REACTION: The EU has agreed on a global phaseout of fossil fuels from the energy sector well ahead of 2050

Global transition| COP28

The Environment Council, consisting of EU Environment and Climate Ministers, gathered on 16 October 2023 to approve Council Conclusions on COP28, taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

See below CAN Europe’s reactions to the Council Conclusions.

Global Stocktake

Explanatory context:

The global stocktake (GST) is a central element of the Paris Agreement to ratchet up and drive ambition on climate action. It allows taking stock of the implementation of the Agreement. In the EU’s COP28 position, they recognise the importance of successfully concluding the first Global Stocktake at COP28 in Dubai, as the backbone of the ambition cycle of the Paris Agreement, with an ambitious and forward-looking outcome crystalising actionable pathways and opportunities for a climate resilient and sustainable development that keep the 1.5ºC limit within reach.

At COP26 in Glasgow and at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, all Parties to the Paris Agreement, including the EU, committed “to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions as necessary”. In light of the conclusion of its domestic climate and energy policy framework under the ‘Fit For 55’ package, the EU is now expected to slightly overshoot its current commitment and achieve at least -57% net emission cuts by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. However, to represent its fair share to the objective of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, the EU as a major historic emitter and wealthy economy should achieve at least -65% gross, or -76% net emission reductions by 2030.

At Environment Council on 16 October the EU agreed on cutting its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). The EU and its member states therefore reiterate their commitment to this legally binding target in their NDC update.

QUOTE on Global Stocktake:

”The EU has stated clearly that the Global Stocktake should set out pathways that keep the 1.5ºC limit within reach. But the EU’s own domestic actions still fall short from reflecting their fair share. We urge the EU to support an outcome of the stocktake grounded in science, and a recognition that it needs to do more to align climate action and finance with its historical responsibilities and global justice.

For the EU’s climate targets, this means the EU needs to commit to substantially overshoot its current target of -55% net emission cuts and achieve at least -65% gross, or -76% net emission cuts by 2030 and net zero emissions no later than by 2040.”

Sven Harmeling, International Climate Policy Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe


Fossil fuel phaseout

Explanatory context:
The EU has agreed to their COP28 position: for a global phaseout of unabated fossil fuels, a peak in their consumption this decade. Calling for the phaseout of ‘unabated’ fossil fuels rather than a full phaseout of all fossil fuels leaves open loopholes to continue using fossil fuels if certain measures are taken to reduce the intensity of their greenhouse gas emissions. However, currently there is no clear definition of abatement, and the technologies that are being promoted for abatement such as carbon capture and storage are yet unproven at the scale that would be needed to have a significant impact.

More positively they highlighted the importance for the energy sector to be predominantly free of fossils well ahead of 2050. EU Member States also made it clear that there is no role for CCS in the energy sector and the focus should be on moving away from fossil fuel use. This is an important qualification for how the term ‘unabated’ should be interpreted, closing significant loopholes.

As well as supporting global renewable and energy efficiency expansion targets, which CAN Europe welcome, the EU stated in its Council Conclusions that at COP28 Parties must agree to these targets going hand in hand with energy savings and fossil fuel phaseout in energy production and consumption to be adopted at COP28 and the need for work with developing countries on finance, technical assistance, for energy access and security through a transition to renewable energy-based systems.

Quote on Fossil Fuel Phaseout:

The EU has, for the first time, agreed on a global phaseout of fossil fuels from the energy sector well ahead of 2050 but overall some loopholes remain for carbon capture and storage. Instead of throwing a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and placing a risky bet on an unproven, highly expensive method of capturing their carbon emissions, it is far more cost-effective to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and intensify efforts to build a fully renewable energy system.

It’s hugely important that the EU further emphasised the limited role of abatement technologies by stating that at COP28 global targets on renewables and energy efficiency should go hand in hand with the phase-out of fossil fuel energy production and consumption. At COP28, all parties should agree to a rapid, just and equitable global phase-out of fossil fuels in all sectors in line with the 1.5C temperature limit by 2050 at the latest. For the EU, this means coal must be phased out no later than 2030, fossil gas no later than 2035 and oil at the latest by 2040. 

As part of the much-needed, just global energy transition, the EU must furthermore back up its verbal support for developing countries with strong financial commitments to accelerate the shift to a people-centered, fully renewable energy system.”

Chiara Martinelli, Director, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe


The quotes were updated after further analysis of the ENVI Council Conclusions on 25/10/2023.


For more information & interview requests, contact:
Jani Savolainen, Communication Coordinator / / +358 504667831


Notes to the Editor:


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