Major oil and gas companies show little intention of concrete action to transition away from atmosphere-warming oil and gas and toward more solar, wind, hydrogen and other alternative energy options despite what they may say publicly. That’s a charge advanced Friday by Democrats on the U.S. House Oversight Committee who have issued a new report that used “millions” of data inputs, including internal documents from the energy sector. The assertion was repeated in comments by a leader of that effort, Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat of California. Khanna released report insights and spoke to NBC News exclusively.
The committee says Shell
and trade group the American Petroleum Institute have all made major investments recently in projects that would “protect and entrench the use of fossil fuels
long past the timeline that scientists say would be safe to prevent catastrophic climate change” and despite making climate pledges. For the most part, the companies have been transparent in detailing production plans, which can take years to finance and permit. The United Nations, calling out rich nations and the private sector, has been critical of the slow early movement toward halving global emissions by 2030 and flipping to net-zero emissions by 2050. The U.N. and others have said it will take a broad effort to slow global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and thwart the worst of deadly and expensive climate disasters. The oil and gas industry “is basically saying, ‘we’re going to increase production, we’re going to increase emissions, but we’re also going to be able to claim being this clean tech company, this green company, because we can take some symbolic actions that make it look like we’re in the climate fight,’” Khanna said, speaking with NBC. “The cynicism was breathtaking, and unfortunately, it was quite successful,” he continued, “It’s been a successful PR strategy.” The committee’s Democratic members all signed on to the report, which followed a year-plus investigation, but no Republicans put their name on it. At an October hearing on the matter, Rep. James Comer, a Republican of Kentucky, said the investigation was “to deliver partisan theater for prime-time news.” The report also alleges that the companies intentionally misled the public about their plans and also attempted to “obstruct the committee’s investigation and withhold key documents,” according to NBC’s assessment of the report. MarketWatch requested a copy of the report. Internal documents also showed oil executives privately admitting that divesting, or moving around the accountability of emissions, will not have a meaningful impact on overall emissions levels. “What exactly are we supposed to do instead of divesting … pour concrete over the oil sands and burn the deed to the land so no one can buy them?” one media …