SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT — COP27 is being held in Egypt as the world faces a number of interconnected crises: deepening climate impacts, widespread food shortages, sky-high energy prices, increasing inequality, and deadly conflict. As the UN climate negotiations begin, advocates today held a press conference to discuss a root cause of many of these challenges — the world’s addiction to oil and gas and the fossil fuel industry profiting from that addiction.
Speakers were united in urging governments to tackle fossil fuels and avoid presenting fossil gas as a ‘climate solution’ of any kind during COP27. Advocates urged negotiators to work together over the next two weeks on concrete language in the COP’s decision text to reduce fossil fuel production and wean the world off these volatile and dangerous fuels, rather than expanding fossil gas extraction and use in the name of addressing a short-term energy crisis.
Amid the current global development and economic backdrop, there is an active debate in Africa over the extent to which countries should exploit oil and gas reserves. In statements such as the Kigale Communique in May 2022, African governments have urged “support for Africa in the deployment of gas as a transition fuel.” In many cases, this discussion is the direct result of opportunistic United States and European investors keen to exploit high prices and source new supplies to replace Russian gas — despite the fact that new supply will take years to come to market, at which point it will no longer be needed.
Quotes from speakers can be found below. Interviews are available on request. A recording can be found here:
Catherine Abreu, Director of Destination Zero:
“We are not in an energy crisis — we are in a fossil fuel crisis. We can’t ‘fix’ fossil fuels with false solutions like offsets and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Decarbonisation means phasing out fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner. There is no other path that will actually succeed in protecting the climate and our communities.
“We can already see the fingerprints of the fossil fuel industry influencing the early days of COP27. Governments arriving for the World Leaders Summit must be clear: Any outcomes backtracking on commitments to transition away from fossil fuels are unacceptable. Leadership means drastically scaling up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, while directing the grotesque profits of the oil and gas industry to address the losses and damages being experienced by the world’s most vulnerable communities.”
Lorraine Chiponda, Co-Lead of the Don’t Gas Africa campaign:
“The fossil industry is trying to sanitize its unchecked production with fossil gas and is greenwashing gas through deadly distractions like carbon capture and storage (CCS). Make no mistake — the fossil gas agenda is a neo-colonial agenda and patriarchal one. Fossil gas will not provide ‘energy security’ in Africa or anywhere else. Polluters’ boosting of fossil gas at COP27 is taking away attention from critical issues such as phasing out fossil fuels and paying for loss and damage.
“Civil society in Africa and Ukraine is united: It is imperative that we end the continued dependence on gas in Europe and Africa. Our governments must not fall into a trap of developing new gas infrastructure in Europe or Africa, which will continue to harm communities and enrich big polluters while winding up as stranded assets.”
Dominika Lasota, organizer Fridays For Future and VSHOD-Eastern European anti-war & anti-fossil fuel movement:
“We are in an emergency. The world is on fire and our so-called leaders are pouring on the fire and here at the beginning of COP to have champagne with the fossil fuel industry. We need real solutions and not more deadly fossil gas fueling wards and climate chaos.”
While addressing the fossil fueled conflict in Ukraine, there is urgent need is to tackle the suffering and economic pain that falls disproportionately on developing countries from rising global temperatures, to financially support and boost the leadership across Africa to build cleaner and more resilient economies, and to challenge wealthier nations to meet and strengthen their commitments to invest and support in vulnerable regions.
Harjeet Singh, Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty:
“The increasing expansion of gas, oil, and coal is absolutely immoral, unjust, and criminal. People’s lives are being sacrificed. At COP27, our global leaders must make a firm commitment to end fossil fuels.
“As we head into COP27, the situation is fairly simple. We know the problem is fossil fuels, we know the solutions, and we know what we have to do: Agree to a global phase-out of fossil fuels and put money on the table.
Press Conference Recording: https://unfccc.int/event/center-for-biological-diversity-3
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FOR MEDIA:
Omar Elmawi, Coordinator of the Stop EACOP Coalition (East Africa):
“We are putting the spotlight on campaigns against all fossil fuel enterprises, and especially, huge projects such as the planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). It is unacceptable to even consider such projects when rapid and deep emission cuts are needed to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. We do not accept that short-term energy needs can be used to justify greenlighting these risky gas developments that would pollute for decades. We want this message to be heard as we head to COP27, and commitments to be made to halt such projects and instead have finances channeled into a just transition to community-led renewable energy.”
Gerry Arances, Executive Director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, & Development (Philippines):
“Barely one week before COP27, the Philippines was once again battered by another super typhoon. We are given a stark reminder that the 1.5ºC goal is becoming increasingly elusive, even as it remains a non-negotiable goal for the survival of vulnerable peoples. Every new disaster is an alarm bell calling for the immediate shutdown of fossil fuels in every part of the globe. Today’s crisis of ridiculously volatile power prices further amplifies how much we need to leave coal, gas, and all other fossil fuels in the past.”
Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director of 350 Africa (Africa):
“If there’s one message that must be heard throughout this African COP, it is that the people of Africa reject any further attempts at the exploitation of our home and resources. We do not need any more extractive projects. We refuse to feed the fossil fuel addiction of the Global North, and we remind world leaders of their responsibility to address the three big components of the climate crisis: Adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage.
“For 27 years, these fundamental issues have been on the negotiating table: Halt the global rise in emissions and unchecked development of fossil fuels, invest heavily in renewable energy solutions, and commit funds to helping vulnerable nations deal with the impacts of the climate crisis. As COP27 begins, we expect viable solutions to Africa’s food and energy crises. We expect to see justice delivered, this time in Africa.”
Rachel Rose Jackson, Climate Research & Policy Director at Corporate Accountability:
“Year after year, these climate talks trigger déjà vu. Every year they fail to deliver, condemning those on the frontlines to their deaths. Every year wealthy governments like the United States, European Union, and Australia advance Big Polluters’ dangerous, profiteering agenda instead of keeping fossil fuels in the ground and curbing emissions at source. Every year Big Polluters literally bankroll the climate talks, greenwash over their abuses, and undermine every attempt to advance equitable climate action. It’s time for the halls of the UNFCCC to echo the demands of the people, not the propaganda of Big Polluters. This is why more than 450 organizations representing millions of people around the world are united in demanding an end to this fossil fuels’ stranglehold over climate policy. It’s time to kick Big Polluters out!”
Michael Poland, Campaign Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (Australia):
“The newly elected Australian government claims to be a climate leader and ally to their Pacific neighbours — but as long as they continue to open new gas fields and coal mines, this claim is nothing more than a smokescreen. To become true climate champions during COP27 and beyond, wealthy nations like Australia must end expansion of fossil fuels and support a global just transition to renewable energy. If Australia’s new leaders want to be strong allies to Pacific neighbours, they should support Vanuatu’s call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Collin Rees, Program Manager at Oil Change International (United States):
“Entering COP27, President Joe Biden’s climate legacy hangs in the balance. Biden and John Kerry must heed vulnerable nations’ calls and double down on a swift transition to renewable energy, while ignoring polluters pushing for an expansion of fossil fuels that would lock in deadly extraction for decades. Any suggestion that fossil gas can be a part of the energy transition isn’t grounded in scientific reality or climate justice. Leaders at COP27 must reject this premise and rapidly advance a transition to clean, renewable energy with finance for loss and damage.”