March 2. 2024. 1:56

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EU agrees to push for global fossil fuel phase-out ahead of COP28


European Union countries agreed on Thursday (9 March) to promote a “global phase-out of unabated fossil fuels” ahead of the United Nation’s COP28 climate summit this year, attempting to boost a global deal that failed at last year’s summit.

Ministers from the 27 EU member states approved a text on their diplomatic priorities ahead of the COP28 summit, which begins on 30 November in Dubai, where nearly 200 countries will attempt to strengthen efforts to rein in climate change.

“Climate and energy diplomacy is a core component of EU’s foreign policy,” said a statement adopted after the ministerial meeting on Thursday.

“The shift towards a climate neutral economy will require the global phase-out of unabated fossil fuels,” the EU text said, citing the scientific consensus that this is necessary to avoid more severe climate change.

“The EU will systematically promote and call for a global move towards energy systems free of unabated fossil fuels well ahead of 2050”, it said, adding that global fossil fuel consumption should peak in the near term.

EU backs COP27 call to phase down all fossil fuels

The European Union supports a call by India to phase down fossil fuel use as part of a COP27 deal, the bloc’s climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said on Tuesday (15 November), provided it does not weaken previous agreements on reducing the use of coal.

No one-to-one replacement of Russian gas

Europe is in the midst of transforming its energy system to meet climate targets and end decades of reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

The text said countries should combine the two aims and use renewable energy or energy savings – rather than fossil fuels – to replace Russian energy.

“There is no need for a one-to-one replacement of former Russian natural gas import volumes,” it said, adding however that the EU “recognises a transitional role for natural gas”.

Some countries are hoping this year’s COP28 summit could clinch a global deal on phasing out CO2-emitting fossil fuels – not only coal, as agreed at previous UN climate talks, but also oil and gas.

More than 80 countries, including the EU, supported an Indian proposal to do this at last year’s summit, but Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas-rich nations opposed it.

EU countries approved their climate text two weeks later than planned, due to a spat among countries over whether it should promote nuclear energy.

The final version said that alongside renewable energy, EU diplomacy will promote sustainable “low-carbon technologies” – a phrase that often refers to nuclear energy.

EU rewrites climate diplomacy deal to resolve nuclear sticking point

European Union countries intend to push for a global phasing out of fossil fuels among their climate diplomacy priorities this year, which the bloc hopes to approve this week after rewriting a contentious section on nuclear energy.