As organisations across Europe and the United States prepare to propose climate resolutions at Exxon Mobil’s and Chevron’s AGMs later this week, other oil and gas giants are coming under increasing pressure to toe the climate change line too. Shareholders are urging companies to stress test their businesses against a below 2˚C target, in line with the Paris Agreement, to put a stop to irrevocable climate change destruction.
Institutions managing some $8 trillion in assets are supporting climate-risk disclosure resolutions to be put before ExxonMobil’s and Chevron’s AGMs on Wednesday 25 May. The resolutions ask both Exxon and Chevron to explain how resilient their portfolios and strategy would be if policy measures to restrict warming to 2˚C, as agreed in Paris in 2015, were successfully enforced.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that Exxon must include the resolution at its AGM despite the firm arguing it already provides adequate carbon disclosures.
James Leaton, Director of Research at Carbon Tracker, said: “Two degree scenarios need to become the new default setting for how companies report on their future business strategy – it’s not clear what the oil majors are so afraid of that they resist focusing on a smaller higher margin business.”
Earlier this month, an unexpectedly high 49 per cent of shareholders backed a resolution urging Occidental Petroleum to stress test its business against the global target. Meanwhile, 1,000 academics from some of the world’s top universities – including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and Harvard – have publicly backed both resolutions. A report published in March by Carbon Tracker found that while Chevron’s climate disclosures generally lagged its peers it was representative of thinking right across the fossil fuel sector.
Royal Dutch Shell and French company Total, who additionally have AGMs next Tuesday, have generally been more responsive to shareholder and public pressure to take steps to align their businesses than their US counterparts.
A few days after Total announced it would boost its solar presence with the billion dollar acquisition of a French battery maker, Shell for the first time published a below 2˚C scenario. It was quickly followed by the publication of its Energy Transition and Portfolio Resilience paper.
The beginning of the document includes this disclaimer: “We believe our portfolio is resilient under a wide range of outlooks, including the IEA’s 450 scenario [compatible with avoiding 2˚C of warming]…[However,] we have no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio over our investment horizon of 10–20 years.”
An analysis by Carbon Tracker on Shell’s latest offerings here: Shell climate disclosures: Déjà vu? shows its continued intransigence to be at best disappointing and at worst stonewalling. Shell has previously dismissed those, such as Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who have warned that fossil fuel assets could become stranded and worthless in the face of climate action.
Leaton added: “Shell has known about the carbon bubble for nearly 20 years, and used to be more transparent about the impact of its products. The company has all the information it needs to adopt a different course, if its management can get beyond its growth at all costs culture.”
Earlier this month the think-tank published a report that found the world’s oil and gas majors will be worth significantly more by aligning their investment plans with a 2˚C global climate target than pursuing business as usual.
The analysis found, somewhat surprisingly, that only proceeding with lower cost, less carbon-intensive projects needed to satisfy demand in a carbon-constrained world will add over $100 billion to the value of the world’s seven oil majors, unless oil prices spike beyond $100 a barrel for a sustained period of time – well over OPEC’s long-term average assumption of around $80 a barrel. The study is believed to be the first independent stress test to be published to date.
Global management consulting company, Accenture, in a report this week on how the energy industry needs to transform to survive, cited the “carbon bubble” – first coined by Carbon Tracker five years ago – as a real risk. The report says: “Our assessment of post-COP21 climate-related constraints on E&P companies’ valuation and business suggests it is certainly something oil and gas companies must be concerned about.”
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long will my retirement savings last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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