Oil Change International is producing weekly news and resources updates for allies as part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis. These supplement the monthly OilWire editions that we produce with the Global Gas and Oil Network. Subscribe here to get the monthly OilWire bulletin.

OilWire update: 12 June 2020


The uprisings against police violence and white supremacy sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people are disrupting business as usual in the United States and around the globe. These murders result from systems of white supremacy and institutional racism that all of us must actively work to dismantle — including those of us in the climate movement. So we’re starting this update off with some of the Black Lives Matter work we’re following.

As the Sunrise Movement argues, far too many of us in climate movements have been complicit in white supremacy. As we support defunding fossil fuel companies, we must also support the defunding of white supremacist institutions — including the police and prison-industrial complex — to invest in healing and reparations for Black communities.

Listening to Black climate leaders is a key part of the unlearning and relearning we must take on as we join the fight against white supremacy. Dany Sigwalt of the Powershift Network explains how climate justice requires us — especially in the U.S. — to reinvent power structures that haven’t functionally changed since slavery. Three Black climate leaders spoke with The New York Times on how anti-racist and environmental work are fundamentally connected. Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr., of the Hip Hop Caucus was interviewed by Bill McKibben. We must work both within our own organisations and movements, and in our public-facing work to dismantle white supremacy. This webinar organized by 350.org unpacks what it means to center racial justice and equity as the way to truly fight for climate justice. Next week’s #SixNineteen mobilization from June 19 to 21 is another opportunity to show up and take action.

We recognize that the very same racist ideologies, similar unjust power structures, and parallel systems of oppression exist across the globe. We stand with Indigenous Peoples, Black people, and people of color worldwide as they reject and resist white supremacy in all its forms.

We encourage you to read and reflect on Nnimmo Bassey’s poem: “We Must Breathe Again.”


BP wants to be more like Greta?!
A remarkable leaked package of BP rebranding materials from January 2020 lays out the company’s strategy: talking about rewiring global energy, describing climate change as the most pressing crisis of our time, and repeating the words “energy transition” — all while planning to grow its oil and gas business.

Russian tanker spill spreads in the Arctic
A burst diesel tank at a power plant in the Russian Arctic has now spilled about half as much as fuel as the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster and counts as one of the largest spills in modern Russian history. Thawing permafrost due to the climate crisis likely contributed to the spill, which risks spreading into the Arctic Ocean. In a twist, the company responsible, Nornickel, is now trying to use global warming to evade its own responsibility, despite the company being one of the biggest polluters in the Russian Arctic.

Uncontrolled gas well blowout in India causes massive fire, evacuations
An Oil India-owned gas well in Assam state has been leaking “uncontrollably” for two weeks, leading to a massive explosion and fire on Tuesday. About 2,500 people have been evacuated, and the company reports it may take four weeks to control the leak.

Argentinian government illegally spied on advocates advancing democratic dialogue, including over oil and gas issues
News broke this week that the Intelligence Agency of Argentina illegally spied on over 400 journalists and around 100 representatives from civil society, academia, and the private sector, using G20 and WTO summits in Argentina as an excuse for starting the surveillance. Three staff members of Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), part of the GGON network, are among those targeted. As FARN responded, this action was completely unjustified and outside the scope of federal law. Read FARN’s communique in Spanish and English.

Vaca Muerta: Reportaron 16 movimientos sísmicos en solo cuatro días // Vaca Muerta: 16 seismic movements reported in just four days
Observatorio Petrolero Sur reports on a surge of earthquake activity in the region of the Vaca Muerta fracking project in Argentina. The Chilean Geoscience Network has tracked 16 seismic events around Añelo since June 1. The earthquakes in Vaca Muerta, some of considerable magnitude (greater than 4 Ml), are another health and environmental threat to the region, which does not have adequate preparedness measures to protect people and infrastructure.

