The latest in the attempt to persuade us all that climate change is the fault of them over there, the capitalists, the oil companies, the someone or other, rather than it being us. You know, with this taste we have for warming ourselves, transporting, feeding ourselves. So that’s what the trick is here in this insistence that some 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the greenhouse gas emissions. It’s wallop of a very coddy flavour.[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Whereas the reality is that individual action is utterly meaningless for as long as giant corporations continue to trash the planet without fear of consequence. Just 100 companies are responsible for nearly three-quarters of global carbon emissions. Whether you or I drive cars or ride bikes is irrelevant in that context. It’s better if you cycle, of course, but the problem isn’t us. It’s them.[/perfectpullquote]
Come on now, don’t be stupid. The allegation is here:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Since 1988, a mere 100 companies have been responsible for 71 percent of the entire world’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions. This data comes from an inaugural report published by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an environmental non-profit. Charting the rapid expansion of the fossil fuel industry in the last 28 years, they have now released some truly staggering numbers on the world’s major carbon polluters. [/perfectpullquote]
They really do think we’re stupid when they consider we’ll fall for this. And, as above, some do of course. The trick being:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] In the original press release accompanying the report, CDP said: “100 active fossil fuel producers including ExxonMobil, Shell, BHP Billiton and Gazprom are linked to 71% of industrial greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.” We asked it to clarify exactly what that meant. They told us that of the total estimated cumulative greenhouse gas emissions released by human activity (excluding carbon dioxide from land use, land use change and forestry, and agricultural methane) between 1988 and 2015, 71% of those emissions originated from 100 fossil fuel producers. This includes the emissions from producing fossil fuels (like oil, coal and gas), and the subsequent use of the fossil fuels they sell to other companies. [/perfectpullquote]
That’s the twist there. Exxon sells me diesel. The emissions from that diesel used to power myself off to a nice lunch righteously belong to Exxon as a responsibility or me?
Well, if Exxon didn’t exist I’d still be going to lunch just getting my diesel from Galp, or Total, or Chevron. Something that will happen with or without the presence of Exxon isn’t something we can say Exxon is responsible for, can we?
That is, yes, it is us responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. Simply because it is us demanding methods of transport, of heating, cooking and all the rest. Further, there are alternatives to fossil fuels and they’re – still but maybe not for always – more expensive. And it’s us that decides we’d not like to use them by rejecting the more expensive for the cheaper.
We can indeed start to say that fossil fuel companies are responsible for the emissions they make in the course of their own activities. Escapes from wellheads, fuel used to power refineries, sure, we can say they’re responsible even if not entirely accurately. But given that it’s us using the end product then it’s us responsible for the emissions from the use of the product. Any other view of the matter is simply to be stupid about it all.