News briefs: Zombie oil wells

Plus, UN urges better rebuilding after Covid, and Shell's climate tweet backfires

‘Zombie’ oil wells leaking methane

Inactive wells — those no longer producing oil or natural gas but many still lingering in suspension like zombies — are a big threat to the environment, especially in Canada’s oil patch, The New York Times reports. According to the report, a backlog of these inactive wells has built up, and it grows about 6% year with there now bring more than 97,000 wells that are licensed as temporarily suspended. The inactive wells are unlikely to be switched on ever again but have not yet been decommissioned, the report notes, and it’s unknown how many are leaking methane and other pollutants.

UN: Build better cities after Covid-19

Covid-19 will not spell the end of world cities, which are set to grow further over the next decade, the United Nations said on Saturday, asking civic leaders to use the pandemic as a springboard to build better urban centers. In a report for Thomson Reuters Foundation News, Umberto Bacchi writes that about 60% of the global population is expected to live in cities by 2030, up from 56% today, despite the coronavirus pandemic. The UN is urging civic leaders to build urban centers that are more conducive to better public health and the environment.

Shell’s climate poll on Twitter backfires ‘spectacularly’

A climate poll on Twitter posted by Shell (RDS.A) has backfired, with the oil company accused of gaslighting the public, The Guardian reports today. The survey, posted on Tuesday morning, asked: “What are you willing to change to help reduce emissions?” The tweet went viral, but probably not for the reasons the company had hoped. Politicians, activists — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Greta Thunberg — and the public accused the company of gaslighting and greenwashing. According to the report, another climate scientist, Peter Kalmus, said the company was gaslighting the public by suggesting individual actions could stop the climate crisis, rather than systemic change to the fossil fuel industry.