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EU prepares to push for ‘global phase-out’ of fossil fuels at COP28, draft document shows

A coal-fired power station scheduled to shut down is seen in As Pontes, Spain.
A coal-fired power station scheduled to shut down is seen in As Pontes, Spain. Copyright REUTERS/Miguel Vidal/File Photo
Copyright REUTERS/Miguel Vidal/File Photo
By Euronews Green with Reuters Connect
Published on Updated
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A proposal to phase out CO2-emitting fossil fuels at COP27 last won backing from more than 80 countries but oil and gas-rich nations opposed it.

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European Union countries are preparing to push for a global deal on phasing out fossil fuels at the COP28 climate summit, a draft of the EU's negotiating position has shown.

Diplomats from the bloc's 27 member states are drafting their position for the summit in Dubai in November, where nearly 200 countries will try to strengthen efforts to rein in climate change.

"The shift towards a climate neutral economy will require the global phase-out of [unabated] fossil fuels and a peak in their consumption already in the near term," a draft of the EU's negotiating stance, seen by Reuters, says.

What has happened at previous UN climate summits?

Countries have never agreed in UN climate negotiations to gradually stop burning all CO2-emitting fossil fuels, despite this being the main cause of climate change.

"Unabated" refers to fossil fuels burned without using technologies to capture the resulting CO2 emissions. The word was in brackets in the draft EU text, indicating that countries have not yet agreed on whether to include it.

EU diplomats hope a deal can be made at COP28 - but expect to meet resistance from economies reliant on income from selling oil and gas.

REUTERS/Yves Herman
A general v.iew shows the Emile Huchet GazelEnergie coal power station in Carling, FranceREUTERS/Yves Herman

The EU document is still being negotiated and could change before it is due to be finalised in October. It says the energy sector should be largely free of fossil fuels "well ahead of 2050" because cost-effective, CO2-free energy sources are already available.

At last year's UN climate summit, a proposal to phase out CO2-emitting fossil fuels won backing from more than 80 countries but Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas-rich nations opposed it.

Limits on carbon capture technology

Some countries with fossil fuel-heavy economies want to focus on developing technologies to capture CO2 emissions, rather than reducing the use of fossil fuels. 

Earlier this year, the UAE's climate minister said the world wasn't yet ready to "switch off" fossil fuels. Mariam Almheiri told Reuters that she favoured phasing out emissions instead by using carbon capture and storage technology. 

Disagreement over this issue meant G20 countries' ministers could not agree to curb fossil fuels at a meeting last month.

Some EU countries seeking faster action on cutting CO2 want to agree on limits for CO2 capturing technologies - to restrict their use to sectors without alternatives, diplomats said.

While not legally binding, the idea behind a global deal to gradually quit fossil fuels is to create a powerful "north star" to guide future climate negotiations, government policies and investments towards energy sources and technologies that do not contribute to heating the planet.

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