COP28 Adopts Landmark Deal To ‘Transition Away’ From Fossil Fuels

Representatives from nearly 200 countries agreed at the COP28 climate summit to begin reducing global consumption of fossil fuels, a first of its kind deal in a UN climate summit, reports Asian Lite News

Representatives from 197 countries, in addition to the European Union, at the COP28 approved the historic “UAE Consensus” on climate change, which aims to put the world on the right track to protect humanity and the planet.

After gruelling negotiations, countries have reached a deal, calling for “deep, rapid and sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions” and “transitioning” away from fossil fuels in the energy system in an orderly and equitable manner.

The COP28 climate summit went into overtime with negotiators scrambling to reach a deal. Finally, on Wednesday morning, the COP 28 deal was adopted. The plenary erupts in applause following the adoption. This was the third version presented to the countries in about two weeks.

COP 28 President Sultan al-Jaber said: “It is a plan that is led by the science … a historic package to accelerate climate action.”

“This is the first time, we have language on fossil fuel,” he said.

However, the document does not speak about the “phase out” of fossil fuels as several countries were opposed to the term.

Instead, the document calls for transitioning away from fossil fuels in the energy system “in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.”

It also lists 7 other steps to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The document signals that countries agree that fossil fuels need to be replaced with clean energy and reach global net zero by 2050. It is the first time fossil fuels have been addressed in the climate talks.

The signed deal calls on the parties for tripling renewable energy by 2030 and doubling energy efficiency. It also recognises that the costs of renewables are falling fast.

It carries the same text on coal from Glasgow, the current text calls for accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power. The previous draft document drew flak from European, Latin American and vulnerable island states after it dropped all references to phasing out fossils.

On Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), the document says new national climate pledges should be delivered in late 2024. There is very little on finance, an acknowledgement of the need for it, but no concrete numbers which means this becomes the main agenda item for 2024.

Environmentalists have called the signing of the deal a “positive step however with gaps”

Aarti Khosla, Director, of Climate Trends said that it is the first time that there is recognition of transitioning away from fossil fuels in a COP text- essentially meaning slashing not just coal, but also oil and gas.

“The Dubai deal is positive, however with gaps. coming alongside an absolute recognition of a warming world, and the need to take rapid action within this decade, the outcome text makes real concessions for gas and oil,” Khosla said.

“The language doesn’t give clarity on whether actual reductions in production and consumption will happen, or with increasing demand, countries will merely ‘transition’ their energy mix. These are issues with huge implications for the world,” she added.

Ruth Davis, Senior Associate, at Smith School of Enterprise and Environment in Oxford acknowledged that for the first time ever, the promise to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 has become a formal outcome.

“Food and nature have long been overdue for more space in the COP negotiating texts. For the first time ever, the promise to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 has become a formal outcome. And 150+ countries pledged to put food in their new climate plans. The forgotten third of global greenhouse gas emissions will be under proper scrutiny, provided there is funding on the table. What we need now is to deliver on the money, ” Davis said.

The COP28 Presidency has been clear in its intention to ensure that the agreements made at COP28 are delivered and followed through to COP29 and COP30, with mechanisms to track progress against implementation. Already, the Presidency has signed an agreement with Brazil, the host country of COP30, to deepen collaboration and increase climate ambitions by COP30.

Central to the agreement with Brazil will be working with Azerbaijan, the hosts of COP29, to ensure Parties come to COP30 with ambitious updated climate plans for action in this critical decade, as well as whole-of-economy NDCs building on the momentum generated at COP28.

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