You’re probably busy just trying to make a living, so you may not have noticed that the world’s biggest oil and gas companies are making a killing.
More than ever.
There’s a lot of competition for the dubious honour of most shameless conduct in public. But fossil fuel companies making obscene profits while asking our governments for more and more money (your money) has to be near the top of the list.
That’s exactly what’s happening. Shell just posted record profits of US$40 billion, doubling last year’s record profits. Shell owns the largest share of the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas project underway in Kitimat, B.C. In recent weeks, LNG Canada has been setting out in the news media its terms for expanding the project.
Project spokespeople have been telling the provincial government they want it to spend billions of dollars (your dollars) to build transmission lines to the industrial site so the project can use electricity, rather than burning gas, to increase capacity to export fracked gas to Asia. To be clear, Canadians will never use any of the energy it intends to generate.
That’s after the more than $5 billion in public financing LNG Canada has already enjoyed at our expense for Phase 1 of the project.
Maybe it’s just me, but that seems shameless and indicative of the “grotesque greed” we have come to know and not love from the world’s giant oil and gas companies.
Another egregious feature of LNG industry expansion falls under the heading of “affordability.” At a time when so many people are struggling to get by and making grim choices between buying groceries or heating their homes, LNG expansion would make life more expensive for British Columbians who heat their homes with gas.
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By driving demand for fracked gas to feed LNG production in regions where gas companies see greater returns by exporting LNG, local prices have increased for consumers. If you have a gas furnace, you would end up paying more to heat your home — all so enormous oil and gas companies can ship LNG to distant markets.
Whether it’s taking public money in the form of subsidies and preferential tax treatment (your money) or driving up your household costs, the LNG export industry is nothing but bad news for many of us who neither can nor want to own shares in big oil and gas.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room — the climate crisis.
UN secretary general António Guterres has been crystal clear in his criticism of the fossil fuel industry as he urges our governments — all of us — to pay attention and act on the climate crisis before it’s too late. He said, “Emissions remain at dangerous and record highs and are still rising. We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all.”
But with billions of dollars flowing into the coffers of big oil and gas companies as they profiteer in the midst of pandemic and geopolitical crises, they want more. More oil and gas projects. More obscene profits. And more money (your money) to lubricate the frenzy.
Here’s Guterres again, as he speaks truth to the power that is big oil and gas: “Your core product is our core problem. We need a renewables revolution, not a self-destructive fossil fuel resurgence.”
Yet, right here in British Columbia, LNG Canada and others are pushing our government to allow massive expansion of the industry.
Ground-breaking research released last summer revealed that the fossil fuel industry makes $3 billion in profits every day. That’s not a typo. Every. Single. Day. Moreover, the industry has been generating these almost unimaginable profits for 50 years.
When you do the math, you arrive at the staggering figure of more than $1 trillion in profits every year. If $1 trillion sounds like a lot of money to you, you’re right. The world’s sole military hyperpower, the United States, funds its global military force with a bit less than the fossil fuel industry makes every year in pure profit.
The power, privilege, sense of entitlement and destructive force of the fossil fuel industry are unrivalled in history. The industry’s reach is so pervasive as to extend into every aspect of our lives. It’s woven throughout our politics and the politics of the world. It needs to be reined in.
The B.C. government can take a stand against big oil and gas companies’ greed by saying no to any expansion of the LNG export industry beyond LNG Canada Phase 1. In so doing, Premier David Eby would greatly enhance the government's ability to meet ambitious climate targets and liberate public investment for the much-needed transition to the renewable energy economy we so urgently need.
John Young is an energy transition strategist with the David Suzuki Foundation.
I'm glad I own an electric
I'm glad I own an electric car. Partly because it doesn't emit CO2. But partly just to know those bastards aren't profiting off me. (Well, and partly so I can smirk when I drive by a gas station and check the price)
Maybe it's time to get a heat pump so I can block profits to another set of bastards.
Bravo Rufus and do consider a
Bravo Rufus and do consider a heat pump. They have become all the rage (especially in Europe who had their hand forced with e Ukraine war and Russia's attempt to blackmail them via energy supply game playing. There is more information than ever to help any homeowner make a good decision on which one to choose and various installation options. I have read tons of comments online from people who have installed heat pumps (some years and years ago) and the overwhelming response is that heat pump owners are very happy campers.
I'm sorry, you are saying
I'm sorry, you are saying that higher gas prices, which will drive more of us to get heat pumps and off gas entirely, are a bad thing? Carbon taxes ALSO cause higher gas prices, of course, you must be against those.
No. What we need are higher gas prices, and also, the BC government should just plain forbid FortisBC from advertising furnaces. They should be compelled to use their advertising budget to actually advertise for BCHydro's heat pumps. It's NUTS for two separate regulated utilities to be advertising against each other - particularly when we know that one is right, the other wrong.
The regulator should regulate FortisBC to acknowledge that it must transition away from being a gas utility, and direct it's corporate strategies to shrink its own business.
Only when we start actually shutting down these industries, getting them to help with their own decommissioning, will the real progress start.