By Jessica Corbett
New York state prosecutors last week accused ExxonMobil of trying to discourage witnesses from testifying against the company in a climate fraud case, leading the head of the environmental group 350.org to declare Thursday that "we won't be intimidated."
In a statement, May Boeve, the avocacy group's executive director, also charged that "Exxon is polluting these proceedings just like it has polluted our communities."
Last October, following a three-year probe and amid growing demands that the dirty energy industry be held accountable for the impacts of its products, then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued ExxonMobil for defrauding investors about the financial threat of efforts to combat the climate emergency.
Boeve's statement came in response to allegations from the current state attorney general's office Friday that the fossil fuel giant is attempting to intimidate third-party witnesses by demanding they disclose all contact they have had with various experts and environmental groups, including 350.org.
ExxonMobil is after us again. @NewYorkStateAG is currently suing them for fraud.— 350 dot org (@350) August 8, 2019
Now, ExxonMobil is attempting to intimidate witnesses from testifying by making them disclose all contact they’ve had with 350. #exxonknew #MakeThemPayhttps://t.co/Artfvfev8z
InsideClimate News — which exposed ExxonMobil's decades of climate deception with a damning investigative series in 2015 — reported on the allegations Tuesday:
New court filings reveal that Exxon sent letters to a group of investment advisers and shareholder activists who prosecutors want to put on the stand, informing them they will be subject to subpoenas from the company seeking documents relevant to the case if they choose to testify.
Because of their roles investing in and engaging with Exxon over climate change, these witnesses' testimony could prove critical to the state's case.
With opening statements scheduled to begin Oct. 23, a lawyer in New York Attorney General Letitia James's office wrote that the request would "impose disproportionate burdens on these witnesses in a transparent attempt to discourage them from testifying voluntarily, and threatening to upend the trial schedule."
The attorney general's office has asked Justice Barry Ostrager of New York Supreme Court to order Exxon to halt its requests for documents.
Aaron Caplan, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and expert in legal ethics, told the outlet that Exxon's letter "tiptoes right up to the line of impropriety ... And whether it crosses that line is up to interpretation."
Climate Liability News, which also reported on the filings from James's office Tuesday, spoke to one expert who characterized Exxon's move as part of a broader legal strategy.
Yale law professor Douglas A. Kysar, who is not involved in the suit, said the document request feeds into Exxon's narrative of an "anti-carbon conspiracy" involving liberal academics, foundations, non-governmental organizations, and plaintiffs' lawyers. The request includes "all communications concerning ExxonMobil between you and Matthew Pawa, Peter Frumhoff, Naomi Oreskes, Geoffrey Supran, the Rockefeller Family Foundation, Sharon Eubanks, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, Richard Heede, Sher Edling, LLP, 350.org, or the Union of Concerned Scientists."
"The third party witnesses won't necessarily take this request literally as a threat by Exxon — but they will have to consider the vast expense and inconvenience that would follow from being dragged into the 'anti-carbon conspiracy' narrative," Kysar said.
"The line between 'normal legal maneuvering' and 'intimidation-style tactics' is a fine one that is almost always pushed by litigants in high-stakes battles like this one," added Kysar. "Still, the timing and the breadth of the document request by Exxon's lawyers raises even my cynical eyebrows."
350.org's Boeve wrote in an email to supporters Thursday that it is "clear" that "ExxonMobil executives are scared of the power of our movement and the strength of our numbers."
"This could be the greatest case of corporate fraud in history," she noted. "This lawsuit is a huge opportunity to set a precedent around the world for holding fossil fuel executives accountable and making them pay for a just transition to a 100 percent renewable energy economy."
In her statement, Boeve thanked James "for her vigilance in standing up for our communities" and vowed that Exxon's legal maneuvers won't deter the movement to make polluters pay for fueling the global climate emergency.
"As communities bear the costs of Exxon's lies, millions of people led by youth, frontline communities, workers, and more are mobilizing towards the September 20 climate strikes to build a world that works for all of us," said Boeve. "Together, all of us will hold accountable fossil fuel executives most responsible for the climate crisis, and make them pay for their climate destruction."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
The revelation came in a new monthly climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Scientists at the agency's National Centers for Environmental Information found that "the global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for June 2019 was the highest for the month of June in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880."
JUST IN: #June 2019 was the warmest June on record for globe, says @NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Record dates to 1880. https://t.co/sEG5ZD9SnI @NOAA #StateOfClimate pic.twitter.com/UI0NYQb4Qs— NOAA NCEI Climate (@NOAANCEIclimate) July 18, 2019
Meteorologist Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground, explained that "the global heat in June is especially impressive and significant given that only a weak (and weakening) El Niño event was in place. As human-produced greenhouse gases continue to heat up our planet, most global heat records are set during El Niño periods, because the warm waters that spread upward and eastward across the surface of the tropical Pacific during El Niño transfer heat from the ocean to the atmosphere."
