Climate Activists Respond to OPEC Official Calling Them ‘Greatest Threat’ to Big Oil
Climate campaigners were undaunted when the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) called their movement "perhaps the greatest threat" to the oil industry.
"Thank you!" 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted in response Thursday. "Our biggest compliment yet!"
“There is a growing mass mobilisation of world opinion... against oil" and this is "perhaps the greatest threat to… https://t.co/2Q3hv8RalJ— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1562229631.0
Thunberg has been credited with launching the "Fridays for Future" youth movement when her one-person school strikes outside Swedish parliament inspired children and teens around the world to skip classes to call for action on the climate crisis. Thunberg and the movement won Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award this June.
In remarks made in Vienna earlier this month, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo seemed to single out the youth-led climate strikes when he said that the children of some of his OPEC-headquarter colleagues "are asking us about their future because ... they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry," AFP reported.
Barkindo said that "unscientific" attacks on the oil industry by climate activists were "perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward."
"Civil society is being misled to believe oil is the cause of climate change," he said.
However, at least 97 percent of scientists agree that global warming is occurring, and is caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities like the burning of fossil fuels, including oil. A 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said those emissions needed to fall by nearly half in 11 years in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.
Thunberg wasn't the only climate activist to welcome Barkindo's comments as a sign their efforts were paying off.
"Brilliant! Proof that we are having an impact and be sure that we will not stop," UK climate strike leader Holly Gillibrand tweeted, as The Guardian reported.
Brilliant! Proof that we are having an impact and be sure that we will not stop. We will continue to be their "grea… https://t.co/1KSZzHscfJ— Holly Gillibrand (@Holly Gillibrand)1562246041.0
And it wasn't just the youth who expressed excitement. 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who has been campaigning on climate issues for more than 30 years according to CNBC, also took to Twitter to celebrate.
"Thanks everyone for your good work!" he wrote.
Wow! Wow! Wow! OPEC Secretary General says climate campaigners are "the greatest threat to our industry...There is… https://t.co/eHewRuR0KX— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1562247037.0
In remarks reported by The Guardian, McKibben reflected further on the impact of the climate movement on the oil industry.
"By this point, most people realize that the oil companies lied for decades about global warming — they are this generation's version of the tobacco companies," he said. "And it's clearly affecting their ability to raise capital, to recruit employees and so on. People set out to cost them their social license, and it's working. Whether it's working fast enough — that's another question."
In one example of how big oil is losing its "social license," the London Stock Exchange recently reclassified oil and gas companies under a non-renewable energy category to distinguish them from renewable energy companies, The Guardian reported July 3.
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By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
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