Climate change means more fear, less fun for global middle class – UBS
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Mon, 11 Jan 2016
In a study of middle-class consumption in 215 cities around the world, UBS analysts found spending priorities were noticeably different in cities most at risk from climate change such as Los Angeles, Tokyo and Shanghai.
In those top-risk cities, the middle class spent between 0.6 and 0.8 percent more on housing compared to the national average, and less on luxuries, entertainment and durable goods.
The report said middle-class households are already changing their lifestyles in the cities most exposed to hotter temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather such as storms and floods.
“More fear, less fun is how we might sum it up,” said the study.
In places with high risks of climate-related shocks, people spend more on the upkeep of their properties. And homes may decrease in value if certain places become less appealing to live, eating into wealth, the report said.
Efforts to adapt to changing climate conditions – which remain modest and sporadic among the middle class – can also bring new costs.
In cities that suffer extreme heat, the middle-class is increasingly laying out for air conditioning, the report noted.
But some types of adaptation can create “a negative feedback loop”, it warned. For instance, higher demand for air conditioning requires more electricity, which can lead to grid failure and increased planet-warming emissions.
In addition, inadequate infrastructure and health care systems increase the need to rely on emergency government support when disasters strike. “In our assessment this is likely, even in the richest of countries,” the report said.
The largest cities are home to nearly a quarter of the global population and generate around half of global GDP, the report said.
Most of the global middle class lives in Southeast Asia, the region that has experienced the fastest urban population growth in recent years, it noted.
But 91 percent of weather-related losses in Asia are uninsured, it added, compared with 32 percent in the United States, which had the highest level of insurance penetration in the study sample.
DRIVER OF CONFLICT
The report also said climate-driven population shifts into urban areas have the potential to create and exacerbate conflict, as in Syria.
In the course of five years of drought starting in 2006, Syria lost 85 percent of its livestock and saw crop production plummet, child malnutrition worsen and the subsequent migration of 1.5 million residents from rural to urban areas.
“These conditions led to protests, which ultimately escalated into civil war,” Zurich-based UBS said in a statement.
However, the political and social clout of middle-class populations means their vulnerability to climate change risks should translate into pressure on governments to tackle global warming, the report noted.
“The middle class has two important qualities that make them critically important to the conversation about climate change: substantial assets and political influence,” said Paul Donovan, global economist and managing director at UBS Investment Bank.
“If the effects of climate change significantly hurt the middle class, the inevitable reaction should in turn elicit a strong response from policy makers.”
(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
DIA-CORE project has the pleasure to announce the DIA-CORE Regional Workshop“Best Practice Policies To Finance Renewable Energy”, to be implemented on the 29th of January 2016, in Vilnius, Lithuania, hosted by Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI).
Main aim of the DIA-CORE Regional Workshop is to present and analyze the current policy performance and financial conditions for RES investments, as well as renewable energy support schemes in the region.
To download Workshop’s Agenda and info: diacore.eu/news-events/events/ite…
For more information about the workshop stay tuned at the event’s webpage!
IRENA’s two added workshops during World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that will be held January 16-21, 2016.
from: Virginia Yu <VYu@irena.org>
Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 2:22 PM
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announces two side events at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE – 1) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy, 18 January, and 2) Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, 19 January.
1) The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy will take place on 18th January, 2016 at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre) – future home of World Fair 2020), Abu Dhabi. The purpose of this workshop is to gather information and ideas from stakeholders that can feed into IRENA’s development of the medium-term strategy (1-2 years) for the Global Atlas. Workshop participants will engage in a practical discussion around how the Global Atlas can help overcome barriers to renewable energy development, generate ideas for more effective communication on the Global Atlas, and investigate the needs and ideas of data providers.
To register, please send an email to potentials at irena.org by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please read the final event concept note and announcement. Please connect to: www.irena.org
2) The Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, in collaboration with DLR will take place on 19th January, 2016 at IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.
With this training, IRENA gives an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy. To register, please send an email to carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de. We would be grateful to receive your confirmation by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please see the attached PDF.
IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City | P.O. Box 236 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Tel: +97124179988 | Mob: +971566161584 | www.irena.org
Solar-Med-Atlas Workshop for Policy Makers.pdf 164K
Training Schedule 10:00h – 10:45h
- Introduction and expectations of the participants
- Analysis of the data in Geographical information systems (demonstration) – Interpretation of results
- Conclusions and further questions. Short assessment of the Global Atlas
Please bring along your laptops, to be able to participate in the hands on exercises.
Transportation: Shuttle bus will be provided from ADNEC at 9:15am going to IRENA HQ, then leaving again at 4:00 pm from IRENA HQ going to ADNEC
We thank IRENA for hosting the workshop in their headquarters.
