Tag Archives: Climate change

Book review. A Strategic Nature: Public Relations And The Politics of American Environmentalism by Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoz

Book review. A Strategic Nature: Public Relations And The Politics of American Environmentalism by Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoz
by Ian Sinclair
Peace News
December 2022-January 2023

‘We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat,’ United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in June. ‘For decades, many in the fossil fuel industry have invested heavily in pseudo-science and public relations — with a false narrative to minimise their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies.’

Written by Rutgers University academics Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoza, A Strategic Nature explores the relationship between American public relations (PR) and American environmentalism, arguing they emerged alongside each other, with neither looking the way they do today without the other. Buttressed by Oxford University Press-level referencing, they posit ‘it is not possible to understand the role of the environment in our everyday lives without understanding how something called “the environment” has been invented and communicated’ by PR.

If it isn’t clear already, the book is very much an academic take on the topic, often quite dry and not a particularly easy read.

However, it contains some useful information for activists. For example, if measured by the scale of the response from corporate PR, it can be argued US green activism has been very successful. For example, the authors highlight the campaign to discredit Rachel Carson after she published Silent Spring, her broadside against pesticides, in 1962. Elsewhere they note the upsurge in environmental activism in the 60s and 70s ‘represented the greatest challenge to business… perhaps of the entire twentieth century’, and sparked a huge, highly sophisticated PR campaign to counter it.

Starting with the ‘father of the US national parks’ John Muir, they also note both big business and environmentalists have used public relations to further their cause. Indeed, in the UK activist groups such as the 2000s anti-airport expansion Plane Stupid, Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace are undoubtedly all highly skilled PR practitioners. The difference, of course, is though business PR practitioners tend to frame their work as informing public debate, Aronczyk and Espinoza conclude ‘the true measure’ of a successful corporate public relations campaign ‘is the extent to which it has ensured that publics do not form, do not constitute a body of concern and do not raise problems as public problems.’

While the book is largely concerned with twentieth century history, the battle between corporate power and a liveable planet will likely be the key focus of activist work for the foreseeable future. An up to date, UK-specific book on corporate PR and green activism would therefore be very welcome. Until then, concerned citizens will likely find the following books more useful: A Century of Spin: How Public Relations Became the Cutting Edge of Corporate Power (2007) by David Miller and William Dinan, and Sharon Beder’s Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism, updated in 2002.

“This civilization as we know it is finished”: Rupert Read interview

“This civilization as we know it is finished”: Rupert Read interview
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
8 November 2022

Professor Rupert Read has devoted a huge amount of his life to green politics – as a Green Party member, councillor, parliamentary candidate and spokesperson, as an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, and in 2019 as a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, appearing on BBC Question Time.

With his new book Why Climate Breakdown Matters just out, Ian Sinclair asked Read about why he thinks this civilization is finished, the importance of telling the truth about the climate crisis and where the green movement goes from here.

Ian Sinclair: One of your central messages in the book is “This civilization as we know it is finished”. What, exactly, do you mean by this? And does the climate science support this statement? 

Rupert Read: It’s not just about climate science. It’s about a whole systems-analysis and understanding. That is what, as a philosopher, I seek to offer. Though of course the task is actually way too big for any one person. But we have to try. We can’t take refuge behind academic specialism, if the cost of doing so is that no-one asks the really big questions, like I ask in this book, such as is this civilisation finished?

But yes, indirectly I think the climate science does support this claim. If we are to get through what is coming without collapse, then the curve for change is getting ever steeper. The time when a smooth transition might have been possible is past. The only transition possible now is transformational. Everything is going to change, either way. This civilisation will be transformed, by us or by Earth, by collapse. These are the two possible outcomes insofar as I can see; our civilisation either collapses due to ecological breakdown, or it consciously transforms to combat the climate crisis in such a fundamental way as to no longer be this society. Either way, this civilisation’s days are numbered.

IS: The 2015 Paris Agreement, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, and to keep them “well below” 2.0C above pre-industrial times. You describe the agreement as a failure. Why? 

RR: Look, the first thing to point out is that the Paris Agreement was of course an unprecedented diplomatic triumph. It rocketed the climate to the forefront of international relations, and the success of having all 196 countries agree to limit their emissions was unheard of. Nevertheless, Paris still did not establish an international regime of the kind created by the much more successful Montréal agreement (on stopping ozone-depletion) a generation before: this time, countries were left to create their own carbon budgets, and there was no enforcing power behind the accord, no requirement for trade sanctions against laggards. Moreover, the budgets that were created to limit carbon emissions were based on overly optimistic models of climate change, and this is insufficient when dealing with the inherent uncertainties of climate modelling; even if all countries were to abide by a climate budget that was agreed upon at Paris (which obviously they are not), there is no guarantee that this would be enough. Moreover, Paris in effect relied on totally uncertain gambles on carbon-reduction technology for its optimistic projections. All in all, Paris should have been at best the starting point, inspiring a wave of more intense and stringent climate policies. Instead, Paris remains the mediocre highpoint of climate conferences, seven years later. 

IS: Responding to Liz Truss labelling opponents of her government as “the anti-growth coalition”, Fatima Ibrahim from Green New Deal Rising said “this couldn’t be further from the truth. Activists such as myself are committed to clean, equitable growth for all.” What’s your take on ‘green growth’?  

RR: Firstly, my position on economic growth is that we really must abandon it as the be-all and end-all aim of economic policy. The obsession with economic growth, GDP, has gripped the world for far too long without considering vital questions like what is all this growth for, who is benefiting from economic growth, is endless economic growth possible, why are we growing the bad things that are wrapped up inside the definition of GDP, etc. My view is that we talk about economic growth to avoid having to talk about redistribution; there is enough to go around, and making sure everyone has what they need should be our focus and I’m entirely unconvinced economic growth is any kind of path to that. The economy should, for the sake of the environment and the people in it, be geared towards providing what we need, whereas it currently serves to sell us what we don’t for the sake of growth. I would be sceptical of Fatima Ibrahim’s idea of “clean, equitable growth.” Certainly, there are green sectors of the economy that do require substantial growth, such as the renewable energy sector, but being committed to societal-wide economic growth, green or otherwise, as an indispensable component of policy, means we are still prioritising a statistical figure over the needs of the people. Instead of pursuing growth, let’s pursue equality: that’s the way to be equitable! And let’s aim to grow the clean and to shrink/eliminate the rest.

