Saturday, May 26, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Green Groups Secretly Invest In Fossil Fuels, Leaked Documents Reveal








Did The Church Of Scotland Just Dodge A Climate Change Bullet?

In this newsletter:

1) Green Groups Secretly Invest In Fossil Fuels, Leaked Documents Reveal
InsideSources, 22 May 2018
 
2) 94% Of Shell Shareholders Reject CO2 Emissions Target Proposal
Reuters, 23 May 2018


 
3) Andrew Montford: Did The Church Of Scotland Just Dodge A Climate Change Bullet?
Think Scotland, 24 May 2018

4) Experts: Shale Revolution Has Improved U.S. Energy Security and is ‘Shifting the Geopolitical Balance’
Energy Indepth, 25 May 2018
 
5) False Alarm: Global Warming Will Increase, Not Decrease U.S. Crop Yields, New Study
Michigan State University, 16 May 2018
 
6) Environmentalist Sounds Alarm On Coming Wave Of Toxic Solar Panel Waste
The Daily Caller, 24 May 2018


Full details:

1) Green Groups Secretly Invest In Fossil Fuels, Leaked Documents Reveal
InsideSources, 22 May 2018

Divesting From Fossil Fuels Is Harder Than Green Groups, Liberal Cities Might Have Thought

Environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the American Museum of Natural History, and several left-leaning funds have investments in private equity firms specializing in oil and gas even as their public messaging hyped concerns about the role of fossil fuel use in climate change.

Over the last several years, divestment has become a more and more common goal for environmental protesters, who have tried to get cities, universities, and other groups to stop investing in fossil fuel production. What is more surprising is that nonprofits who loudly support these causes also invest in conventional energy, even as they encourage others to divest.
 
According to leaked documents, environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the American Museum of Natural History, and several left-leaning funds had investments in private equity firms specializing in oil and gas even as their public messaging hyped concerns about the role of fossil fuel use in climate change.

According to documents revealed in the Paradise Papers, a trove of 13 million documents detailing offshore investments, nonprofits including the American Museum of Natural History, the World Wildlife Fund, and the University of Washington invested in a fund known for its investments in oil, natural gas, and mining.

The papers show that the WWF invested $2 million with Denham Capital, an international private equity firm specializing in oil and gas investments. The WWF entered into an agreement with the firm in 2008 and which is not slated to expire until 2020. Getting out of the deal early would be difficult, say financial observers.

WWF was not the only environmental group to invest with Denham. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City committed $5 million to the fund even after putting on a series of exhibits highlighting the connection between fossil fuels and global warming.

The Museum has told reporters that it is working to both reduce its investments in fossil fuels and to consider opportunities for renewable energy investments. WWF says that it offset the proceeds of its fossil fuel investments through other financial instruments and that in the future, it will not invest in fossil fuels.

The University of Washington in Seattle also invested in the fund. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William Penn Foundation, both groups which awarded grants to environmental projects, did not invest with Denham specifically, but still had fossil fuel investments.

Because the investments were through a private equity firm, their existence was hidden prior to the release of the Paradise Papers. Tax forms filed by nonprofits do not require a detailed list of these types of investments. Without the leak, most of the investments would likely not have been uncovered.

The papers are another example of the difficulty of severing all ties to fossil fuels when putting together an investment portfolio. Despite widespread pushes for divestment on the part of green groups, large institutions like cities and universities have found it next to impossible to cut all ties.

Full post

see also GWPF coverage of the fossil fuel divestment debate

2) 94% Of Shell Shareholders Reject CO2 Emissions Target Proposal
Reuters, 23 May 2018

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell shareholders on Tuesday widely rejected a proposal by an environmental group calling for the oil company to set and publish annual targets to reduce carbon emissions.

The vote is a setback for climate activists who are increasing pressure on global oil companies, including U.S. firms Exxon Mobil and Chevron, to become more ambitious in helping combat climate change.

Around 94 percent of Shell shareholders who cast a vote decided against resolution 21, according to final results reported following the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in The Hague. Roughly 5 percent of voters abstained.

“The resolution is an unreasonable ask,” said Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden, promising to engage further with investors on how the oil company can become more transparent about its plans to tackle climate change.

Shell said binding emissions reduction targets would mean “tying its hands” and weakening the company because it would be forced to reduce production and sales.

