Is the fossil fuel industry ignoring risks of declining demand?

Read the whole article from by Ben Adler – October 28, 2015:

Fossil fuel companies aren’t just bad for the climate — they’re bad investments

“The Carbon Tracker Initiative, an energy industry research group, published a landmark report on this in 2011, which inspired the divestment movement. Now the group is out with a new report,  “Lost in Transition: How the energy sector is missing potential demand destruction,” comparing published fossil fuel industry scenarios to financial market research. Carbon Tracker finds that the industry is ignoring risks of declining demand.”

Great Documentaries for March Break

By Andrea Loken, science teacher and ECA co-founder

Here is a short list of some of my favourite documentaries related to climate change and the fossil fuel industry. Enjoy!

  1. Chasing Ice – 75 min – 2012 [on Netflix] – A visually stunning and totally inspiring chronicle of nature photographer James Balog’s epic “Extreme Ice Survey”. A gorgeous fusion of art and science.
  2. Disruption – 52 min – 2014 [watch and download for free or watch on YouTube] – Totally inspiring, but also challenging. From the website: “Through a relentless investigation to find the answer, Disruption takes an unflinching look at the devastating consequences of our inaction.”
  3. Do The Math – 42 min – 2013 [free] – The trailer is found at the link.  Also found here. This is a perfect primer for the “Three Scary Numbers” of climate science. It’s great for the SNC2D unit on Climate Change.
  4. Green World Rising – new series – From the website: “Green World Rising is a series of short films on solutions to climate change. The series is narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Leila Conners, presented by Thom Hartmann and produced by Mathew Schmid, George DiCaprio, Earl Katz and Roee Sharon Peled.”
  5. Years of Living Dangerously – 2014 – 9 part series [Ep 1 is free] – Produced for Showtime by James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this tells many stories about the devastating impacts of climate change on people right now.
  6. Gasland – 103 min – 2010 – Isn’t natural gas better than coal and oil? This documentary might blow your mind if you don’t know about “fracking”. Josh Fox exposes the many secrets and lies required for this industry to exist as he travels across the USA to get some answers. Very eye-opening. Also, watch it here. Or here.
  7. White Water, Black Gold – 57 min – 2012 – Canadian – Also, watch on TVO. I use this in my science curriculum all the time. From the website: “an investigative point-of-view documentary that follows David Lavallee on his three-year journey across western Canada in search of answers about the activities of the world’s thirstiest oil industry: the Tarsands. As a mountaineer and hiking guide, David is on the front lines of climate change. Over the past 15 years he has worked in the Columbia Icefields of the Canadian Rockies, and has noticed profound changes in the mountains: climate change is rendering these landscapes unrecognizable.”
  8. Mission Blue – 94 min – 2014 [on Netflix] – This is a gorgeous and compelling story documenting the work of trailblazer and oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle. The oceans are dying. She is on at mission to save them. “No ocean, no life. No ocean, no us.” Just watching the trailer gives me a lump in my throat.
  9. Occupy Love – 85 min – 2014 – I haven’t seen this film, but it’s on the top of my list! From the website: “Join acclaimed director Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred, Fierce Light) on a journey deep inside the revolution of the heart that is erupting around the planet, as he asks the question, “How could the crisis we are facing become a love story?””

Three Scary Numbers: A Lesson Plan

“Every now and then an article comes along that takes such a novel approach to an issue, I feel like I’m seeing something with new eyes. Such was the case when I read Bill McKibben’s 2012 Rolling Stone article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” It made me see our climate predicament with such clarity that I knew immediately I had to figure out how to turn this article into curriculum.”

Here is a 3 min video summarizing the three numbers.

Top 200 fossil fuel companies

On the “Fossil Free Indexes: The Carbon Underground 2015” website, it states:

“The Carbon Underground 200 identifies the top 100 public coal companies globally and the top 100 public oil and gas companies globally, ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves. The reserves of these companies total 555 gigatons (Gt) of potential CO2 emissions, almost five times more than can be burned for the world to have an 80% chance of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C (3.6° F).”

