Oxford, UK: A year after Oxford University decided to divest from fossil fuels, the Oxfordshire local government pension fund has begun excluding fossil fuel investments from their own fund. 

On 10th September, the administering committee for the scheme, worth approximately £3 billion and with around 65,000 members, voted to move the full value of the Fund’s passive equity investment, worth £530Mn, into a newly launched ‘Paris Aligned Benchmark’ fund. The move will effectively exclude all investments in coal, oil and gas companies. 

Over the past year, the Fund as a whole achieved a 17.7% reduction in emissions across its measurable investments, and also decreased its exposure to fossil fuel reserves by over 30%. 

Councillor Jo Robb, Green Party Councillor and member of Oxfordshire Pension Fund Committee, said:

The Committee’s decision to invest in a fund that excludes fossil fuels and rapidly reduces emissions is critical. In the light of recent extreme weather events, the dire warnings of the most recent IPCC report, and the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow, local councils across the UK must show the leadership the situation demands. I hope this commitment will be one of many in the months to come.”

The move to exclude fossil fuel investments comes in a pivotal month for divestment campaigners in the UK and around the world. Last week, after a decade of campaign pressure, Harvard University announced plans to divest its $42 Billion endowment fund, while Strathclyde Pension Fund, one of the largest LGPS funds in the UK are currently under intense scrutiny to deliver on their pledge to divest their fund before Glasgow hosts COP26 later in the year. 

Nearly £10bn worth of investments in fossil fuels, including oil and gas companies such as BP and Shell, were found in local government pension funds in the last financial year, according to an assessment by campaign groups Platform and Friends of the Earth earlier this year, despite over 75% of councils having declared a climate emergency. 

Robert Noyes, an energy economist at Platform and a coordinator of UK Divest, the network supporting local government divestment campaigns, said:

“In the run-up to COP26, councils across the UK have an important decision to make. To hope beyond hope that engaging with fossil fuel companies – who denied the climate crisis for decades, and spent just 1% of their annual capital expenditure on clean energy in 2020 – will magically work this time, or join the $14.5 Tn coalition of climate leaders in ending fossil fuel investment.”  

Though some UK councils have moved to divest their pension fund, most have not done so, a view shared by the UK Government. Last week, Teresa Clay, head of local government pensions, told delegates at the LGC Investment & Pensions conference that “engagement is the right way, not divestment.” 

But with COP26 focusing minds, such a view is increasingly out of step with public opinion. Polling with YouGov earlier in the year found just 12% of the UK public were in favour of fossil fuel investments from pension funds, while polling from NEST in 2020 found that 65% of pension savers believed their pension should be invested in a way that reduced the impact of climate change. 

Al Chisholm, from local campaign group ‘Fossil Free Oxfordshire’, added: 

“The decision to exclude holdings in coal, oil and gas companies from passive investments is extremely welcome and sits well alongside the important work being done to decarbonise the whole fund. We see this as a critical step on the path to investing for a safer climate and more just world and congratulate the Committee for taking this decisive and forward-looking move.”

END 

Contact Details:

For more information, please contact Robert Noyes at [email protected] or at 07940344072. 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

TRAINING COSTS CHAOS BLOCKS OIL WORKERS MOVING TO RENEWABLES: GOVERNMENT MUST MEET WORKERS’ DEMANDS TO REMOVE HURDLES

 

  • Survey of offshore workers reveals training costs averaging over £1,800 per year.
  • Success of the UK’s transition to renewables currently depends on workers’ ability to pay to duplicate existing training certificates. 
  • The UK government’s transition deal protects industry profits but fails workers.
  • Unions and climate campaigners call for government-regulated “offshore passport” as  part of a just transition to green energy.

 

WORKERS across the oil, gas, wind and decommissioning industries strongly support the idea of an “offshore passport” that would allow them to easily transfer their skills and experience between sectors, a survey shows.

Respondents to a poll reported they are currently forced to pay out thousands of pounds of their own money for training courses before being hired, with no guarantee of work, and are routinely having to repeat training they have already done. 

These barriers require workers to fork out for training to move to jobs in wind, despite already holding relevant qualifications. Campaigners warn that the government must act to remove these hurdles to ensure the UK delivers on its targets to introduce 40GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Jack*, 39, a father-of-two from Fife, has worked in the industry for 12 years. In the past two years he’s spent £3,000 on training costs with no help from employers. He said:

“Shelling out all this money does cause stress, and it does have an impact on your family and your living costs. There’s lots of people worrying about how they’re going to pay the mortgage. I know people who’ve packed it in altogether because working offshore is just too expensive.

I have thought about working in renewables, but that’d be thousands of pounds you’d have to pay to work in both industries. It’d just be too much, it costs an absolute fortune just to stay in one sector.” 

Alasdair*, aged 60, from the Highlands has 30 years’ experience working offshore as a rigger and scaffolder.

“It’s like people are being forced to buy their jobs…It’s a money making racket as far as I’m concerned. Having a system where you don’t have to duplicate training would make much more sense. The training is basically exactly the same for both industries.”

Ryan Morrison, Just Transition Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“The skills and experience of offshore workers are vital to enable a rapid shift to renewable energy, but workers cannot be expected to fork out thousands from their own pocket to duplicate qualifications they already have.

Promises of green jobs mean little when this unregulated training regime holds back the opportunity to move between sectors. It is time for politicians to listen to these workers by creating a regulated offshore training passport to ensure a just transition for offshore workers.”

A survey of more than 600 offshore workers, by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Platform and Greenpeace, supported by RMT and Unite Scotland, found that 94% of workers were in favour of introducing standardised training for working offshore. 

