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The Power of Big Oil; Interview With Chilean Environment Minister Maisa Rojas. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 22, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): The environmental minister in Chile's new climate- friendly government joins me with perspective from a nation on the front lines of climate change.


FMR. SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): Well, what we now know about some of these larger oil companies' positions, they lied.

AMANPOUR: The new documentary saying big oil stopped climate action in its tracks, despite being well aware of the dangers.

"Frontline" producer Dan Edge joins me.

Also ahead, Walter Isaacson talks to Ukrainian environmental lawyer Svitlana Romanko, as this war spotlights a dangerous dependence on Russian

fossil fuels.

And, finally, how Kenya is combating waves of plastic pollution hitting its shores.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

And we are marking Earth Day with a special program tonight, following efforts to combat climate change in the present and digging into why it's

taken so long to take action in the past.

When Earth Day made his debut April 22, 1970, news networks across the United States devoted copious coverage to its significance, and they

praised the call to action to protect the survival of humanity. President Nixon at the time took note and acted; 52 years later, the challenges

remain the same.

In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying it is now or never for the world to cut carbon emissions and limit warming to

1.5 degrees Celsius. Anything above this number will create dramatic consequences for all humanity.

Now, as green tech evolves at a rapid pace, there is a way forward, but the political will is still in doubt. Chile, on the Latin American continent,

has a brand-new government with a serious climate agenda. The country has 4,000 miles of coastline and it's struggling with forest fires and drought.

And Chile's youngest ever president, Gabriel Boric, is trying to unite Latin America and the Caribbean to take climate action. But it comes at a

time where Russia's invasion of Ukraine has countries returning to fossil fuels.

I have been discussing this dilemma and the opportunities with the Chilean environmental minister, Maisa Rojas. She's in Santiago, Chile.


AMANPOUR: Minister Maisa Rojas, welcome to the program.

MAISA ROJAS, CHILEAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Thank you for the invitation. Pleasure to be here.

AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you.

We are in the midst of a pretty unusual situation, whereby climate change has actually fallen off the radar because of this war in Ukraine and

because we see all our leaders trying to figure out where to get fossil fuel, old-fashioned energy, from as an attempt to wean ourselves off

Russian energy. Much of it is being asked to come from Latin America, your continent.

What's your -- how do you feel about this moment?

ROJAS: Well, it is, without doubt, a very complicated moment.

The war is a terrible situation for all the people that are suffering it. But I think we are -- the way we are trying -- we see the problem is

actually incorrect. What we should be concluding of this situation is that we need to even accelerate our dependence -- our independence from fossil

fuels, right?

We need to really invest in other forms of energy to, which are, in general -- remember that renewable energy, in general, every country has their own.

So that independence will give us more resilience to be able to address these types of conflicts and perturbations to our everyday life.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, some would say that would be the silver lining of this terrible, terrible crisis in Europe.

But I want to ask you, from your perspective, because you are a renowned academic and scientist. You have written many papers on this. You're a

leading expert. You have led your own country on environmental conferences, the last COP 25.


What are you able to do now in government specifically? Have you been able to change or effect any laws about this issue now that you're a player, so

to speak, a doer?

ROJAS: Yes. Yes.

Actually, yes. And it was -- it is, a way, quite interesting.

I participated as an independent technical advice to the discussion of a climate change law in Congress. That was approved. And now it is my job to

implement that same law that I helped to improve during the discussion in Congress. So I'm incredibly happy actually to be on the other side, to

know, know it so well, and understand that it will be a very important key, in the case of Chile, to address climate change.

AMANPOUR: Can you tell me specifically what it will do?


So this law makes it legally binding our commitments under the Paris agreement to become carbon-neutral at the latest by 2050, right? So to

address the climate change crisis, what we need to do is -- in very simple terms, is stop burning fossil fuels.

AMANPOUR: Minister, your new president is very young. Your Cabinet is young. It's -- the majority are women. It's a different picture at the top

of power in Chile.

How do you think that will affect the climate debate and the ability of your government to implement the ambitious climate goals?

ROJAS: Well, the president said in one of his discourses during campaign and then also when he took office is that this would be the first

ecological government of Chile.

And I see it as our role in the Ministry of the Environment to give content to that announcement. And we will do that in -- quite importantly, with

this climate change law. But remember that -- and, here, I would like to quote some of the evidence from that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

Change, the IPCC.

climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. So, it's -- the climate change crisis is also a crisis for the

planet, which we know is also undergoing a biodiversity crisis. So it's both of them together. And that is really the challenge, that we have to

see that a planet with this level of degradation will not secure a livable future.

