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COP28 agreement marks the beginning of the end of fossil fuels

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) concluded today, marking a significant step towards ending the fossil fuel era. 

The latest agreement paves the way for a rapid, fair, and equitable transition, emphasizing substantial emission reductions and increased financial support.

Climate action

At the conference in Dubai, negotiators from nearly 200 countries united to agree on the first-ever “global stocktake” to enhance climate action within this decade. This initiative aims to maintain the global temperature increase below 1.5°C.

“Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end. Now all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell stated in his closing remarks.

Global stocktake

The global stocktake, the key result of COP28, incorporates all negotiated elements and will guide countries in strengthening their climate action plans by 2025. 

It acknowledges the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 (from 2019 levels) to stay within the 1.5°C limit, but notes that current efforts fall short of the Paris Agreement targets.

Phasing out fossil fuels

The stocktake urges parties to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030. It includes steps like phasing down unabated coal power, eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures for transitioning away from fossil fuels, with developed countries leading.

Parties are encouraged to set ambitious, comprehensive emission reduction targets in their next climate action plans (nationally determined contributions) by 2025, covering all greenhouse gasses and sectors, aligned with the 1.5°C goal.

Critical agreements

The conference began with the World Climate Action Summit, attended by 154 Heads of States and Government. A landmark agreement on loss and damage fund operationalization and funding was reached on the first day, with over USD 700 million pledged so far.

An agreement was also reached for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Office for Project Services to host the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage secretariat, providing technical assistance to climate-vulnerable developing countries.

Targets for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and its framework were agreed upon, setting global adaptation targets and emphasizing the need for financial, technological, and capacity-building support.

Climate finance

Climate finance was a focal point at COP28. As Stiell emphasized, this is a “great enabler of climate action.”

The Green Climate Fund’s second replenishment saw increased pledges, now totaling USD 12.8 billion from 31 countries. Additionally, over USD 174 million was pledged to the Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund, with nearly USD 188 million pledged to the Adaptation Fund at COP28.

Adaptation plans

Despite these pledges, the global stocktake highlighted the necessity of trillions for developing countries’ clean energy transitions and adaptation efforts. It stressed the need to reform the multilateral financial architecture and establish innovative finance sources.

Discussions at COP28 focused on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, starting from a baseline of USD 100 billion per year, crucial for implementing national climate plans by 2025.

The conference agreed that the mitigation work program, launched at COP27, will continue until 2030, with biannual global dialogues.

Inclusive engagement 

COP28 saw diverse participation, with 85,000 attendees, including world leaders, civil society, businesses, Indigenous Peoples, youth, philanthropy, and international organizations, highlighting the importance of inclusive engagement in climate action.

In parallel, the Global Climate Action space at COP28 facilitated collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society, showcasing real-world climate solutions. 

Increasing resilience 

The High-Level Champions under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action launched a roadmap of 2030 Climate Solutions, focusing on halving global emissions and increasing resilience by 2030.

The conference also announced initiatives to enhance food and public health systems’ resilience and reduce agriculture and methane emissions.

COP28’s negotiations on the “enhanced transparency framework” laid the foundation for implementing the Paris Agreement, with final transparency reporting and review tools to be available by June 2024.

Nationally determined contributions 

COP28 concluded with the announcement of Azerbaijan as the host for COP29 in 2024 and Brazil for COP30 in 2025. The upcoming COP29 and COP30 will be crucial for establishing a new climate finance goal and preparing new nationally determined contributions aligned with the 1.5°C limit.

“We must get on with the job of putting the Paris Agreement fully to work. In early 2025, countries must deliver new nationally determined contributions. Every single commitment – on finance, adaptation, and mitigation – must bring us in line with a 1.5-degree world,” Stiell urged.

“Every one of you is making a real difference. In the crucial coming years your voices and determination will be more important than ever. I urge you never to relent. We are still in this race. We will be with you every single step of the way,” he added.

“The world needed to find a new way. By following our North Star, we have found that path. We have worked very hard to secure a better future for our people and our planet. We should be proud of our historic achievement,” concluded COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber.

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