The Greens/EFA at COP28 in Dubai: Let’s take back the power at global stocktake

As the door to keep the 1.5°C target alive is dangerously closing and we are experiencing what is on track to be the hottest year on record, following the hottest summer ever recorded and a litany of natural disasters, COP28 is a key moment in our fight for a climate-neutral Europe and world

This COP is the first time the Paris Agreement’s 5-year review, a global stocktake, is taking place, and the rate of climate change shows how this review process is already outdated. As we prepare for the last COP before the end of our mandate as Greens/EFA, we need to push for ambitious objectives to get on track, with a strong yearly review process of progress, on tripling renewable energy, doubling energy efficiency and agreeing on concrete plans and measures to phase out all fossil fuels. 

As Green/EFA MEPs, we will send a strong message that COP28 needs to be the COP that finally embraces the concept of climate justice. Justice means fulfilling the pledges that have been made, over and over again. Justice means that those that have contributed historically to emissions need to take more responsibility, because people least responsible for this crisis are bearing the worst costs. 

Justice also means that COP28 should be a space where all citizens and civil society organisations enjoy equitable access and full and unrestricted participation. We know the United Arab Emirates has at many occasions disregarded human rights, including by targeting activists and repressing the human rights movement. We urge the UNFCCC to integrate  human rights criteria in its selection process for the future countries hosting COP. 

Read the Greens/EFA demands for the COP28 climate conference in Dubai here.

+++ Final Update 13.12.2023: Is this the end of the fossil fuel era? +++

A day after the planned end of the COP28, final conclusions have finally been adopted by the negotiating parties! The last two weeks were filled with discussions, consultation and dialogue to achieve conclusions that would be accepted by all. 

A day after the planned end of the COP28, final conclusions have finally been adopted by the negotiating parties! The last two weeks were filled with discussions, consultation and dialogue to achieve conclusions that would be accepted by all. 

Our one guiding principle for this COP28 has been to do everything in our power to get on track with the 1.5 degree, calling for tripling renewables, doubling energy efficiency and especially a phasing out all fossil fuels. While the final text remains a compromise and therefore does not fully satisfy all our demands, this is a major step forward towards a world without fossil fuel, as it calls to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems” and to “accelerate action in this critical decade”’ recognising the need to act urgently. 

As the Greens/EFA group, we strongly welcome this outcome and note with interest the determination of the EU and Member States in calling for a phase out of fossil fuels over the last two weeks. This now needs to be translated at home. As we understand the Commission will present options for the EU post-2030 climate targets on 6 February, we expect them to focus on ambitious pathways and targets to phase out all fossil fuels and reach climate-neutrality within Europe by 2040. This is what the world expects from us. 

On the rest of the conclusions, we now need concrete implementation plans so the promises don’t stay just empty words. 

Finally, this is only a step towards the right direction. There is still a lot of work to be done. We will keep on working tirelessly to ensure that the fossil fuel industry does not capture our climate conferences. The UNFCCC published the list of COP28’s participants for the first time, which made even clearer the influence of this industry and its lobbyists. An accountability framework mechanism is highly needed and our MEPs will keep on advocating for this, especially looking towards COP29 in Azerbaïjan. 

The UNFCCC also needs to develop and implement human rights criteria to abide by for potential host countries. Civil society is a key actor in those discussions, bringing expertise, knowledge and lived experience from all across the world: they need to be empowered to keep on doing so. 

Climate justice is at the core of our work. The EU, as an historical emitter, has a responsibility to act. COP28 has shown we know what needs to be done. It is now time for us to keep the pressure on and always push to go beyond the ambitions already set down in those conclusions. 

+++ Update 11.12.2023: Two days left to make COP28 count! +++

A few days into COP for our delegation, we’re coming closer and closer to the final conclusions – which the Presidency is determined on getting at the official end time of the Climate conference, on Tuesday 12th at 11am. Whether they will manage this, we will see, especially as discussions are in full steam, with several points of contention. 

