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Andrew Kaminsky headshot

Students are Fed Up: They Want Governments and the Fossil Fuel Industry to File for Divorce

The End Fossil: Occupy movement is fed up with the fossil fuel industry and is planning worldwide student protests at schools and universities this autumn.
fossil fuel industry

“It’s no secret that our enemy, the fossil fuel industry, rules the world. We will turn the tide, change history, and smash the fossil economy.”

The End Fossil: Occupy movement is upset and are again planning student protests at schools and universities around the world between September and December 2022. Their goals are centered around ending the production and finance of fossil fuel projects. They’re united, and they’re pissed off.

Is the anger justified? Well, that’s subjective. Is it fair that oil and gas companies are posting record profits? Is it fair that coal companies are doing better than ever despite promises to phase them out? Is it fair that all of this is happening while citizens around the world are falling further behind as the treadmill of inflation increases its pace? 

I say the anger is justified, though it’s important to remember that not everyone involved in the fossil fuel industry is the enemy. 

Fossil fuels will run out

The degradation of our natural environment is bad, and the greed that fuels the industry is loathsome. What we can’t forget, though, is that there are people who earn a living in the fossil fuel industry because it feeds their families and puts a roof over their children’s heads. 

We’re facing tough times, and securing a job is the No. 1 priority regardless of the industry. Basic needs have to be met before anyone can start being choosy over the source of their income. 

There is, however, a problem with the industry. There’s no hiding from the science. We cannot sustain the levels of carbon emissions that we are currently playing with, and the fossil fuel industry is the biggest culprit.

Even if you question or deny the science, there is no denying that fossil fuel resources are finite. They will run out eventually. When that happens, the fossil fuel industry will crumble, and the people who feed their families on the backs of the industry will lose their jobs en masse.

We should be transitioning workers out of the fossil fuel industry and into sustainable energy development to prevent massive layoffs down the road and, of course, to preserve the health of our planet.

Subsidies keep the fossil fuel industry competitive

There’s a hesitance to embrace the renewable energy transition, though. Why?

Clean energy is still too expensive, right? Fifteen years ago, this was the case — but it’s not true anymore, and the costs of renewable energy continue to fall. Actually, using the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) to compare the costs of different energy sources reveals that solar and wind power are much cheaper to produce than oil and gas, and even coal in many instances.

So, what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we using renewable energy if it’s so cheap? Unfortunately, our governments have an unhealthy love affair with the fossil fuel industry. It’s as toxic a relationship as they come, but they can’t seem to say no to each other.

While our governments attend climate conferences, preach the need for urgent action, and plead for all of us to use cleaner energy, they are handing over more money than we can wrap our heads around to the fossil fuel industry.

Data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that $5.9 trillion were spent on fossil fuel subsidies by governments around the world in 2020. That’s about seven percent of global GDP. Our governments are literally paying for us to keep using fossil fuels.

Do you remember when the director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, said that if Elon Musk donated $6 billion we could end world hunger? If we cut fossil fuel subsidies for just nine hours, problem solved.

How much longer will we go on acknowledging the climate crisis while still being complacent? Our youth are saying enough is enough.

More student strikes and occupations are being planned around the world for later this year. While our education centers come to a standstill as students demand the end of the fossil fuel era, hopefully our governments will learn that actions speak louder than words.

“We are here. We are radical. We are ready to occupy.” 

Image credit: Markus Spiske via Pexels

Andrew Kaminsky headshot

Andrew Kaminsky is a freelance writer with no fixed location. He travels all corners of the globe learning about the different groups that call this planet home, seeing natural wonders, and sharing laughs with the people he finds along the way. An alum of the University of Winnipeg's International Development program, Andrew is particularly interested in international relations and sustainable development. In his spare time you are likely to find Andrew engaging in anything sport-related, or finding common ground with new friends over a craft beer.

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