COP28: Green economy leaders react to ‘dangerously naïve and weak’ draft text on 11 December

What could be the last draft agreement text for official COP28 negotiations has prompted anger and disappointment, with key statements weakened on fossil fuels, finance and adaptation. Here, edie rounds up the reaction from across the global green economy.

COP28: Green economy leaders react to ‘dangerously naïve and weak’ draft text on 11 December

Pictured: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (left) and UNFCCC staff consider the new text. Image: UNFCCC Flickr / Kiara Worth

COP28 is due to come to a close on Tuesday (12 December), with the Presidency team in Dubai keen to get everything wrapped up as early in the day as possible.

A draft edition of the Global Stocktake (GST) text, the official negotiated outcome, was published this afternoon (11 December), with several key options taken off the table as nations work to deliver a text ready for the gavel.

The general consensus is that there have been two steps forward towards wrapping COP28 up, and  many more steps back in terms of headline ambitions and specific actions to be taken internationally this decade.

All mentions of a fossil fuel phase-out and phase-down are gone. The text states that nations should “reduce both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net-zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science”.

Renewables, energy efficiency and nuclear are presented as options that countries may wish to take to cut emissions. They are co-located with carbon and capture, in a move that will appease petrostates but infuriate others.

On adaptation, the text shies away from setting a new finance goal and providing any details on how it will be delivered. And the text defers a decision on international climate finance flows from the Global North to the Global South to 2024.

You can read our breakdown of the main inclusions in this draft here.

Here, edie rounds up all the latest reaction from green policymakers, NGOs, think-tanks and more.

Minister Cedric Schuster, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS):

We are concerned that the process at this time is not in the spirit of multilateralism…we feel our voices are not being heard, while it appears that several other Parties have enjoyed preferential treatment, compromising the transparency and inclusivity of the process.

“We are greatly concerned that this lack of a platform to air our views has resulted in weak language that will obliterate our chances of maintaining the 1.5C warming limit.

“If we do not have strong mitigation outcomes at this COP, then this will be remembered as the COP where 1.5C would have died. This should not be the legacy of this UAE COP.”

Fernanda Carvalho climate and energy policy lead, WWF:

“This disastrous new draft is way less ambitious than the last version; this is disappointing. It doesn’t signal the fundamental course correction we need to see out of this process. It presents a buffet of energy options, but not one to phase out fossil fuels. Most of them invite the continued use of planet-wrecking coal, oil and gas, or suggest that nuclear and carbon capture and storage could be considered solutions. If this text on phasing out fossil fuels is not significantly strengthened overnight, we face the prospect of a very weak COP28 outcome, and no end in sight to the escalating climate crisis.”

Hailey Campbell, Care About Climate and Children and Youth Pavilion spokesperson: 

“We cannot accept this text. It doesn’t even mention the basis for why we are all here, to keep 1.5C within reach. This text undermines the values and principles of climate justice. The Presidency must not have been in the same room as the world leaders yesterday because we heard passionate calls to action louder than those blocking progress and this text does not reflect that. We are sad and disappointed.”

Kristian Teleki, chief executive, Fauna & Flora:

“At the end of a year when we have witnessed the world burning around us, the latest draft COP28 Global Stocktake text is dangerously naïve and weak. Climate change is not just, orderly or equitable, so the urgency to commit to phasing out the production and use of all fossil fuels cannot be overstated.

“If we have any hope of maintaining a safe and liveable future for our planet, we must commit to an absolute reduction in fossil fuel emissions, as fast as possible. The planet will not be fooled by what amounts to emissions creative accounting – if we are to have a hope of keeping the planet we love intact then there is no alternative to phasing out fossil fuels.”

Romain Ioualalen, global policy manager, Oil Change International:

“The latest GST draft is an incoherent and dangerous list of weak measures completely divorced from what is needed to limit warming to 1.5°C. In contrast, the science is very clear: a full, fast, fair, and funded phaseout of all fossil fuels is essential to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

“The Presidency, in trying to appease a tiny minority of blockers seeking to prolong the fossil fuel era despite the devastating consequences, has produced substantially weaker text that must be significantly improved to align with science, finance needs, and equity.

“We call on Ministers and diplomats to remember what is at stake: the future of billions of people and the fate of entire nations, whose future depends on clear and coherent policies to phase out fossil fuel production and use.”

Andreas Sieber, associate director of policy and campaigns, 

“The COP28 draft text resembles a disjointed wish list, far from the stringent measures required to limit warming to 1.5°C. The presidency, displaying a troubling lack of leadership, has notably weakened commitments to phasing out fossil fuels and promoting renewables.

“By framing actions as ‘could’ instead of ‘shall,’ and with weak language on short-term declines and renewable targets, this draft falls short. Nations committed to climate action must reject this weakened proposal, insisting on transformative changes for a meaningful impact on global warming.”

Professor David Victor, adjunct professor in Climate, Atmospheric Science & Physical Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography:

“The text is of course the usual long and sprawling parade of generalities—designed to accommodate a huge array of diverging interests.  Within that context a few things stand out to me.

“The climate does not know that diplomats are declaring the need to stay well below 2C—ideally 1.5C with little or no overshooting. The climate is changing and quickly.  It is not possible under real-world conditions to stop warming at 1.5c. Paragraph 29 is comical: 43% cut in emissions by 2030. The world is going to have to blink and talk more about realistic levels of warming – unpleasant as that is.

“The whole document reflects the imbalance between mitigation and adaptation that pervades climate diplomacy, though is shifting a bit.  But a lot of fuzziness and platitudes on adaptation, including funding for adaptation. Talking more about adaptation is not defeat. It is reality.”

Dr. Rachel Cleetus, policy director and a lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“To put it bluntly, the text related to the energy package that we’ve waited all day to see is extremely disappointing, concerning, and nowhere close to the level of ambition people around the world deserve. Invoking science, as so many leaders are doing, comes with a serious responsibility to put forward language that actually reflects it.

“This draft comes with a huge qualifier of ‘could’ at the top that makes all the listed actions optional for nations. It has a laundry list of actions filled with glaring loopholes, including a lack of meaningful timelines, especially in this critical decade.

“The science is irrefutable and people around the world have a clear demand: the fossil fuel era must be phased out, starting now. The latest GST text is riddled with the evidence of world leaders succumbing to the perverse influence of the fossil fuel industry and petrostates instead of choosing to safeguard a livable future for people and the planet. In these final hours, we urge world leaders to deliver the real action we came here to secure.”

Teresa Anderson, global climate lead at ActionAid:

“The previous COP28 draft text broke new ground in proposing a phase-out of fossil fuels. To take it over the finishing line we just needed to agree the finance and fair timelines that would make the package workable for lower-income countries.

“But instead of taking us closer to a fossil-free future, this draft takes a giant step backwards. It’s staggeringly empty of any new commitments. Instead of deciding to take action, it simply ‘recognises the need’ to phase down unabated coal and scale up renewable energy, leaving out any reference to other fossil fuels such as oil and gas. It ‘notes the need for’ finance, but doesn’t actually provide any. It legitimises debunked technologies such as carbon capture and storage. It’s a paper fan being waved at a burning house. After all the momentum and hope that has been building here, it’s horrible. It’s devastating.

“If the biggest polluters don’t start phasing out fossil fuels now, none of us will have a safe future. With COP28 scheduled to end tomorrow, we need rich countries to agree to end their fossil dependence and provide the finance that can swing the deal and promise a safer future for billions of people.”

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment:

“This has the makings of an historic text, which recognises for the first time in the outcome of a UN climate change summit that the production and consumption of fossil fuels need to be cut and replaced by cleaner alternatives in order to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century. However, the text is too weak at the moment because it only suggests Parties could, rather than should, reduce fossil fuel consumption and production. This should not be optional.

“There will be some who argue that we should commit to end all fossil fuels, but it is important to remain focused on the driver of climate change, which is greenhouse gas emissions. This text, if implemented by parties, will mean that most fossil fuel use ends by mid-century, while also delivering a rise in living standards across the world.

“This text should now require all fossil fuel producers, including the UK, to show how they will cut their outputs in line with the goal of reaching net zero emissions globally by mid-century.

“The text also includes many other important points showing that countries have recognised the extremely sobering findings of the Global Stocktake that strong and urgent action is required across many areas, including adaptation, loss and damage and climate finance.

“It is now vitally important that this text is not watered down over the coming hours, and is bolstered in key areas, to provide impetus to countries to strengthen the ambition of their national actions in revised pledges that are due to be submitted in 2025.”

Maria Mendiluce, chief executive, We Mean Business Coalition:

“This draft is extremely concerning. The lack of agreed actions to phase out fossil fuels and invest in clean energy leaves us with a meaningless wishlist of optional actions. Offering countries a range of options that they ‘could’ engage with is a huge backward step and does not send the clear signal business needs to supercharge the transformation and keep 1.5C within reach, as the COP Presidency has committed to.

“Are we really going to risk our future on a shopping list? The world ‘could’ have decided to act after COP1 in 1995. Yet here we are, three decades later, still finding ways for countries with vested interests of their fossil fuel industries to ignore the science and dodge the urgency of addressing the primary source of emissions: burning fossil fuels.

“We urge all countries to reject this latest draft. If they are serious about listening to the science, they will only agree on a COP outcome that reflects the need for countries to work towards the phase-out of fossil fuels.”

“From a draft with four options on fossil fuel phaseout to a draft with zero, I also question the process and who are they listening to. The world deserves transparency on how decisions are taken.”

Nafkote Dabi, climate change policy lead, Oxfam International:

“If this current text is adopted, COP28 will be a scandal that has failed us all. It is unimaginably bad.

“Instead of committing to phase out all fossil fuels, it only talks about a phase-down of coal – and ignores oil and gas altogether.

“Any language on actually paying for the transition toward renewables for low-income countries is missing too. Right now, people are dying because of catastrophic climate breakdown in the Horn of Africa and around the world. This current proposal from COP28 does nowhere near enough to prevent massive loss of life. In the coming hours, all countries must categorically refuse this fatally flawed document, and demand a text that reflects the true will of the people.”

Amir Sokolowski, Global Director, Climate Change at CDP:

“It’s critical that over the coming hours the Global Stocktake is refined into a robust agreement to phase out fossil fuels with targets and timelines in place. The latest text on fossil fuels is disappointing and frankly dangerous. Any reference to science must come with clear guidance that actually reflects it. It is clear that a phase out of fossil fuels is non-negotiable, yet this is glaringly omitted from the latest Stocktake draft.

“When it comes to energy, a laundry list of options that governments ‘could’ take, alongside a long list of provisos as for any action, means everything is on the table… All in all, the treatment of renewable energy transition and phase out have been weakened significantly, by the loss of a reference to replacing current infrastructure, combination of provisos to action and a blending of the means for reduction of emissions with those for abating them post fact.

“While the importance of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is still referenced in the text, which we welcome, language on biodiversity has also been weakened. There should be no room for movement here. Protecting and restoring nature and its ecosystems is key in our ability to tackle climate change, ensure a livable planet and build a resilient global economy.”

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