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#Standwithbach: Civil society renews calls for immediate release of Vietnamese environmental defender

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 12:32
C: The 88 Project

On the first anniversary of Dang Dinh Bach’s imprisonment, a prominent Vietnamese environmental lawyer, international NGOs are calling for his immediate release.

It was a year ago that Dang Dinh Bach was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence on trumped-up charges of “tax evasion” after leading a campaign to reduce Vietnam’s reliance on dirty coal.

Bach is the founder of the Law and Policy of Sustainable Development Research Centre (LPSD), and has dedicated his life to protecting communities from harmful pollution, phasing out plastic waste, and supporting the government’s transition to clean energy.

In a Youtube video from 2021, Bach talked about the dangers of his work at LPSD, an organization he had founded. He talked of his wish for more citizens to be able to do his kind of work in “relative safety” and how, in the past, he had seen his work as “very dangerous.”

He is one of a number of environmental activists who the Vietnamese authorities have imprisoned: Journalist Mai Phan Loi, the Head of the Center for Media in Educating Community, also received a four-year prison term for tax fraud. Another leading activist, Bach Hung Duong, was also sentenced to two years in prison. According to the Diplomat website, “all had spoken out against the Vietnamese government’s coal policies.”

In addition, Ms Nguy Thi Khanh, a prominent environmental activist and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 and a symbol of the campaign against Vietnam’s reliance on coal power, has also been jailed to international outrage. She was sentenced to two years in prison last year for tax fraud.

Writing about that case in June 2022, I noted: “It seems the tax-related charges are the de facto trumped up charges of choice for the Vietnamese authorities to stamp out voices they do not like. Khanh’s arrest fits a wider pattern of increasing intimidation against activists in Vietnam and internationally.”

The charges were false, and the legal process was flawed too. Bach was not granted a fair trial. He was not allowed to meet with his lawyer until seven months after he was arrested, and his sentence was much harsher than normal for people accused of tax evasion in the country. United Nations experts suggest that Bach’s prosecution was politically motivated.

Since Bach’s arrest, he has engaged in numerous hunger strikes to protest his conviction and Vietnam’s use of ambiguous tax laws to silence environmental and climate leaders. To increase pressure on the Vietnamese authorities, a group of international NGOs has now launched a #StandwithBach social media campaign and website calling for his immediate release.

His wife, Thao, told the website: “I never imagined that Bach would be imprisoned for the work he has done to help people. His top priority has always been the health and well-being of the people of Vietnam.”

“It is shocking that environmental defenders in Vietnam are being jailed for working to protect ordinary Vietnamese from the worst impacts of climate change or for ensuring Vietnam moves rapidly towards a clean, affordable energy transition,” said Shruti Suresh, Land & Environmental Defenders Campaign Strategy Lead from Global Witness.

“Bach is one of several environmental leaders to be charged with tax offenses that are increasingly being used to silence civil society in Vietnam,” added Maureen Harris, Senior Advisor from International Rivers. “The growing criminalization of environmental leaders in Vietnam must end.”

Susanne Wong from OCI also tweeted:

Environmental lawyer Dang Dinh Bach will not celebrate lunar new year with his family this year because he's in prison. The charge is “tax evasion” but really it’s Vietnam’s systematic silencing of climate leaders. #StandwithBach and spread the word. https://t.co/nAwwDTLg40 #JETP

— Susanne Wong (@susanneir) January 23, 2023

For more on the campaign, click here, or visit the following website: https://www.standwithbach.org/dang-dinh-bach.

The post #Standwithbach: Civil society renews calls for immediate release of Vietnamese environmental defender appeared first on Oil Change International.

Spain’s export credit agency restricts fossil fuel finance, but leaves major gas loopholes

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 05:30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 

  • Adam McGibbon, adam.mcgibbon [at] priceofoil.org
  • Pedro Zorrilla Miras, pzmiras [at] greenpeace.org

 

Spain’s export credit agency restricts fossil fuel finance, but leaves major gas loopholes 

  • Spain has released a new policy for CESCE, the Spanish government export credit agency, restricting public finance for oil and gas
  • Spain is a major public financier of international fossil fuel projects, providing USD 2.1 billion a year between 2018-20 to fossil fuels, and USD 47 million per year to clean energy, or 97.8% to fossil fuels and just 2.2% to clean energy.
  • Loopholes include support for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) processing, transportation and storage, as well as a widely-defined loophole for gas power that could mean gas power plants could be approved in most developing countries 
  • Policy falls short of a major pledge Spain made at the 2021 COP26 UN climate summit to stop financing fossil fuel projects. 

Spain has joined a growing list of countries implementing new policies to restrict international finance for oil and gas to implement a key climate pledge. At the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021, alongside 38 other countries and institutions, Spain pledged to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 and shift this money to clean energy. However, Spain’s new policy (English translation here) released by the Spanish export credit agency CESCE falls short of the Spanish Government’s commitment to end all financing for fossil fuels with only limited exemptions in line with the 1.5°C climate goal.

If all signatories follow through on their pledges with integrity, this will directly shift USD 28 billion a year from fossil fuels to clean energy and help shift even larger sums of public and private money away from investments in climate-harming fossil fuels. Spain would have accounted for a significant share of this shift if it had delivered on its pledge with integrity. Analysis shows that from 2018-20, Spain provided an average per year of USD 2.1 billion to international fossil fuel projects and only USD 47 million to clean energy – 2.2% of its support went to clean energy and 97.8% of its support went to fossil fuels. This is one of the most lopsided fossil-to-clean-energy ratios amongst high-income countries. The vast majority of Spain’s international energy finance came via CESCE.

Although the CESCE policy ends support for oil and gas extraction and refining (coal support was already prohibited), the policy contains a loophole that allows liquefaction, regasification, transportation, processing, storage, and distribution of Liquified Natural Gas to continue. This loophole is of particular significance given that LNG infrastructure receives the largest share of international public finance globally.

LNG is fossil gas that is cooled to -162°C, in order to reduce its volume and allow it to be shipped across oceans, to new markets, where it is again regasified. This process makes gas more widely available geographically, creating new markets, creating more fossil fuel demand, and enabling more upstream gas development. Like other forms of fossil gas, LNG is damaging for the climate, leaking methane throughout the supply chain, which is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is emitted. But LNG also requires extra energy-intensive processing, adding a significant amount to the full lifecycle emissions of producing and using gas.

Recognizing these impacts, the International Energy Agency (IEA) net-zero scenario that maintains a 50% chance to limit global warming to 1.5°C not only has no investments in new oil fields, but also not in gas fields, nor in new LNG infrastructure

In addition, the CESCE policy allows continued support for gas power, where gas power plants can still be approved in low-income countries if they meet a number of conditions, including fitting into the climate plans of a developing country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the climate plans that countries must submit to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In reality, gas power will fit into the NDCs of most developing countries, despite the climate harm and fossil fuel lock-in they will cause. Science suggests that emissions from already-existing fossil fuel power infrastructure puts the 1.5C target in jeopardy. In addition, gas is not a solution to the energy access problem in low-income countries. Of the 800 million people worldwide who are lacking electricity, 85% live in rural areas where distributed renewable energy is, in most cases, better able to provide electrification at a lower cost.

All in all, the CESCE policy is not up to the standards of the policies released by fellow signatories, including France, the UK, and Canada.

Although the policy contains a commitment to reduce CESCE’s exposure to the hydrocarbon industry by 75% by 2035 (from 2020 levels), no milestones are provided between now and 2035 that will guide the exposure reduction and this 2035 target does not guarantee that no climate-incompatible gas expansion would be financed in the meantime.

 

Pedro Zorrilla Miras, Climate Change Campaigner at Greenpeace Spain, said:

“The alleged climate leadership of the government of President Sánchez vanishes when we see how Spain wants to continue financing gas infrastructure in the world. It is absolutely unacceptable to fund climate catastrophe with money from taxpayers.”

 

Adam McGibbon, Public Finance Strategist at Oil Change International, said:

“This new policy breaks Spain’s promise to stop funding fossils. Although it restricts CESCE’s oil and gas finance, it leaves significant loopholes. Scientists are clear that there is no room for new LNG infrastructure if we are to have a chance of meeting climate goals, but CESCE’s policy gives the green light for public finance to LNG to continue. Spain can still keep its promise, but it must close the LNG and gas power loopholes in CESCE’s policy.”

 

NOTES

  • The Glasgow Statement was launched at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26) in Glasgow. The 39 signatories (full list here) aim to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022” and instead “prioritise our support fully towards the clean energy transition.” 
  • Oil Change International has compiled this implementation tracker that outlines country-level progress on implementation of the Glasgow Statement, which will be regularly updated in the lead up to and during COP27.
  • Oil Change International’s Public Finance for Energy Database shows that G20 countries and the major multilateral development banks (MDBs) provided at least USD 55 billion per year in international public finance for oil, gas, and coal projects between 2019 and 2021, almost two times more than their support for renewable energy. 
  • In its latest report, the IPCC highlighted public finance for fossil fuels as ‘severely misaligned’ with reaching the Paris goals, but that if shifted, it could play a critical role in closing the mitigation finance gap, enabling emission reductions and a just transition. More background on the role international public finance plays in shaping energy systems is available in this Oil Change International briefing
  • A legal opinion by Professor Jorge E Viñuales from the University of Cambridge and Barrister Kate Cook of Matrix Chambers argues that governments and public finance institutions that continue to finance fossil fuel infrastructure are potentially at risk of climate litigation.
  • In May 2022, 122 civil society organizations sent letters to signatories to the Glasgow Statement calling on them to meet their commitment. Letters to Germany, Italy, Canada, France, the US, and other non-G7 countries can be found here.

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UN: Big oil’s business model is “inconsistent with human survival”

Wed, 01/18/2023 - 07:20
C: World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico.

In a blistering attack at the World Economic Forum this morning, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, accused the fossil fuel industry of having a “business model” that “is inconsistent with human survival”.

