People who want to end oil and gas industry have ‘no clue’, says fossil fuel CEO

Patrick Greenfield

Patrick Greenfield

Fossil fuel CEO Vicki Hollub has said people who call for the end of the oil and gas industry “have no clue what that would mean” and refused to say whether she accepted her company’s role in climate disasters.

Speaking on decarbonisation day at Cop27, Hollub, who heads Occidental Petroleum, said mounting extreme climate events, such as this year’s deadly flooding in Pakistan and drought in the horn of Africa, were the responsibility of individuals, not just the oil and gas industry.

When asked by a Guardian reporter if she felt any personal responsibility for natural disasters made worse by climate change, she said:

This is not a problem that just the oil and gas industry has. Everybody that uses a product that was generated from oil and gas has a part in this and is also responsible. Your iPhone, you are responsible for that. If you flew over here, you are responsible for what you used here. The nice clothes you are wearing right now, you are responsible. If we don’t all step up and take accountability, this doesn’t happen. You are still there thinking ‘oil and gas companies need to go away, they need to shut down their production’. You don’t understand what would happen to you if we did that. Your television goes away, … driving goes away. That’s why the transition has to be better designed. We’ve got to be much more thoughtful.

She added:

People who run round saying ‘oil and gas needs to go away’ have no clue what that would mean. I’m saying the world is responsible … Don’t ask me about oil and gas without taking some responsibility yourself and helping others understand. You have a way to help others understand that if you don’t step up.

People who want to end oil and gas industry have ‘no clue’, says Oxy CEO – video

Hollub was speaking at a CEO armchair event on corporate leadership and net zero, where she discussed Occidental Petroleum’s fossil fuel assets in the Permian basin in the southwest US and the Middle East, and the company’s investment in carbon capture technology.

She was at Cop27 as part of the UAE delegation, which will host next year’s Cop28 in Dubai. In 2017, Occidental Petroleum was listed as 55th in a Carbon Majors Report report listing the top 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions between 1988 and 2015.

I asked fossil fuel CEO Vicki Hollub if she feels guilty or takes personal responsibility for climate disasters, such this year’s flooding in Pakistan or drought in the Horn of Africa at an event at #Cop27 .

Here are the highlights from the @WeAreOxy boss .

👇👇 pic.twitter.com/SdQzcMsZGF

— Patrick Greenfield (@pgreenfielduk) November 11, 2022

“We are moving forward. A lot of people in the world are telling us not to. Al Gore, every time he sees me, tells me not to build direct air capture. Why would he say that to me? Why would he tell me not to build technology that the world absolutely has to have? There are too many agendas in the world.

“I’m sorry if you don’t know that but you’ve got to do the research to find out,” she said.

Critics of carbon capture technology – sucking emissions out of the air – say it cannot be prioritised over ending fossil fuel use.

Al Gore’s team has been contacted for comment.

When asked about personal responsibility, she said: “You’re looking for a headline and I’m looking for a solution. That’s the difference between me and you.”

Key events

Oliver Milman

Oliver Milman

Pelosi tells Cop27 “we have left incrementalism in the dust”

Nancy Pelosi, currently speaker of the US House of Representative, at COP27 this week
Nancy Pelosi, currently speaker of the US House of Representative, at COP27 this week Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA

Nancy Pelosi has been singing the praises of Joe Biden’s climate agenda at Cop27, in what may be one of her last appearances as speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Pelosi appeared on a panel with five other Democratic lawmakers (there was an underwhelming Congressional delegation to the Egypt talks, with no Republicans joining the trip) and said that these climate summits “have always been about the survival of the planet, survival of vulnerable countries. We want more than survival, we want success. With our IRA (inflation reduction act) legislation, we have crossed a threshold of success.”

Pelosi was in an upbeat mood, saying she “saluted” the president’s achievements and that other countries will want to emulate the climate bill, which provides more than $370bn in support for clean energy projects.

“We have left incrementalism in the dust, this is about transformation,” said Pelosi, who added that she hoped Cop27 would “help save the world for the children.”

The event felt like something of a valedictory one for Pelosi, with closely-fought midterm elections in the US predicted to result in an extremely narrow Republican victory in the House. Several of her fellow Democrats called her the best speaker the US has ever had. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, said his party would “aggressively fight any attempts to gut or weaken our hard-won climate achievements.”

