Who should we blame for climate change? – Esme Peters

The Guardian have just released their findings from their ‘polluters project’, a collaboration between 20 Guardian journalists, leading scientists and NGOs. The project, which has taken place over 6 months, focuses on what the companies have extracted from the ground and the subsequent emissions they are responsible for, since 1965.

So a pretty big deal. 

The findings: the top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, totalling 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) since 1965.

“The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits. It is a great moral failing of our political system that we have allowed this to happen.”

Those identified range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell – to state-owned companies including Saudi Aramco and Gazprom. The leading polluter is Saudi Aramco, which has produced 4.38% of the global total all on its own. The Saudi Arabian company had a revenue of $355.9bn in 2018, although surprisingly the CEO’s (Amin H Nasser) personal salary remained ‘disclosed’. However looking at the second worse, Chevron and seeing their CEO’s pay the motivations to continue destroying the planet and its future become clear – Micheal Wirth was paid $20.6 million in 2018. 

As a guardian headline put it, ‘Secretive national oil companies hold our climate in their hands’. Imagine if all these companies suddenly stood up and said nope we’re going to stop using fossil fuels right now and switch to 100% renewable energy. Alas we shouldn’t be expecting a moral epiphany anytime soon, but what we should expect is Governments around the world to take the issue seriously and introduce legislation which makes the activities of these companies illegal. Therefore while they may not want to switch to 100% renewable energy, they wouldn’t have a choice in the matter.   

Since the reveal began on the 9th of October the Guardian has revealed more and more information surrounding the project including, the reveal that Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers. Also the damning stat that Conservative MPs are 5 times more likely to vote against positive climate change action (it really is a fascinating story to follow and can be found on the Guardian – website and app). 

So what does all this new and profound information tell us as consumers of these companies products. Because arguably if we as a global community didn’t purchase their products companies would stop/reduce the making of them. So is it therefore our fault? Or is it Governments faults for not forcing such companies to reduce and change the way in which they function? To me the answer is still very unsure, but like the good liberal I am I’m trying to distribute blame fairly among all perpetrators. However what this story has broken to me is the fact saving the world needs to a global and full throttle effort, anything less and we may as well not bother. The UN has estimated we have 12 years until the world will be past saving, this is a really important stat to remember because every time you think it doesn’t matter – it probably does. 

However I would like to reiterate to all of you the things you can do as to make a difference

  1. Accept meat free Monday (like seriously get over it) 
  2. Use your RHS water bottle religiously – avoid buying plastic ones 
  3. Encourage your parents to switch to local produce as much as possible – local food markets, the Suffolk Food hall, apparently the co-op counts so well done everybody who buys tuck from there. Eating sustainably is a key way to reduce damage to the planet, what we eat contributes around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for almost 60% of global biodiversity loss.
  4. When you do this shopping, bring your bags with you – avoid buying plastic ones 
  5. Recycle and Upcycle (a current good way to this is through buying second hand clothing and selling on your old clothes – by using Depop you’re actually saving the world) 

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