Why Change The Climate When You Can Just Change Your Perception?
Updated: Feb 18, 2019
Black gold or Crude Oil
Climate change is becoming increasingly difficult to shove under the rug. Extreme weather has started to become a near frequent occurrence for many countries, most notably the USA; with raging wildfires in November and the polar vortex in Chicago. It really is practically impossible to ignore the bright red danger sign- CLIMATE CHANGE. Despite Trump having pulled America out of the Paris Agreement, a poll done by Yale University showed that a staggering 73% of Americans believed in climate change. However, it is still not enough to spark the required change needed to prevent the 1.5°C being reached, or even worse, surpassed.
However as the expectations of the general public shift, slowly but surely the private sector is showing signs of adaptation. Last year alone, 20 coal mines shut and the left wing of the Democratic party have decided to use their “Green New Deal” as a golden ticket for the next general election in 2020. Additionally, Warren Buffet has invested an astounding $30BN on clean energy. To prevent our planet reaching the 1.5°C threshold, there needs to be a global effort and dare I say, the support of the fossil fuel industry is sorely needed.
With every step forward, we take two steps backward, and for that; the global energy industry deserves a round of applause for their role. The global demand for oil and gas is rising and the energy industry has not failed to seize this opportunity, they have pushed clean energy out of the picture and have humbly decided to fix our global (oil) hunger crisis. Despite receiving envy from rivals and nasty glares from green activists, ExxonMobil has decided to save the day with plans to pump “25% more oil and gas than in 2017”. The domino effect if other firms start to follow would quite literally have an earth-shattering impact.
ExxonMobil and other large oil firms, have done nothing wrong, they are simply fulfilling our requests. Serious volumes of government intervention is needed to solve this issue but is that what we want? At the end of the day only a 100% consensus will prevent the threshold being reached as sufficient pressure will be placed on oil firms, not even government intervention can help without complete cooperation. This can be seen by the ‘Gilet Jaunes’ movement where the government was lobbied due to the tax placed on petrol. ExxonMobil has opened up our eyes and showed us that unless there is a dramatic shift in consumer preferences, there is no reason to stop/reduce drilling oil.
With the recent Davos forum focusing on climate change and with the Paris agreement remobilising the troops to combat climate change so have the big oil firms. British Petroleum (BP) have pledged to go “beyond petroleum” and have started to venture further into green energy. The big energy firms have all claimed to increase investment and research into clean forms of renewable energy. However, it is critical to look at what companies are actually doing because after all, it (moving towards clean energy) is easier said than done.
Having investigated into the claims of these companies, they are largely false. The big dominating firms in the industry are expected to increase their output and putting a stopper on their gas fields and oil rigs are out of the question. Drilling is not expected to slow down anytime soon, especially with these big oil firms funding anti climate change organisations to lobby against climate change and reduce the ‘believer’ population. Consequently, the Earth is moving closer and closer to the threshold and unless oil production is reduced by 50% in 2050, we will surpass the 1.5°C tipping point.
However, it would be wrong to place devil horns on these energy firms and label them evil because they are only responding to consumer preferences. It is critical to note that in society a financial crash is deemed worse than the urgent issue of climate change which is purely down to the fact that ‘money makes our world go round’. The return from oil is higher than that of renewables and therefore it is economically rational for the firm to pour more money into research and development. Furthermore despite climate change warriors and politicians in parliament ready to attack these large energy firms, many of them are actually shareholders in these energy firms and benefit from the relatively higher dividends paid. It can be argued that despite wanting oil drilling and investment in non-renewable energy to slow, the cost of reduced dividends is a more pressing issue.
The next 15 years will be more critical than ever for climate change. If courts, investors, corporate firms and you and I cannot restrict the drilling of fossil fuels, the burden will have to fall into the laps of the government. This is a double edged sword: in 2017 Trump had decided to pull America out of the Paris agreement and rekindle the coal industry, and yet a green plan could actually win the votes of many.
Overall to ensure that there is a dampener placed on the extraction of oil, coal and gas; there needs to be both an enormous increase in the belief of climate change amongst the general public AND an equally economically attractive alternative. I’m still looking…
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below with your opinion on this pressing issue!