What’s not to like? Becoming carbon neutral means cutting greenhouse gas emissions as much as you can, then offsetting what you can’t avoid with measures like tree planting. Seems admirable.
Well, not exactly. Carbon neutrality doesn’t achieve any sort of systemic change. A coal-powered business could be entirely carbon neutral as long it stops some landfill gas in Malaysia from entering the atmosphere equal to the emissions it’s still releasing. American fossil fuel dependence would remain intact, and planet-warming emissions would continue to rise. The only way to fix that is through politics, policymakers and legislation. But distressingly, most businesses don’t want to play in that arena.”
MIHE, China — Chen Shuying was sitting at home with her husband and their 3-year-old grandson on Tuesday when water began to surge through the door. Within minutes, it was well above her waist. “The water came so fast,” she said.
They made it to the roof, where they waited for hours for the water to recede. Two days later, she still cannot return home, she said. They were lucky. Three neighbors — a grocery shopkeeper and two of the grocer’s customers — were swept away by the floodwaters and have not been seen since.
The formidable destructive power of the floods that engulfed Henan Province in central China became clearer on Thursday, even as new areas were inundated. Still more rain is in the forecast, following days of torrential downpours, including the strongest on record in the area on Tuesday.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
The silver lining of this tragic flooding in central China, is that the Chinese government deserves to be reprimanded for its insistence that it is their turn now to pollute for 300 years, like the western countries did in the last 300 years. They continue to build new coal plants in China and around the world, and insisist that they can increase their carbon emissions for at least another 15 or 30 years. While their position makes good sense morally, it ignores the science of the climate crisis. And it isn’t good for the people of China. The people of earth have to stop all climate change causing pollution emissions, or we all will suffer the awful consequences. The problems we are seeing today are just the prequel, the beginning of what could turn out to be an existential threat of floods, droughts, famines, epidemics, dislocation and war over diminishing resources.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.
“To cruise or not to cruise? To safari or stay put? To fly — perchance to hang glide or kite surf into some un-Instagrammed country. So goes the great moral dilemma now lurking in the travel and tourism industry, perhaps the beating heart of global consumerist extravagance. Now that our year-plus fast is close to over, shall we commence gorging once more?
In 2019, according to an industry trade group, the world spent about $9 trillion — nearly a tenth of global G.D.P. — on tourism. It was the 10th consecutive year of growth in travel, and expansion looked endless.”
“On the day the little investment firm Engine No. 1 would learn the outcome of its proxy battle at Exxon Mobil, its office in San Francisco still didn’t have furniture. Almost everyone had been working at home since the firm was started in spring 2020, so when the founder, Chris James, went into the office for a rare visit on May 26 this year to watch the results during Exxon Mobil’s annual shareholder meeting, he propped his computer up on a rented desk. As an activist investor, he had bought millions of dollars’ worth of shares in Exxon Mobil to put forward four nominees to the board. His candidates needed to finish in the top 12 of the 16 up for election, and he was nervous. Since December, James and the firm’s head of active engagement, Charlie Penner, had been making their case that America’s most iconic oil company needed new directors to help it thrive in an era of mounting climate urgency. In response, Exxon Mobil expanded its board to 12 directors from 10 and announced a $3 billion investment in a new initiative it called Low Carbon Solutions. James paced around the empty office and texted Penner: “I was doing bed karate this morning thinking about how promises made at gunpoint are rarely kept. Exxon only makes promises at gunpoint.”
LONDON — During a contentious meeting over proposed climate regulations last fall, a Saudi diplomat to the obscure but powerful International Maritime Organization switched on his microphone to make an angry complaint: One of his colleagues was revealing the proceedings on Twitter as they happened.
It was a breach of the secrecy at the heart of the I.M.O., a clubby United Nations agency on the banks of the Thames that regulates international shipping and is charged with reducing emissions in an industry that burns an oil so thick it might otherwise be turned into asphalt. Shipping produces as much carbon dioxide as all of America’s coal plants combined.
