Mike Small's blog

Shell Brandalism and the Pop Stars of Big Oil

Read time: 4 mins

In a week that has seen a number of blows for the prospects of ecological stability - there's been an innovative backlash to @Shell 's greenwashing campaigns. Subvertised posters have appeared in bus stop advertising panels in London, Leeds, Bristol and Oxford ahead of Shell's #MakeTheFuture spin festival, which has co-opted pop stars in a bid to win back young people.

How Shareholder Activism is Forcing Corporate Change over Climate Crisis

Read time: 11 mins

The annual round of big corporate AGMs is upon us, with mining giant Rio Tinto and big oil companies BP, Shell, Exxon, Statoil and Total all having their meetings around this time of year. That creates an opportunity for shareholder activists that want the companies to clean up their act.

The oil and gas industry and its products account for half of global carbon dioxide emissions. So altering the course of the fossil fuel industry is the key to meeting global carbon targets.  

The NGO CDP offers a snapshot of how prepared the fossil fuel industry is for a major low carbon transition. The answer is: not very. It ranked 11 of the largest and highest-emitting global oil and gas companies. According to the report, four out of the eleven are graded ‘E’ for their climate governance and strategy.

This needs to change if the world is going to limit warming to the promised two degrees or lower. Shareholder activism is one strategy to push for that change.

Shale Gas Mogul Tops UK Rich List Despite Fracking Fails

Read time: 2 mins
Jim Ratcliffe

The Sunday Times Rich List is often used as a barometer of a nation's economic dynamism. So news that this year's list is topped by fracking mogul Jim Ratcliffe may have come as a surprise given the inactivity of the UK fracking industry neutered by legal action, community resistance and sanction.

The founder of chemical giant INEOS is, we’re told, worth a whopping £21.05 billion. But be sure of two things: he neither makes his money nor pays his taxes in the UK. Latest accounts for INEOS Upstream (parent company of INEOS Shale) show a £12,000 loss.

INEOS Pitches Corporate Power Against Democracy with Challenge to Popular Fracking Ban

Read time: 5 mins

INEOS is today challenging  the Scottish Government over its decision to ban fracking. But much more is at stake than the status of the UK’s newest fossil fuel industry.

After introducing a moratorium in 2015, ministers announced the prohibition in October 2017 which was subsequently endorsed by a vote of MSPs. The company, which has faced local opposition in the rest of the UK is trying to overturn the Scottish ban which doesn’t involve legislation but is an instruction to local authorities not to consent planning for any fracking-related activities.

The case comes soon after the Scottish Government successfully faced-down a lengthy legal challenge to their Minimum Pricing for Alcohol legislation from the Scotch Whisky Association. It raises significant issues about the nature of power in democracy, the role and status of science, and the power of corporate lobbying.

Growing Pressure for Lobbying Transparency in Climate Talks

Read time: 5 mins

This week at the U.N. climate treaty talks, governments are poised to hash out the details needed to bring the Paris Agreement from concept to reality. The meeting is about agreeing on the process, the detail and the rulebook.

One item high on their agenda will be how the UNFCCC and its member governments address the growing problem of the fossil fuel industry’s corrosive interference and disinformation in climate policymaking.

Growing pressure from a big coalition of civil society and environmental groups is mounting to make the process transparent and democratic.

ExxonMobil Gets 'Final Warning' from Scottish Regulator Over Plastics Plant Flaring

Read time: 5 mins

From around Fife and across the Forth in Edinburgh you can’t miss it. Mossmorran, a factory that makes plastic, spews out a giant flare lighting up the night sky and rocking the community that surrounds it.

After years of complaints and locals suffering the ill-effects of flaring from the Fife Ethylene Plant run by ExxonMobil and Shell at Cowdenbeath, residents have celebrated the 'final warnings' given by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

But the ruling raises deeper questions of regulatory failure and corporate power in a small community.

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