Reviews | Portuguese climate justice movement takes on oil and gas company Galp
Amid the threat of nuclear war posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which explicitly exposed Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, one would expect the smart solution is to move away from fossil fuels and invest heavily in infrastructure and renewable energy production. .
The war should have accelerated the transition to an economy entirely driven by renewable energy. However, quite the opposite has happened. The European Commission proposes that investments in fossil, gas and nuclear energy be labeled “sustainable investments”, understanding them as “transitional” energy sources.
“Fossil infrastructure is exactly why we are trapped in this crisis and why capitalism can never avoid climate collapse.”
At the same time, European countries, to condemn Russia, seek fossil fuels elsewhere, shifting dependence to other countries, where the exploitation of gas and oil perpetuates colonial exploitation or supports authoritarian regimes. Going from one authoritarian regime to another is not the solution, any more than going from one fossil fuel to another using gas as a “transitional” energy source, nor going back to coal.
In Europe’s westernmost country, Portugal, the government sees this war and crisis as an opportunity, saying it “has the unique conditions to be a supply platform for Europe”, speaking how the port of Sines could be an entry point to supply Germany with the gas it needs. In particular, gas from the United States and Nigeria could arrive in Sines and then be transported to other places in Europe. This would require the expansion of the LNG terminal in Sines and the construction of new gas pipelines in Portugal and Spain, to cross the Pyrenees. It’s obviously a megalomaniacal plan, which doesn’t mean it won’t get the green light.
Fossil infrastructure is exactly why we are trapped in this crisis and why capitalism can never avoid climate collapse. If we take climate science seriously, no project that results in increased emissions could go ahead. We must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 2010 emission levels. Therefore, there can be absolutely no options on the table when it comes to new projects. and fossil infrastructure. On the contrary, we need plans for fair and rapid transitions and the closure of existing infrastructure. This is not the plan in Portugal, in the EU or in the richest countries in the world, by far.
The “current global energy system is the largest network of infrastructure ever built, reflecting tens of trillions of dollars in assets and two centuries of technological evolution. Capitalists are well aware that a transition informed by climate science and driven by a framework of climate justice will completely alter current power relations, fossilizing worthless assets and stranded assets that need to be disposed of. . The fossil industry will block any real transition that can stop the climate collapse. This is why capitalism will never produce the transition we need. Capitalism constantly reproduces the conditions of a “carbon lock”.
The war serves as an excuse for the multinationals, which take advantage of the rise in prices, to increase their profits. This is the case of fossil and agro-industrial companies whose profits are rising as people face energy poverty and food insecurity.
“Allowing fossil companies to further concentrate power and move us further away from a true just energy transition means giving up millions of human lives, especially in the Global South.”
Food and energy are essential goods. People’s access to these essential resources cannot be left in the hands of the “market”. It is necessary to move from an economy driven by profit to an economy driven by the desire to satisfy people’s real needs and interests.
So, as part of Climate Action Camp 1.5, we will bring a just transition inside the Galp Oil Refinery in Sines. It is the infrastructure in Portugal with the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Galp should be one of the main beneficiaries of the European funds that the government receives for a just transition. Galp will ensure a “just” transition for its own stakeholders rather than its workers, by increasing its power over the energy sector in Portugal, diversifying its sources of energy production with small stakes in solar and electricity. wind. At the same time, abroad, it is expanding its energy production by developing fossil fuel concessions in Portugal’s former colonies of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique.
Current policies only serve the current status, only serve capitalist interests. This means not only that there is no energy transition taking place, but that there is an increase in structural inequalities. Allowing fossil companies to further concentrate power and move us further away from a true just energy transition means giving up millions of human lives, especially in the Global South.
We will not tolerate such a level of injustice. There is no longer time for hypocrisy nor to lengthen the time for real action, ie science fiction and lies. We demand a just and rapid energy transition, guided by climate science, geared towards social justice and led by workers and local communities. This transition process makes Galp and its shareholders financially responsible for the costs of this transformation. On July 9, the Portuguese Climate Justice Movement will visit the Galp Oil Refinery to show Galp what a real just transition plan looks like.
This is the real anti-war plan that can tackle the energy crisis and energy poverty while contributing to energy sovereignty and climate change mitigation.
We have a planet to win and no time to waste.