Category Archives: Greenhouse gas emissions

Here is what #Shell Knew about Climate Change in the 1980s

Repost from DeSmogBlog
[Editor: Here’s the link to the original 1988 Shell internal document.  ALSO, see previous stories 2015-2016.  – RS]

Here is what #Shell Knew about Climate Change in the 1980s

By Mat Hope • Wednesday, April 4, 2018 – 23:15
Cover pages of a Shell internal document

Shell knew climate change was going to be big, was going to be bad, and that its products were responsible for global warming all the way back in the 1980s, a tranche of new documents reveal.

Documents unearthed by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent, published today on Climate Files, a project of the Climate Investigations Center, show intense interest in climate change internally at Shell.

The documents date back to 1988, meaning Shell was doing climate change research before the UN’s scientific authority on the issue, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was established.

Here’s a quick run through of a 1988 document entitled, ‘The Greenhouse Effect’. Continue reading Here is what #Shell Knew about Climate Change in the 1980s

    SF CHRON: Climate bills pass California Legislature, Gov. Brown will sign

    Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

    Climate bills pass Legislature, await Brown’s OK

    By Melody Gutierrez, August 25, 2016
    Gov. Jerry Brown said he plans to sign the bills when they reach his desk. Photo: Lenny Ignelzi, Associated Press
    Gov. Jerry Brown said he plans to sign the bills when they reach his desk. Photo: Lenny Ignelzi, Associated Press

    SACRAMENTO — The California Legislature passed two bills Wednesday that extend the state’s ambitious goals to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases and provide additional oversight on the agency charged with carrying out climate-change policies.

    Gov. Jerry Brown praised lawmakers for passing SB32 and AB197, saying passage was an important milestone after similar efforts failed last year amid intense lobbying by the oil industry. Brown said he plans to sign the bills when they reach his desk.

    “Legislation is not like Twitter,” Brown said. “You don’t do it in 140 characters or in a few seconds. It takes months and sometimes years. It takes trying, failing, amending and trying again; negotiation. There are 120 members in the Legislature, and not everyone sees things the same way.”

    SB32 calls for the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The bill expands on AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. The state is expected to reach that target.

    “We have discovered, with these policies, our economy continues to go up, but our emissions are going down,” said termed-out state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County). “It’s not a choice between a healthy environment and sound economy. In California, we can do it both ways.”

    AB197 directs the California Air Resources Board to prioritize disadvantaged communities in its climate-change regulations, and to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the measures it considers. The bill also allows the Legislature to appoint two lawmakers as nonvoting members of the board, a move supporters said will provide more transparency and oversight on the agency.

    Lawmakers have criticized the lack of diversity on the board, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount (Los Angeles County) said the board has a credibility problem.

    “Any exercise of authority has to be reviewed,” Brown said when asked about the criticism of the board that is largely appointed by him. “Any time you have the power to say no or reduce your high-carbon fuel, reduce your pollutants, change the way a carbonized society works, it will be felt with some sting. That’s the reality, but we want to make sure we are doing it in a way that advances our goals of equity and inclusion.”

    Brown unsuccessfully lobbied to have the cap-and-trade program included in SB32, but lawmakers balked because the bill already faced an uncertain future in the Assembly. On Tuesday, the Assembly narrowly passed the bill with one vote to spare, although several Democratic lawmakers changed their votes to approve of the legislation after it passed.

    The Senate passed SB32 on Wednesday in a 25-13 vote.

    The future of cap-and-trade remains uncertain due to a legal challenge from the California Chamber of Commerce. That uncertainty, along with some fearing SB32 would not be signed into law, contributed to poor auction results this year.

    EDITORIAL On Senate Bill 32

    Step ahead on climate

    California is doubling down in the fight against climate change. After teetering on defeat, a state bill that expands efforts to curb heat-trapping emissions is in the final stages of approval.

    The measure, SB32, builds on the state’s plan in 2006 to cut greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2020, a goal that’s already within reach. With both the Senate and now the Assembly in support, the bill pushes the state to trim climate-altering emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

    An accompanying bill would give the state Air Resources Board more power to regulate industrial and refinery emissions in a bow to lawmakers from low-income areas who want more out of climate change ideas. That bill, AB197, is hanging, a target for business lobbyists who want to sink the overall effort. Passing this second measure is essential to complete a comprehensive effort.

