The Scottish Government has been told to “redouble its efforts” to kickstart a “rapid phase out of fossil fuels” after world leaders at COP28 agreed to move away from burning oil and gas for the first time.

Delegates agreed to “transition away” from fossil fuels for the first time at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

Language in the agreement was strengthened after widespread anger at a draft in which it suggested that countries “could” reduce fossil fuels but left too many holes for many nations to live with.

Many countries, such as small island states which are severely threatened by rising seas, believe there are still too many loopholes in the agreement but expressed confidence that it will lead to stronger action in future.

Opec, which represents oil-producing nations, had sent round a letter to its members in the final days of the negotiations urging them to reject any language that would commit them to a “phase-out” of fossil fuels.

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The EU, UK and US all said they want to see stronger action that would keep the Paris Agreement of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – what Mr al-Jaber called his “north star”.

Campaigners have issued a warning over several loopholes in the agreement including a reference to phasing out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and a commitment to reducing “unabated” use of hydrocarbons, leaving the door open for carbon capture technologies.

More than 100 countries had called for a “phase out” of fossil fuels though many oil-producing countries, as well as the UK’s climate minister Graham Stuart, have said that the fuel itself is not the problem but the emissions.

The International Energy Agency warned that reliance on carbon capture is unrealistic given it would require more electricity than the entire world’s current demand.

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First Minister Humza Yousaf, who attended COP28, has stressed that the summit should agree on “phasing out fossil fuels through a just transition to net zero”.

Speaking after the COP28 agreement, the FM added: "This recognition that the climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis is historic.

"It is disappointing that there was not a stronger resolution committing to the phase-out of all unabated fossil fuels, however we must all now work together to turn these words into action and to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees." 

Mr Yousaf will hold a summit with other Holyrood leaders on Thursday to discuss the fallout of COP28.

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said the agreement to transition away from fossil fuels was “an important moment”, but he added that “dangerous distractions such as 'transitional fuels’ and widespread carbon capture and storage should not be part of a future where people and nature thrive”.

He added: “Like all nations, the Scottish Government must now deliver on its net zero and just transition promises, to turn warm words in Dubai into genuine action at home.

“Scotland has already led the way on harnessing fossil fuel-free power from renewables, but we urgently need progress on the way we heat our homes and on helping farmers to cut emissions.”

“On Thursday, all Scotland’s party leaders will meet to discuss how to tackle the climate crisis and we urge leaders to engage in these talks constructively.

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"All parties at Holyrood voted for Scotland’s climate targets, and all have a responsibility to champion credible solutions and a transition that is fair for communities, workers, and consumers.

“We know that Scotland’s climate plans are off track and climate disruption is more visible at home and abroad. Decisive action now can help reduce energy bills and tackle the cost of living crisis, build resilience to extreme weather, and reduce climate and air pollution.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland climate and energy campaigner, Caroline Rance, said: “Rich countries like the US, UK and EU are the biggest historical polluters, all with huge fossil fuel expansion plans.

“It’s time to end all new oil and gas developments and plan for a phase out of fossil fuels while ramping up renewables. In the UK that means scrapping the plans to open new oil fields like Rosebank and for Scottish Ministers to reject the proposals to burn gas to generate electricity at Peterhead.”

She added: “The Scottish Government must redouble its efforts to ensure that people and communities working in oil and gas are at the heart of planning a rapid phase out of fossil fuels, whilst scaling up publicly-owned renewable energy and energy efficiency to create decent green jobs.

“For too long, fossil fuel lobbyists have been allowed access to try to delay and derail global climate talks. If we have any hope of addressing the climate crisis, our politics must be free from the polluting influence of the fossil fuel industry.”

But the industry body representing the North Sea oil and gas sector has claimed the sector is showing “climate leadership” as it highlighted plans to ramp up domestic fossil fuel production.

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David Whitehouse, CEO of Offshore Energies UK, said: “This is an important global agreement. While each country will reflect on its own journey, through the North Sea Transition deal agreed with the UK Government in 2021, the UK offshore energy sector is already committed to and delivering on detailed plans to reach net zero by 2050.

“We continue to show climate leadership, having cut our production emissions by 24% since 2018 while many of our members producing the oil and gas we need today are the same companies expanding homegrown production of wind, hydrogen and the development of carbon capture and storage."

He added: “This work supports today’s commitment to treble global renewable capacity by 2030.

“By making the most of homegrown energy the UK can reach net zero in a way that supports our jobs, contributes to our economy, cuts our emissions and brings everyone with us on the journey.”