Category Archives: Climate change denial

Scientists’ Climate Accountability Scorecard – Insufficient Progress from Major Fossil Fuel Companies

Repost from Union of Concerned Scientists
[Editor: This detailed 24-page Union of Concerned Scientists report should be required reading for every oil executive, refinery employee and oil industry supporter.  It would have been VERY interesting to see Valero included in the industry sample.  Our neighbors in Richmond (Chevron) and Rodeo/Hercules (Phillips66) will be especially interested in this report.  – R.S.]

The 2018 Climate Accountability Scorecard – Insufficient Progress from Major Fossil Fuel Companies

 

An in-depth analysis of eight major fossil fuel companies finds they continue to spread climate disinformation and have failed to adequately plan their businesses for a low-carbon world.

 

Fossil fuel companies are facing increasing shareholder, legal and political pressure to stop spreading climate disinformation and to fix their business plans to achieve dramatic reductions in global warming emissions. While some companies are responding to this pressure, overall their efforts remain insufficient to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

In 2016, when we first analyzed the actions of 8 major oil, gas, and coal companies, we found that none had made a clean break with disinformation on climate science and policy or planned adequately for a world free from carbon pollution.

In 2018, although some companies have publicly supported the Paris climate agreement to limit harmful warming, none of these companies has set company-wide emissions reduction targets consistent with this goal. Many continue to downplay or misrepresent climate science and the dangers of carbon emissions, and all continue to support trade groups that spread climate disinformation and work to stymie needed climate policies.

We evaluated eight companies on 28 metrics, organized in four broad areas:

  • Disinformation: Have these companies stopped spreading disinformation about climate science and policies?
  • Business Planning:  Do these companies’ business plans align with a world free from carbon pollution?
  • Policies:  Do these companies support fair and effective climate policies?
  • Disclosure:  Are these companies fully disclosing the financial and physical risks of climate change to their business operations?

Findings

While every company improved its score on at least one metric and saw a score decline on one or more other metrics, there was no across-the-board improvement on any specific metric, and no single company improved in every area.

Explore each company’s score per metric in the table below. Colors indicate scores. Arrows indicate changes in each company’s performance compared to the 2016 Climate Accountability Scorecard. 

Methodology > 

Highlights

  • Following engagement with Barnard College over its divestment evaluation and with UCS over our 2018 scorecard findings, BP removes from the company’s website a statement that misrepresented climate science and backslid from its 2016 position.
  • Arch Coal, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil include subtle “hedging” words on their websites and/or in SEC filings, falsely suggesting the (scientific) jury is still out on the connections between global warming gases and climate change and between the burning of fossil fuels and climate impacts such as sea level rise.
  • Facing growing pressure from major shareholders, ExxonMobil and Chevron release climate risk disclosure reports. However, the reports lack commitments to reduce global warming emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement’s goal of keeping global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius and striving to limit it to 1.5°C.
  • BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil fail to mention climate liability litigation explicitly in their financial filings. More than a dozen U.S. communities have filed lawsuits to hold these fossil fuel companies, and others, accountable for climate damages and preparedness. Company shareholders need to be informed about this risk to their investments.
  • In July 2018, ExxonMobil becomes the latest oil and gas company to leave the corporate lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after successfully pressuring the group to drop a resolution against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 finding that global warming gases are endangering the planet. ALEC has notoriously fought climate policies and drafted sample legislation that sought to hamper the development and use of low-carbon energy. Chevron and Peabody Energy maintain leadership positions in the group.
  • Shareholder pressure leads ConocoPhillips in 2018 to expand its disclosures of lobbying and other public policy advocacy. 

Recommendations

Major fossil fuel companies—including those studied in this 2018 scorecard—are substantial contributors to climate change, and therefore must take responsibility for their actions. Science now makes it possible to calculate that the eight companies in this study have contributed about 14 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide and methane emissions driving disruptive climate change.

These eight leading fossil fuel companies have failed to fix their business models to reduce global warming emissions from their operations and the use of their products.  At the same time, many of them have deliberately sowed public confusion about climate science and the dangers of climate change, while lobbying against needed climate policies that would help us transition to a low-carbon energy system.

