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First draft text at COP27 missing call to end oil and gas use

Thursday morning saw the public release of the first draft text from the COP27 climate summit. As well as repeating commitments made a year ago in Glasgow, the ‘non-paper’ – meaning it’s far from in a finalized form – calls for ‘measures towards the phase down of unabated coal’ use, without any mention of phasing out oil or gas production in a blow to campaigners.

With COP27 officially scheduled to end on Friday, the first ‘cover decision’ draft text has been issued by the UN’s climate agency. COP summits are known for going beyond their official deadlines for agreement, and it looks like Egypt’s presidency won’t be any different with many important issues still up in the air.

Extending to 20 pages of size nine font, the draft text makes just one reference to fossil fuels directly, calling for nations to ‘rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’ – far from the phasing out of non-renewable energy sources or preventing further expansion of the industry like many are seeking.

red and black metal tower during sunset

Despite a proposal from India backed by the EU and US for all fossil fuels to be phased out, the draft text only goes as far as seeking to ‘encourage’ the phase down of ‘unabated coal power’ specifically. This is a hardening of the wording agreed in Glasgow which ‘called on’ nations to phase down coal. The summit in Glasgow was the first time coal was even mentioned in a cover decision text. But the wording ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ came into being last year largely through the opposition of India, leading some to question the country’s change of heart in just twelve months.

In response to today’s draft text Satyendra Prasad, Fiji Ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations said: ‘Fossil fuels must be phased out, period.’

Other omissions include any reference to loss and damage reparations. A dedicated fund to compensate countries suffering the impact of climate change, including Pacific island nations like Fiji at risk from rising sea levels, has received significant discussion over the past week.

As yet, the text goes no further than welcoming agreement for the first time on ‘matters related to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage’ without going into any detail on what such a deal might look like. Polling across the G7 nations has shown that despite the troubling economic times, 65% of those questioned believe wealthier nations should contribute more to climate funding, with only 11% disagreeing.

The head of delegation for Greenpeace said: ‘We came to Sharm El Sheikh to demand real action on meeting and exceeding climate finance and adaptation commitments, a phase out of all fossil fuels and for rich countries to pay for the loss and damage done … None of that is on offer in this draft.’

The draft does however reiterate the importance of ensuring the targets laid down in the Paris Accords – seeking to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C if possible – are met, leaving the negotiating door open for toughening up the language in the next drafts and final cover decision text.

Photo by Maria Lupan

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