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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Fossil fuel phase out 'phased out' from latest version of COP28's most important document

Coal is responsible for approximately 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions, oil and gas account for the rest

PTI Dubai Published 11.12.23, 08:49 PM
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Representational Image File photo

The words ‘phase out' of fossil fuels have been 'phased out.' This is how an observer summed up the new draft, possibly the penultimate draft on global stocktake, considered the most important document of this year’s climate talks in Dubai as it forms the basis of the next round of countries’ action plans to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The first look at the draft suggests there has been a massive push from fossil-fuel-reliant economies, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, against a phase-out of all fossil fuels, which until now seemed very much possible at this year's climate conference.

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The new draft of the Global Stocktake (GST) agreement, which will be the centrepiece of the final deal, talks about 'reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner to achieve net zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science'.

The earlier draft contained four options about a fossil fuel phase-out but none made it to the newest version released on Monday evening, triggering speculations about the intent of the presidency, the UAE, which has been calling for a phase-out of fossil fuels all along. To the disadvantage of heavily coal-reliant countries like India and China, the text contains strict language on coal.

"Rapidly phasing down unabated coal and limitations on permitting new and unabated coal power generation," it read.

Coal is responsible for approximately 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions, oil and gas account for the rest.

India, dependent on coal for around 70 per cent of power generation, aims to add 17 gigawatts of coal-based power generation capacity in the next 16 months.

The draft recognises the need for tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the energy efficiency rate by 2030 but without any specifics.

The International Energy Agency says doing so is a must if the world has to avoid the breaching of the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

The text has references to equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

These principles recognise that countries' efforts to combat climate change should be viewed in light of their contributions to total emissions and that richer nations should shoulder primary responsibilities, given their significant historical emissions.

There's no language in the adaptation section that points to the obligation of developed countries to provide finance.

The mitigation section in the last version of the GST text referred to the obligation of developed countries to take the lead in securing finance. That is gone, said Brandon Wu from ActionAid USA.

The new GST draft is a "watered down menu of compromises", Catherine Abreu, the executive director of Destination Zero, said.

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, said the latest GST text has dropped explicit language on phasing out fossil fuels, opting instead for a vague commitment to 'reduce both consumption and production' by 2050.

"This is a clear indication of the fossil fuel industry's lobbying power, influencing global policies to favour prolonged fossil fuel use," he said.

"If we fail to issue a decisive and strong directive from COP28, we stand at the precipice of crossing the crucial 1.5 degree Celsius warming threshold. Such a scenario would unleash catastrophic consequences globally, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable communities," Singh added.

Responding to a question by PTI, Li Shuo, director of China Climate Hub at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said: "If parties push hard for phase-out to be reintroduced. Absolutely. There is an opportunity for that to happen."

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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