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The Demand for the End of Fossil Fuels Era at Cop28 Climate Summit

At the pivotal Cop28 climate talks, a resounding call for action echoes from the world’s leading cities. Mayors from globally recognized metropolitan areas are demanding an unequivocal commitment from governments to terminate the fossil fuel era. As nations gather at the United Nations climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, these urban leaders confront the stark reality of fossil fuel impacts and advocate for a sustainable future.

The C40’s Call to Action: The C40 group, comprising mayors from cities like New York, London, Beijing, Paris, and Cape Town, has issued a powerful letter to state heads. Co-chairs Sadiq Khan and Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr emphasize the urgent need to transition from fossil fuels. This move is not just critical for climate protection but also for safeguarding public health and living standards. Their letter underscores the necessity of curtailing the fossil fuel industry’s influence and shifting public investments towards a just, clean energy transition.

Global Echoes for a Fossil Fuel Phase-Out: The advocacy from these urban leaders adds to the global demands for a fossil fuel phase-out at Cop28. Historically, UN climate agreements have shied away from explicitly addressing fossil fuel reduction. Yet, the climate crisis, primarily fuelled by these non-renewable energy sources, persists as a growing threat. A significant number of countries, including the United States – a major oil and gas producer – are expected to support a fossil fuel phase-out agreement in Dubai.

António Guterres and John Kerry’s Stance: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has consistently highlighted the urgency of ending fossil fuel reliance, terming it the “poisonous root” of the climate crisis. John Kerry, the US’s climate envoy, echoes this sentiment. He stresses the difficulty in justifying continued reliance on fossil fuels given their known dangers. The American delegation backs the acceleration of phasing out unabated fossil fuels, aiming for net-zero emissions in all energy systems by mid-century.

Controversies Surrounding ‘Abated’ Fossil Fuels: The concept of continuing the use of ‘abated’ fossil fuels – where emissions are captured and stored or used – remains contentious. While some countries and industries see carbon capture and storage (CCS) as essential to reducing emissions without disrupting energy supplies, environmental groups are sceptical. They argue that CCS remains unproven at scale and may serve as a pretext for the fossil fuel industry to maintain profitability and high extraction levels.

Global Investment in Carbon Capture: Governments worldwide are planning to invest substantially in carbon capture and storage. However, the effectiveness of this technology in significantly mitigating climate change remains debated. Critics, like Jean Su from the Center for Biological Diversity, advocate for a direct and honest phase-out of fossil fuels, arguing that existing technologies like solar and wind are sufficient for our energy needs.

The Challenge of Reconciling Ambitions with Reality: Even if Cop28 results in an agreement to phase out fossil fuels, this decision would contrast starkly with current global energy trends. Projections indicate that fossil fuel consumption could double by 2030, exacerbating the climate crisis. The US, in particular, is on track for record-breaking oil and gas production this year.

The Significance of a Cop28 Phase-Out Declaration: A declaration to phase out fossil fuels at Cop28, despite being voluntary and subject to consensus, would be a historic step. It would empower citizens globally to hold their governments accountable and set clear targets that have been lacking in climate action.

Future of Fossil Fuel Companies: The debate on whether fossil fuel companies can transition to clean energy is ongoing. An upcoming livestreamed discussion featuring experts like Damian Carrington, Christiana Figueres, Tessa Khan, and Mike Coffin will delve into this topic, exploring the feasibility and implications of such a transition.

Conclusion: The Cop28 climate talks present a critical juncture in global climate action. The collective voice of major city mayors, advocating for an end to the fossil fuel era, adds significant weight to the discussions. As the world watches, the decisions made at Cop28 could mark a turning point in our approach to tackling the climate crisis and shaping a sustainable future.

Feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions. 

·  Julius Moerder, Head of Energy Transition Centre julius.moerder@centurionlg.com

·  Oneyka Ojogbo, Head of Energy Transition Centre, Nigeria & West Africa oneyka.ojogbo@centurionlg.com

·  Leon van Der Merwe, Head of Energy Transition Centre, South Africa leon.vdmerwe@centurionlg.com

Author: Memoona Tawfiq