Inside Big Oil’s Business as Usual: Failure on Climate and Profits from War

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Original article by Stella Levantesi republished from DeSmog.

A new report shows oil majors fall short of meeting Paris Agreement targets while fueling global military conflicts.

Oil majors are not on track to hit Paris Agreement climate targets that limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, a new report reveals.

Eight fossil fuel giants – Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, TotalEnergies, BP, Eni, Equinor, and ConocoPhillips – are on course to use 30 percent of the world’s remaining carbon budget for that 1.5°C goal, according to the Big Oil Reality Check report by nonprofit Oil Change International (OCI).

Combined, the oil and gas companies’ extraction plans are consistent with a temperature rise of over 2.4°C, the report found.That level of warming, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will reduce food security, risk irreversible loss of ecosystems, and increase heat waves, rainfall, and extreme weather events.

“We analyzed the climate promises and plans of the largest eight international oil and gas companies that are owned in North America and Europe. What would it take for an oil and gas producer to align their production with limiting warming to 1.5?” David Tong, global industry campaign manager at OCI and co-author of the report, told DeSmog. 

“If an oil and gas company were serious about transitioning its business model, the first step would be ending all new production and then setting a Paris-aligned phaseout plan,” he added.

‘No New Fossil’ Standard

recent paper by academics at University College London and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, published in Science in May, calls for stopping fossil fuel expansion and building a “No New Fossil” global norm. According to the authors, this would make it “easier to phase down fossil fuels” and achieve the Paris Agreement climate goals.

No new fossil fuel projects would be needed in a 1.5°C world, they wrote, because the “existing fossil fuel capital stock” is sufficient to meet energy demand. The authors also note that preventing new fossil fuel projects is, in general, more feasible than closing existing projects from an economic, political, and legal viewpoint.

In the face of continuing global pressure to stop fossil fuel expansion, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Equinor, Eni, ExxonMobil, and TotalEnergies have goals to increase oil and gas production within the next three years or beyond, the OCI report finds. While Shell does not quantify a target, the company plans to keep oil production steady while growing gas production in the near future, OCI said.

“None of those companies came anywhere close to alignment [with climate goals],” said Tong. “Six of the eight companies we analyzed have explicit plans to increase their oil and gas production in this critical decade when we need to be cutting our reliance on fossil fuels, cutting oil, gas, and oil production.”

Plateauing oil and expanding gas production, like some of these companies plan to do, is “grossly insufficient” compared with the action that’s needed, Tong added. Even commitments to make businesses more efficient aren’t going to cut it alone, he said.

“It’s like a cigarette company claiming that it will solve lung cancer by producing cigarettes more efficiently,” he noted. “That’s not just not a credible claim. It’s a promise to become a more efficient climate breaker.”

Big Oil and War

According to the OCI report, all the oil majors fail to meet basic criteria for just transition plans for workers and communities where they operate. 

“A number of these companies also face significant ongoing, unresolved allegations of human rights … and Indigenous people’s rights violations,” Tong told me.

A March 2024 investigation, commissioned by OCI and conducted by DataDesk, revealed that ExxonMobil, Chevron, TotalEnergies, BP, Shell, and Eni are “complicit in facilitating the supply of crude oil to Israel.” These findings are particularly noteworthy in the context of “Israel’s mounting evidence of war crimes” against Palestinians in Gaza, the OCI states in its new report. 

Diesel and gasoline for tanks and other military vehicles are supplied by Israel’s refineries, which rely on regular imports of crude oil by these companies and, since October 2023, supplies mainly from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan/Russia, Gabon, and Brazil, the research has found. 

The fossil fuel industry is “fueling war and military conflicts” in many regions of the world, said Svitlana Romanko, a prominent Ukrainian activist and founder and director of Razom We Stand, a Ukrainian organization campaigning to ban all imports of fossil fuels from Russia. 

According to Romanko, the OCI Big Oil Reality Check report “reinforces the importance of moving away from fossil fuels and investing into distributed renewable energy.”

