Saturday, October 17, 2015

What Oil Companies Can Do if They Care About Climate Change

Nice to see that a consortium of oil companies wants to keep global warming at 2ºC.  Here’s the thing, though: preventing catastrophic climate change comes down primarily to leaving as much fossil fuel as possible in the ground—petroleum, gas and coal.  Everything else is about how to make that happen.  Companies that own or whose market value depends on those reserves aren’t going to abandon them unilaterally.  It’s inconceivable.  It will take forcible government action to keep most of that stuff out of reach.

So what can a public-spirited oil company do?  One thing: they can publicly pledge not to lobby on carbon policy or to finance politicians based on their promises to go easy on taxes or carbon permits.  That’s actually conceivable, albeit at the borderline of political imagination, almost more like an exercise in logically possible worlds than a believable stance.  Still, if they’re listening, that’s what I’d ask them to do.

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