Sharon Kelly

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Blog entryChesapeake Energy’s Stock Falls Below $1 But Driller Plans to Spend Over $1 Billion on More Fracking Sharon Kelly01 week 5 days ago
Blog entryFossil Fuel Investments Cost California and Colorado Pension Funds Over $19 Billion, Report Finds Sharon Kelly01 week 6 days ago
Blog entryPublic Health Experts Flunk Report Tying Pennsylvania Air Quality Improvements to Gas Drilling Sharon Kelly02 weeks 3 days ago
Blog entryAs Drillers Continue Poor Financial Performance, Shale Insight Hosts Trump Speech Touting Fossil Energy Future Sharon Kelly03 weeks 4 days ago
Blog entryLouisiana Law Turning Pipeline Protests Into Felonies Violates Constitution, New Lawsuit Alleges Sharon Kelly01 month 5 days ago
Blog entryAs Risky Finances Alienate Investors, Fracking Companies Look to Retirement Funds for Cash Sharon Kelly01 month 5 days ago
Blog entryWashington Petrochemical Plant Subsidies Would Violate Federal ‘Double Dipping’ Rules Say Environmental Groups Sharon Kelly01 month 2 weeks ago
Blog entryOil Industry Set Agenda During Climate Summit Meeting with Big Greens Sharon Kelly01 month 2 weeks ago
Blog entryFossil Fuel Ad Campaigns Emphasize 'Positives' After Climate Science Denial PR Lands Industry in Hot Seat Sharon Kelly02 months 3 days ago
Blog entryCheap Renewables Could Make 90% of Proposed Gas Power Plants — and Many Pipelines — Obsolete by 2035 Sharon Kelly02 months 6 days ago
Blog entryGreenpeace Shuts Down Houston Ship Channel to Protest Oil Exports as Democratic Candidates Arrive in Texas for Debate Sharon Kelly02 months 1 week ago
Blog entryPipeline Permit Scandal Highlights Confusion Amid Push to Build Plastics Plants Sharon Kelly02 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryDemocratic Presidential Candidates Face 7 Hours of Tough Questions on Climate Change, From Fracking to Fossil Fuels Sharon Kelly02 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryPhiladelphia Explosion One in String of 'Near Miss' Accidents at Refineries Using Deadly Chemical Sharon Kelly02 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryChristopher Leonard's New Book Puts an Ever-Expanding 'Kochland' on the Map Sharon Kelly03 months 1 day ago
Blog entryFracking and Shale Drilling Caused Spike in Climate-Warming Methane Pollution, Says New Study Sharon Kelly03 months 4 days ago
Blog entryDocuments Shine New Light on Koch Brothers’ Early Efforts to Abolish the Department of Energy Sharon Kelly03 months 1 week ago
Blog entry'Time is Running Out,' American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change Sharon Kelly03 months 1 week ago
Blog entryExplosions in Three States Highlight Dangers of Aging Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Sharon Kelly03 months 1 week ago
Blog entryYouTube’s Video Suggestion Engine Boosted Climate Science Denial as World Warmed, Study Finds Sharon Kelly03 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entry‘We Can't Sit on the Sidelines and Be Climate Deniers,’ Dominion VP Warns Natural Gas Industry Sharon Kelly03 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryFormer Shale Gas CEO Says Fracking Revolution Has Been 'A Disaster' For Drillers, Investors Sharon Kelly04 months 2 days ago
Blog entryWorld May Hit 2 Degrees of Warming in 10-15 Years Thanks to Fracking, Says Cornell Scientist Sharon Kelly04 months 5 days ago
Blog entryHere Are Some of the Climate-Linked Disasters and Rollbacks Trump’s ‘Environmental Leadership’ Speech Didn't Cover Sharon Kelly04 months 1 week ago
Blog entryCEO of Major Shale Oil Company 'Has Second Thoughts' on Fracking Rush, Wall Street Journal Reports Sharon Kelly04 months 2 weeks ago

Oil Industry Set Agenda During Climate Summit Meeting with Big Greens

Read time: 9 mins
Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of OGCI Climate Investments

Last week, as climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations Climate Action Summit, invited leaders from major environmental groups spent their day listening to the leaders of fossil fuel companies discuss how they want to respond to the climate crisis.

Depending on which room you were in, you would have heard two very different messages.

Fossil Fuel Ad Campaigns Emphasize 'Positives' After Climate Science Denial PR Lands Industry in Hot Seat

Read time: 7 mins
Oil rig at sunset over Huntington Beach, California

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  

Public relations experts keep a careful eye on the multitude of ways that PR can go wrong: tracking the year’s biggest “PR blunders,” assessing flopped ads for lessons learned, and noting when to remain silent and when to circulate a particular point of view.

PR blunders have been blamed for causing stock prices to dip, powerful executives to lose jobs, and occasionally even forced public apologies from PR representatives themselves.

But it takes a special kind of PR nightmare — a particularly unusual kind in the U.S., with its broad protections for free speech — to prompt investigations by state attorneys general into whether a company’s public messaging was so misleading and harmful that it should be considered illegal.

