More than 100 US, EU politicians want oil CEO removed as COP28 … – Carbon Brief

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More than 100 US and EU lawmakers have called for the leaders of their countries and the UN to help oust oil executive Sultan Al Jaber from his position as president of this year’s COP28 climate summit, Bloomberg reports. The 99 EU and 34 US politicians write in a letter to US president Joe Biden, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and UN climate chief Simon Stiell that they also want “further steps taken to limit the influence of fossil-fuel companies” at the talks to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the piece continues. The Washington Post calls the move a “remarkable rebuke”, noting that “climate and human rights activists say the integrity of the climate gatherings are at stake”. Al Jaber runs the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, but the COP28 leadership argues that he is “uniquely qualified” to lead and notes that he also serves as chairman of renewable energy company Masdar. Politico notes that EU and US leaders have “so far defended Al Jaber’s appointment”.
Meanwhile, Masdar’s chief executive Mohamed Al Ramahi has taken aim at other nations, including the UK, in an interview with the Financial Times. He says slow grid connections and delays over the issuing of permits risk holding back renewable energy development “in the UK and elsewhere”. The article notes that Masdar “has developed a global portfolio of projects such as wind, solar and energy from waste plants, in areas including the US, Egypt and Australia”.
The UK’s push to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 has the potential to deliver a net employment increase of between 135,000 and 725,000 jobs, according to a new report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) covered by BusinessGreen. The article notes that the government advisers say one-fifth of the UK workforce – around 6.3 million workers – would experience significant changes to their roles as a result of the transition. Within this group, it adds that around two-thirds of these roles are in sectors that are set to grow over the next decade, such as green home retrofitting, renewable energy and electric vehicle battery manufacturing. “But the CCC stressed the government had so far been ‘slow to respond’ to growing competition for green investment, as evidenced by the US’ Inflation Reduction Act and the EU’s proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan”, it states. Edie explains that a relatively small number of workers – less than 1% of the UK total – are in “high-emitting sectors that are likely to phase down over the transition”, such as the oil-and-gas industry. While the CCC emphasises the need for support to these workers and the overall increase in jobs, investment columnist Nathalie Thomas writes in the Financial Times that “oil-and-gas workers do not share this optimism”. She continues: “In areas such as the north-east of Scotland, communities that depend on North Sea oil and gas for income and jobs worry they will go the same way as the former coal towns.” In an “exclusive” story, Scotland’s Herald reports that union leaders have warned that the UK and Scottish governments must “get to grips with their responsibilities” and bring forward policies to support a “just transition” for energy workers in the UK.  It says this comes after the CCC warned that a “hands-off approach” to shifting workers into the renewables sector will not be good enough. Meanwhile, DeSmog reports that an oil-and-gas company run by a leading Conservative Party donor has been awarded licences to explore carbon dioxide (CO2) storage in the North Sea.
Amid these visions of the UK workforce’s net-zero future, various articles in the UK hint at future trends in the nation’s low-carbon jobs market. According to the Financial Times, the UK is “set to lose a high-profile solar power investment” after developer Oxford PV said it was the “least attractive” market in which to locate its new factory, likely opting instead for New York or Hong Kong. The Times reports that UK energy company Drax plans to invest $4bn in two new bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) plants in the US, in order to take advantage of tax breaks under the Inflation Reduction Act. And Reuters reports that the chief executives of car company Volvo and energy firm Vattenfall have warned that the EU risks being left behind in clean energy innovation, also citing the measures brought in by the US.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that Twitter and Tesla boss Elon Musk has told attendees at an event that he will “strongly consider” England as a location for an electric-car battery gigafactory. The Times notes that Musk also said “we are not currently looking at new locations”. 
The Energy Mix reports that a survey of nearly 23,000 people belonging to Gen Z and millennials across 44 countries found that 40% of workers indicated “they have already changed or plan to change jobs due to employers’ environmental impacts or policies”.
France has banned domestic flights for journeys that can be undertaken in less than two-and-a-half hours by train, Le Monde reports. The change will “mostly” exclude air travel between Paris and “regional hubs such as Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux”, with connecting flights unaffected. The article adds that “critics have noted that the cutoff point is shy of the roughly three hours it takes to travel from Paris to the Mediterranean port city Marseille by high-speed rail”. Quartz reports that French lawmakers voted to pass the legislation in a climate law back in 2021, but it required EU approval before it could go into effect. The website notes that the European Commission narrowed the scope of the law so it only applied when “there are several daily rail options for would-be passengers”. It adds that this narrowed the scope from a ban on eight routes in the original French law to just three in the updated one. BBC News explains that the original proposal from France’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate had involved scrapping plane journeys where train journeys of under four hours existed. Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph says a report produced for the French prime minister Elisabeth Borne suggests France should impose a €150bn (£130bn) “green wealth tax” on the country’s richest 10% to help the nation meet its climate targets by 2050. The newspaper says finance minister Bruno Le Maire has “poured cold water on the proposals”, but Borne has yet to comment.
