Pressure mounts to end use of fossil fuels as COP28 opens in UAE

Thu 30 November 2023 View all news

The latest UN Climate Summit has opened in Dubai with governments under pressure to deliver an agreement on a timetable to end the use of fossil fuels.  The Summit has been preceded by some acrimony leading to denials by the COP28 President that his country has been using official meetings to strike oil and gas deals. 

More than 200 companies have joined calls for countries to agree to a phase-out of all fossil fuels. An open letter, launched last month with the initial backing of more than 130 companies has now swelled to 204 corporate signatories, together representing more than $1.5tr in annual revenue. 

Signatories to the call, which is being spearheaded by the We Mean Business Coalition include Sony, Tetra Pak, Virgin Media O2, DHL, WH Smith, Coca Cola Europacific Partners, Unilever, Vodafone Group Plc, Volvo Cars, WH Smith, eBay, Decathlon, Currys Plc and Mahindra Group.

The letter says: "We call on all Parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade." 

The letter calls on governments to set targets and timelines for the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels in line with a 1.5C pathway, supported by national plans and policies that ensure a just transition for affected works and communities. 

The phase-out schedule for fossil fuels is set to take centre stage at the Summit with experts warning that keeping to a 1.5C-aligned temperature pathway depends on no new coal mines and mine extensions being approved, nor long-lead time upstream oil and gas projects.

The UK Government is under pressure to explain how its domestic support for fossil fuels - such as new North Sea oil and gas drilling and the development of a new coal mine in Cumbria - tallies with its negotiating ambitions for COP28, where officials are seeking a commitment in any final agreement to phasing out unabated fossil fuels. 

Former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May recently became the latest high-profile figure to urge the UK Government to stop approving new domestic oil and gas fields.

The days preceding COP28 have seen controversy around the actions of officials leading the Summit process. The BBC reported that leaked briefing documents showed plans by the United Arab Emirates to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations. 

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber denied the allegations which he said aimed to undermine his COP28 presidency. As well as being COP28 president, Mr Jaber is also CEO of the UAE's giant state oil company, Adnoc, and of the state renewables business, Masdar.

Key issues at COP28, which is scheduled to last until 12 December, include stopping methane emissions, agreeing a mechanism for richer countries to pay for loss and damage, finding ways to restore integrity in carbon markets as well as innovative ways to finance investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As the Summit began there were hopeful reports that agreement was close to being reached on some important issues.



< Back to news list