COP28 ends with historic agreement on moving away from fossil fuels

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which concluded Wednesday, has been hailed as a significant step towards a global transition away from fossil fuels and towards a more sustainable future. While a complete shift away from fossil fuels was not achieved, the conference produced a landmark agreement that sets the stage for a swift, just, and equitable transition underpinned by deep emissions cuts and increased financial support.

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

Global Stocktake: A Roadmap to 1.5°C

The central outcome of COP28 was the adoption of the “global stocktake,” a comprehensive assessment of the world’s progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The stocktake recognizes the need for a 43% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 levels to limit global warming to 1.5°C. However, it also acknowledges that current efforts are insufficient to achieve this goal.

The stocktake lays out a roadmap for countries to strengthen their climate action plans, including calls for:

Tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

Phasing down coal power and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

Developing ambitious, economy-wide emissions reduction targets aligned with the 1.5°C limit.

COP28 also made significant progress on addressing the issue of loss and damage, the irreversible and unavoidable impacts of climate change that are already being felt by vulnerable countries. For the first time, a decision was adopted outlining the operationalization of the loss and damage fund, with initial commitments exceeding USD 700 million.

Recognizing the growing urgency of adaptation, COP28 agreed on targets and a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation. This framework identifies the necessary steps for countries to build resilience to the impacts of climate change and assess their progress.

Climate finance was a key focus of COP28, with Stiell repeatedly emphasizing its critical role in enabling climate action. The Green Climate Fund received a significant boost, with pledges exceeding $12.8bn. However, the stocktake highlighted the need for additional resources, emphasizing the need for reforming the multilateral financial architecture and exploring new and innovative sources of finance.

Looking Ahead: A Path Towards a Sustainable Future

The next two years will be critical for building on the momentum of COP28. At COP29 in 2024, governments must establish a new collective quantified goal on climate finance, reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate challenge. At COP30 in 2025, they must come prepared with new, ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit.

As Stiell concluded, “We are still in this race. We will be with you every single step of the way.”

Beyond the Headlines: Key Takeaways from COP28

COP28 marks a significant turning point in the international community’s approach to climate change, with a clear focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels and building resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The global stocktake provides a roadmap for countries to strengthen their climate action plans and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

COP28 made important progress on addressing the issue of loss and damage, providing much-needed support to vulnerable countries.

The conference also emphasized the need for increased climate finance, urging governments to explore new and innovative sources of funding.

The next two years will be critical for building on the momentum of COP28 and ensuring that the world is on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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