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December 11, 2023

Editor’s note: COP28’s fossil fuel options

UN climate official Simon Stiell at COP28
UN climate official Simon Stiell says finance will be key to ramp up climate action (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

Entering the last stretch of COP28, earlier today top UN climate official Simon Stiell said the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which he leads, believes that “the highest levels of ambition are possible”, both regarding mitigation activities and for the backing of the green transition “with the proper means”. 

He was speaking ahead of what appeared as an imminent release of a new “global stocktake” draft, the policy document countries will debate and which will drive future climate action. “The areas where options need to be negotiated have narrowed significantly,” said Stiell.

In the text released on Friday, a fourth option around unabated fossil fuels was added, committing to “phasing out unabated fossil fuels and to rapidly reducing their use so as to achieve net zero CO2 in energy systems by or around mid-century” – or “no text”.

Finance, Stiell rightly noted this morning, will be key to ramp up climate action. Indeed, finance announcements have continued to emerge from COP28, as the past two days were dedicated to nature and agriculture. Head to our latest COP round-up for more.

Key negotiations will also centre around the technicalities of the Paris Agreement’s Article 6, which, among other areas, considers carbon markets. 

Meanwhile, a new carbon credit structure brings hope for a higher-quality market, says Costa Rica’s environment minister, Franz Tattenbach, as his country joins an initiative that sets jurisdictional, rather than project-based, boundaries to the origination of credits.

This, says Tattenbach, will help dealing with deforestation “leakage”. He speaks to Alex about the structure’s details, which commit to distributing a significant part of proceeds to local communities.

Elsewhere in today’s coverage, Alex looks at controversy surrounding net zero guidelines for financial companies. The Science-Based Targets initiative issued pilot rules for the financial sector in November, but non-profit Reclaim Finance says these have been watered down following pressure from banks. As they stand, the guidelines would allow for the financing of projects responsible for prolonging the lifespan of existing oil and gasfields.

Lastly, Philippa reports on a survey finding that half of US investment companies are ready to invest in renewables in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar if local governments act to implement ambitious climate targets.

We will continue to monitor climate policy from COP and beyond. Come and see us at Sustainable Views in a few hours for a new briefing from the UN climate conference. Or check your inbox tomorrow for our latest content.

Until then,


Silvia Pavoni is the editor of Sustainable Views 

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