Saperi. In assenza di un grande collettore politico prevalgono le specializzazioni, manca il dialogo tra i saperi e la frammentazione blocca le potenzialità del pensiero critico. Una parziale cartografia degli studiosi italiani di varie discipline
Cultura, Saperi, Università, Dialogo
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Despite their climate pledges, the U.S. and others export huge amounts of fossil fuels

By Jeff Brady

Sunday, October 31, 2021

The U.S. may be on the verge of passing the most consequential climate change legislation ever. President Biden is expected to tout it at a big climate change meeting in Glasgow this week. But that won’t change one of the country’s major sources of greenhouse gas emissions: fossil fuel exports.

The U.S. is among countries that plan to keep exporting oil, natural gas and coal for decades to come even as they work to zero out climate-warming fossil fuel emissions at home. In an increasingly controversial quirk, this is perfectly acceptable under the Paris climate agreement.

Under that deal, countries set targets to reduce their climate-warming emissions. But fossil-fuel exporting countries, including the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Norway, do not have to count emissions produced by their exports. Instead, they are counted by the country that ultimately burns them.

There are calls to bring back a U.S. ban on oil exports

After the oil supply crisis in the 1970s, the U.S. banned crude oil exports for 40 years. A fracking-fueled boom ended production worries and the ban was lifted six years ago in a budget bill. The timing was ironic.

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“The ban was lifted in December 2015, actually while many of us were in Paris at the 2015 climate talks,” says Kassie Siegel, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity.

If the U.S. stopped exporting fossil fuels now, says Siegel, they might never get drilled or mined in the first place. She wants President Biden to bring back the export ban.

“The president can declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act and then reinstate the crude oil export ban on year-by-year basis,” says Siegel.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently suggested that possibility, though more because of high oil prices than climate concerns.

A new ban likely would mobilize the same powerful petroleum industry interests that worked to get the ban lifted in 2015.

“Lifting the export ban has been a real driver in enhancing our energy security, our economic strength, and continuing our energy leadership around the world,” says Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president at the American Petroleum Institute.

Last year, oil shipped to places like China and India brought in about 50 billion dollars and helped reduce the U.S. trade deficit for the first time since records began in 1974.

One French company rejected U.S. gas because of its high climate emissions

Also big business these days is U.S. natural gas exports, about half of which is sent by pipeline to Mexico and Canada. But the fastest growth has been in liquified natural gas (LNG) that’s transported on ships. Asian countries, such as South Korea, China and India, are among the biggest customers.

The LNG business argues that it helps fast-growing economies transition away from dirtier coal, which is more carbon-intensive. Cheniere Energy, the largest LNG exporter in the U.S., points to peer-reviewed research on this.

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“Power generated with LNG from the United States, exported, has up to a 57% lower greenhouse gas intensity in China than local coal power,” says Chris Smith with Houston-based Cheniere Energy.

Still, turning natural gas into a liquid requires a lot of energy. It has to be super-cooled to minus 260 degrees. In some cases, an environmental group study shows liquefied natural gas is barely better than coal when it comes to climate-warming emissions. And groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) argue there’s a cleaner option: renewable energy.

“The U.S. can help countries that are still moving to expand electricity – expand energy services – to skip that transition and move straight towards that clean energy future that the U.S. itself is working to achieve,” says Amanda Levin, senior policy analyst at NRDC.

The International Energy Agency says to meet climate goals countries must stop planning for new fossil fuel projects that add harmful emissions. Levin wants federal regulators that approve gas export terminals to apply a climate test, and reject projects that are not consistent with Paris agreement goals.

“I do believe it is possible to pass that test. I do not think most projects would,” she says.

Related Story: How decades of disinformation about fossil fuels halted U.S. climate policy

Even without U.S. action, some importing countries are developing climate tests of their own. Last year a French gas company backed out of a deal to buy natural gas from Texas because of the high greenhouse gas emissions associated with drilling and fracking there.

Coal is booming… in Australia

While the U.S. coal industry is in decline, Australia’s coal business is still booming. The country gets 54% of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. That number is declining, but Australia sends almost all of its coal to other countries and those exports are growing.

“Australia is responsible for about 460 million tonnes of CO2 emissions at power plants outside its borders,” says Ryan Driskell Tate, research analyst at the climate data organization Global Energy Monitor. “That’s greater than Australia’s annual CO2 emissions from all fossil fuels.”

That makes Australia a significant contributor to climate change. It’s also a victim of it. The most visible examples were the climate-fueled bushfires nearly two years ago that burned more than 42 million acres, killed 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes.

Related Story: Fires Where They Are ‘Not Supposed To Happen’ In Australia’s Ancient Rainforest

But those fires barely got a mention last week when Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison finally announced his country’s pledge to zero out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Scientists say that’s what’s needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Instead, Morrison talked about how addressing climate change will affect the economy.

“Australians want action on climate change and so do I. But they also don’t want their electricity bills to skyrocket. The lights to go off. Or for their jobs to be put at risk,” Morrison said in a recorded video.

Morrison also referred to pressure the United Nations and others put on his administration to move away from coal. “We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia,” he said. “The Australian way is all about how you do it, not if you do it.”

Morrison has a long history of defending the coal industry. Four years ago, as the country’s treasurer, he carried a hunk of coal onto the floor of Parliament for a speech to defend coal mining.

