Analysis of the 3 options on the phase-out of the fossils considered at the Cop28 climate summit
(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The gradual elimination of fossil fuels survives the first days of negotiations in Dubai. On the night of 4-5 December, the UAE Presidency of the Cop28 climate summit published and circulated the first draft of the final decision. A text is still full of missing parts, placeholders and alternative options. But a good indicator of where discussions at the climate conference are heading. And on one of the most burning dossiers, the phase-out of fossils opposed by many, the first draft leaves open hopes.
Fossil phase-out: the state of negotiations at the Cop28 climate summit
The draft final decision presents three alternative options. In point 35, which lists the actions on which more effort is needed “during this crucial decade”, paragraph c) still lists the phase-out.
Orderly and just phase-out
Option 1 calls for “an orderly and fair phasing out of fossil fuels”. It is the most ambitious version. The use of the term “phase out” does not leave much room for interpretation: it involves eliminating, not only reducing the use and production of fossils.
The two adjectives that qualify the phase-out are equally important. Because in the jargon of the negotiations, Cop indicates two key concepts. The process must be orderly, that is, it cannot take place in times and in ways that jeopardize the social and economic stability of countries. And it must be a fair transition, which means that the wealthier countries and those most responsible for the climate crisis must complete the stop to fossils before all others. Two clarifications that could make more “digestible” a global agreement on the stop to fossils even the most unwilling countries to accept it.
Phasing out unabated fossil Fuels
Option 2, however, remains more vague. It retains the expression “phase out” but, in fact, it is a masked “phase down”. The text reads: “Accelerate efforts to phase out unshot fossil fuels and quickly reduce their use to achieve zero net CO2 emissions in energy systems by or around the mid-century“.
In practice, the stop is put as the final goal but postponed in time. For three reasons. First, the text asks only to “accelerate efforts”, that is, in fact to reduce the use of fossils. Second, the phase-out here only concerns fossils without technologies to reduce emissions: the stop, therefore, would not consist in the elimination of the production of fossils, but in a simple adjustment of their use. Thirdly, the only priority mentioned is reductions in fossil use: once again, there is no mention of the supply side. It is the version that most appeals to the oil & gas industry because it saves the current business model. And move the problem elsewhere: technological solutions and demand side.
Option 3, finally, still on the table, is not to talk about fossil fuels, that is, do not include paragraph c completely).