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EU to push for fossil fuel phaseout ‘well ahead’ of 2050 at COP28 climate summit

Any pledge to phase out fossil fuels would need to include the end of coal power.
Any pledge to phase out fossil fuels would need to include the end of coal power. Copyright AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Copyright AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
By Rosie Frost
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The EU wants governments to commit to more renewables, improve energy efficiency and give up fossil fuels for good.

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The EU is pushing for a global pledge to phase out the unabated use of fossil fuels “well ahead of 2050” at COP28, according to climate chief Frans Timmermans.

At a meeting of the bloc’s environmental and energy ministers in Span he said he hopes to get countries to sign up for three interlinked parts of this pledge.

The first is that the annual deployment of new renewable energy needs to triple between now and 2030. Secondly, he said that the world must double the rate at which energy efficiency is improving compared to the last decade.

The final pledge calls for the world to “phase out unabated fossil fuels well ahead of 2050”. Timmermans explained that this would mean eliminating emissions from the oil and gas sector and products sold by oil and gas companies. It will also require an end to the use of coal.

“I know these are ambitious proposals but they are necessary,” he added.

“They can provide a strong signal on climate action to decision makers, investors and civil society.”

His remarks also included carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which Timmermans said should only play a minimal role in the phaseout of fossil fuels.

“These need to be residual and only in hard to abate sectors. And the sector carries the burden of proof in demonstrating this is achievable and proposing credible investment strategies in carbon abating technologies.”

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo
European Commission's Vice President Frans Timmermans talks to the media at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021.REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

COP28 needs to be a ‘paradigm shift’ for climate

The EU’s environmental and energy ministers are gathered in Valladolid, Spain this week for an informal climate meeting. This meeting comes ahead of COP28 which will be held in Dubai later this year. Also in attendance is the UN climate summit’s controversial president Sultan Al Jaber.

COP28 will need to be a “paradigm shift” for climate action, Timmermans said.

“We need to do it because time is running out. We also need to push further for a strong outcome on mitigation ambition so we can say truthfully that we keep the 1.5 degrees temperature limit alive.”

Timmermans added that the EU must “continue to show leadership based on the best available science” - in particular the latest IPCC report.

A definition of what exactly ‘unabated’ means and the role of CCS technology in phasing out fossil fuels are likely to be high on the agenda at the summit in November.

But the pledge to speed up the installation of renewable energy should meet with less resistance. It has already been backed by Sultan Al Jaber and has support from representatives of small island states as well as countries like the US and Chile.

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