It was not Exxon alone, in the 1980′s The American Petroleum Institute had a “CO2 and Climate Task Force” and Texaco was most progressive – asking API develop ground rules for energy release of fuels and the cleanup of fuels as they relate to CO2 creation.”
By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams
26 December 2015
It wasn’t just Exxon that knew fossil fuels were cooking the planet.
New investigative reporting by Neela Banerjee with Inside Climate News revealed on Tuesday that scientists and engineers from nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company may have for decades known about the impacts of carbon emissions on the climate.
Between 1979 and 1983, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry’s most powerful lobby group, ran a task force for fossil fuel companies to “monitor and share climate research,” according to internal documents obtained by Inside Climate News.
According to the reporting:
Like Exxon, the companies also expressed a willingness to understand the links between their product, greater CO2 concentrations and the climate, the papers reveal. Some corporations ran their own research units as well, although they were smaller and less ambitious than Exxon’s and focused on climate modeling, said James J. Nelson, the former director of the task force.
“It was a fact-finding task force,” Nelson said in an interview. “We wanted to look at emerging science, the implications of it and where improvements could be made, if possible, to reduce emissions.”
The “CO2 and Climate Task Force,” which changed in 1980 its name to the “Climate and Energy Task Force,” included researchers from Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco and Sohio, among others.
One memo by an Exxon task force representative pointed to 1979 “background paper on CO2,” which “predicted when the first clear effects of climate change might be felt,” noting that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was rising steadily.
“In his conclusions section, Laurmann estimated that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would double in 2038, which he said would likely lead to a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global average temperatures with ‘major economic consequences,’” Banerjee reports. He then told the task force that models showed a 5 degrees Celsius rise by 2067, with ‘globally catastrophic effects,’” Banerjee reports.
Bruce S. Bailey of Texaco offered “for consideration” the idea that “an overall goal of the Task Force should be to help develop ground rules for energy release of fuels and the cleanup of fuels as they relate to CO2 creation,” according to the minutes of a meeting on Feb. 29, 1980.
The minutes also show that the task force discussed a “potential area” for research and development that called for it to “‘Investigate the Market Penetration Requirements of Introducing a New Energy Source into World Wide Use.’ This would include the technical implications of energy source changeover, research timing and requirements.”
“Yet,” Banerjee notes, “by the 1990s, it was clear that API had opted for a markedly different approach to the threat of climate change.”
The lobby group teamed up with Exxon and others to form the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), which successfully lobbied the U.S. to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.
The damning revelations are the latest in an ongoing investigation into what the fossil fuel industry knew about climate change and then suppressed for decades—all while continuing to profit from the planet’s destruction.
Reports that Exxon, specifically, lied about climate change were published early October in the Los Angeles Times, mirroring a separate but similar investigation by Inside Climate News in September. Those findings set off a storm of outrage, including a probe by the New York Attorney General.
Nelson, a former head of the API task force, told Banerjee that with the growing powers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1980’s, API decided to shift gears.
“They took the environmental unit and put it into the political department, which was primarily lobbyists,” he said. “They weren’t focused on doing research or on improving the oil industry’s impact on pollution. They were less interested in pushing the envelope of science and more interested in how to make it more advantageous politically or economically for the oil industry. That’s not meant as a criticism. It’s just a fact of life.”
We are familiar with fossil-fuels industries science arguments – but the new thing that surprised me was that “Truthout” internet site gives them a venue for publicity as in:
“Climate Change 2015: The Latest Science”
Oh well, but those questionable scientists quoted did push a little too far. They actually claim that Kyoto had it better then Paris – and that Kyoto was going to fulfill Rio. Does that mean that the Truthout Analyst gives away here that the Kyoto fake solution was also sponsored by the oil&coal folks that were active in Kyoto under the mantle of the International Chamber of Commerce?
We wrote our own assessment of the so called Paris Agreement – this after we first submitted it to the OUTREACH MAGAZINE for their final issue of the conference – the evaluation and summary issue.
The problem with most assessments that find shortcomings with that agreement comes from the fact that they are authored by peple that were involved in the UN and its conferences that produced absolute nothing and wasted us 20 years. THey were chasing some elusive and impossible dream to get all the cats and dogs to find a meaningful way by consensus on how to handle the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
We pick here the assessment we got from Mr. Gleckman now fron Maine and Chappaqua, New York.
