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Fossil Fuel Industry Named and Shamed for its Role in Climate Crisis

Our latest selection of articles from New Zealand and around the world on environmental management and sustainability. Click here to subscribe.


Ahead of the COP28 climate talks, leaders from roughly 30 countries called for a swift phasing down of fossil fuels, naming and shaming the industry for its role in the climate crisis. Tina Stege – Climate Envoy for the Marshall Islands, stated that "It was a first time I had been in a room where I did feel this shift around the ability to say 'fossil fuel,' and say (it) again and again", showing that the writing is on the wall for the fossil fuel industry.

What’s more, there has been a seismic shift in renewable energy’s cost advantage over fossil fuels, including the price of solar energy, decreasing 95 per cent since 2010. And while the costs of renewable energy systems continue to free fall, the climate and financial risks of investing in new fossil fuel projects are becoming increasingly apparent. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, has predicted that fossil fuels will peak this decade, signalling a historic turning point for the climate.

Businesses must also start to consider how prone they are to nature-related risks. The Taskforce on Nature-related risks have published its finalised framework, which is expected to become the framework for all nature-related risk reporting. The cotton industry in India has already started acting on nature-related risks, with a 53 per cent reduction in pesticide use and a 29 per cent reduction in water irrigation. Similarly, the farming industry in the US has investigated biochar to improve the quality of their soil, while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

However, there are areas which we need to improve. Did you know that six billion tonnes of sand is extracted from our ocean floors per year? Sand is a valuable resource, but once again, we are treating this resource as infinite without considering our impact on the natural environment. Similarly, we must consider how exposed our housing is to nature-related risks such as storms and cyclones. We need to start creating sponge cities that will strengthen our resilience to severe rainfall, especially in New Zealand where our stormwater infrastructure is already aging and inadequate.

We wrap up this week’s Snippets with two interesting reads. The first is about a study in the US, which has found that employees who worked from home all the time were predicted to reduce their emissions by 54%, compared with workers in an office. The second explains sweat’s role in helping us survive dangerous humidity from climate change, otherwise known as the “wet-bulb effect”.


Here is the full list of articles...


With COP28 edging closer, the recently concluded UN Climate Ambition Summit broke fresh ground by naming and shaming the fossil fuel industry for its role in the climate crisis. Many leaders – notably German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Kausea Natano, prime minister of Tuvalu, used their speeches to call specifically for phasing down fossil fuels to reach the Paris Agreement goals. California Governor Gavin Newsom received applause for his remarks labelling the climate crisis a "fossil fuel crisis." Read more…


And shifting away from fossil fuels has never been so affordable. In 2010, the cost of solar PV was eight times more expensive than the cheapest source of fossil fuels, with a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of US44.5c/kWh. Since then, the fall in costs has been spectacular – 95 per cent. With a 2022 LCOE of US4.9c/kWh, it is now 29% cheaper than the lowest cost fossil fuelled option. It’s a similar story for onshore wind with a LCOE of US3.3c/kWh or 52% lower than the cheapest fossil fuel option. Read more…


Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), predicted this week that fossil fuels would peak this decade, and that companies planning to expand their fossil fuel production are making risky investments which may not be profitable. Despite the likelihood of fossil fuel demand declining, and the threat of climate chaos, many countries and private sector companies are considering new capacity. Read more…



The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) published its finalised framework, which is expected to be the baseline standard for nature-related risk reporting. British pharmaceutical group GSK, one of the 40 taskforce members representing over US$20 trillion in assets management, is the first company to announce its commitment to publish its first TNFD-aligned disclosures from 2026, based on 2025 data. Read more…



Better Cotton has released its annual impact report, highlighting substantial sustainability improvements in Indian cotton farming over the past decade. The report shows a 53% reduction in pesticide use and a 29% decrease in water irrigation, benefiting nearly a million farmers. Farmers also saw their costs reduced by 15.6%, and cotton lint yield per hectare increased by 200kg. Over 20% of the world's cotton is now grown under the Better Cotton Standard, with millions of farmers benefiting. Read more…



Biochar is a carbon-rich substance created by roasting plant matter, to transform swampy, acidic land into fertile soil in an organic, regenerative manner. It can also lock up carbon for centuries, aiding in climate mitigation. Large corporations like Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Shopify are investing in biochar to offset their emissions. However, scaling up production remains a challenge. To maximise its benefits, biochar must be produced at a much larger scale, without adverse impacts on land use. Read more…



Sand is a valuable resource, UN-developed Marine Sand Watch estimates 6bn tonnes dug up a year, well beyond rate at which it is replenished. One million trucks worth of sand a day are being extracted from the world’s oceans, posing a significant threat to marine life and coastal communities. According to the first-ever global data platform to monitor the industry. Our entire society is built on sand, concrete, glass, and asphalt on roads. But once again, we are treating a resource as infinite! Read more…



Creating ‘sponge cities’ to cope with more rainfall needs to start now. The “sponge city” concept is gaining traction as a way to mitigate extreme weather. This is particularly important when existing urban stormwater infrastructure is often already ageing and inadequate. More green spaces, more trees, build up not out to preserve existing green spaces. Use permeable pavements, provide incentives to encourage minimising sealed surfaces, unblocking stormwater flow paths, and replacing lawns with native plants and rain gardens, we need to better prepare ourselves. Read more…



A study in the US has found that employees who worked from home all the time were predicted to reduce their emissions by 54%, compared with workers in an office. The main causes of remote workers’ reduced emissions were (as expected) less office energy use, as well as fewer emissions from a daily commute. Researchers from Cornell University and Microsoft used multiple datasets including Microsoft’s own employee data on commuting and teleworking behaviours to model the predicted emissions of office workers, remote workers and hybrid workers. Read more…



Our biological sprinkler systems are being put to the test. This summer was the hottest on Earth in 125,000 years. It is getting to the point that life in many parts of the world is dangerous without air-conditioning. Sweat, our natural bodily function to cool ourselves down is essentially saving our lives all summer long, though you probably don’t enjoy it or appreciate this crucial human adaptation as much as you should. Read more…





This week we have the following innovation articles we hope you find interesting:

Hydrology Report - 21 September 2023



Electricity Price Index - 27 September 2023








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