COP26: Oil and gas phase out group launched – but UK and Scotland aren’t in

The world’s first diplomatic initiative to keep oil and gas in the ground was launched today at the COP26 climate talks. But it did not get the support of the UK and Scottish governments.

Some of the members of the newly-launched Beyond

Eleven members from regions and small countries joined the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA), including Denmark and Costa Rica (co-chairs), France, Sweden, Wales, Ireland and Greenland.

At an over-subscribed news conference, with a large crowd outside, Denmark’s Climate Minister Dan Jørgensen, said:

“Science has made it clear – the fossil era needs to come to an end.

“We hope today will mark the beginning of the end of oil and gas.”

He said BOGA would provide momentum for countries to phase out oil and gas production:

“This is why Denmark has set an end date for oil and gas production. And why we are building this alliance of countries willing to step up to the plate.”

Asked if BOGA members would simply move to importing gas, rather than produce it themselves, Mr Jorgensen said

“How can you defend being carbon neutral in 2050 but still want to produce oil and gas and sell them to others. That does not add up. We would really urge oil countries to enter into these conversations.”

Andrea Meza, Costa Rica’s energy and environment minister, said the alliance “raises the bar” for climate action. She said the initiative addressed the supply side of fossil fuels for the first time.

“This starts the conversation about the production of oil and gas. We know it’s not an easy conversation in any of the countries.

“Every dollar that we invest in fossil fuel projects is one less dollar for renewables and for the conservation of nature.”

Some members of BOGA, like Denmark, have already decided to phase out oil and gas production. Others are not producers but, like Greenland and Costa Rica, have hydrocarbon reserves.

Ireland’s climate minister, Eamon Ryan, said his country had joined to lead the transition away from global oil and gas production.

The Welsh deputy minister for climate change, Lee Waters, said membership showed that Wales was “at the forefront of meeting the global challenges of climate change”.

Photo call for BOGA, 11 November 2021. Photo: DrillOrDrop


Large oil and gas producers, like the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Canada, have not joined.

Boris Johnson declined yesterday to sign up the UK to the new alliance. The COP26 president, Alok Sharma, was asked today whether this undermined the UK’s negotiating stance in Glasgow.

Mr Sharma said the UK had the largest offshore wind sector in the world and it was due to at least quadruple by 2030. But he said the government’s advisors, the Climate Change Committee, had said oil and gas would continue in the UK energy mix.

BOGA said it had been having “close talks with Scotland” but first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was criticised today for not signing up. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“Nicola Sturgeon is keen to use the language of climate justice and be photographed with Greta Thunberg but at some point her fine rhetoric has to translate into a commitment to stopping the oil and gas production that is driving the climate crisis. Refusing to join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance is a failure to follow through on her government’s recent change of position to no longer support unlimited oil and gas extraction.”

Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency said development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year if the world is to meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050

Last month, a report for the UN concluded that fossil fuel production planned by government “vastly exceeded” the limit needed to keep global temperatures at safe levels.

According to the study, planned production would lead to 57% more oil and 71% more gas in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5C, a key aim of the COP26 climate talks.

Jerry MacEvilly, of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said:

“An important next step must be preventing any oil and gas development from existing exploration and extraction licences in Irish waters in line with the recent analysis by the International Energy Agency that permitted no new oil and gas field development. It is also important that government builds on recent policy which introduced a moratorium on the development of LNG and fracked gas imports and takes steps to make this a permanent ban”

Romain Ioualalen, of Oil Change International, described the alliance as a turning point:

For far too long, climate negotiations have ignored the basic reality that keeping 1.5ºC alive requires an equitable global plan to keep fossil fuels in the ground. For the first time, countries are now joining together to act on the urgent need to phase out oil and gas production. The creation of this alliance puts to shame claims of climate leadership among countries like the United Kingdom, Norway, the United States, and Canada, all of which have yet to answer this simple question: Where is your plan to stop producing the fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis?