AMANPOUR: Minister, when you were in the -- on the other side of the table, you also wrote and contributed to IPCC papers.

As you know, better than I do, probably, the leading scientists have now said that they question the value anymore of putting out these regular

warnings with all the science and with all the data .They're wondering, is it useful anymore? Or is it just a cover to cover your -- themselves in

sort of a sense of responsibility, and governments are just not picking up the ball fast enough?

What do you make of that sort of climate fatigue, even within the community of experts?

ROJAS: I completely understand it. And I completely stand behind that as well.

While you're doing the work for the IPCC, which is a really long-term commitment -- remember that it takes about three years to write a report,

and that you do that in your, so to say, free time, right? And you see that the political will is always far too slow. And you don't even know what

more adjectives to use to try to explain the urgency.

But, on the other hand, now, being on this side, it is true that sometimes decisions take longer to be implemented. But we are really talking here

about a really fundamental and very deep transformation of basically the way we do things in every aspects of our life.

So it is -- it is somehow also normal to see that it is difficult to make those changes.

AMANPOUR: Minister, tell me, briefly, tell our viewers, what is the impact, the very real impact of climate change on your country? I know

there's been droughts. You have a mineral- and other raw materials-based economy.

What is the impact of climate change?



So, very similar to other Mediterranean-type climates such as California, the Mediterranean, South Africa, and parts of Australia as well, yes, the

main impact in Chile, in the central, southern part of the country has been now an over-a-decade-long drought.

And this is where most of the people live. And this is also where most of our food production comes from. And it has been there for a long time, but

it has been mainly in rural areas. But now, this year, it has started to become a threat to our water security in cities, in Santiago, where over

six million people live.

So it is becoming very real.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you? Because you know that, in the West, most particularly in the United States, there has been -- and we're going to

dive deeper into this with our next guest -- a concerted effort to deny any kind of climate policies, saying that that would cost jobs.

But you -- and, apparently, it was based on absolutely nothing. It was -- it's fictional. It -- there's no data to support that. But it really did

change the political dynamic. So you have just laid out where the most disastrous climate effects are in your country.

And you say that's where most of the population live. So what would you say about jobs, and how they would be best affected?

ROJAS: I mean, actually, in the case of Chile, we have -- a couple of years ago, there was a report made by the World Bank, who says that

actually implementing the action to become carbon-neutral will actually increase our gross -- how do you say?


ROJAS: GDP, exactly. Sorry. I forgot the acronym in English.

So it's not a cost. It is actually a benefit, right? And in the case of Chile, this is because 80 percent of emissions come from the energy sector.

So what we're talking about is really -- is changing our energy matrix from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

There's a lot of jobs in the renewable energy industry. There's a lot of jobs in electric cars and electric buses, et cetera. There's a lot of jobs

in retrofitting buildings. There is a lot of jobs in the new green economy.

So I think it is definitely a false dilemma between development and addressing climate change. It is actually quite the opposite.

AMANPOUR: So, now let me talk about -- or just a last question on the role of women in this sector and in sustainability in general.

I will just quote from the United Nations, which says: "Women's equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to

achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030."

We, of course, know that women are vastly underrepresented in major decision-making forums around the world and in governments. This, as I

said, is the first Chilean government to have a majority women Cabinet. And you're a prominent member.

Do you agree that it might make a big difference with women in charge, particularly on this issue?

ROJAS: Yes, I definitely agree with that, for two reasons.

And I really -- I really like a quote that is usually attributed to Einstein, which says something like, we cannot solve the problems with the

same methods that we produced the problems, right? That seems quite reasonable. I mean, if I produce the problem in a certain way, I have to

try something different.

And the other thing is that, when we talk about sustainability, we're talking about certain values and principles that, in Western culture, at

least, I would say, are traditionally related to women, which is the one of taking care of others. It is usually women that have to take care of

children, of elderlies, solidarity, collaboration, et cetera.

I'm not saying that only women has those values, but those values are OK and are -- we like those values when it is at home in our private life. I

think these are the types of values we have to bring into the political arena, because that is what it is about. We have to take care and we have

to collaborate to ensure a livable future.

AMANPOUR: Really fascinating.

We wish you great, good luck with your new government and your new law and your commitment out there to this sense of climate justice and political



Minister Maisa Rojas, thank you for joining us.

ROJAS: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So a promise for swift action there.

