Landmark COP28 deal to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels adopted

todayDecember 13, 2023 2

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Landmark COP28 deal to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels adopted

Governments have agreed for the first time ever to “transition away” from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change, in an ‘historic’ agreement from the COP28 climate summit.

The UN’s climate body published the draft text of the deal early on Wednesday morning after negotiations had spilled into overtime in Dubai.

Host nation United Arab Emirates then quickly rushed it through a closing plenary session, facing no objections.

“Let us finish what we have started,” said COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber, as the room erupted in applause.

“We have language on fossil fuels in our final agreement for the first time ever.” He called it “historic”.

The deal is not legally-binding but calls on all countries to move away from the use of fossil fuels.

And instead of the phrase “phase out” – which many governments wanted, the text tells countries to “transition away” from coal, oil and gas, beginning this decade.

It marks the first time in three decades of COP climate summits that nations have agreed on a concerted move away from oil, gas and coal – products that currently account for around 80% of global energy.

Read more:
Key points from COP28 resolution

Norway’s minister for climate and the environment, Espen Barth Eide, said: “It is the first time that the world unites around such a clear text on the need to transition away from fossil fuels.

“It has been the elephant in the room. At last we address it head on.”

Melanie Robinson, global climate programme director at the World Resources Institute, also welcomed the text saying: “This text makes a clear call for the world to transition away from fossil fuels and accelerate action this decade.

“This would dramatically move the needle in the fight against climate change and overcome immense pressure from oil and gas interests.”

The deal specifically calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner… so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”

The document recognises “the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in line with 1.5C pathways” and calls upon nations to take notice.

The actions include:

• Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030;

• Rapidly phasing down unabated coal and limiting the permitting of new and unabated coal power generation;

• Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emissions energy systems, utilising zero and low carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;

• Transitioning away from fossil fuels in our energy systems, beginning in this decade, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science;

• Accelerating zero and low emissions technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies, such as carbon capture and utilisation and storage particularly in hard to abate sectors, and low carbon hydrogen production, so as to enhance efforts towards substitution of unabated fossil fuels in energy systems.

• Accelerating and substantially reducing non-CO2 emissions, including, in particular, methane emissions globally by 2030;

• Accelerating emissions reductions from road transport through a range of pathways, including development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero emission vehicles;

• Phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible.

More than 100 nations had called for the phrase “phase out” to be used regarding fossil fuels in the resolution, but this language was watered down.

Intensive sessions went well into the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Then, the United Arab Emirates-led presidency, fronted by Sultan al Jaber presented delegates from nearly 200 nations a new central document – called the global stocktake – just after sunrise in Dubai.

It’s the second version presented in about two weeks.

Licypriya Kangujam, an Indigenous climate activist from India, holds a banner during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 11, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A climate activist from India, holds a banner during COP28

Some of the language in previous versions of the draft that most upset nations calling for dramatic action to address climate change was altered.

Actions that had previously been presented as an optional “could” changed to a bit more direct “calls on parties to”.

After a quick debrief, Union of Concerned Scientists climate and energy policy director Rachel Cleetus said it was “definitely an improvement” over earlier versions that environmental advocacy groups like hers had massively criticised.

The aim of the global stocktake is to help nations align their national climate plans with the Paris agreement.

Written by: Newsroom

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