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The Times: Letters: Oil greed and climate change

Sir, In a week in which Shell has reported the biggest profit in corporate history (report, Feb 3) we would like to draw attention to the discrepancy between oil company profits and research funding to investigate the effects of climate change.
It is widely accepted now that activities of these companies play a big part in altering our climate. As a result of public awareness of these issues, leading oil companies have included references to the environment, renewable sources of energy and even climate change itself in their corporate publicity. Not to single out Shell, BP is advertising on its website that it is committed to researching our CO2 emissions and “what BP is doing about global warming”.
Well, we do not really know what they intend to do about climate change — apart from getting the greatest financial mileage out of their present business model. At the University of Wales, we are running a unique large-scale climate change experiment investigating the impact of high CO2 concentrations on native British tree species. We are also looking into carbon sequestration potential of British forestry. Since this kind of research is financially demanding, we have approached nearly all the main oil companies based in the UK for support. The response has invariably been a point-blank refusal. This is not only our case: getting funding from oil companies to do environmental research is difficult for anyone.
Are we really meant to believe the propaganda of oil companies suggesting that they care about the environmental impact of their line of work? In a situation when the profits are counted in tens of billions and research funding requests for tens of thousands are declined, believing in the environmental commitment of oil companies is very hard indeed.
School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences
University of Wales, Bangor

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