North Sea oil and gas: the elephant in the room

October 4, 2019

Next week Extinction Rebellion will start two weeks of protest in London, demanding government action to reach zero carbon emissions by 2025; to protect biodiversity; to tell the truth about climate change; and to set up “citizens’ assemblies” to address the climate and ecological emergency.

This post by NEIL ROTHNIE is addressed to the XR “rebels” and their supporters. Neil is active in Extinction Rebellion Glasgow. He is now retired, having spent his working life on the North Sea, in the oil industry

It’s not just Westminster! The Scottish government are also complicit in a strategy that will see the UK oil and gas industry continuing to explore and produce every single drop of the 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent (bbls) thought to be recoverable from North Sea oil and gas fields.

The plan, “business as usual”, comes from big oil and has been handed down to their clients in Government. And it drives a horse and carriage through government

Rigs operated by BP at the Clair Ridge oil field, west of Shetland in the North Sea, which started producing in November last year. Its peak output will be 120,000 barrels of oil per day, and BP reckons it has 640 million barrels of recoverable hydrocarbons

“climate emergency” declarations, and any chance of meeting our fair share of global cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

It also sends out a clear message to other national governments collaborating with the very same oil corporations which operate globally.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Saudi Arabia, The Canadian Arctic, Nigeria, Sakhalin Island (Russia), everywhere else – industry and Governments will feel absolutely justified to exploit their reserves to the limit, just as UK Governments intend to do.  Produce every last drop until the planet burns or the people rebel.

Well, the rebellion starts here.

There must be non violent direct action aimed at big oil, and targeting oil production. There must be a Just Transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

That doesn’t just mean that oil workers in the global north get new jobs in a hugely expanded renewables sector.

It means that the global north takes the bulk of the responsibility for ending fossil Read the rest of this entry »

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Climate strikers in solidarity with the global south

September 20, 2019

Solidarity with people in the global south was the big theme on the school students’ huge, sprawling demonstration against climate change in London today.

The message from the organisers, the UK Student Climate Network, was unequivocal: the damage done by global warming is not only something to be scared of in their own future, but is hitting millions of people in poor countries right now.

The demonstration was more like a rock concert, filling Millbank and spilling into Victoria Tower gardens next to parliament. A breakaway group of 200 or so staged a sit-down protest in Whitehall. The London event was part of a gigantic global protest in which millions participated. (See here and in all the news outlets.)

A constant stream of school students, carrying witty, home-crafted posters, joined in. I saw solidarity delegations of teachers, health workers, civil servants, art workers and plenty of other adult supporters.

Kamran from Global Justice Now told the crowd that the main cause of climate change is “not population, not unethical consumption: it’s the one per cent who loot resources from the global south”.

This exploitation of human beings by each other is “inseparable” from the exploitation of the planet, he added.

Kamran said that while sometimes he feels fearful for the future, he can also imagine a world in which, instead of dystopia, “energy is clean, benefits are evenly distributed and life is good”.

Anna Taylor of UKSCN said she is “sick of living in a system created by white capitalist men who try to satiate their addiction to power and control by exploiting people”.

Speakers from Brazil and Bolivia called for emergency measures to protect the Amazon.

Kieran, of the Wretched of the Earth, urged the crowd to support indigenous peoples battling to defend diversity, and to consider migrant justice and climate justice as one and the same.

“We are living at a time of great danger”, he said. But he asked those present to beware of “urgent Read the rest of this entry »


XR call for just transition from North Sea oil to renewable energy

September 5, 2019

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Scotland is appealing to North Sea oil workers to support a “just transition” away from oil and towards an energy system based on renewable electricity.

“The current oil and gas workforce can and should be redeployed to replace the fossil fuel that we can no longer afford to produce”, says XR Scotland’s appeal to communities in the north-east of the country that are dependent on oil. “Without a just transition to renewable energy from sun, wind and wave, we are fucked.”

There’s no better way forward for XR than seeking alliances of this kind, in my view. So here’s the whole text of the leaflet. (And if you want to print some off and distribute them yourself, here’s a PDF version.)

Do you think you have skills that could be transferred to the renewables energy industry? YES □ NO □

Do you think that the entirety of the estimated 20 billion barrels of fossil fuel under the North Sea should be produced? YES □ NO □

Do you believe the planet can survive global hydrocarbon reservoirs being drained? YES □ NO □

XR protest. Photo from XR Scotland facebook page

Do you have children and/or grandchildren? YES □ NO □

Did you think last year, that we would be experiencing a massive fire threat to the Amazon and the Arctic regions, and the loss of the Arctic Sea ice? YES □ NO □

Are you interested in getting involved in the campaign for a planned and just transition to the renewables?

contact neil.rothnie@gmail.com. I’ll put you in touch.

Demand a Just Transition to renewable energy

Both the UK oil industry and government seem to think that new licenses should be issued and oil and gas exploration on the North Sea stepped up. The industry estimates that 20 billion barrels of fossil fuel remain under the North Sea. No one in authority seems to think that these reserves should not be fully exploited.

This begs the questions:

► If a policy of business as usual is to be applied to the North Sea, why then should Saudi Arabian, Gulf of Mexico, Venezuelan, Sakhalin [Russia], Nigerian and other hydrocarbon reserves not also be fully exploited?

► What would the effect of producing all the world’s oil and gas be on global warming and climate change?

