Chevron Corporation’s attempt to build a “moral case” for fossil fuels in a recent pamphlet for employees suggests the California-based colossal fossil is under ever-increasing pressure to justify its raison d’etre in the face of an escalating climate crisis, climate journalist Emily Atkin suggests in her daily climate newsletter, HEATED.
The Chevron pep talk, produced for beleaguered employees who increasingly find themselves being grilled about the climate crisis by everyone from close cousins to complete strangers, seems to draw heavily from a book by fossil consultant and self-styled “energy theorist” Alex Epstein, titled The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. (Listing the multiple, dire consequences in even an optimistic scenario for 2.0°C average global warming, Atkin responds that there is no such moral case to be made.)
Absurd premise aside, the fact that the fossil giant is trying to promote Epstein’s ideas is important, said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, a non-profit that supports shareholder efforts to force corporate sustainability. “It signifies the immense pressure these companies are under due to climate change,” she told Atkin. “Fossil fuel companies have never had to justify their existence before. Now, they have to justify it not only to the world, but to their own employees.”
HEATED adds that “the benefits Epstein regularly speaks about are echoed in Chevron’s talking points,” pointing to details in the pamphlet that resonate with the core claim found on the website for Epstein’s for-profit think tank, the Center for Industrial Progress: “It is our commitment to looking at the full context that has persuaded us and allowed us to persuade others that fossil fuels make an overwhelmingly positive contribution to human flourishing, and that side effects such as the warming impact of CO2 do not justify the widely-proposed radical restrictions on fossil fuel use.”
Fugere, whose clients include Chevron investors and employees, said it’s hardly surprising that Chevron and other fossils might be willing to devote paper and ink to Epstein, as the industry increasingly struggles to give its employees “a reason to come to work” every day.
“I’m sure it’s not easy to work at an oil and gas company when those companies are contributing potentially to the downfall of civilization,” she said. “And I don’t say that flippantly, but with true meaning: they are contributing to a world that will be inhospitable to human and other life.”