Climate change perspectives: Landmark case glacier lake (flood) threatened town vs carbon emitter RWE, Exxon-led carbon tax proposal gains more support

4 Dec 2017: Landmark case glacier lake (flood) threatened town vs carbon emitter RWE 

A German court has ruled that it will hear a Peruvian farmer’s case against energy giant RWE over climate change damage in the Andes, a decision labelled by campaigners as a “historic breakthrough”.... He wants RWE to pay €17,000 ($20,000) towards flood defences for his community in Peru’s northern Ancash region. The 37-year-old also wants the German company to reimburse him for the €6,384 he himself has spent on protective measures. Lliuya bases his claims on a 2013 climate study which found that RWE was responsible for around 0.5% of global emissions “since the beginning of industrialisation”.

22 Jun 2017: Unilever, Pepsico, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy join Exxon and other oil majors to support carbon tax proposal

Editor's note: 
  • I have been keeping my eye on carbon tax policy support and note it is rising and now includes more big global corporates (Unilever, Pepsico etc.) and two NGOs (CI and TNC), joining the oil majors. I read the US GOP proposal with much interest and note it is akin to a value added tax system, and this seems to apply to the buyers and not the producers; and will require some sort of social security / tax break (just think of your VAT/GST having a personal relief in your tax bill). This is a neatly crafted device that also had a proposal to exempt big manufacturers from climate liability; However, with regard to the $40  price tag, I'd note a recent study by an oil major economist who said it would take $100 for OECD and $50 for non OECD to actually make an impact on climate change.
  • This may surprise sustainability people I spoke to in Southeast Asia who mention NGOs dead against carbon tax/trading. On the sidelines of the Peat Congress I attended last year, I did hear NGOs saying this has to come (and not CI, TNC). I also heard pro-carbon tax strongly from policy influencers in Singapore in 2016, and no surprise Singapore has a policy now, So let's see how carbon tax policy evolves in the region.

Exxon, BP and Shell back carbon tax proposal to curb emissions by Oliver Milman 20 June 2017 - Oil giants among numerous firms to support conservative group’s plan. But Greenpeace says: ‘A PR exercise is no cure for decades of deception’ ... The fossil fuel companies announced their backing for the plan alongside other major firms including Unilever, PepsiCo, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson. In a full-page newspaper ad on Tuesday, the companies called for a “consensus climate solution that bridges partisan divides, strengthens our economy and protects our shared environment”. Exxon and the others were listed as founding members of the plan, alongside the green groups Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy. "

Full page in Wall Street Journal


12 Feb 2017: Looking at reactions to Republic Insiders $40 carbon tax proposal

Editor's note: This is quite a policy idea.Starts at $40 with a significant social security payout (reads like how GST is implemented), a border tax adjustment, eliminate regulations to cut emissions, help the US meet the Paris climate obligations, and oil and gas gets immunity. 

Prominent Republicans Pitch Carbon-Tax Plan to Top Trump Aides by Jennifer A Dlouhy  and Margaret Talev February 8, 2017 -  "This is not a climate proposal; it’s a tax proposal," said Thomas Pyle, head of the free-market advocacy group American Energy Alliance. "There’s no need to trade Obama’s climate regulations for a carbon tax. Donald Trump has already promised to undo them."

James Baker's carbon tax pitch to White House -- Former Secretary of State James Baker speaks to CNN's John King in his first television interview since President Donald Trump took office.Source: CNN

Republican Insiders Push for a Carbon Tax at White House Meeting by SEAN MORAN 8 Feb 2017 -- Beltway Republicans, including former Treasury Secretary James Baker, lobby National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn to enact a carbon tax at the White House today. Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, and Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus are also expected to attend....At $40 per ton of carbon, the plan would raise $300 billion in revenue, and add 36 cents per gallon to gas prices. James Baker has said that they would reallocate the funds in the form of rebates, a family of four would receive $2,000 a year......@thehill Your story about me & the carbon tax is absolutely incorrect—it is just the opposite. I will not support or endorse a carbon tax! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2016....

Senior Republican statesmen propose replacing Obama’s climate policies with a carbon tax By Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin February 8 -- Despite the group’s impeccable Republican credentials — Baker, Paulson and Schultz served as treasury secretaries and Feldstein and Mankiw served as CEA chairs under GOP presidents — the proposal faces long odds. Many congressional Republicans are adamantly against a tax increase of any kind, and President Trump repeatedly emphasized that he is far more interested in promoting the extraction of fossil fuels in the United States than curbing the nation’s carbon emissions.... A proposed carbon tax also failed recently in a ballot initiative in Washington state, in part because it divided the left — with some liberals wanting to use any revenue to invest in clean energy and other social causes rather than to return it to the public.

A group of prominent Republicans just launched a longshot bid for a carbon tax By Hannah Hess, E&E News Feb. 8, 2017 -- The four-pillar proposal calls for a revenue-neutral carbon tax starting at $40 per ton.... Dubbed the "Republican climate jailbreak strategy," the plan calls for taxes to be collected at the source — on oil at the refinery, for instance — then built into the prices for products made from that material. Revenue would be returned to taxpayers, amounting to about $2,000 annually for a family of four. "Two-thirds of American households will receive more in carbon dividends than they will pay directly in carbon taxes," said Martin Feldstein, who served as chairman of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers....

9 Feb 2017: US Republican group calls for $40 carbon tax and border adjustments, US military adjusts for climate change, China glaciers retreat, NOAA data question

Editor's note: I have for a while now observed rising support for a carbon tax. So the question is, what products would be among the US carbon-taxed domestic goods, and what imports may be affected. $40 falls short of BP's estimates of $100 for OECD and $50 for non-OECD that is needed to have some impact on climate change. How will this cascade to policy elsewhere? China is starting domestic carbon trading soon - what is China's view on imports (if US goes for this, how will it adjust its policy)? I was chatting to two highly-regarded US-based atmospheric scientists about it this morning. Thanks to Monique for pointing out the issues of China glacier retreat and the point of no return.