While an agreement on the Loss and Damage fund was announced from the start of the conference, the financial commitments are still way too low and the ways of distributing the money are not appropriate enough to correctly compensate the damages done in the most impacted parts of the world. Important work still needs to be done to ensure concrete change and improvement.  

The energy package – triple renewable energy, double energy efficiency and phase out fossil fuels – is the most salient point of discussion. We have not won yet on this: while the first two objectives are more consensual, acting only on renewable energy without phasing out of all fossil fuels will not help us stay under the 1.5°C threshold. Our MEPs, along with civil society and other policy-makers, are applying all the pressure on the negotiating parties to reach concrete, positive change. The momentum is there – it’s now time for action! 

Among meetings with other delegations, activists and civil society, we met with our Green Family and allies to exchange all together on the state of negotiations, with the help of CAN Europe, and take this opportunity to share our different experiences, from Norway to New Zealand. 

We still have a bit less than two days to achieve a potentially historical win – keep updated by following our channels and our MEPs! 

MEP Jutta Paulus: “COP28, show the courage to end the fossil age!

“The year 2023 marks another year in which the world has experienced ever more floods, storms, heat waves and droughts, making the regions affected difficult, if not impossible, to live in. Floods, fires and heat waves destroy homes, forests, fertile soil in Greece, Italy and elsewhere. The EU’s earth observation programme Copernicus estimates that 2023 will be the warmest year since records began and the hottest summer in human history. 

When heads of states and governments, ministers, representatives of small islands and regions, representatives of non-governmental organisations and hordes of lobbyists come together in Dubai, they come together at the brink of a climate and biodiversity collapse. 

Fossil fuels have brought our planet’s climate to the brink of collapse. So what to do now? The answer is simple: COP28 needs to show the courage to end the age of fossil fuels.”

Jutta Paulus is Greens/EFA member of the European Parliament´s COP28 delegation. Continue reading on her website.

+++ Update 08.12.2023 – Week 1 at COP28 in Dubai +++

We are now in Dubai for COP28, as the second week of work is starting! Following a first week full of intense discussions, good steps forward and problematic announcements – yes, the demand to end fossil fuels is actually based on science –  it is now time for political negotiations to continue and come to an ambitious conclusion. Commitments are only beneficial if they are concrete and strong! 

The European Commissioner for Climate Action, Wopke Hoekstra, declared in a joint press conference with the Spanish Presidency: “I want this COP to mark the beginning of the end of fossil fuels”. Indeed, this Climate Conference must be the moment when the whole world comes together and finally decide to takes measures to phase out of all fossil fuels – a phase down or a focus on unabated fossil fuels will not be enough to get on track with the Paris agreement objectives. The science is clear: to stay under 1.5 degrees, we must end all fossil fuels. The European Commission needs to lead on those commitments. 

Our MEPs – Bas Eickhout, Jutta Paulus, Michael Bloss and Hannah Neumann, are here to take part in the work of the European Parliament’s delegation and keep on pushing for our priorities: triple renewable energy, double energy efficiency, phase out of all fossil fuel and guarantee real climate justice. They will meet with key policy-makers and activists from across the globe, to exchange ideas, share inspiration and lead the way in this crucial fight for a climate-neutral Europe and world. 

Follow us on our channels – Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok – and on the MEPs’ social media accounts! 

08.12.2023 MEP Jutta Paulus at COP28: 2022 broke all records for fossil fuel subsidies – we need to phase out of all fossil fuels now!

“The first ever five-year review of the Paris Agreement will take place at this year’s COP. For the Greens/EFA it’s clear, we need action on methane emissions, a tripling of renewable energy, a doubling of energy efficiency and a clear agreement for the phase out of fossil fuels.” 2022 broke all records for fossil fuel subsidies. We need a radical change in the course of the climate crisis. The world’s biggest polluters must take on more responsibility, as those who have polluted the least are currently bearing the greatest burden – in their nature, their economy, and humanitarian situations.”

Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan climate justice activist: “Carbon capture is not as solution, we need to stop digging!”

