Social Channels


Daily Briefing |


Briefing date 06.12.2023
COP28: Quiet progress at summit sidelines as more countries pledge to phase out coal, gas and oil

Expert analysis direct to your inbox.

Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.

Sign up here.

Climate and energy news.

COP28: Quiet progress at summit sidelines as more countries pledge to phase out coal, gas and oil
BusinessGreen Read Article

An energy-themed day at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), led to “a number of fresh fossil fuel commitments from countries”, BusinessGreen reports. It says that the “pioneering” Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) group of nations, which have pledged to phase out domestic oil and gas production, added Spain, Kenya and Samoa to its coalition. Separately, the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), led by the UK and Canada, has added Malta and COP28 hosts the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to its ranks, according to the news website. Reuters reports that, with the debate around a “fossil fuel phaseout” raging at COP28, none of the world’s major oil and gas-producing countries have plans to stop drilling for those fuels, “despite many having pledged to reach net-zero emissions”. This is according to the latest analysis from Net Zero Tracker, which shows that only three minor producers – BOGA members Denmark, Spain and France – have set out plans to eventually stop drilling, the news outlet adds. In its analysis of progress at COP28, the Financial Times says discussions around a fossil fuel phaseout “could prove the most explosive debate of all”. Associated Press also has an article about how fossil-fuel phaseout has become “the question at COP28 climate talks”. An analysis piece from BBC News climate editor Justin Rowlatt asks “is the world about to promise to ditch fossil fuels?”.

The US, Canada and Kenya were among 63 countries joining a new pledge to cut cooling-related emissions, Reuters reports. It commits countries to reducing their cooling-related emissions by at least 68% by 2050, compared to 2022 levels, “along with a suite of other targets including establishing minimum energy performance standards by 2030”. The New York Times notes that the voluntary pledge was led by the UAE, and “confronts a daunting future facing a warming planet: As global temperatures rise, more people will turn to air-conditioners to ward off the heat”. At the same time, Reuters reports that US climate envoy John Kerry launched an “international engagement plan” involving 35 nations  to boost nuclear fusion, stating that the emissions-free, but still very much nascent, technology could ultimately be important for tackling climate change. The news outlet says the plan would focus on research and development, supply chain issues, regulation and safety. The Hill notes that the director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where “net energy gain” from a fusion reaction was achieved for the first time, has said commercial fusion could take decades. The Financial Times also mentions Kerry as one of the leaders – alongside banks and regulators – who have been using COP28 as an opportunity to “revive the global trade in voluntary carbon credits”. This comes as the voluntary offset market is “battered by allegations of a lack of credibility”, it adds.


Meanwhile, Axios quotes Al Gore – speaking at a side event organised by the outlet – who criticised COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber for “mansplain[ing]” to former Irish president Mary Robinson about the science behind a fossil fuel phaseout. He also took aim at the UAE for naming Al Jaber as COP28 president, describing it as “disrespectful of the world public to undermine the trust that people ought to be able to have in the integrity of this process”. Bloomberg reports that, in a separate event (run by Bloomberg), Gore said that, ahead of next year’s summit, countries should reform the COP process so it is no longer run on consensus but instead on approval by a super majority of 75% of nations. This, he said, would mean major fossil-fuel producing nations would not wield so much power and the world would not have to “beg for permission from the petrostates”. Gore also tells Associated Press that fossil-fuel companies cannot be trusted to accurately report their emissions – as he launches “a massive update of the Climate TRACE database of emissions that he helped create”. According to Bloomberg, US climate envoy John Kerry singled out Chevron while taking aim at some fossil-fuel producers for not doing enough to tackle climate change. The article notes that Chevron has not supported efforts at COP28 to slash methane emissions from fossil-fuel companies. Energy Monitor notes that the UAE is able to put on an event like COP28 ”because of the vast oil and gas resources it is blessed with, which have for decades now given the government huge wealth to spend on high-profile events and flashy facilities”. 

DeSmog has published a report, in collaboration with Drilled, exploring the “extent of commercial partnerships” between trusted news outlets such as Reuters and the New York Times and fossil-fuel companies.

