Pushed By Climate Activists, New York Times Abandons Oil And Money Conference

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:28:00 GMT

The New York Times has dropped its long-running sponsorship of its highly lucrative Oil And Money conference, ceding to rising pressure from climate activists. The decision was announced on Twitter by the New York Times Climate team led by editor Hannah Fairfield. The tweet included a statement from the Times’ communications SVP, Eileen Murphy:

The New York Times has decided to end its relationship with the Oil & Money conference.

Over the last several years The Times has significantly expanded its reporting on climate change and its impact, as well as broader investigative and explanatory coverage of energy and environmental policy. We have a large team focused solely on the topic and in the last year alone we’ve traveled to every continent to document the effects of a warming planet.

While our partners in Oil & Money, Energy Intelligence, have always maintained high standards of independence and impartiality, the subject matter of the conference gives us cause for concern as we continue to invest in these consequential environmental issues. We want there to be no question of our independence or even the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.

We wish Energy Intelligence well as they continue to gather energy leaders, policy makers, and environmentalists to discuss how to sustainably meet the world’s rising energy needs.

The tweet, like much of The Times’ climate coverage even to this day, avoided directly stating that the fossil-fuel industry causes global warming.

Separately, Energy Intelligence announced the conference will be “renamed the Energy Intelligence Forum” because “the energy industry is changing, and as our conference program has evolved in recent years to address the challenges of climate change and the energy transition, we felt that our conference needed a new identity and a new mandate.”

The London-based conference, which gathers the world’s top oil executives, has been the target of protests for years. In 2014, climate activist Tamsin Ormond stormed the conference, shouting “Oil is fucking our future!

In 2015, members of Fossil Free London (@DivestLondon) staged a protest outside the conference, holding the banner “Climate Change: No Time To Party”: and blocking the award ceremony celebrating ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: The protesters mockingly threw cash at the executives as they entered the “Petroleum Executive of the Year” gala: Two of the protesters superglued their hands to the doors of a side entrance, and others tried to infiltrate the gala.

In 2016, the Divest London protests continued, with activists declaring a “Climate Crime Scene”:

The protests at the conference continued in 2017 and 2019.

In June 2019, Extinction Rebellion staged sit-in protests at The New York Times headquarters in Manhattan, blocking traffic on Eighth Avenue and scaling the NYT building with a large “Climate Emergency – Mass Murder” banner: About 70 protesters were arrested.

At the time, The Guardian’s Amanda Holpuch reported that The New York Times responded: “There is no national news organization that devotes more time, staff or resources to producing deeply reported coverage to help readers understand climate change than The New York Times.”

The New York Times did not report on the protest, which was covered by many other outlets.

The June protest focused on the tenor of The New York Times’ climate coverage and its acceptance of fossil-fuel advertising, not its sponsorship of the Oil & Money Conference. However, Extinction Rebellion NYC soon began to focus on the Oil & Money Conference, including it as a target in their August 7th die-in at Times headquarters and in an August 30 video appeal to the Times.

As DNC Votes to Kill Climate Debate, Biden Campaign Rescinds Support

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:38:00 GMT

On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee’s resolutions committee voted down a resolution that would have established a climate debate for the presidential candidates, reflecting the wishes of frontrunner Joe Biden. However, the committee did open the door to candidates participating in a non-DNC-sanctioned climate debate, a significant victory for the youth activists leading the call. On Saturday, the full DNC voted that plan down 222 to 137, closing the door to any presidential climate debate.

DNC chair Tom Perez’s resolution to block a DNC climate debate passed the committee in an 17 to 8 vote.

At the DNC meeting in California, Biden spokesperson and DNC member Symone Sanders said it would be “dangerous” to hold a climate debate.

Mercury News’s Casey Tolan reported that Symone Sanders said a climate debate “would fundamentally change the game” of the established debate rules and would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”

In June, Biden had expressed unequivocal support for a debate exclusively on climate.

