Just over half of all directors at 30 of the world’s largest insurance companies have affiliations to polluting companies and organisations, reveals an investigation by DeSmog, including several individuals holding senior roles at some of the world’s largest energy companies. The findings raise concerns over a potential pervasive conflict of interest on the boards at a time when the international insurance sector is under pressure to halt its support for the fossil fuel industry. Positions held by the insurance directors analysed ranged from director and advisory roles, including current roles at ExxonMobil, Total, and RWE, along with current and former memberships to industry trade association and think tanks, such as the US Chamber of Commerce. DeSmog analysed director CVs on company profiles, LinkedIn pages, official filings, and news clippings from July 2021, logging the past and present work experience of 371 insurance directors who currently sit on the boards of 30 of the world’s largest property and casualty insurers.
One expert called it a “systematic deceptive marketing campaign designed to interfere with the solution that is necessary to respond to the climate emergency: stopping fossil fuel production.” Nearly two thirds of social media posts put out by six major European fossil fuel and energy companies since the end of 2019 present a “green” image of the company, despite the majority of their business activity remaining in fossil fuels, reveals new analysis by DeSmog. The findings add to campaigner concerns that fossil fuel companies are promoting a misleading image of their business models as the need to decarbonize the economy becomes increasingly urgent. DeSmog’s investigation shows a disproportionate focus on green or environmental efforts by the companies — including highlighting their net zero targets — compared to the share of their business devoted to clean energy.
The biggest banks are using your money to fund the climate crisis. We have seen this story before. In 2008, the recklessness of megabanks sank the global economic system. Now, in 2021, the youth climate movement is saying that we’ve had enough. We’re not going to let the banks bring down the entire planet too. On October 29, young people are occupying and shutting down banks across the globe to demand an end to fossil fuel financing and the beginning of a Fossil-Free Future, and we need you to join us. Over the past few years, the youth climate justice movement has mobilized historic numbers of people. Together, we’ve brought a new awareness to the climate emergency and inspired a generation of young people in the fight for climate justice. We called on world leaders to listen to science and frontline communities and to treat climate change as what it is: an existential threat to humanity.
Climate activists are hailing Harvard University’s move to divest from fossil fuels as a profound shift in the status quo and a model for other institutions. The iconic and wealthy university’s decision to go fossil-free comes after years of resisting calls to divest, writes The Washington Post, citing Harvard President Larry S. Bacow’s invocation of the climate crisis as the reason for the about-face. “We must act now as citizens, as scholars, and as an institution to address this crisis on as many fronts as we have at our disposal,” Bacow said in an open letter explaining the shift. The university’s a call to action “is likely to have ripple effects in higher education and beyond, given Harvard’s US$41-billion endowment and its iconic status among American institutions,” notes the Post.
To stop the world descending into full climate chaos, the continued burning of fossil fuels must be brought to an end as soon as possible. Even burning all coal, oil, and gas reserves already in production will push global temperature rise far beyond 1.5°C and likely beyond 2°C, the stated goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. This leaves no space for further exploration or extraction, yet many fossil fuel companies plan to vastly expand their operations, posing a true existential threat to people and planet.
What’s the single word that fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil’s flagship environmental reports to investors and the public tie most closely to climate change and global warming? According to newly published research from Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes and Harvard research associate Geoffrey Supran, it’s a simple four-letter word, one that carries overtones not only of danger, but also — crucially — of uncertainty: risk. Oreskes and Supran argue in the peer-reviewed study published in the journal One Earth, that by repeating that word over and over as it discusses climate change ExxonMobil continues to connect climate change to uncertainty, even in its most carefully worded and most scrutinized discussions of the topic.
By Luca F. Scroeder for the Crimson. Police arrested several members of the student activist group Divest Harvard after they staged a sit-in within the lobby of the Boston Federal Reserve Tuesday afternoon, protesting Harvard Management Company’s investment in the fossil fuel industry. Four members of Divest Harvard protested in the building, which houses HMC, the University’s investment arm that manages its $37.6 billion endowment. Members of Divest Harvard identified the arrested protesters as Naima Drecker-Waxman ’18, Applied Physics graduate student Benjamin Franta, School of Public Health student Rory Stewart, and Adam Cory Vander Tuig, a student at the Divinity School and Memorial Church seminarian. About 25 students, faculty members, and alumni who support Divest Harvard held a rally outside of the building at the same time.
By Amanda Saunders in The Sydney Morning Herald - Newcastle, home of the world's biggest coal port, has joined the global fossil fuels divestment push after the city's council voted on Tuesday night to exit holdings in the big four banks if they continue to fund fossil fuels projects. About 80 per cent of the City of Newcastle Council's $270 million investment portfolio is held in the big four banks, mostly through term deposits. Those investments are spread evenly across the big four. But after the council passed a motion on Tuesday night, six votes to five, it will dump holdings in the banks for more "environmentally and socially responsible" institutions when deposits come up for renewal. This will be done only if the rate of return is comparable with the council's holdings in the big four and the council's credit rating criteria is met.
