By Seth Brandel | Contributor
Ten executives of many of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, including BP and Shell, announced they would work in conjunction with each other to combat the effects of climate change. These ten executive officers make up the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), which stresses the importance of dealing with the harmful effects that climate change can have on our planet.
In the official declaration by the OCGI, the executives said that "Our shared ambition is for a 2°C future. It is a challenge for the whole of society. We are committed to playing our part."
A "2°C future" refers to the consensus from much of the scientific community that the global average temperature rising by just 2°C would cause irreversible damage to the environment and must be avoided at all costs. This is a significant development for the climate change awareness movement because the members of the OCGI produce almost twenty percent of the world's oil and gas supply and generate ten percent of the world's energy.
This announcement comes in advance of a major United Nations conference this November and December, where the international community will try to create an agreement to combat climate change. The UN hopes to make a deal that will reduce global carbon emissions in order to limit the effects of global warming, require countries to publish their greenhouse gas contribution levels annually and supply money to developing nations to help them establish climate programs.
While the members of the OCGI are based throughout the globe, American oil industry giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron are notably absent from the initiative and have denounced the climate change agreement in Paris. Both Exxon Mobil and Chevron officials have argued that the plan will hike fuel prices and harm the international economy.
In June, John S. Watson, the chief executive officer of Chevron, explained his company's position by saying, "I've never had a customer come to me and ask to pay a higher price for oil, gas or other products."
American oil and gas industry leaders have long denied the existence of climate change, arguing that greenhouse gases are not generated by the burning of fossil fuels, despite a near consensus among the scientific community about the harmful effects of manmade climate change. Recent reports have uncovered that Exxon Mobil has been doing research on manmade climate change for decades, but the company has openly denied the true value of the research.
Ken Croasdale, an ice researcher who was funded by Exxon Mobil throughout the '90s, spent years in the Arctic creating global circulation models to anticipate the effects of climate change on the earth. These models were publicly dismissed by Exxon Mobil as "completely unproven climate models, or, more often . . . sheer speculation." As more of these reports of climate change research are being circulated throughout the media, Exxon Mobil has accused activists of "cherry picking" past statements and making false assumptions about the company's motivations.
Although members of the industry based in the United States might be hesitant to accept the science because of economic concerns, the OGCI's announcement is a clear indication that more companies might be willing to take the hit to their earnings in order to limit damage to the planet. This shift might not accomplish the goal of keep global warming under 2°C, and it might be more talk than action, but it is a definite change in approach to scientific data that could have great significance within the coming decades.