‘Including language on fossil fuels will be historic’, says COP28 DG before climate talks conclude


“All COPs are challenging, but in this COP we are trying to do something that has never been done before…something historic. We are trying to agree on a comprehensive plan to close the gaps between where the world is, and where it needs to be to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

“That is our North Star. That has been our North Star all along. Part of this is to include language on fossil fuels in the text. If we can, that would be historic. Our approach was always to take two tracks.”

Saying the first was driven by the UAE Presidency, and that was the action agenda, he said, “We did this because the moment called for action in the real world that delivers real results on the ground.

“This track has been a great success. We have more than $83 billion in new financial commitments…130 nations signing up to triple renewables and double energy efficiency…and oil and gas companies stepping up for the first time on tackling methane emissions and many other targets.

“We have 11 declarations covering everything from finance to agriculture and, for the first time, health. The second track was always going to be the hardest, because that is driven by the parties (countries).

“And, while the Presidency can guide and encourage, this is a process of consensus. Everybody has to agree. We have already had success by operationalizing Loss and Damage.

“In fact, we have gone further than we were asked to go by mobilizing almost 800- million-dollars for the fund and its funding arrangements. That brings me to the state of the negotiations.”

Al Suwaidi was categorically clear in admitting many issues remain open, and that is normal at this stage of things.

“As you know, yesterday we released a text. As you also know, lots of parties felt it did not fully address their concerns. We expected that. In fact, we wanted the text to spark conversations…and that is what happened. What we have seen since, is that the parties have deeply held and deeply split views…especially on the language around fossil fuels. It is important to be clear on something.

“The text we released was a starting point for discussions. Again, this is entirely normal for a consensus-based process. When we released it, we knew opinions were polarized…but what we did not know was where each country’s red lines were.

“By releasing our first draft of the text, we got parties to come to us quickly with those red lines. We spent last night taking in that feedback and that has put us in a position to draft a new text.

“The text includes all the elements we need for a comprehensive plan to 2030. It is all there. Mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation and Loss and Damage.

“And we have been seeking the right balance between those elements. But this is a process of the parties. It is a question of how ambitious the parties truly are and where they want the balance to be. That is what we are negotiating about.

“And, while the Presidency can guide, direct and encourage, the level of ambition is for the parties to agree. When the new text is released, we will open to further feedback.”

“The Presidency is calling for the highest possible ambition and we are committed to helping the parties agree on the best plan they can for the world. We will keep you updated as best we can, and now we need them to roll up their sleeves and give us a text we can all be proud of,” the COP28 Director-General added.

As the 2023 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 28th session of the Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP28) comes to a close, some of the major topics are still being discussed behind closed doors, such as the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and the Global Stocktake — the main outcome of the summit with “weak language” to phase out fossil fuels and promoting renewables.

Many climate negotiators and observers told IANS on Tuesday for the GGA, for example, there are still questions around the feasibility of timelines and means of implementation. And for the Global Stocktake, negotiations include next steps, funding, and implications for mitigation measures but due to huge pressure from a small number of petrostates the new draft text is actually a step backwards.

Climate justice leaders from organisations representing impacted indigenous and frontline communities, who have participated, tracked, and intervened in the two-week-long climate summit, continue to call upon world leaders to pass and adhere to globally binding agreements, including an immediate and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels, dirty energy, and to commit to direct climate finance and reparations for communities that are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.

“How could a Presidency so outwardly committed to consulting all parties and ‘inclusivity’ produce a Global Stocktake text so messy and unbalanced? How could a Presidency so ‘laser focused’ on getting this right leave 190 plus countries so perplexed?” asked a negotiator from Guyana.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) group proclaimed they would not sign their own “death warrant”, while the EU asserted late last night it is ready to walk away if the text doesn’t improve.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)



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