We are in the business end of the COP27 negotiations, as delegates haggle over the final declaration. As I write, the news from Sharm El-Sheikh regarding the all important text is deeply concerning and comprehensively flawed.
Drafts of the new text, which have just been published this morning, are being criticised for showing a clear lack of ambition and for some very obvious omissions.
As it stands there are serious areas of concern regarding the text. Firstly, the new text is similar to the one published yesterday which does not mention oil and gas at all, or the equitable phasing out of fossil fuels, as many commentators on Twitter have been pointing out:
?? #COP27 presidency draft of political decisions:
This proposal appears to be more a cover up than a proposal for cover decisions!
?We live in a #FossilFuels crisis, yet draft text:
??fails to call for a phase out of #FossilFuels
??actually opens door for status quo
— ? Sébastien Duyck – at #COP27 ??? (@duycks) November 17, 2022
The draft #COP27 outcome text came out overnight and it includes a number of flaws & fossil fuelled loopholes big enough to drive a drill rig through.
? It doesn't mention oil & gas.
? It uses vague loopholes like "unabated coal" and "inefficient subsidies"
A ?for more.
— Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative (@fossiltreaty) November 17, 2022
Secondly, the text is showing a clear and compelling lack of ambition. Every COP has to be more ambitious than the last. However, rather than ratcheting up ambition from COP26, there are real concerns that the COP27 declaration will actually be a watering down over commitments made at Glasgow.
3/7 The #COP27 cover decision must not backslide, but rather demonstrate progress from the Glasgow text on #1o5C and ALL fossil fuels.
— Climate Action Network International (CAN) (@CANIntl) November 17, 2022
The draft text also includes qualifying statements that could allow countries to wriggle out of commitments such as the need for “rationalizing” “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.
This kind of language will be music to the ears of the hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists swarming all over Sharm El-Sheikh. It has been widely criticised by members of the Global Gas and Oil Network. Joseph Sikulu, from the Pacific Climate Warriors, responded “The continued extraction of fossil fuels will push us far beyond 1.5 degrees of warming, which means more intense cyclones, more floods and more sea level rise eating at our shorelines and destroying our homes.”
Sikulu added: “The cover text produced last night is an abject failure, we are going backwards not forwards and my people will be the ones that face the brunt.”
Satyendra Prasad, the Fiji ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations also said that “Fossil fuels must be phased out, period … There is no question, there is no stable planet for all of us including those who are arguing for a slower phasing down, that fossil fuels are not part of a 1.5°C feature for the planet. That era is gone.”
The need for a phase out of fossil fuels was reiterated time and again on Wednesday by civil society organisations from across the world in the “Phase Out Fossil Fuel Day” at COP. My colleague, David Tong said simply: “Governments must play their part. Governments must phase out fossil fuels, on the basis of equity alongside just transition measures. It is too late to confront one fossil fuel at a time. Phase out oil. Phase out gas. Phase out coal. Put it in the text.”
As Oil Change International (OCI) and other civil society groups have repeatedly pointed out, there can be no pathway to 1.5°C that does not include phasing out fossil fuels immediately.
Our message for leaders at #COP27 is loud and clear:
There is no pathway to 1.5°C that does not #PhaseOutFossils immediately. The #COP27 cover decision MUST recognize this in order to protect frontline communities & push a fast, just, and equitable transition. #PhaseOutFossils pic.twitter.com/aedCoCs06h
— Oil Change International (@PriceofOil) November 16, 2022
If we do not phase out fossil fuels and start a just transition, the industry will just carry on drilling. On Wednesday, OCI also issued a new briefing called “Investing in Disaster” that reveals that both new oil and gas production approved so far in 2022, and is scheduled to be approved over the next three years could cumulatively cause 70 billion tonnes of new carbon pollution.
To put this into context, that is equivalent to almost two years’ worth of global carbon emissions from energy at current levels or 17 percent of the world’s remaining 1.5°C carbon budget.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, a diplomatic initiative of countries and subnational actors that have committed to phasing out oil and gas production in line with the Paris Agreement, also announced new supporters and core members. Members reiterated their call for a phase out of oil and gas production.
Catherine Abreu, the Director and Founder of Destination Zero, said: “The science is unequivocal: immediately ending expansion of fossil fuels and making a rapid, just transition to efficiency and renewables is our only hope of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, added: “Africans know first hand the devastating impacts that burning oil and gas is doing to the climate … Getting rid of coal alone is not going to save the planet. If we want to keep the Paris goals and fend off the worst ravages of climate breakdown, countries are going to have to do the hard work of phasing out oil and gas and leaving them in the ground. This is a message which needs to be heard.”
Instead of the watered down, fossil fuel friendly declaration it seems that world leaders at COP will sign, there is an alternative “Peoples’ Declaration” which was issued after the Peoples Plenary yesteday.
To me this reflects the true will of billions of people already feeling the true impact by climate change.
HAPPENING NOW: The People's Plenary session to demand systemic change and the urgent need for climate justice. #PeoplesPlenaryCOP27#WeAreNotYetDefeated@CANIntl @iipcc_org @WGC_Climate @gcdcj @ituc @IYCM pic.twitter.com/nVzR5gY6c3
— COP27 Coalition (@Cop27Coalition) November 17, 2022
It states simply “Fossil fuels are the core driver of the climate emergency. Nations must commit to lead a swift, just, and equitable phaseout of fossil fuel production by 2030 to stay well below 1.5°C. We must transition to just and equitable people-owned, decentralised renewable energy and energy efficiency systems to prevent catastrophic harms to all peoples. We cannot allow the fossil fuel industry to continue writing the rules and bankrolling the climate negotiations”.
Nothing less than this will do. The world is watching. The clock is ticking.