“With very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then to begin doing anything. The potential implications for the world are, however, so large, that policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”
Later reports also acknowledge that climate change "could have major business implications for the fossil fuel industry" and trigger extreme weather events as early as 2010.
They describe what the scene may look like: "In 2010, a series of violent storms causes extensive damage to the eastern coast of the US. Although it is not clear whether the storms are caused by climate change, people are not willing to take further chances," authors of a 1998 report wrote.
“Following the storms, a coalition of environmental NGOs brings a class-action suit against the US government and fossil-fuel companies on the grounds of neglecting what scientists (including their own) have been saying for years: that something must be done... Young consumers, especially, demand action…The power, auto, and oil industries see billions wiped off their market value overnight.”
This is something we're seeing today.
“Had they merely been candid with the world, we could have gotten to work then, and while global warming would not yet be ‘solved,’ we’d be well on the way," Bill McKibben, a co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, told Mashable. "Instead they appear to have chosen the path of hedging, minimizing, and diverting – and given the stakes, this was both tragic and immoral. Shell knew. And now we do too.”