After negotiators worked through the night, a new tentative deal has been reached at COP28 which could signal the world’s desire to move away from fossil fuels over the next few decades in an effort to address climate change.
Representatives from nearly 200 countries will gather in a public meeting later Wednesday morning in Dubai to vote on the proposed deal.
The latest draft of the new text seen contains much stronger language on fossil fuels compared to a previous version.
Specifically, the text calls for a “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”
During the two-week summit, COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber raised expectations by consistently vowing to strike a historic deal in Dubai.
The proposed agreement is groundbreaking as it would mark the first time that nations agree at a UN climate summit to explicitly address fossil fuels and the need to move away from oil, natural and coal in order to limit global warming.
There is added significance considering the climate summit is being held in OPEC-territory and al-Jaber, himself, is the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil company, ADNOC.
Still, some countries and environmental leaders are feeling disappointed because the proposal does not call for a ‘phase out’ or ‘phase down’ of fossil fuels. Al-Jaber had suggested those terms could be included in a final agreement, but are absent from the final draft.
The current phrasing of transiting away from oil, gas and coal to reach net zero emissions implies that countries will aim to lower their production and consumption of fossil fuels over the coming decades, but can still use them beyond 2050 by using carbon capture facilities and other technology to prevent greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.
That’s why the proposed agreement is described by some environmental experts as a paradox, since it’s neither a small step forward nor a giant leap in efforts to address climate change, but somewhere in the middle.
“It’s not the phase out that the president promised, but it would be a significant step forward, especially at a COP that has been so visibly captured by the fossil fuel lobby,” said Caroline Brouillette, an environmental campaigner with Climate Action Network Canada.
“I feel very encouraged,” federal environment minister Steven Guilbeault told reporters before he left the summit late Tuesday. “I…