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Promise Breakers: Assessing the impact of compliance with the Glasgow Statement commitment to end international public finance for fossil fuels

By staff - Oil Change International, March 2023

This report, Promise Breakers: Assessing the impact of compliance with the Glasgow Statement commitment to end international public finance for fossil fuels, reveals that the Glasgow Statement, a joint commitment forged at the 2021 UN climate summit (COP26), is already shifting an estimated USD 5.7 billion per year out of fossil fuels and into clean energy, with the potential of a further 13.7 billion per year if all Glasgow Statement signatories fulfill their commitments.

The report’s key findings include that out of sixteen high-income signatories that provide significant levels of international public finance:

  • Eight have adopted policies that broadly meet the promise they made in Glasgow (Canada, the European Investment Bank, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and New Zealand), shifting an estimated USD 5.7 billion per year out of fossil fuels and showing that the Glasgow Statement is having a real-world impact;
  • Four signatories (Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Spain) have new policies that further restrict fossil fuel support but leave major loopholes and/or do not meet the end of 2022 deadline; 
  • Four signatories (Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United States) have yet to publish new or updated policies. The United States has reportedly adopted a policy, but is refusing to publish it. Ongoing policy debates in Germany and Italy suggest that these countries are likely to introduce loopholes in any forthcoming policies that allow continued fossil fuel financing;
  • Just days after this report was finalized, it appears Canada’s export credit agency, Export Development Canada is already in breach of their policy by approving four international oil and gas transactions totaling at least USD 5.5 million already in 2023.

The report contains a detailed report card on each signatories’ policies, with recommendations for improvement. It highlights key opportunities for signatories to increase their clean energy finance levels, work together to reiterate and strengthen their commitment to end international finance for fossil fuels at the Japan-led G7 in May and negotiate oil and gas export finance restrictions at the OECD.

Read the entire statement (PDF).

‘Megathreat Mountain’: challenges for 2023

By Willy De Backer - European Trade Union Institute, February 20, 2023

The year 2023 promises to be at least as challenging as the previous one, with war still raging between Russia, Ukraine and the West. The climate emergency turning into a real climate collapse also for countries in the Global North which had been spared some of the deadly and devastating effects which some countries in the Global South had already experienced for years.

At the beginning of the year, many ‘expert’ commentators and think tanks published their forecasts for the next 12 months. All of them agree that the new year looks challenging, if not to say scary. In an excellent comment on Project Syndicate, Nouriel Roubini refers to Thomas Mann’s great novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ comparing the current ‘age of mega threats to the tragic period between 1914 and 1945 and stating that we are ‘sleepwalking on mega threat mountain’.

Let us have a quick look at some of the chief challenges for Europe in 2023 but mostly in the form of questions (with further reading links) instead of predictions.

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80+ Groups Blast CA Climate Plan’s Reliance on Carbon Capture for Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

By Dan Bacher - Daily Kos, October 25, 2022

Despite California’s image as a “green” and “progressive state,” Big Oil and Big Gas continue to exert huge influence over California regulators in the promotion of carbon capture and storage as a “tool” to addressing climate change.

On October 24, over 80 climate and environmental justice groups sent a letter urging California Air Resources Board Chair, Liane Randolph, and California Governor Gavin Newsom to reject the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) for fossil fuel infrastructure like oil refineries, gas-fired power plants, and other oil and gas operations in the state’s 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan.

This letter was sent after new lobbying disclosure research revealed the CA CCS lobby, dominated by fossil fuel interests organized by the CA Carbon Capture Coalition, spent more than $13 million lobbying California’s Scoping Plan, Governor’s Office, Legislature and the Air Resources Board in the first six months of 2022, according to a press statement from a coalition of over 80 climate and environmental groups.

“California must have a climate roadmap that prioritizes rapid and direct emissions reductions at the source, centers Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities of color, and fully phases out the production, refining, and use of fossil fuels at the pace that science and justice require,” the letter states.

