Revealed: big oil’s profits since 1990 total nearly $2tn

In The NewsRevealed: big oil’s profits since 1990 total nearly $2tnBP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon accused of making huge profits while ‘passing the buck’ on climate change

Energy & Natural Resources,  | Quick Take
Feb 12, 2020  | 8 min read | Print Article

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.

Analysis for the Guardian by Taxpayers for Common Sense in the US reveals that since 1990 – at which point the impact of fossil fuel extraction on the climate had been well known to industry leaders and politicians for years, experts say – the big four companies have accumulated $1.991tn in profits.

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.

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