Hold fossil fuel companies accountable

Zoe Dufner, Staff Reporter

In our area of Redwood City, most people are aware of the issue of climate change; and many would love to do what they can to help the cause. However, to what extent can each person really make an impact? Being a member of our society as it is today, is it possible to avoid leaving a large carbon footprint? Even if everyone did the most they could to reduce their impact, would that effectively counteract the damage that has already been done?

As of late, the topic of climate change has been circulating in the media and public sphere. The United Nations, also known as the UN, issued a report in 2021 stating that the Earth is approaching a point where climate change will become irreversible.

This begs the question, what can we do to prevent this? And to answer that, we have to look at why this is the case in the first place.

As far back as 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius claimed that the burning of fossil fuels would change the climate. In the 1950s, scientist Charles Keeling confirmed the greenhouse effect by studying CO2 concentration in Antarctica ice cores. However, the general population only really became aware of the impact human activity had on the environment in the 1980s when the U.S. Senate began holding public hearings on climate change, and we proceeded to do nothing substantial.

One group that was well aware of climate change for quite a while longer however, was fossil fuel companies. Before global warming had become a public issue in the 1980s, oil companies had already begun making their ocean platforms higher to accommodate the rising sea levels that they knew they were causing.

According to an article published by The Guardian in 2019, just 20 fossil fuel companies, such as Chevron, Exxon and Shell, are responsible for nearly a third of all carbon emissions. 

However, companies are not the sole cause of climate change. Human activities such as consumerism and overconsumption cannot be ignored. While climate change is not an issue that one individual alone can solve, it is an issue that an individual can contribute to greatly.

To minimize the impact each person has on the environment, it is important to educate people on how they can live more sustainably. One group that aims to accomplish this is Sequoia’s Sustainability Club.

Though the matter of climate change may be far too big of an issue for individuals to tackle alone, group efforts have been made in our community to help the environment on a more local scale, with groups such as Sequoia’s Sustainability Club. 

Sustainability Club meets every two weeks to educate group members on environmental issues and plan clean ups at local sites. Creating a group such as this within a community can exponentially increase the effectiveness of goals to alleviate the generally negative effect humans have on the environment.

Though groups such as these do have a significant impact locally, the issue of climate change cannot be solved by these groups or individual efforts alone. Despite all efforts made, fossil fuels, methane, CO2 and more are still being pumped into our atmosphere. Fossil fuel companies are essentially incentivized to continue with their inexpensive ways that are detrimental to the environment.

We only have so much time to slow down climate change. In order to do so, we need to create regulations for these fossil fuel companies and hold them accountable.