The commitments of COP26 seem to have been forgotten in the rush to approve new oil and gas fields, ostensibly justified by the need for energy security.
On June 1st the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty organisation (FFNPT) published the report Fuelling Failure, How oil, gas and coal are driving climate change and sabotaging the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The report points out that …Current international climate agreements primarily focus on emissions reductions and make no mention of fossil fuels. What is required is an international framework with binding commitments that constrain fossil fuel production globally to sit alongside the Paris Agreement and complement existing pledges to cut emissions, reverse biodiversity loss and curtail pollution….The fate of Earth’s climate and the SDGs are inextricably linked. Failing to tackle climate change and prevent the current crisis from intensifying will mean the aims and ambitions of all seventeen SDGs will slip further out of reach with some goals becoming impossible endeavours.
Limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C implies that fossil fuel production must be tightly constrained and ultimately phased out, rapidly and equitably. Such action, in the words of the IPCC, is “fundamental” to limiting global heating. Put simply, humanity cannot tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution or prevent irreparable climate-induced loss and damage around the world without ending the use of fossil fuels or leaving reserves safely in the ground.
A new approach is required that aligns efforts and initiatives to achieve all 17 of the SDGs with a fair and fast fossil fuel phase out.
A global, just carbon pricing policy as suggested by a rising number of organisations could complement the FFNPT’s proposed moratorium on the extraction of new fossil fuels reserves or contribute greatly to a just transition if the aims of the FFNPT are not achieved.
In the UK yesterday, (8th June), Michael Lewis, CEO of E.on spoke at the Accelerating the Transition from Fossil Fuels and Securing Energy Supplies evidence session, (Environmental Audit Committee), stating that insulating the 19 million poorly insulated UK homes (up to EPC rate C) would save the equivalent of six nuclear power plants worth of energy. He also tweeted that …“Solar panels on roofs is a no brainer to put on new build homes.” Dr Steve Pye, (UCL Energy Institute), pointed out that “To meet 1.5C, we need to think about the impact of our production in the global context. 60 % of oil and gas reserves globally need to stay in the ground. For the UK, we need to see a 6-7% reduction in production annually.”
Ramping up renewable energy and insulation instead of licensing new oil and gasfields would be quicker, cheaper and not break our Net Zero 2050 commitments. Putting a steadily rising carbon price on fossil fuels at source (rather than at point of emission) would send the message that further exploitation of fossil fuels is not the solution! Using the carbon fee as a dividend would more than offset the rising fossil fuel prices for most householders.