Tim Louis: Call me a climate change optimist

There are several signs that the tide is turning against fossil-fuel giants

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      In the last week I have become cautiously optimistic that the world may have turned the corner on global warming.

      On May 18, 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA), long considered close to the fossil-fuel industry, made an announcement that would have been unheard of until recently. It called on all energy companies and nation states to immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields. 

      The IEA did not stop there. It also called for no investment in new fossil-fuel supply projects, an end to the sale of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035, and a fourfold increase in the deployment of solar and wind power by 2030.

      As significant as the IEA announcement was, on May 25, the Hague District Court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. The court ruled that the international energy conglomerate had a duty of care to reduce emissions and that its current reduction plans were not concrete enough.

      The climate activist groups that brought the case hailed the decision as a victory for the planet. The decision could set a precedent for other similar cases being tried around the world.

      On May 26 at the annual shareholders meeting of Exxon Mobil Corp., Engine No. 1, a small activist hedge fund that's been pushing ExxonMobil to move away from fossil fuels, elected two directors to the multinational’s board of directors. It's an achievement that could drive changes in how the company allocates capital and investments.

      Also recently, Canada’s Suncor Energy has announced a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with the federal government’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

      All of the above is combined with the very positive commitment from President Joe Biden to invest $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years to combat climate change, supported by the May 26 announcement that areas off California’s central and north coasts are being opened to commercial wind energy farms, eventually providing power to approximately 1.6 million homes.

      For the first time, I am left with a sense of optimism. What about you? Do you think this bodes well for collective climate action?

      Further reading: 

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article first appeared on his blog, which lists the daily carbon dioxide count in parts per million in the atmosphere at the end of every post. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.