Recently, I wrote at LobbyWatch about how the gargantuan global oil and gas company Shell has been pivoting into an exhausting new way of defending its fossil fuel business. This, I described, is the Shell game — a pea and thimble trick to distract us.
The heart of the problem: Shell is very, very good at creating what looks like a climate plan, but is instead an extremely mild shuffling of numbers underneath the hood. They have created the Hummer of greenwashing — a multi-purpose, all-terrain, climate-killing juggernaut decked to the gills with every single trick in the book.
At AGL Energy’s big ‘Investor Day’ event, the company announced a long-expected plan to deal with rising scrutiny of their extremely high emissions -splitting the company out into two halves and not changing emissions at all. The first, a retailer named ‘New AGL’, and the second, a generation company burdened with the country’s worst, most polluting coal-fired power stations.
It was a confirmation of what many had feared — AGL Energy is dropping the ball and opting out of climate action. Clever corporate structuring won’t change the significant emissions impact of the company.
There are a lot of empty maxims in the communications and climate advocacy space, but the truly solid one is that repetition is key.
So, let’s say it again: the engine of climate change is the rapid accumulation of greenhouse gases inside the finite bucket that is the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The only way out: putting a hard stop to our species leaking this substance into the skies, and eventually, figure out how to undo the damage already done.
My previous post, about Shell’s climate plans, dug into how what seems to us like strong climate ambition can actually…
In part 1 of this piece, I explored how the American oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil has, after decades of outright hostility, begrudgingly started clenching their teeth and pretending to care about climate.
Much of that is being realised by focusing solely on the process of producing their products, oil and gas. But the vast majority of the impact of their emissions comes from the use of their products — when they’re burned as part of their normal use. This isn’t an accident or a design flaw. It is the inalterable chemistry of their business model.
The act of…
The phrase ‘shell game’ originates from a dazzling trick involving walnut shells and a pea. You put a pea under one of three, whizz them around, and then ask your watcher to nominate the shell with the pea under it. Of course, you’ve done some sleight of hand to misdirect your mark — they think they’re looking in the right spot, but they never win the game. The mark always loses.
When it comes to protecting the Earth from the impacts of fossil fuels, we’re still struggling to see past the ruse. It’s understandable: there hasn’t been a climate change…
You’ll have noticed a theme in the work of ACCR, and that of LobbyWatch’s posts: climate delay. That’s when a company begrudgingly accepts the need for climate action, then calmly sets about making that action as hard, slow and complex as possible.
A key part of this process is creating climate plans and policies that sound vaguely like they’re doing the right thing, but are either causing stagnation, or even a worsening of pre-existing climate harm.
I explored this in detail, in a recent post on the companies that are ‘running hard in the wrong direction’. In that piece, I…
A helpful exercise for staying lucid while working constantly with climate and energy is trying to imagine how precisely the same problem you’re working on would be treated if it were in any other profession.
Here’s an example. Companies extract and sell fossil fuels, which are later burned by their customers, creating the problem of climate change. The first step, extraction and sale, creates emissions, but nowhere near as much as the final step, when the product is burned. Fossil fuel companies are are now focusing on the smaller part while largely ignoring the bigger part.
In a previous post…
The oil and gas industry is, as you might expect, struggling to come to terms with the prospect of its own demise. As producers and transporters of two of the key things that cause climate change, their days are numbered. They are coping with this in a variety of ways.
Some, like BP, are taking initial steps into this transition. Others, like ExxonMobil or Chevron, remain with their feet planted firmly in the hardcore denialism and delay of the past several decades.
Quite a few major players on this spectrum are members of the “Oil and Gas Climate Initiative”, OGCI…
In part 1 of this series, I explored the smattering of local, city-level battles being fought between those seeking to electrify their homes and the fossil gas industry in America. As the gas industry truly loses the fight to become a ‘transition fuel’, they’re retreating to homes and buildings as a place to make their stand, and in many instances in the US, they’re winning.
In Australia, ‘existential threats’ are already emerging. Recently, Canberra lifted the legislation that made it mandatory to connect new gas to homes. …
Every attempt to weave a narrative of our different possible climate futures share this single and extremely important commonality: the best-case outcomes involve eliminating fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas.
As coal and oil suffer their own setbacks, gas has quickly become the last great hope for fossil fuel companies. Of the trifecta, it’s often seen as the best chance for extending the lifespan of a dying industry.
The gas industry is not starting in a strong position. The old forecasts of perpetual fossil growth are long gone. And the old idea that we must ‘bridge’ the transition using fossil…
Anecdata analysis, research, writing, caffeine. Science, tech and data communications professional in Sydney.