Delegates from participating COP28 countries clashed on Saturday over an agreement to phase out fossil fuels during the COP28 summit in Dubai, putting at risk the first-ever attempt to commit to ending the use of fossil fuels in 30 years, Reuters reported.
Several countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, insisted that the Dubai conference only focus on reducing pollution rather than targeting fossil fuels. Meanwhile, at least 80 participating countries, including the US, the European Union, and poorer nations, are demanding that COP28 include a call to eventually end the use of fossil fuels.
COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber told participants on Saturday to speed up their talks to reach a final deal, arguing that there were “still more areas of divergence than agreement.”
Last week, Sultan al-Jaber expressed skepticism over the call to phase out fossil fuels, arguing that there was “no science” indicating that ending fossil fuels was needed to restrict global temperature increases to 1.5C. He also warned that phasing out fossil fuels would prevent sustainable development “unless you want to take the world back into caves.”
In comments read to summit delegates on Saturday, OPEC Secretary General Haitham al Ghais urged the delegates to find “realistic approaches” to tackling emissions that would enable economic growth while helping to “eradicate poverty” and increase resilience.
Last week, OPEC sent a letter to its members and allies calling for them to reject any mention of phasing out fossil fuels in the COP28 final summit deal, warning that any “undue and disproportionate pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point.”
EU climate commissioner Wopke Hoekstra dismissed the letter, calling it “out of whack” with global climate efforts. Hoekstra said OPEC’s “unhelpful” letter was “not in tune” with the worldwide consensus on “the very dramatic situation of our climate.”
China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhue said this year’s climate summit has been “the hardest meeting” he has participated in over the past 16 years. He said if delegates could not agree on the future of fossil fuels, there would be little chance that the summit could be called a success.