A new analysis by a group of climate experts estimates that the first two years of Russia’s war on Ukraine resulted in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to around 175 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The estimated global cost of this warming in extreme weather impacts: $32 billion. 

After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia earned over 681 billion euros in revenue from fossil fuel exports. European Union countries purchased fossil fuels from Russia for more than 195 billion euros.

Big Oil, as well as Russia, is profiting from the war, Romanko said. After the invasion, BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies raked in $219 billion, more than double their profits compared to the previous year.

“Most [governments] subsidize fossil fuels, and these subsidies are accounting for trillions of U.S. dollars annually,” Romanko said. “This is a big part of fossil fuel profits, and the more fossil fuels are subsidized, [the] less investments are made available for renewable energies.”

She pointed out that the partnership between TotalEnergies and Russia’s largest private gas producer, Novatek, was also “instrumental” in helping Russia get access to technologies and engineering services to launch Novatek’s Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2 projects.

Romanko notes that fossil fuel infrastructure can also constitute a liability for military attacks and quickly become a target.

“Centralized infrastructure endangers energy supply and overall safety of the supply,” she said. In Ukraine, a massive effort to install solar power plants in schools and hospitals helped decentralize this key resource, Romanko explained. “Decentralized energy supply is essential to building true energy independence,” she added. “And this is the future.”

Pressure for Accountability

Some of the eight oil majors in OCI’s report have faced more international and national scrutiny than others. Such pressure can facilitate accountability, but that’s less likely when the fossil fuel company is closely intertwined with the institutional, political, and economic life of its country. 

A BP gas station sign. Credit: Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

“We need to look at what has succeeded in putting so much pressure on companies like Shell and BP,” OCI’s Tong said. 

One factor: when communities in a company’s home country work closely in partnership with communities in fossil fuel-producing countries. Tong said that positive results also happen when campaigners use a range of strategies to expose producers, from nonviolent direct action to op-eds, research, and court action.

“This is particularly challenging with Eni, TotalEnergies, and Equinor in different ways because of the close interactions that each of the companies have with their home states,” he added.

Public, political, and legal pressure for accountability must also be coupled with industry regulation, according to Tong.

“We concluded that there is no evidence that the oil and gas sector will voluntarily transition to renewable energy, or voluntarily act to align their production with what’s needed for the Paris Agreement,” Tong said. Instead, governments must no longer license new production sites. 

The strong right-wing result in the latest EU Parliament elections could also affect Big Oil’s energy transition. 

“The more the links between the state and big polluters are overt, the more people get out in the streets and protest,” Tong said.

What is safe to say is that Big Oil’s business as usual will increase climate change effects.

“Floods, hurricanes, extreme weather events, and the millions of human lives affected and lost – this damage to nature, to human lives and to life on earth will only mount,” Romanko said. “What will be lost in a few more years will also mount if fossil fuel companies are allowed to continue with business as usual.”

Original article by Stella Levantesi republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingInside Big Oil’s Business as Usual: Failure on Climate and Profits from War

‘Our Leaders Are Not Leading’: Groups Decry Yet Another G7 Climate Failure

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Original article by BRETT WILKINS republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (center) looks toward Pope Francis as he speaks during the G7 Leaders Summit in Fasano, Italy on June 14, 2024. 
(Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

“If these embattled leaders want to leave a lasting legacy, they need to heed the will of voters demanding a safe environment and climate,” one campaigner asserted.

As the Group of Seven summit wrapped up Friday in Italy, climate defenders condemned G7 leaders for their continued failure to take meaningful action to combat the worsening planetary emergency.

Taking aim at what critics called the G7 leaders’ largely empty pledge to undertake “concrete steps to address the triple crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss,” U.S. campaigns manager Candice Fortin lamented that “yet another meeting ends without real commitments to revert the situation rich countries like the U.S. put us in.”

“As COP29 approaches and the world deals with worsening climate impacts, we can’t afford to waste more time,” Fortin said, referring to the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to take place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan—a major fossil fuel-producing nation—in November. COP29 is set to be chaired by a former oil executive.

