dana Drugmand republished from DeSmog.

U.S. Department of Justice in Washington DC. Credit: Scott (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Citing “new evidence” of Big Oil firms’ advanced knowledge of climate risks and their actions to publicly conceal these risks, Democratic members of Congress are renewing calls for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate carbon majors for potential violations of federal law.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday, the 20 congressional signatories, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), compare Big Oil’s deceptive conduct to that of Big Tobacco. In 2006, major tobacco firms were convicted of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in litigation brought by the DOJ. The letter requests that the DOJ now open an investigation into ExxonMobil, Shell, and other oil majors to “determine whether they violated RICO, consumer protection, truth in advertising, public health, or other laws.”

The call for a federal investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s alleged climate deception follows new revelations further showing that Big Oil knew about the climate consequences of its products, yet actively worked to disseminate climate denial and block policy responses to protect profits.

As DeSmog reported in an investigation published March 31, oil major Shell sponsored climate research in the 1970s — years earlier than previously thought. Despite the stark warnings for society issued in internal reports, the company backed a series of industry publications that downplayed climate risks, emphasized uncertainties in climate science, and called for more fossil fuel use, particularly coal. The investigation was based on more than 200 documents uncovered and compiled by Dutch scholar and activist Vatan Hüzeir.   

One of those documents, an internal 1989 Shell scenarios report, discussed the potential for an unprecedented climate refugee crisis with global temperatures rising considerably beyond 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). The report warned: “Civilisation [sic] could prove a fragile thing.”

The congressional letter to DOJ cites this and several other Shell documents from the investigation, stating: “Despite these warnings, Shell continued to publicly promote the use of fossil fuels and participate in trade associations and other groups that pushed climate denial and opposed solutions.” As DeSmog’s reporting noted, Shell engaged in lobbying and trade associations in the 1990s and 2000s that did just that, such as the Global Climate Coalition and the American Petroleum Institute.     

The letter also points to two peer-reviewed studies indicating that Big Oil deceived and continues to deceive the public. One, published in January in the journal Science by researchers Geoffrey Supran, Stefan Rahmstorf, and Naomi Oreskes, demonstrated that Exxon’s climate modeling and global warming projections were exceptionally accurate, and explained that despite this skillful scientific understanding, the company’s public statements contradicted its internal knowledge of the climate risk. The other study, by Mei Li, Gregory Trencher, and Jusen Asuka and published in 2022 in the journal PLOS ONE, showed the disconnect between oil majors’ rhetoric and pledges around the low carbon transition and their actual actions and investments that prioritize their fossil fuel business.

“The available evidence that these companies lied — and continue to lie — to the public about their central role in exacerbating the climate crisis demands further investigation,” the letter contends. It alleges that this conduct may “constitute the most consequential deception campaign in history, with potentially existential consequences for our planet.”

Shell and ExxonMobil knew their products fueled the #ClimateCrisis, but lied to the public to protect their profits.

READ: Our bicameral letter, co-led by @SenBlumenthal, urging @TheJusticeDept to investigate whether their actions violated federal law. https://t.co/pg3vP9jPgm— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) July 25, 2023

The letter comes amidst alarming signals of climate breakdown across the country, from the hot-tub-temperature water off the Florida Keys, to the worst flooding Vermont has seen in nearly a century, to punishing heat in the Southwest sizzling sidewalks and causing severe burn injuries.

The Democratic members of Congress who signed onto the letter along with Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. Lieu include Reps. Katie Porter, Jared Huffman, Mark DeSaulnier, Kevin Mullin, and Nanette Díaz Barragán, all of California; Reps. Kim Schrier and Pramila Jayapal of Washington; Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida; Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri; and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Peter Welch of Vermont, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, and Alex Padilla of California also signed on.

Just two weeks ago, during an online climate discussion, several members of Congress including Ocasio-Cortez, Whitehouse, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called on the Department of Justice to take legal action against Big Oil, with Sanders suggesting they pay the Attorney General a visit to make their request in person. He and other senators have previously written to the DOJ and President Joe Biden requesting an investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s climate deception.

Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, which advocates for holding climate polluters accountable, said in an emailed statement that this deception amounts to the most “consequential fraud committed against the American people” ever. 

“Just as they did with the tobacco industry, the Department of Justice must exercise its unique power to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable and stop the lying,” Wiles said. “As long as Big Oil’s climate lies, both past and present, remain unchallenged by the DOJ, protecting the American public from the ravages of climate change will remain that much more difficult.”

