COP28 Draft Outcome Text Drops Call To 'phaseout' Fossil Fuels

The latest COP28 draft outcome text released to negotiators on the penultimate day of the UN Climate Change Conference dropped a call to ‘phaseout’ fossil fuels, prompting outcry from climate vulnerable countries and civil society.

The 21-page text, prepared by the COP28 presidency, United Arab Emirates, makes no mention of fossil fuel ‘phasedown’ or ‘phaseout’, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres said was one of the keys to the conference’s success and which many nations have demanded.

Rather, the draft text called for countries to reduce “consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.”

The United States, European Union countries, and a group of small island developing States joined a chorus of civil society groups denouncing the draft as not going far enough to curb global warming.

This is not the final text though, and negotiations on compromise language continued on Tuesday, the scheduled closing day for COP28 in Dubai.

Activists and some countries are demanding stronger language that better reflects the true urgency of tackling the climate crisis.

Some of the key measures contained in the current draft include the rapid phasedown of “unabated coal” and curtailing the number of new licenses; Zero and low emissions technologies, including removal technologies such as carbon capture, and utilization and storage;
Climate finance; and Targets on adaptation with insufficient financial commitments, or ‘without a work programme’ to measure it.

The United States and China had pledged to work together towards the goal of tripling global capacity of renewable energy by 2030 in a deal struck in the run-up to COP28. These two countries are the world’s two biggest emitters of CO2.

The phaseout of fossil fuels and the words “oil” and “natural gas” do not appear in the draft coutcome text.

Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy at Climate Action Network International, said that over the two weeks the conference had been meeting in the UAE, there had “clearly been pressure from the outside … coming from the fossil fuel industry. We have seen OPEC issuing a letter; how [oil-producing countries] are completely against any language on fossil fuel phaseout; how rich countries are only grandstanding”.

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