On average, workers surveyed had spent £1,824 per year on training. Workers are often required to repeat existing training when starting a contract with a new employer; starting a new contract with the same employer; and when moving to jobs in other offshore sectors. Almost two thirds (62%) said that when taking a contract with a different employer they were asked to duplicate their existing qualifications that were still in date.

Gabrielle Jeliazkov, Just Transition Campaigner for Platform, said:

“This unregulated outsourcing of training is a major barrier to a just transition to renewable energy. We know the energy transition will impact thousands of workers and the government needs to make a plan to support them.

Successive governments have failed to keep the oil sector in check and allowed for the increasing casualisation of the workforce, with costs now borne by individuals rather than employers. Workers are telling us what they need, the government must listen.”

Three quarters of respondents to the survey were contractors, rather than employees, which is indicative of the trend towards offshore work becoming more casualised. Survey findings suggested this is resulting in workers increasingly having to pay for work training out of their own pocket.

Almost two thirds of respondents said employers had paid none of their training costs in the past two years, a rise of 20% compared to pre-2015.

Trade union RMT welcomed the survey and General Secretary, Mick Lynch said:

“As a matter of urgency the ‘Energy’ industry must take control from the countless “standards” bodies that are setting the agenda based on commercial imperatives rather than what the industry and its workforce actually needs. 

This is a classic case of the ‘tail wagging the dog’ and it’s the workers on the frontline picking up the cost of an inefficient, exploitative system which is failing to drive meaningful improvements in health and safety terms or skills.”

John Boland, Regional Officer for Unite the Union, said:

“Our members have made it clear to us that training costs and duplication of training are a major issue for them, particularly since the downturn, caused by Covid and the fall in oil & gas prices. 

Many of our members have been made redundant, and are having to pay thousands of pounds to have their training and medical certificates updated, so they can get work. 

 Unite have been raising the issues highlighted in this survey, about the barriers for offshore workers transitioning into new renewable jobs, for several years. 

The current situation is that our oil and gas members are going to have to pay for additional duplicated training to work in renewables, like wind, and thus it creates barriers that need to be removed if we are going to see a just transition from oil and gas into renewables.

All we are being asked for, is the ability for workers to be able to move freely between offshore and onshore energy sectors, standardisation of certification across the energy sector, and the removal of duplication of training.”

Last year the oil and gas sector was hit hard by the dual effects of lockdowns and a crash in demand [1], and in a separate survey 43% of offshore workers said they had been furloughed or made redundant in the first six months of the pandemic [2]. 

Oil majors such as BP and Shell made thousands of redundancies and acknowledged they anticipated that the pandemic would accelerate government shifts away from fossil fuels in a bid to reach net zero [3]. 

In March, the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), unveiled its much awaited North Sea Transition Deal which claimed it would “protect jobs in green energy transition” [4].

But while the Deal dishes out significant sums to industry, it offers no immediate benefits for workers, merely promising that industry will create “an integrated people and skills plan” by March 2022 [5]. It makes no mention of recent job losses, or of the trend towards casualised work having chipped away at workers’ rights over the last several years. The widespread enforced switch to self-employed contracts (known as IR35) since the industry downturn in 2014 has led to a surge in the number of workers with reduced employment support and poorer working conditions.

Mel Evans, head of Greenpeace UK’s oil campaign, said:

“Offshore workers are key workers who power our energy sector and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has promised a green energy transition. 

But his North Sea Transition Deal will achieve no such transition if workers are unable to move to green jobs. 

We urge politicians to listen to workers, and start by introducing government-regulated offshore passports to help workers smoothly move into the green jobs that the government has promised.”

Campaigners argue that so far no notable steps have been taken by any of the industry or government bodies which might have a role in the energy transition, including the Energy Skills Alliance; The All Energy Apprenticeship; The Green Jobs Taskforce; The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board; nor the training certification bodies themselves: the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation or the Global Wind Organisation. 

And as part of BEIS, campaigners argue that the Oil and Gas Authority has failed to assume a role as regulator of the industry to ensure employment, safety and environmental standards are properly adhered to by operators.

 

Together, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Platform, Greenpeace, RMT and Unite Scotland are calling for:

  • The implementation of an Offshore Training Passport which will allow workers to move freely between offshore and onshore energy sectors (ie renewables, oil and gas, and decommissioning) with a standardisation of certification across roles and sectors, and clarity that a certificate in date does not need to be repeated. This should be accessible to all workers, including ad hoc contractors.
  • The UK Government, BEIS in particular, and the Scottish Government, the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, the Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, in particular, must lead this process and work directly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to set standards for working conditions. 
  • A training fund for the offshore passport should be established as part of the North Sea Transition Deal to directly support workers rather than companies, which can be accessed by individual, self-employed and contract workers rather than only through employers.
  • The Scottish Government to explore how the National Transition Training Fund and Green Jobs Workforce Academy can help address these issues.
  • Industry backing of an Offshore Training Passport to ensure full compliance across the sector. 

ENDS

 

*Names have been changed to protect anonymity, because workers face being blacklisted by the industry for speaking out.

Spokespeople and case studies are available for interviews.Please contact the Greenpeace press office: [email protected] 

 

Survey findings showed that:

  • On average workers reported spending £3,648 every two years, equivalent to £1,824 each year. 
  • Respondents to the survey were asked to report where their biennial training expenditure sat within a series of ranges, for example “between £1,000 and £2,000”, or “between £10,000 and £12,000”. The average was calculated using a midpoint for each ranged answer. The top 1% of spenders in this survey reported paying out “£14,000 or more” over the previous two years. For the purpose of calculating overall average expenditure, Greenpeace made the conservative assumption that the highest spenders paid out only £14,000 each, the minimum spend possible within their reported range. 
  • Almost two thirds (62%) said that when taking a contract with a different employer they were asked to duplicate their existing qualifications that were still in date.
  • 62% felt that the training certificates they are required to obtain duplicate the skills already obtained at NVQ, City & Guilds, or equivalent early career qualification.
  • 75% of respondents are contractors reflecting the casualisation of the sector, which leads to poorer working conditions.
  • Almost two thirds of respondents (65%) said employers had paid none of their training costs in the past two years, a rise of 20% compared to pre-2015.
  • 94% of respondents supported the idea of an offshore passport, to license accredited workers to work offshore in any sector through a cross-industry minimum training requirement.

