530 organizations in 76 countries sign Lofoten Declaration calling for phase out of oil, gas as pathway to climate security, strong economy

Monday September 23, 2019

Oil and gas production is fueling the climate emergency, and government leaders must stop expanding and financing the problem

Traditional lands of the Lenape people (New York, NY) — As government and industry leaders gather in New York to discuss climate change, a growing movement of civic organizations are calling on them to address the biggest threat to climate security — the production of oil and gas.

Emissions from developed oil and gas reserves will result in more than 1.5 degrees celsius of warming [1]. Yet, the oil and gas industry plans to spend $1.4 trillion USD over the next five years to expand production. This will add 92 gigatonnes of carbon pollution, taking the world well beyond 2 degrees, even if the production and use of coal is completely phased out.

“If a house is on fire, you don’t add fuel. True leadership in response to the climate emergency means having the courage to commit to ending the expansion of oil and gas production and make a plan to transition communities and workers to better opportunities,” said Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network.

In light of this reality, The Lofoten Declaration - Phasing Out Oil and Gas Production for a Safe Climate and Strong Economy has been signed by over 530 organizations spanning 76 countries. Signatories are demanding government and industry commit to phase out fossil fuel production and accelerate the transition to clean energy and other low-carbon solutions. The declaration calls on high-income economies that benefitted from fossil fuel extraction and are historically responsible for significant emissions to lead.

"Everyone knows the world must dramatically reduce production and emissions of fossil fuels if we are going to have a safe climate. Yet everyone continues to argue that their oil and gas expansion fits within a global plan. The math doesn't work,” said Tzeporah Berman of Stand.earth. “Expansion of oil and gas threatens us all and we need to stop pretending the solution is a technological fix and stop expansion by regulating production globally."  

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next decade will require removing finance and subsidies and banning license, contract and permits for new oil and gas development, developing plans to phase out existing production at a pace aligned with the Paris Agreement, and supporting communities and workers in oil and gas regions in consultation with trade unions and local leaders. 

Governments and businesses are taking steps to reduce the climate and economic risks related to oil and gas. Costa Rica, France, New Zealand and Belize banned new oil and gas projects in some or all of their territories, and there are ongoing debates about doing the same in countries such as Sweden, Spain and Ireland. More than 1,000 institutions including the World Bank and other financial organizations have removed more than $11 trillion in financing from fossil fuels [2].

“With the transition to clean energy well underway, a growing number of investors see oil and gas projects as a bad investment," said Alex Doukas of Oil Change International. “We're in the midst of a climate emergency, and massive surge in climate activism makes it increasingly untenable for financiers to continue wasting money on an oil and gas industry that ultimately needs to disappear if we're serious about climate action."


Media contacts:
Alex Doukas, Oil Change International: +1 202 817 0357
Catherine Abreu, Climate Action Network: +1 902 412 8953
Tzeporah Berman, Stand.earth: +1 604 313 4713, media@stand.earth


Media Backgrounder

Tackling the climate crisis will require rapidly phasing out fossil fuels while promoting an equitable transition to 100% renewable energy.

The Climate Change Imperative

The oil and gas industry, supported by governments and investors, plans to significantly increase oil and gas supply over the next decade. Over the next five years alone, industry plans to spend $1.4 trillion USD to lock in 92 gigatonnes of additional CO2 emissions by expanding production. If this is allowed to happen, it will mean that achieving the Paris goals becomes practically impossible, even if strong action is taken to reduce coal use and the demand for fossil fuels.

Figure 1: Existing oil, gas and coal development go beyond Paris goals, meaning no space for new projects 
(Sources: Oil Change International analysis based on data from Rystad Energy, International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Council, and IPCC)


Growing Demand for a Phase Out of Oil and Gas 

There is a growing civil society movement aiming to stop and delay new fossil fuel infrastructure and spur a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels. As well, a growing number of countries and financial institutions have recognized that climate leadership requires stopping new fossil fuel exploration and extraction and planning for a just, equitable, and intentional fossil fuel phase-out.

