The World To Finally Transition Away From Fossil Fuels

by Andy Cartland
Jan 22, 2024 2:45 PM ET
United nations office

The COP28 gavel has finally slammed down with the focus on a key word: transition.

After days of intense negotiations between world leaders at the two-week UN climate summit in Dubai, the clock is now ticking as the fossil fuel industry faces the inevitable end after a deal was agreed to transition away from using fossil fuels.

While it wasn’t a historical moment when the agreement was reached, the nails are slowly being driven into the coffin of global emissions, marking undeniable progress.

COP – Conference of Parties – has been holding discussions for 30 years and this is the first time in that period such a deal has been struck, calling on all nations to focus on a fossil fuel transition – that is, moving away from using oil, coal and gas.

It is hoped member states will stop relying on fossil fuels, in favour of renewable energy (an agreement, by more than 100 countries, was reached to triple renewable capacity by 2030). While the commitment to phase out fossil fuels wasn’t taken up, this deal nods to a more promising future with collaborative efforts moving in the right direction.

This year’s COP President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber was met with cheers and applause after sealing the agreement, which also revisited loss and damage for vulnerable countries impacted by climate change, by setting up a new fund specifically for this.

Many nations were initially up in arms when the text in the draft deal avoided using the term ‘phase-out’, over fears some countries may use loopholes to continue to emit fossil fuels.

Kaisa Kosonen, Senior Political Advisor at Greenpeace International, said: “The signal that the fossil industry has been afraid of is there: ending the fossil fuel era, along with a call to massively scale up renewables and efficiency this decade, but it’s buried under many dangerous distractions and without sufficient means to achieve it in a fair and fast manner.

“You won’t find the words ‘phase out’ in the text, but that’s what the equitable transition away from fossil fuels in line with 1.5°C and science will necessitate, when implemented sustainably. And that’s what we’re determined to make happen, now more than ever.

“The outcome leaves poorer countries well short of the resources they will need for renewable energy transition and other needs. For the many goals of the agreement to be realised, rich countries will need to significantly step up financial support and make fossil fuel polluters pay. Only last year the fossil fuel industry made $4 trillion in profits, and they need to start paying for the harm and destruction they have caused.

“This is not the historical deal that the world needed: It has many loopholes and shortcomings. But history will be made if all those nearly 130 countries, businesses, local leaders and civil society voices, who came together to form an unprecedented force for change, now take this determination and make the fossil fuel phase out happen. Most urgently that means stopping all those expansion plans that are pushing us over the 1.5°C limit right now.”

Andy Cartland, Founder & Director, Acre said: “While there are inevitable disappointments in major agreements such as this, and the majority of countries hoped for a phase-out of fossil fuels, we cannot deny this is a progressive step.

“We have waited three decades for something as promising as this to come from a COP summit and now it is down to each country to immerse themselves in achieving this crucial transition to help the world reach net zero by 2050.”

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