Nov 11, 2021
In what environmentalists hope will mark a "turning point" in the global climate fight, a coalition of nations led by Costa Rica and Denmark formally launched the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance on Thursday with the stated goal of halting all new drilling and ultimately phasing out fossil fuel production for good.
Announced at the tail end of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, BOGA represents the world's first coordinated diplomatic initiative aimed at keeping planet-warming fossil fuels in the ground, advocates said.
"We are hearing the world outside these walls and we note that the science is clear: We really need to accelerate action."
"Costa Rica and Denmark and those that have joined them in the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance are changing the game," Catherine Abreu, executive director of Destination Zero, said in a statement. "They're authoring a new definition of climate leadership, one that no longer allows countries to hide behind flashy pledges while continuing to pump out coal, oil, and gas."
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen said that "it is our ambition that this will be the beginning of the end of oil and gas."
"We hope that this will inspire others," he added.
Last year, Denmark vowed to completely phase out fossil fuel extraction by 2050--a pledge that climate activists criticized as inadequate.
Joining Costa Rica and Denmark as core members of BOGA are Greenland, Ireland, France, Sweden, Wales, and the Canadian province of Quebec, which have pledged to "end new concessions, licensing, or leasing rounds for oil and gas production and exploration and to set a Paris-aligned date for ending oil and gas production and exploration."
California and New Zealand have signed on as associate members of the alliance, which means they have "taken significant concrete steps that contribute to the reduction of oil and gas production."
Notably, BOGA does not currently include the world's four largest national oil producers--the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Russia. The government of the United Kingdom, the host of COP26, has also not joined the alliance.
"We are hearing the world outside these walls and we note that the science is clear: We really need to accelerate action," Andrea Meza, Costa Rica's environment minister, said during a press conference in Glasgow Thursday. "Every dollar that we invest in fossil fuel projects... is one less dollar for renewables or for the conservation of nature."
The official BOGA declaration, published on the coalition's website, states that "we all must act to align oil and gas production with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and industrialized countries should lead the way."
"If this alliance can convince more countries and regions to join, isolate laggards, and push its members towards more ambition, then it will be a success."
"More oil and gas resources need to be left in the ground, and all jurisdictions with existing oil and gas production sectors will need to transition these in a socially just manner," the document reads. "Other measures, such as ending public financing to oil and gas production overseas and removing domestic production subsidies, are also impactful in reducing the unsustainable supply of fossil fuels."
Romain Ioualalen, global policy campaign manager at Oil Change International, said Thursday that the launch of BOGA "puts to shame claims of climate leadership among countries like the United Kingdom, Norway, the United States, and Canada, all of which have yet to answer this simple question: Where is your plan to stop producing the fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis?"
"While more and more countries and regions are starting to heed the call to end the expansion of oil and gas production, far more needs to be done," said Ioualalen. "Ending licensing rounds is a necessary first step, but implementing the [International Energy Agency's] call to stop all new oil and gas development, including in licensed areas, must also be part of all countries' climate plans."
"If this alliance can convince more countries and regions to join, isolate laggards, and push its members towards more ambition," he added, "then it will be a success."
\u201cBREAKING: 10 governments and regions have just announced @beyondoilgas, the world\u2019s FIRST diplomatic initiative designed to address the top cause of the climate crisis: fossil fuel production.\n\nThe end of fossil fuels is in sight. Let's push for more: https://t.co/P7fhuMnK1c\u201d— Indigenous Environmental Network (@Indigenous Environmental Network) 1636645436
BOGA's launch came amid mounting outrage over the inadequate pledges that have thus far emerged from the high-stakes COP26 summit, which is teeming with lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry.
On Wednesday, the U.K. government released a draft decision text that urges countries to "accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels" but does not lay out a specific timeline for action. It's unclear whether even that vague language will remain in the final text, which world leaders are still negotiating ahead of COP26's scheduled end on Friday.
Tim Whyte, secretary-general of ActionAid Denmark, said in a statement Thursday that "joining an alliance like BOGA is the test ground for whether governments are seriously moving away from the deadly path we are on or whether all the promises we hear at the COP26 are yet again greenwashing of continued expansion of oil and gas."
"It is also the test ground for the success of the summit to keep the 1.5degC goal alive," Whyte added. "To meet this target, countries need to stop licensing new oil and gas fields and countries in the Global North should support a just transition in the Global South."
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