Closing ‘Ambition Gap’ Seen as Key COP26 Goal

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How governments can close the "ambition gap” between their respective carbon emissions targets and a 1.5°C pathway could be a core focus both during and after next month's UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), according to speakers at the Energy Intelligence Forum 2021.

It’s “great to get that ambition on the table, great to get those targets on the table, but we need to implement with a scale and pace in the real world like we've never done before,” US Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told the Forum.

To that end, US climate envoy John Kerry has been traveling around the world to press other governments for more aggressive emissions targets.

Closing the gap includes aligning strategies around methane reduction from oil and natural gas operations, Columbia University Climate School's Jason Bordoff said Tuesday.

“We need enforceable policy to close this gap, and methane is one important place we can look,” said Bordoff, adding that “more needs to be done” but that newer satellite data should help in identifying problem sources.

Bjorn Otto Sverdrup, chairman of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, said that participants in the climate talks may also focus on how to address Scope 3 (end-use) emissions. He noted that while the initiative has made progress on Scope 1 and 2 (operational) emissions, there is still “work to be done for Scope 3 removal.”

Widening the Scope

Sverdrup’s remarks come as the US Securities and Exchange Commission weighs how to address disclosures of Scope 3 emissions and as more publicly traded companies turn their focus toward reducing their end-use emissions.

Panelists also discussed price volatility in the context of COP26, with Sverdrup noting that the questions around availability and access cannot be ignored in the dialogue around the transition.

Bordoff said that during the fuel shortage on the US East Coast triggered by the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline earlier this year, climate change took a backseat to concerns about supply disruption.

“We need to be sure we manage this transition” in a way that considers availability concerns as well, he added.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director for Greenpeace International, called on decision-makers at COP26 to “get real around the role of oil and gas companies” in the transition. She added that her organization will push for a ban on future fossil fuel development and binding policies to curb existing sources.

Low-Carbon Policy, Policy and Regulation, CO2 Emissions, ENERGY INTELLIGENCE FORUM 2021
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