He was involved – as he says – via the UNFCCC as Former, Senior Advisor to UNFCCC at the Copenhagen COP15; and was
The approach he represents is the one that asks for that elusive legal binding agreement that we know we cannot get. So President Obama settled to stay with the voluntary promises by governments – even he knew they will not add up to what is needed. But he also banks correctly on Civil Society to come out from the UN basement and in full daylight demand governments’ honesty and the increase of the voluntary promises to the true needed levels. The first swallow of this kind was the Patrick Sciarratta led rebellion of Civil Society, backed by six UN Member States, against the negatively oriented UN DPI. Patrick succeeded and others will as well. I pot here the Gleckman letter and hope our readers will fill in the voids.
Seven questions about the ‘successful’ Paris COP
A good number of commentators on the Paris COP have shared views that could be summarized as “COP was a success-but.” Others have appraised the COP as a complete ‘success’ or a fraud .
The ‘success but’ message depends heavily what criteria one has for judging a successful outcome of an international negotiation.
Clearly some countries, UN-system, and some media commentators, have domestic and international rationales for declaring a ‘success’ in Paris – even it is just the act of concluding an agreement irrespective of the contents of the agreement, or whether it actually changes in the world for the better.
The following questions look at the definition of success but in different ways. They are intended to challenge a number of the presumptions behind the assessment of ‘success but’ advocates.
1. Goals and reality: a profound gap – The COP formally adopted a below 2 degree goal and de facto approved a 3.7 degree package of intended nationally determined contributions.
Why is so much post-COP attention on the goal and not on the planet instability of what Governments accepted? Or put in another way should the outcome of the meeting be called the Paris 1.5 degree COP or the Paris 3.7 degree COP ?
2. Free riders galore : – The intended nationally determined contributions are only promises about the future.
Based on the COP outcome, what arguments could be made to a Government that its best short-term economic and political interest is not to cut its emissions and quietly expand its existing industrial system and let everyone else make the GHG cuts ?
3. Five year fictions : Each year that mitigation cuts are postponed means that a higher and sharper level of cuts are needed to bring the carbon budget down to a less than 2.0 degree goal.
If governments in 2015 could formally adopt a below 2 degrees goal with the knowledge that the aggregate impact of the declared nationally determined contributions come to 3.7 degrees, what evidence is there that they would they have even greater political willingness for sharply increased mitigation cuts at five year stocktakings ?
4. A fantastic non-enforcement system : Under most bilateral investment treaties, MNCs can file complaints before a binding arbitration panel that an action taken by a specific Government reduced their expected level of profitability and that the foreign investor should be compensated by that Governments for damages.
As the Paris Agreement invites voluntary national contributions, what arguments can a Government use to defend itself before a binding arbitration panel from a MNC which seeks compensation for loss expected income ?
Climate change does not exist in a vacuum – In the Paris negotiations a good number of important policy areas were deleted by the chairs and host government from the final text of the Paris Agreement.
Why did the Paris COP disconnect climate change from the management of oceans, human rights, gender, workers, mountains, health effects, oil and gas subsidies, international transport emission, climate migrants, carbon black, carbon budget, historical responsibility, the trade regime, agricultural destabilization, etc ?
6. Financial support – now you see it and now you don’t – One outcome of the Copenhagen process five years ago was a commitment to have $100 billion available for developing countries by 2020. Since Copenhagen Governments have recognized that annual costs from 2020 are likely to be 3-5 times larger than the $100 billion ‘commitment’
Is there a greater commitment to have money available for developing countries to reduce GHG emission or prepared for the impacts of climate change in the Paris Agreement than in the ‘failed’ Copenhagen Accord ?
7. Voluntarism, voluntarism – where is the rule of law -
Under the Paris Agreement (and under the Copenhagen Accord) Governments were authorized to submit their voluntary national goal posts and GHG reducing plans to the UNFCCC. Under the Paris Agreement Governments agreed to have a 5 year stocktaking of these plans without any process to adapt these plans to meet the less than 2 degree goal.
Does the practice of voluntary national implementation included in the Paris Agreement enhance or undermine the future development of international rule of law in other environmental, social, human rights and economic regimes?
Al Gore’s heart was in the right place but his political know-how questionable and his leadership caused harm to his cause. Later on, in his run for the Presidency, Al Gore found himself squeezed between his own decision not to let Clinton help him – and the Green ‘Naderites’ that found him lacking in part because of the failure to find support for the Kyoto Protocol. President Obama was well familiar with the two great mistakes of Al Gore: 1) The fact that he did not understand that the Senators will never allow for a U.S. unilateral decrease in emissions if the growth of China and other countries will not bear a proportion of the responsibility. 2) That you must not speak of a legally binding international agreement because you really do not want to risk a vote in the Senate.