IS: Reading your book about the radical transformations in society that need to be implemented as soon as possible, it strikes me that even the Green Party of England and Wales is not speaking honestly about the severity and enormity of the climate crisis. Do you agree? 

RR: Yes, on balance I would agree. Although, as should be expected, they are doing way better than any other major party on this issue (full disclosure: I’m a life member, and have previously been a national spokesperson, an elected local Councillor, etc.). Nevertheless, the Green Party are still not being honest about the fact that contemporary society as we know it will not survive the ecological breakdown we are already embroiled in, as set out in my answer above. To continue to tell the public “just vote for us, we’ll sort it out if only we are in power” is dishonest for two reasons; the first is that the current first-past-the-post political organisation of this country makes the Greens winning a General Election as close to impossible as you can get, and the second is that it’s too late for anyone to simply ‘sort it out’. There isn’t going to be a smooth green transition, not even if we had a benevolent environmentalist Government in this country fairly soon. Especially given that it is a pipe dream – and nothing more – to expect that to happen fairly soon worldwide. When we consider the impact of things like the ‘tipping points’ that appear to be being triggered – in our weather systems, in the Amazon, in the oceans, and so forth – and the obvious fact that this is a global issue that requires a global response, the ability of the UK Government to ‘sort this out’ should in any case not be over-claimed. What the UK government does matters – we are a wealthy country, even now; we need to show leadership, especially given our historical responsibility for huge climate-dangerous emissions and for imperial damage to others; and the City of London exercises an enormous, disproportionate, global influence on climate-related finance, an influence that remains mostly for ill, not good – but we are one part of a much larger picture. 

The way in which the Green Party could make the most difference is by telling these difficult truths, now. The Green Party’s USP is as the political party that is a trusted messenger on all things green. If we were to speak authentically about the direness of the crisis, about how hard we’ve tried to shift things, about how we have achieved small incremental improvements but the country and the world remain miles behind the clock and off the pace, about how it’s too late to ‘fix’ this and how we in the Greens certainly can’t significantly ameliorate it alone… if we were to be brave enough to do this, it would be game-changing. Ironically, such a confession of comparative impotence could propel many more voters to us; for voters are hungrier than ever for authenticity, for truth, for humility; for politicians who break the stereotype of their trade. That in any case is the essence of the strategy that I am pursuing for the Green Party, along with my colleagues in The Greens’ Climate Activists Network, GreensCAN: http://www.greens-can.Earth. I’d urge interested readers to weigh it up.

IS: In the book you argue for a new “moderate flank” to be built up within the green movement. What is this, and after playing a key role in Extinction Rebellion’s 2019 actions, why do you think this is the best way forward? 

RR: The emerging Moderate Flank is designed to mobilise everyone who is concerned about the environmental crisis; it is a movement that puts climate and life (aka biodiversity) first and foremost. Extinction Rebellion really did achieve remarkable things, and has put climate concern into the public consciousness in a way that was never been seen before. However, in recent years some of their actions have become more radical, such as the smashing of bank windows. And this process started with the own-goal, that in retrospect proved basically fatal to XR’s prospects of being the prime vehicle for change, of some rebels targeting tube trains, in October 2019. The desperation and frustration behind any of these actions is certainly something I completely relate to, but it’s also no secret that Extinction Rebellion has for years now lacked support from the general public. The climate crisis is the biggest issue our planet has ever faced, and we need a vehicle to mobilise people on it that, while deepening the truth-telling that XR helped initiated, will be unpolarising, welcoming, with low barriers to entry. That is why the new Moderate Flank is being created; to allow every single person who is concerned about climate breakdown, but who may not agree with the more radical tactics of Extinction Rebellion, or at least recognises that it is vital we provide ways (for many more to get involved) that are truth-based and yet don’t require sign-up as an ‘activist’, to participate in trying to prevent/mitigate it, and to seek to adapt transformatively to it. If you want to know more, and I hope you will, then go to @moderateflank on Twitter.

Why Climate Breakdown Matters is published by Bloomsbury, priced £17.99.


Economic Growth vs. A Liveable Planet: Which Side Are You On? 

Economic Growth vs. A Liveable Planet: Which Side Are You On? 
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
29 October 2022

“There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle to be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”  

My main takeaway from Tony Benn’s wise words is that each new generation of activists and progressives need to fight and win the important arguments again and again and again. 

Take, for example, former Prime Minister Liz Truss telling the recent Tory Party conference that those who oppose her government were the “anti-growth coalition.” 

Writing in the Financial Times weekend magazine under the heading ‘Intellect’, Tim Harford, the presenter on the fact-checking BBC radio programme More Or Less, told readers “The UK’s new prime minister is absolutely right to believe that economic growth should be her top priority.” 

Over at The Guardian there was a roundtable collecting responses to Truss’s speech. The contribution from Mick Lynch from the RMT union was titled ‘It’s pure nonsense that unions are “anti-growth”’. On the same page, Fatima Ibrahim, Co-Director of activist group Green New Deal Rising, noted “Green groups have been labelled as part of an ‘anti-growth coalition’, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Activists such as myself are committed to clean, equitable growth for all.” 

Responding to Truss resigning as Prime Minister, Keir Starmer’s Labour Party tweeted “For our economy. For growth. For working people. General Election, now.” Meanwhile the Labour Party’s popular 2017 manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership included fifteen mentions of “growth”, such as “Labour will invest in our future, to ensure faster growth” and “our industrial strategy is one for growth across all sectors.” 

Analysing 1,133 news items – from the Guardian, Telegraph, Sun, Mirror and BBC – about the Financial Crisis for her 2018 book Media Amnesia: Rewriting the Economic Crisis, Laura Basu found only one that challenged the growth paradigm. 