But, as we mentioned, we look deeper now into why it's taken the world this long to start getting its act together. Well, the answer may lie in a new

documentary from PBS' "Frontline.' The three part series called "The Power of Big Oil" focuses on the missed opportunities to mitigate the climate


It details how fossil fuel companies successfully lobbied to undermine climate science, often using so-called data made from whole cloth. Take a

look at the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knowingly spread disinformation.

NARRATOR: An epic three-part series.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said that climate science was uncertain, that action wasn't required.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our job was to fight back against the progressive agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We concluded that none of these technologies were going to be competitive against oil.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Big money had infiltrated the halls of Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's an urgency to the situation that is not being answered.


AMANPOUR: I have been talking to the producer of "The Power of Big Oil," Dan Edge, about this chilling reality.


AMANPOUR: Dan Edge, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So you have produced this documentary series on the power of big oil. We're airing on Earth Day at a time when not a huge amount of

attention is being paid to the climate.

Tell me why and what the -- what the narrative is that you were trying to explore.

EDGE: It's an extraordinary narrative, and it goes back the entire span of my life, actually.

I'm 44 years old, and our story starts 44 years ago, when Exxon, at the time, the biggest oil company in the world, started pioneering research

into climate change. And our story, over three films, tells really the story of what happened next and how the fossil fuel industry, chief amongst

them, Exxon, managed to stave off any concerted action to tackle climate change over a 40-year period.

So it really is the story of how we got to where we are today and the spectacular success that big oil had, particularly in the 1990s, in

crafting a narrative, the consequences of which we're very much living today.

That narrative is that -- was that the science of climate change was uncertain. And that narrative was that any attempt to tackle climate change

would be prohibitively expensive. Now, there's lots wrong with both of those arguments, but they were enormously powerful.

And we are living the consequences of those arguments right now in 2022.

AMANPOUR: So, then, I guess the question, because you have a clip about the politicians who I guess were lobbied to believe and buy into that


I just want to play for you one of the clips, and we can discuss it. This is then-Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican. Now, his work helped doom Kyoto

and other such things. And this is what he says to you now.


HAGEL: They lied. And, yes, I was misled. Others were misled, when they had evidence in their own institutions that countered what they were saying


I mean, they lied.

QUESTION: If they had said that, if have held their hands up there and said, yes, this is real, could it have been different?

HAGEL: Oh, absolutely. It would have changed everything.

And it would have -- I think it would have changed the average citizen's appreciation of climate change.


AMANPOUR: So, Dan, is it that they were naive? Is it that they, I don't know, were being lobbied? There was a lot of money flying around.

EDGE: I think there's an extent to which we all were. I was sort of coming of age, if you like, in the mid-'90s. And I was -- very much felt I was

growing up in a world where no one really knew what was happening with climate.

And -- but the scientists who we have interviewed at great length for this series tell a different story, that the science of climate change was

largely settled in the 1980s. And the specific fact that climate change was happening was part of scientific consensus by 1995.

So what the -- what our series charts is the extraordinarily successful campaign that industry, the fossil fuel industry, embarked on in that

period, and then which continued for decades, to muddy the waters, to muddy the waters in terms of the science and to muddy the waters in terms of the

potential economic costs of doing anything about climate change.


It was very successful. And it worked in the -- in terms of public opinion. But as our interview with Chuck Hagel makes clear, it also worked in the


AMANPOUR: And you also did talk to a lot of formers, so to speak, people who have been involved in this lobbying, involved in this attempt to shift

and shape the narrative, including those who worked for the very famous American Petroleum Institute, which seems to bear the brunt of a lot of the

blame when people talk about this particular angle of the climate debate.

Here's what one former consultant told you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's great pressure that came from the clients to talk about jobs. We have tried to tell clients, we really can't measure

jobs accurately.

But you have to get paid at the -- at the end of the day. So, we ended up doing the best we could talking about jobs. But you don't really -- you

don't really know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first people that will lose their jobs are the American coal miner.

JOHN SHLAES, GLOBAL CLIMATE COALITION: It would cost probably 500,000, 600,000, 700,000 jobs a year

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that would hurt the U.S. automobile industry and it would hurt the U.S. economy.


AMANPOUR: So this is really a campaign of fear. But it was really extraordinary to hear that guy, the consultant, basically saying, we kind

of made it up.

Now, we have to say that the American Petroleum Institute says that people like yourself, critics are cherry-picking information from the past, and

that the industry's position has evolved with the science.

Has it evolved with the science? And did they make it up?

EDGE: It's clear that both API's position and the members of API, like Exxon, was not consistent with science in the 1990s.

