Bellona at COP28
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Publish date: December 12, 2023
COP28, Dubai: In addition to a rapid decline in fossil fuels, the term ‘abated fossil fuels’ must be defined.
The term ‘unabated’ is already included in previous CMA decisions and in several paragraphs of the draft texts at COP28 in Dubai. The Glasgow Pact and the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan call upon countries to accelerate efforts towards the ‘phase-down’ of ‘unabated’ coal power, but the UNFCCC currently does not have a definition for the associated term ‘abated fossil fuels’.
The term ‘abated fossil fuels’ cannot remain undefined but must be made explicit to minimise any ambiguity and subsequent abuse of the term and should be mandated in, for example, via emissions performance standards.
Without a definition of ‘abated fossil fuels’ there is a risk of loopholes, greenwashing, and false narratives, ultimately compromising the goals of the Paris Agreement. ‘Abated’ is generally understood as implying ‘with CO2 Capture and Storage’ (CCS) but clear quantified requirements are missing. Bellona recommends relying on clear and scientifically-sound definitions to minimise any emissions associated with the use of fossil fuels.
It is abundantly clear that a rapid decline in fossil fuels is necessary to keep global temperature increases to less unmanageable levels. When properly defined and implemented, ‘abated fossil fuels’ can increase the cost of fossil fuels, thus accelerating their decline and making renewable energy more attractive.
Fossil fuels are abated only when the full lifecycle emissions are near-zero, by capturing and permanently storing more than 90% of CO2 emissions generated and minimising fugitive emissions of CH4 to below 0.2% across the whole supply chain.
When assessing emissions from fossil fuels it is important not to limit the scope to only CO2 emissions, but to include all greenhouse gases. Therefore, fugitive emissions must be included in the definition of ‘abated fossil fuels’.
Chris Bataille et al. , A Paris Agreement Compliant Definition for “Abated Fossil Fuels”
The Grantham Institute, Phasing out ‘unbated fossil fuels’: the importance of defining ‘abatement’
Zero Carbon Analytics , Towards a science-based definition of ‘unabated’ fossil fuels
Chris Littlecott , Twitter thread on the history of the term ‘unabated’ fossil fuels
Carbon Brief , Q&A: Why defining the ‘phaseout’ of ‘unabated’ fossil fuels is so important at COP28
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