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California’s Climate Reputation Tarnished by Inaction and Oil Money



As California struggles to adapt to historic droughts and wildfires fueled by the climate crisis, state legislators are taking money from fossil fuel companies and dragging their feet on climate action, activists and members of a legislative climate caucus said during a press call Tuesday.

California’s woeful progress on climate solutions earned the state a near failing grade from an environmental group that evaluates politicians’ voting records, budgets and policies in order to hold government officials accountable.

The state’s failure to pass meaningful climate measures last year prompted the California Environmental Voters, or EnviroVoters, to give the state its first “D” since the group began issuing its annual scorecard in 1973. 

“This is the first time in history we’ve ever given California a score this low,” said Mary Creasman, CEO of EnviroVoters, formerly the California League of Conservation Voters.

“This is unacceptable in a state like California,” she said. “Everybody is paying attention to what California does, and looking at us to create the models for action.”

The group didn’t give California an F, Creasman said, only because the state made “significant investments” related to climate in the budget last year.

California legislators haven’t enacted significant climate legislation since 2018, she said, when they passed a law requiring 100 percent of retail sale of electricity to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon sources by 2045.

That year, the state’s Environmental Protection Agency released a report warning of an increasingly stark future under climate change. The report came on the heels of several years of record-setting temperatures, the historic 2012-2016 drought and the largest, deadliest wildfires on record at the time. Last year’s wildfires were even worse. 

“From record temperatures to proliferating wildfires and rising seas, climate change poses an immediate and escalating threat to California’s environment, public health, and economic vitality,” the report noted.

The slow action on climate change is partly a consequence of the nature of representative democracies, said Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura), who authored and passed a bill that holds the oil and gas industry liable for the costs of cleaning up abandoned wells.

“Politicians don’t get popular by asking people to make sacrifices today to solve the problems that come 15 or 20 years down the road,” said Bennett, a member of what EnviroVoters calls the Climate Action Caucus for its “bold action” to address the climate crisis.

But the magnitude of the climate crisis and consequences in store for California demand a sense of urgency, Bennett added. “We’ve already passed so many deadlines that have been out there. But we have to have a sense of fire in us that there is not time to waste.”

Money Talks

California lowered carbon emissions by just 1.6 percent between 2018 and 2019. Emissions need to drop by two to three times that rate to stave off the worst of the climate crisis, Creasman said.

“As the climate crisis has gotten worse and worse and worse since 2018, our legislative action has gotten worse and worse and worse,” she said. 

So EnviroVoters started following the money. 

“Sixty-three percent of legislators take oil money,” she said. Ninety-six percent of Republicans took contributions from oil companies and their political action committees over the last two election cycles, Creasman said, compared with 52 percent of Democrats.

The lowest scoring Democrat in the legislature, Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), represents Kern County, the heart of California’s oil industry. Salas has received more than $280,000 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry since 2012, a review of records filed with the campaign finance portal Follow the Money shows. 

Legislators like Salas who received low scores are stalling climate legislation, Creasman said. In contrast, several legislators, including Bennett, earned high marks for consistently voting to support environmental and climate legislation in committees and floor votes.

“We only have until 2030 to enact massive change on the climate crisis,” Creasman said.
Yet “climate delayers” are standing in the way, she said, saying they believe in the science of climate change on the one hand while continuously delaying action on the other.

Beyond campaign contributions, the oil industry spends millions of dollars to influence politicians and regulators, treating them to stays at five-star resorts and expensive dinners. Between 2018 and 2021, oil lobbying organizations spent almost $77.5 million advocating for the oil industry’s interests, EnviroVoters research shows.

Working for Change

State Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) represents a community besieged by pollution from industries like metal processing plants and diesel emissions from the second-busiest container port in the United States. 

“There is a lot that folks in my district specifically are dealing with and why I don’t have the luxury myself to wait as a legislator on these climate policies,” Gonzalez said. “And so my big question is, what are we waiting for?”

Gonzalez sponsored a bill to add environmental justice representatives to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, but the bill failed to pass the Senate. 

“We’ll continue to push to ensure that we see environmental justice representatives in some of our largest air quality management districts,” Gonzalez said. “That’s exactly what we need, the voice of those who live and work in these areas to lift up the issues of climate justice.”

David Chiu, a former Assemblymember (D-San Francisco) who now serves as San Francisco City Attorney, called climate change “the existential crisis of our day.”

