Just Stop Oil supporters slow march past a Shell petrol station (Picture: Just Stop Oil/Twitter)

As fires caused by climate change sweep large parts of Europe, fossil fuel giants are celebrating massive profits.

Shell announced profits of over £3.85 billion in just the three months from April to June this year. Another oil firm, Total, revealed a similar haul.

Incredibly some financial analysts were disappointed with the haul because it’s less than the climate killers raked in at the start of the war in Ukraine. That didn’t stop Shell from handing shareholders an inflation-busting 15 percent increase in dividend payments. 

Meanwhile, Centrica has reported an almost ten-fold surge in first-half profits at British Gas. It grabbed almost £1 billion pounds in half a year as ordinary people saw their bills soar.

The firm, which has about 7.5 million customers, revealed operating profits at British Gas of £969 million in the first six months of this year. That’s up from £98 million in the first half of 2022.

The company will increase dividends to shareholders by 33 percent. Profits at British Gas were also buoyed by about £500 million after the Ofgem regulator allowed the company to recover losses incurred when the price cap was “too low to fully account for costs faced by suppliers”.

The chief executive of Centrica received total take-home pay of £4.5 million last year, a more than fivefold increase on the previous year. Chris O’Shea’s pay packet has jumped from £875,000 in 2021.

Greenpeace UK erected a giant spoof advertising billboard outside Shell’s HQ. It drew attention to the oil and gas industry’s responsibility for extreme weather linked to the climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

It shows an image of a Greek firefighter battling to contain a wildfire near Athens last week. It’s emblazoned with Shell’s logo and features the slogan, “Our profit, your loss.” 

BP, Exxon Mobil and Chevron will all trumpet their billions in profits over the next few days. All these firms, and their government backers, are counting their loot as the planet burns. There is no level of damage that will make them turn away from their present path.

The logic of capitalism means they will drill and frack until the world is a wasteland.

July promises to be the hottest month ever recorded on the planet, warned the World Meteorological Organisation of the United Nations (UN) and the European observatory Copernicus. “The era of global warming is over, the era of global boiling has arrived,” said UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on Thursday.

“The air is unbreathable, the heat is unbearable. And the levels of fossil fuel profits and climate inaction are unacceptable,” he said. But such institutions won’t tear down the system that makes such results inevitable.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The only way to end the chaos in our energy supply is staring us in the face—public ownership. It is absolutely affordable. It would protect businesses and households. Both the government and Labour need to decide whose side they are  on.”

Certainly the energy firms should be taken off the fat cats. But we don’t need the environment destroyed under state  control.

There needs to be a fight now to stop governments licensing all new oil, gas and coal projects. And that has to be part of a wider struggle for the environment and against the bosses’ system.

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