By Rich Collett-White and Rachel Sherrington
Fossil fuel companies could face legal challenges over their misleading advertising, after a DeSmog investigation uncovered the extent of their "greenwashing."
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have put companies on notice with the publication of the Greenwashing Files. The analyses, which use DeSmog's research, show how adverts of major fossil fuel companies and energy producers continue to overemphasize their green credentials, giving the public a misleading impression of their businesses.
DeSmog analyzed the advertising output of Aramco, Chevron, Drax, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Ineos, RWE, Shell and Total, and compared this with the reality of the companies' current and future business activities.
ClientEarth submitted a complaint against BP's advertising in 2019, before the company decided to withdraw its "Possibilities Everywhere" campaign. The lawyers say other fossil fuel companies could face similar challenges if they mislead the public through their advertising. The group is calling for tobacco-style advertising bans and health warnings to counter fossil fuel companies' "deceptive" marketing.
DeSmog's investigation found messaging that touts companies' climate pledges without being transparent about their large emissions contributions is widespread across advertising campaigns and social media promotions.
The adverts regularly highlight the companies' preferred solutions to climate change — from carbon capture and storage, to experimental algae biofuels, and investment in renewable energy sources — without being open about the small percentage of overall investment allocated to these technologies, nor their various limitations.
The Greenwashing Files lay bare the contrast between the public image these adverts create, and the reality of the fossil fuel companies' activities.
All companies featured in this article were contacted for comment.
ExxonMobil – 'Powering Progress'
"We're working on ways to provide energy while addressing the risks of climate change, producing clean-burning natural gas to reduce emissions from power plants, capturing CO2 before it reaches the atmosphere, and exploring unexpected energy sources like biofuels made from algae," a reassuring voice tells us in Exxon's "Powering Progress" advert – one of several released in recent years that present the US oil giant as a leader in green technologies.
But while the ad shows Exxon scientists hard at work developing "algae farms" and technology designed to suck carbon dioxide from the air, its business activities tell a different story.
Exxon is increasingly an outlier among fossil fuel companies and other major emitters, having refused to set an absolute emissions reduction target, opting instead for gradual "carbon intensity" reductions which still allow for overall emissions to increase. It has no plans to cut oil and gas production, which energy analysts say is urgently needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
While Exxon remains responsible for a significant portion of global emissions – with documents in 2019 revealing a total annual output roughly equivalent to that of Canada – its spending on clean energies has been a tiny fraction of its investments, with just 0.2 percent of its investment in new projects going to low carbon sources between 2010 and 2018.
And while "Powering Progress" and other ads put Exxon's investments in algae biofuels at the fore, it has spent just $300 million on the technology in a decade, compared with yearly capital investment of around $20 billion. Experts doubt whether the technology will ever be commercially viable or usable at scale.
RWE – 'We are the new RWE'
A video by German energy giant RWE takes the viewer through landmark inventions that have spurred on human civilisation since the industrial revolution – the light bulb, the radio, mass transport – before arriving at the present day. "Every time has its energy," the ad tells us, adding that "times are changing. Society is changing. Companies are changing, and we are changing too."
The images cut to wind turbines, and the forces of nature that are powering what we are told is today's "renewable age." The company positions itself at the heart of this transition, telling the viewer it is "focusing on renewable energies and storage, for a sustainable world," and that it is providing "clean, reliable and affordable" energy as part of its transition to "the new RWE."
The campaign accompanies pledges to become "carbon neutral" by 2040 and oversee a significant expansion into wind and solar energy.
But the growth of RWE's low-carbon activities has not been matched by an exit from fossil fuels. RWE remains the largest emitter in Europe, according to a recent study by Greenpeace, and its three major lignite coal-fired power stations all feature in the EU's top five highest-emitting plants. Under current plans, it will continue to generate coal-fired electricity until the end of 2038, almost a decade after the deadline recommended for OECD countries by climate experts, at the same time as expanding its already significant fossil gas business.
Despite its claims to focus on clean energy, 80 percent of the company's energy still comes from non-renewable sources, mostly highly-polluting brown coal, hard coal and gas. The company also counts controversial and carbon-intensive biomass amongst its "renewable" energy sources despite warnings from scientists over its use.
Drax – 'Beyond Coal'
Drax, another energy company that now relies heavily on biomass and operates the UK's largest power station in North Yorkshire, has worked hard to bolster its green credentials in recent years, positioning itself as an ally in the fight against climate change.
Last year, it released an advert celebrating the company's shift away from coal-fired energy production, which it completed in March. Set to an uplifting soundtrack, the video calls the move a "major step towards Drax's ambition to become carbon negative by 2030," while touting a new "Zero Carbon Skills Taskforce" to ensure the surrounding area "isn't defined by its past, but by its future."
A 2020 year-in-review video meanwhile describes Drax as "among Europe's lowest carbon intensity power generators," producing "77 percent renewable electricity."
But the company's claims about the climate-friendliness of biomass, which has now taken over from coal as the principal source of energy at its power station thanks to generous government subsidies, have been widely disputed. Burning wood pellets has been found to be more carbon-intensive than fossil fuels in most circumstances, while experts doubt that trees planted in their place can re-absorb the carbon dioxide emitted, on a meaningful timescale.
Carbon capture and storage – another key plank of Drax's low-carbon strategy – remains uneconomical at scale, with the company's own use of the technology still in the pilot phase.
In response to questions from DeSmog, Drax said emissions from biomass energy are "already accounted for in the land-use sector and therefore considered carbon neutral at the point of combustion," in line with "established global best practice" set out by the UN IPCC.
It also said biomass should be considered renewable "because the forests we source from are growing and storing more carbon" and pointed to its plans for a bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) unit by 2027, "creating tens of thousands of jobs" and "permanently removing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year."
Aramco – 'The Moment is Now'
The Saudi Arabian state-owned oil and gas giant, Aramco, became the most valuable listed company in history when it floated on the stock market at the end of 2019. But the fossil fuel behemoth is at pains to assure viewers it is concerned about more than just its bottom line.