 

References

[1] Coronavirus: Oil price collapses to lowest level for 18 years, BBC, 30 March 2020

[2] Offshore: Oil and gas workers’ views on industry conditions and the energy transition, 2020, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Greenpeace, Platform. 

[3] BP to cut 10,000 jobs as virus hits demand for oil, BBC, 8 June 2020

Shell to cut up to 9,000 jobs as Covid-19 accelerates green drive, Guardian, 30 September 2020.

BP chief says Covid has deepened commitment to net-zero emissions, Guardian, 17 May 2020.

[4] North Sea deal to protect jobs in green energy transition, BEIS, 24 March 2021

[5] North Sea Transition Deal, BEIS, March 2021

Platform has spent years analysing the impacts of UKEF fossil fuel financing. We said this in response to the news that UKEF is ending their support for fossil fuel projects:

At last the UK government is stopping finance for the most polluting and harmful projects around the world. But we know that the UK Government is still acting as the personal broker for big polluters like BP and Shell, lobbying for their interests at trade talks and diplomatic meetings. If the Government is serious about tackling climate change, this support should be redirected to creating good, green jobs in zero-carbon industries, and supporting a just transition for workers whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuels now.

Emma Hughes, Platform

New analysis reveals that £1.75 billion was wiped off UK council pension funds due to their oil investments crashing over the past three years.

Platform London commissioned Transition Economics to conduct the analysis [1], which showed that

* The combined investments by 56 local government pension funds into nine leading oil companies, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, collapsed by half from £3.6bn to £1.8bn between April 2017 and November 2020. 

* The largest losers were pension funds from Greater Manchester (£375m), West Yorkshire (£211m) and Nottinghamshire (£81m). All three funds have spoken publicly against reducing direct holdings.[2]

* For Greater Manchester Pension Fund, this wiped out 2.2% of the total fund value, equivalent to over £1,000 per pension member. West Yorkshire lost £740 per member, and Nottinghamshire £1,070.

Robert Noyes, a campaigner at Platform, said 

“It is well past time for pension funds to drop oil & gas stocks, both for the climate and their future valuation. Funds like Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire lost billions by sticking with BP and Shell. They should have listened to divest campaigners. Instead, the burden is being dumped on the public, pensioners and the Global South.” 

Platform London is releasing this report in a context where three quarters of local councils have now declared a climate emergency. However, only a minority of council-run pension funds have pledged to divest their investments from fossil fuel holdings.  

The 10 council pension funds that lost the largest amounts were:

  1. Greater Manchester – £375 million
  2. West Yorkshire – £211 million
  3. Nottinghamshire – £81 million
  4. East Riding – £81 million
  5. West Midlands – £80 million
  6. Teesside – £73 million
  7. Hampshire – £68 million
  8. Derbyshire County Council – £65 million
  9. Surrey County Council – £61 million
  10. Kent County Council – £52 million

Robert Noyes added

“The oil and gas industry has no credible plan for the imminent future where electric vehicles are cheaper than fossil cars and where countries put limits on oil and gas extraction. If councils are sincere about tackling the climate emergency, their pension funds need to invest in the future, not the past, and divest from stranded oil and gas stocks.”

10 largest losers by percentage value of the total pension fund

  1. Greater Manchester – 2.2%
  2. London Borough of Bexley – 2.1%
  3. Teesside – 1.9%
  4. Isle of Wight Council – 1.9%
  5. East Riding – 1.8%
  6. Nottinghamshire – 1.7%
  7. London Borough of Merton – 1.7%
  8. Falkirk Council – 1.7%
  9. Surrey County Council – 1.6%
  10. Dumfries & Galloway – 1.6%

Notes:

Media contact: [email protected]

[1] The full Transition Economics report and methodology. This includes losses for all 56 pension funds.

http://transitioneconomics.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/TransitionEconomics_Local-Gov-Pension-losses-from-oil-investments.pdf

The analysis examined all UK local government pension funds, but excluded divesting pension funds and those with insufficient data on direct oil investments.

Dividends from fossil fuel companies have historically provided an important income stream for pension funds, but payouts have been cut this year as producers have struggled with reduced demand. This trend is expected to continue, with the rapid expansion of electric vehicles.

[2] 

In early 2020, Reuters reported Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire funds as claiming they gained £400m and £160m respectively over 3 years to 2019, by not divesting from fossil fuels. The losses identified by Transition Economics on only the nine top oil companies eradicate this gain almost entirely in Manchester’s case, and entirely in West Yorkshire’s case.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-pensions-divestment-idUSKBN1ZJ1EK

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 28.09.2020

 

81% OF OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS WORKERS CONSIDER LEAVING THE INDUSTRY:

CAMPAIGNERS URGE GOVERNMENT TO CONSULT WORKFORCE ON SHIFT TO RENEWABLE ENERGY

 

  • Major survey of offshore oil and gas workers reveals that four in five would consider moving to work in another industry.
  • Workers’ biggest concern for their future career path is job security, with respondents citing low morale and fears that their community will become a ‘wasteland region’. 
  • Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace UK are urging the government to consult with oil and gas workers in the UK’s transition to renewable energy. 

FOUR in five offshore oil and gas workers would consider leaving the industry, according to a major new survey of the offshore workforce. 

Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace UK, have today published a report, OFFSHORE: Workers’ Views on Industry Conditions and the Energy Transition, in which 1,383 offshore oil and gas workers were surveyed, which represents 4.5% of that workforce [1]. Some 81% said they would consider switching to another sector [2]. The top priority for workers was job security [3], with 43% of respondents saying they had been made redundant or furloughed since March. 

One worker, Frank*, who has been in the industry for 40 years, said: “Morale is low, certainly in Aberdeen where 75% of the people are contractors… I know guys who have had two or three pay cuts over six months, no negotiations, nothing.”

Campaigners are calling for the UK and Scottish governments to sit down with workers to shape policy together so that their experiences and ideas are used to steer Covid-19 recovery packages and the energy transition.

Gabrielle Jeliazkov, Just Transition Lead Campaigner for Platform, said: “These workers are the backbone of our energy sector but have faced years of job insecurity amid volatile oil markets, lax regulation and now the global pandemic.  

“If the UK government is serious about levelling up and transitioning to renewable energy, workers’ voices must be at the centre of that transition process. The government must ensure oil and gas workers are supported into secure and sustainable jobs.”

Workers were asked about their working conditions; the effects of Covid-19 and the oil price crisis, and alternative employment. Survey findings also show:

  • 43% had been made redundant or furloughed since March 2020 
  • 91% of respondents had not heard of the term ‘just transition’ [5]. 
  • Given the option of retraining to work elsewhere in the energy sector, more than half would be interested in renewables and offshore wind. 

Despite their relevant knowledge and experience, no public body has attempted a broad consultation of offshore workers about their livelihoods and the future of the energy industry. For example, since launching in 2018, the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission has prioritised private businesses, industry representatives and regional enterprises. Meanwhile the sector deal being drawn up by UK energy ministers has no vehicle for consulting oil and gas workers. 

Written responses in the survey revealed some of the hardships that workers have faced, both in the recent pandemic and as a result of volatility in the industry.

One worker said: “I have now been off work for 14 weeks and I have not received a penny due to me being employed by an agency. They have just ended my contract and hung me out to dry. I do not fall into any category for receiving any payment from anywhere.”

Another respondent answered: “I just think it’s a better work environment out of the oil and gas industry. It’s always boom and bust to some degree but the last five years have not been a pleasant environment to work in – that’s five years of mental toil.”

One response states: “It seems the oil companies have got away with everything but the workforce gets hammered… The way the industry is treating their workers, especially those in a situation similar to mine is an absolute disgrace and should not be allowed to happen.”

Survey answers also provide insight into solutions that workers consider central to protecting industry workers’ career prospects. 

One worker suggested: “It should be a condition of getting a licence to build a wind farm in Scotland that the fabrication is awarded to a Scottish based yard.”

A common theme was offering opportunities and financial support for retraining. 

One person said: “Offer training to allow skills to be transferred from oil & gas to renewables sectors. Invest heavily in renewables. Encourage children, students, graduates away from an unsustainable oil and gas sector and into renewables. As Scotland has huge wind/wave/hydro resources she must become a front runner in the global renewables sector.”

And another stated: “Retrain while keeping a livable wage. Last time there was a slump in oil prices there was opportunity to retrain but it was near impossible to navigate the red tape to get access to the training.” 

ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

For full case studies or to request spokespeople for interview, please contact the Greenpeace UK press office: 020 7865 8255 / [email protected] 

To read the full report, OFFSHORE: Workers’ Views on Industry Conditions and the Energy Transition, click here.

*Names have been changed to protect anonymity. Full case studies are included in the report.

[1] The OGUK Workforce Report 2019 stated that there were an estimated 30,600 people directly employed in oil and gas. Our survey of 1,383 offshore workers would represent 4.5% of the workforce, a substantial segment of the population. 

[2] 81% said they would consider moving to a job outside of the oil and gas industry. 10% didn’t know, and 7% said no. 

[3] Respondents were asked to rank job security, pay, similar work schedule, health and safety regulations and work schedule, in order of how important they were to them. 

Q: Priorities for moving out of Oil and Gas

The most important is:

1 Job security (contract length, pension, etc.) 58%

2 Pay 21%

3 Similar work schedule (hours, days on/off) 11%

4 Health and safety regulations 5%

5 Similar location 2%

[4] Given the findings of this survey, Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace make the following recommendations: : 

    1. The skills and experiences of oil and gas workers are essential in delivering an equitable and rapid transition to renewable energy. This requires engaging a representative section of the workforce in participatory policy-making, where workers are able to help determine policy, in addition to engagement with trade unions. The rhetoric of a just transition means nothing if impacted workers are not at the heart of shaping policies that affect their livelihoods and communities. It is the only means to ensure no harm to communities currently dependent on high-carbon industries. 
    2. Improve job security and working conditions for workers in the oil and gas sector, to boost morale, improve quality of life, and mitigate the risk of workers leaving the energy sector altogether. 
    3. Address barriers to entry and conditions within the renewables industry, including creating sufficient job opportunities, to harness the skills of oil and gas workers and enable an equitable and rapid energy transition.

[5] The term just transition reflects a demand that industrial transformation, necessitated by environmental limits, should not negatively affect the workers and communities at risk

Immediate release | 20.04.2020

For further information and media requests:

Contact: Kennedy Walker E: [email protected]

People from across the world commemorate the 10 years anniversary of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill that took eleven lives and ruined thousands more with creative online action. 10 years on, communities are still fighting the deadly impact of big oil companies in the Gulf. Last week, the Bank of England published a list of bonds it can buy, this included bonds relating to BP that make up nearly £900Mn

On Monday 20th April 2010, an explosion took place on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform killing 11 rig workers. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 87 days, ruining lives, livelihoods and ecosystems. BP was found “grossly negligent” for its role in the disaster, and was issued the largest corporate criminal fine in US history.