According to NOAA, "Regionally, South America, Europe, Africa, the Hawaiian region, and the Gulf of Mexico had their warmest June in the 110-year record." Central and Eastern Europe, North-Central Russia, northeastern Canada and southern parts of South America endured the most notable departures from average June temperatures.
And, as Masters noted, that high heat came with consequences:
Three billion-dollar weather-related disasters hit the Earth last month, according to the June 2019 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon: a severe weather outbreak in Europe ($1.1 billion), flooding in China ($9+ billion, including losses up until July 16), and a drought in India ($1.75 billion). In addition, severe weather outbreaks in the U.S. in late May and mid-March accumulated more than $1 billion in losses by the end of June, bringing the 2019 tally of billion-dollar weather disasters to 14.
Five of the disasters documented by Aon were in the United States. NOAA, in the climate anomalies and events section of its report, noted that higher than average rainfall across the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and East Coast contributed to destructive flooding in those areas. Experts warn that as human behaviors continue to warm the planet, extreme weather events will become more intense and common.
NOAA scientists found that January through June tied with 2017 for the second-highest average temperature ever recorded in that six-month period over the past 140 years. Though 2016 still remains the hottest first six months of the year on record, last month beat 2016's June temperature average by 0.04°F, with an average global temperature 1.71°F above the 20th century average.
Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel, wrote Thursday that although the increases may seem small, "ultimately, what's most important is not whether a given month is a fraction of a degree warmer or colder; rather, it's the overall trend, which continues its upward climb since the late 1970s."
In response to NOAA's report, climate scientist Phil Duffy, president and executive director of Woods Hole Research Center, told Reuters that "action is urgently needed at the world, federal, state, and local levels to rapidly cut fossil fuel pollution and to protect and rebuild naturally stored carbon."
The NOAA report, as Erdman noted, echoes conclusions about June temperatures by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Japan Meteorological Agency and Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
Reacting to the C3S report earlier this month, the environmental advocacy group 350.org declared, "We need to act like this is the climate emergency it is."
The findings about June come on the heels of new research from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) that shows without urgent global action to curb planet-heating human activities, "the number of days per year when the heat index — or 'feels like' temperature — exceeds 100°F would more than double from historical levels to an average of 36 across the country by midcentury and increase four-fold to an average of 54 by late century."
The USC report warned that the global community must pursue ambitious climate action "if we wish to spare people in the United States and around the world the mortal dangers of extreme and relentless heat."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
The sweeping 10-year plan aims to "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to the resolution's FAQs section from Ocasio-Cortez's office posted by NPR.
The star freshman Congresswoman acknowledged that the ideas outlined in the non-binding resolution—such as providing "unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security" for all citizens and "meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources"—are incredibly grand but absolutely necessary.
As Ocasio-Cortez said on
NPR's Morning Edition: "Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us, to our country, to the world."
As the resolution points out, the United States has "historically been responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions" so it must take "a leading role" in reducing emissions through economic transformation.
This resolution outlines a plan to launch a WWII scale transformation of our economy, including a just transition f… https://t.co/CaT6lBz2ZU— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1549544568.0
The overreaching goal of the Green New Deal is to entirely transition away from nuclear energy and fossil fuels. To do so, the proposal calls for a wide-ranging mobilization of the U.S. economy and creating jobs through infrastructure and industrial projects, such as zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; installing smart grids; updating or creating buildings that are energy efficient; expanding clean energy jobs (like solar, wind turbine, battery and storage manufacturing); cleaning existing hazardous waste sites; and restoration of damaged and threatened ecosystems.
The Green New Deal calls for a complete transition to clean, zero-emission and renewable energy sources by 2030. Pexels
Along the same lines, the Green New Deal includes a significant social justice component because it aims to create millions of family-supporting and union jobs and will help protect disadvantaged communities on the frontlines of pollution and climate change.
"This is really about providing justice for communities and just transitions for communities," Ocasio-Cortez explained on Morning Edition. "So really the heart of the Green New Deal is about social justice and it's about allowing and fighting for things like fully-funded pensions for coal miners in West Virginia, fighting for clean water in Flint, and fighting for the ability of indigenous peoples to take a leadership role in in where we're moving as a country."
So here's the big question—How do you pay for it? The FAQ section from Ocasio-Cortez's office puts it bluntly:
"The same way we paid for the New Deal, the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs. The same way we paid for World War II and all our current wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit. There is also space for the government to take an equity stake in projects to get a return on investment. At the end of the day, this is an investment in our economy that should grow our wealth as a nation, so the question isn't how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity."
It's amazing to hear @AOC explain and fight for how we're going to pay for the Green New Deal, when asked about mas… https://t.co/5S3C2KChZA— Waleed Shahid (@Waleed Shahid)1549549785.0
Among Republicans—even those worried about climate change—the package, with its liberal economic ideas, will also likely be a nonstarter.
"Someone's going to have to prove to me how that can be accomplished because it looks to me like for the foreseeable future we're gonna be using a substantial amount of fossil fuels," said Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., co-chair of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, speaking to NPR before the Green New Deal's text was released.
