We know roughly how much more carbon we can emit before we go past two degrees: about 500 billion tons. And at current rates of emissions, that will take us less than 40 years. But the math gets really impossible when you consider how much carbon the world’s coal, oil and gas industries already have in their reserves. That number is about 2,800 gigatons – five times what the most conservative governments and scientists on earth say would be safe to burn.
And yet, companies will dig it up and burn it – that’s what their business plans call for, that’s what their share prices depend on, and that’s what their government lobbying budgets are spent on making sure happens. Once you know the maths, you know that Exxon, Rio Tinto and Shell and so on aren’t like normal companies – they’re really rogues.
It can indeed be true that a company produces something because its business plan says to. But that\’s not the determinant of whether the thing gets produced. What does determine it is whether anyone wants to purchase or use what is produced.
The problem with climate change is not that companies try to force emitting fuels down our throats. It\’s that we, when looking at the available alternatives to cook our dinner shoose to use fossil fuels.
The problem is not, as Willy S near pointed out, in the corporates nor the stars: it is in us.