By Sharon Kimathi, Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital
Environmentalists faced major blows this week. In a move mirroring a plot-line in HBO drama Succession, major oil and gas giant Shell is suing the environmental charity group Greenpeace; the world is set to double its oil production therefore making it unable to meet its 2030 net zero goals; and the European Union is watering down its combustion engine rules.
Recalling the events of satirical drama Succession, the character Greg Hirsch sued the charity after his grandfather left his entire fortune to Greenpeace and denied him a significant inheritance. Click here for a clip of the moment he informs some guests at a party of his intentions.
Moving from fictional satire to real-world proceedings, Shell’s lawsuit is related to an incident in January when Greenpeaceactivists boarded one of Shell’s oil production vessels near the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of northern Africa to protest oil drilling and traveled on it as far as Norway.
The oil conglomerate filed the claim in London’s High Court and is seeking $2.1 million in damages. In an email to Reuters, Shell confirmed legal proceedings were taking place when asked whether it was suing Greenpeace over the incident but declined to comment on the claim amounts.
Protests at sea against oil, gas or mining infrastructure have long been part of Greenpeace’s operations. The group said Shell offered to reduce its damage claim to $1.4 million if Greenpeace’s activists agreed not to protest again at any of Shell’s oil and gas infrastructure at sea or in port.
Greenpeace said it would only do so if Shell complied with a 2021 Dutch court order to cut its emissions by 45% by 2030, which Shell has appealed.
In keeping with the topic of oil and gas, global fossil fuel production in 2030 is set to be more than double the level deemed consistent with meeting climate goals set under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, according to researchers at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Plus, the new European Union pollution rules for combustion engine cars and trucks are set to be less ambitious than originally planned, after lawmakers voted to delay and weaken some of the regulations.
1. Shell sues Greenpeace for $2.1 million after activists boarded oil vessel
Shell is suing Greenpeace for $2.1 million in damages after the environmental group’s activists boarded the company’s oil production vessel in transit at sea this year, according to Greenpeace and a document seen by Reuters. Click here for the story by Reuters energy journalist Shadia Nasralla.
The moment Greenpeace activists boarded a Shell oil production vessel in the Atlantic Ocean. Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters
2. Global fossil fuel production plans far exceed climate targets
The UNEP report assessed the gap in fossil fuel production cuts and what’s needed to meet climate goals. It showed that under current projections, oil production will equate to 218 exajoules per year (EJ/y) by 2030, rising to 221 EJ/y by 2050, equivalent to around 114 million barrels of oil a day (bpd) and 116 million bpd respectively.
To remain in line with the 1.5C target, the production would need to be 168 EJ/y or 88 million bpd in 2030 and 61 EJ/y or 32 million bpd by 2050, the report showed.
3. EU set to weaken new car, truck pollution rules
European Parliament lawmakers voted to dilute the proposed “Euro 7” law, but it kept the proposal for limits on pollution from cars, including nitrous oxides (NOx). However, they weakened NOx limits for trucks, and delayed when the rules will apply – for cars, to three years after all secondary legislation associated with the proposal is passed.
Alexandr Vondra, EU Parliament’s lead lawmaker on the rules and a member of the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists group, said the decision was good for motorists and a “major defeat” for Green and Socialist lawmakers who had sought stricter rules.
4. Exclusive: South Africa to miss 2030 emissions goal as it keeps coal plants burning
South Africa will miss its binding 2030 carbon emissions targets under the Paris climate agreement, three senior government officials confirmed, as the country plans to run eight coal-fired power plants for longer than planned.
5. US, China reach ‘understandings’ on climate ahead of COP28 talks
The United States and China have reached “understandings and agreements” on climate issues that will help ensure progress is made at the COP28 talks starting late this month in Dubai, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said. Kerry met with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua at Sunnylands, California, this week for four days of talks he described as tough and serious.
The steelworks at Port Talbot in south Wales are Britain’s biggest carbon emitter – part of a highly polluting global industry. The site’s owners, Tata Steel, now plan to replace the blast furnaces with electric ones, saying it is possible to produce zero-carbon steel. Click here or on the image for more.
Ethical Corporation contributor Mike Scott, won the ‘Freelancer of the Year’ award at the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards this week. Click here to read the article on buildings as high carbon emitters that he submitted for the win.
Will France stick to clean energy or boost generation from fossil fuels this winter? Click here for an analysis about it by Reuters Global Energy Transition Columnist Gavin Maguire.
Ethical Corporation Magazine contributor Sandy Ong shares her thoughts on Singapore’s plan to become Asia’s carbon hub.
Breakingviews: Insurers used to get heat for underwriting fossil fuels. Membership of bodies like the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) was supposed to mean financial groups would cease supporting oil, gas and coal, speeding the pace of decarbonisation.
A new study by Insure Our Future, a network of climate activists, suggests things now look a bit different. Click here for the opinion piece about insurers’ ties to fossil fuel firms by Breakingviews columnist Pamela Barbaglia.
Number of the Week
More than 60 countries have said they back a deal spearheaded by the European Union, United States and United Arab Emirates to triple renewable energy this decade and shift away from coal, two officials familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Some major emerging economies like Nigeria, South Africa and Vietnam, developed countries like Australia, Japan and Canada, and others including Peru, Chile, Zambia and Barbados have said they will join the pledge, the officials told Reuters.
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