A Chronicle of The Carbon War

A chronological log of events in global energy, climate change and related issues. Key events from this chronicle are distilled in the serialised front-line eye-witness account, The Winning of the Carbon War

Jeremy Leggett accepts 2015 Gothenburg Award on behalf of Solarcentury, SolarAid, SunnyMoney and Carbon Tracker teams

Screenshot 2015-05-12 17.43.06

Jeremy Leggett has won a Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development. Previous winners include Al Gore, Paul Polman, and Kofi Annan. Commenting on the award win, Jeremy said, “It is actually the teams at Solarcentury, SolarAid, SunnyMoney and Carbon Tracker who have won this award – they just couldn’t get all the names on the voting paper! This is the truth that I carry in my heart.... read more...


5% of profits from this solar company have grown the biggest solar lighting retailer in Africa, reaching 10m people with 1.7m lights.

SC history

Solarcentury, a VC-backed international downstream solar company, first donated profits to charity SolarAid in 2007. SolarAid then set up a wholly-owned social enterprise to sell solar lights, SunnyMoney, in 2012. Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid, believes this is a model in need of mass replication. He says: “Just think, if many companies gave 5% to fight climate-change... read more...


Monthly CO2 reaches 400ppm, $800m Tesla battery orders in Week 1, BoA says coal increasingly risky, fracking chemicals found in US drinking water: Week 19,2015

CO2 NOAA

UK grid holds back renewables, industry says. Solar Trade Association points out much of the grid is closed to large renewables connnections.
South African factories struggle as power blackouts threaten economy. Africa’s most-industrialized economy hampered in recovery from slowest growth since a recession in 2009.
9.5.15.
Toyota and... read more...


Tesla announces battery for homes & industry, Church of England divests from coal & tar sands, Glencore says no chance of stranding, HSBC advises clients against fossil fuel investment: Week 18, 2015

Musk

76% of Catholics say they feel moral obligation to help poor hit by climate change. So a poll of >1,000 UK Catholics shows. A third would change lifestyle if the Pope says so.
Ecotricity boss has a plan for 80% renewable-powered UK by 2030. Developed with Cambridge Econometrics, it bans new coal from 2020.
2.5.15.
Oil industry contaminants... read more...


HSBC warns clients against fossil fuel investment, 1st London university divests, Prince Charles divests, US pro-carbon-fuel Right seeks to convert Pope: Week 17, 2015.

Pope Francis

Price Charles shuns fossil fuel investments. So too does Richard Branson. So an FT survey of the rising tide of divestment shows. The National Trust and CoE are reviewing.
Number Ten lets it be known that it would oppose any foreign takeover of BP. It thinks the oil giant should stay British.
25.4.15.
“Like shale oil, solar power is shaking... read more...


Fossil fuels losing to renewables, CEOs want climate action, German solar sets new record, shale oil production falls in Bakken, Texas to ban bans on fracking: Week 16, 2015

Screenshot 2015-04-15 17.01.28

19.4.15.
Carbon reserves held by top 200 quoted fossil fuel companies soar. Fossil Free Indices data show it has risen 10% in 5 years, and is concentrating in the bigger companies.
Hedge funds increasingly betting on rising oil prices. WTI has rebounded 30% since a low in March. Government now projects production dropping in June.
Fracking... read more...


Funds perform better without fossil fuels, 100% renewables would save half a trillion a year, Saudi Arabia pumps record oil, hype of UK shale oil goes uncontested: Week 15, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 11.20.12

10.4.15.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund says it won’t divest from coal. Engagement is the strategy they prefer, despite a parliamentary majority for coal divestment.
Fossil fuel-free funds outperformed conventional funds over last 5 years. Even before the oil price crop. So an analysis by the leading stock market index company, MSCI, shows.
Air... read more...


Rig count in “financialised” US oil industry down >50%, fracking’s environmental toll ever clearer in daily breaches, Vattenfall restructures around wind, Duke goes solar in Florida: Week 14, 2015

150330 Rig count

3.4.15.
US and Iran agree nuclear deal. Restrictions on enrichment for lifting of sanctions, details to come in June. Obama calls it historic. Israel calls it a threat to their existence.
“The US E&P business has, in effect, become financialized.” And capital continues to flow to “zombie companies” drilling shale, Art Berman laments.
Vattenfall... read more...


Coal plants shutting down around world – incl. all 4 of Beijing’s big plants, China seeks get-out from tar sands, climate denial is immoral says US church leader as divestment pressure grows: Week 13, 2015

Coal plant

US to submit Paris plans before month end, others delay. China, India, Russia, Brazil, Canada and Australia say they are waiting until closer to a Paris summit.
US oil independents raise record amount from share sales. Small and midsize companies have sold $10.8bn of equity, with this quarter a record.
Shell hopes to produce 400,000 bd from the... read more...


