By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
Ukrainian Environmental Lawyer and award-winning peace, climate, and clean energy advocate, Svitlana Romanko has been banned from the major CERAWeek Energy Conference in Houston, where discussions on the future of the globe’s energy system are taking place.
High-ranking Biden Administration officials including John Kerry, Presidential Envoy for Climate, and John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy, are also attending the conference, along with representatives of the oil and gas industry.
However, CERAWeek staff have attempted to stop Ms. Romanko’s plans of meeting these Biden officials, and other attendees by rescinding her previously confirmed registration a statement by RAZOM We Stand states
Svitlana Romanko, who is the Director of Ukrainian organization Razom We Stand, stated that“We are in stark opposition to the oil and gas lobby and we say it straight: the push to expand fossil fuel infrastructure is the opposite of energy security.
There’s no security in stranded assets and overcapacity, there’s no security in fuelling runaway climate change and waging fossil fuelled war. We will be safe only when public money and state subsidies fully withdraw from the oil and gas industry and get to spend at scale on renewables and energy efficiency. That is the truth that we are saying and the industry wants us silenced. But we’ll keep speaking truth to power.”
The statement read “Ms. Romanko’s history of strong advocacy for the climate and against Russian fossil fuel exports has brought her much attention in the press, (CNN, NBC, Washington Post, Bloomberg, BBC), however it appears her stance against fossil fuels may have found the wrath of someone in industry. After receiving confirmation of the registration for CERAWeek on the morning of March 5, she received an unsigned email from conference organizers later that day stating her registration was “not accepted.”
Ms. Romanko then spoke to conference registration and security staff to demand to know why she had been banned from attendance. In response, the registration desk said, “I can’t answer why you were declined. It’s a private event – people apply, if they are accepted they get the invitation and credentials, if they are declined – they do not and it’s a private event”, as documented in a video now on Twitter: @SvitlanaRomanko. LINK TO VIDEO
Romanko’s messages this week included a list of priorities she insists CERAWeek attendees should be addressing. These include – Energy security must be based on decentralized clean energy sources, not fossil fuels – Energy majors who advocate for new mega-gas projects are only spinning “fake security”, which actually locks in fossil fuel dependence for decades. This would create more fossil-fuelled conflicts, and make Europe rely on an expensive energy source when renewables have already become the cheapest energy source in 2022
– Ukraine, which has had over 40% of its energy infrastructure destroyed by Russia, is already planning to replace destroyed centralized fossil fuel energy production with cheaper, cleaner energy like wind and solar. This will make Ukraine a global leader in clean energy and rebuild Ukraine green.
– CERAWeek participants who work for the fossil fuel industry, and government must stop pushing for more climate-disrupting fossil fuels, and embrace the clean energy future.