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fossil fuel capitalism

‘COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world’

By David Hill and Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, November 30, 2023

British journalist DAVID HILL interviewed Jeremy Brecher in the lead-up to COP28 about why international climate negotiations fail and how a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency” could be a climate game-changer.

DH: Last year when we were in touch you said you thought COP27 “should be the most important meeting in the history of the world – nothing could be more important than international agreement to meet the climate targets laid out by climate science and agreed to by the world’s governments at the Paris Climate Summit.” Do you feel the same about COP28?

JB: Of course, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world. That was also true of COP27, COP26 and all the previous COP climate meetings. While they should be producing international agreement to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero, the reality is that the decades of international climate conferences have simply legitimated ever rising GHG emissions and ever increasing climate destruction. The idea that it is being hosted by Dubai and chaired by Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the head of the United Arab Emirates’s state-owned oil company, represents the height of absurdity – like putting Al Capone in charge of alcohol regulation. Sultan al-Jaber’s letter laying out plans for COP 28 is lacking in ambition to reduce climate destruction. The entire so-called international climate protection process is now controlled by those who hope to gain by climate destruction. A global nonviolent insurgency against the domination of the fossil fuel industry and the governments it controls appears to be the only practical means to counter their plan to destroy humanity.

DH: In other words, COP28 should be the most important meeting in the history of the world, but it’s not going to be. What do you think is the percentage chance of an international agreement to phase out fossil fuels being reached?

JB: The answer to this one is easy: there is zero chance that COP28 will produce an agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels. The forces that are in control of the governments represented in COP28 represent fossil fuel interests that are intent on continuing and if possible expanding their use. US President Eisenhower once said that the people wanted peace so much that some day the governments would have to get out of their way and let them have it. An international agreement that will actually phase out fossil fuels will come when governments discover that if they want to go on governing they have to let the people have climate safety.

A Closer Look at Risks of the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub

By staff - FracTracker Alliance, June 5, 2024

Key Findings

  • The DOE’s lack of transparency about ARCH2 prevents meaningful public feedback, leaving communities uninformed and unable to engage in decision-making.
  • Hydrogen blending raises safety concerns due to hydrogen embrittlement, potentially affecting pipelines, valves, and household appliances.
  • Reliance on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology introduces risks like subsurface carbon dioxide migration, posing threats to nearby communities.
  • Fracking for methane can lead to groundwater contamination, air pollution, and health effects for nearby communities.
  • While promising temporary jobs, ARCH2 is unlikely to generate significant long-term employment, potentially extending reliance on coal and gas industries and contributing to job and population loss.


The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2) project is a major initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy aimed at developing a hydrogen economy in the Appalachian region. However, despite promises of significant advancement in clean energy and economic growth, the project presents substantial risks to the environment and human health and safety.

This article is based on comments submitted to the Department of Energy (DOE) by FracTracker Alliance regarding the hub’s potential environmental, health, and economic impacts on local communities, including the lack of transparency from the DOE, the dangers associated with hydrogen blending, underground gas migration risks, and the impacts of continued reliance on fossil fuel extraction.

Hydrogen 101

Groups call for freeze on hydrogen hub talks over lack of transparency

By Reid Frazier - Alleghany Front, May 30, 2024

A coalition of community and environmental groups is calling on the Department of Energy to suspend talks with a hydrogen hub in Appalachia and disclose more information about the project.

The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub, or ARCH2, was one of seven “clean hydrogen hubs” awarded by the Department of Energy last year. 

“Very little information has been shared, and the concerns have only continued to be raised by the public,” says Tom Torres, hydrogen campaign coordinator for the Ohio River Valley Institute, which wrote a letter to the agency outlining its complaints.

The hub is a consortium of companies, governments and nonprofits that will produce hydrogen from natural gas. The DOE awarded the hub up to $925 million to produce “low-carbon” hydrogen. 

But how it will do this, and where companies will build these projects, remains unclear, Torres said. 

The groups are asking the hub to disclose information like site locations for the hydrogen projects involved in ARCH 2, as well as track records of developers associated with them. They also want community groups to be involved in negotiations, planning, construction and operation of the hub. 

