The greening of Chevron is not as impressive as they’d like you to think
Those greenwashing ads are really starting to bug me. “It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We’ll use the next trillion in 30.” And you’re proud of this fact — proud of your role in bringing about the wholesale destruction of this planet’s climate?
Will you join us? No, I won’t. I’m trying to figure out a way to get people to use a lot less of your polluting product.
And now, “Chevron Announces New Global ‘Human Energy’ Advertising Campaign.” I suppose it’s better than the ad campaign for “inhuman energy” that they have been running for decades — though it strikes me as a lame ripoff of Dow’s “Human Element” campaign.
Chevron has taken the equivalent of three full-page ads in today’s Washington Post. One of the ads says, “We’ve increased the energy efficiency of our own operations by 27% since 1992.” To quote Clarence Thomas, “Whoop-Dee-Damn-Doo.”
I have worked on energy efficiency with a lot of companies over the years, and a below-2-percent-per-year gain in efficiency is nothing to brag about. Johnson & Johnson achieved a 3 percent annual efficiency gain over a 20 year period. And IBM achieved 4 percent per year.
The achievement is doubly meaningless because the vast majority of Chevron’s emissions come from the products they make — like gasoline — not the energy used to make the products. Indeed, the total greenhouse-gas emissions from burning gasoline are typically four to five times that of making it. So who cares if Chevron’s “Human Energy” figured out how to produce its fuel more efficiently — it’s burning the next trillion barrels that is the killer, not producing it.
IT ISN’T EASY BEING GREEN
If you go to Chevron’s website as the ads suggest, you’ll see this press release on the front page: Chevron Announces $15 Billion Share Repurchase Program. Delightful. The company’s idea of being green is to launch a $15 million ad campaign touting its greenness while spending a stunning $15 billion buying back its own stock, rather than, say, investing the money in developing new sources of clean energy.
If you google “greenwashing Chevron” you’ll find a lot of great information about just how “green” and “socially responsible” this company is. My new favorite is oilwatchdog.org. That site has a great story on Chevron’s scorched-earth denial tactic against foreign environmental and human rights lawsuits, which begins:
A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that Nigerian villagers can go to trial in the U.S. on charges that Chevron is responsible for Nigerian military attacks in 1998 and 1999 that killed and wounded anti-Chevron protesters.
In late June, a federal judge in New York ruled that Chevron could not neuter a lawsuit filed by Amazonians in Ecuador, demanding a $6 billion cleanup of widespread ground and water contamination allegedly caused by Texaco, which is now part of Chevron. The definitive story on that long-running battle, by investigative writer William Langeweische, is worth reading even on a computer screen. Excerpt:
“[Chevron] denies that the judge is fair, denies that the plaintiffs have legitimate complaints, denies that their soil and water samples are meaningful, denies that the methods the company used to extract oil in the past were substandard, denies that it contaminated the forest, denies that the forest is contaminated, denies that there is a link between the drinking water and high rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and skin disease, denies that unusual health problems have been demonstrated — and, for added measure, denies that it bears responsibility for any environmental damage that might after all be found to exist.”
Makes one long for Beyond Petroleum …