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Tough ending: delegates at COP28

Photo: Thomas Mukoya / REUTERS

The COP28 climate conference in Dubai continues beyond its planned end at noon. As expected, the participants were unable to agree on a final text by the planned deadline of <> a.m. local time (<> a.m. CET).

Most recently, massive differences between several oil-producing countries and Germany, for example, had arisen at the summit. The dispute is about whether the final declaration mentions the binding phase-out of coal, oil and gas demanded by more than 100 countries.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), other oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, but also China and India reject this. A draft presented on Monday evening by this year's COP28 president, Sultan Al Jaber, only lists options for reducing emissions – but no longer mentions the phasing out of coal, oil and gas. "Now it's in the hands of the parties we trust to do what's best for humanity and the planet," Al Jaber said.

On the German side, resentment against the hosts grew because of the approach. "In any case, this is not the way to organize success, and certainly not one of the most successful climate conferences of all time, as the COP president has repeatedly formulated as a goal for himself," German negotiator Jochen Flasbarth told SPIEGEL. "If the tide is not completely turned, then the promises of success could turn into a huge shambles." (Read an interview with Flasbarth here.)

Criticism also came from the USA. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called the conference in Dubai the "last" chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Many of us have called on the world to largely phase out fossil fuels," Kerry said. This would require a decisive reduction in this decade. "I think most of you refuse to be part of a farce."

Baerbock: "We can't support this text"

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) had already described the UAE's proposal as inadequate and disappointing, as it did not address a phase-out of the use of coal, oil and gas. It sends a "misleading signal to the economy," Baerbock said. We cannot support this text." With a view to the extension, Baerbock was relaxed. "We have time. And we are prepared to stay a little longer," said the Green politician.

It is common for UN climate conferences not to end as planned. Often, long after the official end of the summits, haggling over the wording in the final text continues. The meeting of almost 200 countries with around 97,000 participants in Dubai began on 30 November.