There is, then, with a few rare exceptions, a broad consensus across the political and media spectrum today that economic growth – as measured by a nation’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP per person – is good.  

However, we have not always been so sure about economic growth, or blind to the climate and ecological ramifications of making it a central aim of society and government. 

50 years ago this year a report was published by researchers at the Massachusetts of Technology, which had been commissioned by The Club of Rome, a group of business leaders and intellectuals. Titled The Limits To Growth, the study warned “If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime in the next one hundred years.” 

The report continued: “It is possible to alter these growth trends and to establish a condition of ecological and economic stability that is sustainable far into the future.”  

“If the world’s people decide to strive for this second outcome rather than the first, the sooner they begin working to attain it, the greater will be their chances of success.” 

The Limits To Growth’s legacy in terms of sales and generating debate has been huge, including influencing Tim Jackson’s report Prosperity Without Growth: Economics For A Finite Planet, published in 2009 by the Sustainable Development Commission. 

Noting “GDP growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world for most of the last century”, he argued the climate crisis now requires reconciling our aspirations for the good life with the constraints of a finite planet. This means “we have no alternative but to question growth” and transition to a sustainable economy. 

Also published in 2009, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better took time out from analysing inequality to highlight the problem. “We have to recognize the problems of global warming and the environmental limits to growth,” co-authors Professor Richard Wilkinson and Professor Kate Pickett noted.  

Australian public intellectual Clive Hamilton was more forthright in his 2010 book Requiem For Species: Why We Resist The Truth About Climate Change. Building on his 2003 treatise Growth Fetish, he explained “From the outset, the fetish with economic growth has provided the principal obstacle to coming to grips with the threat of global warming.”  

Naomi Klein took up the baton in This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Published in 2014, she noted “the things we must do to avoid catastrophic warming…. are now in conflict with the fundamental imperative at the heart of our economic model: grow or die.” She quotes climate scientists Professors Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows from 2010: to meet our emissions targets “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations are needed.” 

Our rulers cannot say they haven’t been warned. Since 1972 The Limits To Growth has sold over 10 million copies and been translated into over 30 languages. Prosperity Without Growth was endorsed by King Charles and the then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and appeared on then Labour leader Ed Miliband’s summer reading list. This Changes Everything was on the New York Times bestseller list, and reviewed across the mainstream media. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, one of the most famous people on the planet, has repeatedly denounced the “fairy tale” of ceaseless economic growth. And speaking in 2013, national treasure Sir David Attenborough explained “We have a finite environment – the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.” 

But what about the ‘green growth’ championed by Fatima Ibrahim from Green New Deal Rising? Reviewing the academic literature on the subject in a 2019 peer reviewed journal article, Jason Hickel and Giorgos Kallis conclude the “empirical evidence on resource use and carbon emissions does not support green growth theory” and therefore “green growth is likely to be a misguided objective, and that policymakers need to look toward alternative strategies.” Hickel explained why in a 2020 blog: “The question is not whether GDP can be decoupled from emissions (we know that it can be), the question is whether this can be done fast enough to stay within safe carbon budgets while growing GDP at the same time. And the answer to this is no.” Only a degrowth strategy will succeed in reducing emissions fast enough to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5oC or 2oC, he argues.  

Indeed Hickel sees a deliberate policy of degrowth as an opportunity to improve people’s lives. “We can ensure that people are able to access the things that they need to live a good life… without feeding the never-ending growth machine.” He calls this Radical Abundance, where private riches would likely shrink, but public wealth would significantly increase. 

All of which makes the current consensus incredibly depressing – and deeply worrying. If we are to have any chance, as a nation or humanity, in averting catastrophic climate change then the mainstream debate and government policies on economic growth need to be in a radically different place than it is today.  

As the academic and activist Rupert Read noted in his 2019 co-authored primer This Civilisation Is Finished, “unless you ‘angelise’ economic activity, eliminating its environmental impact altogether… then increasing economic activity is prima facie now a dangerous thing to encourage.” 

In short, growth fetishists who ignore the reality of the climate crisis need to be treated accordingly – as a danger to young people and future generations. 

Follow Ian on Twitter @IanJSinclair 

Book review: Why Climate Breakdown Matters by Rupert Read

Book review: Why Climate Breakdown Matters by Rupert Read
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
24 October 2022

“There are no non-radical futures,” top climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson has repeatedly explained. “The future is radically different from the present either because we make huge, rapid shifts in reducing our emissions with profound shifts in our society, or we hang onto the status quo for a few more years whilst we lock in huge shifts from the impacts of climate change.”

After reading Why Climate Breakdown Matters, I’m confident Rupert Read, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and former Green Party councillor, wholeheartedly agrees with this.

A summation of his recent writings, talks and activism, it’s a deeply challenging and necessary book.

“The stakes could not be higher,” he argues. “Our economic, political and social systems are in the process of making our planet uninhabitable.” And with government action in the UK and elsewhere woefully inadequate, he contends “we are likely to face widespread social and ecological collapse within the next few decades.”

Echoing Anderson and the title of his 2019 primer co-authored with Samuel Alexander, he believes “This civilization as we know it is finished”. Those who downplay the seriousness of the climate emergency are participating in “soft denialism”, which he argues “is now the real enemy.”

A comforting bedtime read this is not.

The book’s second half is more hopeful, with Read leaning on the work of Rebecca Solnit and Charles Fritz to highlight how resilient communities often grow in response to terrible disasters. He urges readers to get active and “do what is necessary now, regardless of its legality or otherwise.” Having played a key role in Extinction Rebellion’s policy-shifting April 2019 uprising, he is now pushing for a “moderate flank” to be built within the climate movement, one that will have the numbers and broad appeal to force radical change.

For Read, if you care about the future of your children and the generations that will come after them, then logically you should also do everything you can to pass on a liveable and sustainable planet to them.

