‘Tactical’ demand to phase down fossil fuels is dropped ahead of final Cop27 agreement

India’s “tactical” demand to include wording on the “phase down of all fossil fuels” in the Cop27 agreement has been dropped from an early draft.

This past weekend, India called for reducing use of all fossil fuels, and not just coal, which was singled out in the Cop26 agreement in Glasgow. The South Asian nation remains heavily dependent on coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

While many seasoned climate negotiators described India’s demand as “tactical”, they said it should be supported nevertheless.

“It may be a tactical game but it’s a good game… we should support it,” Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and an architect of the 2015 Paris Agreement, said.

A number of countries and groups joined India’s demand including the European Union. However Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, stressed that the transition away from coal remained of the utmost importance.

“We are in support of any call to phase down all fossil fuels, but we also have to make sure that this call does not diminish the earlier agreement we had on phasing down coal,” he said.

The United States special climate envoy, John Kerry, also backed India’s call for “phase down” of fossil fuels to be included in the Cop27 agreement, Bloomberg reported.

However, India’s demand did not go down well with major oil and gas-producing nations, The Independent learned.

And in preliminary documents released early Thursday, language about phasing down fossil fuels was dropped.

While there are many hours of formal negotiations to go until a final “Sharm” pact emerges from the Egypt summit, the drop of strong language on fossil fuels sparked immediate concern.

“The issue is really slipping and you wonder why,” Joyelle Clarke, St Kitts environment minister and member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), told The Independent.

“Many of us, the members of AOSIS, are sadly recognising that the critical changes that need to happen.. the critical language in the text.. that needs to ensure we survive, isn’t happening.”

Climate activists called for developed countries to demand a phase out of fossil fuels - but also be cognisant of concerns of developing nations like India.

“As civil society, we would like to see the language of phase-out of fossil fuels in the final pact, following the principle of equity and provision of finance to make sure that it’s just-transition for communities and workers who depend on them for their jobs,” said Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network International.

“It’s also important that rich countries that have the largest responsibility of reducing their emissions and providing finance, must step up and meet their obligations so that we can have our roadmap of financing phasing out fossil fuels,” he added.

India, the world’s second-biggest buyer and producer of coal, was heavily criticized at Cop26 after making an eleventh hour intervention to change the final agreement to a “phase down” instead of “phase out” of coal use.

This story was published with the support of Climate Tracker‘s Cop27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship