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Historic COP28 deal agrees to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels

Wednesday, December 13th, 2023 14:19 | By
Campaigners say the world must stop using oil, gas and coal to end global heating. PHOTO/AFP
Campaigners say the world must stop using oil, gas and coal to end global heating. PHOTO/AFP

Delegates at the United Nations COP28 climate talks in Dubai have agreed to a deal that would, for the first time, push nations to transition away from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change.

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber hailed the deal, approved by almost 200 countries on Wednesday, as an “historic package” of measures that offers a “robust plan” to keep the target of capping global temperatures at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, within reach.

“We have language on fossil fuel in our final agreement for the first time ever,” said al-Jaber, CEO of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) oil company Adnoc.

Officials from around the globe suggested the deal is an important step towards ending the use of fossil fuels.

However, the deal doesn’t go so far as to seek a “phase-out” of fossil fuels, for which more than 100 nations had pleaded. Rather, it calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade”.

That transition would be in a way that gets the world to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and follows the dictates of climate science.

The conference in the UAE, one of the world’s 10 biggest oil producers, has faced criticism for close ties with fossil fuel interests from the start, especially after oil executive al-Jaber was appointed to preside over the negotiations.

Many financial issues are supposed to be hammered out over the next two years at upcoming climate conferences in Azerbaijan and Brazil.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that developing nations need $194-366bn per year to help adapt to a warmer and wilder world.

“Overall, I think this is a stronger text than the prior versions we have seen,” said the UN Foundation’s senior adaptation adviser, Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, prior to the proposal being approved on Wednesday. “But it falls short in mobilising the financing needed to meet those targets.”

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