Campaigners call for decisive action on fossil fuels in Cop28 global stocktake

Advocacy groups demand a fresh injection of grants to the loss and damage fund

Luisa-Marie Neubauer, from Fridays for Future Germany, leads a protest to phase-out fossil fuels on the final day of Cop28 in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Cop28

Climate activists have called for specific language on fossil fuels in the final draft of the global stocktake at Cop28 and urged revisions to the text as negotiations look set to continue for an extra day.

Climate negotiators from all 198 countries at the summit must reach an agreement on the stocktake document amid criticism that it has been watered down.

A draft text published on Monday stopped short of calling for a “phase-out” of fossil fuels, disappointing climate campaigners after more than a week of talks in Dubai.

In the context of loss and damage we need billions and not millions for the coming year
Liane Schalatek, associate director of the Henrich Boll Foundation

“We really hope that the text is changed and that some key red lines that are so important for civil society will be strengthened,” said Sebastian Duyck of the Centre for International Environmental Law, a public non-profit law organisation in Washington.

Campaigners held up banners behind him at the Cop28 venue on Tuesday, calling for more to be done.

“The four red lines we were here to stress is the importance of fossil fuel phase-out – that would send a strong political signal,” he said.

“The next is climate finance that is key for an effective phase-out and we want developed countries to fulfil their commitments.

“The third is recognising that human rights cannot be compromised and finally the importance of gender justice because the climate crisis exacerbates discriminations that already exist.”

Luisa-Marie Neubauer, from Fridays for Future Germany, insisted that the demands of protesters for a fossil fuel phase-out were not unrealistic, but instead followed the language of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We're just echoing the science,” she said. “The science is crystal clear. This conference would be useless without the scientific background. It says we need a fossil fuel phase-out. We're saying we can't put the future of the world on hold.”

She said there was “unprecedented pressure” for the text to contain stronger language about fossil fuels.

“We don't believe in hope, we believe in action. We're fighting with all we have,” she said.

New funding for climate

Liane Schalatek, associate director of the Henrich Boll Foundation, which fosters green policy dialogue, called for clarity on new climate financing and emphasised that this should be delivered as grants to vulnerable countries.

“In the context of loss and damage we need billions and not millions for the coming year,” she said.

“We need to make sure that money is new and additional. This means additional commitments for mitigation and adaption and not what we start to see – a creative relabelling of what should be adaptation finance now being declared loss and damage finance.

“Of the $650 million for the loss and damage fund, we have no clear understanding of how much of this is new and additional.

“It should be public and grant-based. Communities are already suffering devastating loss and damage, they need the money now and they need it accessible to them.”

The loss and damage fund announced on the first day of Cop28 aims at helping vulnerable countries cope with the expensive and damaging effects of climate disasters.

Others held out hope that revisions would be made to tackle issues raised at the summit from fossil fuels to adaptation finance.

The draft text is disappointing because it contains “very mild words”, but the final version may be “slightly better”, according to Dr Saksham Sharma, a UK-based Indian mathematician who is part of UN Academic Impact.

“The presidency has been very positive about Cop for the first two weeks, [saying] something unprecedented is going to happen,” he said.

“They might make it slightly better because a lot of the ministers and parties have been meeting them.”

Updated: December 13, 2023, 5:05 AM