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New UN climate draft calls for ‘transitioning away’ from fossil fuels

DUBAI (AFP)A new draft agreement unveiled early Wednesday in talks in Dubai toughens language by calling for “transitioning away” from fossil fuels, although it does not use the term “phase-out”.

The text, released for consideration after another full night of haggling, would also call for “accelerating action” during “this critical decade” — providing more urgency than an earlier proposal widely dismissed by green-minded countries.

The previous draft also drew fire for offering a list of options that “could” be taken to combat the dangerous warming of the planet.

The new draft explicitly “calls on” all nations to contribute through a series of actions.

A woman poses in front of banners against fossil fuels outside Expo City in Dubai on December 12, 2023 during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28. PHOTO: AFP

The actions include “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science,” the new draft says.

It calls for phase-downs of “unabated coal power” — meaning that coal with carbon capture technology to reduce emissions, panned by many environmentalists as unrealistic, could continue.

It also calls for “phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions, as soon as possible”.

But it does not call for a “phase-out” of fossil fuels.

Discussions during the 14 days of talks in Dubai, a metropolis built on oil wealth, had revolved around how far to go and whether to make a historic call to wind down oil, gas and coal, the main culprits in the planet’s rapid warming.