As for the proposal's passage, "That looks unlikely," Kurtzleben wrote.
But this part in Kurtzleben's report is key: "It's worth talking about because it already is a politically powerful idea among Democrats."
Nearly all of 2020 presidential candidates as well as potential contenders have already voiced support for the deal, including Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Jeff Merkeley, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard and Jay Inslee, the FAQ noted.
That's not to mention the 45 House Reps and 330+ groups that backed the original resolution for a select committee on the Green New Deal.
Momentum for the Green New Deal has been growing ever since its was popularized by Ocasio-Cortez as well as the young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement who stormed then-presumed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office not long after the midterm elections.
"In 2018, young people put the Green New Deal on the national agenda," Varshini Prakash, founder and executive director of Sunrise Movement, said in a statement received by EcoWatch. "The historic support for this resolution, especially among 2020 contenders, shows how far the movement has shifted the political conversation. The Green New Deal is now a litmus test for progressive leadership in 2019."
So far, the resolution has already been cosponsored by nearly 70 members of Congress, according to the Sunrise Movement.
Here's my statement on today's Green New Deal Resolution: https://t.co/s0TD90cRjd https://t.co/pemCfA8tRA— Al Gore (@Al Gore)1549549215.0
Public opinion of the Green New Deal is strong. A Yale Program on Climate Change Communication survey of 966 registered voters showed that 92 percent of Democrats supported it, 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of conservative Republicans also thought it was a good idea.
This week, more than 100,000 petition signatures were delivered to Congressional offices in more than 100 events around the country, 350.org executive director May Boeve said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch.
"The Green New Deal is a critical opportunity to stand up to fossil fuel billionaires while kickstarting a just transition to renewable energy and creating millions of family-sustaining jobs," Boeve said in a statement. "With the window for action to prevent catastrophic climate change quickly closing, it's time for elected officials at all levels to support this visionary effort to secure a sustainable future."
- 5 Key Questions About the Green New Deal - EcoWatch ›
- Green New Deal Champion Ed Markey Defeats Joe Kennedy III - EcoWatch ›
Trump Neglects Climate Change in State of the Union While Democrats Invite Scientists and Activists to Highlight the Threat
President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address Tuesday night, focusing on his signature issues like the economy and immigration and warning lawmakers that the ongoing investigation into his conduct posed a threat to national security, The New York Times reported. But there was one real major threat to the nation, and the world, that he declined to mention at all: climate change.
This silence was not unexpected. As Ishaan Tharoor pointed out for The Washington Post, Trump is famously skeptical of climate science and came under fire in January for confusing weather and climate when he responded to a brutal cold snap by tweeting, "What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!" His failure to address the issue Tuesday night, however, still earned him criticism from environmental leaders.
"For the third year in a row, President Trump has addressed Congress and failed to mention one of the biggest threats facing us—climate change. It was another squandered opportunity to show American leadership for the clean energy future," Environmental Defense Fund Senior Vice President Elizabeth Gore said in a statement.
For the third year in a row, President Trump addressed Congress and failed to mention one of the biggest threats fa… https://t.co/u65aJKTk8n— EDF Action (@EDF Action)1549424985.0
Gore pointed out that since the last State of the Union, the issue had only gotten more urgent. 2018 was a year of extreme weather events and saw the release of two major reports on the extent of the threat posed by a changing climate: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warning that we have 12 years to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a dire warning from Trump's own government that he nevertheless dismissed.
Several Democratic lawmakers chose to respond to this sense of urgency—and the president's expected silence on the issue—by inviting climate scientists and activists to join them for the speech, The Washington Post's The Energy 202 reported.
Washington Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal explained her decision to invite University of Washington professor Lisa Graumlich, who uses tree rings to study climate.
"Instead of tackling the problem head-on, President Trump is burying his head in the sand and handing out favors to his friends in the coal industry," Jayapal said, as The Washington Post reported. "In fact, it's unlikely that President Trump will mention climate change or the dire need to protect our environment in his State of the Union at all."
Her Democratic colleagues Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin and Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey also invited both seasoned and up-and-coming climate activists. Raskin invited 350.org founder Bill McKibben, while Markey invited Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement that has led the push for a Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels while promoting green jobs and economic equality.
Thank you so much for inviting me to the State of the Union this Tuesday, @SenMarkey and for lifting up the efforts… https://t.co/JH9S7trvDn— Varshini Prakash 🌅 (@Varshini Prakash 🌅)1549316963.0
Markey is preparing to draft legislation for a specific Green New Deal proposal with newly elected New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"These temperatures are actually caused by 'global waming,' sir." In my first @EcoWatch post today,… https://t.co/chYbMgGkKX— Olivia Rosane (@Olivia Rosane)1548854100.0
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Ever since 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg called for the first global climate strike last month, it has become a weekly routine for students to skip class on Fridays to march for their futures and those of future generations.
"If we're not going to have a future, then school won't matter any more," one of the organizers, 13-year-old New Yorker Alexandria Villasenor, told Earther about why American students should join the strike next month.
