In light of the escalating devastation caused by the interconnected effects of climate change, COP28 was deemed crucial for making a resolute commitment to transition away from the use of planet-warming fossil fuels and to uphold the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Unfortunately, disagreements arose over the Global Stocktake (GST), a mandated progress report under the Paris Agreement designed to evaluate countries' collective efforts through policies and measures. The disagreement stemmed from the first GST this year, which will be followed by subsequent assessments every five years.
The “UAE Consensus” encourages parties to come forward in their next nationally determined contributions with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all GHGs, sectors and categories and aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. It also calls on parties to contribute, in a nationally determined manner, to global efforts on tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030 and accelerate efforts towards the phase down of unabated coal power.
For the first time, the outcome document talks about transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science. Over a hundred countries and civil society organizations were demanding the “phase-out” of fossil fuels to be included in the text, but the compromise must be seen as a progress.Notable advancements on climate finance were scarce during the conference, except for the initiation of the Loss and Damage Fund on the conference's opening day. Attention is now directed towards the development of a new finance regime, with COP29 in Azerbaijan anticipated as the next pivotal stage in global climate negotiations. The expectation is for improvements and progress to come in the upcoming phases.
Rituraj Phukan is an environmental writer, adventurer & naturalist based out of Assam. He serves as the National Coordinator for Biodiversity, Climate Reality India and is a member of the IUCN.