This year's climate talks should “mark the beginning of the end” of fossil fuels the European Commissioner for Climate Action said on Wednesday as the United Nations summit wrapped up its first week.
Wopke Hoekstra told a news conference on the last day of the technical phase of the talks taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that the bloc is seeking a “higher bar” in negotiations.
Scientists, activists and U.N. officials repeatedly detailed how the world needs to phase-out the use of coal, oil and natural gas — which are responsible for most of the planet's human-caused warming — but any agreement coming out of COP has to be near unanimous.
“We have over 190 parties here at COP28 and we need all of these parties, all of these parties to agree to phase-out fossil fuels,” warned Hoekstra.
Small island nations and other developing countries have also signaled support for a phase-out of fossil fuels.
What to do about slashing fossil fuel emissions is a central issue at the talks as countries need to decide how to align their climate ambitions to the warming limits set in the Paris Agreement.
The president of COP28, Sultan al-Jaber, who also runs the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., said he believes in science and was “laser-focused” on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times. He's previously said that a phasedown of fossil fuels was inevitable.
Spain’s deputy Prime Minister, Teresa Ribera, currently holding the Presidency of the European Union, said the bloc wants to ensure “the European Union facilitates what the president said he wanted to achieve in this very precise moment: a historic turning point in this very critical decade.”
Ribera said she expected the COP president to be more than “an honest broker."
“We expect leadership” to deliver an ambitious agreement, she said.
Al-Jaber has been under pressure from environmentalists and officials for his role in the oil industry, which they say is at direct odds with climate goals.
The EU also made major financial pledges earlier in the week, with member states and the EU Commission pledging around two thirds of the established loss and damage fund — a pot of finance for countries that have experienced devastation from climate change-fueled extreme weather events.
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