By Nik Martin
In April, the price of oil turned negative for the first time in history, just after the coronavirus pandemic hit. As lockdowns were ordered across the world, demand for black gold plummeted, prompting producers to literally pay buyers to take the commodity off their hands.
Investment Slashed, Jobs Cut<p>Exxon, once the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company, said in the summer that capital expenditure would shrink by 20%, and just last week, announced it would cut 15% of its workforce — shedding some 50,000 jobs. Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and others have made similar moves, with most slashing investor dividends for the first time in years.</p><p>"The next few years are going to be very difficult," Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, told DW. "But the oil majors have done it before. During the financial crisis, these companies were very good at slashing costs."</p><p>Dozens of smaller firms, however, will struggle to survive. The <em>New York Times</em> reported that more than 50 North American oil and gas companies had already sought bankruptcy protection this year. Many of them took huge risks and even bigger loans to try to compete with the majors.</p><p>This fall, the second wave of the pandemic has forced renewed lockdowns across Europe and will likely prompt a more robust response from US President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to create a pandemic task force as soon as he takes office in January. Those measures could cause a further shakeout.</p><p>"The longer the pandemic goes on, the more we'll see the smaller and mid-cap sized oil companies go under, or be taken over by the larger ones," Miah added.</p><p>ConocoPhillips last month bought the independent exploration firm Concho Resources, days after Chevron completed the takeover of rival Noble Energy.</p>
Peak Demand or Bottom of Cycle?<p>Some analysts believe global oil demand may have already peaked, while others believe that if oil prices haven't already, they are close to bottoming out. Seven months on from the unprecedented negative oil price shock, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, one of the benchmarks for calculating oil prices, stood at $38.15 on Monday.</p><p>The price is still 67% lower than its 2014 peak of $114 a barrel, but closer to the $50 that most large oil companies need to break even. Exxon needs prices of around $75, according to analysts. All the same, the oil majors are not expected to reach their pre-COVID profitability levels until at least the end of 2022.</p><p>Already facing pressure to lead the energy transition and help the world ween itself off its fossil fuel addiction, oil giants have vowed to exploit the crisis to speed up investments in renewable energies.</p><p>"Prior to COVID this [energy transition] was a gradual trend," Peter Hitchens, oil analyst at the London-based Progressive Research, told DW. "The question is will COVID accelerate this trend?"</p><p>European firms like France's Total, the UK's BP and the Anglo-Dutch giant Shell have already begun to prioritize renewable energy, and plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. BP and Shell have announced major offshore wind projects this year.</p>
US Oil Giants Shield by Trump<p>Their US counterparts, on the other hand, have enjoyed protection from outgoing US President Donald Trump's climate skepticism and continue to focus on their traditional oil and gas businesses. If the Biden administration reenters the Paris Climate Agreement, from which Trump withdrew six months after taking office, it will likely put pressure on American oil majors, although it is unlikely to curtail the drilling for hard-to- reach oil through fracking.</p><p>Biden has also hinted at building ties with OPEC members Iran and Venezuela, which are currently subject to harsh sanctions on their oil trade. The Democrats' plan for a huge infrastructure plan, dubbed the Green New Deal, to meet the climate change challenge will still require oil prices to be high enough to make clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels competitive.</p><p>Despite their moves to step up investment in renewables, the Share Centre's Miah sees oil firms still mostly profiting from fossil fuels in the medium term,</p><p>"If we look a decade ahead, I would say that they will still be majority oil and gas companies rather than renewables-focused," he told DW. He added that most investors still see oil as a sensible way of achieving "good, solid returns."</p>
Investors Give Wide Berth<p>Some major London-based institutional investors have taken a different view, however. Asset managers Fidelity International and Sarasin & Partners have blacklisted the likes of Shell and BP over concerns that the green shift will cripple profits.</p><p>Last month, the <em>Daily Mail</em> reported that several asset managers have written to the oil majors requesting full transparency on the true value of their assets, including oil fields, which they claim could be rendered worthless if a slump in oil demand became more permanent.</p><p>Others, like Hitchens, see the fortunes of the oil industry tied in with the duration of the pandemic and how quickly oil demand recovers, once business and everyday life return to normal.</p><p>"The performance will very much reflect the movement in oil prices" and "very much depends on the economic recovery after COVID," he told DW.</p><p>Other analysts are more bullish and think big oil firms, with their deep pockets, have the strength to ride out their worst crisis. They say they'll likely acquire renewable energy firms and continue to thrive despite likely flat oil demand.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/how-are-oil-companies-dealing-with-the-shift-to-renewables/a-55542378" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.<a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2648827745#/" target="_self"></a></em></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Corbett
"Another cog in the climate denial machine rattles loose."
