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Europe stands firm on fossil fuel phase-out deal at Cop28

European Commission's Wopke Hoekstra speaks at the European Union press conference, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 6, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky Reuters/Amr Alfiky
Wopke Hoekstra, the European commissioner for climate action, said that ending the use of fossil fuels is 'at the core of what we have to do'
  • European Parliament pushes for ‘tangible’ result
  • Financing and subsidies under scrutiny
  • Oil companies must do more says Al Jaber

The European Parliament is heading into the final days of negotiation at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai with a clear mission to see the absolute end of fossil fuels.

At a press conference on Friday, European Parliament member Peter Liese told journalists that the delegation is demanding the “tangible phase out of fossil fuels” and halting all investments into fossil fuels.

He said there must be “deep and sustained mitigation efforts” to achieve the 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as detailed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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The European Parliament is part of a group of about 80 countries that are demanding an agreement at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference for the eventual end of fossil fuel use.

With just five days left to negotiate a deal, Wopke Hoekstra, European commissioner for climate action, said this remained one of the biggest sticking points for agreement between now and December 12.

He said beginning the process of ending the use of fossil fuels was “at the core of what we have to do”.

“It’s not a European desire, it’s a reality that we should acknowledge and address,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, Jim Skea, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said fossil fuel use would need to be “greatly reduced” in order to meet the 1.5C target by 2050.

Oil use would have to drop by 60 percent and natural gas consumption by 45 percent, according to Skea, while the use of unabated coal must be completely phased out.

Hoekstra also said the “absurdity” of fossil fuel subsidies “are holding us back”.

Subsidies provided for coal, oil and gas in 20 of the world’s biggest economies (the G20) reached a record $1.4 trillion last year.

This is double the amount provided in 2019, according to an August report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, despite world leaders agreeing to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel financial aid at Cop26 in Glasgow two years ago. 

Phase-out is ‘inevitable’

Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber has consistently said that maintaining the 1.5C target from the Paris Agreement is his “north star” and described the phase-down and phase-out of fossil fuels as “inevitable”.

The 1.5C threshold was established in the Paris Agreement of 2015, a legally binding treaty to tackle climate change, signed by 195 nations. The agreement aims to limit global warming to “well below” 2C by the end of the century, and seeks to keep warming within 1.5C.

About 50 oil and natural gas producers, including Saudi Aramco and 29 other national oil companies, signed an agreement on Saturday to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and curb methane emissions to near-zero by 2030.

But Al Jaber stressed that this “bold” step was not enough.

“I know that the oil and gas industries and the heavy-emitting industries can do much more,” he said.

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