That is the situation facing one of the world’s most powerful industries, on one of the most consequential issues of our time, climate change. The subject of these investigations isn’t the direct harm from the fossil fuel industry’s actions, it’s the ways that companies communicated about their actions, and how that misled investors or the public.

And right on cue, the fossil fuel industry's PR professionals have been stepping in to help reshape the narratives propping up their bottom lines.

Fracking and Shale Drilling Caused Spike in Climate-Warming Methane Pollution, Says New Study

Read time: 8 mins
Flaring in Permian Basin Shale with sunflowers

Climate-changing pollution reached unprecedented levels in 2018. That's both judged against the last 60 years of modern measurements and against 800,000 years of data culled from ice cores, according to the U.S. government’s State of the Climate report, which was published this week with the American Meteorological Society.

That pollution creates a greenhouse effect that is over 42 percent stronger than it was in 1990, the report added.

And while carbon dioxide hit a new level last year, it isn't the only climate-changing gas that’s on the rise globally. Pollution of the powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas methane also climbed in 2018, showing an increase “higher than the average growth rate over the past decade,” the report adds.

A new Cornell University study published today in the scientific journal Biogeosciences helps to explain what sparked the surge in those methane concentrations, both here in the U.S. and around the world.

One big culprit: shale drilling and fracking.

Teaching Kids About Climate Science Leads to More Climate-Concerned Parents on Right and Left, New Study Finds

Read time: 5 mins
Kids peer over insects to identify them

Educating kids about climate change can help their parents learn too, a scientific study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes — even when parents initially doubted that climate change was cause for concern.

This study tells us that we can educate children about climate change and they’re willing to learn, which is exciting because studies find that many adults are resistant to climate education, because it runs counter to their personal identities,” said Danielle Lawson, lead author and a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University. “It also highlights that children share that information with their parents, particularly if they’re given tools to facilitate communication — and that parents are willing to listen.”

Oil Companies Will Be Bad Investments Within Five Years, Predicts Survey of European Fund Managers

Read time: 6 mins
Oil derricks at sunset

European fund managers are casting an increasingly skeptical eye towards the oil industry, concluding that the industry’s financial future looks grim, according to a new survey published by a London-based organization today.

Just 18 percent of the responding fund managers, including representatives of firms based in the UK, France, Spain, and Italy, predicted that “oil companies will be good investments if their business is still focused on fossil fuels in five years’ time,” according to the survey, published by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) and the Climate Change Collaboration.

‘All Rhetoric and No Action’: Oil Giants Spent $1 Billion on Climate Lobbying and Ads Since Paris Pact, Says Report

Read time: 7 mins
climate policy grades for five major oil companies

A new report by a British think tank estimates that since the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s five largest listed oil and gas companies spent more than $1 billion lobbying to prevent climate change regulations while also running public relations campaigns aimed at maintaining public support for climate action.

Combined, the companies spend roughly $200 million a year pushing to delay or alter climate and energy rules, particularly in the U.S. — while spending $195 million a year “on branding campaigns that suggest they support an ambitious climate agenda,” according to InfluenceMap, a UK-based non-profit that researches how corporations influence climate policy.

Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact

Read time: 6 mins
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City

A report published today names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris Agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

The top four banks that invested most heavily in fossil fuel projects are all based in the U.S., and include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays in Europe, Japan’s MUFG, TD Bank, Scotiabank, and Mizuho make up the remainder of the top 10.

'Time is Running Out,' American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change

Read time: 6 mins
Fire crew in California fire

The warning is clear and dire — and the source unexpected. “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told an oil industry conference, as he described research into climate change caused by fossil fuels.

The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.”

BREAKING: $4.2 Million Jury Verdict Against Cabot Oil & Gas in Dimock, PA Water Contamination Lawsuit

Read time: 5 mins
A Pennsylvania jury handed down a $4.24 million verdict in a lawsuit centering on water contamination from negligent shale gas drilling in Dimock, PA, a tiny town that made international headlines for its flammable and toxic drinking water.

New Report Highlights Fracking's Global Hazards

Read time: 6 mins

A new report, issued the same day the latest round of global climate negotiations opened in Peru, highlights the fracking industry's slow expansion into nearly every continent, drawing attention not only to the potential harm from toxic pollution, dried-up water supplies and earthquakes, but also to the threat the shale industry poses to the world's climate.

The report, issued by Friends of the Earth Europe, focuses on the prospects for fracking in 11 countries in Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe, warning of unique hazards in each location along with the climate change risk posed in countries where the rule of law is relatively weak.

“Around the world people and communities are already paying the price of the climate crisis with their livelihoods and lives,” said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. “Fracking will only make things worse and has no place in a clean energy future.”

The 80-page document describes plans for fracking in Brazil's Amazon rainforest (and the deforestation that would go along with that drilling), highlights the hazards the water-intensive process poses to already-disappearing aquifers in arid regions of northern Africa, and notes that licenses for shale gas drilling have been issued in the earthquake-prone zone at the foot of the Himalaya mountains in India.

It comes as representatives from 195 countries gathered Monday in Lima, with the goal of negotiating new limits on greenhouse gasses and staving off catastrophic climate change. Prospects for those talks seemed grim, with The New York Times reporting that it would be all but impossible to prevent the globe from warming 2 degrees.