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COP28 UAE runs overtime: Draft deal, fossil fuel debate explained

Crucial climate talks are still on at COP28 in the UAE — with a landmark deal yet to be hammered out past the deadline today. An agreement, particularly on the terms of a fossil fuel phaseout, is yet to be reached.

The UAE, as COP28 host, said on Tuesday that it would seek consensus with a new draft deal, as negotiators pointed out the “watery” language used on fossil fuels in the initial text.

“We need to work on how we put their views into the text in a way that everybody can be happy with,” said Majid Al Suwaidi, director-general of COP28. “The point is to get a consensus.”

The COP28 presidency had pressed the nearly 200 nations to reach an ambitious deal by the official end of talks at 11am today, in an effort to force decisions. But after late-night discussions on Monday, there were still no signs that the talks were anywhere near completion, with negotiators waiting for a fresh text.

Campaigners had hoped the COP28 summit would take the historic step of calling for the first time for a global phase-out of fossil fuels, which account for three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the language used in the initial draft was described as “weak” and “watery” as countries insist on a stronger commitment for the rapid phase-out of coal, oil and gas.

Negotiators were particularly concerned about the point that called for countries to reduce “consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner”. This, they said, was not strong enough.

COP28 president-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber on Monday described the draft version of the summit’s final deal as “a huge step forward”.

“The COP28 presidency has been clear from the beginning about our ambitions. This text reflects those ambitions and is a huge step forward,” the presidency said in a statement.

The UAE, however, also acknowledged the negotiators’ concerns — saying Monday night’s draft was just a starting point, a way to kickstart discussions.

“The text we released was a starting point for discussions,” Al Suwaidi said at a news conference midday on Tuesday. “When we released it, we knew opinions were polarized, but what we didn’t know was where each country’s red lines were.”

“We spent last night talking, taking in that feedback, and that has put us in a position to draft a new text,” he said.

The relevant section of the text said parties recognize “the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions and calls upon Parties to take actions that could include, inter alia:

  • (a) Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030;
  • (b) Rapidly phasing down unabated coal and limitations on permitting new and unabated coal power generation;
  • (c) Accelerating efforts globally towards net zero emissions energy systems, utilizing zero and low carbon fuels well before or by around mid-century;
  • (d) Accelerating zero and low emissions technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies, including such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, and low carbon hydrogen production, so as to enhance efforts towards substitution of unabated fossil fuels in energy systems.
  • (e) Reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science;
  • (f) Accelerating and substantially reducing non-CO2 emissions, including, in particular, methane emissions globally by 2030;
  • (g) Accelerating emissions reductions from road transport through a range of pathways, including development of infrastructure and rapid deployment of zero and low emission vehicles;
  • (h) Phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible.

Source: KHALEEJTIMES



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