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This blog post is a follow-up to a recent letter campaign I undertook with a group of CEOs in the Canadian Oil Industry. The title of this piece, Oil Industry CEOs MIA on Climate is the product of this letter campaign. Why are they MIA, missing in action on climate change?

Oil Industry CEOs MIA on Climate

Letter to Canadian Fossil Fuel Industry CEOs

I do not recall exactly when I realized that we are destroying our planet. But I know exactly when I knew I had to do something. When my grandchildren were born, I knew. That’s when I became a climate activist.

Oil Industry CEOs MIA on Climate Action, boomer warrior

In spite of raising awareness about global warming, the climate movement of the last few decades has faltered in its attempts to influence world governments to take the needed action to tackle climate change. Global emissions are accelerating and atmospheric CO₂ is at the highest level yet recorded, having substantially passed the critical point where runaway global warming seems almost inevitable.

President Obama’s leadership and climate initiatives are groundbreaking and welcomed by world leaders. China’s decision to reduce carbon emissions from the burning of coal and its emergence as a world competitor in the solar energy market are very promising. But is this enough? The window for action is getting smaller but there are some hopeful signs.

Groundbreaking Studies

Two recent groundbreaking studies – Risky Business and the REMI Report (Regional Economic Models Inc.) have gained broad support from the private sector. Risky Business explores the economic risks of climate change for different regions of the U.S. The REMI Report on “The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power and Demographic Impact of a National Fee & Dividend Carbon Tax for the United States” analyzes a powerful market-driven option for emissions reductions that promises impressive national and regional economic benefits.

Oil Industry CEOs MIA on Climate Action, boomer warrior

Social Movements

New social movements to create political will that lead to meaningful public policy formulation represent our most recent hope – the Peoples Climate March in New York, the Great March for Climate Action. Such broad action is supported by organizations such as Citizens’ Climate Lobby and 350.Org.

Oil Industry CEOs MIA on Climate Action, boomer warrior

In the United States, there is a rising tide of interest in the need for climate action and the reduction of carbon emissions.  A number of prominent politically conservative figures support the Obama administration in its climate actions.

On a global basis, the World Bank, IMF, IPCC and UN are urging world leaders to lay the groundwork for an agreement on the reduction of CO₂ emissions in Lima in December 2014 leading to a comprehensive and binding global agreement to be ratified at the Paris 2015 Summit in December 2015.

Facing climate reality represents the greatest challenge ever faced by humankind. Climatologists and scientists all over the world are now certain that we must begin the countdown to achieve a low-carbon society by 2050 in order to avert catastrophic global warming.

In Canada

It is clear that the magnitude of the climate change crisis facing humanity demands an all-hands-on-deck strategy. This brings me to the role of the private sector and more specifically the role of the Canadian fossil-fuel industry, and specifically, the role of CEOs.

In Canada, the Harper government has made the rapid development of the Tar Sands its top priority. Little attention is being given to reducing emissions and there is no discussion about pricing carbon. Canada has no national energy plan, no national carbon pricing program and no climate action plan.

You and your CEO colleagues have been noticeably and understandably silent on climate action. Collectively you are an influential and powerful group which could play a key role in convincing the Canadian government to become proactive and aggressive in reducing emissions through carbon pricing mechanisms such as Fee and Dividend. We all have a responsibility and a moral obligation to do our share in protecting the future of our children and grandchildren.

There is a gaping hole in climate leadership at the CEO level in Canada’s petroleum industry.  Which CEO will step up to fill that void by taking a progressive stance on the climate threats we face?  Who will be the first visionary to step forward and ask our politicians to enact climate policy? It could be you. Such leadership will be widely accepted and perceived as good by the broad public.

You have a choice.
_____

Rolly Montpellier, boomer warriorRolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and an Climate Activist. Rolly has been published in several online publications – Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, Georgian Bay News.

Some of Rolly’s articles have also appeared in newspapers such as The Hill Times and the Kingston Whig.

You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and Linkedin.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. Good job Rolly. The Green Awakening Economy beckons. Planetary ecocide is not an option. The sad truth is that even if fossil fuels could be harvested, processed, and transported without a drop of pollution the end result will still be Toastville for the kidders. It will just take a bit longer to achieve,

    • Hi Leif – I understand what you’re saying. Just changing energy sources will not solve the problem of chronic economic growth and runaway capitalism. We are still overusing other resources like fresh water, we are still degrading the soils for our foods, we have filled our oceans with plastics and on and on. I wish I could be more optimistic.

      Thanks for the comments.