As part of Bloomsbury’s Why Philosophy Matters series, unsurprisingly there is certain amount of philosophy running through the book. However, Read keeps his language and arguments relatively straightforward, making the book accessible to the lay reader. Unlike a lot of academic writing, his references are genuinely an interesting read – I repeatedly found myself underling sentences and citations for later consideration and investigation.

With Read one of the most interesting thinkers currently engaging with the most pressing issue of our time, Why Climate Breakdown Matters is essential reading.

Why Climate Breakdown Matters is published by Bloomsbury, priced £17.99.

Meat industry propaganda and the climate crisis

Meat industry propaganda and the climate crisis
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
25 July 2022

In recent years United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made increasingly strong statements about the climate crisis. His latest warning came at last month’s Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in the US, organised by the White House. “We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat,” he said.

“For decades, many in the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in pseudo-science and public relations – with a false narrative to minimize their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies.”

“They exploited precisely the same scandalous tactics as big tobacco decades before. Like tobacco interests, fossil fuel interests and their financial accomplices must not escape responsibility.”

New research suggests the UK meat industry should be added to the list of powerful forces working in opposition to the public interest and addressing climate change.

Published in Food Policy journal, the article is the first peer-reviewed systematic analysis of how meat industry documents publicly frame the health and sustainability aspects of their business.

Explaining the wider context, the authors – academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Boston University School of Health – note “current consumption trends of red and processed meat are being increasingly understood as a threat to both human health and the health of the planet.”

Red and processed meat have been linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” and red meat as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

The authors also highlight livestock farming accounts for 14.5 per cent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, with beef the biggest climate offender.

The study looked at the websites of six organisations representing the UK meat industry: the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, the British Meat Processors Association, the Country Land & Business Association, Craft Butchers, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Pasture For Life.

Their conclusion? The meat industry frames the debate about the environmental and health aspects of meat consumption “in line with the ‘playbook’ used by producers of other harmful commodities [e.g. the fossil fuel and tobacco industries] to portray their products in a more favourable light and to avoid regulation.”

The authors note four ‘classic’ framing devices deployed by the meat industry, which will be very familiar to observers of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. First, it “fosters uncertainty about scientific consensus and casts doubt over the reliability of both researchers and the evidence”. Second, the industry was found to have shifted the focus to deflect attention away from the central issues – for example risk factors for cancer other than meat were highlighted. Third, the industry portrays itself as a well-intentioned actor, emphasising its own environmental credentials. And finally, there is an emphasis on personal choice. These devices lead to four broad messages: the evidence is “still open for debate”, “most people have no need to worry”, “keep eating meat to be healthy” and “no need to cut down to be green”.

While noting it is unclear whether the industry’s framing has impacted consumer or policy-making behaviour, the study does conclude that “in comparison to other producers of harmful products, the meat industry has thus far avoided significant inspection of its wider corporate tactics.”

Which brings us to the UK government’s (non)reaction to the National Food Strategy it commissioned in 2019 from Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain. Published last year, the report’s executive summary noted “our current appetite for meat is unsustainable: 85% of total land that produces UK food is used to graze livestock or produce crops to feed to animals… we have set a goal of a 30% reduction over ten years.”

This echoes the positon of conservation charity WWF, who argued in February that to meet the nation’s climate commitments British farmers needed to reduce the production of meat and dairy, ideally by at least 30% by 2030. And in 2019 a commission convened by the Lancet medical journal and the Eat Forum NGO highlighted how Europeans needed to eat 77 per cent less meat to avert planetary climate disaster. There are indications these kinds of measures have public support, with a WWF-Demos survey of 22,000 Britons finding 93 per cent of respondents supporting “a strong campaign run by supermarkets, food companies and government reduces red meat and dairy consumption per person by 10%”.

Despite all of this, the government’s response to the National Food Strategy, a White Paper published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in June, did not include anything about reducing meat and dairy production.

No doubt the meat industry was very happy with the government’s continued inaction.

Lord Deben, the Chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), certainly wasn’t. “This is an opportunity wasted,” he said. “The government’s Food Strategy will do precious little to tackle emissions from agriculture which is now one of the most serious contributors to climate change.” The CCC recommended a 20 per cent reduction in meat and dairy by 2030 and 35 per cent reduction for meat by 2050.

The government’s refusal to engage with reality follows on from its 2021 Net Zero Strategy, a 368-page document that set out the policies for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet the 2050 net zero target. According to Michael Thorogood, a political intelligence consultant at Dods, the strategy did not mention “meat” once.

Indeed the CCC’s recently published Progress Report found “major failures in delivery programmes towards the achievement of the UK’s climate goals” and that “the current strategy will not deliver Net Zero.” Chris Stark, the CCC Chief Executive, noted an absence of clear policies to deal with the 12 per cent of UK emissions the CCC estimates come from farming and land use. “DEFRA is really failing to deliver,” he noted.

Researching this article, I’ve found there is a paucity of information about the size and lobbying power of the UK meat industry. However, journalist George Monbiot gave an insight into its close relationship with the government in the Guardian last month. Describing the White Paper as “disastrous”, he noted “these failures reflect a general reversal of Johnson’s environmental commitments, feeble as they were, in response to one of the most pernicious lobby groups in the UK, the National Farmers’ Union… the environment department, DEFRA, occupies 17 Smith Square, London SW1; the NFU, 18 Smith Square, London SW1. It scarcely matters which door you enter: you’ll hear the same story.”

It is important to realise this story is bigger than the UK meat industry, and bigger than UK politics.

Echoing the results of the EAT-Lancet commission, an article published in the peer-reviewed Science journal in 2020 noted the centrality of the food system, and therefore of reducing meat and dairy production, to averting global climate catastrophe.

“We show that even if fossil fuel emissions were immediately halted, current trends in global food systems would prevent the achievement of the 1.5°C target and, by the end of the century, threaten the achievement of the 2°C target,” the study abstract noted. “Meeting the 1.5°C target requires rapid and ambitious changes to food systems as well as to all nonfood sectors. The 2°C target could be achieved with less-ambitious changes to food systems, but only if fossil fuel and other nonfood emissions are eliminated soon.”