COP28: Initial text on global goal on adaptation rejected by developing countries
Down To Earth Read Article

In a video explainer and a COP28 “diary” piece, Down To Earth explains that developing countries “rejected” the first text released concerning the creation of a “global goal for adaptation” (GGA), “saying that it did not reflect many of the submissions they had made to the co-facilitators”. It notes that negotiations around the “global goal” are difficult as targets for climate adaptation have proved harder to define than mitigation – or cutting emissions. Carbon Brief’s Josh Gabbatiss has tweeted an assessment of the new GGA text that has been released to replace the first one, which includes a greater focus on adaptation finance. Carbon Brief’s text tracker continues to capture the latest iterations of COP texts.

Elsewhere at COP28, Politico reports that “a fight is now brewing” as Brazil, backed by China, aims to insert its trade concerns about the EU’s new carbon border tax into the climate talks. It notes that a draft negotiating text release on Tuesday suggests that countries adopt a declaration that “expresses serious concern” about measures such as “sanctions on low-carbon products, restrictions on technology investment and cooperation, green barriers, discriminatory legislation, plurilateral constraints, etc.”. More broadly, Climate Home News reports that negotiators are “locked in feverish marathon talks to hammer out the final technical draft of the global stocktake” – with another iteration of text expected today. 

Several publications have published broad roundups of the state of play at COP28. The New York Times frames it as “Big Oil vs. science”, noting that “the talks have become consumed by an intense debate over the future of fossil fuels”. A “half time” piece from African Arguments assesses the state of play for African nations, including in negotiations over the GGA. Reuters reports on the various anti-fossil fuel protests taking place on the sidelines of COP28. The Guardian reports on how the conflict in Israel and Gaza since 7 October has become an “unexpected flashpoint for climate activists in rich countries”. It adds that the “unfolding horrors – and how to respond to them as a movement – have been a focus at COP28 this past week”. Bloomberg has a list of “14 definitions to help you make sense of COP28”.

Australia: No more Aussie dollars to fund overseas fossil-fuel projects
The Sydney Morning Herald Read Article

Australia has taken a “major step on the path towards the phaseout of fossil fuels” by joining an alliance committed to ending finance for overseas fossil-fuel projects, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. In signing up to the “Glasgow statement”, or clean energy transition partnership, Australia joins 39 other nations including the US, the UK, Germany and Pacific neighbours such as Fiji, the newspaper adds. The Guardian notes that Australia has “a long history of financing fossil fuel projects” through its export credit agency, Export Finance Australia, adding that it spent AUD$1.7bn ($1.12bn) on coal, oil and gas developments between 2009 and 2020. By comparison, just AUD$20m ($13.17m) was spent on renewable energy, the newspaper adds. However, it also notes that the decision “has also prompted renewed calls for it to reconsider polluting subsidies at home”.

The Australian reports that Australia’s climate minister Chris Bowen will hold off contributing to the newly established loss-and-damage fund at COP28 and instead “focus on delivering practical outcomes for the Pacific” with his government preparing to announce funding for two other climate finance vehicles instead.

Meanwhile, DeSmog reports that federal and provincial governments in Canada are preparing to give an estimated $15.3bn in “new subsidies” for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects that it describes as being used “for expanding the production of fossil fuels”.

Major climate tipping points could be triggered within a decade
New Scientist Read Article

The world is already at risk of triggering five global climate-related “tipping points” that would have catastrophic effects worldwide, New Scientist reports. A “major report” assembled by an international group of more than 200 researchers draws together all the existing studies on tipping points as well as new research, and concludes that as the world surpasses 1.5C of warming it will be “increasingly likely that we will cross these tipping points”. According to the Guardian, the five tipping points already at risk include the collapse of major ice sheets in Greenland and the West Antarctic, the mass thawing of permafrost, the death of coral reefs in warm waters and the collapse of atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic. “Unlike other changes to the climate such as hotter heatwaves and heavier rainfall, these systems do not slowly shift in line with greenhouse gas emissions but can instead flip from one state to an entirely different one,” the article explains. It adds that such changes “may permanently alter the way the planet works”. The Hindustan Times notes that the report is based on a wider assessment of 26 Earth system tipping points. It adds that the report has specific recommendations including a phaseout of fossil fuels and land-use emissions before 2050 and the inclusion of tipping points in the global stocktake outcome from COP28. In its news coverage, Nature says “some scientists remain wary of over-emphasizing tipping points, because it’s difficult to define the risks and assess their likelihood. But few researchers doubt that the risks are real, or that they are increasing as global temperatures escalate”. At the same time, as another New Scientist article notes, the authors behind the tipping points report say there are also positive tipping points “in technological, economic, political and social systems that could lead to carbon emissions falling faster if triggered”. Bloomberg also covers the report and Carbon Brief has a detailed Q&A.