“If the U.S. wants to pride itself on being a ‘world leader,’ it needs to show how it will pay its climate debt to climate-vulnerable countries that bear the most significant climate impacts without the necessary funds for adaptation,” Fortin added.

While G7 governments hailed their recent agreement to phase out existing unabated coal power generation in energy systems during the first half of the 2030s, critics took issue with the policy’s timeline and banks’ continued financing of fossil fuels.

“Our leaders are not leading. In the hottest 12 consecutive months of recorded human history, our leaders are failing us,” argued Bronwen Tucker, Oil Change International’s public finance lead. “G7 countries are adopting an inadequate coal phaseout date and endorsing increased fossil gas production, sending a terrible signal at a time when countries should be focusing on accelerating the phaseout, not delaying it.”

Tucker continued:

G7 leaders can’t say they’re committed to a livable climate while expanding and bankrolling the fossil fuel industry at home and abroad. At the same time, these rich countries should not be congratulating themselves for delivering $100 billion for climate finance two years too late. Trillions are needed to cover climate damages and the G7’s finance was largely provided as loans which only worsens unjust debts.

“The G7 must end the billions of dollars in taxpayer finance still flowing to fossil fuel projects abroad and fund the buildout of affordable renewable energy on fair terms,” Tucker asserted. “If their oil and gas expansion plans are allowed to proceed, it will lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future.”

Greenpeace International climate politics expert Tracy Carty said in a statement that “if these embattled leaders want to leave a lasting legacy, they need to heed the will of voters demanding a safe environment and climate.”

“Taxing the billions of dollars in profits of the fossil fuel industry to fund climate action at home and abroad could be their stake in history and a win for people and planet,” Carty continued. “G7 leaders need to seize the moment ahead of the U.N. climate talks in Baku and show they will lead the transition away from fossil fuels and build trust they will significantly increase climate finance support to developing countries.”

Original article by BRETT WILKINS republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue Reading‘Our Leaders Are Not Leading’: Groups Decry Yet Another G7 Climate Failure

Climate Groups Call for Rich to Pay More as International Meetings Begin

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Original article by EDWARD CARVER republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Delegates from around the world meet at an annual climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, on June 3, 2024, in preparation for the COP29 conference in November in Azerbaijan. (Photo: Christoph Driessen/Getty Images)

“We have to put the social justice element upfront,” an architect of the 2015 Paris agreement said as the world’s climate delegates gathered in Germany.

Advocates on Tuesday issued strong calls to action on climate finance for developing countries and an international agency released a report on the need to ramp up renewable energy production as the Bonn Climate Change Conference continued in Germany and G7 nations prepared to meet in Italy next week.

At the conference in Bonn, Friends of the Earth International pushed for more rich-country financing to pay for the rising costs of climate impacts in the Global South, while Laurence Tubiana, head of the European Climate Foundation and an architect of the 2015 Paris agreement, called for the global rich to pay their share through taxes and consumption levies.

Meanwhile, two organizations warned that countries aren’t on track to meet targets they set just last year. Oil Change International (OCI) published a briefing showing that G7 nations are expanding oil and gas commitments that undermine goals set at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) meeting in Dubai, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report showing that the world’s nations are not on track to meet their Dubai pledge to triple renewable energy production by 2030.

“The world is on fire because of decades of inaction by rich countries on reducing emissions, and their failure to pay the climate finance they owe to developing countries to transition to renewable energy systems for all, and to pay for rising costs for loss and damage and adaptation,” Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International program coordinator, said in a statement. “What is on the table to date is scales of magnitude away from what it needed. This year must be a year of breakthrough on climate finance.”

Climate representatives are meeting in Bonn this week and next to prepare for COP29 in November in Azerbaijan, where a key agenda item is expected to be financing for a green transition in the Global South. COP negotiations are conducted under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At COP21 in 2015, nations signed the Paris agreement, a treaty that sought to limit global warming to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels.

Tubiana, an architect of that deal, said Tuesday that tackling climate change requires centering global justice in order to avoid conflict and gain public acceptance of climate measures.

