In response to the final agreement at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate and energy program manager Gavan McFadzean said:
“While this final wording is weaker than it should be, it acknowledges that the world is accelerating the move away from fossil fuels in this critical decade.
“ACF welcomes the commitments to keep global average temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees, triple renewable energy capacity and transition away from fossil fuels in global energy systems, but this falls well short of setting a target for a full fossil fuel phase out.
“COP statements are consensus documents. It’s clear the majority of nations wanted a stronger statement requiring a phase out of fossil fuel use across the globe.
“Schoolchildren all over the world know that to tackle climate change we need to phase out fossil fuels, so it’s mind-boggling a gathering of world leaders couldn’t work that out.
“One thing is clear: most nations know a phase out of fossil fuels is required, even if the UN’s consensus model could not deliver that in the final agreement.
“Australia appears to have played a prominent and constructive role at these negotiations, led by climate and energy minister Chris Bowen and assistant minister Jenny McAllister. This is a welcome improvement on the destructive role Australia has played at many COPs.
“The paragraph on transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems ‘in a just, orderly and equitable manner’ is important for coal and gas dependent communities.
“The aim for net zero by 2050 ‘in keeping with the science’ is encouraging and puts developed countries, including Australia, on notice to aim for zero emissions much sooner. If the world had heeded the science decades ago, we would not be experiencing the severity of heatwaves, bushfires, floods and other extreme weather we live with today.
“Australia has played a positive role in these difficult negotiations and will need to keep working hard to rapidly transition away from coal and gas, slash methane emissions this decade and deal with the problem of Australia’s substantial fossil fuel exports.”
Analysis released by ACF last month showed that for every tonne of climate pollution that will be reduced by Albanese government climate policies to 2030, more than seven tonnes of additional pollution will flow from new fossil fuel projects that have been approved or received other material support under this government.