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The Beginning of the End of Fossil Fuels

13.12.2023
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https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-67674841

Participants at the UN climate summit COP28 in Dubai, after several days of negotiations, adopted a final document that many call historic. For the first time, the agreement calls on all countries to move away from fossil fuels in their economies - the main driver of climate change on the planet.

The agreement calls for a gradual transition "away from fossil fuels in the energy sector in a fair, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating progress in this critical decade to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, consistent with scientific progress." The world will achieve carbon neutrality (or “net zero”) when the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stabilizes and stops growing rapidly.

COP28 participants hope that the new agreement will triple the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by 2030, replacing coal, oil and gas.

The text of the agreement occupies 21 pages and contains more than 200 points.

It calls on countries to do their part to transition away from fossil fuels. This is the first time the agreement has spelled out cuts in the use of coal, oil and gas to keep global temperature rise below the key threshold of 1.5 °C (as agreed by participating countries at the 2015 Paris summit).

The agreement recognizes that air emissions from fossil fuel use will peak before 2025 in developed countries, and may peak even later in developing countries. The document notes the inadequacy of the funding that rich countries currently provide for poor countries to transition to renewable energy. However, COP28 participants did not demand that the wealthy part of the world do more to solve this problem. The text also makes no mention of methane emissions reductions, which were in previous outcome documents.

The agreement does not include a phase-out of fossil fuels, as many governments have wanted. This would require countries to gradually reduce their production and use until they reach zero levels. The deal agreed in Dubai only calls for “reducing” how much the country depends on fossil fuels, without requiring a net-zero target.

One area where the new agreement could make a significant difference, experts say, is in the actions of individual countries. All are now required to present stronger plans to cut carbon emissions by 2025.

Summit President Sultan Al Jaber, head of the UAE National Oil Company, called the document historic, noting that real success will be its implementation. “We are what we do, not what we say,” al-Jaber said. “We must take the necessary steps to turn this agreement into real action.”

“Whether you like it or not, the phase-out of fossil fuels is inevitable. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

UK Minister for Energy Security and Carbon Neutrality Graham Stewart called the Dubai agreement the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. “We are now united in our common commitment to divest from fossil fuels,” he said, also calling the signed agreement historic.

 

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