In an advert titled "The Moment is Now," an Aramco employee tells a lecture theatre full of colleagues that "as we open up to the world, we know more than ever before that we must continue towards a sustainable future."
"We value the natural resources we discover but never forget it is our human energy that drives us to create a better world," she says to the audience, who reward her presentation with a standing ovation.
Elsewhere, the company insists it is driven by a "commitment to preserving the environment because protecting our planet is one of our most important values."
That's despite the company being the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter, responsible for an estimated four percent of all global emissions since 1965.
Aramco's oil and gas reserves total more than those of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total combined, while the company refuses to disclose its full emissions. Its majority shareholder, the Saudi Arabian government, has been at the forefront of efforts to stall international action on climate change for decades. At the last UN climate talks in Madrid, over a third of Saudi Arabia's representatives were associated with the oil and gas industry, many with Aramco.
Equinor – 'This is what changed us.'
Previously trading under the name Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil and gas company Equinor rebranded in 2018, with the hope of highlighting its transformation into a "broad energy company" and its growing low-carbon energy division.
Equinor explained its reasons for the name change in an advert called "Equinor. This is what changed us." Scenes of raging storms and melting ice caps are displayed while the narrator says: "Some changes are so profound that they transcend everything. Changes that require us to find a new balance."
In a more recent ad, the company insists that "emissions must come down and it must happen fast."
Equinor is certainly taking steps to increase its investments in low-carbon technologies, with plans to up its renewable energy capacity to 4-6 gigawatts by 2026, and has set a "net zero" emissions target for 2050.
But this shift is largely in addition to, rather than in place of, its core oil and gas business. The company is still exploring for more oil and gas reserves and does not intend to start reducing its fossil fuel production before 2030. Last year, it opened the largest oil field in Western Europe and is heavily involved in ventures in the Arctic.
Equinor promotes natural gas as the "perfect fuel to balance renewable energy" and was given a warning two years ago by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for claiming the fuel was a "low-carbon" energy source.
Another technology the company touts is carbon capture and storage (CCS), but all of the projects it is involved in currently amount to less than three percent of its overall emissions.
ClientEarth lawyer Johnny White said the collection of adverts showed the fossil fuel companies were involved in a "great deception."
"We need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. But instead of leading a low-carbon transition, these companies are putting out advertising which distracts the public and launders their image," he said.
"These adverts are misrepresenting the true nature of companies' businesses, of their contribution to climate change, and of their transition plans," he added, saying that "we cannot underestimate the real world impact this advertising has on the pace of change."
You can find the full set of adverts and analyses here.
Additional research by Michaela Herrmann. Edited by Mat Hope.
Disclaimer: ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac sits on the board of DeSmog UK Ltd.
Reposted with permission from DeSmog.
By Lorena Gonzalez and Nate Shelter
World leaders are gathering in New York this week and next for the UN General Assembly meeting (UNGA76) and Climate Week. The two major events come at a critical moment for climate action.
The world is facing an emergency. Nearly every person on the planet felt the impacts of climate change this summer — from devastating flooding in China, Uganda, Nigeria, the United States and Western Europe; to extreme heatwaves and droughts across Africa and the Americas; to record wildfires in the United States, Canada, Russia and the Arctic; and heavy monsoon rains in India and the Philippines. The toll on people's lives and livelihoods keeps growing.
Meanwhile, the newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most authoritative scientific body on climate change, shows that these impacts are just the beginning. They will seem mild compared to what we will face if we do not act. The report finds that the world still has a narrow path to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) — the limit scientists say is necessary for avoiding the worst effects of climate change — but it will require rapid, transformational change this decade.
Governments and businesses — especially world's major emitters — must urgently step up their commitments to meet this challenge, and then rapidly move from commitments to action. Coming just six weeks before UN climate negotiations in Glasgow (COP26), where countries need to make major progress on climate action, UNGA and Climate Week are important opportunities for leaders to show their ambition on climate change.
Here are five critical areas we are watching for signs of progress:
1. Stronger National Climate Plans (NDCs)
UNGA presents a prime opportunity for major emitters to step up with more ambitious plans to reduce their emissions by 2030. This year, all countries are expected to submit updated national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement. So far, 116 countries representing roughly half of global emissions have submitted updated plans. Yet only about half of these (67 countries), reflect higher ambition than their original plans submitted in 2015, and altogether these efforts are not nearly enough to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C.
Major emitters that have not yet announced new and more ambitious targets need to come forward by COP26 with serious offers to curb their emissions by 2030. At the G20 ministerial meeting in July, the G20 countries committed to submit new or updated NDCs by COP26. UNGA is a prime opportunity to come forward with those targets. A new paper by WRI and Climate Analytics finds that if all G20 countries set ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction targets and commit to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, global temperature rise could be limited to 1.7 degrees C, keeping the 1.5 degrees C goal within reach.
The spotlight shines especially bright on China, the world's largest emitter, which has not yet announced a stronger emissions-reduction target for 2030. In order to get on track for its carbon neutrality pledge by 2060, it's imperative that China announces a more stringent NDC and stops international finance for coal, as South Korea and Japan (the other two major financiers of international coal) recently committed to do.
Other major emitters that need to step up include India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have yet to submit their updated NDCs, and Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia, which made no headway or backslid with the updated 2030 targets they submitted.
Vulnerable nations — many of which have submitted strong climate plans — are urging major emitters to take concrete, near-term action on climate change. Ensuring that major emitters raise their ambition by COP26 is one of the top priorities of the Allied for Climate Transformations 2025 (ACT2025) consortium, a group of organizations from vulnerable nations that are informing and influencing the COP26 negotiations. ACT2025 will soon release an Alliance Statement further crystalizing what must be delivered for COP26 to be both ambitious and just.
2. More Climate Finance From Wealthy Nations
A major issue to watch at UNGA is whether rich countries step up with new climate finance and other types of development assistance for developing countries. By COP26, developed countries need to show how they will meet and build upon their over-due commitment to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing nations. Addressing the climate finance gap is vital to COP26's success and to restoring trust with developing nations.