Chiu, who left the Legislature a few months ago, said his one regret was that he left before California enacted major measures to tackle the climate crisis. “If we don’t take real, significant action in the near future, the state of our planet, our very future are at risk, the lives of our kids and our grandkids are at risk,” Chiu said. “We have no choice. We have to act.”

Chiu pointed to the prospects for wind off the California coast to provide both clean power and jobs for tens of thousands of workers. “We need to invest in a smart, reliable electrical grid to support the decarbonization of many of our sectors, and ensure that all Californians have the power that they need,” he said. 

That means designing grids that match supply and demand and are tailored to meet regional needs, he said, while also prioritizing low-income households and requiring that communities have a say in policies that affect them.

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One way to finance the costs of helping communities adapt to climate-driven calamities is by requiring the companies who laid the groundwork for the crisis to foot the bill. In 2017, San Francisco and Oakland sued Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell to pay the costs of building sea walls and other infrastructure to protect the cities from rising seas.

“We are in the midst of a significant lawsuit to hold five of the largest oil and gas companies in the world accountable, asking courts to hold them responsible for the cost of infrastructure that’s necessary to protect cities from the consequences of climate change due to sea level rise because of the massive production of fossil fuels,” said Chiu.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is taking a similar tack. His Climate Corporate Accountability Act passed the Senate floor in January, he said, after “a huge fight” with the fossil fuel industry. The bill, cosponsored by EnviroVoters and other groups, would require the largest corporations in the world to disclose their entire footprint, including from their supply chain, Wiener said. 

Transparency will create a major incentive for corporations to reduce their carbon footprint, Wiener said, and put an end to greenwashing. “Some of our biggest corporations portray themselves as green, when if you look at their actual carbon footprint, including their supply chain, they’re anything but green.”

And that includes the state of California. 

“We’ve got a huge pension plan here, nearly $800 billion in assets,” said Gonzalez. “But about $10 billion of those [assets] are being invested now in fossil fuels.”

Gonzalez and Wiener introduced a bill last month calling for the state to divest from fossil fuels. And with California projecting a budget surplus of tens of billions of dollars, it’s vital that Californians see direct climate investments in their communities, Gonzalez said.

These dollars should “go right back into the communities” to support policies that will make people’s lives better and “improve this climate change world that we live in.”

For all the challenges California faces, there’s good news, Creasman said. California voters across the state are feeling the impacts of climate change—fires, extreme heat and droughts. They say climate change is their top priority.

“We have the policy solutions,” she said. “What we need to do is build the political power and hold our leaders accountable.”

And that means taking actions worthy of the state’s reputation as a climate leader.

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OffGamers Adds Direct Top-Up Option for China Platforms – Corporate Governance News Today



OffGamers Adds Direct Top-Up Option for China Platforms – Corporate Governance News Today – EIN Presswire

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Former Guildford mayor Richard Billington dies following brain tumour



A former Guildford mayor and Conservative councillor has died, Guildford Borough Council announced in a statement on Friday (May 20). The council said it is ‘with great sadness’ it confirms that councillor Richard Billington died in the early hours of May 20.

The council lowered its flag to half-mast at its headquarters in Millmead. Richard received life-saving surgery at St George’s hospital in Tooting, London following the discovery of a malignant brain tumour in 2020.

A new inoperable tumour was discovered in his brain earlier this year and received palliative care from the Royal Surrey and later on at the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. Richard was first elected to the Council in 2011, representing the Tillingbourne ward.

READ MORE: Guildford snubbed again as eight other towns gain city status for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Councillor Joss Bigmore, leader of the council, said: “Richard Billington served the people of Guildford well. He was mayor when the pandemic started, turning everything we knew and did upside down. He impressed many with how he handled the situation.

“When he was recovering from neurosurgery he still wanted to help and encouraged everyone to get the Covid vaccine. He was also one of the few mayors to serve two consecutive years. Rest in peace Richard, we will not forget you.”

Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Paul Spooner, added: “Richard was respected and much loved. I had the honour of working with him when he served on the executive with me.

“He always gave his time and skills with joy and enthusiasm. Richard worked hard to make sure that people were seen, thanked and represented.

“Over the pandemic he often quoted the Queen, saying ‘we WILL meet again’. I hope that we will indeed meet again.”

Richard was mayor in 2019-20 and 2020-2021, serving again during the pandemic. He was on the executive from October 2012 to May 2018. He began as lead councillor for community safety and health.

