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What a World Beyond Fossil Fuels Will Mean for Workers, Families, and Communities

Changing the Trade Winds: Aligning OECD Export Finance for energy with climate goals

By Nina Pušić and Claire O’Manique - Oil Change International, May 23, 2023

This new Oil Change International report shows that Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries supported fossil fuel exports by an average of USD 41 billion from 2018 to 2020, almost five times more than clean energy exports. This directly contradicts internationally agreed climate goals, including the Paris Agreement objective to align financial flows with the low-carbon energy transition.

A majority of international public finance for fossil fuels is provided by OECD governed Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), with 71 percent of export financing for energy going to oil and gas.

OECD ECAs play a particularly influential role in getting large fossil infrastructure projects built. They invested in 56 percent of new hazardous liquified gas (LNG) export terminal capacity built in the last decade (providing at least USD 81 billion), helping drive the global fossil gas boom by getting these large keystone projects built. Overall, about 42 percent of all fossil fuel finance from ECAs under the OECD supported midstream infrastructure activities, such as pipelines, LNG ports, and shipping.

This new report recommends that OECD countries present an ambitious proposal to prohibit financing all oil and fossil gas projects in order to align with a 1.5ºC warming limit.

Authors of the report recommend that:

  • Australia, Norway, Turkey, Korea, and Japan, urgently sign onto the Clean Energy Transition Partnership (CETP);
  • OECD members that have already signed onto the CEPT, including the United Kingdom and Canada, fulfill their commitment to “driv[e] multilateral negotiations in international bodies, in particular in the OECD” to align with the Paris Agreement goals and present a proposal for an OECD oil and gas export finance prohibition;
  • OECD members close the existing coal loopholes, to extend the coal-fired power prohibition to cover coal mining, transport, and associated infrastructure;
  • OECD members ensure that under the Climate Change Sector Understanding (CCSU) no favorable investment conditions are offered to any project or technology derived from fossil gas, including but not limited to blue, gray, and black hydrogen and ammonia, or projects that extend the lifetime of fossil fuel assets.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Offshore: North Sea Oil workers on the future of our energy system

The latest on the Just Transition

By staff - Nautilus International, May 2, 2023

At the Nautilus Professional and Technical Forum in April, head of international relations Danny McGowan gave a presentation on the hot maritime topic of 2023: the Just Transition.

What this means at its heart is that workers should be treated fairly in the move towards greener shipping. Nautilus is part of the international Maritime Just Transition Task Force, which recently commissioned a report by the DNV classification society to seek insights into the seafarer training and skills needed to support a decarbonised shipping industry.

The DNV report focuses on the four 'alternative' energy sources that are closest to widespread adoption: LNG and LPG, hydrogen, methanol and ammonia.

The concept of Just Transition means that if some of these alternatives are implemented, there should be a health and safety first approach, with strict rules about handling dangerous new fuels like ammonia and human-centred design for new vessels and new technologies onboard.

It also means that training should be standardised, should be provided at no cost to existing seafarers and not-for-profit for new seafarers.

The DNV report is helping to bring clarity on the uptake of alternative fuel options and the trajectory of decarbonisation, so that the industry can plan for the transformation of the maritime workforce.

Another document that contributes to this process is the Maritime Just Transition Task Force's 10 Point Plan, which establishes Just Transition principles such as global labour standards, gender and diversity and health and safety.

Destruction is at the heart of everything we do: Chevron’s junk climate action agenda and how it intensifies global harm

By Rachel Rose Jackson and Adrien Tofighi-Niaki - Corporate Accountability, May 2023

This exposé brings into question Chevron’s proclaimed climate action and ‘green’ image. Analysis of the activities associated with Chevron’s ‘net zero’ climate action plan raises significant concerns about whether its ‘climate action’ is displacing the needed emissions reductions to avoid climate catastrophe, spurring harm to communities and ecosystems, and further hindering the likelihood of meaningful climate action globally.