With many oil executives in the audience at the exclusive ski resort at Davos, Guterres launched a stinging and sustained attack on Big Oil and its enablers in a keynote speech.

“The commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C is nearly going up in smoke”, he said, adding that the world was “flirting with climate disasters” every week. Without further action, we will hit a staggering 2.8 degrees of heating, which for many “will be a death sentence.”

The reason for this is that “fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that their business model is inconsistent with human survival”, he said.

Senior public figures rarely make such a powerful critique of the industry, but Guterres did not stop there. He also brought up the peer-reviewed academic paper published last week in Science, entitled “Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections”.

This groundbreaking research revealed that Exxon had privately “predicted global warming correctly and skillfully” projecting “warming trajectories consistent with those forecast by the independent academic and government models.”

But rather than act on the warnings from their own scientists, the oil giant spent decades publicly rubbishing the science spending tens of millions on right-wing lobby groups to help spread doubt and climate denial and death.

Guterres added: “We learned last week that certain fossil fuel producers were fully aware in the 70s that their core product was baking the planet” but then “Big oil peddled the big lie”. Like many others before him, Guterres likens the oil industry’s tactics to the public relations tactics employed by Big Tobacco to deadly and lethal effect.

“Just like the tobacco industry, they rode roughshod over their own science. Big Oil peddled the big lie … And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account,” he said.

He also criticised the rush to “net zero” and companies making net zero commitments. “Benchmarks and criteria are often dubious or murky,” said Guterres. “This misleads consumers, investors and regulators with false narratives. It feeds a culture of climate misinformation and confusion. And it leaves the door wide open to greenwashing.” Reliance on controversial carbon credits was not the equivalent of “real” emission cuts, he said.

He finished by saying that “The battle to keep the 1.5-degree limit alive will be won or lost in this decade. On our watch. My friends, right now, it is being lost.”

Scientists and colleagues responded to the speech. My colleague Romain Ioualalen tweeted:

Amazing speech by @antonioguterres clinically dissecting the responsibility of fossil fuel companies and their enablers in the climate crisis.

'Their business model is inconsistent with human survival" ? https://t.co/bCXGOZ8XUp

— Romain Ioualalen (@Rlalen) January 18, 2023

Scientist, Stefan Rahmstorf tweeted too:

Clear words from UN General Secretary Guterres just now in Davos. You can check out the science behind his statement here: https://t.co/TgU85KTT3O @GeoffreySupran @NaomiOreskes pic.twitter.com/B1S7Ga37Lo

— Stefan Rahmstorf ? fediscience.org/@rahmstorf ? (@rahmstorf) January 18, 2023

 

The post UN: Big oil’s business model is “inconsistent with human survival” appeared first on Oil Change International.

Police use “shocking” level of violence to quash activists opposing Europe’s largest coal mine

Tue, 01/17/2023 - 07:57
C: Andrew Bear via Tiwtter

We have been here before. When the state uses overwhelming force and brutality to defend fossil fuel interests from those defending the climate. And we are here again.

The history of grassroots activism against fossil fuels being met with force is long and painful. Think Ogoni in Nigeria, think Standing Rock Sioux and the fight to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Wet’suwet’en First Nation defending their land against the Coastal Link pipeline in Canada. To name just a few examples.

And we are here again. In 2023. The years may change, but injustice stays the same. Over the weekend, some 35,000 climate activists and land defenders came together to protest against the expansion of the Garzweiler coal mine, Europe’s largest and dirtiest brown coal plant. RWE, which owns the mine, is Europe’s emitter of CO2.

The mine already spans a whopping 35 square kilometers, this vast industrial scar on the landscape reminiscent of the destruction and desecration of the tar sands in Canada.

The latest flash-point is around the village of Lützerath, which is twenty miles west of Dusseldorf. This small German hamlet is the latest community to be lost to our fossil fuel addiction, gobbled up by the ever-expanding coal mine. Lützerath is not alone, some thirteen villages have already been destroyed by the toxic mine.

Activists have been trying to defend the village for years, arguing that coal expansion is not compatible with Germany’s climate commitments. Not only is the lignite in the mine the dirtiest form of coal, but coal itself is the dirtiest fossil fuel. The mine makes no climate sense. It is indefensible.

But still, the German state defends the indefensible. And last week, and over the weekend, it used brute force to do so. The police used overwhelming force and violence against the protesters, with about 20 being injured and taken to hospital.

On Sunday, 350 Deutschland tweeted how:

There has been a shocking amount of police violence against people protesting for climate justice in #Luetzerath, Germany. #RWE’s profits and political deals obviously matter more to those in power than a liveable future on this planet ?. pic.twitter.com/hUse8kfz4u

— 350.org Deutschland (@350Deutschland) January 14, 2023

One of these being violently assaulted by the police was Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who had joined colleagues from across Europe. Thunberg called the expansion of the coal mine a “betrayal of present and future generations. Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world.”

Thunberg also criticized the overwhelming force used by the one thousand-or-so riot police to clear a long-standing climate camp in the village, calling it “outrageous.”

The mine is owned by German giant energy company RWE, and its latest expansion was controversially and somewhat surprisingly allowed by the Greens, who are currently sharing power in Germany.

The deal that allowed the mine to expand was a trade-off between RWE agreeing to bring forward its coal phase-out from 2038 to 2030 and saving five more villages from destruction. But now RWE and others say the expansion of the mine is necessary due to the war in Ukraine.

This argument does not wash with climate campaigners. Fabian Huebner, from Europe Beyond Coal, told CNN: “I think the Greens, faced by very difficult decisions, took the wrong turn and de-prioritized climate policy.” He added: “You can’t solve the crisis with the energy source that basically created this crisis.”

The mine’s expansion has thrown up other contentious issues too. Firstly, the new coal may never be needed by Germany. Last August, a report by Coal Transitions found concluded that even if coal plants in the country operated at near capacity until 2030, they already had more than enough coal available from existing supplies.

HSBC is also in the spotlight too. A great investigation by the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that the bank “made a secretive multimillion-dollar loan” to RWE, just three months after the bank pledged to stop funding coal.

HSBC, which claims it is “helping to lead the transition to a more sustainable world”, approved the $340m deal with the energy giant after internal discussions in “which senior figures at the bank recommended that its involvement should not be publicised.”

The images from twitter are striking:

"Coal versus man". Germany in 2023 ? pic.twitter.com/Y1CeXAiVFy

— Dave Jones (@CoalFreeDave) January 15, 2023

Climate and social justice activists have understandably expressed solidarity and outrage on Twitter too:

Solidarity to all at #LUETZERATH preventing climate criminals opening a coal mine. & a reminder that people in the global South have faced centuries of extractivism of minerals & metals to fuel the economies of rich countries & are murdered for resisting pic.twitter.com/tvhpkx1i88

— asad rehman (@chilledasad100) January 15, 2023

Climate justice does not mean destroying nature – our life support system, peoples' livelihoods, or forcefully evicting defenders of #Luetzerath to allow the expansion of a coal mine. Expanding the Garzweiler coal mine means more harm to our planet and people at the frontline. pic.twitter.com/aBiJ6HezVP

— Elizabeth Wathuti ?? (@lizwathuti) January 16, 2023

Standing in solidarity with #Lützerath, a German village threatened to be demolished for an expansion of a coal mine.

We demand that #Luetzerathbleibt! pic.twitter.com/oVUOUWAszT

— Nakabuye Hilda F. (@NakabuyeHildaF) January 14, 2023

The eviction of #LÜTZERATH is a total symbol of failure of the german and European leaders in the fight for climate Justice, We demand immediate coal exit,lutzerath must stay. #PeopleNotProfit pic.twitter.com/IqvESH7dTs

— PATIENCE NABUKALU (@patienceNabz) January 14, 2023

The Ecocide campaign, which is working to make the destruction of nature a crime, is circulating an image of the mine, asking people to sign the petition.

It states; “We call on all governments to declare support for making ecocide an international crime, in the knowledge that many countries must stand together to put this law in place for the long-term protection of all life on Earth. You can sign it here.” The mine is the perfect example of why Governments should be held to account for ecocide and the violence that so often is entwined with it.

We are working to make the widespread destruction of nature (#ecocide) an international crime.

?Join us?

Sign the international petition today: https://t.co/sjmmLPCYJ0

Image credit: Sean Gallup / Getty#StopEcocide #EndEcocide pic.twitter.com/KWIi1AvcKj

— Stop Ecocide International (@EcocideLaw) January 15, 2023

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The struggle continues: Please show compassion for the widows of the Ogoni 9

Mon, 01/16/2023 - 02:46
C: Hilde Brontsema

When the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was murdered in 1995 along with eight other colleagues, his reported final words were: “Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues”.

Saro-Wiwa and the others had been campaigning against Shell’s ecological destruction of Ogoniland. Thirty years ago this month, on January 4 1995, some 300,000 Ogoni, some sixty per cent of the population, peacefully protested against the oil giant’s activities. At the time, it was the largest mobilisation against an oil company worldwide.

One Ogoni leader told the crowd that day that we have “woken up to find our lands devastated by agents of death called oil companies. Our atmosphere has been totally polluted, our lands degraded, our waters contaminated, our trees poisoned.”

The vibrant energy as a community mobilised seeking social and environmental justice was palpable. The Ogoni sang, and they danced. They held placards, with one saying: “Gas flaring kills Ogoni.” There is an iconic picture of Saro-Wiwa taken that day addressing the crowd. His right arm is raised as he speaks passionately to the crowd. Since then, in the Niger Delta, the 4th of January has been known as Ogoni day.

The energy and hope of that day have been long eroded in the decades that have passed. On November 10 1995, Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni 9, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levula, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine were murdered by the Nigerian military after a sham trial to silence their campaign against Shell.

For years, some of the widows of the Ogoni 9 sought justice and to hold Shell to account for its role in the death of their husbands.