DNC members opposed to holding a climate debate include corporate lobbyist and CNN commentator Maria Cardona of the Dewey Square Group, who said “It will take away time from their knocking on doors, going to all of your states to be able to campaign.”

DNC Chair Tom Perez Files Resolution To Kill Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 14 Aug 2019 14:36:00 GMT

With the August 22nd meeting of the Democratic National Committee fast approaching, DNC chair Tom Perez has filed a resolution to block the establishment of a Democratic presidential debate focused on climate change. Spurred by youth climate activists, nearly every candidate supports such a debate.

The Perez resolution argues that the climate town-hall forums scheduled by CNN and MSNBC for September, in which candidates would be interviewed separately, are a sufficient substitute for a debate.

The resolution concludes:
WHEREAS, Democratic candidates for President of the United States are demonstrating their commitment to tackling the issue of climate change, having already scheduled two televised forums on CNN and MSNBC to discuss the issue, and debating the issue during each of the DNC-sanctioned presidential primary debates;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, Democrats will address the serious threat of climate change through bold and inclusive solutions that grow the clean energy economy and expand America’s middle class.

Perez was backed by Barack Obama to block environmental-justice leader Keith Ellison from becoming chair.

The full text of the resolution is below:

Environmental Organizations Cross Racial Divides To Present Climate Justice Platform

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Jul 2019 19:11:00 GMT

In an encouraging sign for those seeking to make the vision of the Green New Deal a reality, a coalition of mostly white environmental organizations and predominantly black environmental justice organizations have released the “Equitable & Just National Climate Platform.”

The platform is a vision statement for American climate justice policy, with signatories “committed to advancing a bold and equitable national climate agenda and believe that all people and all communities have the right to breathe clean air, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, access healthy food, and share the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant clean economy.”

The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists are also members of the BlueGreen Alliance which released a similar labor-focused platform in June.

Platform co-authors and inaugural signatories: Center for American Progress, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Center for the Urban Environment, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Earthjustice, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Harambee House–Citizens for Environmental Justice, League of Conservation Voters, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Los Jardines Institute, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, Midwest Environmental Justice Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, ReGenesis Project, Sierra Club, Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School, Union of Concerned Scientists, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Environmental justice organization inaugural signatories: 2BRIDGE CDX / BTB Coalition, Agricultura Cooperative Network, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Black Environmental Collective-Pittsburgh, Black Millennials 4 Flint, Black Youth Leadership Development Institute, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Citizens for Melia, Clean Power Lake County, Coalition of Community Organizations, Community Housing and Empowerment Connections, Community Members for Environmental Justice, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Long Branch, Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, Dakota Wicohan, Delaware Concerned Residents for Environmental Justice, Dr. Cesar G. Abarca, Dr. Fatemeh Shafiei, Dr. Marisol Ruiz, Dr. Robert Bullard, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Eduardo Aguiar, El Chante: Casa de Cultura, Farmworker Association of Florida, Flint Rising, Georgia Statewide Network for Environmental Justice and Equity, Greater Newark Conservancy, Green Door Initiative, Greenfaith, Ironbound Community Corporation, Jesus People Against Pollution, Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, Louisiana Democracy Project, Minority Workforce Development Coalition, Mossville Community in Action, Native Justice Coalition, Organizacion en California de Lideres Campesinas, Inc., Partnership for Southern Equity, People Concerned About Chemical Safety, People for Community Recovery, PODER, Reverend Canon Lloyd S. Casson, Rubbertown Emergency ACTion, Tallahassee Food Network, Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Texas Drought Project, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, The Wise Choice, Inc., Tradish “Traditional Real Foods,” Tusconians for a Clean Environment, UrbanKind Institute, We the People of Detroit, West County Toxics Coalition, Wisconsin Green Muslims.

Download Equitable & Just National Climate Platform or read the text below:

Iowa Group Plans to Host Unsanctioned Presidential Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 29 Jun 2019 14:14:00 GMT

The climate-activist organization Bold Iowa has announced it plans to host a climate debate in the fall among Democratic presidential candidates, despite the Democratic National Committee’s refusal to sanction such a debate. In the first two DNC debates, each featuring ten candidates, a total of fifteen minutes was given to climate – less than a minute per candidate.

