Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International –

Fossil fuel phase out agreements at COP28 can be a reality

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) CEO and COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber has encouraged governments attending the upcoming COP28 in Dubai to abandon “fantasies” surrounding agreements on transition to new energy systems, and labeled the discussion on phasing out fossil fuels as a “trap of division”.

Despite Al Jaber emphasizing that phasing out fossil fuels is inevitable, he has since placed the onus on the consumer, stating in a recent interview for The Guardian that “it’s the consumer who contributes to increasing CO2 emissions, not the producer,” a classic strategy used by fossil fuel companies to place the burden of addressing the climate crisis on the individual, instead of the industry and its enablers. 

Among all oil and gas companies, ADNOC is set to be the second biggest expander of oil and gas extraction in the near term despite projections from the International Energy Agency showing that peak fossil fuel production is fast approaching. The UAE is also among a group of 20 countries responsible for nearly 90% of carbon dioxide pollution threatened by new oil and gas extraction projects between 2023 and 2050.

The COP28 presidency has been championing ambition to triple renewable energy by 2030.  But increased renewable energy does not translate to a phase out of fossil fuels: while the UAE has significantly increased its renewable energy, it has also increased its fossil fuel capacity. 

To achieve 1.5°C, fossil fuel phase out targets established by the International Energy Agency and IPCC must be deployed alongside renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, which are all achievable at COP28.

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy Lead at Oil Change International said: 

“Last year at COP27 a group of 80 countries pushed for an agreement on phasing out fossil fuels – and a rapid, equitable, and funded phase out of all fossil fuels must be high on the agenda at this year’s negotiations. 

“The success of COP28 will be judged by whether countries agree to end fossil fuel expansion and build a just and equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, enabled by providing the necessary funding to triple renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency. The only logical course of action is for governments to arrive at the negotiations prepared to take action commensurate with what the science is telling us: agree to a managed, planned decline of fossil fuel production to avoid the worst impacts of the existential climate crisis. 

“The fossil fuel era is ending. The International Energy Agency and IPCC agree; but if the COP presidency, allegedly committed to the 1.5°C limit, calls a science-backed demand to phase out fossil fuels a ‘fantasy’, the question is if Al Jaber cares about a successful COP28 or just ADNOC’s bottom line. The only clear fantasy here is abatement, carbon capture and storage, and other ‘magical’ and unproven technologies; that simply cannot be used to justify delaying phasing out all fossil fuels.”