Category: Confrence

Republican Walter ‘Mike’ Hill makes a point during The Gleaner’s Editors’ Forum on Tuesday. Next to him is Democrat Moises ‘Moe’ Vela, and Judith Weddeburn of the 51% Coalition.

Jamaica and the Caribbean’s bid for a secure climate future is likely to be impacted by the outcome of the November 8 United States (US) presidential election.

However, whether the impact will be negative or positive remains to be seen, though the sentiments of representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties – present in Jamaica this week – provides an indication of the possibilities.

Republican Walter ‘Mike’ Hill, member of the Florida House of Representatives, has denied the existence of climate change.

“I do believe in climate change; it’s called summer, winter, spring and fall. It is not anthropogenic; it is not man-made,” he told The Gleaner‘s Editors’ Forum on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our climate is being affected primarily by two major forces – our sun and our oceans. Me driving my car to and from work is not changing our climate,” he added.

Hill went further to reveal his aversion to the Paris Agreement – which the US ratified on September 3 – and to the provision of financing to support climate change adaptation and mitigation, whether in the Caribbean or elsewhere.

REPUBLICAN ‘NO’

“I would say no to signing that agreement (the Paris Agreement) because it would be much too expensive to not only the American taxpayers, but the other countries that are imposed upon for what has been proven scientifically to be very minimal improvement in a reduction of carbon dioxide into the air, which, by the way, is not a poison. Our plants need it (carbon dioxide) in order to survive,” he said.

The Paris Agreement was brokered last year at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in France.

The agreement – which is to come into force on November 4 – has as its goal: “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

Democrat Moises ‘Moe’ Vela, who served in President Barack Obama’s administration as the director of administration and senior advisor in the Office of Vice-president Joe Biden, was of a different view from Hill.

“Senator [Hillary] Clinton has long been on the record, as I have been, as a matter of fact; we respect and we recognise the intelligence of our scientists from around the world. You don’t have to read 500 scientific reports to understand climate change is truly impacting our world,” he said.

“Secretary Clinton will continue to work with other leaders around the world as she has as secretary of state and as senator … to recognise the impact that climate change is having on our world,” Vela predicted.

CHILDREN OF THE WORLD

“I personally don’t have children, but I care enough about the children of the world, and I know she does as well… to give them an Earth that is sustainable … . We have got to address climate change so that the children of the world have a brighter future,” he said.

While admitting to having no authority to speak for Clinton “on the finance matter”, Vela said: “I would hope that the financials would flow from the United States to address climate change in the Caribbean basin and around the world.”

Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew hammered the Caribbean recently, leaving hundreds dead, billions of dollars in infrastructural damage, and despair in countries such as Haiti, Cuba and The Bahamas – a grim reminder of the threat climate change presents to especially small-island states.

That threat includes not only warmer temperatures, but also rising sea levels, coastal erosion and extreme weather events, including more frequent and/or intense hurricanes and droughts.

On the outcome of the US presidential election and the implications for local efforts to bolster climate change readiness, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Colonel Oral Khan said the island would wait to see.

“I think the US elections have generated a lot of interest beyond just questions of climate change, and we cannot escape taking note of the some of the things that are being said, but we will await the outcome, and through diplomatic channels, we will continue to press for what the Paris Agreement calls for,” he told The Gleaner.

AWARENESS INITIATIVE

Hill and Vela are in Jamaica this week as part of an initiative of the United States Embassy in Kingston and the 51% Coalition, with Panos Caribbean as implementing partner.

The initiative is designed to “raise public awareness and advance understanding of the US presidential election process, with an examination of lessons and implications for Jamaica and the Caribbean, in the interest of responsible and democratic governance,” according to information out of Panos.

In addition to Hill and Vela being present on the island for a round of media interviews and public engagements, there have also been a series of Dinner and a Debate viewing events. Those events saw Jamaicans exposed to the cut and thrust of the US presidential debates between Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.

Gleaner

Caribbean waters have been disturbed by Hurricane Matthew, which has left a trail of death and destruction in its wake this past week.

 

While Jamaica was spared the full wrath of Hurricane Matthew, others in the Caribbean were not, making well the case for holding global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius in the face of a changing climate.

