To support fossil fuel corporations, the most important banks have continued to extend their investments in them, even within the covid 12 months of 2020 (Rainforest Motion Network, 2021).
One might need thought that the increasing risk of fossil fuels becoming unextractable in the long run would have discouraged such support, but this could be to disregard the promise of giant profits that might be made before the transition kicks in.
So fossil capital and agri-businesses are largely liable for causing climate change. Oil corporations equivalent to Exxon and Shell have known this for a long time (as early as 1957 – Grasso, 2022, p25), but they’ve lied and cheated throughout, using their huge wealth and influence to avoid being required to confess that responsibility.
For the reason that Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees was signed in 2016, fossil fuel corporations have spent billions of dollars on attempting to undermine it (Influence Map, 2019).
Tragically, they’ve largely succeeded on this enterprise. Lately, they’ve modified their tactics from outright climate scepticism and denial to greenwashing equivalent to setting bogus targets of net zero carbon based on unproven technologies of carbon capture and storage and on reforestation at a questionable scale (Kusnetz, 2020).
But nothing has really modified. The siren voices of those merchants of doubt, with their self-serving discourses of climate delay, proceed to carry sway on the planet’s corridors of power.
Over time, the abject failure of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) even to say fossil fuels in its publications, not even in its 2018 Summary for Policymakers on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, and the continuing dominance of fossil fuel-linked corporations within the Conferences of Parties (the predominant international decision-making body on climate change) bear testimony to fossil capital’s continuing hegemony.
The prospects for a green recovery from the Covid pandemic have already faded as only 2.5 per cent of recovery spending has been on green activities (Callaghan and Murdock, 2021).
It was only in 2021 that the International Energy Agency (IEA) recognised that the fossil fuel industry’s business model was not sustainable.
The IEA expected a steep decline in demand for oil by 2030, from 90 million barrels of oil a day to 24 million barrels, and acceleration of investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, along with electrification of transport, industry and heating, with a purpose to reach Net Zero by 2050.
Even now, nonetheless, the IEA provides no clear guidance on how fossil-fuel corporations are to be persuaded to simply accept such a decline (World Energy Outlook, 2022).
The situation looks hopeless but actually the way in which forward is obvious. Residents in every single place must call for his or her governments to mandate the vital changes within the fossil-fuel industry, ceasing all latest fossil-fuel development and making clear proposals to phase out existing production.
Transitions in all sectors must be planned on clear timescales as much as 2030 and beyond, with appropriate regulation for industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use, with an emphasis on energy efficiency, decarbonisation, electrification and carbon sequestration.
As Christian Breyer and his colleagues have shown, it’s practically possible to realize 100 per cent Renewable Energy Systems in Europe by 2040.
Peter Somerville is emeritus professor of social policy on the University of Lincoln.
McGuire, B. (2022) Hothouse Earth: An inhabitant’s guide. London: Icon Books.
Grasso, M. (2022) From Big Oil to Big Green: Holding the oil industry to account for the climate crisis. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.