Volunteers with the organization have begun asking the candidates to commit to participation in their debate.

Fifteen of the candidates have previously said they would be willing to participate in a climate debate, though that was under the assumption it would be a DNC-sanctioned debate. The DNC has threatened that any candidate participating in a non-sanctioned debate would be barred from future DNC debates, though it is hard to see how they would enforce that if the frontrunners agreed to participate in the climate debate.

Press release:
DES MOINES, IOWA — Bold Iowa today announced it will host a debate this fall specifically focused on the climate crisis. Bold’s 270 Iowa Caucus volunteers, known as Climate Bird Dogs, are shifting their focus to get Democratic presidential candidates to commit to participate in the climate debate, even at the risk of being barred from future DNC-sponsored debates.

“Like more and more people across the country, Democratic voters in Iowa are tired of Party leaders who ignore the climate crisis that threatens our very survival,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “No doubt, the fact that the DNC reversed its ban on accepting fossil-fuel donations and let the American Petroleum Industry pony-up $700,000 for the Party’s 2016 national convention explains why it won’t allow a climate debate. Well, Iowans have had enough. If the DNC won’t host a climate debate, we will. Starting today, we’re going to find out which candidates are true climate champions and ready to debate the climate crisis, regardless of what the DNC says.”

Climate Bird Dogs have been active across Iowa since the first of the year. They’ve addressed the climate crisis with 20 presidential candidates at over 100 events, questioning them on the Green New Deal, the Dakota Access Pipeline, fossil-fuel donations, and more. Bold’s Climate Bird Dogs have sometimes moved beyond simply asking questions of candidates to bringing signs into events where signs weren’t allowed, co-opting photo lines, and dressing as “climate refugee” penguins. Five Bold Iowa members were recently arrested at a fundraiser attended by Donald Trump, dressed in black and wearing Depends while holding a banner that read, “Climate Denier in the White House scare the S#*T outta you? IT DOES US!”

Bold Iowa is happy to partner with other entities to organize this debate, which will happen unless either (1) the DNC relents and agrees to host a climate-specific debate, or (2) other national entities step forward to host such a debate.

Labor-Environmental Alliance Releases High-Level Climate Action Principles

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Jun 2019 15:29:00 GMT

On June 24th, the BlueGreen Alliance released “Solidarity for Climate Action”, a compendium of labor and environmental principles with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon pollution by 2050 in line with the Green New Deal vision.

Several union leaders associated with the fossil-fuel industry have responded to the call for a Green New Deal with skepticism or hostility, despite its emphasis on full employment and a unionized workforce; the work of the BlueGreen Alliance represents the viewpoint of another side of labor movement. The opening lines of the document emphasize the importance of collaboration as much as the end result:

“The BlueGreen Alliance and its labor and environmental partners are committed to the vision, principles, and policies outlined in this document, and are committed to a process of working together to identify concrete solutions to achieve these goals.”

The high-level vision document was unveiled at a presentation featuring Mike Williams of the BlueGreen Alliance, Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Collin O’Mara.

The members of the Alliance include the environmental organizations Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Action Fund, League of Conservation Voters, and the National Wildlife Federation; and the labor unions United Steelworkers, Communication Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA), and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC).

This effort echoes The Leap Manifesto and the platform of the European Green Party, though with less ambition.

Download “Solidarity for Climate Action” or read the text below:

Following the Lead of Other Candidates, Biden Becomes 15th to Call for Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Jun 2019 21:50:00 GMT

Today, Joe Biden became the 15th Democratic candidate for president to call for a climate debate, making a mockery of Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez’s claim such a debate would be “at the request of one candidate.”

Perez was evidently singling out Jay Inslee, who has made climate action a centerpiece of his campaign.

In fact, the demand for a presidential debate focused on climate began with the youth climate activist groups U.S. Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise Movement. Inslee was the first candidate to support their campaign, though over a dozen fellow candidates soon followed suit.