Civil Society
  • There are at least 16 oil and gas pipelines being challenged in the US alone, as are several other forms of fossil fuel infrastructure.
  • The Lofoten Declaration - Phasing Out Oil and Gas Production for a Safe Climate and Strong Economy has been signed by over 530 organizations spanning 76 countries. It calls on governments and businesses “to recognize that continued fossil fuel exploration and production without a managed decline and a just transition is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action.” [3] The name “Lofoten Declaration” refers to a region in Norway that is now protected from oil drilling as a result of concern about the environmental and economic impacts.
  • The Not a Penny More Declaration, signed by more than 140 leading economists, calls for an end to public and private investments in fossil fuel production. [4]
  • Full licensing bans or moratoria: Costa Rica (2011), France (2017)
  • Partial licensing bans: New Zealand – offshore (2018), Belize – offshore (2018)
  • Pending licensing bans: Sweden (2019)
  • The Spanish government and Irish and Icelandic parliaments are considering bans on new oil and gas licenses.
  • Active debates are happening in sub-national jurisdictions: the U.S. state of California is weighing steps towards a managed decline of oil, and a growing number of jurisdictions have banned specific types of fossil fuel development and/or infrastructure.

Financial Institutions

  • Full exclusions for upstream oil and gas finance: World Bank (begins in 2020), Swedfund (2017), Agence Française de Développement (anticipated)
  • Major insurers, banks, and pension funds, including AXA, BNP Paribas, ING, HSBC, Sweden’s AP7, and Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, have begun withdrawing finance from certain types of oil extraction and pipeline projects.
  • Divestment commitments globally have surpassed $11 trillion -- up from $52 billion just 5 years ago [5].

The Lofoten Declaration: Phasing Out Oil and Gas Production for a Safe Climate and Strong Economy

Global climate change is a crisis of unprecedented scale, and it will take unprecedented action to avoid the worst consequences of our dependence on oil, coal, and gas. Equally as critical as reducing demand and emissions is the need for immediate and ambitious action to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production in line with what is necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals.

Clean, safe, and renewable fuels are already redefining how we see energy and it is time for nations to fully embrace 21st century energy and phase out fossil fuels.

The Lofoten Declaration affirms that it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of wealthy fossil fuel producers to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development and to manage the decline of existing production.

We stand in solidarity with, and offer our full support for, the growing wave of impacted communities around the world who are taking action to defend and protect their lives and livelihoods in the face of fossil fuel extraction and climate change. It is a priority to elevate these efforts. Frontline communities are the leaders we must look to as we all work together for a safer future.

A global transition to a low carbon future is already well underway. Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fuelling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable communities.

Energy access and demand are and must now be met fully through clean energy technologies of the 21st century. Assertions that new fossil fuels are needed for this transformation are not only inaccurate; they also undermine the speed and penetration of clean energy.

We recognize that a full transition away from fossil fuels will take decades, but also, that this shift is an opportunity more than a burden. We are in a deep hole with climate. We must begin by not digging ourselves any deeper.

Research shows that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits. Thus, not only are new exploration and new production incompatible with limiting global warming to well below 2ºC (and as close to 1.5ºC as possible), but many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their natural decline.

This task should be first addressed by countries, regions, and corporate actors who are best positioned in terms of wealth and capacity to undergo an ambitious just transition away from fossil fuel production. In particular, leadership must come from countries that are high-income, have benefitted from fossil fuel extraction, and that are historically responsible for significant emissions.

We call on these governments and companies to recognize that continued fossil fuel exploration and production without a managed decline and a just transition is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action. We also note that there are tremendous leadership opportunities for these countries to demonstrate that moving beyond oil, coal, and gas – both demand and production – is not only possible, but can be done while protecting workers, communities, and economies.

For a complete list of signatories, please go to http://www.lofotendeclaration.org. 



[1] Greg Muttitt, The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production, Oil Change International, 2016, http://priceofoil.org/2016/09/22/the-skys-limit-report/.

[2] https://gofossilfree.org/11-trillion-divested/

[3] “The Lofoten Declaration: Climate Leadership Requires a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production,” August 2017, http://www.lofotendeclaration.org/.

[4] "Not a Penny More: Declaration on Climate Finance," December 2017, https://notapennymore.info/declaration/.

[5] https://gofossilfree.org/11-trillion-divested/