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Polly Higgins — Meet the Lawyer Taking on Big Oil’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Read time: 7 mins
Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins is a woman on the hunt. And you get the sense that, after decades of working towards holding powerful polluters to account, her prey may finally be in sight.

When you're looking at any crime, you're looking at who are your suspects,” she tells me in a soft Scottish accent that belies the hard truths she regularly delivers. “Within a corporate context, you're looking at CEOs and directors. Within a state context, it is ministers and Heads of State.”

‘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.

Comment: School Strikers Know it's Time to End Corporate Lobbying that Encourages Climate Inaction

Read time: 2 mins
London school climate strike

By Thomas O'Neill, Research Director of corporate transparency NGO InfluenceMap

If you were sitting on the last lifeboat from the Titanic, making a hole here, removing a panel there, while denying that ships can sink, your fellow passengers would rightly deem your actions deliberately destructive. 

The climate and energy policies which governments must implement if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent within the next 12 years are our civilisation’s lifeboat to avoid the worst effects of climate change, which threaten the security of all humankind.  

UK's Polluting Foreign Investments Criticised as BP and Exxon Get Domestic Tax Benefits

Read time: 4 mins

The UK is facing intensifying criticism over its continued funding of overseas fossil fuel projects.

At the latest hearing of the government’s enquiry into the UK’s export credit agency (UKEF), experts told MPs that the UK was missing out on an opportunity to push for more international action on climate change by continuing to support dirty energy projects overseas.

BP’s Basra Operations Praised by British Ambassador Prior to Fatal Civil Unrest

Read time: 4 mins
Fire at Rumalia oilfield

Shortly before violent protests broke out in the oil-producing city of Basra in Iraq, British government representatives visited an oilfield partially operated by BP, and praised the company’s “impressive” social and environmental performance. Campaigners have criticised the visits for prioritising BP’s interests over those of local Iraqis.

According to documents seen by DeSmog, released in response to a Freedom of Information request from campaign group Culture Unstained, the British ambassador to Iraq, Jon Wilks, met with BP and Iraq’s Department for International Trade on 9 April 2018. The meeting took place at the Rumaila Oilfield, which is being developed by BP.

Lord Donoughue: New Chair of Climate Science Denying Group Has Vested Interests in Fossil Fuels

Read time: 2 mins

The new chairman of the UK’s principal climate science denier campaign group holds investments in a number of fossil fuel companies, including those building controversial oil and gas pipelines in Canada.

Labour peer Lord Bernard Donoughue was handed the reins of the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) after former Chancellor Nigel Lawson stepped down earlier this month.

BP's First Global Advertising Campaign Since Deepwater Horizon Accused of Being 'Deceptive and Hypocritical'

Read time: 7 mins
Baby featured in a BP ad

Nearly a decade after being held responsible for the largest marine oil spill in history, BP’s first global advertising campaign in ten years has been denounced as “deceptive and hypocritical”.

The global advertising campaign called “we see possibilities everywhere” aims to showcase BP’s efforts to embrace clean energy and includes a series of short videos profiling the British oil giant’s plan to increase its energy production while lowering its emissions.

Big Oil Faces Criminal Lawsuit Over Patagonian Fracking Waste

Read time: 4 mins

A major indigenous group in Argentina has filed a criminal complaint against BP subsidiary Pan American Energy for illegally dumping toxic fracking waste in the “sensitive Patagonian environment”.

According to Greenpeace analysis, the “hazardous waste” contains high levels of hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and radioactive elements that pose reproduction and inhalation risks.

Oil and Money Conference: Fossil Fuel Executives Discuss How to Use PR to ‘Combat Growing Divestment Movement’

Read time: 7 mins
Protesters outside the Oil and Money conference in London

Climate campaigners have accused big oil and gas companies of trying to “subvert” the divestment movement as top executives gathered in London to discuss how to use PR “to combat” the growing campaign against fossil fuel investments.

The annual Oil and Money conference, which is taking place at the luxurious Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel between Mayfair and Knightsbridge this week, is a mainstay of the oil and gas industry calendar.

The three-day meeting — a “who’s who” of the global oil and gas industry — is co-hosted by the New York Times Company and Energy Intelligence and is attended by more than 500 senior level executives from the industry.

The overwhelmingly male line-up of speakers include some of the most influential CEOs in the oil and gas sector such as BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley, Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden and Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanné as well as senior executives from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Glencore and Saudi Aramco.

Science Museum Actively Pursuing Fossil Fuel Sponsors Despite Climate Criticisms, Emails Reveal

Read time: 4 mins
Science Museum

The Science Museum continues to pursue a close relationship with fossil fuel companies despite campaigners’ repeated calls for the companies to be dropped as sponsor due to their contribution to climate change, emails obtained through a freedom of information request reveal.

The disclosure, obtained by campaign group Culture Unstained, comes two weeks before the start of Manchester Science Festival, where Shell is controversially sponsoring an exhibition. A low carbon NGO has already cut ties with the festival in protest at the deal.

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