Spotlight on fossil fuels as parties thrash out COP26 final deal

Energy & Climate Change

From Karen Thomas in Glasgow

Fossil fuels, their subsidies and prospects for phasing them out were the hot topic overnight in Glasgow as signatories to the Paris Agreement worked towards the final deal from the COP26 climate summit, which was due to end today, 12th November 2021.

Negotiators regroup mid-morning to work towards the so-called cover decision, the unanimous deal to shape countries’ actions post-COP.

If they fail to reach a deal by this evening, the talks will drag on over the weekend.

A proposal to phase out coal is on the table. But states face growing pressure to stop subsidising fossil fuels – and phasing out these polluters entirely is now a conference sticking point.

Based on their current pledges, parties will increase global emissions by 2.4˚C by the end of the century. United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres described this to a plenary meeting yesterday as “a catastrophic track”.

Pressure cranked up another notch yesterday, Denmark and Costa Rica announcing to a packed press conference a new, eight-nation bloc pledging to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) is backed by France, Wales, Ireland, Greenland, Quebec and Sweden. BOGA members pledge to stop licensing new oil and gas exploration and production and have declared that phasing out fossil-fuel extraction is “an urgent and crucial” step in tackling the climate crisis.

Costa Rica environment minister Andrea Meza says it will take “a decisive phase-out of oil and gas production” to tackle the climate crisis.

Italy has become a Friend of BOGA. COP26 host nation Scotland is under mounting pressure to join. California and New Zealand are associate members. BOGA members commit to fix a date to end oil and gas production to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, and to “instigate significant measures” to cut production of oil and gas.

The UK government declined to join, arguing that to stop producing fossil fuels could send energy supply off a cliff.

“Our goal is not small; our ambition is not modest,” Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen told the launch. “We hope that today will mark the beginning of the end of oil and gas. We don’t answer this call for the thrill of the challenge. We do it because we truly believe that we need to.

“We are unwilling to accept the consequences if we don’t.”

NGOs have welcomed the move. “To begin healing form the climate catastrophe we have created, we must first stop digging our way to destruction,” says Power Shift Africa founder and director Mohamed Adow.

“Ending our extraction and use of oil and gas is a necessary step in ending our self-harming addiction to fossil fuels… The sooner we can move beyond oil and gas, the sooner the planet can begin to heal.”

Destination Zero executive director Catherine Abreu praised the BOGA nation for “changing the game”. She said: “They’re authoring a new definition of climate leadership – one that no longer allows countries to hind behind flashy pledges while continuing to pump out coal, gas and oil.”

More #COP26 news bits, follow @KT_environment

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