Groups Pressure Shell to End Oil Addiction Before Its ‘Carbon Bubble' Bursts
Some environmental groups believe Shell's carbon bubble is about to burst. Meanwhile, the company is telling shareholders that fossil fuels will be needed for decades to come.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) UK and Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) released a report Tuesday discusses the high-carbon projects in Shell's pipeline, the company's fossil fuel reserves that can't be burned and its investment in tar sands, which are about five times carbon-intensive than natural gas. The release of the study coincided with protests, a "#carbonbubble" social media campaign and the groups calling on Shell to make a few actions, but mainly to end its addiction to oil.
“By ignoring the carbon bubble Shell is pulling a bigger confidence trick than those who brought down the financial system—they are trying pass off a losing situation as being a sound financial investment to their investors," said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Asad Rehman. “If they continue to downplay the carbon bubble, Shell jeopardizes ordinary peoples’ hard-earned pension pots and leaves billions of people facing devastating climate change.
“It’s time for Shell investors to wake up and switch their investments to clean energy that will create jobs and benefit the planet.”
The FOE study came out shortly after Shell released its own data and statements in an attempt to assure shareholders that nothing was wrong. The company dismissed climate change as an agenda. Though it recognized the almost universally accepted warming threshold of 2 degrees Celsius, the statement essentially argued that the real warming won't happen for a while.
"We concur with the view in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that there is a high degree of confidence that global warming will exceed 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century," the Shell statement reads. "Yet, this is not to argue that today's low level of action will continue at this pace. Indeed, changes in regulatory priorities could well be relatively sudden. However, because of the long-lived nature of the infrastructure and many assets in the energy systems, any transformation will inevitably take decades."
Fossil Free UK's Twitter account offered a loose translation to its followers Tuesday morning:
— Fossil Free UK (@FossilFree_UK) May 20, 2014
“Shell may not decide to take the 2-degree limit seriously, but the rest of the world does," said Geert Ritsema, head of the Energy and Natural Resources Campaign at Milieudefensie. “The Netherlands, [European Union], the G8 and the United Nations have all set this as official climate objective. And because global reserves of fossil fuels are five times too large, Shell will have to write off the most expensive and most carbon-intensive reserves first.
“If shareholders are to prevent their shares becoming worthless in the near future, they need to call on Shell now to stop its strategy that one-sidedly aims at investing in unconventional fuels.”
Milieudefensie is calling on Dutch pension giant ABP to disinvest from Shell and for Shell to meet its responsibilities for the environmental and social destruction from its oil operations in Nigeria. Additionally, ShareAction’s Greenlight campaign in the UK wants people to tell their pension funds with holdings in Shell to press the company to cease plans to drill the Arctic.
"If Shell wants to adapt to the required low-carbon future, there are several things the company can do, right now, to make greater progress," the study reads. "[Shell should] cut direct emissions where technologically possible; offer better transparency on their operations and, specifically, the risks climate change has for Shell; and divest from oil and gas projects with a high-carbon intensity."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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