The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Total Oil Company:
Secrets and Lies

Nov 8, 2021

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

According to a study in the scientific journal Global Environmental Change, the directors of French oil conglomerates Total and Elf, which merged in 1997, knew for nearly fifty years that their operations exploiting fossil fuels were “potentially catastrophic” for global warming.

A geographer wrote as much in 1971 in an internal Total document. But, as you might imagine, for years the leaders of the corporation preferred to keep this information and all that it entailed quiet, as it was against their interests.

Then, from the late 1980s, when the threat of global warming began becoming a hot topic and could no longer be ignored, these oil companies changed their strategy.

Then they actively participated in “the strategic effort of manufacturing doubt,” a policy pursued at the global level by the big oil companies in rich countries, such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell. This policy aimed to delay any action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by systematically supporting work and investigations concluding that it was not absolutely certain that carbon dioxide has an impact on global warming.

If the facts exposed and denounced by this study are appalling, they are not surprising in this society where the engine of the economy is profit. After asbestos, leaded gasoline, diesel, tobacco, dangerous pharmaceuticals, and so on, these facts only add to the long list of scandals where capitalists knowingly sold toxic goods while funding campaigns and publications claiming the opposite—when they haven’t outright bought scientists.

This scandal is enough to raise your temperature even higher!