So says respected meteorologist and former climate change negotiator for Jamaica, Clifford Mahlung.

For him, the experience of Matthew – leaving in its wake a trail of bodies and extensive infrastructure damage in not only Haiti, which took a severe battering, but also the Dominican Republic and Cuba – is chock-full of takeaways.

“The lessons that we gather from Matthew are numerous. It certainly strengthens the argument that we keep our global temperatures as close as we can to 1.5 degrees, because anything above 1.5 will result in many such systems like the one we just experienced with this hurricane,” Mahlung told The Gleaner.

In the run up to and during the international climate change talks held in France last year, the Caribbean aggressively lobbied for and ultimately secured the inclusion of 1.5 degrees Celsius as a target referenced in the new climate deal.

Dubbed ‘The Paris Agreement’, it has as its goal to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

The agreement will come into force next month following reports of endorsement from European nations yesterday, which sent the accord across a crucial threshold. “European nations raised backing for the 2015 Paris Agreement to countries representing 56.75 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions, above the 55 per cent needed for implementation,” a Reuters news report said, quoting from a United Nations website.

With this year’s global climate change talks, to be held in Marrakesh, now only weeks away, Mahlung said Hurricane Matthew lends significance to the coming into force of the agreement. It also underscores, he said, the need for global financial and other support for climate change adaptation and loss and damage associated with extreme weather events in small-island developing states (SIDS).

 

HURRICANE CATEGORIES

 

“Hurricane Matthew was able to maintain category three or higher for several days. It shows that we can get a category five hurricane in a matter of hours,” Mahlung said.

“It shows the difficulties of even doing some of the predictions, as we saw how the projected tracks changed considerably over time; and this is not because the models are not good, but that the kind of conditions we now face with respect to tropical cyclone development have changed significantly from the good old days of, say, a Gilbert or Ivan,” he added.

According to the meteorologist, SIDS have to remain vigilant.

“You can appreciate that there were times when the people in Haiti and Dominican Republic would have thought that the system would not have come to Hispaniola. We saw where, in the final analysis, Jamaica was spared and the track was changed, resulting in grave devastation in Hispaniola and particularly Haiti,” Mahlung noted.

“So when we make the case with respect to adaptation in Marrakesh in a few weeks time, and also loss and damage, we will go into those negotiations with first-hand experiences of just what severe weather events such as a tropical cyclone, can do to small-island states,” he emphasised.

Former head of the Meteorological Service, Jeffrey Spooner, for his part, said there was no question of the need to continue the push for a climate-secure Caribbean.

“My real wish is that Marrakesh continues the work to ensure that we get to the point where we can really seal this deal to cap the increase in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Jamaica, CARICOM and SIDS need to continue to press for that,” he said.

pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

The Gleaner 

Project Administrator at the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Clifford Mahlung, addresses a consultation on ‘climate change and human health in Jamaica and its implications for other sectors’ at the Climate Change Division located at Half-Way Tree Road in Kingston. (Photo: JIS)

JAMAICA is expected to deposit its instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change by year end.

The Paris Agreement emphasises that climate change is a threat to human society and that there is a growing need for international collaboration, deep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, establishment of a framework for the involvement of local communities and people with disabilities, and the empowerment of women, among others.

Speaking with JIS News

on Thursday, project administrator at the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Clifford Mahlung, said the process towards ratification will require Government’s approval, which is under way.

“We are awaiting the assessment from the Attorney General’s Department. We are close to hearing from them, and that will allow us to make a submission to Cabinet and then Cabinet will decide that we should go ahead and ratify,” he explained.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris in December 2015.

Mahlung said that the ratification means that Jamaica will become a party to the Paris Agreement “and so we can become involved and participate in all aspects of the work of the agreement”.

He said that to date, 61 countries have ratified the agreement, adding that there have been commitments from the European Union and India to sign on before the end of the year.

The Agreement calls on nations that have ratified to pursue their highest possible ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using Nationally Determined Contributions and monitored through a reporting mechanism.

