Oil Change International made key strides in 2010 to advance our campaigns to overcome the barriers to a clean energy future, in spite of a challenging year for the environment. Read more about our campaign accomplishments below.
Separate Oil and State
This year, after historic levels of pressure and resources, the U.S. environmental community was left without a climate bill in Congress. The worst environmental disaster in U.S. history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is still unclear whether this will lead even to minimal increased regulation of the oil industry. And on June 15, 2010, as the oil from the Macondo well continued to erupt and wash ashore, the U.S. Senate, including twenty Democrats, voted against ending subsidies to the oil industry. It wasn’t even close.
Coming out of this year’s challenges and the election results, we are convinced that our Separate Oil and State campaign is more important than ever. Our strategy in this area is to make information on the influence of the fossil fuel industry on Congress widely available to the growing grassroots movement on energy and climate. In 2010, we made some important advances:
- In August, Oil Change released DirtyEnergyMoney.com, an online tool that tracks the money going from the oil, gas, and coal industries to U.S. Senators and Representatives, exposing these very real political barriers to a clean energy transition. We partnered with key organizations – 350.org, Appalachian Voices, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, MoveOn.org, True Majority, and others – in the release of this tool to help the information reach a wider audience.
- Using this same model, in October we released prop23.dirtyenergymoney.com that exposed the fact that 92% of the funding behind California’s Prop 23 was oil and coal industry money and prop26.dirtyenergymoney.com that exposed that Chevron was the biggest funder behind California’s Prop 26.
Next year, we will continue our work to grow the movement to Separate Oil and State, reaching out to new partners to increase pressure to stop the flow of money going between the oil, gas, and coal industries and our government.
Shift the Subsidies
Oil Change’s international campaign follows the money to the oil, gas, and coal industries, seeking to shift the subsidies away from dirty energy. To transform international politics in a way that enables social and political change, we need to reduce the money going to the fossil fuel industry globally and shift it into clean energy projects that serve to limit the impacts of climate change, protect the most vulnerable, and increase access to energy for the poor. We’re campaigning on this in a number of international arenas:
The Group of 20 Nations
The G20 made an announcement in 2009 that nations would phase out support for fossil fuels, which presented an opportunity for transformative change in the global fossil fuel industry. If the developed nations of the G20 followed through with this pledge, it would free up at least $57 billion annually, and quite possibly more than $100 billion, that could be used instead to combat energy poverty, climate change and climate impacts. The lack of movement created by this process so far, however, has been disappointing.
- In October, Oil Change released G20 Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Phase Out: A review of current gaps and needed changes to achieve success, which reveals large gaps in the reporting of subsidies by G20 countries and that no new actions have been taken as a result of their commitment in 2009 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
In spite of slow overall progress, the G20 has taken up the discussion of reducing export credit subsidies for fossil fuels and improving terms for clean energy. This is particularly important considering recent approvals by the U.S. Export Import Bank for financing of major coal and oil projects. With these institutions currently lending billions of dollars a year for oil, gas and coal projects, shifting the flows of finance coming out of the export credit agencies could substantially reduce fossil fuel subsidies globally.
Moving forward, we are planning to develop a global coalition of civil society groups to pressure for change on fossil fuel subsidies at the country level. We will work over the next year to build stronger working relationships with global civil society partners to more effectively influence international spaces to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
The World Bank
The World Bank continues to lend billions of dollars at reduced rates each year to developing countries for dirty energy projects, increasing the production of climate pollution and having additional negative impacts on development.
The World Bank is currently undergoing a review of its Energy Strategy, which provides an opportunity to end its dirty energy subsidies. The review process coincides both with the Bank’s request for a General Capital Increase and the desire of the World Bank to play a greater role in climate finance funds generated through the UN climate talks. The Bank must change its core lending portfolio if it is to be given responsibility over even greater amounts of funding.
- When confronted about dirty energy investments, the Bank often claims that fossil fuels are necessary to “increase energy access for the poor.” In October, we released a report in advance of the World Bank annual meetings, World Bank Group Energy Financing: Energy for the Poor?, which finds that none of the World Bank Group’s fossil fuel finance over the last two years directly targets the poor or ensures that energy benefits are reaching the poor.
We are currently planning a follow-up report that will focus on effective projects that have addressed clean energy access as a way to push the World Bank on this issue leading up to a World Bank board decision on its revised Energy Strategy in June.
