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COP27 negotiations risk collapse as phasing out fossil fuels omitted from cover text

Tensions are mounting in the final hours of COP27 as the newly released cover decision text fails to commit to the swift, just, and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels.

COP27 negotiations
Lorraine Chiponda of Africa Climate Movement of Movements (right) with Zeina Khalil Hajj of 350.org at the briefing

Despite calls from civil society organisations and governments worldwide including India, Tuvalu, the UK, Norway, Denmark, Spain, and the EU, the Egyptian Presidency continues to ignore calls for phase-out to be included in the text, said campaigners at a press conference on Friday, November 18, 2022. 

People across the world are depending on governments to commit to phasing out oil, gas, and coal in order to uphold the Paris Agreement 1.5C target and meet the demands of science. A petition from the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and for delivering funding on loss and damage has been signed by more than 500,000 people in the past week alone, was presented by  Tuvalu Minister of Finance, Mr. Seve Paneniu, during the press conference.

Zeina Khalil Hajj, 350.org, said: “This conference cannot be considered an implementation conference because there is no implementation without phasing out all fossil fuels. The Egyptian Presidency is failing Africa, its failing frontline communities, it’s failing civil society, it’s failing its own promise to implement, and it is failing the recommendations of the science community.”

Mr. Seve Paeniu, Minister of Finance, Tuvalu: “If we are to really be serious about keeping the 1.5°C target alive we need to include those objectives and targets in the cover decision by the end of today.  We need stronger language in the text and a decision on a ban on new fossil fuel extraction and production. We saw a breakthrough in the EU position overnight, whereby they are agreeing to set up a response fund for Loss and Damage for the most vulnerable countries.

“To me, that is a major concession and a major breakthrough. It is our hope that will end up in the text of the cover decision. There has been a widespread call from community-based, grassroots groups and individuals for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty – over half a million signatories have been gathered in support of the treaty. The phase-out of all fossil fuels must be included in the cover decision for this COP.”

Minister Susana Muhamad González, Minister for the Environment, Colombia: “It is necessary to take a clear decision at COP27 to reduce our general dependency on all fossil fuels and to accelerate a just and clean energy transition. Improving our approach under the UN Convention and the Paris Agreement with a multilateral decision.”

Catherine Abreu, Destination Zero: “This is a matter of justice, it’s a matter of saving lives and it is a measure of building accountability for producing and polluting nations. We made a leap in Glasgow last year, finally acknowledging the source of climate change – fossil fuels – but the weasley references to “unabated” coal phasedown and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies was relatively weak.

“Yet this COP risks backtracking from even the baby steps made in Glasgow. If we don’t see an outcome at COP27 that balances strong progress on energy transition away from all fossil fuels and toward renewables, and equity in the form of a loss and damage fund, we will be calling this COP a failure.”

Lorraine Chiponda, Africa Climate Movement of Movements: “COP27 happened on African soil and as African people and African communities, we thought that this was a chance for African people to speak to the solutions that are here on this continent. The need for just transition finance is not a matter of African communities begging for funds, it is a matter of justice, it’s a matter of saving lives and it is a measure of building accountability for polluting nations and a measure to build transparency around issues to do with climate.

“This COP was supposed to be a place for us to hold leaders accountable, but instead, we’ve had our leaders drinking tea with fossil fuel lobbyists, who took centre stage. The process here has been captured by polluters. Corporates and fossil fuel companies are here to influence the process to continue with business as usual, to continue to pollute.

“The big elephant in the room that our own leaders fail to address is the issue of gas. There is still no answer, there is still no solution for African people.”

Jean Su, Centre for Biological Diversity: “This is a breakthrough COP, one that for the first time in the history of three decades of COPs sees major oil and gas producing countries calling for the phase out of fossil fuels. So, what is blocking this from getting into the text? The COP Egypt Presidency.

“We are urging the Egyptian presidency to step up their responsibilities as hosts of this COP27. They must heed the calls of major oil and gas producing countries and major polluters and of incredible advocates like Tuvalu whose lives depend on this, to phase out gas, phase out oil and phase out coal.”

John Beard, Port Arthur Community Action Network: “Once again we stand at another crossroads very similar to the one we were at in Glasgow last year where baby steps were taken, but now we must go further – we must extend that reach, we must elevate our demand, we must elevate our voices.

“We must call for this cover text to contain those things that are going to bring about an end to the era of fossil fuels and promote an age of energy equity and also compensation for those who have been so adversely affected by the fossil fuel industry.

“There can be no equivocation, there can be no mincing of words, there can be no sleight of hand with language, no fuzziwuzziness. We have to be very precise and clear, the call must go out from this COP that we will accept nothing less.”

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