Draft negotiating texts for a potential summit-ending COP28 deal include one calling for an "orderly and just" phase-out of fossil fuel, although other options are on the table, Reuters reported today (Tuesday).

Draft versions of what could be included in the final agreement from COP28 include three different options for deliberation by delegates from nearly 200 countries. The climate conference is scheduled to run until 12 December.

The first option in the draft agreements obtained by Reuters describes an "orderly and just phase-out of fossil fuels".

The United States, European Union and numerous small island states vulnerable to climate change are willing to back the phase-out of clause, Reuters reported.

Large oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Russia have openly opposed proposals to phase out fossil fuels, and many of the biggest oil companies hope to see a final agreement that is accepting of decarbonised oil and gas production for decades to come.

Staggered phase-out

A second draft option points in the direction of a staggered phase out by mentioning "accelerating efforts towards phasing out unabated fossil fuels".

The draft text includes a call for scaling up carbon capture technology, probably triggering a major debate about how reliable and affordable abatement technologies are, and how they can sit alongside pledges to triple renewables capacity by 2030.

Both "phase-out" options will also stimulate debate around the word "just" in the draft UN proposals. Many resource-rich developing nations argue that wealthy nations, with high emissions or a long history of burning fossil fuels, should phasing out more quickly than poorer countries.

The third option would be to avoid any mention of a phase-out of fossil fuels whatsoever, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Bloomberg TV at COP28 that his country would "absolutely not" agree to a deal that calls for a phase-down of fossil fuels.

COP28 host nation the United Arab Emirates is reportedly open to wording that envisages a "phasing down" of fossil fuels.

Emissions soar

The debate over a final agreement for CO28 takes off just as the annual Global Carbon Budget report shows that global emissions have risen 1.1% since 2022 and will hit 36.8bn tonnes in 2023.

The report, led by former IPCC lead author Prof. Pierre Friedlingstein, suggests that humanity has just 7 years of carbon budget left before we surpass 1.5C of global warming.

Fossil CO2 emissions are falling in some regions, including Europe and the USA, but rising overall, the report showed.

Emissions from land-use change, such as deforestation, are projected to decrease slightly but are still too high to be offset by current levels of reforestation and afforestation.

The report projects that total global CO2 emissions, including fossil fuels and land use change, will be 40.9 billion tonnes in 2023.

(A version of this article appeared originally on Recharge's sister publication Upstream)