COP27: India draws support for wider climate target than coal alone

COP27: India draws support for wider climate target than coal alone

Receive free COP27 updates

We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest COP27 news every morning.

India is gaining support for its proposal that countries agree to the global phase-down of all fossil fuels at UN climate summit in Egypt. This is in contrast to the earlier, narrower deal to reduce coal.

China and India were both blamed for weakening last year’s final agreement on ending coal use.

India’s attempt to take the focus away from coal at COP27 has gained traction unexpectedly. Frans Timmermans, the EU’s green chief, said Tuesday that the bloc supports any call to “phase down all fossil fuels”.

A broad commitment to phase down all fossil fuels has never been included in a final COP Agreement. Scientists conclude that the shift away form coal, oil, and gas use is crucial for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing global climate change.

Timmermans stated that the Indian proposal was acceptable provided that the commitment to phase down coal was not compromised.

It is possible that an agreement on all fossil fuels could slow down the phase-down coal-powered plants, provided it is brought in line with the timeline for oil and gas phasing out.

Any agreement “shouldn’t divert our attention or our efforts to phase out coal”, Timmermans stated.

Another concern is any reference to limit global heating to 1.5C that dates back to The Paris Agreement. Extreme weather events will become more frequent and more severe with each degree of global warming. The industrial era has seen temperatures rise by at least 1.1C.

To achieve the 1.5C goal, it is more difficult and takes more time than limiting global warming to 2C (the less ambitious Paris Agreement goal).

US climate envoy John Kerry said at a weekend briefing that “very few” parties had raised the issue, and he did not believe the COP27 Egyptian presidency would want its legacy to be associated with the removal of the global warming goal. The Egyptian team met with other countries on Tuesday afternoon to discuss their concerns and priorities, before drafting a final text.

COP27 ambassador Wael Aboulmagd said the presidency would “do everything in its power of course to encourage parties to agree”. The Indian proposal to include all fossil fuels into the Egyptian agreement is based on the discussions held in Glasgow last year. At COP26, India was “very consistent in the negotiating rooms” in asking for the pledge to include all fossil fuels, not just coal, said David Waskow, director of international climate action at WRI.

“There was some thinking at the beginning of COP that this was a negotiating tactic” by the Indian delegation, he said. He said that there was now increasing support for it.

Any blanket policy to eliminate all fossil fuels will likely face fierce resistance from countries that depend on oil and gas exports.

Ali al-Jubeir (Saudi Arabia’s minister for foreign affairs) stated in an interview that combating climate change is not about the production of fossil fuels but about reducing emissions across all sectors. When Riyadh was asked if a phase down or outright phase out of oil and natural gas would be necessary in order to limit global warming, he replied “not even phase down”.

India’s proposal could culminate in a “showdown” between Opec countries and others, said one energy analyst at COP27. They said that getting such a commitment into a final agreement at COP would be difficult.

The United Arab Emirates, an Opec member, is hosting next year’s COP28 summit.

Climate experts have also flagged concerns about the influence of the oil and gas industry and its lobbyists at COP27. Opec and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum held a meeting Monday in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss “the important role that oil and gas will still play” in global energy. On Wednesday, the groups will make formal statements to conference participants.

Climate Capital

Where climate change meets business, markets and politics. Explore the FT’s coverage here.

Are you interested in the FT’s commitments to environmental sustainability? Find out more about our science-based targets here

Read More