COP28: pressure and tensions increase around the mention of an exit from fossil fuels in the final text

The President of COP28, Sultan Al-Jaber, increased pressure on Sunday, December 10, on the countries meeting at the climate conference in Dubai to resolve their disputes over fossil fuels by Tuesday

COP28: pressure and tensions increase around the mention of an exit from fossil fuels in the final text

The President of COP28, Sultan Al-Jaber, increased pressure on Sunday, December 10, on the countries meeting at the climate conference in Dubai to resolve their disputes over fossil fuels by Tuesday. The combustion of the latter (coal, oil, gas), mainly for the production of electricity, for transport or even heating, is the origin of 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, which gives them the role of main culprits of the climate crisis which threatens humanity.

“Failure is not an option. We are looking for the general interest,” warned Sultan Al-Jaber in a brief press conference, and before bringing together all the ministers in a session called majlis, according to Emirati tradition, where they will sit in a circle to discuss on one foot of equality, according to him. “Everyone needs to be flexible,” he also said. We must find consensus and common ground on fossil fuels, including coal. This is the first presidency to have called on all parties to propose common ground and consensus on fossil fuels. It is time for all parties to engage constructively and propose this formulation to me. »

In quick succession, Saudi Arabia and Iraq reaffirmed their opposition to any mention of an exit or reduction in fossil fuels in the final text. “Including” in the text “the reduction, the exit from fossil fuels and the exit from subsidies to fossil fuels is contrary to the principles of the Paris agreement,” declared the head of the Iraqi delegation, according to whom “it would destroy the 'global economy and would increase global inequality'.

The Saudi representative called for “taking into account our perspectives and our concerns”, calling for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the development of technological solutions. He noted the constant “political” attempts to “target certain energy sectors.” But “each time science, common sense and principles have prevailed,” he judged.

Earlier in the day, activists briefly burst into the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pavilion at COP28 to call for a move away from fossil fuels. The activists were invited to sit down before speaking for a few minutes. “We know that OPEC sent a letter to its members asking them to oppose a move away from fossil fuels,” said Nicolas Haeringer, a member of the NGO 350.org, referring to a letter from the secretary general OPEC broadcast on Saturday, "urgently" asking its members to "proactively reject" any agreement targeting fossil fuels.

The distribution of this letter on Saturday sparked strong reactions, including that of the French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, who said she was “stunned” by these statements. “There is no single solution or path to achieving a sustainable energy future,” a representative of the OPEC Secretary General declared on Saturday at the COP28. “For us, having an OPEC pavilion at the COP is like having a huge oil rig in the negotiations,” denounced Mr. Haeringer. “We want a total, fair and rapid exit from fossil fuels,” the activists then chanted before withdrawing.

While the negotiations have officially entered into the last forty-eight hours, several options are still on the table, including that of having no mention of fossil fuels in the text of the final agreement, recalled Mr. Haeringer, saying he also wanted to “put pressure”.

For its part, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated on Sunday that the non-binding commitments announced at the start of COP28 by more than a hundred countries and oil companies would only achieve by 2030 30% of the reduction in energy-related emissions needed to achieve carbon neutrality.

The IEA analyzed the potential impact of two voluntary commitments announced last week: that of 130 countries to triple renewables and improve energy efficiency by 2030, and another signed by around fifty oil companies and gas to reduce methane leaks, in particular. Negotiators are trying to find a way to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, in line with what was agreed in the historic Paris agreement reached at COP21 in 2015.

On Sunday, some observers were cautiously optimistic about progress so far. “We are on the verge of making history,” said Kaisa Kosonen, policy coordinator at Greenpeace International. “I’ve never seen this level of pressure before, with people saying you have to do it. They are finally tackling the root cause of climate change. »

Azerbaijan has been proposed to host the next UN climate conference, COP29, from November 11-22, 2024, according to a draft declaration released on Sunday. This proposal must now be officially adopted before the end of the current summit, which it should be. The draft declaration also proposes that COP30 take place in Brazil, from November 10 to 21, 2025.