“We have to put the social justice element upfront,” Tubiana, a French economist and diplomat, told The Guardian.

Tubiana said that raising the funds required for low-income nations will require holding both rich nations and people to account, via taxes and consumption levies, given that inequities exist not just between nations but also within them.

“This inequality is true not only between developed countries and developing ones, but within each country—the 1% of rich Chinese, or the 1% of very rich Indians, or the U.S. citizen—they have a lifestyle which is very, very similar, in terms of overconsumption,” she said.

The world’s richest and most powerful nations are not taking responsibility for climate action as they should, the new OCI briefing argues.

“Some G7 countries are massively expanding fossil fuel production at home, while others are investing in more fossil fuel infrastructure abroad,” the briefing states. “Both are catastrophic failures of leadership.”

OCI cites the United States, Italy, and Japan as particularly bad climate actors. The U.S. is the largest oil and gas producer in the world and has plans for massive expansions of the industry, despite President Joe Biden’s climate promises, the briefing notes. Italy has announced plans to double natural gas production. And both the U.S. and Japan have financed billions of dollars worth of oil and gas production in other countries just since the end of 2022, the document states, citing earlier OCI findings.

The IEA also spelled out unfulfilled commitments, while detailing progress that has been made on the energy transition. The agency looked at the domestic policies and targets of 150 countries to see how far along they were toward reaching the international target of tripling renewable power generation by 2030. It found that once added together, the nations’ domestic plans would get them about 70% of the way toward the 11,000 gigawatts of additional capacity required to meet the goal.

“There is a gap, but the gap is bridgeable,” Heymi Bahar, a senior energy analyst at the IEA and co-author of the report, toldThe Guardian.

Governments have not in most cases written these domestic plans into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris agreement. The IEA report says that countries need to “bring their NDCs in line with their current domestic ambitions” and scale those ambitions up further still, to get from 70% to 100%. Moreover, they must follow through with their promises and achieve the targets they’ve set.

“This report makes clear that the tripling target is ambitious but achievable—though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a statement.

The world added about 560 gigawatts of renewable capacity in 2023, a record increase, more than half of which came from China, according to the IEA. About half of planned capacity increases are in solar, with a quarter from wind power, the IEA report states.

Original article by EDWARD CARVER republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingClimate Groups Call for Rich to Pay More as International Meetings Begin

‘Climate Arsonists’: 8 Major Oil Companies Fail to Align With Paris Agreement

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Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

An ExxonMobil oil refinery is pictured in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo: Barry Lewis/InPictures via Getty Images)

“We cannot trust fossil fuel corporations to do anything but line the pockets of their CEOs and investors at the cost of our climate and communities,” one campaigner said.

The eight largest U.S. and Europe-based oil and gas producing companies are failing to align their plans with the Paris agreement goal of limiting global heating to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels and avoiding ever more catastrophic climate impacts.

Oil Change International’s Big Oil Reality Check report, released Tuesday, concludes that the plans of BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies would actually put the world on track for more than 2.4°C of warming and burn through nearly one-third of the global carbon budget for hitting the 1.5°C target.

“It’s clearer than ever that oil and gas companies—the climate arsonists fueling climate chaos—cannot be trusted to put out the fire,” David Tong, report author and global industry campaign manager at Oil Change Internationalsaid in a statement. “There is no evidence that big oil and gas companies are acting seriously to be part of the energy transition.”

The Big Oil Reality Check report reveals that oil and gas corporations are more interested in looking like they are acting on climate change than actually acting on climate change.”

For its fourth annual Big Oil Reality Check, Oil Change International judged the oil companies’ climate plans and pledges against a set of minimum standards for alignment with the Paris agreement. The standards were divided into three main categories: ambition, integrity, and people-centered transitions.

Under ambition, the companies were assessed on whether they had plans to stop oil and gas exploration, stop approving new extraction projects, decrease production every year through 2030, and stop extraction on a certain date while outlining a long-term plan to end production.

