COP28: Nations Agree it’s Time to Transition Away From Fossil Fuels

December 13, 2023 by Climate Interactive

Over the last two weeks at the COP28 UN Climate Change Negotiations, the Climate Interactive team used our En-ROADS simulator to add to the many scientific voices establishing that a phase-out of fossil fuels is essential to achieving the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. While the outcome did not include concrete “phase-out” language, countries finally agreed that we must “transition away from fossil fuels.”

Our team on the ground included Ellie Johnston, Josh Loughman, and Andrew Jones. They brought years of experience to the climate talks to help negotiators, journalists, and fellow observers cut through the noise of potential outcomes to keep the focus on the main culprit of climate change, the burning of fossil fuels.

During the first week of the talks, in response to comments by the COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber that there was no scientific basis for the phase-out of fossil fuels, we joined the vigorous response to correct this misinformed statement. Climate Interactive Executive Director, Andrew Jones, went live on Channel News Asia to answer questions. Fortunately, Al Jaber quickly reoriented his statements following the response.

The interview added to analysis in En-ROADS that we shared, showing one scenario that limited warming to 1.5°C by 2100 and required significant phasing-out of coal, oil, and gas.

As talks entered their second week, a leaked document from the head of OPEC suggested that OPEC’s oil-producing member nations should reject text that emphasized fossil fuel reductions. Their suggestion was to keep the focus on emissions. In response, our team pulled together a set of talking points to support negotiators in explaining why a focus on just reducing emissions is not enough.

Throughout the marathon-long conference, we were stopped by people in halls and met people who shared with us how En-ROADS is transformative in their work. For example, Andrew sat down with former US Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana who said, “En-ROADS is incredible. You don’t have to just guess anymore!”

Below are photos from a few of the many encouraging conversations we had with government representatives, climate scientists, corporate leaders, NGOs, and En-ROADS Climate Ambassadors.

Although the outcome is disappointing in its failure to call for a phase-out of fossil fuels and doesn’t mobilize the necessary financial support to make it happen, progress has been made. In addition to calling for a “transition away from fossil fuels,” the outcome text pushes nations toward tripling renewable energy capacity, doubling energy efficiency, cutting methane emissions, and reducing fossil fuel subsidies.

These actions are important. You all, working in so many ways, help to bring recognition to the solutions that matter. It’s not enough yet, but we’ll keep going.