Original article by Dana Drugmand republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingCongressional Dems Request DOJ Investigation into Big Oil’s Climate Deception

The oil industry has succumbed to a dangerous new climate denialism

Spread the love
Opec predicts oil demand will be 10% higher by the 2040s.

Adi Imsirovic, University of Surrey

If we have not been warned of the dangers of climate change this summer, we never will be. Extreme heat, forest fires and floods have been all over news reports. Yet the oil and gas industry remains largely in denial.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says steep cuts in oil and gas production are necessary to reach the Paris (COP 21) goal of keeping global warming at 1.5℃. However, only a tiny fraction of the industry, accounting for less than 5% of oil and gas output, has targets aligned with the IEA’s “net zero” requirements.

The current secretary general of production cartel Opec, Haitham al-Ghais, expects global oil demand to rise by about 10% to 110 million barrels a day by 2045, a volume incompatible with the Paris goals. The UK government has just offered a helping hand, granting around 100 new North Sea licences. What are we to make of this mismatch?

The new denialism

Typical of the new breed of climate denialism is a recent report by the Energy Policy Research Foundation (ERPF), a body funded by the US government and various undisclosed corporate interests and foundations. It sees the IEA’s requirements as a “seal of approval … to block investment in oil and gas production by western companies”. The report views meeting the targets as too costly, too harsh on poor countries and too bad for the energy security of the west.

In fact, it is wrong on each account. Many eminent economists and scientists use the concept of the social cost of carbon (SCC), which is defined as the cost to society of releasing an additional tonne of CO₂. Expert estimates from 2019 put this at between US$171 and US$310 (£133 to £241). If we go with, say, US$240 per tonne, the social cost of continued carbon equivalent emissions comes out at almost US$8.5 trillion every year.

A recent study has factored into the calculation climate feedback loops. This is where one problem caused by global warming leads to others, such as melting permafrost unleashing stores of methane.

When the study estimated the economic damage that this could cause, it produced an SCC in excess of US$5,000. That implies annual costs of more like US$170 trillion a year, which makes the US$4 trillion investment into clean energy that the IEA thinks necessary to meet the Paris climate goals look like a drop in the ocean.

It may help to break this down to one barrel of oil. A special IEA report for COP28 estimates that on average, each barrel of oil emits 0.53 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent in greenhouse gas across its life cycle, 20% of which comes from production.

Going back to our average SSC per tonne of US$240, that points to a social cost of US$126 per barrel. With oil currently at US$85 per barrel, the societal damage from producing, transporting, refining and consuming it is far greater – and that’s before including climate feedbacks.

Meanwhile, the arguments by the EPRF and like-minded supporters about energy security are laughable. The history of the oil and gas industry is a history of wars and geopolitical tensions. Transitioning to cleaner fuels can only increase our energy security and reduce the need to police remote autocracies.

The argument that poor countries need to continue burning carbon for development reasons is no better. In its latest report from 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said climate change would probably see an increase in “losses and damages, strongly concentrated among the poorest vulnerable populations”.

Equally, the World Health Organization estimates that: “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.”

How to respond

The denialists offer no alternatives to cutting carbon emissions, and often simply ignore climate change altogether. The recent ERPF report mentions climate change only four times. It is as if heatwaves, forest fires, flooding, rising sea levels and the demise of natural habitat caused by climate inaction were happening on another planet.

We still have time to limit global warming below 1.5℃. It is true that we will need oil and gas for many years, and that there are currently no alternatives for certain sectors such as air travel, shipping and some industries. Nonetheless, there is still much that can be done now to make a substantial difference.

To incentivise the transition to cleaner energy, governments need to end fossil fuel subsidies, which the IMF estimates amounted to US$5.9 trillion in 2020 alone. We also need to put a proper price on carbon – only 40 countries have attempted this so far, and none has it anywhere near the estimated social cost of emitting carbon.

Countries that resist charging their own polluters should face a carbon border adjustment mechanism, which is a tariff that effectively puts the polluter on the same footing as local players. If all the actors in the fossil fuel supply chain had to face the cost of the damage they cause, the need to phase out long-term investments in fossil fuels would become more obvious.

