Scientists are describing the failure of Cop28 to implement a phase-out of fossil fuels as “devastating.”
Scientists have expressed concern over the lack of action taken by Cop28 to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels. They believe that this decision is detrimental and poses a threat, especially in light of the pressing need to address the climate crisis.
Someone described it as a catastrophe for the planet and our future, while another person viewed it as the desired result for the fossil fuel industry.
The conclusion of the UN climate conference on Wednesday resulted in a compromise agreement that advocated for a shift away from the use of fossil fuels. The term “phase-out,” which had the support of 130 out of the 198 countries involved in the negotiations in Dubai, was prevented from being included due to resistance from oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia.
The agreement was considered groundbreaking because it was the first time in 30 years of climate negotiations that fossil fuels, the main contributor to the climate crisis, were addressed. However, experts pointed out that the deal had several gaps and did not adequately address the urgency of the climate emergency.
Prof Michael Mann, a climatologist and geophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, expressed disappointment that there was no agreement to gradually decrease the use of fossil fuels. He compared the idea of “transitioning away from fossil fuels” to making a weak promise to stop eating doughnuts after being diagnosed with diabetes.
According to Dr. Magdalena Skipper, the top editor of the scientific publication Nature, it is evident that fossil fuels need to be phased out. If world leaders do not acknowledge this truth, they will ultimately fail both their citizens and the planet.
According to an article in Nature, the inability to phase out has been labeled as “dangerous” and goes against the main objectives outlined in the 2015 Paris climate accord to restrict global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) above preindustrial levels.
The editorial stated that the climate is not affected by who emits greenhouse gases. The only feasible solution is for everyone to rapidly reduce their use of fossil fuels.
Sir David King, the chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group and a former UK chief scientific adviser, said: “The wording of the deal is feeble. Ensuring 1.5C remains viable will require total commitment to a range of far-reaching measures, including full fossil fuel phase-out.”
According to the speaker, there was a significant gap between the clear declaration of the required reduction in emissions and the suggested course of action to achieve these reductions. The text from Cop28 acknowledges the necessity for significant and timely reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the 1.5C target. However, the text also includes a number of initiatives that are unlikely to be successful in reaching this goal.
The researchers stated that the exceptions involved the instruction to “expedite” carbon capture and storage in order to contain emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. However, this approach is only effective to a limited extent.
According to climatologist Dr. Friederike Otto from Imperial College London, as long as we rely on fossil fuels, our world will become increasingly hazardous, costly, and unpredictable. Each ambiguous statement and unfulfilled commitment in the final document will result in more individuals being directly impacted by climate change, potentially leading to loss of life.
According to Professor Martin Siegert, a polar scientist and deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Exeter, the evidence is indisputable. The failure of Cop28 to make a definitive statement to end the burning of fossil fuels is a catastrophic event for our planet and its future. The rate of global warming is accelerating at an alarming pace, and the actions taken by Cop have not been sufficient to address this crisis.
According to Professor Mike Berners-Lee from Lancaster University, Cop28 is the ideal result for the fossil fuel industry as it appears to be making progress, but in reality it is not.
According to Dr. Elena Cantarello, a professor of sustainability science at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, it is extremely disheartening to witness a few countries prioritizing their own immediate interests over the well-being of both people and the environment in the long run.
Associate Professor in earth system dynamics at the University of Exeter, Dr James Dyke, stated that Cop28 must make a clear and definitive statement. Although the agreement acknowledges the necessity to shift away from fossil fuels, it contains several exceptions and gaps that could potentially make it insignificant.
The fact that this agreement is being praised as a significant achievement is more of a reflection of past shortcomings rather than a transformative step towards the pressing issue of quickly halting the consumption of coal, oil, and gas.
Anne Rasmussen, the chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, received a standing ovation for her speech at the end of Cop28. Her comments echoed those of the scientists, emphasizing the importance of not only acknowledging scientific evidence, but also taking action in accordance with it when making agreements.
The topic of climate change was the main point of contention during the initial week of the summit, following the publication of a statement by Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber in The Guardian. In the statement, Al Jaber claimed that there is no scientific evidence or scenario that supports the idea that phasing out fossil fuels will lead to a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limit. However, Al Jaber later clarified that he believes phasing down and ultimately phasing out fossil fuels is necessary and unavoidable.
According to Dr Lisa Schipper, a development geography professor at the University of Bonn in Germany, the Cop president’s initial statement dismissing the scientific evidence for phasing out fossil fuels was alarming to scientists, particularly those who had contributed to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report clearly states that phasing out fossil fuels is necessary to avoid reaching a point of no return.
Mann stated that there is a need for reform in Cop rules, such as granting super-majorities the power to pass decisions despite resistance from petrostates and prohibiting oil executives like Al Jaber, who is in charge of the state oil company of the United Arab Emirates, from leading future summits.
According to Mann, we should work to improve our current system rather than getting rid of it altogether. He believes that police officers are the only way we can come together and negotiate global climate policies. However, the fact that Cop28 was unable to make any significant progress is worrying, especially since we have a limited amount of time to prevent catastrophic levels of warming.