Video: How one Australian coal company squares its values with its action

You know that the carbon lords are duty-bound to screw us, right? They call it their fiduciary obligation.

It’s their duty to make money (“maximize profit“).

They say it’s the law, literally.

Most  CEOs pretend to take their share-holders into account, but in fact, members of the CEO class (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) are, in the aggregate, the real owners of today’s corporations — and most of them control their corps for their own benefit first.

They purchase outlandish salaries from hand-picked corporate Boards of Directors, and in return reward those Directors handsomely from the corporate purse. (Do click; I’ll bet you didn’t know ex–”public servant” Sam Nunn was in on that game, to the tune of just under $1 million/year in pocket money. For the details of the director game as played by people like Nunn, scan down to Nunn’s days as a Director at Coke. Thanks to Dean Baker for a great series; here’s another.)

But CEOs are people too, right? So what’s a CEO-type to do when his or her human values (i.e.,duty to protect the livability of the planet) conflict with her or his corporate obligations.

Here’s one answer. Don’t click this at the office — just saying. The CEOs are … impertinent … in their solution. Do feel free to laugh out loud though.

As you can see, a work of genius. Here’s just one example of the wonderful irony in this fine piece:

(At 2:30) CEO: “There will come a day when my moral choices will no longer be beholden to the shareholders. And a wave of profound regret … and sorrow … will engulf me, as I realize, with painful clarity, the enormity of the damage I have perpetrated on humanity. ...” 

So carefully calculated, so perfectly cynical, you’d almost think a PR firm wrote it. Note the question at the end:

What is your investment dollar doing?

It is an important question. I’ll have more on divestment campaigns shortly.

You know their plan is to screw you, then die, right? That’s literally true. All this bunch ever wants these days is to win. Just win.

Perhaps the days of (us, or a president) asking nicely should be over. Just a thought, of course. But if you agree, keep all this in mind when 2016 rolls around. If we’re still getting screwed in 2020, and if it’s then too late to fix the problem, will it matter which party kept the game in place?

Again, just a thought.

Some coal facts

To give you some perspective on this dirtiest of dirty carbons, here are some facts about coal costs:

▪ $40 billion — Amount all U.S. utilities spend every year to buy coal. (Source; article by the amazing Randy Udall, now deceased. I tried to find it in the stupid EIA reports, but they bury this stuff.)

▪ $160 billion — Value of electricity sold every year from U.S. utilities for coal-fired power. (Source; same article.)

▪ $530 billion — Health and other damages every year. (Source; Harvard, Dr. Paul Epstein.)

▪ $50 billion — Market cap of the U.S. coal industry. (Source (pdf). This report is a bit old, 2010, but better to overvalue than undervalue. Also see for amazing coal reports.)

▪ 3 cents: Cost for the average U.S. utility to make one coal-fired kilowatt-hour (kWh).

▪ 17-27 cents: Damage done by every coal-fired kWh (Source: Epstein again.)

So, four-fold ROI, and a five-to-ten times ratio of market cap/cost-per kWh to the damage done. If they paid their externalized costs, they’d be out of business. But again, they should be out of business, right?

Helpfully provided by energy regulatory consultant Nancy LaPlaca via email. Thanks!


Twitter: @Gaius_Publius. Facebook: Gaius Publi.

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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7 Responses to “Video: How one Australian coal company squares its values with its action”

  1. 4th Turning says:

    It’s okay. I am certain there are several in our midst who comprehend this is far and away the most
    significant issue affecting all species on Earth.

    Among the list of events “consistent” with human-induced climate change, the scientists list:

    Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, devastated parts of the central Philippines.
    Surface air temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were very warm, with widespread heat waves; Australia saw record warmth for the year, and Argentina its second warmest year and New Zealand its third warmest.
    Frigid polar air plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States.
    Angola, Botswana and Namibia were gripped by severe drought.
    Heavy monsoon rains led to severe floods on the India-Nepal border.
    Heavy rains and floods impacted northeast China and the eastern Russian Federation.
    Heavy rains and floods affected Sudan and Somalia.
    Major drought affected southern China.

    Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in the past 50 years.[driving up the price of
    coffee for us coffee lovers…]

    The widest tornado ever observed struck El Reno, Oklahoma in the United States.
    Extreme precipitation led to severe floods in Europe’s Alpine region and in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland.
    Israel, Jordan, and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall.
    Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record highs.
    The global oceans reached new record high sea levels.
    The Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record daily maximum.

  2. 4th Turning says:

    It was a record cold winter. Fossil fuels have more forward momentum than those old trains.

  3. LanceThruster says:

    They Live!

  4. emjayay says:

    “All this bunch ever wants these days is to win. Just win.”

    Not just these days. Always. Any business has only one goal: maximising profit. Anything else is window dressing. Externalities are external. If maximising profit involves torturing and murdering cute puppies, that is not an issue. Only the law is in opposition.

    At least in the short, if not medium and long run, any regulation or corporate taxes for that matter not only costs in terms of administration but generally in terms of economic growth. If we wanted more economic growth, we could have air like Bejing (like LA used to be in the 60’s) and worse, and all poisoned rivers and no drinking water and no fish and no forests.

    Unfortunately (and I was just reading some horrifying comments at Yahoo in response to an article on the UN report on global warming….I was going to say just use your imagination, but trust me you can’t imagine) not only are corporations in control of Congress and propaganda to the people (all OK in maximising profits) but the people are willfully ignorant. Very willfully and very ignorant.

  5. GeorgeMokray says:

    Divestment campaigns should start using the carbon bubble argument as well as a moral argument. The carbon bubble is the idea that fossil fuel companies are terribly overvalued due to the fact that they can’t burn at most a third of their known reserves without sending the atmosphere over 2ºC (according to the International Energy Agency) which means that they are probably valued at about three times what they are probably worth. Fiduciary responsibility should require institutional investors, at least, to rethink their investments in such companies as Shell, BP, and Exxon-Mobil.

    It’s a nice little example of political jujitsu.

  6. 4th Turning says:

    Those 911 calls ie. stuck gas pedals are haunting.

    ‘Businesses would prefer to discuss the consequences of the increases — new regulations and higher costs, which they say are hampering economic growth — rather than suggest that the government has overstated the value of life.

    But some industry representatives said assigning a value to life was inherently subjective, and that the recent changes were driven by the administration’s pursuit of its regulatory agenda rather than scientific considerations.’

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