Global Witness is withdrawing a report on a poor Exxon deal, but standing by in its entirety
Kaieteur News – In redirecting its efforts to combat the main drivers of climate change, namely deforestation, fossil fuel extraction and incineration, and corporate capture and other abuse of power driving these destructive activities, Global Witness has withdraw its Signed Away report.
In this damning report, the international non-governmental organization (NGO) detailed how poor negotiation and questionable behavior by government officials had led to the establishment of a tainted oil deal with an Exxon-led consortium for operations in Guyana’s lucrative Stabroek block . . As a result of the unfair fiscal terms, Global Witness had estimated that Guyana lost US $ 55B over 40 years.
“Our February 2020 report on Guyana’s oil sector, Signed Away, is not consistent with [our] focus and for this reason we have decided to remove it from our website and stop using it in our campaign work, ”Global Witness said yesterday in a statement.
Global Witness reminded that since its advocacy work began in 1993, it has sought to end the environmental devastation that damages millions worldwide, holding the powerful to account, in advocating for the lost livelihood or their lives.
However, the NGO noted that as the devastating effects of the climate crisis – flood, wilderness, famine – had become more severe, it became clear that its work needed to change. To this end, he said, “It is no longer enough for Global Witness to require oil and gas businesses to operate in a more transparent and accountable way. To save the climate, we firmly believe that we need to work with others to achieve a just and equitable step out of fossil fuel extraction. To do this, we need to elevate the voices of activists fighting the forces driving the climate down around the world. “
He continued, “Our Signed Away report focused on how much revenue Guyana could get from oil if the government negotiated a fairer deal with Exxon, an oil company. Our revenue analysis assumed that the Paris Agreement climate commitments would not be implemented – leading to an overestimation of the amount of oil Guyana was likely to produce and the value of that oil. Under the new institutional strategy we have introduced this year, this is not a scenario we would accept because greenhouse gases must fall by half over the next decade, for the sake of the planet and all of us who n living on it. ”
Global Witness also highlighted that since its publication, oil prices have fallen by more than a third. As COVID-19 continues to depress fossil fuel demand and countries implement policies to limit fossil fuel use to tackle climate change, prospects for sustainable income generation of new oil projects is increasingly questionable, he added.
“These factors led us to overestimate the potential economic benefit of oil extraction,” said the NGO, acknowledging that its report had made it more difficult for civil society to argue the case for stopping oil production in Guyana.
But even as it withdrew its report, Global Witness insisted that it stood by the integrity of the evidence presented in its report. In fact, the NGO was keen to point out that its decision to withdraw Signed Away is not an endorsement of the way Exxon or Guyanese officials negotiated the oil licenses awarded to the company.
“We also stand by the funding model produced by OpenOil commissioned by Global Witness. Specialist, transparent and informative work, OpenOil and its financial model set standards, ”he added.
But “most importantly,” the NGO has strongly supported the “inspirational” investigations and campaigning that Guyanese reporters, campaigners and experts have conducted in recent years, all with the aims to increase accountability around the deals between the government of Guyana and Exxon, and other oil companies.
“It is this work that will hold the powerful to account and the Guyanese people should be proud to have such tireless advocates working for them,” added Global Witness in its statement.