The overall goal of the Paris Agreement is for countries to take action to keep global temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while at the same time using best efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement will come into force when the total number of countries that have ratified the convention accounts for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions

Jamaica Observer

NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off on Tuesday here with more than 140 heads of state and government and a yearly tradition of speeches made to the 193 member states of the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

This year marks the 71st session of the UNGA, convened under the theme ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world’, with particular focus on Goal #13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

This high-level week with world leaders is an opportunity for the Kingdom of Morocco to promote the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) set to take place in Marrakech, November 7 to 18. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, will be on hand for a series of side-events and bilateral meetings aimed at reinforcing and promoting Morocco’s climate initiatives, including those on energy, agriculture, capacity building, adaptation and finance, discussing global warming issues affecting the most vulnerable countries and island states, and mobilising the international community for an ambitious global climate action agenda in Marrakech to implement the Paris Agreement.

United Nations Secretary

hosted a special event to encourage parties to ratify the agreement. According to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, as of Tuesday, 29 parties have ratified the agreement, accounting for 40.12 per cent of global emissions. The Kingdom of Morocco will be among approximately 20 countries to deposit their instruments of ratification here during this week’s proceedings, inching closer to the 55 per cent necessary for legal entry into force when the agreement takes effect and becomes legally binding for those countries that have joined.

During his opening remarks, Ban underscored the importance of the climate change agenda.

“With the Paris Agreement we are tackling the defining challenge of our time. We have no time to lose. I urge you to bring the Agreement into force before the end of year. We need 26 more countries equalling 15 per cent of global emissions for entry into force,” he stated.

US President Barack Obama, during his last speech to the UNGA, called on the international community to keep working together to solve global issues including climate change. “The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition,” he stated.

UNGA President Peter Thomson, the first from a Pacific Island nation (Fiji), underscored the need to act on climate change to avoid its negative impacts. “We are steadily moving towards the ratification of the Paris Agreement. We must not delay any further.”

Brazilian President Michel Temer affirmed his country’s commitment to fighting global warming, saying: “Tomorrow I will deposit Brazil’s instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement.”

As the first African head of state to address the UNGA, Idriss Déby Itno, president of Chad, highlighted the importance of working with the international community to fight global warming on the continent. “It’s not about giving charity to Africa, it’s about true partnership with Africa to tackle climate and global challenges,” he said.

The traditional roll call of speeches to the UNGA starts with the United Nations secretary general, followed by the President of the UNGA, president of Brazil (first Member State to speak in the general debate since the 10th session of the General Assembly) and president of the United States (host country). For all other member states, the speaking order is based on the level of representation, preference and other criteria such as geographic balance.

observer

Andrew Wheatley

 

A powerful line-up of speakers will address next month’s Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) 14th annual conference in Montego Bay, St James.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is among those confirmed for the conference, set for the Secrets Resorts and Spa, under the theme, “Regulation: Creating a Spectrum of Opportunities in the Caribbean”. It will run over three days – October 26 to 28.

OOCUR, a non-profit organisation, was established in 2002 by the signatories of six utility regulators across the Caribbean, including Jamaica’s Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR). It was established to assist in the improvement of utility regulation, facilitate understanding of regulation issues and undertake research, training and development.

Officials of the OUR will be featured heavily in the conference’s proceedings. Among those expected to participate are Albert Gordon, director general, and Joseph Matalon, the chairman. Also expected to address participants from across the Caribbean is Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of science, energy, technology. This will be his first major conference in Jamaica as portfolio minister in the Holness administration.

The conference should be fully energised when Andrew Thorington, from the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation, presents on the electric utility-regulator relations in the Caribbean. With raging debate in recent times about the need for cleaner energy, there will be a four-member panel discussion on the issue. The participants include Dan Potash, representing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Winston Robotham of the OUR; David Cooke of the Jamaica Public Service; and Dr Xavier Lemaire of University College, London Energy Institute.

The telecommunications regulators are expected to take centre stage on the second day of the conference. Professor Hopeton Dunn, chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, and Julian Wilkins of Caribbean Focus, Global Perspective, are among those expected to make presentations. The day will end with the meeting of the general assembly and then a meeting of OOCUR’s executive council.

