Cop28 enters crunch time with divisions remaining

Just hours left for negotiators to agree on a deal to curb emissions and save the planet

Cop28 is set to end on Tuesday. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Time is running out at the Cop28 summit to reach a deal on curbing emissions and tackling global warming.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President, said he intends to close the key talks on schedule at 11am on Tuesday but summits have typically intended to overshoot the deadline and negotiators say there remains a lot of work to do.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appeared on Monday and called for parties to reach agreement on the need to "phase out" fossil fuels.

Simon Stiell, UN climate change chief, told the summit that countries must “clear blockades in the Cop28 negotiations or risk destroying the process for everyone”.

UN climate chief urges negotiators to get Cop28 stocktake deal done

UN climate chief urges negotiators to get Cop28 stocktake deal done

What is going to happen next?

Several new drafts of key outcomes from the summit are expected in the closing hours, including the global stocktake text that will try to agree on the contentious issue of fossil fuels.

Grace Fu, Singapore's environment minister, said talks had bridged some differences but there was still “significant work to do”.

Ms Fu is one of the ministerial pairs helping the Cop presidency close a deal and her focus is mitigation, or cutting emissions.

Regarding the language on phase out or phase down, Ms Fu said “maybe some of these words will feature” but the intention is to have a good energy transition. “That’s still a work in progress,” she said.

Break out of silos

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President, on Sunday urged parties to break out of the silos and said he was not happy with the pace of progress in the talks. He spoke before a majlis – a new arena for a Cop summit – heard countries air their grievances and suggest solutions to the crisis.

Sticking points are the future of fossil fuels, scaling up adaptation finance for developing countries and ensuring a just energy transition. Some countries want strong language on fossil fuels, while others want weaker language. Negotiators not must bridge this gap as the clock ticks down.

Will the summit end on time?

Time is now fast running out for a deal before the 11am scheduled end. A huge number of bilateral meetings will take place, negotiating huddles and more plenary sessions are a possibility before any agreement can happen.

But Cops have tended to overshoot the deadline in recent years so it is possible that talks will continue into Wednesday.

The role of the presidency comes into play now to identify gaps and see where progress can be made. Talks between the US and China are also crucial and could hold the key for a successful outcome.

“We have gaps to close but parties came with solutions offering ways to bridge the differences," said Ms Fu. "That’s a very positive development. We still have significant work to do although we are now closer to identifying the few core remaining issues.”

Updated: December 11, 2023, 12:02 PM