An alliance of national and regional governments headed by Denmark and Costa Rica today at COP26 formally committed their nations to phase out the production of oil and gas.
The measure from Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) is clear: the world needs to stop producing oil and gas with a firm end-date.
It is also calling for countries to pull the plug on any new licensing rounds or lease sales with immediate effect.
“Our goal is not small; our ambition is not modest. We hope that today will mark the beginning of the end of oil and gas,” Dan Jorgensen, Denmark's Minister for Climate, Energy & Utilities, said at the launch.
He said the world does not want talk, but “bold, tangible action and that is what the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance is here to deliver”.
“There is no future for oil and gas in a 1.5 degrees world,” Jorgensen said.
Alliance co-founders Denmark and Costa Rica have already lined up 10 more members — the national governments of France, Greenland, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and New Zealand, the UK's devolved government of Wales, the California state government in the US and the Canadian provincial government of Quebec.
Core members of BOGA such as France, Greenland and Ireland have committed to end new concessions, licensing or leasing rounds for oil and gas production and exploration and to set a Paris-aligned date for ending production and exploration for oil and gas on the territory over which they have jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, associate members including Portugal will have taken “significant concrete steps” that contribute to reducing oil and gas production, such as subsidy reform or an end to international public financial support for international upstream ventures.
BOGA, which has been making its voice heard at ministerial meetings during COP26, expects to name some new members within the next days, according to Jorgensen, who added that the alliance was talking to the UK's devolved Scottish government, among other governments he declined to name.
Climate summit host UK will not be coming on board, anytime soon, sources said.
Denmark late last year cancelled its latest licensing round and announced it would new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, as part of a wider plan to stop extracting fossil fuels by 2050.
Another BOGA core member, Sweden, will next year put in place legislation banning both the production and exploration of gas and coal in Swedish territory, a minister from the Scandinavian nation said.
Sian Bradley, senior research fellow at international affairs think tank Chatham House, said today marked “a seminal moment for climate leadership”.
“It is now widely accepted that we must phase out coal, but the need to take decisive action on oil and gas has, until now, been missing from climate commitments," said Bradley.
"Now at COP26, the need to phase out oil and gas is finally landing on the political agenda in response to the political courage of Denmark and Costa Rica.”
Of the two founding members, Denmark will bear the lion’s share of the upstream impact. Denmark in 2019 produced 103,000 barrels per day of oil — making it then the second largest European Union crude producer after the UK — and a total of 3.2 billion cubic metres of gas.
In contrast, Costa Rica has never produced oil although a US independent in 1998 was awarded four exploration blocks in the Limon basin on its Caribbean coast after a licensing hiatus of more than 30 years.
Three subsequent governments have imposed a moratorium on exploration however Andrea Meza, Costa Rica’s new Environment & Energy Minister said there is a powerful business and political lobby for the exploitation of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources.
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