Hello, I’m Bibi van der Zee and I’m taking over for the afternoon, with thanks to my colleague Oliver Holmes. Please send stories and thoughts about how Cop27 is going so far to bibi.vanderzee@theguardian.com or @bibivanderzee.

Damian Carrington has written this powerful piece about a delegation of mothers at Cop27 making an impassioned plea to world leaders to put children’s health, rights and futures at the heart of the climate summit

“Nobody else will jump into the fire to save a child besides a mother,” says Bhavreen Kandhari, the co-founder of Warrior Moms in India, a network of mothers pushing for clean air and climate action. “There is nobody else in the world who loves you more than your mother – a mother is always protecting.”

He also spoke to Maya Mailer, the co-director of Our Kids’ Climate and the co-founder of the UK climate parent group Mothers Rise Up, who says:

“We are bringing the emotion and the heart. You walk around Cop and there’s just panels talking and words, words, words. Unless you connect with people emotionally, they are not going to move or be brave.

“All of these world leaders ultimately have a heart and that’s what we’re trying to pierce, so they can stand up to the vested interests,” she says. “Their kids are on the line as well. Mothers bring relentless determination because you will do anything for your kids and we’re not going to give up or go away. Our movement is growing, because it’s ‘everything is at stake’.”

What has happened so far:

Today’s official topic has been decarbonisation, but we’ve had protests outside and an oil and gas executive deflecting blame for emissions.

Here is what has happened so far today at Cop27:

  • The US president, Joe Biden, is on his way to Sharm el-Sheikh and is due to give a speech at 5.15pm local time (3.15pm GMT).

  • The US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and a handful of US lawmakers are also in town and will be holding a press conference shortly.

  • The Occidental Petroleum CEO, Vicki Hollub, said people who call for the end of the oil and gas industry “have no clue what that would mean” and refused to say whether she accepted her company’s role in climate disasters.

That’s it from me today. I’ll be handing the blog over now to Bibi van der Zee.

Nina Lakhani

It’s like the Who’s Who of American climate justice at Cop27 today. This morning we spoke with 2020 Goldman prize winner Sharon Lavigne, and now we’ve caught up with last year’s winner, 21-year-old Nalleli Cobo from Los Angeles, who led a campaign to shut down an urban oil well that was poisoning her community.

With Joe Biden due to land any minute now, Cobb, who is recovering from cancer and has aspirations to run for president one day, had a request:

I want him to spend one night at my house so that he understands what it’s like to not be able to open your window, and see the damage oil has done … After that I’d ask him to look me in the eyes and tell me that I don’t deserve to breathe clean air. I think he will feel differently about urban oil drilling and fossil fuel extraction.

Nalleli Cobo at Cop27
Nalleli Cobo at Cop27 Photograph: Nina Lakhani

World leaders put pressure on Egypt at Cop27 over prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah

Ruth Michaelson

Ruth Michaelson

As Egyptian officials strive to control the narrative and isolate the case of the detained British Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah, pressure is mounting on world leaders at Cop27 to acknowledge Egypt’s poor human rights record and raise his case.

The Egyptian authorities have engaged in a sweeping public relations campaign to try to discredit Abd el-Fattah, including a digital campaign depicting him as a threat to national security.

A visibly shaken Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister and Cop27 president, told CNN that “this is a judicial matter, the person in question has had a fair trial … there should be respect for the judicial system.” Shoukry also cast doubt on Abd el-Fattah’s dual nationality, after he gained British citizenship while in prison last year.

Despite Egyptian officials’ efforts to present current events as business as usual, the spotlight shone on the host country for the Cop27 climate negotiations in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh has also prompted increasing global scrutiny of its human rights record.

Both the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German leader, Olaf Scholz, raised Abd el-Fattah’s case with the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, during the talks, and Sisi reportedly told Macron he would ensure that the activist’s health “is preserved” during the conference.

The US president, Joe Biden, is due to meet Sisi at Cop27.

