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ExxonMobil Could Be Banned From EU Parliament After Failing to Show at Climate Hearing

Energy
The ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery in Torrance, California. waltarrrr / Flickr

ExxonMobil could be the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday concerning whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.

The call to ban the company was submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a vote in late April, The Guardian reported.


"This is the company that denied the science, despite knowing the damage their oil exploitation was causing; which funded campaigns to block action on climate and now refuses to face up to its environmental crimes by attending today's hearing," Cato said in a statement released Thursday. "We cannot allow the lobbyists from such corporations free access to the corridors of the European parliament. We must remove their badges immediately."

The only other company to be denied lobby access to MEPs is Monsanto, which was banned for similar reasons in 2017 after it failed to turn up to a hearing on whether it had improperly influenced studies on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its Roundup weedkiller.

ExxonMobil contended it could not attend the hearing because of ongoing climate litigation in the U.S. It was concerned that any comments made at the hearing "could prejudice those pending proceedings," according to a letter obtained by AFP.

Evidence presented at the hearing Thursday suggested that ExxonMobil had known since 1959 that global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels "was sufficient to melt the ice cap and submerge New York," Harvard University researcher Geoffrey Supran told AFP.

Supran presented the findings of a peer-reviewed study he had co-authored looking at almost 200 company documents over a period of decades. Four-fifths of internal documents acknowledged the science behind climate change, while a similar percentage of paid newspaper editorials in the U.S. cast doubt on that same science.

"It is the overwhelming consensus of experts studying the history of fossil fuel funding that companies, including ExxonMobil, have orchestrated, funded and perpetuated climate misinformation to mislead the public and politicians, and stifle action," Supran said, as reported in The Guardian. "Unfortunately, they largely succeeded."

ExxonMobil continues to deny charges that it spread climate denial.

"We reject the false allegation that ExxonMobil suppressed scientific research on climate change. News reports that claim we reached definitive conclusions about the science of climate change decades before the world's experts are simply not accurate and have long since been debunked," the company wrote in a statement provided to The Guardian.

However, another study released Friday suggests that ExxonMobil's climate denialism isn't just a matter of history. The InfluenceMap report found that the five largest publicly traded oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, had invested more than $1 billion of shareholder funds on misleading climate-related lobbying and branding in the three years since the Paris agreement.

During that three year period, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total invested $110 billion in new fossil fuel production while they are projected to spend only $3.6 billion on climate friendly alternatives such as renewable energy. Meanwhile, they spent $195 million a year to market themselves as green leaders and $200 million a year to lobby on climate policy, the Huffington Post reported. Those lobbying efforts included the spending blitz by BP and Chevron that helped defeat a carbon tax in Washington State during the 2018 midterm elections, The Guardian reported.

"Oil majors' climate branding sounds increasingly hollow and their credibility is on the line," report author Edward Collins told The Guardian. "They publicly support climate action while lobbying against binding policy. They advocate low-carbon solutions but such investments are dwarfed by spending on expanding their fossil fuel business."

Shorebirds on a sandy beach looking across the Houston Ship Channel to the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baytown, Texas.

Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0

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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

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.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

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.

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