We are now nearing the end of COP27 but are we any nearer to implementing the main solution to climate change – replacing fossil fuels with renewables?
Perhaps one of the most significant developments so far is that reform of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) appears to have risen up the agenda. These institutions are central to supporting poorer countries make the transition to renewables as well as mitigating the devastating effects of climate injustices. The growing acceptance that reform is needed is in part thanks to the ‘Bridgetown Agenda’, which was initiated by Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, earlier in the year, and which has received support at COP27 from not only Emmanuel Macron, President of France, but also the head of the IMF itself, Kristalina Georgieva. The urgency of this reform has been voiced by Al Gore, who told the Guardian that reform of the World Bank to address “fossil fuel colonialism” and refocus on renewable energy could be done within a year.
COP27 has also provided an opportunity to make another call for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty (to which individuals and organisations can add their names – just follow the link!). Birmingham City Council endorsed the treaty in March 2022.
Other progress on leaving fossil fuels in the ground remains on the margins or in supporting functions. A side event later this week will provide an update on the progress of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), which is made up of governments and other stakeholders (including Wales but not the UK). Improvements in data are exemplified by the Climate TRACE coalition, which has used COP27 to release its latest global inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which includes detailed emissions data based on independent and mostly direct observations (not self-report) for 72,612 individual sources worldwide including specific power plants, steel mills, urban road networks, and oil and gas fields.
Unfortunately, however, at the time of writing, the main negotiations are still about ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ (which was taken out at COP26), albeit with qualified support for extending the ‘phase down’ from coal to all fossil fuels. As has been widely reported, Global Witness identified 636 fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance at COP27, while Byline Times recently reported that in the UK 52 members of the House of Lords hold interests in the fossil fuel industry and Rishi Sunak received £141,000 for his leadership campaign from donors with investments in oil, gas and aviation. It seems likely that the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP27 is manifesting in more talk about carbon markets than phaseout, with grave implications for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
Given that there is unlikely to be sufficient action to stop the generation of huge profits from continued investment in oil and gas rather than renewables, please continue to add your voice to the growing demand for government action on the climate emergency or contact us if you would like more information about BFoE.
Written by Emily Taylor
This post was written before ‘Energy Day’ at COP27 on 15th November, and we await the outcomes of that day and the rest of the conference with interest.