At COP28, 200 nations signed an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels.

On the last day of negotiations at COP28, on Wednesday the 13th of December 2023, 200 countries in attendance signed a historical deal to transition away from fossil fuels. This deal has been labelled by the UN as:

“the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era”.

The aim of the negotiation is to move away from fossil fuels, which includes oil, gas, and coal, towards renewable energy sources by 2030. By doing this they hope to reach net zero globally by 2050.

It is important to note that governments around the world have a large amount of work to do, as researchers, scientists, and experts have already warned we are way off course to reach net zero by this date, and to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5ᴼC.

The aims of this new text are to lower the use of fossil fuels, transition towards renewable energy, lessen the release of non-CO2 emitting gases, such as methane, and to work towards reaching net zero by 2050.

Countries including the UK, the US and those within the European Union called for COP28 to discuss the necessary phasing out of fossil fuels. The majority of countries in attendance at COP28 were invited to discuss the agreement for reducing the use of fossil fuels globally. Though many appeared sceptical due to the event being carried out in the United Arab Emirates, a known petrostate.

Worryingly, however, there are reports stating that the initial draft of the agreement had the phrases ‘phase out’ and ‘phase down’ removed from its text. However, the new draft is set to increase its use of language targeted at decreasing the global use of fossil fuels.

COP28

There has been disappointment from many countries, including developing countries and small island nations, that have declared this pledge to be full of ‘loopholes’. Over 100 countries have called for these phrases to be specifically added into the new text to ensure that the richer nations of the world, that have the means to do so financially, are working towards net zero to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

Not all country representatives at COP28 were present for the discussions surrounding the new text to move away from fossil fuels. The representative for Samoa, Anne Rasmussen, who was also speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), stated that the alliance was:

“confused about what just happened…
This process has failed us.”

She also showed concern for the lack of inclusion of small island nations, and that they had no say in regards to the decisions made regarding the text within the agreement, she stated:

“It seems that you just gavelled the decisions when the small island states
weren’t in the room.”

There were several countries that were against the use of the phrase ‘phasing out’ when regarding fossil fuels, including the countries that form OPEC, Iraq, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. These oil rich nations mostly rely on the sale of fossil fuel exports to boost their economies, and some of them went as far as trying to block the use of the phrase within the new text at COP28.

The UN’s Secretary General, António Guterres sent out a warning to those that opposed the phasing out of fossil fuels at COP28. He stated:

 

“Whether you like it or not, fossil fuel phase-out is inevitable.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.”

For further information and up to date news on COP28 and its themes, please see our COP28 Focus homepage where you can access all of our guides, news, and reports from the event.