Yesterday Oil Change International launched an exciting new campaign with our friends at the Other 98%. ExxonHatesYourChildren.com is a website, with a provocative TV ad embedded in it. Our intent is to raise money to put the ad on television to draw attention to the over $10 billion in annual subsidies to Big Oil, Gas and Coal.
It’s a hilarious ad with a serious message. As Congress debates what actions to take to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” perhaps no programs are less worthy of government support than those which subsidize Big Oil, Gas, and Coal. Read on to understand:
- How oil, gas and coal companies undermine your children’s futures,
- Why these subsidies are a waste of taxpayer dollars, and
- What you can do to stop them.
Imagine if your government gave a company a sweet deal to build your local playground. Then, that company dumped toxic waste underneath where your kids play everyday, just because it was the most profitable thing for them to do.
What would you do? Obviously you’d protect your children and demand that the company fully pay to clean up their mess. You’d demand that the company pay for any medical help needed by your kids. Finally, you’d demand that your government immediately stop sending your tax dollars — subsidies — to that company.
That company is Exxon, the playground is our planet, and the sweet deal they get is by way of massive government handouts. But Exxon is not alone; their competitors and industry friends in the fossil fuel game are all running their businesses in a way that is ruining our children’s futures.
In short, if you judge Exxon and other fossil fuel companies not by the words on their press releases, but by their actions and predictable consequences, Exxon really must hate your children. The facts speak for themselves.
Consider the following:
- Exxon must hate your children because their business model depends on drilling for more and more of the fuels that cause climate disruption, even though fossil fuel companies have already discovered significantly more oil, gas and coal than scientists say we can safely burn. They are creating climate chaos every day — and they’re getting rich doing it.Even the International Energy Agency now agrees that in order to have even chances of limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius (beyond which the worst impacts of warming will kick in), two-thirds of the current proven reserves of fossil fuels must remain in the ground by 2050. So why are Exxon, and others, looking for more? And why are we subsidizing them to do so?
- Exxon must hate your children because, for years, they spent millions funding a coordinated campaign to create confusion about climate science, which has slowed the move towards a more sustainable future. Now Exxon (finally) admits that climate change is a problem, but…
- They say they can’t predict what will happen, and
- Therefore they will continue business as usual.
In June 2012, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to “adapt”. Tillerson blamed a public that is “illiterate” in science and math, a “lazy” press, and advocacy groups that “manufacture fear” for misconceptions around the oil and gas industry.
- Exxon must hate your children because they and other fossil fuel companies send campaign contributions to candidates for Congress, and in turn, they get massive subsidies…at the expense of more important causes. For every one dollar Big Oil spends on political contributions, they get $59 back in subsidies — a 5800% rate of return. Meanwhile, they make record profits — in 2011, just the 5 biggest oil companies alone (including Exxon) made roughly $135 billion in profits. The at least $10 billion annually in our tax dollars that goes to supporting these rich fossil fuel companies should instead go to building a safe future for all our children.
- Exxon must hate your children because climate change threatens the future of all of our children, and they seem to just ignore it. Even before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States, we were witnessing climate impacts on a daily basis, and they’re only getting worse. Just this summer, we’ve seen drought engulf the breadbasket of America. We’ve seen freak storms ravage the Midwest and east coast. All of these impacts are consistent with scientific predictions of climate change. Yet Exxon continues drilling and funding Congressional campaigns, in order to get more subsidies to feed their addiction to their climate-destroying profits.
So, to Exxon, your children’s safe futures stand in the way of their massive profits. They peddle influence, throw their money around, and lobby their way to more subsidies, more obscene profits…and a more dangerous future for the rest of us.
Exxon, and all other oil, gas and coal companies, talk a good game. Their slick ads — which they have the money to place almost everywhere thanks to record profits supplemented by government handouts — promise jobs, prosperity, energy security and a brighter future. Unfortunately, the only promise that they are likely to deliver on is the promise of profits — which won’t matter for your children, who will have to pay the price.
This is not a problem we will solve overnight. To start though, we can demand that Exxon, and all other oil companies, stop using our money to fund climate destruction.
Does Exxon actually hate your children? Certainly its actions credibly indicate a disregard for our children’s future. The ad produced by the Other 98% and Oil Change International is obvious satire, but with a serious message that is protected by the First Amendment.
I really want to sign your petition about ending government subsidies of fossil fuels but I can’t because of the word “ALL.” Assistance for heating costs for low income families and seniors is considered an “oil subsidy” as are fuel tax rebates for farmers. When this type of “subsidy” is reclassified and/or alternative energy sources are available to the neediest in our country, you can say “ALL,” but until then maybe you should amend your petition to say “ALL fossil fuel subsidies that directly profit oil companies” or something similar.