It has evolved, however. I mean, API and Exxon speak very differently about the reality of climate change now in 2022. What's clear, though, what was

happening in the '90s with that particular clip you played is that a very conscious and very clever effort was being made to paint any action on

climate change, any attempt to regulate fossil fuels as catastrophic for the economy, extremely powerful argument.

And Paul Bernstein, who we saw talking now, what he goes on to say is, of course, what we weren't taking into account -- and even then he knew he

should be taking into account as an economist -- what we weren't taking into account was the potential costs of not tackling climate change.

And this is very much what we're living now in 2022, with a climate crisis all over the world, all over the United States, costing billions and

billions and billions of dollars. And those costs were not factored into the economic forecasting commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute

in the 1990s.

AMANPOUR: I want to take you to what I think you consider the sort of turning point in the '90s, when -- the Clinton years, where the climate

agenda was basically put on the back foot.

And here we have Jerry Taylor, former CATO Institute, and that, of course, was founded by the Koch brothers.


JERRY TAYLOR, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, CATO INSTITUTE: When I became part of that world, we thought the odds were pretty long against this. We did not

expect to prevail in the climate debate.

By the end of the decade, however, the climate skeptics and denialists were in a position of strength. Now they had pretty much run the table. In every

decisive fight, we had won.

GORE: They won the battle. I was intent that they would not win the war. It became clear to me at that point that it was going to be a longer war.


AMANPOUR: So what does Al Gore think now and what do you think? Have they won the war as well?


I think Al -- I don't want to put words into his mouth, but I think Al Gore would say the war continues, if you like. But what he does acknowledge and

what other people who have fought for action on climate change over the last three or four decades all acknowledge is they have got beaten a lot of


I mean, the clip we saw there concerns the victory of industry in the 1990s in preventing Kyoto, the Kyoto treaty being ratified by the United States.

But it's a template that worked and was played out again when President Obama launched an ambitious climate program early on in his time as

president, which was comprehensively outmaneuvered, as the second episode of our series tells a story of, by industry and by the Koch brothers



And of course, President Biden now, who came to office promising action on climate, is finding that it is far harder to push through those changes

than it is to talk about them.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you then, because one of the obvious poster boys for that problem is within his own party, and that's Senator Joe


And he has put out all these same reasonings, jobs, the coal industry. He also is, whatever the right word is, implicated, connected with part of

part of that industry. So how much has been learned when you consider that one senator can hold up such a massive, massive pledge by an


EDGE: I think the simple answer is not much. And what struck us -- my filmmaking team, throughout the series, what struck us time and time again

is like, wow, it's like Groundhog Day. We were having the same arguments, the same conversations, and the same myths were being peddled 30 years ago,

and the same structural problems with democracy, with American democracy specifically, are preventing change.

And so I'm not sure much has been learned. And, sadly, the -- what we see is the same thing, same damn thing happening over and over again. And I

know, for people who feel very strongly about climate change, the -- President Trump obviously was very opposed to any action.

And President Biden's arrival was a moment of great hope. But, unfortunately, what we have seen researching the story, over the last 40

years, is there have been quite a few of these moments of hope. There have been quite a few of these moments where change has not only seemed

possible, but has seemed probable. And every time, it's run into the same systemic blocks that President Biden is facing now.

AMANPOUR: So you were not very successful in getting oil industry actually to talk to you on camera, for obvious reasons. Everybody gave you

statements and the like.

Independently and completely separately, I had the opportunity to interview Bernard Looney, who, as you know, is the CEO of BP. And like many in the

business, and certainly many CEOs, they all profess to be converts now and to understand, but that it can't happen overnight.

Let me just play you that little part of the interview I did with the CEO of BP.


BERNARD LOONEY, CEO, BP: This is not a light switch. We don't turn a 112- year-old company on its head overnight, but we have carried out the biggest restructuring in our history. We have entered offshore wind in the largest

and fastest growing markets in the world, in the U.S. and U.K. We're involved in hydrogen. We're doubling down on electrification.

We're doing all of the things that a company of ours needs to do to be part of the solution.


AMANPOUR: Are things shifting? And, also, what do you make of the Bernard Looney argument?

EDGE: I think things are shifting.

I think many of the people we have interviewed for our series have questioned whether they're shifting anywhere near fast enough. And I would

note that BP was saying all this stuff more than 20 years ago, when CEO John Browne rebranded the company as beyond petroleum.

And they haven't moved very far beyond petroleum in the intervening 20 years. That said, I mean, the different oil companies are clearly moving at

different speeds and in different ways. And there is a growing awareness that things do need to change.