“[T]he Department has done little to establish the necessary conditions for ‘deep, deep partnership,’” according to the letter, which was signed by the Ohio River Valley Institute and 54 other groups. (Ohio River Valley Institute is supported by The Heinz Endowments, which also funds The Allegheny Front.)

The letter adds that the agency has offered “scant” public information about the project: “[L]ittle more than four approximate, selectively designed, preliminary maps…and project descriptions as short as three words — and no substantive opportunity to shape this proposal while negotiations continue behind closed doors,”

Jill Hunkler, executive director of Ohio Valley Allies, a community group, said in a statement that “even the most basic details” of the project are lacking. 

“Impacted communities deserve to be informed and have their voices included in the negotiation phase,” Hunkler said. “How can we take this process seriously when the DOE has yet to answer the questions presented to them by concerned citizens in our region?”

Announced last year, the hydrogen hubs were meant to kick start a low-carbon hydrogen network around the country. When used for energy, hydrogen emits no carbon dioxide. But making hydrogen from natural gas – the most common way it is manufactured – produces carbon dioxide emissions. ARCH2 developers have said they may use carbon capture technology to store those emissions and, in the process, create 21,000 jobs. 

UnFrack FERC! May Direct Action Round Up

Green hydrogen: A climate change solution or fossil fuel bait and switch?

By Susan Phillips - Alleghany Front, April 30, 2024

On the campus of a former DuPont facility in Newark, Delaware, a group of researchers are working to create what they say is key to solving the world’s climate crisis — an affordable way to make hydrogen using renewable energy.

“It’s not a question of technical feasibility. It is a question of figuring out what is the lowest cost to produce that hydrogen,” said Balsu Lakshmanan, chief technology officer for the start-up Versogen. “We are displacing bad hydrogen with good hydrogen.”

“Bad hydrogen”

The world is full of what he referred to as “bad hydrogen.” Nearly all the hydrogen used today is made with natural gas, in a process known as “steam methane reformation,” or through coal using gasification. And while hydrogen burns clean when used in fuel cell cars, trucks and buses — emitting only water vapor — climate warming gasses like carbon dioxide are released during hydrogen production.

Ten million metric tons of hydrogen are produced in the U.S. every year. More than 1,600 miles of pipeline transports it — primarily in the Gulf Coast.

The bulk of the hydrogen is not used to power vehicles but as part of oil refining, including those in the Philadelphia region. It’s also used to help feed us all — it’s used to make ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizer.

Mike Rowe is an Anti-Union Worker Cosplaying Big Oil Funded Propagandist

Big Oil’s Hydrogen Hustle Exposed

By staff - Sunflower Alliance, March 27, 2024

The federal government is providing big bucks to projects that produce hydrogen as a “climate solution.” Most hydrogen produced today is fueled by fossil gas (methane) — so not really a solution at all.

Climate advocates have been advocating for “guardrails” on the program to make sure the hydrogen projects that receive federal money are really produced by new renewable energy.

But this report from Friends of the Earth reveals ways that Big Oil and other polluters are scheming to make the federal rules as lax as possible. They’re campaigning to add loopholes to the guardrails.

Under pressure from environmental groups, the Biden administration drafted guidelines for the federal subsidies that said qualifying hydrogen projects had to meet the requirements of the three guardrails. They had to be:

  • powered by renewable capacity built within three years of the hydrogen facility (additionality/incrementality)
  • connected to the same regional grid as the hydrogen production
  • able to match renewable energy usage on an hourly basis with hydrogen production, albeit starting in 2028 (time-matching).

Fossil interests are calling for the three guardrails to be removed, weakened to the point of irrelevance, or failing that, waived for ‘first mover’ projects. They’re hoping to grab federal money intended for green energy,

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

A Different Approach – A Green Transition (Part 2)

By Jonathan Essex - Greener Jobs Alliance, March 19, 2024

This is the second part of Jonathan’s discussion of a new approach to a Green Transition, as presented at the GJA AGM on 13 February.

