2021 should be the beginning of the end for huge oil companies

A violent fire broke out at the refinery in southern Tehran after a leak and explosion of a liquefied gas line.  Flames light up the night sky.

Photo: Waheed Ahmadi / Tasnim News / Agence France-Presse (Getty Images)

Everyone seems to have seen 2021 pretty rough, and it’s no wonder – we had to deal with The ongoing global epidemicAnd dilapidated political infrastructure, climate disasters without end, and all Joe Mansion’s constant bullshit. But one thing that put a little spring in my step, is that Big Oil had a worse year. Although we are by no means out of whack when it comes to the oil industry’s grip on our political system, in 2021 we had to see what it would look like to stir up fossil fuel interests. really spasm.

American politicians finally came to the big oil

Oil interests were not already thrilled by the prospects of a Biden administration after four years of Trump’s oil-friendly policies; Biden showed them they had something to worry about on his inauguration day Revocation of permits for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The administration hasn’t completely taken it out of the park by moving it to Big Oil since then, but it’s a huge turnaround from the Trump era.

Mountaintop Democrats have also made the lives of Big Oil CEOs miserable. For the first time ever, several top executives from the oil giants and industry groups have been called to testify under oath about their companies’ roles in Perpetuating climate denial and disinformation. Appearing before the House Oversight Committee Ended with subpoenasWhich means that the public may soon learn more about the way these companies operate. Oh, and Oil Executives Got Katie Portrade.

Large oil debris in the conference room and court of law

Politicians are not tired of the oil companies’ plans to keep producing more fossil fuels. In May, Exxon and Chevron shareholders overturned the status quo on those companies’ boards, voting for Three new climate-focused investors for Exxon and Decision to reduce Scope 3 emissions in Chevron. On the same day, a Dutch court delivered a devastating ruling for Shell, He ordered it to cut carbon pollution by 45% by 2030. In response, Shell CEO Wrote a disgruntled post on LinkedIn.

… and the court of public opinion

It turns out that Mai was just a prelude to further punishment. In June, a The discovered sting collided with two senior Exxon lobbyists. The duo broadcast a batch of dirty laundry about the oil giant. One employee formally admitted for the first time that the company had engaged in climate denial, detailing how it manipulated politicians in Hill into bidding; As a result, Exxon was Expulsion from the climate advocacy group that helped shape it. Keith McCoy, a tape-recorded lobbyist, did just that Since he left the company, Exxon has done a set of General damage control To distance herself from his words.

In October, Shell tasted their public humiliation when they The CEO was publicly dragged By young activists on stage at a TED talk. This was just a few months after the CEO of Shell Tell a story on stage About an employee kid who is embarrassed by her father’s workplace, and he’s just a formidable character.

that Oil spill in Huntington Beach, CaliforniaIt was an environmental disaster that also further emphasized why we need to get rid of the oil as quickly as possible. Overall, it may have been a particularly stressful year responding to the terrible press for the communications departments of companies like Shell, Exxon and Chevron. It couldn’t have happened to the more awesome PR departments, really.

Scientific and UN climate talks also put big oil in a box

However, the bad news for Big Oil really It started in May. The International Energy Agency, a respected international organization whose prospects are used by financial organizations, governments, and major fossil fuel companies to make decisions, Put it in plain text What we all know is true: exploration of new fossil fuels must stop almost immediately in order to keep the world on track with the Paris Agreement.

And as a little extra motivation in the metaphorical nuts, the UK government told oil companies that it You are not welcome To sponsor the United Nations climate meeting. This is a diversion from previous conversations, where oil companies and major polluters were Welcome with open arms. Although the final text was not a death knell for Big Oil, a small group of countries that were the first to move Sign a separate deal Agreeing to end the expansion of fossil fuels in what could be a sign of things to come.

Despite the setbacks, the big oil still stands

Even though it’s against the wall, Big Oil has proven to be very resilient. And there have been some questionable moves by politicians to keep it supported. include confusing legal decisions offered by the Biden administration — some in favor of controversial pipelines such as Dakota Access and Enbridge Line 3– Astonishingly flimsy Behavior Nearby fossil fuel rental. As the year went on, the White House began to seem more friendly (Or at least less hostile) for industry, especially with Gas prices have risen recently.

This House session also gave Republican representatives an opportunity to kiss the back of the industry, IThe discovery of fossil fuels still has an iron grip on the party. And despite being barred from sponsoring the climate meeting, oil interests still find a way to get big seat at the negotiating table. they Show the effect in the final text.

But it certainly looks like something has changed. Businessmen, politicians and ordinary people are more attuned than ever to the role the oil and gas industry has played in getting us to the miserable place we are today. People are tired of decades of manipulation and are increasingly demanding action. The industry is clearly on the defensive. It employs all the tools in its arsenal, They dream of new ringing phrases, industry New pledgesNew launch PR campaignsAnd Taking over social media, and generally hope so convince us It’s part of the climate solution – as long as the oil companies can keep drilling.

Sure, the big oil companies had a bad year. But now is not the time to calm the pressure. If we know anything about this industry, it’s that it will do everything in its power to stay in power.

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