How Russia won a ‘dangerous loophole’ for fossil gas at Cop28

How Russia won a ‘dangerous loophole’ for fossil gas at Cop28

With the EU ambivalent and small island states absent, Russia’s call for “transitional fuels” – read gas – made it into the Cop28 agreement

The Russian government’s campaign for endorsement of “transitional fuels” succeeded at the Cop28 climate talks in Dubai.

Russia, the world’s second biggest gas producer, told the United Nations back in February that “natural gas as a transitional fuel… can be used for [emission-cutting] purposes” and this should be recognised at Cop28.

While the final Cop28 agreement does not specifically mention gas, it “recognizes that transitional fuels can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security”.

It also calls on governments to transition away from fossil fuels in their energy systems so as to achieve net zero by 2050.

Diann Black-Layne from Antigua and Barbuda told the closing meeting of Cop28 that the “transitional fuel” language “is a dangerous loophole”. Coal, oil and gas are all fossil fuels and “we need to transition away from them,” she said.

But Barbados’s climate envoy Avinash Persaud later told Climate Home: “If you actually think about transitioning grids, transition fuels would help to transition with the lowest emissions. You can’t flip a switch and so in the mean time half switch. The challenge is to make sure that the slip road doesn’t become a parking lot.”

Persaud said that “more than a few” countries had supported the language “at some level and at varying degrees”. Another negotiator agreed it “wasn’t just Russia”.

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