UN head accuses fossil fuel firms of business models ‘inconsistent with human survival’

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/jan/18/un-head-accuses-fossil-fuel-firms-of-business-models-inconsistent-with-human-survival

The head of the United Nations has accused the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies of refusing to abandon a business model at odds with human survival despite knowingly putting the world on course for a climate meltdown decades ago.

Speaking at the Davos summit of business and political leaders, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, launched a strong attack on the world’s leading oil companies, many of which are represented at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at the Swiss resort.

Guterres said recent revelations that ExxonMobil knew back in the 1970s that its core product was “baking our planet”, made “big oil” similar to the tobacco companies that knew smoking led to cancer.

“Just like the tobacco industry, they rode roughshod over their own science. Big Oil peddled the big lie … And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/jan/18/un-head-accuses-fossil-fuel-firms-of-business-models-inconsistent-with-human-survival

Continue ReadingUN head accuses fossil fuel firms of business models ‘inconsistent with human survival’

‘Time is Running Out,’ American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change

BySharon Kelly on Nov 20, 2018 @ 15:48 PST

Original article republished from DeSmog under their republishing agreement.

The warning is clear and dire — and the source unexpected. “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told an oil industry conference, as he described research into climate change caused by fossil fuels.

“The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.”

The speaker wasn’t Mike Sommers, who was named to helm API this past May. Nor was it Jack Gerard, who served as API’s president for roughly a decade starting in 2008.

The API president speaking those words was named Frank Ikard — and the year was 1965, over a half-century ago.

It was the same year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Muhammad Ali felled Sonny Liston in the first round, and Malcom X was fatally shot in New York. The first American ground combat troops arrived in Vietnam and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the law establishing Medicaid and Medicare.

It would be another four years before American astronaut Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon — and another decade before the phrase “global warming” would appear for the first time in a peer-reviewed study.

And 1965, according to a letter by Stanford historian Benjamin Franta published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, was the year that President Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee published a report titled “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment,” whose findings Ikard described at that year’s annual API meeting.

“One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the Earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts,” Ikard presciently added, according to excerpts from his speech published in Nature.

Exerpt of API President Frank Ikard’s 1965 speech on climate change and fossil fuels.

API Funded Early Research Linking CO2 and Fossil Fuels

That prediction was based in part on information that was known to the oil industry trade group for over a decade — including research that was directly funded by the API, according to Nature.

In 1954, a California Institute of Technology geochemist sent the API a research proposal in which they reported that fossil fuels had already caused carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to rise roughly five percent since 1854 — a finding that Nature notes has since proved to be accurate.

API accepted the proposal and funded that Caltech research, giving the program the name Project 53. Project 53 collected thousands of CO2 measurements — but the results were never published.

Meanwhile, other researchers were reaching similar conclusions. Nuclear physicist Edward Teller became known in 1951 as the “father of the hydrogen bomb” for designing a thermonuclear bomb that was even more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Teller warned the oil and gas industry in 1959 about global warming and sea level rise in a talk titled “Energy Patterns of the Future.”

“Carbon dioxide has a strange property,” Teller said in excerpts published earlier this year by The Guardian. “It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect.”

A researcher at Humble Oil Co. (now known as ExxonMobil) checked results from a study of carbon isotopes in tree rings against the unpublished Caltech results, and found that the two separate methods essentially agreed.

This figure shows the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as directly measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1958. This curve is known as the Keeling curve, and is an essential piece of evidence of the man-made increases in greenhouse gases that are believed to be the cause of global warming. Credit: Delorme, data from Dr. Pieter Tans, NOAA, and Dr. Ralph Keeling, Scripps, CC BY–SA 4.0

And in 1960, Charles Keeling first published the measurements that became the famous “Keeling curve” — establishing one of the bedrock findings connecting climate change to fossil fuels. The CO2 measurements taken by Keeling back in the late 1950s showed levels of roughly 315 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and rising.

Those CO2 levels have since climbed upwards to 410.13 (ppm) on the day that the Nature letter was published — CO2 levels that scientists knew both then and now would be dangerously high, as carbon levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have not been over 410 ppm in millions of years.

What the Oil Industry Knew, Then and Now

In his 1965 talk, the API’s Ikard described the role of oil and gasoline specifically in causing climate change. “The report further states, and I quote: ‘… the pollution from internal combustion engines is so serious, and is growing so fast,’” he told the API conference, “‘that an alternative nonpolluting means of powering automobiles, buses, and trucks is likely to become a national necessity.’”

