The 28th UN conference on climate change in Dubai will not end at the time set by its Emirati president, Sultan Al Jaber, negotiations will continue until an undetermined time. Negotiations on fossil fuels and the reluctance of oil-exporting countries did not lead to a consensus.
The UN Climate chief has called on countries at COP28 to lift “unnecessary tactical blockages” in the home stretch of negotiations in Dubai. Increasingly isolated, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and their oil exporting allies stuck to their hostile positions on Sunday against any objective of phasing out fossil fuels in the final COP28 agreement.
The Emirati presidency of the major United Nations climate conference proposed a new text on Monday, likely to accommodate the oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia but immediately judged far from being ambitious enough by the Europeans, the Americans, or again the island states. The document proposed by Sultan Al Jaber, president of COP28 and also boss of the Emirati oil and gas company Adnoc, leaves complete freedom for countries to choose their way of “reducing” fossil fuels.
This 21-page document no longer sets, for example, any common objective of “exit” from oil, gas and coal, although envisaged in previous versions. An “unacceptable” text and “well below the ambition necessary to keep our islands above the surface of the water”, denounced Tuesday Joseph Sikulu, responsible for the Pacific of the NGO 350.org. According to the activist, it is “an insult to those of us who came here to fight for our survival”.
The NGO network Climate Action Network also strongly regretted that the proposed compromise does not call for an “exit” from fossil fuels. The latest text “represents a significant regression from previous versions,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at the Climate Action Network (CAN), which represents more than a thousand associations and participates in the work of the COP as observer.
The Europeans met on Tuesday as they do every morning to coordinate. Diplomats and ministers worn out by sleepless nights are seeking to make the text more restrictive.
A new draft agreement is expected on Tuesday, according to delegates. But the hope of adopting a historic text calling for an exit from oil, gas and coal on the 8th anniversary of the Paris agreement now seems very unlikely.
Bad news for exhausted negotiators and for small delegations, who do not always have the means to extend their stay. A representative from the Marshall Islands, however, said she intended to stay “until the end”.