Internal documents, recordings and dozens of interviews reveal what has gone on for years behind closed doors: The organization has repeatedly delayed and watered down climate regulations, even as emissions from commercial shipping continue to rise, a trend that threatens to undermine the goals of the 2016 Paris climate accord.
One reason for the lack of progress is that the I.M.O. is a regulatory body that is run in concert with the industry it regulates. Shipbuilders, oil companies, miners, chemical manufacturers and others with huge financial stakes in commercial shipping are among the delegates appointed by many member nations. They sometimes even speak on behalf of governments, knowing that public records are sparse, and that even when the organization allows journalists into its meetings, it typically prohibits them from quoting people by name.” . . .
David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Matt Apuzzo and Sarah Hurtes for bringing this mess, this Augean Stables, to our attention. This nonesense should be stopped ASAP. Someone should tell this group at the IMO that all its meeting have to be open to the press, or it should be dismantled. There are some great ideas in the comments, like getting rid of, making illegal, Open Ship Registers. The United States should have its own rules, regulations, and enforcement, perhaps permanently, or at least, until the UN organization shows that it is up to the job, which it clearly isn’t.
PS. One commenter suggested, the US should require all ships coming to the US should meet strict environmental standards, or they can’t stop here and unload or pick up goods. Another said, we should join with the EU, and create rules that anyone trading with either group must abide.
“Since the 1990s, the wisest oil-producing countries and companies have regularly reminded themselves of the oil patch adage that the Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones; it ended because we invented bronze tools. When we did, stone tools became worthless — even though there were still plenty on the ground.
And so it will be with oil: The petroleum age will end because we invent superior technology that coexists harmoniously with nature. When we do, there will be plenty of oil left in the ground.
So be careful, wise producers tell themselves, don’t bet the vitality of your company, community or country on the assumption that oil will be like Maxwell House Coffee — “Good to the last drop” — and pumped from every last well. Remember Kodak? It underestimated the speed at which digital photography would make film obsolete. It didn’t go well for Kodak or Kodachrome.
Alas, though, not every oil company got the memo.
One that most glaringly did not is the one that in 2013 was the biggest public company in the world! It’s ExxonMobil. Today, it is no longer the biggest. As a result of its head-in-the-oil-sands-drill-baby-drill-we-are-still-not-at-peak-oil business model, Exxon lost over $20 billion last year, suffered a credit rating downgrade, might have to borrow billions just to pay its dividend, has seen its share price over the last decade produce a minus-30 percent return and was booted from the Dow Jones industrial average. . . . “
“As the world’s oil and gas giants face increasing pressure to reduce their fossil fuel emissions, small, privately held drilling companies are becoming the country’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, often by buying up the industry’s high-polluting assets.
According to a startling new analysis of the latest emissions data disclosed to the Environmental Protection Agency, five of the industry’s top ten emitters of methane, a particularly potent planet-warming gas, are little-known oil and gas producers, some backed by obscure investment firms, whose environmental footprints are wildly large relative to their production.
In some cases, the companies are buying up high-polluting assets directly from the largest oil and gas corporations, like ConocoPhillips and BP; in other cases, private equity firms acquire risky oil and gas properties, develop them, and sell them quickly for maximum profits.
The largest emitter, Hilcorp Energy, reported almost 50 percent more methane emissions from its operations than the nation’s largest fossil fuel producer, Exxon Mobil, despite pumping far less oil and gas. Four other relatively unknown companies — Terra Energy Partners, Flywheel Energy, Blackbeard Operating and Scout Energy — each reported emitting more of the gas than many industry heavyweights. . . .”
David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you Hiroko Tabuchi for this excellent reporting, and for disturbing my morning. This scandal calls for stiffer laws, regulations and penalities, and a warp speed movement by the government to seal all these leaks, and then go after the parties responsible for them for reimbursement, fines, and probably, prison terms. The treats of climate change are existential, and we have to get serious about it. One new law that might make sense, would be to forbid the selling of any oil or gas assets until all of its current leaks are fixed and fully sealed, which would prevent the larger companies from just off loading their dirty sites.