Indeed, the $100 billion annually is only a fraction of what vulnerable countries really need to decarbonize and build resilience to climate impacts, so it should be seen as a floor for climate finance. Developed countries should commit to deliver a minimum of $500 billion total over the 2020-2024 period, and should establish a more ambitious target to be agreed prior to 2025, to support developing countries.
The United States, especially, has not been contributing its fair share toward the global climate finance goal. Other rich countries lagging on contributions will also need to step up, including Italy, Canada, Australia, Spain and others. Will they do so during Climate Week?
Developed countries should also announce new pledges on finance for climate adaptation, especially for the Adaptation Fund, to ensure a balance of funding between mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation accounts for just 21% of overall climate finance. And developed countries need to improve access to climate finance and ensure it reaches the local level, which is a top priority for developing countries.
We will also watch for announcements on moratoriums for international financing for fossil fuels, including coal financing. At the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, its members reaffirmed their commitment to end unabated international coal finance by the end of 2021 and confirmed earlier pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
3. Creating More Equitable Food Systems
Alongside this year's General Assembly, the UN will host the world's first-ever Food Systems Summit to address inequities and inefficiencies in the food system and identify food-related solutions to fight climate change and achieve other development goals.
Countries and others should come forward with investments to produce food more sustainably; protect remaining ecosystems from agricultural expansion; reduce demand for land-intensive agriculture, such as by cutting food loss and waste; and restore degraded landscapes into productivity. By meeting these goals simultaneously, we can feed a growing world population while mitigating climate change, ensuring farmers and herders can adapt to the impacts of climate change, and lifting millions out of poverty.
4. Action From Non-State Actors
In addition to action from national governments, we'll need increased ambition from non-state actors, too, such as cities, businesses and more.
At Climate Week, a group of mayors will issue a call to action urging national and subregional governments, companies and financial institutions to urgently ramp up policies and investments to support forest conservation, restoration and sustainable forest management. They are issuing their declaration through the Cities4Forests initiative, a coalition of 73 major cities committed to greater forest action. Evidence shows that city residents depend deeply on forests — even those that are far away — for clean air and water, reducing heat islands and flooding, and sequestering carbon.
WRI will join partners in launching a major new cities program named UrbanShift, aimed at transforming cities through inclusive, low-carbon development. The program will engage with more than 23 cities across nine countries, advancing local solutions to challenges like climate risks, gender inequity, urban sprawl and more.
Businesses should also be stepping up in this moment between UNGA and COP. There is big momentum: Nearly 2,000 businesses have committed or set science-based targets to reduce their emissions. And over 250 asset owners, asset managers and banks — together responsible for assets over $80 trillion — have committed to transition their portfolios to net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. They have agreed to use science-based guidelines to reach net zero emissions, cover all emission scopes, include 2030 interim targets and commit to transparent reporting and accounting.
Businesses should also use their influence to push national governments to take more ambitious climate action. Most immediately, U.S. businesses should publicly support the reconciliation package being considered by the U.S. Congress, which presents one of the best opportunities to meet U.S. climate goals — the CEOs of 12 environment and sustainability groups recently called on businesses to do just that.
5. Reducing Non-CO2 Gases
We are also expecting the United States and Europe to announce a major new global pledge to reduce methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030. Other countries will be invited to sign onto the pledge. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with a warming potential 87 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years. Reducing methane emissions is vital to addressing climate change.
The Urgency of Action During Climate Week and UNGA76
We stand at a pivotal moment. The climate impacts we are seeing today will seem mild compared to future years if we do not act. We need to make rapid, radical shifts in the ways we use and make energy, produce food, manage land, and move people and goods around. The good news is that doing so will create a healthier, safer, more prosperous world. It will create much-needed jobs and economic benefits — and prevent a calamitous future.
As COP26 quickly approaches, now is the time for governments, businesses and other stakeholders to act with the ambition this moment calls for. World leaders should use the global stage at UNGA76 and Climate Week to show their citizens and peers that they recognize the urgency of the crisis. Their actions will determine our collective fate.
Reposted with permission from World Resources Institute.
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As you seek to optimize the performance of your residential solar panels, there are a number of factors to consider. One thing you'll want to think about is the best direction for solar panels. The orientation of your roof in relation to the sun can have a huge impact on overall solar efficiency.
In this article, we'll outline the best direction for solar panel orientation as well as the optimal angle. We'll also explain solar tracking technology, which can ensure your panels face the sun for as long as possible each day. Read on to learn more.
Basics of Solar Panel Orientation
So, what is the best direction for solar panels? For homeowners who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the rule of thumb is that solar panels should be oriented toward true south. (For those in the Southern Hemisphere, solar panels should be oriented toward true north.) This is the best orientation because it ensures that solar panels receive direct sunlight throughout the day.
It's also worth noting that solar panels are most efficient when the sun's rays strike them perpendicularly. Again, this true south/true north orientation can be helpful, but angle also plays a large part in this parameter.
Best Direction for Solar Panels
As you consider solar panel installation, it's crucial to remember that, for the highest energy production, you'll want your panels to receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Again, for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, this means orienting your panels toward true south, and vice versa in the Southern Hemisphere.
Note that, when we talk about true south, we're talking about geographic south, not magnetic south. In other words, you should orient your solar energy system based on the lines of longitude on a map, not by the directions on a compass.
Something else to keep in mind is that it may be beneficial to have a rotation slightly away from the best direction if you want to adjust the hours that your solar panels provide you energy (like facing them southwest to get more energy in the late afternoon as the sun is setting).
Hopefully, you have a south-facing roof that is optimally positioned for your solar panels. If the orientation of your roof isn't quite right, however, that doesn't mean solar power is off the table. There are several other options to consider, including solar carports and ground-mounted solar panels that can utilize south-facing panels for optimum electricity production.
Best Angle for Solar Panels
In addition to choosing the best direction for your solar panels, it's also helpful to select the right angle. Here, the general rule of thumb is to set the solar panel tilt angle equal to the geographical latitude. In other words, if you're at 35 degrees latitude, set your panels at a 35-degree angle.
