ExxonMobil exhorts White House to keep Paris agreement

March 31, 2017 by  
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When a fossil fuel company under fire for covering up past knowledge of climate change exhorts the President of the United States to stay in the 2015 Paris agreement , something’s not quite right. ExxonMobil manager of environmental policy and planning Peter Trelenberg wrote a letter to the White House earlier this month reiterating ExxonMobil’s position on the deal. He made it clear ExxonMobil thinks President Donald Trump should not pull out of the historic, hard-fought agreement. On the campaign trail Trump promised to yank the United States out of the Paris agreement. But so far the White House hasn’t taken that step, even in a recent environmentally devastating executive order . Meanwhile Trump’s new Secretary of State, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson , has said in the past the president is wrong about climate change , and perhaps could have now persuaded Trump to stick with the deal. Related: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Trump is wrong about climate change On March 22, Trelenberg wrote to G. David Banks, Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, thanking Banks for a recent inquiry on the oil and gas giant’s views regarding the agreement. Trelenberg said ExxonMobil welcomed the agreement both in December 2015, when it was announced at COP21 , and in November 2016 when it went into force. Don’t get too excited – Trelenberg didn’t write off fossil fuels altogether. He said, “We believe that the United States is well positioned to compete within the framework of the Paris Agreement, with abundant low-carbon resources such as natural gas , and innovative private industries, including the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.” Trelenberg said natural gas is the “cleanest-burning and least carbon-intensive fossil fuel” that has helped American attain 20-year lows in carbon dioxide emissions . He did point out ExxonMobil has invested $7 billion in lower emission fuels – such as biofuels made from algae – for around 15 years, and ended his letter with a final call to stay in the Paris agreement. The irony of the ExxonMobil letter prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to tweet : “It is pathetic that the largest oil company in the world understands more about climate change than the president of the United States.” Via The Independent Images via Roy Luck on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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London and Paris mayors announce new emissions monitoring system for vehicles

March 30, 2017 by  
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Just a day after U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order that aims to bring back smog-inducing coal power, the mayors of London and Paris are acting to cut air pollution in their cities. Reuters reports that Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have announced a new system for monitoring vehicle emissions in their respective cities, with the aim of combating the air quality problems that have plagued both national capitals. Their plan would enable a system that identifies real-life emissions readings from cars, which would give people more information about how much theirs emit. Each car’s score for the air pollutants it puts out would be based on road and “real-world” testing using emissions analytics and the International Council for Clean Transportation . “We should be able to set up a reliable scoring system which will be put to all our citizens and allow them to know what emissions are coming from which vehicles in reality,” Hidalgo said at an international conference on air pollution, according to Reuters . “This new scheme will put an end to the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that has been employed and provide Londoners and Parisians with an honest, accurate and independent evaluation of the emissions of vehicles on our road,” Khan added. Related: California defies trump with tough emissions rules According to French media, emissions monitoring devices will be put in place on the streets of Paris and on various kinds of vehicles in the next few weeks. Seoul also plans to try the monitoring tactic to get a handle on air pollution in the South Korean capital. 9,000 people die per year in London, as a result of pollution. In Paris, about 2,500 die annually. The mayors intend to fix that. Via Reuters Images via dbakr and zongo , Flickr Creative Commons

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Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

March 30, 2017 by  
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The day when tourists venture to space could arrive sooner than we think. Blue Origin – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ‘ spaceflight company – just unveiled images of the interior of their New Shepard capsule that could transport travelers to outer space as soon as 2018. Blue Origin’s emphasis on tourism means the capsule is filled with large windows to allow stunning views of Earth. New Shepard could transport the first space tourists to just above the Kármán line, commonly considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. There they’ll float around weightless for a few minutes. Naturally windows are an all-important component of space tourism, and Blue Origin says on their website their capsule will have the biggest windows in the history of spaceflight . In an email, Bezos said, “Every seat’s a window seat, the largest windows ever in space.” Related: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the first to land a rocket intact upon return from space Inside reclining black seats featuring the Blue Origin feather logo hint at luxury aboard the New Shepard, which can seat six. The company draws on the romanticism surrounding astronauts as they describe the experience on their website, from communicating with Mission Control to earning astronaut wings. The reusable New Shepard rocket has successfully launched and landed five times to this point, but a person has not yet traveled in the capsule. The interior is quite a departure from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule interior – which has smaller windows – but The Verge pointed out while SpaceX’s primary target is transporting astronauts to the International Space Station , Blue Origin focuses on tourism. But Elon Musk did say recently two private citizens could travel around the moon in a Crew Dragon – also in 2018 – so it appears a new space race is on. After New Shepard’s booster and capsule separate, the capsule free falls for a few minutes before landing with the help of parachutes. The booster also returns to Earth courtesy of an autonomously controlled rocket-powered landing so both can be reused. A New Shepard capsule mockup will be on display at the 33rd Space Symposium from April 3 to 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. + Blue Origin Via The Verge Images via Blue Origin

