charge them with genocide
New oil and gas licensing will kill hundreds of millions of people. This has been clear since 2021 when the International Energy Agency (“IEA”) declared that there could be no new oil, gas or coal if the world were serious about its climate targets. Scientists warn of untold suffering and death, of the collapse of whole nations, and the eradication by manmade global heating of entire peoples and cultures.
But who is responsible for this horror? Who detonated this carbon bomb? Who should stand before the courts and be tried for genocide?
Just Stop Oil has used evidence gathered by the World Environmental Crimes Unit to produce a list of five high-profile individuals with specific responsibility for encouraging new oil and gas. The evidence suggests that they know all about the crisis to which they are contributing – but have carried on creating the conditions for mass killings regardless.
Under Article 30 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, this means that the five men on our list could be guilty of the crime of genocide by oblique intent.
This is just the start. We will continue to add to this list.
Just Stop Oil wrote to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley on 26th October 2023 to demand that he open an investigation into the politicians and executives responsible for these crimes. Letter here.
If you deserve to be investigated by the police on suspicion of climate crime, mass murder, or genocide, we will name you.
And one day, you could stand before the court and face justice for your crime.
UK Prime Minister
The UK prime minister is the nation’s climate gaslighter-in-chief. He makes noble speeches to the world about the terrible dangers of runaway climate change while running a government doing everything possible to ensure those dangers kill billions.
There can be no doubt that Sunak understands the stark threat we all face. He was an MP when Parliament declared a climate emergency in 2019, and, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he told the COP26 conference: “It’s easy to feel daunted by the scale of the challenge that we face. By sea levels rising; droughts and wildfires spreading; people forced out of their homes.” (1)
But this September, in a widely-condemned U-turn to gain votes with a general election looming, the multi-millionaire announced he would be watering down the country’s Net Zero commitments (2) – already too weak and too slow to head off worst-case scenarios.
Since taking office in October 2022, the Prime Minister has been responsible for:
- Promising to award more than 100 new oil and gas drilling licences in the North Sea, beginning in the Autumn of 2023 (3) while claiming this is “entirely consistent” with his government’s promise to hit net zero by 2050.
- Approving drilling at Rosebank, the largest untapped oil field in the North Sea, that will produce more than 300 million barrels of oil and gas in its lifetime, roughly the annual emissions of around 90 countries and 400 million people. (4)
- Delaying a planned 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, one of the UK’s main sources of deadly and illegal air pollution, until 2035. (5)
- Weakening regulations around the 2035 phaseout of domestic gas boilers, a major source of carbon emissions from homes. (6)
The UK government accepts there is a climate crisis (7) and that it needs to be tackled to avoid massive loss of life on a global scale. But its current policies are boosting oil and gas exploration and production and undermining efforts to tackle an accelerating climate genocide.
As Prime Minister, Sunak must accept ultimate responsibility for the actions of his government and therefore should face criminal investigation for genocide with oblique intent (8).
UK Fossil Fuel Industry
The new boss of Shell personifies the sociopathic greed of the global fossil fuel industry, greenwashing his company’s murderous business model while burning our futures in a horrifying dash for more cash.
On the one hand, Sawan has made lofty and reassuring speeches proclaiming that he “believes in urgent climate action.” (1)
On the other, he took the reins of power from his predecessor Ben Van Buerden – who was taking baby steps away from oil and gas production – and immediately told shareholders that he will refocus the business on oil and gas (2), in a move that he knows will cost the lives of millions.