We need a green transition, that is labour- not material- or technology-intensive, increasing how the economy flows locally rather than how big it is nationally or globally. The new jobs will not be in production in the UK but reproduction. It would depend upon new skills and jobs that reimagine, repurpose and reuse what already exists, and thus on activities that retain embodied carbon. Instead of using ever more energy to make more stuff that economy of scale and comparative advantage turn into fossil fuel powered global supply chains: a revolution of upskilling is needed to reconnect communities. Instead of Do-it-yourself, think: Re-inspire Your Community.

The shift to this new economy could be energised through local green jobs plans that ratchet down our level of resource supply and demand, making better use of what the economy already has, including repurposing resources like steel regionally and locally, reinsulating homes, renewables and less overall energy use. This would be a clear alternative to continuing to exploit more North Sea oil and gas, and also to end the massive predicted increase in the use of lithium and rare earth metals to power the transition to electric vehicles – reducing the scale of consumption of these, and our propensity to travel and consume ever more. 

Such green jobs plans need to be set in an economics of redistribution that turns politics into something we all participate in, something that provides the glue and grease that links the climate science and emergency declarations and policies into real plans, everywhere that can deliver sufficient collective transformation. That would be a great upskilling in contrast to the present absence of any government requirement on business to provide pathways to new skills and jobs beyond that company. That requires a government to go beyond doing litmus tests and tinkering in the market and instead to drive forward with a clear public-led plan. 

So how might this start in the absence of such a plan? I am involved in a local community enterprise – I am part of Energy Action Redhill and Reigate. Our leaky home surveys use infrared cameras to show residents where heat leaks, and we distribute free and half price insulation to households in need. But not just that! We are NVQ-ing up to levels 3 and 4 a group of energy champions. Initiatives like this are already getting skills in place, in readiness for government to finally mainstream investment in retrofitting the UK’s poorly insulated and leaky housing stock. 

Consider how this might look if the economy behaved like the national electricity grid. If we opt for a scaling up of renewables alongside the rethinking of demand explored above, the national grid will not need to expand exponentially to cope with the electrification of heating, transport and all else. Instead, more energy will be generated and consumed locally, and the grid will have a greater role in rebalancing and redistributing power, alongside new storage and demand management. Similarly, instead of continuing to increase the scale of energy generation and consumption, and the ‘economy’ distributing product from where it is centrally produced to consumers, it might serve to redistribute between far more self-reliant local economies, that retain more of their own work, and have a greater sense of place as the local vernacular of architecture, the seasonal variations of diet, and sports and pastimes more dependent on where you live.

Winning Fossil Fuel Workers Over to a Just Transition

By Norman Rogers - Jacobin, March 18, 2024

This article is adapted from Power Lines: Building a Labor-Climate Justice Movement, edited by Jeff Ordower and Lindsay Zafir (The New Press, 2024).

I have a dream. I have a nightmare.

The dream is that working people find careers with good pay, good benefits, and a platform for addressing grievances with their employers. In other words, I dream that everyone gets what I got over twenty-plus years as a unionized worker in the oil industry.

The nightmare is that people who had jobs with good pay and power in the workplace watch those gains erode as the oil industry follows the lead of steel, auto, and coal mining to close plants and lay off workers. It is a nightmare rooted in witnessing the cruelties suffered by our siblings in these industries — all of whom had good-paying jobs with benefits and the apparatus to process grievances when their jobs went away.

Workers, their families, and their communities were destroyed when the manufacturing plants and coal mines shut down, with effects that linger to this day. Without worker input, I fear that communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry face a similar fate.

This nightmare is becoming a reality as refineries in Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, California, and New Mexico have closed or have announced pending closures. Some facilities are doing the environmentally conscious thing and moving to renewable fuels. Laudable as that transition is, a much smaller workforce is needed for these processes. For many oil workers, the choice is to keep working, emissions be damned, or to save the planet and starve.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 — a four-thousand-member local in Southern California, of which I am the second vice president — is helping to chart a different course, one in which our rank-and-file membership embraces a just transition and in which we take the urgent steps needed to protect both workers and the planet. Along with other California USW locals, we are fighting to ensure that the dream — not the nightmare — is the future for fossil fuel workers as we transition to renewable energy.


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