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A study has concluded that emissions from the largest oil and gas companies could lead to millions of heat-related deaths by the year 2100.
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A study has concluded that emissions from the largest oil and gas companies could lead to millions of heat-related deaths by the year 2100.

A recent study suggests that the emissions from the top fossil fuel companies globally could lead to millions of additional heat-related deaths by the end of the 21st century.

According to research by Global Witness, the collective greenhouse gas emissions from Shell, BP, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, and Chevron until 2050 could potentially cause 11.5 million additional deaths from heat-related causes by 2100.

This is the initial effort to measure the number of deaths caused by heat due to the deliberate production of oil by major oil companies. This adds evidence to the call for a significant decrease in the extraction of fossil fuels.

Senior investigator Sarah Biermann Becker of Global Witness warned that even a slight increase of 0.1C in global warming could have deadly consequences. If major oil companies do not change their ways, the resulting fatalities could rival those of past wars. It is vital that governments take action to mitigate the effects of extreme heat and accelerate the shift towards renewable energy.

The study utilized the carbon mortality cost model created by scholars from Columbia University and also utilized by Oxfam and other organizations. It estimates that in a scenario with high carbon emissions – which is expected to occur if effective measures are not taken to rapidly decrease global warming – there will be 226 additional heat-related fatalities per million metric tonnes of carbon emitted.

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It utilized information from top analysts at Rystad Energy to estimate the expected carbon dioxide emissions from the production of fossil fuels by the oil companies. The total estimated emissions amounted to 51 billion tonnes.

By 2050, there will be a significant amount of emissions released into the atmosphere. If we follow the high emissions scenario, this could ultimately lead to 11.5 million excess heat-related deaths by the end of the century.

According to the study, achieving a lower level of emissions and achieving global net-zero status by 2050 could prevent approximately 5.5 million deaths related to the production of these companies.

Extreme and fatal periods of extreme heat have occurred on nearly every continent in recent years, leading to wildfires and causing a significant number of additional deaths. In Europe, scorching temperatures claimed the lives of over 60,000 individuals in 2022, while heat-related fatalities increased by 95% in the US between 2010 and 2022.

The most disadvantaged and susceptible individuals in a society are typically the ones who bear the brunt of heat, including the homeless, outdoor workers, and elderly.

Shouro Dasgupta, an economist specializing in environmental issues at the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, stressed the urgency of safeguarding the most susceptible individuals.

The effects of heat stress on workers in various industries, such as agriculture and construction, are already evident globally. This is especially true for those who work outdoors or in physically demanding jobs.

“As the Earth’s temperature increases, this situation is expected to worsen significantly. It is crucial that labor protection measures are customized to address specific needs within each community, rather than implementing a universal solution. This is not only a matter of ethics, but also serves the financial interests of employers to ensure sufficient protection for their employees.”

The failure to quickly switch from fossil fuels will lead to multiple catastrophes, including heat-related deaths, food scarcity, flooding, and political and economic upheaval, according to experts.

Major oil companies are still pouring billions of dollars into expanding their oil and gas reserves. Most notably, BP and Shell have backtracked on their promises to address climate change.

In light of the analysis from Wednesday, TotalEnergies stated that they are still pursuing investments in fresh oil undertakings to counteract the “inherent decrease” in current production and fulfill the growing global demand.

Together with Shell and BP, the company announced its commitment to investing in sustainable and environmentally-friendly energy sources, in order to facilitate a smooth transition towards a more environmentally-friendly energy system.

BP stated that their predictions beyond 2030 for oil and gas production were not viable as they have not disclosed their long-term plans.

BP and Shell have reported advancements in decreasing emissions from their operations. However, Shell has raised concerns about the methods used in the assessment.

A representative from Shell stated: The speed of change is influenced by various factors, such as government policies, shifting consumer preferences, and investments in sustainable energy sources. Our goal is to contribute to a sustainable energy transition, where the global community reaches net-zero emissions while still providing reliable and affordable energy that has greatly benefited countless individuals and will remain crucial for years to come.

Requests for comment from Exxon and Chevron went unanswered.

Source: theguardian.com