Friday, October 18, 2013

Notes from the Seattle Divestment Forum today and yesterday

I got my five minutes at the press conference, starting about 10 minutes into the video below:


(Link here for Oct. 17 video - no idea why the freeze frame is on my blathering mug instead the mayor's....)


The main takeaway from the conference - two thirds of fossil fuel reserves represented on world capital stock exchanges have to stay in the ground to stay within the 2C temp rise goal. The valuation of the rest is a carbon bubble.
     My note - I suppose it could be that the carbon returns to the ground instead of the fossil fuel stays, although CCS hasn't done well.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn:  we're the first generation to experience climate change, and the last to be able to stop it.
     My note - a bit of an overstatement and understatement - we can't stop it, and even a business as usual scenario for X years in the future would be disastrous but not a reason to do nothing starting X years in the future.

A contract-and-grow strategy works for fossil fuel companies - e.g., an oil company that stops throwing away profits on finding new fossil reserves and increases dividends instead will be worth more and serve its owners better than a typical oil company that spends money finding reserves it will never burn.

Lots of discussion on fiduciary duty, something used as an excuse to not divest. Bob Massie calls it a Harry Potter spell - "Fiduciarydutyparalyis!" Given the risks from companies that say they don't care about the future, the fiduciary duty could actually support divestment - what does that say about the quality of the management?

One speaker presented two portfolios, one with fossil fuel companies and one without. The one without had a larger carbon footprint. Climate divestment can get tricky.
       My note - I expect that most of the time, this would not be the usual outcome. Perfect v good issue.

Talking to financial people, it sounds like the recognition of financial exposure that you see in the insurance sector is starting to happen in the financial sector.

A number of professionals showed backcast simulations of divested portfolios v. typical portfolios. Overall it seemed to not diverge all that much.

One person asked a question I had - would recognizing the carbon bubble create a race by companies to get the fuel burnt first, before we hit the ceiling? Response said no, projects are currently being cancelled. YMMV.

Investor engagement/shareholder activism - speakers acknowledged this can be a viable alternative in some circumstances, but argued that if a problem with a business is its core business strategy, then shareholder activism won't work. One speaker made a slightly contrary argument - they're going to engage directly with fossil fuel companies to get them to drop the $100b most expensive new fossil fuel projects in planning stages, setting the stage for shareholder lawsuits if they don't drop them and then the projects crash and burn metaphorically.

Someone raised the slippery slope issue that climate divestment is only one issue and that it opens the door to still other ways to reduce the investment universe. I can understand the reasoning - I think a reasonable response might be that you can consider multiple causes, up to whatever line you choose to draw on restricting your investment universe. Then cage match the causes against each other. The speaker said you also have to look at the investor's mission and the cost of a screen - e.g., divesting from Russia-investing companies would be much more difficult than divesting from top 200 fossil fuels.

On a personal note, I ran into a guy who I used to work with on Burma human-rights issues 18 years ago, and saw him today for the first time since then. Small world.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yawn. Watching a political bigot read from notes.

1

Anonymous said...

An episode from Portlandia.

Hardy Cross

Hank Roberts said...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57608281-76/carbon-negative-energy-a-reality-at-last-and-cheap-too/

Anonymous said...

Some things never change.

Humans continued use of fossil fuels

and Brian's continued use of a (former) science blog as a Congressional campaign poster.

Russell Seitz said...

Hank: How does the DIY Berkeley gas works your link describes manage to avoid being shut down as an urban incinerator of the sort banned by EPA rules ?

Anonymous said...
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EliRabett said...

C'mon #1 grow up

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

You know, I don't know Brian from Adam's left ox, but if "1" doesn't like him, he can't be all bad.

Anonymous said...
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Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

if Brian learned his waiter was a Republican, even after outstanding service, Brian would not leave him a tip. Brian is also a mind reader and can discern the internal thoughts and intentions of anyone he disagrees with.

Who is the mind reader again?

Brian said...

Thanks a-ray, I'm really not all bad.

Generally I've not engaged #1 and just hope the vented anger provides some benefit. In case it's any use though, I have Republican and conservative family members who are wonderful people that I would not match myself up against on a personal morality/niceness basis. I think personal behavior and politics have only a slight overlap.

Thanks for the link, Hank. I've been looking for biochar applications outside of Third World situations, and it seems like there are some real possibilities.

Anonymous said...

"I think personal behavior and politics have only a slight overlap."

So true, sadly.

Folks who are very "nice" and "moral" (at least superficially*) in their everyday lives will vote for and support (or simply remain silent about) immoral and even illegal policies so long as they are carried out by their own party's guy in the White House (Republican or Democrat)

..but when the other party's guy does the very same things, it's a very different story.

*Some would argue that true morality involves a willingness to criticize one's own "affiliates" (party, family, church, etc) when they do things that violate one's professed morality.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"Some would argue that true morality involves a willingness to criticize one's own "affiliates" (party, family, church, etc) when they do things that violate one's professed morality."

Sadly, only Carrot Eater has demonstrated this quality on Rabett Run, all the others are "my team" blind, like Thomas Lee above.

1

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

I truly enjoy speaking out against political bigots.

And I truly enjoy being one, as is my right as well. So by all means, continue to make a fool of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you say Thomas.

1

EliRabett said...

