African-hosted climate talks give fossil fuel a voice
African nations must be allowed to develop their fossil fuel resources to help lift their pepole out of poverty, governments said at the COP27 talks in Egypt, which welcomed leaders of oil and gas companies sidelined at previous talks. Pressure to leave hydrocarbons in the ground has been weakened this year by the disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine that led to a surge in energy prices and pushed inflation to multi-decade highs.
African nations must be allowed to develop their fossil fuel resources to help lift their pepole out of poverty, governments said at the COP27 talks in Egypt, which welcomed leaders of oil and gas companies sidelined at previous talks.
Pressure to leave hydrocarbons in the ground has been weakened this year by the disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine that led to a surge in energy prices and pushed inflation to multi-decade highs. Even countries with binding commitments to switch to low carbon energy have found their priorities have shifted, at least in the short term and African nations see the potential for new export markets, as well as a chance to end domestic fuel poverty.
"There is a lot of oil and gas companies present at COP because Africa wants to send a message that we are going to develop all of our energy resources for the benefit of our people because our issue is energy poverty," said Namibia's petroleum commissioner, Maggy Shino, who works within the country's Ministry of Mines and Energy. Early this year, Shell and TotalEnergies each had major oil discoveries off the coast of Namibia.
Both companies, as well as BP and Equinor sent top executives to the Sharm El-Sheikh event. Apart from Namibia, countries including Mauritania and Senegal are working with Western energy companies to develop oil and gas fields for export and to generate electricity for local communities.
Politicians and executives said the U.N. climate summit host continent's interest in developing its resources had led to a thawing in attitudes towards oil and gas companies. African nations said wealthy countries had failed to deliver promised funding that would help them to expand clean energy instead of exploiting their fossil fuel resources.
"If you are going to tell us to leave our resources in the ground, then you must be prepared to offer sufficient compensation, but I don’t think anyone has yet come out to make such an offer," Namibia's Shino said. BUSTING THE CARBON BUDGET?
The oil and gas industry's leaders were absent at last year's summit in Glasgow after companies did not meet criteria set by the U.K. organisers requiring science-based plans for emissions reductions. Scientists and other energy experts have warned that investment in fossil fuel must cease if there is any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the point beyond which climate impacts are expected to worsen significantly.
Gas projects already planned by countries could take up 10% of the world's remaining carbon budget, or the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted before global temperatures exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures, the research collaboration Climate Action Tracker said in a new analysis. Those already-planned projects include new gas drilling in Canada and liquefied natural gas (LNG) import capacity in Germany and Vietnam, CAT said.
Some 636 fossil fuel lobbyists were registered to attend COP27, another report from a group of organisations that analysed the U.N.'s provisional list of attendees found. The organisations include Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, and Global Witness. That's 100 lobbyists more than attended the Glasgow COP26 summit last year, the group said, lamenting what it described as "rise in the influence of the fossil fuel industry". The analysis also counted delegation members acting on behalf of their country's fossil fuel industry.
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