Big Oil’s Future Grim as Activist Investors and the Courts Demand Climate Action

The ground underneath the fossil fuel industry is shifting. Shareholders and the courts are challenging some of the world's biggest oil and gas companies for failing to act on climate change. No single day speaks more poignantly to the declining fortunes of the industry than Wednesday, May 26th. On this day three of the world’s biggest publicly traded companies suffered grievous blows that may prove to be the opening salvos of a war they are destined to lose.  Bill McKibben described these events as "cataclysmic" and an "utterly crushing day for Big Oil."  Bloomberg's Julian Lee described it as "The...

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Fossil Fuels Kill Millions Every Year

Fossil fuels are deadly, both in terms of the air pollution they generate and the climate impacts they augur. Fine particulate matter from the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for millions of deaths each year and climate change imperils hundreds of millions more.  Reports have been circulating about the deadly link between fossil fuels and air pollution for years. A 2012 study concluded that air pollution from fossil fuels was contributing to the deaths of more than 5 million people every year. The most recent data suggests the mortality rate from fossil fuel pollution is more than twice previous estimates. A recent study published in...

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Banks are Backing Away from Fossil Fuels and Embracing Sustainability

Major banks have been slow to act but it appears as thought they are moving away from dirty energy. Big lending institutions have have pledged to support emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Climate agreement, however, until recently their words have not matched their deeds.   Banks have been involved with sustainability for years and many have set sustainability investment goals. Almost ten years ago Bank of America and Wells Fargo each committed $50 billion for financing sustainable initiatives and green transport. In 2015 Citigroup announced that they would invest 150 billion in sustainability.  Valerie Smith, director of corporate sustainability at...

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Economics Fuel Renewable Energy Growth

Global renewable energy capacity set a record last year and 2021 is expected to be even better.  Renewables are already the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, they currently supply more than a quarter of global electricity production and they are on track to be the largest source of electricity in the world by 2025.   Renewable energy has experienced prodigious growth that has consistently outpaced expectations. A recent Ember and Agora Energiewende report indicates that in Europe renewable energy and wind have almost doubled in the last five years.  Globally, solar installations have tripled in the last decade according to an IHS Markit...

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Eliminating Fossil Fuels Centerstage at the UN Climate Ambition Summit

On the fifth anniversary of the historic COP21 meeting world leaders came together to discuss the the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement. The agenda for the Climate Ambition Summit included finalizing the 300 page draft known as the Paris rulebook which defines how countries tally and report their emissions reduction efforts.  Many of the leaders who came together for this virtual event acknowledged the need to increase renewables and end fossil fuels to keep temperatures from surpassing the upper threshold limit (1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius above preindustrial norms).  Just ahead of the UN Summit more than 100 countries (responsible for two-thirds...

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University Installs Innovative Water Battery to Harness Solar Power

Batteries are a critical part of effectively harnessing the power of renewable energy and one university has installed a giant water battery that will cut costs by 100 million over the next quarter century.  The University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia is using a three story high water battery along with 6,000 solar panels they have installed on campus roofs and parking lots. The battery acts like a huge thermal energy storage tank, solar panels cool water and then it is used in campus' air conditioning system. The project will reduce dependence on the grid by 42 percent...

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Abandoned Oil Wells Leaking Methane and other Contaminants

Methane may be less visible than oil spills but it is another serious corollary of fossil fuel extraction. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. According to a 2020 special report by Reuters, millions of abandoned wells are leaking methane. This report indicates that it is difficult if not impossible to hold companies accountable after they fold or sell a well. Across the U.S. the number of abandoned wells has increased by more than 12 percent since 2008 according to the EPA. The spate of fossil fuel industry bankruptcies we are seeing in 2020 is increasing...

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Oil Spills Illustrate the Dangers of Fossil Fuels

Oil spills are inevitable, they are difficult to clean-up and they can have devastating effects on local ecosystems. Here are few examples of oil spills that illustrate the dangers of fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is driving feedback loops that include both melting permafrost and sea-level rise.  It is not hyperbole to say that the fossil fuel industry is pushing us towards tipping points that could cause the collapse of civilization. One of the most devastating oil spills in recent memory took place in the Russian Arctic at the end of May.  Melting permafrost is but one of the...

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The Fossil Fuel Industry is Financing the Militarization of Police

A recent report has revealed the fossil fuel industries, utilities and banks have extensive ties to police groups. Police organizations in big cities like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City have all received funding from oil giants including Chevron, Marathon and Shell. Funds are diverted to and through these groups without public input or oversight. Some of this money is used to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology.  Fossil fuel companies even have senior staff serving as directors of some police foundations. The information is from a report by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit...

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The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Environmental Racism and Funding of Racist Police

As revealed in a July 27th report, fossil fuel companies are guilty of environmental racism and they also support racist cops who terrorize the communities they are supposed to be policing. The fight against racism is intimately connected to the fight for environmental justice. It is no secret that people of color are far more likely to be exposed to dirty air and polluted water and they are also much more likely to to be the victims of police brutality. "This symbiotic relationship between the fossil fuel industry and police often means that the companies that are polluting Black and...

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