10 April 2020

Hannah McKinnon, hannah [at]
Alex Ortiz, alex.ortiz [at]

Oil Change International Experts React to Impending G20, OPEC+ Statement

In response to the G20, OPEC+ impending statement, experts at Oil Change International have responded as follows:

Lorne Stockman, Senior Research Analyst, on why the U.S. must look beyond the current crisis.

“While the U.S. has spent the last decade hellbent on flooding global markets with oil and gas in the misguided pursuit of ‘energy dominance,’ it now calls on the rest of the world to save its oil billionaires. Having reneged on international cooperation on climate, the administration pulled out all the stops to harness diplomacy to save Big Oil.

“The U.S. oil industry must come to realize that this bust is an extreme but not isolated event. The transition underway in energy markets is already setting up the next bust, and many OPEC country leaders are aware of that. Now is the time to pursue a long-term planned exit from fossil fuel production that avoids the chaos of the past few weeks, in contrast to the short-term goals of the current deal. While some oil and gas jobs may have been saved, many are already lost and those workers and communities need support through this crisis and the ongoing transition toward a climate-safe future.”

Hannah McKinnon, Director, Energy Transitions & Futures, on the urgency of a managed decline:

“Recent weeks have been a case study in an unmanaged decline of oil, with workers and communities being hung out to dry while executives and shareholders line their pockets. This is a harbinger of what’s to come if governments don’t get their acts together and design recovery plans that phase out fossil fuel production in a way that is both just and equitable.

“The world is facing colliding crises as COVID-19 wreaks havoc in the context of ever increasing climate catastrophes. A meeting of this magnitude deserves to be ridiculed as a failure to grapple with the real issues at hand and begin the critical work of a Just Recovery.”

Romain Ioualalen, Senior Campaigner, on the role of the IEA: 

“The IEA and Fatih Birol are sending incoherent messages during this crisis. On the one hand, they facilitate unprecedented action to prop up Big Oil, with no meaningful conditions to prevent this mess from repeating itself with the next boom-bust cycle. On the other, they call for clean energy to be at the heart of recovery packages. Fatih Birol can’t have it both ways.

“The main focus of the IEA in this crisis should be to provide guidance to governments towards a climate-friendly and just recovery. This means fixing their influential scenarios to align them with the 1.5ºC objective and getting real about the need for a managed decline of the oil and gas industry to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. If the IEA was interested in supporting economic stability, it would help countries plan for a complete phase-out of the inherently volatile fossil fuel sector.”

Kelly Trout, Senior Research Analyst, on the equity implications of global production cuts:

“It’s particularly absurd that the U.S. would look for ‘compensation’ for production cuts. The United States oil industry has been drilling the world towards climate disaster for decades. A global supply deal built on climate science and equity would involve wealthy countries like the United States, Canada, Norway, and the UK moving first and fastest to phase out their production, while helping to finance just transitions in more vulnerable developing countries. While fossil fuel expansion must stop now, vulnerable countries highly dependent on oil revenue, countries being hit hardest now, need a longer lead time to transition their economies while funding urgent human needs.”

Note: 770 civil society organizations have signed the global Lofoten Declaration, affirming that, ‘it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of wealthy fossil fuel producers to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development and to manage the decline of existing production.’

Alex Doukas, Director, Stop Funding Fossils, on the issue of fossil fuel subsidies that has long been on the G20 agenda:

“For over a decade, G20 leaders have promised to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, yet every G20 country still subsidizes the use and production of fossil fuels. Many are considering huge new handouts to the oil and gas industry. Instead of dropping everything to prop up wealthy oil and gas interests, these ministers should focus on how economic relief and recovery efforts in their own countries can support people, not polluters. They should be looking ahead to avoid the other crisis — climate change — that’s already shattering lives and livelihoods around the world.”

Note: G20 leaders first agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies at the 2009 Leaders’ Summit in Pittsburgh.