In a sane world, the record breaking temperatures experienced earlier this week would sharpen minds and lead to a radical shift in policymaking. Sadly history tells us not to underestimate the governing elite’s ability to ignore the rapidly worsening climate emergency. As always it’s up to us, as concerned citizens, to get active and start challenging the meat industry and the government on this crucial issue.

Follow Ian on Twitter @IanJSinclair.   

“Desperate times call for desperate measures”: Peter Kalmus interview

“Desperate times call for desperate measures”: Peter Kalmus interview
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
7 June 2022

In April Dr Peter Kalmus, an American climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, was arrested after he chained himself to the door of the JP Morgan Chase building in Los Angeles in protest at the bank’s investments in new fossil fuel projects.

Speaking in a personal capacity to Ian Sinclair, Kalmus, who is currently the most followed climate scientist on Twitter, discussed his arrest, barriers to scientists speaking out and the importance of mass civil disobedience in the climate crisis.

Morning Star: Can you explain what led you to chaining yourself to the front door of the JP Morgan Chase building in Los Angeles?

Peter Kalmus: I’m feeling desperate, because the climate emergency is intensifying each year and yet government leaders aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, they’re doing the opposite of what needs to be done: they’re still expanding the fossil fuel industry. They should be leading an emergency-scale transformation away from fossil fuels instead. Everyone needs to know that the damage fossil fuels are doing to Earth’s life support systems are effectively irreversible.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change WG3 report was released just two days before our action at JP Morgan Chase. The report made it very clear that there can be no new fossil fuel infrastructure built from this point, and that human emissions globally need to peak now – not five years from now – in order to still have a 50/50 chance of staying under 1.5°C of mean global heating, a level that I think will be far more catastrophic than almost anyone realizes. Scientist Rebellion called for civil disobedience on April 6 to protest inaction in the context of this report, and I thought “it’s definitely time,” so I joined hundreds of other scientists around the world, risking our careers and our freedom, for the sake of the planet, our kids, and everyone. I chose the JP Morgan Chase as the location because they do more to fund fossil fuel infrastructure than any other institution on the planet. JP Morgan Chase is unabashedly funding the irreversible destruction of life on Earth. It’s crazy to have to say that – it’s a crazy time we live in – but it’s absolutely true.

MS: While 1,200 scientists in 26 countries were reported to have taken part in the Scientist Rebellion that your direct action was part of, you will know most scientists, indeed most climate scientists, don’t speak out publicly, or participate in activism. What are some of the barriers that stop scientists becoming publicly active? 

PK: It takes courage to break social norms, and it takes courage to risk your career. I think it’s worth it. Life on Earth is at stake. Our kids’ lives are at stake. That’s worth infinitely more than my career. It’s even worth risking my freedom for. At this point, we need to start thinking in terms of “deep time.” The action we take today, or the inaction, will reverberate for thousands of generations.

MS: UK climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson stopped flying in around 2005, and has criticised other scientists who continue to use air travel. In his 2021 book The New Climate War Professor Michael Mann describes Anderson’s position as “buy[ing] heavily into the ‘personal action’ framing of climate solutions”, which deflects from the necessary systematic action needed. What’s your view on climate scientists making a public stand on flying?

PK: I don’t want to pick on any one person, and there are still a lot of climate advocates who are frequent flyers, but personally I do think it’s irresponsible to continue flying frequently when you know that this behaviour is irreversibly heating up the planet. Much of the CO2 we emit, whether from flying or any other activity, will stay in the atmosphere contributing to global heating for thousands of years. I haven’t flown since 2012 because I can’t handle the intense feeling of benefitting personally from flying at dire cost to my own kids, young people everywhere, future generations, and nonhuman life such as forests and coral reefs. It felt simultaneously horrific and selfish – horrifically selfish.

But the damage goes far beyond the CO2 emissions, precisely because frequent flying climate influencers are correct: it’s not about their “individual action.” The main problem with their flying isn’t the CO2 they’re emitting, it’s the message they’re communicating, and how this message delays systems change. We live in a political system whose decision makers have been financially captured by the fossil fuel industry. In order to get change in this captured system, we need grassroots pressure that’s stronger than the fossil fuel industry. To get this grassroots power, the public needs to understand that we’re genuinely in an emergency. But when our most influential climate messengers act like there’s no emergency, by engaging in status quo fossil fuel behaviour of the privileged global rich, and then vocally defending that behaviour in order to justify it, the public takes the top-line message that there’s no emergency. The sooner the public understands we’re in an emergency, the sooner humanity will start responding like we’re in an emergency, and the more we’ll save. We’ve already lost so much. Ecosystems are dying. People are dying. Losses are guaranteed to intensify from here, and to continue intensifying, until we end the fossil fuel industry. Frequent flying from top climate advocates is a significant block to systemic action. If they were to say, instead, “this is such a huge emergency that I can no longer fly, I know my decision to stop flying is not a solution, but, knowing what I know, it just feels too horrific and disgusting to keep doing it,” the public would get a very different message.

These are tough conversations to have. Obviously, we all live in a fossil-fuelled system of systems, and it’s impossible to fully reduce our fossil fuel use until those systems change. And of course we do need systems change; we won’t stop Earth breakdown through “individual action.” But we can at least avoid excessively using fossil-fuelled systems for perceived personal gain, or worse, defending them. In other words, fly if you still feel that you “need” to, but don’t fly frequently; and instead of defending the commercial aviation system, call for its end. Eventually, most people will recognize that the climate emergency is simply too deadly and irreversible to justify flying on fossil fuels.

MS: US President joe Biden has been in office for just over a year. What do you think about the Biden Administration’s record so far on the climate crisis?

PK: It has been terrible. With all the new drilling and calls for fossil fuel expansion, stopping climate breakdown is clearly not a priority for this administration. It would be great if this changes over the next few years – the first president who makes climate their top priority will go down in history as one of the best presidents of all time – but evidence so far indicates that it will not.