Biden joined the calls for a climate debate in a conversation with a climate activist following a rally today in Ottumwa, Iowa, Greenpeace reports.

Biden is the ninth of the 13 candidates who have fully qualified for the DNC debates to endorse a climate debate.

In a Medium post, Perez—handpicked as chair by Barack Obama to thwart the candidacy of Keith Ellison—pushed back on the growing calls for a climate debate.

“If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”

Perez has not indicated specifically what other existential issue a majority of the Democratic candidates for president, spurred by activists, have requested to debate.

Transcript of Biden exchange:

For Years, The New York Times Has Run "Oil & Money," A High-Dollar Summit For The Global Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 23:46:00 GMT

The New York Times has for years also hosted a high-priced global summit for the chieftains of Big Oil.

The Oil & Money summit, which occurs each October in London, will meet for the fortieth time this October 8th to 10th at the luxury Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel. Top speakers this year include the CEOs of BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and the oil ministers of Qatar and Iraq.

The theme, “Strategies for the Energy Transition,” “reflects the crossroads at which the energy industry now finds itself:”

Advances in technology, ranging from electric vehicles and battery charging to solar and wind power promise extensive disruption to existing patterns of energy usage and threaten the dominance of oil and gas in areas like transportation and power generation. But at the same time, technology breakthroughs in other fields have made the exploration and development of petroleum resources cheaper, safer and more efficient.

The overview politely avoids mention of fossil-fueled global warming, referring only to how the oil and gas industry is “harnessing new technologies” to “reduce its carbon footprint.”

The first day’s focus is the natural gas industry—two of the sessions do explicitly mention climate change, in the context of environmentally conscious investors and the promotion of natural gas “as a bridge fuel to a lower carbon economy.”

The second day’s focus is on the geopolitics of the global oil market; the third day discusses what’s needed to keep the U.S. fracking boom going (“technology holds the key to sustaining US tight oil growth once all the best sweet spots have been produced”) and the threat of electric vehicles to the oil industry.

At no point does it appear that the threat of civilizational collapse due to the continued combustion of fossil fuels, nor the industry’s decades-long campaign to thwart government regulation of climate pollution, will be discussed.

Tickets to the summit are $4,195; for another $795 attendees get the benefit of “Toasting the Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year with colleagues and clients at the prestigious annual gala dinner.” This year’s honoree is Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell.

With about 500 attendees, this one conference raises over two million dollars for the Times and its co-host, the industry publisher Energy Intelligence.

A handful of young oil and gas professionals get to attend the conference with the ironically named “Energy Leaders for Tomorrow” sponsorship.

The New York Times Company’s president of its international business, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, will be opening the summit. On Twitter, he has frequently professed great concern about the Trump administration’s attacks on climate policy. He has not indicated how he will address the world’s lords of oil.

Climate activists have protested the “climate criminals” at the conference the past several years.

In a statement to DeSmog UK in 2018, a New York Times Company spokeswoman said the conference would “address the transition to a low carbon economy, an issue which has been covered extensively by The New York Times. That transition is unlikely to occur without the participation of the world’s largest energy companies.”

A newer addition to the New York Times Conferences line-up is the New Rules Summit, where the New York Times calls on leaders “to create a boldly inclusive vision of the workplace— and transform it into reality.” Its speakers reflect that mission- 29 of 34 are women, the majority non-white. The New York Times does not appear to be calling on Oil & Money attendees to do the same—only two of the 53 speakers are women. There do not appear to be any black speakers.

The Times’ editorial board purports that “most sentient people agree the world must rapidly wean itself from” fossil fuels “or risk ecological and social disaster.”

By that measure, the Times’ involvement in helping ExxonMobil develop climate-denial and greenwashing advertorials on its pages and website, as well as its organization of the Oil & Money Conference, puts into question the sentience of its leadership.

Spurred by Youth Climate Activists, Over A Dozen Democratic Candidates Call for Climate Debate - Nixed By DNC

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:40:00 GMT

Spurred by teen-aged climate activists, a majority of the Democratic candidates for president have called on the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate focused on climate change.