  2. Hi Rolly,
    Bill McKibben of 350.org fame is very big on “naming the enemy” in this struggle and, to him, it’s the fossil fuel industry.
    Maybe we need to go further than this — maybe we actually need to name the companies and their CEOS and call them out, i.e., invite them to do the right thing.
    If the first and foremost mission of a CEO is to protect shareholder value, then maybe they need to see us all as shareholders in this planet, maybe they need to teach their own shareholders about seeing beyond immediate greed to “our common future”, and maybe they need to be projecting a vision of a new energy company, e.g., drilling for geothermal (it apparently has immense potential) instead of oil.

    • Grant – thank you for the response.

      I have not named the CEOs to whom the letter was mailed (snail mail). I’m returning home tomorrow and will check the mail. I’m hoping to get a response to my letter or at the very minimum, an acknowledgment. But as my friend Doug Grandt points out in his comment, perhaps I shouldn’t hold my breath.

      I’m not sure at this stage what my next steps will be with this letter campaign. I do like your suggestion to name and shame oil companies into taking action for the greater good – for our “common future”. Energy companies are not without knowing that the future of energy will include renewables. To ignore that reality will come back to haunt the CEOs who lack that vision.

  3. Yup! To alter a previous aphorism “It’s the combustion and consumption, stupid!”

    Don’t expect CEO’s or Boards of Directors to wax altruistic any time soon. I have learned after two and a half years, 350 letters, 300 emails, 1 book and a small claims trial in Denton County, Texas, they mean it when they say, “We don’t do business that way.” My interpretation of that admonishment is that we must make them an offer they cannot refuse, i.e., offer to purchase an asset for an irresistible price, then dismantle it, clean it up and recycle as much of the resources as possible. Then buy another asset, and another and another. If you follow that to the logical conclusion, in order to avoid their closing their doors before we are ready with sufficient carbon-free fuels and energy to satisfy our demand, we will have purchased the entire capitalized value of the entire industry. Not just an unintended consequence that REMI did not consider, but potential disaster which is not on anybody’s radar.

    • The importance of REMI is that it has started a fairly broad dialogue on pricing carbon and which pricing mechanism is the best option. The purpose of my letter to CEOs is more to arouse the public of their absence and silence on climate change. Maybe, just maybe, one of them will feel compelled to at least respond to my letter. CEOs are people too with children and grandchildren. They know what is going on. But as you point out, “We don’t do business that way.”

      Keep up the hard work and good luck on your small claims trial.

  4. Unfortunately, India, Russia and China are reluctant to commit to reducing fossil fuels and the US is currently (despite it’s rhetoric) increasing Carbon emmissions rather than reducing them, as is its neighbour, Canada.

    There isn’t much hope for the rest of the World, while the giant nations and the business/corporations who seem to run them behind the lines, continue to ignore the wishes of the people to have “greener” technologies.

    It is easy for corporations to ignore a few letters, a few lawsuits and many complaints, while it still pays them to do so… revenue and corporate returns, are the only thing measured!… Until actions hit them financially, they find “complaints” or “threats” no more than “irritants.”

    • Although I agree that there’s little likelihood that a CEO will respond to my letter, I think that the initiative is essential. I’ve also posted this letter widely and will be forwarding it to several newspapers.

      I’m encouraged by the massive turnout of the Peoples Climate March around the globe. The message is loud and the message is clear. People want world leaders to move the climate agenda forward. People are sounding the climate alarm. World leaders are starting to listen.

      During the next year, this climate mobilization movement will continue to grow. We will never quit.

      • Yes, the “People’s Climate March” was awsome… and truly insprirational, as was the feedback on “twitter.” The Rockafeller Institute made some interesting news on our main stations when it announced that it would divest its portfolio of “fossil fuels” and commit to only “renewable green technologies” instead (taking about 2 years to roll the portfolio over). They were quoted as saying, t hatwhile it won’t change the big companies yet, it will set a benchmark and it won’t be ignored, especially if some of the parallel institutes to the Rockafeller Institute, made similar announcements.

        This is the kind of inspiration that changes companies thinking… large investors need to set the trends…. money talks!

  5. Great job, Rolly! In order to tackle the climate crisis we need all hands on deck. Activists alone cannot do it; we need corporations with their supply chains, research capacities, and their credibility with some sectors of the public.

    In 2011, starting with the eight companies listed in the mutual fund of my RRSP plan at work, I wrote to 186 companies with a simple question; “Does your organization have any opinion on carbon pricing at the national level in Canada?” When I got 45 answers back, while I was neither a customer nor an investor for most of these companies, it told me that a lot of companies are out ahead of our Governments on this issue. And who do governments listen to; people or industry?

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