‘What will you tell your children?’: Greta Thunberg blasts climate inaction at Davos


Greta Thunberg told a World Economic Forum panel on climate that activists were demanding an end to all investment in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, calling for a drastic reduction of emissions to zero. She dismissed some of the measures mooted by governments and companies, such as planting billions of trees to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Her comments came after Donald Trump announced the US joined the global 1 trillion tree initiative Davos 2020: Greta Thunberg says ‘world is on fire’ and blasts leaders’ climate inaction. SOURCE

 

 

Unifor president Jerry Dias arrested at Regina’s Co-op Refinery

Union head among 7 taken into custody on picket line, police confirm

 

Unifor president Jerry Dias, left, and the union’s lead negotiator Scott Doherty. Dias was taken into custody by police on Monday amid a labour dispute at the Co-op Refinery in Regina. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Unifor national president Jerry Dias was arrested along with six other members of the union on Monday afternoon amid rising tensions in a dispute with the Co-op Refinery in Regina.

The arrests came after union members set up blockades outside the refinery, contrary to a recent court order.

“Unifor members had completely blocked the entrances/exits to the Co-op Refinery Complex, not allowing vehicles to enter or exit the property,” the Regina Police Service said in a statement.

Dias had said at a media conference that morning that the blockades were set up by members of other Unifor locals. He argued that they therefore did not violate the injunction, which bars members of Local 594 — which represents workers at the refinery — from blocking access to the facility.

“We’ll deal with that in court because our argument today is that we are not violating any injunction at all,” Dias said.

Jerry Dias@JerryPDias

We need thousands more members to come to Regina because @reginapolice have decided to side with @CoopFCL https://twitter.com/UniforTheUnion/status/1219393969974579200 

Unifor@UniforTheUnion

Once again the Regina Police are siding with greedy @CoopFCL #skpoli #canlab #cdnpoli #BoycottCoop #SupportUnifor594

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Police did not confirm who else was arrested or if any charges were laid.

Monday marked 46 days since Unifor members were locked out.

The blockades were taken down Monday evening.

The dispute mainly comes down to pensions. A previous deal included a defined benefit pension for workers. Now the refinery is moving toward a defined contribution plan.

The union says this amounts to taking away workers’ pensions. The refinery says it is trying to remain competitive.

“We are going to guarantee you that not one fuel truck is going to leave this facility. From now on we’re not going anywhere,” Scott Doherty, Unifor’s lead negotiator and executive assistant to the president, said.

The refinery said in a statement that the blockades were illegal and that it is exploring legal options.

“Unifor continues to use illegal blockades as a bullying tactic and has brought in extra people to help them to it,” the statement said. “Today’s actions by Unifor represent yet another violation of the court injunction.”

Regina police said they were monitoring the situation. In a statement, police said they were communicating with both sides to keep the peace and advising motorists to avoid the area of Ninth Avenue N., MacDonald Street and Fleet Street.

Police took Unifor members into custody after the union constructed blockades at the refinery. (Unifor/Twitter)

Before his arrest, Dias estimated that about 500 people were brought in from across Canada to Regina and said more are expected. Dias said the union also plans to increase the boycott of Co-ops across Western Canada if a deal isn’t made.

“Clearly the only place that this dispute will be resolved will be at the bargaining table,” Dias said.

The refinery previously said Unifor hasn’t returned to the bargaining table since September 2019.  MORE

Big Oil has a do-or-die decade ahead because of climate change

The 2020s are poised to be to energy firms what the 2010s were to utilities—disruptive

As revolutionary slogans go, it hardly had the resonance of ¡No pasarán! But when Repsol, a Spanish oil company, said in December it would reduce the net carbon footprint of everything it produces to zero within 30 years, it marked the most powerful pledge so far by a big oil firm to cast off some of the vestiges of a fossil past in favour of a windy and sunny future.

Many will scoff. Oil companies are, after all, widely regarded as the villains of the climate crisis. Repsol is a relatively puny producer; its vow may simply be a gambit to woo investors keen on “sustainability”. Yet it deserves a pat on the back. Without the oil industry’s balance-sheets and project-management skills, it is hard to imagine the world building anything like enough wind farms, solar parks and other forms of clean energy to stop catastrophic global warming. The question is no longer “whether” Big Oil has a big role to play in averting the climate crisis. It is “when”.

Ask oil executives about timing, though, and most hum and haw. They face a dilemma. Though the world needs them to throw their weight behind clean energy, their oil-and-gas businesses have traditionally generated higher returns. Yet forecasting returns is complex—and becoming more so. As well as project risk, it involves assessing the attitude of investors, governments and consumers towards climate uncertainties. To cynics, all the climate-friendly noises amount to little in practice, since few people are ready to make carbon-cutting sacrifices that would force oil firms’ hand. But noises are sometimes followed by action. Should they be this time, the 2020s may be do-or-die for the oil industry.

