As Boris Johnson pushes UN on climate tour, deadly energy crisis grips UK

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson did his best today to convey the dangers of climate change at the United Nations and take up the mantle for small countries seeking financial aid from the big polluters. At a special meeting of the smaller countries on the sidelines Monday, he was the only major world leader to show up.

But a growing energy crisis at home in the UK threatens to derail his efforts, and could cast a shadow over the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in six weeks. A Europe-wide shortage of natural gas because of pipe shutdowns has caused prices to rise more than 70% in the past few weeks.

Britain, which derives the majority of its electricity from imported natural gas, is in particular trouble, with as many as a half dozen large energy providers likely to need a bailout in coming weeks, and the possibility the government will need to find a way to pay for heat for millions this winter.

In UK politics, where government-owned utilities vs. privatization and market forces is always a major arguing point, potential need for bailouts is a blow to the Johnson government and couldn’t be more ill-timed. In coming days, the crisis and accompanying protests around it could threaten the potential for any progress at the COP26 summit, already itself in deep trouble.

It will not be lost on the island nations and smaller countries pleading for financial aid to fight global warming that the wealthiest nations they are depending on suddenly have more pressing things to worry about. Again.

More insights below. . . .

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Tuesday’s subscriber insights: Oil majors are shedding assets; what it means for investors

. . . . Call it self-divestment. Shell has just sold off its Permian Basin holdings. BP is planning to slash production by 40%. Both are under intense pressure from their governments to reduce their fossil fuels footprints and invest in renewable energy. But oil prices have rebounded. Are they making wise decisions? And who is buying? The answer lies in how each buyer and seller reads the climate clock. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Britain has made more progress in adapting renewable energy than almost anywhere else, but a gas shortage and unseasonably slow winds for turbines is causing it to turn to nuclear-rich France for support. Turns out Brexit, the Australia submarine scandal, and a host of other environmental snafus have left it without a coordinated plan on how to handle the crisis. Read more here. . . .

To read all our insights, news and in-depth interviews, please subscribe and support our great climate finance journalism.

Book review: Napoleon, the conqueror, the climate enthusiast

. . . . There are no shortage of books on Napoleon the brilliant but ill-fated military conqueror, but nobody has attempted to show the environmentalist behind the rampaging armies of Europe. Until now. Our own Jack Hamilton reviews Ruth Scurr’s new book, Napoleon: His Life Told in Gardens and Shadows, and finds for all the Little Corporal’s exploits, his love of gardens and of cultivating the ground might have driven him even as much as his legendary ego. From the Tuileries Palace Garden as Louis XVI resigned his crown in 1792, to restoring Fontainebleau while on the verge of becoming emperor, history often found Napoleon in the garden as much as on the battlefield. A unique read. . . .

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Editor’s picks: Climate Pledge signatories grow; giant sequoia saved from wildfire

86 companies join Climate Pledge

The Climate Pledge has announced 86 new companies, marking a significant jump in the number of companies joining the initiative and committing to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, ESG Today reports. New signatories to the pledge include Salesforce (CRM) and Procter & Gamble (PG). The report notes The Climate Pledge was co-founded by Amazon and climate change-focused organization Global Optimism, calling on signatories to achieve net zero carbon across their businesses 10 years ahead of the Paris Accord’s 2050 target. For more information on the progress and signatories, check out The Climate Pledge.

Giant sequoias saved from wildfire

The ancient sequoia trees known as the Four Guardsmen have so far been spared from the devastating KNP Complex wildfire on the northern side of the Sequoia National Park, said officials from California’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks. Protection efforts included wrapping the base of the trees in fire-resistant foil “blankets.” A Reuters report notes the Guardsmen mark the entrance to the Giant Forest, a grove of some 2,000 sequoias.

This week in wildfires

. . . . As of Sept. 21, the Fire Information for Resource Management System reported no new large incidents, one large fire contained and 51 uncontained large fires in the U.S. As the map shows, fire activity remains high in the west, particularly in the northwest. There were five new fires in Northern California overnight, with seven uncontained large fires. In the northwest, there were 18 uncontained large fires. Across the nation, the National Interagency Coordination Center reports that as of Tuesday morning, more than 16,696 firefighters are battling 69 blazes that have burned 3.4 million acres in the past day. . . .