Looking back at the history of sustainable development and climate change, one has to start at the Rio Summit of 1992 with its high point in Agenda 21 and then go to COP1 of the UNFCCC in Berlin (1995) and jump to Kyoto (1997), followed by the empty years of the G.W. Bush/Cheney administration – until we reach the Copenhagen COP15 of 2009. That is when newly elected President Obama made his first move by going to Beijing on his way to the Conference in an attempt to make inroads with China. The Chinese agreed for the first time that they have grown to the point that they ought to worry about the effect of their emissions on the global environment and climate – but they were not ready to take the plunge without sharing this with the other BASIC countries – Brazil, India and South Africa. It took six more years for that first effort by President Obama to bear the fruits of the Paris COP21. Now the subject has opened up with nearly all countries having made voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and agreed to report their achievements on a cyclical basis. It is obvious the present commitments are only a first step in the right direction; it is anticipated that negotiations will now be possible between participating countries to further increase their efforts to decrease emissions. But one must start somewhere and Obama led to this starting position. The Senate cannot undo this.
The fact that in the meantime we saw the evolution of a sizable middle class in China that demands clean air has induced President Xi to be cooperative, but he still must keep an image of a developing country in his relationships with the old industrialized world and the lesser developed states. He is therefore slow in accepting outside monitoring of his forthcoming efforts – something that relates extremely well with another lesson President Obama has learned from Al Gore’s mistakes. President Obama does not want a strict legally binding agreement in his fight to move the world onto a path of slowing the effects of climate change. Why should he be interested in being undone by a Republican Senate obstructionist rejection?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pincas Jawetz, Editor of SustainabiliTank.info Media and former Consultant on Energy Policy.
for the complete issue of OUTREACH MAGAZINE please look at google for “OUTREACH MAGAZINE ISSUE OF December 18, 2015″
The French have extended the State of Emergency till Monday November 30 – the day the Climate Conference COP 21 is opening, but
The COP21 conference should enable a global mobilization for climate and civil society is expected to play its full role.
Civil Society will therefore be present on-site at the venue Le Bourget, where the “Espaces Générations Climat” will host, for the whole duration of the Conference, from November 30 to December 12, more than 300 events, debates and conferences. A major mobilization, with many events, is planned throughout France. All these events will continue, except for school trips to the venue in Le Bourget.
The Statement continues with – “This is a difficult decision to make that will probably disappoint some of those who had planned to take part, but in the current context, safety requirements prevail.”
The leadership of the UNFCCC has seized on this to warn those it does not like – activists and media not sanctioned by them – to stay away. They also continue to argue that the Conference will conclude with a global agreement – something that is factually not in the cards.
The French decision does not, in any way, put into question the need for COP21 to widely welcome civil society and its organizations, who will play a major role at the conference.
The Conference will conclude with individual countries voluntary commitments – by now over 150 such Statements – and it is the role of Civil Society alone – to catalyze the governments forthcoming with substantial commitments. The UNFCCC – working by UN rules of consensus – hardly has a part in this. A decrease in the size of country delegations or in the number of UN officials will not harm the outcome, and Civil Society hopefully will realize the importance of orderly meetings.
Submitted on 2015/11/25 at 8:03 am
Hi Pincas, thank you for that clear rundown on what’s up.
After the Bonn stop on the way to Paris – it is clear that the UN is not capable to do what it takes to get a global answer to Climate Change: About 150 Countries nevertheless Will Start Finally On a Green Economy Path. Paris Will Be a Succes Despite the UN.
Convening from 19-23 October 2015, the Bonn Climate Change Conference was the last in a series of meetings under the UNFCCC in preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), scheduled to take place in November-December 2015, in Paris, France.
In their scenario note ADP.2015.7.InformalNote), ADP Co-Chairs Ahmed Djoghlaf (Algeria) and Daniel Reifsnyder (US) identified the objective of the session as intensifying the pace of text-based negotiations among Parties, with a view to preparing the draft Paris climate package for presentation at the opening of COP 21.
At the end of the week-long meeting, Parties issued two non-papers, one containing draft agreement text and draft decision text related to the agreement (workstream 1 of ADP’s mandate) and the other containing draft decision text related to pre-2020 ambition (workstream 2).
The full and best reporting of what went on in Bonn can be found at: mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#search…
Going over the Summary it becomes clear – if it was not before – that there will be no UN document ready for the Paris meeting and that UN bickering will continue – be assured that some Arab State will find space to bash Israel. All what the UN can do is to bring the problem to the public’s attention, and it is left to the public to push their governments to make a commitment, that is in those countries where a public opinion counts.
Paris COP 21 of the UNFCCC will not be a wash. This thanks to the fact that over 150 countries have already presented their commitments to act on Climate Change. Take for instance the US where by now commitments from companies that are joining the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, bringing the total number of US companies that have signed onto the pledge to 81. Together, these companies have operations in all 50 US states, employ over nine million people, represent more than US$3 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over US$5 trillion.
