GLOBAL STOCKTAKE TEXT SEES PROGRESS, TRAPS REMAIN
Strong, science-based language on fossil fuels remains in the text, but abatement language does as well.
The text, sent to ministers acknowledges momentum by including options that entail a full phaseout of all fossil fuels in line with the best science. However, it doesn’t include language on the need for equity by requiring developed countries to phase out first, or that financial support is needed for developing countries to undertake a clean energy transition. Developing countries have been clear that differentiated phase out timelines and funding are essential prerequisites for them to agree to text on a fossil fuel phaseout.
According to Gabrielle Levy, the Associate Director, Communications Campaigns & Strategies in a statement, she noted that there are also much weaker options for a phaseout caveated with the term “unabated” which promote dangerous distractions such as carbon capture (CCS) and open the door for continued fossil fuel expansion, or are not economy wide, so will simply fail to deliver on the ambition demanded by the science. There remains an option of no text at all.
Despite calls for wording on a fossil fuel phaseout from 80 countries, the 2022 Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan failed to even mention any reduction in the use of oil and gas, merely calling for “accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power.” The bar was set even higher this year, with more than 100 countries from Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, and the European Union calling for phaseout language to be included in the COP28 decision.
The Global Stocktake text will provide the blueprint as countries develop their 2025 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at this critical time. It must jumpstart the just and equitable transition, sending the signal to governments and markets to rapidly scale up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, immediately halt investments in new fossil fuels and wind down existing projects, be clear on the need for developed countries to phase out first, and provide sufficient finance and technical support from developed countries and the private sector to developing countries to facilitate their transition.
Senior Climate and Resilience Adviser, ActionAid UK, Zahra Hdidou stated that “While the UK government publicly backs the phasing out of fossil fuels at COP, its commitments aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The promise to phase out fossil fuels while issuing a hundred new oil and gas licenses is an outrageous contradiction and one that will plunge the most marginalised communities well past the brink of climate catastrophe”.
Hdidou further stated that “In backing the phase-out of only ‘unabated fossil fuels,’ the UK is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of climate-affected communities and provide cover for oil and gas companies to wreck the planet for decades to come. The text today offers an opportunity to genuinely phase out all fossil fuels in line with the Paris agreement – a moment the UK should seize with both hands”.
Also, Caroline Brouillette, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada stated that “The litmus test for success at COP28 is whether countries agree to the phaseout of fossil fuels, which science shows us is absolutely essential to limit warming to 1.5°C. This phaseout cannot happen without differentiated timelines and robust support for Global South countries who have to respond to converging climate and debt impacts as they undergo this economic transition”.
“Fresh off its announcement of a framework to cap oil and gas emissions, Canada now wants to help the Presidency find a landing zone on the fossil fuel phaseout. Yet its suspicious absence from the statements from the High Ambition Coalition on a 1.5-aligned energy transition raises doubts about the guardrails it is ready to erect around weasel words like abatement. If Minister Guilbeault is serious about bridge-building, he must build bridges to the top, not the bottom. That means advocating for the Global Stocktake text to include a decline in fossil fuels this decade, with Global North countries moving first and fastest, and to acknowledge the investment and support required to make this transition a reality in the Global South”.
Mohammed Adow – Director, Power Shift Africa, “The new text sets out the direction of travel much more clearly than before. It includes the vital renewable energy tripling but with an important caveat included: this renewable energy is to displace fossil fuels. On the issue of fossil fuels, the text includes options explicitly calling for the phasing out of fossil fuels in line with the best available science. That’s clearly a positive step. The text also includes important recognition of fairness in regards to developing countries”.
“The bare bones of a historic agreement is there in this latest text. What we now need is for countries to rally behind the stronger of the options and strengthen them further. We also need to differentiate the pathways for different countries, recognising the considerable development constraints of some of the least responsible countries who continue to be disproportionately affected by climate change. It’s not fair to ask Congo to phase out all fossil fuels within the same time frame as Norway. Differentiated phaseout timeframes with developed countries taking the lead, especially in ending the planned licensing of new exploration and development of new oil and gas fields is critical. If we have fairness for poorer countries in the text, we can secure a historic outcome here in Dubai and this COP will be hailed as a success”.
As the conclusion of COP28 draws closer, negotiators must work towards the strongest possible outcome to protect vulnerable communities around whose lives are threatened by the continued extraction of oil, gas, and coal. The release of the third iteration of text on the Global Stocktake saw a vital recognition of the increased momentum from Parties on the imperative to end the world’s reliance on oil, gas, and coal, but crucially still falls short on issues of fairness.