COP28 accelerates the move away from fossil fuels by 10 years

COP28 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was concluded on 13 December, and the outcome document adopted included statements such as “accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels in about 10 years”, as well as clarifying the direction of expanding renewable energy sources by 2030 to three times the current level.

COP28, which started on 30 November, was extended by one day to 13 December. In the outcome document, as a means to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, it is clearly stated that in this important 2020s, the transition away from fossil fuels in the energy system will be accelerated by using an unbiased approach based on scientific knowledge.

Although the reduction of fossil fuels has been proposed on an annual basis, it is not clear to what extent “moving away from fossil fuels” implies the reduction of fossil fuels.

At the last COP27, a gradual reduction of coal-fired power generation was proposed, but there was no mention of dealing with all fossil fuels.

The outcome document makes no mention of an initial fossil fuel phase-out programme on 5 December. The European Union and the United States have been advocating for the phasing out of fossil fuels to be explicitly included in the outcome document. Middle Eastern oil producers such as Saudi Arabia objected. In the end, a vague outcome was reached after concessions were made in terms of presentation.

However, the original programme had originally included options to avoid talking about fossil fuels. Progress has been made in clearly stating the directionality of reducing the use of fossil fuels.

The programme also clearly sets out the goal of expanding renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to three times their current levels by 2030, and as of 11 December it had the support of 130 countries.

With the inclusion of the outcome document of COP28, in which 200 countries and regions participated, it is expected that universal access to renewable energy will accelerate.