In 2002, one widow, Esther Kiobel sued Shell in the United States, where she had been granted asylum. Over ten years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the case, meaning U.S. courts never got to examine the facts of the case.

In 2017, Esther Kiobel and three other widows, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo, and Charity Levula, brought a new legal case against Shell in the Netherlands.  During the trial, three witnesses stood under oath and, one by one, testified that Shell bribed them.

Mark Dummett from Amnesty International tweeted live from the court. Here are a couple of tweets from that hearing:

after signing his statement he says he was given 30,000 Naira (same as what two previous witnesses said). Says this sum was handed over "in presence of Commissioner" (of police) and told it was from Shell.

— Mark Dummett (@MarkDummett) October 8, 2019

Nkpah claims Shell's lawyer was carrying a briefcase of money that was later distributed to the witnesses.

(Shell has always denied the allegations by Nkpah and others)

— Mark Dummett (@MarkDummett) October 8, 2019

Last year, in a devastating verdict for the widows, the court sided with Shell. The judge dismissed these witnesses and evidence, saying that this was not enough to prove that Shell was guilty. You can read the judgement here.

As I wrote about the case last year: “It is hard enough to get an oil giant in court. It is even harder when that oil giant delays proceedings for years, so memories begin to fade. Or harder still when it conceals evidence. Finally, it appears it is even harder to have the level of proof that the court was demanding – and it seems it was demanding a criminal level of proof in what was a civil case.”

The verdict again shows how difficult it is to hold the powerful with deep pockets and near-unlimited amounts of money to account.

After the judgement, Mark Dummett said, “these extraordinarily brave women are not giving up. Their voices have been heard. They should be commended for the invaluable work they have done to highlight the global culture of impunity for multinationals accused of human rights abuses.”

And then, in November last year, the widows made the heart-breaking decision to cancel any further legal proceedings. At the time, their Dutch lawyer, Channa Samkalden, said “Obviously this is not without disappointment and frustration. This has been a lengthy and demanding procedure, which makes them re-live horrible events, while the outcome is most uncertain.”

Channa added that she and others were working on initiatives to help provide the widows with essential financial assistance. And now one of those initiatives has gone live.

A Go Fund Me page has been created by the Dutch activist Hilde Brontsema, with help from Channa.

As Channa tweeted:

Please help Esther Kiobel, Vicoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula to a future brighter than their past. Donate and/or share the link:https://t.co/9AF0h6aEZ0. Even a small donation of €6 will help a Nigerian family through the week. Thank you. 5/5

— Channa Samkalden (@channasamkalden) January 10, 2023

Hilde has spent the past six years working on lawsuits against Shell, including the case against Shell in Nigeria. The money raised will be transferred in equal parts to the four women. One of the women, Blessing, is sick but cannot afford her medical bills.

As the page says, the women’s lives are “still completely dominated by the terrible events of 1995″ and they have “lost everything”. Therefore, please “help them with a donation so that they can rebuild their lives.”

Justice may have been denied, but the struggle continues. Now it could be your turn to help. Please give generously. The link to the page is here.

 

 

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Global outrage as oil executive named head of UN climate talks

Thu, 01/12/2023 - 06:22
C: Masdar Corporate

There is universal condemnation today on the breaking news that the United Arab Emirates has appointed a veteran oil industry insider to preside over the upcoming UN climate talks that will happen later this year in Dubai.

The news this morning that Sultan al-Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil, will be the new chair of the climate talks is a new low for the UN climate process.

The COP’s credibility was already battered by recent events in Egypt, with accusations of greenwashing, undue corporate influence of fossil fuel lobbyists, and attacks and intimidation of climate activists by the host nation.

The announcement ironically came the day after the journal Nature published an editorial saying that: “UN climate conferences are too beholden to oil and gas interests. Like-minded nations must come together to keep climate hopes alive.”

But the appointment of Al-Jaber, who is described as a “veteran technocrat” seems to be the final straw for many climate activists and experts.

The polluting oil-pumping fox has literally taken over the hen house. As Aljazeera points out this morning: Al-Jaber’s firm “pumps some 4 million barrels of crude a day and hopes to expand to 5 million daily, generating more of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide that the UN annual climate negotiations aim to limit.”

Tasneem Essop, the executive director of Climate Action Network International, told the Guardian that if Al-Jaber, “does not step down as CEO, it will be tantamount to a full-scale capture of the UN climate talks by a petrostate national oil company and its associated fossil fuel lobbyists.”

She added: “As civil society we [will] demand that Al Jaber does the right thing and either stand aside or step down.”

Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist, told the Financial Times: “We cannot have another COP where fossil fuel interests are allowed to sacrifice our futures to eke out another few years of profit.”

Alice Harrison of Global Witness added: “You wouldn’t invite arms dealers to lead peace talks. So why let oil executives lead climate talks?”

Blair Palese, the managing editor of Climate and Capital Media, told me: “I didn’t think COP could get any more absurd than naming Coke, the world’s biggest (oil-based) plastics offender, the official sponsor of the global climate talks for COP27. I was wrong! By appointing an oil sultan as COP28 President, the UAE takes the prize for global trust breaker in a climate crisis.”

Colleagues at OCI were outraged too: Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy manager at OCI, said: “This is tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty. This appointment risks further undermining the credibility of global climate talks and threatens the action and leadership needed for a rapid and equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, which over 80 countries called for during last year’s COP.”

Activists and academics expressed outrage on Twitter too:

The President of the next crucial international climate negotiations, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, is the CEO of major oil company ADNOC. He is working to increase its output of crude oil from 3 million barrels of oil a day in 2016 to 5 million by 2030. Does that make any sense to you? https://t.co/Te7sTYuDhW

— James Dyke (@JamesGDyke) January 12, 2023

Al Jaber's appointment as #COP28 President is outrageously regressive and deeply problematic to say the least!

Fossil fuels are the root cause of the #ClimateCrisis. His position as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company raises grave conflict of interest issues. pic.twitter.com/w6MJfY59Mr

— Harjeet Singh (@harjeet11) January 12, 2023

And my colleague David Tong tweeted:

Appointing an oil company CEO to preside over the #climate talks is utterly shameless.

ADNOC doesn't even seem to report its climate pollution, let alone have targets to cut it. When the IEA says there's no room for new fields for 1.5ºC, ADNOC plans to extract more & more.

— David Tong (@Davidxvx) January 12, 2023

The post Global outrage as oil executive named head of UN climate talks appeared first on Oil Change International.

UAE announces head of national oil company to lead COP28 climate talks, endangering climate goals civil society warns

Thu, 01/12/2023 - 05:53

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:

Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International, nicole [at] priceofoil.org 

 

UAE announces head of national oil company to lead COP28 climate talks, endangering climate goals civil society warns

12 January 2023 – Today, the United Arab Emirates launched its COP28 presidency and placed the chief of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) at the head of this year’s climate talks, amid deep civil society apprehension of this major conflict of interest.

Sultan Al Jaber, head of the world’s twelfth-largest oil company by production, will be responsible as the COP28 President for holding governments and the fossil fuel industry accountable to global climate goals to limit warming to 1.5°C, which entails, according to the International Energy Agency, an immediate end to all new oil and gas extraction projects.

Recent OCI research has shown that the UAE is poised to become the third largest expander of oil and gas production between 2023 and 2025 and ADNOC the second largest expander company. ADNOC’s new oil and gas production over the next 3 years would lock in over 2.7 Gt of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to one year of the European Union’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. 

COP27 in Egypt in November 2022 saw more than a 25% spike in fossil fuel lobbyists’ presence, ultimately blocking stronger language on phasing out all fossil fuels; and similar could be expected at COP28.

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy manager at Oil Change International, said:  

“This is a truly breathtaking conflict of interest and is tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty. This appointment risks further undermining the credibility of global climate talks and threatens the action and leadership needed for a rapid and equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, which over 80 countries called for during last year’s COP. While countries should be focusing on how to rapidly decarbonize the global economy, the COP risks becoming a festival of greenwashing, false solutions and shady fossil fuel deals, a trend that was started by the Egyptian Presidency in 2022.

The new COP28 President is not the CEO of any oil and gas company: ADNOC’s investment decisions in the next few years will make it the second largest expander of oil and gas production globally, despite clear warnings from the International Energy Agency and the UN that any new oil and gas production is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C. ADNOC will surely tout its investments in renewable energy but the reality is that the climate talks will be run by the CEO of a company betting on climate failure. These are the worst possible credentials for an upcoming COP President.”

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British Parliament urges Government to set a “clear date” to end North Sea drilling

Wed, 01/04/2023 - 20:01
C: Erik Christensen

An influential committee of British MPs is calling on the British government to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels and set a “clear date” for the end of new oil and gas licensing in the British North Sea.

Earlier today, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee launched its 100-page report on “Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels and securing energy supplies.”

The Committee, made up of parliamentarians from across the political divide, not only called for a speeding up of the energy transition away from fossil fuels but also criticized the Government’s response to the energy crisis caused by the Ukraine war.

“There are many solutions to this energy crisis that deliver synergies between affordability, security and sustainability,” concluded the MPs. “Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels will enhance the UK’s energy security, shield households from future energy shocks, and reduce the ability of aggressive and repressive regimes to use oil and gas supplies as an economic weapon.”

The Environmental Audit Committee also called on the Government to speed up the energy transition if it wanted to continue to be seen as an international climate leader. The UK, it argued, had a “historic responsibility to set a leadership example on climate change” because it launched the first industrial revolution.

The Members of Parliament called on the UK Government to honor the principle enshrined in the Paris Agreement of “equity and common but differentiated responsibilities” and, therefore “set a clear date for ending new oil and gas licensing rounds in the North Sea.” They argued that this “date should fall well before 2050.”

Another UK government response to the war – an Energy Profits Levy and Investment Allowance for oil companies – was likely to encourage investment in the North Sea rather than do the opposite, the MPs note.

