Keep the oil in the soil

October 17th, 2019

This week has been a bit devastating…..

The Guardian has revealed that oil companies are planning to continue, even increase, their dirty drilling work. So cynical, unethical and everything else bad. 

Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, which monitors oil companies, said: “Rather than planning an orderly decline in production, they are doubling down and acting like there is no climate crisis.”

So depressing. But then she/he continued: “This presents us with a simple choice: shut them down or face extreme climate disruption.”

Let’s shut them down!

It will take a lot of us (and not immediately), but we can stop buying petrol. The responsibility of nations and governments, primarily, certainly; but in the meantime we individuals can all buy less.

I’ve written to Ben van Beurden at Shell (highly doubt I’ll get a reply…), and was intending to track down some investors but ran out of energy (pun there…?!).

If you know anyone involved in the oil industry, please connect with them – I remember reading a man online waxing lyrical about the joys of investing in oil…. What?…

Divestment is of course another important way of starving the fossil fuel industries – ask your banks how they invest your money. Triodos is an admirable ethical bank, but doesn’t have a ‘savings facility’….

This week the EU’s European Investment Bank (the largest public bank in the world) postponed its vote on whether to stop fossil fuel financing, after member states including Germany pushed for a delay. The decision is now promised on November 14th. I signed a petition about all this a while ago. Look out for further tweets and petition requests please!

Now, I’ll highlight some good news – renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels during the third quarter of this year. Electricity from British windfarms, solar panels and renewable biomass plants surpassed gas and coal-fired power for the first time since the UK’s first power plant fired up in 1882.

Also, there have been two good examples of the climate crisis being addressed in the ‘media’ in the last week – not without their depressing moments, but very engaging and down-to-earth (another pun, unintentional that time!).

Inside Science on Radio 4 interviewed Jim Skea from the IPCC (a United Nations climate change body). He was asked what he thought about Extinction Rebellion and he said they were important for bringing the issue of the climate change crisis to everyone’s attention. He said that in his opinion it was unlikely that the aims of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2025 would be reached, though that was possible in principle. Governments are not doing enough, and unambiguous urgent action is needed.

When asked what individuals can do, he said eat less livestock and fly less….

A thunderstorm is raging as I write this; and I can’t help thinking about the recent typhoon in Tokyo. The Rugby World Cup organisers apparently all pulled together to ensure the games could continue: I think we could really do with that ‘wartime’ spirit of cooperation in this time of existential crisis, not just when there is a more tangible actual disaster to deal with.

We must not continue with our easy, polluting lives – a bit of sacrifice is needed by us all.

Meat is surely the easiest thing to give up…?

The other programme, Panorama, followed a very sporting lovely family in Nottingham in their bid to reduce their collective carbon footprint. Heating a home with gas central heating, the most common system, produces a lot of emissions – the family was told what it would cost to replace their system with an electric heat pump, as well as insulating and double glazing their home: not affordable…. I’ve written to my MP (again!) – how does government plan to help people afford sustainable homes? Chris Stark from the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s advisors, says there has been virtually no progress in this area….

On a lighter note, I hadn’t imagined that eating ‘bugs’ might be a serious meat alternative for people – I think I’ll stick to vegetarianism, after watching the mealworms wriggling around. The Nottingham family was brilliant, eating their barbecued bug burger!…

Other ways that singleminded meat-eaters might have hope are that sheep are being bred to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions; and it’s being recognised that some breeds of cattle burp less methane. But maybe just don’t kill animals…? And also, more land is definitely needed for growing carbon-capturing trees and vegetable crops for us…

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