What our series really charts is that it could have happened and started -- that evolution could have started so long ago, and didn't, because he's

right. It's not a light switch. You can't just turn it off. You can't just stop oil tomorrow, that civilization would fall apart. It would cause huge


But Exxon, for instance, were researching -- the world leaders actually in researching solar and other renewable forms of energy in the early 1980s.

This is more than 40 years ago. And they switched it all off. They switched all of that research and development off in the '80s.

And so there's a...


EDGE: ... because it didn't make -- didn't make money.

And then CEO, Lee Raymond, was very open about that. His focus, particularly when oil prices dropped in the early to mid-'80s, his focus,

he said, had to be on shareholder value and making as much money as possible, which is how -- how corporations work.

And so those research lines at that point were not going to compete with oil and gas in terms of ease of -- ease of use and how much money it can

make for the company. So, it's very understandable in an economic sense and he makes the argument quite compellingly in our film. But it's, at the same

time, a tragic missed opportunity, I think, both for the company and for the world.

AMANPOUR: We've heard a lot also about the climate scientists, those who write the big, you know, annual or however often they write it, you know,

the U.N. climate reports, they're getting very disheartened, at least, you know, anecdotally, some of them say, what is the point? We've been putting

out these really scientifically sound predictions and warnings and actual road maps to change, and it's not really making any difference.

Should -- there's an actual debate. Should we keep putting them out there? I just wondered what you thought about that. And do you see any light at

the end of this quite dark tunnel?

EDGE: I can understand the scientists' frustration because many who we spoke to that work on the IPCC reports from -- you know, from the early

'90s expressed that frustration. They've been saying, the science is largely there since the 1990s, and it doesn't seem to have changed


And lots of the scientists like James Hansen who was the sort of godfather of climate science or the grandfather of climate science, he told us how

sort of naive he was, really, that he really believed, OK. Now, we found out a set of scientific facts. Now, public policy will follow. And it's

been a sort of lifelong education in the reality of politics for him. But it isn't that simple.

I think we are in a different era now, though, and that's the fundamental fact that we are living through climate crises in a way that we weren't 15

years ago, and that's all over the world not just the United States. So, the reality of the science is really quite plain to see and the reality of

the costs of not acting on climate change is really quite plain to see.

So, we have a generation coming through now who are living climate change rather than just hearing a of confusing debate about climate change, and

that's a fundamentally different dynamic. And that paradoxically does gives me some hope.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Because they are voting with their green consciences, certainly many people.

EDGE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And, you know, as we say good-bye, it's worth remembering that climate used to be a bipartisan consensus and that it just -- all that

collapsed, as you say, around the '90s. Dan Edge, thank you so much. "The Power of Big Oil."

EDGE: Thanks.

AMANPOUR: And you can see "The Power of Big Oil" online and on PBS. The next two episodes appear April 26th and May 3rd.

Now, as the war in Ukraine rages on, the West is struggling to pull the plug on Russian oil and gas. Svitlana Romanko is a Ukrainian climate

activist and an environmental lawyer who joins Walter Isaacson to discuss fossil fuel addiction and the impact of the climate wars.


WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Svitlana Romanko, welcome to the show.


ISAACSON: You are joining us from your home in Western Ukraine. Tell us what's happening right now and how things are and why you're back there?

ROMANKO: Missiles and bombs are still flying over the territory of Ukraine constantly. And a few days ago, there were explosions in our neighboring

city of (INAUDIBLE), which is not far my home as well. And we still have continuing alarms all of the time, just notifying us that there were some

(INAUDIBLE) missiles and bombs on our territory as well. But our air defense forces are working well to protect us.

And currently, I can say that actually, all dreadful deaths, destruction and violence, terror and genocide against Ukrainians are still happening

mostly on the east and south of the country.

ISAACSON: Why do you remain there? Do you feel it is important to be in Ukraine and to continue this fight?

ROMANKO: It feels more than important for me as -- from the second day of war, when the war just started. And I do recall this time, the first day,

when we just watched the speech of insane dictator on TV and then, we suddenly understood that the war against us, against Ukraine has been

declared at that time.

So, we -- second day, I was starting to think what we can do as climate activists, as -- what I can do personally as an activist, as a campaign

manager, as a citizen of my country to stop and to end this horrific war. So, that's how I started to stand with Ukraine Global Action and started

organize around this campaign. And, of course, it feels very important to continue and to stay on the side of Ukrainians and help us to end the war

against Ukraine.


ISAACSON: Today, we're commemorating Earth Day, and you're a great climate activist, environmental activist, a lawyer. Tell us how this war in Ukraine

is intersecting with the environmental causes that you support.

