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The U.N. climate summit was mired in last-minute negotiations on Tuesday after the majority of countries in attendance clashed with Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries over whether they should commit to phasing out fossil fuels.
Some negotiators said around 80 percent of the nearly 200 countries at COP28 sought to strengthen draft conclusions that only envisaged voluntary reductions in the production and consumption of gas, oil and coal.
Diplomats said Riyadh was the main obstacle to a tougher declaration and was supported by other OPEC and OPEC+ countries such as Iraq and Russia.
“There is a super majority [of countries] “They want more ambition,” said EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra. “We owe it to all viewers around the world.”
The EU, US, UK, Australia, Canada and island nations vulnerable to climate change all criticized the draft text because it contained no reference to phasing out fossil fuels to limit global warming.
“We don’t want to sign the death certificate of our islands,” Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Samoa’s natural resources and environment minister, said after a meeting between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and a so-called highly ambitious coalition of countries.
The meetings in Dubai cap a two-week negotiation period in which talks lasted until the early hours of Tuesday morning, resuming a few hours later and continuing into the evening.
US climate envoy John Kerry said after a meeting with COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber on Tuesday evening that “a lot of good work has been done” to improve the draft text.
“There is progress and we are moving in the right direction, we will continue working throughout the night,” he said, adding that he was encouraged by the discussions.
John Kerry leaves a meeting on the final day of COP28 negotiations, which ran into the night © REUTERS
A number of officials from various leading countries have visited Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, half-brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a bid to persuade the oil-rich kingdom to change its position.
Ministers from around the world have accused Riyadh of putting pressure on Sultan al-Jaber, COP28 president and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to shift the text’s focus away from fossil fuels.
European diplomats said that by setting out measures countries “could” take, this week’s draft effectively turned crucial measures to limit global warming into a mere list of options.
Diplomats also discussed the need for finance to help countries transition away from fossil fuels and adapt to climate change, particularly those that have difficulty accessing capital markets. EU negotiators focused particularly on these talks.
China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua, a veteran of the UN summit, has called the meeting “the most difficult COP” he has ever attended. Diplomats said Beijing itself was less resistant to strong measures to clamp down on fossil fuels than in the past. Xie said China wants a text that “points in the right direction” and is “acceptable to all parties.”
French Energy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said leaders from a number of countries in the EU, South America, Asia and Africa agreed that reducing fossil fuels in the global energy mix needed to be taken “with a lot of emotion” in preparation a response to the draft text.
“I think for the first time we have heard clearly publicly that developed and developing countries have the same vision,” she said.
In a press conference on Tuesday morning, Majid al-Suwaidi, director general of COP28, said “the text contains many words” and that it was “easy for negotiators to get hung up on one word and focus on one thing.” “.
“Our goal is that the overall package makes everyone happy and shows the way there clearly [limiting temperature rises to] 1.5°C.”
Additional reporting by Simeon Kerr
COP28 draft agreement: action optional
Triple global renewable energy capacity and double the global average annual rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030
Rapid phase-out of unbridled coal-fired power generation and restrictions on the approval of new and unbraked coal-fired power generation
Accelerated global efforts toward net-zero emissions energy systems using zero-emission, low-carbon fuels well before or by mid-century
Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including renewable energy, nuclear energy, carbon reduction and removal technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage, and low-carbon hydrogen production, to strengthen efforts to substitute unabated fossil fuels
Reduce fossil fuel consumption and production in a fair, orderly and equitable manner to achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest, in line with science
Accelerate and significantly reduce non-CO₂ emissions, including in particular methane emissions, globally by 2030
Accelerate the reduction of emissions from road transport in various ways, including infrastructure development and the rapid introduction of zero- and low-emission vehicles
Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and do not address energy poverty or simply transitions will be eliminated as quickly as possible
Source : www.ft.com