• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
businessday logo


COP28 summit ends with historic deal to transit from fossil fuel

COP28 summit ends with historic deal to transit from fossil fuel

The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), held in Dubai this December, culminated in a historic agreement that marks a turning point in the fight against climate change.

For the first time ever, a global climate agreement has explicitly called for a transition away from fossil fuels, acknowledging the urgent need to cut emissions and limit global warming.

“With an unprecedented reference to transitioning away from all fossil fuels, The UAE Consensus is delivering a paradigm shift that has the potential to redefine our economies,” the summit’s UAE presidency said on social media. Dubai has been hosting the conference for the past two weeks against a backdrop of controversy, geopolitical conflicts and increasing extreme weather events.

“We delivered world first after world first,” the UAE summit presidency said in a further social media update.

Read also: COP28: Outrage greets OPEC’s ‘leaked letter’ to Nigeria

“A global goal to triple renewables and double energy efficiency. Declarations on agriculture, food and health. More oil and gas companies are stepping up for the first time on methane and emissions. And we have language on fossil fuels in our final agreement.”

An updated proposal published by the UAE earlier on Wednesday, which was agreed on after all-night discussions, called for a “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.”

The draft deal text also urged for “accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power” and for “tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.”

Critically, the proposal did not mandate an absolute phase-out of hydrocarbons.

The burning of coal, oil and gas is the largest contributor to climate change, accounting for more than three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Wednesday announcement comes after a previous draft text published in the final throes of the talks triggered widespread criticism for failing to include language on ending the use of fossil fuels, as negotiations laid bare deep divisions among policymakers over the future of hydrocarbons.

Alok Sharma, the UK.’s COP26 president, on Tuesday said that only a deal including “very clear” language on the phase-out of fossil fuels and a credible plan to deliver that would be good enough to keep alive the prospect of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is the aspirational global temperature limit set in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement. Its importance is widely recognized because so-called tipping points become more likely beyond this level.

“If we don’t reach agreement on that language, I think the consequences are going to be grave,” Sharma told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe.”

Sultan Al-Jaber, COP28 President sparked a backlash earlier this month after he claimed there is “no science” behind calls for a phase-out of fossil fuels. His remarks followed reporting by the BBC ahead of the summit that suggested UAE officials were seeking to cash in on their host status to push for oil and gas deals.

A COP28 spokesperson described the documents referred to in the BBC article as “inaccurate.” Separately, Al-Jaber said last week that his team “very much believe and respect the science” and added that he’d been surprised by the “constant and repeated attempts to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency.”

Al-Jaber was seen as a contentious choice to lead COP28 discussions in Dubai given that he also works as the head of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

In an unprecedented start to proceedings on Nov. 30, delegates at COP28 sealed the details of a landmark deal to help the world’s most vulnerable countries pay for the impacts of climate disasters.

Read also: Nigeria gas takes center stage as NNPC strikes key agreements at COP28

The operationalisation of the so-called loss and damage fund prompted a standing ovation from delegates in the audience. The historic agreement was hailed as a welcome breakthrough and one that helped to clear the way for policymakers to negotiate on other major issues.

Thereafter, a flurry of announcements sought to help decarbonize the energy sector, with nearly 120 governments pledging to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. Other initiatives launched at the conference included sizable blocs committing to expand nuclear power and slash methane emissions.