BOGA full members: Denmark, Costa Rica, France, Greenland, Ireland, Wales, Sweden, Quebec

Associate members: New Zealand, California, Portugal

Friend: Italy

10 replies »

  1. “Every dollar that we invest in fossil fuel projects is one less dollar for renewables and for the conservation of nature.”
    Yet again, I am ashamed of my government. It is now very difficult to give the lie to those pessimists who prophesied ‘Let them get COP26 out of the way, then it’ll be back to normal’. Money to be made short term, industry lobbying to be resisted, greenwashing encouraged, corruption rife, adequate compensation denied to the developing world for the pillage and plunder of centuries of exploitation – damn the rest of you. A new denial is with us.
    It’s still, amazingly, up to us to let government know what we think. But now there is a difference, the rest of the world is watching, alert to establish the UK’s sincerity….or lack it it. Have they really let this opportunity pass?

  2. Denmark and Costa Rica (co-chairs), France, Sweden, Wales, Ireland and Greenland – big oil producers….not.

    Easy to sign up to, very little production, very little upside reserves, very little employment in oil and gas, very little if not zero government tax take. Simples….

    Quebec? What about Alberta….

    A joke, means nothing, solves nothing.

  3. “But he said the government’s advisors, the Climate Change Committee, had said oil and gas would continue in the UK energy mix.”

    We know that stopping dependence on fossil fuels wont happen overnight.
    But by when?`
    We know that oil and gas will continue in the UK energy mix.
    But for how long?
    But this does not prevent the UK government from signing up to BOGA, for this would make it clear that the UK government is serious about ending use of fossil fuels in the UK.
    A failure to sign up suggests that this government remains beholden to the fossil fuel industry, rather than to reducing the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels, rather than to the wellbeing, and possibly survival, of the citizens of the UK, and the rest of the planet.
    Another opportunity for Johnson as PM to lead, something which he has consistently failed to do.

      • What Hypocrites UK Gov and Scotland Gov are. There is some positive news here however. Could be better though.

        From Kierra Box, Friends of the Earth @ 17:05 (3 hours ago)

        “It finally happened. More than 3 years after we started out to persuade the government our environment needs better protection, the Environment Act became law this week.

        Thank you so much for all the support for the campaign and to the thousands of people who wrote to their MP. Together, we stood up for the natural world and demanded a strong new law that can keep it safe.

        It’s fair to say the law’s far from perfect. But what’s good about it?

        Well, communities can now keep the government in check – we can complain to an independent watchdog when it’s not upholding environmental law. The powerful regulator will be able to stand up for nature in court, and make sure problems are fixed and polluters punished.

        We also stopped the government from giving itself the power to order the watchdog around in secret. Instead, the advice it gives to the watchdog about how to enforce environmental law must be made public. And of course, we’ll be watching closely to make sure nothing slips under the radar.

        Targets will also be set to protect and restore the environment over the next 15 years. Including a target to take on species decline by 2030, and another to clean up the air we breathe – both thanks to tireless campaigning from environmental organisations. Plus, companies will have to do more to cut deforestation from their supply chains.

        There’s other good news too. Following a huge public outcry, the government included stronger legal requirements on water companies to stop flooding our waters with sewage. Unfortunately, those requirements don’t go far enough to stop them completely.

        So, like I said, this law isn’t exactly what we asked for. It doesn’t have legally binding shorter-term targets that would force the government to take immediate action. It doesn’t stop the government making some policy decisions without properly considering the environment.

        But it’s progress. We started campaigning for this law because nature is in grave danger. The Environment Act sets out a plan to change that – and it gives communities the tools to keep up the fight in the future.”

        The only way forward is to push this pathetic government into implementing everything in law and not squeeze out from under The Environment Act whenever they feel like it.

        The next step is to make ecocide a criminal offence and punishable by Law.

        • I agree PhilC – you will be surprised to learn that I was one of the supporters, through Wild Justice, not EOI:

          “Environment Act in England: the Environment Act became law on Tuesday. While far from perfect, this new law includes a huge win for wildlife – it makes England the first country in the world with a legally binding target to end nature’s decline by 2030. Many Wild Justice supporters signed the petition and supported the #StateofNature campaign – thank you!. This was crucial in helping to persuade government to put this important protection into law.

