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Today, the New York Times published an important piece in their Business section on the growing gulf between European and North American energy companies. European companies like BP have greatly expanded their renewable operations while American companies like Exxon Mobil are sticking with oil and natural gas.
The article points out a growing divide between pragmatists in the oil industry that recognize that climate change is a problem and that for their companies to flourish there is a need to diversity holdings, and traditionalists that continue to advance a dirty energy portfolio even with mounting evidence of systemic planetary problems associated with climate change. There is a growing distaste in the public and major investment groups, including the world's largest investment company, BlackRock, for support for dirty energy and, as the article notes, these companies seem rather out of step with major societal and corporate trends.
It is worth noting that the movement toward renewables is modest at best. Total energy use around the world continues to grow and renewables cannot keep up. Certainly renewables are a part of the growth, but the global use of coal, natural gas, and petroleum increased as well over the last 20 years. Thus, renewable energy production does not match the growing global demand for energy which must be met with traditional dirty sources. We have not had a serious policy in the U.S. and many other parts of the world as to how to significantly reduce overall global energy use to cut combustion of fossil fuels so renewables can be a bigger part of the portfolio. As we see global energy use continue to spike, it is worth questioning whether the modest move globally to renewables is a serious reaction to climate change or if it is a performative band aid. We cannot make a real difference until we cut overall fossil fuel use and that is not happening--even though we see green energy increasing.