And yes, in the EU, Japan, Brazil there are similarly industry commitments – pushed by the public. In China and India as well, the public pushes for government action on pollution of any kind and this includes a better understanding of Climate Change disasters.
In a more general way see the The International Energy Agency’s evaluation of the situation:
The IEA’s “Energy and Climate Change: World Energy Outlook” tells us that full implementation of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by mid-October would decouple power sector emissions from electricity demand but would still lead to an average global temperature increase of around 2.7°C, which falls short of the declared “major course correction necessary” to stay below an average global temperature rise of 2°C.
The Outlook Special Briefing for COP21′ analyzes INDCs submitted by more than 150 countries, accounting for close to 90% of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and assesses in particular their energy sector-related impacts.
According to the briefing, given that energy production and use account for two-thirds of global GHG emissions, “actions in the energy sector can make or break efforts to achieve the world’s agreed climate goal” of staying below a 2°C temperature rise.
The briefing examines what the energy sector will look like globally in 2030 if all INDCs are fully implemented, and whether this will place the energy sector on a path consistent with the 2°C goal.
If implemented, the INDCs will lead to an improvement of global energy intensity at a rate almost three times faster than the rate since 2000. Emissions will either plateau or decline by 2030 in countries accounting for more than half of global economic activity at present. Of new electricity generation through 2030, 70% will be low-carbon.
And excerpted from a bright blogger for Huffington Post (UK):
Over the past three decades annual climate talks under the United Nations banner have become part of the Zeitgeist of a large movement. They draw government officials, think tanks, civil society, journalists and the occasional hipsters into negotiations over which ride trillions of dollars and our future well-being on Earth.
Expect a lot of drama at the next instalment, taking place in Paris in late November – early December.
Heads of state will make grandiose pronouncements.
Negotiators from 190 countries will huddle, whisper, argue over words for days and bargain in stuffy rooms in a style that would make bazaar traders proud.
Civil society will push for strong outcomes, prod for more climate finance, demonstrate occasionally (a welcome activity in Paris), express anger followed by frustration before going home let down again.
The press and the public will turn an inattentive, occasional eye to the 45,000 people gathered in Paris, then turn their attention away.
The private sector, two-thirds of global GDP and employment, will be largely absent (it is not formally represented in the negotiations) and mostly ignore the whole thing.
At the end, governments will cobble together a weak agreement to set emission reduction targets. Some will declare a major win, others will accurately note that we need to do much, much more. Then everyone will go home in time for the Christmas holidays and most of COP21, as the Paris UN gathering is known, will be forgotten.
Deeply buried in this cacophony are two emerging themes with the potential to significantly impact the private sector.
A Paris climate agreement, no matter how wobbly, will involve more than 150 countries publishing mini business plans for their economy describing what each will do to help limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. In typical UN jargon, these low-carbon business plans are known as INDCs, short for “intended nationally determined contribution.”
The INDCs are the driving force of COP21 and will become the development pathway for all countries. Weak and general at first, they will become stronger and more detailed over time.
First, multi-trillion dollar investment opportunities for the private sector will be clearly delineated, while others, far from where the country is heading, should be avoided.
For example, India’s business plan shows it wants to increase its clean energy generation capacity from 36 GW today to a whopping 320 GW by 2030. Similarly, China wants an extra 775 GW of renewables by 2030, on top of its existing 425 GW, the US wants to add an extra 179 GW and the EU another 380 GW.
Taken together, that’s double the world’s current renewable energy installed capacity (excluding hydropower) in investment potential, all of which comes with strong institutional support now that it is anchored in an INDC.
Second, the breadth of these INDCs means that within a few years, all finance will be climate finance; and all bonds will be green bonds.
We already know the commitments in Paris are nowhere near enough: The US, Europe, and China alone use up the world’s entire carbon budget by 2030. Therefore it’s reasonable to expect that they will get tougher, tighter and more precise with time because countries will be under increasing pressure to deliver, as climate change hits all of us harder and harder.
Post-2020 (the INDCs will most probably be reviewed in five year cycles), there is therefore likely to be a “wall of shame” hitting anyone who invests in non-INDC compatible, non-climate friendly technologies. In fact perhaps we will see “black bonds” emerge, highlighting investments that are increasingly unacceptable and at risk of being stranded because of their high emissions.
INDCs will make green investments even more mainstream than they are today and ensure that dirty investments are avoided on a long-term scale.
