Update on COP28 at almost the end


By Tim Dixon

12 December 2023

Today is the last planned day of COP28. The Presidency had hoped to end the COP at 11am. New texts were released last night on the Global Stocktake (GST v2) and Article 6.4. Hence there is a lot of activity today, much being behind the scenes, and it will likely run into another day or two.

The GST version 2 text has changed significantly from the version 1. Especially in the energy section, the term “phaseout” has gone from any association with fossil fuels. Instead, there is a long list of actions, but these are actions which countries can choose to do or not do, as they are prefaced by “actions that could include”. The actions listed include the tripling of renewables and doubling energy efficiency, rapidly phasing down unabated coal, accelerating net zero energy systems including zero and low carbon fuels, “accelerating zero and low emissions technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies, including such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, and low carbon hydrogen production, so as to enhance efforts towards substitution of unabated fossil fuels in energy systems“, “reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science“.

This change is significant, from the phaseout of unabated fossil fuels to now reducing consumption and production to achieve net zero. That is much weaker than many wanted countries (and very many observer NGOs) and many are unhappy. In the Heads of Delegations meeting that followed last night (until after 2am), many countries expressed deep unhappiness with this energy text, and conversely, some countries considered it too strong. So, the Presidency will try and find a way forward and develop a revised version of the text. Given the strong divergence of views on the GST v2 text, I could not guess what the next version would look like.

With Article 6.4, the removals recommendations were provided as Annex II to the report of the 6.4 Supervisory Body (SB) to CMA (meeting of the Paris Agreement Parties) and these are repeated in Annex II in the CMA draft decision text here. The SB’s removals recommendations are fair and balanced on removals and reversals (after much contentiousness and prompting five submissions from IEAGHG over the last year). Whilst there are disagreements with the CMA draft decision here on removals (and methodologies) we cannot yet tell if any revisions will be requested by CMA or if they will be adopted as is.

So, from a CCS and CDR perspective, with the GST v2, it is noted that there is a reference to following the science (which says we need CCS and CDR), explicit mentions along with the other low carbon energy technologies, and in the reducing fossil fuels to achieve net zero, it does imply CCS and CDR will be a significant part of that achieving net zero. Also, the terms “just, orderly and equitable” emphasise the broader calls for a just energy transition, and I have heard strong views of concern from both a fossil fuel-producing developing country perspective and energy unions perspective for a just transition to occur and to be financed. On Article 6.4, all is OK so far with the removals recommendations as presented by the Supervisory Body.

The COP28 Presidency has much work to do. We wait to see what the next texts will look like. The final CMA plenary will be very interesting, whenever that occurs. Most of all, we need agreement on ambitious mitigation actions which are equitable and achievable with the technologies we have now, as the climate is not waiting for us. 

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