The dirty energy industry is raking in profits while citizens worldwide suffer the effects of Earth’s rising temperatures.
July marked the hottest month on record, and on August 1, BP reported $2.6 billion in second-quarter profits, according to Common Dreams. BP also announced a 10% dividend raise for shareholders. Similarly, Shell reported $5.1 billion in profits for the second quarter and a 15% dividend raise, also per Common Dreams.
“This is what a broken energy system looks like: Oil giants get richer because the rest of us get poorer,” Jonathan Noronha-Gant of Global Witness said to Common Dreams. “For BP the energy crisis has been a giant cash grab; for parents across the country it has been an impossible choice between feeding their children and paying their bills.”
In February, BP reneged on climate goals, announcing it would taper cutting pollution from its oil and gas production after it doubled its year-over-year profits in 2022. The United Kingdom-based company had projected a 40% reduction from 2019 levels but moved that target to 25%.
BP also touted its ability to pivot to renewable energy but backed off that tactic in 2013 after it divested its wind power assets. Two years earlier, it had gotten out of the solar power business.
Why is this important?
The National Resources Defense Council stated the industry, which accounts for 80% of Americans’ energy needs, has degraded land, polluted air and water, and acidified oceans.
Oil and natural gas companies also spew methane and volatile organic compounds into the environment. The effects of this industry’s pollution have caused thousands of early deaths, childhood asthma, and adverse pregnancy outcomes and cost taxpayers $77 billion annually, according to a study led by Boston University.
In July, four United States senators asked the Department of Justice to sue the dirty energy industry for “mislead[ing] consumers and discredit[ing] climate science in pursuit of massive profits.”
“In 2021, BP’s CEO described his company as a ‘cash machine’ after soaring oil and gas prices boosted profits,” Noronha-Gant, a senior campaigner at Global Witness, told Common Dreams. “Nearly two years on, and BP is riding the wave of the energy crisis, and handing huge sums of money to its shareholders while the UK’s poverty rates spiral.”
What can be done about dirty energy?
“A phase-out of fossil fuels should include a halt to all new permits for fossil-fuel exploration, production, and infrastructure, a phase-out of all subsidies to fossil fuels, and divestment of all public and private financial investments from the exploration, production, and distribution of fossil fuels,” according to Equitable Climate Action.
Nicolò Wojewoda, Europe regional director at 350.org, told Common Dreams that oil and gas giants such as BP should be held accountable, saying, “This must end now. We must hold them accountable for the damage they’ve inflicted, making them pay for it and phasing their dangerous influence out of existence.”
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