According to Planet Wreckers, a new report by Oil Change International, just five companies are responsible for 51% of planned oil and gas expansion between now and 2050, what many scientists say is the deadline for zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions to address the climate crisis. The U.S, the report says, is the “Planet Wrecker in Chief,” its plans accounting for a third of the total global emissions associated with new extraction. Canada and Russia are No. 2 & 3. Projects in just 20 nations would produce 90% of emissions from new projects.
The researchers note:
- If these 20 Planet Wreckers adopted U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’s call to quit licensing new oil and gas fields,, it would stop the equivalent of the lifetime carbon pollution of 1,100 new coal plants, with 173 billion metric tons of carbon pollution being kept in the ground
- The planned oil and gas expansion by these 20 countries would make it impossible to hold global average temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F).
- Extracting fossil fuels just from existing sites globally would result in 140% more carbon pollution than the allowed budget for keeping at or below 1.5°C of temperature rise. With the planned new extraction, carbon pollution from fossil fuel production would soar 190% over the 1.5°C budget, risking locking in more than 2°C (3.6°F) of warming. Many climatologists think that would make large swaths of the planet unlivable by human beings and other lifeforms.
Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy lead and report co-author at Oil Change International, said in a press release:
“It’s simple: when you are in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. The climate crisis is global in nature—but is atrociously unjust. A handful of the world’s richest nations’ are risking our future by willingly ignoring the calls to rapidly phase out fossil fuels. Despite very clear science telling us what is in store beyond 1.5°C, these so-called climate leaders are planning for climate chaos. Continuing to increase fossil fuel production anywhere is not compatible with a liveable future and has been rightly called “moral and economic madness” by U.N. Secretary General Guterres. All countries must show up to the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit [this week] with plans to stop oil and gas expansion immediately, but these five countries have the additional responsibility to move first and fastest to phase out their production, and pay their fair share to fund a just global energy transition. The world is watching, and those intent on leading us into disaster will be held accountable.”
Last month, in a study published in Nature Climate Change, researchers found that many companies that were quick to tout their “net-zero” targets and support for the Paris Agreement in 2015 have yet to make significant reductions. Indeed, many have retreated. According to the study, more than 60% of the world’s top 142 oil, gas and coal companies are not on track to meet the necessary goal. They noted:
Not only did we find the majority of these companies are not currently aligned, but the outlook is also troubling. If recent trends (2010-2018) continue, the companies would produce up to 68% (coal), 42% (oil) and 53% (gas) more than their cumulative production budgets by 2050.
In February, another study found that emissions-cutting pledges neither match what corporations are actually doing nor the dire reality of the climate crisis. Carbon Market Watch and the NewClimate Institute looked into the pledges of 24 of the world’s biggest companies across eight industrial sectors, all of which advertised themselves as climate leaders. They included Apple, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Nestle, JBS Foods, Amazon, Mercedes Benz, and Walmart. They wrote:
Most companies’ climate strategies are mired by ambiguous commitments, offsetting plans that lack credibility and emission scope exclusions, but replicable good practice can be identified from a minority. [...]
Companies’ 2030 targets cannot be taken at face value. Nearly all the 24 companies that we assessed have pledged 2030 targets, but we find that these targets can rarely be taken at face value. For many companies, 2030 targets address only a limited scope of emission sources, such as only direct emissions (scope 1) or emissions from procured energy (scope 2) and only selected other indirect emission categories (scope 3). Scope 3 emissions account for over 90% of the GHG emission footprints for most of the companies we have assessed. For others, 2030 targets are misleading due to reliance on offsetting.
As in U.N. climate conferences dating back 30 years, fossil fuel lobbyists will again be plentiful at COP28 in Dubai, which starts November 30. At COP27 in Egypt, 600 of them were on hand. Expect to see more tall tales from them in two-and-a-half months about their emissions pledges and how very, very green all the companies they represent are. This year, at least, they’ll have to identify themselves, creating a little transparency. But who needs lobbyists when the presiding officer of COP28 is Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi state oil company, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change?
Tick, tick, tick.
