Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Cambridge university to dump fossil fuel investments by 2030

All this will do is hand a bargain to less loony share investors. It can't affect what the companies actually do. One wonders how the students behind this can be so brain-dead

It would make more sense to buy up shares in the company. By buying in you become part owners and therefore have some influence

Cambridge university’s £3.5bn endowment fund has pledged to divest from fossil fuels over the next decade, in a landmark decision that follows a lengthy campaign involving protests, hunger strikes and petitions by students worried about climate change.

The move marks a symbolic step for the UK’s second-oldest university, which, despite being a leader on science and engineering research related to climate change, has faced sustained criticism over its links to polluting companies.

Oil companies, including BP, ExxonMobil and Shell, have donated money to the university. The fund’s exposure to the energy sector, of which fossil fuel companies are a sub-set, stood at almost £100m at the end of last year. It would not reveal details of individual investments.

The fund, one of the largest of its kind in Europe, announced on Thursday it would reposition its investment portfolio to remove all direct and indirect investments in the fossil fuel industry by 2030 and aim for net zero greenhouse gas emissions from any company in which it invests by 2038.

Separately, the university said it would from now on vet all future research funding and donations, which totalled about £700m last year, to ensure that those giving money were aligned with the university’s objectives to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Stephen Toope, the university’s vice-chancellor, said the decisions reflected Cambridge’s desire to be “part of leading not following” in the move towards a zero carbon economy.

We know we have to get to net zero to avoid catastrophic climate change. We’re trying to align our investment strategy with the science

Universities around the world have come under pressure to divest from fossil fuels in recent years as concerns about climate change grow. According to campaign group People & Planet, £12.4bn of endowments across the UK higher education sector have dumped at least some fossil fuel stocks over the past few years.

Oxford university pledged earlier this year to sell out of fossil fuels across its £4.1bn fund. However, the university did not set a deadline. People & Planet currently ranks Oxford as having a partial commitment to divestment, having sold out of coal and tar sands but not other fossil fuels.

Tilly Franklin, the Cambridge fund’s chief investment officer, said it was incumbent on the university as a leader in scientific research to take action on climate change. “We know we have to get to net zero to avoid catastrophic climate change,” she said. “We’re trying to align our investment strategy with the science.”

She said the fund would measure emissions of every investment, from “food to transport to energy and manufacturing”.

Cambridge Zero Carbon, a group that campaigned for the endowment to dump oil and gas stocks, called the move “a historic victory”, despite coming “five years too late”.

The fraught divestment campaign at Cambridge, which has grown over the past decade, included students taking over buildings and disrupting the university’s annual rowing race with Oxford on the river Thames in London. Cambridge initially held its ground: in 2018 it ruled out divesting despite reviewing the matter at the behest of students.

But the appointment of Ms Franklin this year following an overhaul of the fund’s investment team in 2018 paved the way for changes. Further pressure was heaped on the fund in the form of a new university-commissioned report outlining the case for divestment “across moral, social, political, reputational, and financial dimensions”.

Study Confirms Trump Is Right – ‘Clean’ Energy Isn’t Clean Or Green

Renewable energy is cripplingly expensive, hopelessly unreliable, massacres wildlife, destroys landscapes, destabilizes the grid, harms indigenous peoples, and causes climate change.

But apart from that, it’s great, says a meticulous review published in the scientific journal Energies by a team of Irish and U.S.-based researchers.

Actually, the part about renewable energy being ‘great’ is a joke but the rest is true. The scholarly review – Energy and Climate Policy – An Evaluation of Climate Change Expenditure 2011-2018 – is probably the most thorough meta-analysis published on the so-called ‘clean energy’ sector.

Its conclusion, though neutrally expressed, could scarcely be more damning:

…The reader may wonder whether the current proposed “zero-carbon” energy transition policies based predominantly on wind- and solar-generated electricity are truly the panacea that promoters of these technologies indicate.

It will confirm all President Donald Trump’s worst suspicions about renewable ‘clean’ energy and about utopian projects like the Green New Deal.

But it will make grim reading for Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Greta Thunberg, Al Gore, the Prince of Wales, David Attenborough, the Pope, Leo Di Caprio and the rest of the rag bag of public figures who have sought to burnish their caring, eco-friendly credentials by championing ‘renewable energy’ as the best way to save the planet.

In fact, the review authors demonstrate, renewables – mainly wind and solar – do little if anything to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but are very good at wasting eye-watering sums of taxpayers’ money.

Concern for climate change is one of the drivers of new, transitional energy policies oriented towards economic growth and energy security, along with reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and preservation of biodiversity. Since 2010, the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) has been publishing annual Global Landscape of Climate Finance reports.

