How we stop big oil

A note from the editor

Nick Dowson

Something’s got to give

A massive ice shelf on the edge of Antarctica is starting to crack. Fissures began appearing in the ice holding back the Thwaites glacier – a sheet the size of Florida which could raise sea levels around the world by more than half a metre, should it slip into the Southern Ocean.

Geophysicists estimated this collapse could come within five years – a warning surely made sharper by the news that ‘heatwaves’ this year have seen both poles more than 30°C higher than normal.

It’s just one illustration of the urgency to act on climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at current rates of emissions we have only nine years before there is no longer a good chance to keep the world under 1.5°C degrees of warming.

Something’s got to give but the oil and gas industry, the driving force behind the climate crisis, has a different idea of what is practical.

For this Big Story we dive into how these corporations have kept on turning a profit even as the evidence of hydrocarbons’ destructiveness piles up – like the mess the companies leave behind. We look for ways out of that mess, envisaging a better world.

Also in this edition, we report from Tajikistan where there’s a chill wind of change afoot as mighty powers jostle to exert influence. And more strong-arm tactics are exposed in Tina Burrett’s piece on how lawsuits are being used by the uber-rich to silence critical journalists.

Nick Dowson for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Wind and solar generation at Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan province, Vietnam. Photo: Quang Ngoc Nguyen/Alamy

Wind and solar generation at Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan province, Vietnam.

Photo: Quang Ngoc Nguyen/Alamy

Beyond big oil

We cannot let the ever-expanding oil and gas industry stand in the way of urgently needed climate action. Nick Dowson lays out a path to change.

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The Big Story

Action & info

Action & info

Initiatives, action, and further reading on how to stop big oil.

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Top 5 oil producing and consuming countries (2020)

Big oil - the facts

New money is being poured into oil and gas despite the harm it causes to people and planet. With more than 1°C of global warming already, the time remaining to change course is short.

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Photo: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Fossil fuels – a journey in time

From the steam engine to the Paris Agreement.

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The Dooh family on their lake in the Niger Delta which was devastated by an oil spill. The farming family won a case against Shell in the Netherlands, which took 13 years.Photo: Petterik Wiggers/Panos

Cut and run

Pollute, don’t pay. Big Oil has perfected its playbook in the Niger Delta and is now looking to walk away. Ken Henshaw reports.

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The new greenwashing

Faced with planetary catastrophe, Big Oil has applied boundless creativity, not to solving the climate crisis but to deflecting action. Nick Dowson dissects the corporate spin.

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Indigenous spokesperson Lorena Bravo, wrapped in a Mapuche flag, looks towards a gas plant at Campo Maripe, a land claimed by her community, in Anelo, Neuquen province.Photo: Emiliano Lasalvia/AFP via Getty Images

The fracked earth

The Mapuche people in Argentina are saying no to an influx of transnationals trying to frack their lands. Meanwhile the government offers sweetheart deals. Grace Livingstone reports.

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Photo: Esther Ruth Mbabazi

Fighting the fossils

Big Oil is throwing money at new fossil fuel infrastructure like there’s no tomorrow. New pipelines, refineries, wells and rigs are being built across all continents. But everywhere the industry goes, it meets resistance. Here are four profiles of groups saying enough is enough. Words by Nick Dowson.

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Banners wave at the opening ceremony of the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth near Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 2010. The People’s Agreement signed at the conference called for the Global North to repay a ‘climate debt’ to the Majority World.Photo: Aizar Raldes/AFP via Getty Images

A global just transition

How can we phase out fossil fuels in a way that works for people everywhere? The historic Cochabamba People’s Agreement offers a way forward, argues Max Ajl.

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Illustration: Andy K

Slapped down

The rich and powerful are using ruinous lawsuits to target journalists and activists who hold them to account. Tina Burrett explores the threat.

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Slim pickings: goats wait to head out to graze in Alichur, a settlement of mainly Kyrghyz herders in the Pamir mountains.Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd

The dragon and the bear on the roof of the world

Cash-strapped but strategically important, Tajikistan is undergoing rapid change with its future increasingly being shaped by a power play between China and Russia. Klas Lundström reports.

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Unstoppable: Celebrating Pride in central Istanbul on 30 June 2019, despite the ban on the event.Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters/Alamy

‘As long as the world keeps running, we’ll be here’

Branded as terrorists by President Erdoğan’s hardline regime, LGBTQI+ people in Turkey are finding ways to express themselves and build solidarity, writes Tuğçe Özbiçer.

