‘Tactical play, but a good one’: Support grows for India’s proposal to phase out fossil fuels at COP27

At Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance side event, France joins calls to strengthen fossil fuel phase-down wording in COP

The French government has become the latest to publicly back a proposal by the Indian government that any final agreement at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh include a reference to phasing out all fossil fuels.

Speaking at a side event at the climate talks, French Environment Minister Stéphane Crouse said he supported India’s recent proposal to extend the Glasgow Climate Pact’s commitment to all countries to “progressively reduce” the use of coal to cover all fossil fuels.

“If India wants the text on the cover to say phasing out all fossil fuels, let’s take them,” Cruzo told a packed audience at an event organized by the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA).

Laurence Tubiano, executive director of the European Climate Fund and one of the architects of the Paris accord, also urged countries to support India’s proposal, which was widely interpreted as an attempt by its government to avoid being singled out for its heavy reliance on coal power and to urge oil and gas producers to come up with more ambitious decarbonisation plans. “It might be a tactical game, but it’s a good game,” she said. “We have to support it.”

The calls came a day after the EU’s lead negotiator, Franz Zimmermans, told reporters yesterday that the bloc supports “any call to divest from fossil fuels” and Britain also backs the measure. They are also following the release of India’s major new Net Zero Emissions Strategy, which details how the government intends to deliver on its promise to achieve net zero emissions by 2070 at the latest.

However, oil powers remain staunchly opposed to any overt mention of the need to phase out all fossil fuels and the main “elements” text, which lists potential topics to be included in the final COP27 climate agreement, has been released last night, in which there is no mention. coal or fossil fuels.

The Glasgow Climate Pact included a historic mention of coal after an initial proposal for countries to commit to phasing out coal and ending all fossil fuel subsidies was ultimately reduced to a pledge to “progressively reduce” and “end all inefficient subsidies to fossil fuel”. . The wording, which was watered down at the last minute after a standoff from India and China, was still a historic breakthrough at UN climate talks, marking the first time a phase-out of fossil fuels was officially recognized in a UN text.

This afternoon in Egypt, Cruzo and Toubiano shared the stage at an event celebrating the anniversary of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, a ground-breaking intergovernmental initiative launched at the COP26 climate summit that brings together countries and states committed to phasing out oil and gas

This morning, the pioneering group, which includes Denmark, Costa Rica, France, Ireland, Sweden, the Canadian province of Quebec and Wales, announced the addition of new members in the form of Fiji, Chile and the US state of Washington. and promoted Portugal from “associate member” to “principal member”.

The group also announced $10 million to help developing countries transition away from fossil fuels.

The update from BOGA comes amid growing concern that climate targets are being undermined by a “gas rush” by some governments, particularly in Europe, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis.

The rush to green-light new fossil fuel exploration and production to replace Russia’s fossil gas supplies threatens to undermine global climate goals and lure investors into bad assets as the transition to net-zero accelerates, an analysis published by the Climate Action Tracker group earlier this week said. threw out .

Noting that most countries have moved to remain dependent on fossil fuels in response to the global energy crisis, CAT stressed that projects announced in response to the current energy crisis must consume 10 percent of global energy. the remaining carbon budget by 2050. The projects also pose a significant risk of falling assets and could lead to a serious oversupply of fossil gas reserves in the coming decades if the deployment of clean energy technologies continues to accelerate.

Britain is among a number of Western governments that have ramped up oil and gas production since the Kremlin’s brutal offensive against Ukraine. This autumn, the government launched the first round of North Sea licensing in more than two years and tried to lift a moratorium on shale gas fracking, although the latest proposal by former prime minister Liz Truss was quickly rejected by her successor, Rishi Sunak.

Denmark’s Acting Energy Minister Dan Jorgensen said today that the war in Ukraine has highlighted the risks associated with fossil fuels. “Against this tragic backdrop, there is evidence that what is best for climate action, energy security, and national security are reinforcing each other,” he said in an address that emphasized the need for action to cut oil and gas supplies.