According to these reports, US$3660 billion has been spent on global climate change projects over the period 2011–2018. Fifty-five percent of this expenditure has gone to wind and solar energy. According to world energy reports, the contribution of wind and solar to world energy consumption has increased from 0.5% to 3% over this period. Meanwhile, coal, oil, and gas continue to supply 85% of the world’s energy consumption, with hydroelectricity and nuclear providing most of the remainder.

The report’s lead author Coilín ÓhAiseadha puts this expenditure in context:

“It cost the world $2 trillion to increase the share of energy generated by solar and wind from half a percent to three percent, and it took eight years to do it. What would it cost to increase that to 100%? And how long would it take?”

According to the review, wind and solar are bad for a number of reasons – not least among them being the harm they do to the environment.

One of the rationales used for wind power is that it reduces man-made climate change.

But, in fact, the study shows, it actually causes climate change at a local level, changing wind patterns, temperatures, precipitation, even causing flash flooding.

In particular, recent years’ research has produced considerable theoretical and empirical evidence that wind turbines can have significant local or regional effects on climate.

For example, Abbasi et al. (2016) explain that “large-scale wind farms with tall wind turbines can have an influence on the weather, possibly on climate, due to the combined effects of the wind velocity deficit they create, changes in the atmospheric turbulence pattern they cause, and landscape roughness they enhance”.

Green technologies are also incredibly resource-greedy. Part of the problem is their feeble ‘power density’ – which is the measurement of the amount of land required to produce a fixed amount of energy.

By far the most power-dense form of energy is natural gas, followed by nuclear, oil, and coal. Fossil fuels can produce large amounts of energy-requiring little land.

Renewables, by contrast, need huge amounts of land to produce relatively tiny quantities of energy. Fossil fuels produce on average about 1000 times more power for any given land surface area.

Renewables also require large quantities of minerals. Merely for the UK to fulfill Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s dream of making all cars in Britain electric by 2030 would, according to a group of experts led by Professor Richard Herrington, Head of Earth Sciences at the Natural History Museum in London, require:

“…just under two times the total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production during 2018 […] If we are to extrapolate this analysis to the currently projected estimate of 2 billion cars worldwide, based on 2018 figures, annual production would have to increase for neodymium and dysprosium by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand”

This expansion in mining is likely to have serious adverse social and environmental impacts in the often impoverished countries where the rare minerals are found.

As co-author Dr. Ronan Connolly says:

“The average household expects their fridges and freezers to run continuously and to be able to turn on and off the lights on demand. Wind and solar promoters need to start admitting that they are not capable of providing this type of continuous and on-demand electricity supply on a national scale that modern societies are used to.”

They also make poor people poorer by forcing them to use expensive ‘clean’ energy when fossil fuels would be much cheaper and more effective.

We suggest that even within developed nations, policies to reduce CO2 emissions similarly are often at odds with improving the livelihoods of the less affluent in society.

For example, one policy tool which is often promoted as being potentially useful for reducing CO2 emissions is the implementation of “carbon taxes”. Carbon taxes can take many forms, but typically penalize the use of forms of energy that are associated with relatively high CO2 emissions. Researchers studying the socioeconomic implications of various carbon taxes in multiple countries have found that carbon taxes “tend to be regressive”, i.e., the burden tends to be greatest on the poorest households.

The report drily concludes that whether the goal is protecting biodiversity, securing a stable and reliable electricity supply, increase economic growth, or reducing CO2 emissions, the answer in every case is NOT renewables.

According to Medium:

Cobalt mining, required to make batteries for e-vehicles, has severe impacts on the health of women and children in mining communities, where the mining is often done in unregulated, small-scale, “artisanal” mines. Lithium extraction, also required for manufacturing batteries for e-vehicles, requires large quantities of water, and can cause pollution and shortages of fresh water for local communities.

As lead author, Coilín ÓhAiseadha, points out:

“There was worldwide coverage of the conflict between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Dakota Access Pipeline, but what about the impacts of cobalt mining on indigenous peoples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and what about the impacts of lithium extraction on the peoples of the Atacama Desert? Remember the slogan they chanted at Standing Rock? Mni Wiconi! Water is life! Well, that applies whether you’re Standing Rock Sioux worried about an oil spill polluting the river, or you’re in the Atacama Desert worried about lithium mining polluting your groundwater.”

Even if they were as virtuous as their advocates claim, renewable technologies are hopelessly inadequate to the task of powering modern Western Civilisation.

New Study: E. Antarctica Was Up To 6°C Warmer 1,000 To 2,000 Years Ago

The good ol' Medieval warm period again. Greenies try to wriggle out of it by saying that the MWP was a purely North Atlantic phenomenon. It never was

And the report below confirms that. The Antarctic is as far as you can get from the North Atlantic. And note that it was a LOT warmer than today, despite the lack of SUVs and coal burning power stations back then

As recently as 2,000 to 1,000 years ago, spanning the Roman to Medieval Warm Periods, East Antarctica was 5-6°C warmer than it is today. The consequent ice melt resulted in >60 meters higher water levels in East Antarctica’s lakes.