    Still, the success so far is worth notice. California isn’t budging from its course. White House aides and Gov. Jerry Brown called wavering moderate Democrats for their votes, which the same lawmakers had withheld last year. With the nation stalled on climate change steps, California has a chance to move forward and demonstrate the effects, costs and benefits of its aggressive steps. The ability to add pollution controls to a roaring economy is making the state a globally watched experiment.

    The rules need attention. One key mechanism is the cap and trade exchange that obliges polluting industries to purchase credits from cleaner operations. The sales aren’t netting the expected amounts with less than $10 million spent in the latest auction. The money is due to go to pollution-limiting programs such as transit and the struggling high speed rail project.

    Defenders of the cap and trade plan say that uncertainty over the legislative outcome is to blame for the weak revenue. Now that the state’s direction is emphatically decided, the value of pollution credits should stabilize, they argue. That’s a claim that needs testing.

    On balance, Brown has been a good advocate for climate action, though he does have one notable blind spot: his continued silence on a plan to ship major quantities of coal through a new Oakland port facility for overseas combustion. That project just happens to belong to Phil Tagami, a buddy and political donor to the governor. May we remind the governor of his own words from last year: “It doesn’t make sense to be shutting down coal plants (in the U.S.) and then export it for somebody else to burn in a more dirty way,” he said.

    Let the record be clear: Brown’s climate commitment is incomplete until he takes a stand, one way or another, on that Oakland coal train.

     

      DESMOGBLOG: “There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s

      Repost from DeSmogBlog

      “There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s

      By Brendan DeMelle and Kevin Grandia, April 26, 2016 09:19
      Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported.

      DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company.

      It is assumed that the major contributors of CO2 are the burning of fossil fuels… There is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Technology exists to remove CO2 from stack gases but removal of only 50% of the CO2 would double the cost of power generation.” [emphasis added]

      Those lines appeared in a 1980 report, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979,” produced by Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary.

      #exxonknew - it is assumed

      #exxonknew | there is no doubt
      [click on any of the screenshots in this story to see a PDF of the full document]

      A distribution list included with the report indicates that it was disseminated to managers across Exxon’s international corporate offices, including in Europe.

      #exxonknew | distirbution list
      [click here to download the full PDF version of “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1978-1979”]

      The next report in the series, “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1980-81,” noted in an appendix covering “Key Environmental Affairs Issues and Concerns” that: CO2 / GREENHOUSE EFFECT RECEIVING INCREASED MEDIA ATTENTION.


      [click here to download the full PDF version of “Review of Environmental Protection Activities for 1980-1981”]

      InsideClimate News unveiled much new information in its Exxon: The Road Not Taken series clearly demonstrating the depth of climate science knowledge among Exxon’s U.S. operations. Additional revelations about the company’s early climate research were published by the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism.

      A 1980 Exxon report explained the company’s plans:

      CO2 Greenhouse Effect:  Exxon-supported work is already underway to help define the seriousness of this problem. Such information is needed to assess the implications for future fossil fuel use. Government funding will be sought to expand the use of Exxon tankers in determining the capacity of the ocean to store CO2.”

      Now DeSmog’s research confirms that the knowledge of the carbon dioxide pollution threat was indeed global across Exxon’s worldwide operations, earlier than previously known, and considered a major challenge for the company’s future operations. The new documents revealed today were found by DeSmog researchers in an Imperial Oil (TSE:IMOarchival collection housed at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta. We first learned of the existence of the collection in one of the articles published in the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism.

      “Since Pollution Means Disaster…”

      A document discovered by DeSmog reveals that Exxon was aware as early as the late 1960s that global emissions of CO2 from combustion was a chief pollution concern affecting global ecology.

      Those details were found in a 1970 report, “Pollution Is Everybody’s Business,” authored by H.R. Holland, a Chemical Engineer responsible for environmental protection in Imperial Oil’s engineering division. [click to download PDF of “Pollution is Everybody’s Business]

      Holland wrote:

      Since pollution means disaster to the affected species, the only satisfactory course of action is to prevent it – to maintain the addition of foreign matter at such levels that it can be diluted, assimilated or destroyed by natural processes – to protect man’s environment from man.”

