April 22, 2021

David Turnbull, (U.S. west coast)
Collin Rees, (U.S. east coast)
Laurie Van der Burg, (Belgium)
Romain Ioualalen, (France)

Oil Change International response to Leaders Climate Summit

Today, world leaders have gathered virtually at a so-called “Leaders Summit on Climate” hosted by the Biden administration. These leaders provided statements and commitments to increase ambition on global climate action. With a few notable exceptions, however, largely absent from the discussions were commitments to a managed ramp-down of fossil fuel production, though some progress was made on shifting public finance out of fossil fuels and into clean. In response, Oil Change International experts provided the following statements:

David Turnbull, Strategic Communications Director:
“True climate leadership requires a full reckoning with the realities of what’s driving our climate crisis: fossil fuels. Without a robust plan from rich countries in particular to ramp down fossil fuel production and ramp up support for communities for a just transition to a renewable energy economy, any conversation about ‘climate leadership’ is incomplete at best, or misleading at worst. We’re pleased to hear countries recommit to the 1.5ºC Paris goal and ramp up their emission reduction commitments, however we are gravely concerned after today’s statements that there is still limited willingness to actually stop digging the climate hole we find ourselves in.

“Continued fossil fuel production impacts those on the frontlines of extraction and related infrastructure every day, adding to the historic injustices our extractive economy has perpetuated. Today’s session on ramping up ambition came up short, and we call on all world leaders to quickly catch up to the reality that we must stop spending public money on fossil fuels and start the fossil fuel production phase out and just transition for communities immediately.”

Laurie van der Burg, Senior Campaigner:
“A bright spot of the climate summit is that it reconfirmed the momentum that is building on shifting public finance out of fossil fuels and into clean. Korea announced an end to coal financing, and, though woefully incomplete, the US reiterated it is taking steps towards ending overseas finance for fossil fuels. This follows the UK putting an immediate halt to new finance for fossil fuel projects overseas, not just coal, but also oil and gas, last month.”

“As COP26 host and president of the upcoming G7 and having acted on this agenda itself, the UK is uniquely positioned to prioritize making 2021 the year in which the public finance balance tips from fossils to clean. It must encourage other governments to follow its example by the G7 to keep the ball rolling towards COP26.”

Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner:
“Today’s announcements from the Biden Administration were a welcome change from the Trump era, but they laid bare how important tackling fossil fuels will be to restore U.S. climate leadership on the global stage and end environmental injustice. President Biden must follow through on his pledges to end fossil fuel subsidies and move swiftly to end overseas public finance for fossil fuels, an area in which the U.S. risks falling drastically behind its peers. Biden has made some good first steps by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and pausing oil and gas leasing on public lands, but much more must be done to limit the expansion of the oil and gas industry. New decarbonization goals are difficult to take seriously until Biden takes immediate action to stop the Line 3 and Dakota Access oil pipelines and lays out a credible plan to ramp down fossil fuel production here at home.”

Romain Ioualalen, Senior Campaigner:
“Today, the leaders of the world met to tout their climate action while presiding over the second largest increase in CO2 emissions in history. This disconnect between pledges and actions is the reason why we are failing to address the climate crisis. It is urgent for so-called climate leaders in the US, Canada, Norway and the UK to enact policies to phase out their production of fossil fuels, and to follow the example of countries such as Denmark and Costa Rica that have banned new oil and gas exploration and production. Distant carbon neutrality pledges and revised NDCs will continue to ring hollow as long as countries fail to address the root of the climate crisis: our continued reliance on fossil fuels.”