ROMANKO: This is the tipping point for us as a humanity to end multiple crisis's that we are facing with energy crisis, climate crisis, crisis of

human rights and international legal regulation, international agreements, I would also say and makes those who affects the environment and make a

damage to environment, to climate and to my country pay, inevitably pay for all of the crimes that have been committed and we won't rest until those

crimes will be punished appropriately.

And especially speaking about the war in my country, it is such a symbolic Earth Day. I would like to recall that for now up to the latest U.N.

report, it's not only the war against Ukraine because it has already affected 1.7 billion people in 107 countries who are now faced with rising

prices for food and energy and not even saying what is happening in my country right now.

And I am calling on the world leaders like now, I hope they will be watching. I am calling on political parties. I am calling on deputies,

which are speaking in the parliaments, on banks, on those who are on the companies who are keeping the investments in fossil fuels that it's not a

time for doing business as usual. We should meet all at Stockholm Plus 50 and we should end fossil fuels everywhere and we should have a conflict

then and sign a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, which seems extremely important to do right now when we still have a chance for survival and for

meeting climate crisis, climate crisis, war crisis.

Because I -- this is war in my country, but I also recognize that there are many wars and conflict fueled by fossil fuels in many other countries. And

it is very essential and important how we tackle Kremlin's and Putin's threat as a humanity. Because other dictators are probably watching and

while growing their fossil fuel reserves, they just want to step in and be a supplier after we defeat Putin. It should not happen. And that's an

imperative that we phase out all fossil fuels, not just replace them with some other associates from some other countries.

ISAACSON: You say we should not replace them from other sources from other countries, but to get Europe through this winter without using Russian oil

and Russian gas, should there be exports from the United States of liquified natural gas, should there be some transition period so that

Russia doesn't have total control over the heating and electricity needs of Europe this coming winter?

ROMANKO: That's important to recognize that Russia does not have full control even now, because the countries all over the world, including, the

U.S., U.K. and Canada and the E.U. partially as we see, are moving towards the full embargo (ph) on Russian fossil fuels. So, Russia does have not

control. They would like to, but they don't. They don't have for n ow.

I know the best things that the U.S., for example, can import rather than oil and gas reserves and start new explorations, these are heat lamps and

new technologies, which really bring technologies which will lead Europeans, for example, to live through the winter and try to make a

replacement at decent and successful try as well. Because that's how we make green revolution possible.

And the first step, of course, should be recording Russian oil, gas and coal, which is happening in the world. But the second step should be just

immediate halting of fossil fuel expansion everywhere by every nation, worldwide. We all have to commit to (INAUDIBLE) and just transition away

from all fossil fuels. And reliance of -- on coal, oil and gas, I have to stress on that specifically that it's intentional embrace of test (ph)

misery collapse at a global scale.

So, we have all chances as a humanity to live through the cold winter if we, first of all, will cut our energy supply. That's essential. If everyone

understand that we cannot use as much fossil fuels as we used to because fossil fuels are now killing people and they have become a weapon of mass

destruction. It's kind of a moral and ethical choice which we have to make, every one of us in Europe and in the U.S., in the U.K.


ISAACSON: You recently wrote an op-ed for "The Los Angeles Times" with the American environmentalist Bill McKibben. You said, the world's banks have

amorally worked to build Russia's oil and gas industry, the industry that funds Russia's army and the industry that Vladimir Putin has used as a

cudgel for decades to keep Europe cowering.

What more should President Biden be doing and what more should the banks be doing to stop any investment that would help Russia's petrochemical state?

ROMANKO: Yes. Banks are holding the financial power. They are holding immense resources, which have been used for years for sponsoring some

Russian oil and gas companies. So, there are close connections between J.P. Morgan Chase, for example, and ExxonMobil and the Russian oil and gas

construction companies that we all know.

But, yes, this huge financial recess should be immediately divested from existing infrastructure and fossil fuels. Because what President Biden did

and what we are truly grateful for, for his leadership, I think we should recognize that he strikes -- strike into the heart of Putin's war machine

when he -- Putin embargo on oil and gas from Russia. And the second, he put a ban on -- imposed a ban on all new investments made from the U.S. to

Russia, currently.

But I think there is still something that banks can do and that something that citizens can do for banks to ask their bankers just they've banned

(ph) all existing funds from fossil fuel industry, and not only from Russia, from Russia as a priority because, yes, because it's killing

people, but at the same time, the banks which are a bullwork of autocracy should change and the green revolution should start from those banks in

particular. They have to not just only end financial statuses for all infrastructure, but also -- I mean, and all infrastructure, but not to

provide loans and financial statuses for new fossil fuel explorations nowhere, neither in Africa now in Latin America, just nowhere, not to

invest into the assets that definitely will be stranded.