The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation has launched an EV Jobs Hub to mark progress in that realm. The foundation is a partner with the BlueGreen Alliance, which since 2006 has worked to unite labor unions and environmental organizations to create high-quality, environmentally sound, unionized jobs in a reshaped, sustainable economy.
Holding manufacturers and policymakers accountable for the investments and promises to spur this transformation is key to its mission. The foundation notes that “new manufacturing jobs in the domestic EV supply chain must be community-sustaining jobs with competitive wages and benefits, in safe and diverse workplaces, and where workers have the free and fair choice to join a union.”
Electrifying transportation isn’t, of course, the only change necessary to address the climate crisis. The move to EVs is nonetheless a crucial element of the transformation.
Data collected by the EV Jobs Hub shows tens of thousands of jobs have been created in the past dozen years. In 2010, there were just three U.S. EV facilities with 2,700 jobs. But in 2022 alone, 80,000 new EV and EV-related jobs—such as battery production—were added at 101 facilities. At the same time, EV investments rose in 2022 to nearly $70 billion, up from $1.9 billion in 2010. The states with leading such investments and new jobs are Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Tennessee. At least some portion of these new jobs are a product of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act that incentivizes EV buyers with up to a $7,500 federal tax credit and incentivizes for local manufacturing. Some $18 billion in local and state subsidies also contribute to spurring new manufacturing facilities.
EV and related facilities now total 318, according to the Jobs Hub, with $154 billion in investment and 188,000 jobs. Of those, 25% are unionized, far above the 8.6% U.S. average among manufacturers. But, many of the new battery factories and related facilities are low-wage, non-unionized affairs. If the newly feisty UAW under president Shawn Fain has its way, the transition to EVs may very well mean even more unionization of these new jobs.
That matters because 32% of the new facilities are being located in disadvantaged communities, a key element of the Biden administration’s efforts to make the transformation equitable. But it won’t be equitable if paltry pay is the standard because many of those facilities or planned facilities are right-to-work states where unionization is made even more difficult than it already is.
Here’s a list showing the number of U.S. jobs at the 15 companies engaged in EV and EV-related manufacturing.
Expanded development on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, viewed as a climate refuge, is encroaching on prime wildlife habitat. As big cats find it harder to avoid people, many are winding up dead.
Meet the Shadowy Global Network Vilifying Climate Protesters by Amy Westervelt and Geoff Dembicki at The New Republic. For decades, the Atlas Network has used its reach and influence to spread conservative philosophy—and criminalize climate protest. Earlier this year, news footage began making the rounds on social media of young activists from the German climate organization Letzte Generation (Last Generation) being assaulted as they obstructed streets in an effort to draw attention to the German government’s inaction on climate. A young woman, with her hand glued to the asphalt, was ripped off the road by her hair; a young man was run over by a truck driver; a passerby punched protesters and was cheered on. A few months later, German police raided the homes of Last Generation activists and froze their bank accounts. [...] What’s happening in Germany—public rhetoric vilifying climate activists, which the media then picks up and amplifies and, ultimately, leads to the criminalization of those activists—is a pattern we’ve seen play out in multiple countries, new research from climate news sites Drilled and DeSmog reveals. That pattern is thanks in no small part to the influence of this little-known network, which has powerful allies in the oil, gas, and extractive industries. The Atlas Network describes itself as “a nonprofit that aims to secure the right to economic and personal freedom for all individuals” through its global network of think tanks. But before it was a network, it was just one think tank: the U.K.-based Institute of Economic Affairs, or IEA, founded by a rightist ideologue named Antony Fisher.
New York Socialists Won Big On Climate. How Did It Happen? by Liza Featherstone at In These Times. Anyone perusing Twitter or reading the works of Karl Marx will notice that socialists can get fractious with one another. But as one hardworking eco-socialist leader in the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA) will tell you, an existential threat to humanity like climate change can bring people together. “It’s not like we’re debating about Lenin,” Charlie Heller joked over coffee in June (though he acknowledged his comrades did have diverse perspectives on Lenin). “Something about being focused on climate makes you crazy in a unique way,” Heller says. “We are here to win and we have to seize the power of the state, because nothing else can address this global crisis at a scale that can match it.”