Here are some of the best photos from Cop27 today:

An activist holds a banner, as she demonstrates at the entrance of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre.
An activist holds a banner, as she demonstrates at the entrance of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters
An attendee from Ivory Coast wearing traditional costume.
An attendee from Ivory Coast wearing traditional costume. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images
A general view of the Nile River as it flows through the Egyptian capital on November 11, 2022 in Cairo.
A general view of the Nile River as it flows through the Egyptian capital on November 11, 2022 in Cairo. Photograph: Fadel Dawod/Getty Images

(Well done to the photographer who was on the pre-dawn shift!)

Nina Lakhani

Svitlana Romanko is a Ukrainian lawyer, climate campaigner and founder of Razom We Stand, a grassroots group calling for a permanent embargo on Russian fossil fuels and an immediate end to all investment into Russian oil and gas companies.

So far, she’s somewhat disappointed by Cop27:

I thought there would be more space to talk about the ongoing horrific fossil fuel war and the opportunity this should represent for a global green transformation, but it feels like these conversations are limited to the Ukrainian pavilion and not happening at the highest levels.

Stand With Ukraine campaign coordinator Svitlana Romanko demonstrates in the Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European parliament in September, in Brussels, Belgium.
Stand With Ukraine campaign coordinator Svitlana Romanko demonstrates in the Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European parliament in September, in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

In recent weeks, Russian bombs have targeted the energy infrastructure in Ukraine, underscoring her own country’s unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels. But before the war, the country had started taking small steps towards energy transition, in part due to Russia’s occupation of the Donbas region where the coal mines are concentrated, and partly due to green tariffs boosting production. In 2021, 13.4% of Ukraine’s energy came from renewable sources, but has now lost over 80% of its wind power and 50% of solar production due to bombing in the southeast.

Romanko appreciated the European leaders who earlier this week used their short allotted speeches to mention the ongoing war, but added:

EU exports of Russian LNG has risen 46% year-year-on year in the first nine months of 2022, according to European Commission figures, the EU needs to step-up, act more globally and ban all fossil fuels and insurance. We also demand that US institutions divest the billions they have invested in Russia’s carbon bombs.

People who want to end oil and gas industry have ‘no clue’, says fossil fuel CEO

Patrick Greenfield

Patrick Greenfield

Fossil fuel CEO Vicki Hollub has said people who call for the end of the oil and gas industry “have no clue what that would mean” and refused to say whether she accepted her company’s role in climate disasters.

Speaking on decarbonisation day at Cop27, Hollub, who heads Occidental Petroleum, said mounting extreme climate events, such as this year’s deadly flooding in Pakistan and drought in the horn of Africa, were the responsibility of individuals, not just the oil and gas industry.

When asked by a Guardian reporter if she felt any personal responsibility for natural disasters made worse by climate change, she said:

This is not a problem that just the oil and gas industry has. Everybody that uses a product that was generated from oil and gas has a part in this and is also responsible. Your iPhone, you are responsible for that. If you flew over here, you are responsible for what you used here. The nice clothes you are wearing right now, you are responsible. If we don’t all step up and take accountability, this doesn’t happen. You are still there thinking ‘oil and gas companies need to go away, they need to shut down their production’. You don’t understand what would happen to you if we did that. Your television goes away, … driving goes away. That’s why the transition has to be better designed. We’ve got to be much more thoughtful.

She added:

People who run round saying ‘oil and gas needs to go away’ have no clue what that would mean. I’m saying the world is responsible … Don’t ask me about oil and gas without taking some responsibility yourself and helping others understand. You have a way to help others understand that if you don’t step up.

People who want to end oil and gas industry have ‘no clue’, says Oxy CEO – video

Hollub was speaking at a CEO armchair event on corporate leadership and net zero, where she discussed Occidental Petroleum’s fossil fuel assets in the Permian basin in the southwest US and the Middle East, and the company’s investment in carbon capture technology.

She was at Cop27 as part of the UAE delegation, which will host next year’s Cop28 in Dubai. In 2017, Occidental Petroleum was listed as 55th in a Carbon Majors Report report listing the top 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions between 1988 and 2015.

I asked fossil fuel CEO Vicki Hollub if she feels guilty or takes personal responsibility for climate disasters, such this year’s flooding in Pakistan or drought in the Horn of Africa at an event at #Cop27 .

Here are the highlights from the @WeAreOxy boss .

