Days of the week seem to mean nothing to my writing lately. The theme of Sunday’s article is usually the biggest American political story of the week just ended. This week it was the biggest outrage and in fact became a two-parter continuing into Monday. That Monday happened to be a national holiday and the appropriate theme ended up being discarded. Today is Tuesday and I’m finally getting around to the biggest American political story of the preceding week. To further complicate things you can make a case that none of it was actually political and much of it didn’t even happen in North America let alone the United States. My set up may be confusing but I assure you the article is worth reading; please do.
At the ExxonMobil shareholders’ meeting two independent directors were elected to the Board of Directors. This was a win for environmentalists. We have seen this movie before only played out with a slightly different plot line. What was gained is a seat (or more specifically two seats) at the table. The newcomers will be outvoted and I suspect will be largely silenced by among other things being outmaneuvered with parliamentary gambits. However, they have won the first battle of the inside game. They can’t be completely silenced and we have to hope the others will experience some shame and apprehension.
In Europe two courts placed deadlines on fossil fuel companies to reduce their polluting impact. (It’s actually a little more complicated and impactful than that but I want to be simple for today’s purposes.) While extremely significant this is far from a panacea. What happens if deadlines are not met and goals are not achieved? The courts can’t just shutter these companies. We saw the chaos a pipeline shutdown caused in America last month. If fines are the penalty, will the fossil fuel giants view them as little more than a cost of doing business and simply pass them along to the end consumer?
My biggest criticism of big business – mom and pops are thankfully most often very different – is that they are too short term oriented. (Someday maybe I’ll expand and write business articles too.) What the fossil fuel companies should do is think of themselves as energy companies. They are not in the gas or oil business; they are in the energy business. They should be the leaders in green energy. That is the future. If it takes some “rebel Directors” or “hostile” courts; so be it. In the long run it is good for both the planet and the energy corporations.
Perhaps the energy giants should take a clue from the automobile manufactures. Of late the biggest are suddenly pouring tremendous resources into electric vehicles. That is not the total answer but it is a big factor. It is also the way of the future. Either the energy companies start developing alternative sources or they will eventually find themselves sitting on the equivalent of an inventory of spats and/or a dead planet. Even driverless cars require passengers.
Despite all the reservations I expressed above, last week was the best week of this century for the environment and that is a huge deal!
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