‘A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax By JOHN SCHWARTZFEB. 7, 2017 -- The Baker proposal would substitute the carbon tax for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a complex set of rules to regulate emissions which President Trump has pledged to repeal and which is tied up in court challenges, as well as other climate regulations. At an initial price of $40 per ton of carbon dioxide produced, the tax would raise an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion a year, with the rate scheduled to rise over time....  The tax would be collected where the fossil fuels enter the economy, such as the mine, well or port; the money raised would be returned to consumers in what the group calls a “carbon dividend” amounting to an estimated $2,000 a year for the average family of four.... The plan would also incorporate what are known as “border adjustments” to increase the costs for products from other countries that do not have a similar system in place, an idea intended to address the problem of other “free-rider” nations gaining a price advantage over carbon-taxed domestic goods. The proposal would also insulate fossil fuel companies against possible lawsuits over the damage their products have caused to the environment....It is also unclear how the plan will be received by the Trump administration. Stephen K. Bannon, the senior counselor to the president, has shown little interest in appeasing establishment Republicans. Breitbart News, which Mr. Bannon led before joining the Trump White House staff, has been outspoken in denying the science of climate change.... Whatever the fate of the plan, it is a notable moment because it puts influential members of the Republican establishment on the record as favoring action on climate change — a position that is publicly held by few Republicans at the national level, though many quietly say they would like to throw off the orthodoxy in the party that opposes action.... A survey taken just after the 2016 election by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that 66 percent of registered voters supported a carbon tax on fossil fuel companies, with the money used to reduce personal taxes. The party breakdown for that support was 81 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 49 percent of Republicans. Even among Trump voters, 48 percent support taxing fossil fuel companies, according to the Yale program.... “It’s really important that we Republicans have a seat at the table when people start talking about climate change,” Mr. Baker said. He said that, like many Republicans, he was skeptical that human activity was the main cause of warming, but that the stakes were too high for inaction. “I don’t accept the idea that it’s all man made,” he said, “but I do accept that the risks are sufficiently great that we need to have an insurance policy.”... As for the likelihood of success of his plan, “I have no idea what the prospects are.”...

A Conservative Case for Climate Action By MARTIN S. FELDSTEIN, TED HALSTEAD and N. GREGORY MANKIWFEB. 8, 2017 -- By contrast, an ideal climate policy would reduce carbon emissions, limit regulatory intrusion, promote economic growth, help working-class Americans and prove durable when the political winds change. We have laid out such a plan in a paper to be released Wednesday by the Climate Leadership Council....Our co-authors include James A. Baker III, Treasury secretary for President Ronald Reagan and secretary of state for President George H. W. Bush; Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary for President George W. Bush; George P. Shultz, Treasury secretary for President Richard Nixon and secretary of state for Mr. Reagan; Thomas Stephenson, a partner at Sequoia Capital, a venture-capital firm; and Rob Walton, who recently completed 23 years as chairman of Walmart....Our own analysis finds that a carbon dividends program starting at $40 per ton would achieve nearly twice the emissions reductions of all Obama-era climate regulations combined. Provided all four elements are put in force in unison, this plan could meet America’s commitment under the Paris climate agreement, all by itself. Democrats and environmentalists may bemoan the accompanying regulatory rollback. But they should pause to consider the environmental value proposition....

President Trump, Military Split on Climate Change February 02, 2017 -- For nine decades, the Sewells Point tide gauge or its ancestors have been recording the sea level off Pier 6 at Naval Station Norfolk. The story it tells is clear. Between naturally sinking land and global warming driven sea level rise, the water is a half-meter higher than it was at the beginning of the last century.... That's creating problems at the world's largest naval base.In rough weather, damaging surf slams against electrical, water and steam lines under the piers where the Navy docks its Atlantic fleet. High waves can keep sailors from getting to the ships. Even getting on base is getting harder as "nuisance flooding" becomes a regular problem, cutting off roads around the city of Norfolk....The commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, has called global warming a hoax, although he now says there is "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change. The Pentagon, on the other hand, takes the risks of climate change seriously.... "The military has seen climate change as a problem since 2003, if not earlier," says retired Army Gen. Gerry Galloway, now with the Center for Climate and Security. National security threats from climate change are included in eight defense and intelligence documents published before President Obama took office, according to the center. "Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world," a group of high-ranking former military officials wrote in a landmark 2007 report.... At Naval Station Norfolk, they already are adapting to the realities they see coming. Newer piers are built higher, with the utility lines under a protected concrete deck.

China says important glacier is melting due to climate change  Jun 8, 2016 -- A glacier that is one of the largest at the source of China's Yangtze River is fast retreating because of climate change, state media said. The Jianggudiru Glacier on Geladaindong Mountain in a remote part of the western province of Qinghai has shrunk 34 meters (38 yards) over the past six years, Pu Jianchen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Xinhua news agency. The glacier started to shrink slowly in the 1970s, then expanded between 1989 and 1994 before retreating more quickly from 1995, Pu said, Xinhua reported late on Tuesday. Yang Xin, president of the Green River Environmental Protection Association, told Xinhua the glacier retreated two meters a year in the 1980s and 1990s but about six meters a year over the past several years.