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Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

March 28, 2017 by  
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Don’t count on Scott Pruitt , head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , to do much environmental protecting. Weeks after rejecting scientific consensus about the role of carbon dioxide in driving global warming, the nation’s top environmental official doubled down on Sunday by describing a landmark accord to curb the planet’s industrial emissions as a “bad deal” for the United States. “You know, what was wrong with Paris was not just that it was, you know, failed to be treated as a treaty, but China and India, the largest producers of CO2 internationally, got away scot-free. They didn’t have to take steps until 2030,” Pruitt said in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. “So we’ve penalized ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn’t take steps to address the issue internationally. So Paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation.” There’s plenty to nitpick about Pruitt’s stance, which mischaracterizes the positions of China and India, both of which officially ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change in late 2016. For one thing, China is the world’s No. 1 polluter, but India comes in fourth after the United States and European Union. Neither does the 2030 cutoff give China or India special latitude. All 197 countries that have committed themselves to the pact are legally bound to develop plans to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions through 2025 or 2030. And while there’s no legal requirement that specifies how much countries should cut, they must report every two years on their efforts to mitigate emissions levels, which are subject to technical and peer review. Related: EPA chief says carbon dioxide is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming Far from getting away “scot-free,” China and India are making inroads in their energy policies. Although it continues to be bogged down by inefficient coal power plants that contribute to its infamous smog, China has been expanding its renewable-energy capacity at a breakneck pace. Even as President Donald Trump decried climate change as a “Chinese hoax” , the Chinese government announced that it intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, slashing carbon emissions and creating over 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector in the same time frame. India, in the meantime, has pledged to obtain at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. To nudge itself closer to that goal, the South Asian nation is planning 33 solar parks in 21 states, with a capacity of at least 500 megawatts each—no mean feat for a country where millions still have no access to electricity . Indeed India currently houses the world’s largest solar power plant in a single location , a title once held by Topaz Solar Farm in California. For anyone who has been paying attention, however, Pruitt’s statements shouldn’t be too surprising. The former attorney general of Oklahoma has long boasted close ties to the oil and gas industry. He also sued the EPA—the very same agency he now heads—a stunning 14 times , frequently in tandem with companies that donated money to campaigns he was affiliated to. Related: New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties Pruitt noted on Sunday that President Trump will soon be signing a new executive order that will halt the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan , an Obama administration policy designed to, among other things, rein in America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030. “With respect to this executive order that’s coming out on Tuesday, this is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country,” Pruitt said. Pro-growth? Debatable. Pro-environment? Not a chance. + ABC News Via Huffington Post Photos from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

Philippines president Duterte signs Paris agreement

March 1, 2017 by  
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It’s been almost a year since leaders from 170 countries met in New York City to formally sign the Paris climate change agreement , and almost four months since the agreement officially went into force . But president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte is only now jumping on the climate change -fighting bandwagon, finally signing the historic accord. Duterte initially resisted signing the agreement; he claimed it favored rich countries like the United States, and threatened to boycott the agreement because it would hurt industrialization in the Philippines. But his protests subsided last November, when he said a cabinet decision swayed him to support the Paris agreement. Now that he’s signed the deal, it will need to go through the country’s Senate. Related: Hard-won Paris climate agreement officially goes into force Senator Loren Legarda said, “We are a step away from full ratification and it is my commitment to actively shepherd the Senate’s immediate concurrence.”It’s expected the Senate will back ratification as Duterte’s allies populate the governing body. Should the agreement finally go through, the Philippines would receive access to the Green Climate Fund , a global initiative slated to send billions of dollars to developing nations to help them combat climate change. Manila , the country’s capital, has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030. The ambitious target will require financial and technical support. Duterte has been labeled a strongman and a firebrand. Vox described him as the Donald Trump of Manila, although the former Davao City mayor has been in politics for decades. Trump and Duterte have become fast friends – Trump reportedly praised Duterte’s war on drugs, which is so violent it sparked a January report from Amnesty International . Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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New Exxon CEO supports Paris climate deal, carbon tax