East Antarctica has been rapidly COOLING in recent decades, with magnitudes reaching -0.7°C to -2.0°C per decade since the mid-1980s (Obryk et al., 2020).

A new study (Myers et al., 2020) reports that until about 15,000 years ago and throughout the Last Glacial Maximum, East Antarctica was 4-9°C colder than it is today.

Antarctica then abruptly warmed 15°C within centuries. From 12,000 to 6,000 years before the present, East Antarctica was about 5°C warmer than it is today.

And then as recently as 2,000 to 1,000 years ago, East Antarctica was so warm (~6°C warmer than present) that its lakes were filled with 60 to 80 meters more meltwater than exists in lake basins today.

“Resistivity data suggests that active permafrost formation has been ongoing since the onset of lake drainage, and that as recently as 1,000 – 1,500 yr BP, lake levels were over 60 m higher than present. This coincides with a warmer than modern paleoclimate throughout the Holocene inferred by the nearby Taylor Dome ice core record. … Stable isotope records from Taylor Dome (located roughly 100 km west of the MDVs) indicate mean annual air temperatures ca. 4-9 °C lower than modern during the LGM (Steig et al., 2000).”

“Between 12,000–6,000 yr BP, Taylor Dome ice core record indicates that regional temperatures were up to 5 °C warmer than modern conditions (Fig. 2) (Steig et al., 2000).”

“Permafrost age calculations indicate late Holocene lake level high-stands (up to ~81 masl, 63 m higher than modern Lake Fryxell) roughly 1.5 to 1 ka BP that would have filled both Lake Fryxell and Lake Hoare basins (Fig. 3b). … Taylor Dome ice core records show a highly variable Holocene, with short lived peaks up to + 6 °C above modern temperatures between 1-2 ka BP (Steig et al., 2000).”

“Lake levels were higher potentially during and after the LGM when an ice dam blocked the mouth of TV, allowing for lake levels to increase by over 280 m compared to modern level. Taylor Dome ice core records indicate an abrupt warming of >15 °C from 15 – 12 ka BP, (Steig et al., 2000), which may have coincided with the maximum lake level of GLW.”

“Short lived changes in temperature such as a 6 °C increase in the late Holocene could have resulted in anywhere between 60 to 80 m of lake level rise and subsequent drawdown.”

This substantial regional warmth can also be verified by the 1,000-year-old elephant seal remains that document a time when Antarctica was sea-ice-free 2,400 kilometers south of where sea-ice-free conditions occur today (Koch et al., 2019).

Elephant seals require sea-ice-free conditions to breed, and the same locations where they used to breed during the Medieval Warm Period are today buried in sea ice.

Australia: Greenies versus fishermen

The global conservation status of a NSW marine park is at risk after the Berejiklian government weakened its sanctuary status without consultation to allow recreational fishing, documents show.

Montague Island, located off the south coast, was among the first 25 sites to be granted so-called Green Listing by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Documents obtained under freedom of information show both National Parks and IUCN raised concerns about the impact of easing protection.

Fisheries minister Adam Marshall announced last December six marine park sanctuaries would be open to recreational fishing without consulting either the public or the Batemans Marine Park Advisory Committee, according to an email sent that month by Joanne Wilson, a senior parks policy officer.

"Opening up the sanctuary zones in the marine park to line fishing, netting, and taking bait will remove all areas of refuge and breeding for fish that then spill over to other areas, and cause a reduction in the health and resilience of the marine ecosystems around Montague Island," Dr Wilson wrote.

It was "a worrying sign" the decision Fisheries hadn't bothered to consult with the parks service before the decision and "there is a risk" it won't be asked about other key issues, she said.

The move had also come just days before the renomination of Montague Island's Green List status, and it placed "future renominations at risk", Dr Wilson's email, obtained by the Herald, said.

A separate document, dated Christmas Eve, from the IUCN's Green List Committee, congratulated Montague Island Nature Reserve for achieving its status but "expressed its concern about any relaxation" of protections.

It said the extraction of fish from the two reserves – covering roughly a third of the waters around the 81-hectare island – would affect availability of food for seabirds. The committee "reserves the right to review [the Green List status] should there be adverse implications for seabird viability", the letter said.

Minister Marshall defended the proposed changes to fishing access – that are still to formally gazetted – as an election promise taken by the Coalition to the 2019 election.

"Community members will be given another opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes over a minimum of two months through the established public consultation process," he said, adding both he and Environment Minister Matt Kean have to sign off on any temporary or longer change.

Mr Kean said the marine parks were popular tourist destinations, "home to important marine biodiversity and a treasured part of the local community”.

“I am aware of the strong views of stakeholders, including the IUCN, regarding the future of the sanctuary zones in the Bateman’s Bay Marine Park," he said. "For this reason I intend to visit the Marine Park and see for myself this unique and precious part of our state.”




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