U.K. Rejects Alliance Seeking Fixed Date to End Oil and Gas
The U.K. won’t join an alliance of countries fixing a date to phase out oil and gas production, in a move that calls into question the COP26 host nation’s climate leadership.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance is being spearheaded by the governments of Denmark and Costa Rica and is expected to announce as many as 10 to 15 new members on Wednesday at the climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, said people familiar with the matter.
California, the seventh-largest U.S. oil-producing state, also is on track to join the coalition, further cementing its aim to shift away from fossil fuels despite its long history producing crude, said two people familiar with the matter. Spokespeople with the California governor’s office did not immediately respond to emails and calls seeking comment.
Limiting oil and gas production is one of the key priorities for capping global warming at 1.5-degrees Celsius. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency said no new oil and gas fields should come online if a climate crisis is to be averted.
But the U.K. -- which recently had to contend with record-high natural gas prices -- says it won’t back the alliance because ending fossil fuel production could cause a cliff edge in energy supply.
“No other significant oil- and gas-producing nation has gone as far as the U.K. in supporting sector’s gradual transition to a low-carbon future,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“While the U.K.’s reliance on fossil fuels continues to fall, there will continue to be ongoing but diminishing need for oil and gas over the coming years while we ramp up renewable energy capacity.”
The U.K.is seeking to become climate neutral by 2050 and in March announced a plan to decarbonize oil and gas production in the North Sea.
To join the alliance as “core members,” countries must commit to ending new concessions, licensing or leasing rounds for oil and gas exploration and extraction. They also must target a date for ending oil and gas production and exploration that is aligned “with the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” according to the group’s declaration document.
Unlike other pledges inked on the sidelines of the summit in Scotland, this has real teeth, said Romain Ioualalen, global policy campaign manager with advocacy group Oil Change International. “The bar to get into the coalition is quite significant,” he said. “It isn’t a greenwashing exercise.”
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