In 2021, a court in the Netherlands, where Shell was long been headquartered, ordered this leading historical global polluter to drastically change tactics and begin reducing emissions, immediately. Since then, Shell has moved their HQ to the UK and is enjoying record profits while announcing plans to reduce investments in renewables. Undaunted, Civil Society continues taking aggressive action. In February 2023, Global Witness lodged a greenwashing complaint against Shell to U.S. authorities, a tactic also used by NGO ClientEarth. Recently an advertising board in the UK ordered Shell ads off the airwaves for making false environmental claims. How can legal action force Shell to actually change course? In this edition of the Shell Games series (read part 1 and part 3), lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews a few of the mounting legal challenges being brought against this oil and gas behemoth. Read More
The third largest oil and fossil gas producer behind ExxonMobil and Chevron, as late as 2021 Shell and its customers released almost 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—more than the emissions of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine proved a boon to Shell: on the back of record energy prices, the company reported profits of $39.9bn for 2022, the highest in its 115-year history. But despite heat-trapping emissions skyrocketing along with global thermostats, during their annual earnings call, CEO Wael Sawan announced plans to cut spending on its renewables unit given their thinner profit margins. This comes after a cache of documents published earlier this year prove Shell knew far more about the “greenhouse effect” and the existential threats posed by the burning of fossil fuels than previously revealed — potentially bolstering legal efforts to hold Big Oil accountable for the worsening global climate emergency. In the first of a multi-part series (read part 2 and part 3), lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews new revelations around what Shell knew, when it knew it and how it publicly denied its own terrifying data.
There has been no shortage of news about Mohamad Bin Salman, more commonly known as MBS, the 35-year crown prince of Saudi Arabia. A controversial figure, he has been hailed as a reformer, but also criticized for corruption and human rights abuses. He came to power at a time when Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical prowess as an energy giant may be threatened by the energy transition. This year, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a massive diplomatic effort to set itself up for success in a world inching towards clean energy, but still grappling with energy security, independence and resilience issues brought on by recent conflicts like the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Among many of the many topics on MBS’s desk are: how will Saudi Arabia fare in a post-oil world? MBS’s diplomatic moves of the past few months may signal the future direction of MBS’s energy diplomacy. Joelle Thomas reports.
In Southern Africa the population is growing at a much faster pace than the rate at which the region is developing. This is putting pressure on resources, in particular, on energy provision. Less than half the region’s population is connected to grid electricity, meaning many rely on wood fuel despite its dire impacts on the environment. Countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa face a serious power crisis in recent months and need to rethink their energy production systems. Can a collaborative energy transition save Southern Africa from its crises and secure a cleaner future? Kennedy Nyavaya has the story.
In 2022, there are wins to be celebrated for climate policy. The recent US legislation is the first time in 40 years that the government has managed to pass any meaningful climate policy. The invasion of Ukraine has shaken Europe to accelerate the move away from Russian oil and gas. However, it is hard to celebrate wins for the climate without addressing the elephant in the room – the thriving and ever-profiting oil and gas sector. While recent geopolitical events did indeed infuse the energy transition with, (no pun intended), some much needed energy, Joelle Thomas would argue that the biggest winners of the past year’s events have been oil and gas companies. What does this mean for the energy transition?
Methane emissions from oil and fossil gas facilities are skyrocketing, potentially accelerating the severity of climate change. Nowhere is the problem worse than in the United State’s Permian Basin, the biggest oil and gas field in the now world-leading petro-carbon producing nation. Stretching from Texas into New Mexico, satellites are detecting worsening levels of methane pollution. This comes as no surprise to “Texas” Sharon, one of the world’s first methane hunters. Recording thousands of leaks with a specially designed camera, she shares her observations with lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum.
More than a decade has passed since human rights attorney Steven Donziger helped win an unprecedented $9.5 billion judgment on behalf of 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians against the oil giant Chevron that demonstrated how the company had dumped billions of gallons of oil waste into the Amazon’s forests and streams. But in 2016, a New York judge invalidated the verdict, claiming “shocking levels of misconduct” by Donziger and the Ecuadorian judiciary. The judge then granted Chevron the right to seize Donziger’s laptop, phone and passwords. When he appealed, he was hit with contempt charges and placed under house arrest. After two years of confinement, this summer another judge found Donziger guilty of contempt. Now in jail and largely ignored by the mainstream media, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum summarizes Donziger’s story while providing links to where readers can learn more about Chevron’s shocking abuse of judicial power.
Environmental disasters and global warming severely threaten global biodiversity. Few wild places can boast diverse ecosystems that are largely intact. One such area – Kavango Zambezi Transfontier Conservation Area (KAZA) – is being threatened by plans by the oil and gas industry. Andy Gheorghiu reports on the fight to prevent oil and gas extraction in Southern Africa that is threatening our planet’s largest nature protection zone.
Climate change and international decarbonisation efforts led Ecuador to expand its renewable energy capacities. Given its significant potential for renewable energies, why is the nation unable to shake off its dependency on oil and move to a clean energy mix? Kathrin Meyer explores the factors at play in the South American country.
The window of opportunity to keep the average global temperature from breaking through the ceiling of 2°C — or preferably 1.5°C — as set out in the UN’s Paris Agreement is closing fast. But for parts of the Kalahari, a vast semi-desert in southern Africa, the battle to stabilise the regional temperature is already lost. Botswana is expected to reach an average warming of 2°C in less than five years. At a time when the science warns that countries need to keep their fossil fuels in the ground, conservationists here have expressed alarm at the news that oil and gas prospecting licenses have been issued for large parts of Botswana and Namibia, including in the ecologically and water-sensitive Okavango Delta and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Leonie Joubert reports