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Fossil Fuels Will Be ‘Taken Away’ After Agreement Over Cop28 Landmark Deal

Photography: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Approximately 200 countries at the Cop28 climate summit have all agreed to a deal that, for the first time, calls on all nations to transition away from fossil fuels. This is to avert the worst effects of climate change.

On Wednesday morning, after two weeks of negotiations in the United Arab Emirates, the agreement was quickly gavelled through by the Cop28 president, Sultan Al Jaber. He received an ovation from the delegates.

Despite the urging of scientists and civil society groups from more than 130 countries, the agreement did not include an explicit commitment to phase out or even phase down fossil fuels. However, it reached a compromise that called on countries to contribute to global efforts to transition “away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”.

Al Jaber argued that the deal was a comprehensive response to a global stocktake that found countries were failing to live up to the goals of the landmark Paris climate agreement, particularly a commitment to try to limit global heating to 1.5C (2.7F) above preindustrial levels.

“We have delivered a robust action plan to keep 1.5C in reach,” he said. “It is an enhanced, balanced, but make no mistake, a historic package to accelerate climate action. It is the UAE consensus. We have language on fossil fuel in our final agreement for the first time ever.”

Globally, countries from the south and climate justice advocates said the text fell short of what was needed on emissions reductions and finance to help the most vulnerable cope with worsening extreme weather and heat. It includes language that appears to placate fossil fuel interests.

Mohamed Adow, from the thinktank Power Shift Africa, said the deal sent a strong signal but, agreed that there were too many loopholes “on unproven and expensive technologies like carbon capture and storage, which fossil fuel interests will try and use to keep dirty energy on life support”.

He said: “Some people may have had their expectations for this meeting raised too high, but this result would have been unheard of two years ago, especially at a Cop meeting in a petrostate. It shows that even oil and gas producers can see we’re heading for a fossil-free world.”

Next November, countries will reconvene at Cop29, held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, tweeted on X: “Whether you like it or not, fossil fuel phase-out is inevitable. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.”

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, said: “While nobody here will see their views completely reflected, the fact is that this document sends a very strong signal to the world.”

Edited by: Vicky Muzio

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