So said Harvard University climate denial researcher Geoffrey Supran in response to a groundbreaking investigative report published Monday by E&E News revealing that scientists at auto giants General Motors and Ford Motor Co. "knew as early as the 1960s that car emissions caused climate change."
<div id="71d13" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8da145d0ce5495a0af282306945503af"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1320728404078043136" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">"There was never any doubt for a minute", former GM scientist Ruth Reck says of her pioneering climate science rese… https://t.co/DaYzkpPG7q</div> — Geoffrey Supran (@Geoffrey Supran)<a href="https://twitter.com/GeoffreySupran/statuses/1320728404078043136">1603721164.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="94cd8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1812eaef4972b9dc93486f1643265be2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1320737159154991104" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">More details about what corporate America knew about #climatechange in the 1960s and 70s... and also how they funde… https://t.co/lSCrsvA44P</div> — NaomiOreskes (@NaomiOreskes)<a href="https://twitter.com/NaomiOreskes/statuses/1320737159154991104">1603723251.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="bb72f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="161d579460176537e601275315796462"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1320759585209262082" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Just like #ExxonKnew, General Motors + Ford have known for decades how they contribute to the climate crisis. Inst… https://t.co/noRVIUGiBt</div> — 350 dot org (@350 dot org)<a href="https://twitter.com/350/statuses/1320759585209262082">1603728598.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="3c362" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="928139734c26121a3902b39abb34b69d"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1320739545529393152" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">A critical, and damning, look at how #FordandGMKnew that vehicle emissions were driving climate change and they lob… https://t.co/nXJyEZQd4W</div> — Allison Considine (@Allison Considine)<a href="https://twitter.com/AD_Considine/statuses/1320739545529393152">1603723820.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Martin Kuebler
More than 700 climate lawsuits have been filed around the world since 2015, according to the Climate Change Litigation Databases. That's a huge increase, considering there have only been about 1,700 of these types of cases since the late 1980s, most of them in the U.S.
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By Julia Conley
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday denounced the "audacity" of oil giant Shell after it waded into the global discussion about the climate crisis by asking members of the public what they would do to reduce carbon emissions.
<div id="fb346" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e9b7c448217cd1e4db74efc4f245fd72"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323304992372129792" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">I’m willing to hold you accountable for lying about climate change for 30 years when you secretly knew the entire t… https://t.co/0gwuy5P9h5</div> — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)<a href="https://twitter.com/AOC/statuses/1323304992372129792">1604335470.0</a></blockquote></div><p>In the poll it posted to Twitter, Shell offered choices to the public including "stop flying," "buy an electric vehicle," and shifting to renewable electricity. </p>
<div id="2dc26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5fcb1a371e5c97eb32c9472206736569"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323184318735360001" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">📊 What are you willing to change to help reduce emissions? #EnergyDebate</div> — Shell (@Shell)<a href="https://twitter.com/Shell/statuses/1323184318735360001">1604306699.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="bbe8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c255f6d58a46ccfb50b18b0873df6ab7"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323316064911007745" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Royal Dutch Shell is #6 on the list of 90 companies responsible for 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn… https://t.co/VKnFVwXtBm</div> — Prof. Katharine Hayhoe (@Prof. Katharine Hayhoe)<a href="https://twitter.com/KHayhoe/statuses/1323316064911007745">1604338110.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Shell's tweet drew outrage from international climate action group Greenpeace, international lawmakers, and climate experts.</p>
