Today COP27 in Egypt saw the launch of a new ‘Equinor Out of Oil and Gas Alliance’ of climate activists against the development of new oil and gas projects.
The campaign is also calling out the hypocrisy of Norway, which is the majority-owner of Equinor and also a prominent player at COP27 climate talks. The campaigners accuse Norway of profiting form oil and gas developments in a time where we are on a trajectory of 2.7 C with current policies according to Climate Action Tracker (1).
The Equinor Out of Oil and Gas Alliance is a coming-together of campaigners spanning the length and breadth of the Atlantic Ocean - from Norway (WWF Verdens naturford; Naturvenforbundet; Greenpeace Norge), the UK (Stop Cambo), Canada (Sierra Club Canada, Climate Action Network Canada, The Council of Canadians), Brazil and Argentina (Ecos de Mar) - to stop the new oil & gas developments that Equinor is planning in these countries.
You can find a newly launched Facebook page associated with the campaign here.
A graphic showing the oil projects in question can be found above.
Why a new campaign against Equinor?
Equinor is seeking to develop three huge new oil fields in the North Atlantic: Rosebank in the UK; Bay du Nord off the Canadian coast; and the recently postponed Wisting field in Norway. In the South Atlantic, the company is leading efforts to open up new oil and gas areas off the coasts of both Brazil and Argentina. Equinor is also expanding gas projects into Tanzania.
The campaign is calling out the climate injustice of Equinor’s actions: collectively the three new oil fields could produce over 2 billion barrels of oil and emissions equivalent to over 800 million tonnes of CO2. That’s nearly the same as the annual CO2 emissions of all 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (2), home to 1.2 billion people.
As small island nations push oil producing governments to end fossil fuel subsidies, the alliance is also drawing attention to the huge public subsidies flowing to Equinor: despite making pre-tax profits of £21 billion ($24.3 billion) in just the last three months alone, Equinor and its partners are set to receive a subsidy of over £500 million ($590 million) from the UK government to develop the Rosebank oil field.
Finally, despite the oil and gas industry’s political power, the Alliance considers this a winnable fight: last week’s decision by Equinor to delay the development of Wisting was hailed as an early win for the campaign and a ‘victory for the climate’. Last year, Stop Cambo activists from the UK slammed the British government, hosts of COP26, for planning to sanction Shell’s huge Cambo oil field in the North Sea. Shell subsequently pulled out of the project, after Cambo became the focus of fierce media debates, mass protests and political opposition.
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“What we are seeing are people across the world coming together to say no to Equinor’s oil and gas plans which are completely contrary to climate targets and which endanger local ecosystems and economies,” says Conor Curtis, Head of Communications with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Whether it’s Bay du Nord or Rosebank or any of their other proposed projects we know that oil and gas does not have an economic future and yet here Equinor is asking our local economies to become more dependent on their doomed projects. We are seeing the direct impacts of climate change in Canada in the form of more intense storms like Hurricane Fiona, wildfires, flooding and coastal erosion, and droughts. Equinor could invest in renewable energy projects in Canada instead and be part of the solution to this climate crisis.”
"Our ocean and the multiplicity of beings that inhabit it are fundamental to the existence of life on Earth. In this global socio-environmental context, its protection and restoration is a priority. We are a single ocean of beings echoing the same pulse of love for existence! For the present and for those to come! FREE OCEANS!" says Julieta Paladino, Ecos de Mar, Argentina.
“The Norwegian public share the responsibility of Equinor’s actions abroad, as the state holds two thirds of the shares of the company. It is embarrassing to understand how Equinor is not listening to the anger from people on the ground that fear the consequences of these projects. Equinor must use their capacity to accelerate the green transition, not open highly controversial projects that is bad for the climate and the nature. We will work together with our allies to do what we can to prevent these projects to open,” says Karoline Andaur, CEO in WWF-Norway.
Tessa Khan, director of Uplift which is campaigning against Equinor’s Rosebank oil field in the UK said: “There is now vocal public and political opposition to Equinor’s plans in the UK. We know we need to move away from oil and gas, yet Rosebank’s development will lock us into costly infrastructure beyond our climate targets. People are also rightly outraged by the amount of public subsidies – over half a billion pounds – that are effectively being handed to Equinor and its partners to develop the field. When Equinor is making billions but seven million UK households can’t afford to heat their homes, this is an obscene use of public funds. Equinor should know it has a fight on its hands if it doesn’t halt its plans now and move away from oil and gas."
“The approval of Bay Du Nord is a huge human rights issue. An organization representing eight Mi’kmaq groups in New Brunswick have stated that the federal government did not fulfil its duty to meaningfully consult with Indigenous communities about the proposed project. No development project should take place without Free, Prior and Informed Consent from the Indigenous Nations whose territory and livelihoods will be impacted. Since the Canadian government has committed to UNDRIP and DRIPA, any activity that negates the consent of Indigenous Nations is a direct violation of these commitments,” says Brynna Kagawa-Visentin, Director At Large, Sierra Club Canada Foundation.
“Bay du Nord's approval sets a terrible precedent – approval of this project has opened the door to even more fossil fuel exploration off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Since Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault rendered his decision in April 2022 allowing the Bay du Nord project to move forward, the C-NLOPB (Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board) has approved five more bids for licenses to explore for offshore oil – three of the five licenses were secured by Equinor. The environmental impacts of Bay du Nord alone will be devastating. The potential for that harm to be multiplied fivefold is horrifying. At a time when we should be moving away from reliance on fossil fuels and into a period of just transition, we are significantly expanding and retrenching our stake in the fossil fuel industry. Rather than fighting for a livable planet, we are actively destroying it,” says Mary Best, Atlantic Regional Organizer, The Council of Canadians.
“It’s shocking that Norway's prime minister is on stage at the COP talking about how the world has to keep the 1.5 degree target alive, while our state-owned oil company is planning highly controversial new oil fields that threaten people and planet. The IPCC and the IEA are clear that there is no room for new oil fields if we are to stick to the 1.5 degree target. Equinor advertises its renewable energy projects, but is still a fossil company. A united environmental movement in Norway has in practice stopped Equinor's Wisting field and a unified campaign of local opposition to Equinor’s plans across the world will be able to force the company to come to its senses,” says Truls Gulowsen, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway (Naturvernforbundet).
2. Annual CO2 emissions of Sub-Saharan Africa: 824 million tonnes (World Bank, 2019 data); population data (World Bank, 2021 data)