First Thing: Chevron’s carbon offsets are ‘mostly


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A new investigation into Chevron’s climate pledge has found the fossil fuel company relies on “junk” carbon offsets and “unviable” technologies, which do little to offset its vast greenhouse gas emissions and in some cases may actually be causing communities harm.

Chevron, which reported $35.5bn in profits last year, is the US’s second-largest fossil fuel company with operations stretching from Canada and Brazil to the UK, Nigeria and Australia.

Despite major expansions in five continents, Chevron has said that it “aspires” to achieve net zero upstream emissions by 2050. To do this, it is mostly relying on carbon offset schemes – environmental projects meant to cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions – and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

Research by Corporate Accountability, a nonprofit, transnational corporate watchdog, found that 93% of the offsets Chevron bought and counted towards its climate targets from voluntary carbon markets between 2020 and 2022 were too environmentally problematic to be classified as anything other than worthless or junk.

  • What is a carbon offset? A carbon offset is characterized as having low environmental integrity, or being worthless, if it is linked to a forest or plantation or green energy project, including those involving hydroelectric dams, that doesn’t lead to additional greenhouse gas reductions, exaggerates benefits or risks emitting emissions, among other measures.

Ron DeSantis to launch presidential campaign on Twitter with Elon Musk

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. Photograph: Paige Dingler/AP

The rightwing governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, will launch his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination this evening in a live appearance with Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Twitter.

NBC News first reported the plan, saying the Twitter Spaces talk at 6pm ET would be moderated by David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur, Musk confidant and DeSantis supporter. Multiple outlets later confirmed the scheme and Musk himself retweeted one report.

The billionaire also trailed the interview in remarks to a conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal, adding that though he would “not at this time … endorse any particular candidate” he was “interested in Twitter being somewhat of a public town square where more and more organizations … make announcements”.

Having convened a widely reported gathering of donors in Miami, DeSantis was also expected to release an announcement video on Wednesday. Fox News said the governor would be interviewed by its host Trey Gowdy, a former Republican congressman, at 8pm ET.

  • What’s his plan after launching his campaign? Plans for a kick-off rally in DeSantis’s home town, Dunedin, have been reported. NBC said the governor would visit early voting states next week, after the Memorial Day holiday. DeSantis has repeatedly visited such states already, in an extended run-up to his formal campaign launch including the release of a campaign-oriented book.

South Carolina passes six-week abortion ban after heated debate

Demonstrators and lawmakers gather with signs and placards in the lobby of the South Carolina statehouse.
Demonstrators and lawmakers gather with signs and placards in the lobby of the South Carolina statehouse. Photograph: Sean Rayford/Sopa Images/Shutterstock

South Carolina’s state senate approved an anti-abortion bill yesterday that would ban most abortions at about six weeks, a period when most people are unaware they are pregnant.

During a special session to decide whether the bill advances to the governor, who has promised to sign it, the Republican-controlled senate launched into a heated debate over the ban.

The Fetal Heartbeat and Protection From Abortion Act would ban abortions at the earliest detection of cardiac activity, and, if signed into law, would set up a judicial battle over whether the bill is constitutional. The bill already passed the state house legislature with overwhelming support, and is part of a wave of anti-abortion legislation passed or proposed throughout the country since the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade last year and eliminated the constitutional right to abortion.

Abortion access in the south – which already has some of the most restrictive laws in the country – has been dramatically curtailed with new legislation in North Carolina and Florida. A series of Texas laws prohibit abortions after six weeks and make performing abortions a felony punishable up to life in prison.

  • Who was opposed? A group of female lawmakers, known as the “sister senators”, opposed the bill during the special session. The five senators, who are the only female lawmakers out of the 46-seat senate, previously blocked a bill in April that would have banned abortion at conception. On Tuesday, one member of the group offered an amended version of the House bill that would instead restrict abortion at 12 weeks and allow up to 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest.

In other news …

Hand of a businessman shaking hands with a Android robot
The OpenAI leaders say superintelligence will be more powerful than other technologies humanity has had to contend with in the past. Photograph: Andrey Armyagov/Alamy
  • The leaders of the ChatGPT developer OpenAI have called for the regulation of “superintelligent” AIs, arguing that an equivalent to the International Atomic Energy Agency is needed to protect humanity from the risk of accidentally creating something with the power to destroy it.