The angle of your solar panels will help ensure the sun hits them perpendicularly, promoting the highest solar production and, thus, the highest electricity bill savings for your household.
With that said, you'll also want to consider how weather impacts solar panels. A good example of this is heavy snowfall. If you live in a part of the country where there is excessive snow accumulation, that could ultimately impede the efficacy of your solar panels. By tilting your panels at a sharper angle, you can minimize the buildup of snow or other debris.
This may all sound technical, but it's worth noting that professional solar installers will work with you to design a solar power system that works optimally; that includes recommending where to place your panels, how to angle them and more.
Solar Panel Tracking Systems
For ground-mounted panels, you might also consider installing a solar panel tracking system. Solar trackers maximize panel efficiency by rotating your panels throughout the day, allowing them to follow the movement of the sun from its rise to its set.
Just how much more efficient can a tracker make your solar panel system? One study showed that on a clear day, the average efficiency of a tracking panel was about 67%, while fixed panels only got about 40% efficiency.
As you consider solar panel tracking systems, you'll need to decide between a single-axis or a dual-axis system. Single-axis systems only move in one direction, typically north to south. A dual-axis system allows for movement along the north-south axis and the east-west axis.
Dual-axis systems take up more space, and thus are mostly used in commercial settings. They can certainly be effective, enabling your solar panels to reposition in accordance with changing seasons when the sun is higher or lower in the sky, but they typically aren't necessary for residential use.
Are Solar Panels Right for Your Home?
When deciding whether solar panels are worth it for your home, roof position should always be taken into consideration.
Most reputable solar installers offer free home consultations, during which a representative will survey your roof and let you know whether rooftop solar would be a good idea based on your roof's positioning and how much sunlight your home receives throughout the year.
To get a free, no-obligation quote and set up a consultation with a top solar company near you, fill out the 30-second form below.
FAQ: Best Direction for Solar Panels
Is east or west better for solar panels?
For most homeowners in the Northern Hemisphere, panels need to face toward the geographic south, but not necessarily toward the east or west. The north-south axis tends to be more determinative of a solar panel's efficiency.
Should solar panels face south or west?
For homeowners in the Northern Hemisphere, geographic south is typically the best direction for solar panels.
Do solar panels need to be south facing?
For homeowners who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is recommended that solar panels be oriented toward geographic south (as opposed to magnetic south). In other words, orient your panels according to lines of longitude rather than magnetic poles.
Which is the best direction to face solar panels in Australia?
For Australian homeowners, north-facing solar panels tend to be most effective, though a professional installer can give a more specific recommendation.
The 18-year-old was speaking at an online U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing. It was held in honor of Earth Day, to address "The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis."
"It is the year 2021," said Thunberg. "The fact we are still having this discussion and even more that we are still subsidizing fossil fuels directly or indirectly using taxpayer money is a disgrace. It is proof that we have not understood the climate emergency at all," she said.
End Fossil Fuel Subsidies
"If we are to live up to our promises and commitments in the Paris agreement, we have to end fossil fuel subsidies, stop new exploration and extraction, completely divest from fossil fuels, and keep carbon in the ground — now, especially the U.S., taken into account the fact that it is the biggest emitter in history," said Thunberg, who attended the summit from Stockholm.
The subcommittee chairman, Representative Ro Khanna, is pressuring Biden, a fellow Democrat, to keep a campaign promise to end fossil fuel subsidies such as tax breaks and regulatory loopholes.
Khanna, who invited Thunberg to the hearing, said the fossil fuel industry spent 250 million dollars on political grants and lobbying last year.
On the same day, world leaders met at the climate summit hosted by President Joe Biden. Leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeated commitments to reduce emissions.
Thunberg said these efforts still fell short for addressing the climate crisis.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who addressed the summit, said it was important to think of climate change as a way to boost jobs and growth, not merely as "some expensive politically correct green act of bunny hugging."
Soon afterwards, Thunberg changed her Twitter bio to "Bunny hugger."
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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As this summer's extreme heat waves and floods have made devastatingly clear, the climate crisis is already deadly. And it is likely to get even deadlier if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, a study published in Nature Communications on Thursday has calculated exactly how many excess deaths we can expect per additional metric ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The figure, called the mortality cost of carbon (MCC), estimates that one person will die for every 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide in excess of the 2020 emissions rate. To put that in perspective, this is the same amount of emissions generated by 3.5 average U.S. residents over the course of their lives.
"One key takeaway is that there are a significant number of lives that can be saved by reducing emissions," study author and Columbia University Ph.D. candidate R. Daniel Bressler told NPR.
Using his calculations, Bressler estimated what would happen if we reduce emissions to zero by 2050 and what would happen if temperatures are allowed to rise to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The difference between the two, he found, is around 74 million lives.
The study also looked at issues of climate justice between nations. While it only takes 3.5 U.S. residents to emit enough for one death, it would take 25 Brazilians or 146 Nigerians to have the same effect, The Guardian reported. However, Bressler told The Guardian that he was less interested in individual emissions than the policies and infrastructure that surround them.
Specifically, the purpose of the research is to supplement something called the "social cost of carbon," a tool developed by economist William Nordhaus that calculates the financial cost of emitting a metric ton of carbon dioxide, considering factors such as agricultural productivity, energy use, biodiversity loss and human health. The metric is important because it is often used to help make policy decisions, and Bressler found it would be even higher if his MCC is taken into account.
"Nordhaus came up with a fantastic model but he didn't take in the latest literature on climate change's damage upon mortality, there's been an explosion of research on that topic in recent years," Bressler told The Guardian.
Nordhaus' model would put the 2020 social cost of carbon at $37 a metric ton. But Bressler found it increased by more than six times, to $258 a metric ton, when his mortality calculations were factored in. That means Bressler's tool could be a part of deciding whether or not to build a new coal plant, for example, considering that emissions from the average U.S. coal plant will cost 904 lives by the end of the century.
"It could well have a significant impact on climate change policies," New York University School of Law professor Richard Revesz, who was not involved with the research, told The New York Times of Bressler's figure.
