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COP28 Commits to ‘Transitioning Away From,’ Rather Than ‘Phasing Out’ Fossil Fuels — Radio Free Asia

“We supported the call for clear language about the need to largely phase out fossil fuels. But look, given the makeup of this 195-nation entity, it’s pretty clear that was more than a steep climb,” Kerry said, adding that “there were times in the last 48 hours where some of us thought this could fail.”

The word “fossil fuel” appears just twice in one page in an 11,000-page final document.

China: developed countries historically responsible

The final, legally non-binding document on the global stocktake was approved, albeit 24 hours overtime, with references to global greenhouse gas emissions needing to be cut by 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, but noting that the world is way off track.

The document calls for tripling the deployment of renewable power and action on methane by the end of the decade. However, it also approved the use of transitional fuels like carbon-emitting natural gas. 

Jaber called the document “an enhanced, balanced — but make no mistake — historic package to accelerate climate action.”

Nithi Nesadurai, director and regional coordinator for Climate Action Network Southeast Asia, said the document “provides a clear and strong signal to the fossil fuel industry and fossil fuel producing countries … to initiate the just transition process for phasing out fossil fuels.”

“Missing in the text was the means of implementation for developing countries, including finance, capacity building and technology transfer, based on equity. This lets rich countries in the Global North, primarily responsible for the climate crisis, off the hook,” he told RFA.

“Further, the inclusion of false solutions such as carbon capture and storage, nuclear, and other removal technologies provide loopholes for countries to purposely distract from the single focus of phasing out fossil fuels.”

Indonesian dancers perform outside the country’s pavilion at the COP28 in Dubai, Dec. 11, 2023 (Subel Rai Bhandari/RFA)

The concerns of the developing countries were not addressed at COP28, the head of the Chinese delegation alleged.

“It is regrettable that in the current … process, the many important concerns of the developing countries have not been taken into full account and resolved,” Zhao Yingmin, China’s vice-minister of ecology and environment, told the plenary.

He said that developed countries have “unshakable historical responsibility for climate change” and so must take the lead ahead of the rest of the world to reduce emissions as soon as possible and substantively.

They should also “deliver without delay financial, technical and capacity building support for developing countries to ensure global just transition … and more positively respond to their concerns,” he said, adding climate action “must feature both ambition and pragmatism.” 

“The key is still pragmatic actions and delivering on the commitments and means of implementation that match the ambition,” he said.

ASEAN states and COP28

Several delegates from the Southeast Asian countries spoke at the plenary hall, reserving notes of concern.

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