Record oil debt, bond bubble fears, solar survives eclipse, Obama unveils first federal fracking legislation and faces pushback on coal, don’t mention climate if you work for state of Florida: Week 12, 2015

Sun

“Global fund managers warn of a bond bubble”: FT. 4 out of 5 fear that overvalued asset class will collapse in a disorderly sell off.
“Oil majors pile on record debt”: FT. Oil majors have hiked borrowing 60% in first 2 months to $63bn of bonds.
“Sovereign wealth funds start to leak oil”: FT. The $7.1tn sector depends on revenue... read more...


The full Chronicle >>

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Downloads and schedule

1 Apr (Chapters 1-12): 1,049 1st thru 30th
1st May to 1st Jan: monthly instalments

Scenes from The Winning of the Carbon War:

London School of Economics, March 1st, 2015

“Another video offers a particularly inane defence of fossil fuels. It depicts an oil barrel as a young woman, complete with pink hair ribbon, lipstick and red high-heeled red shoes, who has a boyfriend who has made the mistake of dumping her. She finds a spendid new boyfriend. The ill-advised one freezes in the dark, absent the oil barrel in his life. Is this seriously the best they can do?”


Soho, London, October 30th, 2014

Richard Berman, fossil-fuel lobbyist, advocates "endless war" with opponents.
Richard Berman, fossil-fuel lobbyist, advocates "endless war" with opponents.

“Someone in a roomful of oil and gas industry executives has developed a conscience and leaked a tape of a presentation by a top incumbency lobbyist. In it, he tells his audience that they should regard themselves as being in a state of ‘endless war’ with environmentalists and others who oppose fracking and advocate clean-energy deployment. They cannot ‘win pretty’, he says, they will have to ‘win dirty’.”


Park Lane Intercontinental, London, October 29th, 2014

Tony Hayward & Bob Dudley: similar pasts to me, somewhat different views of the future
Tony Hayward & Bob Dudley: similar pasts to me, somewhat different views of the future

“BP’s retreat from renewables has been so dismal to watch. After the high hopes of the Browne years came a shameless retrenchment to carbon under Tony Hayward’s leadership, notwithstanding hardening scientific evidence on climate change. Now, under Bob Dudley – who once headed BP’s solar unit – BP is on a dedicated mission to emulate ExxonMobil’s worst.”


Parliament Square, London, October 24th and 25th, 2014

Young people anguished about the future can protest. So long as they keep off the grass.
Young people anguished about the future can protest. So long as they keep off the grass.

“Modern capitalism is broken. I say this as a nominally successful capitalist. My experience has shown me that the system is suicidally dysfuntional. It is on course to destroy both itself, and more importantly the viable civilisation people of my generation have a moral duty to handover to our children and grandchildren. ….But it can be changed. It can be fixed.”


Moscow, October 14th, 2014

A gas pipeline carries Russian gas through Ukraine - for the time being
A gas pipeline carries Russian gas through Ukraine - for the time being

“’Let us be frank, in a comradely and hopefully constructive way’, I say with a smile. ‘Most of Europe is desperate to escape having to pay so much for Russian oil and gas exports, or even having to buy any Russian oil and gas’.”


New York, 21-26 September 21st – 26th, 2014

The NYPD find a novel way to deflate the carbon bubble on Wall Street
The NYPD find a novel way to deflate the carbon bubble on Wall Street

“I am often tempted to write ‘life, stranger than art’, in the pages of this chronicle. I can only get away with that cliché maybe once. Let it be here. The NYPD has found a way to deflate the carbon bubble. I mean the one twenty feet across, carried by protestors above their heads as they poured into Wall Street. The police popped it on one of the horns of the Merrill Lynch bull.”


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18th, 2014

Riyadh at night. By day, no solar panel-plus-storage to be seen. Yet.
Riyadh at night. By day, no solar panel-plus-storage to be seen. Yet.

“I arrive at night, and am driven from the airport into a city lit up like a fireworks display. Six million people live here. They are burning oil in power plants to provide electricity with few constraints on waste. It is akin to shovelling their national income into a furnace, at an accelerating rate every day.”


Somewhere in London, September 15th, 2014

An EV charged by leftover solar from a fully solar-powered home in cloudy Britain
An EV charged by leftover solar from a fully solar-powered home in cloudy Britain

“The world’s largest private bank predicts that by 2020 it will be possible to have a solar roof, an electric vehicle and a domestic battery bank, powering everything you need in a home, with mouth-watering economics. That energy-trio purchase will be able to pay for itself within six to eight years, while giving a 7% pre-tax annual return on investment. Such household economics, UBS concludes, will change the face of the energy industry.”