WHAT WE’RE TRACKING
More Countries Make First Moves to Limit Fossil Fuel Production
In April, New Zealand announced an end to licenses for new offshore exploration, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calling the move a step towards “a just transition to a clean energy future.” In February, Denmark ended onshore oil and gas exploration and drilling. Meanwhile, Ireland is on its way to joining Costa Rica, France, and Belize in placing a full ban on offshore oil exploration.
With Kinder Morgan Buyout, Trudeau Locks In Crude Legacy
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed an initial CAD 4.5 billion in taxpayer funds to buy Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain Pipeline infrastructure and its faltering Trans Mountain tar sands expansion project. Attempting to build the expansion will cost many billions more. Trudeau’s decision to bail out the Texas-based oil company, which had decided to abandon the expansion project, defies a wave of grassroots and legal resistance led by First Nations, joined by the British Columbia government, and backed up by climate, indigenous, and human rights groups across the world. The buyout is being slammed as a massive new subsidy to Canada’s tar sands industry that cements Trudeau’s legacy as a hypocrite on climate and First Nations’ rights. The project threatens to lock in rising fossil fuel production for decades if built. But the change in ownership has only increased the public backlash. “Indigenous front lines will stop this pipeline,” declared Will George, Tsleil-Waututh member and spokesperson for the Coast Salish Watch House.
Will California Act Next to Limit Production?
A growing campaign is pushing Governor Jerry Brown to make the U.S. state of California the next ‘first mover’ in the right direction. The time is ripe for Brown to act as he prepares to welcome the world to a Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this fall. More than 800 organizations around the world sent a letter to Brown in April urging him to lead by halting new drilling and charting a just and equitable transition off oil and gas production. A new report from Oil Change International, in collaboration with 14 partners, shows that California will fall short of its commitment to the Paris goals unless it takes these steps.
Groups Push for UN Climate Talks to Tackle Fossil Fuel Supply
During the latest round of international climate talks in Bonn, civil society groups officially submitted a pair of declarations urging the formal process to tackle fossil fuel production and finance. The Lofoten Declaration – signed by 500 groups and counting around the world – and the Not A Penny More Declaration – signed by 140 leading economists – call on wealthy fossil fuel producers, as well as public and private investors and development institutions, to lead in putting a stop to fossil fuel infrastructure and expansion. “The only reason why fossil fuel exploration continues is because of powerful people with vested interests and the political influence that they wield,” saidPacific Islands Development Forum Secretary General François Martel.These declarations echoed a submission by the Stockholm Environment Institute on the need to align fossil fuel production with the Paris Agreement. Groups also hosted a packed “First Movers” panel in Bonn to profile countries and institutions that are taking the lead in tackling fossil fuel production.
Argentina’s Fossil Gas Resistance Prepares for G20 Ministers
In Argentina, civil society groups continue to organize resistance to the oil and gas industry’s move into Patagonia in southern Argentina, where the Vaca Muerta formation contains one of the world’s largest reserves of undeveloped, non-conventional shale oil and gas. Groups met recently in Buenos Aires to discuss a range of potential legal strategies to challenge new fossil fuel development. As Argentine President Mauricio Macri hosts G20 energy ministers in Patagonia this month, national and international groups will launch reports showing why fossil gas is not and never can be a transition fuel – we need less of it, not more, and G20 countries must stop investing in fossil gas expansion. In Argentina, which contains some of the world’s best wind and solar resources, over 60 percent of electricity comes from gas, and gas development is competing directly with renewables rather than with other fossil fuels.
Shell’s Climate ‘Shell Game’ Draws Dutch Lawsuit
Friends of the Earth Netherlands is preparing to sue Shell after the company failed to meet a deadline to commit to aligning its business plans with the Paris climate goals. While Shell claims to be a leader in the energy transition, analyses reveal these claims to be a ‘shell game.’ Shell is planning for a future full of fossil fuels in which the company would continue to increase its emissions through 2050 and beyond. The group’s notice announcing the upcoming lawsuit claims that Shell is “breaching its legal duty of care by causing climate damage across the globe and undermining the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.”
Shell Continues to Face Accountability for Its Abuses in Nigeria
Of course, Shell is no stranger to legal action. Last month, the Bodo community in Nigeria won a court ruling that will allow it to continue pursuing a legal case against Shell if the company fails to adequately clean up devastating 2008 oil spills. Meanwhile, Shell is embroiled in a criminal case over alleged bribery for oil rights in Nigeria, which could be “one of the biggest bribery scandals the oil industry has ever seen,” per The Wall Street Journal.
Guyanese Campaigners Sue to Halt ‘Illegal’ Drilling License
In Guyana, campaigners have crowdfunded to launch a lawsuit challenging drilling licenses granted to ExxonMobil, Hess, and Nexen. The oil giants were granted licenses to begin drilling off Guyana’s coast, where recent discoveries have attracted a rush of interest. Citizens say that decision violated Guyana law, which requires that each company first obtain an environmental permit. “In my opinion the government has sold off Guyana’s oil without a care for the environment, without a care for the people […] and without any understanding whatsoever of the dangers of climate change,” said Ramon Gaskin of A Fair Deal for Guyana.
Repsol First Oil Major to End Production Growth
The Spanish-based company Repsol is preparing to take a first step among oil majors by planning for no growth in its oil output, according to Bloomberg sources. While the company plans to continue exploring for reserves, it will do so with a goal of zero growth in overall oil production, while seeking to expand its renewable energy holdings. While Repsol’s action falls short of the managed decline of production required to meet climate goals, this move indicates that some oil companies are beginning to plan more seriously for an emissions-constrained future.
Statoil or Not, Still Threatening the Great Australian Bight
The retreat from oil is primarily still a PR game for Statoil-turned-Equinor. The Norway-based company recently removed “oil” from its name, rebranding as Equinor, but has not made any tangible commitments to curtail oil production. In fact, Statoil/Equinor is the principal oil major pursuing deepwater drilling in the “pristine, treacherous” waters of the Great Australian Bight. Community leaders and environmental groups in Australia are fighting to protect the local fishing- and tourism-based economy and unique marine ecosystems from drilling.