Future of fossil fuels lies in hands of COP28 delegates

12 December 2023 by Acre
blog author

​World leaders remain in deep discussion as the debate on the future of fossil fuels is underway at COP28.

The two-week UN climate summit, held this year in Dubai, is drawing to a close as global governments lock horns over the future of fossil fuels to keep the world within a limit of 1.5C of heating above pre-industrial levels.

A deal drafted yesterday has removed some of the previous text which referenced the phasing out of fossil fuels, which has infuriated some countries.

There will be no deal unless all 198 countries at the summit agree with the draft and a new version of text for further negotiations is expected to be released today.

Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General, said: “Now is the time for maximum ambition and maximum flexibility. Ministers and negotiators must move beyond arbitrary red lines, entrenched positions and blocking tactics.

“It’s time to go into overdrive to negotiate in good faith and rise to the challenge set by COP President Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. It’s time to seek compromise for solutions without compromising on the science or compromising on the need for the highest ambition.

“I ask parties to ensure maximum mission on two fronts – first, ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, second, ambition on delivering climate justice. The global stocktake must offer a clear plan for a tripling of renewables, a doubling of energy efficiency and the single-minded focus on tackling the root cause of the climate crisis – fossil fuel production and consumption.

“It is essential that the global stocktake recognises the need to phase out all fossil fuels on a timeframe consistent with a 1.5C limit and to accelerate a just, equitable and orderly energy transition for all.”

Jean Su, Director of the Energy Justice Program, Center for Biological Diversity, said: “We are on the precipice of an incredible fossil fuel breakthrough and we are here to push every single country to finally deliver.

“It is morally reprehensible that we are 28 years into climate talks and are only seeing fossil fuel phase-out being discussed now. We need to amp up the ambition with 2030 deadlines on a significant phase down of fossil fuels and force rich countries to help with finance in order to get the global south countries to leapfrog over our fossil fuel system and get to renewable energy.”

In addition to the fossil fuel debate, developing countries have spoken out against a lack of support from rich nations to help them adapt to the effects of the climate crisis and seek reassurance regarding available finance.

Last year’s COP saw a key focus on adaptation finance to develop the infrastructure within vulnerable countries to make them more resilient against extreme weather events.

As the conference enters its final hours, experts have also expressed their vision of a brighter future with some fearing the focus on fossil fuels has pushed the importance of protecting nature to the sidelines.

Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told the Guardian: “Even if we phase out all fossil fuels, if we do not get involved in nature, [the destruction of natural landscapes and habitats] can make us lose what we all have agreed on the safe future for humanity on Earth – that is, to stay within the 1.5C limit. It’s really decisive, that we get it right on nature.”

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