The fines and penalties should be so severe, that these oil and gas opportunists should be hopping to clean up their messes before the government does.
“HOUSTON — Big Oil was dealt a stunning defeat on Wednesday when shareholders of Exxon Mobil elected at least two board candidates nominated by activist investors who pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas.
The success of the campaign, led by a tiny hedge fund against the nation’s largest oil company, could force the energy industry to confront climate change and embolden Wall Street investment firms that are prioritizing the issue. Analysts could not recall another time that Exxon management had lost a vote against company-picked directors.
“This is a landmark moment for Exxon and for the industry,” said Andrew Logan, a senior director at Ceres, a nonprofit investor network that pushes corporations to take climate change seriously. “How the industry chooses to respond to this clear signal will determine which companies thrive through the coming transition and which wither.”
The vote reveals the growing power of giant Wall Street firms that manage the 401(k)s and other investments of individuals and businesses to press C.E.O.s to pursue environmental and social goals. Some of these firms are run by executives who say they see climate change as a major threat to the economy and the planet. . . . . “
I have opposed divestment from the oil and gas companies for many years, arguing that persuation from within is as important as legislation and pressure from without. It appears that yesterday, folks like me had a good day. I was extremely proud to have voted my small batch of Exxon Mobil shares for all four of the new sustainability board members, and for the the two biting resolutions that passed, requiring transparecy of all money to politics, and to evaluate such donations against the goals of the Paris Climate Accord goals.
How Does the U.S. Approach to the Environment Look From Abroad?Video by Chai Dingari, Adam Westbrook and Brendan Miller
“The United States has a schizophrenic relationship with the environment.
It boasts a spectacular system of more than 400 national park sites; a robust environmental lobby; and strong federal environmental law, including the landmark Endangered Species Act, which is credited with saving the bald eagle and the grizzly bear from extinction.
Yet it also harbors a dark side, including an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels; a longstanding romance with behemoth, gas-guzzling vehicles; and perhaps the highest per capita generation of plastic waste in the world.
For the video (below), we collated data and other information about America’s posture on the environment and presented them to people from other countries that, in some ways, have made the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, seem like an environmental laggard.”
Opinion | ‘Climate Change Is Not a Subjective Thing.’ How Does the U.S. Approach to the Environment Look From Abroad
“WASHINGTON—As the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices walloped U.S. frackers this spring, Texas billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks got a $35 million relief loan to help one of their fracking companies stay afloat. At the same time, they were on a buying spree in the country’s oil patch.
Since spring, businesses controlled by the Wilks brothers have hunted for deals among fracking firms going through bankruptcy and taken or increased stakes in at least six other companies, corporate filings show. But when it looked like the oil-and-gas industry would be shut out of a key pandemic lending program, they and others in the industry turned their attention to Washington, making an appeal for help in meetings with home-state senator Ted Cruz.
The twin dynamics of acquisitions and government rescue show how the economic tumult caused by the pandemic has reshaped the landscape for a key U.S. industry. One result: The Wilkses have expanded their presence in a still-youthful industry where they first invested in 2002, soon to become billionaires as fracking flourished.
But the industry was already under pressure from international competition and a sagging oil price by the time the pandemic hit, and its mounting woes prompted the Wilkses and others to turn to allies in Washington, including Mr. Cruz. The Republican senator helped convince the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve to change the rules for pandemic loans to ensure oil and gas firms could participate.
Soon after the U.S. government changed the rules of its lending program in April, a Wilks family company, ProFrac Holdings LLC, applied for and received a $35 million loan, federal records show. ProFrac, a supplier of pumping equipment and services, is just one slice of the sprawling portfolio of fracking businesses that the Wilks family owns in part or outright across the American West and Canada.