This week activists from across the climate movement have been targeting the Oil and Money conference held annually in London as part of the International Rebellion week.  They’re following on from the global strikes in September where 7.6 million people went on climate strike.  People are sending a loud clear message, that to tackle climate breakdown we need phase out fossil fuels and urgently begin transformative climate action. 

Fossil fuel companies are increasingly experiencing serious brand damage for their role in causing the climate crisis. Earlier this month, after protests from climate activists, the New York Times dropped their partnership with the Oil and Money conference, saying the event “gives us cause for concern.”

Just this week, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced it would be cutting ties with BP, because young people didn’t want to accept subsidised tickets from a company that was “destroying their future.” At a recent Oil and Gas Climate Summit on the sidelines of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned the companies that if they didn’t put together a climate neutral business plan, they “wouldn’t have a business” after 2050. Meanwhile, campaigners have secured some form of fossil fuel divestment commitment from more than 1,000 institutions representing over $11 trillion in capital, making the campaign the largest such divestment effort in history. 

Protest in New York on September 23 2019 at Fossil Fuel CEO conference, while Greta Thunberg was speaking at the United Nations.

Despite mounting pressure, across the globe fossil fuel production is on the rise globally, in stark contrast to the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, which require both oil and gas production to decline significantly. A new analysis set to be released in November finds that the world is on track to produce 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with a 2-degree Celsius pathway, and 120% more than would be consistent with a 1.5-degree Celsius pathway. 

The culprits responsible for this rise in global fossil fuel production are clear; the companies that continue to drill, mine, build pipelines and construct emitting coal-fire plants. From the 8th to the 10th of October representatives of these industries gathered in London for the 40th annual Oil & Money conference.

Companies such as Shell, Chevron and BP which are involved in the highly contested Tar Sands and fracking projects in Argentina.  Total in Uganda which has left local people landless in favour of oil. In the US, Exxon is being investigated for climate fraud. Repsol and Conoco-Phillips are exploring and drilling for oil, the list goes on.  One thing is clear, that unless we begin the immediate phase out of fossil fuels staying below 1.5 becomes impossible. 

Across the globe and partners are working with frontline communities and grassroots organisations to resist fossil fuel infrastructure. A map launched by during climate week highlights 30 campaigns where is actively engaged with partners in fighting fossil fuel infrastructure. 
Betámia Coronel, New Yorker and Lead Organizer is involved with a lawsuit being brought against Exxon.  One week before the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, New York Attorney General Letitia James will take Exxon to court for the biggest case of potential fraud in history.

“All of us have a responsibility to step up in solidarity with Attorney General James, and make sure polluters — not our communities — pay for climate destruction. Exxon lied for decades about fossil fuels causing climate chaos, and the costs are paid for through our lives and livelihoods.” 

In Uganda, the government in conjunction with the French oil company Total has seized the land of locals without their consent. From 2009, community members from Hoima, Buliisa, and Kasese have constantly expressed severe anxiety over the serious impacts of oil activities on people’s land, livelihoods, cultures and ecosystems.

“Oil discovery in Western Uganda has brought in powerful people who are stealing the land from the local people with support from government officials who then issue them with land titles. This has left the local people landless and unfair compensation and some of the affected persons are still in court seeking justice for their land that was not compensated but the oil exploration activities are still going on which is not fair.” Landry Ninteretse Africa Organiser

While fossil fuel executives soak themselves in oil and money, demands for transformative climate action are at all time high. Despite being called strategy for energy transition, the conference has again focused on exploring ways for the fossil fuel industry to continue to lie and evade taking urgent action to halt climate breakdown with meetings such as ‘offshore exploration revival ‘ and ‘new gas and oil opportunities in Colombia’.

It’s time to make fossil fuel executives and those in power, pay. They knew that fossil fuels were causing climate chaos and they lied. To them we say, How dare you! The path forward is clear: stop all subsidies and end funding to the fossil fuel industries. Anything short of this would mean betraying the millions that have gone on strike for the climate and who are campaigning this week. 

Mass action and people power are key to driving political change, raising awareness and building the consensus needed to achieve a just transition away from the age of fossil fuels. Right now our collective future depend on us being able to seize this moment and work together to pushback against the fossil fuel industry fuelling the climate crisis and  for long lasting and meaningful change.

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