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Ethics of the environment: Political corruption and climate crisis

Ethics of the environment: Political corruption and climate crisis

The environmentalist movement is reaching new heights, and more urgent updates about climate change continue to be reported by major news outlets. But the question remains: What is stopping climate reform from happening? Many people who follow politics know that the answer is: congressional corruption, particularly on the right.

Corporate influence in politics has increased dramatically since Citizens United v. FEC (2010), a court ruling that allowed corporations and unions unlimited amounts of money to be donated to political campaigns. Brennan Center analyst Daniel I. Weiner says Citizens United opened up the possibility of unchecked lobbying through superPACs and other shadowy organisations. This lobbying is largely for the fossil fuel industry and has been a problem for environmental legislation ever since. Federal subsidies for oil-and gas extraction are the most prominent evidence of influence by fossil fuel firms. According to the International Monetary Fund, the federal government provided $5.9 trillion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry in 2020. These subsidies are Members are overwhelming supportiveCampaigns of Congress that receive contributions from the fossil fuel sector

A 2020 report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reached a depressing, but not surprising conclusion. The more a given member votes against environmental policies, they receive more support from oil and natural gas companies. This pervasive problem goes beyond climate policy and is only getting worse. It is also becoming more partisan, with a strong preference for Republicans. In 1990, 63% of the political contributions from fossil fuel companies went directly to Republicans. This figure was 88% in 2018. The RNC is not alone to blame. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia who has a history of voting conservatively, recently blocked a bill being called the “The” bill. Last chance to avoid severe climate change impacts. In 2021, Exxon Mobil released a sting video that showed Exxon Mobils efforts in stopping the progress of climate legislation. Exxon contributed nearly $330,000 in donations to the campaigns of Senate Democrats in Arizona and New Hampshire.

Oil and gas companies are not restricted in their influence on U.S. borders. They have been accused and convicted for illegally bribing officials around the world. Oil and gas extraction industries are consistently ranked among the most corrupt. Unaoil, a Monaco-based fossil fuels company, was recently found guilty of bribing officials from nine countries to secure oil and gaz contracts. 

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Despite dire warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), many members of Congress, like Rep. Dan Crenshaw, continue to believe in fossil fuels despite grave warnings. Oil and gas are essential for human flourishing. Crenshaw tweeted that this is the case. Others, such as U.N. Secretary General Antnio Guterres feel a greater urgency about this issue. He responded to politicians who fail to achieve their stated goals with a short, but firm, response: They lie.  The results will be disastrous.

Transparency in politics is key, especially when it comes to campaign finance. It is also a great way to find out about the financial backing of any politician that you are considering supporting. OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign contributions and their sources for every U.S. politician, is a great way of researching your candidates. The future of the world rests in the hands of our leaders. Therefore, it is our collective duty and responsibility to be aware who these leaders are.

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