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Leaked emails reveal oil companies privately betraying their pledges, misleading public: 'The time for accountability is now'

These companies have delayed the measures we desperately need to avoid climate catastrophe.

These companies have delayed the measures we desperately need to avoid climate catastrophe.

Photo Credit: iStock

For years, some of the world's biggest oil companies have been saying all the right things in public about fighting our changing climate. They've voiced support for the Paris climate agreement and pledged to slash their planet-heating pollution.

But it turns out, behind closed doors, many of these same companies have been singing a very different tune, according to The Washington Post.

What's happening?

Congressional Democrats recently released documents revealing that major oil companies have been far more skeptical of key climate efforts behind the scenes than their public pledges of support would suggest.

The documents, obtained as part of a multi-year probe, show that while oil giants have voiced backing for measures like the Paris climate agreement and federal methane regulations, company officials have privately expressed doubts about these initiatives.

Why are these documents concerning?

This two-faced approach from oil companies is a huge problem for our overheating planet. By publicly supporting climate action while privately dismissing it, these companies delay the measures we desperately need to avoid climate catastrophe.

Scientists warn that unless we rapidly transition to cleaner energy, we could face increasingly severe heatwaves, droughts, floods, and other climate disasters in the coming years.

As California Governor Gavin Newsom put it when announcing a recent lawsuit against oil firms, "These are things that we imagined we might be experiencing in 2040 and 2050, but that have been brought into the present moment, and the time for accountability is now."

What's being done about oil companies' skepticism?

The good news is that the new documents are adding fresh evidence to a wave of lawsuits seeking to hold oil companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis.

Eight states, dozens of cities, and Washington, D.C., are suing oil companies for allegedly misleading the public about the climate damage they knew their products would cause.

These lawsuits aim to make oil companies help foot the massive bill for climate impacts that are battering communities nationwide. The goal is to shift the costs of adapting to a warming world from regular people to the companies most responsible for the crisis.

What can I do to help?

As an individual, one of the most powerful things you can do is vote with your dollars.

When possible, skip the gas pump and walk, bike, or take public transit instead. If you're in the market for a new car, consider going electric — they're cheaper to fuel and maintain than gas guzzlers.

You can also urge lawmakers to invest in clean energy. Write to your elected officials, demanding they support a rapid and just transition away from oil, gas, and coal. Our future depends on it.

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