Chinese Glacier’s Retreat Signals Trouble for Asian Water Supply By EDWARD WONG DECEMBER 8, 2015 -- China, which remains the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas, pledged last year to begin lowering carbon dioxide emissions around 2030, and in Paris this month, President Xi Jinping reiterated his resolve to help slow climate change. There are no vocal climate change deniers among top Chinese officials..... “China is more prone to the adverse effects of climate change because China is vast, has diverse types of ecology and has relatively fragile natural conditions,” Du Xiangwan, chairman of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, wrote in the report’s introduction.... anishing glaciers raise urgent concerns beyond Tibet and China. By one estimate, the 46,000 glaciers of the Third Pole region help sustain 1.5 billion people in 10 countries — its waters flowing to places as distant as the tropical Mekong Delta of Vietnam, the hills of eastern Myanmar and the southern plains of Bangladesh. Scattered across nearly two million square miles, these glaciers are receding at an ever-quickening pace, producing a rise in levels of rivers and lakes in the short term and threatening Asia’s water supply in the long run.....

World's carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return - Future in which global concentration of CO2 is permanently above 400 parts per million looms Carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant 11 May 2016

Climate change escalating so fast it is 'beyond point of no return' - New study rewrites two decades of research and author says we are 'beyond point of no return'

And here's something from the denial camp

Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data By David Rose for The Mail on Sunday 4 February 2017 -- The Mail on Sunday can reveal a landmark paper exaggerated global warming. It was rushed through and timed to influence the Paris agreement on climate change. America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke its own rules. The report claimed the pause in global warming never existed, but it was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data...

26 Jan 2017: Trump advisors, Musk & Tillerson are pro-carbon tax, but it is an unpopular idea in the US

Editor's note: GHG/carbon policy pressure is likely to become tougher over time in voluntary standards, E.g., RSPO has expanded count of GHG emissions and it is porbable that emissions from fire will come to be included too. Climate change concerns are expected to ratchet up policy pressure and oil majors like BP reckon that the carbon price has to be set at $100 for OECD and $50 for non-OECD to have any real impact on climate change. However, a climate-sceptical Trump Administration may implement shifts in climate policy with the expected head of the EPA reflecting this. However, it is interesting that business-media is writing of Trump Advisors, Elon Mask and Rex Tillerson are apparently in support of a carbon tax. However, the Rockefeller Foundation vs Exxon story below notes that Tillerson reviewed climate change from 2006, he continued to fund climate sceptics while voicing on carbon tax (a still unpopular idea).

Musk’s Surprise Rapport With Trump Means 40% Rally for Tesla by Dana Hull January 26, 2017, Plants cast Tesla as ‘poster child’ for Made in USA: analyst. Shares rise as Model 3 progresses, concerns of 2016 subside. -- Musk serves on the president’s economic advisory board and regularly meets with either Trump or his top aides. He was one of a dozen chief executive officers who met with Trump at the White House on Monday to talk manufacturing, taxes and trade. “Elon Musk has an important line of communication to Donald Trump,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note last week as he raised his price target to $305 from $242. “This strategic relationship between Tesla leadership and the new administration is an important development.”.... Musk, 45, and Trump, 70, may seem an odd pair. Before the election, the South Africa-born entrepreneur said on CNBC that Trump “doesn’t seem to have the sort of character that reflects well” on the U.S. and urged people to revolt and fight the “propaganda” of the fossil fuel industry. Trump has chosen former Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state and Scott Pruitt, an ally of the oil and gas industry, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency....

Elon Musk Floated the Idea of a Carbon Tax to Trump, an Official Says by Kevin Cirilli January 27, 2017 -- Issue raised at White House meeting this week on manufacturing. Idea has been backed by secretary of state nominee Tillerson. -- Musk, also CEO of SpaceX, has publicly supported Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. While chief executive at Exxon, Tillerson acknowledged the climate is changing and described a carbon tax as the most efficient means of embedding the cost of carbon in economic decisions from oil companies to consumers.  Exxon Mobil has lobbied on Capitol Hill for a revenue-neutral carbon tax to take the place of an array of environmental regulations that raise the cost of fossil fuels. A carbon tax could be imposed on oil, gas and coal companies, or on gasoline or homeowners’ power bills. To make it revenue-neutral and to avoid an undue burden on the poor, money raised by carbon taxes could be returned to taxpayers, possibly through periodic dividends....Although a carbon tax has long been favored by some economists as the most straightforward way to put a cost on carbon dioxide, it is eschewed by many of the conservative advocates guiding Trump’s energy and environment policy...

The Cost of Carbon - Putting a Price on Pollution By Mathew Carr | Updated Nov 9, 2016 -- When factories belch smoke, everybody pays. Shouldn’t polluters feel the sting? That’s the big idea behind carbon pricing. Putting a price tag on each ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere reflects its cost to the environment and fires up the search for the cheapest ways to fight climate change. Many policymakers accept that it’s the way to go, but they can’t agree on the best way to do it. Europe, parts of the U.S. and China use markets where companies buy and sell permits to pollute. So far, it’s not clear if that’s working better than a simple carbon tax....About 15 have a tax, ranging from $3 a metric ton in Mexico to $150 a metric ton in Sweden. China, the world’s biggest emitter, has seven pilot trading programs that aren’t yet cutting pollution levels but aim to build up the infrastructure needed to start a national system by 2017. U.S. President Barack Obama tried and failed to start a national cap-and-trade system during his first term. Since the idea of a national carbon tax is unpopular in the U.S., he’s turned to direct regulation of power plants instead. Pollution levels have fallen in many of the areas covered by carbon trading, though much of the drop is attributed to the global recession and the lower price of natural gas, which is cleaner than coal or oil....

24 Jan 2017: Rockeller Family Fund vs Exxon, CLUA grants list focus on biofuels and bionergy

Editor's note: I am finally getting down to reading, The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon by David Kaiser and Le Wasserman, The New York Review of Books, 8 and 22 Dec 2016. Recall that there have been news headlines on Exxon being investigated and sued about apparently hiding knowledge about climate change. Not sure if this matters in the Trump era, but some news links are at the bottom of this posting. Interesting to look at Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) grants list. As noted earlier, it covers only a few US foundations and does not include the Rockeller Family Fund and does not seem to have much in the list on the core oil & gas industry.

