Fossil Fuel Producing Nations Hold Back from Coalition to Phase Out Oil & Gas, Highlighting Key COP26 Sticking Point
A group of 11 national and subnational governments announced at the COP26 climate conference on Thursday the launch of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA), aimed at delivering a managed transition away from oil and gas production and setting an end date for exploration. Most major economies and oil producing countries held back from joining the coalition, however, highlighting one of the key barriers to international consensus on climate action.
Led by Costa Rica and Denmark, the group’s core members also include France, Greenland, Ireland, Quebec, Sweden and Wales. Core members commit to end new oil and gas production and exploration concessions, licensing or leasing rounds and to set a Paris-aligned date for ending oil and gas production and exploration. The initiative has a tiered membership structure, with California, New Zealand and Portugal signing on as associate members, and Italy as a “friend” of the coalition.
Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, said:
“If we want to address the climate crisis, we need a managed but decisive phase out of oil and gas production. I am delighted that new members are joining forces with Costa Rica and Denmark to set a date for the end of fossil fuel production.”
Notably absent from the list of members were major oil and gas producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, the U.S. China, Russia and Canada, as well as COP26 host nation the UK, which has been pushing for more serious climate ambitions from other nations.
Determining the place of fossil fuels in global climate strategies is proving to be a major sticking point in the COP26 negotiations. Saudi Arabia, for example has argued that climate solutions should not include a “bias” towards any particular energy source.
Setting a firm target date for an oil and gas phase-out appears quite far from the current international agenda, as much of the current COP26 debate surrounds the inclusion of language referring to fossil fuels at all in a final conference agreement. In the initial draft agreement released Wednesday, the document called for parties to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” After two days of intense negotiation, the most recent draft, issued early Friday, softened the language on both coal and oil and gas, calling on parties to accelerate “the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.”
With negotiations ongoing, it remains to be seen if the language will be weakened further, or if fossil fuels will remain in the agreement for the first time.