Stop posturing and aim high, UN climate chief tells COP28

By William James, Kate Abnett and Gloria Dickie

DUBAI (Reuters) -Countries at the COP28 climate talks need to stop posturing, aim high and agree on a way to end the “fossil fuel era as we know it”, U.N. climate chief Simon Stiell said on Wednesday, as tension over the future of coal, oil and gas came to the fore.

Stiell was speaking as the two-week conference approaches its midpoint when attention turns to behind-the-scenes negotiations, following the opening flurry of announcements.

“All governments must give their negotiators clear marching orders. We need highest ambition, not point-scoring or lowest common denominator politics,” Stiell told a news conference.

The United Arab Emirates said more than $83 billion had been mobilised during the first five days of the event.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said it had been “a pretty damn good week” so far, but that the pace of emissions cutting had to be accelerated.

“I’m not telling you that everybody’s going to come ‘kumbaya’ to the table. But I am telling you, we’re going to make a best effort to get the best agreement we can to move as far as we can as fast as we can,” Kerry told a news conference.

Underscoring the urgency of the climate crisis, European Union scientists said November had wrapped up the world’s warmest autumn recorded.

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries at the summit in Dubai are expected to hand over their work to their countries’ ministers for the next stage in negotiating a global consensus on what a final COP28 deal should look like.

“We have a starting text on the table … but it’s a grab bag of wish lists and heavy on posturing. The key now is to sort the wheat from the chaff,” Stiell said.

With the world far offtrack in meeting its climate goals, Stiell urged the delegations to make progress that matters.

“There are many options that are on the table right now which speak to the phasing out of fossil fuels. It is for parties to unpick that, but come up with a very clear statement that signals the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it.”

On Tuesday, an early draft text laid out three options on fossil fuels, ranging from saying nothing to calling for a complete phase out of their use.


The EU Copernicus Climate Change Service said that to date, temperatures for 2023 have been on average about 1.46 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

“2023 has now had six record breaking months and two record breaking seasons,” Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess said in a statement.

“The extraordinary global November temperatures, including two days warmer than 2ºC (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial, mean that 2023 is the warmest year in recorded history.”

Opposition to a full fossil fuel phase out, diplomats told Reuters, is led by Russia, Saudi Arabia and China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter.

Asked to confirm which countries were the biggest obstacles, Kerry said: “If I were to tell you that I’m going to make people bigger obstacles.”

“I think we have people of good faith. We know that this is an international negotiation of consequence and people will measure it – who steps up and who doesn’t.”

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(Reporting by William James, Gloria Dickie, Kate Abnett and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Katy Daigle, Janet Lawrence and Barbara Lewis)