The fossil fuel industry may waste as much as USD$2.2 trillion (£1.45 tn) in the next decade if it persists in pursuing projects that prove uneconomic in a world beginning to turn its back on carbon.
An independent think tank, the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI), says the industry faces “a perfect storm” of factors, including international action to limit global average temperatures to 2C above their pre-industrial level and rapid advances in clean technologies.
New report: How fossil fuel firms risk wasting $2 tn on uneconomic projects https://t.co/jHxDK5eElb #StrandedAssets https://t.co/0sCm0C3OuU— Carbon Tracker (@Carbon Tracker)1448439305.0
The CTI report says there will be no need for new coal mines—oil demand will peak around 2020. If world leaders implement the necessary policies to meet the UN commitment to keep climate change below 2C, the threshold agreed to by most governments, growth in gas will disappoint industry expectations.
At next week’s UN climate change conference in Paris (COP21), participating countries will try to reach a global agreement.
Excess of Supply
The report warns, “If the industry misreads future demand by underestimating technology and policy advances, this can lead to an excess of supply and create stranded assets. This is where shareholders should be concerned.”
"Too few energy companies recognize that they will need to reduce supply of their carbon-intensive products to avoid pushing us beyond the internationally-recognized carbon budget," James Leaton, CTI's Head of Research and co-author of the report, said. "Clean technology and climate policy are already reducing fossil fuel demand. Misreading these trends will destroy shareholder value. Companies need to apply 2C stress tests to their business models now.”
With $412 billion of unneeded fossil fuel projects to be implemented before 2025, the U.S. has the greatest financial risk in fossil fuels becoming stranded assets, followed by Canada ($220 bn), China ($179 bn), Russia ($147 bn) and Australia ($103 bn).
Carbon limits: 2°C would strand $2trn in fossil fuel assets ($77bn at Shell, $73bn at Exxon) https://t.co/hSYJpe2K1L https://t.co/e77Rfj7Bfi— Energydesk (@Energydesk)1448448648.0
The companies that represent the biggest risk to the climate and to their shareholders include oil majors Royal Dutch Shell, Pemex and ExxonMobil and coal miners Peabody, Coal India and Glencore. Around 20-25 percent of oil and gas majors’ potential investment is in projects that will not be needed in a 2C scenario and canceling them would mean seeing very little or no growth, known as ex-growth.
The report examines production to 2035 and capital investment to 2025. It warns that energy companies must avoid projects that would generate 156 billion tons of carbon dioxide (156Gt CO2) by 2035 in order to be consistent with the carbon budget in the International Energy Agency 450 demand scenario, which sets out an energy pathway with a 50 percent chance of meeting the 2C target.
Mark Fulton, a CTI adviser and co-author of the report, said the group had found that coal had “the most significant overhang of unneeded supply in terms of carbon of all fossil fuels on any scenario. No new mines are needed globally in a 2C world.”
Carbon Tracker warned last month that big energy companies are ignoring rapid advances in clean technologies, such as renewables, battery storage and electric cars, that threaten to undermine their business models.
Carbon Tracker CEO Anthony Hobley’s message to fossil fuel companies. #StrandedAssets #COP21 @arhobley https://t.co/t1GU3huf6r— Carbon Tracker (@Carbon Tracker)1448453705.0
"Business history is littered with examples of incumbents [dominant companies] who fail to see the transition coming," Carbon Tracker CEO Anthony Hobley said. “Fossil fuel incumbents seem intent on wasting capital trying to hold onto growth by doing what they have always done ... Our report offers these companies both a warning and a strategy for avoiding significant value destruction.”
"It is the end of the road for expansion of the coal sector,” says the report. And as for oil, it concludes: “In the 450 scenario, oil demand peaks around 2020. This means the oil sector does not need to continue to grow, which is inconsistent with the narrative of many companies.” In a 2C world, gas growth will be “at a lower level than expected under a business as usual scenario.”
Carbon Tracker’s analysis assumes that carbon capture and storage (CCS) will remove 24Gt of CO2 by 2035, but says this would require a huge expansion of CCS, a technology that remains unproven at a commercial scale and which many scientists doubt will work soon enough.
In the UK, a significant group of corporate investors is being warned that they may need to screen out fossil fuels, as many do with other types of investment, such as tobacco, armaments and pornography.
The warning stems from a legal opinion expressed by prominent lawyer Christopher McCall QC. He argues that investing in fossil fuels could be said to be irreconcilable with the intentions behind charities concerned with the environment, health, poverty reduction and “the consequences of dangerous climate change.”
Charities in England and Wales have a combined income of almost £70 bn (US$106 bn) and the legal opinion is being referred to the body that regulates them, the Charity Commission.
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.