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Energy sources and their use were probably the main issue at the COP28 in Dubai. With one of the main oil-producing countries in the world hosting the annual event, many considered it really difficult to find a real solution to climate problems whose solution would imply the almost complete phase out of fossil fuels on the global stage. The fear that the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil cartel and Saudi Arabia were leading a push against any functional deal in Dubai was real, and that created a split between such nations and the rest of the world, especially the EU and other countries willing to move towards a way more ambitious agenda.
In the end, the COP28 deal represents a shift from the fossil fuel-based economy to something different, as the final text calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly, and equitable manner” so as “to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” The Dubai deal focuses on accelerating the use of renewable sources, specifically by tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, while speeding up efforts to reduce the use of coal and promoting technologies such as carbon capture and storage in the industrial domain. Still, during the two-week summit, talking about “phasing out” fossil fuels was not the best way to create a general agreement. Some countries also defended their investments in natural gas infrastructure and nuclear power plants, trying to push those sources into a “positive light.”
Thus, the final deal received mixed responses, despite the fact that a preliminary draft that emerged in the days before the conclusion of the summit was considered even less balanced and too soft towards the economic interests of the OPEC countries. The final text looks like a compromise between different views of the climate change issue and somehow replicates the separate approach that characterizes the EU and other countries on the matter. European representatives in Dubai worked to promote the EU strategy on decarbonisation and believe that the deal reached in the Emirates will have a huge impact on the 2040 climate targets, as the German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock stated that the 2023 climate conference “seals the end of the fossil fuel era.”
Written by: Francesco Marino