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COP28 ends on a bitter note as new ‘choose your own adventure’ draft divides leaders

Global stocktake negotiations continue this morning as the COP28 venue officially closes its doors.
Melodie Michel
COP28 ends on a bitter note
Opening ceremony of the World Leaders Summit at COP28 ( image by The President's Office of the Republic of Maldives)

A new draft of the global stocktake, released late yesterday, has raised the alarm at COP28 for backtracking on most of the energy and finance commitments necessary to keep the temperature rise below1.5ºC.

While the previous draft included two options to phase out fossil fuels, the updated version now only talks about “reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels” as one of eight non-mandatory options countries can take to reduce GHG emissions.

Other options include the tripling of renewable energy capacity, phasing out “unabated” coal, utilising net zero and low-carbon fuels, accelerating renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and hydrogen technologies, reducing non-CO2 emissions and emissions from road transport, and “phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”. None of these options are clearly time-bound.

The text was immediately slammed by civil society organisations who called it weak and alarming. David Waskow, Global Climate Director at the World Resources Institute (WRI), described it as a “choose your own adventure approach to climate action” that doesn’t have “any force”.

And for Climate Analytics CEO Bill Hare, “the new GST text fundamentally puts 1.5°C out of reach”. “Any mention of deadlines have been watered down along with the removal of the words ‘phase out’. The coal language is actually a step backwards from the text in the Glasgow Climate Pact. The reference to production and consumption of fossil fuels is completely open in terms of timeframe and allows this to be done essentially with offsets (...) This text is a mess and it is pushing false solutions, endangering us all," he added.

Negotiations continue as COP28 ends

The draft was also seen as inadequate by many world leaders, particularly from Europe. EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra called the text “disappointing” despite adding that “there are a couple of good things in there”.  Spanish environment minister Teresa Ribera added that “there are elements in the text that are fully unacceptable”.

Small island countries outright rejected it, with the Head of the Republic of Marshall Islands delegation, John Silk saying he “did not come here to sign our death warrant”.

The US and China had yet to comment on the draft this morning. As COP28 officially closed its doors at 11am local time, the UAE Presidency was reportedly working on another draft to be published today – and despite the backlash, some are fearing the oil countries like Saudi Arabia could look to weaken the deal even more.

Chief Sustainability Officers were mostly positive as they left the conference this week, but this is a bitter end to a climate summit that started with several landmark (but non-binding) agreements