Weekly wrap: Democrats, Philippines target ExxonMobil

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Activist at climate march ahead of Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia (Flickr/Mark Dixon)

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US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has tended to go easier on oil interests than the climate hawk wing of her party.

Still, the Democratic platform adopted this week included a call on the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of corporate fraud by fossil fuel majors.

Exxon Mobil wasn’t named, but is a top target for activists, already facing multiple inquiries over evidence it misled the public on the strength of climate science.

It is the most confrontational element of a climate agenda that featured prominently in speeches throughout the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Hollywood’s James Cameron even directed a star-studded short film about it, attacking Republican nominee Donald Trump for denying the threat.

Quote of the week

“I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs” – Hillary Clinton

On the other side of the world, Exxon was top of a list of carbon majors called to account for the human rights impacts of global warming.

The Philippines Commission on Human Rights gave 47 coal, oil and cement companies 45 days to respond to a petition from Greenpeace and local NGOs.

It may be optimistic to expect the likes of Chevron or BP to acknowledge any responsibility for the intense tropical storms facing the Asia-Pacific.

Number of the week

25% of UK electricity came from renewable sources in 2015, overtaking coal for the first time

Still, the Commission’s findings could provide ammunition for other legal challenges. Gillian Lobo, a lawyer with London-based NGO Client Earth, was watching with interest.

She told Climate Home: “We urge the companies implicated in the complaint to act responsibly and comply with the Commission’s request in good faith.

“If they don’t, it will show a total disregard for the Commission and the human rights of the people of the Philippines.”

Flight path

Solar Impulse completed its round-the-world flight, the first ever to be entirely powered by the sun.

It’s an exciting technological breakthrough, but let’s not get carried away: this is nowhere near being viable on a commercial scale.

For more substantive progress, look to the US Environmental Protection Agency. While the DNC hogged headlines, it quietly released a ruling that aviation emissions pose a climate and health threat.

That paves the way for domestic regulation to complement the global rules under discussion. Climate analysts say the latter are too weak.

He don’t give a dam

Brazil’s new environment minister José Sarney Filho is going cold on hydropower mega dams, reports Natalie Unterstell from Rio.

With major projects dogged by human rights, environmental and now corruption concerns, he is looking to wind and bioenergy for a more diverse energy mix. Will his colleagues agree?

Free gifs

Inspired by the runaway success of Ed Hawkins’ temperature spiral animation, scientists from Potsdam and Melbourne have created a trio of gifs.

Between them, they tell the story of human influence on the climate. Here’s the carbon budget, rapidly getting eaten up:

CarbonBudgetSpiral_small2

Another set of scientists outlined the knowledge gaps on the tougher 1.5C warming threshold. More research into technologies that suck CO2 out of the air is needed, they say.

And a study fleshed out the link between climate change and conflict. Ethnically divided countries are more at risk of natural disasters escalating into violence, it found. That’s bad news for northern and central Africa and central Asia.

Backtracking?

After saying he wouldn’t honour the Paris climate deal, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte softened his stance this week.

“Addressing climate change shall be a top priority,” he told the nation, while continuing to emphasise industrialisation came first.

And finally…

An Alberta tar sands lobby group got in hot water after using a photo of two women kissing to promote its native energy source.

“In Canada lesbians are considered hot!” the Facebook post proclaimed. “In Saudi Arabia if you’re a lesbian YOU DIE! Why are we getting our oil from countries that don’t think lesbians are hot?”

The man behind it, Robbie Picard, eventually took it down after a barrage of complaints the ad objectified women.

(Pic: Canada Oilsands Community/Facebook)

(Pic: Canada Oilsands Community/Facebook)

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