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Late-night fossil gasoline combat leaves bitter style after Cop27



After two grueling nights of time beyond regulation in Sharm el-Sheikh, the blame sport started, with allegations of stonewalling and hypocrisy

After a late-night battle over fossil fuels, local weather negotiators and observers left Cop27 accusing one another of “bad faith” and hypocrisy.

On one of many talks most explosive points – loss and harm – the summit produced a significant breakthrough. The EU reached an settlement with growing nations, ending many years of wealthy nation refusal to arrange a fund to assist local weather victims in weak nations recuperate.

Nevertheless it’s a combat on fossil fuels that dominated the last-hour political wrangling. For hours on Saturday night time, negotiators engaged in heated, however in the end futile, debate on whether or not to name for a phaseout of coal, oil and gasoline.

An alliance of greater than 80 developed and growing nations backed a name to wind down fossil fuels. That wasn’t sufficient for Egypt to open it as much as negotiation.

The Cop27 presidency saved disagreements behind closed doorways and didn’t embrace the proposal as an choice within the cowl textual content – to the frustration of many. The ultimate determination textual content barely modified from the penultimate draft.

German overseas minister Annalena Baerbock, who, beneath the EU’s umbrella, had referred to as for stronger carbon-cutting language, blamed “stonewalling and organisational shortcomings”.

An Egyptian official advised Local weather Dwelling that growing nations may minimize emissions extra aggressively if wealthy nations had, as promised, supplied them with the funding to take action.

Others accused wealthy nations of hypocrisy, pointing to continued oil and gasoline enlargement in some the world’s richest nations, notably the US.

The strife provides a style of what’s to return. Calls to wind down the fossil gasoline trade will solely intensify at subsequent 12 months’s Cop28, hosted by main oil and gasoline producer UAE.

What’s at stake

Producing and burning coal, oil and gasoline account was liable for 64% of all human-caused emissions in 2019. However 25 local weather summits handed with none point out of fossil fuels in determination texts.

At Cop26 in Glasgow, nations dedicated to speed up “the phasedown of unabated coal” – naming probably the most polluting vitality supply for the primary time. The language was repeated by the world’s 20 largest economies at summit in Bali in parallel to the Sharm el-Sheikh talks.

Campaigners hoped Cop27 would prolong coal’s censure to all fossil fuels. Egyptian petroleum minister Tarek el-Molla had different concepts.

Forward of the assembly, he mentioned Cop27 would promote gasoline as a “perfect solution” to local weather change. Buoyed by Europe’s scramble for gasoline provides, Egypt has been in search of new gasoline offers.

The battle traces

It was India that first proposed to apply the part down language to all fossil fuels. Coal accounts for 70% of India’s electrical energy era and its officers felt the gasoline was unfairly singled out in Glasgow.

A broad vary of nations seized on the proposal. The EU, UK, Australia, US and ultimately Canada got here on board. Small island states and Latin American governments like Chile and Colombia rallied behind the decision.

Oil and gasoline producers Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia opposed it. Talking on behalf of the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia’s lead negotiator Albara Tawfiq advised the plenary that the UN local weather conference “needs to address emissions and not the origins of the emissions”.

Others remained silent. China was quiet all through whereas the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) averted taking a public stance. Requested whether or not fossil gasoline phase-out is required, Ghana’s particular envoy to the Local weather Weak Discussion board, Henry Kokufu, shot again “for developed or developing countries?”

“Renewable energies remain the best option,” he mentioned, however added that Ghana has a petrochemical trade. Petrochemicals are derived from oil and gasoline.

‘Trench warfare’ 

The way forward for fossil fuels was not on the formal agenda, so the one place for an announcement to land was the “cover text”. Egypt favoured a brief doc that summarised the outcomes of the negotiations. Others, together with the EU and the UK noticed the textual content as a possibility to advance carbon-cutting ambition.

Each stage of the method of drawing up the quilt textual content got here later at Cop27 than the earlier summit. The primary “elements” have been revealed on Tuesday, in comparison with Sunday at Cop26.

The Egyptian presidency introduced a second draft to negotiating teams at round 1:30 on Saturday morning – past the scheduled end time.