This week, DNC chair Tom Perez announced no such debate would happen, tweeting that the DNC “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area – we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues.”

The U.S. Youth Climate Strike, led by a group of teenagers inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, has been bird-dogging candidates since April 2019. With the support of MoveOn, the group launched an online petition to the DNC that now has nearly 55,000 signatures. A broad coalition of environmentalist and progressive groups followed suit with a joint petition that now has over 191,000 signatures. A DailyKos petition has an additional 17,000 signatures and counting.

Below is a sourced listing of the 14 Democratic candidates for president who have announced their support for a climate debate and when they did so. Not only is that a majority of the 23 major candidates running for president, the list includes eight of the 14 candidates who have passed the DNC threshold to qualify for their debates (bold below).

Most of the announcements were in response to an in-person request from a U.S. Youth Climate Strike activist, though some were in response to reporter questions.

In their announcement of support for a climate debate, Gabbard and Moulton campaigns called for another debate to focus on national security.

Unlike the 2012 and 2016 elections, most of the Democratic candidates have climate change a central theme of their campaigns, outlining competing visions for transforming the United States toward sustainability and climate justice.

Strangely, DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa argued the DNC couldn’t host a climate debate because it would favor Jay Inslee, who has made climate the central theme of his presidential campaign. “Once we start allowing one candidate to dictate what the debate is about, we have to say ‘yes’ to all of them on their core issue,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “Otherwise people would say we are benefiting one candidate. And if we were to have issue-area debates, how do you pick 12 issue areas?”

On Sunday, Perez gave an even more incoherent excuse for refusing to hold a climate debate, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Perez told activists at an event in Orlando: “It’s just not practical. And as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.”

Perez seems to be confused about the cross-cutting implications of climate change despite his role as the head of the Democratic Party. The 2016 Democratic platform claimed that “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” and that “Democrats recognize the catastrophic consequences facing our country, our planet, and civilization.”

Update 6/13 Updated to reflect that Kirsten Gillibrand had passed both criteria (polling and contributors) for the debates on Monday.

Biden, Warren Release Similar Climate Investment Plans

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Jun 2019 20:01:00 GMT

Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have released climate plans. Warren’s plan appears somewhat more ambitious, whereas Biden’s plan explicitly endorses carbon-capture technology.

Some specific highlights from Biden:
  • “100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050”
  • “federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years”
  • “investing $400 billion over ten years” in “clean energy research and innovation”
  • including “double down on federal investments and enhance tax incentives for carbon capture, use and storage” and nuclear power research

The Biden plan also notes: “If the global temperature continues to increase at the current rate and surpasses 1.5°C, the existential threat to life will not be limited to just ecological systems, but will extend to human life as well.” However, the goals of the plan do not appear to be in line with the global emissions reductions needed to keep warming below 1.5°C.

In other newsmaking, it appears Joe Biden is accepting the aims of the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, if not yet having formally signed on: “Biden for President will not accept contributions from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives.”

Warren released her Green Manufacturing Plan, with highlights including:
  • ”$400 billion in funding over the next ten years for clean energy research and development”
  • ”$1.5 trillion federal procurement commitment over the next ten years”
  • ” a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology”
  • “we must cut projected global emissions by more than half by 2030”

The plans are surprisingly similar in terms of scope, especially in terms of the budget expenditures, and in many of the details. Warren’s plan calls for greater expenditure in federal procurement than Biden’s, and appears more ambitious in terms of emissions targets. Notably, Warren frequently refers to the Green New Deal, which she has endorsed, whereas Biden praises the Green New Deal’s “framework” but does not appear to follow its particulars closely.

Update: As first noticed by Credo Action’s Josh Nelson, the Biden plan cribbed some text directly from the labor-environmentalist group Blue Green Alliance and from the fossil-fuel-industry Carbon Capture Coalition. The Biden campaign has since directly credited those organizations, which appear to be advising the campaign.

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