Bosses at the world’s big five oil companies have been showered with bonus payouts linked to a $1tn (£650bn) crescendo of spending on fossil fuel exploration and extraction over nine years, according to Guardian analysis of company reports. The unprecedented push to bring untapped reserves into production, and to exploit new and undiscovered fields, involves some of the most complex feats of engineering ever attempted. It also reflects how confident Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP are that demand will remain high for decades to come. The big oil groups are pressing ahead with investments despite the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimating that two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves will need to remain in the ground to prevent the earth from warming 2C above pre-industrial levels – a proposed temperature limit beyond which scientists warn of spiralling and irreversible climate change.
Alumni of the University of Oxford are occupying the university in protest over its failure to divest from fossil-fuels. The University, under pressure to act on its major investments in fossil-fuels, announced today it was postponing a decision on what to do with its investments until May. Oxford University has the UK’s second largest endowment fund, valued at £855 million in 2012, with a further £2.9 billion of investments controlled by its colleges. Occupying alumni included the University’s own former Finance Director, John Clements. The BBC quoted him saying: “we are bitterly disappointed about the university’s failure to come to a decision. Oxford should be leading the move away from investment in all world-destroying fossil fuel companies to more sustainable forms of energy.”
At his first meeting as FERC Chairman, Commissioner Norman Bay gave the cold shoulder to demonstrators who repeatedly interrupted him to protest what they say is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s rubberstamp approach to regulation. “Oh my God, we have a situation here. The situation is not going away,” shouted protestor Charles Chandler. “There is no democracy here. You just ignore what I write on my computer.” “Well, I guess one wouldn’t be the chairman of FERC without having to deal with protesters,” Bay said, after the first of six were escorted out of the room one at a time. Bay was acknowledging a new reality for the formerly obscure agency. As former FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur put it, “We have a situation here.” FERC has come to the forefront as gas infrastructure projects have increased exponentially.
Tulane students and alumni are planning to stage a sit-in at the office of university president Michael Fitts this week to demand the school divest its $1 billion endowment from fossil fuels. The sit-in is scheduled to take place from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at Gibson Hall, 2823 St. Charles Ave. Divest Tulane, a two-year-old, student-led campaign, is organizing the event. Its goal, according to Emma Collin, a Tulane senior and member of Divest Tulane, is to pressure the school to take the money from its endowment that is invested in fossil fuels and put it instead in "sustainable community solutions." "We're not trying to hurt the fossil fuel industry," Collin said. "We're trying to draw attention to the fact that climate change is a huge and urgent problem that threatens Louisiana and New Orleans profoundly."
With campus sit-ins taking place in several states, and more direct actions planned for the days and weeks ahead, a new generation of climate activists is taking the reins in an escalating fight for fossil fuel divestment that's sweeping the nation this spring. As a group of environmental leaders wrote in an open letter published Thursday atCommon Dreams, "By taking strategic action this spring, students are posing a . . . crucial question to the public and their institutions' leadership: whose side are you on?" Close to 50 student members of Fossil Free Yale entered the university's Woodbridge Hall on Thursday morning, vowing to stay until the administration publicly commits toreconsidering the case for divestment. Yale, which at $24 billion has the third-largest university endowment in the world, said in August that it wouldn't sell its holdings of oil, gas, and coal stocks.
“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” said Stephen Heintz of John D Rockefeller, as he announced that the heirs to one of America’s most famous dynasties, which was built on oil, were pulling their philanthropic funds out of fossil fuels. For sheer symbolism if not financial value – only $60m (£37m) of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund was invested in fossil fuels – it was perhaps the high point of what has become known as the fossil fuel divestment movement. With its roots in US campuses, the campaign to get institutions to pull their financial investments as a way of tackling climate change has seen a total of $50bn divested so far, according to the US Fossil Free campaign.
In the wake of Fukushima, the global campaign to bury atomic power has gained enormous strength. All Japan’s 54 reactors remain shut. Germany is amping up its renewable energy generation with a goal of 80 percent or more by 2050. Four U.S. reactors under construction are far over budget and behind schedule. Five old ones have closed in the last two years. In New England and elsewhere, as the old nukes go down, safe energy activists shift their attention to the deadly realities of fossil fuel extraction. The issues are familiar. Fracking in particular poisons our water and spews out huge quantities of lethal radiation. Ironically, in Ohio and elsewhere, the seismic instability it creates threatens atomic reactors still in operation.