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December 8, 2023

As the second week of COP28 opens, and a new text on the Global Stocktake is released, ActionAid’s experts have this to say:

Brandon Wu, ActionAid USA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, says:

“We are excited about the possibility of strong language on phasing out fossil fuels coming out of this COP. But words alone – even words in a formal COP decision – will not make a phase-out reality. Only leadership from rich industrialized countries, in phasing out fossil fuels and in providing finance to support the transition in poorer countries, can enable a fossil fuel phase-out that is fast, fair, and forever. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to date of such leadership; developed countries like the United States are barreling ahead with oil and gas expansion plans, while their promises of climate finance are looking increasingly empty.

A global fossil fuel phase-out that isn’t backed up by financial support for developing countries will place unrealistic and impossible expectations on those countries, many of which are already locked into destructive cycles of debt and extraction. Without international support, there is simply no way an indebted developing country can transition away from fossil fuels while ensuring justice by managing economic and social impacts. Developing countries know this, and may well reject any fossil fuel phase-out language that does not include equity or finance.

To be clear, we need all countries to phase out fossil fuels as urgently as possible. But it is both morally bankrupt and politically naive to expect developing countries to be able to do this without support. This is doubly true if developed countries are not also phasing out their own fossil fuels. If countries like the US, UK, EU, Australia, Canada and Japan push global fossil fuel phase-out language without backing it up with action and finance, they are not being serious and should not be taken seriously.”

Teresa Anderson, ActionAid International’s Global Lead on Climate Justice, adds:

“COP28 is breaking new ground by putting forward language on fossil fuel phase-out and a new target for renewable energy. But pushing for targets without also putting in place the necessary funds to make them happen on the ground risks becoming empty posturing. Unless these potentially exciting new energy targets also account for the finance needed for developing countries to cover the costs of action, they are unlikely to be implemented on the ground.

The language of ‘unabated’ fossil fuels is a massive loophole, however. It essentially means that as long as the harm done by fossil fuels and their emissions has been ‘abated’ in some undefined way, the industry can continue business-as-usual. With the fossil industry scaling up carbon capture and storage technologies, and buying every carbon offset under the sun, there’s every chance that the target would barely inconvenience the world’s biggest polluters.”


For media requests, please email or call 704 665 9743.

Spokespeople are available:

  • Brandon Wu is currently here in the U.S. and available for interviews.
  • Teresa Anderson is at COP28 and available for interviews and media engagements.

About ActionAid  
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.