Eli has decided enough is enough. Given the recent news about Fox Ratfucking, bunnies must seriously question whether a political opponent sent #1 over here, and frankly, the littlest one is getting tiring. Most of that stuff has been moved over to the Rabett Hole if anybunny cares, and new blather will be terminated with extreme whatever.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Brian is fortunate in his enemies--they are inarticulate and dim of wit. And they are such reprehensible little turds that they generate sympathy for the targets of their vituperation just by their very nastiness.

Anonymous said...

No one sent me here Eli.

Do what you have to do, fingers in ears, make the circle smaller, be blind to the true identities of those around you.

1

Anonymous said...

a_ray,

Some, not 1 to be sure, might think your continual usage of offensive assaults on other posters may garner some attention from the resident king bunny. Fortunately (for you) this is a team only site so any fears you may have of comment movement/deletion should dissipate faster than Arctic ice melt.

1

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Now, now, "1", I did garner attention from our gracious host when I referred to you as "pisshead". I believe also when I referred to you as a "turdfondler".

However, your own posts serve to reinforce the truth of my words when I say you are inarticulate, dim of wit and nasty. You are, all in all, a miserable excuse for a human being.

You come across as someone who takes more than an amateur interest in being wrong.

cRR Kampen said...

"1 (a person who has a lower carbon footprint than either Brian or a_ray)"

So what is your problem? The fact that I win this contest anyway?

/cRR

Anonymous said...

Trying to help the blind see.

It seems I need to improve on being nasty. The esteemed Michael Mann has raised the bar, again.

"Conservative @RTDNEWS refuses to endorse #Cooch for #VAGov, citing "divisive agenda..that was unbecoming in an AG" http://fb.me/2BHOHDfke."

1

Russell Seitz said...

Anybody got a metric on the sensitivity of carbon footprints to anonymity doubling ?

The verification code was : voswwas ;
Is the plural of that viiwwas ?

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

To summarize "1"s comment above, I put it into Google's translator and selected pudknocker to English. Result:

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!"

Let's see. You're a Ken the Cooch supporter. Well that was predictable. How much has that guy cost the state of VA while sucking at the teat of special interests?

Anonymous said...

FTR I am not a supporter of Ken or Terry. Just looking up to Michael Mann on how to be civil.

1

Gator said...

Brian,
Thanks for your work. We need people who are willing to be serious politicians, thinking about policy and how to implement it. Thinking about how to work with people and the system to make our society better.

cRR Kampen said...

"Trying to help the blind see."

Good, so you are extinguishing those fires bigtime, clearing the smoke, thanks.

(meantime the season temps won't drop below 15° C at night in Holland just got shorted by exactly two weeks. And we're gonna try even better Saturday).

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

So "1", in your opinion, posting the truth isn't "civil"?

Anonymous said...

The high-level intellectual discussion here (between "a-ray" and "1", for example) is very impressive.

Reminiscent of what one might encounter on an elementary school playground.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Anon,
Why would I waste my wit on an imbecile like "1" or you?

Anonymous said...

a_ray,

Please take the time to go look up the definition and usage of the word Cooch. If you are offended, please go take it up with Michael Mann. And voila you are at my original point.

For someone who professes to be so smart, you sure act like a clueless moron.

1

luminous beauty said...

And yes, the double entendre is intentional. "Cooch" is both a nickname assigned to the crusading AG and slang for "That very special place on a woman that men spend their lives striving to visit over and over and over again,"

Similarly, one could say that One(1), by choosing a pseudonym that is a pictographic representation of male genitalia, has unthinkingly contributed evidence to the well founded proposition that One(1) is a prick.

For someone who professes a sense of humor One(1) doesn't seem to do irony very well.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

"1",
Just funnin' ya. I am aware of the meaning of the word. I am also aware that Rachel Maddow has been calling him that for years. It's really a joke that writes itself, don't you think?

And frankly, I care much more about Kenny's abuse of his office to pursue personal vendettas and enrich himself than I do about a nickname. How 'bout you?

Anonymous said...

BTW Brian some members of your family are barking mad, Eli says so. Might want to talk to him for an exception.

"What Kahan has really shown is that conservative republicans are barking mad. Sadly so."

1

Russell Seitz said...

Arf ! Arf !

( no relation )

Brian said...

Not sure if this thread can be rescued, but anyway, thanks Gator.

At last night's Board meeting, I complimented a San Jose City Councilmember for working extensively with us to solve a mercury contamination problem/threat to endangered steelhead in one of our watersheds. The previous night at a public meeting I corrected an incorrect criticism against that councilmember which may have been related to the partisan race he had been in last year. Of course, this councilmember is a Republican.

Whether it's climate or anything else, the issue is working together with people as long as you have sufficient basis for agreement.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

"1"
Yup, looks like Mikey Mann is building another room inside that tiny, little brain of yours to house all that animus. ALL 4 FREE!!!!

Do you really think that if Mike Mann went away, there would be no warming?

Anonymous said...

Sorry a_ray I take up more space in your head than Mann does in mine. It is not even close.

"Just funnin' ya. I am aware of the meaning of the word."

Some, not 1 to be sure, would raise the white flag of BS on that statement.

1

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

"1", don't flatter yourself. You aren't even worth my taking time to abuse you creatively.