Delegates went into the United Nations conference on climate change in Dubai agreeing "climate action can't wait." They argued at the COP28 venue on Monday over a draft deal that fell short of calling for the phasing out of fossil fuels.
The hosts from the United Arab Emirates sent out the draft, which calls for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But the text does not mention a "phaseout" of fossil fuels, only a call for "reducing" them.
The COP28 president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, said delegates still have a lot to do. "You know that I want you to deliver the highest ambition on all items, including on fossil fuel language," he said.
Critics said delegates from fossil-fuel producing countries and developing nations watered down that language. They said the text falls far short of their hopes of moving away from the burning of oil, gas and coal. "We cannot sign on to text that does not have strong commitments on phasing out fossil fuels," said Samoa's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster.
The delegates are scheduled to wrap up the conference on Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there are still "large gaps that need to be bridged." "Now is the time for maximum ambition and maximum flexibility," he said.