Why on earth do we tolerate oil companies? Yet they are all around us, in every town.

Shell is a familiar oil company brand. The red and yellow livery is warm and distinctive. You are always close to a Shell petrol station. But this company’s business model is based on profit before human life. Shell’s business is extracting and selling fossil fuels, the source of the excess carbon dioxide that threatens the future of human civilisation. But no one talks about that threat, it’s not part of everyday conversation.

Newspapers love to play on people’s fears: covid, refugees, cancer, and the cost of living crisis. But the biggest threat to the future of humanity comes from highly profitable, multi-national companies whose product destabilises the climate of the only planet on which we can live. Despite the existential threat that companies like Shell present, they are seen as respectable businesses. Members of parliament sit on their boards and receive donations from them.

This is the insane Orwellian world in which we live. Carbon dioxide emissions are not regarded as a deadly serious danger that must be reduced as much as possible. Fossil fuel businesses operate within hopelessly inadequate rules and can claim to be law-abiding providers of jobs and tax revenues. Those who call out the scientific consensus and demand change are jailed and reviled.

This is the extent of the journey we need to take. It’s time to stop accepting oil companies as urbane and respectable members of the business community. Rather, those who run them must become pariahs and those people who work for them must have just options to transition to other work.