Cop: New stocktake draft has more fossil fuels options

  • Market: Coal, Crude oil, Emissions, Natural gas
  • 12/08/23

An updated draft text on the global stocktake — a measure of progress towards Paris Agreement goals — released today has increased the number of options around curbing fossil fuels up for discussion among ministers at the Cop 28 UN climate summit.

The new text, described by the UNFCCC — the UN's climate body — as "refined building blocks", takes the previous three options on language around fossil fuels to five. More options on the table may complicate discussions, which are now at ministerial level, in the second week of Cop 28.

The topic of fossil fuels, and language around phasing them out or reducing their use, has become the dominant one at this year's Cop.

The draft text options include one for "a phase out of fossil fuels in line with best available science", as well as a second option that goes further, urging alignment with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Paris agreement. But there is little difference between them, and a focus on minutiae at this stage in negotiations could run the risk of slowing talks.

The third option calls for phasing out "unabated fossil fuels", peaking consumption this decade, and "underlining the importance for the energy sector to be predominantly free of fossil fuels well ahead of 2050", while the fourth is for a phase-out of unabated fossil fuels, "rapidly reducing their use so as to achieve net-zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century". The final option is for no text on the topic.

But new text around tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, which 128 countries have now committed to, links the scaling up of renewables to a reduction in fossil fuels, possibly to alleviate concerns around energy security. It outlines "ensuring that the increase in renewable energy capacity is strategically implemented to displace fossil fuel-based energy".

Language around abatement — broadly undefined but relating to carbon removal technology, including carbon capture and storage (CCS) — remains in the text and could act as a bargaining chip for countries that are against cutting back fossil fuels. If parties leave this Cop with terms such as abatement or unabated in the final decision, there will need to be a discussion about what this means in scientific terms, climate programme research associate at non-profit World Resources Institute Jamal Srouji said.

And because the stocktake is "so comprehensive", progress is linked to all other issues up for negotiation at Cop 28, international climate policy expert at Climate Action Network Sven Harmeling said today.


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