  • The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon by David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman DECEMBER 8, 2016

  • The Rockefeller Family Fund Takes on ExxonMobil by David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman DECEMBER 22, 2016

CLUA grants list focus on biofuels and bioenergy

CLUA's reports grants on biofuels and bioenergy, with a few grants on oil reduction (immediately below) and clean energy (see examples below, mostly in the biofuels and bioenergy).

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to examine oil use in California, Oregon, and Washington and identify strategies needed to meet a 50‐percent oil reduction target by 2030 AMOUNT: $50,000.00 DURATION: 3 months / Start date: June 2015

Fuel (mostly to do with biofuels), a few examples:

  • ActionAid USA – Ford Grant PURPOSE: to identify, develop, and promote policies that mitigate the impact of biofuels production on food security, land use, and climate change AMOUNT: $250,000.00 DURATION: 12 months / Start date: July 2015
  • ActionAid USA – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to reduce the negative climate, food security, and land‐use impacts of biofuels, with a focus on U.S. and international policy AMOUNT: $800,000.00 DURATION: 23 months / Start date: November 2015
  • ActionAid USA – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to reduce the negative climate, food security, and land use impacts of biofuels, with particular attention to the expanding use of ethanol AMOUNT: $400,000.00 DURATION: 12 months / Start date: October 2014

Energy (mostly biomass / bio energy), a few examples:
  • Carnegie Institution of Washington – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to develop a community‐based assessment of the prospects for biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to meet global climate mitigation goals AMOUNT: $200,000.00 DURATION: 12 months / Start date: July 2016
  • Climate Policy Initiative – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to encourage informed policy choices in Indonesia by building an empirical platform for future, in depth, qualitative and quantitative analysis concerning biofuels and related renewable energy policies AMOUNT: $50,000.00 DURATION: 2 months / Start date: September 2015
  • Dogwood Alliance – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to limit the expansion of a whole‐tree biomass‐power industry in the American South in favor of low‐carbon energy alternatives AMOUNT: $500,000.00 DURATION: 23 months / Start date: November 2015
  • Fern Foundation – Packard Grant PURPOSE: to ensure the European Union has bioenergy policies based on sustainable supply and that encourage reductions in industrial emissions and sustainable land and forest management AMOUNT: $460,000.00 DURATION: 24 months / Start date: April 2016

Exxon headlines on alleged climate change cover-up
  • Class-Action Lawsuit Adds to ExxonMobil's Climate Change Woes - Investors allege Exxon should have adjusted its accounting of oil reserves based on what it knows about climate change and coming climate action. by David Hasemyer NOV 21, 2016
  • Exxon Adds New York to Suit in Bid to Stop Climate Change Probe by Tom Korosec November 12, 2016
  • Exxon Mobil Sued Over Climate Change Cover-Up - The lawsuit alleges the oil giant’s terminal near Boston continues to pollute rivers and communities.  09/29/2016 
  • Can ExxonMobil Be Found Liable for Misleading the Public on Climate Change? - Scientists at the biggest U.S. oil company understood as early as anyone that fossil fuel emissions were heating up the earth’s atmosphere. by Paul Barrett  and Matthew Philips September 7, 2016

 Excerpts from the Rockefeller Family Fund vs Exxon, Part 1 and Part 2

Our criticism carries a certain historical irony. John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant. In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created. (Other members of the Rockefeller family have been trying to get ExxonMobil to change its behavior for over a decade.) Approached by some reporters for comment, an ExxonMobil spokesman replied, “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company since they’re already funding a conspiracy against us.” What we had funded was an investigative journalism project. With help from other public charities and foundations, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), we paid for a team of independent reporters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism to try to determine what Exxon and other US oil companies had really known about climate science, and when. Such an investigation seemed promising because Exxon, in particular, has been a leader of the movement to deny the facts of climate change. Often working indirectly through front groups, it sponsored many of the scientists and think tanks that have sought to obfuscate the scientific consensus about the changing climate, and it participated in those efforts through its paid advertisements and the statements of its executives.

It seemed to us, however, that for business reasons, a company as sophisticated and successful as Exxon would have needed to know the difference between its own propaganda and scientific reality. If it turned out that Exxon and other oil companies had recognized the validity of climate science even while they were funding the climate denial movement, that would, we thought, help the public understand how artificially manufactured and disingenuous the “debate” over climate change has always been. In turn, we hoped this understanding would build support for strong policies addressing the crisis of global warming.....

We didn’t expect ExxonMobil to admit that it had been at fault. It is one of the largest companies in the world—indeed, if its revenues are compared to the gross domestic products of nations, it has one of the world’s larger economies, bigger than Austria’s, for example, or Thailand’s —and it has a reputation for unusual determination in promoting its selfinterest. One way or another, we expected it to fight back—most likely, we thought, by proxy, through its surrogates in the rightwing press and in Congress.

Sure enough, various bloggers have been calling for “the Rockefellers” to be prosecuted by the government for “conspiracy” against Exxon under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. (Such lines of attack are being tested and refined, and we expect they will soon be repeated in journals with broader readership.) And in May, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, sent a letter to the RFF and seven other NGOs (including the RBF,, Greenpeace, and the Union of Concerned Scientists), as well as all seventeen AGs who said they might investigate ExxonMobil. He accused us of engaging in “a coordinated effort to deprive companies, nonprofit organizations, and scientists of their First Amendment rights and ability to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution,” and demanded that we turn over to him all private correspondence between any of the recipients of his letter relating to any po ential climate change investigation. When we all refused, twice, to surrender any such correspondence, Smith subpoenaed Schneiderman, Healey, and all eight NGOs for the same documents

Large oil companies must possess considerable scientific expertise. In that respect as in others, Exxon has always been an industry leader: the company today says it employs about 16,000 scientists and engineers. And the basic mechanism of climate change is relatively straightforward, long established science. In the 1850s, John Tyndall discovered that atmospheric carbon dioxide acts as a “greenhouse gas,”....So it is no surprise that by the late 1970s and early 1980s, Exxon scientists largely understood climate change—not only its basic mechanism but many of its implications, including its potential implications for the oil business—and had explained it to the company’s leaders. 