“We were told that the inclusion of the Investment Allowance, which the Government itself described as ‘generous,’ would serve to incentivise near-term investment in oil and gas fields in the UK,” the report concludes. One energy consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, said that the Levy and Investment Allowance could accelerate developments such as the North Sea’s highly controversial Rosebank and Cambo fields.

The Environmental Audit Committee was critical not only of the British Government’s supply-side response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but also of how it had failed to implement any demand-side measures.

There are, said the MPs, “significant gaps” in the energy strategy being employed by the Conservatives because of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. “To deliver genuine energy security, the strategy should have placed far greater emphasis on energy saving measures,” they said.

“Boosting energy efficiency efforts is the quickest way to reduce reliance on imports, protect households and cut climate-changing emissions. Ministers missed a crucial window of opportunity during the warmer months to accelerate energy efficiency measures that could permanently protect UK citizens from the impact of volatile oil and gas prices.” They called for a national “war effort” on energy saving and efficiency to rectify this.

Oil Change International (OCI) was one of many organizations to submit evidence to the committee. Citing previously published research, OCI pointed out that the UK’s current oil and gas production trajectory and policies are not in line with the 1.5 degrees limit.

OCI had also called on the Government to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies, estimated at 14.8 USD billion, as well as other tax breaks, and redirect them to fund a just transition to clean energy. However, the report noted that “the UK Government insists it does not provide any subsidies to fossil fuels,” which shows just how in denial the Conservatives remain.

Silje Ask Lundberg, a senior campaigner from OCI, said: “The UK Parliamentarians have sent a clear message to the current Government: The UK needs to make the shift away from fossil fuels.”

Lundberg noted that there “are several hard-hitting recommendations” included in the report, “such as recommending a ban on flaring and stronger emission targets in the North sea transition deal, and said “this is something the Government must follow up on.”

She added: “In our submission to the committee, OCI pointed out how the UK current oil and gas production trajectory and policies are not in line with the pathway compatible with 1.5-degree limit. Setting an end date for new licenses is a step in the right direction, but not enough. The UK Government needs to stop all new investments in oil and gas, to be in line with the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero scenario.”

 

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Three Strikes and You’re Out: Manchin’s Dirty Deal goes down in flames a third time

Thu, 12/15/2022 - 16:32

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 15, 2022

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org

Three Strikes and You’re Out: Manchin’s Dirty Deal goes down in flames a third time

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the U.S. Senate voted to oppose Sen. Joe Manhchin’s so-called ‘permitting reform’ legislation — better known as the ‘Dirty Deal’ — blocking it from being added as an amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. This marks the third time the bill has been defeated in Congress since Manchin’s first attempt in September. 

The proposed bill would have fast-tracked fossil fuel projects, including the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, while shortening and limiting review processes for energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and other bedrock environmental laws. All versions have been strongly opposed by environmental justice communities, climate and racial justice advocates, and progressive organizations. 

In response, Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International, released the following statement: 

“Good riddance to Manchin’s Dirty Deal — the Senate’s rejection of this dangerous bill is a resounding victory for environmental justice communities and the climate. We’ve stopped this zombie bill three times and we’ll do it as many times as needed.

“Frontline communities never wavered in their opposition to a proposal which would have fast-tracked fossil fuel projects and been a massive step backward for the climate. In 2022, Manchin’s all-of-the-above energy strategy is nothing short of climate denial.

“President Biden’s strong support of this deadly legislation is a deep stain on his climate legacy. We’ll keep standing with communities on the frontlines to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline once and for all, oppose fossil fuel expansion and sacrifice zones, and build a just renewable energy future.”

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Blocking a Carbon Bomb: Tiwi Islanders prevent $4.7 billion Barossa offshore gas project in Australia

Wed, 12/14/2022 - 01:41

A Legal Victory for Tiwi Islanders against the oil and gas industry 

In a landmark decision in September, the Federal Court of Australia ruled that Santos Ltd, one of the world’s top 20 largest oil and gas companies, would not be allowed to drill in the Barossa gas fields off the coast of northern Australia. The Court ruled that Santos had failed to consult Tiwi Traditional Owners. Santos appealed the decision, but this was in vain. Two weeks ago, the appeal was rejected, further solidifying legal victory for the Tiwi Islander Plaintiffs.

Santos has described the Barossa gas project as the biggest oil and gas investment in Australia since 2012. It is estimated that if this fossil gas were extracted, developed and burned, it would release 15.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. This is more than the annual emissions of both Costa Rica and Congo combined, and at least double the carbon dioxide of any other offshore Australian gas field. 

In addition to being a carbon bomb, the construction of wells and associated the pipeline poses a major threat to marine biodiversity, the food sources of Tiwi Islanders, and their continuous spiritual connection to Sea Country that has endured for millennia. Tiwi Senior Lawman, Dennis Tipakalippa, launched the lawsuit in June, following the failure of the Australian federal offshore gas regulator to properly consult the Munupi Clan.

In response to the legal victory, Plaintiff and Tiwi elder, Dennis Tipakalippa stated, “The most important thing for us is to protect our Sea Country. We want Santos and all mining companies to remember – we are powerful, we will fight for our land and Sea Country, for our future generations no matter how hard and how long.”

The rejection of Santos’s appeal, further solidifies the legal victory for the Tiwi Islander Plaintiffs, sending a strong signal to the oil and gas industry that violating the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of affected communities, including the heritage protection of Torres Strait Islanders [1], in large-scale energy projects will not be tolerated. 

This ruling means that on top of the significant delays to the project, proponents now must return to the drawing board and redo consultation, and resubmit the approval to drill which analysts suggest could take another 18 months. This sends clear signals that more obstacles will occur in the future for large-scale fossil fuel projects that fail to conduct their due diligence and robust consultation of affected communities, further increasing the risk of investing in such projects.

Public finance continues to support climate chaos 

Despite the clear climate incompatibility of, and ecological, social, legal, and financial risks, associated with new, large-scale fossil fuel projects, governments continue to support such projects. The G20 governments and the Multilateral Development Banks provided USD 55 billion a year in international public finance for fossil fuel projects between 2019 and 2021, almost twice their support for clean energy over the same period. 

The Barossa project alone included over $1 billion USD in public finance support from the Japanese and Korean governments’ export credit agencies (ECAs), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure). Santos and the Australian Government assured these ECAs that the project approvals were solid, even after Tiwi Island people had warned them about lack of free, prior and informed consent, and despite the fact that extraction from these wells would be completely at odds with Australia’s climate obligations. 

After Barossa, Australia must safeguard rights and align with climate goals 

In order for Australia to live up to its international obligations to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C it will need to end international public finance for oil and gas, and phase out oil and gas production domestically. 

Currently, Export Finance Australia (EFA) is considering supporting a $1.1-billion acquisition of state-owned Kumul Petroleum in Papua New Guinea, to a 5% stake in the PNG Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project from Santos Ltd. If Australia continues to use its public finance to support the development of fossil fuel protects, it will lock-in decades of emissions that, as Pacific Island Elders have warned, jeopardize a habitable future for all Pacific Island nations. 

The recently elected Albanese administration can avoid enabling future oil and gas carbon bombs by catching up with New Zealand in joining two leading international initiatives [2]. Australia can join 40 other countries and institutions and sign onto the Glasgow Statement on International Public Support on the Clean Energy Transition, and commit to ending the Australian Export Credit Agency’s (EFA’s) international finance for fossil fuels within a year. The Albanese government can also demonstrate ambitious climate leadership by joining the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, to end new concessions, licensing or leasing rounds for oil and gas production and exploration, and to set a Paris-aligned date for ending oil and gas production. 

To secure a safe climate future, protect the livelihoods and culture of all Pacific islanders as well as Australians, and respect the land rights of all traditional and Indigenous land owners, all eyes are on the Albanese government to take the next steps to end Australia’s international finance for and new concessions of fossil fuels. Here’s to concrete progress on this agenda in 2023!

[1] See more under: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cth) ss 3, 4

[2] As of December 2022, New Zealand has implemented its commitment under the Glasgow Statement, clarifying that is will end export finance for fossil fuels, and is an Associate member of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA)

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Fossil fuel shill Joe Manchin won’t give up on pushing “Dirty Deal” through Congress

Tue, 12/13/2022 - 10:27
C: People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition

Last week, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin — the fossil fuel-financed, coal- and gas-loving Democratic Senator from West Virginia — failed in his latest bid to attach his “dirty deal” to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act.

Manchin, who has so often stalled progressive climate legislation on Capitol Hill, tried in vain to attach provisions to the defense bill that would have undermined environmental protections, weakened legal avenues to challenge polluting projects, and fast-tracked fossil fuel infrastructure including the dangerous Mountain Valley Pipeline.

He has been trying — and failing — for over four months now. His original “dirty deal” proposal was withdrawn in September after it failed to secure the needed votes to pass with a continuing resolution.

That defeat didn’t stop Manchin — who receives more fossil fuel money than any other politician — from trying again last week to force through this terrible legislation. But as before, his proposal was met with staunch opposition from progressive politicians and grassroots organisations.

Last Monday, over 750 climate, environmental justice, public health, youth, and progressive organizations sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders supporting the bill. In the letter, the groups set out their opposition to Manchin’s “cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities.”

Last Tuesday, dozens of climate and environmental justice advocates rallied on Capitol Hill with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna to oppose Manchin’s proposed legislation. Key progressive senators including Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi urging them not to include Manchin’s fossil fuel giveaways as part of the defense bill.

As in September, Manchin was defeated by this organized grassroots opposition. Late last Tuesday, the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act’s text was released without including Manchin’s so-called ‘permitting reform’ legislation. In response, my colleague Collin Rees said, “Congress was right to heed environmental justice leaders and reject Sen. Manchin’s deadly fossil fuel giveaway for the second time in three months … The lesson is clear — fossil fuel expansion is incompatible with climate action.”

