Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 22:33 • Frances Rankin

Over the past two years, major oil companies in the UK have sponsored over 100 community activities, educational awards, and local events, DeSmog UK can reveal.

This allows the firms to greenwash their image and cheaply purchase a social license to operate within the communities.

DeSmog UK’s new database, launched today, tracks fossil fuel companies’ involvement in local communities through funding and sponsorship. It includes local level and educational sponsorship deals from five of the most prominent fossil fuel companies operating in the UK: BP, Shell, Exxon, Total, and Chevron.

Monday, March 19, 2018 - 08:31 • Guest

By John Maggs

Out of sight, out of mind? Our blindness to what happens at sea has been skilfully exploited by the global shipping industry.

The coal market only functions because coal can be cheaply shipped hundreds of miles across the ocean, from where it is mined to where it is incinerated. The companies transporting it have been profiting from the trade for decades, in full knowledge of the escalating risks of climate change.

There has been a fantastic stream of announcements recently to phase out coal burning, from countries as diverse as Chile, France, Mexico and Angola. The next logical move is to persuade ports and countries to ban the import and handling of coal. It wouldn’t be the first environmentally damaging or otherwise undesirable product countries have stopped from entering their ports and territory.  

Friday, March 16, 2018 - 12:15 • John Gibbons

Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar dropped a major climate clanger in Washington this week, when boasting about intervening with Irish planning authorities on behalf of Donald Trump. The incident occurred in 2014, prior to Trump’s presidential run and when Varadkar was then Irish tourism minister.

Trump phoned him in a bid to thwart plans for a wind farm to be located near his newly purchased golf resort in Doonbeg, on Ireland’s western seaboard. Varadkar then phoned the local county council and “endeavoured to do what I could do about it”, he told a lunch event in Washington this week to mark St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s national holiday.

Permission for a nine turbine wind farm close to Doonbeg was subsequently refused. “I am very happy to take credit for it if the president is going to offer it to me”, Varadkar said this week.

Friday, March 16, 2018 - 04:35 • Christine Ottery

Norwegian energy giant Statoil has announced it is rebranding to ‘Equinor’, a new name the firm states is inspired by “words like equal, equality and equilibrium”, as well as “Nor” for Norway.

But is this just an exercise in greenwashing? Just how fair and equitable is the company’s strategy?

After all, Statoil remains, at heart, a fossil fuel company.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 04:00 • Mat Hope

The UK government is considering a law that would make it easier for companies to sue whistleblowers and journalists for scrutinising corporate activity.

In a letter to business minister Sam Gyimah, a coalition of NGOs, campaigners, and independent media express their concern over the “legal ambiguity about protection for whistle-blowers in the UK” as well as potential restrictions on reporting sensitive commercial deals. The letter was signed by 18 organisations, including DeSmog UK.

The UK government is currently transposing the 2016 EU directive on “trade secrets protection” into national law. There are fears that in its current form, major stories could go unreported due to the special statues of ‘trade secrets’, which threatens the rights of whistle-blowers and the ability of reporters to expose wrongdoing.

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 08:31 • Mat Hope

By Ruth Hayhurst for Drill or Drop

The UK’s biggest shale gas company, INEOS, has suffered another vote against its exploration plans.

A packed public gallery at Rotherham Town Hall this lunchtime watched as councillors unanimously opposed the company’s application for a vertical coring well in the village of Woodsetts. See DrillOrDrop live updates

This is the second unanimous vote against INEOS by Rotherham councillors in six weeks. It means that all the company’s schemes going through the planning system have now been opposed by local authorities. It brings to five the number of onshore gas applications rejected by planning authorities this year.

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 04:33 • Guest

By Shaye Wolf

According to alarming weather data released this week, the Arctic just experienced its warmest winter on record. This is devastating news for polar bears, who are suffering as their sea-ice habitat melts from under their paws.

Polar bears are a global-warming poster child for good reason. Their struggle provides compelling, real-time evidence of climate change. But it also puts polar bear science in the crosshairs of climate science deniers.

To mark International Polar Bear Day last week, the dubiously named Global Warming Policy Foundation climate science denial thinktank released a report by Susan Crockford that grossly misrepresents scientific research findings on polar bears.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 21:46 • Mat Hope

The UK government regularly trots out its long-standing commitment to phase out coal power by 2025 as an example of its commitment to tackling climate change.

Evidently, this continues to really bug a fringe set of MPs.

A cross-party group of MPs have signed an early-day motion that says “coal can be, and should be, part of that UK low carbon energy generation mix beyond 2025” — effectively signalling their opposition to the government’s plan.