The COP28 UN climate summit enters its final days. Urgent warnings are sounded about the vanishing opportunity to keep global warming within safe limits. The talks were mostly centred on the phasing out of fossil fuels. However, the powerful nations are still divided on the path forward. The fossil fuel debate dominated the summit.

Denmark’s climate minister, Dan Jørgensen, declared it may be the last opportunity to stay on course for the 1.5°C target outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Jørgensen, alongside South African minister Barbara Creecy, will lead negotiations on the global stocktake, assessing progress under the accord.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rises to below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, the current trends indicate a deviation, with temperatures poised to approach the 1.5°C threshold, triggering severe consequences.

The crux of the negotiations lies in the debate over whether countries will agree to phase out or phase down fossil fuels. Over 100 nations advocate for a phase-out based on scientific advice, while nations like China and India oppose such a move. Accusations are levied against major fossil fuel producers, including the US, Canada, Norway, and the EU, for blocking an unequivocal agreement on a phase-out.

The divisive language surrounding “abated” versus “unabated” fossil fuels further complicates matters. Some nations propose language referring to “abated” fossil fuels, indicating burning with the capture and permanent storage of an undefined proportion of emitted greenhouse gases.

The ongoing talks in the United Arab Emirates summit, commenced on 30 November, are set to conclude on Tuesday.

UN’s top climate official Simon Stiell labelled this moment as a critical juncture for decisive action. Stiell urges negotiators to prioritise high-ambition outcomes, emphasising the need for bold climate action that addresses the crisis while presenting opportunities for jobs, economic growth, and reduced pollution.

COP28 President and Adnoc CEO Sultan Al Jaber is confident that the talks lead to a paradigm shift among governments. Despite previous scepticism surrounding the fossil fuel debate, Al Jaber notes progress and a unique sense of momentum, inclusivity, and willingness among participants.