This article was written by Fiona Broom and originally published on 12 November in SciDev.Net, the media partner of the Global Landscapes Forum at COP26.
An alliance of state and regional governments committed to ending new licensing rounds for oil and gas production and exploration has been launched at COP26.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) has largely drawn widespread applause – a rare event here at COP26, where most announcements have been met with divided opinion. Security had to turn people away as crowds swelled outside the press conference room ahead of the announcement.
It is time to heed the science and end oil and gas production and exploration, ministers said at the launch, as they touted their focus on restricting fossil fuel supply rather than targeting demand.
The alliance offers a tiered system of membership, with core members pledging to end new concessions, licensing or leasing rounds for oil and gas production and exploration. Core members also commit to set a Paris Agreement-aligned date for ending oil and gas production and exploration in their territories.
These states include leading members Costa Rica and Denmark, with France, Greenland, Sweden and Quebec.
Associate members – including California, New Zealand and Portugal – and ‘friends’ are jurisdictions that are considered to be on the path to reducing oil and gas production, and will be able to graduate to premium membership as their policies progress.
Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister, Andrea Meza Murillo, said: “We are hearing the world outside these walls and we know that science is clear. We really need to accelerate action.”
However, the alliance does not include any of the top 30 oil and gas producing countries, such as the US and China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and COP26 president UK.
BOGA said it was in talks with other countries, but declined to name any except COP26 hosts Scotland, whose waters contain most of the UK’s largest oil fields.
Eamon Ryan, the environment minister for Ireland, a core BOGA member, said the alliance was setting an example for other governments to follow.
“For too long, we’ve put all the pressure on the consumer – ‘Have you done the right thing? Is that the right lightbulb?’ Instead, we’ve struck the problem at the source, at the mine head, at the well head, at the gas pipeline,” Ryan said.
Tim Whyte, ActionAid Denmark secretary general, said: “Joining an alliance like BOGA is the test ground for whether governments are seriously moving away from the deadly path we are on or whether all the promises we hear at the COP26 are yet again greenwashíng of continued expansion of oil and gas.
“It is also the test ground for the success of the summit to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal alive.
“To meet this target, countries need to stop licensing new oil and gas fields and countries in the global North should support a just transition in the global South.”
International environmental movement 350.org said BOGA members must continue to work to bring other governments on board, and create support mechanisms for global South countries.