Find ‘The Carbon Underground 200’ here under the tab ‘Rankings’:


Seize the Day! Why we are calling for divestment

By Andrea Loken, teacher, OSSTF Limestone District 27, Educators Climate Alliance co-founder 

(Please note, a report from AMPA, OSSTF’s annual general meeting will be posted on this blog shortly to explain what happened with our motions.)

(You can sign our petition here.)

Unions and, in particular, Educators’ unions have a unique opportunity right now in history to be part of a BIG vision. As a unionist, climate activist and physics teacher, I see an amazing chance to come together with others and build upon our roots of social justice and our passion for teaching and leading, knowing the terrifying and real future we face if we as a society do not change course.

The great news is that we have so many allies. We have a chance to unite many groups that have seemed to be fighting isolated fights, groups that have a common foe, groups whose combined power would be unstoppable.

To quote Naomi Klein from her powerful speech as she addressed UNIFOR in September 2013: “Climate Change is OUR shock doctrine.” The same forces that are destroying the environment are the forces attacking labour and calling for austerity; they are oppressing indigenous people, people of colour, the poor, and women to name a few. And climate change disproportionately harms the most vulnerable. It isn’t just a social justice issue, says Naomi Klein, “It is a civilization wake up call.”

The most conservative estimates of the climate science say that we need to stay below 2oC warming to avoid catastrophic consequences. The IPCC also says we have a carbon budget of about 600 gigatons which, at current growth rates, we will burn within 15 years. Financial analysts say we have 5 times that much carbon already in reserves, ready to burn. The time to transition off carbon-based energy is right now.

With this knowledge, Ontario educators must accept the challenge to act collectively to fight climate change by joining the growing global movement to divest from leading fossil fuel companies. To this end, we are asking at the OSSTF general meeting (AMPA 2015) to form a workgroup to determine how to pressure the OTPP and OMERS to divest since we have no direct influence on these pensions.

The point of divestment is not to financially harm these massive corporations. The point is to morally tarnish them and shift the paradigm to a new energy future that is sustainable. The divestment movement targeting South African apartheid in the 1980s, in which OMERS participated, changed the world for the better.

Let’s seize the day!!

Please read and share our motions. Please note that they have been amended (denoted by red text) as of March 10, 2015:

MAC 223-15

BE IT RESOLVED THAT AMPA establish a two year work group that will investigate:

a)  ways to support the global movement to divest from fossil fuels, in accordance with and; and

b)  ways to pressure  the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System to:

  1. participate in the divestment of fossil fuel companies;
  2. ensure none of the OTPP’s or OMERS’ directly held or commingled assets include holdings in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years as determined by the Carbon Tracker List (top 200 fossil fuel companies); and
  3. release bi-annual updates, available to OSSTF members and the public, detailing progress.

The work group will be comprised of the following:

a)  Three bargaining unit presidents/leaders, with an interest in environmental issues, as selected by the Provincial Executive from applications;

b)  One OTF Governor;

c)  One Provincial Executive member, assigned by the President;

d)  The Secretariat member assigned to environmental issues.

The work group will report to Provincial Council on an interim basis, as appropriate, and submit an interim report with recommendations to AMPA 2016 and a final report with recommendations to AMPA 2017.

CPA 202-15

BE IT RESOLVED THAT Policy 9.10 be amended by the addition of a new subsection that reads:

“It is the policy of OSSTF that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and the Ontario Municipality Retirement System (OMERS) should not invest in fossil fuel companies. Specifically, the OTPP and OMERS should stop any new investment in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds as determined by the Carbon Tracker List (top 200 fossil fuel companies) and should promote divestment until that is achieved.”

MAC 224-15

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Provincial Executive and the OTF Governors ask the OTPP and OMERS Board of Directors to direct asset managers to stop any new investment in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years as determined by the Carbon Tracker List (top 200 fossil fuel companies).

BYL 234-15
BE IT RESOLVED THAT Bylaw 9.5.2 be amended by the insertion of a new subsection that reads:
“No part of the Internal Investment Fund shall be invested in fossil fuel companies. Specifically, the Internal Investment Fund should stop any new investment in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years as determined by the Carbon Tracker (top 200 fossil fuel companies).