Horace Chang, the minister with responsibility for water and housing, will make his presentation on the final day. His ministry has taken on much of the regulatory responsibilities for much of the country’s public bodies and agencies.

There will also be presentations from Skeeta Carasco, regulatory economist at the National Utilities Regulatory Commission, and Dwight DaCosta, deputy chief of party, USAID.

 

Gleaner

Khan

Jamaica has begun preparations to participate in this year’s international climate talks set for Marrakesh in November, having earlier inked the historic Paris Agreement, which emerged from last year’s negotiations, held in France.

“I know the Government intends to be represented as usual, so discussions have started on the complement of the team to go and how we will fund that participation,” Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation told The Gleaner.

On Earth Day this year, Jamaica – represented by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith – was among the more than 100 countries to sign the agreement that was the result of years long wrangling among world leaders and their technical teams.

In signing, they signalled their intent to ratify the deal, which sets out the road map for what many hope will be a climate-secure future, given its goal to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

The inclusion of 1.5 in the text constituted a victory for small-island developing states, including those of the Caribbean. The icing on the cake for the Caribbean lobby was the region’s 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign – the collaborative effort of Panos Caribbean; the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; the Saint Lucia Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology; the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; and the Regional Council of Martinique.

With funding from the Caribbean Development Bank, the campaign ran over five months – from October 2015, ahead of the Paris Talks, through February 2016.

RAISING AWARENESS

Over the period, artists, artistes, media workers, civil-society organisations and government officials worked together to raise awareness of the importance of the negotiations and their implications for the region.

The key message conveyed was the need for a transparent and verifiable agreement that limits carbon emissions and ensures global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

It also sought to highlight the fact that it is the poorest countries, communities and people who are the most vulnerable to climate change, and that the fight against climate change is also the fight against poverty and for social justice.

Among the products from the campaign were a Facebook page (www.1point5.info) and Twitter account (@1point5OK) that attracted hundreds of followers; the 1.5 Selfie Video Challenge (http://www.1point5.info/actscentral); and a flash mob held in Jamaica and involving Panos’ Voices for Climate Change Education artistes.

There were also a number of creative outputs from artists, including Jonathan Guy-Gladding, out of Saint Lucia, who did a painting that bears the name of the campaign; and the production of a new album titled Earth Inspired that features the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign theme song – available at soundcloud.com/panos-caribbean – and individual songs by artistes Aaron Silk, Minori Russell, Pam Hall and Lovindeer.

Aaron Silk and another Caribbean artiste Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez also attended and performed at the Paris Talks as part of the campaign. In doing so, they attracted onlookers to not only the Caribbean pavilion, but also helped to focus the spot light on 1.5 degrees Celsius as a necessary ingredient in the new climate deal.

Whether this year’s talks – which constitute the 22 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – will yield anything momentous remains to be seen.

“This COP is not one of the big ones that is going to create a lot of excitement. But we have the Paris Agreement now; we have to keep our vigilance,” he said.

BIG BOoST

“We are hoping that even one of the larger emitters will sign off [on the Paris Agreement] before Marrakesh. That would give a big boost going into those discussions and could possibly bring along sufficient parties to ensure that the agreement could come into force even before 2020,” Khan added.

Up to August 23, there were 180 signatories to the Paris Agreement.

“Of these, 23 states have also deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 1.08 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions,” reveals the UNFCCC website.

With only 23 states having so far ratified, the journey to having the agreement enter into force could prove long.

The agreement itself stipulates that it shall enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which “at least 55 parties to the Convention (UNFCCC) accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession”.

pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

gleaner

 

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor – features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com

DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann — For the past two-and-a-half years, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has spent upwards of US$660,000 growing coral in two locations in Jamaica and one site in Belize.

If you’re like most people, you’re wondering why a development bank, with the broad objectives of helping its members reduce poverty and grow their economies, is concerned with coral.

“I don’t think it odd at all that the bank is doing this. I think the bank should be doing more things like this. In fact, if you look at the direction in which the bank is going now, you’ll see that the bank will be doing more and more things like this,” says IDB Environmental Principal Specialist, Climate Change and Sustainability Development Sector Graham Watkins.