10 years on and a number of organisations around the world have come together to commemorate the day with a digital artistic action that involves people from around the world pouring a dark liquid into water. Those taking part are asked to count from 1 to 87; the number of days the oil spill went on.

Video of action // Facebook event// Tweet

A new report from Oceana titled “Lessons We Cannot Forget From The BP Disaster” found:

-BP Deepwater Horizon disaster had catastrophic impacts on Gulf ecosystems and economies, and many impacts are still felt today.

-Government regulators and the offshore oil and gas industry remain poorly suited to prevent and deal with the ongoing and significant risk for such a disaster to be repeated.

-The BP disaster directly reduced popular recreational activities — including boating, fishing and beach visits — between May 2010 and November 2011. This translated to a loss in the recreation industry of more than $500 million, with thousands losing jobs and livelihoods.

-A survey of nearly 2,600 Gulf Coast residents revealed a 25% increase in the medical diagnosis of depression since the rig explosion. Gulf residents who were directly exposed to oil were on average twice as likely to report new physical or mental health issues as those who were not.

-Find the full report here & a 10 mins video with testimonies here

Rob Noyes, a senior campaigner at climate justice organisation PLATFORM, who coordinated the commemoration alongside the group BP or Not BP, said:

“Last year, BP undertook their first global advertising campaign since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy – an act of sickening hypocrisy only continued by recent gestures toward a ‘net zero’ future. In truth, ten years later – the oil industry remains just as socially negligent as it was in 2010. In the gulf alone, there’s enough miles of pipeline to circle the earth.

“At a time of huge grief, we’ve coordinated this action today to commemorate the pain the industry bought communities across the gulf. Ten years on, with no lessons learned, we cannot prop up companies like BP – and we must disentangle their sordid, colonial roots from our society, through divestment and refusal of sponsorship”.

Imani Jacquelie Brown, an artist and researcher from New Orleans, and organiser of ‘Fossil Free Festival’, reflected on the disaster:

“The oil field known as the “Macondo Prospect” was named after the fictional town featured in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel, 100 Years of Solitude; in the fictional Macondo, an amnesiac population incapable of learning lessons from the past sat by as disasters were repeated generation after generation. Will we live out the legacy of the fictional Macondo, continuing business as usual as soon as the present crisis is out of the spotlight? Or will we finally see the bankruptcy of our present economic system and choose to prioritize human health and ecological sustainability over our truncated vision of economic solubility?”

Chris Garrard from Culture Unstained said:

“BP will see this 10-year anniversary as an opportunity to draw a line under its spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the ruling that it had been “grossly negligent” and the record-breaking fine it received as a result. But the lessons haven’t been learned. While communities and species are still feeling the impacts, BP is pushing ahead with more high-risk, deepwater drilling in the Gulf. With the oil price at a low, we should be calling time on this reckless pursuit of oil we can’t afford to burn and instead, setting in motion the just transition we so urgently need”.

–END–

Notes to Editors:

Tweets of action / More here

Platform combines art, activism, education, and research in one organisation. This approach enables us to create unique projects driven by the need for social and ecological justice.

Platform’s current campaigns focus on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the global oil industry. Our pioneering education courses, exhibitions, art events, and book projects promote radical new ideas that inspire change.

For further information and media requests:

Contact: Kennedy Walker E: [email protected]

For immediate release – 22 May 2019

Platform / Argentina Solidarity Campaign / Reclaim the Power / Fossil Free London

Contact: Anna Markova +447942044472 [email protected]

Supplementary images available here

Protestors’ statement in full: https://platformlondon.org/2019/05/22/statement-dont-frack-patagonia/

Talks between UK and Argentinian officials on investments in shale oil and gas became the target of a protest by climate activists and Argentinians living in the UK. Protestors confronted attendees and embassy staff with images of the dangerous impacts of fracking, and read out a statement saying:

From Lancashire to Sussex communities in the UK are already fighting the menace of fracking. … But Big Oil companies like BP and Shell prefer not to frack near home – “to avoid the wrong kind of attention”, in the words of BP’s CEO Bob Dudley. Instead, they’re trying to exploit one of the world’s biggest shale gas reserves, Vaca Muerta, in Argentinian Patagonia. Exploiting the gas and reaping the profits – while polluting farmland and taking over ancestral Indigenous lands.

Held at the Argentinian’s ambassador’s residence in Belgrave Square, London, the talks featured a delegation of up to 80 Argentinian officials and business leaders and UK business and government representatives. The delegations would be discussing UK business involvement in the Vaca Muerta mega-project – the world’s second biggest shale gas reserve – and UK government’s taxpayer-backed offer of £1 billion financing for business in Argentina through UK Export Finance, according to Argentinian press.[1]

Blockade of waste dump in Neuquen province, Argentina. Credit: Mapuche Confederation of Neuquen

UK-headquartered companies BP and Shell are among the biggest oil companies operating in Patagonian shale gas. BP’s flagship concession in Patagonia, Lindero Atravesado, where 23 wells were due to have been fracked in 2017, covers part of a farming town (Vista Alegre) that has passed a resolution to ban fracking, as well as a lake that provides drinking water to the provincial capital Neuquén.[2]

Protestors held up images of resistance to fracking in Patagonia, highlighting in their statement:

Indigenous and farming communities in north Patagonia like the municipality of Vista Alegre and the Mapuche community Campo Maripe are organising to stop fracking in their land. Their resistance to fracking highlights the threat to local ecosystems and livelihoods, and upholds indigenous land rights and the defense of human and non-human life. We are gathered in solidarity with Patagonian communities who are fighting fracking on their land. We are gathered to say NO to UK companies fracking in Patagonia and NO to UK government financing this exploitation.

