COP28 president is wrong – science clearly shows fossil fuels must go (and fast)

(The Conversation, 4 Dec 2023) According to the president of COP28, the latest round of UN climate negotiations in the United Arab Emirates, there is “no science” indicating that phasing out fossil fuels is necessary to restrict global heating to 1.5°C.

President Sultan Al Jaber is wrong. There is a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that a fossil fuel phase-out will be essential for reining in the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. I know because I have published some of it.

Back in 2021, just before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, my colleagues and I published a paper in Nature entitled Unextractable fossil fuels in a 1.5°C world. It argued that 90% of the world’s coal and around 60% of its oil and gas needed to remain underground if humanity is to have any chance of meeting the Paris agreement’s temperature goals.

Crucially, our research also highlighted that the production of oil and gas needed to start declining immediately (from 2020), at around 3% each year until 2050.

This assessment was based on a clear understanding that the production and use of fossil fuels, as the primary cause of CO₂ emissions (90%), needs to be reduced in order to stop further heating.

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The Conversation, 4 Dec 2023: COP28 president is wrong – science clearly shows fossil fuels must go (and fast)