ANNOUNCING MY FIRST EVENT! @zerohournyc & I are organizing a massive #FridaysForFuture #SCHOOLSHUTDOWN… https://t.co/qIQlw3WNhG— Alexandria Villaseñor (@Alexandria Villaseñor)1548211330.0
Villasenor has been part of the youth-led strike for months and endured sit-in last weekend in New York City as a polar vortex brought bone-chilling cold to the Big Apple.
WEEK 8 of my @UN #ClimateStrike in the NYC polar vortex. I prepared all week for this and realized climate change w… https://t.co/IYLV5zelt5— Alexandria Villaseñor (@Alexandria Villaseñor)1549036105.0
Climate strikes have taken place in cities around Europe, Australia and elsewhere. The fourth straight rally in Brussels on Jan. 31 drew as many as 35,000 student participants.
The youngsters are demanding their leaders and older generations take immediate climate action.
Teen climate activist Jamie Margolin, the founder of This is Zero Hour, said on Twitter that youth across the U.S. will be taking to the streets on March 15 "to show our legislators that we need a Green New Deal," referring to the insurgent policy proposal to fight climate change and to move the U.S. to a sustainable future.
Margolin also praised strike co-leaders such as Isra Hirsi and Haven Coleman for their work in bringing the climate revolution to American shores.
Sign up to organize a @climatestrikeUS in your hometown! This #ClimateStrike is being organized by amazing young… https://t.co/RXJZMGh75P— Jamie Margolin (@Jamie Margolin)1549234309.0
According to Earther, strikers in Australia and Europe plan to join the U.S. contingent in solidarity, and action is also planned in Uganda and Thailand.
For those of you who are interested in striking or if you'd like to lead your hometown in a strike, check out this link.
We have over 100 responses to our sign up form! We will be contacting everyone this coming week! Thank you for join… https://t.co/q0oT1Mp0lp— US Youth Climate Strike 🌎 (@US Youth Climate Strike 🌎)1549294655.0
Pacific Press / Contributor / LightRocket / Getty Images
Massachusetts' Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey declared "victory" on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected ExxonMobil's attempt to derail her office's probe into whether the fossil fuel giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.
The decision effectively affirmed Healy's authority to investigate Exxon and to order the company to hand over decades of internal records related to the company's understanding of global warming.
This victory "clears the way for our office to investigate Exxon's conduct toward consumers and investors," Healey tweeted after the ruling.
"The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when," she added.
Today’s #SCOTUS victory clears the way for our office to investigate Exxon’s conduct toward consumers and investors… https://t.co/XMCd8EFLt9— Maura Healey (@Maura Healey)1546877645.0
Healey first issued a civil investigative demand on Exxon in April 2016 in order to seek "information regarding whether Exxon may have misled consumers and/or investors with respect to the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, and climate change-driven risks to Exxon's business."
The oil company repeatedly tried to block the AG's investigation in lower courts but never prevailed. Today's rejection from the nation's top court likely means that Exxon must comply with Healy's demands.
Environmentalists, including 350.org U.S. communications manager Thanu Yakupitiyage, celebrated the news.
"This latest decision brings great momentum in the fight to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for causing the climate crisis," Yakupitiyage said in an issued statement. "We thank Attorney General Healey for her vigilant leadership in standing up for people over polluters."
Underwood's office said in a press release that a years-long investigation uncovered an alleged fraudulent scheme to systematically and repeatedly deceive investors about the significant impact that future climate change regulations could have on the company's assets and value. The alleged fraud reached the highest levels of the company, including former chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson.
The probes from the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general were launched after groundbreaking investigations by InsideClimate News and The Los Angeles Times in 2015, which reported that Exxon scientists and executives understood for decades that its products drive global warming.
"Today's decision is yet another defeat for Exxon in their fight to hide the fact that they have known for 50 years that their products cause climate change," Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, said in an issued statement. "Deception and delay are Exxon's core climate strategies. Today the court dealt the company yet another defeat in their fight to hide the fact that they have known for 50 years that their products cause climate change."
Exxon has dismissed these allegations as "meritless," Reuters reported.
#BREAKING: New York Sues #Exxon For Climate Deception @newyorkstateag @sierraclub @billmckibben @desmogblog… https://t.co/WTJZ2o6aGY— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1540410862.0
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Global Divestment Movement Celebrates Milestone: 1,000 Institutions With Nearly $8 Trillion in Assets Have Vowed to Ditch Fossil Fuels
By Jake Johnson
While the COP24 climate talks are at risk of ending without a concrete plan of action thanks in large part to the Trump administration's commitment to a dirty energy agenda, environmental groups on Thursday celebrated a major milestone in the global movement to take down the fossil fuel industry after the number of public and private institutions that have vowed to divest from oil, gas and coal companies surpassed 1,000.