MS: You recently tweeted that “climate petitions, letters, and even marches are a waste of time”. In terms of strategy and tactics, where do you think the climate movement should put its energy in the next few years? 

PK: Civil disobedience. It’s time for the climate movement to shift into mass civil disobedience. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in terms of Earth breakdown we’re now in desperate times. It’s not too late to act, because it will never be too late to act, but the sooner we really start to fight the more we’ll save. At this point, everyone should fight as hard as they can.

Peter Kalmus is the author of the 2017 book Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, published by New Society Publishers. Follow Peter on Twitter @ClimateHuman.

We Need To Talk About The Politics Of Climate Experts

We Need To Talk About The Politics Of Climate Experts
By Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
16 May 2022

It is widely understood the very powerful forces of climate change denial have delayed action to address the climate crisis, and thus are responsible for a huge amount of suffering and deaths attributable to climate breakdown.

Less appreciated is the unintended impact these dark corporate interests have had on the popular perception of climate experts. For example, having only recently started to move beyond framing the debate as being between denialists and those who accept the scientific consensus, the media largely present climate experts as one big monolithic block. Rarely do they explore the different politics that exist amongst the climate community.

This is deeply unhelpful because the politics of individual climate specialists and research institutions have huge ramifications in terms of discussing the climate crisis, about who or what is to blame, and therefore what action needs to be taken, and when.

To explore this, it is worth comparing opposing voices on key climate issues: Professor Kevin Anderson, Chair of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester, and two key figures at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (GRI) at the London School of Economics – Co-Director Lord Nicholas Stern and Policy and Communications Director Bob Ward, both of whom regularly appear in the media.

First, how do they engage with Naomi Klein’s argument in her 2014 book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate that stopping the worst effects of climate change will involve “challenging the fundamental logic of deregulated capitalism”, and that systematic and radical change is required as soon as possible?

Stern, second permanent secretary at the Treasury under Prime Minister Gordon Brown and author of an influential 2006 report on the economics of climate change, does not generally frame the climate crisis like Klein. Instead, in 2015 he noted that “economic growth and climate responsibility can come together and, indeed” are “complementarity”. Indeed, in 2019 Julia Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change at the University of Lausanne, tweeted about “Lord Stern’s admonition to researchers in sustainable prosperity at the British Academy to maintain growth-at-all-costs back in 2014”. Six years later Stern was backing “green growth” as “essential for our future on this planet” (one of the five founding research programmes of the GRI, widely seen to be dominated by economists, was “green growth”).

In contrast, Anderson argued in 2013 “the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.” In addition, he noted “continuing with economic growth over the coming two decades is incompatible with meeting our international obligations on climate change”, and therefore wealthy nations needed “temporarily, to adopt a de-growth strategy.” Anderson is dismissive of the concept of “green growth”, tweeting in 2019 a link to an interview with Johan Rockström, in which the internationally recognized scientist says “Green growth is wishful thinking”.

To be clear, in recent years Stern seems to have become increasingly aware of the scale of the change required, noting in October 2021 that achieving Net Zero emissions “will require the biggest economic transformation ever seen in peacetime” (though he still seems wedded to the ideology of economic growth).

When it comes to fracking, in 2014 Anderson told the New Scientist “The advent of shale gas is definitely incompatible with the UK’s stated pledge to help restrict global warming to 2 °C”. However, the article noted “Others say it could help reduce emissions overall, provided the shale gas replaces coal currently used to generate energy”, quoting Ward as saying “In principle, if it helps with displacement of coal it could be helpful”.

In May 2019 Theresa May’s Tory government announced the UK would aim for Net Zero emissions by 2050. Stern stated at the time “This is a historic move by the UK Government and an act of true international leadership for which the Prime Minister deserves great credit.” Since then Stern has led on the LSE itself also adopting a Net Zero target of 2050.

Anderson was less enamoured by the 2050 target, noting on his blog that “to meet its Paris [Agreement] obligations the UK must achieve zero-carbon energy by around 2035; that’s ‘real-zero’ not ‘net-zero’. This requires an immediate programme of deep cuts in energy emissions rising rapidly to over 10% p.a. [per annum]”

In October 2021 the UK government published its strategy for reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050. Anderson’s response recorded by the Science Media Centre? “The UK’s Net Zero strategy falls far short of both its Paris [Agreement] and G7 temperature and equity commitments. Scour the associated spread sheets and the numbers reveal a story of subterfuge, delusion, offsetting and piecemeal policies.” In contrast both Stern and Ward were broadly supportive, with the former telling the Science Media Centre “I welcome the publication of the strategy, which identifies the major steps we have to take to reach net zero.”

Finally, there is a consensus amongst many prominent activists and experts that strong grassroots social movements will be required to force the radical changes needed to address the climate crisis. Anderson seems to understand this. I’m aware he lent his expertise to anti-airport expansion group Plane Stupid in the 2000s and, more recently, he has explained he advised youth strike figurehead Greta Thunberg. In 2020 he gave a talk to an Extinction Rebellion group in Waltham Forest.

In contrast, Stern and Ward’s leading role in setting a 2050 Net Zero emissions target at LSE was undertaken in the face of grassroots opposition from LSE students and staff, with a petition signed by hundreds of people calling for LSE to adopt an earlier Net Zero target of 2030. As far as I am aware Stern and Ward refused to seriously engage with this grassroots activism (in 2019 a small group of staff met with Ward and argued there need to be more radical action on reducing emissions at LSE, including the declaration of a Climate Emergency, receiving a very frosty reception, to put it mildly). It seems telling that Channel 4 News decided to put Ward up against Extinction Rebellion’s Farhana Yamin during a 2019 studio discussion about the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target, while The Mail quoted Ward in a 2021 article to criticise a statement Thunberg made about the UK government’s response to the climate crisis.

From this very brief summary, it seems clear Stern and Ward are, broadly, conservative actors amongst climate experts when it comes to the climate crisis.

