This article by Matthew Taylor and Jillian Ambrose first appeared in The Guardian on February 12, 2020
BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades as their exploitation of oil, gas and coal reserves has driven the planet to the brink of climate breakdown, according to analysis for the Guardian.
The scale of their profits is revealed as experts say the fossil fuel boom is coming to an end, with big oil entering a “death knell” phase, according to one prominent Wall St commentator.
Critics say the findings highlight how a few corporations have generated extraordinary wealth by pursuing policies that were known to be driving the climate crisis.
The climate scientist Michael Mann said he was witnessing first-hand in Australia the environmental impact of fossil fuel extraction.
“Here in Sydney, where we’ve seen record drought, heat, bushfires and floods all in the short two months I’ve been here, this latest report provides a sobering reminder that we’re all paying the price – in the form of a planetary climate crisis – so that a few mega-corporations can continue to make record profits,” he said.
The analysis shows that Exxon was the most profitable of the big four over the past three decades, making a total of $775bn. Shell was second with $524bn, followed by Chevron on $360bn and BP on $332bn.