Under integrity, the companies were assessed on whether their emissions-reduction plans included their entire supply chain, whether they relied on carbon capture or offsets, whether their methane-reduction plans were really in line with climate goals, and whether they lobbied or advertised against climate action.

For people-centered transitions, they were assessed on whether they had just transition plans for employees and members of frontline communities and whether they respected human rights overall and the rights of Indigenous peoples, including to free, prior, or informed consent to any fossil fuel activities.

The companies were then rated from “fully aligned” to “grossly insufficient” for how well their plans complied with the Paris goals within the assessment’s framework, but all eight companies scored “insufficient” or “grossly insufficient” for a majority of the criteria.

Only one company—Eni—scored above “insufficient” in any category, earning a ranking of “partially aligned” for having greenhouse gas-reduction plans that included its supply chains. The three U.S.-based companies—Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil—scored “grossly insufficient” for all 10 criteria.

“American fossil fuel corporations are the worst of the worst,” Oil Change International’s U.S. program manager Allie Rosenbluth said. “Chevron, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips perpetuate harm in frontline communities not only across the U.S. but worldwide.”

Oil Change found that six out of the eight companies have official plans to increase oil and gas production. The only two that did not were BP and Shell; however, these companies employ a misleading strategy. They compensate for new oil and gas projects by selling off polluting assets. While the emissions from the sold operations no longer count toward company emissions, they still count toward the planet’s total. This practice is out of line with the GHG Protocol on corporate emissions accounting and may violate the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Four of the companies assessed in the report—BP, Shell, Exxon, and Chevron—were also the subject of a recent U.S. House investigation and Senate hearing detailing how the fossil fuel industry playbook has shifted from outright denial of climate science to greenwashing its activities by presenting itself as part of the solution to the climate crisis while its day-to-day operations continue to raise global temperatures.

“The efforts of climate and social movements have forced oil and gas companies to acknowledge that fossil fuels are dirty and dangerous, leading to a variety of climate pledges and ‘plans,'” said Oil Change campaigner Myriam Douo. The Big Oil Reality Check report reveals that oil and gas corporations are more interested in looking like they are acting on climate change than actually acting on climate change.”

“They spend billions on smoke and mirrors to try to fool us into believing they have solutions for a livable planet when, in reality, they are perpetuating harm to the climate and local communities while trying to suck every last ounce of profit out of their dirty fossil fuel business,” Douo concluded.

All told, Rystand energy data suggests that the combined production of the eight companies will be 17% by 2030 than they were last year.

“Such an increase in production on a global scale would put the world on a path towards global heating well beyond 2°C, locking in destruction of vulnerable communities and ecosystems,” the report authors wrote.

The report finds that all of the companies intend to rely on unproven carbon capture technology or offsets schemes to meet their claimed emission-reduction goals and have continued to spend money on lobbying against climate action and greenwashing their own activities since the agreement in Paris.

Further, no company has plans consistent with ensuring a just transition or protecting human rights. In one recent and urgent example, ExxonMobil, Chevron, TotalEnergies, BP, Shell, and Eni all continue to provide Israel with crude oil despite “the Israeli military’s ongoing assault on Palestinian civilians, ecosystems, and infrastructure in Gaza and mounting evidence of war crimes,” a March Oil Change investigation found.

The report comes nearly half a year after world leaders agreed to contribute to “transitioning away from fossil fuels” at the COP28 U.N. climate change conference in Dubai. In light of its conclusions, Oil Change called on governments to take action to further a just transition:

  1. Stop permitting or approving new fossil fuel projects or infrastructure;
  2. Set a Paris-aligned date for phasing out fossil fuel production;
  3. End subsidies and financing for fossil fuels and false solutions like carbon capture;
  4. Use tax policy to incentivize against investing in fossil fuels;
  5. Craft a just transition, including by making polluters pay for cleanup and reparations; and
  6. Passing laws to protect human rights and Indigenous rights and giving communities a legal mechanism to seek redress from corporate polluters.