Other civil society voices urged caution too. Juan Jhong-Chung, Climate Justice Director at the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, said, “We will continue to monitor and hold our elected officials accountable and remind them that this dirty deal is no deal for environmental justice communities. We need to follow frontline communities’ solutions to fast track a Just Transition, not a dirty one.”

Jeff Ordower, 350’s.org’s North America director, added: “Senator Manchin cannot get away with last-ditch efforts to push forward his fossil fuel fast tracking bill. The industry will keep trying these secretive, last-minute efforts to push forward dirty deals, so we will continue to be alert and we won’t let up the fight.”

It seems the fossil fuel industry and Manchin are not giving up and may try and pass some secretive bill. Late last week, E&E News reported that “Sen. Joe Manchin isn’t giving up on trying to pass his overhaul of federal environmental rules,” and this week we are already hearing rumours it could come up for a yet another vote in the Senate.

My colleague Collin Rees has been monitoring Manchin’s antics for months. He has studied Manchin’s new text, and confirms that while this newest version has been altered to make it even worse for clean energy and even better for fossil fuels, Manchin’s two key components remain in the bill: the approval of the Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline and the fast-tracking of fossil fuel projects across the government. We must not allow this bill to pass.

The fight against the “Dirty Deal” is fierce, but time is on our side. E&E News noted that Manchin’s wily actions had alienated Democrats and failed to win over skeptical Republicans, meaning there was only a “slim chance” of getting the bill over the finish line before the end of this year.

Due to Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia, from early next year, the Democrats will control the Senate 51-49. However, it’s a safe bet that Manchin won’t be going away quietly, and that he will continue working hard for his fossil fuel financiers in the next Congress.

The fight continues, and our Oil Change team will continue watching Manchin’s actions like a hawk and standing alongside frontline and environmental justice communities to defeat this dirty deal and stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

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New Zealand implements policy to live up to commitment to end international fossil fuel finance raising pressure on Australia to follow suit

Fri, 12/09/2022 - 04:06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9 December 2022

Contact: Nina Pusic, nina [at] priceofoil.org (CET)

New Zealand implements policy to live up to commitment to end international fossil fuel finance raising pressure on Australia to follow suit

  • Aotearoa New Zealand has released a new policy to live up to its 2021 COP26 UN climate summit commitment to end international finance for fossil fuels, including oil and gas, by the end of 2022.
  • Policy shift puts pressure on neighboring country Australia to follow suit and sign on to the Clean Energy Transition Partnership to end international public finance for fossil fuels.

Aotearoa New Zealand has joined a growing list of countries making good on a key pledge from the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, by releasing a new policy ending almost all support for fossil fuels via the New Zealand Export Credit Office (NZEC). The policy was released shortly before Canada, the second largest international provider of international fossil fuel support after Japan, released its policy to deliver on the same commitment.  

While recent analysis shows that NZEC has not historically been a large provider of fossil fuel support or of energy finance more broadly, the publication of this policy shows that New Zealand is committed to uphold its multilateral commitment to end fossil fuel finance, and that others must follow suit. 

At the last year’s UN climate summit, COP26 in Glasgow, 39 countries and institutions, including Aotearoa New Zealand, committed signatories to end their direct international public financing for fossil fuels by the end of 2022, except in exceptional circumstances, and fully prioritize their public finance for the clean energy transition. If all signatories follow through on their pledges with integrity, this will directly shift USD 28 billion a year from fossil fuels to clean energy and help shift even larger sums of public and private money.

Realizing this shift is critical to tip the international public finance balance in favor of clean energy. Between 2019 and 2021, the G20 countries and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) provided nearly two times as much public finance for fossil fuels (USD 55 billion) as for clean energy (USD 29 billion) every year. 

Aotearoa New Zealand’s new policy clarifies that it will not provide support to fossil fuel sector activities including: exploration, extraction, production, transportation, storage, and refining of oil, fossil gas, and coal, fossil fuel-fired plants, and supporting infrastructure. This applies to all of NZEC’s contracting parties as well as the end-beneficiaries of the goods or services supported, where this is possible to determine. The policy covers all NZEC’s products and services, including support for domestic supply chain transactions and export transactions, making it one of the strongest policies currently in place for aligning Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) with climate goals.

The policy provides an exemption for continued support for generation and other downstream activities in developing countries and in humanitarian crisis contexts. A 1.5°C alignment criterion applies to such support, which  if implemented with integrity should not lead to any new guarantees for long lived fossil fuel-powered generation infrastructure, as this is incompatible with 1.5C and alternatives are available and affordable and can ensure security of supply. 

Aotearoa New Zealand joins the UK, France, Finland, Denmark, the European Investment Bank, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and, most recently, Canada, in publishing policies restricting fossil fuel finance to deliver on the COP26 commitment. Countries that have yet to deliver on their promise to end fossil fuel finance with only 3 weeks left of the end of 2022 deadline include Germany, Spain, and Italy. The United States has adopted a policy, but it is not publicly available.

Aotearoa New Zealand now stands in a strong position to expand this leadership to the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits, of which it is one of ten negotiating country members. Oil and gas restrictions under the OECD Arrangement are essential to align Export Credit Agencies with a 1.5°C warming limit and ensure public finance is utilized to support the transition to fully renewable energy systems worldwide. 

This leadership in mandating aligning international public finance with climate goals must be also taken on by neighboring country Australia. Export Finance Australia supported an average of 78 million USD in fossil fuels per year from 2018-2020, and has an opportunity to join the Glasgow pledge and shift this finance to help tip the global public finance for energy balance in favor of clean energy. 

Nina Pušic, Export Credit Agency Climate Strategist, Oil Change International, said:

Aotearoa New Zealand’s strong implementation of its pledge to end international fossil finance is especially welcome as we await remaining signatories that have yet to deliver on their pledge,  Italy, Germany and Spain, to take similar action. In addition, this move can encourage neighboring country Australia to follow suit and join efforts to shift international public finance to clean energy.

The logical next step for New Zealand’s government and its Export Credit Agency (NZEC) is to internationalize these restrictions at the OECD the next time negotiators meet in March 2023. New Zealand has an opportunity to work together with other first mover countries like the UK and the EU to table a proposal for robust, OECD-wide oil and gas export finance restrictions. This is critical to get on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C and live up to climate commitments.” 

Alva Feldmeier, Executive Director, 350 Aotearoa (New Zealand) said:

“The announcement from the Export Credit Office to restrict public finance for fossil fuel energy is an important first step from our government to align our public finance principles with the changes needed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. But more action is required.

The next logical step for New Zealand’s climate leadership on public finance is to go a step further and cover the Crown Financial Institutions (CFI’s) who have millions invested in fossil fuel companies such as Gazprom, Shell, OMV, and ExxonMobil. Our people-powered movement has been campaigning on the Accident Compensation Corporation to divest from fossil fuels since June 2020. During this time we have seen the Minister of Finance advise the CFI’s to further their divestment efforts and we’ve witnessed the public entities implement new investment practices to lower their carbon-intensive shareholdings. We are holding out for policies that mandate the full-exclusion of public finance for fossil fuel companies. If it’s wrong to wreck the planet – it is wrong to profit from it.”

Barry Coates, Founder and CEO, Mindful Money, said:

“This is a welcome policy announcement from the New Zealand government. It follows previous policies to ban offshore oil and gas exploration, mandatory climate disclosure and the exclusion of fossil fuel companies from default superannuation funds. These are welcome steps, but domestic action on decarbonisation has been too slow and has done little to reduce emissions. Mindful Money is calling for the government to ramp up finance for climate solutions, including stronger action through Crown Financial Institutions, Callaghan Innovation, NZ Capital Growth Partners and government agency procurement and programmes.

We now need our Australian neighbors and other countries to end export credits for fossil fuels. There is no excuse for export credits or any other public subsidies to continue propping up fossil fuel production.”

Luke Fletcher, Executive Director, Jubilee Australia said:

We welcome this announcement from across the Tasman that New Zealand is stepping up to end public financing for overseas fossil fuel projects. New Zealand’s move shows Australia how to be a good neighbor to our Pacific friends, who are already facing the brunt of climate impacts. The Albanese Government should immediately follow the example from Aotearoa and commit to the Glasgow statement.

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NOTES

  • The Glasgow Statement was launched at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26) in Glasgow. The 39 signatories (full list here) aim to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022” and instead “prioritise our support fully towards the clean energy transition.” 
  • Oil Change International has compiled this implementation tracker that outlines country-level progress on implementation of the Glasgow Statement, which will be regularly updated in the lead up to and during COP27.
  • Oil Change International’s Public Finance for Energy Database shows that G20 countries and the major multilateral development banks (MDBs) provided at least USD 63 billion per year in international public finance for oil, gas, and coal projects between 2018 and 2020, 2.5 more than their support for renewable energy. 
  • In its latest report, the IPCC highlighted public finance for fossil fuels as ‘severely misaligned’ with reaching the Paris goals, but that if shifted, it could play a critical role in closing the mitigation finance gap, enabling emission reductions and a just transition. More background on the role international public finance plays in shaping energy systems is available in this Oil Change International briefing
  • A legal opinion by Professor Jorge E Viñuales from the University of Cambridge and Barrister Kate Cook of Matrix Chambers argues that governments and public finance institutions that continue to finance fossil fuel infrastructure are potentially at risk of climate litigation.
  • In May 2022, 122 civil society organizations sent letters to signatories to the Glasgow Statement calling on them to meet their commitment. Letters to Germany, Italy, Canada, France, the US, and other non-G7 countries can be found here.

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Canada delivers on climate promise, takes significant step towards ending public fossil finance

Thu, 12/08/2022 - 15:26

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Canada delivers on climate promise, takes significant step towards ending public fossil finance

Federal Government releases new policy aimed at ending international public financing for fossil fuels, next step is ending domestic financing.

Today the Government of Canada released a plan to end new public finance for fossil fuels abroad and instead prioritize clean energy projects. The policy, which comes into effect on January 1, 2023, marks a critical first step towards eliminating Canada’s massive levels of support for oil and gas and aligning federal support with a climate-safe future.