Senior Exxon scientist Henry Shaw warned management that according to the predictions of the National Academy of Sciences, global warming, not any lack of supply, would force humankind to stop burning fossil fuels....

In 1982, an Exxon environmental affairs manager named Marvin Glaser wrote a thirty nine page primer on climate change that he distributed widely among management....Glaser warned, “all biological systems are likely to be affected” and “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” including an expected “dramatic impact on soil moisture, and in turn, on agriculture,” and, eventually, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet, which would flood “much of the US East Coast, including the State of Florida and Washington D.C.” He believed that “potentially serious climate problems are not likely to occur until the late 21st century,” but added, “once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

Cohen’s “clear scientific consensus” notwithstanding, such lingering questions meant that scientists still disagreed about precisely how much the climate would change, and how quickly. The computerized models they were building to forecast those effects were also considered much more reliable in predicting average global changes than specific regional ones (except near the poles, where almost everyone agreed that warming would be particularly severe). None of these legitimate uncertainties in climate science, however, implied any doubt about its main conclusions: that the changing climate would soon have dramatic impacts on the earth, and that it was primarily caused by humans burning fossil fuels. 

So, with its extraordinary resources, Exxon became a corporate leader in climate science. It equipped its largest supertanker as a research vessel, measuring CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and at different depths of the ocean all along the ship’s route. It also became expert in computerized climate modeling, not only to evaluate the predictions of others but to help improve such models. Ultimately, one of its scientists published nearly fifty peerreviewed papers about various technical aspects of climate change. 

The company’s early findings may not have been quite what management was looking for, however..... Cohen believed that “our ethical responsibility is to permit the publication of our research in the scientific literature; indeed to do otherwise would be a breach of Exxon’s public position and ethical credo on honesty and integrity.” 

Then, however, in 1988, the United States was struck by the costliest drought in its history.... Suddenly the notion of global warming was everywhere—Time named “Endangered Earth” its “Planet of the Year.” And Exxon’s public position changed dramatically.

In August 1988, an Exxon public affairs manager drafted a memo called “The Greenhouse Effect.” He acknowledged that “the principal greenhouse gases are byproducts of fossil fuel combustion.” However, he wrote, the “Exxon Position” would now be to “emphasize the uncertainty in scientific conclusions regarding the potential enhanced greenhouse effect.” 

What did that mean? In 1989 Duane LeVine, Exxon’s manager of science and strategy development, told the company’s board of directors that the scientific consensus was now that global temperatures would rise by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the twenty-first century, with “enormous potential global impacts.” But, he added, “arguments that we can’t tolerate delay and must act now can lead to irreversible and costly Draconian steps.” So Exxon would “extend the science,” convincing policymakers and the public that climate change was still insufficiently understood and that more research needed to be done before significant action could be warranted. Meanwhile, it would emphasize the cost of reducing carbon emissions. 

The tobacco industry found and funded scientists who, “cherrypicking data and focusing on unexplained or anomalous details,” would argue that the causal link between smoking and cancer had not been proven.... But the industry also funded a network of “freemarket,” antiregulatory think tanks to repeat and amplify the claims of its scientists. (It tried to hide the fact that it was paying these scientists and think tanks, often routing its payments through front groups like law firms or rightwing foundations.)

Then the industry manufactured an artificial “‘debate,’ convincing the mass media that responsible journalists had an obligation to present ‘both sides’ of it.” The industry didn’t need to win this debate, its leaders realized; only to keep it going. “Doubt is our product,” explained a tobacco executive’s 1969 memo....

As we know, this campaign ultimately failed, but it succeeded for an astonishingly long time. The tobacco industry didn’t begin losing court cases until the 1990s, some four decades after realizing that its product killed its customers. In the meantime, it made enormous profits.

When Exxon began to “emphasize the uncertainty” of climate science, the scientists who espoused its positions were often veterans of those earlier denial campaigns. Among them were Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, Robert Jastrow, and Bill Nierenberg. They had all been reputable, prominent physicists during the cold war, but they eventually became, essentially, professional deniers of science, arguing on one issue after another that findings harmful to industry were “unproven,” “junk science.” Oreskes and Conway believe that their motivation was less mercenary than ideological, although they were often paid by the organizations they directed or worked with, which in turn were supported by the industries they defended. They were all fervent anti-Communists and ardent freemarket purists. 

Then the fake debate they created was broadcast further and given an additional veneer of credibility by journalists, some of whom were persuaded by spurious arguments about the need for “balanced” reporting, even on issues the scientific community considered settled, and some of whom, it turned out, were simply in Exxon’s pay.  

Exxon didn’t always rely on the writings of such scientists. For decades it published frequent “advertorials” on the editorial page of The New York Times, questioning the reality of climate change or its human cause, or arguing that predictions about global warming were too unreliable to justify efforts to prevent it.

