COP28 ends with call to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels; UN Chief says phaseout is inevitable
13 December 2023
Nations at COP28 in Dubai approved earlier on Wednesday a roadmap for “transitioning away from fossil fuels” – a first for a UN climate conference – but the deal still stopped short of a long-demanded call for a “phaseout” of oil, coal and gas.
He stressed that the era of fossil fuels must end with justice and equity.
“To those who opposed a clear reference to a phaseout of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, I want to say that a fossil fuel phase out is inevitable whether they like it or not. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late,” added the Secretary-General.
The latest edition of the annual UN climate conference has been running in Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, since 30 November.
COP28 had been scheduled to close on Tuesday, but intense overnight negotiations on whether the outcome would include a call to “phase down” or “phase out” planet heating fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal forced the conference into overtime.
This main sticking point pit activists and climate-vulnerable countries against some larger nations for much of past two weeks.
‘The science is clear’
In his statement, Mr. Guterres said limiting global heating to 1.5°C, one of the keystone targets set in the landmark 2015 the Paris Agreement, “will be impossible without the phase out of all fossil fuels”, and this is being recognized by a growing and diverse coalition of countries.
The negotiators at COP28 also agreed on commitments to triple renewables capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030 and made progress in relation to adaptation and finance.
Other progress was also made in relation to adaptation and finance, including – including the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, even though financial commitments are very limited, according to the Secretary-General.
But the UN chief stressed that much more is needed to deliver climate justice to those on the frontlines of the crisis.
“Many vulnerable countries are drowning in debt and at risk of drowning in rising seas. It is time for a surge in finance, including for adaptation, loss and damage and reform of the international financial architecture.”
He said the world cannot afford “delays, indecision, or half measures” and insisted that “multilateralism remains humanity’s best hope.”
“It is essential to come together around real, practical and meaningful climate solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis.”
‘A lifeline, not a finish line’
UN climate chief Simon Stiell said, “genuine strides forward” were made at COP28, but the initiatives announced in Dubai are “a climate action lifeline, not a finish line.”
Mr. Stiel said the Global Stocktake – which aims to help nations align their national climate plans with the Paris Agreement – had clearly revealed that progress is not fast enough, but it is “undeniably” gathering pace.
Still, the current trajectory is just under three degrees of global warming equating “mass human suffering”, according to the climate chief, which is why COP28 “needed to move the needle further”.
Speaking to reporters outside the main hall, the Mr. Stiell said COP28 needed to signal a hard stop to humanity’s core climate problem – “fossil fuels and their planet burning pollution”.
“While we didn't fully turn the page on the fossil fuel here in Dubai, this is clearly the beginning of the end”.
Here are some of the other highlights from COP28 and a snapshot of what happens next:
The loss and damage fund designed to support climate-vulnerable developing countries was brought to life on the first day of the COP. Countries have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars so far for the fund;