ISAACSON: The United States and much of Europe has put sanctions on Russian oil, tried to stop the flow of Russian oil and natural gas. But

most countries of this world are not really supporting that. You have China. You have India. You have countries throughout Africa, you even have

Israel that are not trying to do it.

What do you say to those countries who are not part of the pushback against the use of any Russian oil or gas?

ROMANKO: For countries that -- as India, as China, as Japan, for example, stand with Ukraine campaign was demanded for from those governments, as

well, just to stop, stop buying impose embargo on Russian oil and gas in a shorter perspective and, of course, phase out fossil fuels in a longer

perspective. But I think that's on the collective efforts because we shall want then, we have same climate, we have same climate crisis.

I will quote a last -- a recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research, Germany -- that Germany could stop using Russian gas as early as

2022. So, there is always a chance and there is always an option to end our traction to fossil fuels even for such an energy-consuming countries like

India, like China. And China actually -- we wrote a letter to China and with Asian partners warning them of buying the cheap assets, which are

remain in Russian fossil fuel infrastructure, in industry after all other - - after new investments were ended and some companies and banks divested from Russia.

We make a warning that don't buy these assets from Russia. It's -- because you have all chances to become a leader of green transportation, which is

need -- I believe more pressure and more interconnection and understanding of interaction between climate crisis and the wars and conflicts and the

energy crisis and how our future will look like.

The last point, also, States should make that registers of fossil fuels public. And we should know how many each country has. We should know and

every -- each country should commit of non-proliferation of those fossil fuels in the longer perspective.


I don't understand. It seems -- it sounds like a bit of fantastic because we are all dependent, but it just seems impossible until it's done.

ISAACSON: In addition to the tragic loss of life that Russia has inflicted on your country, Ukraine, it's also inflicted a lot of environmental

damage, this war. Tell me what type of damage to protected regions, to water, to the land has been caused by Russia during this war?

ROMANKO: Already it's -- we all know that the damage has been huge, and the -- we will just keep feeling those losses for years and years ahead.

For example, on the east of the country and especially -- on the east, on the south, there were a lot of industrial plants and coal mines and -- as

well, chemical enterprises. And all of these chemical substances and toxic liquids have been after the destruction leaked into the ground, into the

water, into the air.

And again, those missiles and bombs and those heavy military infrastructures it is still remaining on the lands and as well, producing

more Co2 emissions as well while flying and producing more waste, as well that we will need to utilize after the war ends. And -- but, of course, it

is a huge, huge damage to biodiversity.

And I am not sure for now because we don't have like official assessments. Our ministry is tracking the damages that has been made. But probably, we

will be even speaking about ecocide and which means massive, massive destruction of and massive harm to the environment.

And, of course, I would say that we won't rest, I believe either (ph) our authorities and activities until all of those environmental crimes will be

punished and reimbursed in appropriate manner. Because we have a European principle that the polluter pays. But it -- the polluter should pay 10

times a bigger price and even more bigger price for all this destruction.

ISAACSON: The environmental crisis that's been caused by this war has intersected with the food crisis, and the food crisis is going to affect

the whole world. How are those two crises related?

ROMANKO: Everything is interconnected in ecosystem and everything is interconnected in the policy and everything is interconnected and been

harmed by this war, horrific war in Ukraine that we are so much want to have ended. And they are interconnected because Ukraine has very fertile

lands and it was one of the biggest producers of grain, of wheat.

And now, with the sea ports being blocked, our ships cannot still deliver those food products to the customers. So, it -- two different assessments

will be hunger in some countries, which would never could connect with our country if we do not specifically that our country imports the food

products, especially in Africa and in other countries. So, it truly impacts all humanity and all of the population, especially in developing countries.

ISAACSON: You have been fighting the climate battle for a long time as an environmental lawyer, well before this war. Tell me how this war has

changed what you're doing.

ROMANKO: I would not say it changed much. It just made me focus specially on the importance of the moment while we should cut all financial guys,

which still bring Kremlin and Putin enormous money to feed the war against my country. I've been very -- just very busy truly and passionately with

StandWithUkraine Campaign and thanks for the global solidarity, because I was not doing that alone. 770 organizations from 60 countries starting from

Angola, Nigeria and to Pacific countries, including many organizations. They signed off and they are trying to campaign against the fossil fuels

and against all crises we name today.