In 1998 Exxon participated in a $6 million public relations campaign by the American Petroleum Institute (a trade association which Exxon heavily influenced and supported) to prevent the United States from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Still, ExxonMobil (as it became in 1999) continued to spend extraordinary sums on lobbying, directly and through trade associations: $240 million since 1998....And in 2001, soon after President George W. Bush was inaugurated, the company’s chief lobbyist sent a memo to the White House making several requests. He asked the new administration to get rid of the scientist who chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body that is the world’s leading authority on the subject. He also asked that a number of other scientists and officials be fired from their jobs in the White House and the State Department, to be replaced by known climate skeptics....ExxonMobil got its wishes... 

In 1980, for example, Exxon paid $400 million for the rights to the Natuna natural gas field in the South China Sea. But company scientists soon realized that the field contained unusually high concentrations of carbon dioxide, and concluded in 1984 that extracting its gas would make it “the world’s largest point source emitter of CO2 [, which] raises concern for the possible incremental impact of Natuna on the CO2 greenhouse problem.” The company left Natuna undeveloped. Exxon’s John Woodward, who wrote an internal report on the field in 1981, told InsideClimate News, “They were being farsighted. They weren’t sure when CO2 controls would be required and how it would affect the economics of the project.”

...any major development with a life span of say 30–40 years will need to assess the impacts of potential global warming. This is particularly true of Arctic and offshore projects in Canada, where warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.... Croasdale based these projections on the same climate models that Exxon’s leaders spent the next fifteen years publicly disparaging. But following his warnings that rising seas would threaten buildings on the coast, bigger waves would threaten offshore drilling platforms, and thawing permafrost would threaten pipelines, Exxon began reinforcing its Arctic infrastructure.

 “‘So don’t believe for a minute that ExxonMobil doesn’t think climate change is real,’ said a former manager…. ‘They were using climate change as a source of insight into exploration.’”

Soon after Rex Tillerson replaced Lee Raymond as CEO at the start of 2006, he created a secret task force to reconsider the company’s approach to climate change... In January 2009—twelve days before President Obama’s inauguration would situate the company in much less welcoming political territory—Tillerson announced that ExxonMobil had become concerned enough about climate change to support a carbon tax.

The climate measure then under active discussion in Washington, however, was a cap-and-trade bill. There was almost no political support for a carbon tax at the time, and Tillerson’s announcement may have been meant to divert support from the reform that seemed most plausible.12 Indeed, since then, although ExxonMobil continues to claim that it supports a carbon tax, it has given much more money to members of Congress who oppose such a tax than to those who endorse one.13 As of last year it was still funding organizations that deny global warming or fight policies proposed to address it.

The Securities and Exchange Commission requires companies to disclose known business risks to their investors, and Exxon’s leaders have been acutely conscious of the changing climate’s danger to the oil business for almost forty years. The company didn’t start telling its shareholders about that danger until 2007,16 however, and in our opinion has never disclosed its full scope.... In 2014 it stated, “We are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become ‘stranded.’”21 Because it is a matter of the highest urgency that humanity find a way to adopt the IPCC’s global carbon budget, however, it seems to us that ExxonMobil has been much too sanguine about its business prospects.

(A 1980 American Petroleum Institute meeting in which Exxon participated concluded that at a “3% per annum growth rate of CO2, a 2.5° C rise [in average global temperature] brings world economic growth to a halt in about 2025.”)47 Conflict over dwindling resources will increase around the world; so, dramatically, will human migration and political instability. 

As a group of retired American generals and admirals who studied the national security implications of climate change concluded in 2007: Economic and environmental conditions in already fragile areas will further erode as food production declines, diseases increase, clean water becomes increasingly scarce, and large populations move in search of resources. Weakened and failing governments, with an already thin margin for survival, foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism, and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies.... It is true that scientists still disagree about precisely how severe the effects of climate change will be, and when. But, the generals and admirals wrote, “As military leaders, we know we cannot wait for certainty. Failing to act because a warning isn’t precise enough is unacceptable.”

Just as the tobacco industry gained decades of huge profits by obfuscating the dangers of smoking, the oil industry secured decades of profits—in Exxon’s case, some of the largest profits of any corporation in history—by helping to create a fake controversy over climate science that deceived and victimized many policymakers, as well as much of the public. The bogus science it paid for through front groups, which was then repeated and validated by industry-funded, right-wing think tanks and a too-easily cowed press, worked just as well for ExxonMobil as it had for R.J. Reynolds. A 2004 study by Naomi Oreskes in Science examined 928 peer-reviewed papers on climate science and found that not a single one disputed global warming’s existence or its human cause.50 But according to a recent Yale University study, only 11 percent of Americans understand that there is a scientific consensus on these points.

Trump - Reading about the Trump Trade Doctrine, US biofuel risk, 100 days plan video, Malaysia ringgit more exposed, Europe food industry reactions

5 Jan 2017: Reading about the Trump Trade Doctrine in Talking Trade blog by Dr Deborah Elms

How Much Change Is Coming From Washington On Trade? January 5, 2017 -- While we don’t want to spend too much time at Talking Trade watching unfolding events in Washington DC, the changes happening now are likely to significantly affect trade across Asia.  This is not a typical American administration. President-elect Donald Trump has now named enough of his staff to show that his comments on the campaign trail and his various tweets and actions since his election were not simply pandering to the electorate.  He intends to handle trade policy quite differently....