"When this movement started in 2012, we aimed to catalyze a truly global shift in public attitudes to the fossil fuel industry, and people's willingness to challenge the institutions that financially support it," May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement. "While diplomats at the U.N. climate talks are having a hard time making progress, our movement has changed how society perceives the role of fossil fuel corporations and is actively keeping fossil fuels in the ground."
According to 350, the institutions that have committed to divesting from fossil fuels hold nearly $8 trillion USD in combined assets. The 1,000th institution to vow to divest was Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC), which manages France's public sector savings, pensions and investments.
Celebrate 1000 divestment commitments and counting! youtu.be
Coinciding with the new milestone, 350.org published a new report (detailing the rapid growth of the fossil fuel divestment movement over the past several years as climate science has made clear the necessity of immediately and boldly slashing carbon emissions to avoid global devastation.
"Since 2012, the fossil fuels divestment campaign has grown faster than any previous divestment movement," the report notes. "From 181 institutions and $50 billion worth of assets committed to divestment at the end of 2013 to now more than 1,000 institutions with over $7.9 trillion in assets committed to divest from fossil fuels, we are slamming on the brakes of fossil fuel expansion."
Investors worth $8 trillion are turning their backs on immoral and dangerous fossil fuel industry. @gofossilfree m… https://t.co/s3xtarGRIs— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1544714439.0
"Momentum for divestment has only accelerated: pledges span 37 countries with over 65 percent of commitments coming from outside the United States, and now include major capital cities, mainstream banks and insurance companies, massive pension funds, faith groups, cultural, health and educational institutions—the institutions serving billions of people," the report continues.
"This is a major milestone for the movement for a just transition to a zero carbon, sustainable future for everyone," added Ric Lander, divestment campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "Behind almost every one of these commitments is a group of committed people fighting for climate action and they should be proud of their achievements. They've persuaded, protested and brought the inarguable evidence of their case to decision makers and won them over."
With the 1,000 institution landmark reached, 350 said the global movement's next ambitious goal is 2,020 divestments totaling $12 trillion in combined assets by 2020.
"For those investors who persist in engaging with the fossil fuel industry, despite mounting evidence of its failure to achieve anything, we ask them to change tack as the science and justice demands in this moment," 350's report concluded. "If companies are not on track to keep their reserves in the ground or play their part in meeting the 1.5°C target, investors must walk away. The clock is ticking on multiple carbon bombs around the world as we approach 2020."
Carbon Bubble Is Bursting as #Divestment Takes Hold https://t.co/IwXdH5loeN @MarkRuffalo @LeoDiCaprio @billmckibben @350 @greenpeaceusa— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487799398.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
After weeks of discord over the potential appointment, Sen. Joe Manchin, the pro-coal Democrat of West Virginia, was named the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Tuesday.
Many Democrats and environmental groups were adamantly opposed to Manchin serving as the top Democrat on the committee that oversees policies on climate change, public lands and fossil fuel production.
Following the nod, Manchin said in an online statement he will work with "both sides of the aisle to find common sense solutions for long-term comprehensive energy policy that incorporates an all-of-the-above strategy and ensures our state and our nation are leaders in the energy future."
Manchin is a rare Democratic lawmaker in deep-red West Virginia, but he has consistently supported the state's coal miners. West Virginia is the nation's second-leading producer of coal. He slammed President Obama's "war on coal" and supported President Trump's controversial decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a paltry lifetime score of 45 percent for his environmental voting record.
"Appointing Senator Manchin as ranking member of the Energy Committee is completely at odds with any plan for real climate action," 350.org executive director May Boeve said in a provided statement. "Manchin has taken every opportunity to put Big Oil before the health and safety of communities and our climate."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is a champion of strong climate action and is a potential 2020 presidential candidate, tweeted last week: "Our party must be wholly committed to ending America's dependence on fossil fuels. Manchin literally shot climate legislation in one of his campaign ads."
In a 2010 television commercial, Manchin bragged about suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and shot a copy of the Democrats' cap-and-trade bill.
Dead Aim - Joe Manchin for West Virginia TV Ad www.youtube.com
David Turnbull, the strategic communications director with Oil Change USA, said in an online statement that Manchin has "enjoyed nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from oil, gas and coal interests in his career."
"If Senator Manchin wants to be taken seriously as someone serious about taking the critical step to move our economy off of fossil fuels, and not someone beholden to the fossil fuel industry, he should take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, today," Turnbull added. "It only makes sense that he promise to reject money from the industry being regulated by the committee he'll lead for the Democrats. Until he does, we'll know who he truly answers to."
Tuesday's appointment was not a total surprise. The former West Virginia governor has been a member of the committee since he was elected to the Senate in 2010. He is also the ranking chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy.
Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive upstart of New York who is leading efforts of the Green New Deal, expressed concerns about Manchin taking the position.
"I have concerns over the senator's chairmanship just because I do not believe that we should be financed by the industries that we are supposed to be legislating and regulating and touching with our legislation," Ocasio-Cortez said at press conference held outside the Capitol last month, according to The Intercept.
