Wednesday, December 13, 2023

COP 28 Ends

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly known as COP28 ended yesterday. Government ministers representing nearly 200 countries on Wednesday agreed to a deal that calls for a transition away from fossil fuels, after a previous proposal was met with heated and widespread backlash. The agreement reached at COP28 failed to commit to a full fossil fuel phase out as hoped by many. While a commitment to end the use of fossil fuels was not achieved in Dubai, the outcome marks the beginning of the transition away from fossil fuels.

The final agreement published by the UAE earlier on Wednesday, was agreed on after all-night discussions, called for a “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”

The deal text also urged for “accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power” and for “tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.”

Critically, the proposal did not mandate an absolute phase-out of hydrocarbons. However, COP28 did triple renewable energy targets, double energy efficiency goals, establishing a Global Goal on Adaptation framework, and beginning the operations of the loss and damage fund.  This is progress, the first pledges from wealthy nations were made in Dubai to support the fund.  The final text retains the calls for a doubling in adaptation finance and plans for assessments and monitoring of adaptation needs in the coming years. 

In his closing address at COP28, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell  stressed the need for faster progress to keep the 1.5-degree pathway viable. “Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end,” said Mr. Stiell, who simultaneously acknowledged, “We’re currently headed for just under 3 degrees.  This still equates to mass human suffering, which is why COP28 needed to move the needle further. The global stocktake showed us clearly that progress is not fast enough, but undeniably it is gathering pace.” He further acknowledged the crucial role of ordinary people in driving climate action, and concluded by stating that UN Climate Change remains committed to supporting every step of the journey in the race to a sustainable future.

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