February 27, 2017 by  
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The world’s largest publicly traded oil company appears to be more concerned about climate change than the President of the United States . While Donald Trump works on rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations and wants to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, new ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Darren Woods recently said in a blog post that the Dallas-based energy company supports the Paris climate deal and a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those positions are in line with his successor Rex Tillerson, who is currently serving in the Trump Administration as the nation’s 69th secretary of state. “At ExxonMobil, we’re encouraged that the pledges made at last year’s Paris Accord create an effective framework for all countries to address rising emissions; in fact, our company forecasts carbon reductions consistent with the results of the Paris accord commitments,” Woods wrote, citing increased natural gas replacing coal and greater energy efficiency as important tools in reducing CO2 emissions. Woods also mentioned the company’s research and development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and advanced biofuels such as algae, saying that the company has invested $7 billion in lower-emissions energy solutions. However, Woods did not mention renewables such as solar and wind as solutions to man-made global warming. Related: Trump to sign executive orders rolling back Obama’s climate protection policies A price on carbon is gaining appeal among some conservative circles. Recently a group of Republican elder statesmen called for a tax on carbon emissions to fight climate change. The proposal would substitute former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan with the carbon tax. In his blog post, Woods said that a national revenue-neutral carbon tax would increase energy efficiency, boost the economy and incentivize the market to move toward low-carbon energy solutions. “Governments can help advance the search for energy technologies by funding basic research and by enacting forward-looking policies,” Woods said. “A uniform price of carbon applied consistently across the economy is a sensible approach to emissions reduction.” Via Washington Examiner Images via Exxon and Wikimedia

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Why progressive sustainability ultimately will win

February 14, 2017 by  
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Given the ringing success of the SDGs and Paris Agreement, don’t be surprised that the nationalist right is rising up now.

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The State of Green Business, 2017

January 31, 2017 by  
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Adapted from the 2017 State of Green Business report. Download here.It’s hard to imagine a time more hopeful and horrifying for sustainable business.On the one hand are great achievements and milestones. The Paris Agreement on climate change was ratified last year, faster than any United Nations pact in history, a powerful confirmation of the importance the nations of the world attach to combating climate change.

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The State of Green Business, 2017

How Coca-Cola is cultivating a collective sense of purpose in Vietnam

January 31, 2017 by  
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Coca-Cola’s EKOCenters are allowing Vietnamese communities to thrive by connecting economic, environmental and social dots.

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Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Trump is wrong about climate change

January 12, 2017 by  
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In a startling statement, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly disagreed with the President-elect’s position on climate change. While Trump has stated he wants to withdraw from the Paris agreement, and has characterized climate change as an anti-American “hoax,” Tillerson told Congress , “I think it’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table on the conversations around how to address the threats of climate change, which do require a global response. No one country is going to solve this alone.” Tillerson’s position is an interesting one, considering that he’s the former CEO of ExxonMobil, a company that’s been accused of misleading the public on the existence of climate change since the 1960s . In fact, the company continues to fund climate-denial research to this day. Despite this, Tillerson insisted that he believes the “risk of climate change does exist” and that the consequences could be serious enough to “warrant action.” Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation While Tillerson has said Trump is aware of his views and he would be willing to advise the administration to take climate change seriously (perhaps with a bit more caution than environmentalists would like), it’s unclear if this could actually change Trump’s approach in any way. The administration’s other nominees have come out firmly against the very concept of climate change – including Rick Perry, Trump’s proposed head of the Department of Energy , and Scott Pruitt, the pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency . Although Tillerson appears to grudgingly accept the reality of climate change, that’s no reason for the American public to let our guard down. The would-be Secretary of State did not address whether he believes climate change poses a threat to national security – an opinion held by the nation’s foremost military expert. He also refused to discuss ExxonMobil’s longstanding war against scientific research on the subject, and he would not give a firm answer on whether he would suspend US funding to the UN Green Climate Fund. There’s also the troubling matter of the former exec’s troubling ties to Vladimir Putin , which critics fear could compromise his ability to perform his duties effectively. Via Mother Jones Images via William Munoz and Wikimedia Commons

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