Another blow to fight against fossil fuels

COP27 climate conferenc

This combination of photos shows delegates snoozing during the closing session of the COP27 climate conference at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

The two-week United Nations climate summit ended in jubilation yesterday but it ignored the science on the root cause of climate change – fossil fuels extraction and use.

This year’s conference — just like the previous one — was not bold enough to include the need for phasing out fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

While countries most vulnerable to climate change are happy with the creation of a funding mechanism for climate-related loss and damage, those against fossil fuels are disappointed that 27 years since the first Conference of Parties (COP), leaders still failed to agree to phase out fossil fuels.

Predictably so, as an analysis done in the first week of COP27 by Global Witness showed that about 636 fossil fuel lobbyists had infiltrated the conference, an increase of 25 per cent compared to last year's summit.

Power Shift Africa founder and director Mohamed Adow said this year’s COP was a ‘copy and paste’ from resolutions of COP 26 in Glasgow.

“It's deeply saddening that countries couldn’t agree to commit to a phase down of all fossil fuels, not just coal, as contained in the Glasgow Pact. The science is clear — the impacts are getting worse and we know that renewables are the future. Polluting countries need to leave coal, oil and gas in the ground if we’re going to keep global heating from running out of control,” he said.

A publication issued at the conference published by the Climate Action Network had also predicted that there will likely be a cover-up on phasing out fossil fuels from this COP –and it came to pass.

“A cover decision that promotes any fossil fuel – be it coal, oil, and gas – would be an utter failure. For the world’s preeminent climate summit to have remained silent on fossil fuels for so many years was scandalous enough. For it to come out in support of fossil fuels –whether directly or through language that perpetuates the myth we can ‘fix’ fossil fuels through risky unproven technologies rather than ditch them –would be a travesty,” said the ECO publication by Climate Action Network.

Tasneem Essop, who works for the Climate Action Network International described COP27 as a “historic victory for climate justice on African soil” with the Loss and Damage text, but a COP that also “failed to address the root causes of climate change” by excluding a push to phase out all fossil fuels

“The world’s most vulnerable call COP27 a ‘missed opportunity’ due to an inability to include ‘all fossil fuels’ in the final text and to agree on a peaking of emissions before 2025,” he said in a statement.

While Kenya has branded itself as a powerhouse on renewable energy having 90 per cent of its electricity and 74 per cent of its overall energy from renewable sources, President William Ruto said this month that the country will shift to renewable energy by 2028.

In a new twist, the President, while launching Devki Company in Kwale, said that coal needs to be explored in the country, ‘to benefit the people of the Republic of Kenya.’

“We need to ask ourselves the rationale of importing coal from other countries when we have our own coal, and we can ensure that the people from Kitui benefit from the resources that are currently going to South Africa and other parts of the world, so that we can balance our issues on green energy and balance our benefits,” he said.

As the President now roots for coal exploration, the International Energy Agency released a new report on Energy day at COP27 showing that the global demand for coal has skyrocketed and that countries need a 90 per cent drop in coal use globally by 2050.

Lisa Fischer, a gas climate expert at Independent Climate Think, said it is time for countries to move on from coal.

“Global gas use is expected to reach its peak this decade, no matter how high the level of climate ambition. Solar, wind batteries, digital technologies combined are ready to form a powerful package that outcompetes gas in the power sector. A transition from coal to gas has never been less necessary, where you see it, it is an indicator of how outdated an energy planning department is, not of energy fundamentals,” said Lisa.

This article is courtesy of the Climate Tracker Fellowship. [email protected]