  • JP Morgan Chase claimed that the government of the US Virgin Islands is “complicit in the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein” in a legal filing yesterday, saying the convicted sex trafficker maintained a “quid pro quo relationship” with some of the territory’s highest officials over two decades.

  • Canadian police say they have solved one of the highest-profile cold cases in Quebec history, linking the 1975 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl to a West Virginia man who died more than 40 years ago. Police in Longueuil, Quebec, said that DNA evidence allows them to be 100% certain that Franklin Maywood Romine murdered teenager Sharron Prior.

  • Taiwan’s last known survivor of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery has died at the age of 92, according to the island’s foreign ministry, which called the issue a “wound in human history”. Referred to as “comfort women”, more than 200,000 women were sexually enslaved by Japan’s military during the second world war.

  • A man who moved to the US from Mali and won a six-figure lottery prize plans to invest in supporting schoolchildren in his war-torn home country. “This was my dream,” Souleymane Sana said of being in a position to help schoolchildren in Mali, according to lottery administrators.

Don’t miss this: The truth about booze: how alcohol really affects your body, from first flush of happiness to hangover hell

Composite for G2 Alcohol feature. How Alcohol affects you
‘Alcohol is the best drug for socialising that we know of,’ says Prof David Nutt. Composite: Getty images

Birds do it, when they eat berries that have fermented in the first frost. Bees do it, when they suck on tree sap, writes Joel Snape. Educated fleas don’t do it, obviously – but “many kinds of monkeys”, noted Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man, “have a strong taste for … spirituous liquors”. There is evidence that humans were brewing their own booze even before the wheel caught on, but how much do we know about how it works on our brains and bodies? Well, quite a bit. Recent decades have seen dozens of studies validate some old sayings, debunk others, and give the medical establishment a much clearer understanding of how alcohol affects us and how much it is really OK to drink. Is red wine good for you? Is it healthier to drink a little than not at all? Is there such a thing as hangxiety? It’s time to sort fact from fiction.

Climate check: CEO of biggest carbon credit certifier to resign after claims offsets worthless

View of the Alto Mayo protection forest in Moyobamba, Peru
The Alto Mayo protection forest in Moyobamba, Peru, was supposed to be a flagship offsetting project but has faced human rights issues. Photograph: Angela Ponce/The Guardian

The head of the world’s leading carbon credit certifier has announced he will step down as CEO next month. It comes amid concerns that Verra, a Washington-based nonprofit, approved tens of millions of worthless offsets that are used by major companies for climate and biodiversity commitments, according to a joint Guardian investigation earlier this year.

In a statement on LinkedIn on Monday, Verra’s CEO, David Antonioli, said he would leave his role after 15 years leading the organisation that dominates the $2bn voluntary carbon market, which has certified more than 1bn credits through its verified carbon standard (VCS). Antonioli thanked current and former staff, and said he was immensely proud of what Verra had accomplished through the environmental standards it operates. He did not give a reason for his departure and said he would be taking a break once he left the role.

Last Thing: Bears, burlesque and Phil Collins: the Disney songs that ruled our youths

Composite for Disney songs: The Little Mermaid, Mulan and The Jungle Book
Walt sings … The Little Mermaid, Mulan and The Jungle Book. Composite: Walt Disney Pictures

“Look – for – the” – and then the pub-piano thump of that first chord triggers a singalong reflex I’ve been unable to suppress these 50 years – “bare necessities, the simple bare necessities / Forget about your worries and your strife!” The Dixieland parp of brass and jangle of banjo strings, with Phil Harris’s easygoing delivery, lasered into my seven-year-old mind. Baloo’s classic song to Mowgli from the 1967 classic The Jungle Book advocates the good life, the easy life, a radical Zen refusal of possessions: “When you find out you can live without it and go along without thinkin’ about it!”

As Disney celebrates its centenary – and a decade of Frozen shows no sign of dimming Let It Go’s hold on tots – we remember the cursed cats, R&B hounds and self-actualisation anthems that defined our childhoods.

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