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COP28: Talks go to the wire as developing nations hold fast on fossil fuels

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COP28: Talks go to the wire as developing nations hold fast on fossil fuels

Highlights

Wrangling set to run into early hours

Anti-phaseout camp negotiate 'as block'

EU adamant on need for phase out language

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  • Eklavya Gupte    Charlie Mitchell    Andrew Critchlow
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  • COP28 News

A row over the inclusion of a fossil fuels phaseout continues to derail negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, multiple country delegates told S&P Global Commodity Insights.

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A spokesperson from the COP28 Presidency said "extensive consultations" are underway with talks expected to continue till 0300 local time (2300 GMT). However, a source told S&P Global that no new text was available to delegates as of 1830 GMT.

"It is in our interest to reject a fossil fuel phase out," said one African delegate, adding that OPEC member states were negotiating as a block on Dec. 12 as talks over the final COP28 deal rolled on.

At stake is the timeline for when the world will reach peak oil demand, and the global fight to limit global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. S&P Global oil analysts estimate that global oil demand, including biofuels, will peak at around 109 million b/d in 2033 under a reference case scenario.

"Europe cannot insist on a phase down in 2023 when they were the very people who came to Africa asking for more fossil fuel production in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war," Omar Farouk Ibrahim, secretary general of the African Petroleum Producers Organization, who represents African petrostates, told S&P Global.

In a warning as the talks dragged on, Ibrahim added: "Anyone trying to get Africa to commit to an unrealistic pledge should know that when the time comes, the pledges will not be redeemed, because they are based on deception."

COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber and his team "had been engaging in extensive consultations with a wide representation of negotiating groups and Parties," a spokesperson said in a statement. "This is to ensure everyone is heard, and all views are considered."

On Dec. 11, a draft text of the global stocktake removed all reference to the phaseout of fossil fuels, including instead a call on nations to take actions "that could include . . . reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science."

EU ministers branded the new text unacceptable, while several oil and gas producers including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait along with developing nations such as Nigeria, Uganda insisted the focus should be on reducing emissions and not on limiting hydrocarbons.

Last ditch effort

COP28 officials and leading negotiators from western nations were remaining positive late-Dec. 12.

When asked if the latest text was stronger on fossil fuels, US climate envoy John Kerry was reported to say: "Yes, it is."

The EC's Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra said on social media site X "we want this COP to mark the beginning of the end of fossil fuels and will keep pushing for that" together with the High Ambition Coalition, the group of 115 countries including 34 African, 30 European and 15 Asian nations.

Meanwhile UK climate minister Graham Stuart said the UK "will only agree to a statement that agrees to a phase out of unabated fossil fuels to meet our climate goals."

Global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall 43% by 2030 to limit global heating to 1.5 C, but current commitments in national climate plans would increase emissions by 9% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, the UN said Dec. 10.