Shareholders Pressure Exxon on Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 14 Aug 2007 17:32:00 GMT

In Resolved: Public Corporations Shall Take Us Seriously, the New York Times Magazine describes the rising tide of shareholder resolutions on climate change against ExxonMobil:
The ring tone on Sister Patricia Daly’s cellphone is the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah,” which makes every call sound as if it’s coming from God. On the particular May afternoon, however, David Henry, who handles investor relations for the ExxonMobil Corporation, was on the line. Henry wanted to know if Daly planned to attend the annual shareholder meeting later that month — a rhetorical question, really, since Daly had been at every one of them for the past 10 years. At each she posed roughly the same question: What is ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, planning to do about global warming?

The article makes reference to Citigroup’s influential climate change investment report from the beginning of the year, Climatic Consequences: Investment Implications of a Changing Climate, and the May 2007 Greenpeace report ExxonMobil’s Continued Funding of Global Warming Denial Industry.

Further excerpts:
Yet global warming does seem to be an area in which social and fiscal concerns overlap. Recent reports by Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Lehman Brothers have reinforced the notion that climate change has the potential to affect a company’s bottom line, and shareholder resolutions have been remarkably effective at getting companies to take global warming seriously. After the Connecticut state treasurer’s office filed three consecutive climate resolutions with American Electric Power, the nation’s single-largest producer of carbon dioxide, the company agreed in 2004 to study the impact on its operations of various carbon cap-and-trade proposals, whereby companies must either limit their carbon emissions or purchase emissions credits from other companies that pollute less. Today American Electric is one of the companies calling for mandatory carbon constraints. Other companies singled out by shareholder activists, like Home Depot, Ford, Prudential, Cinergy, Chevron Texaco, Apache and ConocoPhillips, have variously agreed to disclose their greenhouse-gas emissions, study the impact of climate change on their businesses, invest in renewable energy sources or support a mandatory carbon cap.

The exception, as Daly notes, is ExxonMobil. For years the company denied that global climate change was occurring. According to a Greenpeace report in May, ExxonMobil funnels more than $2 million a year to groups that dispute the reality of global warming. The company’s current C.E.O., Rex Tillerson, made headlines in February when he admitted that the risks from climate change “could prove to be significant,” but he continues to emphasize the uncertainty of the science. In May he said: “I know people like to boil it down to something very simple — the polar ice caps are melting, the planet is seven-tenths of a degree centigrade warmer. It’s really not that simple of an equation.” And while BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips have joined the United States Climate Action Partnership, which is lobbying for mandatory carbon limits, and are investing in renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels, ExxonMobil remains coy about which, if any, carbon constraints it would support and has stated unequivocally that the company will not be putting money into renewables.

John Dingell Announces Global Warming Proposal 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Aug 2007 19:30:00 GMT

At his town hall meeting last week, House Energy and Commerce chairman John Dingell unveiled the outline of his global warming legislative plan, which he will introduce in committee on September 1:
  • cap-and-trade system with an 80% cap by 2050
  • $100 per ton CO2 emissions tax
  • 50-cent increase in federal gax tax
  • funding for research on renewable energy
  • ending the McMansion mortgage deduction (homes larger than 3,000 square feet)
Glenn Hurwitz at Grist pens a stinging assessment of the chairman: Dingell is dispensible.
So far, he’s fought hard against all steps forward, but it hasn’t made much difference in policy. That suggests that environmentalists and Democrats would be well served to reconsider conventional wisdom about Dingell. Partly because of his gratuitous and repeated swipes at leadership and the environmental movement, his sway with both leadership and rank-and-file Democrats is considerably less than it once was. As the RES vote and Hoyer’s prediction that Congress will pass aggressive fuel efficiency standards shows, his support is no longer essential to passing major environmental legislation. This doesn’t mean that Democrats or environmentalists can ignore all sometime-opponents of environmental progress within the caucus (some, like Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez, have shown that they retain considerable pull), but it does mean we can stop obsessing about Dingell.
Earlier at Grist David Roberts criticized the Greenpeace activists protesting Dingell’s recent efforts to block an increase in CAFE standards: Dingell’s dimwitted detractors.
Argh. Silly, gimmicky, irrational crap. If this is what Dingell runs into, it’s no wonder he holds green activists in such contempt. Relative to what Dingell’s proposing, the difference between a 35mpg CAFE (which he supports) and a 45mpg or 50mpg CAFE (which greens support) is meaningless. Utterly and completely trivial. A distraction. If we could get in place a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system, the effects will dwarf minor changes in CAFE. Instead of hectoring Dingell about CAFE, activists should be using their energy to push other legislators to support these bills.

