Harder Line

Column / Harder Line

Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows

Illustration of plastic bag coming out of a gas pump
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The oil and gas industry is ramping up petrochemicals — building blocks of plastics —right as the global outcry intensifies over plastic waste.

The big picture: Most people associate oil companies' products mainly with gasoline. But they also generate plastics that are interwoven into all facets of our lives. This durable material is, more and more, leaving waste virtually everywhere on Earth.

Natural gas is helping combat climate change — but not enough

Illustration of a tiny natural gas rig on top of a warming planet
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Natural gas is to climate change what our mediocre exercise and diet regimes are to our health: far from perfect but better than nothing.

Why it matters: Natural gas, which is becoming the world’s dominant energy, emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal. That's why it's emerging as a good-enough-for-now solution to climate change. But since it’s a fossil fuel, it still produces heat-trapping emissions.