👇👇 pic.twitter.com/SdQzcMsZGF

— Patrick Greenfield (@pgreenfielduk) November 11, 2022

“We are moving forward. A lot of people in the world are telling us not to. Al Gore, every time he sees me, tells me not to build direct air capture. Why would he say that to me? Why would he tell me not to build technology that the world absolutely has to have? There are too many agendas in the world.

“I’m sorry if you don’t know that but you’ve got to do the research to find out,” she said.

Critics of carbon capture technology – sucking emissions out of the air – say it cannot be prioritised over ending fossil fuel use.

Al Gore’s team has been contacted for comment.

When asked about personal responsibility, she said: “You’re looking for a headline and I’m looking for a solution. That’s the difference between me and you.”

‘1.5C to stay alive’: Medical workers says world needs CPR

Nikhita Chulani

Nikhita Chulani

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, scientists and medical students from across the world have just staged a protest to highlight how climate carnage is killing their patients.

One doctor performed CPR on an inflatable globe as other healthcare workers – from China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Uganda, Switzerland, Poland, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, America, the Netherlands and the UK – made speeches on their personal experiences and then collapsed on the floor of the conference centre in Sharm el-Sheikh.

They attributed a rise in deaths globally to the climate crisis, which is in turn causing fatal air pollution, malnutrition and a lack of access to healthcare.

They said their prescription is to climate justice, end fossil fuel subsidies and for “1.5C to stay alive”.

Gas producers using Cop27 to rebrand gas as transitional fuel, experts warn

Ruth Michaelson

Ruth Michaelson

Gas producers and their financial backers see Cop27 as an opportunity for discussions about rebranding natural gas as a transition fuel rather than a fossil fuel, experts have said.

The push is coming from the host Egypt and its gas-producing allies amid a global energy crisis compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The opportunity for this Cop is to have the discussion openly that natural gas, and in particular when combined with carbon capture, is a scalable energy solution allowing us to meet the needs of 8 billion people while still meeting our climate goals,” said Craig Golinowsky, of Carbon Infrastructure Partners, a Canadian private equity fund backing projects related to fossil fuels as well as carbon capture.

Environmental experts caution that burning gas, a fossil fuel, risks increasing heating far beyond the target restriction of 1.5C required to prevent major environmental disruption.

Gas is less polluting to the climate than coal, but its production involves harmful methane, and leaks from infrastructure can cause large-scale pollution.

Nina Lakhani

The Guardian has reported on protests at Cop27, where activists have called on Egyptian authorities to release thousands of political prisoners.

Someone who has spotlighted the regime’s repression against its own citizens is Italian national Giorgio Caracciolo, the Middle East and North Africa manager of Dignity, an anti-torture advocacy group. On Wednesday, Caracciolo was denied entry at Cairo airport despite having the correct immigration documents and Cop accreditation.

Authorities did not provide reasons for his deportation.

Caracciolo said on Twitter:

“Personally speaking I wonder why me… Is it because the organisation I represent [focuses] on the most intimate tools used by the regime, that is torture and violence?”

(1/7) It is 2.30 am at #Cairo airport and I was just informed by an Egyptian officer that I am not welcome in the country and they will not let me in.#COP27 is taking place, the Egyptian Regime opened its doors to the world, but kept some closed.#FreeAlaa

— Giorgio Caracciolo (@GioCaracciolo) November 10, 2022

Human rights Watch and other organisations condemned the decision. “Beyond the immediate impact on Caracciolo, who has now been blocked from attending Cop27 and addressing the human rights situation in Egypt, these tactics are creating an environment of fear for all activists speaking out on human rights at Cop27.”

Ruth Michaelson

Ruth Michaelson

In case anyone was thinking of protesting Egypt’s deep economic crisis today in the capital Cairo and elsewhere, the singer Sayed Emam is here with an upbeat reminder not to bother going into the streets. The song, entitled “We won’t go down,” thoughtfully accompanied by an image of a pro-government protest on YouTube, is designed to encourage Egyptians to stay in their homes.

“We Won’t Go Down”

To add to the irony, it’s set to a backing tune reminiscent of mahraganat, a form of popular music associated with the Egyptian streets and weddings and designed to make you get up and dance – or maybe even protest. Mahraganat singers are also now essentially banned from performing in Egypt, after the head of the country’s Musicians Syndicate issued a decree two years ago that bans them from performing in any festivals, clubs cafes, concerts or other public spaces.