Meanwhile, Sky News reports on new analysis from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) that finds the previous decade was the hottest on record, “with polar and mountain ice melting faster than in the 20th century”. It notes that, between 2011 and 2020, the average global temperature was 1.1C higher than pre-industrial levels. CNN and the Daily Telegraph also have the story.

UK likely to miss Paris climate targets by wide margin, analysis shows
The Guardian Read Article

The UK government is on track to miss its climate targets under the Paris Agreement by a wide margin, according to new analysis of publicly available and government data carried out by Friends of the Earth and covered by the Guardian. Under existing policies, the UK’s emissions are likely to be 59% lower in 2030 than they were in 1990 – short of its internationally agreed target of a 68% reduction by the end of this decade, the newspaper states. The analysis finds that “the gap had grown significantly under Rishi Sunak’s leadership”, and echoes similar conclusions from the government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), which found in September that U-turns on net-zero made by the prime minister “would make it more difficult for the UK to meet its climate targets”. A New Statesman article, drawing on Carbon Brief analysis, outlines the shortcomings in the UK’s provision of climate finance for developing countries.

Meanwhile, a report by the National Audit Office, also covered by the Guardian concludes that the UK is “not adequately prepared for climate disasters including severe droughts and floods”. It finds that the Cabinet Office, which coordinates government responses to events “does not have clearly defined targets, or an effective strategy in place to make the UK resilient to extreme weather”. It also notes that the government “does not track or evaluate its spending on extreme weather resilience”. 

Elsewhere, the Daily Express has an interview with energy and net-zero secretary Claire Coutinho at COP28, in which she takes aim at the opposition Labour party’s “mad plans to borrow £28bn and send British jobs abroad so that we have to import fuel with higher emissions”. [This appears to be a reference to Labour plans to invest in low-carbon energy and stop issuing new oil-and-gas licences in the North Sea.] Back in the UK, the Daily Telegraph reports that Sunak “has suffered one of the biggest rebellions of his premiership” as dozens of Conservative MPs, including former home secretaries Suella Braverman and Dame Priti Patel, voted against a policy to impose a quota of electric-car sales on manufacturers. The measure was passed with Labour’s support, the newspaper notes. Separately, the Financial Times reports that Europe’s carmakers have “received a big boost” after the EU proposed a three-year delay to the introduction of the tariffs that were due to hit electric-vehicle sales between the UK and EU from next year.

Finally, in more UK news, Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf has said that the initial Scottish government investment of £2m to counter loss and damage caused by climate change, announced at COP26 in 2021, “ignited a debate” that led to countries agreeing on a new loss-and-damage fund at COP28, according to the Press Association.

COP28: China has ‘done a lot’ on methane, climate envoy says, as country faces criticism over plan to tackle emissions
South China Morning Post Read Article

China’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, said at a side event at COP28 that the country has implemented several measures to tackle emissions of methane, including reusing it in the coal and oil sectors, reports the South China Morning Post. However, it adds, there is criticism that “long-delayed [methane action plan] falls short because it does not mention the overall target or deadlines for pollution cuts”. Meanwhile, China also introduced “nine specific benchmarks for reducing carbon emissions” in the areas of transportation and office environments at COP28, reports Chinese financial outlet Yicai, which focus on “promoting green and low-carbon practices among individuals” and are “set to form the basis for the enforcement of China’s carbon inclusion mechanism”. The state newswire China News reports on a speech given at a COP28 side event held at the Chinese pavilion by the ministry of ecology and environment’s director of publicity and education to showcase various measures and actions taken by Chinese society to actively address climate change and adopt green and low-carbon production and lifestyles”. The state news agency Xinhua reports that “[the] circular economy is estimated to contribute over 35% of China’s carbon emission reduction by 2030”, according to a report issued at COP28 by the China Association of Circular Economy.


