High road to COP28: Ditch carbon capture tech, set end date for oil & gas production, report to developed nations

Experts worry investments in CCS could rob funds from renewable energy projects

By Rohini Krishnamurthy
Published: Thursday 08 June 2023
Photo: iStock

The world’s largest fossil fuel-producing countries have neither made a commitment to end oil and gas production nor have they set a global target for renewable energy, according to a new report from Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a non-profit that tracks decarbonisation actions by governments.

The focus of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference must be on putting an end to oil and gas production, according to the report released at the ongoing Bonn Climate Change Conference.

“Developed countries have absolutely no excuse: The science tells us new oil and gas investments should have ended yesterday. Richer countries need to lead on this, and set phase-out dates for all fossil fuel production,” Mia Moisio of CAT partner organisation NewClimate Institute said in a statement.

There is already a globally-accepted consensus on phasing out coal, but there’s no such agreement on oil and gas, the authors wrote in the report. India called for a phasedown of all fossil fuels at COP27 in Egypt, but this did not make it to the final decision text.

Recent policies to phase out oil & gas production


Source: Countdown to COP28: Time for world to focus on oil and gas phase-out, renewables target — not distractions like CCS

The report urged developed countries to set a date for ending oil and gas production. Currently, only Sweden, Denmark, France and Spain have set an end date while France, Sweden, Colombia, Ireland, Portugal, New Zealand and Spain have halted new oil and gas exploration and production. New Zealand has ended subsidies for oil and gas production and international public finance for fossil fuels.

In contrast, the United States, the world’s largest oil and gas producer, has more than doubled oil production since 2010.

Australia, the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, projects an 11 per cent increase in LNG production between 2020 and 2030.

UAE’s push for a false solution

The United Arab Emirates, the world’s seventh-largest oil producer, 15th-largest fossil gas producer and the host of COP28, has been pushing for the use of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the energy sector rather than phasing out oil and gas, the report stated.

CCS involves capturing CO2 from power plants and other industrial processes, instead of emitting them into the atmosphere.

CCS implementation faces technological, economic, institutional, ecological, environmental and socio-cultural barriers, according to the synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in March 2023. 

“Currently, CCS captures less than 0.1 per cent of global emissions,” Lili Fuhr, deputy director of the Center for International Environmental Law, said at a press briefing organised by Climate Action Network, a global network of more than 1,900 civil society organisations, in March 2023.

Also, according to the report, CCS is expensive and it could end up becoming a stranded asset. Experts worry that investments in CCS could rob funds from renewable energy projects. Only certain industrial applications, which lack options to reduce process emissions, should rely on CCS, the authors stressed.

Recent distractions

Source: Countdown to COP28: Time for world to focus on oil and gas phase-out, renewables target — not distractions like CCS


UAE currently plans to sequester up to 5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030, which is only around 2 per cent of its current emissions and only 1 per cent of its exported emissions.

Other countries, too, have joined the CCS bandwagon. The United State’s Inflation Reduction Act includes tax credits to expand and improve CCS and direct air capture.

Canada uses CCS technologies in the oil and gas sector. The UK has earmarked 20 billion pounds in funding for CCS. This also includes hydrogen production and power generation. 

Australia’s 2022-23 federal budget included funding for feasibility studies into CCS for four different gas fields. 

The country is home to one operating CCS project — the Gorgon gas project in Western Australia. However, according to the report, the facility is capturing less carbon than contractually agreed.

Saudi Arabia is looking to deploy CCS to reach its net zero climate targets and continue its massive oil production and export, the report stated. Japan, too, said it was planning to develop CCS technologies.

"There is no such thing as ‘emissions-free’ fossil fuels. CCS should not be used to reduce emissions in the electricity sector when vastly cheaper renewables are readily available," Claire Stockwell of CAT partner organisation Climate Analytics, said in a statement.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.