In more aviation news, Guardian reports that dozens of climate activists have disrupted Europe’s largest private jet trade fair, the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE), by chaining themselves to aircraft “to protest against the sector’s carbon emissions”. Meanwhile, the Financial Times quotes Patrick Hansen, chief executive of Luxembourg-based Luxaviation, downplaying the emissions from private jets by comparing them to those produced by cats and dogs. According to Reuters, the head of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, has “voiced scepticism” over an aviation industry target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, “citing inadequate supplies of sustainable aviation fuel and alternative hydrogen designs in their infancy”.
Cao Renxian, chairman of the China photovoltaic (PV) industry association, says that China’s cumulative installed capacity of PVs is expected to surpass hydropower by the end of 2023 and become the primary non-fossil energy source for electricity generation, the Shanghai Securities News reports. He adds that in the first quarter of 2023, the country achieved a newly installed capacity of 33 gigawatts (GW), which is equivalent to the total newly installed capacity in the first half of 2022, the article notes. 
Meanwhile, Nikkei Asia says that with China, a major consumer of “natural gas”, shifting its purchasing patterns, the benchmark prices for “natural gas” in Asia have declined to “levels last seen before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”. It adds that, in 2022, China decreased its liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from Australia by 30% while increasing its gas (both LNG and pipeline gas) imports from Russia by over 40%. Another shift, the outlet highlights, is Beijing’s return to coal. Bloomberg says that Chinese buyers are increasingly purchasing Australian “high-quality” coal since the ban on imports of Australian coal ended at the start of 2023. 
Separately, China Energy News focuses on the “digital China development report” published on Tuesday by the Chinese internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China. The report says that the role of digitalisation is “increasingly prominent” in supporting industrial energy conservation, emission reduction and carbon reduction. Another article by the newspaper reports that a 1.75GW wind power project, China’s largest onshore wind power project in terms of individual capacity, has completed the installation of its first unit in Gansu province in northwest China. The Global Times reports that a group of 170 Chinese scientists have started a scientific expedition to Mount Qomolangma (also known as Mount Everest). The state-run newspaper adds that the ongoing expedition is of “significant importance” in studying the impact of climate and environmental change in the region and on other parts of the world. Separately, the ongoing Greater Bay Area Science Forum in Guangzhou is focusing on “how science and technological innovation can help to reduce carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality”, reports the CGTN, a Chinese state media.
In other news, the Financial Times Chinese carries an article by Xia Yiwen and Li Jiacheng from Greenpeace. They write: “The frequent occurrence of extreme weather caused by climate change not only brings safety hazards to the express delivery industry in China but also hinders operational efficiency.” The Shanghai-based English outlet Sixth Tone has published an article by Sheng Chunhong, a researcher of public affairs at Shanghai International Studies University. She writes: “[Chinese] private firms hold the key to China’s energy revolution. China should make it less costly for them to succeed by allowing them to take part in national initiatives in wind and solar, energy storage, and green hydrogen.” 
Finally, the Global Times notes that the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Monday: “If G7 countries really cared about developing countries, they should honour their existing commitments including spending 0.7% of their gross national income on official development assistance and providing $100bn per year to help poorer countries cope with climate change as fast as possible.”
Climate protesters disrupted Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in London, shouting “shut down Shell” and running to the front of the room where executives were sitting on stage, BBC News reports. A group of “activist shareholders” were allowed in the room because they have bought shares in the company to put pressure on its management, the article explains. While Shell trumpeted its “net-zero emissions by 2050″ target, campaign groups “are looking to ramp up the pressure on Shell and other energy companies to bring forward those targets to absolute carbon emissions cuts by 2030 and focus more resources on renewables”, the article continues. These campaigners sparked a “revolt” as 20% of shareholders voted against Shell’s transition strategy and its progress in the past 12 months, the Financial Times reports. It adds that this is roughly the same proportion as last year. The Independent reports that after an hour of disruptions, “security staff linked hands to shield chairman Sir Andrew Mackenzie and chief executive Wael Sawan as a handful of activists made for the top table”. The Times says “a fifth of investors in Shell have rebelled against its climate plans at an annual meeting”.