Full story

3) Andrew Montford: Did The Church Of Scotland Just Dodge A Climate Change Bullet?
Think Scotland, 24 May 2018

YESTERDAY, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland debated a motion on the subject of climate change and, more specifically, how quickly to divest themselves of investments in fossil fuels. In the event, wisdom prevailed, the motion falling with only 24 per cent support, but it may be that the Assembly just dodged a bullet. 




 
The harms that the motion’s proposers were seeking to avert are hypothetical, and pencilled in for a timeslot that is far in the future – but lack of access to fossil fuels causes harms that are immediate, and very, very ugly.

Here at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, we have recently published a pair of briefing papers written by Dr Mikko Paunio, an eminent Finnish epidemiologist. Paunio’s powerfully worded case is that for millions of people around the world, getting their hands on fossil fuels is their only hope of escape from lives that are nasty, polluted, and short.

For instance, one of the biggest causes of premature death in the developing world is diarrhoea, and the best way to fix this is to improve domestic hygiene. For that, you need convenient and abundant water supplies, which in turn depend on the availability of a reliable electricity supply. For the time being, that almost certainly means fossil fuels.

In the same countries, untold millions of lives are also blighted by indoor air pollution, mostly caused by having to cook on open stoves fuelled by crude biofuels – wood or animal dung – or by coal. The resulting death toll runs into millions every year. A decision to divest would have hindered these poor people’s chance of following the well-trodden path to cleaner air: from biofuels, to coal, to kerosene, and ultimately to grid-based energy, either electricity or natural gas.

Of course, some will object to this analysis. The other day, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin wondered why people like me don’t support the expansion of solar power in Africa. However, once you have considered the cost and the lack of availability at night, the idea becomes a bit silly. And once you further consider the cost of adding battery storage, it borders on the ridiculous.

Similarly, the “what about modern cookstoves” objection that is often bandied about is given short shrift by Mikko Paunio. In the second of his papers, he notes that “No large-scale cookstove program to date has achieved reductions in [indoor air pollution] or provided any health benefits”.

There are no simple choices here, but only a trade-off, between, on the one hand, deaths that are happening here and now, can be quantified, and for which there is a well-understood path to prevention, and on the other, a vague idea of future trouble that emerges from a series of computer simulations of the climate of the distant future.

A decision to sacrifice all those millions who are suffering in the here and now, in order to avert some hypothetical harm a century hence would have been nothing short of inhuman.
 
Fortunately, sanity – or rather humanity – prevailed.

Andrew Montford is deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation 
 
Mikko Paunio’s briefing papers are entitled Sacrificing the Poor” and Kicking Away the Energy Ladder: How environmentalism destroys hope for the poor

4) Experts: Shale Revolution Has Improved U.S. Energy Security and is ‘Shifting the Geopolitical Balance’
Energy Indepth, 25 May 2018
Matt Mandel

Remarkable growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production over the past decade has bolstered domestic energy security and helped to strengthen American influence in the global market, a panel of energy experts testified at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing this week. 

Speaking to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, energy and policy analysts from Rice University, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brookings Institution and Gas Technology Institute, shared the sentiment that U.S. shale development has had a significant impact not only on the American economy, but U.S. diplomacy as well.

As shale development has become more prevalent over the past decade, through technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States has experienced a profound increase in oil and natural gas output. The United States is currently the world’s largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons – and has been for the past six years – as natural gas production has grown from 57.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day in 2008 to a projected 86.4 Bcf per day this year, a roughly 50 percent increase. More impressive still, crude oil production has grown from about five million barrels per day (bpd) in 2008 to 10.5 million bpd in April of this year – an over 100 percent increase.

Accompanying such massive energy production is greater flexibility and influence in the global energy market, as the United States is less dependent on foreign oil and gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), annual U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products declined over 66 percentfrom 2008 to 2017. This decline has had a substantial impact on the global oil market and geopolitics as a whole, as Kenneth Medlock, Senior Director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, stated in his testimony:

“Nevertheless, the growth in US oil production is transforming the status quo and shifting the geopolitical balance. This highlights the importance of the so-called ‘shale revolution’ in achieving US geopolitical and foreign policy aims.”

He continues:

“As the US increases its exports of crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas, its influence explants into those nations that increasingly rely on imports to satisfy their energy appetites associated with economic growth. In general, expanded US production US production renders global supply to be more responsive, and, as a result, carries an energy security benefit to consumers at home and abroad.”

Admittedly, the United States is not completely independent of foreign producers due to the level of domestic energy consumption, but increased output through shale development now gives the United State the ability to take on the role of global energy exporter.

