Recently, British journalist George Monbiot launched a Natural Climate Solutions campaign. In the spirit of encouraging debate about the dangers of offsetting emissions from fossil fuels against the carbon temporarily stored in ecosystems, I wrote a post asking the question, “Is the new Natural Climate Solutions campaign a distraction from the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground?”
Oil giants Eni and Shell have both recently announced plans to use trees to offset some of their ever increasing carbon emissions. Yesterday, NGOs put out a statement opposing the oil industry’s attempts to avoid its responsibility for climate breakdown. The statement is signed by six organisations (Friends of the Earth Mozambique and South Africa; Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Zimbabwe; No REDD in Africa Network; Re:Common, Italy; and Friends of the Earth International). The statement is endorsed by a further 109 organisations.
“There is no single solution to tackling climate change. A transformation of the global energy system is needed, from electricity generation to industry and transport. Shell will play its part. Our focus on natural ecosystems is one step we are taking today to support the transition towards a low-carbon future.”
Earlier this week, an international group of more than 20 campaigners wrote a letter to The Guardian in support of natural climate solutions. “The world faces two existential crises, developing with terrifying speed: climate breakdown and ecological breakdown,” they write. “Neither is being addressed with the urgency needed to prevent our life-support systems from spiralling into collapse.”
At the Oil and Money conference in London last year, Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden was worried that his audience might think that Shell had “gone soft” on oil and gas. He was keen to reassure them that, “Shell’s core business is, and will be for the foreseeable future, very much in oil and gas.”
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, was in Weimar, Germany this week. In her first speech since COP 24, she said that the UN climate meeting in Katowice reached an “extremely successful outcome”. Of course Espinosa doesn’t mean that the meeting was successful in addressing climate change. She just means that it was successful in continuing the never-ending farce of the UN climate negotiations.
On 20 November 2018, Equinor, one of the largest oil and gas firms in the world, wrote to Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The first sentence spells trouble. “The way you lead the important work to deliver solutions to the global climate challenge is of great inspiration to us,” Equinor’s CEO Eldar Sætre writes.
Harold Tjiptadjaja is Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Indonesia Infrastructure Finance, an institution created by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance. IIF funds oil and gas projects, airports, toll roads, seaports, and power generation, among other things.
This week Eco-Business reported Tjiptadjaja as saying that “Deforestation poses a bigger problem for the climate than burning coal in Indonesia”.
On 1 February 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s forests were dealt a double blow. First, DRC’s Minister of Environment, Amy Ambatobe, reinstated three illegal logging concessions covering an area of 6,500 square kilometres. Second, DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila, signed off on three oil exploration concessions covering a huge area of Mai Ndombe province, including part of the Salonga National Park.
California’s governor, Jerry Brown, travelled to Bonn for COP23. On 11 November 2017, he launched “America’s Pledge”, a proposal for states, municipalities and businesses to meet the US commitments under the Paris Agreement. Brown’s presentation was interrupted by climate justice protesters, including indigenous people, chanting “Keep it in the ground”.
Here we go again. “Plant more trees to combat climate change: scientists” is a Reuters headline from earlier this week. The article is based on a press release put out by The Nature Conservancy about a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper’s argument relies on the scientific fraud that the carbon stored in forests, soil, and landscapes is climatically the same as the carbon stored underground in fossil fuels.
Norway’s parliament recently approved a plan to become carbon neutral by 2030. But it’s obvious really that Norway’s claims to be addressing climate change are meaningless if at the same time the country continues drilling for oil and gas. A new report from Oil Change International documents Norway’s cognitive dissonance on climate change.
Earlier today, during a visit to Oslo, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, met Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg. After the meeting, Solberg said, “If preliminary figures about deforestation in 2016 are confirmed, it will lead to a reduced payout in 2017.” She added that Norway’s rainforest payments to Brazil are “based on results”.