Summer 2023 was the hottest on record—yes, it’s climate change, but don’t call it ‘the new normal’ by Scott Denning at The Conversation. A lot of commentary uses the framing of a “new normal,” as if our climate has undergone a step change to a new state. This is deeply misleading and downplays the danger. The unspoken implication of “new normal” is that the change is past and we can adjust to it as we did to the “old normal.” Unfortunately, warming won’t stop this year or next. The changes will get worse until we stop putting more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the planet can remove. Just as the summer of 2023 was among the hottest in thousands of years, 2024 will likely be hotter still. El Niño is strengthening, and this weather phenomenon has a history of heating up the planet. We will probably look back at recent years as among the coolest of the 21st century.
What’s next for the new Global Biodiversity Fund? by at Mongabay. During its Seventh Assembly in Vancouver, Canada, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) officially launched the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBF Fund), which Canada and the United Kingdom committed to contribute to, CAN$200 million and £10 million respectively. This “game-changing” instrument is intended to support the financing of the execution of the widely acclaimed GBF. Its success will depend on the degree to which the GBF Fund can function efficiently and equitably and improve on lessons learned in global environmental funding to date. The GBF is aimed at addressing the critical issue of biodiversity loss and features four long-term goals for 2050 and 23 targets for urgent actions to achieve by 2030. It represents a significant milestone in global efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and protect ecosystems. The GBF was developed through a series of negotiations and consultations involving governments, conservationists, civil society organizations, groups representing Indigenous and local communities, and other stakeholders. However, the CBD Secretariat has warned that the current biodiversity finance gap is “700 billion dollars per year.” In order to bridge this financing gap, a drastic increase in capital mobilization is pivotal for implementing the framework. The 19th target focuses on the funding challenge, aiming to mobilize at least $US 200 billion per year by 2030.
“As the world heats up, it moves. This is true on the molecular level as well as the species level. All creatures, from the ancient cedars of Lebanon to the microbes in the deep thernmal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, have evolved within a basifc temperature range, and if that range changes too much, they have to find a more habitable climate niche. For humans, the decision is often dependent on money, which buys access to cooling systems, clean water, and food, But most living things don’t have the luxury of conditioned air or ordering a case of Pellegrino from Whole Foods. For them, adaptation often means moving to higher latitudes or higher elevations where it is cooler. If they can’t find refuge, they die.”—Jeff Goodell, p. 83 of “The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet.”
HALF A DOZEN OTHER THINGS TO READ (OR LISTEN TO)
Edible Insects: In Europe, a Growing Push for Bug-Based Food by Luigi Avantaggiato at Yale Environment 360. To rein in emissions, the EU is looking to insects as an alternate source of protein for livestock and people and is easing regulations and subsidizing makers of insect-derived food. The bloc has no easy way to curb the climate impact of its livestock, which eat soybeans grown on deforested lands and belch heat-trapping gas. According to one estimate, Europe’s farm animals have a bigger carbon footprint than its cars. In this photo essay, Avantaggiato explores an unusual solution to this dilemma that is now gaining traction — feeding insects to livestock and, potentially, people. The European Commission says that insects could replace soy-based animal feed, helping to slow deforestation, or even supply an alternate source of protein for humans. Studies show that insects can furnish the same amount of protein as livestock while using as little as 10% of the land and producing as little as 1% of the emissions.
Big Oil’s Climate Fix Is Running Out of Time to Prove Itself by Stephen Stapczynski at Bloomberg Green. To hit its net zero targets, the world is relying on a controversial technology pioneered by the fossil fuel industry. It’s going to cost $4.5 trillion this decade. Emanating from the dense maze of pipes and towers the size of a city block is the roar of carbon dioxide escaping into the atmosphere—exactly what Chevron Corp.’s ambitious $2.1 billion system was supposed to stop. The Gorgon project sits 60 kilometers (37 miles) off the northwest coast of Australia next to a vast gas field. Chevron received approval to develop the site into a major liquefied natural gas export facility on the basis they could capture and store 80% of the CO2 mixed in with the fuel, instead of releasing it. Since LNG production started in 2016, they mostly haven’t. Mitigation operations started late, ran in spurts and were beset with technical issues. Right now, while the facility is successfully capturing CO2, it is only storing 1.6 million tons per year, under half its 4 million tons capacity, after struggling to inject the gas into the ground reliably.
