COP28 Climate Summit ends with deal to transition from fossil fuels

December 13, 2023

The governments of nearly 200 countries on Wednesday at the United Nations’ COP28 climate summit agreed to a deal to transition away from fossil fuels. 

The agreement comes despite such discussions about fossil fuels having been steeped in controversy at the 28th annual “Conference of Parties” summit in Dubai.

United Arab Emirates Sultan Al-Jaber served as COP28 president designate even as he is chief executive of the UAE state oil company ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). Documents leaked ahead of the summit revealed that the UAE planned to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations during the event—even though the United Nations’ directive that hosts of the annual summit act without bias or self-interest. Al-Jaber denied the allegations. 

The COP28 proposal to phase out fossil fuels calls for doing so “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 comes as 2023 has officially been marked by global climate scientists as having been the hottest ever on record, with average planetary temperatures just a decimal away from hitting the 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) threshold that scientists during the 2015 Paris climate agreement deemed was the point beyond which humans and ecosystems would struggle to adapt.

The COP28 draft agreement also urged “accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power” as well as for “tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.”

“We delivered world first after world first,” the COP28 UAE presidency said on social media. “A global goal to triple renewables and double energy efficiency. Declarations on agriculture, food and health. More oil and gas companies stepping up for the first time on methane and emissions. And we have language on fossil fuels in our final agreement.”

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry said the agreement sends a “very strong message to the world,” adding that the U.S. was joining with China in agreeing to “update our long-term strategies” and inviting other parties to do so as well. 

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