Opinion: COP28 Indicates Failure To Push For Fossil Fuels Phase Out 

COP28 Indicates Failure To Push For Fossil Fuels Phase Out - Carbon Herald
Credit: Petya Trendafilova | Carbon Herald

A draft COP28 agreement released on Monday, December 11th, a day before the official closing of the world’s largest climate change conference, reveals omission of the word fossil fuel phase out from the official language. 

Instead, the draft lists eight options that countries could use to cut emissions like: “reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net zero by, before, or around 2050”.

Relevant: Carbon Capture Used Extensively At COP28 To Push Fossil Fuel Industries

The softened text showing lack of urgent climate ambitions comes despite disagreements from more than half of the 198 countries that are represented at the conference. Throughout the negotiations, they have signaled support towards agreement language that mentions a phase out of fossil fuels.

The new draft, published by the United Arab Emirates’ presidency of the summit, meets strong opposition from the Pacific states, the EU, the U.S., the UK, and others that insist the text to include language on phasing out of fossil fuels, a step crucial for the world to adhere to the 1.5C goal.

“We will not sign our death certificate. We cannot sign on to text that does not have strong commitments on phasing out fossil fuels,” said Cedric Schuster, of Samoa, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

In the final hours of signing an agreement between the 198 countries present at Cop28, there seems to be no signal of reaching a consensus and intense pressure between them. 

“The UAE itself has faced questions going into the Cop [over its own oil and gas expansion plans and more] but actually they had a good first week. But, let’s not kid ourselves that there hasn’t been a big pushback from some vested interests against a fossil fuels phase out – saw that in the letter from OPEC… I would say to all the countries who are opposing [a phase out], please think about what is at stake. 2023 was the hottest year on record and we’re seeing more frequent and ferocious climate events around the world. Genuinely I believe that we’re in the last chance saloon to save our children’s futures,” commented Sir Alok Sharma, former president of Cop26 in Glasgow. 

The push against including fossil fuels phase out from the official language comes from fossil fuel-producing countries: Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, and others. The United Arab Emirates hosting the conference has also expressed a conflicting stance as the Cop28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber who is also head of Adnoc, has clearly said that there is “no science” indicating that a phase out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global heating to 1.5 degrees, undermining efforts to reach more ambitions climate deal at COP28. 

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The world is sitting once again at a crossroad where it can unite and curb fossil fuel interests and power and show the world bold climate action to eliminate fossil fuel from the economy or continue the business-as-usual pathway that puts the world on a track of 2.5 – 3°C degrees of warming by the end of this century. The negotiations show that the world is heading towards a failure to reach a consensus among the 198 countries which is needed to pass the deals at the U.N. climate summits. 

They also show that the world’s political and economic leaders are failing to alleviate the increased mental pressure and stress globally caused by the realization of climate change aftermaths. Countries standing idle on fossil fuel emission also fail to address young people’s needs and protect their future and economic well-being at a critical time.

Relevant: UN Latest Report Finds The World Is On Track For 2.5 – 2.9°C Of Warming

If world leaders do not show bold ambition to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, everyone on the planet would face the consequences that put human lives at death risk. The highest threats could be carried by developing countries that also face an economic slowdown in the longer run as a result. Apart from developing countries, the rest of the world also meets with climate change consequences such as diseases, economic/ physical damages, and various unpredictable snowball-effect threats.

The world needs to unite now more than ever to continue progress toward decarbonization even if it means doing so without the support from countries and companies that insist on continuing fossil fuels dependence.

The views and opinion expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Carbon Herald.

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