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article imageOp-Ed: Investors call the shots in corporate climate change policies

By Paul Wallis     Feb 21, 2019 in Environment
Sydney - Recent legal judgments and investor pressure are effectively neutering the endless irresponsible corporate excesses in the environment. The question now is whether serial deniers of the risks of pollution and emissions can understand why.
Let's face it – The corporate sector is not exactly famous for its sensitivity, ability to understand simple sentences, and acknowledgement of the existence of the human race. It is, however, very sensitive to potential climate change regulation and major investors. Kicking and screaming or otherwise, the Use By date for current corporate mismanagement is now approaching. Shareholders are now definitely calling the shots.
Recent wind shifts include Australian mining giant Glencore, which has announced that it will shift focus to other mining operations, and freeze coal production. Major investors, including Climate Action 100+ , a group which manages over $30 trillion in assets held talks with Glencore prior to this decision.
Climate change litigation makes a point
Poland's capital Warsaw is shrouded in a thick layer of smog on January 9  2017 as coal and was...
Poland's capital Warsaw is shrouded in a thick layer of smog on January 9, 2017 as coal and waste-fired home furnaces drive up air pollution to the highest levels recorded in years
Also in Australia, banks and super funds have been subject to litigation regarding "climate change risks" regarding investment and disclosure of factors related to climate change in public statements. Meanwhile, in New York, the Attorney General’s office took action against ExxonMobil for failure to disclose risks related to climate change regulations. Shell has also been threatened with legal action by environmental groups if it fails to change its business model to comply with the Paris Agreement.
If you are getting the impression that this is a rather patchy approach to the problem, so it is, but it is also having a progressively wider impact in real world results. Public pressure, investor pressure, and political "adaption" in favour of climate change regulation is now overwhelming. The decades of denial are on their last, inexcusable Ferris wheel ride to a justly deserved oblivion.
Pollution levels in EU countries remain far higher than standards set by both the European Union and...
Pollution levels in EU countries remain far higher than standards set by both the European Union and the World Health Organization
Patchy or not, however, the direction of movement is clear. When big money starts demanding changes, those changes happen. It's taken a while, but it is undeniable that at least one part of the corporate sector, financial investment, is not amused by high risk stupidity. This lack of amusement is caused by the fact that failure to manage emissions, possible regulatory penalties, and potentially billions of dollars’ worth of long-overdue retooling to manage emissions could seriously impact so many major corporations.
Pollution in China
Pollution hangs over the city of Beijing, China.
Photo by Bobak Ha'Eri
It turns out that dragging the chain on pollution and emissions for so long was not a good idea. Not only are the old fossil fuel systems obsolete, but they are now becoming a major potential financial liability, as well as an insult to basic common sense.
If global pollution regulations had been enforced, it is arguable that global warming and climate change would never have happened. Inefficient combustion, cheapskate refusal to properly filter emissions, and the rest of the grotesque pantomime are now coming to an end.
The question remains, however, how alleged adults could simply not understand basic high school science. If you release 37,000,000,000 tons of CO2 (2018) into the atmosphere every year, the equivalent of giving every human being on the planet five packets of cigarettes smoked per day, something must be wrong. That's roughly 5 tons per person, or the equivalent weight of five cars, every year. How could it not have an impact?
It's taken the corporate sector and its political errand boys 30 years to be dragged, bleating and still in denial, into doing the right thing, very much against their will.
Heads up for the global news media nuthouse
This sudden move to sanity will have major media impacts, too. Global news media will now have to adapt to a very different, much less tolerant, media environment. The sheer imbecility of actually publishing fraudulent, self-serving statements and calling it "news" can barely be described.
Consider, idiots –
• How can 37 billion tonnes of emissions NOT be anthropogenic, for example?
• Was it those naughty raccoons generating all that pollution?
• Or was it the world's seemingly endless oversupply of trash diving billionaires?
Take a guess. For once, you might actually get something right.
The sudden return to the responsible journalism and editorial policies will probably come as quite a shock. It is, however, necessary in a world which has to rely on factual information, whether it likes it or not.
The news sector has effectively and thoroughly destroyed its own credibility in the process of pandering to the insane, and this imbecilic approach to news has been very much an own goal. "Fake news" is a natural development of this acceptance of deranged, completely false statements in the media.
The result so far is a hideously polluted planet, decades of wasted time, a large number of nutcases in public office, and a massive cleanup bill which will affect at least the next two generations. Congratulations, morons.
History will condemn this mismanagement of climate change as the most utterly disingenuous, backward, stupid, and downright insane case of fraud in history. When you look at the 5000 years of recorded history, that is not a great character recommendation.
Let's just hope that this new move to sanity doesn't take too long. There's not that much time left to waste.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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