“Yet, the current plan to increase the state’s reliance on carbon capture and storage (CCS) undermines that vision and the state’s ability to meet its climate goals. CCS regularly fails to meet its promises, requires high use of electricity and water, puts communities at real risk of harm, and would prolong the production and use of fossil fuels that are driving the climate emergency and polluting communities. We urge you to adopt a Scoping Plan that rejects the use of CCS for fossil fuel infrastructure such as refineries, gas-fired power plants, and other oil and gas operations,” the letter continues.

Global Climate Jobs Conference 2022: Fossil fuel workers and climate jobs

The Real Oil Shock: How Oil Transformed Money, Debt, and Finance

By R.C. Smith - PhD Dissertation, September 1, 2022

Oil and finance have long played central roles in defining how the global economy has developed and this is especially true of the modern neoliberal economic system. One factor of their relationship that is often unexamined is how oil industry profits and liquid capital influence the developments of finance. Understanding their relationship during the modern period first requires understanding this petrocapital cycle, how it influences economic development, and the ways that its rise to prominence in the 1970s transformed the global capitalist financial system.

We are living in a world that has been shaped by the demands of oil and finance. Under the neoliberal capitalist order these two sectors enjoyed central roles in setting the pace of the global economy. Shocks in the price of oil, as recent events like the record-high oil prices experienced following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine have reminded us, tend not to stay confined to the fuel pump and radiate throughout our economic system. One particular avenue of influence that is often not seen but is widely felt is the reinvestment of oil profits in global financial markets. This question was first thoroughly examined in Mahmoud el-Gamal and Amy Myers Jaffe’s Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold which traced the relationships that formed the endogenous petrocapital cycle, which is the reinvestment of the profits reaped by oil exporters in financial markets and how this changed global credit and financial markets. The Real Oil Shock builds on their earlier work by digging deeper into the birth of this process in the Oil Shocks of the 1970s. It will do this by examining how OPEC’s windfall capital fundamentally changed financial markets, practices, and the creation of money.

What The Real Oil Shock is examining is not a new phenomenon in economic history. The human experience abounds with instances where dramatic redistributions of wealth and resources created significant changes in the existing social and economic order. An excellent example comes from the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Exploitation of gold, silver, and other precious metals in the Americas provided the Spanish monarchy with an enormous windfall of liquid capital. This was spent by the Spanish monarchy on projects of the state, fighting wars, and expanding their influence in Europe. This put increasing quantities of Spanish doubloons in circulation outside of domestic markets. Spanish gold had become the capital for Dutch, English, and French merchants for financing their own commercial, industrial, and colonial enterprises whose activities were the foundation of early modern capitalism in Europe.

Download this document (link).

Anti-Chevron Day 2022 in Richmond, CA

Are Refinery Workers Climate Enemies? - Part 2

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Union Caucus, May 25, 2022

For context and background, see part one, here. Unlike the first installment, this second response has ommitted the comments that preciptated it, for the sake of clarity, as well as the fact that the author tried to echo the rebutted points in the response. It should be noted that only one individual has expressed outright opposition to showing solidarity with striking refinery workers. It's a foregone conclusion that the overwhelming majority of the IWW does not share this one individual's view.

First of all, let me be clear: my position is that humanity must collectively phase out burning fossil fuels for energy, transportation, and locomotion as rapidly as possible.

That said, nobody seriously believes we can collectively cease burning fossil fuels in a single day, so the likelihood is that the burning of them will continue for some time (I aim to make that as little time as possible).

Regardless of how long it takes, no oil refinery is going to simply shut down just because large masses of people, even 3.5% of the population demand it. It’s not even technically possible, let alone economically or politically possible. Most of the Environmental Justice and Climate Justice organizations (other than a few ultra-sectarian extremists) get this, and they’ve crafted their demands accordingly.

While there’s a degree of variation among the various organizing, most of them call for the following:

  1. No new extraction of new fossil fuel sources;
  2. Rapid phase out of existing fossil fuel sources;
  3. Managed decline of the existing fossil fuel supply chain;
  4. Just transition for any and all affected workers in the entire fossil fuel supply chain;
  5. Repurposing of equipment for non fossil fuel burning purposes;
  6. Bioremediation of damaged ecosystems across the extraction supply chain;
  7. Reparations for the affected communities and tribes.

Supporting refinery workers involved in a strike is not in any way contradictory to the above demands.

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