The Scottish Government seem to be prepared to try and lead us to an independent Scotland based on a carbon economy. According to the First Minister, Scotland’s carbon emissions would increase if oil Read the rest of this entry »


Climate grief, climate anger

June 25, 2019

Young people suffer from climate grief, Daisy Wyatt, 19, told the People’s Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency, in Greenwich, south-east London, on Saturday.

Climate grief is “coming to the realisation that you will not live the life that your parents have lived, or the life that our parents have told you that you will live”, Daisy, a nursery worker and nanny, said.

Of all the points made at this event, in which more than 100 local people took part, this seemed to me one of the most important. The world Daisy’s generation lives in is, in many

School climate strike in London, Friday 21 June. Photo: Guy Smallman

ways, darker and more forbidding than the one we older people grew up in. It is hard, but necessary, to admit this to ourselves.

I am in my early 60s. I have an optimistic outlook, and young grandchildren. I fervently believe that, in their lifetime, people may change the world for the better, in all sorts of ways we can only vaguely imagine now. But in the near term – the next decade or two, when first those of Daisy’s age, and then my grandchildren, will be living their adult lives – things could get very rocky, in a way that they were not when I was growing up.

The effects of climate change – heatwaves such as the recent one in India, for example; Read the rest of this entry »


What does “climate emergency” mean? Let’s define that OUTSIDE parliament

May 2, 2019

Strikes by school pupils, and civil disobedience by Extinction Rebellion, pushed the UK’s House of Commons into declaring a “climate emergency” yesterday. The government is so weak and divided that – having said one week ago that it would not make such a declaration – it caved in and lined up behind a motion put by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Tories’ weakness really is part of this. The prime minister, Theresa May, lost the ability to tell her MPs how to vote on anything, during repeated breakdowns of their traditional

School pupils on strike in Australia. Photo from #climatestrike on twitter

discipline over Brexit. And the “climate emergency” vote took place on the day that she fired her defence secretary Gavin Williamson for breaching security.

And the movements outside parliament made the difference. The Labour MP Faisal Rashid pointed out during the debate: “We are not here because of an international effort co-ordinated by world leaders. […] We are here because a small group of schoolchildren decided to walk out of school to take a stand against climate change, and they have inspired a global movement.” It is “an indictment of our global political leadership”, he argued.

Another reason the “climate emergency” motion passed is that it committed neither the government nor parliament to do a single thing. It could be, and was, supported by many total hypocrites as a way of co-opting and defusing people’s anger.

Anyone who thinks that parliament actually meant what it said, when it voted for Corbyn’s motion, should bear in mind that:

■ Parliament believes it can declare a “climate emergency” while supporting a third runway at Heathrow Airport. That will help ensure a global expansion of aviation, which is Read the rest of this entry »


Climate change must be a thing. It’s on prime time TV

April 23, 2019

Key effects of global warming were reported bluntly to millions of TV viewers in the documentary Climate Change: The Facts, on BBC One on Thursday 18 April.

“It may sound frightening”, the super-popular TV naturalist David Attenborough said, introducing the show, “but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic

The Renew Rebels theatre group, performing on Waterloo Bridge on Friday 19 August during the “Extinction Rebellion” protests. Oil (in black) confronts wave power (in blue), wind (in white) and the sun (in orange)

action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies”.

The press loved it. “A call to arms”, The Guardian said. Would it “wake up philanthropists, investors and governments to act?” Forbes asked.

I wondered: why now?

The BBC hasn’t exactly rushed to portray global warming accurately. In 2011, two decades after the international climate talks started at Rio, scientists were slamming the BBC for giving air time to climate science deniers. In 2014, a BBC memo told journalists to stop pretending “balance” was needed between climate science and its deniers – but the practice continued, leading to another edict in September last year. By that time, researchers had started refusing to come into BBC studios to debate deniers.

But high-profile BBC journalists still felt compelled to interview anti-science nutters who are paid by the fossil fuel industry to advise Donald Trump. In October last year, when the Read the rest of this entry »


Global warming underlies India’s “giant agrarian crisis”

November 29, 2018

Farmers on the march as drought pummels productivity

A guest post by NAGRAJ ADVE, first published in The Wire (India)

A few years ago, a group of us from Delhi, along with members of the Gujarat Agricultural Labour Union and the International Union of Foodworkers, went to eastern Gujarat to speak to farmers about how a changing climate could be affecting their livelihoods. We found that warmer winters, particularly higher night-time temperatures, had resulted in a reduced or complete absence of dew. This was adversely affecting the rabi crop.

“Winters have been getting less cold for about 7-8 years,” a group of farmers told us in Jer Umaria, Panchmahal district. “Our wheat production has halved. The dew does not fall anymore.”

Village after village in Panchmahal, being unable to afford wells and with poorly developed water markets in this predominantly Adivasi belt, most marginal farmers faced sharply reduced yields thanks to lesser dew. Many were forced to leave their land fallow.

Rising temperatures have also been impacting agriculture in faraway Sikkim, but differently. Across the Hindu Kush Himalaya, the average temperature has risen by 1.24º C in 1951‒2014, about twice as much as India’s average rise over the same period.

A demonstration by farmers on 2 October on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. Photo: PTI/ Arun Sharma

Together with a steep rainfall decline in the Northeast – 15% below normal over the last 20 years – and prolonged dry spells, this has left many mountain springs with lower discharge, if they haven’t dried up entirely.

As a result, “the productivity of crops has drastically declined,” Ghanashyam Sharma, Head, The Mountain Institute India, Gangtok, said. “In Pendam, East Sikkim district, many farmers now cannot cultivate wet rice due to water scarcity. Its impacts are unequal [–] Read the rest of this entry »


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