The UN Climate Summit marks a historic shift away from fossil fuels

The UN Climate Summit marks a historic shift away from fossil fuels

In a landmark move, nations at the UN climate summit in Dubai explicitly targeted the use of fossil fuels, pledging to “transition away” from coal, oil, and gas. Despite initial challenges that nearly derailed the talks, a significant turnaround saw nations commit to a departure from fossil fuels, although it fell short of the earlier, stronger language advocating for a complete “phase-out.” Key players such as the US, UK, and the European Union had advocated for such a phase-out from the outset. The summit, which hosted nearly 200 nations, unfolded in the United Arab Emirates over two weeks, aiming to address climate change amid a backdrop of extreme weather events.

Notably, the oil-rich UAE’s ability to spearhead a deal challenging the fossil fuel industry was met with scepticism, considering the COP28 president’s dual role as the CEO of Abu Dhabi’s Adnoc. While concerns of a potential conflict of interest surfaced through leaked documents, Sultan al-Jaber, the COP28 president, celebrated the conference’s “historic achievement.” The ensuing deal was viewed as a success for al-Jaber’s leadership, receiving cheers and a standing ovation. However, representatives from small island states hit hard by climate change raised objections, stating that the deal was rushed through without their full participation. Despite such concerns, all participating nations seemingly accepted the compromise.

The deal emphasised a commitment to “transition away” from fossil fuels, recognising that global emissions could peak before 2025. Nevertheless, pushback from oil-producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, led to softened commitments. Developing countries reliant on fossil fuel exports expressed opposition, citing an inadequate reflection of their limited role in causing climate change.

However, activists and scientists argued that the deal lacked the strength to address the escalating emissions problem and global warming. With a six-year target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45%, concerns loomed over the considerable gap in progress.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledged the inevitability of a fossil fuel phase-out but lamented that the language in the deal had been “watered down.” Additionally, it was confirmed that the host country for the 2024 UN climate talks would be gas-rich Azerbaijan in the Caucuses.


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