Although the planet is trying to make positive steps towards environmental change, many fear that the damage may have already been done. It is already estimated that we need almost two earths to support our current way of life and with the population increasing and resources depleting, there couldn’t be more urgency around the need for clean, renewable energy. That being said, if we are too far gone, who is to blame? Is it the consumer for needing energy? Is it the world’s governments for not safeguarding and thinking ahead? Or does the blame fall with businesses, determined to turn profit without care for the environment? I would argue the blame falls from the latter backwards, especially when in some leading countries, such as america, big business has a big impact on political power, which has nothing whatsoever to do with why wars have been fought for oil… Below is a list of five huge companies and their detrimental impact on the environment, some of which are looking to change while others seem recklessly bent on bringing environmental disaster to the planet.
Peabody Energy – US
One of these environmentally destructive companies is Peabody Energy. The largest private-sector coal company, Peabody boasts over 6.6.bn in net profits from coal. Based in the US, the company has recently been ranked 493rd out of 500 companies for green energy. This partly due to the environmental impacts of extracting and burning coal but also due to their shoddy attitude when it comes to environmental responsibility.
The company is also a member of the American coalition for clean coal electricity (so obsessed with coal that they spelt it twice) which is a publicity front and heavily involved in climate change denial. Peabody has spent millions lobbying politicians into introducing anti-environment legislation, making them one of the most malicious members of this list.
Total S.A – France
Total S.A is a multinational oil and gas company originating in France. It is the biggest company in France, neighbouring many european countries whose biggest companies also come in the form of non-renewable giants. Similarly to Peabody, Total S.A is obsessed with profits to an extent that it seems to abandon morality and lawful action.
There have been several lawsuits brought to them by the french and belgian government for bribing and unlawful oil procurement. In 2013, for example, they bribed an Iranian $60 million, which they claimed to be a ‘consultation charge’ and were given access to more pipelines, totalling a profit of 1$50 million. They were caught out by the security exchange commission and department of justice are expected to pay $398 million.
Coal Industry – China
A more general and substantial contributor to environmental damage can be seen in China’s coal industry, currently accounting for almost 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This comes as no surprise really when you consider that a recent inland report showed over 70% of public companies in China were violating pollution laws. China is also home to some of the least breathable air in the world, so much so that living in Beijing can have a similar effect on the body as smoking cigarettes. So, while the economy might be black, the lungs may be blacker.