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Are Energy Companies burying their heads in the sand?

Global warming has now been largely accepted as fact by most citizens and governments. Our weather patterns have changed, carbon dioxide continues to pour into the atmosphere (largely man-made) and the polar ice caps are shrinking. There are still doubters, but few are as adamant as George Bush was during his presidency….

But what about our energy producers? Lord Browne, the former head of BP, spoke on this subject last week in London. He is one of the most influential voices in the world of energy, and contends that energy and mining companies are ignoring the “existential threat” from climate change and must revise the way they operate. Coal, oil and gas companies are facing increasing criticism from investors concerning their complacency about the risk of tougher action to curb global warming.

So, are these major enablers of our home and work lives burying their heads in the sand? There is hope that the talks aimed at achieving a global climate agreement in Paris next year will actually gain some traction this time around, or else we might just be too late to affect things in any way. If there is more stringent regulation of the energy sector, some analysts are warning that oil and mining assets could be devalued by billions of dollars. There are also grassroots campaigns aimed at making fossil fuels as unpopular as tobacco.

Lord Browne’s view is that “very few small and medium sized operators in North America publicly accept the science behind climate change, and even fewer think of climate change as a risk to their business”. Possible remedies could be achieved by companies moving into renewable energy and by ending the funding of lobby groups who try to weaken climate change policies.

Lord Browne noted that renewable technologies are developing at an impressive pace – the cost of wind turbines has fallen by over 20 per cent and that of solar panels – by over 80 per cent over the last five years.

We know that time is limited. Will the current economic system enable the changes we need to make to curb climate change? Or will the desire for short and medium term profit hold us back, stopping us adapting and effectively burying all of our heads in the sand?

I would really appreciate your views on this. Do tell me what you think.

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