In a statement of solidarity, Lancashire anti-fracking campaigner Tina Louise Rothery said,

To the Patagonian community Vista Alegre and the Indigenous mapuche community Campo Maripe, the UK Nanas send you our thanks, our solidarity and our love for all that you are doing in the face of such a powerful and driven opponent that is the energy sector. We will do all we can to target our corrupted and inept government as well as the dangerous UK companies that are doing this to you – please know that this is not what we believe our country is about… we want international co-operation to ensure our shared air, water and oceans are safe for all earth inhabitants.

 

NOTES

 

[1] https://www.energiaspatagonicas.com/empresas/inversiones-empresarios-funcionarios-y-un-viaje-a-londres-en-busca-de-1000-millones-de-libras/

 

[2] https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/bp-fracking-argentina/

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Contact:

Anna Markova // Platform // [email protected] // 07942044472

Greg Muttitt // Oil Change International // [email protected] // 07508 421 527

Connal Hughes // Friends of the Earth Scotland // [email protected] // 0131 243 2715

Download report

The UK’s oil and gas drilling plans are incompatible with responding to the climate emergency, according to ‘Sea Change,’ a new report by Platform, Oil Change International, and Friends of the Earth Scotland, published today.[1]

Just two weeks after the Climate Change Committee’s net-zero carbon target and UK,[2] Scottish and Welsh “climate emergency” declarations,[3] ‘Sea Change’ reveals, for the first time, the climate impact of North Sea oil and gas extraction, and urges the government  to prioritise a job-creating energy transition.

The report’s key findings:

 

  • The UK’s 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already operating oil and gas fields will exceed the UK’s share in relation to the Paris climate goals – whereas industry and government aim to extract 20 billion barrels.[4]
  • The additional oil and gas extraction enabled by recent subsidies will add twice as much carbon to the atmosphere as the phase-out of coal power saves.
  • Given the right policies, clean industries could create more than three jobs per every North Sea worker affected, which can enable an “equivalent job guarantee” for every oil worker.

Despite the climate emergency, UK oil and gas extraction is growing again, following new subsidies in the 2015 and 2016 Budgets.

The authors call for termination of the soon-to-be-completed 31st oil licensing round, and cancellation of the 32nd round, which the UK Government plans for later in the year. Instead, they urge the UK and Scottish Governments to work with affected communities and trade unions on a Just Transition plan to create new decent jobs in clean industries, alongside a managed phase-out of oil and gas extraction.

The report warns that failing to begin a transition now will mean later action would have to be so rapid as to cause a collapse of the industry, putting regional economies and tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

Greg Muttitt, Research Director at Oil Change International, said:

“Our report exposes the elephant in the room of UK and Scottish climate policy: the government is pushing increased oil drilling while seeking to decrease carbon emissions, and it just doesn’t add up. We are facing a climate emergency, and government needs to get serious about a transition to clean energy, rather than maximising North Sea extraction and putting billions of pounds of subsidies in the pockets of oil companies. When you’re in a hole, you need to stop digging.”

Anna Markova, campaigner at Platform, said:

“Climate science says we have to stop drilling for oil – the question is how. Right now we’re headed for a “no-deal exit” from oil extraction, crashing out without protecting jobs, ports, construction yards. If we begin a planned transition instead, renewable industries can create hundreds of thousands of decent clean jobs where they’re needed, and fill the economic gap left by the oil industry. But to make this happen, UK and Scottish governments must work with trade unions, safeguard an equivalent job guarantee for oil workers, and drive the transition with all the available tools, from national investment banks to public energy companies to education and skills agencies.”

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Climate science is clear that we urgently need to phase out fossil fuels, yet the government and big oil are doing everything they can to squeeze every last drop out of the North Sea. To tackle the climate emergency head on we must ban oil and gas exploration now, and redirect the vast subsidies propping up fossil fuel extraction towards creating decent jobs in a clean energy economy. Real climate leadership means making tough decisions now that put us on a path to a climate safe future. A Just Transition for workers and communities currently dependent on high carbon industries is an essential part of that.”

 

NOTES:

[1]

Platform is a London-based organisation that conducts research, education, and campaigns towards a just future beyond fossil fuels.

https://platformlondon.org

Oil Change International is a research, communications and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy.

http://www.priceofoil.org

Friends of the Earth Scotland is

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.

www.foe.scot

[2] https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/05/02/phase-out-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-2050-to-end-uk-contribution-to-global-warming/

[3]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48126677

https://climateemergencydeclaration.org/scotland-worlds-first-government-to-declare-a-climate-emergency/

[4] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-46137555

Contact: Eliana Harrigan, Fossil Free London, +44 7541507517. Anna Markova, Platform, [email protected], +447942044472

Images available, credit Alban Grosdidier.

Credit Alban Grosdidier

As G20 governments gear up for their summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the climate talks are set to get underway in Katowice, the UK’s export finance department (UKEF) was hit by protests yesterday over its financing of oil and gas deals. Climate and solidarity activists erected a ten-foot ‘fracking rig’ on the steps of its offices in the morning, and projection artist FeralX “decorated” the headquarters with the words “UK Exports Fracking” in the evening (see images). The actions called on UKEF to stop financing oil, gas, and coal projects, starting with the new £1bn credit line to UK business in Argentina.

Credit Alban Grosdidier.

Campaigners positioned the fracking rig outside the entrance of the building at 8am and addressed civil servants entering the building with a comical accolade from “Ms Frack” for the support the oil and gas industry receives from the export finance body. A leaflet addressed to employees read:

“With one hand, the UK government fights climate change. With the other, it uses taxpayer money to fund fossil fuel projects worldwide which will lock those countries into high-carbon infrastructure and undermines the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. UKEF cannot go on acting as if climate change doesn’t exist.” .