Heads of delegation got 20 minutes to learn the doc and supply suggestions. They might not take a duplicate of the textual content away to share with their groups.

“[I] was told that this was a take it or leave it text,” one developed nation diplomat advised Local weather Dwelling.

The EU was not impressed. Shortly after 10:00, with ministers from member states beside him, local weather chief Frans Timmermans threatened to stroll away from a deal.

Elsewhere within the venue, Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry was telling the media there was “equal dissatisfaction in all quarters” however the majority of nations have been “receptive” to the idea on which the textual content had been formulated.

Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry updates the press on the negotiations on Saturday morning (Picture credit score: Kiara Price/UNFCCC)

Hours later, the EU and growing nations reached a compromise on loss and harm. The EU strolling away from talks would now imply junking this breakthrough.

The draft textual content that the presidency consulted on behind closed doorways in a single day was launched early on Saturday afternoon. It didn’t embrace fossil gasoline phaseout or a goal for international emissions to peak by 2025 – each calls for from the EU and small island growing states.

A gaggle of ministers from Europe, small islands, Chile and Colombia scrambled to organise a press convention beneath the banner of the “high ambition coalition”.

The members of the Excessive Ambition Coalition collect on stage for his or her final day press convention (Picture credit score: Kiara Price/UNFCCC)

“The Cop27 decision must reflect that we hold fast to our commitment to 1.5C,” mentioned Tina Stege, local weather envoy for the low-lying Marshall Islands. That, she mentioned, ought to mirror scientists’ findings that international emissions should peak earlier than 2025 to maintain 1.5C inside attain and “put the world on a path to phasing out all fossil fuels”.

A gathering of heads of delegations adopted which New Zealand’s local weather minister James Shaw later described as “five hours of trench warfare”.

Regardless of pleas from the Egyptian presidency’s Wael Aboulmagd to not “venture into the realms of renegotiation,” nations raised points with the 11-page textual content.

The coalition of nations calling for a fossil gasoline part out staged an in a single day push to incorporate it within the textual content. Saudi Arabia resisted, questioning the necessity to point out vitality within the cowl determination. It argued “low-emission strategies such as carbon capture and storage” needs to be included as a method to scale back emissions.

South Korean referred to as for “other clean energy” sources to be promoted alongside renewables. The Seoul authorities was elected in April promising to increase using nuclear vitality.

Negotiators collect for “five hours of trench warfare” on Saturday night time (Picture credit score: Kiara Price/UNFCCC)

The assembly concluded shortly after 22:00. “This will make us just go for another week,” mentioned a Honduran negotiator, of the gulf between completely different nations’ positions.

Negotiators went again to their places of work or to doze alongside campaigners and journalists on cream-coloured sofas outdoors the plenary corridor.

Diplomats gathered again within the plenary corridor at 04:00 on Sunday. Cop27 president Shoukry acknowledged disgruntlement with the method: “Our team and I have done our best to ensure… we are fair, balanced and transparent in our approach. Any missteps that have occurred were certainly not intentional and were done with the best interest of the process in mind.”

The historic settlement on loss and harm was gavelled by way of as negotiators found the newest model of the quilt determination. There was no fossil gasoline phase-out or emissions peaking date in it. However language on “low-emission” vitality had been added to textual content supporting renewables.


Switzerland’s Franz Perrez, on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group, requested for a 30-minute break to learn the textual content and “take informed decisions”.

The alliance pushing higher ambition held frantic talks on the convention ground about learn how to proceed. Most small island leaders had already flown house.

Negotiators from Colombia (left), Switzerland (centre) and the UK (proper) huddle within the plenary corridor (Picture credit score: Kiara Price/UN Local weather Change)

The depleted and drained group didn’t object and the settlement was authorised shortly after dawn.


“It was a difficult process, not transparent, certainly not inclusive, and interaction between [countries] was very difficult,” mentioned a developed nation official.

One other referred to as it “negotiation by exhaustion” as diplomats have been overwhelmed with new textual content within the early hours of the morning.

Chile’s surroundings minister Maisa Rojas advised Local weather Dwelling she was “very disappointed”. Tuvalu’s local weather minister Seve Paeniu mentioned this had been a “missed opportunity for a truly successful Cop”.