There are still many uncertainties involved with the measurement, however. For one thing, Bressler based his calculations only off of excess heat deaths and did not include deaths from other extreme weather events, crop failures, civil unrest or the air pollution associated with greenhouse gas emissions, according to The New York Times and The Guardian. That means the true MCC could be either higher or lower.
"Based on the current literature," he told The New York Times, "this is the best estimate."
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The Whatcom County Council in Washington state has unanimously passed permanent land-use policies that ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, becoming the first in the U.S. to pass such a measure.
The ordinance prohibits the construction of new refineries or coal facilities and places more restrictions on expansion of fossil fuel facilities at Cherry Point, such as requiring offsets for greenhouse gases emitted from any expansions and rigorous environmental review.
Whatcom is currently polluted by two of Washington's five oil refineries, and five years ago saw the cancellation of the country's largest planned coal export facility due to concerns from the Lummi Tribe around fishing treaty rights.
"What's been happening in Whatcom County for the last 10 years and in the state and Oregon is that people have been saying no to these new proposals coming forward one by one by one," said Matt Krogh, director of the Safe Cities campaign for Stand.earth. "And people are winning."
For a deeper dive:
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The threat of a catastrophic failure unleashing a 20-foot wall of industrial wastewater over nearby homes and businesses in Piney Point, Florida, illustrates the danger of widespread reliance on industrial waste ponds across the U.S., The New York Times reports.
Many of these ponds, filled with toxic and sometimes radioactive, byproducts of climate-change causing activity like coal ash from power plants or manure from industrialized farms, are also at risk because of climate change. Open lagoons make up the extent of waste processing infrastructure for industrial hog farming operations and coal-fired power plants and both were overwhelmed by Hurricane Florence in 2018, when more than 100 hog lagoons were swamped throughout the Carolinas and coal ash poured out of containment ponds at Duke's Sutton Plant in Wilmington, N.C.
"They're just an irresponsible way to store very dangerous waste," Daniel Estrin, general counsel at the Waterkeeper Alliance, a clean water nonprofit group, told the Times. "And with climate change, we're going to see more frequent and stronger storms that are going to impact these sites."
For a deeper dive:
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By Jessica Corbett
"The boardrooms of the world's largest banks are polluted to the core... How are we ever meant to stop the climate crisis if the world's most powerful decision-makers are in bed with the companies behind the wheel!?"
That's how Bank on Our Future — a UK-based network pressuring financial players to align their business practices with tackling the climate crisis — responded Wednesday to a new DeSmog analysis revealing that a majority of directors at major banks worldwide are connected to polluting companies and organizations.
"This is a ginormous and superb piece of work by the talented sleuths" at DeSmog, said Beau O'Sullivan, a campaigner at the Sunrise Project in Australia. He added that the report "contains findings that readers may find offensive and deeply disturbing."
Even a global #ClimateEmergency hasn't triggered rapid defunding of the industries responsible for driving climate… https://t.co/ogg5ZHjvRP— Greenpeace Canada (@Greenpeace Canada)1617819304.0
DeSmog examined the boards of 39 banks, including seven based in the United States, and found that 65% of directors have a total of 940 past or current ties to "climate-conflicted" industries. Across all banks studied, 16% of board members had ties to companies involved in extracting coal, gas, and oil.
In addition to fossil fuels, "there were also significant ties to banks and investment vehicles supporting polluting industries, as well as to thinktanks and lobbying groups with a history of campaigning against climate action," reported DeSmog's Phoebe Cooke, Rachel Sherrington, and Mat Hope.
Breaking: New research by @DeSmogUK reveals that 65% of directors in powerful bank boardrooms have polluting ties t… https://t.co/7pJgsPcE9u— Richard Brooks ☀️ (@Richard Brooks ☀️)1617791825.0
"The fossil fuel industry has a well-established track record of ingratiating itself with society's opinion leaders and decision-makers," Geoffrey Supran, research associate in Harvard University's Department of the History of Science, told DeSmog about "the revolving doors between the corporate leaderships of incumbent industries."
"Having its fingers in all the pies allows the fossil fuel industry to quietly put its thumb on the scales of institutional decision-making, helping delay action, and protect the status quo," added Supran, who called the results of the analysis "predictable, yet shocking."
Alec Connon, coalition coordinator at Stop the Money Pipeline, responded similarly to the revelations in an email to Common Dreams.
"It should surprise no one that Wall Street boards are brimming with executives with close ties to climate-damaging companies," he said. "Since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, Chase, Wells Fargo, and their Wall Street ilk have loaned more than $1 trillion to the fossil fuel industry. In the climate crisis, Wall Street is a primary villain."
"Perhaps if they had fewer fossil fuel executives on their boards," Connon added, "that would begin to change."
Remember the military-industrial complex? Meet it's equally nasty twin, the fossil fuel-finance complex https://t.co/dAUlDtmrcK— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1617799338.0
A coalition of green groups including the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released a report last month detailing how the world's 60 biggest banks have poured over $3.8 trillion into the fossil fuel industry in the wake of the landmark climate agreement, which aims to keep global temperature rise by 2100 to "well below" 2°C, with a more ambitious target of 1.5°C.
The groups' Banking on Climate report generated fresh criticism of big banks' recent pledges to work toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In light of DeSmog's reporting, Connon also addressed such commitments, saying that "2050 promises without 2021 action are essentially meaningless."
"We need action today, not vague promises of action in the next three decades," he continued. "Perhaps the fact that Wall Street boards are so full of fossil fuel executives is one reason why they're continuing to prioritize empty promises over immediate, meaningful policy change."
Since January 2020, the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition has pressured banks, insurers, and asset managers to cut ties with companies financing climate destruction. While its initial top targets were JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, and Liberty Mutual, the coalition has expanded its efforts — including with a recently launched campaign directed at funders of Enbrige's Line 3 tar sands pipeline.
That controversial project — intensely opposed by Indigenous water protectors and climate campaigners — was the focus of a report by Emily Holden of Floodlight and Emily Atkin of HEATED, published Wednesday in The Guardian.
