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BP refuses to disclose risks of deepwater gamble in the Great Australian Bight

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BP’s refusal to disclose details of its plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight (GAB) from October 2016 has come under fire from investor groups and conservationists ahead of the company’s AGM that was held on 14 April.

The GAB is an area of exceptional marine significance on the coastline of South and Western Australia, which hosts a wide range of threatened and endangered species. Scientific studies suggest that 85% of its host species are unique to the GAB.

BP has failed to disclose its Environmental Plan for the project, which was rejected by Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). The reasons for its rejection have also not been disclosed. The company has also not disclosed the exact locations to be used, or the timeline for drilling. Both factors could have a significant effect on the risk and impact of an oil spill.

BP’s failure to provide this information to its shareholders and the wider public has led investor group ShareAction to express concern that this project represents a high risk, high cost gamble which BP is not in a position to take.

The lack of transparency is one of numerous financial risks associated with the project which are outlined in a briefing produced by ShareAction and The Wilderness Society. The briefing points out the high associated infrastructure costs of the project, which have led to an estimated average break-even barrel price of $104. BP has stated publicly its objective for projects to break even at $60 per barrel.

The briefing also questions the viability of the project in light of the COP 21 agreement to limit rises in global temperatures to ‘well below 2°C, with an ambition for 1.5’, and the increase in regulation likely to accompany this. BP’s reporting against the shareholder resolution on climate risk, passed last year, is weak. The company has not disclosed a business plan for a transition to 2°C, and continues to forecast demand scenarios of 4-6°C. The 9bn barrels of oil estimated in the Bight, if burnt, would produce almost eight times Australia’s annual GHG emissions. This will raise questions among investors about BP’s commitment to meaningful action on aligning its business strategy with a 2°C scenario.

The proposed 20% increase in BP CEO Bob Dudley’s pay this year continues to suggest that executive incentives are aligned with the pursuit of high-risk, high-cost exploration projects such as the Bight.

This month marks the six year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – the largest in US history, which cost BP $53bn. Parallels between the 2010 spill and the proposed GAB project are significant. The Bight is another exploratory deepwater project – meaning drilling conditions and extraction are challenging and risky. Like the Gulf of Mexico, the Bight is economically reliant on tourism and ocean industries. An oil spill would be extremely costly to the company. But BP’s refusal to disclose its Environmental Plan which is expected to cover such scenarios, makes it impossible for investors to assess BP’s ability to deal with another spill.

Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction said: “By pressing ahead with exploration in the Great Australian Bight, the company appears tone deaf to the shift in investor sentiment on climate risk following the Paris agreement. Investors in BP overwhelmingly voted last year in favour of smarter environmental risk management within its corporate strategy. These plans to drill for oil in the Bight raise a big red flag for investors who are already demanding answers about how BP can justify the project.”

Juliet Phillips, Campaigns Officer at ShareAction said: “BP’s decision to go ahead with this controversial high-cost, high-risk deepwater drilling in the Great Australian Bight must be challenged by investors. By refusing to disclose highly relevant information about the risks associated with Bight project, the company is failing in its responsibility to its shareholders. BP simply can’t afford the prospect of a Macondo-like oil spill in an area of such marine significance.”

Professor Robert Bea, University of California-Berkeley professor and consultant to the White House commission that investigated the Deepwater Horizon explosion said: “The available documents do not provide sufficient information to determine if BP has properly assessed the risks with particular attention to the Loss of Well Control hazard and provided safeguards that assure that the risks have and will be managed to be ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Practicable). The requirements are clear. It is up to BP to prove, using validated risk and assessment management processes… that the proposed exploitation of the GAB public resources meet these risk requirements.”

Lyndon Schneiders, Director of Campaigns at The Wilderness Society said: “BP has no right to risk the Great Australian Bight. It is an environmentally pristine area, a haven to a plethora of rare species, and given its remote location and dangerous weather patterns, is an extremely risky location for deep-water oil drilling. The project is facing investigation by the Australian Senate, but the company has disclosed neither its Environmental Plan nor the reasons for its rejection by the authorities. Investors in BP should be aware of the significant international opposition to this proposal, as well as the multiple financial risks.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

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 your retirement savings will 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!

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