Fossil fuel subsidy decision belongs to govts: Barkindo

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Decisions about fossil fuels subsidies should be left to national governments and cannot be decided by the Cop, Opec secretary-general Mohammed Barkindo said on the sidelines of the UN Cop 26 climate conference.

"Every national government should be allowed to determine the suitability, or otherwise the levels and timing of [fossil fuels] subsidies, he said. A draft text released today "calls upon parties to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels". This is the first time that a UN Cop summit text has explicitly mentioned fossil fuels.

Barkindo also said all stakeholders needed to take part in the Cop 26 discussions. Unfortunately we are not seeing that, he said. "The Cop is a global conversation under the umbrella of the UNFCCC and you cannot have an effective and productive conversation by excluding any stakeholder," he told Argus.

"We have not seen any reputable projections that exclude oil and gas from the global energy mix in the foreseeable future, therefore the industry must be part of the conversation so that together we can find a sustainable path towards this transition, this is all we are asking," he said. He is due to meet with Cop 26 president Alok Sharma.

He reiterated that all energy sources will be needed in the future, echoing Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman's comments today on the use of all resources "as long as we congregate towards mitigating". Barkindo said that Opec believes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can also be addressed by technologies and not only by policy decisions. "We do not subscribe to the current growing narrative that this transition should exclude oil and gas because it is not driven by science or data," he said.

Barkindo said that he wanted to ask the climate community what the plan was to find a replacement for oil and gas, which accounts for more than a 50pc share of global energy, within the 2030 and 2050 timeframes. He asked if the concerns of countries dependent on oil and gas were taken into consideration. In his address in the Cop 26 high-level segment today he said "climate change and energy poverty are two sides of the same coin".

"The delicate balance between reducing emissions, energy affordability and security requires comprehensive and sustainable policies, with all voices being heard, and listened to," he said. "Focusing on only one of these over the others can lead to unintended consequences, market distortions, heightened volatility and energy shortfalls". He added that "financing is critical to reach climate targets set in developing countries' NDCs."


By Caroline Varin

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