Youth climate activists seek to influence UN Security Council election
Greta Thunberg and other youth activists have written a letter (also signed by climate scientists) urging small island diplomats to focus attention on Canada and Norway’s continued push to expand their oil interests as those two countries stand for election to the UN Security Council.

Norway moves to expand oil and gas tax incentives; Big Oil pushes ahead with drilling in response
On Monday, Norway’s ruling minority government and the main opposition parties agreed on a plan to extend almost USD 1 billion in tax breaks to the nation’s Big Oil and Gas companies. By Tuesday, Aker BP and Equinor had said they would go ahead with several offshore projects. Previous SEI research shows how the government’s support leads to more oil production and more global CO2 emissions.


  • For everyone, particularly those in the U.S., please support the Movement for Black Lives’ Six Nineteen day of action.
  • Sign and share the Pledge to Act in Defense of Black Lives.
  • Sign and share the open letter to banks, the United Nations, and the Mozambican government opposing the exploitation of Cabo Delgado’s gasfields.


Equity, climate justice, and fossil fuel extraction: Principles for a managed phase-out
The journal Climate Policy published a critical piece of work by Sivan Kartha (Stockholm Environment Institute) and Greg Muttitt (formerly OCI, now University College London). Staying within climate limits requires restricting fossil fuel extraction as well as demand. But where and how should it be restricted? This new paper proposes five principles for equitably managing a phase-out of extraction, finding that wealthy, diversified economies are best positioned to lead in a necessary just transition. Don’t let paywalls deter you — read a blog post from the authors and the accepted manuscript.

Decline and Fall: The size and vulnerability of the fossil fuel system
This new report from Carbon Tracker Initiative calculates the size and vulnerability of different parts of the fossil fuel system while examining how the COVID-19 crisis is accelerating its disruption. The analysis finds that “falling demand, lower prices and rising investment risk is likely to slash the value of oil, gas and coal reserves by nearly two thirds,” posing a major threat to global financial stability if governments do not take action to ensure an orderly wind-down.

Launch of Africa Climate Justice Group
This week, the African Climate Justice Group launched a website and call to action on COVID-19 endorsed by more than 250 organizations. The collective, led by 17 initial endorsers, outlines principles for climate justice and a just recovery in this moment. It will be preparing further communications targeting African governments and institutions, political advocacy, and most importantly, building African solidarity around climate justice, COVID-19 responses, and other struggles of the African people and wider globe. Further endorsements can be added via this online form.


Stopping climate change is hard enough, but racism only makes it harder
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson outlines the ways that racism is a barrier to climate action and climate justice: “How can we expect black Americans to focus on climate when we are so at risk on our streets, in our communities, and even within our own homes? How can people of color effectively lead their communities on climate solutions when faced with pervasive and life-shortening racism?” This piece from Dr. Johnson on what didn’t make it into the Washington Post is also a critical read.

Report recommends that government ban Export Development Canada (EDC) from supporting pipelines
A new report from Horizon Advisors recommended that Canada’s government government legally bar EDC from supporting any fossil fuel energy projects and “stress-test its investment decisions against Canada’s climate targets.” This would be the only realistic way to eliminate a “clear discrepancy” between EDC’s investment approach and Canada’s climate goals.

The Bank of England’s coronavirus ‘recovery’ plan is pushing us deeper into a climate emergency
In the Independent, columnist Donnachadh McCarthy calls out the Bank of England’s failure to address “its own responsibility of being a lender to the banks funding the massive global expansion of the fossil fuel industry.” McCarthy lays out five urgent steps the UK’s central bank should take, first among them halting all COVID-19 bailouts for fossil fuelled corporations.

¿El fin de la Argentina Saudita? //  “The end for Saudi Argentina?”
This new analysis from Observatorio Petrolero Sur analyzes the life of the Vaca Muerta drilling project in Argentina (which was dying before the pandemic), fracking, its political significance, and the contradictions the project exposes in the world and in government, in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.