COP28 nations agree to move away from fossil fuels in historic deal

Nearly 200 countries agreed to move away from using planet-warming fossil fuels, in a historic deal that came after two weeks of intense negotiations at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, aka COP28.

World leaders gathered in Dubai for the meeting. More than 100 countries had pushed for strong language in the COP28 agreement to "phase out" oil, gas, and coal use. However, they faced powerful opposition from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which controls nearly 80% of the world's proven oil reserves as well as about one-third of worldwide oil output. The group, led by Saudi Arabia, said the world can cut emissions without rejecting specific fuels.

The dispute had some observers worried that an agreement would not come together.

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber called the deal "historic”, adding: "We are what we do, not what we say. We must take the steps necessary to turn this agreement into… actions."

Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide said, "It is the first time that the world unites around such a clear text on the need to transition away from fossil fuels".

The lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, Anne Rasmussen, said the deal was not strong enough. But she did not officially object to the agreement.

Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Dan Jorgensen noted one reason the deal was impressive. "We're standing here in an oil country, surrounded by oil countries, and we made the decision saying let's move away from oil and gas," he said.

The deal does not call for “phasing out” fossil fuels. It calls for "transitioning away” from fossil fuels to reach “net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science."

The deal calls on governments to move even faster in several areas. They include increasing renewable energy by three times by 2030, speeding up efforts to reduce coal use, and developing technologies such as carbon capture.

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