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Ocean Rebellion staged a theatrical action with a Boris Johnson head and an "Oil head" burning a boat on Marazion beach on June 5, 2021 in Cornwall, United Kingdom.(Photo: Gav Goulder/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Ocean Rebellion staged a theatrical action with a Boris Johnson head and an "Oil head" burning a boat on Marazion beach on June 5, 2021 in Cornwall, United Kingdom. (Photo: Gav Goulder/In Pictures via Getty Images)
 

Ahead of Key Summit, 350+ Groups and 100+ Economists Tell G7 Nations to 'Stop Funding Fossil Fuels'

"We have had enough of world leaders sitting and talking whilst the world burns around them, with Covid-19 and climate impacts continuing to wreak havoc," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil

Ahead of this weekend's G7 summit, over 350 civil society organizations and more than 100 economists from around the globe on Wednesday signed letters urging the leaders of seven of the world's richest nations to stop financing fossil fuels. Instead, they argued, public funding should be used to usher in a green and equitable recovery from the Covid-19 crisis that catalyzes a just transition to a renewable energy-powered society.

"This summit should be the final G7 where discussion of fossil fuel finance is even needed."
—Elizabeth Bast, Oil Change International

"The climate crisis poses the greatest existential threat to our planet and our communities. The IPCC has warned that we must cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions roughly in half by 2030 to avert the most catastrophic impacts," more than 350 advocacy groups wrote in their letter (pdf) to leaders of the world's richest countries. "Continued support for fossil fuels undermines global climate action and puts local communities' health at risk."

"At this critical moment," they added, "we demand G7 governments demonstrate meaningful climate leadership and stop fueling the climate crisis with continued support for fossil fuels, including fossil fuel production and consumption in countries of the Global South."

From June 11-13, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States will gather in the U.K., where they are expected to adopt an agenda to "build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, more prosperous future."

In a statement, Murray Worthy of Global Witness said that "building back better means working toward a fossil free future."

May Boeve, executive director at 350.org, echoed that sentiment.

"We have had enough of world leaders sitting and talking whilst the world burns around them, with Covid-19 and climate impacts continuing to wreak havoc," said Boeve. "The G7 must take a decisive stance, and end all new fossil fuel investments."

In addition to demanding a rapid shift from dirty to clean energy sources to slash planet-heating carbon pollution and avert the worst effects of the climate emergency, the civil society organizations also called on G7 governments to provide debt relief to Global South countries hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic and extreme weather-related disasters, and to invest more in climate adaptation in vulnerable regions. 

"Despite dozens of countries spending more on debt payments than healthcare and Global South leaders calling for debt cancellation to fund climate action, G7 leaders have refused to do what is needed to end the debt crisis," said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now.

Nnimmo Bassey, director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, said the refusal of rich countries to alleviate debt burdens and reduce vulnerability in impoverished nations is especially galling given that capitalist powers have—through colonial plunder, imperialist warfare, and neoliberal policies—extracted trillions of dollars of wealth from the Global South and emitted a disproportionate share of the heat-trapping GHGs driving the climate crisis.

"Climate debt owed the Global South over years of extreme exploitation and climate abuse must be on the table now," said Bassey. "It is time to cancel odious debts and pay the climate debt!"

In their letter, the groups wrote: "We, the 353 undersigned organizations from 58 countries, call on the leaders of G7 governments to listen and respond to the voices of global citizens calling for climate justice, debt cancellation, and an end to fossil fuel extraction." 

To bring about a more egalitarian and sustainable world, they advocated for G7 nations to:

  • Cancel debt payments in Global South countries grappling with Covid-19 and climate impacts;
  • Stop all fossil fuel finance from bilateral and multilateral funding sources, and encourage other governments to do the same; 
  • Support mechanisms for countries in the South that will speed up a just transition, and discourage international trade arbitration mechanisms that protect fossil fuel investors;
  • Pay their fair share of climate finance to Global South countries for climate adaptation, the development of renewable energy technologies, a just transition to clean energy for workers, communities, and countries, and access to energy for those who currently lack it; and
  • Put an end to fossil fuel development in their own countries, including by ending fossil fuel subsidies; manage the decline of existing production of oil, gas, and coal; and rapidly initiate a just transition to clean and safe renewable sources of energy—involving extensive engagement with oil, gas, and coal workers, their unions, and affected communities.

Also on Wednesday, more than 100 economists signed a letter calling on the wealthiest countries to move "finance out of fossil fuels, and into clean alternatives worldwide."

"We welcome the decision taken last month by G7 environment ministers to end international finance to coal-fired power in 2021," the economists wrote.

Citing last month's landmark report from the relatively conservative International Energy Agency—which made clear that further investment in fossil fuels is incompatible with preventing the average global temperature from increasing more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels—the economists added: "We call on G7 leaders to go further and shift their finance out of all fossil fuels in 2021."

"As G7 members inject historic levels of public money into the economy in response to Covid-19, they can take advantage of the tremendous investment opportunities in clean energy and promote a just and equitable transition away from all fossil fuels," the economists wrote, lamenting the fact that rich countries have spent billions more on fossil fuels than renewables in the past year.

Elizabeth Bast, executive director of Oil Change International, said that "this summit should be the final G7 where discussion of fossil fuel finance is even needed."

"With voices of economists, scientists, global civil society, and even the International Energy Agency calling for an end to financing of new fossil fuels, it's time for the G7 to step up," Bast added. "Their leadership on shifting finance entirely out of fossil fuels is long overdue, and our climate and communities are suffering the consequences."


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