Full post

5) False Alarm: Global Warming Will Increase, Not Decrease U.S. Crop Yields, New Study
Michigan State University, 16 May 2018

Contrary to previous analyses, new research published by Michigan State University shows that projected changes in temperature and humidity will not lead to greater water use in corn. This means that while changes in temperatures and humidity trend as they have in the past 50 years, crop yields can not only survive – but thrive.



Climate change and global warming put some forms of life at risk, but researchers found one instance that might not feel the heat – corn.

Contrary to previous analyses, research published by Michigan State University shows that projected changes in temperature and humidity will not lead to greater water use in corn. This means that while changes in temperatures and humidity trend as they have in the past 50 years, crop yields can not only survive – but thrive.

“There is a lot of optimism looking at the future for farmers, especially in the Midwest,” said Bruno Basso, lead author of the study and University Distinguished professor.
Basso and his colleague Joe Ritchie, co-author on the study, calculated how much energy crops receive from the sun and how it is converted to evaporative loss from the crop, known as evapotranspiration.

“Think of the energy balance like a bank account. There are additions and subtractions,” Basso said. “The energy coming from the sun is a known, measured quantity that adds to the bank account. The primary subtraction is liquid water from the crop, and soil using the solar energy to convert the water to vapor.”

The researchers used the energy balance to calculate the evaporative water loss for 2017, which set a world record yield of 542 bushels per acre. They found that the water loss was the same as it was for lower yielding crops because the energy balance was about the same.

The trend for the past 50 years of a slightly more humid environment decreases the energy for the crops’ water use.

“Our analysis, and that of other climate researchers, shows that the amount of water vapor in the air is gradually increasing in the summers because the daily low temperatures are getting gradually warmer, but the daily high temperatures are cooling – or staying the same – in many areas of the Midwest,” Basso said. “This causes more humidity and slightly decreases how much energy is used for evaporation.”

Basso also tested a water balance calculation on the crop models that, similar to the energy balance, has additions from rainfall and irrigation and subtractions from evaporation from the crop.

“A water balance is just like the bank account of an energy for crops,” Basso said. “There must be a balance to make crops ‘happy’ so that all the energy reaching the crop surface is evaporated.”

In the United States, as a result of improved hybrids and agronomic practices, corn production has steadily increased by an average of two bushels per acre every year for the past 40 years.

Basso explained that data from the National Corn Growers Association competition for high yields shows the potential for continued higher yields in the future. His findings support that climate change won’t hinder its production if the trend of the past 50 years continues into the next 50 years.

Full post 

6) Environmentalist Sounds Alarm On Coming Wave Of Toxic Solar Panel Waste
The Daily Caller, 24 May 2018
Jason Hopkins

A leading activist has raised concerns over the ecological impact of solar panels — a renewable energy technology widely considered to be harmless to the environment.

Michael Shellenberger — the president of Environmental Progress, a nonprofit organization working to promote clean energy — detailed the real life impacts of discarded solar installation. Solar technology typically contains cadmium, lead and other toxic chemicals that can’t be extracted without taking apart the whole panel, resulting in entire solar panels being considered hazardous, Shellenberger noted in a Wednesday Forbes article.

More specifically, these toxic chemicals become an environmental threat when solar panels reach their end-of-life stage and need to be disposed. Panels left in landfills may break apart and release toxic waste into the ground or even enter bodies of water. Solar panel disposal in “regular landfills [is] not recommended in case modules break and toxic materials leach into the soil,” Electric Power Research Institute determined in a 2016 study.

There is growing concern over the possibility of rainwater washing cadmium out of panels and into the environment. In Virginia, for example, a group of locals are pushing back against a proposal to construct a 6,350 acre solar farm in Spotsylvania County. (RELATED: Here’s How Renewable Energy Actually Hurts The Environment)

“We estimate there are 100,000 pounds of cadmium contained in the 1.8 million panels,” Sean Fogarty of Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake stated to Shellenberger. “Leaching from broken panels damaged during natural events — hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. — and at decommissioning is a big concern.”

Instances can occur where severe weather — such as a tornado in California and a hurricane through Puerto Rico — decimate solar panel farms, potentially leaking chemicals into the ground.

Virtually no one in media cares to discuss the solar industry’s negative effects on the environment, Shellenger also noted. “With few environmental journalists willing to report on much of anything other than the good news about renewables, it’s been left to environmental scientists and solar industry leaders to raise the alarm.”

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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