Claire's blog

As catastrophes unfold, have our leaders got the message yet?

It's never been clearer that the climate crisis is here now. Below are news stories from just the past month describing extreme weather events and catastrophes from around the world. UPDATED 28 July

Some events are so extreme they could have not have occurred without climate breakdown, in other regions there is a trend of increasing frequency/severity. These events, alongside much worse predictions by scientists, should be enough to push world leaders into action on climate. But at best we see only half-measures and delay. Less than 100 days remain until the COP26 summit, and the UK government is issuing new oil drilling licences while ignoring the gap between its emissions targets and a lack of policies to meet them. We have to speak out and ensure the voices of those on the front lines of climate change are heard.

Heatwaves, drought and fire

Madagascar

Madagascar is on the brink of a famine it played little part in creating. In Southern Madagascar, a four-year drought and vicious sandstorms have destroyed crops and turned arable land to desert. As many as 500,000 are nearing starvation.

North America

‘Nowhere is safe’: heat shatters vision of Pacific north-west as climate refuge. A 'heat dome' brought unprecedented heat to the US Pacific north-west and western Canada. Known for mild summers, cities were unprepared for record temperatures of up to 42.2C (Seattle) and 46.7C (Portland, Oregon). Some inland areas managed to get up to 118F (47.8C). Hospitals suddenly found themselves overwhelmed, with several hundred people believed to have died in the heat. The town of Lytton shattered the previous heat record for Canada (45C), reaching 49.5C before residents fled a devastating wildfire, which destroyed large parts of the town. Temperature records are usually broken by fractions of degrees.

Stop funding for fossil fuels abroad NOW

 

It's not a good look for a country claiming to be a climate leader to be providing massive financial support for fossil fuel projects abroad. Last summer it was revealed that the UK government’s foreign credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF) with a history of backing fossil fuel projects will underwrite oil company Total's exploitation of Mozambique's gas reserves with loans and guarantees worth over one billion dollars. As well as climate pollution, this fossil fuel megaproject has also caused forcible evictions of thousands already and threatens local ecosystems.

Hit by accusations of hypocrisy, Boris Johnson finally announced in December that the UK would stop funding fossil fuel projects overseas.

But it appears that UK Export Finance, the UK's biggest funder of overseas fossil fuels, is still considering applications from at least 17 projects, including the gigantic East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, which it could try to fund before the ban comes into place.

Our friends at Global Justice Now have set up a simple online action to allow you to respond to the government consultation and call for the ban to be:

- Immediate

- Comprehensive, disallowing technical assistance for fossil fuel projects and indirect investments

- Not allowing exemptions for gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS) or for any hydrogen produced using fossil fuels. 

And that UK institutions and institutions in receipt of UK ODA should divest from their fossil fuel investments on the earliest possible time frame. 

The deadline for responding to the consultation is Monday 8th February

Click here to take action

Net Zero Festival brings accusations of greenwash

 

Climate breakdown cannot be a niche issue - it has to be a priority for us all. So we should welcome the Net Zero Festival, run by BusinessGreen, as an attempt to wake up mainstream businesses to the necessity of rapid transition to net zero carbon. As exemplified by sponsors… 

...Heathrow, Drax, Shell?

Hang on. Finding these names among the sponsors, one can hardly fail to notice that they are hardly companies usually held up as examples of climate leaders. What is going on? Is Shell switching from oil and gas to renewables and we somehow missed the announcement? 

Unfortunately not. What Shell actually produced earlier this year is a ‘net zero carbon plan’. This promises to cut a small part of the company’s own emissions (those unrelated to burning the oil and gas it extracts) to net zero by 2050 by offsetting. As for the majority of Shell’s emissions which come from customers burning its product, there is no target to reduce total emissions, let alone reduce oil and gas production. Instead, Shell promises to reduce ‘carbon intensity’ by two thirds. This could be by increasing production of renewable energy and biofuels alongside oil and gas, and also offsetting. It further promises to work with customers who burn its product to ensure they capture the carbon or offset emissions.

Interesting. However, notable by their absence from Shell's plan are any proposals to stop exploring for new oil and gas; to halt new extraction; to phase out production in the short or long term; or to invest in a just transition for workers. Before the pandemic, Shell was planning more than 35 new oil and gas projects by 2025. Half of the 24 “major projects” in its investment profile are deep water oil and gas projects, which it says have “significant growth potential.”

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