Energy chiefs discussed the main knock-ons for oil and gas of COP26 during a Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) webinar yesterday.
World leaders descended on Glasgow for the landmark United Nations climate conference, which came to an official close a week ago.
Headlines from COP26 include a pact between the US and China to work on cutting emissions, a commitment to phase down unabated coal use a pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, to slash methane emissions.
Predictably, opinion is split as to whether the summit can be considered a success or branded a failure.
Fossil fuels and the role they have to play in the future energy mix was a prominent battle line, particularly given the number of environmental groups at the event.
But now the dust has had time to settle, the legacy, or lack thereof, of the event can begin to be dissected.
Speaking during the SPE webinar, entitled ‘COP26: What does it mean for oil and gas?’, David Linden, head of energy transition at Westwood Global, set out his thoughts on whether it was a success or a failure.
He said: “It’s absolutely obvious that we’re not on track for 1.5 degrees and we completely failed developing countries again – that’s very obvious. Overall, despite fossil fuels getting mentioned, it was very weak on what to do about them. In some respects, depending on where you sit on the spectrum, it was arguably a massive let down.
“But having talked to quite a few people afterwards, who were at the negotiations, you have to look at this in the context of what can happen at a COP.
“If you go back to Copenhagen, it was an absolute failure, while Paris was an absolute triumph. To try and expect another Paris, with 197 countries trying to agree on very specific wording in the space of two weeks, is probably very unrealistic. Negotiators are actually pretty happy with the outcome.
“From a media perspective and from a climate activist perspective, it was a let-down and I understand why, because we’re nowhere near getting to 1.5 degrees.”
COP26 was also notable for who wasn’t in attendance, with oil and gas companies told they were not welcome at the event.
While some celebrated the decision, it raised the eyebrows of others, particularly given the industry’s pledges to deliver the energy transition.
Despite the omission of oil and gas companies, Will Webster, energy policy manager at trade body OGUK, said COP26 made “quite a bit of progress”.
He added: “It’s not going to be these five year cycles (of climate change summits) anymore. It’s going to be a case of coming back next year and making progress on the things that were missed.
“That’s how I think it’s going to go from now on. COP26 did quite a bit and that means there is less to do at the next one.
“It was a success of sorts in that sense and the questions about unfinished business will come back in 2022, not in five years time.”
Many held up COP26 as an ultimatum; a final chance for the world to get a leash on emissions in order to mitigate climate change.
But Paul de Leeuw, director of RGU’s energy transition outlook, says such a high billing impacts how the summit has been judged.
He said: “My expectations were high, the delivery was mixed. Is there more to be done? Absolutely. Progress is being made and it’s a good starting point. But did it deliver what it set out to do? No.
“But the realistic side of me thinks maybe it was too ambitious in the first place.”
He added: “Having a target for 2060 and 2070 is really interesting but it doesn’t solve the problem. We absolutely need to nail this trajectory now because the only thing we have left if we don’t do anything is to extract carbon from the air.
“It’s not about kicking the can down the road or having another fluffy conversation at COP27 or COP28, it’s about hard targets.”