“Fossil fuels contribute 75% to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. They are the problem, and the world must reach an agreement at COP28 to phase them out. The lives and livelihoods of much of the world’s population depends on it. We must also reject endorsements of ludicrously expensive distractions veiled as solutions, like carbon capture and storage. They don’t yet exist at scale and only serve to allow the fossil fuel industry to keep digging.”

07.12.2023 MEP Hannah Neumann at COP28: “We need to ensure human rights at COP28”

“Those who defend our planet are increasingly becoming a target – one environmental activist was killed every other day in 2022. At COP28 — and at every COP — we must ensure active citizen participation and guarantee that human rights are upheld by the host state. Civil society and representatives from the regions most affected by climate change are under great pressure. At COP, they must have the opportunity to share their perspectives and fight for climate justice. The fossil fuel industry has the world in a chokehold. Without a vibrant civic space, the negotiations could be doomed to fail, which would be fatal for the future of our planet.”

Janmejai Tiwari, Secretary General Global Young Greens: “We are more than mere ‘Observers’!”

“Empowering the voices of the youth, particularly from the global south, is essential for shaping a future where they are more than mere ‘Observers’. To tackle the influence of fossil fuel interests at COP, we must advocate for ambitious goals and a just transition. As someone from the global south, I call for the phase-out of fossil fuels and urge the global north to take responsibility by providing adequate resources.

06.12.2023 MEP Michael Bloss at COP28: “The EU is still subsidising fossil fuels, this needs to stop

MEP Michael Bloss at COP28: “Many are heading to this climate conference disheartened by the fact that its president is an oil magnate. But this is not a time to stop fighting, it’s a time for decisive global action: For the health of our planet and future generations, COP28 has to deliver!

The European Parliament is calling for all subsidies for fossil fuels to be stopped as quickly as possible. However, for 2022, fossil fuels in the EU were still subsidised with 123 billion euros. Renewables were only subsidised with 87 billion euros. As long as there is financial profit to be made from oil and gas, we will not see a global commitment to the fossil phase-out, nor to climate protection in general.”

Hans Stegeman, Chief Economist at Triodos Bank: “We need a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty”

The efforts of the financial sector and governments alike must intensify; a mere pledge is insufficient. Carbon prices, regulation and transparency can speed up this transition. Also, the creation of a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty by governments will help phase out the use of coal, oil and gas, and create a level playing field for businesses. True impact lies in concrete actions rather than mere commitments.

Open letter to the President of the UAE

As we go to COP28, we, as the Greens/EFA group, firmly believe human rights are intrinsically linked to climate protection. There is no climate justice without respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are deeply concerned about the detention of human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates and appeal the government to release them. Find out more in our open letter to the President of the United Arab Emirates.

+++ Breaking: Record number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP28 +++

05.12.2023 – MEP Bas Eickhout at COP28: “Dubai needs to be a U-turn, we need binding action.”

Paris 2015 was a pivotal moment for climate action, as countries agreed to curb emissions and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. However, it is up to countries to deliver on this. This year at COP28, the world will see whether we’re on track with the first Global Stocktake. The conclusion won’t come as a surprise: in September the UNFCCC already concluded we are not. Implementation of the Paris Agreement is lacking across all areas. The world needs to step up its game in Dubai.

In the last years, the conclusions of the climate summits have been calling for more ambition from the countries and new, more ambitious plans. But we haven’t seen enough concrete action here; instead we see more and more soft initiatives and pledges. In Dubai it’s necessary to make a U-turn: ambitious words need to be put into binding action. We can do this with solid conclusions on tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency before 2030 and the end of fossils. So that the world can peak emissions before 2025, and we can finally see the emissions graphs going down steeply.

But Dubai can only bend the climate curve, if it delivers on climate finance, in particular loss and damage. Vulnerable countries will be facing damages amounting to hundreds of billions a year, for which they are not responsible and need international assistance to fix. This is also crucial if we want those countries on board for more ambition on climate action. At last year’s conference, the conclusion was that this finance is needed, but there hasn’t been a decision yet on a dedicated fund, let alone contributions from developed countries. Both need to happen in Dubai: it would cement the trust that was long lost, thereby paving the way for an ambitious outcome.