In energy, a lot can happen in ten years. The 2010s saw oil markets transformed by American shale. In Europe renewable energy prompted something almost as wrenching for a different sort of energy firm—utilities. Faced with an existential threat from wind and solar, fossil-fuel power producers such as Germany’s e.on and rwe tore themselves apart, redesigned their businesses, and emerged cleaner and stronger. Southern European firms like Spain’s Iberdrola and Italy’s Enel took renewables worldwide. Last year total shareholder returns from the reinvigorated European utilities left the oil-and-gas industry in the dust.

Big Oil looks like the European utilities of a decade ago: potentially in for a seismic shock, and in denial. Some giants, like ExxonMobil and Chevron in America, continue to bet most heavily on oil, believing demand for petrol will remain strong for the foreseeable future. Others, among them Europe’s supermajors, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and bp, increasingly favour natural gas, and see low-carbon (though not necessarily zero-carbon) power generation as a way to prop up their business model as more cars and other things begin to run on electricity.

A few dabble in renewable energy, especially in Europe. But of a whopping $80bn or so of capital expenditure by Europe’s seven biggest listed energy firms last year, only 7.4%—less than $1bn each on average—went to clean energy. In order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement to keep global warming below 2°C, the ratio of dirty energy to the clean sort will need to be turned upside down. On January 14th ubs, a bank, calculated that capital spending on renewable energy, power grids and batteries will need to rise globally to $1.2trn a year on average from now until 2050, more than double the $500bn spent each year on oil and gas. To help fund that, it reckons that oil-and-gas companies will need to divert $10trn of investments away from fossil fuels over the same period.

That sounds unthinkable. For now, oil executives show no appetite for such a radical change of direction. If anything, they are working their oil-and-gas assets harder, to skim the profits and hand them to shareholders while they still can. Oil, they say, generates double-digit returns on capital employed. Clean energy, mere single digits.

They may be overstating the case. First, as the Boston Consulting Group points out, no big industry performed worse for shareholders in the second half of the 2010s than oil and gas. Second, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (oies), a think-tank, says climate-concerned investors are already pushing up oil companies’ cost of capital for long-term projects, crimping returns. Third, with their vast balance-sheets, and skill in building and managing complex endeavours over decades, they could dramatically scale up offshore wind and similar businesses, bolstering profitability.

Furthermore, Big Oil has ways to make other high-risk, high-reward bets on clean energy. One is through venture capital. The oies calculates that of 200 recent investments by the oil majors, 70 have been in clean-energy ventures, such as electric-vehicle charging networks. They have generally been small for now. But bp reportedly plans to build five $1bn-plus “unicorns” over the next five years with an aim of providing more energy with lower emissions. Another way is to back research and development in potentially groundbreaking technologies such as high-altitude wind energy, whose generating efficiency promises equally lofty profits.

BlackRock and the black stuff

Even as the majors diversify, supplying oil and gas will be the bedrock of their business for decades. Larry Fink, boss of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, acknowledged this in a letter to global chief executives on January 14th, even as he predicted that climate change would cause a significant shift in capital toward sustainable investing (see article).

Yet excuses for prevarication are growing thinner. As Peter Parry of Bain, a consultancy, puts it, it has become “something of a myth” that oil is a high-return industry. As national climate commitments grow more stringent, governments may go on the warpath. ubs argues that it may be necessary for governments to “ban” the $10trn of oil-and-gas investments to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It is not only Repsol that feels which way the breeze is blowing. It need not be an ill wind.

 

Mega-Fires Almost Doubled Chile’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Fires in 2017 were worst on record, burning 570,000 hectares
  •  Chile’s wildfires have worsened because of decade-long drought

Firefighters work to put out a wildfire at a forest in the town of San Ramon in Constitucion, Chile on Jan. 26, 2017.

Firefighters work to put out a wildfire at a forest in the town of San Ramon in Constitucion, Chile on Jan. 26, 2017. Photographer: Cristobal Olivares/Bloomberg

The mega-fires that ravaged Chile in 2017 emitted the equivalent of 90% of the country’s annual greenhouse-gas emissions, Chilean researchers estimated.The South American nation’s worst wildfires on record burnt more than 570,000 hectares and cost $350 million to combat, according to a report by Universidad de Chile’s Center for Climate and Resilience released last week. The previous record was 130,000 hectares in 2015.

