Consensus At COP28: Deal Agreed To 'Transition Away From Fossil Fuels'

An agreement was reached at COP28 that calls on countries to transition away from their reliance on fossil fuels, but has been widely criticized for making too many compromises.

Consensus At COP28: Deal Agreed To 'Transition Away From Fossil Fuels'

At the COP28 climate summit, nearly 200 countries reached an agreement that, for the first time, calls on all states to move away from fossil fuels to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change. 

The deal, which was quickly approved by COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, received mixed reactions.

While it reinforced the 1.5C goal and set targets for emissions reduction and renewable energy, it lacked explicit commitments to phase out fossil fuels and faced criticism for including language that seemed to cater to fossil fuel interests.

The deal suggests a compromise that calls upon countries to transition from fossil fuels reliance “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.”

The agreement acknowledged the need for trillions of dollars in support for climate adaptation and finance, and operationalized a fund to help vulnerable nations repair damage from climate breakdown. 

However, the deal is widely seen as falling short in addressing concerns from the global south and climate justice advocates, who felt that the text included too many loopholes and did not represent the exponential step change needed in climate action.

The strained nature of the agreement reflected the consensus process of the UN climate conference, and individual countries are now responsible for delivering on the agreements through national policies and investments.

While many developed countries publicly pushed for a phase-out of coal, oil, and gas, there were disagreements over the inclusion of references to reducing the production and consumption of fossil fuels in the final text.

UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell emphasized the need for countries to commit to the most ambitious interpretation of the agreement, as loopholes could leave them vulnerable to fossil fuel vested interests.

The agreement was the result of intense negotiations and shuttle diplomacy by President Al Jaber, and while it was seen as a strong signal, there were concerns about the presence of loopholes related to unproven and expensive technologies like carbon capture and storage. 

The next climate summit, COP29, is scheduled to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, next November, where countries will reconvene to continue their efforts to address the climate crisis.