More than a dozen international oil companies this week announced the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative aimed at addressing the concerns expressed loudly by young climate activists led by Greta Thunberg.
Reuters reports the initiative was announced at the United Nations Climate Summit along with a series of meetings with students and other young people to hammer out the details of a long-term plan for, as Reuters put it, engaging with young people.
“It’s about dialogue and to have dialogue you have to have transparency,” Reuters quoted Equinor’s chief executive Eldar Saetre as saying. The executive also admitted addressing teenage anger on environmental issues had been “tough.”
From the reactions of some of the students and young professionals invited to the meetings, one is left with the impression that Big Oil has quite a task ahead of it. Young people simply do not trust the industry enough to believe it wants a change.
This, according to a UN official, could have negative repercussions for Big Oil’s own future and not just in the reputation department.
“The stigma this industry has acquired does not allow you to attract the best and brightest,” said Christina Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “And you need the best and brightest for a transformation.”
Winning young people’s trust again is essential for the oil industry which may be facing a talent crisis, a survey suggested earlier this year. One reason for this is worry about long-term job security in light of Big Oil’s much publicized shift away from just fossil fuels. Another, however, has to do with changing attitudes.
“University petroleum courses are being asked to take petroleum out of their name, because people think petroleum is the devil,” the chair of the Petroleum Group of the UK’s Geological Society, Lucy Williams, told Bloomberg in August. “I suspect some people who start on it in their education and then get turned away from it.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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