The Softer Side of Darth Vader.
February 25, 2016
Divestment movement starting to bite.
Big Oil must thwart the movement to leave fossil fuels in the ground, the world’s most powerful oilman said on Tuesday.
Addressing executives in Texas, Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi said the industry had to shed its “Dark Side” image and show it was a “force for good”.
“As an industry, we should be celebrating that fact, and better explaining the vital importance of these precious natural resources,” he said according to an transcript from an event in Houston.
“We should not be apologizing. And we must not ignore the misguided campaign to ‘keep it in the ground’ and hope it will go away. For too long the oil industry has been portrayed as the Dark Side, but it is not. It is a force, yes, but a force for good.”
The growing divestment campaign bids to blacklist the industry as others shunned tobacco producers or Apartheid-era South Africa.
By last December, over 500 institutions including large insurers, funds and banks managing US$3.4 trillion of assets pledged to move out of fossil fuels for climate reasons. That’s a 70-fold rise on September 2014.
Fossil fuels were not the problem, but their “harmful emissions,” said Al-Naimi, who represents the hydrocarbon-rich Middle Eastern kingdom at UN climate talks and stepped down as chairman of national oil company Aramco in 2015.
The world must scale up technologies that capture carbon dioxide, instead of replacing the polluting fuels with renewable sources, he added.
Jamie Henn, spokesman for 350.org which is organising the divestment campaign, said Al-Naimi’s comments were like “Darth Vader trying to softer side” and “out of touch with reality”.
The US now leads Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer following a revolution in techniques to extract it from shale rock, according to BP data.
Better do something about this.
More than 100 Earth scientists, ourselves included, have signed a letter urging our preeminent professional society, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to cut financial ties with ExxonMobil. We are joining the growing chorus of scientists who refuse to turn a blind eye to the destructive behaviors of the industry partners of our profession, ExxonMobil being the most egregious. We hope that this action will inspire our community to embark on an open assessment of the role of fossil fuel companies in the Earth sciences.
For decades now, climate scientists have been quietly reporting astonishing findings about the causes and consequences of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the life-sustaining systems of the Earth. Some have even taken their findings directly to the public and to legislators at venues ranging from town hall meetings to Senate committee hearings to international political summits. And what has this tremendous effort achieved? In terms of meaningful large-scale policies resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, not nearly enough.
While scientists and science communicators have been hard at work generating factual information and attempting to share it with the public, those who hold a financial stake in perpetuating society’s reliance on fossil fuel energy have been diligently countering their efforts. Fossil fuel companies, among the most profitable enterprises on Earth, have employed every technique available to mislead the public and politicians about the veracity of climate science and, as pure denial grows ever less compelling, to argue that the potential costs and benefits of policy action warrant indefinite delay.