The “Unabated” Fossil Fuel Debate
The term “unabated” emissions describes the greenhouse gases that are released when fossil fuels are burned without any mitigation steps taken. The most polluting fossil fuel, “unabated coal power,” was to be phased out by COP27.
What Is Meant by “Abated”?
- The term “abated” fossil fuels is ill-defined, which produces political benefits and concessions.
- Ambiguity leaves room for multiple interpretations, which could jeopardize attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Consequences of Definitions
- A broad definition runs the risk of exceeding the crucial 1.5C warming limit by resulting in negligible emission reductions.
- By enforcing rigorous emission restrictions, a stricter definition might help preserve the viability of the 1.5C aim.
- Different Positions of Nations Different nations have different positions on this matter; some advocate for a total phase-out of the production and usage of fossil fuels.
- Less precise wording is preferred by nations that rely on coal and produce fossil fuels, such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, India, and China.
- The U.S. and the G7 back carbon capture and storage (CCS) while advocating for the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels.
- By 2050, the EU wants the energy industry to be primarily fossil fuel-free, yet the term “predominantly” is imprecise.
Looking for a Precise Definition
- According to a footnote in an IPCC report from 2023, “abated” should refer to a significant drop in emissions, such as removing 90% or more of the CO2 from power plants.
- According to research, the term “abated” should only be used when methane leaks are almost nonexistent and emissions reductions range from 90 to 95%.
- The Importance of criteria Experts emphasize that since new coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities will probably continue to function far until 2050, it is imperative that clear criteria be established.
- In order to ensure that these facilities satisfy future emission limits, it is imperative that they use the newest technologies.