Three decades later, the API urged a different approach to climate science. “It’s not known for sure whether (a) climate change actually is occurring, or (b) if it is, whether humans really have any influence on it,” the API wrote in a 1998 draft memo titled “Global Climate Science Communications Plan,” which was subsequently leaked.

As of publication time, an API spokesperson had not replied to questions sent by DeSmog.

It’s worth noting that since 1965, the science connecting climate change to fossil fuels has grown stronger and more robust. A scientific consensus around the hazards of climate change and the role that fossil fuels play in causing it has formed.

“Rigorous analysis of all data and lines of evidence shows that most of the observed global warming over the past 50 years or so cannot be explained by natural causes and instead requires a significant role for the influence of human activities,” the Royal Society explains.

Today, the API continues to call for further research on climate change — and expanding the use of fossil fuels in the meantime.

“It is clear that climate change is a serious issue that requires research for solutions and effective policies that allow us to meet our energy needs while protecting the environment: that’s why oil and gas companies are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” the API’s webpage on climate change states.

“Yet archival documents show that even before Keeling published his measurements,” Franta’s letter published by Nature says, “oil industry leaders were aware that their products were causing CO2 pollution to accumulate in the planet’s atmosphere, in a potentially dangerous fashion.”Main image: San Diego, CA, October 26, 2007 – A Northern California fire crew works into the night clearing the fire line and monitoring the back burn that was set to stop the Poomacha fire from advancing westward. Credit: Andrea Booher, FEMA, public domain

Original article republished from DeSmog under their republishing agreement.

Continue Reading‘Time is Running Out,’ American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change

Extinction Rebellion actions at fossil fuel enablers across London

From 11am on Monday November 21st, Extinction Rebellion and other aligned groups took nonviolent action at thirteen sites across central London, targeting the offices of companies and organisations which have links to the fossil fuel industry. The groups sent a universal message that it’s time to ‘cut the ties’ with fossil fuels.  

Actions took place at BP, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, BAE Systems, Church House, Ineos, Eversheds Sutherland, Schlumberger, the International Maritime Organisation, the Institute of Economic Affairs, JP Morgan, Arch Insurance, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

The actions follow the conclusion of COP27 in Egypt, which was widely criticised for the heavy presence of representatives of oil and gas companies. Hill+Knowlton Strategies, one of the companies targeted today, has worked for fossil fuel companies ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco and recently managed communications for Egypt’s presidency of the UN climate conference at Sharm El Sheikh.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, Sarah Hart, said: “Behind incomprehensible government decisions to double down on fossil fuel development, sign off new oil exploration licenses and allow the big energy companies to rake in record profits, lies a network of companies and organisations that are profiting from this destructive path. 

“While the rest of us worry about the cost of turning the heating on our government is prioritising the profits of the very companies that are jeopardising our climate and environment. But everyday people are way ahead of politicians. They want to be able to heat their homes and they want a future for their children. 

“So today, Extinction Rebellion are sending the message that it’s time to cut the ties with fossil fuels or lose the social license to operate in the UK.”

DETAILS OF THE ACTIONS: 

XR Cymru at Hill+Knowlton Strategies offices, Clerkenwell Green
XR Cymru splattered fake oil over the offices of public relations consultancy Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Hill+Knowlton has worked for fossil fuel companies ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco and recently managed communications for Egypt’s presidency of the UN climate conference at Sharm El Sheikh.

IEA Writers Rebel. Photo: Extinction Rebellion.

Writers Rebel at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Lord North Street
Writers Rebel poured fake oil on the front steps of free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. The institute, located just meters from the Houses of Parliament, has received money from fossil fuel companies, regularly publishes materials questioning the consensus on climate science and has huge influence on politicians.

21st Nov 2022. J P Morgan offices, 60 Victoria Embankment, London, UK. Three Doctors for XR arrested after pasting posters and gluing themselves to the outside windows.Photo: Extinction Rebellion.

Doctors for XR at JP Morgan, Victoria Embankment 
Doctors for XR glued themselves to the windows at the London HQ of JP Morgan and pasted images to the front facade of the building depicting scenes of climate breakdown both here in the UK and overseas. JP Morgan are the world’s biggest fossil fuel financiers.

Christian Climate Action at BAE Systems offices, Carlton Gardens
Christian Climate Action left handprints of fake blood and oil on the offices of Britain’s leading arms manufacturer BAE Systems. BAE Systems supply weaponry to conflicts which increase the vulnerability of people living on the front lines of climate change. The arms giant also provides military and technical support to Saudia Arabia, enabling the regime’s oil production.

