Tuesday, June 25, 2024

UN climate talks enter overtime with no pact on fossil fuels (Ld)

Long hours and sleepless nights for negotiators at the final day of two-week UN Climate Change Summit (COP28) ran overtime by a day on Tuesday with negotiators awaiting a new draft deal after many countries believed that a previous version was “too weak” because it omitted a “phase-out” of fossil fuels.

Many climate negotiators and observers told IANS on Tuesday that a draft of the deal which was released fell short of the actual phase-out mandates pushed by the majority of nations attending the conference, providing an easy escape path for fossil fuels to continue their activities.

“Overnight and throughout today, the COP28 President and his team have been engaging in extensive consultations with a wide representation of negotiating groups and parties,” a COP 28 spokesperson said.

“This is to ensure everyone is heard, and all views are considered. He is determined to deliver a version of the text that has the support of all parties. Consultations will continue until 3 a.m. GST,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, COP28 Director-General, said that what “they are seeing right now is that everybody is working through that agenda” and “including the language on fossil fuels would be historic”.

“All COPs (conference of parties) 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,” he said.

Climate justice leaders from organisations representing impacted indigenous and frontline communities, who have participated, tracked, and intervened in the two-week-long climate summit, continued 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.

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaberhad said he intended to close discussions by “11 a.m. at the latest” on December 12.

As Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans neatly summarises — “But seasoned COP goers will know that COPs rarely finish on time”.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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