Around the Web: Green Collar Jobs, Water, Emissions Intensity

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Aug 2007 17:37:00 GMT

Matt Stoller interviews Congresswoman Hilda Solis on Global Warming and Race at OpenLeft. Rep. Solis is hosting a global warming forum in Los Angeles this week.

Stoller writes:

By turning global warming into a jobs issue, Solis is working to reframe the often depressing and disempowering rhetoric of the environmental movement into language that different groups can get behind. There are interesting and unexpected allies here. A few weeks ago, I accompanied a Sierra Club lobbyist to a visit with freshman Tim Walz, and he’s using the same strategy in his rural Minnesota district – sustainable energy means jobs. Conservative rural residents are now proud of wind turbines, because it means economic growth. The political combination of rural and urban constituency groups is quite potent.

Good Magazine put out an excellent global water supply infographic poster.

Warming Law continues its unparalleled coverage of Massachusetts v. EPA.

Simon Donner takes a look at the question of emissions intensity.

Dingell-Global Warming Town Hall

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 08 Aug 2007 21:30:00 GMT

John Dingell’s second global warming town hall in Michigan’s 15th District.

University of Michigan – Dearborn Social Sciences Building 4901 Evergreen Road Dearborn, MI 48124

Debate on Cap and Trade with Environmental Defense

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 08 Aug 2007 20:37:00 GMT

Environmental Defense was one of several prominent environmental groups to embrace the Lieberman-Warner proposal:
Joe Lieberman and John Warner are providing remarkable leadership. By developing an approach that has environmental integrity and support from both sides of the aisle they are doing what is necessary to actually make law.
Matt Stoller of Open Left, who has been highly skeptical of all cap-and-trade approaches, let alone the Lieberman-Warner proposal, wrote this analysis yesterday:
Anyway, the bill Bush is going to get behind is the Lieberman-Warner bill, opposed by the Sierra Club but supported by the intensely corporate-friendly and compromised Environmental Defense. There’s a green civil war coming, with ED President Fred Krupp playing the role of the DLC. The other environmental groups are split, with the Pew Center and the Nature Conservancy following Krupp over the cliff. The Union of Concerned Scientists and NRDC are ‘concerned’, and the LCV and the Sierra Club are clear that this is a bad move. If you want to see a dysfunctional, degraded, and compromised movement that have lost touch with their mission statements, look no further than ED, Pew, and the Nature Conservancy.
Today, Tony Kreindler of ED responded on Stoller’s site. Here’s an excerpt:
What Lieberman and Warner have offered is a blueprint for a climate bill with an airtight emissions cap and a market for carbon that will spur investment in cost-effective emissions reductions. They also have a plan for managing economic impacts, and importantly, it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the emissions cap. Does that favor corporations over the environment? We don’t think so, and we won’t support a bill that fails the environmental test.

The discussion is continued at Open Left.

Dingell-Global Warming Town Hall

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 07 Aug 2007 19:30:00 GMT

During a Global Warming Town Hall meeting in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, August 7, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) will take questions regarding a carbon tax bill he intends to introduce as part of a multi-tiered approach to reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions.

Under Dingell’s leadership, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed energy efficiency legislation that would remove from the atmosphere more than 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions (through the year 2030), which is more than the annual emissions of all cars on American roads today. The legislation is expected to pass the full House this week.

In the fall, Dingell also plans to develop a comprehensive, mandatory, economy-wide program with the goal of achieving as much as an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. He is a co-sponsor of the Hill-Terry bill, HR 2927, which would mandate separate car and truck standards to meet a total fleet fuel economy standard between 32 and 35 mpg by 2022; increases up to 40 percent over current standards.

Pioneer High School Schreiber Auditorium 601 W. Stadium Blvd Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Environmental Non-Profits Respond to Lieberman-Warner 7

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 06 Aug 2007 05:58:00 GMT

In summary, US-CAP members Environmental Defense, Pew Center on Climate Change, and Nature Conservancy offer unequivocal praise of Lieberman-Warner.