Shift the Subsidies
G20 Fossil Fuel Subsidies
- Kate Sheppard, “Where to Start on Climate? How About Subsidies for Dirty Energy,” Mother Jones, November 30, 2010
- “Green view: How to save $300 billion,” The Economist, November 12th 2010
- Paul Merolli, “G20 Inaction on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Slammed,” Oil Daily, November 12, 2010.
- Alan Beattie, “G20 countries accused of fossil fuel inaction,” Financial Times, November 7, 2010
- Ben Geman, “Report slams G-20 nations on fossil fuel subsidies,” The Hill, November 8, 2010
World Bank Energy Lending
- The polluters’ newfound concern for the poor. by Steve Kretzmann, Grist, October 6, 2010. Two days ago in St. Louis, the head of the largest coal producer in the U.S., Peabody Energy’s Gregory H. Boyce, delivered the keynote address on “The Future of Fossil Fuels” at the Global Energy Future Symposium at Washington University in St. Louis. His message was to “put people first” by supporting policies that prioritize eliminating global energy poverty by 2050.
- Lisa Friedman, “WORLD BANK: Fossil fuel loans not going to help the poorest – study,” E&E News, October 06, 2010
- Michael Lawson, “Activists Call for Focus on Poverty in World Financial Institutions,” Free Speech Radio News, October 8, 2010
- Matthew O. Berger, “World Bank Pressured over Record Fossil Fuels Lending,” IPS (InterPress Service), October 12, 2010
- Farron Cousins, “Facts Counter World Bank Energy Accessibility Claims,” Energy Boom, October 7, 2010
- SustainableBusiness.com Staff, “World Bank Projects Do Not Contribute to Energy Access – Report,” SustainableBusiness.com, October 6, 2010
Separate Oil and State
Oil Industry Influence
- Big Oil’s Golden Backup Plan, by Steve Kretzmann, Grist, November 4, 2010. One of the few bright spots for environmentalists and progressives over the last year was this week’s successful defeat of Proposition 23 in California. As the organizer Saul Alinsky famously observed, power flows from both people and money. Unlike every other energy battle this year, for Prop 23, activists had both.
- I’m a dirty money addict: Dirty Energy Money Fuels Congress, by Steve Kretzmann, Grist, Aug 10 2010. As Congress begins August recess, those of us who care about America’s addiction to oil, climate change, and a clean energy future have been scratching our heads (or kicking the walls), wondering why, after historic levels of pressure we can’t even pass an oil spill response bill, not to mention a real clean energy or climate bill.
- Amy Goodman, “Three of Every Four Oil & Gas Lobbyists Worked for Federal Government,” July 23, 2010, Democracy Now (TV/Radio)
California Propositions 23 and 26
- Olga Belogolova, “Proposition 26 Prevails as Proposition 23 Fails,” National Journal, November 3, 2010
- Mike Brune, “Follow the money,” NationalJournal.com, November 1, 2010
- Rebecca Tarbotton and Steve Kretzmann, “Chevron Spending $4 million on Prop 26, Prop 23’s Stealthier Twin,” Huffington Post, November 1, 2010
- Barbara Bernstein, “How oil tycoons are working to destroy California’s climate change regulations: Pre-Election Day Special: California Prop. 23, Dirty Money and the Future of the Planet,” November 1, 2010 (Radio)
- Ryan van Lenning, “Mapping the Money and PR Behind Prop 23,” Huffington Post, October 27, 2010
- Wade Crowfoot, “Show me the money (on Propositions 23 and 26),” SFGate.com, October 26, 2010
- Ryan van Lenning, “Mapping the Money on California’s Prop 25 and 26,” Huffington Post, October 26, 2010
- Jay Kimball, “California’s Prop 23 Morphing into Prop 26,” 8020 Vision, October 25, 2010
- Anne C. Mulkern, “Oil Group, Climate Bill Supporters Clash in Summer Campaigns,” The New York Times and Greenwire, August 17, 2010
- Kate Sheppard, “Follow the (Dirty Energy Money),” Mother Jones, August 11, 2010
- Ben Geman, “Green Groups Escalate Online Campaign to Link Senators and Oil Cash,” The Hill, August 17, 2010
- Scott Nance, “Organization Seeks to Clean Up Oil Money Spill in Washington,” On the Hill, August 17, 2010
- Michelle Dynes, “Wyoming Congressmen ‘Floating in Oil’,“ Wyoming Tribune Eagle, August 12, 2010