For more than 50 years, the petroleum industry and policy have been warned against the burning of fossil fuels and the corresponding negative impact on the climate. Instead of changing, the industry continues to expand diligently: today twenty companies are responsible for one third of global CO2 emissions.
The “Guardian” published an impressive timeline showing who knew when the influence of CO2 on the climate and how the unpleasant facts were systematically denied.
1959: physicist Edward Teller explains to the American Petroleum Institute (API) that an increase in CO2 by ten percent is sufficient to melt the ice cap and put New York under water. He says, " I think this chemical contamination is more serious than most people believe.”
1965: the scientific committee of President Lyndon Johnson states that “pollutants have changed the carbon dioxide content of the AIR Worldwide”. With impacts that could be"harmful from the point of view of man”. In summary, the industry was warned: “time is running out.”
1970: Shell and BP start financing scientific research in the UK to study the climate impact of greenhouse gases.
1977: Exxon scientists inform Management that there is an” overwhelming " consensus that fossil fuels are responsible for the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
1981: an internal Exxon Memo warns: “it is quite possible” that the CO2 emissions from the company’s 50-year Plan will have “catastrophic effects"for at least part of the world’s population.
1988: NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the US Senate that the “greenhouse effect has been detected and our climate is now changing”. In the U.S. presidential campaign, George Bush senior says: “Those who think that we are powerless to do something against the greenhouse effect, forget the effect of the White house. (…) As President, I intend to do something about it.”
1988: a confidential report prepared for Shell’s Environmental Protection Committee assumes that CO2 could increase temperatures by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius over the next 40 years, with the changes being “the greatest in history”. It calls for swift action by the energy industry. “Until global warming becomes apparent, it may be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the impact or even stabilize the Situation.”
1989: US industrial groups set up the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a Lobbying group that denies scientific knowledge about global warming and delays emission reduction measures. Exxon, Shell and BP join in between 1993 and 1994.
1990: Exxon paid the two researchers, Fred Seitz, and Fred Singer, the Mainstream consensus in climate research in question. Both were previously paid by the tobacco industry and questioned the dangers of smoking. Singer, who denied being on the payroll of the tobacco or energy industry, said that his financial relations would not affect his research.
1991: shell’s information Film “Climate of Concern” recognizes that there is a “possibility” that the climate can change faster than ever before since the end of the ice age. Maybe so fast that life cannot adapt without dislocation.
1992: at the Rio Earth Summit, the participating countries sign the world’s first international agreement to stabilize greenhouse gases and prevent dangerous man-made disruption of the climate system. This establishes the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change. Bush senior says: “the US wants to be the world leader in protecting the global environment.”
1997: two months before the Kyoto climate change conference, Mobil (later merged with Exxon) switches in the New York Times a display entitled “Reset the Alarm”. The statement: “let’s Be honest: The science of climate change is too uncertain to require a plan of action that could put the economy in turmoil”.
1998: The United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, after the Oil companies and the GCC have made a fierce resistance.
2009: US Senator Jim Inhofe, whose funders are the oil and gas industry, is leading the “Climategate” misinformation attack on scientists at the opening day of the crucial UN climate conference in Copenhagen.
2013: a study by Richard Heede, published in the magazine Climatic Change, shows that 90 companies are responsible for the production of two-thirds of CO2, which has entered the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial age.
2016: according to public criticism, the API on its Website removes the sentence that the human contribution to climate change is “uncertain”.
2017: Exxon, Chevron and BP donate at least $ 500,000 each to enable the inauguration of the current US President Donald Trump.
2019: Opec Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo says that climate activists are the biggest threat to the industry. He also claims that they mislead the public with unscientific warnings of global warming.
Which groups are particularly responsible
The following 20 groups contributed 35 percent to all energy - related carbon dioxide and methane emissions worldwide. This has been equivalent to 480 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide since 1965.
- Saudi Aramco - 59,26
- Chevron - 43.35
- Gazprom - 43.23
- ExxonMobil - 41.90
- National Iranian Oil Co - 35,66
- BP - 34.02
- Royal Dutch Shell - 31,95
- Coal India - 23.12
- Pemex - 22.65
- Petróleos de Venezuela - 15,75
- PetroChina - 15,63
- Peabody Energy - 15.39
- ConocoPhillips - 15.23
- Abu Dhabi National Oil Co - 13.84
- Kuwait Petroleum Corp - 13.48
- Iraq National Oil Co - 12.60
- Total SA - 12,35
- Sonatrach - 12,30
- BHP Billiton - 9,80
- Petrobras - 8,68
- Figures in billion tons of carbon dioxide, 1965 - 2017