Reprint: Trump's Trade Policy Revisited December 2, 2016 -- The Trump Trade Doctrine requires renegotiating all bad trade deals to ensure that all agreements increase the GDP growth rate, decrease the trade deficit, and strengthen the US manufacturing base. ...The “obvious Trump negotiating strength” will rebalance trade with the six countries that hold half the US deficit: Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico and South Korea....The Koreans will just recognize that the current KORUS arrangement is not working and will “simply seek a far more equitable deal.” Germany and Japan will negotiate mostly for US energy (with the added bonus of creating additional US jobs).... China, Navarro and Ross admit, is a tougher nut to crack.  But soybeans, petroleum, motorcycles and raisins, plus a few other goodies should surely be sufficient as carrots when matched with “the strength and resoluteness of Trump.” ...And thus, in less than two dozen pages, the Trump economic plan shows exactly how America’s real GDP growth rate will be increased with millions of new jobs created and generate trillions of new dollars in additional income and tax revenues.... Getting from here to there may, as it happens, fundamentally overturn decades of US trade policy as practiced by Republican and Democratic administrations.  But the results—Trump would surely say—will be SOOO worth it.... ***This Talking Trade blog post was written by Dr. Deborah Elms, Executive Director, Asian Trade Centre, Singapore***

12 November 2016: US biofuel risk, Donald Trump 100 days plan video, Malaysia ringgit more exposed, Europe food industry reactions

Editor's note: US support for imported biofuels is obviously in some doubt - for blenders credit to shift to producer credit. RIN's immediately dropped.

Donald Trump outlines policy plan for first 100 days By Tom LoBianco, CNN November 22, 2016

Donald Trump's first 100 days: A breakdown of his plan By James Masters, CNN November 22, 2016

Malaysia caught in currency ripples - Bloomberg, By: Christopher Langner (Nov 21) -- A drop in hedging and refinancing activities would be bad news for banks. Ironically, Malaysian financial institutions could be the worst affected. They're the biggest issuers of short-term dollar debt, with more than US$3.5 billion ($5 billion) of bonds due in less than a year outstanding.... Malaysian banks are the most dependent on short-term markets for dollar funding in Southeast Asia.

Your thoughts on Trump's triumph: From 'authoritarian tactics' to 'a thriving business environment'
By Niamh Michail+, 15-Nov-2016
Brash, billionaire businessman Donald Trump is America's president elect. While some FoodNavigator readers foresee "authoritarian tactics" from "an unpredictable man" others are looking forward to "a thriving business environment" for the US and Europe.

17 November: Foreign banks shaken by Malaysia's move to halt currency slide, Malaysia's Running Out of Trump Cards

Foreign banks shaken by Malaysia's move to halt currency slide By Saikat Chatterjee and Praveen Menon | HONG KONG/KUALA LUMPUR -- "There's a massive back and forth going on between banks and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) now," said a banker at a foreign bank in Malaysia that deals in foreign currency transactions. "This is a type of indirect capital control ... I see a flood of people exiting Malaysia." ... "We have been told that we cannot repatriate our money and our investments stay in Malaysia if we don't sign," he said. The bankers asked for anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the subject. Foreign holdings account for 40% of the total outstanding bond market in Malaysia, one of the largest foreign ownerships in Asia.... Foreign investors pulled 8.4 billion ringgit out of government bonds in September, the largest outflow since August last year, when Malaysia's markets tumbled on a political crisis swirling around Prime Minister Najib Razak and corruption allegations involving indebted state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).... In October, however, there were inflows of 2.39 billion ringgit into government bonds, and foreign reserves rose to US$97.8 billion by the end of the month, up from US$97.7 billion at the end of September. The reserves were enough to finance 8.4 months of retained imports....

Malaysia's Running Out of Trump Cards By Andy Mukherjee -- Amid a deepening emerging-market rout, three of Donald Trump's seven promises to American workers are making Asia particularly nervous.... Although no Asian nation would relish the prospect of an all-out trade war, Malaysian investors are perhaps most at risk...And while it's a TPP member, the accord's demise is the least of Kuala Lumpur's worries. It might even be a short-term boon. After all, the Southeast Asian country is an energy and palm-oil exporter. It's not terribly competitive at much else.... But TPP being dead doesn't help either. For one, dollars are in short supply in the banking system, and therefore a flight to safety among investors jittery about a Trump presidency makes Malaysia a particularly vulnerable emerging market....If fears about a Trump presidency keep exchange rates volatile, and the $5.5 billion of foreign inflows into Malaysian bond markets turn into outflows, hopes consumers will provide a floor to the economy may quickly disappear....

15 November: Global growth to suffer? Ringgit issues, end of TPPA, Trump's first interview

Goldman Just Killed The "Reflation Euphoria" - Concludes Global Growth Will Suffer Under Trump No Matter What by Tyler Durden Nov 14, 2016 
What it confirms to us is that the scenario we predicted on November 9, moments after Trump was declared winner, is starting to play out namely that the true state of the global economy - which had been propped up for years with trillions in liquidity - is about to be revealed, and a major global recession, if not depression is in store.

 Malaysia's business news front page today

CIMB Research: Ringgit could touch 4.80 against greenback within next six months  November 14, 2016

On Malaysia Ringgit onshore-offshore disparity problem last week, please see excerpt in The Edge Malaysia here. The background from bank treasury experts is this: the non-deliverable forward (NDF) market for Ringgit has always been around since 1998 when Bank Negara Malaysia outlawed offshore Ringgit trading.
I got item below via social media, and it is here  (please read BNM website version). PRESS RELEASES by BNM - Prohibiting Facilitation of NDF Related Transactions Ref No : 11/16/09 13 Nov 2016: Bank Negara Malaysia would like to state that there is no change in the Foreign Exchange Administration (FEA) rules and there is no introduction of any new measures. Ringgit remains as a non-internationalised currency, thus any offshore trading of ringgit such as ringgit non-deliverable forward (NDF) is not recognized..... 

A friend wrote: NDFs are traded in Ringgit and Monetary Authority of Singapore have instructed banks to review their processes because of NDF spot rates manipulation by AAAA and BBBB, including Ringgit and Rupiah.

Another friend checked with AAAA: This is a Jan 2013 case whereby 14 banks were involved, AAAA being one of them. We paid the fine, sacked the traders involved and so did some other banks.