“The Stone Age didn’t end because the world ran out of rocks, and the oil age won’t end because we ran out of oil,” he added.

His comments were echoed by Cruz. “The science says 500 Gt is the maximum we can burn to stay below the 1.5 degree Celsius limit,” he said. “So it’s very simple. Six-sevenths of all proven reserves must remain under our feet forever to maintain 1.5C.”

Scotland is said to be in talks to join BOGA amid reports that Costa Rica, which co-founded the group with Denmark last year, is stepping back from leading the initiative following a change of government.

Since joining BOGA, France has enacted legislation to end all foreign fossil fuel financing, and Sweden and Quebec have announced bans on fossil fuel exploration on their territory. Denmark, the EU’s largest fossil fuel producer, similarly announced in 2020 that it would no longer pursue oil and gas licensing rounds in the North Sea.

The UK government claims that fossil fuel extraction in the North Sea meets its national climate targets on the grounds that emissions from North Sea oil and gas production are significantly lower than those from projects involving imported energy supplies. Proponents of continued research also argue that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies can make continued reliance on fossil gas compatible with net-zero goals. Great Britain the government published the plans yesterday for new contracts to help develop a new wave of CCS projects in the country’s industrial hubs.

However, climate and energy experts have criticized the government’s plans, arguing that new fossil fuel projects will undermine Britain’s climate goals and send the wrong signal to investors and foreign governments. They also pointed to the fact that most domestic oil and gas production is sold by private companies to foreign markets, so any increase in domestic supply would have little impact on energy prices or security.

In 2020, the International Energy Agency warned that new oil and gas exploration must not happen if the world is to follow a path that limits global temperature rise to 1.5C – a finding confirmed more recent analysis by the International Institute for Sustainable Development which considered the implications for fossil fuel production of a number of 1.5C pathways, including the One Earth Climate Model (OECM) and scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), BP, and the International Agency of renewable energy sources (IRENA).

BOGA’s announcements come amid growing criticism and concern over the presence of oil and gas industry executives at this year’s COP climate talks. Earlier this week, Global Witness noted that more than 630 gas lobbyists had registered to attend the event, while observers noted that gas deals were being made on the sidelines of the summit – including by the Egyptian government.

Tubiana said this afternoon that she was happy to see that the BOGA event was so well attended. “It’s a relief to see so many people [at this event] when we have so many people everywhere at the COP,” she said.

The spotlight on domestic fossil fuel research comes as negotiations at the COP27 climate summit continue to fall behind schedule amid lingering disagreements over climate finance, loss and damage and technical rules for the international carbon market. A draft title text outlining priorities for negotiators, originally expected last weekend, has not yet been released.

As fears grew that the deadlock could lead to a weak summit outcome, the highlight of COP27’s second Wednesday was the appearance of Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who pledged to end deforestation. in the Amazon and get rid of the environmentally destructive legacy of current President Jair Bolsonaro. The election winner, who this morning proposed hosting COP30 in the Brazilian Amazon, is due to address the summit’s plenary later in the afternoon. Observers said Lula’s election could have a bigger impact on the climate than any agreement reached at COP27, given the important role the Brazilian Amazon plays in regulating global temperatures.

However, a long 48 hours await the countries’ ministers and their negotiating teams, who are tasked with reaching a consensus and finalizing the agreement between now and Friday. Currently, only a handful of countries have the ambition and courage to pledge to divest from fossil fuels and join BOGA, despite the fact that a net-zero world depends on the rapid phase-out of coal, oil and gas. It remains an open question whether the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh will encourage more governments to join their ranks or provide leaders with cover for further delay.

https://www.businessgreen.com/news-analysis/4060304/tactical-game-cop27-support-grows-indias-fossil-fuel-phase-proposal ‘Tactical play, but a good one’: Support grows for India’s proposal to phase out fossil fuels at COP27

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