Fossil fuel phase-out on the table at COP28

Countries at the COP28 climate conference are considering calling for a formal phase-out of fossil fuels as part of the U.N. summit’s final deal to tackle global warming, a draft negotiating text seen on Tuesday shows.

(To track negotiation drafts texts at COP28 click here.)DECEMBER 5: General view of “Don’t Fuel The Fire: Fossil Fuels Phase Out” action by Climate Action Network Europe at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 5, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by COP28 / Mahmoud Khaled)

The draft text for a COP28 final deal includes three options for dealing with fossil fuels. The first is “an orderly and just phase-out”. In U.N. parlance, the word “just” suggests wealthy nations with a long history of burning fossil fuels would phase out faster than others. The second calls for “accelerating efforts towards phasing out unabated fossil fuels”. And a third would be to avoid mentioning a phase-out at all.

 If adopted, this draft language would mark the first global deal to end the oil age.

The United States, the 27 countries of the European Union and climate-vulnerable small island states are pushing for a fossil fuel phase-out to drive the deep CO2 emissions reductions scientists say are needed this decade. Not surprisingly, this language isn’t without its opponents with oil and gas producers anxious to leave it out.  At least 2,400 fossil fuel lobbyists registered for this year’s summit, an analysis of U.N. registration data published by Kick Big Polluters Out showed. The lobbyists outnumbered the 1,609 delegates from the 10 most climate vulnerable countries combined, the international coalition of climate activist groups said.

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