NRDC (US-CAP) and Union of Concerned Scientists say it’s a starting point that needs fixing.

Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club say it has major problems; the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters say that focus should stay on the Sanders-Boxer bill.

A number of organizations have not yet weighed in. Full quotations and links to the statements are below the fold.

Environmental Defense (part of US-CAP)

Joe Lieberman and John Warner are providing remarkable leadership. By developing an approach that has environmental integrity and support from both sides of the aisle they are doing what is necessary to actually make law.

Union of Concerned Scientists

We welcome new ideas when it comes to fighting global warming, and are pleased that Senators Lieberman and Warner are providing leadership on this issue. But their proposal must be strengthened tobe effective.

UCS calls for a stronger cap and criticizes the industry giveaways and the level of carbon offset allowances.

NRDC (part of US-CAP)

We look forward to working with Senators Lieberman and Warner to further improve this proposal’s targets and timetables and to ensure that the bill’s valuable pollution allowances are invested in energy efficiency and other measures to reduce consumers’ costs, not create windfall profits for polluters.

Friends of the Earth

The Lieberman-Warner legislation is just one more proposal that won’t get the job done on global warming.

FOE calls for a stronger cap with faster reductions and criticizes the industry giveaways (“The legislation also violates the ‘polluter pays’ principle”).

Sierra Club

The Warner-Lieberman proposal and others are oriented toward meeting the needs of the coal, utility and auto industries. Congress should instead focus on proposals like Boxer-Sanders and Waxman that better meet the needs of communities, families, and the environment.

Sierra Club calls for a stronger cap and a more progressive focus.

Pew Center for Climate Change (part of US-CAP)

The Lieberman-Warner proposal represents a critical step toward a workable climate solution, combining many of the best elements of earlier cap-and-trade bills. It proposes ambitious greenhouse gas targets and innovative mechanisms to ensure that the costs of meeting them are reasonable. Importantly, this proposal avoids the use of price caps or other mechanisms that would undermine the program’s environmental objectives and the economic efficiency of a market-based approach. With their bipartisan proposal, Senators Lieberman and Warner are leading the way toward strong Senate action to curb U.S. emissions and avoid the worst potential consequences of climate change.

Joe Romm, Climate Progress

It looks pretty good to me.

Nature Conservancy (part of US-CAP)

We commend Senators Warner and Lieberman for their commitment to enacting strong climate legislation. The thoughtful outline released today indicates that the senators are on track to write a bill that would help to address climate change and would be beneficial for conservation.

League of Conservation Voters

While we applaud Senators Lieberman and Warner for producing a global warming bill, we believe we can and we must do better than a 10 percent cut in global warming emissions by 2020. We look forward to working to ensure they ultimately produce a bill that accomplishes what the world’s best scientists say is necessary – reducing global warming pollution by at least 15-20 percent by 2020 to reach the goal of at least 80 percent reductions by 2050. We urge other members of the Senate to cosponsor the Sanders-Boxer bill (S. 309) – a bill that will help our country meet the global warming pollution reductions required to help our country secure a brighter future.

I couldn’t find any public statements from organizations such as Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, World Wildlife Federation or the World Resources Institute.

EPW Delegation to Greenland

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 02 Aug 2007 14:43:00 GMT

Last weekend, Sen. Barbara Boxer led a delegation from the Environment and Public Works Committee to Greenland:
  • Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
  • Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
  • Bill Nelson (D-Fl.)
  • Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
  • Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Inhofe sent staffer Mark Morano, a former writer for the rightwing Cybercast News Service. Richard Alley of Penn State University, the lead author on the United States Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was the scientific advisor on the trip. They met with Arkalo Abelsen, Greeland’s environmental minister.

News coverage

* Associated Press: Georgia senator views effects of climate change in Greenland
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia traveled to Greenland over the weekend to get a firsthand glimpse at the effects of global warming.

The first-term Republican from Marietta said the trip reinforced his belief that the United States should gradually move away from fossil fuels like oil and coal. But it didn’t convince him that more urgent steps are needed, and he remains unconvinced that the current warming is a departure from long-term natural cycles.

