Activists protest against fossil fuels at COP28

Activists protest against fossil fuels—and, in particular, fracking and liquefied natural gas (LNG)—at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 8, 2023.

(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

300+ Groups Appeal to US at COP28: End All Support of LNG

The coalition charged that "the explosion of LNG exports from the U.S." is "an especially egregious move considering that the United States has already used up far more than its fair share."

With less than a week left of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, more than 300 groups from over 40 countries on Friday urged the Biden administration to end the permitting of new liquefied natural gas terminals in the United States and cut off diplomatic and financial support for LNG projects abroad.

The coalition began its letter to U.S. President Joe Biden—who is already under fire for skipping the conference—by pointing out that "the United States arrives at the COP28 climate negotiations as both the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas terminals (LNG) and the largest historic greenhouse gas emitter."

"The global expansion of LNG infrastructure is locking in decades of emissions–endangering the health of people and the planet today and for generations to come, exacerbating environmental injustice in historically marginalized communities, and entrenching fossil fuel sacrifice zones," the organizations wrote, specifically highlighting the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"Why must we let LNG poison our waters, destroy biodiversity, and drive us further to climate chaos?"

"The danger is further magnified by the pipeline of proposed projects, such as the mammoth Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana," the coalition stressed, echoing a recent letter from groups representing over 70,000 healthcare workers. "These pending projects threaten to lock in an annual 1,400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions—equivalent to 378 new coal plants."

The letter also emphasizes that "although leakage across the LNG supply chain helps make the fuel substantially worse for the climate than coal, reducing methane is not a silver bullet and risks justifying further industry expansion," and calls for pairing methane reduction pledges "with commitments to completely phase out fossil fuels."

Oil Change International global policy manager Romain Ioualalen—whose group is part of the coalition—noted in a statement Friday that the latest draft COP28 agreement "shows we have never been closer to an agreement on a fossil fuel phaseout. But, what that transition will look like will be a fierce battle over the next few days."

"We are alarmed about some of the options in this text that seem to carve out large loopholes for the fossil fuel industry," he added. "The draft is also missing a clear recognition that developed countries will need to phase out faster and provide their fair share of finance, as well as a recognition that the decline of fossil fuel production must start immediately, not in the distant future."

Other members of the coalition include the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Extinction Rebellion U.S., Food & Water Watch, Fridays for Future USA, Friends of the Earth International, Global Justice Now, Greenpeace USA, Indigenous Environmental Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and 350.org.

"The explosion of LNG exports from the U.S. represents an extreme grab of the limited carbon budget remaining to constrain global temperature rise to under 1.5°C, an especially egregious move considering that the United States has already used up far more than its fair share," the coalition charged, referring to the Paris agreement's bolder goal.

"Any push for a phaseout of all fossil fuels at COP28 risks falling flat if the world's leading LNG exporter shows no signs of changing course," the letter concludes. "We urge the Biden administration to publicly commit during the COP to no further regulatory, financial, or diplomatic support for LNG in the U.S. or anywhere in the world."

Coalition members echoed that call for action. Krishna Ariola of Youth for Climate Hope Philippines declared that "Southeast Asia is being shaped into an LNG import hub. Lies peddled by countries like Japan, the United States, South Korea, and countries in Europe paint gas as a transition fuel, but our people and environment have paid a steep price."

"In the Philippines, the biodiversity-rich Verde Island Passage hosts the biggest concentration of LNG projects in the country," she continued. "Why must we let LNG poison our waters, destroy biodiversity, and drive us further to climate chaos? The Philippines and Southeast Asia are more than capable of powering our region with renewables at a timeframe compatible to 1.5°C. The mad dash for gas is nothing but a blockade to a renewable energy future."

Roishetta Ozane, founder and director of the Vessel Project of Louisiana, said that "communities like mine in the Gulf South are dying from the Biden administration's failure to stop fossil fuel expansion."

Noting that the Calcasieu Pass 2 facility "would produce the largest volume of LNG ever approved in the United States for export," Ozane argued that "to be on the right side of history, Biden must reject CP2 and all other gas export projects, and support a fast, fair, and full fossil fuel phaseout here at COP28."

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