Connect with us


Shareholders Press Industry Giants to Support Climate Change



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.”


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

Continue Reading


7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

Continue Reading