Each week we share the top sustainability news stories from around the world. Here’s this week’s round up:
This week we explore new ways to build wind turbines, a report that indicates G7 nations are still committing more money to fossil fuels than renewable energy, and insider stories on how ExxonMobil tried to stage a coup before losing seats on their board to a climate action firm.
Multinational Beautifying the Wind Turbine:
The company, Flower Turbines, based in the US and the Netherlands, have come up with their own spin on wind power in an “eco-art” design. The company has designed wind turbines in the shape of tulips and flowers. The company has installations across Rotterdam, Amsterdam, parts of Germany, Israel and Colombia. The company aims to democratise green energy for everyone and make small wind farms a leading player in the green energy industry.
These particular turbines pose no danger to birds and other wildlife, particularly in urban settings, the company claims, and they create noise at a low frequency undetectable to humans. Because they are smaller, they can be placed more frequently around urban areas and aren’t as much of an eyesore as some opponents of wind farms would say. This is in contrast to the more standard wind farms that are generally built offshore or in rural areas.
Roy Osinga, The European director of Flower Turbines, said: “Our product – compared to big windmills – is silent, and good-looking, which makes it very successful for building in cities, because nobody wants to live next to a turbine which is up to 200 metres high making a lot of noise.”
Quirky wind turbines have begun to pick up steam recently. Vortex Bladeless, created a small bladeless turbine that can harness energy from winds without the sweeping white blades synonymous with wind power. Another company, Alpha 311, has begun manufacturing a small vertical wind turbine that it claims can generate electricity without wind.
G7 Nations Still Committing Billions More to Fossil Fuels than Green Energy
Despite consistent talks of green rhetoric at recent climate summits and sustainable actions, money continues to pile into fossil fuels related industries from these countries. New analysis reveals that the countries attending the upcoming G7 Summit, have committed $189bn to support oil, coal and gas between January and March 2021. In comparison, these countries spent $147bn on clean forms of energy.
This analysis comes from the development charity TearFund, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Overseas Development Institute showed that the nations missed opportunities to make their response to the pandemic greener. In most cases, money provided for fossil fuel industries was given with no conditions requiring a reduction in emissions pollution. Paul Cook, the head of advocacy at Tearfund, said: “Choices made now by the G7 countries will either accelerate the transition towards a climate-safe future for all, or jeopardise efforts to date to tackle the climate crisis.”
The G7 countries are among the most polluting in the world. They represent a 10th of the world’s population but are responsible for almost a quarter of CO2 emissions. The greatest support given by G7 countries was to the transport industry. Bailouts were given to various airlines and automotive industries. The financial support would end up sustaining highly polluting industries for decades to come, with very little pressure to “go green”.
ExxonMobil Gets Desperate to Stave Off a Climate Coup
As noted in our blog last week, Exxon Mobil Corp saw three of its board members unseated by the climate activist fund in an effort to force the company to alter their climate stance. In the hours leading up to last week’s annual shareholders meeting, Exxon went to extraordinary lengths to head off the threat from a campaign about which it had been largely dismissive months earlier. Investors said the practices had a “banana-republic feel” that if the accusations are true “this raises the question about the sanctity of the ballot box and whether companies should have privileged access”.
When Exxon’s virtual meeting began, representatives were ringing inventions. In some cases, those calls entailed cajoling holders to at least reduce their support to one or two dissident nominees rather than all four. One executive was contacted during a break in the meeting and pushed to change their vote to no avail.
Exxon opposed the climate activist fund from the outset and called them unqualified and said its climate proposals would imperil Exxon’s dividend. The fund holds a stake in Exxon of just 0.02% valued at about $54 million, yet will hold 3 seats out of 12 on the Exxon board. The fund was supported by much larger investors such as Vanguard Group, BlackRock and State Street, which collectively hold a stake of more than 21% and have been vocal about voting guidelines on climate change. While CEO Darren Wood welcomed the newcomers to the board, he knows he will be on the hot seat if he doesn’t invest in climate action for the big oil company.
Tune in next week for another round of sustainability news from around the world.