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BP Shareholders Urge Oil Giant to Face Up to Climate Risks

Energy

A coalition of more than 150 BP shareholders, including Church of England and the UK’s Environment Agency, filed a resolution today requiring the company to assess and manage its climate risk.

"BP and Shell hold our financial and environmental future in their hands. They must do more to face the risks of climate change. Investors can help them by voting for these shareholder resolutions."

In the resolution, shareholders are asking the oil giant to no longer reward climate-harming activities, stress-test its business model against the requirement to limit greenhouse gas emissions in accordance to the UN Climate Change Conference in 2010, and commit to reducing its carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy. The resolution will be voted on at BP's 2015 annual general meeting in April.

The same group filed an identical resolution with Shell last month putting increased pressure on Big Oil to act now to mitigate climate risks.

The BP resolution was orchestrated by co-filers ClientEarth and ShareAction.

"Climate change is a major business risk," said ClientEarth CEO James Thornton who helped to orchestrate the resolution. "BP and Shell hold our financial and environmental future in their hands. They must do more to face the risks of climate change. Investors can help them by voting for these shareholder resolutions."

“The financial risks of climate change are greater in scale and closer in time than most investors realize," said Howard Covington, former chief executive of New Star Asset Management and ClientEarth Trustee. "These resolutions help contain those risks at minimal cost. Investors have every reason to support them.”

The filing of this resolution comes on the heels of President Obama's State of the Union address last night where he said, “No challenge—no challenge—poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does—14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.”

Also this week, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres acknowledged that the carbon bubble is now a reality and volatility in oil prices is one that "incrementally and gradually makes investment in oil and gas more risky than investment in renewables, where it is very predictable what the upfront cost of infrastructure is, and then the price of fuel from then on is very predictable and certain.”

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Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

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SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.