COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber speaks during an event on Transforming Food Systems for Climate Change on the sidelines of the COP28 Climate Summit at Dubai Expo on December 1, 2023.
Ludovic Marin | Afp | Good pictures
The leadership of the UAE Summit said, “We deliver world first after world.” And said in a social media update. “A global goal to double renewables and double energy efficiency. Announcements on agriculture, food and health. Oil and gas companies step up for the first time on methane and emissions. And our final deal includes language on fossil fuels.”
A recent plan released Wednesday by the United Arab Emirates calls for “accelerating action in this critical decade to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a fair, orderly and equitable manner, so as to reach net zero by 2050. Science.”
The agreement text called for “accelerating efforts to phase-out unmitigated coal power” and “tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling the rate of global average annual energy efficiency improvements by 2030”.
Critically, the plan does not mandate the complete phasing out of hydrocarbons.
A “phase-out” pledge would have to change until the use of fossil fuels is eliminated, while a “phase-down” agreement would mean reducing their use — but not a complete end.
Many believed that the COP28 summit would only be considered a success if it resulted in an agreement to “phase out” all fossil fuels. On Monday, a young climate activist burst onto the scene to call for action on the issue. Licipria Gangujam, 12, interrupted a presidential event while holding a sign that read, “End fossil fuels. Save our planet and our future.”
Combustion of coal, oil and gas Largest contributor to climate changeMore than three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Indian environmentalist Licipria Gangujam holds a placard reading “End Fossil Fuels. Save our planet and our future” after running on stage during the eleventh day of the UNFCCC COP28 climate conference high-level event. Phase in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 11, 2023.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Good pictures
Wednesday’s announcement comes after an earlier draft text released in the final stages of the negotiations drew widespread criticism for failing to include language on ending the use of fossil fuels.
Monday’s draft agreement suggested several options for countries to accelerate climate action, but, crucially, it avoided language about the “phase-out” or “phase-down” of fossil fuels.
The UK’s COP26 chairman Alok Sharma said on Tuesday that only an agreement including “very clear” language on phasing out fossil fuels and a credible plan would be enough to keep alive the prospect of curbing global warming. 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The 1.5°C limit is the key global temperature limit set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Its importance is widely recognized as so-called tipping points are more likely to occur beyond this level.
“If we don’t reach an agreement on that language, I think the consequences will be grave,” Sharma told CNBC’s “Street Science Europe.”
“We’ve seen 2023 be the hottest year on record, and we’re seeing climate events coming thick and fast around the world. And the question world leaders need to ask themselves is, if they’re not ready to act now, then when?”
“This is the moment,” he continued. “It’s time in history for us to move forward, to be ambitious, to come up with an agreement that includes phasing out fossil fuels, because ultimately the future of our generation is, in fact, [of] Future generations, absolutely depend on it.”
How did the talks go?
COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber sparked a backlash earlier this month when he said there was “no science” behind calls to phase out fossil fuels. His comments followed a BBC report ahead of the summit that suggested UAE officials were trying to cash in on their host status to push for oil and gas deals.
A COP28 spokesperson described the documents referred to in the BBC article as “false”. Separately, al-Jaber said last week that his group “very much believes in and respects science” and said he was surprised by “the continuous and persistent efforts to undermine the COP 28 presidency”.
Al-Jaber was seen as a controversial choice to lead the COP28 discussions in Dubai, as he also serves as chairman of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
In an unprecedented move on November 30, delegates at COP28 sealed the details of a landmark agreement to help the world’s most vulnerable countries pay for the impacts of climate disasters.
The so-called loss and damage fund provoked a round of applause from the audience representatives. The historic agreement was hailed as a welcome breakthrough and one that led policymakers to negotiate on other key issues.
A flurry of announcements to help decarbonise the energy sector followed, with nearly 120 governments pledging to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. Other initiatives launched at the conference include expanding nuclear power and reducing methane emissions.