COP28 draft GST: Developed nations oppose exclusion of phasing out of fossil fuels | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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COP28 draft GST: Developed nations oppose exclusion of phasing out of fossil fuels

ByJayashree Nandi
Dec 12, 2023 04:07 PM IST

Groups of emerging economies and developing countries said they do not support phasing out fossil fuels when it is not in line with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities

Civil society groups and developed nations, including the United States (US), and the European Union (EU) have opposed the exclusion of phasing out of fossil fuels from the draft global stocktake (GST) text at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) as unacceptable, saying it could lead to a failure in meeting Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.

A sign at the COP28. (AP)
A sign at the COP28. (AP)

Groups of emerging economies and developing countries said they do not support phasing out fossil fuels when it is not in line with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and without adequate finance to deliver this transition.

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Some negotiators said the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), the Arab Group, G77, China, and the African groups were broadly agreeable to the overall fourth iteration of the GST text. A fifth version of the text was expected on the last day of COP28 on Tuesday. The countries can later send their comments.

It was unclear when a final decision on the GST would be adopted. Some negotiators said extended talks were likely.

COP28 director-general Majid Al Suwaidi on Tuesday afternoon said they were facing the most demanding COP agenda of all time. “And what we are seeing, right now, is everybody working through that agenda. All COPs are challenging. But at this COP, we are trying to do something that has never been done before…something historic.”

Suwaidi said they were trying to agree to a comprehensive plan to close the gaps between where the world is, and where it needs to be to keep 1.5°C within reach. “That is our North Star. That has been our North Star all along. Part of this is to include language on fossil fuels in the text. If we can, that would be historic.”

Suwaidi said many issues remain open, and that is normal at this stage of things. “As you know, yesterday [Monday] we released a text. As you also know, lots of Parties felt it did not fully address their concerns. We expected that. We wanted the text to spark conversations…and that is what happened.”

Countries submitted their views on Monday night even as the US was not ready to budge on increasing finance provisions for a just and smooth energy transition in developing countries.

An Indian negotiator said emerging economies such as India have sought a modification for the inclusion of principles of CBDR and equity in almost all provisions. He added that nationally determined contributions (NDCs) should not be prescriptive in any manner and that developing countries need finance in trillions not in billions.

“We have to also understand that this is an issue of cumulative carbon space and developing nations have aspirations to fulfil. Everybody deserves a dignified life. In the absence of finance, we cannot just go for phase-out of fossil fuels,” the negotiator said.

In a post on X, Power Shift Africa founder and director Mohamed Adow called the energy package good. “This is the first ever mention of fossil fuels in a draft decision. Includes what we want including tripling of renewable capacity. Phasing down of ‘unabated’ coal is important and must be rapid. Reducing consumption & production of fossil…” he wrote.

He added the chapeau is not clear enough. “It lists a jumble of climate solutions which countries ‘could’ adopt. The list includes some real solutions...& dangerous distractions like abatement & nuclear. Although the fossil fuel language is historic, we…The bad. The tripling of renewables language is neither differentiated nor explicitly linked to finance. Limiting the phase-out of coal to ‘unabated’ enables continued use of ‘abated’ coal. Net zero emissions energy systems are focused on ‘zero and low carbon fuels’, rather…”

Adow said it is only right that rich historic polluters like the US, UK, and Norway go first, then middle-income nations like those in the Gulf with poorer developing countries after that. “It’s not fair that Congo & Canada must phase out fossil fuels at the same rate. If we want agreement here…”

A LMDC negotiator said some rich nations such as the US do not wish to phase out fossil fuels. “They are the largest oil and gas producer and they have huge projects in the pipeline. They also do not wish to deliver on any finance for adaptation or mitigation and have again and again tried to remove references to CBDR. Basically, they want to push the mitigation burden to developing nations.”

Developing countries have also called on developed nations to go net negative emissions before 2050.

In a post on X on Monday, Action Aid director (policy and campaigns) Brandon Wu said some developing countries think the new COP28 GST text is decent, but for a reason that “REALLY” highlights that the failure of developed countries to deliver climate finance underpins almost all the struggles and difficulties in this process.

Countries that did not agree with the fourth iteration said they would fight it out. “There’s a strong group of countries fighting at #COP28 to keep alive the 1.5c limit in the Paris Agreement - not just in words but with a clear pathway to deliver. With our friends in the @HACoalition we met @antonioguterres to present our views. We’ll keep working together,” said European Union’s Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra.

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