In 2015 he became lead councillor for rural economy, countryside, parks, and leisure. Richard was on the planning committee from 2011 to 2019 and Licensing Committee from 2011 to 2014.

He was also chairman of the corporate governance and standards committee in 2018-19.

As a councillor, Richard served in other organisations:

  • Surrey Hills AONB Partnership from 2011 to 2019
  • Surrey County Playing Fields Association from 2015 to 2019
  • Sport Guildford from 2016 to 2019
  • Surrey Countryside and Rural Enterprise Forum from 2017 to 2019
  • Surrey County Agricultural Society from 2017 to 2018

Details of the arrangements for Richard’s memorial will be announced shortly.

Find out how you can get more Guildford Borough Council news from SurreyLive straight to your inbox for free here .

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NGX Lauds Ex-Seplat Chair, Orjiako, Welcomes Omiyi



NGX lauds ex-Seplat chair, Orjiako, welcomes Omiyi
Basil Omiyi

Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) hosted members of the Board of Directors and Executive Management of Seplat Energy Plc to a Closing Gong Ceremony to honour the immediate former Chairman, Dr. Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (‘A.B.C.’) Orjiako, and introduce the newly appointed Chairman, Mr. Basil Omiyi, to the market on Thursday, 19 May 2022.

Speaking at the event, Mr. A.B. Mahmoud, SAN, OON, Chairman, NGX, ably represented by, Mr. Kamarudeen Oladosu, Director, NGX, congratulated the immediate former Chairman, Dr. A.B.C Orjiako, for his exemplary leadership and outstanding performance of Seplat Energy for well over a decade, during which the company was listed on both NGX and London Stock Exchange. “The notable acquisition of eight oil and gas assets, expansion of the Oben and development of the ANOH gas plants under his leadership positioned the company as the largest indigenous domestic supplier of gas”, he noted.

In response, the immediate former Chairman, Dr. Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (‘A.B.C.’) Orjiako, commended NGX for its high levels of corporate governance, which have been critical to the company’s growth. He said,

“The high levels of corporate governance promoted by NGX for its listed companies was a key attribute that motivated Seplat Energy Plc to become part of the market. Since our acceptance into the market, Seplat Energy Plc has continued to deliver a corporate governance structure that is accountable and transparent to our investors, employees, government and all other relevant stakeholders. We are committed to sustaining these high levels of corporate governance through our collaboration with NGX as we implement market-leading measures towards ensuring Nigeria achieves a sustainable energy sector.”

Delivering his remarks, the recently appointed Chairman, Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Basil Omiyi, said, “NGX has played an instrumental role in Seplat Energy Plc’s growth within the domestic and international markets. Our history with the Exchange dates back to 2014 when the shares of Seplat Energy Plc were listed in the market and over the years, Seplat has benefitted immensely from its collaboration with NGX. As we celebrate another milestone on the Trading Floor of the Exchange, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with NGX for the fulfillment of our joint goal of leveraging capital to empower sustainable initiatives that positively impact our investors, employees, and the environment.”

NGX lauds ex-Seplat chair, Orjiako, welcomes Omiyi
ABC Orjiako

On his part, Temi Popoola, Chief Executive Officer, NGX, said, “The Exchange is better positioned to lead government advocacy efforts for listed companies, promote technology advancement and digital innovation for the capital market, and increase retail investor participation in the capital market aimed at building a market for the future and addressing the prevailing challenge of financial inclusion. We welcome Seplat Energy Plc to a renewed NGX and look forward to deepening our collaboration to develop and push for disruptive, out of the box ideas that could support Nigeria’s energy transition into a net-zero economy.”

Also present on the trading floor of NGX to sound the gong and bring the day’s trading to a close were Mr. Roger Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Energy Plc; Mr. Bello Rabiu, Independent Non-Executive Director, Seplat Energy Plc; Mr. Emeka Onwuka, Chief Financial Officer, Seplat Energy Plc; Dr. Chioma Nwachukwu, Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy Plc; Mr. Effiong Okon, Operations Director, Seplat Energy Plc; Mr. Jude Chiemeka, Divisional Head Capital Markets Division, NGX; Mr. Femi Oyenuga, Divisional Head Digital Technology Services, NGX and Mrs. Irene Robinson-Ayanwale, Divisional Head Business Support Services Division, NGX.


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