Pressure continues to grow for the phasing out of fossil fuels ahead of the COP28 UN Climate Summit being staged at the end of November.
According to a report in the Financial Times, France, Spain, Ireland and Kenya have joined together as part of a group of 15 nations, known as the High Ambition Coalition – part of “a global accord to dump oil and gas.”
Following pre-Summit preliminary talks in Abu Dhabi, a statement signed by 15 ministers, including from poorer nations like Ethiopia, Vanuatu and Samoa, declared: “Fossil fuels are at the root of this crisis. We must work together to develop a comprehensive global clean energy access approach, to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.”
Pushing for a tripling of renewable energy capacity by 2030, the Coalition said that the production and use of fossil fuels needed to be wound down. That meant an “urgent phase-out of coal-fired power generation.”
And they warned that the scaling up of carbon capture and storage technology – advocated by industries dependent upon fossil fuels – should not be used as a climate action delaying tactic.
The UN scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said that carbon capture and storage techniques only have a minor role to play in removing carbon from the atmosphere – despite major fossil fuel producers wanting it to be given far greater priority in global climate change policies.
According to the Coalition, these technologies should not be relied upon to cut emissions in “hard to abate” sectors, such as steel and cement, or applied in power generation.
“They should not be used to delay climate action in sectors such as electricity generation where feasible, effective and cost-efficient mitigation alternatives are available, particularly in this critical decade when emissions need to be reduced urgently and dramatically,” the Coalition said.
Their views are at odds with those of Sultan al-Jaber, President-designate of COP28 and the head of the UAE’s state-owned oil company, who has repeatedly called for emissions to be reduced, rather than any phasing out of production.
Nevertheless, he has also recognised that fossil fuels needed to be wound down by an as-yet undefined mid-century deadline.
The FT also reported that the role of emissions-capturing technologies had resulted “in fraught recent discussions among EU bloc countries, as Brussels sought to agree its negotiating position ahead of COP28.”
Meanwhile, Danish global climate policy minister, Dan Jørgensen, who will be leading discussions on the so-called global stocktake for COP28, said that discussions about an unabated end to fossil fuels would be at the centre of negotiations at the forthcoming Summit.
Expressing a degree of optimism about what could be achieved at COP28, he said: “We are definitely not where we need to be on any of the issues yet. There’s a lot of work still to be done, but I do honestly feel that there is some momentum that this COP will be an important COP, where important decisions will be made and that it needs to be very ambitious.”