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COP28: Countries agree on deal called 'the beginning of the end of fossil fuels'

Image: UNFCC

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) closed on Wednesday with countries agreeing to phase down consumption of oil and coal, in a deal the UN said signaled the "beginning of the end" of the fossil fuel era.

"Whilst we didn't turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai [where the conference was held], this outcome is the beginning of the end," said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell in his closing speech.

The deal calls for "transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner... so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science."

COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber called the agreement "historic" but added that its true success would be in its implementation. "We are what we do, not what we say," he told the summit. "We must take the steps necessary to turn this agreement into tangible actions."

The agreement, struck after two weeks of negotiations, is intended as a clear signal of the global desire to break from the use fossil fuels and transition towards clean energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, etc. in a bid to avoid climate catastrophe from global warming.

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Predictably, some negotiators were upbeat while others were not.

Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide told reporters: "It is the first time that the world unites around such a clear text on the need to transition away from fossil fuels."

US climate envoy John Kerry called the agreement "a moment where multilateralism has actually come together and people have taken individual interests and attempted to define the common good."

However, Anne Rasmussen, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, felt the deal wasn't as ambitious as it could have been. "We have made an incremental advancement over business as usual, when what we really need is an exponential step change in our actions," she said.


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At the India Pavilion of the on-going COP28 in Dubai, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) under the Indian Ministry of Power held a thought leadership discussion on the theme 'Cost Effective Energy Storage System for Energy Transition and Integration of Renewable Energy'.

Global Stocktake and Other Decisions

The global stocktake is considered the central outcome of a COP event, since it contains every element under negotiation and can now be used by countries to develop stronger climate action plans due by 2025.

The COP28 global stocktake recognized science that indicated global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 43 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius. It also noted that the world was off track in meeting Paris Agreement goals.

The stocktake called on parties to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

It also asked for accelerated efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and other measures to drive the energy transition to cleaner sources, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, with developed countries continuing to take the lead.

There was also progress on the loss and damage agenda with an agreement to create a Loss and Damage Fund that will catalyze financial and technical assistance to small developing countries particularly vulnerable to climate change, including rescue and rehabilitation work.

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The Green Climate Fund received a boost with six countries pledging new funding at COP28. Total pledges now stand at a record $12.8 billion from 31 countries.

COP29 and COP30 are Critical

The COP28 agreed that Azerbaijan would host the next meeting – COP29 – from 11-22 November 2024, and Brazil would host COP30 from 10-21 November 2025.

The UN has said the next two years will be critical. At COP29, governments must establish a new climate finance goal, reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate challenge.

And at COP30, they must come prepared with new nationally determined contributions that are economy-wide, cover all greenhouse gases and are fully aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit.


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