“There is no question that carbon (dioxide) is contributing to the warming but there’s also no question that warming is cyclical and has happened in the past,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

Renewable Fuels Infrastructure

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 31 Jul 2007 18:30:00 GMT

The Subcommittee on Energy will receive testimony on how to improve our renewable fuels infrastructure to accommodate the increasing volumes of renewable fuels in the transportation sector.

Witnesses
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Alexander Karsner, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, Department of Energy
  • David Terry, project coordinator, Governors’ Ethanol Coalition
  • Charles Drevna, executive vice president, National Petrochemical and Refiners Association
  • Jonathan Lehman, advisor, VeraSun Corp.
  • Deborah Morrissett, vice president of regulatory affairs/product development, Chrysler Technology Center
  • Phillip Lampert, executive director, National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

2:44 PM Klobuchar Ethanol and biodiesel are near and dear to Minnesota, but I believe this is also an issue of national security. I’m glad the energy bill requires auto manufacturers to have 50% of their vehicles be flexfuel by 2015. Minnesota ranks first in E85 infrastructure.

2:56 PM Karsner An E85 infrastructure should be a goal but not an exclusive goal. We see no technical reason why flexfuel vehicles cannot be more ubiquitous across all markets.

Dorgan Do you think the marketplace will solve this problem?

Karsner I think the question is whether we have the proper stimulus.

Dorgan I’ve talked about the gas company impediments.

Karsner I had lunch with Gov. Pataki. On a state by state basis those issues are being addressed. On E85 we have a need to address it.

Dorgan Franchises are barred from listing E85 on their signs.

Karsner I can’t speak for the position of the franchise owner, but the New York model may be something we need to examine.

Dorgan Conoco Phillips will not allow sales on the primary island. Should we just wait for the states to deal with it?

Karsner The New York example has been tested. I’m not an expert on contract law. Is it an impediment? Obviously, yes.

Dorgan When we see this kind of restraint on the sale of E85, should we act, or say so be it?

Karsner Something needs to be done. Some policy stimulus. I don’t start with the premise that the oil companies are necessarily an adversary to the outcome.

Dorgan It appears to me their actions are adversarial to the sale of E85.

Karsner Were I a franchisee I likely would see it that way.

Dorgan What about as a policy maker? Keep it off the main island, don’t allow credit cards, don’t allow advertising.

Karsner I understand your meaning. Fundamentally you have a conflict between the national imperatives and the law. The problem is that this is private contract which both parties have joined freely with.

Dorgan You seem to suggest the intermediate blends might get faster adoption.

Karsner Intermediate blends goes as low as anything above E10. All pumps are certified for E15. In theory you could aggressively pursue E85 and E15 at the same time.

Dorgan Our goal is 36 billion gallons. If we don’t market it, we won’t get there.

3:22 PM Under questioning from Tester: Karsner It may be that the oil companies’ agreements are not aligned with the national security imperative.

Tester There’s a lot of misinformation out there about ethanol. Is there action on the part of the DOE to solve that problem?

Karsner It’s not a one-time story.

Carbon Market Efficiency Board

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 30 Jul 2007 17:14:00 GMT

Last week, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) presented the Containing and Managing Climate Change Costs Efficiently Act (S. 1874), a piece of legislation authored by Joe Lieberman’s former environmental advisor, Timothy Profeta, who now heads the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.

The proposal would establish the Carbon Market Efficiency Board which would oversee the emissions trading market established by cap-and-trade legislation. The board would operate much like the Federal Reserve Board, providing information on price and low-emission technology investment trends to Congress and the public, and it would adjust the price of emissions permits when a “market correction” is needed. The first measure is to expand companies’ ability to “bank” permits, or borrow permits against future year reductions. The second measure, to be used if high prices are not relieved by the first measure, is to add a slightly larger number of permits to the market. This temporary increase would be compensated for by reducing available permits in a later year, when more options have been developed.

Profeta testified about the proposal in last week’s hearing. His white paper goes into further detail.

The bill is intended to be folded into the Lieberman-Warner package to be presented as a discussion draft at the end of the week.

John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are cosponsoring the bill, in a bipartisan show of strength by pro-business Senators. [The League of Conservation Voters/Chamber of Commerce scores for the senators are: Warner 14%/100%, Graham 29%/92%, Landrieu 43%/75%, Lincoln 43%/67%. By way of comparison, Lieberman is 71%/44%.]

Responses to the proposal:

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