In a groundbreaking move, the world community reached a consensus on a new climate deal in Dubai during the COP28 summit.
This agreement, finalized after intense two-week discussions, marks an unprecedented milestone in addressing climate change, albeit with somewhat ambiguous language that leaves room for varied levels of commitment among nations.
COP28: Landmark deal on fossil fuels, concerns over loopholes
Following extended negotiations, the Global Stocktake Agreement was ratified. COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, in his address to the delegates, highlighted the significance of this moment, saying, “We have language on fossil fuels in our final agreement for the first time ever.” He emphasized the potential of this agreement to revolutionize economies.
This deal, while seen by some as heralding the decline of the fossil fuel era, is viewed by others, including climate advocates, as insufficient, given the escalating urgency of the climate crisis.
Jean Su from the Center for Biological Diversity remarked, “At long last, the loud calls to end fossil fuels have landed on paper in black and white at this COP,” acknowledging the deal’s historic nature but also pointing out the potential for its impact to be weakened by loopholes.
COP28 climate deal: Goals, controversies, and divisions
The agreement stops short of a definitive phase-out of fossil fuels, a demand of over 100 countries and numerous climate groups. Instead, it proposes various options for governments to reduce carbon emissions, including transitioning away from fossil fuels, aiming for net zero by 2050.
The Dubai conference had controversies, with accusations of oil interests swaying the discussions. Saudi Arabia, along with other oil-producing nations, opposed phasing out fossil fuels, creating a divide with more ambitious parties like the European Union and island states.
U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry acknowledged the challenges faced during the conference, stating, “I think there were times in the last 48 hours where some of us thought this could fail.” He expressed optimism about the agreement, considering it strongly endorsed the 1.5-degree Celsius global heating limit.
Climate agreement raise fossil fuel concerns and technology debates
Despite the agreement acknowledging fossil fuels as a climate crisis factor, experts point out its shortcomings, such as the potential continuation of fossil fuel expansion.
Harjeet Singh from the Climate Action Network International said, “A long-overdue direction to move away from coal, oil, and gas has been set,” but noted the resolution’s vulnerability to exploitation by the fossil fuel industry.
The agreement’s endorsement of carbon capture technology and the recognition of “transitional fuels” like natural gas have also raised concerns. Delegates from countries like Antigua and Barbuda expressed worries that these transitional fuels could become permanent fixtures in developing countries.
COP28 initiates loss and damage funds but lacks clear financial mandates
COP28 began with establishing a loss and damage fund, with over $700 million pledged to support nations facing severe climate impacts.
However, the final agreement did not mandate increased financial support from developed nations, leaving developing countries in a precarious position regarding transitioning to renewable energy.
COP28 deal critiqued for inadequate finance and equity issues
Mohamed Adow from Power Shift Africa critiqued the agreement, stating, “We’re still missing enough finance to help developing countries decarbonize, and there needs to be greater expectation on rich fossil fuel producers to phase out first.”
While the COP28 agreement marks a significant step in global climate action, its effectiveness and fairness remain subjects of debate, underscoring the need for more decisive and equitable measures in the fight against climate change.