COP26: a new alliance pledges to end oil and gas extraction

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Denmark, France and Ireland are among countries pledging to end oil and gas production within their borders, but big producers refuse to join

Environment


November 11, 2021


A Danish oil rig. The country has pledged not to issue new oil and gas licenses

Jean Schweitzer energy pictures / Alamy

France, Sweden and Ireland have joined an alliance of countries led by Denmark and Costa Rica that is committed to ending future oil and gas production within their borders.

Portugal, California and New Zealand have moved away from this pledge but have pledged to take “significant concrete steps” to curb oil and gas production. Italy, the European Union’s second-largest oil producer, made a less ambitious pledge, saying it would align future oil and gas extraction with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The new Alliance Beyond Oil and Gas (BOGA) has been hailed as important by activists who have pushed for a global treaty to stop fossil fuel extraction, modeled on the nuclear weapons proliferation treaties. Similar international coalitions have already been formed on coal, but not yet on the other two major fossil fuels.

However, the alliance launched at the COP26 summit in Glasgow today lacks major oil and gas producers promising to end extraction.

The UK government, which is hosting the summit, has not endorsed the new initiative, an absence Oxfam has called disappointing. Yesterday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters in Glasgow he would take a look at what Denmark and Costa Rica are announcing, but did not explain why the UK is not joining.

The main members of BOGA are Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales and the Canadian province of Quebec. Wales does not have the capacity to issue oil and gas licenses; this power rests with the British government. Portugal, California and New Zealand are “associate” members of BOGA, while Italy is considered a “friend” of the coalition.

“Our goal is not small, our ambition is not small. We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of oil and gas, ”said Dan Jørgensen, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities.

Denmark said last year it would no longer issue new oil and gas licenses, but there is no date yet when other countries will stop authorizing new oil and gas projects. France produces very little oil and gas but passed a law in 2017 banning new oil and gas projects by 2040.

“The launch marks a break with decades of international climate policy in which the issue of aligning fossil fuel production with carbon budgets has been ignored,” said Tzeporah Berman of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative fossil fuels in a press release. “We urge other countries to join this important initiative to stop the expansion of oil, gas and coal.”

A draft COP26 final deal calls for an accelerated coal phase-out, although today’s and tomorrow’s negotiations may see this cut from the text. Some countries at the top lobbied in negotiations to add oil and gas to the project, but it would be a major surprise if it were included.

Separately today, a new analysis found that the summit’s sidelines on climate, deforestation, methane, coal and cars, made a big dent in future CO2 emissions. The nonprofit Climate Action Tracker said the commitments would reduce global emissions in 2030 by about 2 billion tonnes, or about 5% of global emissions in 2021.

Talks continue in Glasgow, with a new version of the final deal expected overnight, if sticking points on climate finance and other issues can be overcome. COP26 President Alok Sharma said this morning: “I want to be clear: we are not there yet. There is still a lot of work to be done. “

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