PR Firm Plays Both Sides at Upcoming Global Climate Talks

As studies pile up concerning the urgency of upcoming negotiations to avert not less than the worst doable local weather tipping factors, think about one of many main messengers from the COP27 talks that begin Nov. 6 in Egypt. One of many corporations that contributed to the flood of disinformation that introduced us so far, the general public relations agency Hill & Knowlton, has been chosen by the Egyptian authorities to deal with its communications for the summit within the seaside metropolis of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Hill & Knowlton, in accordance with the web site Open Democracy, has been a serious PR participant representing trade in most of the most contentious environmental well being battles of the final half-century, together with the world’s main greenhouse fuel emitters, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Saudi Aramco.

One other of H&Okay’s purchasers has been Coca-Cola, which holds the distinction of getting extra of its discarded plastic bottles — principally oil in bodily type — in landfills, on riverbanks and ocean shorelines and within the stomachs of marine mammals than another single firm. As Scientific American identified, for many years each the oil and tobacco industries have employed Hill & Knowlton to downplay the hazards of their merchandise by fanning nonexistent scientific doubt — most lately to undermine with misinformation the overwhelming scientific consensus on the human causes of local weather change.

H&Okay’s Egyptian purchasers are internet hosting the world’s delegates, scientists, journalists and civil society representatives whereas imprisoning many environmental activists at house, as Naomi Klein revealed lately in The Intercept — main human rights violations that ought to turn out to be a public relations disaster. One other twist: The Egyptian information web site Mada Masr, which itself has confronted quite a few threats for its reporting, revealed that in simply the previous few months, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, chief convenor of COP27, obtained financing from the Saudi royal household — one of many largest obstacles for local weather motion — for the federal government’s personal media outlet to transmit information on the negotiations.

On the lookout for an area angle? Hill & Knowlton has not less than 11 offices in america, together with in New York Metropolis; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Tampa and Miami, Florida; San Francisco and Los Angeles; and Austin, Texas. How deeply will the agency be collaborating with one of many Arab world’s most repressive regimes? Will it’s suggesting to its Egyptian hosts that holding activists in jail who in any other case would possibly even be current on the negotiations would possibly current, at minimal, a public relations challenge? How will Hill & Knowlton deal with contentious negotiations that contain its former and doable future purchasers within the fossil gas trade?

COP27 marks the twenty seventh time that the “Convention of the Events” have met below the auspices of the UN to deal with local weather change. For 26 of these years, the prices of what the UN calls “loss and damages,” i.e., compensation for the prices of upended lives from excessive local weather occasions, has been a 3rd rail on the local weather talks. Nations impacted by fossil fuel-driven storms, floods, and sea degree rise are demanding reparations from the biggest producers of these emissions, beforehand to no avail.

However this 12 months, as the prices and penalties mount, loss and damages are sure to be, in accordance with the Climate News Network, a “geopolitical hurricane” that might both upend the negotiations totally or break some really new floor. This makes the oil trade uneasy. Main the list of worldwide greenhouse fuel emitters are ExxonMobil, Chevron and Saudi Aramco, former and presumably future purchasers of Hill and Knowlton.

Americology: Arts of Courtship

Hmmm, “loss and damages.” The place have I heard that earlier than? Within the U.S., such battles go below a distinct identify. They’re referred to as courtroom instances.

Throughout america, cities and states have filed lawsuits additionally demanding that fossil gas corporations pay their share of the billions of {dollars} in damages that state and native governments are incurring to reply to the quite a few penalties of local weather extremes.

Such local weather extremes have all the time occurred on Earth, however scientists are acquiring a clearer view of how they could now be attributed to atmospheric greenhouse gases by way of advances in “climate attribution science,” which might be key to the destiny of the loss and harm lawsuits underway within the U.S.

So, as the controversy rages in far-off Sharm el-Sheikh, it’s value contemplating the native angles on America’s personal losses and damages. These embody the counties of Honolulu and Maui in Hawaii, which allege that Sonoco and different greenhouse fuel emitting oil corporations bear, in accordance with the complaint, not less than partial accountability for the damages together with sea degree rise and associated flooding, seaside erosion, lack of recent water provides; habitat loss for endemic species; and social and financial penalties of all these environmental adjustments. The merged Honolulu and Maui instances went earlier than the 9th Circuit this summer season, and the courtroom remanded the case again to state courtroom.

In one other case, town of Hoboken, New Jersey, joined by the state of Delaware, alleges similar damages towards ExxonMobil and others. An amici curiae brief supporting that declare from the Nationwide League of Cities would possibly as nicely have been written by the governments of the international locations most vulnerable to climate change that may lead the cost on loss and damages on the negotiations in Egypt. The League argues in its temporary to the Third Circuit that greenhouse gases could come from a number of sources in several locales however most of them emanate collectively from a small variety of industries and, from the weak international locations’ perspective, nations.

No less than half a dozen different related instances filed by U.S. cities and counties are making their manner by way of the courts, together with town of Annapolis, Maryland v. BP; the cities of Oakland and San Francisco v. BP and different fossil gas corporations; and the county of San Mateo, Calif., v. Chevron.

The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia College has compiled a database that features related filings with background on local weather disruptions in particular locales (in addition to worldwide instances), and may be helpful for checking on instances in your individual neighborhood.

Election & Inflation

Polls are already open in most states for one of the crucial vital votes ever for the nation’s response, or lack of it, to local weather change. Let’s take a second to replicate on two converging information which have coursed by way of the election marketing campaign. Truth one: The speed of inflation is certainly hitting record levels, or ranges unseen for the reason that early Eighties. Truth two: Within the final week of October, ExxonMobil reported one other quarter of record-breaking income to shareholders — a threefold enhance over the identical quarter in 2021. (Different oil corporations reported related earnings.)

Two information, one query: Are the income for ExxonMobil a mirrored image of the inflation we’re all experiencing — which might imply increased revenues however not essentially increased income — or are the corporate’s escalating costs for gasoline serving to trigger the inflation we’re all experiencing?

The reply to that query, which might be requested of any oil firm as we speak, would possibly supply wealthy terrain for tales including actual dimension to the “rocketing inflation” information which American media have reported. Like local weather change and inflation, we’re all in it collectively, however we’re not all equally accountable.