LONDON (Reuters) – The world was left with a sense of hopelessness as it watched the world’s biggest oil refinery close down due to rising emissions, a Reuters poll showed.
In the poll of 1,000 people, almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they believed the refinery would be shut in the next six months, and that the number of refineries would drop by 30 percent or more.
About half of those questioned said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the refinery closing, the poll found.
The poll also showed that the world was on track to have more CO2 in the atmosphere by the end of the century than it was in 1990, after a steep rise in the use of fossil fuels.
Almost a third of people said that climate change had had a negative impact on their life, with people saying it had caused hardship, cost jobs and reduced the quality of life.
Some 62 percent said that “it would be very difficult or impossible” to live in a world where there were no CO2 emissions, with 27 percent saying it was “quite possible”.
More than half of the respondents said they did not want the refinery to close, while 22 percent said they would prefer to keep it open.
The survey also showed widespread frustration with the lack of action on climate change, with more than a third saying that they were angry with the world.
“It’s just a shame that we don’t have a clear direction for our society and the way we are responding to this is not helping,” said one respondent in the poll.
“People are frustrated that the politicians seem to have been caught completely off guard by the crisis, which has been caused by the actions of some in the oil industry.”
The poll found that people were most worried about the effect of CO2 on the environment and health, with 48 percent saying that the “pollution and climate change are not separate issues and that there is no need to address the issue head on.”
Almost two-thirds said they agreed with the statement that climate action is necessary, with a further 34 percent saying they were in favour.
The main drivers of the poll’s findings were the rising costs of oil production, which was seen as having the biggest effect on the polluter, and the growing cost of emissions reduction measures in the world, which is expected to be a factor in the closure of the refineries.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the industry, and a lot more pressure on people,” said James Toth, managing director of environmental consultancy firm Climate Solutions.
“The only thing that is really holding the industry together is the price of oil, and it’s just going to get more expensive.”
Oil prices have slumped by nearly 40 percent this year to a record low of $25 a barrel.
A further drop in oil prices will force a huge drop in the price for the world to pay to offset its rising greenhouse gas emissions, the survey found.
“This has led to a situation where people are looking to make some hard decisions,” said Toth.
“They are not taking any chances and they are going to be putting the brakes on any investment and they’re going to have to make the hard choices.”
The oil industry is one of the biggest drivers of global CO2 levels, with oil being the main way to make up the huge cost of fossil fuel production.
While the poll did not specify how much oil production was costing, the average cost per barrel of oil produced was around $50 per barrel in 2016.
By 2030, the price per barrel is expected rise to around $70 a barrel, the Climate Solutions poll found, with the average price per tonne of oil falling by over $10 in that period.
“We think it’s very unlikely that prices will fall below $70 per barrel for at least another 20 years,” said a spokesman for the Oil & Gas Council, which represents the biggest oil companies.
“But it’s going to happen in some ways, but there are a lot factors that are pushing oil prices down.”
Some oil firms are already putting a price cap on CO2 to discourage the industry from ever increasing production and use.
But Toth warned that the price cap, while good, will not help.
“If we are going further and further down the road to less than $30 per barrel, there’s going’t be any mitigation measures in place,” he said.
“You can’t just put a price on CO 2.”(Reporting by John Lutton; Editing by James Dalgleish)