Colorado Shows Impact, Challenges of Billions in Federal Clean Energy Spending by Jennifer Oldham at Capital & Main. The effort to transition away from fossil fuels to wind and solar will likely help the U.S. achieve up to a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, projected a July report by the Rhodium Group, an energy think tank. Yet even with the landmark legislation, the U.S. will not meet its pledge under the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon in the atmosphere by 50%-52% below 2005 levels by 2030, the authors found. The Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits have provided a significant economic boost to municipalities nationwide. Yet the effort to kick-start such an unprecedented buildout of clean energy infrastructure is running into roadblocks. Community opposition, tight labor markets, bureaucracy, and supply chain constraints are slowing down wind, solar, and battery projects. In Colorado, the pressure is on to get clean energy projects off the ground. The state is among 13 with ambitious decarbonization goals designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in part by using wind and solar, instead of coal and natural gas, to generate electricity. Colorado is also the first state to enact stringent emissions reduction targets at regular intervals every five years.
The Organic Urban Farm Growing Healthy Food for One of Chicago’s Most Underserved Neighborhoods by Cassie M. Chew at Civil Eats. For two decades, the 1.5-acre Growing Home farm has pursued its mission of growing and selling produce to its neighbors. As much as three-quarters of Growing Home’s 150 varieties of vegetables and herbs is delivered to its neighbors. It has received support from across the city and from the state legislature. Now Growing Home seeks to raise $19 million to build on an empty lot across the street from its seven hoop houses. To support both the farm’s bottom line and its mission, the project includes a bigger space for preparing its harvest for distribution and delivery. “Being the only USDA-certified organic farm [in the city], we are in a unique space where we can provide our community access to goods that they otherwise would have been priced out of,” executive director Janelle St. John said. But that’s not all: She wants more space for Growing Home’s workforce development and computer training programs, which currently are housed in two trailers. She also envisions a farm store, café, and kitchen to provide more learning opportunities for trainees, as well as space to host activities to engage the community. “That’s the future of Growing Home,” she says.
U.S. Sets Record for Billion-Dollar Disasters in a Single Year, and the Year Isn’t Over by Cristen Hemingway Jaynes at Ecowatch. So far this year, there has been a record-breaking 23 U.S. climate- and weather-related disasters, with damages reaching or exceeding $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. These included 18 severe storms, two floods, one winter storm, one hurricane, and one wildfire. In all, 253 people died in these disasters. Since 1980, there have been 371 billion-dollar disasters with estimated total costs of $2.6 trilion. The future will be worse. The annual average number of disasters that cost $1 billion or more from 1980 to 2022 is 8.1, while the average from 2018 to 2022 is 18.
Study: Lead exposure killed more than 5 million people in just one year by Naveena Sadasivam at Grist. There is no safe level of lead. The naturally occurring metal is so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency began banning its use in paint and gasoline in the 1970s, following the same move in other countries. Since then, a growing body of research has confirmed the health effects of lead exposure, including heart and kidney diseases. The effects are particularly pronounced in children. Exposure to lead in the first five years of life has been shown to hinder brain development, stunting a child’s ability to learn, focus, and control their impulses. A new study from the World Bank tallies the staggering worldwide toll: 5.5 million deaths from heart diseases because of exposure to lead in 2019 alone. Researchers also found that exposure to lead in children under 5 years old led to a loss of more than 750 million IQ points—a standardized measure of intellectual ability. People in low- and middle-income countries, where blood lead levels are higher on average than in high-income countries, were hit hardest. The overall cost of exposure was $6 trillion in 2019, the equivalent of nearly 7% of the world’s economic output. “There has been this idea that since the phase out of lead in gasoline [in the 1970s], the problem has more or less been solved,” said Bjorn Larsen, a consultant with the World Bank and lead author of the study. “Our estimate indicates that the health effects and the cost of lead exposure is possibly as large as the health effects and costs of fine particulate ambient air pollution and household air pollution combined. That is enormous.”
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