Media Round-Up — March 17, 2022

As Russia’s fossil fuel-funded invasion of Ukraine continues, this edition of the Climate Finance bi-weekly media round-up shows that swift divestment (for political and moral reasons — not to mention financial benefits!) is entirely possible.

Gizmodo: 5 Oil Execs Cashed Out $99 Million in Stock During Ukraine Invasion

“Yet, where most reasonable observers see an escalating tragedy, Big Oil CEOs see an opportunity. That’s according to a new analysis conducted by nonprofits BailoutWatch and Friends of the Earth, which claims at least five oil executives have cashed out nearly $99 million worth of stock since late February.”

The New Yorker: Sarah Bloom Raskin Withdraws Her Nomination to the Federal Reserve Board 

“Bloom Raskin, who is a law professor at Duke University, is not a new or untested figure on the national economic stage. She was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to top economic positions twice before…But, in her letter to Biden, she noted that the difference this time was that “my frank public discussion of climate change and the economic costs associated with it’ had become a point of contention with the Republicans on the Banking Committee: ‘It was—and is—my considered view that the perils of climate change must be added to the list of serious risks that the Federal Reserve considers as it works to ensure the stability and resiliency of our economy and financial system.’”

CTV News: Coastal GasLink pipeline: Dozens of celebrities sign petition to stop RBC’s funding of project

“The campaign, ‘No More Dirty Banks,’ asks for the bank to withdraw its financial support of the pipeline immediately. It appears to have been signed by dozens of artists like Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Amy Schumer. Celebrities have signed the petition because RBC is parent company to City National Bank, known as the ‘bank of the stars.’”

Bloomberg: HSBC Announces ‘Phase Down’ of Funding for Fossil-Fuel Clients

“HSBC Holdings Plc promised to “phase down” its financing of the fossil fuel industry, sending a warning to oil and gas clients as the bank works toward its target of net-zero emissions.”

Reuters: Swiss Re cuts fossil fuel cover for oil, gas to protect climate

“The world’s second biggest reinsurer said it would no longer insure most new oil and gas projects following mounting pressure on big business to do more to help the world cap global warming.”

Pensions & Investments: New York State Teachers, Oregon join in dropping Russian investments

“One week after the invasion of Ukraine began, U.S. state officials, legislative bodies, and public pension fund boards continue to pull their investments from Russia.”

The Guardian: Op-ed: Our climate solutions are failing – and Big Oil’s fingerprints are all over them 

“Social scientists have been arguing for decades that the biggest obstacle to climate action is not a lack of scientific understanding or data, but a lack of political will. It was only after producing a growing mountain of peer-reviewed literature, and convincing many atmospheric scientists of their value as well, that they were finally included and, it seems, listened to.”

The New Republic: BlackRock, Vanguard, and UBS Are Blocking Climate Progress

“Who’s blocking progress on climate change? Fossil fuel companies and politicians in rich, high-emitting countries are the biggest obstructionists—the ones climate activists are rightly targeting with political campaigns, investigations, and direct actions. But as two recent reports have made clear, there’s another group climate watchers need to consider if the world is to avoid catastrophe: asset managers.”

Financial Times: Top US pension fund rejects calls for fossil fuel divestment

“The $319bn California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) has pushed back against a new bill from the California Senate which would block it from owning stakes in oil and gas producers.”

The New Republic: The U.S. Bans Russian Oil. Big Energy Shrugs.

“The industry’s decade-plus of ill health is why analysts and level-headed insiders are less hyped than lobbyists and centrist pundits about the prospect of a new U.S. energy renaissance swooping in to save Europe. Besides financing troubles, the industry is afflicted by the same supply chain chaos hobbling other sectors. Bottlenecks aren’t coming from the draconian imposition of federal policy so much as an inability to get sand and qualified workers. And new infrastructure won’t come online for years.”

The Guardian: ’This is a fossil fuel war’: Ukraine’s top climate scientist speaks out

“‘Burning oil, gas and coal is causing warming and impacts we need to adapt to. And Russia sells these resources and uses the money to buy weapons. Other countries are dependent upon these fossil fuels, they don’t make themselves free of them. This is a fossil fuel war. It’s clear we cannot continue to live this way, it will destroy our civilization.’”

Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed: The Ukraine war is a decision point — banks should stop funding the fossil fuel industry forever

“Maybe the uncanny confluence of last week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report chronicling just how little time we have left to deal with global warming and the hideous sight of Russian shells crashing into Kyiv apartment blocks will free up new thinking. What if banks refused once and for all to deal with the oil companies, and instead freed up the capital necessary for a rapid retooling of our energy world to make it both safe and clean?”

New England Journal of Medicine: Decarbonizing the US Health Sector

“Although we appreciate the authors’ reference to ‘operational’ emissions — facility operations, purchases, and supply chains — we cannot ignore the ‘source’ emissions of our institutional investments: the harmful pension investments that provide capital for massive fossil-fuel infrastructure projects, such as cross-border pipelines and Arctic drilling, which lock increased greenhouse-gas emissions into the future. We want fossil-fuel holdings to be excluded from our pensions.”

Rolling Stone: Putin’s Power Is Fossil Fuels. Clean Energy Is His Kryptonite

“But in the long run, the unwinding of the EU’s dependence on Russian energy is irreversible and is further evidence that the climate crisis is driving economic and political movements that are hard to see — until a war breaks out. ‘It’s not just our climate that’s changing,’ says Erin Sikorsky, the director of the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, D.C. ‘It’s our geopolitics, too.’”

Responsible Investor: Ukraine invasion shows passive managers can divest

“Speaking in response to a question about how passive funds can exercise influence through stewardship if the ‘ultimate influence is starvation of capital’ at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s annual ESG conference, Archie Struthers said he had never seen index providers move so quickly to change constituents when under pressure to do so.”

National Observer: As AGM season gets closer, banks signal how seriously they take climate — or not

“While RBC is encouraging shareholders to reject a resolution that would prevent it from financing fossil fuel companies under the banner of “sustainable” lending, Canada’s National Observer has learned the bank rejected a separate resolution that would stop it from financing fossil fuel companies exploring or developing untapped oil and gas reserves by the end of 2022 because the text of the resolution was 49 words above the word limit.”

The Globe and Mail: Opinion: Canada’s major banks confront the hidden role of financed emissions

“Canada’s major banks are starting to fill in the blanks on how they plan to deal with their biggest climate problem – the carbon emissions from their industrial clients. These are by far the largest sources of greenhouse gases stemming from the business of the financial institutions. They are the hardest to tally and out of their direct control. But these “financed emissions” must be dealt with if the banks have any hope of achieving their commitments to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.”