US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 6, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The world will need to phase out 'some' fossil fuels – while employing carbon capture technology – to reach NetZero targets by 2050, special US climate envoy John Kerry said at the UAE COP28 conference on Wednesday.

While addressing the media to comment on the US's significant achievements during the climate conference, Kerry said, "The science says we have to reduce the emissions. It doesn't prescribe some particular discipline that has to be done (where) it says to reduce the emissions.

"And so we believe that that means that if you're going to reduce the emissions and you're going to hit the target that zero by 2050, you have to do some phasing out… there's no other way to get to that target," said Kerry.

He said the goals are to phase out fossil fuels from energy systems by 2050 by focusing carbon capture technologies on the hardest-to-abate sectors, like steel, cement, aluminium, copper, etc.

"Now it's going to be a mix, folks, the things that get us to success here. And the global Stocktake has to call for other mitigation efforts, including tripling renewables, doubling energy efficiency, stopping new automated coal power generation, halting and reversing deforestation, and reducing methane and other non-co2 emissions," explained Kerry.

'Great momentum at COP28'

The future of oil and gas and other fossil fuels has been a hotly debated topic at the climate conference in Dubai, with the US and EU pushing for some commitment to phase out fossil fuels. The US also pledged to work with other governments to speed up efforts to make nuclear fusion a new source of carbon-free energy, among a slew of other initiatives.

However, Kerry also stated that negotiations, deliberations and pledges have seen tremendous momentum in the past week. "We have had a pretty good week here in Dubai already, even if tough issues are looming," Kerry said.

"We are going to make our best effort to get the best agreement we can to move as far as we can as fast as we can," Kerry said. "That's what people in the world want us to do. It's time for adults to behave like adults and get the job done."

The US climate envoy also said he feels climate matters are substantially on track compared to his experience at previous COPs.

"We are now substantially more on track. And I will say to you that, having been to many COPs over the years, I feel a different energy here. I feel a different sense of mission and urgency if you will," said the senior American politician.

COP28 in UAE

Will changes in leadership shift policies?

When asked if the US's position on climate matters would change if American leadership were to change into Republic hands, Kerry said, "There was a time when that might have made all the difference, but not now. When Donald Trump (former American president) pulled out of the Paris Agreement and zero-funded it for four years—no money— that became part of our problem when President Biden came in. However, something else happened in America. We have a renewable portfolio law across all our states; all 50 states have passed such laws.

"Even when Donald Trump was President, 75 per cent of the new electricity in the United States came from renewables. So, while he may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, the American people stayed in that agreement. The shift has taken over. I say with complete confidence that we will transition to a global low-carbon, no-carbon economy.

"The only question is whether we will get there in time to avoid the worst consequences of this crisis."