But last week, Manchin surprisingly voted against Bernard McNamee, a fossil fuel lawyer that President Trump named to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Senator withdrew his support due to his concerns about McNamee's stance on climate change. McNamee was ultimately confirmed in a straight party-line vote.
"Climate change is real, humans have made a significant impact, and we have the responsibility and capability to address it urgently," Manchin said in a statement posted on The Hill after changing his mind about McNamee.
1,000+ Youth Activists Storm Capitol to Demand #GreenNewDeal https://t.co/WrKxoEiG34 @350 @billmckibben @sunrisemvmt— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1544572817.0
In response, the 21 youth plaintiffs of Juliana v. United States, their attorneys and thousands of supporters rallied around the nation on Sunday and Monday to demand that the kids have their day in court.
I stand in solidarity with @youthvgov today as they coordinate rallies across the nation to keep our government acc… https://t.co/8Nzxwk1ypy— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1540826518.0
More than 90 scheduled events were organized across 41 states, with key rallies in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Portland, Washington, DC, Seattle, Colorado Springs and St. Paul.
The central rally was held Monday on the steps of the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, where the trial was supposed to take place.
There are 100 people rallying with @youthvgov in DC right now demanding that young people be heard! The US governme… https://t.co/h1LXSGRxL2— Karina Gonzalez (@Karina Gonzalez)1540829692.0
A "huge spirited" crowd of 1,500 people—including 500 students who walked out of local high schools and the University of Oregon—braved occasional rains to attend the event, according to organizers.
350 Eugene director Patty Hine, Oregon State Senator James Manning, the youth plaintiffs and their attorneys gave speeches.
"The power of the people is more powerful than the people in power," 18-year-old plaintiff and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez rapped in a stirring speech at the rally. "This is a movement founded in love."
Hundreds of students and community members attend #LetTheYouthBeHeard rally in Eugene, Ore. in support of the Julia… https://t.co/43P6K6NmzY— Sarah Northrop (@Sarah Northrop)1540832171.0
The historic lawsuit was initiated by a group of teenagers and young adults against the U.S. government. They claim the government violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by enacting policies that encourage climate change. The lawsuit was filed during the Obama administration and has survived multiple attempts by both administrations to halt the case. That was until Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court.
"Our constitutional democracy allows us to protect our liberty without declaring independence from our government, so long as those who govern assent to review by our courts and let the facts be told," Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children's Trust and co-counsel for the youth plaintiffs, said in a press release. "These young people deserve that chance to present their case against those who govern and let the light fall where it may."
Kiran Oommen, a 21-year-old plaintiff, added in the press release, "On Monday, we rally for our right as American citizens to a fair trial. No matter how much the federal government might try to deny us that right, we will have our day in court. "
Watch here for a Facebook Live of the Oregon rally.
Supreme Court Puts Historic Youth Climate Lawsuit on Hold @youthvgov #youthclimatecase #julianavus… https://t.co/FZgME1aEg8— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1540225764.0
The suit, first reported by the New York Times, is the culmination of a years-long investigation—colloquially known as the #ExxonKnew probe—into the energy giant's business practices and whether it lied to investors and the public about the risks of climate change.
In a press release, Underwood's office said the investigation uncovered an alleged fraudulent scheme to systematically and repeatedly deceive investors about the significant impact that future climate change regulations could have on the company's assets and value. The alleged fraud reached the highest levels of the company, including former chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson.
"Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon—which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions. Yet as our investigation found, Exxon often did no such thing," Attorney General Underwood said in the press release. "Instead, Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations."
The suit, filed in New York Supreme Court, New York County, seeks an order prohibiting Exxon from continuing to misrepresent its practices in this area and requires it to tell investors the truth. It also asks the court to award damages, although no dollar amount was specified.
The impact of the alleged fraud on the company's value could be massive. Underwood's office listed the following:
- For 14 of Exxon's oil sands projects in Alberta, Canada, Exxon's failure to apply its publicly represented proxy costs resulted in undercounting of projected greenhouse-gas related expenses by more than $25 billion over the projected lifetime of the projects.
- Exxon undercounted projected greenhouse gas-related costs by as much as 94 percent—equal to about $11 billion—in an economic forecast for its Kearl oil sands asset in Alberta.
- Exxon failed to apply the proxy costs it represented to the public in estimating company reserves at Cold Lake, a major oil sands asset in Alberta, resulting in an overestimation of its projected economic life by 28 years, and an overestimation of company reserves volumes by more than 300 million oil-equivalent barrels, representing billions of dollars of revenues.
The fossil fuel corporation has tried to block the climate probe in courts in three states, the Times noted.
A company spokesman told The Hill that there "is no evidence to support these allegations."
"These baseless allegations are a product of closed-door lobbying by special interests, political opportunism and the attorney general's inability to admit that a three-year investigation has uncovered no wrongdoing," the spokesman said. "The company looks forward to refuting these claims as soon as possible and getting this meritless civil lawsuit dismissed."
