Why we need political action to rein in the oil, coal and gas companies | video explainer

Why we need political action to rein in the oil, coal and gas companies | video explainer

Many of us are worried
about the climate crisis. Many of us feel guilty.
Many of us want to try to fix the problem.
But where should we focus our efforts?
Well, here’s one place we could start.
New research commissionned by the Guardian has shown
that just 20 fossil fuel companies are directly related
to more than a third of the greenhouse gases
that have been wrecking our climate since industry
became aware of the risks, in the 1960s.
So however much we care about our personal consumption,
what really matters is political action
to rein in the oil, gas and coal companies.
Among privately owned firms, Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell
are high on the list of climate polluters, which is topped by
Saudi Aramco and Gazprom. They and 14 other companies
have drilled and pumped out the equivalent of 480 billion tonnes
of carbon dioxide since 1965. Billions of us around the world
use their products every day to fuel our cars or heat our homes.
So we’re all partly responsible.
But the fossil fuel industry was warned about the risks
a long time ago yet it has funded campaigns
since then to spread doubt about climate science.
In 1965 the US president’s Scientific Advisory Committee
warned that fossil fuels were causing more carbon dioxide
which was altering the air on a global scale with
huge risks for humankind. Soon after that,
the head of the American Petroleum Institute
warned the industry that “Time [was] running out”
to deal with this. In 1981, an internal Exxon
memo warns “it is distinctly possible”
that CO2 emissions from the company’s 50-year plan
“will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic
(at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population).”
But then, 20 years later, Exxon decided to take out
an ad in the New York Times and deliberately tried to
play down the connection. Skip forward another two decades,
and Chevron, Exxon, and BP each donate more than
half a million dollars to the inauguration campaign
of Donald Trump, perhaps the world’s most
famous climate denier. Given the sheer weight
of scientific knowledge and public concern,
you’d think the petroleum industry would be trying to pull
less oil and gas out of the ground.
But you’d be wrong. They’re actually planning
to pump out more, which would destroy any chance we have
of keeping global temperatures
at a safe level. So reining in our dependence
on fossil fuels, and ramping up the transition to renewable energy
has never been more important both for us and
countless generations to come. But that’s not just about
personal choices. It’s about political action.

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45 thoughts on “Why we need political action to rein in the oil, coal and gas companies | video explainer”

  • A lot of it is to changing habits in consumerism, which will shift the corporate mindset. Ultimately it's about enforcing new robust policies on the biggest polluters.

  • "We are all responsible" to a degree. I don't have a car and my electricity comes from nuclear but I do still eat meat. The problem of going hard after specific companies is that they have the whole world to relocate to and we share the atmosphere.

  • Unregulated Energy, Mining and Defence is destroying our Earth. All owned and controlled by the same group of families 🙁

  • "The Guardian reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era."

    And while they're able to donate to political parties nothing will change.

  • Hi everyone: unfortunately the climatechange has now surpassed a level and is now IRREVERSIBLE. Buckle up and get ready for a hell of a ride!!!

  • the fossil fueled folly must end
    but the supreme tragic irony is it will take a fire lit under the middle class to shift it.

  • UK energy is at record highs for wind and reduction on coal use.
    Energy bills are only getting more expensive for britons.
    "bUt iT wIlL bE mUcH cHeApEr"

  • The leverage these types of firms have over national Governments is very, very scary. A first step (already in motion) is for Pension Funds to shift their investments away from the fossil fuel industry. This is the only way we (i.e. the people) can make our voices heard. It's a small move, but its a move in the right direction.

  • I'm not a defender of any big company and the big players have went through any effort go keep the oil flowing from the rig to the tailpipe. But ultimately the ones responsible are the entities who burn it, whether it's s governments, institutions, energy companies and individual consumers. Its fair to say that humanity is sacrificing the long term climatic stability of the planet we inhabit, in exchange for short term economic development. But how do we define long term climatic stability and was there ever such a thing to begin with? The big question is what will a society which is constructed to run on fossil fuels do when the fossil fuels are no longer available? This scenario seems so far away into the future that it seems pointless to ponder this uncomfortable question

  • Its almost as if….oil companies….are supplying us….with the energy…….we demand? Soooo I guess we will try to reduce our demand?

  • I hope that humankind manages to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to zero. I'll be laughing as I lay dying with the rest of you.
    The main greenhouse gas is water vapour

  • China's co2 emissions are almost double those of any other country and growing fast. Britain isn't even in the top 15.

  • The best way to lower carbon emissions is to get the Americans to export their fracked gas to china to power their mainly coal fired power stations.

  • I hope we see the executives of these companies, organisations and counties locked up in jail until the day they die. They are the real villains of time.

  • Magical green energy will save us. Effervescent spirits of goose poop has the same energy potential as the sun.
    Suppressed knowledge of the ancients.
    All humans will soon die from terminal stupidity spread by the internet.

  • If the UK had a decent public transport we wouldn't need to use cars all the time and let people work from home!! I suspect all the guardian wants is more taxes!!

  • Jed Clampett would'nt have lifted his family out of poverty without Texas tea, oil. Your climate science is not accurae or creditable, honest, or popular. One power interest neo Liberal globalism is trying to oust another power interest, capitalism.

  • Hell, Trump cut all the brake lines and snapped off all the governors. The train called the USA is rolling straight downhill… Yep it’s all downhill from here on in… What does that mean?…I haven’t the slightest idea

  • CO2 is not pollution and you are lying when you call it that. CO2 does not determine climate. Location on the planet relative to the sun does. Go back to school and learn about how latitude, altitude and large bodies of water affect climate. Then we'll talk. Btw, stop photoshopping emissions. The US doesn't have emissions that look like that any more.

  • Pffft the americans are sitting on technology that renders fossil fuels obsolete.they won't share it even though it would change the world for the better.

  • Lobbyist pay these politician's million to look the other way…don't expect that to change. Still no one talks about industrial manufacturing or say China's contributions to global pollution only select country's and selected industry's and then insist the people make the change through taxation …taxed for the weather or taxed for globalist interest and who's invested in these oil and gas companies …oh, the very politicians pandering the climate change narrative . don't question what you're told and by who !

  • Here's an idea: elect a labour government, for the many not the few, which will enact a green new deal. And stop demonising and slandering corbyn in your paper. Labour are the only party willing to do anything about this crisis.

  • BAH! Let me at these corporate criminals and their unfettered capitalism! My trusty molybdenum-steel axe will sing its social-democratic song.
    And then I shall clean its tantalum razor-sharp blade with my magical pinoqachole oil, which disinfects and removes all remnants of corporate greed.!

  • Ask to this angered girl if she makes use of cell phones, computers, if she travels by plane, car, if she have water from plastic water bottles, or even she has refrigerator at home and makes use of exercise books or she read books? Let her to know (which I am sure she knows), that everything that I've listed contaminate the environment. In conclusion al of us including Miss. Greta are responsible for climate change.

  • The problem is some countries like China,India and a lot of 3rd world countries see control of fossil emissions as positive to their economic future some of the best energy sources like geothermal are costly but effective but countries take the cheaper options because it bring more cash to their countries.