For Immediate Release
December 11, 2023

Al Johnson-Kurts, Oil Change International,

In the final hours of COP28, groups push to exclude the fossil fuel industry’s dangerous distractions from global climate change agreement.

Dubai, UAE – Fossil fuel phaseout is at the top of the agenda at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28), with just hours to go before countries finalize agreements on the Global Stocktake and COP28 outcomes. Poorly defined “abatement” technologies with a history of failure are being promoted by the fossil fuel industry and their government enablers in a last-minute bid to undermine a full, fast, fair, and funded phaseout of all fossil fuels.

Oil Change International recently revealed the 50 year track record of Carbon Capture’s Publicly Funded Failure. For years, CCS projects have over-promised and under-delivered. Worse still, 79% of current CCS operating capacity is used to produce more fossil fuels. Yet governments have spent over $20 billion – and are planning up to $200 billion more – of public money on CCS. Every investment in CCS provides a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry.

The oil and gas industry and its government enablers are feeling the heat, and have sent at least 475 lobbyists specializing in CCS to COP28 to promote “carbon capture” as a false alternative to ending the era of all fossil fuels. This analysis comes three days after the Kick Big Polluters Out Coalition reported a record 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists gaining access to this year’s climate talks.

In the final hours of negotiations, researchers, experts, and campaigners urge negotiators to hold a hard line for a full, equitable and just transition away from all fossil fuels, to ensure these dangerous distractions are not included in the final COP28 agreement and Global Stocktake. 

Key findings from Oil Change International’s new brief: “Carbon Capture’s Publicly Funded Failure”: 

  • Governments have spent over $20 billion – and are planning up to $200 billion more – of public money on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), providing a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.
    • To date, the top two historical subsidizers of CCS are: 1) the United States ($8.08 billion), 2) Norway ($4.12 billion), 3) the European Union, 4) the Netherlands, and 5) Canada
    • The governments who have approved the most future CCS subsidies are: 1) the United States, 2) the United Kingdom, 3) the European Union, 4) the Netherlands, and 5) Denmark
  • The majority of CCS is used to expand fossil fuel extraction. 79% of the world’s CCS operating capacity sends captured CO2 to produce more oil (via Enhanced Oil Recovery)
  • Many of the largest projects in the world operate far below their stated capacity. They are designed only to capture a fraction of the emissions of the plant they serve.

Further Information on CCS:

Video recording:

Romain Ioualalen, Oil Change International Global Policy Manager, said:

“We have never been closer to an agreement on a full fossil fuel phaseout. CCS is a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry, not people and planet, and has no place in the final COP28 text. It is madness that despite complete lack of delivery, governments are preparing to shovel hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money into more CCS, when such money could be spent on renewable energy, like wind and solar, that is proven to work at competitive prices. In the final hours of the climate negotiations, global leaders must put people over profit and not squander what could be their last opportunity to take the urgent and necessary measures to limit warming to 1.5°C. The world is watching, the clock is ticking, and leaders must rise to the occasion.”

Nikki Reisch, Center for International Environmental Law, Director, Climate & Energy Program, said: 

“The fossil fuel industry that has brought us to the brink of climate catastrophe will not save us from it. Yet major polluters like the US are giving them billions in public subsidies for dangerous distractions like CCS that only prolong dependence on oil, gas, and coal and derail the needed phaseout. Decades of carbon capture have shown it to be ineffective, uneconomic, and risky for communities. Unless we keep fossil fuels in the ground, we will keep losing ground – and lives – to climate chaos.”

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action (ICA)

“We need to see a commitment by nation-states to cut emissions at source rather than this continued misdirection on unproven techno-fixes. CCS and other technology being pushed at COP28 do nothing to address the root cause of the climate crisis and will only continue to exacerbate the impacts that many Indigenous communities already face. In my home territory, industry admitted in the 1990s – and recent research confirms – that CCS technology is prohibitively expensive and would have limited impact on reducing overall emissions. Now we see these same companies capitalizing on climate financing – greenwashing themselves as climate leaders in pursuit of further profit, land grabs, and financial handouts.”

Elise Åsnes, Spire President, said: 

“Norway has a historic responsibility for the climate crisis, and needs to implement ambitious emission cuts. Instead, the Norwegian government is using CCS as an argument for continued oil extraction. This is a dangerous distraction from the need for a full, fast, fair, and funded phaseout of all fossil fuels. Norway must be among the countries who move first and pay their fair share.”