For all of the EU’s grandstanding, Timmermans accepted the language on the desk.

“This deal is not enough on mitigation but do we walk away and kill a fund that vulnerable countries… have fought so hard for for decades? No,” he mentioned.

‘Protecting petro-states’ 

Massive oil and gasoline producers, led by Saudi Arabia, have been rapidly blamed for the pushback.

“It is more than frustrating to see overdue steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossile energies being stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” mentioned Germany’s Baerbock.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Local weather Basis, accused the Egyptian presidency of manufacturing a textual content “that clearly protects oil and gas petrostates and the fossil fuel industries”. 

Within the months forward of Cop27, oil-producing Gulf states poured $22bn into Egypt to avert its financial collapse. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, restrictions on wheat imports and hovering inflation hit Egypt arduous. Saudi Arabia alone pledged to make investments $10bn into the north African state and deposited $5bn into its central financial institution.

Within the wake of the bailout, “it’s likely that Saudi Arabia’s voice… carried more weight than others,” Glada Lahn, a senior analysis fellow at London-based assume tank Chatham Home, advised Local weather Dwelling.

Egypt defended its strategy. “I am surprised that some claim that they wanted to shift to phase down of fossil fuel where the same [countries] agreed to a different language just three days before” on the G20 in Bali, an Egyptian official advised Local weather Dwelling.

Fuel loophole?

A number of negotiators advised Local weather Dwelling there had been no dialogue concerning the inclusion of the “low-emission” language.

Cop26 presidency Alok Sharma, of the UK, complained the textual content had been “weakened in the final minutes”.

The EU’s Timmermans appeared unaware of the late change. “I don’t know what you’re asking me, I’m too tired,” he advised reporters.

Every nation appeared to undertake its personal definition of what “low-emission” means. Nuclear vitality, hydrogen and gasoline with carbon seize and storage was understood by many to fall beneath the time period, together with the Egyptian presidency.

“Low-emission energy” is “vague but likely aims to justify a longer lifeline for fossil fuel use – particularly gas”, mentioned Lahn.

That’s the message numerous nations, together with the Egyptian hosts, have taken to Cop27.  Various African nations made clear gasoline shall be a part of their journey to renewable energy. The African group  described the result as “ambitious and balanced”.

“For most developing countries, just transition cannot be equated with decarbonisation but with low-carbon development,” India’s surroundings minister Bhupender Yadav advised the ultimate plenary. “Developing countries need independence in their choice of energy mix and in achieving their [sustainable development goals].”

The Egyptian official mentioned going any sooner in shifting away from fossil gasoline would require extra funding on the desk, “which didn’t happen”.

Rich nations failed to ship $100bn a 12 months by 2020 to assist growing nations scale back emissions and adapt to local weather change – a collective goal set in 2009. Wealthy nations are exploring bespoke packages to speed up the transition to scrub energy for a slim variety of massive rising economies, together with South Africa and Indonesia.


Whereas wealthy nations rallied round stronger language on winding down fossil gasoline manufacturing, some are doing the alternative at house.

The US is planning a much bigger oil and gasoline enlargement than every other nation on this planet for the interval to 2025, in line with evaluation by Oil Change Worldwide. Canada, Norway and Australia are additionally increasing manufacturing.

“We need to remain focused on what high emitters do at home after they had made their messianic speeches at Cops, ” Faten Aggad, of the African Local weather Basis, advised Local weather Dwelling. “The biggest challenge in meeting the emissions target at this point is not the global south. Pretending that that is a problem is only meant as a distraction.”

The US is planning a much bigger oil and gasoline enlargement than every other nation (Picture credit score: Oil Change Worldwide)

Meena Raman, director of Third World Community and adviser to growing nations at Cop27 mentioned that if the EU and UK are severe about phasing out oil and gasoline, they need to begin by halting their very own fossil gasoline enlargement. Solely 4 European nations have joined the Past Oil and Fuel Alliance.

“[It’s] not enough to play to the gallery but act if they really want to save the planet and not hide behind 2050 net zero targets, which will bust the remaining carbon budget for 1.5C,” she mentioned. As an alternative, they need to attain additional and sooner to get to actual zero and suck extra carbon out of the ambiance than they emit.

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