‘This’ is in reference to the Coral Reef Restoration Program, in which scientists from the The University of the West Indies’ Centre for Marine Sciences and its Discovery Bay Marine Lab have been studying various coral species to determine their resilience to climatic variation and change, including sea level rise and increased ocean/sea temperatures. They propagate the corals in nurseries and will transplant them once they are big enough in hopes of replenishing the island’s declining coral stock over time. Work under the programme started in June 2014 and will end in November. Similar work was carried out in Placencia, Belize, through collaboration with Fragments of Hope.

Speaking yesterday at a workshop to discuss the results and outcomes of the programme at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, Watkins explained that the programme was a natural fit for the IDB as it reflects a shift in the organisation’s policy.

“The bank recently updated its 2010-2020 strategy. It updated it mid-term, which is interesting because one of the major changes that they’ve made…they didn’t change the objectives – poverty reduction and economic growth still sit as the main objectives of the bank – but what they’ve done is they’ve made climate change and environmental sustainability institutions as completely cross-cutting. They made a clear statement that the IDB, yes, will chase those original historical goals, but it will incorporate those (climate change and environment) across the bank,” the environment specialist said.

“It is quite a fundamental change in the direction of bank,” he added.

Watkins explained that in his six years at the IDB, he has seen climate change grow from an initiative, which he defined as little more than a one-off project to throw money at, to a division, and as of this year, a full-fledged department.

Previous to that development, he said, the bank had drafted a biodiversity plan because it believes that its core objectives cannot be divorced from sustainable use of natural resources.

“If you look at biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean, you’ll see that [it’s] one of the major sources of dependence for very poor people, whether you’re talking about coral reefs or whether you’re talking about rainforests. So, if you really want to meet those goals of poverty reduction, you’re going to have to deal with those issues.

“If you look at the Caribbean and you’re going to talk about economic growth, you’re going to have to look at tourism and tourism depends on those resources, so the links are quite obvious when you think about it,” the IDB representative continued.

The directional shift towards environmental concerns, he said, had much to do with the Paris Agreement signed last December, and the Sustainable Development Goals to which UN member countries agreed upon earlier in 2015.

Watkins argued that while it may be “easier said than done” convincing politicians and other decision makers to drive the change, it is the way of the future. Strengthening the point, he pointed to an op-ed in the Guardian, written by IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and professor of economics and government at the London School of Economics Nicolas Stern, which, in a nod to the emerging green infrastructure movement, advocated for a merger of the climate change and infrastructure development agendas.

“The idea is to bring those two things together because they are critical for economic growth and poverty reduction,” said Watkins.

The two-day workshop is called ‘Coral Lifeline’ and will include site visits to the underwater coral nurseries today

Observer

Shaw                                                                                                 File

Reacting to concerns that the raising of taxes on fuel has resulted in the spike in electricity bills consumers will face this month, Finance Minister Audley Shaw is arguing that the increase in special consumption tax (SCT) on heavy fuel oil (HFO) is only a nominal percentage of the rate increase the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) announced last week.

In response to questions from The Gleaner, the minister said that of the 12.8 per cent increase the JPS intends to apply, the increase in the SCT on HFO “translates to a mere 2.3 percentage points” or 18 per cent.

“As estimated in the tax measures, the effect of the increase in the overall SCT (specific and ad valorem) on HFO and LNG is approximately J$1.35 billion (or approximately US$11 million) in fuel costs to JPS. This would then approximate to a cost of US0.36 cents per kWh,” the minister said.

“Given the US two-cent-per kWh increase by JPS to consumers and the impact of the increased SCT of US0.36 cents per kwH to JPS costs, the percentage contribution of the tax to the pending JPS electricity bill increase would be 18 per cent. Therefore, the increase in SCT on HFO translates to a mere 2.3 percentage points of the 12.8 per cent electricity bill increase.”

Additionally, Shaw said he at no point stated that the increase would not affect the rates of the JPS as no one specifically asked him about the SCT on HFO.

“With reference to the comments by the minister of finance and the public service at the post-Budget press conference, it should be noted that the minister spoke to a question posed on the impact of the J$7.0 increase in SCT on fuel used for the purposes of ground transportation,” the statement read.

