1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

EU to push for phasing out fossil fuels at COP28

October 17, 2023

The European Union agreed on a negotiating position for the upcoming UN climate conference, something short of a complete phaseout of fossil fuels.

A poster of the COP28 at the Bonn Climate Change Conference.
The COP28 will be held in Dubai in November.Image: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

European Union member states will push negotiators at this year's UN climate summit, COP28, to agree to the phaseout of "unabated" fossil fuels globally by the decade's end.

"[The European] Council stresses that the transition to a climate-neutral economy will require a global phaseout of unabated fossil fuels and a peak in their consumption in this decade," said a statement released after a meeting of EU environment ministers.

Burning coal, oil, and gas produces greenhouse gases that are the main cause of climate change

What does the agreement say

While putting up a united front, some EU member states opposed a complete phaseout.

A group of 10 EU countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Slovenia, wanted the bloc to demand a phaseout of all fossil fuels. 

Another group of 10 countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, and Slovakia, were more cautious and endorsed for a phaseout only of "unabated" fossil fuels, which would allow countries to continue burning coal, gas, and oil if they employ technology to capture the resulting emissions.

Are fossil fuels energy-efficient?

The EU's agreement notes that emission-capturing technologies "exist at a limited scale and are primarily designed for reducing emissions in sectors where emission reduction is challenging."

Spain's Climate Minister, Teresa Ribera, expressed their commitment, stating, "We will take a leading role in these negotiations to demonstrate the EU's unwavering dedication to the green transition and to inspire our global counterparts to follow our lead."

Resistance expected at COP28 summit

The next step would be to see whether nations at the COP28, which begins on November 30 in Dubai, will reach a consensus on this issue. 

Denmark's global climate minister, Dan Jorgensen, said the EU position was "extremely ambitious." 

It is expected that fossil fuel-producing and consuming nations, including those who have previously resisted such phaseouts, such as Saudi Arabia, would oppose these measures at the COP28 summit.

Additionally, EU countries have jointly called for the phasing out of "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies by 2030 and have stated that new coal-fueled power plants should not be established if the world aims to avert severe climate change.

Climate activists around the world urge action

tg/lo (AFP, Reuters)