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Latest COP28 Draft Does Not Mention Fossil Fuel Phaseout

Above photo: Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber (C-L), president of the COP28 UNFCCC Climate Conference, and Majid Al-Suwaidi (C-R), director general of the COP28, attend a plenary session on day eleven of the conference as negotiations go into their final phase on Dec. 11, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Sean Gallup / Getty Images.

As the United Nations COP28 climate talks entered the final stretch, the most recent draft of a climate deal left out the crucial “phase out” language regarding fossil fuels, the main demand expressed by many developing countries, particularly those vulnerable to climate change, as well as the European Union.

The draft deal is the precursor to a final round of negotiations over whether or how long fossil fuels will continue to be a part of the transition to a renewable energy future.

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber encouraged those present at the summit to finalize a deal before the conference ends on Tuesday, reported Reuters.

“You know what remains to be agreed. And you know that I want you to deliver the highest ambition on all items including on fossil fuel language,” Al Jaber said.

Climate advocates are warning that the COP28 climate summit could end up being unsuccessful after the new draft of the core agreement removed the call to phase out the main driver of the climate crisis, according to CNN.

In a post on X, Al Gore warned that the climate summit “is now on the verge of complete failure.”

“The world desperately needs to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, but this obsequious draft reads as if OPEC dictated it word for word. It is even worse than many had feared.”

The new draft of the text released today included voluntary measures like tripling worldwide renewables capacity by 2030, limiting power plant licensing and “rapidly phasing down unabated coal,” Politico reported.

Instead of phasing out fossil fuels, the draft offered eight options nations “could” voluntarily use to lower their emissions, including “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,” reported Reuters.

Small island nations, green groups and the EU were disappointed by the text of the new draft’s omission of phasing out fossil fuels once and for all.

“The Republic of the Marshall Islands did not come here to sign our death warrant,” said the country’s Minister of Natural Resources and Commerce John Silk, as Politico reported.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called an agreement to phase out fossil fuels quickly enough to avoid disastrous climate change effects a main indicator of success for the climate conference.

Wopke Hoekstra, EU chief negotiator at the conference, referred to the draft as “not adequate.”

“It is lengthy, we’re still looking into all the various elements. And yes, there are a couple of things in there. But overall, it is clearly insufficient, and not adequate to [address] the problem we are here to address,” Wopke told reporters, as reported by Reuters.

A new draft of the agreement that the U.S. State Department said “needs to be substantially strengthened” is expected on Tuesday.

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