The 2017 fires put about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere, close to the 111.6 million tonnes emitted by all of Chile the year before. It would take cars in Santiago, home to about 7 million people, to run for 23 years to equal the emissions from the worst mega-fires.

There are no magic solutions to these fires,” said researcher Mauro Gonzalez at the report’s presentation in Santiago last week. “We have a great challenge ahead because we can’t manage climate change or meteorological conditions, so we need to focus on prevention.“

Hidden Emissions

Chile emissions from forest fires in 2017 almost equaled 2016 emissions

Last year saw the least rainfall on record in much of Chile, marking the completion of country’s driest ever decade, a phenomenon linked to climate change that scientists have named a mega-drought. As global temperatures rise, extreme heat and lack of rain have worsened forest-fire episodes in other parts of the world such as California, Australia and the Amazon.

Australia has lost 10 million hectares to the flames this session.

MORE

For the first time, our failing environment is seen as the biggest business risk at Davos

No bridge over troubled waters.

It wasn’t long ago that captains of industry fretted most about oil prices, asset bubbles, and unemployment. But since 2007, those participating in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland have seen these worries replaced by an even more urgent threat: environmental change.

More than a thousand WEF participants were surveyed this year (pdf) about the biggest global risks facing the world. For the first time, climate change or climate-related issues occupied the top five spots as the most likely global risks. Weapons of mass destruction were the only non-environment related risk to be on the list of threats likely to have the biggest impact. It’s the first time since the poll began that environmental risk has ranked so highly, up from zero in 2010. 1

“Climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than many expected,” states the WEF (pdf). The world is now on track to warm by more than 3°C, blowing past what scientists say is a level required to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. There’s no sign GHG emissions are peaking, states the United Nations (pdf), and every year of delay makes future reductions more difficult and drastic with potential damages measured in the trillions of dollars. The top factors ranked by 1,047 participants from business (38%), academia (21%), and government (15%) surveyed this year are below: MORE

USA: Three-Quarters of New US Generating Capacity in 2020 Will Be Renewable, EIA Says

2020 will be a record year for U.S. renewables construction as 6 gigawatts of coal capacity goes offline, according to new government figures.

The U.S. wind market is teed up for more than 15GW of installations this year, analysts forecast.

The U.S. wind market is teed up for more than 15GW of installations this year, analysts forecast.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has confirmed what it and industry watchers predicted a year ago — that wind and solar power will expand on their already-large share of new U.S. generation capacity in 2020.

According to EIA data released Tuesday, wind and solar will make up 32 of the 42 gigawatts of new capacity additions expected to start commercial operation in 2020, respectively, dwarfing the 9.3 gigawatts of natural-gas-fired plants to come online this year.

EIA’s numbers also break records for both wind and solar in terms of annual capacity additions. The 18.5 gigawatts of wind power capacity set to come online in 2020 surpasses 2012’s record of 13.2 gigawatts and pushes total U.S. production well past the 100-gigawatt milestone set in the third quarter of 2019.

Wood Mackenzie is expecting 15.2 gigawatts of new wind this year, with some projects delayed into 2021 amid a historic wind construction boom.

MORE

 

New German Coal Plant Could Threaten Merkel’s Final Climate Push

The Uniper power plant Datteln 4.

The Uniper power plant Datteln 4. Photographer:Marcel Kusch/picture alliance via Getty Images

One of Germany’s biggest utilities plans to open a new coal plant even though the nation is lagging behind countries from U.K. to Spain in phasing out the fuel.

Protesters are already preparing to disrupt the opening of Uniper SE’s Datteln-4 plant in June and could turn the utility into the latest flash point in Germany’s increasingly fractious debate about the fossil fuel that still generates about a third of the country’s electricity. The conflict could threaten Chancellor Angela Merkel’s climate legacy as German emission targets lag following a decade of record renewable energy investments.

Merkel is trying to build consensus this week over a 2038 exit date for coal and heal widening rifts between industry and environmentalists. Government officials and company executives will meet for another round of talks Jan. 15 in Berlin, where they’ll discuss compensation for abandoning coal. Uniper is keen for its plant to become one of the nation’s last operating coal facilities.

“It’ll be an own goal for Uniper to open it,” said Dirk Jansen, an official at the environmental group BUND Friends of the Earth Germany.

The 1.5-billion euro ($1.7 billion) Datteln-4 plant, outside Dortmund in western Germany’s industrial heartland, is already nine years late and over budget because of defects that delayed its connection to the grid.

Climate activists aren’t buying the utility’s arguments that the new facility burns cleaner than older models it plans to retire and wants the plant shuttered before it ever operates. MORE