We have zero chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change if we do not rapidly phase out oil, gas and coal. To suggest otherwise — as Fred Hiatt did in his Feb. 24 op-ed, “Two ways to deny climate change,” after a friendly conversation with an oil executive — only plays into the hands of the industry at the center of the climate crisis. 

The bar for climate action is set by science, not pundits. Our situation is clear: Fossil fuel companies have already discovered five times more oil, gas and coal reserves than we can afford to burn without barreling past 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. Replacing the demand for fossil fuels with renewables is crucial, but any climate “solution” that still allows companies to dig up and burn those reserves isn’t a solution at all but a dangerous distraction. 

The world’s five largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend $200 million every year lobbying to block climate action. Total, which Mr. Hiatt highlighted, spends about $29 million every year on lobbying while investing just 4 percent of its budget in renewable energy. Inviting this industry to design climate policy is like inviting tobacco companies to write our health-care laws. 

Time is up for greedy, deceptive oil companies. Our next president must say yes to a Green New Deal and the promise of a renewable-energy economy, and no to the dirty, destructive fuels of the past. This is the year we demand a reckoning from those who profit off climate destruction.

Jack Shapiro, Chelsea, Mich.

The writer is the project lead for Greenpeace’s Climate Leadership campaign.