Oil Change also argued that governments in the Global North should hold companies headquartered within their borders accountable for harm abroad and put money into funds to enable the Global South to transition to renewable energy, adapt to climate change, and pay for inevitable loss and damage.

“This year’s Big Oil Reality Check makes it clearer than ever—we cannot trust fossil fuel corporations to do anything but line the pockets of their CEOs and investors at the cost of our climate and communities,” Rosenbluth said. “People around the world are rising up to end the era of fossil fuels and build a just energy system that puts climate and communities first.”

Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘Climate Arsonists’: 8 Major Oil Companies Fail to Align With Paris Agreement

‘North Sea Fossil Free’: Activists in 6 Countries Protest ‘Unhinged’ Oil and Gas Development

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Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

The “oil slicks” performance artist group demonstrates the impacts of a potential oil spill on Scotland’s Moray Firth as part of a North Sea-wide day of action on March 16, 2024.  (Photo: XR Forres)

“Going full steam ahead with new North Sea oil and gas is a sure fire route to the worst climate scenarios,” one campaigner said.

Climate activists in six North Sea countries came together on Saturday to carry out acts of civil disobedience in protest of their governments’ continued fossil fuel development.

Demonstrators in the United KingdomNorway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands blockaded roads, ports, and refineries; dropped banners; and held solidarity concerts as part of the North Sea Fossil Free campaign to demand that their governments align their plans for the shared body of water with the Paris agreement goal of limiting global heating to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

“For too long, the U.K., Norway, and other North Sea countries have avoided scrutiny for their oil drilling plans as the emissions are not included in their national inventories,” a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion U.K. told Common Dreams. “Going full steam ahead with new North Sea oil and gas is a sure fire route to the worst climate scenarios.”

“The only serious response we can make is for citizens to unite, but we need to see many many more people doing this work.”

The day of action, which was organized by Extinction Rebellion (XR), came days after a new report from Oil Change International revealed that none of five North Sea countries—Norway, the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark—have plans consistent either with limiting warming to 1.5°C or with the agreement to transition away from fossil fuels reached at last year’s United Nations COP28 climate conference. If the five countries were counted as one, they would be the seventh biggest producer of oil and gas in the world.

In particular, these governments continue to issue permits to explore for and develop oil and gas fields, despite the fact that the International Energy Agency has said that no new fossil fuel development is compatible with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. In one high-profile example, the U.K. approved the undeveloped Rosebank oil field in September 2023. Taken together, these permits could lead to more than 10 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The worst offenders were Norway and the U.K., which could be among the top 20 developers of oil and gas fields through mid-century if they do not change course.

“The five major North Sea countries are at a crossroads: One path leads toward global leadership in climate action and green industries, where they take bold action to phase out oil and gas production that creates sustainable jobs and communities. The other path leads to catastrophic climate change, economic crisis, and the loss of status as climate leaders globally, as they cling to outdated practices while the world moves forward,” Silje Ask Lundberg, North Sea campaign manager at Oil Change International, said when the report was released.

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell said that the North Sea governments’ policies were a betrayal of their citizens and the world following the hottest year on record.

“Temperatures have tracked 1.5°C above average recently, almost 2°C,” Farrell said. “Our global commitments, such that they are, are being flushed away with no regard for what the public really want. Where’s the consent for that here in our democracies? No government has a mandate to do that. So people deserve to know that our governments are willfully destroying everything. The people of these North Sea nations have not consented to destroying civilization, but that’s what is going to happen. Their governments are unhinged and unchecked.”

Saturday’s protests, Farrell continued, were a way for the people in these countries to make their voices heard.

“The only serious response we can make is for citizens to unite, but we need to see many many more people doing this work,” Farrell said. “Direct action like this should shake us awake; our governments will destroy democracy and society if we let them continue, that’s the course we are on, and they are redoubling their efforts despite the facts and knowing how much suffering they are already causing all over the world as climate breaks down.”

