Speaking ahead of the formal conclusion of COP28 in Dubai, delegates from climate advocacy organisation Solutions for Climate Australia welcomed the inclusion of a transition away from fossil fuels in the latest Global Stocktake outcome text.
"Fossil fuel lobbyists showed up to the COP in unprecedented numbers, buoyed by seeing one of their own in the President’s seat," said Senior International Campaigner Erin Ryan. "But big polluters are fighting a losing battle against science, justice, and the people. After years of skirting around the issue, this text finally recognises the need to end our reliance on fossil-fuelled energy."
Despite this progress, concerns remain within the text, Ms Ryan explains. "This is far from the full, fair, fast and funded fossil fuel phase-out that we need. The text remains littered with desperate, dangerous distractions that will attempt to delay the inevitable end of fossil fuels."
In lieu of driving a real phase out of coal, oil and gas in the coming decade, the text instead presents a menu of options to drive down emissions including the deployment of undefined abatement measures, unproven carbon capture and storage technologies, nuclear and blue hydrogen, while carving out space for the expansion of polluting gas as a ‘transition fuel’.
"Speaking at COP28, Minister Bowen made bold and science-aligned comments, standing with small island states against an early draft that would condemn people from Pacific Island nations. We hope that Minister Bowen can bring similar integrity to discussions about the phase out of coal and gas not only in Australia’s energy systems, but in our exports and economic strategy."
As a major development partner to the Pacific, Australia also needs to step up to fill the glaring gaps around climate finance in the COP28 outcomes text.
"Pacific Island nations - our low-emitting and low-income neighbours - are already contributing to the phase out of fossil fuels in their domestic policy, through external partnerships like the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, and through pushing for the collective ambition of the Port Vila Call," noted Ms Ryan. "Pacific island leaders have long been at the forefront of climate ambition and innovation. But they need finance to take their bold vision to scale. We have a role to play, including by contributing funding to a regional energy commissioner to oversee the replacement of dirty coal, oil and gas with renewable energy."
As COP28 winds down with the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era in sight, there is a need for urgency, not complacency.
"We are looking down the barrel of another historic bushfire season. What we needed at COP28 was a historic agreement on ending fossil fuels,’ Ms Ryan concluded. ‘Recognition of the role of fossil fuels is welcome but it won’t keep our homes standing, and our children’s lungs free of smoke. Only real action on phasing out coal, oil and gas will do that."
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Sophia Walter 0476 260 028 (AEDT)