Since the IEA report of May 2021 warning new oil and gas would wreck our last, best chance of stopping the worst-case climate change scenarios (3), Sawan has overseen decisions to:
- Keep oil production steady until 2030, instead of cutting it by 1-2% a year as former boss Van Buerden had vowed. This lets Shell cash in on the oil supply chaos of the war in Ukraine. (4)
- Keep investing in new oil and gas production for years to come to keep greedy investors lining their pockets with a ‘ruthless’ focus on financial performance. (5)
- Push ahead with the new Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea which will produce 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day at its peak and generate more CO2 than the entire nation of Ghana in a year. (6)
- Allow Shell to spend six times as much on oil & gas investments as it did on its renewable energy division in the 2nd quarter of 2023. (7)
Under Sawan’s leadership, Shell, with a deep and long-standing knowledge of the seriousness and danger to billions of people (8), is refusing to cut back on the oil and gas exploration and production that makes the accelerating climate genocide possible, and more dangerous to all human life.
As CEO of Shell, Sawan accepts ultimate responsibility for the actions of the business that he leads and should therefore face criminal investigation for genocide with oblique intent.
UK Banking & Finance
UK Group Chair, Barclays PLC
Barclays is one of the financial powerhouses funding the oil and gas industry that is threatening to kill or displace billions of people through runaway climate change – and its Group Chair is ensuring his bank stays that way while he spouts greenwash hot air.
In public, Higgins has boasted that “we adopted an ambition to become net zero by 2050 and a commitment to align all our financing activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement.” (1)
In a speech in 2021, he said: “We believe that the actions we are taking are a responsible long-term approach to the climate crisis.” (2)
But these reassuring words hide the horrifying fact that he’s only talking about the operations of his own bank – not the operations of the oil and gas businesses into which it continues to funnel billions of pounds to discover and exploit new oil, gas and coal.
Since the IEA issued a stark warning in May 2021 that no path to a global temperature rise of below 1.5C could include new oil and gas, Barclays has:
- Provided at least $38 Billion in fossil fuel finance and has no explicit restrictions on finance for new oil and gas projects. (3)
- Invested more than $5.8 Billion in new oil and gas projects.
- Contributed to the financing of ConocoPhillips, the company behind the Willow Project in the U.S. which is estimated to emit 287 million metric tonnes of carbon over the next 30 years (4).
- Provided $298.90 Million for Equinor, the developer of the new Rosebank oil field in the North Sea, in 2022, on top of $1.8 billion for the project in 2020.
Barclays Bank remains the biggest UK financier of the oil and gas exploration and production that makes the accelerating climate genocide possible, and more dangerous to all human life.
As Group Chair of Barclays, Higgins accepts ultimate responsibility for the actions of his bank and therefore should face criminal investigation for genocide with oblique intent.
UK Insurance & Pensions
CEO, Lloyd’s of London
Insurance is the financial security blanket that allows fossil fuel companies to keep churning out and selling a lethal product that they know is set to kill billions. Neal is the boss of one of the biggest financial marketplaces that sells that insurance to them – and yet there’s no doubt that he knows exactly the deadly effect of the climate crisis.
In an interview at the height of the global epidemic, Neal explained that “We think of Covid as systemic risk – climate change is the ultimate systemic risk.” (1)
Without insurance against accidents and losses provided by insurers operating under the umbrella of the Lloyd’s of London marketplace, fossil companies would be unable to take the risks that come with drilling for oil and gas, or attain funding from banks.
While Neal knows this, insurers operating within his marketplace have:
- Accounted for $1.6-2.2 billion in fossil fuel insurance premiums in 2022 or 9% of the global total.
- Supplied more than a quarter (27%) of the insurance for the Vung Ang 2 coal power plant in Vietnam in 2021.
- Only faced ‘recommendations’ from Lloyd’s of London to stop underwriting thermal coal, tar sands and Arctic oil.
- Refused to say whether they are continuing to insure the construction or operation of the Adani Group’s giant Carmichael coal mine in Australia.
Lloyd’s of London runs a major financial marketplace, selling the insurance that makes gas and oil production possible. This makes them a key enabler of the accelerating climate genocide. (2)
As the Chief Executive Officer of Lloyd’s of London, Neal accepts ultimate responsibility for the actions of the marketplace his business oversees and should therefore face criminal investigation for genocide with oblique intent.
