UN Climate Chief Demands Action to Break COP28 Deadlock in Dubai

Crucial Hours at COP28: Negotiators Race to Reach Consensus on Fossil Fuel Phase-Out

by Adenike Adeodun

As COP28 inches closer to its deadline in Dubai, the UN climate chief has issued a stern warning against obstructionist tactics. With only 24 hours remaining, negotiators are working tirelessly to forge a consensus among the nearly 200 participating countries.

The summit, held in a city synonymous with oil wealth, is considering an unprecedented proposal to phase out oil, gas, and coal—the primary contributors to the global climate crisis. Simon Stiell, the head of the UN climate body, stressed the urgency of the situation, saying, “We do not have a minute to lose.” He criticized the “unnecessary tactical blockades” that are delaying a deal, warning that strategic hindrances harm everyone involved.

Stiell highlighted the need to maintain the “highest ambition” to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a goal set by the 2015 Paris accord to mitigate severe climate impacts like storms, droughts, and rising sea levels. He emphasized that failing to reach a consensus would jeopardize the security of eight billion people.

The summit’s key sticking points include fossil fuels and the acceleration of climate finance from wealthy to developing nations. A new draft text is expected, as COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, also the head of the UAE’s national oil company, urges countries to find common ground on the fossil fuel issue.

According to a report by The Guardian, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have voiced opposition to phasing out fossil fuels, underscoring the complexity of reaching an agreement. However, climate campaigners and negotiators note that the world has never been closer to a deal on reducing dependency on oil, gas, and coal.

The pressure is now on Al Jaber to navigate these final hours and deliver a consensus-driven outcome. Notably, China and the United States, major players in global emissions, have shown willingness to find a middle ground, having agreed last month to accelerate renewable energy deployment.

The latest draft includes options ranging from phasing out fossil fuels to excluding the issue from the final agreement. The United States, celebrating climate envoy John Kerry’s 80th birthday during the negotiations, has shown support for the phase-out, despite being the world’s largest oil producer and facing domestic opposition.

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