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COP27 Daily Insights - Day 6: Decarbonisation Day - the decarbonisation challenge

11 November 2022

By Sara Price

Highlights from today at COP27 included President Joe Biden dropping by, an attempt to rebrand fossil fuel and of course, protest.

Joe Biden was the star attraction during a whistle stop visit to Sharm El-Sheikh as he makes his way to Cambodia for the annual U.S.-ASEAN summit and the East Asia Summit, then on to Indonesia for a G20 summit. In his address to delegates he stated he wants to “build on global climate progress. The science is devastatingly clear, we need to make vital progress by the end of this decade.”

Riding high following the better-than-expected results in the US midterms earlier this week, he wasn’t met with open arms by climate activists. American grassroots campaigners at COP27 have called on Biden to declare a climate emergency and listen to their concerns on domestic challenges.

However, Biden has put the US back on the positive climate track. When he was elected to office in 2020, he re-joined the Paris Agreement and has since passed a $369bn package of climate investments that could cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi  - part of the Congressional delegation - said during a debate that the fight against climate change should be about more than just survival. She praised the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as "ground-breaking" and Joe Biden for making climate change "part of his agenda".

While today is decarbonisation day, those representing the fossil fuel industry have had their say on the future of climate change, positioning natural gas as a transition fuel.  

Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum,  (one of the US’s largest oil and gas producers and a major producer in the prolific Permian oil basin) stated at an event: “People who run round saying ‘oil and gas needs to go away’ have no clue what that would mean. I’m saying the world is responsible … Don’t ask me about oil and gas without taking some responsibility yourself and helping others understand.” Interestingly, Occidental Petroleum was ranked 55th in a Carbon Majors Report, listing the top 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions between 1988 and 2015.

Meanwhile, analysis from Global Witness found that over 636 fossil fuel lobbyists are at COP27. That’s an increase of more than 25% from COP26 in Glasgow. If you are wondering where they have come from, 29 countries brought 200 fossil fuel lobbyists as part of official delegations. Hollub had complained earlier in the year that oil and gas companies were not allowed into COP26 negotiations and stated that she sees a place for these companies in future COP negotiations.

Protestors are an important aspect of COP and the climate agenda. Decarbonisation Day saw activists speak out against investment in fossil fuels. They also reiterated calls for harmful emitters to pay more to address the impacts of climate change in poorer countries in Africa. To put it into peresective,  Africa is vulnerable to the consequences of climate change but is only responsible for 4% of worldwide emissions.

Progress has been made during Decarbonisation Day. Alok Sharma, COP26 President, celebrated the one-year launch anniversary of the Breakthrough Agenda. It was aimed at reducing emissions across five key sectors – Power, Road Transport, Steel, Agriculture and Hydrogen. Signatories include the G7, China and India. 

Meanwhile, President Biden launched a new initiative to support the Egyptian Government in achieving 10GW of new wind and solar energy. Additionally, the US and European Union have a joint agreement (US-EU methane deal) to reduce emissions of methane from the fossil fuel sector and are hoping other nations will sign up.

Tomorrow is Adaption and Agriculture day with a break on Sunday and Gender Day starting the second week of COP27 on Monday next week.