“The voice of experts on climate science is an important one, because citizens trust it. And some climate scientists have been using their voice powerfully and well, especially in recent years”, academic and environmental campaigner Professor Rupert Read tells me. “But it’s important to remember the limits of the expertise of most climate scientists: to their own discipline or even sub-discipline. Few are experts in systems theory, in risk analysis, in philosophy, or in political economy. For expertise in those areas, funnily enough, you are best off going to experts… in those areas.”

Read notes “economists – whose opinions are often over-valued in an economistic society such as ours – who weigh into debates originating in climate tend to lean towards technocracy, and tend to be biased in favour of growthism, which is even now, incredibly, an endemic assumption in Economics.”

“Thus degrowth, post-growth, deep green ecological economics – let alone approaches based in civil disobedience or coming from (say) indigenous or eco-spiritual perspectives – tend to get short shrift from climate economists. That is a problem. A big problem.”

All this shouldn’t be surprising when you consider Stern’s and Ward’s successful professional careers are tied up with elite networks, establishment politics and billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham.

Of course, a variety of voices is welcome but, to echo Read, it’s surely a serious problem worthy of serious discussion when the climate crisis demands radical action, and Stern and Ward have so much power within the climate community and cachet with journalists, and therefore an oversized impact on the national debate and research agenda. Indeed, their commanding positions likely have a chilling effect on the kind of robust debate scientific and political progress thrives upon. If you were a young climate researcher, would you risk access to funding, contacts and therefore your future career by criticising two of the most powerful people in your field, or the leading institution they run?

For the wellbeing of everyone and everything that lives on the planet today and in the future, we need to start talking about the politics of climate experts and climate-focussed research institutions.

Follow Ian on Twitter @IanJSinclair.


Book review: Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice by Chris Saltmarsh

Book review: Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice by Chris Saltmarsh
by Ian Sinclair
Peace News
April-May 2022

Though he doesn’t mention it in this book, I imagine activist Chris Saltmarsh is a big fan of the Chico Mendes quote that often appears on Twitter: ‘Environmentalism Without Class Struggle is Just Gardening.’

For Saltmarsh, ‘the root cause of climate change is our system of organising the economy and our relationship to nature: capitalism.’ With the ruling class profiting most from the crisis, he notes the resistance of capital is ‘perhaps the biggest barrier to climate justice.’

Part of Pluto Press’s Outspoken series, Burnt is a challenging read, with lots of constructive criticism of various facets of the climate movement.

Too often the ‘environmental NGO industry’, like the United Nations COP climate talks, has played a depoliticising, limiting role in the struggle, Saltmarsh argues, working ‘to uphold capitalism and the interests of fossil fuel capital by deflecting blame away from them and lowering our collective ambitions.’

There is an interesting analysis of Extinction Rebellion, the youth strikes and direct action more broadly – Saltmarsh was active in Reclaim The Power (which used direct action to oppose the UK’s ‘dash for gas’). He describes the victories of similar campaigns such as Climate Camp in the UK, Ende Gelände in Germany and the Keystone XL pipeline protests in the US as generally limited (‘downscaling or delaying construction’) and precarious – and insufficient to force long-term change.

With top climate scientist James Hansen recently noting ‘the 1.5°C target certainly will be exceeded, and the world will almost certainly blow through the 2°C ceiling’, Saltmarsh maintains: ‘There is only one political form presently capable of dismantling the fossil fuel industry on the timescale that the climate crisis commands: the state.’

As a co-founder of Labour For a Green New Deal – which he passionately fleshes out in one chapter – Saltmarsh believes that addressing the climate crisis ‘will require a centrally managed plan of targets, budgets, resource allocation, and key initiatives spanning years.’ Therefore the task is to capture the state through democratic means – by mobilising and radicalising the Labour Party and trade unions (the Green Party is never mentioned as a viable option).

While Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership showed that a more humane Labour Party is possible, I’m not as hopeful as Saltmarsh is that there will be another opportunity to elect a radical Labour leader in the near future.

A thought-provoking primer about the most important and urgent issue facing humanity, Burnt is an inspiring call to action, directed in part at those who don’t identify as activists. ‘Because without you, we can’t win,’ he notes.

“The climate crisis is a crisis of capitalism”: Chris Saltmarsh interview

“The climate crisis is a crisis of capitalism”: Chris Saltmarsh interview
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
11 March 2022

Published at the end of last year, Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice is the first book from Chris Saltmarsh, socialist climate campaigner and the co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal.

With top climate scientist James Hansen recently noting ‘the 1.5°C target certainly will be exceeded, and the world will almost certainly blow through the 2°C ceiling” Ian Sinclair asked Saltmarsh about capitalism and the climate crisis, and the role played by established NGOS and new grassroots campaigns such as Extinction Rebellion and the youth strikes.

Ian Sinclair: Your analysis in the book is unashamedly anti-capitalist. Why? 

Chris Saltmarsh: It’s really clear to me that the climate crisis is a crisis of capitalism. We have an economic system that puts profit before all else. Fossil fuel companies have known since the 1970s or 1980s that their business model is driving global heating. Yet they continue to extract and burn oil, gas and coal because frankly there aren’t many other resources that generate such high returns. Most of these companies have invested millions in acquiring reserves and developing technologies. Even if there is money to be made in generating renewable energy, within capitalism it doesn’t make business sense for these companies to not extract every last drop of fossil fuels.

The book is anti-capitalist because, while there’s a lot of moralising that goes on in the climate movement, its not really any individuals’ fault. Not my fault, your grandma’s or even really fossil fuel company CEOs. We all play by the rules of the system and if Shell’s CEO suddenly became enlightened and wanted to put a stop to it he’d be replaced very quickly. Fundamentally, if we don’t have an anti-capitalist analysis of the climate crisis then we’ll remain stuck in partial solutions that won’t get to the heart of the problem.

IS: You are critical of what you call the “environmental NGO industry”. Surely green NGOs like World Wide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace do valuable work?  