“The minister’s comments were not geared towards the impact of LNG or HFO on electricity prices. There were no questions posed about the effect of the increase in the overall SCT (specific and ad-valorem) of HFO.”

The increase in SCT on HFO that was announced during Shaw’s May 12 Budget presentation was one of three reasons Jamaica’s only power distribution company attributed to this month’s increase.

During his post-Budget press conference on May 13, Shaw, in responding to concerns that the new tax measures would affect light bills, said: “The argument also is that JPS light bills will go up as a result. And I want to remind everyone that this tax (on fuel) does not apply to Jamaica Public Service at all. It is only related to SCT for fuel for road transport only.”

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com

 

The Gleaner

 ExxonMobil and others pursued research into technologies, yet blocked government efforts to fight climate change for more than 50 years, findings show

Exxon Mobil
The patent records were among a new trove of documents published by the Center for International Environmental Law, and deepen the public relations challenge for Exxon. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Patent records reveal oil companies actively pursued research into technologies to cut carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change from the 1960s – including early versions of the batteries now deployed to power electric cars such as the Tesla.

Scientists for the companies patented technologies to strip carbon dioxide out of exhaust pipes, and improve engine efficiency, as well as fuel cells. They also conducted research into countering the rise in carbon dioxide emissions – including manipulating the weather.

Esso, one of the precursors of ExxonMobil, obtained at least three fuel cell patents in the 1960s and another for a low-polluting vehicle in 1970, according to the records. Other oil companies such as Phillips and Shell also patented technologies for more efficient uses of fuel.

However, the American Petroleum Institute, the main oil lobby, opposed government funding of research into electric cars and low emissions vehicles, telling Congress in 1967: “We take exception to the basic assumption that clean air can be achieved only by finding an alternative to the internal combustion engine.”

This 1970 patent, assigned to Esso (now ExxonMobil), is a design for a low-polluting engine system.
  This 1970 patent, assigned to Esso (now ExxonMobil), is a design for a low-polluting engine system. Photograph: Handout

 

And ExxonMobil funded a disinformation campaigned aimed at discrediting scientists and blocking government efforts to fight climate change for more than 50 years, beforepublicly disavowing climate denial in 2008.

The patent records were among a new trove of documents published on Thursday by the Center for International Environmental Law, and deepen the legal and public relations challenge for Exxon.

“What we saw was an array of patent technologies that demonstrated that these companies had the technologies they needed and could have commercialised to help address the problem of C02 pollution,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Ciel. “They then turned to Congress and said you don’t need to invest in electrical vehicle research because the research is ongoing and it’s robust.”

The findings echo those in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, which explored the deliberate destruction of GM’s first electric vehicles.

Alan Jeffers, an Exxon spokesman, insisted he could not comment directly on the documents as he was unable to access the Center for International Environmental law website on which they were published on Thursday morning.

In an emailed statement, Jeffers said: “The Guardian gave us only a few hours to comment on documents from four decades ago.”

Jeffers went on: “This further illustrates the Guardian’s well-established bias on climate change issues which has been demonstrated previously through its keep it in the ground campaign.”

He said the company believed the risks of climate change were real, was researching lower emission technologies, and engaged in “constructive dialogue” with policy makers about energy and climate change.

Researchers discovered more than 20 such patents filed by oil companies from as early as the 1940s for technologies that could help in the development of electric cars.

However, Ron Dunlop, president of Sun Oil and API chairman, told a joint hearing of the commerce committee in 1967 that government funding of research into electric cars would be misplaced – because the oil companies were so advanced in their research of cleaner cars. “We in the petroleum industry are convinced that by the time a practical electric car can be mass produced and marketed, it will not enjoy any meaningful advantage from an air pollution standpoint,” he told Congress. “Emissions from internal-combustion engines will have long since been controlled.”

Muffett said the findings were the result of three years of research and were not exhaustive.

“The question is what did they do to try to commercialise these technologies, knowing what they did about climate change,” he went on.

The revelations, the second set of documents released by Muffett’s organisation, reinforce charges by campaigners that Exxon was well aware that the burning of fossil fuels was a main driver of climate change – despite its public posture of doubt.

