The Energy Industry is NOT Uniformly Evil

We at have, perhaps, been a bit careless in villifying “the energy industry” and its role in sowing confusion in the debate over climate change.

In truth, the industry is anything but unanimous in its views on this matter. And far from deserving to be tarred with a stinky brush, good performers like BP Global, Royal Dutch Shell and, in Canada, Suncor, should get some credit.

The villain of the piece is, decidedly, ExxonMobil, followed closely by its anti-environmentalist ally, the coal giant Peabody Energy. (In Canada, you might add EnCana and Talisman as two firms that absent themselves from any discussion about the industry taking responsibility for its role in changing the world's climate.)

It would be naive to hope that the money BP and Shell are spending on alternative energy sources would, by itself, be enough to make a real difference is turning the CO2 tide. But you can't overstate the importance of their willingness to stand up and be counted. Unlike ExxonMobil, they have acknowledged:

a) that human-induced climate change is real;

b) that fossil fuels are an important contributor; and

c) that the energy industry has a responsibility to help find a solution.

Against that reasonable - and ultimately self-interested - position, the opposition of politicians like G.W. Bush becomes more of a scandal. And the efforts by ExxonMobile to throw money at scientists who agree to “Embrace the uncertainty in all of this,” is revealed for the unforgivable disinformation campaign that it is.

Think about that the next time you drive past an Esso station (the Canadian presence of ExxonMobile). This is a huge problem. We should keep common cause - and frequent custom - with the people and companies that are taking it seriously. 


To the list of energy companies that are attempting to become climate-friendly, I would add Cinergy - one of the largest, coal-burning utilities in the U.S. In its latest report to shareholders, the Cincinnati-based utility company called for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and praised the bill put forth by Senators John McCain (R-Az) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Ct) as being consistent with Cinergy’s position.