Owner, Telegraph Newspapers
Barclay, a secretive billionaire recluse who lives in a castle on a private island in the Channel, owns the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. Known to be key influencers of government MPs and Ministers, Barclay’s newspapers push a sinister culture warmongering agenda of climate denial and delay.
Amongst scores of misleading news stories and comment pieces that willfully ignore or misinterpret science, economics and expert opinion, Telegraph newspapers have:
- Falsely claimed that the new Rosebank oil field, condemned by experts across the world for undermining the UK’s Net Zero pledges, will help UK energy security and cut fuel bills. (1)
- Repeatedly – and against all expert advice – portrayed the government’s plans for more oil and gas drilling in the North Sea as a sign of “economic realism.” (2)
- Demanded the scrapping of policies to cut car pollution and danger in our cities, such as London’s Ultra Low Emission, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, and new cycle lanes.
- Campaigned, using cherry-picked or false data, to scrap policies designed to make our homes warmer and more energy efficient, such as on-shore wind, domestic heat pumps, and insulation programmes.
Telegraph Newspapers use their position as a national media platform, consumed by millions, and with the ear of leading politicians and business leaders, to lie and misinform about the seriousness of the climate emergency, and the need to tackle it.
This has undermined public pressure on politicians to act and so made the accelerating climate genocide possible, and more dangerous to all human life.
As the owner of Telegraph Newspapers, Barclay must accept ultimate responsibility for the actions of the group’s newspapers and therefore should face criminal investigation for genocide with oblique intent.
References and Resources
(1) From HM Treasury video recording of Rishi Sunak’s November 2021 speech at the COP26 climate conference.
(2) In depth report from Carbon Brief regarding the U-Turn. This was also reported internationally, including CNN’s analysis that “The UK once vowed to be a global climate leader. Now Rishi Sunak is stoking a culture war on green policies.”
(3) Sky News and other agencies explain how Rishi Sunak stands by oil drilling expansion as critics warn of climate consequences.
(4) Extensive report in The Times on the Rosebank licence, about which Greenpeace made this statement.
(5) Car Dealer Magazine explains the issue including disappointment within their industry.
(6) Construction Industry reporters Building explains the issue including disappointment within their industry.
(7) Official Notice of UK Parliament’s declaration of Climate Emergency in May 2019, reported by BBC News.
(8) Defined under Article 30.2(b) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of which the UK is a signatory.
(1) Bloomberg report on Sawan’s speech to staff at a Shell ‘town hall’ meeting.
(2) Euronews coverage of Shell’s U-turn on climate pledges ‘to reward shareholders’.
(3) The International Energy Agency’s 2023 report.
(4) Guardian coverage of Sawan’s plan to maintain oil production until 2030.
(5) Financial Times coverage of Sawan’s ‘ruthless’ approach.
(6) Reuters News coverage of Shell’s exploitation plan for the Jackdaw gas field.
(7) Common Wealth report that in Q2 2023, Shell’s investment in ‘Renewable and Energy Solutions’ pales relative to its investment in fossil fuels.
(8) widely reported, peer-reviewed paper published in Energies journal, July 2023 “If warming reaches.
2°C…mainly richer humans will be responsible for killing roughly one billion mainly poorer humans”.
(1) Nigel Higgins’ letter to shareholders, updating them on his ambition for Barclays to be a net zero bank by 2050.
(2) Barclays Annual Report 2021, Page 5.
(3) BBC news coverage of Willow Project: US government approves Alaska oil and gas development.
(4) All funding info taken from Banking on Climate Chaos 2023 report.
(1) Telegraph article by Jonathan Leake, published 28th September 2023 titled ‘How Rosebank will boost Britain’s Energy Security’.
(2) Telegraph official view on 27th September 2023 that ‘Exploiting North Sea oil is energy realism’.