<div id="f789b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5bbe12a91b66d037630be4cc93e6b46"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323345812051537921" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Hey Shell: you willing to change your entire business model? https://t.co/CnjSBScTFr</div> — Leah Stokes (@Leah Stokes)<a href="https://twitter.com/leahstokes/statuses/1323345812051537921">1604345202.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="540d1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8c816cf96de217ae3862e4a799f3c1cb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323337603601567745" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">You polluted our planet, you funded climate change deniers, you fund the lobby to slow down climate protection laws… https://t.co/zgcXDaVjRA</div> — Michael Bloss (@Michael Bloss)<a href="https://twitter.com/micha_bloss/statuses/1323337603601567745">1604343245.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="e6969" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f3be1f9f21462ec3f507d049da3fc941"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323361897484324865" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">We’re willing to fight for climate justice and for people not to fall for your dirty tricks, @Shell. Individual cho… https://t.co/s7ZyawxM4V</div> — Greenpeace (@Greenpeace)<a href="https://twitter.com/Greenpeace/statuses/1323361897484324865">1604349037.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"What am I willing to do?" Hayhoe <a href="https://twitter.com/KHayhoe/status/1323321067541155841" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a> in reply to Shell's poll question, which she later said was<a href="https://twitter.com/KHayhoe/status/1323342197312421896" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> hidden</a> on Twitter by the company. "Hold you accountable for 2% of cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to those of my entire home country of Canada. When you have a concrete plan to address that, I'd be happy to chat about what I'm doing to reduce my personal emissions." </p>
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By Brett Wilkins
Despite acknowledging that the move would lead to an increase in the 500 million to one billion birds that die each year in the United States due to human activity, the Trump administration on Friday published a proposed industry-friendly relaxation of a century-old treaty that protects more than 1,000 avian species.
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By Julia Conley
A new campaign unveiled this weekend by the nonprofit organization Fossil Free Media aims to expand on the goals of the fossil fuel divestment movement, cutting into oil and gas companies' profit margins through their public relations and ad campaigns.
<div id="1dcf1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d5e39a5a3812bc2589ba8aa0563756e0"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1330177734799208465" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">PR and ad companies' work for the fossil fuel industry is pushing the planet past the breaking point.… https://t.co/wOuDBM26ne</div> — Clean Creatives (@Clean Creatives)<a href="https://twitter.com/cleancreatives/statuses/1330177734799208465">1605974060.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="21b90" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bdc23e69ff18075b4fb5df6d4939b9f5"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1330205383848288257" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Porter Novelli isn't some small shop: they've got offices and clients in 60 countries and are part of @Omnicom, the… https://t.co/iw0BCmrdzx</div> — Jamie Henn (@Jamie Henn)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieclimate/statuses/1330205383848288257">1605980652.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's a BIG deal that they're dropping fossil fuel clients—let's make sure it's the drop that starts a flood," wrote Henn. </p>
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A judge in New York's Supreme Court sided with Exxon in a case that accused the fossil fuel giant of lying to investors about the true cost of the climate crisis. The judge did not absolve Exxon from its contribution to the climate crisis, but insisted that New York State failed to prove that the company intentionally defrauded investors, as NPR reported.
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Thirty of the world's largest investors, who together control $5 trillion in assets, have pledged to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of their portfolios by as much as 29 percent in five years.
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The case New York State has brought against ExxonMobil for defrauding investors about the the true cost of the climate crisis is in its second week and is seeing a star witness take the stand Wednesday.
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By Tara Lohan
Maybe we can blame COVID-19 for making it hard to hit the streets and gather signatures to get initiatives on state ballots. But this year there are markedly fewer environmental issues up for vote than in 2018.
While the number of initiatives may be down, there's no less at stake. Voters will still have to make decisions about wildlife, renewable energy, oil companies and future elections.
Here's the rundown of what's happening where.
