Is it an old-boys-style closed door meeting featuring dirty tricks lobbyists, or is it business as usual for the fossil fuel industry? Actually, it's both wrapped into one, and it's called CERAWeek. Described by the Financial Times as the "Davos of the energy industry", CERAWeek is widely considered to be the most prestigious annual gathering of CEOs and Ministers from global energy, automotive, manufacturing, policy and financial communities.
While CERAWeek 2023 has the motto: "Navigating a Turbulent World: Energy, Climate and Security", nowhere is it mentioned in the agenda that actually energy self-reliance, based on decentralized clean energy, is the best way for a country to achieve energy security. Yet this is the commonly accepted belief by such major and conservative institutions as the Government of Spain, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the International Energy Agency and the World Bank.
Some truths that one won't learn by visiting CERAWeek include:
Another undeniable truth that will be avoided at CERAWeek is the fact that climate disruption is real, and has catastrophic financial implications. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the price of doing nothing about climate change would cost $178 Trillion by 2070. Furthermore, a recent Oxford University study shows that switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12tn by 2050.
Given this background, the entire premise that CERAWeek is about Energy, Climate and Security is false, and merely a PR exercise in disruption and deception. By skimming the speakers list, and comparing it with recent profits of oil majors that have angered the world with their price gouging and rip offs, one sees that CERAWeek is a big influence peddling fest for fossil fuel war profiteers like Baker Hughes, and the same companies that gave us damaging climate disinformation and distraction campaigns from the 1980s to today. These billion dollar PR disinformation campaigns brought oil majors higher profits while passing off the costs of climate catastrophe damages into the hundreds of billions of dollars on to average people and future generations. Meanwhile, to find solutions, young people and those on the front lines of climate disruption are creating new legal strategies and now suing bad actors, including Shell, for the right to eat and right to a healthy and stable climate.
While CERAWeek tries to provide a mask showing that they are somehow climate friendly by inviting a few environmental groups to give presentations, history shows that the vast majority of space is given to those who provide the backing for the event, like war profiteers Aramco, Baker Hughes, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil and Chevron, etc. Why are there no major clean energy giants who could similarly be in the same category as these energy giants? Because for over half a century companies like GM, ExxonMobil and Shell have bought and "spoiled" clean energy patents and technologies, so that successful clean energy solutions couldn't be developed, as they would threaten the massive profits of these green-washing corporations from the fossil fuel based energy systems they dominate.
So, what must be done?
While CERAWeek is a globally influential event full of the worst culprits, who are still throwing fossil fuels on the flames of climate disruption, it is also a chance for activists to be heard. We can use this opportunity to find allies and build networks, occasionally turn enemies into allies, and to expose bad actors before the world visually and verbally. This happens best when large protests are organized, culprits are confronted, and activists use the massive presence of the press in attendance to make their voices heard.
The strong voice of the people makes a difference when it reminds governments who they serve, and it's us, not oil majors. Clean renewable energy sources are the cheapest and most effective solutions to multiple crises we face, and governments must act now to support their deployment. They must acknowledge that there’s no space for fossil fuels in general, and specifically no new gas infrastructure in our world already battered by climate change. We demand that governments stop supporting, subsidizing and schmoozing with the industry that is setting the world on fire.
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