The new policy applies across all federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations but will predominantly impact Export Development Canada (EDC), a Crown corporation with a long history of funneling billions in support to the oil and gas industry. This new policy will end a significant portion of EDC’s support for fossil fuels and redirect those funds to support the clean energy transition.

Although the policy contains some exceptions for fossil gas, fossil hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, the policy lays out a number of robust conditions that projects must meet. Any project receiving support must align with a pathway consistent with limiting global heating to 1.5°C. If applied with integrity, it is unlikely that any fossil fuel project would meet these conditions. 

Unlike most of Canada’s peers, the policy leaves the door open for fossil fuel projects on national security grounds, and further detail is needed on how this will be interpreted. In this year’s World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency was clear that investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are the solution to the current energy crisis, not new investments in oil and gas.

The new restrictions will impact support for international fossil fuel projects. However, the bulk of public financing for fossil fuels currently supports domestic activity. The Government of Canada has already committed to ending inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by the end of 2023 and to ending all domestic public finance for fossil fuels. This new policy reiterates those commitments, though it does not include a timeline or process for the latter. Given that the federal government has already provided up to CAD $18 billion in traceable support to oil and gas companies so far this year, it is critical that Canada make good on these commitments and phase out support for all fossil fuels – domestically and abroad, without loopholes.  

With this new policy, Canada joins a group of first movers who have implemented the pledge signed at last year’s UN climate conference (COP26) to end their direct international public financing for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 and fully prioritize their public finance for the clean energy transition. The landmark agreement, known as the Glasgow Statement, is the first multilateral commitment to address public finance for oil and gas. If all signatories follow through on their pledge with integrity, it will directly shift $38 billion a year from fossil fuels to clean energy and help direct even larger sums of public and private money away from investments in climate-harming fossil fuels. As the end of 2022 deadline approaches, the United States, Germany, and Italy are the only major signatories missing updated policies.

Further detail is needed to ensure these funds are shifted to support renewable energy projects that respect and protect human rights, particularly the rights of Indigenous peoples, and uphold the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

Quotes

Claire O’Manique, Public Finance Analyst, Oil Change International

“Oil and gas is usually the elephant in the room in Canadian climate policy. Today’s guidance is a notable break from this norm, and if applied with integrity — including not misusing the national security loophole — it will make a multi-billion dollar dent in our public support for oil and gas. As Minister Wilkinson signalled, an urgent next step is the federal government keeping their promise to end public support for oil and gas at home as well by the end of 2023. In addition, Canada must start using our public finance to support a worker- and community-led just transition away from oil and gas in Canada.”

Julia Levin, National Climate Program Manager, Environmental Defence Canada

“We applaud the Government of Canada for showing much-needed climate leadership today. This new policy, if applied with integrity, should end Canada’s track record as one of the worst providers of international fossil finance in the G20 and shift billions towards climate solutions. Now the government must quickly take the final step and end all fossil financing – without any loopholes for fossil gas, fossil hydrogen or CCUS. This will free up billions of dollars to support a fair transition for workers and communities, and set Canada up to thrive as the world moves beyond oil and gas.”

Vanessa Corkal, Senior Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development

“With this new policy, Canada has taken a vital step forward to align its financial flows with its climate ambition. The government is sending a clear signal: we cannot continue to pour fuel on the fire. Redirecting this support to clean energy will accelerate the global energy transition and support long-term stability and job creation. The next step is to keep this momentum going with the complete phaseout of fossil fuel subsidies and domestic public finance in the coming year.”

Karen Hamilton, Director, Above Ground

“Today Canada took a significant step forward, by ruling out public financing for some types of oil and gas projects abroad. We’re nonetheless concerned to see that Ottawa is exempting projects that use CCUS, a false climate solution promoted by industry at the expense of the millions, if not billions, of vulnerable people suffering most from the climate emergency. We hope the government revisits that decision, and moves forward with a plan to end public financing for domestic oil and gas activity as well.”

Tamara Morgenthau, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law

“Canada’s policy is a needed step in the right direction — away from bankrolling destructive fossil fuels and toward financing a renewable energy transition. However, the loopholes it carves out for fossil gas, fossil hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage, threaten to undermine this progress and prolong reliance on fossil fuels. To fulfill its human rights and climate change obligations, Canada must follow the science and phase out all fossil fuels, coal, oil, and gas – no exceptions.”

Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada
“We welcome Canada’s important step today to restrict public support for the international fossil fuel sector. To fully protect human rights, Canada must phase out all fossil fuels and prioritize a rapid, equitable transition to renewable energy alternatives which do not violate human rights and Indigenous communities in particular.”

Eddy Pérez, International Climate Diplomacy Director, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada
“Civil society has been fighting for more than a decade for Canada to end its suicidal support to the industry that is putting us in conflict with nature and making us sicker and poorer. Today’s announcement represents a major milestone, and a win against the destructive corporate interests that too often dominate Canada’s policy and investment decisions. Ending international support for oil and gas means we can instead invest in solutions, justice, and partnership instead, and increase support for climate action and biodiversity conservation in the Global South.”

Émile Boisseau-Bouvier, Climate Policy Analyst, Équiterre
“From 2019 to 2021, Canada supported fossil fuels 11 times more than renewables. We can’t meet our climate goals and achieve a successful energy transition if Canadians’ money is funding the problem rather than the solutions. This announcement is a welcome one, as it marks the beginning of a break with the status quo and should ultimately move the country out of its dual posture of being both the firefighter and the arsonist: fighting climate change while funding oil and gas. We are now eagerly awaiting details on ending fossil fuel subsidies within our borders, another major hindrance to the energy transition.”

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Background

  • Backgrounder: Canada under Pressure to End International Public Finance for Fossils Ahead of End of Year Deadline
  • The text of today’s plan from the Government of Canada, Guidelines for Canada’s International Support for the Clean Energy Transition
  • Canada ranks among the worst in the G20 for providing fossil fuels public financing. By comparison, Canada’s support for clean energy is relatively meager. From 2019 to 2021, Canada supported an annual average of CAD 11.1 billion in public finance to fossil fuels. This was more than 11 times its support to clean energy ($1 billion), compared to the G20 average of 4:1 fossil finance to clean energy.
  • 39 countries and institutions signed the Glasgow Statement at the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
  • In May 2022, 113 organizations sent a letter to Cabinet Ministers urging the government to demonstrate true leadership by going beyond the commitments made to date and eliminate all subsidies, public financing and other forms of financial support from the Government of Canada and federal crown corporations directed to the oil and gas sector by the end of 2022.
  • Oil Change International’s implementation tracker has been monitoring signatory progress in fulfilling their Glasgow promise. Of the 16 high-income signatories that provide international public finance for energy, in addition to Canada, seven signatories have policies aligned or nearly aligned with the Glasgow Statement (United Kingdom, Denmark, European Investment Bank, France, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden). The Netherlands and Belgium have new policies that further restrict fossil fuel support but leave major loopholes, including a breach of the end of 2022 deadline.

The post Canada delivers on climate promise, takes significant step towards ending public fossil finance appeared first on Oil Change International.

Universal outrage as first new coal plant in a generation is approved by UK

Thu, 12/08/2022 - 08:56
C: Spartacus4NOW via Twitter

There has been widespread condemnation of the UK’s highly controversial decision to approve the first new coal mine in 30 years in Cumbria.

The long-awaited decision, made yesterday, has been widely criticized by parliamentarians on all sides of the political divide, as well as scientists, climate activists, industry insiders, and even the British Government’s climate advisors.

The £165 million mine, approved yesterday by Britain’s Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, would be for coking coal for making steel. Initially supported by the local council two years ago, the final decision rested with the Conservative Government, which until recently held the COP Presidency.

And yesterday, it gave the green light to a new dirty coal plant, uniting voices from across the political spectrum, businesses, scientists and activists, who all condemned the decision.

In the Government’s approval letter, one of the main reasons for giving the go-ahead is the need for coal, even though experts have pointed out that a staggering 85% of the coal produced by the mine is due to be exported.

Even British steel-making companies said they would not use the steel, instead using lower carbon production methods. Ron Deelen, a former chief executive of one of those companies, British Steel, said: “This is a completely unnecessary step for the British steel industry, which is not waiting for more coal as there is enough on the free market available. The British steel industry needs green investment in electric arc furnaces and hydrogen to protect jobs and make the UK competitive.”

The Conservative Government even tried to argue that the carbon emissions from the dirtiest of fossil fuels “would be relatively neutral and not significant”.

Such sentiments were widely ridiculed, not least because the mine will belch out 9 million tonnes of CO2 a year, equivalent to 200,000 extra cars on our roads every year.

The Government’s advisory Climate Change Committee (UKCCC) led the condemnation of the decision. Its chairman, Lord Deben, described the proposal as “absolutely indefensible”, adding it would damage the UK’s so-called leadership position on climate change.

Politicians were equally dismissive. Former COP President, and a senior Conservative, Alok Sharma, argued the mine would conflict with the UK’s climate targets.

Shadow Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said the mine was “no solution to the energy crisis” and “does not offer secure, long-term jobs”. The Lib Dem Cumbrian MP, Tim Farron, whose constituency boundary abuts the area where the mine is located, said the go-ahead was “daft” and “like celebrating the opening of a Betamax factory”. He added: “This is not only foolish in fact, it’s also foolish politically, as it makes us a laughing stock when it comes to us trying to talk to other countries like China about how they reduce their carbon emissions.”

Green MP, Caroline Lucas, went as far as to call the move “a climate crime against humanity”. She said: “The staggering hypocrisy of demanding other countries phase down coal, just when we’re phasing it back in again, sends a truly terrible message to global south countries and marks this decision as a climate crime against humanity.”

Experts deeply condemned the move: Professor Lord Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, called the move a “serious mistake. An economic, social, environmental, financial and political mistake. Economically, it is investing in the technologies of the last century, not this century, and that is the wrong path to growth. Socially, it is pursuing jobs in industries that are on the way out, creating future job insecurity.”

