13 December, 2023

COP28 decision: a first nail in the coffin for the fossil fuel industry

Our CEO Bill Hare reacts to the Global Stocktake text adopted at COP28.

Statement on COP28 outcome by Bill Hare

The final agreement at the Dubai Climate talks is a mixed bag. For the first time, the move away from fossil fuels is explicitly stated in a COP outcome – a first nail in the coffin for the fossil fuel industry. Yet oil and gas producers squeezed in unhelpful language, pretending gas can be a transition fuel, or that carbon capture can clean up after them.

These small battle wins for the industry are bitter and hollow, and ultimately won’t stop the slide away from fossil fuels. Loop holes and false solutions can only serve to delay their inevitable demise, yet it’s clear from the text – which is strongly committed to the 1.5°C warming limit – that there’s no time to lose.

The energy section is weak and simply doesn't have enough hard commitments to bring the 1.5°C warming limit within reach this decade, and there's no commitment to peak emissions by 2025. The goal of tripling renewables and doubling of efficiency is very welcome, but will need hard work to implement and risks being outweighed if the push for gas goes on.

The agreement opens the doors to false solutions like carbon capture and storage at scale, and the reference to transition fuels is code for gas, which is absolutely not a transitional fuel. This has been promoted by LNG and fossil gas exporters.

Outside of the energy package, the decision delivers well on the roadmap for governments having to ratchet up their climate targets to 2025, with strong references to science and noting that feasible, effective and low-cost mitigation options are already available in all sectors to keep 1.5 within reach.

It is now up to governments to make their NDCs stronger than this agreement.

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