Separately, another Xinhua article writes that “in international climate negotiations, developed western countries have disregarded historical facts and refused to acknowledge their undeniable historical responsibility for high energy consumption, pollution and carbon emissions during their industrialisation”. It adds that these countries “attempt to coerce developing countries into accepting imposed emission reduction plans, seriously undermining the global determination and progress in addressing climate change”. [See Carbon Brief’s recent analysis on historical emissions, which takes colonial rule into account.] CNBC quotes US deputy secretary for energy David Turk as saying that the US and China need to “raise both of our levels of ambition”, but that the Chinese nationally determined contribution is not “as robust and ambitious as it needs to be”. BBC News says that some western nations and small island states “hope not just China and India but also other countries like Saudi Arabia – developing countries according to the 1992 list – will see themselves more as contributors to the [loss and damage fund] than recipients”.

Elsewhere, Yicai quotes Miao Wei, former minister for industry and information technology (MIIT), as saying China’s goal of having new energy vehicles representing 50% of all cars on the road “will probably happen by 2025 or 2026 at the latest”. Energy outlet BJX News reports that the Chinese ministry of transport issued a policy document to “encourage the integration of clean energy sources”, including wind and solar plus storage, into “the construction of smart ports and waterways”. China Dialogue quotes Chu Yidan of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) as saying “China is still providing support for electric vehicles in terms of policy, but the policy is shifting from carrot to stick”.

Climate and energy comment.

We no longer need the COP circus – technology and markets are already solving the climate crisis
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph Read Article

The Daily Telegraph’s world economy editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in his column that whether nations cut emissions “fast enough to secure a 1.5C planet depends on the arms race for clean-tech dominance between the US and China”. It does not, he argues, depend on what happens at COP28 in Dubai. “The annual COP gathering foments division. Its format pushes an anachronistic showdown between the west and a victim category of ‘developing countries’ that is frozen in time and contains some of the richest and most brazen polluters, or others that still build coal plants and persecute ecologists,” he writes. Evans-Pritchard focuses on the on-going debate around different types of language surrounding the “phaseout” of fossil fuels. “The language matters, and the precise wording can be mobilised for climate lawfare in civil courts, at least in rule of law states. But technology and geo-economic reality are already moving faster than the COP curriculum can keep up,” he says.

Meanwhile, Financial Times columnist Pilita Clark considers “COP’s love-hate relationship with business”. It is based on analysis conducted by Archie Young, the UK’s former lead climate negotiator, now at Harvard’s Kennedy School, in which government officials, negotiators, NGOs and business people were interviewed. “His interviewees were broadly positive about the advantages business could potentially bring to COPs. But some climate negotiators had also said the ‘circus’ of business events, kiosks and panels was making COPs too crowded and chaotic,” Clark writes.

Finally, Vanuatu’s climate minister Ralph Regenvanu has a piece in the Scotsman about a memorandum of understanding between Scotland and Vanuatu that will establish a “Vanuatu Scotland Forum on community-led climate action that is scheduled to meet at least three times a year to identify the challenges and opportunities communities in Vanuatu and Scotland face in relation to accessing renewable energy and building climate resilience”.

New climate research.

Ecological forecasts for marine resource management during climate extremes
Nature Communications Read Article

New research showcases how existing marine management tools can be used to provide ecological forecasts in the face of climate extremes as much as a year in advance. It says: “The management tools use ocean temperature anomalies to help mitigate whale entanglements and sea turtle bycatch, and we show that forecasts can forewarn of human-wildlife interactions caused by unprecedented climate extremes.” The authors show that regionally downscaled forecasts “are not a necessity for ecological forecasting”, meaning that forecasts can be explored for regions without the infrastructure or capacity for downscaling, “ultimately helping to improve marine resource management and climate adaptation globally”.

Expert analysis direct to your inbox.

Get a round-up of all the important articles and papers selected by Carbon Brief by email. Find out more about our newsletters here.