What’s wrong with this picture: Fossil fuel companies want to advise governments on climate change

Yep, those guys.
Yep, those guys.
Image: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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China’s announcement of a cap-and-trade program to limit its emissions is yet another sign that the world’s governments are finally getting serious about addressing climate change. And some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel-dependent companies are eager to help.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, coal mining behemoth BHP, and energy industry supplier General Electric are teaming up with a range of other firms including consulting firm McKinsey, “to advise governments on how to combat global warming without weakening their economies,” the Financial Times reports.

The commission, made up of leaders from the public sector, fossil fuel industry, and renewable energy groups, aims to be an engine for both economic growth and climate change reform, according to its newly launched website. More details are due to be announced at an event in Texas on Monday.

But the idea that fossil fuel companies are eager to solve the problems they have heavily contributed to may not sit well for many.

“The first task of [Shell’s] ‘Energy Transitions Commission’ may be to convince skeptics of its sincerity and impartiality,” Gerard Wynn wrote on the Energy and Carbon blog.

Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden, while acknowledging that solar will one day become “the dominant backbone of our energy system, certainly of the electricity system,” told the BBC last week that the transition will take decades, a period in which fossil fuels will predominate.