Spain, IEA back Dutch call to phase out fossil fuel subsidies
(Reuters) - Spain's energy minister and the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Monday backed the Netherlands' call for an international coalition to phase out fossil subsidies.
Such subsidies "are a major incentive to increase fossil fuel use," IEA chief Fatih Birol told a news conference after an international summit of energy ministers and climate leaders in Madrid, adding that "eliminating them is an absolute must".
Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera also expressed support for the Dutch efforts.
"We should be serious and consider how we can reduce these subsidies so as to ensure that in case there is any subsidy, it is for social reasons," she said.
Dutch Climate Minister Rob Jetten said on Monday he would work in coming weeks to set up an international coalition to phase out subsidies and tax breaks tied to the use of fossil fuels blamed for global warming.
Ribera has warned talks at the upcoming COP28 climate summit will be "challenging." Spain, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, is pushing for an international coalition to back the 2015 Paris deal's target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
At the COP28 conference, countries will assess how efforts to tackle climate changing are falling short of the Paris agreement goal and discuss plans to get on track.
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said the 1.5C target was achievable but large investments would be needed.
"We must massively invest in the deployment of the technologies of today and at the same time develop the technologies of tomorrow," she said.
There are five conditions for the upcoming summit to be considered successful, IEA's Birol said. These include tripling global capital expenditure on renewables, a doubling of energy efficiency improvements and an agreement on mechanisms to support clean energy financing in emerging countries.
He warned that "geopolitical fragmentation" was one of the main hurdles to reaching the 1.5C goal and that more international cooperation was needed.
Global coal, oil and natural gas consumption may peak before 2030, he added.
The future of fossil fuels remains a major sticking point ahead of the COP28, with some countries calling for a phase-out of planet-warming fossil fuels and others insisting on preserving a role for coal, oil and natural gas.
More than 20 oil and gas companies had positively answered calls to align around net zero by 2050, to eliminate methane emissions and stop routine flaring by 2030, COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber said at the conference.