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Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is no longer a taboo discussion, thanks to an international alliance to halt oil and gas production. That's what leading climate experts told actor and longtime environmentalist Jane Fonda on Friday.

Fonda was hosting the first Fire Drill Friday of the year virtually, a recurring series of rallies and talks organized with Greenpeace and inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement. First in line for discussion was the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA). Fonda was joined by Catherine Abreu, founder of Destination Zero and member of Canada’s Net-Zero Advisory Body, and Romain Ioualalen, Oil Change International’s global policy campaign manager.

BOGA was launched by Denmark and Costa Rica at the United Nations’ climate change conference COP26 in November and aims to manage the phaseout of fossil fuel production through international co-operation. Canada didn’t sign on, but Quebec did.

Abreu said it is critical to focus on both the supply and demand for oil and gas when charting a course to a clean global economy for two reasons. The first is “common sense” because we know burning fossil fuels is driving climate change. The second is about challenging the fossil fuel industry’s influence on policy.

“A big part of why we need to be tackling supply-side issues along with demand is so that we are really addressing and confronting the grip, the stranglehold, that this industry has on a lot of our political decision-makers,” she said.

Abreu compared climate change to the ozone hole to make the point that when there’s a clear problem, international co-operation can solve it. Decades ago, scientists observed part of the atmosphere called the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from ultraviolet radiation, was thinning because of chemicals used in aerosols and refrigerants called chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons.

“So we developed the Montreal Protocol to regulate the production and the use of those harmful chemicals, and in the years since the signing of the Montreal Protocol, the impact it’s had — the healing of the ozone layer — has actually gone a lot quicker than we thought,” she said.

The protocol was agreed to in 1987 and came into force in 1989. It was an international agreement that set limits on a country’s production and consumption of those harmful chemicals and ratcheted the amount down over time. BOGA would attempt to do something similar for fossil fuels.

Abreu said another benefit of international co-operation and co-ordination is that it can help countries sitting on massive oil and gas reserves, like Argentina, leapfrog past fossil fuel development. It's difficult to ask poorer countries, or countries heavily dependent on fossil fuel revenue to provide services to their citizens, to give it up for the good of the planet when rich countries like Canada and the United States are planning to expand fossil fuel production.

“Between now and 2030, the @IEA just told us there's no need to invest in new fossil fuel production, and yet in the U.S. and Canada, there are huge expansion plans," said @catabreu_. #cdnpoli #BOGA

“Countries who depend far less on (fossil fuel) revenue need to be giving up that production first,” she said. “Between now and 2030, the International Energy Agency just told us there's no need to invest in new fossil fuel production, and yet in the U.S. and Canada, there are huge expansion plans.”

Abreu said she didn’t want to diminish the fact some communities in the U.S. and Canada currently rely heavily on fossil fuel production, making just transition policies critical. But “on a national scale, the U.S. and Canada can afford to end this production and stop the expansion now,” she added.

Stopping fossil fuel expansion is vital for the safety of the planet because if all the oil and gas from existing fields were consumed, the Earth’s temperature would rocket past the Paris Agreement goal of holding warming to 1.5 C, said Ioualalen.

“If we keep adding new fields and doing more exploration … the situation will become absolutely dire from a planet point of view,” said Ioualalen. “We would pass 2.5, maybe 3 degrees without critical measures.”

Ioualalen said this is why new infrastructure to extract or transport fossil fuels should also be rejected.

“The way you make money out of (fossil fuels) is by making sure your infrastructure lasts 20, 30, 40 years. But we don't have 20, 30, 40 years to tackle this crisis,” he said.

“It's very key to understand there's already too much oil and gas in the system and if we use all of it, we're going to fail at our climate targets.”

Other than Costa Rica and Denmark, the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance also includes France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales, and Quebec as “core” members, California, Portugal, and New Zealand as “associate” members, and Italy, Finland and Luxembourg as “friends” of the alliance.

Core membership means the jurisdiction has committed to end new exploration permits. Associate members must show efforts towards an oil and gas phaseout, like ending fossil fuel subsidies.

A nearly 30-year-old agreement called the Energy Charter Treaty allows fossil fuel companies to sue foreign governments for policy decisions that threaten fossil fuel assets. Called investor-state dispute settlements, Capital Monitor reports the threat of such suits has weakened climate policies from BOGA members like Denmark and New Zealand, which fear being slapped with a suit.

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John woodside. Does Canada have an East West power grid? If not why not please explain. This is how energy is distributed now via pipelines. Explain why grids are focused on north south direction and is this going to serve Canada's future. Are we presently discussing Quebec's future or only Quebec's future?. Are we going to need nuke energy in the centre of Canada (and the waste) because short sighted provincial grids sold hydro to USA in 100 year contracts?

Every other energy transition has simply presented a better alternative, and people switched.

I'm not sure how forcing out the old energy regime is supposed to work. As Vaclav Smil says, "Every wind turbine ever installed, was made out of steel smelted with coal, in a foundation of concrete baked with natural gas, in a hole dug by a backhoe powered with diesel." You need those tools to build the new industry.

In practice, every actor forced to not produce fossil will make zero money, while those who are not so forced (and somebody has to make the stuff, or no backhoe, no concrete, no steel) make extra-high profits on the more-expensive fossil.

So all the incentives say the idea won't work; it will penalize the virtuous, enrich the bad. It'll provide for rallies and good-fellowship, and lunch with Jane Fonda, who will praise your good works. But it. won't. work.

"In practice, every actor forced to not produce fossil will make zero money, while those who are not so forced (and somebody has to make the stuff, or no backhoe, no concrete, no steel) make extra-high profits on the more-expensive fossil.

So all the incentives say the idea won't work; it will penalize the virtuous, enrich the bad. It'll provide for rallies and good-fellowship, and lunch with Jane Fonda, who will praise your good works. But it. won't. work."
The process described in the article above is all about 'stick'. What's really needed is 'carrot' - the oil in the ground, as pointed out by this copied comment, is an asset - worth money, so the investors need some kind of carbon-based carrot to keep the oil in the ground. How about a 'carbon coin' [one per ton left in the ground] redeemable at any central bank, as proposed in "The Ministry for the Future", by Kim Stanley Robinson?
The oil sands are huge, so let's think about really big solutions.