Citing DeSmog's finding that 77% of board members at seven major U.S. banks have ties to climate-conflicted companies or groups, the pair provided "an on-the-ground look at where all this dirty money is going," as Supran put it.
According to Holden and Atkin:
From the U.S., Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo have made the project possible with billions of dollars in loans, although it's impossible to tally precisely how much they have financed for the pipeline specifically. Another five large Canadian banks are also financing Enbridge, according to RAN.
Out of these nine North American banks backing Enbridge, six have recently published net-zero climate goals, pledging to align their investments with the international Paris climate agreement.
"The banks are gorging on doughnuts and then eating an apple afterwards," said Richard Brooks, the Toronto-based climate finance director for Stand.earth. "We certainly can't rely on banks or the private sector to lead us into climate safety and lead us toward emissions reductions. We need policy, we need regulation. We need government to act."
Last week, 145 groups sent a letter to John Kerry, President Joe Biden's climate envoy, encouraging the former secretary of state to use his current position to help end "the flow of private finance from Wall Street to the industries driving climate change around the world — fossil fuels and forest-risk commodities."
In another pair of letters last week, federal lawmakers and environmental groups pressed Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to pursue bolder efforts to protect U.S. financial institutions and the economy from risks posed by the climate crisis.
Campaigners are also calling for changes at the institutions.
"We need people who are willing to lead on climate on the boards of the country's largest financial institutions," said Connon. "That's why Stop the Money Pipeline is joining the growing calls on major investors, such as BlackRock and Vanguard, demanding that they vote against any corporate directors that have proven themselves unable or unwilling to take real action on climate. That starts this shareholder season."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Bank Lending to Fossil Fuel Companies Increased After Paris ... ›
- JP Morgan Economists Warn of 'Catastrophic Outcomes' of Human ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.
"Today is a watershed moment in the history of the U.S. Department of the Interior," declared Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. "With Secretary Haaland's actions today, it's clear the Interior Department is now working for communities, science, and justice. We are grateful for her leadership and bold action to put people over polluters."
"Today's orders make certain that the Interior Department is no longer going to serve as a rubber-stamp for the coal and oil and gas industries," said Nichols. "Secretary Haaland's actions set the stage for deep reforms within the Interior Department to ensure the federal government gets out of the business of fossil fuels and into the business of confronting the climate crisis."
BREAKING: Interior Secretary Deb Haalaned just repealed Trump-era policies that prioritized Big Oil execs above com… https://t.co/m1d2uolRWV— Friends of the Earth (Action) (@Friends of the Earth (Action))1618595500.0
Secretarial Order 3398 rescinds a dozen orders issued under the Trump administration which an Interior statement collectively described as "inconsistent with the department's commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science."
Specifically, she revoked: S.O. 3348; S.O. 3349; SO 3350; S.O. 3351; SO 3352; S.O. 3354; S.O. 3355; S.O. 3358; S.O. 3360; S.O. 3380; SO 3385; and SO 3389. Implemented throughout former President Donald Trump's term, they related to "American energy independence," the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, and leasing and permitting for energy projects, among other topics. With the order, Haaland reinstated the federal moratorium on coal leasing.
Haaland's other measure, Secretarial Order 3399, establishes a departmental Climate Task Force that will identify policies needed to tackle the climate emergency, support the use of the best available science on greenhouse gas emissions, implement the review and reconsideration of federal gas and oil leasing and permitting practices, identify actions needed to "address current and historic environmental injustice" as well as "foster economic revitalization of, and investment in, energy communities," and work with state, tribe, and local governments.
The department also noted that "the solicitor's office issued a withdrawal of M-37062, an opinion that concluded that the Interior secretary must promulgate a National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program consisting of a five-year lease schedule with at least two lease sales during the five-year plan," which allows DOI "to evaluate its obligations under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act."
Today, @SecHaaland revoked a dozen pro-Big Oil and anti-environment orders from the Trump administration. Little by… https://t.co/p0tHEciEct— Western Values Project (@Western Values Project)1618606421.0
Haaland — a former congresswoman and first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary whose confirmation was celebrated by climate campaigners, Indigenous leaders, and various progressive advocacy groups — said Friday that "from day one, President Biden was clear that we must take a whole-of-government approach to tackle the climate crisis, strengthen the economy, and address environmental justice."
"At the Department of the Interior, I believe we have a unique opportunity to make our communities more resilient to climate change and to help lead the transition to a clean energy economy, Haaland continued. "These steps will align the Interior Department with the president's priorities and better position the team to be a part of the climate solution."
"I know that signing secretarial orders alone won't address the urgency of the climate crisis. But I'm hopeful that these steps will help make clear that we, as a department, have a mandate to act," she added. "With the vast experience, talent, and ingenuity of our public servants at the Department of the Interior, I'm optimistic about what we can accomplish together to care for our natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations."
Haaland's orders were welcomed by environmental and climate groups as well as other critics of fossil fuel development on public lands and in federal waters.
Kristen Miller, conservation director at Alaska Wilderness League, said the orders "are another important step toward restoring scientific integrity, meaningful public process, and the longstanding stewardship responsibilities for America's public lands and waters at the Department of Interior. This is the type of bold and visionary leadership we need if we're to effectively fight climate change, tackle the extinction crisis, and prioritize environmental justice and tribal consultation."
"We applaud the secretary's actions to ensure meaningful consultation and elevate strong science, especially around climate change, into decision-making across the department," Miller added. "And we thank the secretary for reversing the Trump administration's energy dominance agenda in the Arctic Ocean and the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, and look forward to working with her on a different management direction for the western Arctic that focuses on addressing the climate crisis and protecting its extraordinary wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and cultural values."
Environment America public lands campaign director Ellen Montgomery said that "Haaland is building on President Biden's strong start by restoring conservation as a priority for the Department of the Interior. Our public lands and waters should be protected for the sake of the wildlife and people who depend on them. They should not be mined and drilled to extract fossil fuels — an antiquated 20th-century pursuit that pollutes our air and makes climate change worse."