The IEA requirements for “net zero” are just one of the pathways towards meeting the Paris goal of 1.5℃ warming. Others are explored by some of the more credible actors in the petroleum industry, such as Shell, BP and Norway’s Equinor, but all require a substantial decline in oil demand and production by 2050.

Required production cuts

Graph showing the required production cuts to meet net zero
I left the IEA’s scenario off the graph because it published so few datapoints, but it is broadly in line with the others. Meanwhile, the Opec data is for reference and not a net zero scenario.
BP, Shell, Equinor and Opec

Instead of criticising efforts to slow climate change and sponsoring ridiculous reports calling for more fossil fuels, the oil industry should eliminate leakages, venting and flaring of methane, and electrify as many processes as possible using renewable power. It should also employ carbon capture, usage and storage technologies over the next ten years – yes this will increase the price of fossil fuels, but that is exactly what we need to make clean sources of energy competitive across the board and speed up the energy transition.

The sooner the industry starts facing up to the realities of climate change, the more chance it has to survive. The companies and even countries that produce fossil fuels will have to face and pay the cost for the damage they cause. Those costs are already massive and will grow. Those that survive will do so only as a provider of clean and sustainable energy.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?

Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 20,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Adi Imsirovic, Fellow, University of Surrey

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingThe oil industry has succumbed to a dangerous new climate denialism

Science shows the severe climate consequences of new fossil fuel extraction

Spread the love
An offshore drilling platform.
Mike Mareen/Shutterstock

Ed Hawkins, University of Reading

The world has just suffered through its warmest month ever recorded. Heatwaves have swept across southern Europe, the US and China, breaking many temperature records in the process.

Climate scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades that this type of event will become more frequent as the world continues to warm. The major culprit behind this is the burning of fossil fuels. So it’s extremely concerning that the UK government has announced its intention to grant hundreds of licences for new North Sea oil and gas extraction.

Although burning fossil fuels to generate power and heat has enabled society to develop and flourish, we are now experiencing the unintended side effects. The carbon dioxide that has been added to the atmosphere is leading to a rise in global temperatures, causing heatwaves to become hotter and downpours more intense. The resulting large-scale disruption and suffering is becoming ever more visible.

This warming will continue, with worsening climatic consequences, until we reduce global carbon dioxide emissions to “net zero”. After that, we will still have to live and suffer in a warmer climate for generations. The collective choices we make now will matter in the future.

The small-scale, but high-profile, disruptions caused by Just Stop Oil protesters in the UK are extremely frustrating for many. But their single demand – for no licenses for new UK coal, oil and gas projects – is consistent with the science underpinning the international agreements that the UK has signed.

Temperatures are rising

Since the 1860s, the scientific community has understood that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would warm the climate. And as long ago as 1938, the burning of fossil fuels was linked to the observed rise in both carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. Fast forward to now and global temperatures are warmer, and increasing faster, than at any point in human civilisation.

In response to the overwhelming scientific evidence, the UK and 193 other nations came together in 2015 to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change. One of the agreed goals is to limit global warming to well below 2℃, and even aim for 1.5℃, compared to the pre-industrial era.

However, the latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which all governments explicitly endorsed, paints a stark reality. If we burn all of the fossil fuels that we currently have access to, then global warming will exceed 1.5℃ and may reach 2℃.

To avoid breaching the limits set out by the Paris agreement, some of the coal, oil and gas that we can already extract must remain unburnt. New fossil fuel extraction projects will make it even harder to stop further global warming.

Build up renewable infrastructure

There are other options. The UK government’s official advisers, the Climate Change Committee, have put forward a vision for UK power generation consistent with a net zero future. They say that the UK could provide all of its energy needs by 2050 through a combination of renewables, bioenergy, nuclear, hydrogen, storage and demand management, with some carbon capture and storage for fossil gas-based generation in the meantime.

A family walking dogs on a beach in front of an offshore wind farm.
The UK can achieve energy security without causing additional global warming.
Nigel Jarvis/Shutterstock

If the UK followed the example of China and rapidly increased its investments in renewable energy, then it could achieve energy security without causing additional global warming. China emits the most carbon dioxide of any country in the world. But it is installing more renewable energy generation than the rest of the world combined.

Rapidly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and not issuing new licenses to extract oil and gas, is the most effective way of minimising future climate-related disruptions. The sooner those with the power to shape our future recognise this, the better.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?

Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 20,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science, University of Reading

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingScience shows the severe climate consequences of new fossil fuel extraction