Amidst all the geopolitical noise around orderly phase out of all fossil fuels in line with science at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, the next two days will further shape world’s plans to get on while enabling a fast and fair transition to renewable energy to ensure the global temperature rise is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius as per Paris temperature goal. A full package covering mitigation, adaptation and finance will be needed to complete these negotiations if the talks are to end on December 12 at 11 am, as intended. The spotlight is now on the COP28’s Presidency and if they will broker a deal for a just transition or instead align themselves with the oil industry.
Canada has been asked by the UAE COP presidency to help develop language on the role of fossil fuels that is acceptable to all parties. On fossil fuels, there are four options on table until COP28 is due to close. They include a phase out of fossil fuels in line with best available science; a phase out of unabated fossil fuels, consumption peak by 2030, energy sector to be ‘predominantly’ free of fossil fuels well ahead of 2050; and phasing out unabated fossil fuels so as to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems around 2050. All parties need to come together around a rapid response plan to the global stocktake. This is the challenge that parties must rise to, against the clock.
The new global stocktake text retains the fossil fuel phase-out option but does not incorporate the proposal by developing countries to add the terms “just and equitable” and “developed countries taking the lead”. But without equity, it is neither fair nor feasible to accelerate the green transition away from fossil fuels in developing countries. As per the findings from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) Emissions Gap Report 2023, the world is heading for a temperature rise of about 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless countries now deliver more than they have already promised to tackle climate change.
Governments know they can’t leave this summit without an agreement to end fossil fuels, in a fast and fair manner. Now the question is what is the package of solutions, support and cooperation that will get us over the finishing line? It’s clear that developed countries are the ones that need to take the lead here. The solutions are ready — a fast and fair transition to renewable energy is possible — but it won’t happen fast enough unless we push the fossil fuel industry out of the way. And when it comes to money, it is the fossil fuel industry which made record profits last year. Money has to be redirected from problems to solutions, so that polluters are made to pay.