Environment: Campaigning to end the fossil-fuel era is ramping up greatly this year

In a letter to a newspaper, I referred to the common sense of overwhelm, when thinking about the Climate Crisis. Many of us manage this difficult feeling by living simultaneously in 2 worlds.
Oil companies called to accountOil companies called to account
Oil companies called to account

In the one world, most of us recognise that the Climate Crisis is very serious and would like it to be tackled, seriously.

In the other world, we may manage the overwhelm by climate denial; ‘put it away and not think about it’ or even try to believe that it isn’t true.

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How can these 2 realities co-exist? Of course we still have to get through the day, put food on the table, clothe the kids, pay the mortgage and try to stay warm. These are difficult times and we live in an era of multiple crises.

We are comforted by not thinking about the Climate Crisis, and we understandably try to ‘carry on as normal’.

There are numerous contributing factors to this way of managing our fears, but climate denial has very much suited and been fostered and encouraged by the fossil fuel industry itself.

The biggest cause of the Climate Crisis is our ever-increasing and abundant use of fossil fuels, namely oil, gas and coal.

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When these fossil fuels burn, they release greenhouse gases - mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) which trap the Sun's heat and cause a rise in the planet's temperature.

But, according to climate scientists, temperature rises must slow down if we want to avoid extreme outcomes of climate change.

However, the past 2 centuries have seen the use of fossil fuels turbo-charge our ways of living, to the point where it is difficult to imagine living without them.

The oil industry has had a very clear understanding of climate change for over half a century but there has been a deliberate drive to hide the information and protect the financial interests of the corporate and fossil fuel industries.

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These same strategies, cover-up, deliberate confusion, were used by the tobacco industry in previous years.

The oil industry knew that to avoid global warming, we had to move away from fossil fuels, so they deliberately cast doubt on science, proposed fake solutions, like ’natural’ gas, or ‘carbon capture’, promoted reforestation to deflect attention away from their profit-making industry, thereby deliberately putting the entire world in danger.

The damage from this ever-expanding industry is now causing huge damage all over the Globe.

In the latter 1980’s and 1990’s, International awareness throughout the World of the problems related to fossil fuels was growing and there was increasing Government momentum towards attempts to control fossil fuels.

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However the fossil fuel companies set out to deliberately sabotage these.

For example, a document from Exon Mobil specifically set out to ensure that the successes of previous environmental international treaties would not be replicated when it came to global warming and this was shared with other oil companies all around the world, leading to a co-ordinated response from these companies, to deliberately repress information on climate change, cast doubt on climate science, to counteract international treaties that might come about, to block national and regional legislation and regulation that were attempting to address the overuse of fossil fuels, to influence public opinion, and to question whether we could afford to get off fossil fuels.

Success for the fossil fuel industry meant an enormous level of irreversible destruction for everyone else on Earth.

But now the time of accountability is approaching fast. There are now law suits, including Human Rights cases, to call these industries to account.

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All over the world, including the International Criminal Court action (against oil company BP), litigation against fossil fuel companies and fossil-fuel related companies and even against governments has started.

They are accused variously of cover-up, lies, and that they should pay for their fair share of environmental damage.

Currently directors of oil company Shell are being personally sued over their climate strategy.

This lawsuit is backed by the largest workplace pension scheme in the UK. Outcomes could involve directing these companies to align their policies with agreed international climate change targets, that could involve them decarbonising their businesses immediately.

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This pressure is behind the Divestment Campaign; lobbying investments such as pension funds to take their money out of fossil fuels, lobbying banks to stop investing in these industries,.

This is something that we can all do; ask your Bank what its investment profile is in fossil fuels, ask your pension fund what stocks it has in fossil fuels, and put pressure on them to take their money out.

This pressure is proving effective. More of it is needed. Soon enough, investments in these areas will become ‘stranded assets’, worth less than investments paid in, assets that must be abandoned.

Campaigning to end the fossil-fuel era is ramping up this year, with plans of lobbying, demonstrations and more litigation planned against those companies that make ever-increasing profits from fossil fuels.

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Greta Thunberg called on the global energy industry and its financiers to end all fossil fuel investments at a high-profile meeting in Davos with the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

People and Movements are coming together, the pressure is mounting, not a moment too soon.

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