US 2016 results reflect trends seen 2014 and before?
A political analyst I was in touch with pointed out that the media has not been reporting properly. The USA 2014 mid-term election already showing Republican gains. Look at this (image on left and link below)? Plus the "deep state" signs like FBI on the Hillary's email issues.

Trump's first interview as president-elect
As CBS' Lesley Stahl summarized the interview, "what we discovered in Mr. Trump’s first television interview as president-elect, was that some of his signature issues at the heart of his campaign were not meant to be taken literally, but as opening bids for negotiation.
Lesley Stahl: You don’t like it, but your own transition team, it’s filled with lobbyists.
Donald Trump: That’s the only people you have down there.
Lesley Stahl: You have lobbyists from Verizon, you have lobbyists from the oil gas industry, you have food lobby....
Donald Trump: I’m saying that they know the system right now, but we’re going to phase that out. You have to phase it out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan said they would not take up the TPP before Mr Trump's inauguration. The President-elect made his opposition to the TPP a centrepiece of his campaign, saying it would send more jobs overseas.

Surprised to read Japan push through TPPA earlier. The advise from trade experts has been to wait for USA legislators to move first. See news from 4 Nov 2016, Japan Lawmakers Vote to Ratify TPP - Bill was pushed through a special committee after scuffles and shoving on the committee floor 

On Michael Moore's analysis and Trumpland
It is amazing how quickly Moore's rational assessment of the election on October 24th has completely devolved into madness as he is blatantly and overtly calling for mass violence. Moore, like other democrats, would be well served to take a step back and consider the fact that the outcome of this election is the direct result of a corrupt DNC rigging the system to nominate a flawed candidate with numerous outstanding criminal investigations....the blame game should end there.
Michael Moore: Trump presidency a 'dangerous' risk - UpFront, Al Jazeera English
Michael Moore: Trump Voters Aren't Racists, Many Voted for Barack Hussein Obama
Michael Moore Explains Why TRUMP Will Win 24 Oct 2016

11 November - reflecting on market uncertainty

Emerging market forex drops, USD and US equities gain. Big tax incentives shift money back to US. Fisca lrather than monetary boost to come? Sounds good for USA..Feels like TPPA and vast recent volume of China SOE driven MOUs in the region marks some sort of apex! Social media in KL full of chatter BNM forex intervention. CPO denominated in MYR is heading up as USD strengthens. Offshore USDMYR said be 4.50. I inadvertently used that figure in my spreadsheet last week in forecast view. No inkling of such volatility. 

Latest:11/11 BNM governor says Malaysia will not peg ringgit despite recent volatility currency has been facing due to external environment/STARBIZ (please verify)

9 November - Trump victory impact on palm oil

First of all to acknowledge that my husband was correct. He has held the opinion that Trump would win since early this year; his take on Malaysia perspective: Even US political analysts and the Economist (Donald Trump triggers political earthquake by EIU, had great hope for Hillary until the end. I feel media is no longer reflecting public opinion but trying to create or manage it.

From reader feedback out here: A general agreement on international (Brexit-type) de-globalisation movement?
Read a comment from Henri Bardon: What market pullback? Businessman that has never held political office and wants to reduce tax and regulations.... And from a hard-nosed KL-based investor: Trump is pro-business, noting that TA Enterprise of Malaysia is a Trump business partner.

For palm oil, notable that Trump may be pro-business (lower tax and regulations) but domestic (and Americas region?) trade, business and US jobs oriented:

  • Producer-country: Boost existing domestic sentiments that may further agitate for better deals / protection for smallholders. On sustainability, suggesting more rapid reform at elite-oriented programmes needed i.e. further RSPO resourcing reform. Comes in wake of pressured disbandment of IPOP in late 2015 despite record haze on cartel fear. Smallholder outcomes worth tracking and remain to be seen. But TPPA-demanded Malaysia sustainability upgrades including on ILO labour standards on the back burner?
  • Destination market issues: Less support for imports of biofuels and other products, sustainable or not. Increased domestic buy and domestic oils focus (already also seen for China). Foodnavigator (below) writes: Dr Marion Nestle to suggest that nutrition, food safety and sustainability may not be high up the policy agenda.
To repeat my early reaction while sitting at RSPO RT14: What are implications of Brexit-Trump victories for sustainability? Review your political-economic structure and mitigate negative economics for small suppliers.   

Some articles and links:

Plantation Sector: Impact of a Trump presidency by Ambank 10 Nov 2016 -- These are the potential effects that we can think of:-
1. No TPPA - President Trump does not support TPPA. USA tax on refined palm oil from Malaysia at about 9.6%... no import duty on crude palm oil.
2. Drop in demand for biodiesel imports? renewable energy may not be a priority for his administration (see OGJ below)
3. Indirect impact from weaker RM vs. USD
4. Disruptions in global trade to affect commodities demand? China and currency manipulators.
....It remains to be seen if Trump will carry out his proposals when he starts his job as the new President of USA.

US election results improve prospects for federal policy reforms - Oil & Gas Journal -- The US oil and gas industry’s prospects for reforming federal policies, from arbitrary quotas under the Renewable Fuel Standard to reduced leasing opportunities on the US Outer Continental Shelf, brightened as Donald J. Trump beat Hillary Clinton for the presidency and Republicans kept control of both houses of Congress in the 2016 elections....

What will a Trump presidency mean for the US food & beverage industry?.. Thus far Trump has not talked much about food policy or agriculture beyond discussing taking SNAP away from USDA and the farm bill, describing the FDA as the ‘food police’ (in a fact sheet later removed from his website), calling for an immediate halt to new federal regulations, and talking of significantly curtailing the powers of the EPA - prompting food policy expert Dr Marion Nestle to suggest that nutrition, food safety and sustainability may not be high up the policy agenda under the Trump administration.....