This is the second part to my series on energy companies. The first part can be found here. If you like this story why not subscribe to your right and never miss another of my articles!

While for some being sorry matters and apologies need to be earned through asking for an apology, I see apologies as a way to move forward in my life. In this case, I wanted to establish whether my sustainability journey would need or benefit from forgiving oil and gas companies. It would allow me to make peace with the state of the world as it is and accept it to enable me to find the right solutions instead of pondering on the misery of it all. But I cannot. Energy companies have been slow and inconsistent with their apologies and actions with the recent HSBC gaffe adding to my belief that large players have not understood the role they played in this situation.

I have come to accept that the world is on its downward spiral due to oil and gas companies and I can add a bit to saving it but I can only imagine what it would be like without this burden I feel and the Earth without its loss of habitats for human beings, fauna and flora.

Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash
  • Should you say sorry for something you don’t believe in?

For your public image, probably but the public may find out you’re not truthful (i.e. Shell downplaying oil spills) but for the interest of your stakeholders such as employees, you may confuse them, for worst or for better. It seems that the janus-faced approach to oil companies games has convinced many citizens that they were the ones to blame for climate change, that we still needed oil and we could engineer our way out of this. This is supported by a recent exhibition on sustainability at the science museum sponsored by… Shell. Coca cola’s emphasis on recycling is an aim to sell more bottles and more plastic. We have seen BP shift the blame to people coining the term carbon footprint as the footprint of a person to be the cause of climate change. BP, Shell or Total have worked hard to make their investment into renewables look bigger than it really is with each company committing very little of their R&D budget to clean energy. A rookie could be fooled with all the advertisement for their clean energy.

  • Does their action match any kind of repentance?

Recently, Shell has been called out for continuing oil and gas expansion in the North Sea named Jackdaw but they are of course not the only ones. TotalEnergies has not even stopped trading in Russia as of today! They continue to use the climate crisis they have created for economic opportunities, disregarding the people and the environmental impact they have and controlling the speed of the transition.

  • What would a truthful apology look like

This would come in several steps:

  1. Actions: Committing to no expansion, limiting the current extractions and diverting funds to renewable R&D and implementation.
  2. PR: Polishing the public image of these companies has worked in the case of Ørsted. Promoting a positive impact on the planet to increase the profile of climate change to the general public as the one challenge of our lifetime.
  3. Education: Internally and externally, oil and gas need to commit to wean the world off oil and gas and promoting renewables after spending years doing the opposite. The education needs to be unbiased and present the pros and cons of each method.
  4. Reparations: The lives of communities, fauna and flora have been heavily impacted from their decision to hook the world on oil and gas. It is clear that these lives need support to be rebuilt (green corridors, conservation programs, respiratory diseases support etc).
Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk on Unsplash
  • Is it the fault of the company or the decision-makers and investors?

So far, environmental trials have not condemned the people but rather the organisations who have committed environmental crimes. While people act within organisations and their actions are supported by organisations, each and every one of the decision-makers and investors are sole players willing to do their actions. However, private prosecution can happen for other criminal cases such as negligence. I would not be surprised to see direct action towards ones who have acted as blockers to sustainable projects or enabled such oil expansion, perhaps not soon in the UK but the Netherlands has recently showed great willingness to prosecute Shell for such crimes.

Of course, I do not forget the role of the media in persevering to sell the lies of oil and gas while downplaying the needs of our planet and people. There is a special place in my heart for them.

Daily Mail and insulate britain
An Honest Introduction
Our Beloved BBC

  • What do you think? Have energy companies moved in the right direction?


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