BP – a history of environmental crime

May 22, 2010

It was always unbelievable, an oil company that posed as a forward thinking responsible corporation. Now the unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is showing; any talk in the past about caring for this increasingly frail planet was just that: talk.

News is coming in of the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico reaching the Louisiana wetlands, an environmental catastrophe in itself, coupled with what’s already happened and what is to come, this is the most serious oil spill in history. In the past spills have mostly come from stricken tankers, limited in size and therefore limited in impact (although some previous tanker spills have themselves wrecked devastating effects).

What is galling is the efforts of BP to present a green and friendly face. One of the major sections o the BP website is entitled “BP and sustainability”. You can log onto the BP website and use their energy calculator to work out the size of your very own carbon footprint. Handy.

BP itself makes noise about reducing it’s own carbon footprint. But is this really the environmental way to carry on? Say an oil corporation builds a pipeline, there’s examples I could use in Kurdistan and Turkey and Afghanistan and throughout central Asia. Now after an initial increase in carbon emissions (often attributable to a different corporation) the transportation of oil from one end of the pipeline to the other is massively lighter on carbon than it would have been using tankers on road or sea to shift the gloop.

But that leaves us facing sleight of hand in carbon accounting for a corporation that exists to put into others’ hands the means to increase their own carbon footprints. Only capitalism could produce such a logical and illogical situation in one go.

A glance at tax avoidance and evasion and corporate practices should be enough to condemn any idea of carbon trading to the file marked “mad ideas that’ll never work”, but still it’s an idea pursued by many who otherwise have good intentions. Introducing market mechanisms to defend the environment simply cannot work, the corporations, in their relentless pursuit of profit will find or buy ways around such mechanisms, leaving the world’s population particularly the poor facing the consequences. As for mother nature itself, Evo Morales (reported elsewhere on this website) is correct when he says that capitalism is killing the planet.

Capitalism is doing just that and at present has a lovely green and yellow flowery logo.


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