The demands of Saturday’s protests were threefold: An end to new oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea, for governments to tell the truth about the realities of the climate crisis, and for the countries to pursue a just transition to renewable energy. In addition, many activists made additional demands specific to their nations’ policies.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, activists with Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion blocked all roads and railways leading to the largest oil refinery in Europe: Shell’s Pernis refinery. They targeted Shell because the oil major has received new permits to drill in the Victory Gas Field and has also restarted its drilling in the Pierce Field. What’s more, the company has refused to clean up its aging equipment in the North Sea, leaving old pipelines and drilling platforms to rust and pollute the sea with mercury, polonium, and radioactive lead. While there are 75 aging Shell oil and gas platforms in the Dutch North Sea that should be removed by 2035, current efforts are not on track to meet this deadline.

“Like the rest of the fossil industry, Shell is only interested in profits and shareholder returns,” said Bram Kroezen of XR Netherlands, adding that Shell’s appeal of a landmark court ruling ordering it to reduce emissions showed that the company “completely lacks a moral compass.”


Activists with Ende Gelände blocked off access to a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port of Brunsbüttel, Germany, beginning at 9:00 am local time. The activists are calling for an end to LNG imports, as new science reveals the so-called “bridge” fuel may in fact be at least as damaging to the climate as coal due to previously unaccounted for methane leaks.

“LNG is a double climate killer,” Rita Tesch, spokesperson for Ende Gelände, said in a statement. “Because it consists of methane. Methane is even more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide. It escapes into the atmosphere during transportation by LNG ships and at terminals such as here in Brunsbüttel, and heats it up rapidly. The carbon dioxide from burning it is on top of that. It’s clear: LNG imports are a climate crime!”


Activists with XR Norway targeted Rafnes Petroleum Refinery, with some blockading access on land while another group entered the security area by boat.

“I’m ashamed to be a Norwegian,” XR Norway spokesperson Jonas Kittelsen said in a statement. “Norway profits massively from aggressively expanding our oil and gas sector, causing mass suffering and death globally. My government portrays us as better than the rest of the world, which we are not.”


Performance collective Becoming Species and Extinction Rebellion Denmark worked together to stage a creative protest targeting the oil company Total Energies, which is the leading oil and gas producer in the Danish North Sea and currently has plans to reopen “Tyra Feltet,” Denmark’s largest gas field. Four members of the band Octopussy Riot climbed a Total-owned container and staged a punk concert in Denmark’s Esbjerg Harbor.

“We octopuses have formed the band Octopussy Riot and have arrived here to play our song, a demand for you two-legs to stop oil and gas extraction,” performer Linh Le, said. “The sea is dying, our climate collapsing. We will not accept that the most rich and powerful destroy our home. We do not want to go extinct.”


Members of XR Sweden blocked the road to Gothenburg’s Oil Harbor, where the group has been protesting since May of 2022. The activists called on Sweden to stop investing in the harbor and on city officials to develop a plan to dismantle the harbor and refineries.

“Twenty-two million tons of oil enter Gothenburg’s port every year, which is owned by the city,” one activist said. “There is no plan for decommissioning. This does not go together with the climate goals.”


Finally, protesters across Scotland stood in solidarity with the other actions with performances and banner drops. In Aberdeen, activists unfurled banners outside the offices of Equinor, which owns 80% of Rosebank, and Ithaca, which owns the remaining 20%. The banners read, “North Sea Fossil Free,” “Stop Rosebank,” and “Sea knows no borders.” In Dundee, protesters targeted the Valaris 123 oil platform off the coast with banners. Shetland Stop Rosebank also brought signs to Lerwick Harbor, from where the first stage of Rosebank’s development is launching. XR Forres organized a performance of the group the “oil slicks” along the Moray Firth, to demonstrate what an oil spill would do to its unique coastal landscape.

“All countries should align their drilling plans with the Paris agreement now,” the XR U.K. spokesperson said. “We thank everyone who has taken action today in defense of a livable planet.”

Original article by OLIVIA ROSANE republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue Reading‘North Sea Fossil Free’: Activists in 6 Countries Protest ‘Unhinged’ Oil and Gas Development