Call to Move Away from Fossil Fuels at COP 28

The 28th Conference of Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded in Dubai. Disagreements among negotiators delayed the summit by a day from its official schedule. For the first time in the approximately 30-year history of climate negotiations, the final text made reference to “fossil fuels,” calling for a move away from them to limit temperature rise.

This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 28, took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Due to disagreements among negotiating countries, the summit, which began on November 30th, concluded on December 13th with a one-day extension. Known as conferences of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP gatherings hold critical importance for discussing the climate crisis, setting measures, and fostering collaboration. Experts following the negotiations suggest that the call to move away from fossil fuels, being a call for invitation or urging from the UN, resulted in a weak outcome. They point out that sharply reducing emissions to limit global warming cannot be ensured. While parties agreed to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and double progress in energy efficiency, the effective operation of the Loss and Damage Fund was among the issues included in the final text.

Speaking at the closing session after the acceptance of the final text, COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber described the outcome of the negotiations as a historic success. He stated, “The world needed to find a new path, and by following our North Star, we have found this new path. We faced realities and steered the world in the right direction. Accordingly, we have devised an action plan to make the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees achievable.”

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Global Climate and Energy Leader at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), reminded that countries had agreed to move away from fossil fuels. He emphasized, “While countries have agreed on this, there was no consensus on completely phasing out coal, oil, and gas at COP28. Nevertheless, the decision to move away from fossil fuels is a significant outcome. After 30 years of UN climate negotiations, countries have finally shifted the focus to polluting fossil fuels, indicating the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.”

Key Points from the Conference’s Decision Text:

  • Emission-free or low-emission technologies should be developed to gradually move away from fossil energies. This includes developing renewable energies, nuclear power plants, and CCS technologies (carbon capture and storage technologies).
  • While the capacity of renewable energies should be tripled by 2030, energy efficiency should be doubled during this period.
  • Global greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 43% by 2030. Signatory countries should transition to a climate-friendly economy gradually.
  • A fund for loss and damages caused by climate change should be established. This had been agreed upon earlier, with advanced countries allocating a budget of $700 million to this fund.

The largest COP gathering to date hosted over 88,000 people, including a record number of lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry. In the 2015 Paris summit, controlling the temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius was agreed upon, a target reiterated at COP28. However, climate crisis experts believe achieving this target without significant efforts to curb oil, gas, and coal usage is nearly impossible.

Will COP28 Decisions Be Beneficial?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) calculated the potential benefits of the decisions made at COP28 on global climate. According to the IEA, if all decisions are implemented, greenhouse gas emissions could decrease by gigatons. However, reaching this amount depends on 50 major oil and gas companies reducing methane emissions by 2030, tripling wind and solar energy production, and doubling energy efficiency. This reduction constitutes only about 30% of the 1.5-degree target. There hasn’t been a calculation yet regarding the impact of completely phasing out fossil fuels on gas emissions.