3.43am EDT 03:43 Filled oil drums are seen at Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s lubricants blending plant in the town of Torzhok, Russia Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters Digging fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them is obviously bad for the environment, pumping up carbon emissions, adding to global warming and undermining the Paris Agreement targets.
Digging fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them is obviously bad for the environment, pumping up carbon emissions, adding to global warming and undermining the Paris Agreement targets.
But it’s also extremely lucrative.
Just this morning, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has posted profits of £4.1bn for the last three months, as it shrugs off weaker oil prices. That’s better than the City expected.
That, by my maths, is over £31,000 per minute (or more than the average UK annual wage).
Shareholders get the benefits, receiving £3bn of dividends in the last quarter. Shell’s shares have jumped 1.5% in early trading too.
Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is backing the protesters:
The climate change protesters should have a spring in their steps as they head to the Bank this morning.
Last night, the UK parliament approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. This move follows the Extinction Rebellion protests in London this month, and the school strikes organised by pupils.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn summed up the mood in parliament, declaring:
“We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.”
After months of Brexit deadlock, it’s a relief to see MPs focusing on other major issues (although this motion won’t legally compel the government to act).
As Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg points out, protests can have a real impact – so over to you, Mark Carney…..
The Bank of England needs to blacklist high-carbon bonds and commit its huge buying power to ‘green QE’, writes Simon Youel of Positive Money.
In a Guardian column today, he explains:
In the three years since the Paris climate agreement, as the government has spoken (often empty words) about doing its part in lowering emissions, our financial sector has been pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into fossil-fuel projects, unleashing environmental havoc across the planet.
In its role as the regulator of the financial system, the Bank of England has the power to stamp out irresponsible fossil fuel lending – using the same tools it has used to clamp down on risky mortgage lending since the financial crisis. In choosing not to use these powers, it is complicit in the climate crisis.
What the protesters want
They want the Bank to take two specific steps to address the climate.
1) To ‘green’ its bond-buying quantitative easing programme, which currently buys UK government debt and some corporate bonds.
The campaigners say:
At the very least ruling out asset purchases in high-carbon sectors, if not actively favouring bonds which finance green projects.
2) The Bank should use its influence to support lending to environmentally sustainable groups, rathe than dirty industries.
The Bank of England should use all of the powers at its disposal to stop financial firms it regulates pouring more money into fossil fuels, while encouraging greater lending towards more sustainable ends. This approach, known as ‘credit guidance’, could include tools such as differential collateral requirements and targeted refinancing operations.
Climate change protests ahead of BoE rate decision
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
The Bank of England is centre-stage today as it sets interest rates for the first time since Brexit was delayed until the autumn.
With political uncertainty still rife, Bank policymakers will surely leave borrowing costs unchanged at 0.75% — although hawkish members of the Monetary Policy Committee could lean towards a hike.
The Bank will also publish its latest assessment of the UK economy, via its Inflation Report. This will show whether the fog of Brexit uncertainty is hitting growth and the cost of living.
But… governor Mark Carney and colleagues will also be challenged on a bigger issue than interest rates – the climate emergency, and its threat to the planet and human life.
Climate change activists are heading to the Bank as I type, to demand bolder action from the central bank.
BoE staff arriving for work will be greeted with banners and signs calling on the Bank of England to ‘put your money where your mouth is’’. Once inside, they’ll be able to hear chants including “Green QE, not Shell BP / if you print money, go fossil free”.
Carney has embraced the issue in the past, warning bank bosses that they must play a key role in tackling global warming – rather than blithely lending to fossil fuel producers. But clearly he, and the Bank, are under pressure to do more.
Also coming up today
The latest monthly survey of British construction is expected to show a modest return to growth last month, following a contraction in March.
But the latest healthcheck on Europe’s factories may be bleaker. Economists expect the eurozone factory PMI (delayed by May Day yesterday) will keep languishing at just 47.8, which would signal a contraction.
- 8.30am BST: Climate change protests outside the Bank of England
- 9am BST: Eurozone factory PMI for April
- 9.30am BST: UK construction PMI for April
- 12pm BST: Bank of England interest rate decision
- 12.30pm BST: BoE governor Mark Carney holds press conference