European Union countries agreed to promote a global fossil fuel phase out on Thursday ahead of the United Nation’s COP28 climate summit this year, attempting to boost a global deal that failed at last year’s summit.
Ministers from the 27 EU member states approved a text on their diplomatic priorities ahead of the COP28 summit, which begins on November 30 in Dubai, where nearly 200 countries will attempt to strengthen efforts to rein in climate change.
“The shift towards a climate neutral economy will require the global phase-out of unabated fossil fuels,” the EU text said, citing the scientific consensus that this is necessary to avoid more severe climate change.
“The EU will systematically promote and call for a global move towards energy systems free of unabated fossil fuels well ahead of 2050”, it said, adding that global fossil fuel consumption should peak in the near term.
Europe is in the midst of transforming its energy system to meet climate targets and end decades of reliance on Russian fossil fuels.
The text said countries should combine the two aims and use renewable energy or energy savings – rather than fossil fuels – to replace Russian energy.
“There is no need for a one-to-one replacement of former Russian natural gas import volumes,” it said.
Some countries are hoping this year’s COP28 summit could secure a global deal to phase out fossil fuels, which emit planet-heating pollution. They want this to include not only coal, as agreed at previous UN climate talks, but also oil and gas.
More than 80 countries, including the EU, supported an Indian proposal to do this at last year’s summit, but Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas-rich nations opposed it.
EU countries approved their climate text two weeks later than planned, owing to a spat among countries over whether it should promote nuclear energy.
The final version scrubbed some wording that countries had disagreed on, but said that alongside renewable energy, EU diplomacy will promote sustainable “low-carbon technologies” – a phrase that often refers to nuclear energy.