Loss and Damage
“Loss and damage” refers to the need to account for the impact of climate change, for example on a small island nation losing territory because of sea level rise. An element of climate negotiations for several years, its significance could be enormous for insurance companies, reinsurers, financial analysts and the markets.
Governments will continue to argue whether loss and damage is a euphemism for liability and compensation. Richer nations will end up ensuring that the answer is vague, and that therefore they can’t be held liable and won’t have to pay compensation.
However, the door is likely to be kept open for clever lawyers to use the “loss and damage” aspects of a climate change agreement to launch claims against companies: Victims of climate change will aggressively try to go after corporate polluters for compensation, particularly the likes of Exxon, Shell and BP who have known about climate change for decades but either buried the evidence or ignored it to accumulate profits at the expense of our collective health and well-being.
The results of these claims could be shocking for many. The Dutch proved earlier this year that climate liability lawsuits can stand up in courts.
From the above, we conclude that COP 21 of the UNFCCC in Paris will have picked up from where COP 15 of Copenhagen left the Climate Change issue. Copenhagen was where the Kyoto stillborn Protocol was buried by Obama bringing for the first time the Chinese on board, now it will be the Obama-Xi alliance that will bring most true Nations on board. And let us not forget Pope Francis and the ethics of “we are the creation’s wardens.” This resonates very well with much of the public and helps the businesses that will move green.
We will not go to the opening of the Paris meeting, but will be there for the end – this so me can evaluate the outcome which promises to have practical value.
EXXON LIABLE FOR ITS DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN: Doubt is the Product of Disinformation Industries that helps Businesses like the Petroleum Business continue to Make Profits while knowing that their Sales Harm Humanity.
The charge is that Exxon scientists and management knew since the late 1970s that the company’s product was helping cause our planet to warm “catastrophically,” but management responded by covering this up and disseminating disinformation – joining with other companies to commit an enormous fraud on the public for profit.
For some time, environmentalists have been warning that oil and coal companies were behind a broad campaign to deceive the public and block the government from regulating or taxing carbon pollution. Sites like ExxonSecrets, the Union of Concerned Scientists, SourceWatch and their Coal Issues portal, CoalSwarm and many others have been exposing, warning, documenting and working to get the word out.
This campaign is said to have included strategic use of misinformation, propaganda disseminated through front groups disguised as ideological organizations and purchased political influence to turn a substantial portion of the public against their own government. This was so that the companies could continue to profit from selling a dangerous, destructive product.
Recent investigative reporting has been able to access internal Exxon documents and statements from company scientists that confirms what the environmentalists have been telling us.
In September Inside Climate News (ICN) broke a story they called “Exxon: The Road Not Taken.” Using internal Exxon documents, Climate News showed how “Exxon conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago” that its executives suppressed as it went about “manufacturing doubt about the scientific consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.” The report begins:
At a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.
According to the reporting, beginning in the late 1970s Exxon scientists repeatedly warned management that their product was contributing to warming the planet, and that this could be “catastrophic.” A senior Exxon scientist, for example, warned in 1977 that “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”
That was in 1977. Exxon scientists continued sounding the alarm and at first the company responded responsibly by launching an ambitious carbon/climate research effort.
Within months the company launched its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth. Exxon’s ambitious program included both empirical CO2 sampling and rigorous climate modeling. It assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company’s understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business.
As part of that effort, reporters reviewed hundreds of documents housed in archives in Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and at the University of Texas. They also reviewed scientific journals and interviewed dozens of experts, including former Exxon Mobil employees.” The LA Times report found that Exxon scientists – and management – understood clearly that carbon was contributing to climate change and that the effects were real and severe.
Exxon’s research laid the groundwork for a 1982 corporate primer on carbon dioxide and climate change prepared by its environmental affairs office. Marked “not to be distributed externally,” it contained information that “has been given wide circulation to Exxon management.” In it, the company recognized, despite the many lingering unknowns, that heading off global warming “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.”
Unless that happened, “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” the primer said, citing independent experts. “Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”
Exxon knew. The company was part of an industry that was profiting from a product that was polluting the planet with potentially “catastrophic” consequences that “endangered humanity.”
So what did Exxon do with that knowledge?
What Exxon Did
What did Exxon do after company scientists provided indisputable evidence of the risks their product posed to the planet and humanity? The ICN report continued:
Then, toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial. It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day.
Exxon hid its corporate lobbying effort using a network of front groups disguised as ideological organizations and “think tanks” to disseminate disinformation and anti-government propaganda. They worked to sow doubt about the science – including smearing scientists and environmental activists – and to delegitimize potential efforts by governments to regulate its product. They also funded politicians who would help block efforts to regulate them. The ICN report explains:
Exxon helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition, an alliance of some of the world’s largest companies seeking to halt government efforts to curb fossil fuel emissions. Exxon used the American Petroleum Institute, right-wing think tanks, campaign contributions and its own lobbying to push a narrative that climate science was too uncertain to necessitate cuts in fossil fuel emissions.