The Government’s ex-chief scientific advisor Sir David King said: “The decision to go ahead with a new coal mine in Cumbria is an incomprehensible act of self-harm. This action by a leading developed economy sets exactly the wrong example to the rest of the world.”

Professor Nick Cowern called the coal mine “a dead man walking. Far from supporting the west Cumbrian economy it kills the prospect of inward investment in this industry’s real future, green steel. Very sad for an area that has been blighted for decades by bad decisions.”

Environmental and conservation groups were scathing too. Tasneem Essop, the executive director of Climate Action Network International said: “As a historical emitter responsible for the current state of the climate crisis, the UK cannot expand or invest in any new fossil fuel projects,” Essop added. “No coal, no gas, no oil. They need to start demonstrating their commitment to 1.5C through actions and not just words.”

Friends of the Earth said the decision was a “misguided and deeply damaging mistake that flies in the face of all the evidence.”

Yesterday the government decided it would rather:

? degrade the countryside
? pollute the atmosphere
? make a mockery of their own legally binding climate commitments.

Make it make sense. ? #CumbrianCoalMine #NoNewCoalhttps://t.co/Sa4reALgnA

— CPRE The countryside charity (@CPRE) December 8, 2022

Climate activists and civil society took to Twitter to condemn the decision:

This is not a surprise.

This Govt. has made it clear time and again that they are ideologically opposed to action on climate change, let alone delivering a transition that makes life better for people and communities.

Time to organise to get them out.https://t.co/GTvz0ps4So

— Hannah Martin (@Hannah_RM) December 7, 2022

 

Unforgivable decision by UK Government to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria. Makes no sense in terms of the science, the economics, or indeed the UK’s legally binding #NetZero commitments. https://t.co/V0AbYOjK0i

— Laura Clarke (@LauraClarkeCE) December 7, 2022

And energy experts: One, Adair Turner, chair of ETC Energy, called it “climate vandalism and economic incompetence on a scale difficult to believe.”

The government has just APPROVED the new coal mine in Cumbria. There goes the UK’s reputation for climate leadership. Up in a puff of filthy, polluting, climate wrecking smoke https://t.co/G82yRg9LrP

— Sarah Merrick (@SpeakSarahSpeak) December 7, 2022

The political approval yesterday of the coal mine is by no means the end of the matter. Yesterday’s decision will be heading to the courts. All the Conservatives seem to have done is make a disparate group of people even more determined to fight for climate action and justice. And that starts with phasing out coal, not walking back into the dirty past.

The post Universal outrage as first new coal plant in a generation is approved by UK appeared first on Oil Change International.

Response: Manchin’s newest dirty deal text is even worse than earlier versions – and we’ll stop it too

Wed, 12/07/2022 - 10:39

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 7, 2022

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org

Oil Change International: Manchin’s newest dirty deal text is even worse than earlier versions — and we’ll stop it too

WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin released proposed text for the newest iteration of his so-called ‘permitting reform’ legislation, better known to the public as his dirty deal. Manchin is now pushing for a vote on the bill as an amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. 

The bill contains minor alterations from prior versions — almost all of which would would worsen the bill’s dangerous impacts — but is fundamentally the same legislation now twice rejected by Congress. Like previous versions, the proposed bill from Manchin would fast-tracked fossil fuel projects, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, while shortening and limiting review processes for energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and other bedrock environmental laws. 

In response, Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International, released the following statement: 

“Mere hours after Congress rightly rejected his dirty pipeline deal, Joe Manchin is attempting yet again to force this deadly legislation that would endanger environmental justice communities. Communities under siege from pollution have already blocked this bill twice from advancing, and they’ll do it again as many times as needed. 

“Manchin’s desperate attempts to deliver the Mountain Valley Pipeline for his fossil fuel donors would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous. This bill is a disaster, and Democratic leadership has openly acknowledged it is a favor to Manchin rather than a serious proposal grounded in the reality of our country’s energy needs. Fast-tracking giveaways to the fossil fuel industry is the opposite of climate leadership, and we won’t stop fighting to protect our communities and the climate.

“Compared to previous versions, this version of Manchin’s bill erodes the ability of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to permit transmission infrastructure. If Manchin really cared about advancing transmission, it’s worth asking why he’s letting FERC Commission Richard Glick’s term expire and sending the agency into gridlock. This isn’t about transmission, it’s about fast-tracking fossil fuel projects for corporate profit.”

###

Notes to Editors

  • On Monday, over 750 climate, environmental justice, and progressive advocacy groups sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to abandon Manchin’s dirty deal. 
  • On Tuesday, dozens of climate and environmental justice advocates rallied on Capitol Hill with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna to oppose Manchin’s proposed legislation.
  • Manchin’s original proposal was withdrawn in September after it failed to secure the needed votes to pass with a continuing resolution to fund the government. His latest attempt was dropped this week following bipartisan opposition in Congress.

The post Response: Manchin’s newest dirty deal text is even worse than earlier versions – and we’ll stop it too appeared first on Oil Change International.

Revealed: German Government considering 10 large international fossil fuel projects worth EUR 1 billion, despite major climate pledge

Wed, 12/07/2022 - 02:49

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Adam McGibbon, Public Finance Strategist at Oil Change International: adam.mcgibbon@priceofoil.org

Regine Richter, Energy and Finance campaigner at Urgewald: regine@urgewald.org 

Revealed: German Government considering 10 large international fossil fuel projects worth EUR 1 billion, despite major climate pledge

  • German Government considering funding for new fossil fuel projects in Brazil, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Dominican Republic and Cuba 
  • Consideration of large raft of international fossil fuel projects puts Germany’s major pledge to stop financing fossil fuel projects made at 2021 COP26 UN climate summit in danger
  • Despite climate rhetoric, Germany still funding more fossil fuels than renewable energy and provides more government-backed international finance for fossil fuels than Saudi Arabia or Russia

New figures have been released in the German Parliament showing that despite pledging to end its international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of this year, the German Government is considering finance for ten major fossil fuel projects located all over the world.

At the COP26 United Nations climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, 39 countries and financial institutions, including Germany, signed the Glasgow Statement, which commits signatories to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

An increasing number of governments – including the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland – have published strong new policies to respond to this pledge, ending public finance for almost all fossil fuel projects in time for the end-of-2022 deadline. The details of the six strong policies that have been published thus far vary from country to country, but all put a complete halt to investments in new oil and gas extraction and LNG infrastructure.

However, a Bundestag question to Udo Philipp, a German government State Secretary, revealed a pipeline of fossil fuel projects that campaigners say shows a lack of seriousness about keeping Germany’s climate promise.

The Government stated that it “currently has ten individual applications for cover under review for the granting of an export credit guarantee for supplies and services to Brazil, Iraq, Uzbekistan, the Dominican Republic and Cuba with a total volume of around one billion euros, which are connected with fossil energy projects.” 

These figures are likely an underestimate, as they do not include any projects under consideration by the German public bank, KfW, which the Government stated it would not disclose while business matters have not been concluded.

The figures show that the single biggest project under consideration is a fossil fuel project in Brazil, with a contract value of EUR 419 million. No further detail is provided on what exactly the projects are.

Climate science is unequivocal on new oil and gas infrastructure. All credible scenarios from the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that maintain a 50% chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C do not allow any new oil and gas extraction, nor investments in new LNG infrastructure. 

The German Government’s consideration of support for these projects continues a long history of supporting controversial fossil fuel infrastructure. Last month, Oil Change International research showed that between 2019 and 2021 Germany was the seventh-largest public financier for fossil fuels in the world. This places Germany ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia, who are in 8th and 9th place respectively. Earlier this year, Germany played a leading role in weakening a G7 commitment near-identical to the Glasgow Statement pledge to end international public finance for fossil fuels to introduce gas loopholes in the name of ‘energy security.’ 

 

Adam McGibbon, Public Finance Strategist at Oil Change International, said:

“Germany’s claims to be a climate leader are in danger if Germany approves any of these projects. Olaf Scholz is at risk of breaking the most significant climate promise Germany made at last year’s Glasgow climate conference.

Scholz has an opportunity to shift billions away from fossil fuels into clean energy, safeguard Germany’s energy security, and protect the climate. He should take this opportunity and not perpetuate a dirty, polluting, insecure fossil fuel energy system.”

 

Regine Richter, Energy and Finance Campaigner at Urgewald, said:

“The German government needs to understand that you can’t say you favour climate protection and at the same time support massive fossil fuel projects. While the German government is tight-lipped about KfW loan applications, the applications for export finance alone add up to more than €1 billion for fossil fuel projects. This must end if we are to stand a chance to stay within the 1.5°C temperature limit.” 

 

NOTES:

  • The parliamentary question was asked by Bundestag member Victor Perli. The full text of the question is here (Page 16, “Antwort des Staatssekretärs Udo Philipp) and translated into English here.
  • The Glasgow Statement was launched at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26) in Glasgow. The 39 signatories (full list here) aim to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022” and instead “prioritise our support fully towards the clean energy transition.” 
  • Oil Change International has compiled this implementation tracker that outlines country-level progress on implementation of the Glasgow Statement, which will be regularly updated.
  • Oil Change International’s Public Finance for Energy Database and most recent report shows that between 2019 and 2021, G20 governments and multilateral development banks still backed at least USD 55 billion per year in oil, gas, and coal projects. This is almost twice the support provided for clean energy, which averaged only $29 billion per year. 
  • In a recent report, the IPCC highlighted public finance for fossil fuels as ‘severely misaligned’ with reaching the Paris goals, but that if shifted, it could play a critical role in closing the mitigation finance gap, enabling emission reductions and a just transition. More background on the role international public finance plays in shaping energy systems is available in this Oil Change International briefing
  • A legal opinion by Professor Jorge E Viñuales from the University of Cambridge and Barrister Kate Cook of Matrix Chambers argues that governments and public finance institutions that continue to finance fossil fuel infrastructure are potentially at risk of climate litigation.

