Record-Breaking 475 Carbon-Capture Crusaders Converging at Cop28!

"COP28 Under Scrutiny: Over 475 Lobbyists Granted Attendance, Raising Concerns on Unproven CCS Technologies, Climate Scientists Warn"

Over 475 lobbyists working on carbon capture and storage (CCS) have been granted attendance at Cop28, according to the Centre for Environmental Law (Ciel). This is the first attempt to monitor the influence of the CCS subset of the fossil fuel industry within the UN climate talks. CCS is being heavily promoted at the summit by fossil fuel and high-pollution industries, as well as by the largest greenhouse gas emitting countries. However, climate scientists argue that phasing out oil, gas, and coal is the only effective way to curtail global heating, and that CCS and other unproven technologies are merely delaying tactics. Lili Fuhr, the director of Ciel’s fossil economy programme, warns against allowing carbon capture lobbyists to create a loophole in the energy package at Cop28.

The presence of oil and gas influence at Cop28 is unprecedented, with 2,456 industry-affiliated lobbyists, almost four times the number registered at Cop27. The carbon capture bloc is one of the largest, outnumbering official Indigenous representatives and several climate-affected countries. The core issue at stake in the negotiations is the fossil fuel phase-out and the global stocktake on progress so far. Major fossil fuel producers are being accused of attempting to block an agreement on a phase-out by pushing for the stocktake to refer to “abated” fossil fuels. Critics argue that CCUS and other abatement technologies fail to address the air pollution deaths linked to extracting and burning fossil fuels.

CCUS has been promoted at Cop28 through high-level meetings and side events. While the technologies may help address emissions in hard-to-decarbonise sectors, capturing 1.2 gigatonnes of CO2, the initial target proposed by the “carbon management challenge”, represents only 3% of global emissions in 2022. CCUS projects have a history of over-promising and under-delivering, with Chevron’s Gorgon gas facility in Western Australia missing its carbon capture targets by about 50% during its first five years. Internal industry documents suggest that oil executives are aware of CCUS’s limitations and its potential as a lifeline for fossil fuels.

The chief executive of Occidental, Vicki Hollub, who is registered as a Cop28 delegate, has stated that direct air capture “gives our industry a licence to continue to operate”. Occidental plans to store captured CO2 underground and use it as a carbon credit system. However, critics argue that deep, direct cuts in fossil fuel use are necessary, and that there are no escape hatches. The 475 CCS lobbyists identified from the UN’s provisional list of participants at Cop28 include representatives of companies involved in carbon capture and storage projects, as well as other companies and organizations advocating for these technologies.

John O Mahony

John O Mahony

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