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Illustration: Andy K using Shutterstock

Please continue to not sponsor this child

It’s been 40 years since New Internationalist sounded the alarm on child sponsorship. But today thousands of people are still signing up to the idea. To whose benefit?, asks Kathleen Nolan as she explores why this quick fundraising tool is not all it’s cracked up to be.

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The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season exhausted the designated 21-name list of storm names, the third time this has happened and the second such season in a row after 2020. The total damage was estimated at over $80 billion.Images of hurricane Bill and hurricane Nicholas by Theaustinman using a Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 4.0; Hurricane Ida by NOAA (Public Domain); All others by NASA (Public Domain).

Is it too late?

As climate change stretches human fragility towards breaking point, should we be preparing for societal collapse? This is the existential question behind ‘deep adaptation’, a theory that is rapidly gaining adherents. Richard Swift assesses how far, if anywhere, it will take us and what better paths we could go down.

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Opinion

View from Africa

View from Africa

War and the attention economy. By Nanjala Nyabola.

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View from India

View from India

Bring on the marriage strike. By Nilanjana Bhowmick.

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View from Brazil

View from Brazil

Racism’s deadly cycle. By Leonardo Sakamoto.

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Currents

A woman and child at a railway station in Uzghorrod in western Ukraine, near the Slovak border. Slovakians, along with the people of other neighbouring countries, have worked with Ukrainian activists to organize humanitarian convoys.Photo: Isabelle Merminod

Kyiv despatch

Report from Ukraine by Bennett Murray.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Introducing... Yoon Suk-Yeol

The new ‘anti-politics’ president of South Korea.

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Institutional revolution

Institutional revolution

Report from Mexico by Mattha Busby.

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A Griffon vulture flies high in Mustang District, Nepal.Photo: Frank Bienewald/Alamy

Save the scavengers

Report from Nepal by Graeme Green.

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Katarina Sevä, a member of the Council of Mounio Sámi reindeer-herding district.Photo: Rasmus Törnqvist/Greenpeace

Lethal logging

Report from Sweden by Fran Mills.

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Land locked

Land locked

Report from Tanzania by Maina Waruru.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Reasons to be cheerful

Toxic ties severed; Plastic promises; Green wave win.

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Regulars

Letters

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Illustration: Sarah John

The big blackout

Being forced to go without electricity sparks thoughts about living differently for Virginia Tognola.

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Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the central station, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, March 14, 2022.Photo: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Borderlines

Soup and cookies, by Jun Pang and Nadia Hasan.

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Inequality Watch

Inequality Watch

Percentage of household income spent on food.

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Illustration: Miguel Morales Madrigal

Open window

Oil prices & war by Miguel Morales Madrigal (Cuba).

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Country Profile: Belarus

The photos, facts, and politics of Belarus.

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Hundreds of billboards and bus stops – like this one in Brighton, England – have been hacked by activists across Europe as part of the call to #BanFossilAds and stop greenwashing.Design: Noel Douglas. Installation: Brandalism

Temperature Check

Can we banish polluters from our billboards? Words by Danny Chivers.

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Photo: Rodrigo Cruz

Southern Exposure: Rodrigo Cruz

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Photo: Allison Bailey/Alamy

Hall of Infamy

Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin.

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Illustration: Marc Roberts

Only Planet

Supply chain issues by Marc Roberts.

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The Puzzler

The Puzzler

Crossword Puzzle, Association Words and Wordsearch.

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Agony Uncle: Tax

Agony Uncle: Tax

Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. This month: ethical tax-dodging.

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Illustration: Andy Carter

What if...

We said ‘no’ to concrete? The world is turning grey as more and more concrete is poured. Vanessa Baird posits an alternative.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed media: Books

Mixed media: Books

Things They Lost; This World Does Not Belong to Us; Come to This Court and Cry: How the Holocaust Ends; Aftermath.

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Mixed media: Film

Mixed media: Film

The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson; The Wall of Shadows.

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Mixed media: Music

Mixed media: Music

Strike; РАЗОМ ЗА УКРАЇНУ/Together for Ukraine;

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Spotlight: Steve Chandra Savale

Of Asian Dub Foundation. Words by Subi Shah.

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