In addition to the technologies with potential for electric cars, Exxon and other oil companies were actively researching methods to cut emissions of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas.

In another historic document that surfaced last month, a Canadian subsidiary of Exxon admitted the company had the technology to cut carbon emissions in half. However, the corporate memo dating from 1977 said it would be prohibitively expensive – doubling the cost of electricity generation, according to the documents obtained by Desmog blog.

New York and 17 other attorneys general, including DC and the US Virgin Islands, are investigating whether the oil company lied to investors and the public about the threat of climate change.

Campaigners plan to further turn up the heat on the company next week when Exxon holds its annual shareholder meeting in Dallas.

Campaigners have argued for more than a decade that Exxon bankrolled a network of front groups and conservative think tanks aimed at discrediting well-established science – confusing the public and delaying governments efforts to cut the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for warming.

Those efforts to put Exxon on the spot gathered pace after Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times reported that the company’s own scientists knew as early as the 1970s that greenhouse gases caused climate change.

The attorney general of the US Virgin Islands has subpoenaed Exxon to turn over email, documents and statements over the last decades.

Exxon has dismissed the investigations as politically motivated.

However, the company has reversed its opposition to fuel cell technology. Earlier this month, the company announced it had been conducting a joint research effort on fuel cell power plants with FuelCell.

The initiative, which got underway in 2011, aims to route the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning power plants into fuel cells, producing low emissions electricity. The company has estimated it can cut 90% of carbon dioxide emissions.

“At ExxonMobil, we share the view that the risks of climate change are serious and warrant thoughtful action,” Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s chief executive, told the US Energy Association after receiving its annual award.

The Guardian

WITH the launch of Caribbean Climate Trackers, the region’s youth now have the chance to become more vocal on climate change.

The youth-led writing initiative, as hub manager Dizzanne Billy describes it, is intended “to identify and support young climate actors from around the world”.

With its genesis as the Adopt-A-Negotiator initiative, the effort was rebranded in Paris in December and is looking to amplify the perspectives of youth on climate change.

To that end, Billy, who is also president of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network in Trinidad, said youths recently had two publishing windows April 5 to 22 and May 4 through 15 that have qualified them for writing fellowships.

The April 5 to 22 window saw them writing on why the world should be free from fossil fuels and the effects of fossil fuels on health and air pollution.

The May 4 to 15 window saw them writing on climate change, human rights and energy transition.

“Coming out of these two publishing windows, the goal was to select 15 young people to be a part of a paid writing fellowship, as well as to choose two persons to be a part of the Climate Trackers team to COP22 (the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held later this year in Marrakech),” said Billy.

fellow selection

“So far, the 15 persons have been announced and we successfully have one person from the Caribbean Climate Trackers chosen to be a fellow.

“Her name is Amrita Dass and she’s from Trinidad and Tobago. The two persons for the team have not yet been announced, but should be this week,” she added.

The fellowships, which got underway earlier this month, covers subjects including:

• an introduction to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;

• the annual Conference of the Parties and what it means;

• climate change and health;

• climate change, water and biodiversity;

• climate change, human rights and gender; and

• climate change variability in the Caribbean.

With the start of their operations in the region in March, the first order of business has been to address visibility while prompting support for their work.

Caribbean Climate Trackers therefore joined the Earth Day 2016 InstaMeet event, which ran from April 22 to 24 on the social networking service Instagram.

“In Trinidad, we met at the Botanic Gardens in Port-of-Spain, with young, spoken-word artistes performing about earth and the environment and

conservation. We also did some networking and speaking about climate change, [as well as] exchanged ideas on the Paris Agreement,” Billy told The Gleaner.

Their activities at the Botanic Gardens were shared on Instagram, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Billy has urged Caribbean youth to join the movement.

“We need to stop operating in insularity. We need to find now the power that we have when we work together,” she said.

“Young people tend to feel that their opinion does not matter or that they are like a box that needs to be ticked off.

” Our opinion matter and the only way we can get it out there is by doing the work, and we will see the results after,” Billy added.

The Caribbean hub joins seven others from across the world Latin America, Brazil, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Balkans.

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The Gleaner