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COP28: Germany's Baerbock pushes for fossil fuel phaseout

December 8, 2023

Germany's foreign minister will play a "key role" on behalf of the EU, as climate talks in Dubai enter the final phase. Baerbock said strong economies, such as Saudi Arabia and China, should contribute more financially.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks during a news conference at the COP28 summit in Dubai
Baerbock is a member of the environmentalist German Green Party Image: Rafiq Maqbool/AP/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Friday pushed for the phaseout of fossil fuels during a speech at the COP28 UN climate conference in Dubai. 

The "expansion of renewable energies and energy efficiency alone is not enough to get within reach of the 1.5 degree track, but we need above all to phase out fossil fuels," Baerbock said in a speech at the event. 

Limiting the Earth's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) is one of the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Scientists believe breaching the 1.5-degree threshold would have severe consequences for the global environment. 

"We need a phaseout of fossil fuels and not just a phaseout of fossil emissions," Baerbock added. "That is a huge difference."

Certain oil-rich countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have sought to weaken earlier COP resolutions regarding the elimination of fossil fuel use. Saudi Arabia has advocated using carbon capture technology to reduce the damage emissions do to the planet. 

Baerbock said "economically strong" countries, such as Saudi Arabia and China, should contribute to international funds to mitigate climate damage in poorer nations.

COP 28 and climate reparations for the Global South

Baerbock to play 'key role' amid final agreement negotiations

COP28 talks are reaching their final stretch, with the event set to end on December 12. Baerbock is representing Germany and the wider EU during negotiations on the further reduction of greenhouse gases.  

Baerbock will now play a "key role" in the talks, Christoph Bals of the environmental NGO Germanwatch said. At the end of the conference, the some 200 governments present in Dubai will attempt to come forward with an agreement.

COP28: What difference do 1.5 degrees make?

A leaked draft of the deal, as seen by Reuters and AFP news agencies, shows multiple options for a fossil fuel phaseout. The draft includes options such as ending fossil fuels "in line with best available science" or phasing out "unabated fossil fuels." The term "unabated" refers to fossil fuels where technology is not available to capture their emissions. 

Another option urges the tripling of global renewable energy capacity by 2030 "to displace fossil fuel-based energy, thereby significantly reducing global reliance on non-renewable and high-emission energy sources." 

Al-Jaber urges governments to 'step up' climate commitments

COP28 Emirati President Sultan al-Jaber has called on country delegations to "step up" and "come out of your comfort zones" regarding a final deal. 

Al-Jaber has drawn controversy after a report by the UK The Guardian newspaper revealed he made skeptical remarks about the phaseout of fossil fuels. Al-Jaber, the CEO of an Emirati state-owned oil firm, backtracked on those remarks and said, "We very much believe and respect the science" behind climate change.  

wd/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, EPD)