A new report from Oil Change International (OCI), Big Oil Reality Check, shines an illuminating spotlight on how little the oil and gas industry is doing to reduce climate pollution and how they are actively working to undermine clean energy.
The urgency to deal with climate change is clear. In the United States, we’ve seen our west burn—driven by new weather patterns. The latest climate report from the weather scientists of the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that we could already reach the devastating impacts of a 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in the next five years if we continue with business as usual when it comes to fossil fuels.
The oil and gas industry claims that it is taking climate change seriously. But as the biggest source of climate pollution, the new OCI report makes it clear that Big Oil is hiding behind claims that they are changing while continuing to push fossil fuels despite the harm to our health and climate. Right now, business as usual for the oil and gas industry means increasing production even as investors are pulling out and bankruptcies are looming. It means daily pollution of our land, air, water and communities from extraction, refining, and transportation. It means an industry that actively spreads doubt about the urgency of climate change and to lobbies to undermine clean energy alternatives. And it means an industry that takes money from tax payers and leaves the public to deal with the costs of pollution and other burdens on our communities.
We continue to see great strides in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrification of transportation. These are job-creating, home grown, affordable solutions that help us reduce climate pollution. We also see the need for job-creating clean energy infrastructure and infrastructure that is resilient in the face of the damage that climate change is already causing through storms, floods, and fires. It is hardly surprising that recent polling in the United States shows that the public wants to move away from fossil fuels towards cleaner forms of energy.
The WMO report makes it clear that climate pollution continues to rise. The world is not yet on track to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, let alone strengthen them as is needed. The new analysis from OCI makes it painfully clear that we need to keep shining a spotlight of truth on the oil and gas industry and hold them and their supporters accountable for the damage to health, workers, communities and our climate that is here with us now.
In this time of COVID-19, we have a chance to reinvigorate our economies moving off fossil fuels and putting more clean energy in place. We must reduce emissions and not be tempted to bail out the fossil fuel industry. We know that to avoid further worsening of climate change, we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels. We cannot trust that the fossil fuel industry can manage its own decline—we need strong action from governments that starts with eliminating handouts on the backs of tax- payers to the oil and gas industry.