These fossil fuel companies should:

  • Renounce disinformation on climate science and policy
  • Plan for a world free from carbon pollution, developing business models that are consistent with keeping global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed by world leaders
  • Support sensible climate policies to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases
  • Fully disclose climate-related risks to their business
  • Pay their fair share of the costs of climate-related damages and climate change adaptation

As a first step toward meeting emerging societal expectations, each company in this study should:

  • If it is not yet doing so, consistently acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change and affirm the consequent need for swift and deep reductions in emissions from the burning of fossil fuels
  • Set company-wide, net-zero emissions targets consistent with the Paris climate agreement’s global temperature goal
  • Disavow positions and actions taken by affiliated third parties—including trade associations and lobby groups—that are inconsistent with companies’ stated positions on climate science and policy
  • Publicly and consistently advocate for specific policies and/or regulations to implement the Paris climate agreement
  • Fully disclose climate-related risks they face and how they are managing them—including physical risks to their operations and financial risks related to climate liability lawsuits

UCS and our experts, partners, and supporters are watching. We will continue to keep a close eye on major fossil fuel companies to assess their actions and words, recognize progress where it occurs, and turn up the heat on companies lagging behind.

Appendices:

Appendix A: Methodology > 

Appendix B: Renouncing Disinformation on Climate Science and Policy > 

Appendix C: Planning for a World Free of Carbon Pollution > 

Appendix D: Supporting Fair and Effective Climate Policies > 

Appendix E: Fully Disclosing Climate Risks > 

 

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    ‘Are You Serious?’ John Kerry Interrupts GOP Climate Denial Logic in Disbelief

    Repost from DESMOG

    By Justin Mikulka • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 – 13:27

    John Kerry

    Congressional discussions over climate change have reached such a low point that during this week’s House hearing on the national security risks of climate change, former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was testifying, broke down and just asked his Republican questioner, “Are you serious?”

    Kerry’s incredulous question was in response to Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, the GOP star of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, which also featured testimony from former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Kerry’s and Hagel’s testimonies were followed by several hours of, at times, excrutiating questioning from committee members.

    Republicans made a big show of the fact that Massie has an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The conflict with Kerry arose when Massie tried to undermine Kerry’s testimony on climate change because he has a political science degree from Yale.

    Massie said, “I think it’s somewhat appropriate that somebody with a pseudoscience degree is here pushing pseudoscience in front of our committee today.”

    If science degrees are important to Massie, he must have somehow missed the thousands of climate scientists around the world who have studiedpublishedtweetedmarched, and repeated that climate change is real, caused by humans, and having major impacts now.

    During this hearing, Massie wasn’t alone in displaying bizarre logic to attack science and the reality of climate change. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) apparently thought holding up a fossil disproved that humans are causing climate change.

    Climate change has been changing all through the life of this planet. I’ve got a fossil right here from Western Wyoming — a desert — but that once was under an ocean,” he said.

    That was the sum total of his argument.

    Not to be outdone, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) took issue with Kerry’s statement about global warming making existing weather events more extreme by noting: “I remember growing up and having hurricanes in Florida.”

    It all led to Secretary Kerry at one point expressing his frustration to committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), saying, “Mr. Chairman, this is just not a serious conversation.”

    And it was not when Republicans were part of it. However, when Hagel and Kerry both spoke, they made clear the point that climate change is a real national security threat and requires action. Meanwhile, the Republicans on the committee indicated they intend to do nothing but continue a long history of delay and denial on climate change.

    Hagel and Kerry Agree: Climate Change Threatens National Security

    Hagel and Kerry spent their time delivering a sober analysis of the risks climate change poses to national security — a position which they repeatedly stressed during the hearing. “Climate change is already affecting national security,” said Kerry.

    Kerry also noted in his opening statement that this has been the position of every federal administration for the last 28 years. He pointed to the first Bush administration, which said in 1992, that climate change was “already contributing to political conflict.”

    We don’t need to wait for more sophisticated climate models to project the security consequences of climate change,” Hagel said in his opening statement. “The impacts of climate change are clearly evident today.”

    Both Hagel and Kerry spoke extensively about the current and future threats posed by a changing climate and had plenty of examples to make the case.

    Among the many threats, Hagel discussed rising sea levels, extreme weather, and the lack of military readiness. Kerry raised the issues of climate migration, global pandemics, water scarcity, and extreme weather’s current contribution to radicalism, which he said would continue to create instability that would be “manna from heaven for extremists.”