According to research by CAFOD and ODI, 99.4% of UKEF financing for energy projects went to fossil fuels in the last measurable period.[1] These investments include support for drilling in dangerous, controversial new oil and gas frontiers, such as Brazil deepwater.

In March 2017 Chancellor Philip Hammond invited British companies operating in Argentina to a meeting to promote a new £1 billion credit line to them.[2] Despite assurances from Minister Greg Hands that “the UK’s expertise in areas like infrastructure, green energy and healthcare” would form the basis of the UK-Argentina trading relationship,[3] such firms did not attend the meeting hosted by Philip Hammond – but oil companies BP (via its subsidiary Pan American Energy Group) and Shell did.[4] BP and Shell’s main business interest in Argentina is the Vaca Muerta shale deposit: the second biggest shale gas deposit in the world.

If fully exploited, Argentina’s shale gas reserves would consume up to 15 percent of the entire global carbon budget for achieving the 1.5-degree Celsius Paris Agreement target [5]. Existing work to extract oil and gas in the region has also already caused land conflicts with indigenous Mapuche communities which reject the projects on their ancestral land,[6] as well as causing nearly 1000 spills in the first ten months of 2018 alone.[7]

Jorge Nawel, coordinator of Mapuche Confederation of Neuquen that represents Indigenous communities affected by the oil and gas project, commented on their situation as follows:

“The development of Vaca Muerta, the exploitation of land and, crucially, water, is a permanent threat for the Mapuche people. Our communities do not have recognized territory, legal status, and the right to free, prior, informed consent. All of this to offer better deals to oil multinationals. The communities live in constant fear that their territory will be taken over by this criminal industry.”

Eliana Harrigan, spokesperson for Fossil Free London said, “The UK government is playing a cynical game, talking up its climate credentials while aggressively promoting fossil fuel projects abroad using public money. With scientists advising that we have 12 years to cut fossil fuels and limit climate change to 1.5 degrees, the UK should end to UKEF’s support for fossil fuel projects, starting with Argentina. As a global centre for fossil fuel finance, London has a historical responsibility for the current ecological crisis. As residents of the city we stand with communities in Argentina and call on our public and private institutions to stop providing social, political and economic cover to this destructive industry.””

Marina Almagro, spokesperson for Argentina Solidarity Campaign said, “UK Export Finance’s support of fracking in Argentina means more backing for an extractive project that violates the rights of Mapuche indigenous communities in the area, pollutes major water sources, and is already having drastic consequences on regional agricultural economies. The UK’s financing of fracking also poses important questions about energy sovereignty, and the need for Argentina to move towards an energy model that is cleaner and more democratic.”

NOTES

[1] https://cafod.org.uk/News/Press-centre/Press-releases/Fossil-fuel-v-renewables-spend

[2] Notes released by Foreign Office in response to a Freedom Of Information request.

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-minister-of-state-for-trade-and-investment-announces-1-billion-export-credit-support-for-trade-with-argentina

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/668642/transparency_treasury_ministers_July-September_2017_meetings.csv/preview

[5]http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2018/06/debunked_vaca_muerta_eng_04_fin_web.pdf

[6] http://territorioindigena.com.ar/Casos?id_conflicto=168

[7] https://www.pagina12.com.ar/156412-los-derrames-de-vaca-muerta

Photos, video available – see below.

Ahead of this week’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentinian authorities have suspended the licence of a YPF/Schlumberger partnership at a shale well in the Vaca Muerta shale province.

The suspension of the licence follows a major well blow-out at Bandurrias Sur block in Patagonia in October that contaminated up to 85 hectares of land with oil and drilling mud.

The well La Caverna 26 blew out on the night of 19 October and spewed a mixture of oil and drilling mud for 36 hours, according to local officials. Workers and officials were banned from carrying mobile phones onto the spill site after initial images were published online. No official information was available on the spill for a week.

The well is operated by Argentinian oil company YPF jointly with Schlumberger using a drilling rig and services supplied by Nabors.

The companies’ drilling licence for the affected wells was suspended last week by the regional environmental regulator, YPF confirmed to local press. YPF is due to present a report on the causes of the incidents and the work of its drilling contractor, Nabors.

Bandurria Sur oil spill satellite image. Credit: Greenpeace Andino, FARN

The Bandurrias Sur block is a shale oil pilot joint venture owned 51% by YPF and 49% by Schlumberger. Under the terms of an agreement signed in April 2017, Schlumberger is to invest USD 390 million in the pilot using a contribution in kind of services including drilling and completion, while YPF retains operator status.

The spill took place within 11.5 km of the town of Añelo (population 8 thousand) and Neuquén river. Remediation work began 10 days after the blowout and is expected to last 8 months.

Indigenous and environmental groups have demanded criminal investigation into the incident.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, representing indigenous communities in the affected area, welcomed the suspension of the YPF/Schlumberger licence, but insisted that a criminal investigation was needed targeting oil company management and public officials.

Jorge Nawel, Coordinator of the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, said:

“While welcoming the sanction imposed on YPF, we believe that this is no chance event. On the contrary, we believe that the sanction shows a fissure in the historical collusion between the provincial environmental regulator and oil companies.”

Following the incident, operator YPF prohibited workers from carrying mobile phones into the area, citing environmental and fire safety concerns. 85 hectares of land are estimated to be affected based on satellite photos by Greenpeace Argentina and FARN. According to estimates by the provincial Neuquen government the spill’s affected zone amounted to 45 hectares.

Nabors, a global S&P 500 drilling contractor specialising in drilling on land. In August this year an oil field worker was killed in an incident on a different drill site where Nabors was contracted.

Neither Schlumberger nor Nabors have issued any statements or reports on the incident.

Ends

For interviews and information please contact [email protected] and/or call Anna Markova +44 7942044472.

