India is gaining support for its proposal that countries agree to phase out all fossil fuels at the UN climate summit in Egypt, instead of the more limited deal to cut coal reached at the last summit.
The country that gets most of its energy supply from coal was blamed along with China for weakening the final agreement on the end of coal use at the Glasgow summit last year.
India’s attempt to divert attention from coal at COP27 has unexpectedly gained ground. EU green chief Frans Timmermans said Tuesday the bloc supported “any call to phase out all fossil fuels.”
A comprehensive commitment to phase out all fossil fuels has not previously appeared in a final COP agreement. But moving away from the use of coal, oil and gas is crucial to limiting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change, scientists conclude.
Timmermans said that as long as the commitment to phase out coal is not undermined as a result, the Indian proposal would be acceptable.
The risk could be that a deal on all fossil fuels could result in a slowdown in phasing out coal-fired plants, if it sticks with the timetable for phasing out oil and gas.
Any deal “should not divert our attention and our efforts to phase down coal,” Timmermans said.
Another critical point surrounds any reference to limit global warming to 1.5°C, which dates back to the Paris Agreement. Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and severe with every fraction of a degree of warming. Temperatures have already risen by at least 1.1°C in the industrial age.
Reaching the 1.5°C target requires tougher and faster action than limiting warming to 2°C, the less ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.
US climate envoy John Kerry told a weekend briefing that “very few” parties had raised the issue and he did not believe the Egyptian COP27 presidency wanted its legacy to be associated with the removal. of the global warming goal.
The Egyptian team met with the countries to discuss their priorities and concerns on Tuesday afternoon, before writing a final draft text.
COP27 ambassador Wael Aboulmagd said the presidency “will do everything in its power, of course, to encourage the parties to agree.”
India’s proposal on including all fossil fuels in the Egyptian deal builds on discussions in Glasgow last year. At COP26, India was “very consistent in the negotiating rooms” in asking for a commitment to include all fossil fuels, not just coal, said David Waskow, WRI’s director of international climate action.
“There were some people who thought at first [of COP] this was a bargaining tactic” by the Indian delegation, he added. However, there is now growing support for it, he said.
However, any blanket policy to end the use of all fossil fuels is likely to meet fierce resistance from countries dependent on oil and gas exports.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview that tackling climate change “is not about the production of fossil fuels” but about cutting emissions across all sectors. Asked if Riyadh believed a phase-down or phase-out of oil and gas would be necessary to limit global warming, he said “not even a phase-down.”
India’s proposal could culminate in a “showdown” between OPEC countries and others, an energy analyst said at COP27. Getting such a compromise in a final COP deal would be a “long shot,” they said.
The United Arab Emirates, a member of OPEC, will host the COP28 summit next year.
Climate experts have also raised concerns about the influence of the oil and gas industry and its lobbyists at COP27. The Forum of Gas Exporting Countries and OPEC held a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday to discuss “the importance that oil and gas will continue to play” in global energy. The groups will deliver formal statements to the conference on Wednesday.