COP26 roundup: multilateral move to end oil and gas, as talks enter crucial phase

By on 11/11/2021 | Updated on 11/11/2021
Ten countries have committed to set an end date for their oil and gas exploration and extraction. Photo by Jan-Rune Smenes Reite via Pexels

Ten national and subnational governments have announced an end to the exploration and extraction of oil and gas at the COP26 UN climate talks in Glasgow, UK.

The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) is the first time governments have worked together to transition away from oil and gas production.

Core signatories Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Quebec, Sweden and Wales have committed to set an end date for their oil and gas exploration and extraction, and undertake other significant measures to phase out oil and gas production.

California and New Zealand have signed up as associate members, meaning they have taken significant steps to reduce oil and gas production such as subsidy reform.

The International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UN Environment Programme have all urged governments to end fossil fuel extraction and use to prevent runaway climate change.

Speaking at the launch of BOGA at COP26, Danish climate minister Dan Jørgensen said: “BOGA should also be a place where we can discuss the strategies of actually accomplishing a stop of oil and gas, because I think we all agree that a transition needs to be a just one.

“In Denmark, we made this decision, but it hasn’t been an easy one. It’s an expensive one, and it affects a lot of people. It’s important to invest in the parts of our country that are affected – this means schooling, training, re-employment of people working in the sector, while scaling up offshore wind which already employs 30,000 people,” he said.

However, major oil and gas economies such as Russia and Saudi Arabia have not joined BOGA. Jørgensen said that it was just a start, and that the alliance would work to encourage other countries to join. More members are expected to be announced in the coming days.

New climate science tool

Separately at COP26, the UN’s climate finance body the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have joined together to provide new climate information and tools on the latest climate science data to inform decisions on climate change investments, particularly for adaptation.

The initiative is designed to translate science into policy support to help tackle climate change drivers and impacts, and to build resilience to increasingly extreme weather in particular for agriculture, coastal management, disaster risk reduction, energy, fisheries, forestry, health and water.

Accompanying guidance explains how the tools can be used to recognise the contributing factors to socio-economic and environmental impacts, in order to guide policy making.

Commitment on developing climate-resilient health systems

Growing evidence of the impact of climate change on people’s health has led 50 countries to commit to develop climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems. Fourteen of these have set a target date to reach net zero carbon emissions on or before 2050 as part of the COP26 Health Programme, a partnership between the UK government, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and health groups, such as Health Care Without Harm.

Finance for developing countries lacking

Adaptation and resilience to worsening extreme weather is a key topic of the COP26 climate talks. Finance for adaptation typically only totals around 25% of the total received by developing countries, who are less responsible than richer countries for the emissions causing climate change, but with fewer resources to cope, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Climate vulnerable countries are demanding that 50% of climate finance goes to adaptation.

Talks are due to end on Friday. A draft deal published yesterday was criticised by climate campaigners and developing countries as significantly lacking in ambition, particularly in terms of providing more finance for developing countries, though it does call on countries to accelerate the phaseout of coal and fossil fuel subsidies.

About Catherine Early

Catherine is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has held permanent roles at the Environmentalist (now known as Transform), the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and has also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue. She was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition 2009, and was part of the team that won PPA Business Magazine of the Year 2011 for Windpower Monthly. She also won an outstanding content award at Haymarket Media Group’s employee awards for data-led stories in Planning magazine. She holds a 2:1 honours degree in English language and literature from Birmingham University.

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