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Episode 15

The climate chaos all around us in June, the insurance industry and BP

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The Angry Clean Energy Guy on the weirdest, strangest and most violent climate chaos apparent everywhere in June in China, India, Pakistan, the United States, Europe, Russia, Japan, the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland – seemingly with not a single news outlet connecting the dots. Winner of the week: Insurers Chubb for being the first US insurer to have the common sense and the guts to exit coal; Villain of the week: BP, sustainability’s cancer (together with its other Big Oil friends), taking advantage of good causes to sell more dirty gas by investing in Calysta, the California biotech firm.

The Independent, UK

Episode Transcript:

Did you know that June was the hottest ever June recorded on earth? Hi, I am The Angry Clean Energy Guy, Assaad Razzouk. Welcome to episode 15 of my podcast. This week I am going to take you through a tour of the climate chaos that’s been taking place all around us in June and July before commenting on the insurance industry and finally ranting about BP oil and the sneaky sneaky stuff they are up to.


Let me take you through a tour of the weird, weird climate that we’ve had to endure around the world in June and July. And what surprises me is how not a single news source has actually put all the strands together. It is just so weird out there. 

So first, back in early June, we learned that the United States notched up its wettest 12 months ever. It’s never ever rained over 12 months as much it did. In the US  again, floods have worsened across the Midwest with rain up 10% compared to historical averages and the region temperature up by a full degrees Celsius, or 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, in the 115 years to 2016 – and all of that was faster than the national American trend.

Then a couple of days later, we learned that the planet is warming more than ever with atmospheric CO2 in May 2019, breaking a record at 414.7PPM, the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases and the second highest annual jump on record. That atmospheric CO2 is trying to tell us something and what it’s telling us is that it’s completely out of control out there. We are just 4,000 days, 4,000 days away from 450 parts per million of Atmospherics CO2 at which we risk warming of two degrees centigrade, which will mean total climate chaos. 

Total climate chaos is only 4,000 days away. 

Then by mid-June, in China, record rain hit 2 million people, with an entire town under two meters of water. 

India was burning as a record 50 degrees centigrade heat gripped 700 million people and in Alaska, sea ice was melting two months early. 

Also by mid-June, Arctic sea ice set a new record low for this time of year because of extremely early loss in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas. 

In Iraq, even by its own standards, June was a sizzler and we knew that by the middle of the month with a heatwave averaging 48 degrees centigrade. That’s 118 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s eight degrees centigrade up on previous years. 

By the 20th of June, we learned that India’s sixth biggest city, Chennai, was out of water, with violence erupting between neighbors because of a countrywide drought. That left 600 million people dealing with high to extreme water shortages, and the country continuing to burn under a record heatwave. 

Then we learned that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf was rumbling, which means it was increasingly emitting more and more methane. Now, if that East Siberia and Arctic Shelf methane actually burps out of the ground, you could put the world’s lights out because totally atmospheric CO2 will zoom to over 1000 parts per million. 

Meanwhile, by the 22nd of June, Chennai in India was still out of water. India’s heat wave was still ongoing. In Finland, we’d seen record seasonal high of 32.2 degrees Celsius, more than 14 degrees above average, and Europe was awaiting a record smashing heat wave, which hit right on cue a few days later. 

Meanwhile, just in June, scientists were amazed because the Canadian permafrost thawed seven years early, the Himalayan glaciers were melting double the rate that they were and 50% of Greenland started melting.

All of that was June news. 

Then the European heat wave hit. It was total climate chaos. In Germany, we had a new national high of 38 degrees centigrade for June. Same for Poland. Same for the Czech Republic. Same for France. That was on June 27. Then on June 28 France recorded its all-time hottest temperature ever at around 45 degrees centigrade. On June 28 the French temperature from 2003 was obliterated 13 times in one day. 

Meanwhile, in India, 600 million people were still facing acute shortages of water and India’s longest heatwave ever was still going on. 

And by the end of June we learned that new national heating records were set in France at 45.9 degrees centigrade, while several other countries beat their June records. And that was Switzerland, Luxembourg, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Liechtenstein and Andorra: Since the year 1500, Europe’s five hottest summers occurred in 2018 2016 2010 2003 and 2002. All of these years were in this century and then they were all beaten in 2019 by Europe’s hottest June ever. And as a matter of fact, the world’s hottest June ever. 

Meanwhile, also in June, in Mozambique, three months after two cyclones hit the country in the same season for the first time ever, food insecurity is up with 7,700 square kilometers of crops destroyed, and 2.2 million people in need of food assistance. About 300,000 homes need to be rebuilt. Malaria cases are up and humanitarian aid and rebuilding aid, needless to say, just isn’t coming fast enough with less than a third actually received (in the case of humanitarian aid) or pledged (in the case of rebuilding aid). 

It’s the poorest of the poor that suffer the most from climate change and that pay the highest price and that can protect themselves the least. 

