Sheep on a road face of mobile offshore drilling units in the port of Cromarty Firth in Cromarty, UK, on Tuesday 23 June 2020.
Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON – Costa Rica and Denmark lead efforts to create the world’s first diplomatic alliance cope with the decline in oil and gas production.
The initiative’s co-leaders, known as the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, are trying to set a deadline for ending oil and gas production that would lead countries to align with the 2015 Paris Agreement. This legally binding treaty aims to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels – and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Compliance with the terms of the agreement is generally seen as extremely important in order to avoid an irreversible climate crisis.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance is expected to be officially launched in early November at UN-brokered climate talks, a summit known as COP26.
Until then, Costa Rica and Denmark are trying to convince as many countries and jurisdictions as possible to join them to end oil and gas exploration.
It comes at a time when policymakers are under intense pressure to meet the demands of the climate emergency. Burning fossil fuels like oil and gas is the main driver behind the climate crisis, and yet the world’s dependence on fossil fuels is expected to get worse in the coming decades.
Dan Jorgensen, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, said during an online webinar by the International Renewable Energy Agency on Thursday: “Science is clear. We cannot negotiate with nature.”
“There is no scenario where we burn all the oil and gas we can find and stay below 2 degrees – and definitely not 1.5. It’s just not possible so we have to stop.”
They are now simply inferior technologies. They weren’t inferior in the last century, but in this century they have become inferior technologies given all the other alternatives we have.
Former UN climate chief
Denmark committed in December last year to end all future license rounds for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea and to halt oil and gas production by 2050. At that time, the relatively small European country was the largest oil producer in the European Union.
“On the one hand, asking a country is a big deal,” said Jorgensen, acknowledging the challenge of convincing others to join the alliance.
“What you’re saying, like one of my political opponents did when I proposed this in Denmark, is, ‘So, basically, you want us to say no to free money? You want us to stop making money To pump soil so that others can do it instead of us? ‘”
“And I had to say: Well,” Jorgensen continued. “But there is a good reason.”
Andrea Meza, Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister, said Thursday that some opposition parties are pushing the country’s government to use oil and gas revenues to fund their energy transition. “We are very clear that this is not the right way.”
Costa Rica, a Central American country of around 5 million people, has never produced oil. In addition, it is currently considering a bill permanently banning fossil fuel exploration to ensure that no future government does so.
When asked in the same webinar why other countries would consider joining her initiative, Meza said that platforms like the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance need to exist to show others that it is possible.
“It’s just a planet,” said Meza. “It’s not about getting things right inside our countries and… selling all the old technology outside of our borders. That’s not fair.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C), Costa Rica’s First Lady Claudia Dobles (L) and Costa Rica’s Minister for Environment and Energy Andrea Meza (R) are seen during the introduction of the National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystems Monitoring Systems ( SIMOCUTE) in San Jose on June 2, 2021.
EZEQUIEL BECERRA | AFP | Getty Images
Research published September 9 in the journal Nature found that the vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must be kept underground to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
Separately, an analysis published Wednesday by Carbon Action Tracker showed that none of the world’s major economies are currently on track to curb global warming towards the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
It follows a bomb report from the influential but typically conservative International Energy Agency earlier this year. The IEA concluded that if the world were to achieve net zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050, there could be no new oil, gas or coal developments.
Environmental activists and Indians march to the construction site for the Line 3 oil pipeline near Palisade, Minnesota on January 9, 2021. Line 3 is an oil sands pipeline that runs from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin in the United States.
KEREM YUCEL | AFP | Getty Images
The Dane Jorgensen said it was “rude” to name certain countries but called it a “paradox” that many governments announced their commitment to net zero by 2050 while planning to extract oil and gas to others for sale. These countries include the USA, Canada, Norway and Great Britain.
“You’re not going to burn it yourself thinking that others shouldn’t either, but are you going to make money selling oil to other countries? It doesn’t make any sense,” he added.
Jorgensen said he does not want to dismiss the fact that signing the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance’s undisclosed pledges would involve tough economic decisions, especially for those heavily dependent on oil and gas. “But it’s the difficult questions that we have to ask ourselves.”
“Can we live with a future where we don’t? I don’t think we can.”
Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres spoke on Thursday with Denmark’s Jorgensen and Costa Rica’s Meza to address the urgent need for governments to drastically reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. She cited air pollution, mainly caused by fossil fuel burning, which kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide each year.
Figueres also stressed that the economic imperatives to go beyond oil and gas are imperative. “They are now just inferior technologies. They weren’t inferior in the last century, but this century they have become inferior technologies given all the other alternatives we have.”
Pipes for the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline will be stacked in Houstrup Strand near Noerre Nebel, Jutland, Denmark on February 23, 2021. The Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, which is to go ashore near Esbjerg on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula, will transport ten billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Norwegian gas fields in the North Sea via Denmark to Poland.
JOHN RANDERIS HANSEN | AFP | Getty Images
An increasing number of cities banning the use of fossil fuel vehicles would likely usher in the “demise of oil,” Figueres said. Ending gas production could take longer since it’s recognized as a transition fuel, she said, but still not more than 20 to 30 years since alternative fuels like hydrogen and ammonia hit the market, “that will” be able to compete well. “
In summary, Figueres said that the economic case, the “poking” of litigation in Europe and elsewhere, and a “totally lost” social license for these fuels showed that there is no more room for oil and gas exploration.