      Included in Holland’s report is a table of the “Estimated Global Emissions of Some Air Pollutants.” One of those “air pollutants” on the table is carbon dioxide with the listed sources as “oxidation of plant and animal matter” and “combustion.”

      #ExxonKnew - Imperial Oil
      The double asterisks beside CO2 in Holland’s list of pollutants refer to a citation for a 1969 scientific study, “Carbon Dioxide Affects Global Ecology,” in which the author explains the connections between the burning of fossil fuels, the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere and the potential effects this will have on future weather patterns and global temperatures.

      Holland emphasized the need to control all forms of pollution through regulatory action, noting that “a problem of such size, complexity and importance cannot be dealt with on a voluntary basis.” Yet the fossil fuel industry has long argued that its voluntary programs are sufficient, and that regulations are unneeded.

      Exxon Understood Climate Science, Yet Funded Decades of Climate Science Denial

      Despite Exxon’s advanced scientific understanding of the role of CO2 pollution from fossil fuel burning causing atmospheric disruption, the company shelved its internal concerns and launched a sophisticated, global campaign to sow doubt and create public distrust of climate science. This included extensive lobbying and advertising activities, publishing weekly op-eds in The New York Times for years, and other tactics.

      Exxon and Mobil were both founding members of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry front group created in 1989 to sow doubt — despite the GCC‘s internal understanding of the certainty.

      While the GCC distributed a “backgrounder” to politicians and media in the early 1990s claiming “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” a 1995 GCC internal memo drafted by Mobil Oil(which merged with Exxon in 1998) stated that: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied.”

      And the most obvious evidence of Exxon’s pervasive efforts to attack science and pollution control regulations lies in the more than $30 million traced by Greenpeace researchers to several dozen think tanks and front groups working to confuse the public about the need to curb CO2 pollution.

      FROM THE DESMOG RESEARCH DATABASE: ExxonMobil’s Funding of Climate Science Denial

      As the science grew stronger, Exxon’s embrace of its global, multi-million dollar denial campaign grew more intense.

      Imperial Oil’s Public Denial Grew Stronger In 1990s Despite Its Own Prior Scientific Certainty

      Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary, as these documents demonstrate, had a clear understanding of the environmental and climate consequences of CO2 pollution from fossil fuel combution, yet its public denial of these links grew stronger throughout the 1990s.

      Imperial Oil chairman and CEO Robert Peterson wrote in “A Cleaner Canada” in 1998: “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but an essential ingredient of life on this planet.”

      (DeSmog will take a deeper look at Imperial Oil’s conflicting CO2 positioning in public vs. its internal communications in future coverage.)

      Reached for comment, Imperial Oil did not respond by press time. ExxonMobil media relations manager Alan Jeffers provided the following response:

      “Your conclusions are inaccurate but not surprising since you work with extreme environmental activists who are paying for fake journalism to misrepresent ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research. To suggest that we had reached definitive conclusions, decades before the world’s experts and while climate science was in an early stage of development, is not credible.”

      Legal Implications of Fossil Fuel Industry’s Knowledge of CO2 Pollution and Climate Impacts

      Calls are growing louder to hold Exxon and other fossil fuel interests accountable for funding climate denial campaigns given their advanced understanding of climate science and the implications of CO2 pollution for the atmosphere going back many decades.

      In multiple U.S. states and territories — including New York, California, Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands — state Attorneys General are investigating Exxon’s depth of knowledge regarding the climate impacts of burning fossil fuels, and whether the company broke the law by fueling anti-science campaigns through corporate contributions to organizations and individuals working to sow doubt and confusion about global warming. [DeSmog coverage: State Investigations Into What Exxon Knew Double, and Exxon Gets Defensive]

      Climate activists and even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are urging the Department of Justice and other relevant government agencies to investigate the fossil fuel industry’s deliberate efforts to delay policy action to address the climate threat.

      Democratic U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HIintroduced an amendment to the energy bill expressing Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science. But it remains to be seen what action Congress might take to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for delaying policy solutions and confusing the public on this critical issue.

      Imagine where the world would be had Exxon continued to pursue and embrace its advanced scientific understanding of climate change decades ago, rather than pivoting antagonistically against the science by funding decades of denial?