Exxon and other companies utilized a network of front groups to push what has come to be called “climate denial.” The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) looked at what they call Global Warming Skeptic Organizations and warned,
These organizations play a key role in the fossil fuel industry’s “disinformation playbook,” a strategy designed to confuse the public about global warming and delay action on climate change. Why? Because the fossil fuel industry wants to sell more coal, oil, and gas — even though the science clearly shows that the resulting carbon emissions threaten our planet.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Climate Deception Dossiers” examine a “coordinated campaign of deception” that is “underwritten by ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, Peabody Energy, and other members of the fossil fuel industry.” ExxonSecrets has mapped the networking of many of these organizations. And from 2007, New report from Union of Concerned Scientists documents ExxonMobil’s disinformation campaign:
Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to “Manufacture Uncertainty” on Climate Change, a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists, details how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry’s disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. The section of the report on “Buying Government Access” includes discussion of documentation we made available in 2005 and issues we have raised since then.
The Exxon/industry campaign strategies and tactics did not come out of nowhere. Tobacco companies had paved, refined and perfected the way.
After scientists and doctors began to warn that tobacco was causing cancer in people, tobacco companies came up with a plan to block the government from regulating their product. They created a campaign to convince the public that the science was not certain. They pioneered the use of organizations disguised as political and ideological organizations to disseminate anti-government propaganda aimed at preventing regulation of their product.
More than 480,000 Americans still die every year because of what the tobacco industry did. But their campaign to keep the profits rolling in didn’t just kill people; it turned a substantial portion of the American public against their own government. They disguised their propaganda as “limited government” ideology, but it was really just a plan to limit the government from regulating them.
In 2008 Chris Mooney wrote at The American Prospect about companies using the tobacco industry’s model in, “The Manufacture of Uncertainty,” reviewing the book “Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health” by David Michaels. Mooney wrote:
The sabotage of science is now a routine part of American politics. The same corporate strategy of bombarding the courts and regulatory agencies with a barrage of dubious scientific information has been tried on innumerable occasions – and it has nearly always worked, at least for a time. Tobacco. Asbestos. Lead. Vinyl chloride. Chromium. Formaldehyde. Arsenic. Atrazine. Benzene. Beryllium. Mercury. Vioxx. And on and on. In battles over regulating these and many other dangerous substances, money has bought science, and then science – or, more precisely, artificially exaggerated uncertainty about scientific findings – has greatly delayed action to protect public and worker safety. And in many cases, people have died.
Tobacco companies perfected the ruse, which was later copycatted by other polluting or health-endangering industries. One tobacco executive was even dumb enough to write it down in 1969. “Doubt is our product,” reads the infamous memo, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”
A Wider Conspiracy?
One of Exxon and other fossil fuel companies’ efforts included helping to establish the Global Climate Coalition in 1989 shortly after the first meeting of the U.N.-created Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Among GCC’s efforts was a tendentious video it provided to journalists at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in which it claimed, among other things, that more CO2 in the atmosphere would boost crop yields. So, something to cheer rather than worry about.
Until 1997, according to SourceWatch, GCC operated out of the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers. Among its members besides Exxon: the American Forest & Paper Association, American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, Ford, General Motors, Shell Oil, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The organization was disbanded in 2002, although neither Exxon nor other former members gave up their propaganda war against climate science.
That organization was disbanded, but the funding of these anti-government, science-denial front groups continues.
Last week, representatives Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier, who serve on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested a Department of Justice investigation into Exxon.
“In this case, Exxon scientists knew about fossil fuels causing global warming and Exxon took internal actions based on its knowledge of climate change,” Lieu and DeSaulnier wrote. “Yet Exxon funded and publicly engaged in a campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of fossil fuels in causing climate change.”
“If these allegations against Exxon are true then Exxon’s actions were immoral,” they added. “We request the DOJ to investigate whether ExxonMobil’s actions were also illegal.”
On Friday presidential candidate Martin O’Malley joined in, tweeting “We held tobacco companies responsible for lying about cancer. Let’s do the same for oil companies & climate change.” The tweet linked to a New Republic report on the Lieu/DeSaulnier letter.
Climate Progress wrote Tuesday that Sharon Eubanks, a “former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who prosecuted and won the massive racketeering case against Big Tobacco thinks the agency should consider investigating Big Oil for similar claims: engaging in a cover-up to mislead the public about the risks of its product.”