And I believe that it changed in the ways that I felt a huge global solidarity, which brings me hope that we can overcome the war in Ukraine.

We can overcome climate crisis. We still have time, but we need to use this time in the best way we can. When I see young people occupying the streets

and demanding a full embargo for peace from the Europe to U.S. and many other countries, it brings me hope when some governments turn to some --

merges to -- and investments or important embargo on fossil fuels or just ban new explorations in their countries, it brings me hope.


But I would like to share this hope with everyone who is listening and I would like to call to everyone who is listening, don't be neutral in this

case. You can do something about the war. You can do actually a lot of about -- stopping and tackling climate crisis and just please start to do

it today.

ISAACSON: Svitlana Romanko, thank you very much for joining us.

ROMANKO: Thank you so much, Walter. It was my real pleasure to be here and to speak with you. Thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: And finally, this Earth Day, it is not just carbon emissions that are polluting the planet. Many countries are dealing with a plague of

plastics. Single-use plastics impact every inch of our planet. But there have been serious efforts to combat this scourge as correspondent Larry

Madowo found on the Kenyan coastline.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The ancient City of Lamu, a popular part of the Northern Coast of Kenya. But the Indian

ocean brings more than just tour to the Lamu archipelago.

Tons of marine litter is also washing up on these shores, mostly plastic. They pick up what they can, but more keeps coming.

MADOWO (on camera): And this is -- it was manufactured in Indonesia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. I've never seen this being sold in Kenya. Fastclean, never this --

MADOWO: That's not a brand from here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not a brand that's sold here.

MODOWO: So, it's manufactured in China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China. Nestle noodles. I don't recognize over here.

MADOWO (voiceover): Kenya bans single use plastic from protected area, including beaches. But they're still being manufactured locally and piling

up all over the coastline, a major headache from the local government.

FAHIM YASIN TWAHA, GOVERNOR, LAMA COUNTY: Lamu is the receivers of the plastics than the givers of the plastic. This plastic is dumped elsewhere

and drifts to our shores. I guess we are a magnetic place and we hope we can also attract good things and not just junk.

MADOWO (voiceover): BT (ph) who calls herself Mama Plastiki has been collecting that junk from her community for 35 years, but there's they no

way to take most of it.

MAMA PLASTIKI, LAMU RESIDENT (through translator): We don't have a market for this plastic. So, it has slowed us down a little. We had two people

working on this, but we ran out of money. So, we are stuck with it.

MADOWO (voiceover): Even these better funded efforts to clean up plastic from around Lamu is barely scratching the surface.

MADOWO (on camera): The mountains of plastic waste just keeps growing here on the Kenyan Coast and is threatening the oceans, the mangroves and the

tourism industry here.

MADOWO (voiceover): Discarded plastic is sorted then crushed at this facility, breaking it down into smaller particles that can get molded into

something more useful.

MADOWO (on camera): This is incredibly strong.

MORRIS KILONZO, PLASTIC RECYCLING EXPERT, THE FLIPFLOPI PROJECT: This is a product of sorted, crushed and washed plastics. You get this.

MADOWO: And it could revolutionize construction.

KILONZO This one going to utilize, we have (INAUDIBLE) used. We can innovate and put whatever is lying in their backyards to something useful.

MADOWO (voiceover): These boats are leading a scientific expedition to study the impact of marine litter on the East African Coast. Its organizer,

The Flipflopi Project says this is the first time such a research is being carried out on this part of the west Indian ocean. The scientists are

measuring the presence of nano, micro and macro plastics in the ocean.

MADOWO (on camera): What do you hope to learn from the samples you're collecting?

BAHATI MAYOMA, AQUATIC ECOLOGY & POLLUTION LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF DA REST SALAAM: For the first time we'll be able to understand how deep can you

still find plastic pollution. Mostly focuses has been on the surface. No one to understand because actually most of the organisms, they live and

they live.

MADOWO (voiceover): By 2050, without intervention, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, the U.N. has warned. Some of it may build

the next sailing boat, like this one, made entirely of flip-flops, but most of it just suffocates marine life and coastal communities.

DIPESH PABARI, CO-FOUNDER AND LEADER, THE FLIPFLOPI PROJECT: Someone needs to pay for this. This is not something that these communities and us as

local organizations can support and solve. Yes, we are contributing to it, but it's a global problem. It's no different to climate change in that


MADOWO (voiceover): Recycle, reuse. Residents here are doing every bit they can to tackle a global problem at the local level.


AMANPOUR: Larry Madowo reporting from Kenya.

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