Giuseppina – That is a REALLY good question – thanks for asking it. Oil Change does support removing all fossil fuel subsidies – but not all at the same time and not in the same ways. The absolute first subsidies to remove are those on the production of fossil fuels, both because we need to be discouraging more fossil fuel production and because it is ludicrous that taxpayers subsidize this highly profitable industry that is threatening our children’s future. We like saying ALL, frankly because the subsidies we would most like to see removed ultimately are the biggest ones – the polluters who have profited from creating climate change need to pay their share for society to adapt, and shift to cleaner sources of energy. And the cost to the US taxpayers to defend oil interests in the Persian Gulf – THAT costs a LOT more than $10 billion / year.
Ultimately, we’re going to have to eliminate consumer subsidies too – there are better ways to keep people warm or provide affordable transport than making oil, coal or gas cheap – but that can and should be phased out as new support is phased in.
It’s hard to put all that into a petition sometimes, but please sign that anyway, and I promise you we do think about the social dimensions of this work quite a bit.
My understanding is that the subsidies for Exxon you are talking about are in the form of tax allowances rather than actual cash subsidies. These tax allowances are “resource depletion allowances” and are given to all mining activities in the USA and in many countries around the world. Rather akin to capital depreciation for plant and equipment. So they are not actually aimed at Exxon specifically, or even at fossil fuel companies.
Also the impact per unit of energy of these allowances is very small compared with the subsidies given to renewables such as wind and solar where the subsidies are of the order of 100% or more.
I understand that many in the green activism world are convinced that society should stop burning stuff so as to save the planet but frankly there is much debate about this any consensus claims notwithstanding. So I think that rather than condemning Exxon as child haters you may wish to reconsider your position and rather contemplate what a world for our children would look like without cheap and ubiquitous energy, most of which we get from fossil fuels mined by Exxon and others.
Craig – There is no longer any serious debate about climate change. I would hardly consider the International Energy Agency – which recently said that 2/3 of existing fossil fuels must be left in the ground by 2050 – to be an arm of “green activism”, but I sense you’ll believe what you want on this.
On subsidies – you can read more about what we consider subsidies here: https://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/ but in general the definition I think is best is the World Trade Organization’s (another radical green institution – not) which essentially says any action by a government which lowers the cost of production for producers, raises the price received by producers, or lowers the cost of consumption for consumers is a subsidy. The producer side subsidies are those we are concerned with first and foremost, particularly in the U.S.
Steve, thank you for your response and the link to yourself. That link doesn’t disprove anything I have said regarding tax allowances. Furthermore I see no elucidation of the tax concessions allowed for all other extractive industries in the USA.
I realise that I am in the wrong place and I apologise.
Craig – please “drill down” further into that page and you will find plenty of primary sources. But the point is not that they get more subsidies than other industries (although that is generally true). The point is they are primarily responsible for climate change and we need to stop funding them, if we expect to avoid the worst impacts of a changed climate.
The premise alone reveals a complete lack of understanding and an absurd extent of hypocrisy. The diatribe takes a nose dive from there into complete nonsense. I can hardly fathom the level of indoctrination required for anyone to satirically or otherwise condemn an industry while basking in the glow of the prosperity that industry has provided. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you; it’s a good thing for you that I’m not in charge of Exxon (et al) because I’d cut you off and just let you see what life is really like without fossil fuels like the millions worldwide who currently suffer needlessly in a vain attempt to control the weather. I’m reminded of those who harass our military personnel protected by the very rights those military men and women have provided. Yes, Westboro Baptist Church and Oilchange are cut from the same ignorant cloth. The audacity it takes to promote a position without doing any due diligence into the subject matter is mind boggling. Have you even looked at the 10,000 year CO2 and Temperature reconstructions? 100,000 year? 1,000,000 year? 4.5 billion year? Do you have any idea that CO2 influence on heat flux is logarithmic? Do you realize how absurd the term “Climate Destruction” is? (The climate is the average weather, no matter what that average weather becomes since climate does change it’s still the climate, and it’s not destroyed.) Do you realize the upper tropospheric hot spot that is an essential feature within the climate models that also project significant warming is missing? Do you realize the last decade and a half has seen no significant warming in direct defiance of the climate models that project significant warming? Do you realize that there hasn’t been any stratospheric cooling (a GHE warming fingerprint) since 1995?
Back in 2007 Gavin Schmidt a climate modeler at NASA GISS said when asked what it would take for him to reconsider the CO2 – Warming Paradigm:
“You need a greater than a decade non-trend that is significantly different from projections. [0.2 – 0.3 deg/decade]”
In 2009 when asked what would falsify the CO2 –warming link he said:
”that the stratosphere is not cooling as expected (this is a cleaner test than the surface temperatures because there are less extraneous factors)”
What more do you people need in order to realize we just don’t know enough to act, cast aspersions, or start “burning the witches”; an ice age? Oh yea, we had that scare in the 1970’s, funny thing, it was fossil fuels to blame then too.
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