Dozens of other ad agencies, most of them small, have signed the same pledge, which was put together by the advocacy group Fossil Free Media. The effort, which is known as Clean Creatives, is managed by Duncan Meisel, an environmental activist who conceded that it would be difficult for ad agencies to say no to fossil fuel dollars during a pandemic.
“The advertising industry is not super healthy right now,” Mr. Meisel said. “People are used to having these clients, and it’s hard to say no to a paycheck.”
Environmental activists are not the only ones who have been applying pressure on ad makers. Amsterdam voted in December to investigate how to block oil and gas ads from its streets. Other calls to ban such advertising, attach climate warnings to it, or prevent fossil fuel companies from sponsoring sports teams have emerged in Australia, Netherlands, Canada, France, Belgium, Finland and elsewhere.
Democratic officials have filed lawsuits over the past 18 months in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Hoboken, N.J., accusing Exxon, the trade group American Petroleum Institute and others in the industry of engaging in deception about climate change, including through their ads.
Several publications have limited or stopped accepting fossil fuel ads, including the British Medical Journal, The Guardian, and the Swedish publications Dagens Nyheter and Dagens ETC. The New York Times said in a statement that it did not allow oil and gas companies to sponsor its climate newsletter, its climate summit or its podcast “The Daily.” It still publishes paid posts from companies such as Exxon. In a statement, The Times said that “advertising helps support our newsroom, which covers the issue and impacts of climate change more than any other in the U.S.”
Hillary Moglen, a principal at Rally, a Los Angeles advocacy communications firm that has avoided working with oil and gas companies, said a shift was underway. “It’s an old-guard, new-guard situation,” she said. “There will be a point when it won’t be culturally acceptable to work with these clients.”
Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, has promoted an uplifting vision for growth increasingly freed from greenhouse gas pollution, but turning that plan into action is already proving contentious.
The big issue is coal.
Mr. Xi’s climate-saving ambitions are a pillar of a plan for the country’s post-pandemic ascent that was endorsed by China’s Communist Party-controlled legislature days ago.
The plan is designed to steer the country toward two signature commitments that Mr. Xi made last year. China’s emissions of carbon dioxide would peak before 2030, he said, and the country would reach net carbon neutrality before 2060, meaning it would emit no more of the greenhouse gas than it takes from the atmosphere by methods like engineering or planting forests.
But unusually sharp debate has risen in China over how aggressively it should cut the use of coal, which has fueled its industrial takeoff yet made it the world’s top-polluting nation in recent decades.
Leon Clarke, a professor at the University of Maryland and a leading co-author of a recent study on China’s options for curtailing emissions. “On the one side, there’s a sense that coal has driven the economy and you don’t want to give that up. On the other hand, coal is the biggest target for climate action, particularly in the near term.”
China’s environmental pressures were brought to life last week as a thick smog hung over Beijing, reflecting an uptick in industrial pollution.
28 percent of the global total, roughly the same as the next three biggest emitters combined: the United States, the European Union and India. The accumulated emissions of the United States and other rich economies across the entire industrial era, though, remain much bigger than China’s.
Representatives of the coal industry attending the national legislative session in Beijing argued that China needs to keep burning coal, albeit in cleaner, more efficient plants.
The China National Coal Association issued a report this month proposing modest increases in its use for the next five years, reaching 4.2 billion metric tons by 2025, and also said China should create three to five “globally competitive world-class coal enterprises.”
“The principal status of coal in our national energy system, and its role as ballast, will not shift,” the association said in an earlier position paper about the industry’s outlook in the next five years.
Provincial governments have recently proposed more new coal mines and power plants, while vowing that their projects will limit emissions. In answer to the call for a carbon peak, Shanxi Province, one of China’s biggest coal producing areas, announced plans for 40 “green,” efficient coal mines.
Chinese officials in such areas also worry about losses of jobs and investment and the resulting social strains. They argue that China still needs coal to provide a robust base of power to complement solar, wind and hydropower sources, which are more prone to fluctuating. And many energy companies backing these views are state-owned behemoths that have easy access to political leaders.
Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki. “The central contradiction between expanding the smokestack economy and promoting green growth appears unresolved.”
China’s new plan appears to give the different camps in the carbon debate a foothold. The plan promises green growth and expansion of hydro, solar and wind power, in addition to nuclear power plant construction. By 2025, the plan says, non-fossil fuel sources will provide one-fifth of China’s energy.
Yet the plan also appeared to hearten defenders of coal and disappoint environmental groups and climate policy experts. It did not include an absolute ceiling on annual carbon dioxide emissions and indicated that coal-fired power stations would keep being built.
“Many areas still believe that before 2030 they can keep substantially increasing fossil fuel use,” Wang Jinnan, the president of the government’s Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning and a senior member of the national legislature, said in an interview with a Chinese magazine posted on the academy’s website. “This will have a big negative impact on China reaching carbon neutrality before 2060.”
Mr. Xi may face calls from abroad to offer more ways to curb emissions as China turns the plan into actual policies. For China, action on climate change is also a way of building good will, including with the United States and the European Union.
international pact to limit global warming this century to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible, is not possible without more urgent efforts from China and the other major powers to reach carbon neutrality by around midcentury.
“The longer the delay, the harder it is to achieve those midcentury targets. It’s just math,” said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor at the Fletcher School of Tufts University who studies China’s climate policies. China’s plan, she said, “will not have the effect of injecting new momentum into the global climate negotiations.”
