The Biggest and the Baddest, Colossal Fossil goes to the USA

11 December

Dubai, UAE

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (, members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their ‘best’ to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

Every day at 18:00 local time you can watch the Fossil ceremony at Action Zone 9 (near the entrance)

The Biggest and the Baddest, Colossal Fossil goes to the USA

Fossil of the Day: Saudi Arabia

On this penultimate day at COP28, we award Fossil of the Day to Saudi Arabia. Fossil is all for leadership, so long as it’s well-intentioned. Their visible resistance to language supporting the just and equitable phase out of fossil fuels and transition to renewables, and their repeated blocking across negotiation tracks is definitely not the kind of leadership we are looking for.

They may be peddling the convenient line that negotiations have ‘hit a dead end’, only they left out a key detail – that THEY are blocking the language on phase-out and any outcomes that impact fossil fuel production and use. They are claiming instead the focus should be on emissions, however, Fossil has seen this smokescreen before. Rather than face the real global problem, they are focusing on maintaining their economic status from oil riches. Using bully tactics, like walkouts, when the rest of the world is finally on the verge of beginning the hard work of ending the age of oil, gas and coal that has put us on track to far exceed 1.5˚C is unacceptable. This shameful resistance driven by profit rather than what’s best for people and planet has earned Saudi Arabia the Fossil of the Day today.

Colossal Fossil: USA

Since the dawn of time the USA has been opposing language on the differentiation of fossil fuels and as reported, anonymously, through Fossil’s pigeonholes, they have outrageously been pushing through language on fossil fuel emissions. Therefore, as the world’s largest historical emitter and oil producer, blocking negotiations in the final hours of COP28, the award for the biggest and baddest fossil, The Colossal Fossil, goes to the USA. 

With great power comes great responsibility, and shirking your responsibility comes with consequences. They can no longer hide behind domestic politics, market dynamics, geopolitical security, and the need to maintain old alliances. It’s time to join the adults table.

It makes us wonder who the USA has been wined and dined by, as they have been unconstructive in weakening the transparency of carbon trading and promoting voluntary carbon market infrastructure as part of UN markets in Article 6.2. 

This year the USA collected a Fossil of the Day and multiple dishonorable mentions  for: 1) the USA security council veto on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza which continues to perpetuate an unfolding genocide; and 2) putting forward pennies for loss and damage funding despite its historical role in emissions that have damaged the world while refusing to acknowledge responsibility. 

The US has also failed to lead on the Global Goal on Adaptation, climate finance negotiations, ensuring guardrails in markets, etc. Politics can’t always be pleasant but the crisis is here and it’s time to pay up and do the right thing – lead the world by example. 

Dishonourable Mention: OPEC

A dishonourable mention goes to a particularly oily group of countries, the OPEC group, for continuously resisting an agreement on the phase out of fossil fuels, despite majority support from Parties. Only a few days ago Fossil saw OPEC’s letter stating that “undue and disproportionate pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point,” and asking their members to oppose any move away from fossil fuels. In the negotiations, we have seen key OPEC members stalling discussions on fossil fuel phase out, disengaging with some discussions under the Mitigation Work Programme, and, unsurprisingly, bringing a large number of fossil fuel lobbyists into the conference halls.

And Russia don’t start walking away – your name’s also on the list. We’ve seen they have been striking fossil fuel deals while the world pushes to phase them out. The audacity of the Russian President to travel to the UAE (whilst facing arrest in 100 countries following the issuing of an International Criminal Court warrant for war crimes and civilian killings committed in Ukraine) during COP28 to hold discussions for new oil agreements, while sending 70 fossil fuel lobbyists to the conference, is truly breathtaking. Their plan seems to be to put their heads in the sand and ignore the mounting climate crisis.

OPEC and Russia may have only gotten honourable mentions, but that wasn’t for lack of trying.

Ray of the Day: Colombia

On rare occasions Fossil of the Day highlights a country that is leading the way, giving us hope, and doing the right thing. At COP28 there have been a few rays of sunshine over the past two weeks and many are because of just one country. Colombia has been a consistent shining light. They truly were the clear eyes and big hearts on the fossil fuel phase out, joining the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance at COP28. President Petro’s speech choosing life and endorsing the fossil fuel treaty was complemented by Environment Minister Muhamad’s ongoing interventions, driving the conversations the world desperately needs at this critical time towards the end of the fossil fuel age. Colombia has been catalytic in building support for a full, fair, fast, and funded phase out of all fossil fuels.

On December 3rd Foreign Affairs Minister Álvaro Leyva said: “To solve the climate problem, we need peace with nature and global peace.” Colombia also signed the COP Presidency’s “Declaration for Relief, Recovery and Peace”.  Having previously negotiated peace accords with FARC and armed groups, their connection between peace and climate demonstrates courageous leadership.

Colombia has also consistently stood for, and keeps pushing for, the inclusion of human, labour, gender and Indigenous people’s rights and for civil society inclusion in this process. The openness of Colombia’s delegation to engage with civil society, both before and during the COP, demonstrates a commitment to integrate democratic visions of environmental governance. Their leadership in loss and damage, gender, global balance, adaptation, financing, and just transition resonates with millions in Latin America directly affected by climate change.

The Ray of the Day is awarded to Colombia. 


Contact: Dara Snead, Communications Officer:

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 2000 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 150 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.  

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