Failure of Cop28 on fossil fuel phase-out is ‘devastating’, say scientists

The failure of COP28 to call for a phase-out of fossil fuels is “devastating” and “dangerous” given the urgent need for action to tackle the climate crisis, scientists have said.

One called it a “tragedy for the planet and our future” while another said it was the “dream outcome” for the fossil fuel industry.

The UN climate summit ended on Wednesday with a compromise deal that called for a “transition away” from fossil fuels. The stronger term “phase-out” had been backed by 130 of the 198 countries negotiating in Dubai but was blocked by petrostates including Saudi Arabia.

Dr James Dyke, an associate professor in earth system dynamics at the University of Exeter, said: “COP28 needed to deliver an unambiguous statement. While the agreement’s call for the need to transition away from fossil fuels is welcome, it has numerous caveats and loopholes that risks rendering it meaningless.

“That this deal has been hailed as a landmark is more a measure of previous failures than any step change when it comes to the increasingly urgent need to rapidly stop burning coal, oil and gas.”