The Financial Times reports that mining company Glencore is “braced for a heated debate” over its “highly profitable” coal business when it meets shareholders this week amid growing pressure to tackle climate change. A growing number of shareholders support a resolution asking the company to explain how its thermal coal production is compatible with its climate goals, the newspaper explains. Elsewhere, hundreds of students and recent graduates of top UK universities are pledging a “career boycott” of major insurers if they support controversial fossil fuel projects, the Guardian reports.
Separately, the Independent reports that Just Stop Oil protesters have been attacked as they undertook marches on three bridges in central London. An editorial in the Sun voices its anger at the police officers who took action against the people assaulting protesters, with a headline stating: “Never has it been more disgustingly clear whose side police are on between Just Stop Oil and the public.”
The chief executive of the biggest carbon credit certifier, Verra, has announced plans to resign “amid concerns” that the company “approved tens of millions of worthless offsets that are used by major companies for climate and biodiversity commitments”, the Guardian reports. The newspaper cites its own investigation into this topic, adding that Verra’s David Antonioli “did not give a reason for his departure”. Climate Home News says that, under his tenure, the company has been repeatedly accused of approving offsets that could harm climate commitments, even as Verra underwent “tremendous growth”. As an example, the news website points to its investigation last March that found dozens of Chinese rice cultivation projects on the Verra registry “were riddled with accounting loopholes and questionable integrity claims”. BusinessGreen notes that following reports by the Guardian and others, Verra has already announced plans to phaseout and replace its rainforest offsets programme by mid-2025, having consulted on rule changes since 2021.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Zimbabwe’s government has announced it wants all carbon offset projects to be registered with authorities within the next two months, as currently projects are largely unregulated. The report notes that the government plans to take “50% of all revenue from carbon projects, with foreign investors limited to 30% and the balance of 20% going to local communities”.
Finally, another Reuters piece covers a new World Bank report on carbon pricing that concludes countries raised “a record $95bn last year by charging firms for emitting carbon dioxide (CO2)”. However, it notes that “prices are still too low to drive changes needed to meet Paris climate accord targets”.
A deal that has been agreed to cut water use in California, Arizona and Nevada, in a bid to preserve the Colorado River, is described as “more of a temporary reprieve than a solution to plummeting water supplies” by an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. It notes that the deal will only tide over “thirsty residents and farmers” until the end of 2026. It urges the need for more projects to replace diminishing water supplies from the river. “We’ll need even more locally generated supplies and water-saving measures to meet the needs of a state with an increasingly arid climate”, the editorial states. The article explains that as California takes the most Colorado River water by far, cuts will also be the largest and most deeply felt. “The West lives amid two competing and contradictory narratives. We are the home of the pioneering, can-do spirit, where initiative and engineering can outthink Mother Nature and turn deserts into sparkling cities and emerald fields of kale and romaine (and almonds and pistachios). Or we’re thirsty fools who built our lives and fortunes on an evaporating resource”, the editorial says.
An article in African Arguments by geographer Laurie Parsons is titled: “Remember amid the headlines: there’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster.” Following major floods that struck the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the article argues that poorer countries are only more vulnerable to climate impacts because of their economic vulnerability. “The truth is that climate change is not causing more natural disasters, because disasters are not natural in the first place. Natural hazards like storms, floods, and droughts do not necessarily lead to devastation and death. They do so, and become disasters, when they meet vulnerability and economic inequality”, he writes.
Benjamin Sanderson, research director of the climate mitigation group at the CICERO Centre for International Climate Research in Norway, writes that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should set an example by establishing its own emissions-cutting plan. “The IPCC should aggressively limit its own emissions instead of requiring in-person sessions and the attendant long-haul flights. Although meetings contribute only a tiny fraction of total global emissions, improving accountability would have an outsized impact on the IPCC’s effectiveness, and would be a case study for robust, internationally coordinated mitigation”, he writes. Sanderson points to the weaponisation of researchers’ emissions by conservative politicians, who use them to “justify lack of urgency or to validate their view that institutional decarbonisation is impossible”. He concludes: “Although it might make climate scientists uncomfortable, what the IPCC does about its own carbon emissions might be as crucial to its effectiveness as advancing cogent and robust science.”
Heatwaves in the East Asian marginal seas have become four days longer and 0.3C warmer per decade over the past 40 years, according to new research. The authors present long-term trends of marine heatwave duration, intensity and frequency in the northern East Sea, southern East Sea, Yellow Sea, Korea Strait and East China Sea over 1982-2020. They find the most “dramatic” increase in marine heatwave duration in the northern East Sea in winter. The paper adds that “northward ocean current variance is a significant factor in the excessive increase of marine heatwave duration, in addition to the changing mean sea surface temperature”.
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