Monday, February 26

COP28 Chief Pushes for Fossil Fuel Deal as Talks Get Bogged Down

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(Bloomberg) — Sultan Al Jaber, president of the COP28 summit, is holding a special meeting of ministers in a bid to get a deal to reduce the use of all fossil fuels for the first time. 

Al Jaber told reporters on Sunday that now the “time has come for us to shift gears” in climate negotiations to deliver a timely and ambitious outcome for the two-week talks, which are due to end Dec. 12. 

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An agreement to call for a fossil fuel phase out or phase down has been a key demand of many countries at COP28 including the US and EU. Last week, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom won’t agree to a text that calls for the phase down of fossil fuels. The text must be agreed unanimously. 

“We need to find consensus and common ground on fossil fuels, including coal,” Al Jaber said. “We need to also come to terms with the sources of finance and support” for adaptation and a just transition.

Despite pushing for stronger fossil fuel language, Al Jaber declined to name specific oil producing nations that were holding up climate action. 

To try and break the deadlock, the COP president said he’s holding a “majlis” — an Arabic convention — on Sunday. The session will move all ministers into one room to increase the transparency of their positions and allow them to hash out their remaining differences. The meeting is expected to last several hours and will precede the release of a new negotiating text expected overnight. 

The discussions are happening within a broader stocktake of global progress on climate change, almost a decade after leaders signed the Paris pact. Nearly 200 countries agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperatures to well below 2 degrees, ideally to 1.5C, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

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Al Jaber has said repeatedly this is the first COP presidency ever to actively call on parties to come forward with language on a phaseout on fossil fuels in the agreed text.

Still, climate activists have raised concerns about the UAE hosting climate talks from the start, as the country is one of the world’s largest oil exporters. Al Jaber’s presidency has also been viewed with suspicion due to his other role as head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

At least 2,456 representatives of the fossil fuel industry have been granted access to COP28, according to an analysis by the “Kick Big Polluters Out” pressure group. 

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