Fossil fuels

Written by Robert Watt

Friday, 03 November 2017 00:00

a pacific talanoa on keeping fossil fuels in the ground COP23 event promo

Side event: A Pacific Talanoa on keeping fossil fuels in the ground

8 November, 17:30-18:30, Talanoa Space, Bonn Zone

A roundtable of Pacific Island leaders, civil society representatives, and climate policy experts, on policy measures to limit the extraction of fossil fuels and how these might complement processes of the UNFCCC.


implementing coal phase down event promo COP23

Side event: Implementing coal phase down

15 November, 11:30-13:00, UNFCCC side event, Meeting room 9

This event provides insights from industrial transitions in the past and in the coal sector specifically. It will address best practices for managing jobs, economic regeneration and company reinvention. It presents future options for major coal countries and market impacts under INDC and 2°C decarbonisation scenarios.  

Speakers: Researchers from IDDRI, DIW and Climate Strategies network; government and business representatives from developed and developing countries, including Germany, UK, Poland, China and India.


The Paris Agreement sets a goal of limiting warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and requires countries to outline their contribution to this goal in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Ultimately, meeting this goal will require a phase-down of the consumption and production of coal, oil, and natural gas.

SEI researchers have examined how fossil fuel supply could be integrated into elements of the Paris Agreement, including NDCs. Among the options: countries could use their NDCs to set targets for phasing down fossil fuel production, and report actions to limit fossil fuel supply. Such actions could include removing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing production taxes or exploration restrictions, and planning for a “just transition” for the fossil fuel workforce.

Countries are already taking many of these actions. China, for example, introduced a three-year ban on new coal mines, and Costa Rica has banned petroleum exploration and extraction until 2021. However, at present, fossil fuel supply is not a central focus in NDCs. India is the only nation in the top ten fossil-fuel-producing countries whose NDC mentions a policy that would restrict fossil fuel supply, namely a coal tax.

But the opportunity is there for countries who are undertaking these actions to include them in their NDCs – alongside existing mitigation goals – and gain recognition for their efforts. That, in turn, could encourage increased ambition among other Parties to intensify their climate efforts by restraining fossil fuel production.

Key questions for fossil fuels and climate change

  • Should fossil fuels be addressed directly under the UNFCCC?
    • SEI’s new research explores why, and how, countries could start making plans for a fossil-fuel phase-out under the Paris Agreement.