Rift Over Fossil Fuels to Dominate COP28 | Mint

Rift Over Fossil Fuels to Dominate COP28

Leaders from the United Arab Emirates, the host of COP28, on the opening day of the summit in Dubai. PHOTO: HOLLIE ADAMS/BLOOMBERG NEWS
Leaders from the United Arab Emirates, the host of COP28, on the opening day of the summit in Dubai. PHOTO: HOLLIE ADAMS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Summary

World leaders gathered for climate talks in Dubai amid sharp divisions over how quickly governments need to wean their economies off fossil fuels.

DUBAI—World leaders gathered for climate talks in this oil-rich corner of the globe amid sharp divisions over how quickly governments need to wean their economies off fossil fuels to prevent the planet from blowing past the Paris accord’s temperature targets.

Vice President Kamala Harris was expected to join Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, French President Emmanuel Macron and a host of leaders from across the Gulf region Friday at the start of a two-day summit to kick off the United Nations’ annual climate talks, known as COP28.

Over the next two weeks, negotiators from more than 190 countries are expected to prepare the first-ever “global stocktake," assessing how much progress the world has made in implementing the Paris accord. That landmark climate agreement, signed in 2015, calls for governments to limit warming to “well below" 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels and attempt to hold it to 1.5 degrees. A technical analysis for the stocktake published in September was downbeat, saying governments were far from meeting those goals.

The threat of an overheating planet is driving demands from the U.S. and other governments for sharp reductions in fossil-fuel burning. Western officials are calling for a global halt to the construction of coal-burning power plants as they push for the final stocktake to include a call for a “phaseout" of fossil fuels.

Big developing countries such as China, India and Saudi Arabia are expected to resist, saying that poorer nations will need coal, oil and natural gas for decades to power economic growth and provide energy security. Developing countries also say the U.S., Europe and other wealthy countries haven’t cut their emissions as promised over the past 20 years. They say developed countries bear responsibility for the brunt of emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age.

Developing countries say wealthy nations need to make good on their Paris accord pledge to help poorer economies transition to cleaner sources of energy and adapt to the effects of climate change. At previous talks, wealthy countries agreed to channel $100 billion a year to developing nations by 2020, a goal that was missed for several years.

Now governments are debating a new finance goal. The International Monetary Fund says developing countries need $2 trillion a year starting in 2030 to respond to climate change, with much of that coming from wealthy nations.

Developing countries notched an early victory Thursday when the U.S. and other wealthy countries agreed to key details on establishing a U.N. fund to pay for climate-related damage in poor countries. That settled long-running divisions over where the fund will be located, which countries should benefit and who should finance it.

The United Arab Emirates, the host of the summit, said it would contribute $100 million to the fund. Germany also pledged $100 million. The U.K. pledged 20 million pounds, equivalent to around $25 million, and the U.S. committed $17.5 million, the U.A.E. said Thursday.

Write to Stacy Meichtry at Stacy.Meichtry@wsj.com and Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com

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