BP and Shell caused almost $50 billion of environmental and social damage last year – double the amount of profits they made in the past 12 months – according to a report by WWF and the New Economics Foundation. The two groups are urging the British Government to slap an “oil legacy fund” on the oil industry to pay for a long-term programme to tackle the impacts of climate change.
“Britain has squandered its windfall of natural resources from North Sea oil and gas,” Andrew Simms, the policy director at NEF and the lead author of the report, said. “Instead of oil companies profiteering from climate change and oil depletion, a windfall tax could establish an oil legacy fund to pay for Britain’s transition to a sustainable, decentralised energy system”.
The WWF and NEF calculated the damage wrought by oil companies’ products on the environment. They are publishing their report in a week that will see BP and Shell post their latest results. Tomorrow BP will say it made $4.74bn (£2.52bn) in the third quarter of the year, analysts believe. On Thursday Shell will unveil a larger $5.7bn (£3bn) – equivalent to £12bn a year.
James Leaton, the WWF’s oil policy officer, said simply: “The UK needs to admit to its addiction to oil, and make a tough decision to get clean.”