COP28 in UAE: New draft climate deal pushes nations to ‘transition away from fossil fuels’

The latest Global Stocktake Presidency Text was put out on December 13, 2023, just after 7am

By Reuters

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Wed 13 Dec 2023, 7:49 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Dec 2023, 9:09 AM

The COP28 Presidency released a proposed text of a final climate deal on Wednesday that would, for the first time, push nations to transition away from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change.

The draft is meant to reflect the consensus view of nearly 200 countries gathered at the conference in Dubai, where scores of governments have insisted on strong language to signal an eventual end to the fossil fuel era.

"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," said Norway's Minister for Climate and the Environment, Espen Barth Eide.

Country representatives have been called to what the COP28 Presidency hopes is a final meeting on Wednesday morning, where they could pass the deal and end two weeks of tough negotiations that have run a day into overtime.

Deals struck at UN climate summits must be passed by consensus, at which point individual countries are responsible for delivering on the agreements through national policies and investments.

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The proposed deal would specifically call 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."

It also calls for a tripling of renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, speeding up efforts to reduce coal, and accelerating technologies such as carbon capture and storage that can clean up hard-to-decarbonise industries.

If adopted, it would mark the first time in three decades of COP climate summits that nations have agreed on a concerted move away from oil, gas and coal, which account for 80 per cent of global energy. Scientists say fossil fuels are by far the largest source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

"The latest Global Stocktake text sends a strong signal that world leaders recognize that a sharp turn away from fossil fuels ... is essential to meet our climate goals," said Rachel Cleetus, policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

She noted, however, that the proposal does not commit rich countries to offer more financing to help developing countries transition away from fossil fuels.

"The finance and equity provisions... are seriously insufficient and must be improved in the time ahead in order to ensure low- and middle-income countries can transition to clean energy and close the energy poverty gap," she said.

It was not immediately clear whether the proposed deal would win enough support to be adopted.

On fossil fuels

The Global Stocktake Report says in its text that it "further recognises the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5ºC pathways and calls on Parties to contribute to the following global efforts, in a nationally determined manner, taking into account the Paris Agreement and their different national circumstances, pathways and approaches:

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

(b) Accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power;

(c) Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emission energy systems, utilizing zero- and low-carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;

(d) Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science;

(e) Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production;

(f) Accelerating and substantially reducing non-carbon-dioxide emissions globally, including in particular methane emissions by 2030;

(g) Accelerating the reduction of emissions from road transport on a range of pathways, including through development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero and low-emission vehicles

(h) Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible

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