The United States and Europe have long differed on climate change. Even conservative parties in Europe acknowledge the science behind the issue, while the Republican Party remains the sole major party in the developed world to deny the evidence.
Voters in eco-conscious Washington state rejected the country’s first attempt at a carbon tax on Nov. 8, whereas Finland became the first country to put a price on emissions 26 years ago. President-elect Donald Trump’s remarks about wanting to pull out of the Paris climate accord were met last week with threats of a special tax on U.S. goods ― from a famously conservative and pro-American French presidential candidate.
Yet nowhere is the transatlantic divide more stark than in the industry peddling the products that literally fuel global warming.
U.S. oil and gas companies invest less in clean energy and more in ultrapolluting tar sands compared to their European counterparts, and they fail to disclose information to investors about the financial risks posed by global warming, according to a report released this week by the British shareholder advocate CDP.
“The performance between Europeans and Americans is quite stark, with Europeans making steps in the right direction to hedge themselves against the changes which are going to happen in the world,” Tarek Soliman, senior analyst of investor research at CDP, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.
European giants have invested more heavily in cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy sources, and have found ways to cut back on emissions that leak during the extraction process.
Norway’s state-owned Statoil ranked first on CDP’s list for increasing its reserves of gas. It also reduced emissions from methane, a potent greenhouse gas, better than any rivals. Italian major Eni plans to invest over $1.05 billion in solar projects in Italy, Algeria, Pakistan and Egypt, and currently produces no oil from tar sands. French behemoth Total is on track to convert one-fifth of its portfolio to low-carbon fuels by 2035, and recently acquired solar and battery storage companies.