In 2016, DeSmog uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally "there is no doubt" that carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing "problem" well understood within the company. Despite this knowledge and warnings from its own scientists, Exxon shelved these concerns and "launched a sophisticated, global campaign to sow doubt and create public distrust of climate science," DeSmog reported.
New Uncovered Corporate Documents Show #ExxonKnew Much Earlier Than Previously Reported https://t.co/0fH662I1Rs @350 https://t.co/XqIT2fS23r— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1461767231.0
Environmental groups cheered the lawsuit.
"Climate change deception is central to Exxon's business model," Richard Wiles, the executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, said in an emailed statement. "This is the same company that bankrolled a 30-year, multimillion denial campaign, manufacturing doubt about climate science when it knew there was none."
Bill McKibben, author and 350.org co-founder, also deemed the suit necessary.
"Big oil may finally face some consequences for its role in wrecking the climate," McKibben said in an emailed statement. "The New York Attorney General is standing up for investors who may have been swindled, and indirectly for the 7 billion of us who will suffer from Exxon's lies."
Judge to Exxon: Explain Where Those Wayne Tracker Emails Went https://t.co/z9hKeJspaa (via @Ecowatch)— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1490284803.0
By Jessica Corbett
Addressing some 10,000 people in Helsinki on Saturday at what some campaigners are calling Finland's largest ever climate demonstration, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg urged marchers to fight for the major systemic changes that experts have said are necessary to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert a looming climate catastrophe.
"Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground, so we can't save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change. Everything needs to change and it has to start today," declared the Swedish teenager, who traveled to the capital city of her nation's Nordic neighbor for Saturday's massive march.
Over 10 000 people in Helsinki today for the #ilmastomarssi / climate march ! #nytonpakko #climatestrike https://t.co/NzriQrJlKI— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1540048715.0
"A lot of people say that Sweden or Finland are just small countries and that it doesn't matter what we do," Thunberg added. "But I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to."
Thunberg garnered international media attention when, ahead of Sweden's September election, she refused to attend school and instead protested outside the Swedish parliament, handing out educational pamphlets to passersby. Now that the election has passed, the self-described "climate radical" and others who have joined the strike return to school for four days each week but still protest on Fridays.
"We young people don't have the vote, but school is obligatory," she told The Local in August. "So this a way to get our voices heard."
Skolstrejk, Stockholm 19 oktober. #klimatstrejk #FridaysForFuture #climatestrike https://t.co/IVqR1QB5fx— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1539974166.0
At her "now-famous" protest spot and in interviews with the press, Thunberg has stuck to the same message she delivered Saturday about the necessity of a rapid global shift away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy sources.
"I think the election didn't matter," she said to The New Yorker about Sweden's latest batch of political races. "The climate is not going to collapse because some party got the most votes. The politics that's needed to prevent the climate catastrophe—it doesn't exist today. We need to change the system, as if we were in crisis, as if there were a war going on."
Thunberg's recent actions have been celebrated by climate activists including 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who highlighted the march and thanked the teen for her leadership in a tweet on Saturday:
Big climate action march underway in Helsinki--(and thanks to @GretaThunberg for her leadership!) https://t.co/Y2kfYArqiG— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1540037955.0
The thousands of people who participated in Saturday's "The Time to Act is Now!" demonstration are demanding that politicians from all of Finland's parties commit to cutting off subsidies for fossil fuels by 2020 and totally outlawing dirty energy by 2035, according to the local chapter of Greenpeace, which helped organize the event.
Kiitos kaikille! Mahtavaa, että olitte ja olette mukana. Tästä se vasta alkaa, tehdään tästä kaikkien aikojen ilmas… https://t.co/2M1ZFq5MFO— Greenpeace Suomi (@Greenpeace Suomi)1540050352.0
Helsinki University researcher Tero Toivonen told Yle News that the unexpectedly high turnout for demonstration—which featured a march from Helsinki's Senate Square to the parliament building—suggests that the public is starting to realize the urgency of the climate crisis.
"Everyone has joined in the demand that something needs to be done now. We are definitely seeing more talk like this from the politicians," he said.
The demonstration comes on the heels of a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the United Nations' leading body for climate science—detailing what the world could look like if the global temperature rises to 1.5°C and underscoring the need for "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" efforts worldwide to prevent "climate catastrophe."
#Ilmastomarssi tänään - huikea osanottajamäärä. https://t.co/7lZq4mRG6W— Rauli Virtanen (@Rauli Virtanen)1540039885.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Monday marks the start of the 10th annual Climate Week NYC. From Sept. 24 to the 30, non-profit The Climate Group has invited businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, universities and art and music organizations to host a wide variety of affiliated events devoted to raising awareness and prompting action around climate change.
"Climate Week NYC is the largest climate week in the world and as one of the key summits in the international calendar—which runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly—has been driving climate action forward since its launch in 2009," The Climate Group CEO Helen Clarkson said in a New York City mayor's office press release. "We are thrilled to be hosting our 10th Climate Week NYC and to appear on the world's stage, to continue to advance climate action to the top of the global agenda."