    Perhaps the best single example of how climate change is impacting security in the U.S. can be found at Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia. This base — the largest American military base — already is dealing with flooding and sea level rise. At one point in the hearing, former defense secretary Hagel mentioned the need to potentially relocate the base in the future due to sea level rise.

    And yet when Republicans in the hearing had a chance to respond to this rather alarming fact, they spent that time mostly ridiculing the idea that any of this should even be discussed.

    Gas Is a ‘Bridge Fuel,’ Secretary Kerry?

    John Kerry was a strong advocate for dealing with climate change throughout the hearing and acknowledged the significant strides freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has already taken to advance the issue in her short congressional tenure.

    However, Kerry also proceeded to repeatedly champion a supposed climate change solution espoused by the fossil fuel industry and did so using industry talking points, referring to natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to climate-friendly energy sources.

    While saying that natural gas would be “a component of our energy mix for some time to come,” Kerry justified this position with a flawed argument for gas.

    Gas gives us a 50 percent gain over the other fossil fuels in the reduction of emissions, so it’s a step forward,” he said.

    Kerry’s take, which compares how “clean” natural gas is compared to other fossil fuels, is true when simply comparing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power to the newest gas power plants. However, that limited comparison excludes the ways natural gas production, and its potent methane contributions, are adding to climate change.

    The concept of natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to renewable sources has been debunked repeatedly. And as methane flaring, leaking, and venting in the fracked oil and gas supply chain continue to increase rapidly, the climate impacts of fracked gas can be similar or worse than other fossil fuels.

    Kerry and Hagel adeptly explained the serious national security threats posed by climate change. However, calling natural gas part of a long-term solution to preventing catastrophic climate change isn’t a serious conversation either.

    Main image: Former Secretary of State John Kerry addressing congress. Credit: Screenshot from Congressional testimony. 

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      Student Climate Strike, Trump Budget, FOX Climate Denier, Oil Trains & more

      Repost from DeSmog newsletter email
      [Editor: I’m posting the entire email here.  See below the introductory note for several important articles.  DeSmog is always a good read and a great resource.  – R.S.]

      Message From the DESMOG Editor

      On Friday, March 15, droves of students showed world leaders they were fed up with the status quo on climate change and skipped class to call for climate action.

      DeSmog’s Julie Dermansky captured the images and spirit of a small but resolute crew of students and supporters who were striking in New Orleans, Louisiana, a state already facing dire climate impacts but continuing to invest in fossil fuels as if there were no tomorrow.

      In a move that is the opposite of what these students were calling for, earlier this week, President Trump released his proposed 2020 budget, which slashed funding for renewables and energy efficiency programs by a whopping 70 percent. That may sound shocking until you hear that the head of those programs, Daniel Simmons, is a former Koch insider whose one-time employer suggested eliminating entirely the office Simmons now leads.

      What’s also not terribly surprising is that Trump, rather than relying on the thousands of federal scientists, has turned to climate science denier and industry consultant Patrick Moore for information about climate change, despite Moore’s total lack of professional expertise on the subject.

      This is 2019, folks!

      Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch: editor@desmogblog.com.

      Thanks,
      Brendan DeMelle
      Executive Director


      New Orleans Student on Global Climate Strike: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’

      By Julie Dermansky (8 min. read)

      On March 15 droves of students around the world walked out of school to protest politicians’ inaction on climate change, with approximately one million people participating in the strikes, according to organizers. From Sydney to Stockholm, students had planned more than 1,600 school strikes in over 100 countries, inspired by the weekly Friday climate protests of Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

      And in New Orleans, Louisiana, a small but resolute group of students and supporters gathered a few blocks from Lusher Middle and High School, on St. Charles Avenue, one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares, to confront their state’s heightened urgency to stop climate change or face losing the land they are standing on. Read more.

      Trump Budget for Renewables Slashed 70% Under Former Koch Insider’s Leadership

      By Ben Jervey (4 min. read)

      When President Trump nominated long-time Koch network insider and renewable energy antagonist Daniel Simmons to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the administration’s priorities for federal energy programs were made abundantly clear. Simmons had, after all, been serving at the time of his nomination as Vice President for Policy at a Koch-funded think tank that had, in 2015, called for the outright elimination of the very office he was tapped to lead.

      The Trump administration budget proposal released this week, for fiscal year 2020, goes a long way toward delivering this wish to the Koch network, calling for a 70 percent reduction in funding for the EERE and scrapping entirely the Department of Energy’s loan programs. Read more.

      What President Trump, Fox and Breitbart Are Not Saying About Climate Science Denier Patrick Moore

      By Graham Readfearn (7 min. read)

      What does it take to become a legitimate spokesperson on climate change science and energy policy in the eyes of President Donald Trump and partisan conservative media like Fox News and Breitbart?

      If the current worshipping of non-expert and climate science denier Patrick Moore is anything to go by, the only qualification you need is the ability to call first-term Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “pompous little twit” on Twitter. Read more.

      Despite Risks, Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Is Betting Big on Oil Trains

      By Justin Mikulka (6 min. read)

      Last year, Canada exported a record amount of tar sands oil to the U.S., despite low oil prices leading to major losses once again for the struggling tar sands industry. That achievement required a big bump in hauling oil by rail, with those daily volumes in late 2018 more than double the previous record in 2014 during the first oil-by-rail boom.

      Canada’s oil industry essentially has reached its limit for exporting oil into the U.S. through pipelines. That’s why it’s turning to rail to export more and more oil, but as an ever-increasing number of oil trains hit the tracks of North America, expect more accidents and oil spills to follow. Read more.

      Massachusetts Hired Energy Industry Execs to ‘Independently’ Review State’s Gas System

      By Itai Vardi (5 min. read)

      A private contractor employed by the state of Massachusetts to conduct a statewide safety review of its gas distribution companies hired gas industry executives for the project, documents obtained by DeSmog show. They include two former executives of National Grid —  one of the companies under review — and Enbridge, a main supplier of gas in the state.

      One of the former National Grid executives was removed from the review once the state learned a family member of his currently works for the company. Read more.

      Fracking 2.0 Was a Financial Disaster, Will Fracking 3.0 Be Different?

      By Justin Mikulka (8 min. read)

      Two years ago, the U.S. fracking industry was trying to recover from the crash in the price of oil. Shale companies were promoting the idea that fracking was viable even at low oil prices (despite losing money when oil prices were high). At the time, no one was making money fracking with the business-as-usual approach, but then the Wall Street Journal published a story claiming all of this was about to change because the industry had a trump card — and that was technology.

      Today, frackers are again relying on technology as a financial savior, but this time, they are looking to Microsoft. Read more.

      Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better

      By Ben Jervey (3 min. read)

      There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn’t one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota’s customer defections in North America — as Prius drivers transition to all-electric — the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification.

      Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids. Read more.

      Exclusive: Rhode Island Governor Nixed Agency Critiques of LNG Facility, Silencing Health and Justice Concerns

      By Itai Vardi (5 min. read)

      Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, squashed a letter by her own state health agency, which raised serious concerns about a proposed liquefied natural gas facility in a densely populated Providence neighborhood. Documents obtained by DeSmog show that last summer Raimondo nixed a letter by the Rhode Island Department of Health critical of National Grid’s Fields Point Liquefaction project right before it was to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

      FERC approved the project three months later. Read more.

      The 2020 Democrats of the ‘Anti-Green New Deal Coalition’

      By Kendra Chamberlain (6 min. read)

      Support for the ambitious Green New Deal proposal has uncovered widening rifts within the Democratic Party as presidential candidates begin fleshing out their 2020 platforms. To date, the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has attracted 68 co-sponsors from Democratic congressmembers.

      However, according to a recent report from Public Accountability Initiative, centrist Democrats and party leadership are part of what it calls an “anti-Green New Deal coalition” that could seriously impede the Green New Deal’s goal to transition the country to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Read more.

      From the Climate Disinformation Database: Daniel Simmons

      Daniel Simmons is a former fossil fuel lobbyist with a history of attacking renewables now leading the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which Trump’s 2020 budget proposed slashing funding for by 70 percent. Before his appointment to the Energy Department, Simmons worked with several Koch-affiliated think tanks, including the Institute for Energy Research, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Mercatus Center.

      Read the full profile and browse other individuals and organizations in our research database.

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