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Svitlana Romanko
Image credit: Razom We Stand

Clean Power

Why Was Svitlana Romanko Banned From CERAWeek? Bill McKibben Says He Knows

Svitlana Romanko traveled to the CERAWeek conference in Houston, but was denied admission. Why are people so afraid of her?

Svitlana Romanko is not a household name, but she is a force to be reckoned with. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Romanko is a prominent Ukrainian campaigner, movement strategist, and climate activist who launched and coordinated the Stand With Ukraine campaign to ban all imports of fossil fuels from Russia, end the war in Ukraine, and hasten a clean energy transition across the globe.

Svitlana Romanko

Svitlana Romanko, image credit: IEEFA

Romanko holds a doctorate in environmental law and has wide experience in climate change law, climate governance, and climate policy. She worked for, the climate change organization co-founded by Bill McKibben. She also has been an advocate for Green Deal projects in Eastern Europe and has contributed her time and effort to support the Laudato Si Movement, an organization that seeks to put into action the philosophy of the second encyclical of Pope Francis.

The encyclical was entitled Laudato Si (In Praise Of Thee) with the subtitle “On Care For Our Common Home.” In it, Pope Francis critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action.”

CERAWeek is an annual event organized by S&P Global. On its website, it says, “CERAWeek brings together global leaders to advance new ideas, insight and solutions to the biggest challenges facing the future of energy, the environment, and climate. CERAWeek is widely considered to be the most prestigious annual gathering of CEOs and Ministers from global energy and utilities, as well as automotive, manufacturing, policy and financial communities, along with a growing presence of tech. It has been described by the Financial Times as the ‘the Davos of energy,’ and by Politico as the “industry’s Super Bowl.” CNBC called it “the world’s preeminent energy conference.” CERAWeek was rated one of the top five overall “corporate leader” conferences in the world.”

Svitlana Romanko Goes To Houston

Svitlana Romanko registered for the event this year. One might think she fits the description of a global leader with new ideas, but when she arrived, she was turned away and denied access to the conference. Here’s her tweet showing what happened.


The poor schlub at the entrance to the event may not know why Romanko was refused entry, but Bill McKibben says he does. He describes CERAWeek as a place where “energy executives gather to crow about their successes and whine about insufficient government support; government officials often gather with them, too often to offer solace and subsidy. This year is no exception: you’ve got the head of Exxon, the head of Chevron, the head of Abu Dhabi’s oil company, and the head of the American Petroleum Institute.”

Here are four reasons why Romanko was turned away, according to a conversation between McKibben and Romanko. [Note: McKibben is a co-founder of and Romanko has worked for The two are longtime friends and climate advocacy allies.]

Four Reasons Romanko Was Turned Away

  1. “On the false premise of energy security, big corporations are trying to lock in further dependence on fossil fuels by  promoting new LNG projects in Europe and the US,” Romanko told McKibben. He expanded on her remark by saying, “The LNG boom is the industry’s last big gold rush and the Ukraine war is its essential component. Since Russia turned off the spigot to Europe, it needed replacement gas — and in the course of the year cobbled together just enough supply to make it through a warm winter. But what Houston wants to do is build huge permanent LNG installations to ship the gas for decades off to Europe. [‘We reported last week that those terminals could help add 24 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.] They’re being opposed by people living along the Gulf Coast where most of those facilities go, and by sane people in Europe who have memories long enough to go back to the Trump years: why would you want to be dependent on America either, when the sun shines and the wind blows over Germany and France?”
  2. “The same gas lobbyists that now promote new LNG projects in the fake name of energy security, were partnering with Russians and served their interests for many years.” And that is…embarrassing, McKibben says. “Remember, the last-but-one CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, literally got a ‘friendship’ medal from Vladimir Putin for helping build out the fossil fuel complex that now funds his vicious war. In the eternal political present in which we reside, such memories fade quickly, but Romanko has the receipts and also the anger. She’s spent the last year retreating into basement bomb shelters and watching friends die. That’s why Razom We Stand (Razom is Ukrainian for Together), the NGO she founded, is pushing for a total embargo on Russian oil and gas, but also for a rapid conversion away from oil and gas altogether.”
  3. “The Ukraine crisis is not the only horror on this planet,” McKibben writes. “Romanko has spent most of her life fighting climate change, most recently at the Global Catholic Climate Movement now renamed Laudato Si. She knows that the heatwaves that now plague the earth each year have their origin in Houston, just as surely as the waves of mercenaries and prisoners pushing toward Ukrainian lines in Bakhmut.”
  4. “The Ukraine — now ravaged by Putin’s missiles which are fired not at military targets but apartment blocks, electrical substations, hospitals and the like — is the perfect candidate to be rebuilt as a global clean energy model. Its reconstruction will come in an era when clean energy is the cheapest power available, and everyone will be watching. A truly green and energy-independent Ukraine would be Houston’s biggest nightmare,” McKibben concludes.

The Takeaway

Why would the world’s largest energy conference exclude Svitlana Romanko? Because the organizers and the presenters tremble in fear that people like Romanko will burst their fossil fuel bubble and deprive them of all the lovely money they expect to earn by turning the Earth into a hothouse where humans are no longer able to survive. What name is appropriate for such people? You can probably think of a few descriptors that would be appropriate.

People like Svitlana Romanko are the very definition of “woke.” They are humanists who care about their fellow passengers on Planet Earth, not greedy capitalists who would mortgage the future of the planet for thirty pieces of silver.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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