It's a jam-packed week—last year's week hosted more than 140 affiliate events. So if you're lucky enough to be in New York, it's a great chance to learn more about climate change and what you can do about it. You can see the full 2018 events program here, but if that's too overwhelming, below are seven events that demonstrate the full variety of what Climate Week NYC has to offer.
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming is a best-selling book edited by Paul Hawken that outlines 100 existing climate solutions that, if applied globally and to scale over the next 30 years, could bring the earth to "drawdown," the point at which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and then begin to decline. Even after the book's publication, Project Drawdown continues to research and promote climate solutions. The event will feature a presentation by Drawdown senior writer Katharine Wilkinson followed by a panel discussion moderated by 350.org founder Bill McKibben.
When: Monday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: 2 West 64th Street, New York, NY
Hosts: New York Society for Ethical Culture, Pachamama Alliance, and 350NYC
This stimulating evening of panel discussions features the work of people using their artistic and technological skills to confront the problem of climate change. The first panel focuses on art with the Climate Museum, the first institution dedicated to cultural engagement with climate change, Storm King Art Center, which is currently showing an innovative climate art exhibit, and artist Justin Brice Guariglia, whose work is both part of the Storm King exhibit and the Climate Museum's Climate Signals installation featuring 10 solar-powered road signs with text written by Guariglia on display around NYC until Nov. 6. Next, The ixo Foundation, which develops ixo Blockchain for Impact, and SolarCoin, which uses blockchain technology to create a digital currency promoting solar energy, discuss innovation with sustainability financing company South Pole and SDG Futures, which is working on developing a 2019 TV program promoting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Finally, Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, speaks with fellow Yale professor Dan Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, about the "Politics, Policy and Communication" of climate change.
When: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: 46 East 70th Street, New York, NY
Host: The Explorers Club
Cost: $5 to $25
Climate Analytics is a non-profit based in Berlin dedicated to bringing together experts on both the science and policy of climate change. It makes sense, then, that it is hosting an event discussing the latest science on the benefits of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and what this means for the successful implementation of the
Paris agreement. The event will feature an update on the significance of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the impact of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, presented by Princeton scientist Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, as well as talks on the climate and policy implications of that goal by Climate Analytics members Dr. Tabea Lissner, Dr. Bill Hare & Jasmin Cantzle.
When: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave, New York, NY
Host: Climate Analytics
Cost: Free, register here
Buildings are responsible for 70 percent of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions. This event will focus on how to reduce those emissions, especially in buildings housing low-income communities, in a way that preserves affordable housing. The panel will feature speakers from the mayor's office and environmental justice organizations like
WeACT and NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.
When: Thursday, Sept. 27, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: McNally Amphitheatre, Fordham University Lincoln Center, 140 West 62nd Street, New York, NY
Host: NYC Climate Action Alliance
Come to the closing night of
Elements of Change, a play by Divya Mangwani based on the UNICEF Climate Comic Contest winner "Tré: The Adventures of Brother Earth" by Sona Sridhar. The theatrical event is part of a larger collaboration coordinated by Greenpoint Innovations (GPI) under the banner of THE POINT that seeks to leverage the arts for climate action. Also part of the collaboration: a mural by South African street artist Sonny and Brooklyn art duo ASVP on the walls of Intermediate School 318 in north Brooklyn. You can track the mural's progress on Instagram. This is the third year in a row that GPI, a purpose-based company founded by Stephen Donofrio to use data, media and the arts to promote sustainability, has coordinated an NYC Climate Week event, according to Broadway World.
When: Friday, Sept. 28, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street, New York, NY
Hosts: UNICEF, Comics Uniting Nations, Greenpoint Innovations, Hypokrit Theater Company and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Cost: Free, but tickets are limited, register here
Global Citizen is dedicated to ending extreme poverty by 2030 by encouraging people around the world to pressure governments to take action on gender equality, the environment, food security, education, global health and sanitation. By downloading the
Global Citizen app, you can take recommended actions to enter a lottery and earn tickets to the 2018 concert. 48,000 tickets will be given away in total. Headliners include Janet Jackson, The Weekend, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B and Janelle Monáe, with special guest John Legend.
When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Doors open 2 p.m.
Where: Great Lawn, Central Park, New York, NY
Host: Global Citizen
This event is not officially affiliated with Climate Week NYC, but it matches up in spirit. The Climate Museum is inviting the public on a guided tour of Rockaway Park. Hurricane Sandy devastated the Rockaways more than five years ago, and the walk bears witness to that devastation, as well as the steps the community has taken to rebuild and prepare for the future. The event closes on the boardwalk with a workshop by local artists on processing climate-based emotions through visual art.
When: Sunday, Sept. 30, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Rockaway Park, Queens, NY
Host: The Climate Museum and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy
This post was reformatted for clarity.
Empire State Building Shines Green After NYC's Decision to Take on Fossil Fuel Industry https://t.co/dIrFKQphDd… https://t.co/bSpAKYVNaz— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1515805243.0