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Energy Day at COP26: Expert comment

The fourth day of COP26 is Energy Day and University of Warwick researchers are putting forward their views on the issues and challenges in combatting climate change through our energy use.

Dr Tom Pettinger of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick said: "The IMF estimates that the fossil fuel industry receives $5-6 trillion in subsidies every single year. Governments must immediately end this subsidisation, and disincentivise the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, whilst transitioning towards subsidising renewable energies instead. The Energy Charter Treaty, an international agreement that allows fossil fuel companies to sue governments if those governments make choices that harm their profits, is a notable barrier to this transition and should be renegotiated as a priority."

Professor Mike Bradshaw of Warwick Business School said: “The issue I’ve come here trying to understand is ‘how do fossil fuels get left in the ground?’ It seems to me that most oil and gas producing economies simply do not believe that the 80% of countries that import fossil fuels are going to significantly reduce their demand by the end of this decade. This is due to a persistent ‘credibility gap’ between what the science tells us we need to do and we are actually doing, distinct from we promise we might do. It is only when they believe that demand will fall, and with it prices, then they will stop investing in future production. Furthermore, governments and banks are continuing to invest in new oil and production.”

Professor Keith Hyams of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick said: “As today’s Global Carbon Budget analysis shows, while COP26 negotiators discuss future ambitions, today’s reality is that emissions are still not falling significantly – and this reflects decades of inaction and missed targets. The belated sense of urgency in political rhetoric now needs to be matched by action. We work with communities on the frontline of the climate crisis – they know all too well that every fraction of a degree increase in global heating has a human cost.”

Dr Caroline Kuzemko of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick said: "Coal phase out makes sense as it is one of the most polluting form of electricity - to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees coal will need to go.

"The commitments made at COP today are a mix of pledges to phase out coal, and to stop investing in new coal overseas. 90% of coal will have to stay in the ground for 1.5 degree targets to be met.

"The UK has already committed to phasing out coal which, as it stands, is a very small percentage of electricity now.

"Phasing out coal makes climate change sense, but also economic sense as renewable alternatives have become cost competitive, and sometimes cheaper, than coal in some parts of the world. And the cost of renewables, like solar and wind, continue to fall."

4 November 2021

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