COP28 deal not strong enough to end fossil fuels without people power

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Reacting to the agreement to “transition away from fossil fuels” at the UN climate talks in the UAE, Friends of the Earth Ireland said that the COP28 deal was not strong enough to deliver an end to fossil fuels without global people power to drive government action around the world. The environmental campaigning organisation cited the “litany of loopholes” identified by the small island states most vulnerable to climate change, which it said could allow fossil fuel interests continue business as usual unless citizens and campaigners demand the systems change we need.

Speaking in Dubai, Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy in Friends of the Earth said:

“The fossil fuel ‘elephant in the room’ has finally been put front and centre thanks to the tireless efforts of civil society around the world. Yet the 'elephant’ remains on the rampage. COP28 broke the climate silence on fossil fuels but it has not yet broken the grip of fossil fuel interests on our energy system and on much of our political system. Today’s agreement may have signalled the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era but it does not ensure it. We the people will have to do that.

“The COP ultimately failed to provide for fossil fuel phase out that’s fair, fast, full, funded and forever. References to unproven technologies and undefined terms like “abatement”, “low emission fuels”, as well as carbon offsets, leave the door open to distractions, delay and destructive pollution. The COP text points to new renewables and energy efficiency goals and a ‘transition away from fossil fuels’, including ‘critical action this decade’ to global warming to 1.5 °C. Yet the reality is that only a comprehensive, swift and equitable fossil fuel phase-out will prevent the  disastrous 3°C temperature rise we’re currently headed for.

“Demands will rightly increase for developed countries like Ireland to provide their share of financing to help the worst affected communities respond to climate disasters, as will demands to assist developing countries gain access to renewable energies. 

“Ultimately this is just the beginning. Fossil fuel interests have finally been smoked out of the shadows at the climate summit and this pressure will only grow. The trudge of consensus decision making at the COP, combined with the self-interest of petrostates, means that other international avenues have to be supported. This COP only underlines the need for Ireland to endorse the development of a new fossil fuel non proliferation treaty, being debated in the Dáil this morning.”

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