COP28: Global Stocktake callsfor just phase-out of fossil fuels
This year’s conference will see the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, and hence is likely to be an assessment of how countries have fared so far in meeting their Paris Agreement goals
A new draft of the Global Stocktake, released at the ongoing UN Climate Summit (COP28) on Tuesday, gave options on the way forward on key issues of negotiations including on mitigation, fossil fuels, equity and historical responsibility.
Among the options, more alarmingly, is “no text”, which essentially means that the clause will be dropped from the final text if countries are unable to arrive at a consensus.
This year’s conference will see the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake (GST), and hence is likely to be an assessment of how countries have fared so far in meeting their Paris Agreement goals.
The draft text includes options tripling global renewable capacity by 2030 compared to the 2022 levels to 11,000 GW and doubling the global average annual rate of energy-efficiency improvement compared to the 2022 levels to 4.1% by 2030.
For the second, no text is an option.
There is also space for “zero and low emission” technologies, which are being substantially scaled up globally. Low-emission technologies include abatement and removal technologies, including carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and low-carbon hydrogen production.
Some experts have pointed out that zero and low emission technologies are a proxy for natural gas use.
The text has options for the orderly and just phase-out of fossil fuels, accelerating efforts towards phasing out unabated fossil fuels and rapidly reducing their use to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century. But, for these as well the draft gives the option of no text.
The text gives the option of a rapid phase-out of unabated coal power this decade and an immediate cessation of permitting new unabated coal power generation. It refers to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s suggestions on a pathway involving a reduction of unabated coal use by 75% from 2019 levels by 2030. Option two here also has no text.
There are options for phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term as well as rapidly increasing the deployment pace for zero-emission vehicles, etc.
No text is also an option on equity and historical responsibility. One of the options here is to recognise that historical emissions and the use of the world’s carbon space are not equitably distributed as suggested by IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report. The text refers to developed countries emitting historically more emissions relative to their share of the global population. It recognises that equitable mitigation action is guided by historical responsibility. The text also acknowledges that developed countries should take the lead on mitigation actions.
There is an option of recognising that the consideration of equity can enable greater ambition in climate action and increase the likelihood of meeting the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
The text expresses concern that 2023 is set to be the warmest year on record. It adds that impacts from climate crisis are rapidly accelerating, while also emphasising the need for urgent action to keep within reach 1.5°C goal.
The draft also recognises that limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot requires peaking in global greenhouse gas emissions at the latest before 2025 and rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to the 2019 level and to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
While COP28 is still in early days leaving out scope for consensus to be reached on some of the key issues, the draft text shows divergent views could derail the negotiations.
“The most concerning section is on fossil fuels. There are essentially 3 key options — phaseout of unabated fossil fuels with a timeline of mid-century, or phaseout of unabated coal (no oil + gas) by 2030, or no text on fossil fuels,” the Centre for Science and Environment said.
A Global Stocktake decision without clear guidance on how to phase out fossil fuels would be a massive distraction and a missed opportunity, said Lili Fuhr, Center for International Environmental Law’s Fossil Economy Program director.
“Governments need to reject the language on low emission technologies as it would undermine the whole energy package. ‘Abatement’ and ‘low emissions’ technologies are poorly defined and generally refer to carbon capture on storage — alone or in combination with hydrogen or ammonia (‘blue’ hydrogen/ammonia). Governments here in Dubai need to agree on a just and equitable phase-out of fossil fuel production and use, at least a tripling of renewable energy and a doubling of energy efficiency,” she said.
Noting that there were several good announcements in the initial days of the summit, experts said the text “is nearly doing away with pre-2020 commitments”.
“Overall, there have been several good announcements in the beginning and the Loss and Damage fund has been operationalised which is important. But initial GST text has a maximalist position and it is nearly doing away with pre-2020 commitments, action and implementation. That is very concerning. Historic responsibility and differentiated responsibilities are a part of Paris Agreement. Developing countries need to ensure these issues are not diluted,” said Manjeev Singh Puri, former climate negotiator and ambassador.
“The second iteration of the Global Stocktake text incorporates a lot of suggestions given by the country Parties, although many of them are optional meaning they are either included or omitted completely. Particularly concerning is the inclusion of fossil fuel phaseout as optional. Direction to equitably phaseout all fossil fuels must be a mandate of the GST. Singling out coal or going for no text on this point is not acceptable for a favourable outcome. The way forward section as of now is the most unclear, with more than 20 bulleted points that need to be prioritised and fleshed out for actionable items,” said Tamanna Sengupta, Programme Officer, Climate Change, CSE.
US’s edits to the Global Stocktake text include removing references to developed country finance obligation “BUT call for more countries “in position” to provide finance”, the Centre for Science and Environment said in a post on X. “Also suggested removing CBDR in para on improving financial flows.”
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