Fossil fuel and Just Transition

The charge

The Climate and Ecological Emergency is a Crime Against Humanity perpetrated by the rich and powerful against the poor and vulnerable.

They have knowingly allowed fossil fuel emissions to take our planet to dangerous temperatures. Fossil fuel companies have corrupted our politics, our media and the COP process.

We charge the world’s most powerful governments with mass manslaughter by gross negligence for failing to safeguard us from fossil fuel companies.

The evidence

Fossil fuel companies, their investors and the politicians who enable them are the enemies of progress: they are destroying our future.

They could have done something. They were armed with some of the best early research warning of the danger of burning of fossil fuels. Instead they engaged in lies, mass disinformation and political manipulation. The rich world governments in receipt of political donations and with a revolving door between industry and government have actively colluded with this process.

The cosy relationship between politicians and fossil fuel companies has been well-documented in the UK, US and Australia. Fossil fuel companies have spent decades successfully lobbying governments to delay climate action, donating to parties with less progressive policies on climate, and rewarding politicians who oppose environmental legislation.

Taking a leaf out of the tobacco industry playbook, fossil fuel companies and other large polluters have sown doubt about climate change and delayed action for decades. They have spent millions funding misleading advertisements, lobbying and buying political influence. They are now trying to convince us they are part of the solution. They cannot be trusted. Behind the scenes they are continuing to hold back progress: fossil fuel lobbyists have been far more successful than other sectors in gaining benefits from pandemic recovery packages thus squandering a unique opportunity to reset our economies for a green recovery.

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned that we are at “code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”

The International Energy Agency said in May 2021 that there must be no new oil, gas or coal development if the world is to reach net zero by 2050. Yet the UK is licensing new oil and gas fields in the North Sea, China is building coal-fired power plants, and oil companies are still investing in new output.

Despite repeated pledges to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, governments from the seven largest advanced economies in the world continue to provide at least US$100 billion each year to support the production and consumption of oil, gas and coal. They are using our money “to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word: to destroy the world.” (António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General)

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, these energy sources get more than $370 billion a year in support, compared with $100 billion for renewable energy sources. 

Furthermore, governments are failing to heed the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis, or build back better in a green, sustainable way. The green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is failing even to reach the levels of green spending seen in the stimulus that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Only about 12% of the spending on economic rescue packages is going towards low-carbon projects, such as renewable energy and clean technology, according to a report by Vivid Economics.

Five Asian countries account for 80% of new coal power investment: China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam plan to build more than 600 coal power units (Carbon Tracker, June 2021)

Just Transition

Workers in the fossil fuel industry have families to look after and bills to pay but are keen to shift to renewable energy if supported by proper training schemes.

Governments must also invest in creating skilled, well-paid and long-term, green jobs paid for by diverting subsidies given to the oil and gas industry.  In 2019, analysis from the International Labour Organization reported that 24 million new jobs could be created globally by 2030.