Key findings this research yielded:

  • More than 90% of the carbon offsets Chevron has retired through the voluntary carbon market to ‘cancel out’ its emissions seem to be worthless— presumed ‘junk’ until proven otherwise.
  • The technological ‘low carbon’ schemes appear to be failing to capture the emissions promised, in some cases missing targets by as much as 50%.
  • A major proportion of the schemes it’s investing in as part of its ‘net zero’ plan are linked to claims of local community abuse, environmental degradation, and/or may even be fueling further emissions. Almost all of the harm claimed to have been inflicted is on communities in the Global South.
  • Chevron’s ‘net zero’ pledge—even if fully implemented to the greatest effect without causing harm—overlooks 90% of the total emissions associated with its business practices.
  • Chevron is ignoring the scientifically founded need for a fossil fuel phase out, projecting emissions for 2022-2025 equivalent to that of 10 European countries during a similar period.
  • It invests millions annually to manipulate the political will for climate action, seeking to shape climate policy to its will.

It’s imperative that shareholders, policymakers, and the public see Chevron’s green claims for what they are—greenwashed destruction. As this exposé illustrates, Chevron appears to be continuing its legacy of preventing, not promoting, the legally binding regulations, the rapid deployment of real solutions and the fast track to Real Zero emissions that needs to happen to avert climate catastrophe.

Download a copy of this publication here (link).

Certified Disaster: How Project Canary and Gas Certification Are Misleading Markets and Governments

By Collin Rees, Allie Rosenbluth, Valentina Stackl, et. al - Oil Change International, April 2023

This report examines the gas certification market, specifically one of the current industry leaders, Project Canary. We raise serious concerns about the integrity of gas certification and so-called “Responsibly Sourced Gas” (RSG). Our investigation, which included field observations of oil and gas wells in Colorado monitored by Project Canarya, exposed significant shortcomings in its operations and claims.

  • Project Canary monitors consistently fail to detect pollution events: Earthworks’ trained oil and gas thermographers captured alarming evidence of Project Canary monitors failing to detect emissions in the field. The seven-month survey found that Continuous Emissions Monitors (CEMs)b failed to capture every significant pollution event detected with Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) cameras. Our observations suggest that the company is misrepresenting the capabilities of its technology – a concern echoed in the testimony we gathered from several industry experts – and the underlying data behind certified gas.
  • Greenwashing: Project Canary’s marketing aggressively positions its certification services as a conduit to a ‘net zero’ emissions world. Its CEO has openly discussed fixing the gas industry’s “brand problem.” In doing so, the company appears to be aligning itself with gas industry lobbyists and pushing the concept of ‘net zero’ to new levels of incredulity, which risks sabotaging rather than serving global climate goals. The company is pushing a false narrative that methane gas is an energy source compatible with climate goals as long as it is certified as being produced below a certain methane threshold.
  • Lack of Transparency: Despite claims of ‘radical transparency’ and third-party verification, there is limited access for regulators, academics, or the public to the data generated by the certification process. Given the evidence that monitoring may not be reliable, there is clear justification for greater scrutiny from regulators, scientists, and concerned citizens.
  • Conflicts of Interest: Evidence suggests that a key Project Canary DIrector and Advisory Board Members have direct financial interests in the same gas companies it certifies.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

As Oil Companies Stay Lean, Workers Move to Renewable Energy

By Clifford Krauss - New York Times, February 27, 2023

Solar, wind, geothermal, battery and other alternative-energy businesses are adding workers from fossil fuel companies, where employment has fallen.

Emma McConville was thrilled when she landed a job as a geologist at Exxon Mobil in 2017. She was assigned to work on one of the company’s most exciting and lucrative projects, a giant oil field off Guyana.

But after oil prices collapsed during the pandemic, she was laid off on a video call at the end of 2020. “I probably blacked out halfway,” Ms. McConville recalled.

Her shock was short-lived. Just four months later, she landed a job with Fervo, a young Houston company that aims to tap geothermal energy under the Earth’s surface. Today she manages the design of two Fervo projects in Nevada and Utah, and earns more than she did at Exxon.

“Covid allowed me to pivot,” she said. “Covid was an impetus for renewables, not just for me but for many of my colleagues.”

