COP28: Scholz calls for phase-out of coal, oil and gas

cop28: scholz calls for phase-out of coal, oil and gas

Olaf Scholz touted the “Climate Club,” which Germany co-chairs alongside Chile

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for coal, oil and gas to be phased out at the COP28 summit in Dubai on Saturday.

“We must now all show a firm determination to phase out fossil fuels — first and foremost coal. We can set sail for this at this climate conference,” Scholz told delegations from around the world.

Scholz said Germany is leading the development of a number of clean energy solutions and reiterated Germany’s pledge to be climate-neutral by 2045.

“The technologies are there: wind power, photovoltaics, electric motors, green hydrogen,” he added.

More than 100 countries at the summit have also called for a “phase-out” of fossil fuels rather than a “phase-down,” with US Vice President Kamala Harris joining the calls on Saturday.

Environmentalist groups welcomed the goals set out by Scholz but said his government had not demonstrated enough action on the issue.

“While the German government is sending positive signals in Dubai, in Germany, court rulings are first needed to force the government to act,” said Viviane Raddatz, head of climate policy for the WWF in Germany.

Greenpeace Germany’s executive director Martin Kaiser said Scholz lacked “consistency and credibility” in his climate policy.

More than 100 nations pledge to triple renewables

Scholz also reiterated calls to triple renewable energy expansion to triple by 2030.

“It is still possible for us to reduce emissions enough in this decade to meet the 1.5 degree target,” he said.

“Let’s agree here in Dubai on two binding targets: one is to triple the expansion of renewable energy and the other is to double energy efficiency — both by 2030.”

At least 118 nations have agreed to the target including Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Canada, Chile. China and India have indicated support but have so far not officially backed the pledge.

Scholz said Germany has already spent $6.5 billion (€6 billion) on international climate financing and pledged another $100 million (€92 million) for a new climate fund established at the summit on Thursday.

He also touted the ambitions of the “Climate Club,” a group of 36 nations co-chaired by Germany and Chile that aims to make high-polluting industries more sustainable in developing countries, but called on countries like China and the Gulf states to take on more responsibility in this area.

“For the countries whose prosperity has grown enormously over the last decades and which have contributed to a large extent to today’s global emissions also bear responsibility: We need your support too,” he said.

Leaders discuss international climate financing

At COP28, the US vice president also made a new $3 billion (€2.8 billion) pledge to the Green Climate Fund that helps developing countries with climate adaptation and mitigation.

“This is a pivotal moment. Our action, or worse, our inaction today … will impact the lives of billions of people for decades to come,” Harris said.

However, she acknowledged that “there is more work to do.”

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said earlier that major countries and financial institutions should do more to fund international climate adaptation.

“Loss and damage alone, however, is only a part of the equation,” she said. “Because for every dollar that we spend before disaster, we can save $7 in damage, and indeed loss of lives.”

Some delegates were skeptical about international climate financing as it stands.

Timor-Leste’s President Jose Ramos Horta slammed what he called “shark loans” that burden developing countries with debts they cannot easily recover from.

Pope Francis, unable to attend the summit due to ill health, meanwhile said he hoped COP28 would be a “turning point” in a speech read out by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Dubai.

“Sadly, I am unable to be present with you, as I had greatly desired. Even so, I am with you, because time is short,” the pope said in his message.

France and others call for nuclear energy expansion

Nuclear energy, a nonrenewable energy source which does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, was also on the agenda at COP28.

A group of more than 20 nations including France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Ghana pushed for nuclear energy output to triple by 2050.

“I want here to reiterate the fact that nuclear energy is a clean energy and it should be repeated,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

France gets around two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power — more than any other industrialized country.

“Nuclear energy is back,” Macron added.

Critics of nuclear energy say it presents waste storage challenges and poses a security risk. Germany phased out nuclear energy in April, over a decade after a government decision triggered by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

zc/wd (dpa, epd, AP, Reuters, AFP)

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