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'Nations must come up with clear signal for terminal decline of fossil fuel era'

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | December 06, 2023 06:26 PM

DUBAI: There are many options that are on the negotiation table right now which speak to the phasing out of fossil fuels.

It is for parties to unpick that, and come up with a very clear statement that signals the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era "as we know it".

These were the views of the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), Simon Stiell.

Talking to the media about the assembly of nearly 200 participating nations that have five working days to agree how the world will respond to growing threats -- as laid out in the UN's climate science and policy report card, he said at the "end of next week, we need COP (Conference of Parties) to deliver a bullet train to speed up climate action.

"We currently have an old caboose chugging over rickety tracks. But the tools are all there on the table, the technologies and solutions exist.

"It's time for governments and negotiators to pick them up and put them to work.

"UN Climate Change will be working with parties every step of the way, as the honest broker and convenor. We'll make sure all countries have a seat at the table and can use their full voice."

Negotiators told IANS that the current text is chunky -- too long, too bitty, too many loopholes. Elusive, one might say. A global 'fossil fuel phaseout' target gets a mention (para 35) but the text avoids any kind of timeline, an issue on which the science is clear, said a negotiator.

In Dubai more than ever the reputation of the UNFCCC process is under threat, remarked another negotiator, requesting anonymity.

"An oil-rich host (the UAE) was always a risk, but dubious interpretations of climate science, a UAE hydrocarbons production surge and an influx of big fossil lobbyists has left alarm bells ringing. There are 2,400 fossil-fuel industry representatives here. The next few days will show if that's enough to delay climate action by another crucial year," he told IANS.

The parties (governments), negotiators, business leaders, civic society organisations, among others, gathered here for the annual UN Climate Change Conference or COP for two weeks from November 30 to assess global efforts to advance the key Paris Agreement aim of limiting global warming to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

As the climate crisis worsens around the world, COP28 must be a decisive moment to act on climate commitments and limit global warming.

The governments will take decisions on ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and on adapting to the impacts of climate change, on Loss and Damage, a fund for vulnerable countries hit hard by natural calamities, and on the means to help countries green their economies and build resilience to climate change through finance, technology and capacity-building.

The UNFCCC Secretary General said: "We can only overcome the climate crisis by ditching business-as-usual.

At Sharm el-Sheikh (COP27) I said we would do things differently. So over the last year, on loss & damage, we opted for an innovative approach - a Transitional Committee - which drove forward progress much faster. "The win on Loss and Damage here in Dubai gave this COP a spring in its step. But it is just a start.

"Now all governments must give their negotiators clear marching orders: we need highest ambition, not point-scoring or lowest common denominator politics."

On the Global Stocktake, Stiell said it is the vehicle to get climate action on track.

"Finance is the great enabler for climate action. The negotiations must put it front and centre.

"Loss and damage was a win, but we're kidding ourselves if we think it's a tick in the box for finance and support at this COP; more is required.

"We need enhanced transparency, and to deliver our promise to fund climate action across the world.

"Let's be honest -- good intentions won't halve emissions this decade or save lives right now. Only serious progress on finance can deliver frontline results.

"We've said we'll double adaptation finance -- now we have to deliver, including on the details, and set ourselves up to go much further.

"We must not lose any focus on the Global Goal for Adaptation."

The UNFCCC boss was categorically clear in reminding the world that eight billion people are on the frontlines.

Right now only 50 countries have National Adaptation Plans.

On the opening of the COP28, summit President Sultan Al Jaber told the assembled delegates that the science has spoken.

"It has confirmed the moment is now to find a new road, a road wide enough for all of us, free of the obstacles and detours of the past. That new road starts with a decision on the Global Stocktake, a decision that is ambitious, corrects course and accelerates action to 2030."

Kicking off two weeks of intense climate negotiations, Al Jaber has used his first official speech as COP President to issue a rallying call to delegates to unite around the agenda and restore faith in multilateralism.

"I pledge that I will run an inclusive and transparent process, one that encourages free and open discussion between all parties," Al Jaber has said.

Saying a total phase-out of fossil fuels are required, Johan Rockstrom, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said: "There is ultimately no other pathway than a full phase out of all fossil fuels."

In response to the debate on whether there is indeed a scientific case for the phaseout of fossil fuel energy, world renowned climate scientists have worked around the clock to come together with a unified statement.

The link between climate science and fossil fuel phase out is indisputable.

"Our partner, The Club of Rome has worked in partnership with Future Earth and World Climate Research Program to convene a statement from scientists in response to comments regarding fossil fuel phaseout pathways." Meanwhile, negotiators are engaged in intense, lengthy discussions to finalize the global stocktake's technical draft. The latest 24-page version, released early on Tuesday, presents a variety of options. Focusing on COO28's key issue -- fossil fuels -- the draft proposes two phase-out approaches. The first suggests an "orderly and just phaseout of fossil fuels," mirroring the stance of the "high ambition coalition", which includes France, Kenya, Colombia and others.

The UNFCCC Secretary General summed up by saying: "We can only overcome the climate crisis by ditching business-as-usual."

 
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