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Home » COP28: Time is running out amid a call for fast, fair, and funded phase-out of fossil fuels

COP28: Time is running out amid a call for fast, fair, and funded phase-out of fossil fuels

by Madaline Dunn

The final draft text of the Global Stocktake was rumoured to be published at 6 pm today, however, as the night draws on, there is no sign of it, and until recently, no update from the COP28 Presidency. 

However, a recent status update outlines that consultations will now continue until 3 am GST.

“Overnight and throughout today, the COP28 President and his team have been engaging in extensive consultations with a wide representation of negotiating groups and Parties. This is to ensure everyone is heard, and all views are considered. He is determined to deliver a version of the text that has the support of all Parties. Consultations will continue until 03:00AM GST,” said a COP28 Spokesperson. 

As the negotiators finalise the draft, the world is watching, and after yesterday’s release, outrage is brimming. Indeed, what is being decided on right now behind closed doors could mean life or death for millions. 

A waiting game

Maintaining optimism is challenging, to say the least. And, while earlier the COP28 Director-General Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi said that the draft was to determine countries’ red lines, the document walks back on much of the progress that appeared to be being made. 

For now, it’s just a waiting game. 

As the night drags on, however, analysis has found that 127 countries are currently supportive of some sort of a phase-out. That being said, there’s a lot of variation within that bracket, and plenty of room for loopholes.

Keeping the 1.5 degree “north star” within reach

Last week, research from the UK’s Met Office shared grave findings that in 2024, the average global temperature could temporarily breach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. And, while the research indicated that temperatures elevating above 1.5C temporarily won’t breach the Paris Agreement, the longer it sits at this level, the worse the impacts and an insight into what’s to come. 

Yet despite the International Energy Agency (IEA) sharing this week that current pledges aren’t enough to halt warming at 1.5 degrees, phase-out was entirely omitted from the draft presented yesterday evening.

It’s also rightly been highlighted that even if the world switched to renewables, reaching the 1.5-degree target is not possible without the transformation of food systems. 

Indeed, this week, while food has not been high on the menu, bar a brief reference in the text, the need for protein diversification and alternatives has been highlighted by the likes of HE Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of United Arab Emirates, who said that “food systems will now be centre stage in all future COPs”. 

Now, we need to see that promise turn into action. 

Elsewhere, many were shocked at the decision of the UK Minister of State for Climate Change, Graham Stuart, to depart from Dubai at the most crucial stages of negotiations. In his wake, he leaves behind a team of civil servants, in a move that climate groups have said is a “slap in the face.”

“Be on the right side of history”

Just prior to when the Global Stocktake draft was originally set to be released, the final civil society gathering took place, in a powerful display of solidarity and collective action, crying out for the leaders to hear their plea: No more fossil fuels. 

One speaker at the protest said: “I’m asking to all the leaders making decisions on behalf of my children behind me, and my grandchildren that have not been born and their grandchildren as well. You owe it to us to give us hope. You owe us a real future where these children don’t have to come up here to fight for their rights. Fossil fuel phase-out is a matter of human rights.”

“The United Nations is here to protect those rights, and this is why we are calling on the UN triple C to be on the right side of history.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the COP28 developments.

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