"The Interior Department is in a powerful position to drive bold action for the climate in the United States," said Nichols of WildEarth Guardians. "Haaland's actions today confirm that President Biden and his administration are seizing the opportunity to rein in fossil fuels and make climate action and climate justice a reality."
"We can't have fossil fuels and a safe climate and today's orders take a major step forward in acknowledging and acting upon this reality," he said. "If we truly have any chance of protecting peoples' health, advancing economic prosperity, and achieving environmental justice, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
To find out, an international team of researchers set out to determine how meeting the Paris agreement goals would impact the global balance of energy-sector employment.
The result, published in One Earth on July 23, was "surprising," as study co-author and RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment environmental economist Johannes Emmerling told EcoWatch. Limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius would actually create eight million more energy jobs by 2050.
"We did not expect that at all," Emmerling said.
A Global Dataset
Previous attempts to predict the impact of climate action on global energy jobs relied on data from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, which excluded major players like India, Brazil and China. To expand their view, the research team built their own global data set covering around 50 countries. The dataset focused on 11 energy technologies and five job categories: construction and installation, operation and maintenance, manufacturing, fuel production and refining.
The team then used a model to determine what would happen to global jobs under two scenarios: one in which current policies continued and another in which world leaders acted to meet the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In the first scenario, energy jobs would continue to grow, rising from 18 million today to 21 million by 2050. But the researchers found that they would grow even more if we act to resolve the climate crisis, reaching 26 million by mid-century.
Of course, the makeup of those jobs would change in a climate-action scenario. Today, the researchers calculated that there are 12.6 million people working in fossil fuel industries, 4.6 million in renewable energy and 0.8 million in nuclear. In the Paris-agreement scenario, that balance would shift to 3.1 million working in fossil fuels and 22 million working in the renewable sector. Fossil-fuel extraction in particular would be hard-hit, making up around 80 percent of job losses, but renewables would more than make up the difference. Wind and solar in particular would take off, representing more than 85 percent of renewable sector gains. In total, 84 percent of 2050 energy jobs would be in renewables, with only 11 percent in fossil fuels and five percent in nuclear.
This data, Emmerling said, could help inform energy policy debates.
"The job losses due to the energy transition... have often been used to argue that it should be delayed," he noted. Or that it should be avoided altogether.
Former President Donald Trump, for example, justified his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement by proclaiming his love for coal miners, the study authors pointed out. Australia's current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in addition, won a campaign in which he promised to protect fossil-fuel jobs. The new findings can help assuage some of the fears these leaders tap into with their anti-climate-action rhetoric.
"The point is that the number of jobs that could be created if we move to a sustainable economy will be a gain," Emmerling said.
Up for Grabs
While the research found that there would be a global net gain in energy jobs, Emmerling acknowledged that there would be some losers on the local, national and regional level. Fossil-fuel exporting countries like Mexico, Australia, Canada, South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa all stood to see net-losses by 2050 in a climate-action scenario. China was set to lose energy jobs no matter what because of a decline in coal mining, but it also has great potential to take advantage of a green transition because it currently leads the world in solar PV manufacturing. For many other countries, however, any loss would be offset. The U.S. could gain more than a million jobs by 2050 by honoring the Paris agreement.
In addition, the nature of renewable energy jobs means there is more potential for different nations to take advantage of growth in the sector, especially when it comes to manufacturing.
"Future renewable energy manufacturing jobs differ from other job categories as there is nothing physically tying these jobs to a particular geography in the same way that coal mining has to happen where coal deposits are located," the study authors wrote.
Because of this, the researchers were not able to accurately model where manufacturing jobs would end up in the future, meaning that countries have a chance to shape their energy future through industrial policy. While China currently dominates the making of solar PVs, there is no reason that this has to remain the case. The researchers therefore suggested that nations currently reliant on fossil-fuel exports actively promote renewable manufacturing to offset potential losses, as India, for example, is already doing.
"These jobs are up for grabs for countries who invest in these technologies," Emmerling said.
A Just Transition
That said, a transition to a renewable energy economy will doubtless impact individual communities and workers who have long relied on fossil-fuel extraction for income. This is why many environmental campaigners have called for a "just transition" that would compensate these communities and retrain these workers.
The study authors argued that any program of this nature requires an accurate understanding of both potential job losses and gains, which is something their work provides. Next, they hope to fill out the picture by looking at the quality and types of new energy jobs, including wages, skill level and necessary training.
Ultimately, however, the study results affirm the possibility of a just transition by demonstrating that there is "room for compensating," as Emmerling put it.
"There is a pie to be shared and distributed, and in the end the pie will be bigger," Emmerling said.
A graphical abstract of the study results. Pai et al./One Earth / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
- Electrifying the U.S. Economy Could Create 25 Million Green Jobs ... ›
- States March toward 100% Clean Energy – Who's Next? - EcoWatch ›
Recent farmworker deaths in the U.S. from extreme heat have raised attention to the heightened vulnerability of people forced to work outside for fear of losing their income. People laboring in the fields "are being used as a human shield to buffer the rest of the country against the most violent effects of climate change," Elizabeth Strater, of the United Farm Workers, told Bloomberg.
The death wrought by climate-fueled heat will be far worse in developing countries with less-mechanized farming. In India, for example, where 40% of the workforce is in farming, higher temperatures will reduce crop yields, which will in turn drive down salaries while increasing the cost of food.
"If you have a lower capacity to adapt, you're going to get hit twice, maybe three times more by climate change," said farm labor economist Cicero Lima. "With lower crop yields, more people are making lower salaries and paying higher prices for food. In this scenario, the world will be more imbalanced."
For a deeper dive:
- Farmworkers are dying in extreme heat. Few standards exist to ... ›
- Death in the fields for California farmworkers ›
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- For Farmworkers, Heat Too Often Means Needless Death - Inside ... ›
- As the Climate Emergency Grows, Farmworkers Lack Protection ... ›
Nearly one-third of all Americans live in a county hit by an extreme weather disaster in the past three months, with far more living in places that have endured a multiday heatwave, a Washington Post analysis revealed.
Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is supercharging heatwaves, hurricanes, wildfires fueled by drought, and extreme precipitation that causes flooding. Those phenomena have killed at least 388 people in the U.S. since June.
The unprecedented summer of climate-fueled tragedy has hit people who previously considered themselves immune to climate risk and has overwhelmed seasoned survivors of such disasters who say this is the worst summer they've experienced — it also comes as Democrats in Washington work to enact legislation that would address its root causes. The political window for such action, however, is closing.
With the midterms looming, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, linchpin vote connected with multiple coal firms, called for a "strategic pause" on that legislation last week. Meanwhile, the rest of the party barnstorms the country to raise support for the bill. "It sounds like a lot of money... but it is what we spend in five years fighting forest fires," Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), hardly a liberal firebrand himself, told constituents in Clear Creek.
Bernie Sanders is also traveling the country, and the White House is driving the message with senior advisor and former Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond promoting action on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday and President Biden directly tying the devastation wrought by Ida to climate change and the need to take decisive action.
"Super storms are going to come and they're going to come more ferociously," Biden said while visiting Louisiana Friday "This isn't about being a Democrat or a Republican. We're Americans and we'll get through this together."
As reported by The Washington Post:
Americans' growing sense of vulnerability is palpable. Craig Fugate, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida's Emergency Management Division, has never known a summer as packed with crises as this one.
The question, he wonders, is whether this calamitous season will mark a turning point in public opinion that finally forces political leaders to act. "If not," Fugate asked, "what will it take?"
Even seasoned survivors say that recent disasters are the worst they've ever experienced. People who never considered themselves at risk from climate change are suddenly waking up to floodwaters outside their windows and smoke in their skies, wondering if anywhere is safe.
The true test of this summer's significance will be in whether the United States can meaningfully curb its planet-warming emissions — and fast.
The nation's most ambitious plan to address climate change and adapt to its impacts — Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget bill — is now in jeopardy after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) called for a "strategic pause" on the legislation Thursday, citing concern over the price tag. The proposal to institute renewable energy requirements for power companies, impose import fees on polluters and provide generous support for electric vehicles cannot pass without Manchin's vote.
For a deeper dive:
Extreme weather: The Washington Post, The Hill, Axios; Opportunity for action: The New York Times, AP; Closing window: Axios; Manchin: The Intercept; Bennet: The New York Times; Sanders: The New York Times; Richmond: POLITICO; Biden: Reuters; Climate Signals background; Extreme heat and heatwaves, 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, 2021 Western wildfire season, Extreme precipitation increase, Flooding, Drought
- The Top 10 Extreme Weather and Climate Events of 2020 - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change: Everything You Need to Know - EcoWatch ›
- Record Number of U.S. Weather Disasters Struck in 2020 - EcoWatch ›
Greenpeace Australia called Friday's World Heritage Committee vote "a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history."
By Jake Johnson
An intense lobbying campaign by the pro-fossil fuel Australian government succeeded Friday in keeping the Great Barrier Reef off a list of World Heritage Sites considered "in danger," despite experts' warnings that the biodiverse ecosystem is increasingly imperiled by the global climate emergency.
The 21-nation World Heritage Committee — organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) — voted down a push to categorize the Great Barrier Reef as endangered, an effort that the right-wing Australian government fervently opposed with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other oil-friendly countries.
Instead of designating the Reef as "in danger," the World Heritage Committee on Friday instructed the government of Australia to produce a progress report on the structure's condition by February 2022.
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia, said in a statement that Friday's vote "is a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history."
"Under the UNESCO treaty, the Australian government promised the world it would do its utmost to protect the Reef — instead it has done its utmost to hide the truth," said Ritter. "This is not an achievement — it is a day of shame for the Australian government."
Lesley Hughes, a spokesperson for Climate Council, an Australia-based advocacy organization, slammed the government lobbying blitz and said lawmakers "must stop censoring science."
"The science is clear: climate change is accelerating and is the single, greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. In the past five years it has been repeatedly and severely damaged by three marine heatwaves," said Hughes, a professor of biology at Macquarie University in Sydney. "Until we see credible climate action, and the phasing out of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, this situation will worsen, not improve. The Great Barrier Reef is in danger, and trying to hide the facts won't change a thing."
Relentless lobbying by the Fed Gov has once again seen UNESCO back away from placing the #GreatBarrierReef on its “… https://t.co/COPmAAlR0A— Climate Council (@Climate Council)1627040227.0
Home to hundreds of types of coral and more than 1,000 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef has been badly damaged in recent years by mass coral bleaching fueled by warming ocean temperatures — which is why scientists have been pushing Australia and the international community to formally recognize the system as endangered.
The World Heritage Committee's vote Friday came a month after UNESCO issued a report warning that the Great Barrier Reef's condition has "further deteriorated from poor to very poor" due to human-caused climate change. The U.N. body advised that the reef be listed among the world's "in danger" sites — a call endorsed by scientists around the world.
UNESCO's recommendation sparked furious backlash from the Australian government, which launched an aggressive lobbying push to prevent the listing.
As The Guardian reported, "More than a dozen ambassadors flew from Canberra to Cairns, Queensland, for a snorkeling trip on the reef," and "Australia's environment minister, Sussan Ley, was dispatched to Europe on an RAAF diplomatic jet to visit Budapest, Madrid, Sarajevo, Paris, Oman, and the Maldives."
"Australia — a major producer and exporter of coal and gas — initially won support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both members of the committee, to delay any decision on the danger listing until at least 2023," the outlet noted. "But after an interjection from Norway, the committee decided instead the reef's health would be considered again at next year's meeting."
Sarah Hanson-Young, an Australian senator with the Greens Party, warned following Friday's vote that "the decision to delay the 'in danger' listing for the Great Barrier Reef is ridiculous and will cost Australia in the long run."
"Everyone knows the climate crisis is threatening the Reef," she added. "Delay is denial, and a sop to fossil fuels."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.