Cop: Anxiety surrounds fossil fuel discussions: Update

  • Market: Crude oil, Natural gas
  • 12/06/23

Adds Mideast Gulf delegate comment in paragraph 6, UN climate body head in paragraphs 8-9

A certain anxiety is enveloping discussions at the Cop 28 UN climate conference about the phase-out of all fossil fuels, with parties currently aiming to finalise a new version of a text for the global stocktake — a measure of progress towards Paris Agreement goals — ahead of ministerial negotiations starting next week.

The text under discussion is described as "building blocks" for a more formal draft document for the first global stocktake.

Oil and gas producing countries have shown concern about the options presented on fossil fuels, said non-profit Centre for Science and Environment's climate programme manager Avantika Goswami. She said Saudi Arabia, in co-ordination with others, talked about "trauma" when referencing this section.

The mitigation section has three options for fossil fuel language. The first is for "an orderly and just phase out of fossil fuels", which is supported by Pacific island nations and other countries under the high-level coalition umbrella. These include some EU countries, Barbados, Kenya, Chile and Colombia.

The second is "accelerating efforts towards phasing out unabated fossil fuels and to rapidly reducing their use to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century", which is broadly aligned with the EU position. The third is to have no language on fossil fuels in the outcome of the global stocktake.

Other points of the text are contentious for some members of the Arab States — a UN party grouping comprising 22 Arab countries — according to a Mideast Gulf Arab delegate, including phasing out fossil fuels subsidies and scaling-down finance flows inconsistent with climate action.

Discussions are progressing "frustratingly" slowly, delegates have said, and all options are on the table on the issue of fossil fuels, leaving ministers with very little time to try and find a consensus during the second week of the summit.

UN climate body secretary general Simon Stiell told journalists today that the current text was a "grab bag of wish lists and heavy on posturing".

"The key is to sort the wheat from the chaff if we want to save lives now", he said. "The UN climate change [body] will work with parties at every steps of the way, as the honest broker… we'll make sure all countries have a seat at the table and can use that voice."

Asked what could be done to bridge the divide in positions on fossil fuels, Spain's climate minister Teresa Ribera told Argus her country was only focusing on getting language on phasing out fossil fuels at this point.

Observers are stressing that a lack of ambitious language on fossil fuel will not only be a failure for Cop 28, but also for the rest of the process as it risks undermining trust in the Paris Agreement, since it is a "report card" on the accord.

"If you can't agree on this, what are you going to do moving forward," an observer listening to the global stocktake discussions told Argus.

The global stocktake is a five-yearly undertaking to measure progress against temperature limits set in the Paris agreement, which aims to curb global warming to "well below" 2°C and preferably to 1.5°C. It is intended to inform the next round of emissions reduction plans, due in 2025.


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