Sharon Eubanks, who now works for the firm Bordas & Bordas, told ThinkProgress that ExxonMobil and other members of the fossil fuel industry could be held liable for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) if it’s discovered that the companies worked together to suppress knowledge about the reality of human-caused climate change. She said that, considering recent revelations regarding ExxonMobil, the DOJ should consider launching an investigation into big fossil fuel companies.
“I think a RICO action is plausible and should be considered,” she said.
Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought more attention to the charges this week, sending a letter to the Justice Department asking for a probe of Exxon, bringing attention to an issue that has been bubbling up for some time. Sanders’ press release explains the reason a probe is in order:
“Exxon Mobil knew the truth about fossil fuels and climate change and lied to protect their business model at the expense of the planet,” Sanders said. He likened Exxon Mobil’s conduct to claims by the tobacco industry about the health risks associated with smoking.
From Sanders’ letter:
“These reports, if true, raise serious allegations of a misinformation campaign that may have caused public harm similar to the tobacco industry’s actions — conduct that led to federal racketeering convictions.”
This propaganda and the money that propelled it has polluted our entire political system. Look into almost any organization (or political party) promoting “limited government” and complaining about “burdensome government regulation” and you will find oil money. This is not ideology; this is corruption. This is giant corporations trying to keep the government from doing something about their dangerous, destructive products.
This is a crime against our country and the world. It is a crime against our democratic system. The companies behind this enormous fraud on the public must be investigated for possible criminal activity. The front groups that disseminate anti-government, anti-regulation propaganda at their behest should be exposed as frauds and brought under control.
Now we have to move forward as quickly as possible to limit the burning of fossil fuels. Because of these companies and their fraud and disinformation, it is too late to stop the climate from changing – but it might not be too late to ward off the worst effects.
IThe twenty-fourth session of the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy, 18-20 November, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
from: Yana Daneva Yana.Daneva at unece.org
An international high-level panel on 19 November 2015 will provide an occasion to explore what sustainable energy means for the UNECE region, both from the perspective of reducing the environmental footprint of energy and from the perspective of assuring needed energy for sustainable development.
An overview of the week and the draft agenda are attached. Additional information and the link for registration can be found on the website at: www.unece.org/index.php?id=38539#….
For questions please contact Ms. Stefanie Held, secretary of the Committee on Sustainable Energy, (+41 22 917 24 62, e-mail: stefanie.held at unece.org) or Ms. Laurence Rotta (tel: +41 22 917 59 76; e-mail: laurence.rotta at unece.org).
writes Lisa Tinschert
Palais des Nations – Office S-382
T: +41 (0) 22 917 24 63
Lise Kingo of Denmark replaced September 1st, 2015 the retiring Georg Kell of Switzerland – the 2000 Founder of the UN Global Compact – the largest UN backing business association for Sustainable Corporate Responsibility.
25 June 2015
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Lise Kingo as Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact. She will succeed Georg Kell, who retires later this year after over 25 years of service to the United Nations.
The Secretary-General expresses his gratitude for the outgoing Executive Director’s services to the Organization and his commitment in fostering cooperation between the private sector and the United Nations. He is particularly appreciative of Mr. Kell’s exemplary leadership in the creation and management of the United Nations Global Compact since its launch in 2000.
Ms. Kingo, who assumes the role on 1 September, will bring a wealth of experience and passion to the Global Compact, coupled with extensive knowledge and understanding of strategic leadership and implementation of corporate sustainability through building partnerships with key stakeholders. She was most recently the Chief of Staff, Executive Vice-President and member of the Executive Management at Novo Nordisk A/S from 2002 to 2014. She also served as Senior Vice-President of Stakeholder Relations from 1999 to 2002 and as Director of Environmental Affairs from 1988 to 1999. She currently serves as the Deputy Chair of the Danish Nature Foundation, member of the boards of Grieg Star Group A/S and C3 Collaborating for Health, and chairperson of the Danish Council for Corporate Social Responsibility.
Ms. Kingo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religions and Ancient Greek Culture from the University of Aarhus, Denmark; a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Economics from the Copenhagen Business School; and a Master of Science degree in Responsibility and Business Practice from the University of Bath, United Kingdom.
Launched in July 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible and sustainable corporate policies and practices. Endorsed by chief executives, it seeks to align business operations and strategies everywhere with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. With over 8,000 corporate participants in over 150 countries, the United Nations Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.
UPDATED – Dim views of what will happen at Paris2015 and a call to India’s participation in what was previously seen as the needed US-China leadership. Great changes, like the loss of Southern Europe, are predicted for the next 100 years. The Update is about the continuation of the UN to 2030.
On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.
The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”
The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”
Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.
The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.
UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.