The more I look at Chevron's Energyville game the more I think it's a fantastic example of oil industry greenwashing. Here are some of the things that really stand out for me.

Business as usual

In the game no matter how much you choose to spend on energy efficiency between now and 2030 demand for energy will increase by 50%. Banning incandescent lightbulbs, legislating for fuel efficiency, carbon taxes, more efficient electrical appliances, better public transport... forget it. Energy demand will grow by 50% in the game, forcing you to build more stuff. The notion of a future with less stuff, or even the same amount of stuff is literally unthinkable within the game. You see this kind of thinking in the real world in things like the energy scenarios released today by the IEA for India and China, "business as usual" thinking is code for accepting catastrophic climate change.


Security of the energy supply has become a fantastic catch all for the fossil fuel industry lately. Once you accept that parts of the energy supply might be in the hands of people who may not want to share it the discovery of more oil or gas anywhere is, defacto, a good thing. It's even better if that oil or gas is close to home, perhaps in the Alaskan Wilderness, or as shale oil in Colorado, or beneath the newly accessible arctic ocean. New, secure, domestic oil, that's what the world needs, say the energy companies. Of course no-one is talking about closing down oil wells in the Middle East to compensate for this.

Security is also a handy stick with which to beat renewable solutions, partly because most people are really bad at assessing and comparing risks. Geo-political situations cause problems for nations oil and gas supplies every day, but the game considers the possibility of a successful terrorist attack on a city's power supply (something which has never happened) to be equally likely. I'm not sure how the Economist's Intelligence Unit came up with that one.

It's Energy, not the Climate!

And then of course there's the biggest frame of all. This game isn't really about our energy problems at all. It's about Chevron's image problem over climate change. Chevron launched this PR campaign to make it look like they were doing something, while drowning the discussion in irrelevant concepts like the ones mentioned above. The fossil fuel industry wants to talk about energy, and geo-politics and how we support business as usual because it doesn't want to face up to the fact that if we're going to get through the next fifty years without dramatically harming the entire world then the one thing that definitely cannot continue as usual is the fossil fuel industry.

Oh, and the numbers don't add up. Oddly in a game stuffed full of precise sounding factoids the total energy demand of all sectors of your economy comes to 105%. In some ways I think that says it all...