The post Revealed: German Government considering 10 large international fossil fuel projects worth EUR 1 billion, despite major climate pledge appeared first on Oil Change International.

Response: Second rejection of Manchin’s dirty deal demonstrates power of climate, environmental justice movements

Tue, 12/06/2022 - 17:31

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 6, 2022

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org

Oil Change International: Second rejection of Manchin’s dirty deal demonstrates power of climate and environmental justice movements

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday night, the text of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act was released without the inclusion of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s so-called ‘permitting reform’ legislation. 

The proposed bill from Manchin would have fast-tracked fossil fuel projects including the Mountain Valley Pipeline while shortening and limiting review processes for energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and other bedrock environmental laws. Reporting indicates permitting language was dropped following opposition from lawmakers in both parties. 

In response, Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International, released the following statement: 

“Congress was right to heed environmental justice leaders and reject Sen. Manchin’s deadly fossil fuel giveaway for the second time in three months. This dangerous legislation would do far more harm than good and be a deep stain on the climate legacy of any politician involved in its passage. The lesson is clear — fossil fuel expansion is incompatible with climate action. 

“As Congress honors the legacy of the late Rep. Donald McEachin, it is fitting that the environmental justice movement he spent his career supporting and strengthening is able to win a key victory over legislation that would undermine bedrock environmental protections. 

“We’ve defeated Manchin’s dirty deal twice so far, and we’ll do it as many times as we must until communities and the climate are safe from rampant oil and gas expansion.”

###

Notes to Editors

  • On Monday, over 750 climate, environmental justice, and progressive advocacy groups sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to abandon Manchin’s dirty deal. 
  • On Tuesday, dozens of climate and environmental justice advocates rallied on Capitol Hill with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna to oppose Manchin’s proposed legislation. 
  • Manchin’s original proposal was withdrawn in September after it failed to secure the needed votes to pass with a continuing resolution to fund the government. It remains to be seen if Manchin and congressional leadership will attempt to attach the dirty deal to any other legislation before the end of the congressional session. 

The post Response: Second rejection of Manchin’s dirty deal demonstrates power of climate, environmental justice movements appeared first on Oil Change International.

Leading climate, environmental, youth, and progressive groups urge “No Dirty Deal” in defense authorization bill

Tue, 12/06/2022 - 10:26

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 6, 2022

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org

Leading climate, environmental, youth, progressive groups urge “No Dirty Deal” in defense authorization bill

Over 20 executive directors and presidents of top advocacy groups representing millions urge Congress to abandon Sen. Joe Manchin’s dirty pipeline deal

WASHINGTON, DC — As debate on Capitol Hill continues to swirl over the potential addition of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s ‘permitting reform’ bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), leaders of over 20 top advocacy groups sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and President Joe Biden today urging them to abandon attempts to pass Manchin’s “dirty deal.”

Read the Letter: http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2022/12/ED-Dirty-Deal-NDAA.pdf

“This deal prioritizes the interests of the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the environment and health of frontline communities, which are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, communities of color, and low-wealth communities — a move out of line with President Biden’s commitments to climate and environmental justice,” read the letter in part.

Instead, the advocacy leaders stressed, “Congress should be advancing efforts that ensure robust public engagement early in project development and strengthen the requirements for agencies to evaluate cumulative health and climate impacts.”

###

The post Leading climate, environmental, youth, and progressive groups urge “No Dirty Deal” in defense authorization bill appeared first on Oil Change International.

Tuesday Rally on Capitol Hill will Urge Congress to Oppose Sen. Joe Manchin’s Dirty Deal

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 16:02

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 5, 2022

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org
Jean Su, jsu@biologicaldiversity.org

Tuesday Morning Rally on Capitol Hill will Urge Congress to Oppose Sen. Manchin’s Dirty Deal

Lawmakers, Climate Advocates Will Blast Fossil Fuel Giveaway at Cannon Building

WASHINGTON, DC — Members of Congress and climate justice advocates will rally Tuesday morning outside the Cannon House Office Building to oppose U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s so-called ‘permitting reform’ bill, a massive giveaway to the fossil fuel industry.

The U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on a procedural rule that could advance the process of passing Sen. Manchin’s permitting legislation as part of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

Congressional Democratic leaders are seriously weighing the inclusion of Manchin’s bill — which would rubber-stamp fossil fuel projects and hamstring environmental laws — in the defense act. An upcoming House floor vote will consider a resolution that governs parameters for floor debate of the act. Several members of Congress have indicated they would oppose the rule to thwart the underlying attachment of the “dirty deal” to the defense act.

What: Rally outside of U.S. House of Representatives to oppose Manchin’s fossil fuel giveaway bill

When: 8:00-9:00am ET on Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Where: Outside Cannon House Office Building, at the intersection of C Street and New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC (pin here: https://goo.gl/maps/42Kb6PSzMQUm1Wp37)

Who: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), and climate justice advocates

Sen. Manchin’s bill, introduced this summer and known as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, would fast-track fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and undercut basic environmental protections. The bill was not brought to a vote during the first push for its passage in September.

Reports indicate that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders are considering attaching Manchin’s bill to the National Defense Authorization Act. Earlier today, more than 750 climate and environmental justice groups sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Congressional leadership opposing Manchin’s ‘permitting reform’ deal.

###

The post Tuesday Rally on Capitol Hill will Urge Congress to Oppose Sen. Joe Manchin’s Dirty Deal appeared first on Oil Change International.

Hundreds of Groups Blast Manchin Ploy to Include Dirty Deal in Defense Authorization Bill

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 06:23

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 5, 2022

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org

Hundreds of Groups Blast Manchin Ploy to Include Dirty Deal in Defense Authorization Bill

More than 750 groups urge Speaker Pelosi to honor Rep. McEachin’s legacy and oppose massive fossil fuel giveaway

WASHINGTON, DC — As West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin continues to promote his fossil fuel permitting scheme, more than 750 climate, environmental justice, public health, youth, and progressive organizations sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional leadership today opposing what the letter calls a “cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities.”

Read the Letter: http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2022/12/Dirty-Deal-Letter-II-final_12.2.22.pdf

Despite the failure by Senate leaders to pass this proposal as part of the September continuing resolution, Manchin has been floating plans to once again attach it to another piece of must-pass legislation, particularly the National Defense Authorization Act. Text of the defense bill is expected to be released as soon as Monday.

If Speaker Pelosi permits the attachment of the dirty deal to the National Defense Authorization Act, it will be one of her final acts as Speaker and threatens her credibility on climate. It would also come in stark contrast to Pelosi’s recent comments on the death of Rep. Donald McEachin, who devoted many of his final months in a long career of fighting environmental justice to opposing Manchin’s dirty deal.

“This fossil fuel wish list associated with the Inflation Reduction Act side deal, the so-called Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), is a cruel and direct attack on environmental justice communities and the climate writ large,” the letter reads. “This legislation would truncate and hollow out the environmental review process, weaken Tribal consultations, and make it far harder for frontline communities to have their voices heard… Moreover, we oppose tethering this legislation to any must-pass legislation. It is unacceptable to sacrifice the health, self determination, and prosperity of communities in Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, Alaska, the Midwest, the Southwest, and other frontline communities around the country.”

The massive opposition to the Manchin scheme is a reminder that attempts to spin it as ‘permitting reform’ have been a failure. Last week, Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Mike Kelly introduced a pipeline permitting bill that permits the Mountain Valley Pipeline and truncates environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

“Manchin’s dirty deal was a disaster when it was proposed this summer, and it’s a disaster now. This bill would be an egregious attack on environmental justice communities and would make a mockery of our commitments to confront the climate crisis. Environmental justice means letting communities who most impacted lead the solutions — and communities fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline and other projects this reckless legislation would fast-track are united in opposition,” said Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International. 

“Once again, the health and dignity of tribal communities across the country are being threatened by the greed of the fossil fuel industry and the elected officials on their payroll. We’re sick of having to fight to defend the basic bedrock environmental laws that allow our voices to be heard, while the climate crisis proliferates. Every lawmaker who is accountable to their constituents, especially those facing the most severe environmental injustices, must do all in their power to block this bill and all future attempts to risk our lives for a profit,” said Dr. Crystal Cavalier-Keck, co-founder of 7 Directions of Service.

“Appalachia is not for the federal government to sacrifice while the United States is applauded for ambitious climate commitments at the COP27 climate talks. For years, the fossil fuel industry and greedy politicians like Senator Manchin have destroyed our communities and homes. We will not allow them to continue to do so with this dirty deal. We stand against this bill and in solidarity with our frontline partners nationwide,” said Russell Chisholm, Mountain Valley Watch Coordinator and frontline Mountain Valley Pipeline organizer.

“Manchin’s dirty deal is just as toxic and dangerous as before. This obvious fossil fuel giveaway would devastate communities and set back efforts to avoid a climate catastrophe. Especially after the administration’s support of phasing down fossil fuels at the global climate conference, President Biden and Congress have to stop pandering to one senator’s climate-killing agenda and reject any attempts to tack this poison pill to must-pass legislation,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, Energy Justice Campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Senator Manchin failed the first time he tried to sneak through his dirty pipeline deal, and climate and environmental justice leaders are united in opposing any efforts to resurrect this awful deal. Senator Manchin’s proposal serves the interests of the dirty energy companies that have supported his political career. We will continue to oppose any schemes that incentivize fossil fuel expansion, undercut environmental and democratic protections, and sacrifice communities to the interests of corporate polluters,” said Jim Walsh, Policy Director at Food & Water Watch.

Read the Letter: http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2022/12/Dirty-Deal-Letter-II-final_12.2.22.pdf

###

The post Hundreds of Groups Blast Manchin Ploy to Include Dirty Deal in Defense Authorization Bill appeared first on Oil Change International.

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