Oil and gas companies laid off roughly 160,000 workers in 2020, and they maintained tight budgets and hired cautiously over the last two years. But many renewable businesses expanded rapidly after the early shock of the pandemic faded, snapping up geologists, engineers and other workers from the likes of Exxon and Chevron. Half of Fervo’s 38 employees come from fossil fuel companies, including BP, Hess and Chesapeake Energy.

Executives and workers in energy hubs in Houston, Dallas and other places say steady streams of people are moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy jobs. It’s hard to track such movements in employment statistics, but the overall numbers suggest such career moves are becoming more common. Oil, gas and coal employment has not recovered to its prepandemic levels. But the number of jobs in renewable energy, including solar, wind, geothermal and battery businesses, is rising.

Debunking the Skeptics: Real Solutions For A Clean, Renewable Energy Future - EcoJustice Radio

From Rigs to Riches: The promise of oil and gas decommissioning in a just transition

By Peder Ressem Østring - Just Transition Research Collaborative, February 24, 2023

The recycling of oil rigs can provide new jobs within the circular economy, particularly beneficial for oil-dependent regions. If we get it right, the process of cleaning up after the fossil economy can itself serve as a bridge from fossil dependency towards a just transition.

Globally, there are over 7000 offshore oil and gas platforms. Together with other structures and pipelines, these form an impressive built environment. If we are to have a fighting chance of keeping global warming well below 2°C however, virtually all of these installations would have to be shut down, dismantled and recycled. This process — known as offshore decommissioning — is already taking place, but will see a dramatic increase in the coming decade. It will be increasingly necessary to confront the ways in which decommissioned infrastructure is handled, both with regards to the environment and labour conditions.

A case study of the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea shows some of both the possibilities and challenges decommissioning presents in terms of a just transition.

While some oil companies would like to leave the oil platforms in the sea, eagerly promoting the idea of repurposing old rigs as artificial reefs, this is not allowed under current regulation. After the plans of Royal Dutch Shell of dumping the oil storage tanker Brent Spar in the North Sea in the 1990s was met with massive public scrutiny and campaigns from environmental organizations, regulations came in place that effectively banned the practice of abandoning manufactured structures in the North-East Atlantic.

Companies have since sought other ways of disposing of the problem with structures put out of commission. Another approach for cutting costs for the oil supermajors has been to send old floating rigs for breaking in the global South. This has taken place under horrendous conditions for both workers and the environment, as has been uncovered by the BBC.

Both these false solutions are in reality ways of externalizing costs of cleaning up after the fossil companies. Both approaches should be rejected, while insisting on the principle that the polluter should pay.

'Groundbreaking' Report Shows Promise of Greener Jobs for Former Fossil Fuel Workers

By Julia Conley - Common Dreams, January 3, 2023

New analysis shows how California "can achieve a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels for oil and gas workers."

A new analysis out Tuesday shows how a just transition towards a green economy in California—one in which workers in the state's fossil fuel industry would be able to find new employment and receive assistance if they're displaced from their jobs—will be "both affordable and achievable," contrary to claims from oil and gas giants and anti-climate lawmakers.

The study published by the Gender Equity Policy Institute (GEPI) notes that a majority of workers in the oil and gas sectors will have numerous new job opportunities as California pushes to become carbon neutral by 2045 with a vow to construct a 100% clean electricity grid and massively reduce oil consumption and production.

"The state will need to modernize its electrical grid and build storage capacity to meet increased demand for electricity," reads the report. "Carbon management techniques, plugging orphan wells, and the development of new energy sources such as geothermal will all come into play, providing economic opportunities to workers and businesses alike."

GEPI analyzed the most recent public labor data, showing that the oil and gas industries in California employed approximately 59,200 people as of 2021 across jobs in production, sales, transportation, legal, and executive departments, among others.

The group examined potential job opportunities for fossil fuel workers "in all growing occupations, not solely in clean energy or green jobs," and found that about two-thirds of employees are likely to find promising opportunities outside of fossil fuel-related work.

"Our findings show that a sizable majority (56%) of current oil and gas workers are highly likely to find jobs in California in another industry in their current occupation, given demand in the broader California economy for workers with their existing skills," the report says.

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