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Saturday, February 24, 2024

To keep 1.5ºC alive, wealthy nations must phase out fossil-fuel extraction by 2031 – Report

As the UN Climate Talks take place in Dubai, expectations are growing for governments to include a strong mention of a managed phase-out of coal and oil and gas – the substances that are most responsible for climate breakdown – in the formal COP28 outcome.

Fossil fuel pollution
Fossil fuel pollution from a coal power station 

A new report proposes science- and equity-based dates by which different countries should end coal, oil and gas extraction to limit warming to 1.5ºC, and argues that substantial amounts of international support are needed to make this possible in poorer countries.

The “Equitable Phaseout of Fossil Fuel Extraction: Towards a reference framework for a fair and rapid global phaseout” report, produced by the Civil Society Equity Review, proposes a framework for phasing out fossil fuel extraction – and for doing so in an equitable fashion. The Civil Society Equity Review was convened in 2015 and since then over 500 groups, organizations and movements have endorsed its analyses, findings and recommendations.

To limit warming to 1.5ºC and support a globally equitable transition away from fossil fuels, the report argues that no countries can build any new fossil fuel extraction infrastructure, and that wealthy fossil fuel producers whose economies are less dependent on fossil fuel extraction, such as the USA, UK, Australia, Germany and Canada, must phase out all fossil fuel extraction by 2031 at the latest, while also providing significant financial support to poorer countries that are more dependent on fossil fuel revenues and employment.

The research shows that the least dependent fossil producers must phase out extraction by the early 2030s, while poorer countries highly dependent on fossil-fuel related revenue and jobs can take until 2050. In all cases, this phase out deadlines come much sooner than governments are currently planning for. However, this is the only way CO2 emissions can be kept within the nearly depleted 1.5°C budget. The stringency results not from equity constraints, but from the extremely limited remaining carbon budget consistent with the 1.5°C goal.

The report’s key findings include:

  • “To have a decent chance of holding to the 1.5 °C limit, fossil fuel extraction must begin to decline immediately, phase down rapidly in the coming decades, and cease worldwide by 2050.”
  • “There is no room for new oil and gas fields or coal mines to be opened anywhere in the world” and “All investment in the further build-out of fossil-fuel infrastructure must stop immediately.”
  • To leave enough carbon budget for more fossil fuel-dependent economies to transition, wealthy nations that are less dependent on fossil fuel extraction such as “the United States, Norway, Australia, and the UK, must end fossil fuel extraction by the very early 2030s.”
  • “Many countries will only be able to phase out extraction if they are provided with international support” (conservatively: hundreds of billions of dollars a year) and therefore “wealthy countries must provide this climate finance and international phase-out support to the transition in poorer, dependent countries.”

Greg Muttitt, International Institute for Sustainable Development and Global Gas and Oil Network: “Limiting warming to 1.5°C requires all countries to reduce their fossil fuel extraction and use, starting now. But fairness dictates that some should reduce faster than others. To make a just transition possible in countries whose economies depend heavily on fossil fuel revenues and jobs, wealthy countries should phase out their fossil fuels within just eight years and provide significant amounts of support to poorer countries.”

Dr. Sivan Kartha, Stockholm Environment Institute: “Everyone knows that countries’ mitigation pledges under the Paris Agreement are far off track from keeping warming below 1.5°C, or even 2°C. But there is far less awareness that countries’ and corporations’ plans for producing oil, gas, and coal are even farther off track. Practically speaking, the only hope that we’ll back away from the brink is a globally fair arrangement that gives poorer countries the time and resources to manage rapid transitions away from fossil fuel production and consumption. Just such an arrangement is outlined here.”

Tom Athanasiou, Climate Equity Reference Project: “As the climate negotiations pivot, finally, to the central issues of fossil-fuel extraction and developmental justice, this report steps back and takes a long-overdue hard look at the overall structure of the problem.  Its goal is to move the discussion forward and we think that, by giving real numbers – both phase-out dates and support needs – it does just that.”

Dr. Amiera Sawas, Head of Research and Policy at the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative: “Talk of fossil fuel phase out has never been more visible in a COP. Yet developing country negotiators continue to remind us that only an equitable phase out can hope to succeed. This report offers a novel framework for facilitating a fair, fast, and funded phase out of fossil fuel extraction based on countries’ capacities, dependencies and support needs. It bases this framework in principles of equity and justice, for countries, for workers and for communities. This is a solution-oriented approach, endorsed by hundreds of civil society organisations, creating fertile ground for international and cross-sectoral collaboration to advance a global just transition.”

Anabella Rosemberg, Senior Advisor on Just Transition, Climate Action Network International: “The speed and scale of the transformations required to move away from the fossil economy can look daunting, particularly in countries that are dependent on fossil-fuel revenues, while millions of people within them depend on fossil-fuel extraction for jobs and livelihoods. The transition framework developed by civil society outlines for the first time what an equitable phase out pathway could look like for different countries, putting at its heart the need for a just transition for workers and communities, and support mechanisms for countries seeking to break away from their dependency on fossil-fuel extraction.”

Nafkote Dabi, Climate Policy Lead, Oxfam International: “The Civil Society Equity Review Report clearly shows that the richest countries are largely responsible for the climate crisis. They also have the greatest capacity to deliver the solutions we need. Rich countries should be the first to commit to the phaseout of fossil fuels. They should also commit to providing crucial financial support to developing countries to facilitate their transition to clean energy. Developing countries will only be able to transition if they are provided with international support. This is about equity and justice – COP28 must deliver these to put our world on a safer path.”

Lidy Nacpil, Asia Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD): “This report and the rigorous work it’s based on is invaluable to movements. It’s a tool for looking at what a fossil phaseout within a 1.5°C budget would really mean. The countries that are least dependent on fossil fuel extraction would have to phase out extremely fast, but even the more dependent countries would need to phase out quite fast too, providing they get the international climate finance and cooperation needed to make it possible. If the developed countries that are now calling for a fossil fuel phaseout don’t make climate finance part of the package, we’ll know they don’t really mean it.”

Bert De Wel, Climate Policy Officer, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC): “Unions demand that a transition away from fossil fuel extraction includes employment guarantees and other Just Transition support for workers, their families and communities. This report makes the international solidarity dimension of this much needed transition concrete.”

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