Climate change is here, it is no more a looming threat waiting to strike us in the distant future! The surge in the frequency of extreme weather events such as floods, tides, bushfires, storms, heatwaves and drought, in addition to rising sea levels, melting glaciers in the Arctic, shrinking water bodies around the world have made the dire consequences of climate change more pronounced in recent years. Our unabashed and indiscriminate greed for energy has landed us into this quagmire which would swallow us and our planet unless we radically shift the ways we derive and use energy. The oil and gas industry has been facing the music by the environmentalists and climate activists across the world. Being one of the top contributors of greenhouses gases emissions such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oil industry today finds itself defending against the demands of climate activists who want oil giants to dramatically slash their carbon emission and transition quickly to cleaner alternatives of energy.
Over the last two centuries, more than two-thirds of the total global greenhouse gases emission has been contributed by just a handful of companies in the oil and gas industry. The industry — its products and processes — has been increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide which further reacts with other gases to produce ozone and other greenhouses gases. Recent reports have emerged that the companies have been– very well — aware of the detrimental effects of the industry on our environment and the severity of climate change for decades and yet they have tried to resist the voices of protestors by funding and shaping climate denial. This brazen display of power by the industry has been impeding the introduction of climate policies and has delayed climate actions which could have been taken earlier.
The United Nations has warned us that we might have just ten more years to limit irreversible damages which could be caused by climate change. This ultimatum necessitates taking dramatic measures to tackle climate change. As per the UN, to reach the climate goals set in the Paris agreement 2015 — which includes stopping the temperature of the earth from rising more than 1.5-degrees celsius than the pre-industrial levels — the production of oil and gas needs to fall by 20 per cent by 2030! However, achieving this target looks unlikely as the investment by the industry in future oil and gas projects has only been rising; as per a report, major oil companies, since 2018, have invested more than USD 50 billion in fossil fuel projects!
With renewable energy sources like wind and solar getting affordable day-by-day, the oil and gas industry if finding it difficult to maintain its resistance to transition to cleaner energy sources. The mounting pressure from the protestors and the investors have had some positive results, one of which is the declaration of an investment of ‘muli-billion-dollars’ in carbon capture technologies. But that is just a small step; the road ahead for the climate activists looks full of challenges and unless we push the industry to take revolutionary steps to curb its carbon emissions, we should brace ourselves for the catastrophic consequences of climate change.