‘We will keep fighting’: COP28 secures consensus on ending fossil fuels, but without the actions needed to get there

13 December 2023

DUBAI/SYDNEY, Wednesday 13 December 2023 — The latest Global Stocktake from COP28 in Dubai has been adopted with strong words but no plan of action to end fossil fuels — seen as a key marker of success from this year’s conference. The consensus from the 198 country delegation was reached on Wednesday.

This year’s conference saw the first Global Stocktake (GST) of the world’s progress towards meeting its Paris Agreement commitment to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. There were high hopes from both the host nation and those attending that the Dubai COP would be a landmark event, where strong language and a clear timeline around fossil fuel phase out would be adopted, signalling the end of the fossil fuel era. 

Hard-fought battles waged over key elements of the GST text, from fossil fuel phase-out to phase-down, the use of so-called ‘abatement’ measures, and the need for financial support for the most climate-vulnerable nations, including the Pacific, who fought for the GST text to be adopted as whole package, rather than a menu of options. 

CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, David Ritter, said that while the final text is not what the world needs or deserves, Australia must now step-up on the international stage and commit to accelerating climate action domestically.

“While this isn’t what we hoped for, the text sends a clear message that there is an overwhelming momentum to end the fossil fuel era . Now we need developed countries to take the lead — to transition their economies in a way that is fast, fair and places justice at its core, and to offer financial support to the most climate-vulnerable nations.

“In his National Address at COP28, Minister Bowen gave us a glimmer of hope that he is ready to turn around a decade of climate inaction by previous governments. Now, Australia must turn this positive rhetoric into real action and to deliver the ambitious program of change that Australia needs to transition our energy systems and keep 1.5 degrees alive.

“We urge Minister Bowen to take every action possible at home to align our domestic emissions pathways to 1.5 degrees — that means no new coal and gas, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. These are actions that the Albanese government can take right now and that will send a strong signal to our Pacific neighbours that we are standing with you, that we will fight for you.”

Speaking from Dubai, Head of Pacific at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Shiva Gounden, said that while there is limited progress in the final text, it does not go anywhere far enough to address the climate destruction being faced by communities across the globe.

“We’re deeply disappointed by the final text which, although recognises the science and the urgency of 1.5 degrees, ignores what the science is screaming at us to do and offers false solutions, rather than real actions. 1.5 degrees is not just an ambition — it’s a lifeline for Pacific communities facing an existential threat to their survival.

“As always, the resilient and powerful people of the Pacific will keep fighting. We’ve had some hard-fought wins, such as the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund on Day 1 which saw many nations step-up to start filling it. It is unfortunate that Australia chose not to commit to this critical fund and to acknowledge its role as a major contributor to the climate crisis globally.

“If Minister Bowen is serious in his commitment to our Pacific family, he must go beyond piecemeal announcements and address the elephant in the room — the expansion of the fossil fuel industry in Australia. By exporting fossil fuels, we are exporting climate destruction. I implore the Minister to accelerate climate action domestically and to ensure our emissions reductions targets are in line with a 1.5 degree future — the Pacific’s survival depends on it.”

Head of Climate and Energy at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Jess Panegyres, said that while having the words ‘transitioning away from fossil fuels’ in the final text is an important signal, it’s far from the historic outcome that the world hoped for.

“The world has agreed on what’s needed – “transitioning away from fossil fuels” – but there is no action plan to do this yet. We will keep fighting for the action needed to keep 1.5 alive. To meet this COP28 commitment we must stop approving new coal and gas projects, stop subsidising fossil fuels and start paying into the Loss and Damage Fund.

“It was encouraging to hear Minister Bowen speak so strongly and passionately at his national address in Dubai about the need to phase out fossil fuels and take our commitment to 1.5 degrees seriously. Now, this must translate into real action at home. And the first step is not opening up new mega fossil fuel projects like Woodside’s Burrup Hub.”

“Recently released data compiled by Greenpeace estimated that if all the coal and gas projects currently undergoing federal approvals went ahead, they would release a 20 billion tonne carbon bomb across their lifetimes — that’s equal to 14 times our domestic emissions. Expanding fossil fuels is not compatible with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. 

“Australia is perfectly placed to become a renewable energy superpower and reap the benefits of a clean, green economic future. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get on with the work of transitioning away from fossil fuels.”

—ENDS—

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: 

Kate O’Callaghan on +61 406 231 892 or [email protected]