There have been calls for citizens to protest Egypt’s deepening cost of living crisis today on social media. In response, the country’s security forces preemptively arrested over 150 people in recent weeks according to Amnesty International.

A Dutch artist is spending 11 days of Cop27 turning a 3068-page report on the horrors that await humanity into confetti, in an effort to show how we refuse to take climate science seriously.

Johannes-Harm Hovinga’s blistering performance – titled ‘There’s an elephant in the room’ – has him sitting in a chair with a hole-puncher for 10 hours a day.

3068 pages of the IPCC sixth assessment report turning it into confetti as an example of the lack of sense of necessity.
3068 pages of the IPCC sixth assessment report turning it into confetti as an example of the lack of sense of necessity. Photograph: Johannes-Harm Hovinga

“People are invited to join in silence or to talk about the climate … while punching it paper by paper by paper knowing the importance of the words on paper they are destroying,” Hovinga said.

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate science, was its starkest warning yet of major inevitable and irreversible climate heating.

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Hovinga said the performance shows a “lack of sense of necessity” when it comes to the climate crisis.

What to expect today

Patrick Greenfield

Patrick Greenfield

Here is what to look out for on decarbonisation day:

  • Joe Biden’s speech will be at 5.15pm local time (3.15pm GMT). He moved to rejoin the Paris agreement just hours after taking office in January 2020 and has since passed a $369bn package of climate investments that could cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

  • US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a handful of US lawmakers will be holding a press conference later this afternoon.

  • Although it is decarbonisation day, at least two fossil fuel CEOs are scheduled to speak at Cop27 on Friday. It comes after analysis of delegates found that there had been an “explosion” in fossil fuel lobbyists attending the climate summit this year, with 636 in attendance, a rise of more than 25% since Cop26 in Glasgow.

  • More protests are on the Cop27 site on Friday, including those highlighting the case of the hunger striker Alaa Abd el-Fattah.

Nina Lakhani

As Cop27 waits for the arrival of Joe Biden, who is feeling mightily pleased with himself after the Democrats were not obliterated in the midterm elections as forecast, climate justice activists will not be congratulating the US president, rather criticising him for climate failures.

“President Biden must declare a climate emergency. People are sick, they are dying because profits are valued more than our lives,” said Sharon Lavigne, the 2021 Goldman prize winner from Louisiana, who led a successful grassroots campaign to stop the construction of a toxic plastics plant in America’s “cancer alley”. “We put him in office. He needs to listen to frontline leaders. President Biden please meet with me today at Cop27; listen to us.”

Protester Sharon Lavigne (centre) at Cop27
Protester Sharon Lavigne (centre) at Cop27 Photograph: Nina Lakhani/The Guardian

This morning’s first protest called on world leaders to declare a climate emergency, keep fossil fuels in the ground, and pay reparations for the irreversible loss and damage already suffered – mostly by communities and countries that are least responsible for global heating.

Millions of people are still suffering in Pakistan after unprecedented rainfall and floods left a third of the country under water earlier this year. “We are paying for the crimes of corporations and the global north, who have made Pakistan a hub for climate disasters,” said one protester, Farooq Tariq. “We don’t want any more words, we want debt suspension, we want reparations, we want climate justice.”

A protest at Cop27
A protest at Cop27 Photograph: Nina Lakhani/The Guardian

Joe Biden to speak at Cop27

Good morning, and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the Cop27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where the theme of the day is decarbonisation.

US president Joe Biden is visiting the conference buoyed by better than expected results in the US midterms earlier this week, and is due to speak this afternoon. The full UN schedule can be found here, and we’ll bring you the most interesting and important developments as the day unfolds.

Thursday saw anger at the number of fossil fuel lobbyists attending the conference, protesters wearing white in solidarity with environmental defenders and political prisoners, and Achim Steiner, head of the UN development programme, warning that more than 50 developing countries are at risk of going bankrupt without help from the rich world. Catch up on the day’s events here.

I’m Oliver Holmes, and you can send me tips, comments, questions and complaints at oliver.holmes@theguardian.com or on Twitter at @olireports.





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