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Reaction: New Alliance Broaches ‘Verboten’ Topic of Ending Oil and Gas Expansion

Thursday’s edition of Climate Action Network-International’s daily COP newsletter, ECO, heaped praise on Denmark, Costa Rica, and the 10 other founding members of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) for “committing to something long a ‘verboten’ topic at the UNFCCC—an end to oil and gas expansion, and a managed and equitable phaseout of existing extraction.”

Then it rolled right into an ambitious to-do list for the new alliance.

“The science is clear that such an effort would have been even better a few decades earlier,” but “there’s no time like the present to commit to real climate leadership!” ECO wrote. “The alliance is BIG news because BOGA represents the first diplomatic initiative to focus on the oil and gas production dimension of the climate equation,” marking “a departure from decades of international climate policy in which the need to align the production of fossil fuels with global carbon budgets was largely ignored.”

A BOGA release Thursday captured effusive reactions to the mid-day announcement from a cast of climate and COP luminaries.

“The IEA, highest authority on energy in the world, has come out in their latest report saying conclusively that there is no more atmospheric space for any more new oil or gas,” said former UN climate secretary Christiana Figueres. “Fossil fuel demand is decreasing, and supply needs to adjust. That’s why I’m so pleased to see such a diverse group of governments launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance to take decisive action to phase out oil and gas production.”

“This initiative demonstrates true climate leadership, and tackles the urgent need to leave fossil fuels in the ground—often ignored in international climate policy,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, previously the first woman named president of Ireland.

“We can only achieve 1.5°C if we get serious about phasing out the licencing, exploration, and production of fossil fuels,” said Rachel Kyte, UN Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All. “The BOGA coalition is the start of countries making that real.”

ECO noted that the announcement coincided with the 26th anniversary of the “arbitrary executions” of writer and human rights campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine for their opposition to oil extraction in Nigeria by colossal fossil Royal Dutch Shell.

ECO called on BOGA to:

• Expand and redefine climate leadership by convincing more jurisdictions to sign on to oil and gas phaseouts aligned with the Paris climate goals;

• Set a definition for an equitable fossil fuel phaseout;

• Push beyond a ban on oil and gas licencing to end all new development, even on licenced lands.

ECO “warmly” congratulated California on its associate membership in BOGA. But the state that calls itself the world’s fifth-largest economy also received some focused advice on how to fully deliver on that membership.

“Since the last COP, California Governor Gavin Newsom has pledged to ban fracking by 2024 and to study the phaseout of oil and gas production by 2045,” the newsletter states. “Most recently, Newsom announced the nation’s largest state-wide setback distance between oil and gas wells and communities.”\

But “behind its green image, California has a dirty secret: It’s the seventh-largest oil producing state in the U.S., producing “some of the filthiest and most climate-damaging in the world, devastating to both public health and the climate.”

ECO urged California to sign on to BOGA as a full member, noting that “the climate emergency demands that Newsom and California do more to phase out oil and gas production faster.”