Meanwhile, in early July, Russia and Japan were both hit. In Russia, 6,600 homes were submerged,  32,000 people displaced and 18 killed after record floods swept the Irkutsk region of Siberia completely unannounced. In Japan, a million people were ordered to evacuate, including the entire 600,000 people of the city of Kagoshima because southwestern Japan received a month worth of rain in just one day. Japan and Russia were joined by India where Mumbai was struggling to recover from the worst flooding in 14 years. That’s in early July, while the country’s monsoon rain were below average for the fifth straight week, and that’s a tragedy of enormous proportions because 1 billion Indians depend on that monsoon rain. 

And finally we saw that the Arctic was on fire. Dozens of wildfires fires of unprecedented intensity have been burning across the Arctic for the past few weeks and they’ve released as much CO2 or as many emissions in just one month as Sweden’s total annual emissions. 

So you had climate chaos everywhere around the world, from Europe to Russia to Japan, to China, to India and Pakistan to the US Midwest, plus significant ice loss in Greenland, in the Arctic, in Antarctica.

And that’s all in a period of not even six weeks. 

And what makes me really angry is that no news outlet is actually bringing that story together; its global ramification; how many people are hurting; how people are getting affected; the suffering;  the damage to infrastructure, to crops; the hunger; the lack of water and how it’s just getting worse every year. 

And what makes me even more angry is that the solution is completely available to us right now. All we need to do is transition to renewables and fight deforestation by planting more trees. There are no technology barriers, there are no financial barriers. We are on the brink of climate chaos and we cannot let a nefarious oil and gas industry destroy more than it has already. We have no more room for more oil and gas exploration. We have no more room for more fossil fuels. Not only that, we have to shut down what we have gradually between now and 2050. It’s all cost effective. It all promotes health. It can all be done in a relatively straight forward manner. What we’re lacking is the political will to actually take decisive action. And the other thing that we’re lacking is we are lacking corporations with a moral compass because for those of you who have listened to me before, you would have heard that big corporations are some of the biggest culprits of where we are because they don’t seem to be able to do anything that’s got more than a six to 12 months horizon to it and they do not pay for the environmental damage that they cause. And unless the polluter pays, we’re just not going to get out of this hole.


Thank you for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy, this far. 

My winner of the week is an insurance company called Chubb. Chubb is the first American insurance company to have the guts to cut its exposure to operators of coal power plants. It said it’s not going to underwrite new risks for companies that generate more than 30% of their revenue from coal. Now you would think that’s boring, but in fact it’s quite huge. The American insurance industry is lagging in stopping its support for coal, oil and gas. It is way, way behind the European insurance industry and Chubb, by showing its mettle, is going to make a difference. They’re going to actually phase out existing coal plants insurance coverage by 2022. That means that the insurance rates for all these coal plants are going to go up because they’re going to have to go elsewhere to get an insurance policy and hopefully the other insurance companies in the United States will take a look at why Chubb did this and follow.

In addition, Chubb is no longer going to invest in companies that generate more than 30% of their revenues from coal mining or from energy production from coal. And that’s also very important because investors have to prepare themselves to lose a ton of money if they continue to stay invested in oil, gas and coal. And Chubb is giving them a strong signal that they should divest from these stocks or short them or cut their allocation or do something. Now they’ve joined, Chubb did, big European insurance companies like Hanover Re, Allianz and others in scaling back exposure to coal, but American insurance companies other than this one are lagging and as a result, they are financially exposed. 

Today more than a hundred globally significant financial institutions have divested from thermal coal, but these include only one American insurance company and that’s not good enough. Banks or insurance companies are announcing divestments from coal mining and coal fired power plants roughly every two weeks. Axa and Zurich became the first global insurers to restrict coal insurance and investment. And that was all the way back in 2015 so the Americans are already lagging by four years. Coal is dead meat and I hope the other insurance companies in the United States are listening. And after coal it’s going to be oil and it’s going to be gas. Dead meat. 


Now my villain of the week is none other than BP oil. 

Why BP? I was intrigued when I saw that BP announced a few days ago that it invested in technology to make food for fish from natural gas. They invested $30 million in a company called Calysta and Calysta is supposed to be using or will be using BP’s natural gas to produce protein for fish, for livestock and for pet food. 

Now I decided to take a closer look at what was going on and in the simplest possible terms, BP is basically doing this because it is betting that Calysta could become an important buyer of gas from it because demand for protein based animal feed is going up significantly as the world’s population grows and that is horrible on so many levels.

So the good people at BP, not content with destroying our climate, are looking for additional demand for natural gas in order to make sure that they continue to extract as much natural gas as needed to ensure that we all fry. 

BP actually went on record saying that supplying gas to this company, Calysta, could become a reasonably material part of their gas supply business over time. And that just makes me so angry. So it’s not enough for BP to not stop oil and gas exploration, to not respect our health, to not respect the future of the planet, to not pay any attention to climate change. But in addition, they’re trying to make things worse in any way that they can, including finding new ways to use natural gas, which are, which are absolutely not needed. Shame on you BP. 

BP, you are a disgrace. 

Thank you so much for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy.

All transcripts are now on my website, as well as additional resources and sources for my podcasts. 

Thanks again and have a great week.

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About Me

There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.

Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.

Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.

Assaad Razzouk

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