As you’ll see below, I’ve written a letter to Greenpeace because I didn’t agree with their approach towards BP. I see this quite a bit at the moment where people concerned about the environment target companies that are significantly involved in oil and gas as the culprits who can be blamed. In particular, this attack of Greenpeace versus BP seems particularly vicious (see some example links at the bottom of this page).
However, as you’ll know from my intentions behind “Use 1o Percent Less”, the first point of blame should be directly with us consumers who are using exponentially more energy each year. It is our greed and disregard for the Earth’s resources that we need to tame, and the rest will follow.
See the letter I sent below (click on the images or read the full transcript further down);
Full Transcript – Greenpeace versus BP
Greenpeace – Climate emergency team
London N1 2PN
Dear Mr. Evans,
Firstly, I’d like to state that I’m a regular subscriber to Greenpeace newsletters and follow Greenpeace projects and actions with interest. I don’t always agree with the specifics of what Greenpeace does, but I whole-heartedly agree with Greenpeace’s passion to defend the natural world from destruction.
On September 25th I received an email from you entitled “BP: outrageous” and I’m writing this letter to you because I don’t think Greenpeace’s strategy is correct in this case. Please let me make a number of points.
- The real problem is consumption – we cannot ignore the fact that it’s us, the consumer, that is using more and more energy every year. Our lifestyle choices and desire for modern conveniences, leads to more and more energy usage. The global demand for energy overall, and oil and gas in particular (currently more than 50% of all energy we use comes from oil and gas), increases year on year without fail. It’s the consumer that has the power to decrease its demand and that’s where the real power lies. Reductions in consumption will trigger the changes we need.
- We need to focus on pollution and damage to the environment – once we talk about climate change there can be lots of arguments. Is climate change caused by human released greenhouse gases or not? Even though there seems to be lots of good science suggesting this is the case, it’s much easier to focus simply on pollution and environmental damage, both are which are easily seen as bad by the general population. CO2 pollution, plastic pollution, pollution of our waterways, destruction of forests – all of these are almost universally accepted as things we shouldn’t be doing, and these are the possible root causes of climate change.
- BP does appear to be trying to change – sure, some of BP’s advertising could well be “greenwashing”, but they do appear to be a company that is really making an effort to begin the change to a world where the supply of the energy that is demanded produces less pollution. One good example is BP’s investment in electric car charging points in the UK. It may be better to encourage them to do more, and invest more, in this regard than force them to “shut down”.
- What would happen if energy companies didn’t supply the oil and gas we use? – what if we went to the petrol station but the pumps were empty? Most people would be very unhappy. What if our gas boilers stopped working and our houses went cold? Again, we wouldn’t be happy. On the one hand we assume that oil and gas companies will provide the oil and gas that we expect will be available when we need it, while on the other we criticise the same oil and gas companies for doing so. The easy answer is for the consumer to stop using so much of the products they think are most polluting.
- The argument that we’ve already found “more oil and gas than our planet can afford for us to burn” – this is a misleading argument. Not all oil and gas reservoirs are the same and different types of oil and gas are needed for different purposes. It’s generally accepted that if energy demand continues to grow like it is, that many new oil and gas discoveries will be needed to supply the demand. The key is to stop the demand.
- Is BP better or worse than other oil and gas companies? If Greenpeace is pushing for BP to “go 100% renewable or shut down”, what about other global oil and gas companies? Will they be better or worse? Unless demand decreases, someone else will create the supply and prices will increase. Will we have achieved anything? We might just have forced one of the more progressive companies out of business.
Thank you for reading this. In summary, I don’t see the point of beating up on oil and gas companies. It’s best that we focus on limiting pollution and environmental destruction of all types, as quickly as we possibly can. The consumer has the power to change the world. If we use less energy overall, and less oil and gas, so that the demand for fossil fuels actually decreases in the next year, then oil and gas companies will have to adjust and find and produce less, and some oil and gas companies will go out of business.
If Greenpeace wants to hassle oil and gas companies, it would be best to keep an eye on the pollution they create as a company and the environmental destruction they may cause around the world, as they go about their activities. Otherwise, let’s focus on the consumer where real change needs to happen.
Peter Whiting Ph.D.
I’d like hear what you think? Am I on the right track here? Please leave a comment below if you have the time.
Related Links – Greenpeace versus BP
Here are a couple of links that show the severity of Greenpeace’s actions against BP;
- BP HQ shut down by Greenpeace on eve of the company’s AGM – from Greenpeace themselves
- “Climate Criminals”, BP and Shell CEOs targeted at Oil Industry Gala Dinner by Greenpeace activists – also from Greenpeace