Dr Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science: “We need a phase out of fossil fuels!”

“We are living in a world of loss and damage. Our burning of fossil fuels has made the world less equal and more dangerous. At COP28 it’s vital to remember that failing to phase out fossil fuels and investing in adaptation is violating essential human rights of people across the world.” 

04.12.2023 – MEP Pär Holmgren: “The world is not acting, COP28 needs to be a turning point.”

2023 is set to be the hottest year on record, reaching on average 1.43 °C above pre-industrial temperatures in the period January to October. Despite the promises made at COP26 in Glasgow to keep 1.5 °C the window for doing so is closing at an alarming rate. Yet, the world is not acting. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere once again reached a new record in 2022, and they continued to grow in 2023.

Now there’s 50 % more CO2 in the atmosphere compared to the very stable level of 280 ppm for thousands of years. Most  of the remaining global carbon budget identified in the latest UN climate report is already used. And considering the commitment for all climate targets to reflect equity in theParis Agreement, the EU’s carbon budget is basically already used up, leaving the union’s climate target highly insufficient. The Union should increase its ambition as well as take additional measures to account for the fact that it has already exhausted its fair share of remaining emissions.

The Paris Agreement includes the decision to check in on what the Parties are doing to reach its goals every five years, starting in 2023. The Global Stocktake at COP28 is therefore the first of its kind, and an important opportunity to admit that the collective progress so far is beneath contempt, and raise ambition. We expect everyone at COP28  to fully engage in the global stocktake to strengthen commitments in line with the Paris Agreement, matching ambition with accelerated implementation of concrete measures to bring about an effective transition and secure a climate-neutral, climate-resilient and equitable future. 

Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan climate justice activist: “Let’s finally leave the fossil fuels in the ground!”

Fossil fuels contribute 75% to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. They are the problem, and the world must reach an agreement at COP28 to phase them out. The lives and livelihoods of much of the world’s population depends on it. We must also reject endorsements of ludicrously expensive distractions, like Carbon, Capture and Storage, that don’t yet exist at scale and only serve to allow the fossil fuel industry to keep digging.

+++ Update 01.12.2023: First agreement reached at COP28 +++

The Greens/EFA demands at COP28:

  • We need very ambitious and strong global targets: we know that fossil fuels are the largest contributors to climate change, responsible for over 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, we need to: 
    • At least triple renewable energy by 2030
    • At least double energy efficiency by 2030 
    • Agree on concrete plans and measures to phase out all fossil fuels, including through adhering to a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, urgently ending all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies and halting all new investments in fossil fuel extraction. 
  • To ensure we achieve those targets, we need reforms of the COP: it cannot be a playground for fossil fuel companies and lobbyists. We need to end vested interests at COPs: we cannot allow the carbon capture of COPs, as symbolised by the current Al Jaber Presidency of COP28. Therefore: 
    • We need to establish an ambitious Accountability Framework that would protect the UNFCCC from the fossil fuel industry’s influence, on the model of the one adopted by the WHO FCTC with regards to the tobacco industry.
    • In order to ensure fairer participation, we demand that the UNFCCC integrate  a human rights criteria in its selection process for the future countries hosting COP. 
  • The European Union must take the lead: there is currently no plan at European level to phase out fossil fuels entirely, not even fossil subsidies. Commissioner Hoekstra must now deliver on his promises on acting based on science: 
    • We call on the EU to agree on a 2040 climate target based on scientific knowledge, so as to achieve climate neutrality 2040. 
    • We must take additional action to remedy the fact that we, as the EU, have already used up our fair share of the global GHG budget and act in solidarity with the rest of the world. 
  • Finally, the EU must take responsibility and push for new money for the loss and damage fund
    • We cannot further burden communities that are already paying the highest price for the climate crisis.The global North needs to take responsibility and find new sources of funding so the loss and damage fund can offer grants going directly to the most affected communities while allowing space for locally derived and led solutions. We need additional multi-year pledges being delivered by the EU & other major historic emitters before or at COP28.