Anti renewable energy propaganda slammed

2012-11-15 14:32
The WWF has slammed vested interests that do not care to see renewable energy become more mainstream. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The WWF has slammed vested interests that do not care to see renewable energy become more mainstream. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - An environmental organisation has slammed vested interests that do not care to see renewable energy become more mainstream.

"I have no doubt that oil companies as energy companies could buy up every bit of IP [intellectual property] around renewables and make huge money there, but there’s no incentive to drive them there," Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF) told News24.

Oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell have been touting their green credentials by advertising their environmentally friendly policies in the extraction of oil and gas.

Du Plessis though, contended that their business model did not make allowance for such a dramatic change.

"If you are an oil company and you are sitting on huge oil reserves that you have access to and have rights to and there’s a lot of profit tied up in that, why would you be moving your business model away from that because you're basically walking away from huge profits into another arena."


Many commentators have dismissed the accuracy of scientific models that suggest climate change is man-made and will result in runaway effects as the Earth warms beyond the 2° limit experts have set.

In the US, Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade called global warming a "scam" in a discussion with Dr Alex Berezow, author of Science Left Behind.

"When people ask me whether I believe in climate science I say 'No I don't believe in climate change, because it's not something you believe in or not, you just look at the facts'.

"Religion is driven by belief; climate science is not an issue of belief. And then you get a lot of counter pseudo-science, and I don't have the distinct proof, but certainly I know the way oil companies operate and it pays to sow a lot of confusion," said Du Plessis.

Surveys have found that scepticism of climate change is high in developed countries and in SA, a TNS survey found that 56% of respondents believed that climate change was a natural process and 6% believed that climate change was not taking place.

Du Plessis argued that the misinformation was being fed in a similar manner to the way the tobacco industry claimed that health problems related to smoking was unsupported by the evidence.

"It's much easier for people to believe that this emergency in slow motion is not, in fact, unfolding. This is the tobacco situation on steroids. The scale of the profits, the scale of the vested interest is just so vast.

"The difference between tobacco and fossil fuels is that with tobacco, at least you had individual who made a choice whether they wanted to become addicted… hydrocarbons affect everyone," he said.


While the WWF conceded that the shift to renewable energy would be expensive, Du Plessis rejected suggestions that fossil fuels were cheaper, despite the current high oil price.

"If you had to get the full cost of what is the environmental cost; the cost on human health, the cost on climate, on warming, on the greenhouse gases that you're putting up, and you're able to calculate that in, then renewables is a complete no-brainer. But the thing is we don't do that."

The oil and gas industry receives government subsidies estimated to be around $700bn and Du Plessis said that the financial incentive made a change from fossil fuel difficult.

"The reality is that there're a lot of vested interests - a lot of people who perpetuate these subsidies have vested interests in the oil industry."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    wwf  |  environment  |  climate change  |  renewable energy
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