Return of an Apex Predator<p>Wolves are on the ballot in Colorado. <a href="https://leg.colorado.gov/ballots/reintroduction-and-management-gray-wolves" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Proposition 114</a> would require the state's Parks and Wildlife Commission to create a plan by 2023 for the reintroduction and management of gray wolves (<em>Canis lupus</em>) in areas west of the continental divide.</p><p>Gray wolves once roamed across the western United States but were mostly eradicated by the 1930s. Slowly efforts are being made to bring them back. The reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1996 has been hailed as a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/25/yellowstone-wolf-project-25th-anniversary" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rewilding success</a>.</p><p>"The argument is that by putting back in wolves — an apex predator that has evolved alongside their prey species — we're putting things back into ecological balance," University of Colorado Boulder ecology professor Joanna Lambert <a href="https://therevelator.org/wolf-reintroduction-colorado/" target="_blank">told <em>The Revelator</em></a> in a February interview about the science behind wolf reintroductions.</p><p>The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Colorado Farm Bureau are two of the top donors to the opposition groups.</p><p>The measure does include compensation for losses of livestock caused by gray wolves.</p><p>"What we're all hoping for is a landscape where we can coexist with the species that were originally here, but also acknowledging that humans need to make a living and that the costs of this initiative will be felt by some folks more than others," Lambert said.</p>
Confusion Over Clean Energy<p>In Nevada voters will take a second swing at a constitutional amendment to require that electric utilities source 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2030. Voters passed the same measure, <a href="https://www.nvsos.gov/sos/home/showdocument?id=8826" target="_blank">Question 6</a>, in 2018, but state law requires that constitutional amendments be passed in two consecutive even-numbered election years.</p><p>More clean energy for the state may seem good. But there's concern that enshrining 50% renewables by 2030 in the state's constitution isn't that ambitious and it will make it harder to continue the push for 100% renewables in the future. To do that would be another constitutional amendment that would again take four years and two consecutive ballot wins to move the needle.</p><p>Also, the state is already on its way to the same renewable goal.</p><p>A legislative effort to achieve 50% renewables by 2030 — but with a slightly different timeline for the increments to get there — was signed into law in April 2019 by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Renewable advocates hope the state will do even better than that benchmark, but passing Question 6 would make it harder.</p>
Paying a Fair Share<p>If California's <a href="https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/qualified-ballot-measures/" target="_blank">Proposition 15</a> passes, commercial and industrial properties will need to start paying taxes based on their current market value, instead of paying based on the purchase price from decades prior (which stems from Proposition 13 passed back in 1978). The initiative would exempt agricultural land, small businesses, renters and homeowners.</p><p>Reassessing the worth of large commercial properties could bring in between $7.5 billion and $12 billion a year that would go toward supporting local governments, school districts and community colleges.</p><p>Most of the <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_15,_Tax_on_Commercial_and_Industrial_Properties_for_Education_and_Local_Government_Funding_Initiative_(2020)" target="_blank">opposition</a> has come from big business and anti-taxation groups.</p><p>The California Teachers Association Issues PAC is the biggest supporter of the effort, but a number of <a href="https://www.yes15.org/endorsers-environment" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">environmental groups</a> have also endorsed the measure, which would likely see oil companies and other big industrial polluters having to kick in more money.</p><p>"The oil industry has used Prop. 13 loopholes to evade tens of millions of dollars in property taxes," <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/victoria-rome/nrdc-announces-support-californias-proposition-15" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote Victoria Lome</a>, California legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Companies like Chevron, Exxon, Phillips 66, Shell and Tosco are paying taxes based on assessments taken prior to 2000. Prop. 15 would end this hidden subsidy to dirty energy."</p><p>Oil companies could stand to lose in Alaska, too. Voters there will weigh in on <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Alaska_Ballot_Measure_1,_North_Slope_Oil_Production_Tax_Increase_Initiative_(2020)" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ballot Measure 1</a>, which would increase taxes on big oil producers (those that have produced more than 400 million barrels overall or 40,000 barrels a day in the past year) operating in three established oil fields in the North Slope.</p>
Taking the Wind Out of the Sails of the Electoral College<p>Colorado's <a href="https://leg.colorado.gov/ballots/adopt-agreement-elect-us-president-national-popular-vote" target="_blank">Proposition 113</a> isn't about environmental issues directly but could cause big shifts in how presidential elections are run and what states and issues are considered important.</p><p>The initiative would add Colorado to the <a href="https://www.nationalpopularvote.com/written-explanation" target="_blank">National Popular Vote Interstate Compact</a>. That effort is aimed at ensuring the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote wins the election. It doesn't eliminate the Electoral College, but it saps its power.</p><p>The compact needs states representing at least 270 Electoral College votes to go into effect. It's currently at 196.</p><p>If Colorado's proposition is passed, and if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact eventually gets enough votes to go into effect, then Colorado's nine electoral votes would go to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote, not to the one who gets the most votes in Colorado.</p>
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The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.
By Jo Harper
Only 10% of global energy utility companies are expanding their renewable energy capacity at a faster rate than their gas or coal-fired capacity. That is the main finding of a study by Galina Alova from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford.