Outrage as COP28 Agreement Drops ‘Phase Out’ of Fossil Fuels
A draft agreement from the UN’s COP28 climate summit has sparked outrage among campaigners and scientists after a ‘phase out’ of fossil fuels was dropped, in what is seen by many as a victory for the oil and gas lobby. Hopes were high that the annual climate conference being held in Dubai would deliver a major breakthrough with countries agreeing to the gradual end of the use of oil and gas. However, a new draft text included a significant watering down of the language around the use of fossil fuels, leading to disappointment among many.
What Does the COP28 Agreement State on Fossil Fuels?
By the end of COP28, almost 200 countries will need to sign an agreement outlining wide-ranging commitments to limit climate change. The wording around the use of fossil fuels has been the most contentious aspect, with options of an agreement to “phase out” all fossil fuel use being considered. However, the published draft agreement fell short of such a commitment, stating that countries “could” reduce their carbon emissions by “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.”
Will this Make a Difference?
While this latest COP28 text marks significant progress compared with previous climate summits, there is still disappointment from many campaign groups. Bob Ward, Policy and Communication Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, stated that the wording in the draft text could still be considered “historic” if countries “should” rather than “could” reduce their consumption and production of fossil fuels. However, many campaign groups have expressed huge disappointment at the draft agreement after the positive noises that had been coming out of COP28 over the past two weeks. This disagreement is reflected in the different opinions on the potential impact of the current agreement.
What the New Agreement Means for the World
Failure to reach an agreement on phasing out fossil fuels means the world may not stay within the 1.5°C threshold for global warming set out in the Paris Agreement. This means there might be severe impacts on climate change, including crop failure, devastated cities, migration, and loss of ecosystems. The longer there is no commitment to phase out fossil fuels, the longer there is no incentive for industries to change their business models, ultimately leading to a continued reliance on existing fossil fuel infrastructure. This lack of action contributes to the increase in emissions and exacerbates the severity of climate change effects.