See update below – AG skips court, order issued
From the “Goreballs and the McKibbenites are getting smaller and smaller” department comes news of a new academic paper which suggests that yet again, their claims are moot.
- A recent study out of Oxford University illustrates the shortcomings of using petroleum and gas companies’ climate policy forecasts as a basis for securities fraud investigations.
- The Oxford study suggests that the global “carbon budget” will not be exhausted for decades, rather than by the end of this decade as previous models had concluded.
- This development illustrates the difficulties inherent in the making of convincing, let alone accurate, forecasts about future climate policies, and creates new doubts about the legal implications of such forecasts.
The academic literature giveth and the academic literature taketh away. That, at least, is what the supporters of New York State’s Martin Act investigation into Exxon Mobil (XOM) must be thinking in the wake of some recent high-profile publications in the academic literature. Last month saw the publication of an op-ed in The New York Times by two Harvard researchers that highlighted what they concluded to be “explicit factual misrepresentation” by the company in the 1990s on the state of climate change research.
Now comes a study published in Nature Geoscience by researchers at Oxford University finding that, in the words of The Economist, “climate researchers have been underestimating the carbon ‘budget’ compatible with the ambitions expressed in [The Paris Climate Agreement].” While both studies have generated headlines around the world, the latter is the one that Exxon Mobil’s investors will want to pay attention to because of its Martin Act investigation implications.
Read more at Seeking Alpha, h/t to Cliff Hilton
From the University of Oxford PR website:
The paper concludes that limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far.
Three approaches were used to evaluate the outstanding ‘carbon budget’ (the total amount of CO2 emissions compatible with a given global average warming) for 1.5°C: re-assessing the evidence provided by complex Earth System Models, new experiments with an intermediate-complexity model, and evaluating the implications of current ranges of uncertainty in climate system properties using a simple model. In all cases the level of emissions and warming to date were taken into account.
Dr Richard Millar, lead author and post-doctoral research fellow at the Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative at Oxford University, said: ‘Limiting total CO2 emissions from the start of 2015 to beneath 240 billion tonnes of carbon (880 billion tonnes of CO2), or about 20 years’ of current emissions, would likely achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.’
The full paper citation “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C”
UPDATE: shortly after publishing this news, we got word of this:
Court Orders #ExxonKnew Attorney General to Sit For Deposition
3:03pm EDT October 4, 2017
Bill Sorrell, the former attorney general of Vermont, is ducking questions about his role in the #ExxonKnew campaign. Sorrell was due in a Burlington courthouse today for a deposition by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), but he was nowhere to be found and has now been ordered by the court to appear for a deposition. Though it’s unclear whether he skipped town for good, the former AG’s nonappearance raises new questions about what he and his successor are trying to hide.
Vermont Judge Mary Miles Teachout granted E&E Legal’s motion earlier this year to add Sorrell in his personal capacity to their litigation against the Vermont AG’s office. This has allowed the group to request emails Sorrell sent from his private Gmail account to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which were part of their discussions on Schneiderman’s investigation of ExxonMobil.
The longtime Vermont AG was set to be deposed by E&E Legal’s attorneys this morning in Vermont about his participation in an investigation that has bizarrely accused ExxonMobil of both accurately understanding climate change and failing to accurately predict climate change.
In a statement, E&E Legal’s lead counsel Matthew Hardin said:
“Any first year law student understands you cannot ignore basic civil procedures like skipping a deposition if you are compelled, simply because you would prefer not to participate,” he said. “When you consider the fact that the individual in question is the former attorney general of an entire state, his failure to ignore the very rules he spent twenty years enforcing is unfathomable.”
Sorrell dodging his deposition could mean several things. Perhaps he doesn’t think he can sit through a round or two of questioning from attorneys without implicating himself, or maybe he doesn’t think he could do so without giving up information that would make it harder for Schneiderman and his fellow lurking AGs to prosecute ExxonMobil.
More here at Energy in Depth