Talks clean, acts dirty: Why we're calling bullshit on Big Oil lies

Talks clean, acts dirty: Why we're calling bullshit on Big Oil lies
What you lying for? — Despite the fact it's pretty much universally acknowledged that climate change is set to destroy humanity and the planet, big oil companies still get away with making billions through screwing up the planet. And guess what? A PR stunt today from the world's biggest conglomerates means absolutely nothing. That's why we turned up outside.

True to form, Big Oil talks clean and acts dirty.

Today we called bullshit on the ironically-named ‘Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’ (OCGI), and its latest greenwashing attempt. The OGCI counts the CEOs of Statoil, Shell, BP, Total and many more of the world’s largest oil firms as its members, and has been using the issue of climate change as a PR tool since 2014.

Today, coincidentally the same day that he Paris Climate Agreement takes effect, the group announced a $1 billion investment over ten years in low-carbon technology. It sounds like a lot, but when you break it down it’s nothing more than a slap in the face to those on the end of climate change’s devastating effects, and those of us determined to avoid a climate change armageddon.

30655964942_3175531171_o

You see, $1 billion from ten companies across ten years means $10 million per company per year. Compare that to Shell’s projected spend in new projects and infrastructure this year, a whopping $25-29 billion, and it’s clear that these companies are part of the problem not the solution.

These executives fundamentally miss the point on how our economy and climate has to and will transform. Leaving aside the stinginess, the loose change pledged in the today’s announcement is not even directed at transitioning to renewable energy, but at refining the dig it, sell it, burn it business model that has seen them so well for decades.

Climate change? Efficiency improvements and Carbon Capture, is their response. Replace coal with gas, fossil fuels for fossil fuels. Lipstick on a pig, we say.

30684448891_9ecb56e4eb_o

To stop climate change, we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The latest research on this lays it out: no new oil, gas or coal projects if we want to stand a chance of staying under the two-degree limit to global warming, let alone the 1.5 degree aspirational target backed by the most climate-vulnerable countries.

So here’s the real takeaway figure from this morning’s announcement: $85 billion. That’s the amount of money these ‘climate leading’ companies are pouring into developing new oil and gas reserves in 2016 alone.

And announcements like today’s, in the drab surrounding of a rainy Friday afternoon, are crucial in providing a smokescreen to hide this reality. London may seem far from the plains of North Dakota, where the violence of the oil and gas industry is most apparent, but what goes on here is perhaps more sinister for being hidden.

Glossy press launches are where oil majors buy social acceptance for ripping apart communities. And the chance to hobnob with government ministers comes as a handy bonus.

These multinationals just won’t change. With each climate-induced disaster and temperature record broken, they come out and talk the talk, trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Strip it away and you have rich white men congratulating each other over canapés in London’s glass palaces, thirty floors up, while thousands of miles away, predominantly black and brown communities are destroyed and displaced as a consequence of their vanity and callousness.

Today’s announcement reminds us once more that fighting climate change means challenging power: these companies have a lot to lose, it’s no surprise that their PR stunts are vapid and hollow.

Find out more about Divest London and Fossil Free UK.

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

In photos: Three decades of Glastonbury Festival’s people and subcultures
Photography

In photos: Three decades of Glastonbury Festival’s people and subcultures

A new photobook explores the unique cultural experience and communal spirit found at the UK’s largest festival.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Surreal scenes from the streets of Tokyo
Photography

Surreal scenes from the streets of Tokyo

A new book by photographer Feng Li uses images of strange encounters to explore the historical centre of street photography.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Re-enchanted England: Exploring Paganism and Folklore
Culture

Re-enchanted England: Exploring Paganism and Folklore

A new book dives into the ancient traditions and rituals that many are turning to in an age of uncertainty, crisis and climate breakdown.

Written by: Thomas Andrei

Inside London’s Museum of Sex
Culture

Inside London’s Museum of Sex

For two days only a derelict house in south east London will become a hub of artwork exploring eroticism, sexuality, gender, and the body.

Written by: Brit Dawson

Why is Neil Diamond’s mega-hit ‘Sweet Caroline’ so intoxicating for sports fans?
Outdoors

Why is Neil Diamond’s mega-hit ‘Sweet Caroline’ so intoxicating for sports fans?

During this summer’s edition of the Euros, one certainty is the ubiquity of Diamond’s 1969 hit. But how and why did it gain such a storied place in England fans’ hearts? Jimmy McIntosh investigates.

Written by: Jimmy McIntosh

Can things only get better, again?
Election 2024

Can things only get better, again?

With the re-emergence of D:Ream’s euphoric 1993 hit and a ’97 style Labour landslide looking likely, Hannah Ewens dives deep into the creation of Cool Britannia, and asks experts whether it could be repeated again.

Written by: Hannah Ewens

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now