Climate activists worry oil barons

26th Jul 2019
Climate activists worry oil barons

Mohammed Barkindo, Secretary-General of OPEC named climate activism as the biggest threat to the oil industry (Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency)

The Secretary-General of OPEC, (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) Mohammed Barkindo, announced that the single biggest threat to the oil industry is climate activism. Demonstrations take place every day – for one reason or another – in cities all across the world.

Usually, such dissensions are done on the citywide or national scale; there are few issues that the world gathers in unison over. But climate change is one of those issues. The youth especially is losing patience over government inaction on climate change and regulation of the fossil fuel industry, because they are the ones who will be left with a barely habitable planet.

OPEC is the largest and most powerful oil cartel in the world, and they said recently that activism is their biggest threat. This was music to Greta Thunberg’s ears. She is a teenage activist who rose to prominence after her ‘school strike for climate’ outside the Swedish Parliament received media coverage.

Since then, she has spoken at the UN, was named one of the Time’s most influential people, and participated in events with Extinction Rebellion, a “do-it-together movement” that stages protests all over the world calling for climate action. To her, OPEC’s fear means that concerns over climate change are being heard loud and clear.

Thunberg is not concerned with the economy; she instead focuses on the moral obligation of governments and private companies to keep more species, including Homo sapiens, from going extinct. Her heartfelt, emotional speeches, have left world leaders in awe and have brought the issue of climate change to the forefront of many world leaders’ agendas. In response to Barkindo’s statement, Thunberg tweeted, “Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!”

Governments who drag their feet on climate action frequently cite economic concerns, yet the cost of climate inaction has been quantified, and it reaches the trillions of dollars.
The reason large public demonstrations worry governments and powerful organizations such as OPEC is because of the fragility and economic impact of public opinion. Public opinion is as powerful as money.

It affects stock prices and the outcome of elections. The fossil fuel industry took measures to hide its contribution to climate change for years, and now that there is no denying it, they must contend with significant financial losses if governments answer the calls of their constituents to curb non-renewable energy extraction.

Climate change exacerbates regional and civil conflicts because it affects the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Instability is rarely attributed solely to climate change, nor are extreme weather events – it’s just known to be a contributing factor. The more people become educated about climate change’s contribution to world conflict and instability, the more they will demand change in the right direction. It is something that the powerful can no longer ignore. Even President Donald Trump, a climate change denier and dismantler of environmental regulation, recently gave a speech touting the US’s enviable environmental record, because aides warned him that climate change is a concern for a bloc of voters he needs to win the 2020 election.

OPEC’s fear is completely warranted. Companies all over the world are changing their investment practices and business associations to line up with their climate agenda – because the public has demanded that they have a climate agenda.

The insurance company, Chubb, recently announced that it would, “no longer underwrite the building and operation of new coal-fired plants or new risks for companies that generate more than 30% of their revenues from coal mining.” The London Stock Exchange relabelled a group of oil and gas producers as “non-renewable energy” – a move that would more easily allow investors to exclude such companies from their investment portfolios.

The fossil fuel industry, for all its attempts at finding daylight between particular sectors, such as oil and gas vs. coal, is losing its social license wholesale. Nuances don’t matter anymore. The public knows that renewables’ are the future and they’re tired of hearing about the ‘cleaner version’ of this or that extractive, combustible fuel. The hammer is coming down on the nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry’s public persona – and it’s about time.

Sarah Sakeena Marshall,
English Language Teacher & Environmental Columnist

One Response to “Climate activists worry oil barons”

Ken PollockJuly 28, 2019

Ms Marshall, how good is your maths and engineering? Activists throughout the world may believe that fossil fuels should be eliminated, but few have any understanding of the scale and extent of the sort of renewable energy systems that are supposed to replace them.
Fossil fuels gave us our modern industrial society. Fossil fuels will be needed to make the renewable structures, that then generate relatively tiny amount of surplus energy – look up EROEI…
There are times when popular movements, based on emotion and not engineering, need to be resisted – and never mind if OPEC can make money out of supplying the fossil fuels.


Leave a Comment

What is 2 + 10 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

Latest Tweets