I’m critical of these NGOs because although they are seen (by themselves and others) as the leadership of the climate movement, they operate within really significant constraints. Politically, there is a really strong ideology of liberalism which runs through these organisations. This means they’re generally unprepared to take an anti-capitalist – let alone socialist – analysis of climate change. It means they never support necessary measures like expanding public ownership and democracy in the economy. Organisationally, they are generally structured like corporations. They have an unaccountable and overpaid CEO or director, a bloated middle-management, and under-paid underlings who do most of the work with no say. These organisations aren’t democracies internally, and they certainly aren’t building a democratic mass climate movement.

We should understand this, though, as being a broadly structural problem. As charities they’re legally limited in what they can do by government. That they’re funded either by relatively conservative supporters or the philanthropic arm of capital (grants from trust and foundations) is a major source of political moderation. Sure, some of the work they do is useful, although a lot is actively harmful to our movement such as focusing on individual behaviour change. There is definitely a role for some of these organisations to play, but they need to understand their own limitations and contribute to the wider movement with more humility.

IS: 2019 saw an explosion of climate activism in the UK, and around the world, with Extinction Rebellion and the youth strikes. What is your assessment of the impact of these two movements in the UK? 

CS: My view is that these two movements, along with campaigns for a Green New Deal, emerged as responses to the same moment. In the summer of 2018, we saw really stark extreme weather like wildfires; an IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report warning we only had 12 years left to save the planet; and another report warning of a ‘hothouse earth’. They effectively channelled a latent anxiety and strong desire for proper climate action among the public.

I think both were effective at mobilising previously inactivated constituencies of people. The youth strikes obviously did this with school children. I thought this was particularly powerful as one of my criticisms of the wider climate movement is that it doesn’t really understand what its base is. Is it workers? Is it urban climate-conscious liberals? Too often we try to mobilise everyone and end up with nobody. Others should learn from the youth strikes organising a defined group. XR [Extinction Rebellion] did similar with older people, I think. Overall, their major impact was to push climate further up the political agenda and keep it there. This is valuable, of course, but also limited. It was essentially enhanced awareness raising. The lack of politics and demands, particularly from XR, allowed for elite co-option and unfortunately a dissipation of what became relatively short-lived energy.

IS: You argue the state is the only political form presently capable of transforming the economy and society in the short timescale the climate crisis requires, devoting a chapter of the book to the concept of a Green New Deal, which the 2019 Labour Party conference endorsed. What would a Green New Deal entail? 

CS: A Green New Deal is broadly a state-programme of investment, regulation and economic transformation with the dual aims of rapid decarbonisation and achieving economic justice. There are different interpretations from different political positions. In the book, I make the case for a socialist Green New Deal which has expanding public ownership of the economy at the heart. Crucially, a Green New Deal must also be serious about a proper just transition to clean energy. This means guaranteeing jobs for all workers in polluting industries, repealing all anti-trade union laws, and spreading industrial economy across sectors.

In terms of what a Green New Deal would mean for everyday life, for me it’s about making the greenest option the cheapest and easiest in every corner of life. Transport, for example, would mean a shift from polluting private cars to low-carbon public transport that’s cheap or free, accessible and quick. Housing would mean warm homes for all alongside a massive expansion of council housing. Ultimately, its about a green transition that improves our lives at the same time. Perhaps most importantly, a socialist Green New Deal doesn’t just seek these transformations within the borders of one country, but internationally too.

IS: Where do you think the UK climate movement, and the broader left, should go from here?  

CS: I think the climate movement and the Left need to have a realistic assessment of where we are. The Tories are still in power and emissions are rising. We also need a realistic strategy for achieving a Green New Deal. There are a few pre-conditions for it. First, electing a socialist government and capturing state power more widely. Second, having a radical and militant trade union movement taking industrial action for climate and economic justice. Third, a radical mass democratic climate movement mobilising millions of people on the streets and to take direct-action.

On all counts, we’re not where we need to be. The climate-left needs to divide our energies between working to re-capture the Labour Party as the most viable vehicle for a socialist government in the UK and agitating for it to have ambitious Green New Deal policies. We also need to work to re-empower our trade unions by organising our workplaces and building confidence and militancy. We can connect fights over pay and conditions to climate where relevant, and otherwise work internally to create common-sense support for a Green New Deal and a just transition among union members. We also need dozens of offshoots of youth strikes and XR, mobilising new constituencies and cohering around demands for a socialist Green New Deal.

Burnt is published by Pluto Press, priced £9.99. Follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Saltmarsh.

Shell’s U-turn on Cambo oil field: the importance of protest and public opinion

Shell’s U-turn on Cambo oil field: the importance of protest and public opinion
by Ian Sinclair
6 December 2021

After a number of high profile actions by the campaign to stop Cambo oil field against Shell, the Scottish government, at city financiers and at COP26, and no doubt a ton of other activism by a broad range of organisations, on 2 December 2021 Shell announced it was pulling out of the controversial oil field project off the Shetland Islands in Scotland.

The reporting of this decision by the BBC and Channel 4 News highlights the impact of protest and public opinion on that decision:

“The Cambo field is one of the largest unexploited oil fields left in the region. It was being touted by Shell as a 25 year investment but the oil giant now says the economics don’t justify going ahead… the project has certainly become very controversial. Greenpeace has vowed to take legal action to stop drilling and last month Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, came out against the project. So no doubt Shell will have also been worried about the rising reputational cost of Cambo.”  – Justin Rowlatt, BBC Climate Editor, 08:00 News, BBC Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 3 December 2021

“So why walk away from a 30 percent share in an oil field that reportedly holds 170 million barrels of oil? Shell say the economic case for investing in this project just isn’t strong enough. [Directly to camera] There is more at play here than just economics and making money. Investors now care much more about how that money is made. Senior city financiers have told us the blowback they would get from shareholders, from pension funders, from the press, from the public, mean that pumping yet more money into firms with so-called dirty investments often just isn’t worth the hassle now. With Cambo oilfield there is a reputational liability for Shell, and ultimately it is one they’ve decided to walk away from.” – Paul McNamara, Channel 4 News, 3 December 2021.