          We hope that you can see from the above that we are pushing forward on several fronts. And when we say ‘we’, we include you, over 50,000 Wild Justice supporters who receive this free newsletter. Please spare a moment or two to think of a friend or colleague who might be interested in getting this newsletter and forward this email to them please.”

          As you know I don’t agree with your add on in the last sentence….

          • No Paul, I’m not surprised at all. Congratulations for your efforts too. Pity it hasn’t yet become legally enforceable, but that may change with further pressure after the hypocritical by Boris Johnson et al display at COP26.

            My impression of all that empty rhetoric and the debacle and evasion considering the title:

            “COP26: Oil and gas phase out group launched – but UK and Scotland aren’t members.”

            I suspect that will haunt this sorry excuse for a government to the point where a vote of no confidence will be issued to every MP, regardless of denomination.

            Unfortunately the political party alternatives are no better than the present shower either. They all seem to be contaminated with the same anti democratic totalitarian disease. Constituent representation is now so severely overwritten it’s almost ignored.

            Maybe it’s time to appoint independent non politicians to positions where they can only suggest, not rule by fake decree.

            Politicians are really nothing more than public servants. Maybe it’s time to remind them of that fact.

            Sorry you don’t support the criminalisation of ecocide. Because that would correct the weakness in the Environment Act and force this waste of space government to actually be forced to obey the law. Rather than exploit the vague inconsistencies and just do business as usual.

            Enjoy the new Environment Act.

            And congratulations for your efforts too.

  4. The every dollar bit is the usual attempt to state a phrase as if it is correct, and if stated enough times it will become even more correct.

    It never started out as being correct. There are plenty of examples where dollars are being invested into renewables and conservation of nature that have actually come from fossil fuel. Called greenwashing by some to try and dismiss, although little sign of the some putting their hands in their pockets to replace.

    Of course, using an incorrect statement may prevent the question as to where the dollars might come from if they don’t come from the fossil fuel industry. However, the question will have to be answered and that will be the issue post COP-it always is. And looking at opinion polling, it would appear that the public still see that someone else should pay. They are having enough issues with their fuel at £1.60/liter and getting less miles per liter on E10 and paying more for their food, exacerbated by high fuel prices and high wheat prices. Get used to it. That’s what you get if you grow crops to produce fuel whilst population growth continues and even before agricultural land is covered in solar panels, that then allows smart legal chaps to claim that change of use from agricultural land allows change of use for adjacent land for housing.

    I think I will wait for the hydrogen version from Sir Jim, unless Costa Rica can beat him to it.

  5. Martin Frederick Collyer
    November 11, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Oppositions change nothing. They may visit COP, but they are outside looking in. (Just like the Lib Dems.)

    Martin Frederick Collyer
    November 12, 2021 at 9:15 am
    The every dollar bit is the usual attempt to state a phrase as if it is correct, and if stated enough times it will become even more correct.


  6. Yes, 1720, good stuff wasn’t it?!

    Pleased to see you were so impressed that you wanted to repeat. I am most flattered. No copyright or paywall on my stuff.

    However, do educate me on how the investments being made by fossil fuel companies into renewables (Ineos Green Hydrogen for instance) and the conservation of nature is actually not being made, or is reducing investment by others into the same. You quoted it, so it must be true? Except-11/3/21 6.47pm would suggest that is not guaranteed.
    Goodness, even enough to try and replace those smelly planes with nice clean HS2, and nuclear to power -as long as Fuel Duty remains! If lost, then that old equation balancing act looks a bit tricky. Perhaps lots of Hydrogen powered Grenadiers and the tax achieved may help? Oops-that one was lost to UK, so someone else will benefit.

    As Sir Jim said:

    “Electric cars are ideal for city centres and short journeys. But, hydrogen is much better for longer journeys and heavier load and that requires immediate investment in hydrogen distribution and hydrogen filling stations.”

    He is investing to produce the hydrogen and one vehicle type. Don’t see anything similar from FOE, GP etc. etc.

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