Youtube Video

There are scant details on how Morrison plans for Australia to meet its new climate pledge. He says it will be through “technology not taxes.” That may come in for scrutiny at the Glasgow climate talks, known as COP26.

“There’s a huge sense of embarrassment, I think, that Australia is not only not doing enough, but actually going to these global events like COP26 and trying to play a destructive role and… block progress,” says 350.org Australia CEO Lucy Manne.

An idea for a “reverse OPEC” to wind down exports

As leaders meet in Glasgow, some are hoping for a declaration to end burning coal. That would face opposition from both coal exporting nations and those that depend on it for electricity.

Political philosophy professor Jeremy Moss, at the University of New South Wales, has a plan that’s perhaps even less likely; he says exporting countries could limit emissions on their own by voluntarily declining to ship fossil fuels overseas.

“Countries like Australia, or Saudi Arabia or even the U.S. don’t want to take any responsibility,” he says. He proposes a “reverse OPEC” to hold them accountable.

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Instead of regulating supply to boost profits, Moss says this would be a “positive cartel” to limit supply and production. “That would send a really clear and strong message to the rest of the world that the fossil fuel age is ending,” he says.

Moss admits such an idea is unlikely to come from the Glasgow climate meeting. Still, he says limiting these climate-warming shipments is a moral question wealthy exporting countries should face.

Even without such moves, change may be coming to Australia. The opposition Labor Party says it plans to make aggressive action on climate change the center of its upcoming election campaign, which must happen before next May .

*     La National Public Radio è un’organizzazione indipendente no-profit comprendente oltre 900 stazioni radio statunitensi.



Saudi Aramco posts 160% rise in third quarter profit, chairman calls for ‘stable’ energy transition

Dan Murphy SUN, OCT 31 2021

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco has posted a 158% increase in third quarter net income to $30.4 billion, as the world’s largest oil companies continue to benefit from the reopening of the global economy and soaring oil and gas prices.

The result beat expectations, with analysts expecting a median net income of $29.1 billion for the quarter. Aramco reported net income of $11.8 billion in the third quarter of 2020.

“Our exceptional third quarter performance was a result of increased economic activity in key markets and a rebound in energy demand,” Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser said on Sunday.

“Some headwinds still exist for the global economy, partly due to supply chain bottlenecks, but we are optimistic that energy demand will remain healthy for the foreseeable future,” Nasser added.

Aramco said the increase in net income was the result of higher crude oil prices and volumes sold, and stronger refining and chemicals margins in the quarter, as the company benefits from rebounding global energy demand and increased economic activity in key markets.

Market windfall

WTI crude oil has soared above $85 in recent weeks, a level not seen since 2014, as the market shifts focus from demand recovery to supply scarcity. Natural gas prices are up around 130% this year, meaning the full extent of the global energy crisis is more likely to be felt in the fourth quarter results.

Aramco declared a significant dividend of $18.8 billion to be paid in the fourth quarter. The payout can be covered by a jump in free cash flow to $28.7 billion in the third quarter, up from $12.4 billion for the same period in 2020. Gearing, a measure of the company’s debt position, also improved to 17.2% from 23% due to higher oil prices and stronger cash flows.

Aramco also said it would “invest for the future” with capital expenditure of $7.6 billion in the third quarter, representing a 19% increase, compared with the same period in 2020. Aramco said it expected 2021 capital expenditure to be approximately $35 billion.

The results confirm a bumper quarter for “Big Oil,” a term used to refer to the world’s largest oil and gas companies. U.S. oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron also benefited from rising prices, reporting profit that soared to multiyear highs in the quarter. Royal Dutch Shell reported record cash flow, while TotalEnergies also saw a sharp rise in performance.

Profit and pressure

The strong numbers come as the sector faces renewed scrutiny from activists and cynicism over its climate ambitions. Companies, including Aramco and the UAE oil giant Adnoc, have launched climate initiatives just days ahead of the COP26 climate summit, while simultaneously planning to invest to increase oil production in the coming years.

I think most people would agree that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing society,” Aramco Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan told CNBC via email.

“We need a transition that does not ignore that petrochemicals are essential building blocks to modern life — including the smartphones we all use and the products we rely on to fight COVID,” he added.

Aramco aims to achieve net zero emissions from its wholly-owned operations by 2050, and simultaneously plans to increase oil output to 13 million barrels a day by 2037. A separate pledge from Saudi Arabia to invest almost $190 billion to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 received both praise and skepticism from oil industry observers.

“The reality is that the energy transition will be long and complex, and therefore oil and gas will continue to play a key role,” Al-Rumayyan said, while also offering commentary on the recent energy crisis and its link to the energy transition.

“Recent energy disruptions around the world are evidence of the need for a stable and inclusive energy transition,” Al-Rumayyan said. “We need a transition that provides a reliable, affordable and low-cost supply of energy that leaves no one behind,” he added.

Aramco said it would disclose further details on how it plans to navigate the energy transition and achieve its net zero strategy in its Sustainability Report due out in the second quarter of 2022.

“We fully recognize that we have a long way to go, and that the journey will not be easy,” Al-Rumayyan said. “We are confident that we can meet the challenges and provide the leadership, expertise, and tools to support global progress towards a low-emissions future.”