Mr. Xi has a political stake in the issues. He has promoted himself and China as guardians of an “ecological civilization” and has made cleaning China’s air, water and soil a basis for public appeal. When he announced China’s pledge last year to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, he also called for a “green recovery” from the Covid-19 pandemic.
China’s air pollution has eased markedly in recent years. Mr. Xi created environmental inspection teams to pressure officials usually fixated on economic and political goals. The inspectors flashed their teeth early this year when they issued strikingly blunt criticisms of the National Energy Administration, which helps oversee power plant approvals.
“Environmental protection has not been given the high priority it should be accorded,” the inspectors wrote in their report on the administration. They criticized the administration for letting coal power projects go ahead in eastern China, where stringent pollution limits are supposed to apply. In recent days, the environmental authorities also cracked down on steel makers in Tangshan, a northern industrial city, that were found breaking pollution curbs, including submitting fake data.
to the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm.
To transit away from coal, China must confront the costs of closing mines and plants, including the needs of millions of potentially displaced miners and other workers. Many coal-dependent regions and their workers seem unprepared for that possible shift.
“I’ve never thought about the coal mine shutting down, never thought about leaving,” Gui Lianjun, a 39-year old miner in Shenmu, a coal city in northwest China, said by telephone. He sounded nonplused when asked about the link between coal and global warming.
“The government close down a mine because of global warming? I don’t think that’s possible,” he said. “I’ve never heard of that reason.”
Liu Yi contributed research.
Will owning bitcoins become a status symbol — or a scarlet letter for a new generation of climate-focused investors wise to the challenges it poses?
The answer is complicated.
Bitcoin supporters say that estimates of its carbon footprint are overstated. And if the computers that mine and help transact bitcoins are attached to an electric grid that uses wind and solar power, they add, mining and using it will become cleaner over time.
“We believe that cryptocurrency will eventually be powered completely by clean power, eliminating its carbon footprint and driving adoption of renewables globally,” Mr. Dorsey of Square said in a statement as part of a commitment for his company to be net-zero on carbon emissions by 2030. The company committed $10 million to invest in new “green energy technologies within Bitcoin mining, and aims to accelerate its transition to clean power.”
On this point Mr. Gates, who considers himself a Bitcoin skeptic unrelated to the climate issues, says it is possible that the challenges could be overcome, but he wasn’t convinced just yet.
“If it’s green electricity and it’s not crowding out other uses, eventually, you know, maybe that’s OK,” he said.
Several companies are working on some counterintuitive ideas to turn Bitcoin green. On Monday, Seetee, an investment company involved in cryptocurrency, said it planned to invest in Bitcoin “mining operations that transfer stranded or intermittent electricity without stable demand locally — wind, solar, hydro power — to economic assets that can be used anywhere.”
In other words, the company plans to build wind and solar in places that might not be perfectly situated for the technology and will use the extra power to mine Bitcoin, making money in the process. “Bitcoin is, in our eyes, a load-balancing economic battery, and batteries are essential to the energy transition required to reach the targets of the Paris agreement,” the company said in its announcement.
MEXICO CITY — President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has never been short of criticisms about his predecessor’s legacy. But he has reserved a special contempt for the sweeping overhaul that opened Mexico’s tightly held energy industry to the private sector.
He has called the changes a form of legalized “pillaging,” the product of corruption and a resounding failure. He has suggested that some foreign energy investors are “looting” the nation and that Mexican lawyers who work for them are guilty of treason.
He is now formalizing his most aggressive attack yet on the measures.
In the next few days, a bill that would strengthen the dominance of Mexico’s state-owned electricity company is expected to become law. The measure, which was recently approved by Mexico’s Congress with the forceful support of Mr. López Obrador, would also limit the participation of private investors in the energy sector. Both effects are central to his long-held aim of restoring energy self-sufficiency and safeguarding Mexican sovereignty.
Mexico’s dependence on foreign hydrocarbons was highlighted last month when a winter storm in Texas led to the interruption of natural gas deliveries from the United States, the source of most of the natural gas used in Mexico. Mr. López Obrador pointed to the ensuing blackouts as evidence of the need to lower dependence on foreign energy.
international business groups and even Mexico’s antitrust watchdog.
Many critics see the bill as a political gambit to excite the president’s base ahead of midterm elections in June, through which Mr. López Obrador hopes to turn his party’s congressional majority into the supermajority needed to make changes to the Constitution.
Opponents of the legislation say that it would not only fail to resuscitate the energy sector or help achieve energy independence but that it would also violate Mexico’s international commitments to reducing carbon emissions, run afoul of trade agreements and further chill foreign investment in Mexico just as the nation is struggling to regain economic momentum amid the pandemic.
The legislation also threatens to throw another wrench into the relationship between the administrations of Mr. López Obrador and President Biden, which got off to a rocky start when the Mexican president became one of the last world leaders to congratulate Mr. Biden on his election victory.
the cancellation of a $13 billion airport project in 2018 and the blocking of a partly built brewery in northern Mexico last year.
Following the Senate’s approval of the new law this past week, the peso dropped to a four-month low against the dollar. And a Reuters poll suggested that the currency could be in for an erratic few months in part owing to concerns over the energy overhaul.
“Investment levels are dropping, and nobody wants to invest here,” said Israel Tello, a legal analyst at Integralia, a Mexico City-based consultancy group. “Legal uncertainty is the most lethal weapon against investment.”