Christian Climate Action. Photo: Extinction Rebellion Holly

Christian Climate Action at Church House, Great Smith Street
Christian Climate Action also took action outside Church House in Westminster to highlight the Church of England’s failing strategy to stay invested in fossil fuels and influence the industry as shareholders.

A spokesperson for Christian Climate Action, said: “The Church should be showing moral leadership in rejecting profiting from investments in companies that continue to fuel climate suffering.”

Plastics Rebellion at Ineos offices, Hans Crescent
Plastics Rebellion sprayed fake oil outside the offices of Ineos, one of the world’s largest petrochemical producers and a significant player in the oil and gas market. Many of the plastics produced in the UK start their life at the INEOS Grangemouth refinery.

HS2 Rebellion at Eversheds Sutherland, Wood Street
HS2 Rebellion sprayed the offices of multinational law firm Eversheds Sutherland with fake oil. As solicitors for HS2 and Esso, Eversheds Sutherland have been forerunners in criminalising nonviolent environmental protest through the use of injunctions.

XR East of England and XR Youth at Schlumberger offices in London, Buckingham Gate
XR East of England and XR Youth poured fake oil over a globe at the offices of the world’s largest oilfields services provider Schlumberger to expose their complicity in ecocide. As the world’s largest oilfield services provider, Schlumberger enable fossil fuel extraction, operating in 120 countries around the world, with over 36,000 patents dedicated to extracting every last drop of oil and gas from the ground.

Ocean Rebellion at the International Maritime Organisation, Albert Embankment 
Ocean Rebellion held protests outside the offices of the International Maritime Organisation where performances illustrated the UN shipping body’s refusal to regulate shipping emissions. A heavy plume of smog filled the air and an oil slick appeared on the ground with dead birds caught in it.

Money Rebellion at Arch Insurance, Great Tower Street
Money Rebellion poured fake oil at the offices of Arch Insurance. Arch Insurance are understood to be in negotiations with fossil fuel giant Total regarding the insurance of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), a project that will jeopardise important ecosystems, fuel climate change and pose significant risks to millions of people. Money Rebellion is there to say ‘Arch must rule out EACOP’.

Sky Rebellion at Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, Portman Square
Sky Rebellion poured fake oil in front of the London offices of Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan. The Canadian based pension fund invests in infrastructure projects including the controversial expansion of Bristol Airport which it owns.

XR South East at BP. Photo: Extinction Rebellion

XR South East at BP HQ, St James’ Square
XR South East used fire extinguishers to spray fake on oil BP headquarters in central London. 

A spokesperson for XR South East, said: “The addiction to fossil fuels must end. The huge fossil fuel corporations like BP and those who aid and abet them KNOW what we face. BP hides the dirty secrets that lie behind its latest big profit of £7,100,000,000. Enough is enough. Today we are exposing the ties between the collaborators and we will piece together the web of lies with our actions.”

XR South West at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Victoria Street
XR South West sprayed fake oil on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to protest against its plans to issue more than 100 new licences for exploration and extraction of oil and gas in the North Sea – meaning renewed and accelerating extraction way beyond 2030 and way beyond the UK’s Paris Agreement commitments.

XR Rhythms (marching between the locations listed above)
In June, London endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, so XR Rhythms is marching through London to highlight the web of fossil fuel enablers still working in our city. We want to drum out fossil fuel investments and celebrate the future transition to a more sustainable economy!

[from an Extinction Rebellion press release.]

Continue ReadingExtinction Rebellion actions at fossil fuel enablers across London

‘Fantastic’: What Truss’s allies said about budget that crashed UK economy

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/liz-truss-kwasi-kwarteng-mini-budget-think-tanks/

[Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini-budget’] announcements were cheered on by a group of secretive think tanks closely connected to Liz Truss and her advisers. After years of lobbying, a Conservative government had finally adopted their proposals to scrap the top rate of income tax, remove the cap on bankers’ bonuses, shelve a planned rise in corporation tax, and pledge a fresh crackdown on unions.

The Adam Smith Institute, where Truss’s political secretary Sophie Jarvis was head of government affairs, said the plans were “a welcome first step to getting the British economy back on track”.

The mood was particularly buoyant at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), whose director general Mark Littlewood greeted the announcement by claiming: “This isn’t a trickle-down budget – it’s a boost-up budget.”

None of the think tanks discloses its funders, but the IEA has received donations from BP and ExxonMobil and, along with the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies, the tobacco industry. The IEA and the Adam Smith Institute have also received millions of dollars from US funders of climate denial.

Continue Reading‘Fantastic’: What Truss’s allies said about budget that crashed UK economy