PRESS RELEASE: Bank of England could buy BP bonds worth almost 900Mn as campaigners commemorate 10 years since the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster that devastated lives and environment

People from across the world commemorate the 10 years anniversary of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill that took eleven lives and ruined thousands more with creative online action. 10 years on, communities are still fighting the deadly impact of big oil companies in the Gulf. Last week, the Bank of England published a list...
UK-Argentina fracking talks targeted by protest

UK-Argentina fracking talks targeted by protest

For immediate release – 22 May 2019 Platform / Argentina Solidarity Campaign / Reclaim the Power / Fossil Free London Contact: Anna Markova +447942044472 [email protected] Supplementary images available here Protestors’ statement in full: https://platformlondon.org/2019/05/22/statement-dont-frack-patagonia/ Talks between UK and Argentinian officials on investments in shale oil and gas became the target of a protest by climate...
Report: UK oil and gas drilling plans incompatible with responding to climate emergency

Report: UK oil and gas drilling plans incompatible with responding to climate emergency

Wednesday 15 May 2019 Contact: Anna Markova // Platform // [email protected] // 07942044472 Greg Muttitt // Oil Change International // [email protected] // 07508 421 527 Connal Hughes // Friends of the Earth Scotland // [email protected] // 0131 243 2715 Download report The UK’s oil and gas drilling plans are incompatible with responding to the climate...
PHOTOS: ‘Fracking rig’ & 10-metre projection protests fossil fuel finance on doorstep of UK government export body

PHOTOS: ‘Fracking rig’ & 10-metre projection protests fossil fuel finance on doorstep of UK government export body

Contact: Eliana Harrigan, Fossil Free London, +44 7541507517. Anna Markova, Platform, [email protected], +447942044472 Images available, credit Alban Grosdidier. As G20 governments gear up for their summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the climate talks are set to get underway in Katowice, the UK’s export finance department (UKEF) was hit by protests yesterday over its financing of oil...
G20 summit: Major oil spill in Argentina leads to suspension of YPF/Schlumberger licence

G20 summit: Major oil spill in Argentina leads to suspension of YPF/Schlumberger licence

Photos, video available – see below. Ahead of this week’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentinian authorities have suspended the licence of a YPF/Schlumberger partnership at a shale well in the Vaca Muerta shale province. The suspension of the licence follows a major well blow-out at Bandurrias Sur block in Patagonia in October that contaminated...

Report: Foreign Office spends aid budget on ‘promoting fracking’ abroad

0.01am 19 November Research released by Platform today [1] reveals that Foreign Office spent funds from the UK’s Official Development Aid budget to promote shale gas drilling in China, as well as supporting expansion of oil and gas industries in Brazil, Mexico, India, and Myanmar. Foreign Office ran 16 strategic projects to expand fossil fuel industries...
Campaigners condemn BP's 'under-the-radar' merger in Argentina

Campaigners condemn BP’s ‘under-the-radar’ merger in Argentina

For immediate release 19 December 2017 Campaigners condemn BP’s “under-the-radar” merger in Argentina BP has announced that the merger of its Argentinian arm Pan-American Energy and the Argentinian-Chinese downstream company Axion Energy is now complete.[1] Platform campaigner Anna Markova commented, BP’s announcement is perfectly timed to attract the least attention possible, both in the UK...
New research: BP’s Argentina arm to frack 37 wells in 2017, including in a town that has banned fracking

New research: BP’s Argentina arm to frack 37 wells in 2017, including in a town that has banned fracking

Contact: [email protected] / 07942044472 / @PlatformLondon Full report for download: https://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/bps-fracking-secrets-ENG-2017-12-06.pdf Research by Platform with Observatorio Petrolero Sur to be released Thursday reveals BP plans to have fracked 37 wells in Patagonia in 2017. Observatorio Petrolero Sur offices in Argentina ransacked 3 days ahead of report release, with campaigners denouncing “escalating repression” in Argentina. New research by...
EU urged to honour Paris Agreement, withdraw support for gas mega-pipeline

EU urged to honour Paris Agreement, withdraw support for gas mega-pipeline

Brussels, Belgium — In an open letter released today, climate scientists, indigenous leaders, environmental and social justice groups, actors and artists call on the European Union to immediately withdraw its support for a gas mega-pipeline that would ‘destroy Europe’s climate targets’. While European leaders criticised the United States for pulling out of the Paris Agreement,...
Council workers’ largest union commits to divesting pensions from fossil fuels

Council workers’ largest union commits to divesting pensions from fossil fuels

Full text of UNISON motion (pdf). UNISON to “seek divestment of Local Government Pension Schemes from fossil fuels over five years giving due regard to fiduciary duty” Local government pensions have £14 billion invested in oil, coal and gas UNISON is the largest organisation representing pension-holders working for local government The largest body representing local government...

Media advisory: ‘True outrage’ – oil campaigner on High Court Shell spill ruling

The UK High Court has just blocked [1] a court case by 42,000 people in the Niger Delta seeking remediation for loss of lives and livelihoods due to oil leaks on Shell’s pipelines in the Niger Delta.[2] Platform campaigner Sarah Shoraka, who documented Shell’s failure to clean up Niger Delta pollution over the past five...
Egyptian political prisoners remembered in unsanctioned performance at British Museum's 'Sunken Cities'

Egyptian political prisoners remembered in unsanctioned performance at British Museum’s ‘Sunken Cities’

24 November 2016 Unsanctioned vigil held for jailed human rights campaigners at ‘Curator’s Introduction to the BP Sponsored Exhibition Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds’   Exhibition displays objects from ancient sunken cities in the Nile Delta, where BP is now drilling for fossil fuels. Community opposition successfully halted BP’s gas plant plans – the North...